Tuesday, December 30, 2008


This is what I'm finding out this week--if you don't have to go to work, you have time and energy for playing. I'm not heading for any "goals" this week, I'm letting myself play. (And read. Read and play.)

Monday, December 29, 2008

A new padfolio and lots and lots of snow

Hancocks had the most unusual batik on sale before Christmas, and the second I saw it, I knew it had to be a padfolio for my co-worker, Cindy. She and her husband raise longhorns and she's a fan of a football team in Texas that are called the Horns, I guess, so it just seemed destined to be. Joann's had the most perfect little horn button, too, and I used a leather cord to hold it closed.

It turned out really well, I think. (Ok, some of the cows are upside down, but we don't really need to see that.

The other thing going on for the past couple of weeks is the phenomenal amount of snow we've had. By Sunday morning the snow was up to my hip--3 feet of heavy, wet snow. We had 10" in one night. It's melting now, but more keeps showing up in the forecast. It's dramatic, if nothing else.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Christmas cards

I finished the rest of the Christmas postcards I'm sending out this winter. Next year I'm hoping to start earlier and get more done. The one on the left is for my mom. They were more simple than I wanted them to be, but I just keep running out of time. (But I'm not going to bemoan my job because I'm feeling more and more lucky that I have one.)

I think that with the week off I have after Christmas I'm going to get started on next year's batch while I'm still in the spirit. I just bought a batch of Transfer Artist Paper and I'm eager to put some different images on next year's batch.

I find myself wondering what things will be like next year. My mother is declining much more quickly now than she had been, and my sister-in-law is still fighting stage 4 lung cancer. So much can change in 12 months. I find myself wanting to appreciate people while they're with me, more than before.
We had a spectacular sunset last week that I just had to share. It's really inspiring, somehow, to see this on a cold winter's evening. It's like the sun sending a "Don't worry--I'm still here!" message.

Friday, October 31, 2008

It all went by so fast...

One moment they're babies and the next they're ready to go out on their own. (And what a nice person he's grown up to be!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Annual Quilting Weekend

Last weekend was our annual quilting weekend. It starts with a trip to the quilt show in Spokane and then a weekend of quilting and laughing. This year we didn't take pictures, but we had a wonderful time. All three of us were working on Christmas presents of one sort or another. I decided that since I send so few Christmas presents anymore, I might as well send fabric postcards instead, so people I still send to have something homemade. My free motion quilting could use some work, but I loved the way the Christmas trees turned out.

There's something about free motion quilting that I seem to have to practice each time before I use it. I'm usually really "tight" until I've done it on three or four pieces and then I loosen up a bit.

Anyway, it was a fun weekend and we had several episodes of laughing until we couldn't talk, and tears came from our eyes. That's the mark of a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

For Kathleen

I got a chance to see my brother and his family this weekend. I've mentioned, before, that my sister-in-law, Kathleen, has stage 4 lung cancer, so I made her a quilt and wanted to get it to her. As I told her, I couldn't give her a hug every day, but I could make her the softest, warmest thing to wrap around her that I could. I made a rag quilt out of flannel and while it's not the most beautiful thing I've ever made, it has as much love in it as the quilt I made for their wedding years ago.

She took a turn for the worse after we left this weekend and is in the hospital after surgeons cut a second opening in the sac around her heart to allow fluid to drain. I'm just heartbroken for her, for her two 12 year old sons and for my brother. (Who's a big, brave guy on the outside and a marshmallow on the inside.)

As my brother told me this weekend, "Live every day as if it were your last." She had no symptoms in June, was at stage 3 in July, and stage 4 by August. Tell people you love them. Do what brings you joy. Look at the colors around you. Tell children that they're wonderful. Laugh. Don't waste a single moment.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Great Read

I shouldn't be so contrary. I really shouldn't. I have missed the pleasure of this wonderful book for the past ten years.

The subtitle on the edition I read said, "The enchanting novel of love, loss and the power of possibilities." It is about all of those and it is enchanting. It was a very popular book when it came out ten years ago--so popular that I resisted reading it just because everybody else was. What a marvelous book.

