Friday, December 26, 2014

The Most Wonderful Gift

Alec gave me a gift on Christmas Eve.  He connected our old VCR and put in a tape of my parents playing with him and a shadow.  He was 18 months at the time.  Daddy was filming and Mother was talking to him about what shadows are.  Toward the end of the clip my Dad sang "Me and my shadow, walking down the avenue."  It was the most beautiful thing I've seen and heard in months.  Just to hear my Dad's voice again and to hear my Mother sound like she used to was utterly joyful and overwhelming.  It was a little moment in time that caught both of my parents' spirits and showed what kind of parents and grandparents they were.  I had not ever seen that video before.  In this year of so much loss and sadness, my son gave me the most wonderful gift.  A lovely memory of my parents that I didn't even know existed.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Losing My Mother

Late in the day on September 11, 2001 I sat on my kitchen floor and talked to my mother on the phone.  She listened to what I had to say.  About how scared I was watching the buildings burn from my office's window.  About my friend giving me money in case the banks were down.  About walking uptown to meet Alan who walked downtown from Washington Heights so we could pick up Alec from school.  About the irony of seeing a billboard advertising The Hallmark Channel that said "story upon story upon story.  No, not the World Trade Center."  About all the poor souls who died and what would happen next.  We talked about so much that day.  But then, we always spent a long time on the phone talking - mostly about politics (we agreed on just about everything, thankfully), but also about all sorts of things.  That was thirteen years ago.

Tonight my mother is spending her fourth day in the nursing facility that is her new home.  She has dementia.  She will probably never see her home or belongings again.  They say the nursing home is a good place.  I haven't seen it yet but my sister chose it and the lawyer confirms that it is a safe place.  We've known this day was coming for a long time.  My father's death in July took away her final anchor to reality and she has been spiraling down ever since.  And the medical "professionals" have been absolutely no help.

My mother was always a tough cookie.  Hard to please and easy to anger.  But as the youngest, and her favorite, I got a little more slack than my sisters and we had many good times together.  She taught me to sew.  She could sew like no one else I've ever known.  She made draperies, slipcovers, clothing for my sisters and me.  All were impeccable sewn and beautifully tailored.  And she, unlike me, always finished her projects.  No closet full of  half-made stuff for her.  But that was a long time ago.  She can't and doesn't do much of anything now.

A conversation with her in the last few years would last no more than a minute or two.    Often she'd circle back to something she'd already asked.  Now she is really angry and thinks her daughters have abandoned her.  I've called every day but she never answers the phone.  I call the nurses station and they tell me she is asleep.  They say she is doing fine.  I doubt it.  But at least I am relatively sure she is safe. 

Sunday would have been my Dad's 93rd birthday and my mother will spend it without him for the first time in 69 years.  Without her husband, without her home, without her mind.  I feel sadder than I ever have felt before.  Even worse than I felt on September 11, 2001.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Swift Kicks in 2014

It's time to reactivate this blog.  The last post was in 2011, you say?  Yes, I know but that's ok.

Every once in a while life gives you a good swift kick.  So far in 2014 those kicks have been coming hard and fast.  Some good - my son got his first job out of college and is on his own living in Washington, DC and is happy, healthy, and has a wonderful group of friends who care a great deal about him.  Other kicks - not so good. 

My rescue cat Alice died suddenly in January of FIP.  My 92 year old father is very ill and has been in the hospital twice as well as a rehab facility.  He's home now but needs full time care as he's very weak.  There are more kicks that keep coming but why dwell...

In the gentle good kick department I was given the opportunity to help Melanie Testa sew samples for the launch of her fabric line "Meadowlark" for Windham Fabrics.  It was just what I needed to get me out of a creative slump.  I haven't worked with fabric in several years because I've been playing around with mixed media, journaling, and painting.  Working with fabric doesn't give me the instant gratification that sitting down and painting does.  Although my results are hit or miss, I find that sitting at my drafting table drawing and painting are very soothing.  I don't really care so much about the end product. Quilting and sewing are different.  I am very results oriented, probably because my mother, who taught me to sew, always sewed perfectly and finished everything she started beautifully. I, on the other hand, am a procrastinator when it comes to needle and thread.  I have several projects that need just a little more work to be complete.  I have one project that needs a lot more work. 

But Melly's fabric launch gave me a chance to get back into designing and sewing.  It was great fun and as a result the quilting bug is back.  Just when I thought I was over it...they sucked me back in...or something like that.

