“Pain” Is the Root Word of “Paint.”

posted in: Chicago, Day In The Life 0
Old, old, old can of paint. Image: Wikipedia.
Old, old, old can of paint. Image: Wikipedia.

Every time. Every time I want a wall in my dwelling place to be a different color, it’s the same conversation — and I’ve lived in lots of places and desired to look at different colors.

Me: I’m going to do it myself.
Other Me: Stop talking.
Me: Oh, painting’s not so bad.
Other Me: Yes, it is.
Me: (Pause.) It is. It’s awful.
Other Me: Taping the walls.
Me: Yeah, I hate that so much.
Other Me: Putting plastic over everything. Trying not to get paint on your feet. The dripping down the wall. Sore shoulders. Cleaning all the painty sticks and rollers.
Me: (Thinking.) Yeah. But —
Other Me: No.
Me: But it’s so expensive! And I can do it myself!
Other Me: Hire. Painters.
Me: (Grumbling.) Fine.
Other Me: Thank you.
Me: But I can do it, though!

When I moved into this place five years ago, someone gave me a bottle of Veuve Clicquot to celebrate the move downtown. Looking at the bottle on my countertop I realized that the lustrous golden orange color of the Veuve label was the perfect color for my bedroom. I took the label to the paint store, bought the paint, and I painted three of the four walls of my bedroom myself. I have to say, it looked great. Still does.

But after thinking deeply about this for some days, I have decided it’s time for a deep, burnished mustard and I am thisclose to going to the paint store tomorrow morning, getting what I need, and doing it myself over the weekend. I want it to be done right now! Besides, these are the days of economy. I can’t be squandering money on things I can very well do myself. And I can do it. I just don’t want to. I want someone else to do it. But when you are a single gal with no kids, there is no hubby to take care of it, no teenage child to punish.

Aw, hell: I’ll probably do it. Unless someone in the Chicagoland area knows really great painters who come really cheap. Please, please someone tell me you know those painters. I’ll give it twenty-four hours until I go get tarp.


Hand Quilting: The Love Affair Begins.

posted in: Art, Quilting 4
Larkin, detail. I have a knot I need to fix. Don't look at it! Photo: Me.
Larkin, detail. I have a knot I need to fix. Don’t look at it! Photo: Me.


I have fallen in love with a needle and thread.

A few weeks back, I directed you to a Quilt Scout column announcing my leap into hand quilting. When I wrote that column I had quilted just a few inches of “Larkin” and was still afraid I was about to ruin the whole thing and regret the decision to try this thing. Indeed, I was not thrilled with the results at that point; I definitely didn’t feel like I had found my new best friend. Then three gigs bore down on me and it was shipping quilts, taking airplanes, teaching classes, and so on, so I left “Larkin” on my recliner, put my anxiety in a compartment labeled “Deal With Later”, and went off to work.

But hand quilting this Kaleidoscope quilt is on my summer goal list and I don’t play around with summer goal lists, people: I mean business with to-do lists. So when I got home from Minnesota, I unpacked, locked the door, put on my favorite black cashmere pants and my halter top, pulled my hair into a ponytail, and settled into my favorite recliner with my quilt. I took a deep breath. I logged in to Netflix. And I started in — for real this time.

Guess what? I didn’t get up for four hours. Turns out, I love hand quilting.

Rocking a needle in and out of layers of fabric is an ancient gesture. Quilted textiles are featured on ancient Egyptian statues.. Stitching is a natural man/tool combination, like chopping wood with an axe or pumping water from a well. Using a simple tool creates simple pleasure. The act of loading stitches — going up, down, up, down with the needle through the fabric and then pulling the thread all the way through — and then doing it over and over until a pattern (and a quilt!) begins to reveal itself, this is inexplicably entertaining while putting a person in a tranquil place. You can’t type and hand quilt. You can’t cook and hand quilt. You can definitely binge watch The Office (both US and UK versions, though I’m working on the US version at the moment) and hand quilt, but that’s about it. It feels good.

