The United States of John Wayne

posted in: Day In The Life, Family, Paean 0
Outdoor screening of "The Searchers", Winterset, IA. Photo: Me
People showing up early for the screening of “The Searchers”, Winterset, IA. Photo: Me

Hollywood film legend John Wayne was born in Madison County, in my hometown of Winterset, IA in 1907. Wintersetians take this seriously. If we had to choose between being known for the covered bridges or being known as the spot on the globe where The Duke took his first breath, we’d suck on our collective teeth and shake our collective heads and have to take the latter. Then we’d ask you for your delicious cookie bar recipe and hold the nation’s first presidential caucus.

This weekend was John Wayne birthday celebration weekend and I was here for a particularly exciting part of it: an outdoor screening of John Ford’s classic The Searchers, starring John Wayne in one of the most important roles of his career. The screening took place on the town square, right on the lawn of the courthouse. This was the first time a movie had ever screened there, birthday weekend or no. Who do you suppose orchestrated the event? My sister and my mother.

My mother, as many of you know, purchased the movie theater in Winterset when it went up for sale some months ago. The restoration project is well underway; seven trips to the dump emptied it of garbage, rusted stuff, rotten boards, etc., and every day that passes more wonder is discovered in that old movie house. One of the treasures is the screen itself. It’s in great shape. And it was the Iowa Theater’s very own screen that was put up by our beloved contractor, Steve, for the movie last night.

Families came. A few teenagers came. Old folks came. There’s a film crew making a movie of the restoration project and they were there. My might-as-well-be-my-cousin cousin Will played his guitar and sang folk songs to the audience as we waited for it to get dark enough to start the movie. The air was sweet. With the music and the sun slowly sinking down the sky — the rain that was predicted never even threatened to fall — an eventide spell was cast. The Chamber of Commerce sold candy, soda, and popcorn from a popcorn cart. I can’t confirm or deny that I had a bottle of Stella Artois in my hoodie pocket, nor can I confirm or deny that anyone else had a go-cup of anything similar, but doesn’t that sound nice? We’ll never know.

My sister Rebecca is the head of the entire Iowa Theater restoration project; she’s writing the grants, touching every logistic from projector to neon marquee rebuild, doing strategic planning — everything. She was the engine behind the outdoor screening, too, and my brother-in-law ran the projector. Before the show began, Mom and Rebecca gave a speech about the future of the theater, how 95% of the work being done is being done by locals, how the goal is to make a space the town loves and uses and grows for a long, long time.

About thirty minutes into watching The Duke search for Debbie, I gave into the desire for popcorn. I went over to the Chamber kiosk.

“Hi! I think I’ll get some popcorn,” I said.

The person who scooped some up for me was a bubbly, attractive woman named Heather. She handed me a modest sack of popcorn and I was surprised at how happy I was it was not a tub as big as my head. Heather shook her head. “This is just amazing. Just amazing. You’re Rebecca’s sister, right?”

I said I was and we talked for a minute, geeking out with happiness at the scene before us: people outside, together, enjoying their town, their town’s history, tasty snacks, and a movie, all on a long Memorial Day weekend. We agreed this needs to happen every year, if not more often.

“It just makes me happy,” Heather said, looking out at the one hundred or so people in lawn chairs. “I guess it’s America, right? It’s good. It’s good that kids can come here and it’s safe. You know?”

That popcorn was a buck.

 

Recipe: Clay-Baked Possum.

posted in: Family, Food 1
Young boy with possums, Blackall district, Queensland (or Louisiana) 1908. Photo: Wikipedia.
Young boy with possums, Blackall district, Queensland (but it could totally be Louisiana, too), c. 1908. Photo: Wikipedia.

My Aunt Leesa had dozens of her own cookbooks and then inherited many from my grandmother. Looking for a praline recipe this morning, we discovered Mary Land’s Louisiana Cookery (1954). Scanning the index, we found something unusual before we hit “Praline.”

