Saturday, October 10, 2009

I'm not here for fun

I found out today that this guy I knew from the program killed himself a few weeks ago. This is very, very sad and reminds me once again of why I go to meetings. I go to meetings because I have a fatal disease which has no cure. That is why I get up on Sunday mornings and go sit in a hospital basement for an hour. It is how I stay alive. Now that I've done it awhile I actually do enjoy the people and the meeting. I look forward to going all week. The people there I consider dear and important in my life. But, really even though it's something I look forward to now; that's not why I'm there.

It reminds me that my disease is patient and cunning and it never goes away. He had recently picked up his 2 year sobriety chip. From what he'd shared, it seemed like things were going well for him in those 2 years. He had gone from being homeless to again having a job in his field, having his family talk to him again, having a sponsor and new friends in the program. He was a wonderful artist and was handsome and witty. I enjoyed watching him get his life back. I liked waving to him as I drove by when he was taking a smoke in front of the place he worked. A couple times when I went in he showed me his portfolio and his work. He was very talented. He always gave hugs and seemed to be getting better. One time in a meeting he told a story about denial and how when he was using and homeless in California he'd convinced himself that he was OK because he had a sleeping bag and didn't have to sleep on cardboard or the ground like the heroin addicts. Something about that story hit home with me.

Many weeks ago I'd heard from my mom that someone I knew from the program had killed themselves. I'd missed meetings due to having Charlie and I wondered who it was but she didn't know. When I went back to my Sunday morning meeting, I would feel relieved when the old faces were still there and would walk through the door. Mike hadn't been there and I'd been afraid to ask. Maybe he went to visit family in California, maybe he's got the flu, maybe he moved. Two weeks ago his brother and friend were there and no one mentioned Mike. I'd kinda figured it out but was still hoping he'd come through the doors. Today I had a chance to ask someone privately and they confirmed it. SO SO SO SAD!

I ask God every day to help me stay sober. I never want to be too sure of my sobriety. There are no guarantees. I just know that I don't want to be the one that picks up a chip and the puts a gun to my head after 2 weeks of drinking. Mike is not the first person in the program I have known who has gone back out there and not made it back and unfortunately, he won't be the last.

I wonder if maybe I should have gone in to talk to him more when he was at work, or talked to him more at meetings or maybe if I'd been at the park that afternoon to say hey and wave, maybe he would have not done it...I know that doesn't make sense but that's what I think about.

I also think about how suicidal I was when I was drinking and even early on in my sobriety. I'm so glad I didn't do it. I would have missed out on so much. I think about all the good that has happened and how I would have never known about it all and how sad it would have made my family and friends. It seemed like things were going so well for him. I wonder what wonderful things would have continued to happen for him if he'd not picked up that drink.

So when I drag my sleepy self out of bed tomorrow and leave my husband and two young children to sit in the basement of a hospital for a hour I will think about dear Mike and how I'm not here for fun, I'm here to stay alive.

So this is a disease that can take 2 years of sobriety and within 2 weeks have you dead with a self inflicted gunshot wound in a city park of a small rural Texas town. Alcoholism is serious stuff and I'm here for very selfish reasons. I'm here to stay alive.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Estate Sale Treasures

I love going to Estate Sales. I like looking into other people's lives and it's interesting to see what things people have collected over the years;plus, every now and then you stumble across some really cool stuff.

My neighbor across the street had a living estate sale this past weekend. Very convenient to have one across the street. I live in a small town and I think everyone in town came by her house for the sale. The time that I wasn't in her house nosing around through her stuff I spent watching the people come and go. I love people watching and usually we have a very quiet street. So for a new mom who hasn't gotten out much, this was quite an event!!!

The first thing I found was a wooden spool holder filled with thread and a small metal holder. I have already hung it in my studio. I then found a larger sized color wheel. which is not in the picture.

I also found a piece of vintage fabric with a stamp design. Hoping to do a series with postage stamp images using my grandfather's huge collection. This would be great backing fabric for the series.

And finally, an old embroidered dresser scarf. It just looks neat.

