Friday, August 14, 2009

Kathryn's Quilts - Plano Quilt Guild Show

I am an incredibly fortunate man. When it's cold at night, I sleep under the quilts my wife has sewn.

She walks through fabric stores with her sighting lasers on high-res/high-gain, her hands verifying and sorting data her eyes have sent up. She sees and feels the way the different fabrics catch and hold the light or kiss it as it passes, whether it's cambric or calico or wool or velvet or . . . I have no notion (needlewoman's pun there) of the different ways she sees fabric.

But I do watch the way her expression focuses, the way her shoulders bear her rotary-cutter-armed hand directly to the cutting table. I watch as she aligns the different layers of colored stuff more precisely than thought beneath her blade. I watch the way her eyes match and measure the little stacks of milled and woven and spun geometry and tally up their numberings with a dragon-glitter glance at her hoarded cloths. Cotton plants and sheep and chemists and silkworm moths exist to provide this art-bringer her pallet media. (That was not a misspelling, incidentally.)

When a pattern calls for a quarter-inch seam allowance, it by-God gets a quarter-inch seam allowance . . . not three-sixteenths, not nine-thirty-seconds. And when she has sewn two squares together, or three, if it aligns to a different galactic standard than the one she subscribed to, she stitch-rips it out and begins anew. Patience, focus, drive . . . these words are water-thin stuff as descriptors.

I have watched the way this woman lays out her pattern on her sewing table, or the floor, the carpet, the bed, calculating the visual effect of shade, shadow, hue, and tint. I have watched her smile, frown, or laugh at a joke she shares with that God who taught mankind to weave, spin, and sew. I have watched her, hand ahip, march miles to circle her projects, to compare and contrast the effect of placing that square here instead of there, or, possibly rotating that square . . . no; that one; yes . . . 45-, 90-, or 180 degrees. Does the light nestle in the warp or ricochet off the weft? How does the shadow pool where the quilting piles up the batting?

I have listened to her closely reasoned affection, love, care, concern, excitement as she tells me why this fabric for that child, these colors for that couple, this background for that baby. I have ached with the agony in her voice as she shared her fear that a child wouldn't appreciate the effort this work - and friend, it is work - is costing. This transformed labor no longer delivers "just" the baby, it delivers her love with all its accumulated frustrations, misunderstandings, downright disapprovals, sighs, hugs, smiles, grins, and kisses.

Some of her quilts hang on our walls, and friends and clients walk in and out of our house and never even see them. They are, after all, placed where an interior designer would position a store-bought painting or print that she found for a really good price. The dollar value of these quilts is truly beyond measure . . . Churchill's "blood, toil, tears, and sweat" don't include the insight and reflection that goes into each one. Our house is swaddled in the mental and physical aura of the woman who is the center of it.

On cold nights we snuggle and giggle and laugh out loud under these quilts. We watch rented or paid-for videos on Heinlein's "goddam noisy box" (Stranger in a Strange Land) coccooned in color and texture, cushioned from the world outside in the form and substance of considered thought and expressed reflection. In the morning my hands emerge into window-blinded daylight tracing the fingerprints of quilted colored squares.
"O, wad some power the Giftie gie us" to see Kathryn's quilts as she must see them. One day, maybe I'll hire a professional photographer - probably a landscape photographer - to capture the qualities and bloodlines of these quilts. Till then you get this "Honey, stand over by your quilt under the indirect fluorescent lights with the official take-my-picture smile."

And on that someday, maybe Kathryn will tell you the tales of these different quilts. I would not presume to.
Till you can hold these quilts and watch the light dance. Till you can bunch them in your hands and breathe through them. Till they can warm the walls in your house or the toes in your bed . . .
I give you joy of them.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Masquerade


I'm always prompt, no matter how long it takes. Sometimes it just takes a little longer than others.

I finally figured out where the computer stashed the photos, and ain't we swell?

The first year's gathering is always the smallest, and this is sked to be an annual event.

Start planning now. I bought the pattern for my coat (a la Dorian Grey . . . just the coat) before the masque. The fabric is waiting for me in Oklahoma. They may not have shoes, but they have fabric for clothes. There's a humongous shop just this side of Pryor, OK, (Fabricut Factory Outlet), on the west side of the highway, opposite the railroad, same side as the airport. The link won't post, and it's NDG anyway. But the prices . . . it's worth the gas, and "your dollar goes farther" (about 270 miles, actually, from my house). It really is.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

True Summer Goals

By the calendar there are sixty-eight days between the last day of School Year 2008-2009 and the first day of School year 2009-2010. Every teacher I know compiles a list of things to get done while (s)he is free of bells, papers, and student conferences. Being mildly anal-retentive, I have put my list into a multi-page color-coded spreadsheet that runs to eighteen pages. The Completed Tasks pages are line-item color-coded yellow; projects that just aren't going to happen or that were overtaken by events are red. I have three pages dedicated to those completed items, two of them are double-columned. The third is holding space so I don't have to "Insert Column" nine hundred times. I still have several pages of unstarted (no-color) or in-progress (green) stuff to go.