Sabine, a former magician's assistant for Parsifal, is left after his death picking up the pieces and putting together the details of a life before he was a magician that he never told her about. He was gay, but they shared their lives for more than 20 years, finally marrying after his lover died. Parsifal died a short time later, and Sabine inherited his family, along with his worldly possessions.

It's uplifting, funny, touching. Definitely worth a read. Ann Patchett is a gifted storyteller.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Economics and Annoying Smart Guys

This is pretty much my take on the economy...

Monday, September 15, 2008

And yet another

I guess it's been the fact that I've had ideas for postcards, but I've sort of been rev'ing up the past couple of weeks. I don't like everything I've been making but I'm liking enough to keep working at it. In this case, the fabric made me think of the bright sunsets we had when I was growing up. I grew up in a semi-desert area in Washington state and the dust in the air made for some beautiful sunsets. My mother would always repeat the little rhyme, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky at morning, sailor's take warning." I guess I'd rather delight the sailors because this is definitely a sunset.

(Oh, and it really is straight--only my photography is crooked.)

The Pondering Pool

I wanted to share something I truly love--cards and posters from The Pondering Pool. Since all of her cards and posters speak to me, I have to use some self-restraint not to buy them all. The artistry is whimsical and beautiful, and they say so much about women's (alright--people's) inner lives. She articulates so well a person's fears, struggles, hopes and dreams. My favorite is this card, which speaks to my on-going struggle with codependency and my seeming need to help everyone in the world. I also have "Sanity", "Laughed to Death" and "Hysteria" as posters on my walls at work. I've given the "Present yourself as a gift" card to more people than I can count.

Love your work, Susan. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The attention span of a postcard

I still don't have enough time or energy to do much work at home, but when you're listening to Regina Spektor, you need color.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Make something or go berserk

Sometimes you start with the first thing you see. (In this case, a piano keyboard.) I used black silk for the black keys but it doesn't translate as well in the picture. Looks pretty cool in person, though.

It's not the easiest time in my life--WSU is in session now (which means that my job is back to very demanding), my mom is in a steady decline and my sister-in-law has stage three lung cancer. (And she was never a smoker.) I love my sister-in-law and that diagnosis knocked me for a loop. She's a fighter, though, so I've decided she's going to make it.

In the meantime, I don't seem to be "verbal". I have almost no conversation except for my two closest friends. So, when you don't have anything to say, you show people what's in your world, I suppose. There's a piano keyboard in mine.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Astrid and Veronika

This last week I read a book that I know will never leave me. "Astrid and Veronika" is not a fast-paced page turner. Instead, it's a gem of a book, meant to be savored. The story is about two unlikely friends--one old and one young--and how they help to heal each other's guilt and sorrow with supreme patience and understanding. I didn't want the book to end, but even the ending was superb. This is one of my top ten favorite books of the last 30 years. Definitely. It's beautiful.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My first attempt

I subscribe to a wonderful "virtual" publication called "Fibre and Stitch" magazine. (http://www.fibreandstitch.com/) As part of the subscription you get to be part of a listserv of wonderfully creative and artistic people. I don't actually feel worthy to be among them, but I view this list as my preparation for "the afterlife"--my life after I retire. (My son will be through college, I'll retire and I'll magically become more creative. Yeah, that's it...)

It happened to be my friend, Susan's, birthday last week, and though I was going through one of the hardest days of my adult life and didn't wish her a happy birthday until nearly bed time, she was very kind and gracious about my senior moment. I've been working on this present for her for the past few weeks, but I'm satin-stitchily challenged and was fighting with it for quite a while. All it took was one post to these generous and helpful list members and I had enough suggestions to be able to pull it off. (Well, pretty much. It's not all that pretty when examined closely but we just won't go there, alright?) It was fun to make, mostly because of the terrific directions (which are among the free projects on their website).

Anyway, Susan's a gardener so she needed a padfolio to make her seed lists in the spring (and her grocery lists the rest of the year) and this was a fun thing to make for someone who's been so good to me for over 20 years now.