The next day I returned and got many more things. Overnight I'd had time to think about what I saw the day before and how I'd use some of the items and where I'd store them. My studio is shared with my washing machine/dryer, recycle bins,dog and kitty supplies and my daughter's computer desk so space and storage require careful thought or I may end up burying myself and having no workspace.

So on day 2 of the sale I got 2 bags of silk and chiffon scarves for art quilting. These washed up quite well and I bundled them by color into a container. Now they remind me of a fabric version of a crayon box. Just need to hide them from my 5 yr. old daughter!

An old quilt that is really a cutter quilt due to its condition. Not sure if I can cut it though. It has a nice flower motif and is hand done. I'll have to take some close ups of the daisy flower design within the blocks.

An unfinished quilt top. Plan to use as a tablecloth.

Another piece of vintage cotton fabric. Love the bold floral design.

And for the grande finale.....A big stash of wooden stretcher bars, a box full of a variety of wiggly/teddybear eyes, and a roll on non-woven interfacing.

I'm very excited about my finds and the have all found happy homes in my studio. Now I need to find the time to make some new things with my new finds;but, my baby boy turned 2 months today and he's growing SO fast... I think I better just spend this time holding him....these new treasures aren't going anywhere. I have the rest of my life to create and sooner than I realize my baby boy will be running around instead of needing to be held ALL the time. Such a sweet little boy!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Charity Auction Quilt

I made an art quilt for a charity auction this week. The auction is for the National Speleological Society (NSS) of which my husband is a member. In the past I have made quilts for the state organization;but, the national convention is in Texas this year and they are also having a fund-raising auction. This auction is part of the International Congress of Speleology (ICS) which is being held at the same time as the NSS thingy in Kerrville. It's unusual to have the ICS in the USA as it's only every 4 years and last time in was in Greece. Too bad old Uncle Sam couldn't send Charles to that one! Seeing that Kerrville is just 2 hours from our house;it's more affordable and he was accepted to present about bats, so he's very excited. I'm very excited that baby Charlie is still hanging out in my belly so we can enjoy a family time of no pets, hot breakfasts, no dishes, no housekeeping and a swimming pool before he arrives.

At dinner the other night Charles commented about how it was too bad I didn't make anything for the auction. Of course, SOMEONE had neglected to tell me that there was an auction...HMMM wonder who?

So, in an end of pregnancy burst of energy (we're 2 weeks and couting here) I managed to create a piece to donate. I really like how it turned out and it's going to be hard to give it up;but, the money raised goes to a good cause. I wish I had gotten my act together sooner to enter a piece in the Salon competiton...but I was too distracted by all things baby to get it together by the deadline. I do think some of my best work is done under pressure so I'm pleased with what I have to give and it's always fun to see what the final selling price turns out to be.

I started out by painting/dying fabric with Dye-na-Flow paints.

Decided to go with a cave scene landscape inspired by a trip to Bracken Cave in Comal County.

This is one of the trips the convention goers will have an opportunity to see next week.

I free motion stiched a variety of threads to enhance the painting for the sky
and I used my needle felting machine along with free motion stitching and a variety of fabrics for the land and caves.
For the bats I used some tiny bat brads that I got at a scrapbooking store. It turned out that they were just the right size.
For the backing I used a bluebonnet batik fabric that I got a few years back in Kerrville, which is where the conference is being held this time. It is made especailly for the Creations Quilt Store in Kerrville so I thought that would be a good choice for the back.

I decided not to frame it as the conference is an international one so being unframed it will be easier to pack. It measures a little bigger than a size of regular paper.
I have enough dyed material to make a similar smaller one for my etsy shop
and I want to make a whole cloth quilt for my shop of the Blanket Flower that I painted as well; I'm feeling tired again!
I titled it "Summer Flight". Sure hope it brings in a good amount and I sure hope little Charlie stays put for the week so I can chill out in Kerrville by the pool and enjoy a freshly made bed and warm breakfast each day...we'll see!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Enjoy the Journey- May Journal Quilt

Well, I'm getting a little more done lately. Must be that pre-baby burst of energy. Here is May's journal quilt and it's only July 3rd! I've had it done since June though, just now getting it posted while my husband shampoos our carpets...(great benefit of being pregnant).