There’s sweet intro copy before many dishes and then precious few instructions or measurements in the “recipes”; Louisiana Cookery appears to be a cookbook for those who already know how to make this stuff but need a reminder before they, you know, skin a possum. That’s right. “Possum” comes before “Praline” in Louisiana Cookery. The intro:

“A clear, cold night, baying hounds, and a flash of flambeaux form a picture dear to the Southerner’s heart. Treeing possums has long been a nocturnal sport with country folk of the Deep South. Whether it be the large Virginia possum, the small Gulf possum, or the long-tailed Texas possum, both the hunt and its reward are exciting experiences. If the possum is taken alive, pen and feed him for two weeks on milk, bread, and persimmons.” 

What have we have learned, students? “To tree” is a verb, and feed your possums persimmons for two weeks before you slaughter and eat it. Here I thought it was oranges! Oh, you southern cooks. You think of everything. 

Land offers five recipes for your now-persimmoned possum: Clay-Baked, Idle Acres Plantation Possum, Arkansas Style, Louisiana Style, and Possum Dressing a la Gowanloch. Here’s the winner in my view, though this one doesn’t specify what another does, namely, “Scald, dress, and pick hairs off possum.” Take out your notebook, here we go:

CLAY-BAKED POSSUM
Prepare possum as for kitchen baking. Roll in a sheet of moist clay and cover with a bed of coals. Bake from one to four hours, depending on size and age of possum. Break away the clay and eat. (Serves six.)

I do love the idea of baking something in a clay sheet. But if I understand this correctly, when you break off the clay, you’ve got hot possum. That is not okay. But I have to be careful sharing my feelings about the attractiveness of these recipes; I once shared my distaste over another of my grandmother’s recipe books and received a well-that’s-a-bit-harsh note (my first!) from a lady who thought I was being disrespectful and rude, that if “[I] wasn’t grateful enough to appreciate it, I should send it to [her.]” I felt like I was pretty fair. I mean, there was olive jello loaf involved. My grandmother was great.

If anyone makes Clay-Baked Possum and serves it with olive jello loaf and takes a picture and sends it to me, I will… I’ll think of something good. Because you should win something for that.

 

Little Girl, Big Book.

posted in: Chicago, Day In The Life 0
She's actually looking up at Grandma for a chocolate shake, but let's say it's a shelf of books. Photo: John Trainor, courtesy Wikipedia.
She’s actually looking up at Grandma for a chocolate shake, but let’s say it’s a shelf of books. Photo: John Trainor, courtesy Wikipedia.

My neighborhood is the South Loop (that’s the bottom of the Loop Loop) but I’m a block over from Printer’s Row. Printer’s Row is a short stretch of Dearborn St. that many years ago was the heart of the Chicago robust publishing and printing industry.

Not much is left of that era; most everything is pretty condo buildings and storefront business and restaurants — but there is Sandmeyer’s Books. It’s a snuggly, warm bookshop and though I have promised myself that I cannot, shall not buy any more books until I read all the books I have, I should go give Sandmeyer’s Books some money because I don’t want it to go away. I’ll go there tomorrow and let you know what I buy.

Claus and I passed by the bookshop today and smiled when we saw the most adorable child in the Milky Way. She was maybe four. Cute little cap with blonde hair poking out. Nice warm jacket. And she had a book in a Sandmeyer’s Bookstore bag clutched to her chest. I was enchanted. Kids with books, man; they could steal my purse and I’d tell them to go have fun and be careful. In a very friendly-not-weird way, I stopped and said “Well, hello there! Did you get a book today?”

The girl looked up at me with big blue eyes. Her nanny said, “She found a ten-dollar bill on the street.”

If I found ten bucks on the street, I would freak out. I said to the little girl that that was really cool and very lucky. And she wanted a book, eh? Her nanny nodded and told me the little girl was going to give the rest of the money to her mommy and daddy. Yeah, right.

“And what book did you get little Miss?” I asked.

Her nanny helped produce the book. It was Home for a Bunny, a Big Little Golden Book by Margaret Wise Brown. A favorite of mine as a child and for my sisters, too. I told the little girl she had made a excellent choice. Claus and I waved goodbye and headed home, past old Dearborn Station, which was a passenger train hub from 1885 to 1971. Many, many people arrived in Chicago through that station; plenty of them bought their first book in this city.

