Category Archives: Personal

Getting It Out in the Open

I mentioned in a recent post that my studio is suffering from some disorganization. There are a lot of different ways to address the problem. The right solution will differ for each person, and the best right way is one that leads to maintenance, not just a one-time fix that quickly degrades. After all, if you go through a Marie Kondo-style process and immediately begin refilling your space and life with unnecessary stuff, you didn’t actually fix anything.

Okay, well, my problem isn’t that bad.

Even so, I feel a need to get all the stuff in my rolling drawer units out in the open. To be clear, I will KEEP virtually all of it. But I need to see it, so I know what’s there and can decide where it goes, or how to proceed.

There are nine drawers. Let’s take a look.

Drawer 1: Maple leaf blocks of various sizes; freezer paper template for Garden Maze cornerstone block; crayon instructions plus crayon-colored muslin from family vacation 10 years ago; quick penciled outlines of family members hands, same vacation. Keeping for now: the maple leaf blocks, even with no plan or motivation to use them; Garden Maze template; crayon instructions. Getting rid of those muslin pieces. The fabric quality was poor, and the family has more grandkids and different adults. It was a good idea for a project but I never loved it enough to execute. Also recycled the penciled hand outlines, similar reasoning. I’m not sentimental enough to keep them just because.

Drawer 2: Stencils, paint brushes, relief forms, and oil Shiva Paintstiks; Painstiks instruction and design book; test designs from Painstiks workshop. Keeping it all. Putting the crayon-on-fabric instructions into this drawer. Will review how I store all my art supplies that aren’t quilt-specific.

Drawer 3: This drawerful began with intention to create an art quilt, a specific project that didn’t happen and probably won’t. I have moved fabric into it and out of it. Right now the majority of items living here are red scraps. A lot of red scraps! The rest is some red and white parts, a copy of the Constitution, and seven blocks that I didn’t quite finish. UGH. I read a thought this year about organizing that said if you can do something in two minutes or less, you should go ahead and do it, rather than put it on a list. UGH UGH UGH. It didn’t take only two minutes, but I did go ahead and finish those seven blocks, since they were just 9-patches. Then I pulled a piece from the red scraps big enough to make five more blocks. And I pulled from stash some blue and some beige, to make hourglass blocks. This will move toward being a quilt for the VA hospital.

Drawer 4: Bags, mostly plastic of various sizes, mostly with zip-tops, and a few paper bags. You never know when you might need a bag.

Drawer 5: Parts. These are orphan blocks of various types, and leftover pieces of binding. I dig through them now and then, and sometimes find something useful.

Drawer 6: Scraps. (Unfortunately, it’s not all the scraps. As noted, most of the red ones are in Drawer 3, there is another mighty pile of scraps on top of my cutting table, and I’m afraid of what I might find when I get to Drawers 7-9.) Most of them are roughly sorted by color and stuffed in zip bags, something I did this year to make my life better. I do use scraps in quilts, but at this point in my life, I’m not into making scrap quilts. That means they have a very long half-life. They stay as is.

Drawers 7 through 9, and some other things: These are the ones that scare me. I’ll tackle them next time.


I want to want to quilt! I really do. But quilting time competes with all other parts of life, and some times it doesn’t win. It isn’t just the matter of time, either. In fact, I have a lot of that. What I don’t have in spades is the type of energy that allows creative focus for longer stretches.

Since mid-April, I’ve made four quilt tops and their backs. When I’ve had inclination to “quilt,” the projects have been simple, not stretching my creative muscles very far. One is a Delectable Mountains (the second one I’ve made using the “modern” method,) one is a nursery rhymes quilt (the fourth and final one using panel fabric bought many years ago,) one is a disappearing 9-patch (I’ve made several of them,) and one is a small medallion quilt, which was pre-designed in EQ8. One of the projects has an intended owner; the others will probably be donations for my guild’s next quilt show silent auction.

Inspiration needs to join hands with motivation and energy, and at this point, those three are standing in different corners of the room, glaring at each other. I have a couple of pending projects that are inspiring, but they are “hard,” and have issues to sort out before moving forward. Motivation is not volunteering to help with that.

As far as that goes, simple projects can offer inspiration, too. Here are a couple of quick ideas I drew this morning in EQ8. You can click on either picture to open them full-sized.