I started with a base of commercial fabric that looks hand-dyed.

I used a bunch of green curly ribbons from the baby shower that I was given in May. I decided to try to melt and fuse them and it actually worked. I used bonash powder to hold it down and then layered netting on top to secure it in place with quilting to make it extra secure.

This is what it looked like after being melted, fused and layered with netting.

It started to look like a map to me with the ribbon like continents and the fabric like the ocean. I decided to echo free-motion quilt around the green ribbon parts. This reminded me of contour lines on a topographic map.

In the above picture you can also see the needle felted edge that I did with yarn and the Embellisher. I used black yarn to go with the black thread I used for quilting.

At this point I wasn't really sure where this was going as what was going to be a quilt about my baby shower in May had turned into a map quilt. I put it aside for a little bit waiting for an idea of what to do next. One day when I was putting away the gift bags from the shower that had piled up in my studio I came across this ribbon from one of the presents.

It has cars and trains on it and I thought that would kind of go with the map idea and it's from the shower too. I appliqued it down horizontally across the piece and then thought of the phrase "Enjoy the Journey". That fit in too as that's what I've been trying to do this whole pregnancy as I'm thinking this will most likely be my last journey into motherhood as I'm old and tired and our house and cars are now full. Plus, I'm already feeling like we are going to be out numbered with just two. Two is enough for this doubly blessed old lady.

So I machine embroidered the words "Enjoy the Journey".
I used water soluble stabilizer to write the words on so that I would have a guide to follow for my stitching. I stitched over it twice to make it stand out more.

So in the end it did all come together in a way that makes sense to me. YEA!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

April is DONE! WHOO-HOO!!

Thanks to a wonderful day camp for my daughter, I was able to finish up my April Journal quilt. YIPPEE!!! I ended up machine needle felting a large spiral on the piece that I hadn't originally planned on;but, it needed something more and I have a Baby Lock Embellisher that I hardly use and I love there you go. It has a spiral...kinda goes with the baby theme...big spiral into little spiral...little spiral into big spiral....

There is a song by Regina Spektor that I love and can't remember the name of except for I sing the verse about putting the love you made into someone else's heart, pumping someone else's blood and walking arm in arm you hope it don't get hard if even if it does you would do it all again...OK, now that I'm signing it in my head I think the name is "On the Radio";but, I thought about that song while felting the spirals.

I think about my sweet Claire and my sweet little yet to be born Charlie and how they have our hearts in their hearts pumping their blood...and I think about my little lovely that was only around for a few weeks when I miscarried in September and how I'd still do it all again... And how I was hoping so much to be able to have another baby since about 2005 and was not really wanting to jump in and get my heart broken;but, I was willing to be open to the possibility. And how when I came home from my aunt's funeral in 2006 and told my husband I wanted more babies, he said he didn't think that after Katrina and my grandma's and aunt's death was really a good time to make a major life decision. And how he was right and I didn't even know I had a brain tumor at the time. And how years later when my brain tumor doctor asked if I was prepared to possibly not have any more children ever again, I started to weep. And how my daughter started praying each night to be a big sister because she asked me for a baby and I told her that she needed to talk to God about it because I couldn't do anything about it and so she did... each night faithfully praying out loud to be a big sister and it would make my heart hurt because I really didn't think it would happen. And how my cycle finally returned after 5 years and by then my husband was willing to take a chance and leave it up to God and just how blessed I really am....and how really little faith I have;but, God comes through anyway and how His timing is really perfect....And how, as my daughter Claire says, "my belly is getting bigger and Charlie is getting stronger" and how in just a few weeks I'll get to meet him! YEA!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

April Journal Quilt

OK, OK, I know it is May 28th and here I am blogging about April's journal quilt. Let's just say I've had a lot going on.