At The Chicago Botanical Garden, Early April

Me and a little dude with a tail.
Me and a little dude with a tail, Chicago Botanical Garden, 2015. Photo: Yuri

Yuri was in Chicago over the weekend, also.

We spent time together on Monday. After work tasks were complete, he took me to the Chicago Botanical Garden to walk, to talk, and remember each other for awhile.

The Chicago Botanical Garden is a world-class joint. Hordes descend upon the place in warmer months but somehow milling among thousands of people doesn’t feel bad at the Botanical Gardens; it feels communal. English gardens, Japanese gardens, fields of field flowers, a glassy pond, sculptures big and small — if it’s green and cultivated you want, green and cultivated you shall have and there’s a great cafe for when you’re exhausted from walking and have pollen all over your shirt. It’s also free to get in.

Yuri and I walked through the grounds arm in arm. We did this because we care about each other a great deal but we were also freezing cold. Nothing has bloomed, yet; there were a few brave shoots poking up here and there, but not many. All the plants are waiting, checking final items off the pre-production list before the big launch.The greenhouses were thriving — greenhouses do that — so when we were almost too cold to be having fun, we found a greenhouse and slipped in to warm up. Tip: if you’re feeling disconnected from nature, pop yourself into a balmy, breathing greenhouse. You’ll get fixed right up.

We had fun together. We got soup and a glass of wine at the cafe. We argued. I cried. We laughed. Walking on the main promenade under the cold, grey sky, Yuri picked me up and spun me around and I hollered, “No! Don’t! Yuri, stop!” but it was okay. New York, we have both decided, seems like a dream. It’s a trite thing to say, but damned if I know how else to describe it. The East Village? Really? Manhattan? But when? I know why — passion, risk, love, adventure — but as to the how, I couldn’t tell you if you put a Rhododendron ferrugineum to my neck.

Yuri and I aren’t together, but we’ll always be together because of New York, because of Chicago, because of that day in the garden, I guess. When do you stop being connected to a soul?

That picture up top is one of a series Yuri took of me being a mom to a hunk of bronze.

Fashion Is Fun Again! Thanks, New York City.

posted in: Fashion, New York City 0
This was Anna Wintour's first Vogue cover. It is credited with helping to launch the "high-low mix."
This was Anna Wintour’s first Vogue cover. It is credited with helping to launch the “high-low mix.”

It was only upon finding it again that I realized I had lost a sense of fun in regard to fashion.

I love clothes. Rather than expound on why fashion is not frivolous or how different clothes make me feel like completely different people (this can be great or a nightmare) I’ll give you three of my favorite quotes on the subject from people who say it all far better than I ever will:

“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.”
— Bill Cunningham, New York Times fashion photographer since 1978, best known for his “street style” candid photos

“Why are people scandalized by spending money on clothes? I think there is something against fashion in the world. Everybody is so passionate about this, there’s a resistance to fashion, an idea that to love fashion is to be stupid. I think this is for two reasons. One is because clothes are very intimate. When you get dressed, you are making public your idea about yourself, and I think that embarrasses people. And two, I think that fashion is seen as women’s work. My conclusion is that because fashion touches your intimate life, it embarrasses people.”
— Miuccia Prada, from an interview in New York Magazine last year that I cut out and taped inside my closet.

“Style is a simple way of saying complicated things.”
— Jean Cocteau, 1936 and he probably wasn’t talking exactly about fashion but clearly.

In New York City, the very same sentiment that can make a person feel isolated and lonesome (“Nobody cares what I do!”) can also set her free (“Nobody cares what I do!”) That second take on it, when applied to fashion by a fashion lover, creates potential for extreme joy.

In my former downtown Chicago bachelorette life, I got pretty fancy. I knew just where to find fabulous, high-end designer clothes on the cheap. And find them I did. The tailored jacket, the well-turned high-heel, the lined, custom-fit trouser; I rocked that classy-sassy look because I wanted to, I could afford it, and I think in some small-but-probably-huge way, I needed to prove to the world that I was making good, that I had transcended my awkward, pasty Iowa self, that I was cultured and polished and that I gave a damn about art.