The next morning, I stitched for two more hours and only stopped because my index finger was sore. In the evening, it was me and Larkin again, parked in the mid-century black leather recliner I found (in pristine condition!) in Washington, D.C. at a Salvation Army. This is what the chair was meant for: It was destined to be the chair where I quilt this quilt. If I sound like a convert, I am. I’m converted. I’m obsessed! I’ve worked on this quilt at least three hours every day since Sunday. Is my first attempt at hand quilting “good”? No, of course not. But that is so not the point. This is about doing something for the first time and enjoying it. I will never have another first-attempt. You know?

The Scout column got a big response because there are a lot of hand quilters out there. Well, ladies and gents, count me among your numbers. If you want more proof: Today I finished “Charlotte,” a spiderweb quilt top, and I made the back and basted it just so it would be ready for me to hand quilt when I’m done with Larkin. 

Serious question: Is there a club I can join? I want a card in my wallet to announce my love to the world. Or a promise ring. Anything.

Feed Me, Kansas City.

posted in: Food 0
You're dead to me, pig. Photo: Wikipedia
You’re dead to me, pig. Image: Wikipedia

Last night, I ate a rack of barbeque ribs. The entire rack. And I have no regrets.

I don’t clean my plate too often. There’s usually something I can’t eat or something I don’t like as much as something else (sorry beets, but I am eating blue cheese instead of you.) So when the waiter comes to take away my plate, he’s gonna have to scrape stuff into the garbage. Now hang on: I’m not wasteful, I’m just not a plate-licker. Last night was an exception.

Mom and I are in Kansas City lecturing to the hundreds (!) of attractive, talented women of the Lee’s Summit Quilt Guild. We arrived around five o’clock yesterday and had time to have dinner together. This would have been terrific no matter what day it was, but it was Mother’s Day! It was super to be with Mom on Mother’s Day.

We went to Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza district; if you’ve never visited, you must make it there someday. The area is four miles south of downtown and is all cobblestones, terracotta tiles and fountains. The folks who designed it modeled the whole thing after Seville, Spain, so you get the picture. Have I mentioned lately how much I love the work I do, work that allows me to travel the great United States? Well, I’m mentioning it again.

We went to Houston’s for dinner. Houston’s has been in Kansas City for well over thirty years, maybe longer. (Research tells me they have a handful of locations in other cities, now.) The wait for a table was over an hour, but Mom and I spied a couple stools at the bar and nabbed them.

I saw this man eating this slab of meat and every fibre of my being screamed, “Eat that! Please eat that as soon as possible!” I ordered the barbeque pork ribs and skipped the coleslaw and fries for a side of broccoli. I know, I hate me, too.

I ate that slab of ribs like it was the first meal I had had in a month. I didn’t do the flip-top head thing and insert the entire slab, whole, into my face. If I could’ve I might’ve. Those ribs were so buttery, so succulent, I’m weeping as I write this. The sauce was the perfect balance of tangy and sweet and the sauce seemed to have soaked through the meat as it cooked: this was not meat painted with sauce. This was meat doing naughty, naughty things with sauce. This slab of ribs was sacrilegiously, slap-yo-mama good. All right, maybe I just haven’t had decent ribs in awhile, but I don’t think I was just rib-deprived. These were the Lord’s ribs.

Anyway, I ate the whole thing, bone by bone. I sucked the things dry. The broccoli felt a little left out until I was done with my plate and then they got their big moment when I used the stuff to wipe up the sauce. I realize I may have painted an undignified, unladylike picture of me with BBQ sauce all over my face, panting over a plate of bones. This is my fault. I tried to dab the corners of my mouth with my white linen napkin but if anyone sitting close had looked at me closely, they would’ve seen wolverine in my eyes.

I go to Chicago next week (I know), then Wisconsin for my sister’s wedding (I know!) and then it’s to St. Louis for a BabyLock event. Looks like I need to attack polish sausage, cheese, and toasted ravioli, in that order. Until those pit stops, fasting on water is perhaps wise.