I've been working on gifts for my daughter's teachers and they have been turning out quite nicely. (I'll post them at a future date.) They are wonderful teachers and really deserve a special gift so that's no problem. I've enjoyed creating their gifts.

Oh, and I'm having my second child, a son (Charlie) in about 10 weeks. My scheduled day is Friday July 31st. So, I've been distracted by nesting and cute little baby things...and eating...and resting...and trying to relish in my big pregnant self as this is most likely the last time I'll be pregnant. (I'm old and we only have a 2 bedroom house and a 4 seater other words...we're full.)

OK, so here's what I've done with April so far in between everything else....

I like this pink commercial fabric that has a hand dyed look and my daughter had this cool waste cardboard from a bingo game in a Kid's Meal that looked to me like a great stencil and I just got a bigger container of pearl Lumiere paint.SOOOO....

I laid the stencil on the fabric...

Used a sponge brush to paint on the pearl paint...

And kept repeating until the whole cloth was covered.... TA-DAH!

I have since rubber stamped the words "Mommy's Belly is Getting Bigger and Charlie is Getting Stronger!" (this is what my daughter said in April and what the teacher wrote down on the class notepad when it was her turn for sharing time in pre-school) in black ink to a section of the fabric and I have layered it and will quilt it soon. I will probably quilt free motion circles around the stenciled circled with black thread...not sure exactly when I'll do that;but, it's nice that I have a plan.

Now...need to start thinking of MAY!!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

March Journal Quilt 2009

This is my first journal quilt. My quilting buddy, Cindy, and I have decided to do one journal quilt a month between now and next March. Our town, Lampasas, has a needle arts festival each March and we are going to have a display of our year of journal quilts at Cindy's quilt shop, Fatty Corner's Quilts. Her shop is located in Perk's Coffee Bar and is full of all kinds of unique fabrics and art quilting supplies. She also has an Etsy shop and the link is on my Etsy shop page.

So I started with a piece of muslin which I mono printed with acrylic paint a few months ago. It had mainly green and I wanted more blue so I over dyed it with Dye-Na-Flow blue paint and added more blue color with textile pastel sticks.

I wrote in some words with blue fabric pens that sum up this month...




Charlie kicks and kicks and kicks

Walks to school


Lucie escapes often

(Charlie is my baby in my belly due in August and Lucie is our very smart doggie)

I wrote the words on the part that is lighter that looks like a river or stream to me which kinda goes with our getting some much needed rain.

I layered the piece with white netting from the Easter eggs we filled with candy this month and also some blue tulle just cause I like the sparkles.

I free motion quilted different patterns and then machine needle felted the edges with blue and green fabric and yarn. I used torn strips of green cotton lame and torn strips of batik fabric in a bluebonnet wildflower pattern. I used green and blue twisted yarn. The green lame came from The City Quilter in New York City, the batik fabric came from Creations in Kerrville, TX and the yarn came from Quilttrends in Columbus, OH.

I layered it with Hobbs Thermore batting which I won at the quilt guild in Killeen. The backing fabric is a St. Patrick's Day print given to me by my friend and master seamstress, Monnie.

The edges seemed finished with the needle felting and I like the rough look so I just left them alone. It is a little bigger than our chosen size of 81/2" by 11" ;but, it's our challenge to ourselves and we make the rules so I think it's OK.

When I started it I wasn't really sure I'd like the outcome;but, now that it is done, I'm pleased with how it turned out. I think for my first journal quilt, it's a good one. I tried to make it have a Marchy feel and I had fun making it. I showed it to my husband and he said that he thinks part of it looks like a big tongue. Ha! That's funny and true. Can you see the tongue? Until he said that I never noticed it. Maybe it's subliminal because I'm in the "eat the house down" phase of my pregnancy! HMMM??

Monday, March 16, 2009

Valentine's Challenge Postcard

This is my fabric postcard entry for 2009. I used my Amethyst Dream woven fabric as my background. I really love making and using that stuff.