The two designs are the same other than the alternate block. One uses a 3-strip rail fence block and the other uses a snowball. Pretty, huh? I like simple quilts. After I drew these I felt inspired and pretty charged up, ready to head downstairs to pull fabrics for one. Or heck, both use the same 9-patch, so I could do two! And then motivation walked away.

Motivation says, “What’s the point?” And right now, I don’t have an answer.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Summer isn’t quite over, but around here school begins this week. Did you ever write a paper about your summer vacation? I’m not sure if teachers actually assign this essay, or if it’s merely an easy criticism of trite school work. 

Is it trite? Or is it a good way to get students back in the habit of writing? Does the poetic turn of phrase matter as much as simply putting memories into words? If I wait until I’m feeling poetic or literate, I might never write another blog post. Instead, I’ll start here with a few sentences about my year. Perhaps breaking the ice this way will make it easier to write the next one.

Shortly before my last blog post, Jim and I left to visit our son and daughter-in-law. They were about to welcome a new baby into their lives, and we were privileged to be with them when he was born. He is healthy and sturdy and doing well, and both parents are over the moon, in love with the little one.

And shortly before that, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. When we returned from our family visit, I began treatment, which will continue for a few more weeks.

As you might imagine, writing has not been a high priority for me. In the meantime, though, I have made a few quilt tops and backs. I’m not speedy, mostly because I’m also not very inspired or motivated. My stamina is improving post-chemo, but not to the point where I’m interested in spending more than an hour at a time working on anything. And that hour? Might be once or twice a week. Finishing anything is hard at that pace.

Jim and I are trying to enjoy the last of the long summer days. Both of us are getting out for walks more often. We had the thrill of seeing the Big Boy steam engine as it roared past us a few weeks ago. We traveled to see Son and his family last week. On returning Friday, we headed downtown for live music and dancing, and huge hugs with old friends and new ones. Just yesterday we attended a “corn feed” with the sweetest Iowa sweet corn. If you know Iowa sweet corn, you know that it’s the best on the planet. And today I’ll make stuffed poblano peppers, more of the bountiful produce that help make summer so special.

If you have any questions about my diagnosis or the treatment process, you are very welcome to ask, and I reserve the right not to answer. Please NO comments suggesting I’m doing something wrong (not praying or meditating right, not having the right attitude or emotions, not taking supplements I should, not having the right treatment plan… ) NO comments like that, please. They are not helpful.




In the previous episode, I told you some about my process for making the Wind River Beauty quilt. There are a couple of important program notes since then. First, it is still in process!! Yes, the top is done, and has been for, golly, a few weeks. It’s been on my longarm frame and off of it and back on.

In the meantime, I made a baby quilt for my very-soon-to-be-born grandson. Until it’s revealed to the parents, I won’t be sharing it here. And the little guy needs to be revealed first!

The second program note is that I’m taking a bit of a hiatus. Now, you may or may not have noticed that I haven’t been around, either reading or writing. Some family/personal/non-quilting things have come up, taking my attention. I’m not sure when I’ll get back to this, but likely it will be a few weeks.

Thanks as always for reading. I look forward to visiting with you again.

I Love Lucy

Lisa was another band mom at the high school. Unlike me, she’d been through band-mom years before, and she taught me the ropes. We saw each other at concerts and volunteering with marching band. We roomed together on the band trip, taking 200 teenagers to Orlando. We co-chaired the sectional jazz band festival for two years. We called each other “Lucy” and “Ethel,” famous for getting each other in over our heads.

After our sons graduated high school, we didn’t spend as much time together, and we weren’t as close. But she is still very dear to me.

In 2011 I made a quilt for her using some “I Love Lucy” quilting fabric I found. She’s used it a lot over the last few years, and even more since the middle of 2017. In June that year she was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.

She’s spent a lot of time in treatment and in recovery. She went back to work, and last Friday she was able to retire.

Monday she was admitted to the hospital. In late fall she was told the cancer had reappeared. Of course it was never fully gone. Treatment options are limited at this point, but they’ll investigate the possibilities.

This is the quilt I made for her. It suits her now better than ever. She is irrepressible, my Lucy/Lisa.