Happy (belated) birthday, Susan. Thanks for being my friend, my sense of reason when I'm being a headless chicken, the second-mother to my child, a wonderful person to share this middle-aged no-man's-land with, and one of the best people I know.

And thank you to the generous people on the listserv who helped me finish the project.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

And you can't have Evan, either.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Bad Week Antidote

After the worst week I've had in the library in years (let's hear it for men with bad tempers, shall we?) I decided that making a fabric postcard for my mother would be a nice way to come back to "reality". I made one for my aunt, too. I come from a family of very, very funny, and very spiffy women. They taught me all I know about being a "red hot mama."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Me and my meme

I don't usually do memes, but I saw a fun one, both on Diane's blog and on The Boastful Baker, so I thought I'd give it a try. Here's how the mosaic came out:

Here are the questions:

1. What is your first name? Barb (My name is actually Barbara Ann, but we won't go there, will we?)
2. What is your favorite food? Chicken dijon. (Mmmmm.)
3. What high school did you go to? Kiona-Benton High School. (There aren't any pictures of it on Flickr, so you'll have to settle for what my town looked like.)
4. What is your favorite color? Lapis
5. Who is your celebrity crush? Colin Firth. (Yum.)
6. Favorite drink? Pepsi. (I know, I'm just a kid, still.)
7. Dream vacation? Italy. A villa, specifically.
8. Favorite dessert? Creme Brulee
9. What you want to be when you grow up? Transcendent. I have a lot of growing up to do.
10. What do you love most in life? Laughter
11. One Word to describe you. Irreverent.
12. Favorite Music? All kinds, but who can beat John Denver?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Turning over a new leaf in May

And the final one, the only one that was on time.

I'm sad that I won't be in the next Bead Journal Project--too much is going on in my life right now, and I really wasn't able to give it the time I wanted to. But I learned so much from it, and I'll always be glad I participated. I definitely learned a lot about self-discipline and what you can do when you push.

I am determined to turn over a new leaf as this page symbolizes. I am a caretaker. I worry more about other people and their needs than I do about myself. That has to stop. I need to show as much caring for myself as I do for other people. I've always been worried that that's selfish, but I'm realizing that it's just reasonable. I worry constantly about letting other people down, about not giving them what they need. The last few months have shown me that I need to give myself what I need, too. What I need is time, quiet, space...whether other people understand it or not.

I've been mother to my own mother, mother to people at work, mother to friends. I comfort, reassure, anticipate needs. I do the same for my own son, who's the person who should actually be getting those things. And I also need to mother myself enough to bring myself back to health--physically, emotionally, psychologically.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

April BJP

Ah, one of the most emotionally honest and on-point journal pages. Who hasn't fantasized about just flying away? In one of my favorite books, "Time Off From Good Behavior", Susan Sussman says, "Show me a woman who hasn't fantasized getting in the car and leaving home and I'll show you a woman who doesn't know how to drive." It isn't always leaving home--sometimes it's leaving a job, leaving your life. Sometimes the Maine woods sound really good to me. But it's just a desire for escape, isn't it? A desire to have the *ability* to run away from your life, even if you wouldn't do it. To know that I *can* if I want. As my friend Linda likes to say when I'm stuck in a meeting and she's not, "I can go in; I can go out; I can go in; I can go out..." It's the choice that feels good.

April was a month where the urge to escape was at its greatest. But escape from what, exactly? Nothing I could put my finger on. Just...life.

The ribbon I dyed doesn't look as good on the picture as it did in real life. It was a combination of blues and greens that nearly made me swoon with pleasure. I love color.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Behinder with catchup

Well, enough things have happened since the middle of February that I haven't had a chance to do much beading much less posting. I've had to make my pages more simple since I haven't been able to spend much time on the project. I've finished three more in the last several days, though, and am closing in on the last two.

So here, at my normal late pace, are January, February and March.