The most responsibly significant page has three monthly calendar blocks day-by-day indicating that I have checked my bank balances online at least once that day. I balanced my checkbook to the penny for the first time in my life in June, and, at the urging of my oldest son (long may he wave) I have been faithful to that practice to date. Hellfire, I even check it when I get back from Home Depot for a light bulb or a can of paint . . . I enter the receipts on the interactive spreadsheet I built (another first) and I know - absolutely know - how much money I have available for living that day till the coming payday. I tell my kids I feel like King F. Kong.

But, being at heart a Teacher/Student, even a certified English Teacher, my favorite page this summer shows my progress to a totally irresponsible goal of --- no; not reading x number of books, but of watching at least one movie for each day of summer. This is undignified. The list below is alphabetical, not chronological - I did watch the Lord of the Rings sequentially. And Band of Brothers would have been senseless had it not been episodic. Multiple viewings are because I was looking for specific events or references or allusions or titles or characters - I am a student, after all. So, my list to date reads:

1. A Bridge Too Far
2. Armageddon
3. The Art of Dining - The Business Lunch -- "learn something" fascinating
5. The Art of Dining - The Formal Dinner X2 -- "learn something" absolutely fascinating
6. Band of Brothers - Curahee
7. Band of Brothers - Day of Days
8. Band of Brothers - Carentan
9. Band of Brothers - Replacements
10. Band of Brothers - Crossroads
11. Band of Brothers - Bastogne
12. Band of Brothers - Breaking Point
13. Band of Brothers - Last Patrol
14. Band of Brothers- Why We Fight
15. Band of Brothers - Points
16. Body Heat
17. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
18. Crossing The Distance -- "learn something" bummer
19. Curse of the Jade Scorpion
20. Deja Vu - Director Henry Jaglom, 1997
21. E.T.
22. The Eagle Has Landed
23. Earth -- turned out to be a "learn something" - another bummer
24. Educated Eye: How an Idea Becomes a Book -- "learn something" bummer
25. Enchanted April
26. Enemy of the State
27. Field of Dreams
28. The Firm
29. Harry Potter - The Halfblood Prince
30. The Horse Whisperer
31. Hot Fuzz
32. I Robot
33. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls
34. Julie and Julia X2
35. Jurassic Park
37. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen X2
38. Little Big Man
39. Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring
40. Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers
41. Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King
42. M*A*S*H
44. Men in Black X2
45. Mickey Blue Eyes
46. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
48. Moonstruck
49. My Best Friend's Wedding
50. October Sky
51. Other People's Money
52. The Phantom
53. The Princess Bride
54. The Proposal
55. The Red Baron -- "learn something" -- not bat at all, really
56. Richard III
57. Romancing the Stone
58. Scent of a Woman
59. The Search for Alien Worlds -- "learn something" -- uh . . .
60. The Search for Bobby Fischer
61. Searching for Richard
62. Secondhand Lions
63. The Shadow
64. Shakespeare in Love
65. The Soloist
66. Spiritual Liberation -- "learn something" -- pretty good; well done
67. Star Trek - First Contact
68. Start Trek (2009) (fourth time, but first time this summer)
69. That Thing You Do
70. The Thomas Crowne Affair (Brosnan/Russo) (I also have McQueen/Dunaway)
71. Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle J. Swan
72. To the Edge of the Universe -- "learn something" -- arid
73. Tom Jones
74. Young Sherlock Holmes

I almost hate to have numbered the blessed things. When I put in Gettysburg and Dances With Wolves and Our Town it'll screw up my numbering badly -- I can't just add them to the bottom of the list . . . And I still have a week of freedom left for my cinematic sprint.

Sure; I've read at least a dozen books for sport: Steinbeck, O'Brian, Twain, Pratchett, but that's what I do. That's where I focus. Movies are a less intense focus unless they trigger other questions - and the best ones always do.

Anyway, I'll post photos of the finished floor painting and some other stuff. But I just had to do this right now.