This is a close up view of the larger heart. The center is fabric paper I created, the middle one is sewn with RickyTims razzle Dazzle thread and the outer one in metallic elastic cording that I couched down.

This is the smaller heart on the right side. It is three hearts sewn using the Ricky Tims Razzle Dazzle thread. This thread on my machine has to be sewn from reverse by using the bobbin as it's so thick.

This is a detail shot of some of the decorative embroidery stitches that I used on the woven fabric background. I used a varigated purple thread for this stitching which gives it a neat effect.

Fiber Arts magazine invited people to send in a fabric postcard valentine. The Valentine was then mailed from their hometown post office in Loveland, Colorado. Loveland offers its own special postmark for the holiday each year, along with a poem, that is lovingly handstamped by local volunteers.
This was their third and most successful year yet. They received over 300 cards to pass along which came from across the United States and Canada and some from as far away as Australia, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

The link to the showcase of 2009 Valentines as an e-book is bleow. I'm on page 9 of the e-book as far as I can tell. It's printed on the bottom right corner of the page.

It was a fun challenge and although I didn't win any of the cool prizes, I did get printed in their magazine and on their website. I also got my postcard cancelled with an interesting postmark from Loveland, Colorado and it was also stamped with a short Valentine's poem. I plan to enter again next year.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

King Cake

Today is Three King's Day, Jan. 6th. The day the magi visited Baby Jesus. I'm a New Orleans native so Epiphany, Three King's Day, has always been a fun and special day for me as it is the Twelfth Night of Christmas and the start of Carnival.

Carnival or Mardi Gras season will run from now until Mardi Gras Day(the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday). Today is the day the King Cake parties begin. As a school child that meant yummy cake every day at school unless the person who was supposed to bring the cake forgot. Each cake has a baby hidden inside (represents the Christ Child) and whomever was fortunate enough (or unfortunate enough, depending on how many times you'd gotten the baby and how tired your parents were of having to buy a king cake for the whole class) to get the piece of cake with the baby you were the King or Queen of the day and had to bring the next cake.

The cakes are oval shaped and decorated in carnival royalty colors of purple, green and gold for the three kings. So since I no longer live in New Orleans where King Cakes are readily available, I have had a continuous experiment trying to make ones of my own. Of course many bakeries in New Orleans will ship you a delicious King Cake and I highly recommend that too as my attempts have never quite measured up to the real deal.

HOWEVER, if you would like to try it on your own, here are the ones I've tried...

This was in 2007. My first attempt at baking my own King Ckaes. I used King Arthur Flour Cinnamon Roll Mix and used food colored to color the frosting. I used king cake babies that I had saved from other years.

Last year I didn't bake my own. I was in New Orleans for the new year and flew home with one suitcase full of King Cakes!

This year I did 2 kinds. The first is super easy and worked well for my daughter's Sunday School class. I didn't put in a baby as I worried that they might not know and choke. (not good) All Idid was bake the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls from the can. Before I baked them, I arranged them close together in an oval shape. When they were done I iced them with the icing they provide and then sprinlked on colored sugar. The sugars were actually leftovers I saved from an Easter cookie Wilton sugar cookie shaker type container like you find in the baking aisle. But, I'm pretty sure your can buy individual purple, green and yellow sugars.

The other one I tried this year is a cake for us at home. This time I used Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix. It is in a box near the bisquick and baking/panckae mixes. I follwed the dierctions for the Cinnamon Rolls on the side of the box. I used 2 boxes and it made one cake the size of a cookie sheet. I did hide a baby in this one and I used the same colored sugars as I used on the canned cinnamon roll one.

Here it is before baking....

And here it is fresh out of the oven...

So today we moved the 3 Kings into the nativity scene (yes, I keep my Christmas stuff up every year until at least Jan 6th) and tonight we will celebrate by having cake and my daughter will open a small gift left for her by the Three Kings. It is usally something small and wrapped in gold paper or white paper with gold ribbon. The past two years brought her a toy stethascope and a DVD. This year I think they are bringing her a small doll. We'll find out tonight!

Happy Three Kings Day!!!!