But in New York City, unless you live on the Upper East Side or in TriBeCa and have a record deal and/or a plastic surgery practice and/or a driver, etc., being fancy isn’t that big of a deal. It’s actually a bit outre, honestly. Here, and especially where I live in Lower Manhattan, it’s all about the high-low mix, or blending fancy pieces with vintage, super-cheap, or borrowed/begged/stolen items to create a kind of “yeah, whatever,” layered look that is exactly right. I mean, I can’t wear my Celine suit on the subway! Are you nuts?? I could sit in gum! Better to wear a pair of ripped jeans with just the Celine jacket! Ah, yes! And some bangles. And the real diamond earrings I have. And sneakers.

Discovering — remembering, perhaps — that I don’t have to search so hard for head-to-toe designer apparel has made fashion fun again. I’ve come back ’round to the truth that that a shirt from Target with pineapples on it (my new favorite shirt!) is totally acceptable and actually preferable to a discounted-but-still-pricey Alexander Wang tank top. I love pineapples! To eschew the pineapple shirt because Marni had nothing to do with it is madness.

New York, thanks. I’ll wear real Keds and fake pearls for you any day. Why, I’m wearing them now!

 

Home Remedies Needed For Stuffy Nose, Stat!

posted in: Family, Sicky 14
Second, get some ice cream.
Second, put your license somewhere we can all see it.

All hands on deck!

Yuri either has terrible allergies, a cold, a sinus infection, or he’s been possessed by a jinn specializing in cruel bouts of sneezing and mucus production. His stuffy nose is the kind that alternates one nostril and the other. It’s a “half-stuff.”

We tried 24-hour Claritin; it made Yuri feel worse. He tried Sudafed; same. He got plenty of rest over the weekend, since I was working the whole time, but he’s still sick or allergy-ing terribly, whichever it is. We did a dollop of VapoRub in a big bowl of boiling water and he steamed his head over that, under a big towel, just like my dad used to do. He neti-potted. He nose-sprayed. He got some of the little bands that stick to the bridge of the nose and open the passages while he sleeps and those help a little, but not a lot.

Yes, there’s always the doctor. It’s the next step.

Until then, educated, intuitive, Dr. Quinn-was-my-homegirl reader, what home remedies might you have for clearing a stuffy nose — or for at all relieving the symptoms I’ve outlined.

Surely none of your suggestions will involve honey suppositories or bathing in tomato juice or anything weird like that.**

**Fine: the weirder the better — but we do want something to work. Go!

Lobster? You Brought ‘Er!

posted in: Food, Tips 1
Me, too! Image: Wikipedia.
Me, too! Image: Wikipedia.

 

I have just made a lobster bisque.

Here’s what’s happening: Yuri and I have been apart since…too long. He’s in New York. I’ve been crisscrossing the Midwest, flinging fabric around, leaving thread and gum wrappers everywhere. Unable to stand being separated a moment longer, we’ve hatched a logistically-challenged plan to spend about 36 hours with each other in Chicago before Monday comes around and spoils everything. I left Iowa this morning before the sunrise and arrived in Chicago just after it; he’ll begin his trek from the east coast within a few hours. I cannot wait till he gets here. I’m slightly freaking out.

“Yuri,” I texted him, “I’d like to make you something marvelous to eat. It’ll be all ready when you get here. What would you like, darling? Pick anything your heart desires — absolutely anything!”

I watched the little talk-bubble ellipsis shimmer on my iPhone. Then the text popped up:

“Can you make lobster bisque?”

Yikes!

“Absolutely,” I texted back, because though I’ve never made lobster bisque, it’s just soup, right?

Cooking is fun because it’s the closest I get to doing — and enjoying — science experiments. You take a beaker of this, a cup of that, you boil this, you mix that, and blam! stuff changes color, there’s oxidation, titration, solids, and who knows what else, but you can eat everything and people go, “Wow!” and there are no grades.