For January, I started with one of my favorite quotes from William Blake: "Improvement makes straight roads: but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius." That's what I feel about art, life, everything--it's the crooked paths I've taken that have meant the most to me. I had to laugh because this piece fought me the whole way through--nothing went as I wanted it to, but I was determined to keep it improvisational and let it be what it was. I have time to make pretty things, but even though this is my "ugly child", I love the fact that I let it be. Letting go of control isn't easy for me, but I'm reaching the point where I realize I have no other choice.

And for February, a love poem to myself:

I've spent way too much of my life seeking approval from others, and invested way too much of myself in finding just the right person or thing. I loved the words from Margaret Cho--you have to be the person you want. I'm working on it.

March was my birthday! A little challenging to celebrate, but all the better for it. Sometimes I think that you have the chance to reinvent yourself every day. I'm taking advantage of that more and more all the time. And I'm finding that my true friends are the ones who not only let me reinvent myself, but who celebrate it along with me. You'll notice from the piece that my arms are very, very long, and any figure I bead seems to get chubbier and chubbier with every row. I've decided to think of that as a "feature".

I'm almost done with April and I should be finished with May in the next couple of weeks. I admire the people who can bead a whole piece, but I guess I'll reach that point when I retire.

Friday, February 22, 2008

October, November, December: the project goes on

As long as we pretend we're not almost done with February, I'm kind of catching up! (What's a few weeks between friends?)

October, my most colorful page to date, was a page about my wonderful son, Evan. He is a bass player extraordinaire, and music is his life. The beads surrounding the guitar represent all the energy that he exudes when he's in his groove. He has brought so much color and vibrancy into my life in the 16+ years he's been around. I'm looking forward to a lot more music from that kid. (As well as laughs.)

Ah, November. My aunt's funeral was in November. Etta was my "double" aunt. My mother and her sister married my dad and his brother. We had a family of "double cousins" which we were constantly having to explain to people. Etta, my aunt, was my mother's second set of eyes. She worked at the office in our school and anything I did at school beat me home by two hours. But she was a wonderful aunt and cared about us very much. Anyway, November was sort of a wet, sad month for me, and so I reminded myself of what was important--the serenity within me (thus the lotus outline) and the wisdom I carry with me (the owl bead in the center). It may be a time of dying leaves, but what I am is untouched.

Brrrrrrrrrrr. This has been a cold winter on the Palouse. We had snow on the ground for so long that I remarked to my doctor that if it weren't for trips to Walla Walla to take care of my mom, I'd forget what bare ground looks like. And now that it's melting again, the ground looks very bare. But snow is beautiful...at least at first, and I loved making snowflakes as the snow was coming down outside. I remembered that I had this "wintery" fabric in my scrap pile and it was just perfect.

Let's warm up now. I'm ready for spring.

If my feet can't be bare...

You Are Flip Flops

You are laid back and very friendly.

Cheery and sunny in disposition, you usually have something to smile about.

Style is important to you, as long as you can stay casual.

It takes a lot to get you to dress up!

You are a loyal and true person, though you can be a bit of a flake.

You tend to "play hooky" and blow off responsibilities a lot more than most people.

You should live: By the beach

You should work: At a casual up and coming company

Friday, February 1, 2008


I work at Washington State University, an institution that very rarely closes, no matter what's going on. They didn't even close the libraries when we were covered in ash from the Mt. St. Helens eruption. But evidently what it takes to close the place down are 2' of snow (virtually overnight) and high winds. We got the day off, and here's what it looks like.

In celebration of the day off (even though the grocery stores are running out of essentials like milk because all the roads are closed and nothing can get in) it was time to make snowflakes. They'll be incorporated into my January page for the bead journal project and they're very fun to make.

Sorry they're a little blurry--I need a tripod.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Don't say you're "behind" unless you check with me first

Yes, I'll admit it, I'm a "behinder". I just finished September's page (pictured here) and am started on October's.

When you work for a university, your year begins in the fall and ends in the spring. (Summer is sort of it's own time.) As annoying as it can be to live and work in a "daycare for 19 year olds", I'll admit that I sort of miss them by the end of the summer. (Don't tell anyone that, though.) So, in honor of the start of my year, a piece reflecting a fresh start, renewal and growth. (With my hand-dyed fabric as background.)