New work

  
I finished this little (5″ x 7″) piece yesterday. 

  
And sketched out the next piece in the series today. I made three backgrounds with the intention of playing with portraits in my stitched collage style. I was clearly under the influence of my new tube of quinacrodone nickel azo gold when I painted these. I’m trying to be looser with my faces to give them more life; to let them emerge rather than force some sort of symmetry. These rather androgynous figures were an interesting surprise. 

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Sewing makes me feel like a human

  
I made this quilt block yesterday. 

  
This one too. These are the first two blocks in The Splendid Sampler quilt-a-long by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson. They are small, only 6 inches, but they feel like a huge accomplishment and they are making me so happy!

A few years ago I took a total body boot camp circuit training class. Making these blocks felt a bit like that class. One of the cumulative side effects of my chemotherapy is muscle pain and fatigue. How this works in real life is that when I use my arms and legs to do anything my muscles burn like I’m back in boot camp class. Ironing and cutting fabric feels like doing dead lifts or push-ups. I needed a big glass of water and some rest breaks to get it done. 

  
Why bother? For one thing, if I don’t use my muscles I’m afraid I’ll never be able to use them again. For another, makers gonna make. All this enforced rest has meant a ton of time looking at blogs and magazines and I’m filled up with inspiration. I want to make all the things!  But most of all, sitting at that sewing machine felt awesome! Sewing these blocks made me feel like a normal, competent human after so many weeks of being down for the count. 

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Things no one tells you about cancer

 
This is me last August shortly after being diagnosed with breast cancer…tired, grubby and happily enjoying a camping trip with friends, determined to fight but also determined to live my life. I haven’t talked a lot on social media about my cancer because, honestly, I’ve been more interested in living my life than talking about my disease. But cancer is a Big Thing and it’s hard to go through a Big Thing without learning some things that stick with you. Here’s some of what I’ve learned:

  
Life still happens when you have cancer. Cancer is such a huge scary word. It seems like when you get a diagnosis a big huge door must come slamming down putting a halt to everything. Except it doesn’t. You still have your job to do and your bills to pay. You still have to feed the cats and shovel the snow and get your car licensed. There’s still Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas. The sun still rises and sets and the world is still hopelessly beautiful. 

It’s just that now you have this big exhausting, overwhelming list of appointments and tests and procedures and medications that you also have to deal with. And it’s scary, especially at first when you do a lot of waiting for test results to find out anything useful. 

It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by cancer and let it take over your life. And that just pissed me off. I have zero interest in having my life be about cancer. I know I alarmed some people with some of my scheming to schedule treatment so that I could still go to football games. But I knew that as long as I was not jeopardizing my health (and I wasn’t) it was important for me to do my thing, to live my life. 

  

  
It’s really hard to tell people you have cancer. Think about how crappy it is to hear that a friend has cancer. Now think about being a sensitive, compassionate person and having to deliver that news to a friend. It sucks. I did not want to be the source of that fear and pain for people I love.  I was blessed with some angels who took on the burden of doing some of the telling for me and I am forever grateful to them. 

Plus, when you tell people you have cancer, you have to talk about your cancer and that puts you right back in the overwhelm and fear. Yuck.

  
 Everyone’s cancer is different. Did you know that there are over 400 different chemotherapy medications? And that’s if chemotherapy is even appropriate to treat your cancer. Even within the category of “breast cancer” there are tons of different categories and factors that make each person’s cancer unique. And each of our bodies are unique and respond to treatments in different ways. 
After a lot of testing and discussion, I chose to have a lumpectomy, radiation and chemotherapy. I consider myself lucky the chemo hasn’t made me nauseous, but the fatigue and muscle pain have been crushing. Also, my chemo killed my taste buds and food tastes weird and sometimes gross. First world problem, I know, but something that has been tough for me. 

 Let’s not even talk about hair loss. 

I am fortunate that my cancer was found early in a routine mammogram. My surgery was successful and my lymph nodes were clear. One of the strangest aspects of this whole deal is going through all of this yuckiness without ever experiencing any symptoms of my disease. 

My friend and fellow survivor Dona wrote This excellent guide to getting through chemo  recently and I can’t recommend it enough. Some of it is just plain good advice about getting through life. 

Turns out cancer and life have this one big important thing in common: You have to walk your own path. You get to live your own life. 

 

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I want to make a quilt

It happens every January. I start to get itchy and obsessively search the internets to see all the new quilt-block-of-the-month offerings. Being stuck in bed with my good friend iPad so much this year has made it even easier to spend hours drooling over quilts. 

  

 This 365 Challenge is my favorite this year. It’s sooooooo delicious. But it’s really a block a day which clearly isn’t happening. 

  
This  Longmeadow quilt is super pretty. But if I’m going to invest the time to make something like this, I’d rather design it myself. That’s actually the thought that stops all my block-of-the-month dreaminess in its tracks every year. Because I never actually make one of these things. That would be crazy. 

So….I’m reevaluating crazy. My word this year is open…I want to be open to ideas and experiences. Also, my cat Sark digs a few pieces out of my fabric stash in the basement and brings them upstairs to me every day. He’s reminded me how much beauty is packed away in that stash and how much I love fabric. 

Then I found The Splendid Sampler, a mystery block of the month by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson. It’s two blocks a week (I know, big challenge to keep up) and it’s all different block styles. I’m thinking that would give me the complexity that I love about the 365 challenge quilt. Except without, you know, actually making 365 blocks. Anyway, here’s the fabric I pulled from my stash:

  
Also Bobby. I’m thinking the turquoises would be my neutral. Because right now I’m in love with the way Kaffe Fassett uses color:

  
This is from Passionate Patchwork. Yummy. 

  
Here’s a picture of Sark. 

And here’s to crazy!

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Doing it anyway

Hmm, I wonder if this thing still works?  Guess I’ll shake off the dust and find out…

So, um, long time no blog. Lots of things have happened, lots of blog posts have been written in my head and left there to fade away. With the new year and some newish circumstances there have been the inevitable thoughts about things I do and don’t want to spend my time doing going forward. For whatever reason, this blog remains stubbornly on the “do” list, so here I am. Explanations and excuses are boring so I’ll start over like I mean to go on, just doing it anyway. 

  
   
 
Because just doing it anyway, on the oh-so-important creative front, is how I’m rolling these days. In a time of overwhelm and stress, of surgery and loss of electricity for 9 days, of deliberately induced exhaustion and discomfort, daily creativity has become a dear friend that sits with me and tells me jokes and comforts me. 

   
    
   
Big paintings, small paintings, art journals, crochet hats, quilt blocks, there’s time for everything if you do something every day. I’ve known this with my head for a while now. Perhaps the blessing of my current challenges is to write this knowledge on my heart. I don’t know, I’m just doing it anyway.  

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Home sweet lovely home

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The views were amazing, the accommodations lovely, the weather was perfect, the time was productive…

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But there’s no place like home.

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Around here

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We’re trying to figure out how things work without this dear sweet boy. We lost him suddenly last week to a stroke.

There is so much I could say about Pistol, so many stories and memories. He was my steadfast friend, my constant through so many changes and challenges in my life.

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He was smart and funny and bossy. He was my guy and I was his girl.

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He taught these guys everything they know.

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We all miss him so much. I am so thankful that I got to have him in my life. The world is such a strange place without him.

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