Anyway, I am guest blogging on Melly's blog on June 12th as part of the blog hop for the launch.  Check it out.  Below is the link to all of the blogs participating.  My post is the last one.  If you go to each blog and leave comments you have a chance to win some really beautiful fabric as well as Melly's book "Dreaming From the Journal Page."

Melly – June 2
Vivien Zepf – June 2
Chrissie D – June 3
Sue Bleiweiss – June 4
Leslie Tucker Jenison  June 5
Jamie Fingal – June 6
Lyric Kinard – June 7
Jen Eskridge – June 8
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun – June 8  <——-Jacqui will be guest posting on Melly's blog!
Stephanie Forsyth – June 9
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – June 10
Teri Lucas – June 11
Scott Hansen June 12
Helen Eckard – June 12 <——-Helen will be guest posting on Melly's blog!

So, hopefully, after you tour all the other blogs, I will see you back here with a new post - before 2017...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Distracted by Shiny Things

 I haven't posted in awhile.  But have been working on my sketchbook.  No fabric painting.  Just playing around with shapes and patterns using acrylic paint, watercolors and colored pencils.  Thought I'd post some photos and see if anyone has any tips on working with acrylic paint.  I'm using Golden Fluid acrylics.  And I just LOVE the shiny gold.  It's really easy to work with.  But some of the other colors...not so easy.  Anyway, below is my most recent painting.  I know, it's kind of busy, but I'm crazy about color and pattern.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Do Japan and A Fallen Tree Have in Common?

For many years my husband and I have had an ongoing debate over the philosophical question - "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound?" He says No. I say Yes. Obviously we think in different ways.

I've been thinking about this question for the last few days and it's relationship to Japan and the Media. The US Media is now almost completely focused on the emergency at the Fukashima nuclear plant AND it's possible effects on us here in the US. I realize that it's been almost two weeks since the earthquake/tsunami, that the US is now involved in the Libya excursion, that we have short attention spans and, "Hey, it's all about us isn't it?!?" but there are thousands upon thousands of people and animals who have been left to suffer in the wake of this triple disaster.

If a disaster happens and the Media leaves did it still happen? YES, and we can't desert the survivors. As best as we can, we all have to help.

Please donate what you can:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Climbing Out of the Rut One Step At a Time

I'm in a rut.  A deep, deep rut.  This seems to happen every time I start to work on a project.  I have lots of ideas and even get started on a project or two and then...hit the wall and become completely overwhelmed.

It's not as if I haven't done anything.  I've been working on designing a database at work for the last couple of weeks and have been learning to use Microsoft Access.  It's been really rewarding putting things together and then seeing that it works.  It's creative in a way.  But not creative in the way I want to be.

I'm in a deep, deep rut and keep slipping down the sides every time I try to climb out.  My husband thinks I need to get some exercise - he's probably right. I think I need to turn off the tv  - definitely true.  I've been looking at books in my library that always inspire - Twyla Tharp's "The Creative Habit" and Danny Gregory's "The Creative License."  They're helpful.  But then, I'm really good at using reading as an excuse to not do anything.  I need to find a class to take since I always do better when there is structure.  When there is homework.  When there are expectations.  Let to my own devices I will do...nothing. 

A while back I decided that to take a drawing class.  Have I looked for a class yet?  Not really.  So, this week I'm going to do one thing.  Look for a beginner's drawing class in NYC.  That shouldn't be too hard.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Making Art With The Skills You Have

Or to quote an unnamed politician..."You go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had..."

It can be intimidating to read other artists' blogs, books, articles...especially when your skill level doesn't "measure up" least not yet.  In my mind, I want to create beautiful realistic and whimsical designs like Judy Coates Perez or bold graphic designs like Jane Sassaman.  In reality I don't.

I spend my days as the only "non-creative" in a design firm surrounded by very talented artists.  That is intimidating.  In my dreams I have the drawing and design skills of my friend and co-worker Bill Hoffman.  In reality I don't.

But as artists we all have a choice.  We can do nothing because of the fear that we'll never measure up (and for years that is what I did) or we can make art anyway.  And that means working with the abilities we have and trying to improve them a step at a time.

Each one of us has a unique voice and story to tell.  No one  can tell my story except me.  So I choose to make art even if it doesn't always meet my "standards". That's my reality and that's the only way I will find my artistic voice.