Here’s what I have very recently learned about making lobster bisque:

  • It’s expensive. I purchased four lobster tails (roughly 4oz. each) from the fishmonger at Whole Foods, and that came to a little over $35. Then I had to fetch the cream and the stock and so forth. Not cheap — and those little lobster butts don’t yield much. This some fancy soup. 
  • It’s time-consuming. I recommend catching up on emails between steps. You’ll get a lot done. 
  • It’s sorta gross. Have you made lobster bisque? If not, let me tell you a little secret: you puree the shells. The shells are cooked with the soup, y’all, at least in the recipe I used. Lobster bisque is basically a way to drink essence o’ lobster and that means you need to puree, pummel, extract, soak, simmer, reduce, and otherwise distill every morsel of that thing to git all you can git. When I was reading through the process I had to read twice that you use a food processor to puree the dang shells and then return them to the pot. You don’t eat the shells — that orangey muck is pushed through a sieve later — but you’re kind of eating the shells because, well…Cuisinart. 

As I was going briskly about my bisque business, I thought about Maine, where “lobstahs” are to Maine folk as deep dish pizza is to Chicagoans: plentiful and fiercely protected.

In the summer of 2007 and 2009, I stayed a month on Maine’s picturesque Little Cranberry Island (known to the locals as “Little Cran”.) My artistic mentor and friend Sonja, along with her husband Bill, founded The Islesford Theater Project (ITP) on Little Cran and they asked me to be involved. Making theater with those people in the summer was a true gift and we made a lot of people happy, I think; whenever the ITP has a show, people from all over the Cranberry Isles get in their boats and skim across the water to come see.

And when you’re in the cast, you get to stay in Sonja and Bill’s house and eat Sonja’s home cooking every night. This is a very, very good thing. Blueberry crisps, tacos, Indian food — that woman can and does cook everything. Well, Sonja can get fresh lobstahs straight from the lobstahmen working about 500 yards from her back porch. She made lobstah mac n’ cheese once, which was transcendental. Once, everyone at the table got a fresh lobstah on a plate. Bam, lobstah on a plate. Dinner was served. There was a dish of melted butter for each of us, shell-crackin’ implements, and a whole lotta napkins. The flavor was incredible, but if I’m honest, I must confess: Whole lobsters kind of gross me out. The whole “sea bug” thing does not inspire hunger in me. And after making this soup, I’m not that excited to eat it. I’m excited for other things.

Just hurry, Yuri.

Me, Dad, and Cheesecake for Breakfast.

posted in: Family, Food, Word Nerd 10
Wayne Thiebaud. Pies, Pies, Pies. 1961. Oil on canvas, 20 x 30 in.
Wayne Thiebaud. Pies, Pies, Pies. 1961. Oil on canvas, 20 x 30 in. Incidentally, this piece lives in Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum and I saw it with my own two eyes, which, incidentally, are usually bigger than my stomach but never as large as my mouth.

My trip to California over the weekend wasn’t for business. I went and spent time with Leesa, my favorite aunt. She was my favorite aunt before the weekend; now I feel like we should fill out some kind of embossed certificate to announce it. Thanks, auntie.

It had been a number years since Leesa and I had spent time together. The last time I saw her was when her father died in 2009. That was a sub-optimal visit, as you can imagine. Everyone was sad about grandpa being dead and busy with funeral and burial stuff. “Sad and busy” is a dreadful state, and it inevitably comes upon you when someone you love dies. Me and my aunt wanted to reconnect without trying to work around a wedding or a funeral, so I flew out to California to see her, her adorable dog, Otto Lieberman, and the beautiful rosemary bushes that line the patio of her well-appointed California home.

We talked a lot. We drank a lot of coffee. We went to the Crocker Museum to have lunch and see art. We attended a black-tie dinner party. We talked more. We made another pot of coffee. It rained all weekend, so the main component of the visit was conversation. Lucky for me and my aunt, we’re good at conversation and share many (all?) of the same values and interests. And since 75% of my family members are also her family members, there was plenty to discuss in that area. The Fons side of the family was broken up into chunks early on in my life and it’s been a Humpty Dumpty ride ever since. This is true for me; I suspect it feels the same for other Fonses I know aside from my aunt, but I won’t speak for them.

Over the course of our visit, I got some information about my father. I haven’t seen him since Grandpa’s funeral either, but Leesa (his youngest sister) stays in contact. I am wary when I’m about to get information about him and hardly eager to ask for it; the presence of my father in any sort of reportage rarely bodes well. His issues are many. Despite my numerous attempts to make even a surfacey relationship work over the years, we have long been estranged.

I looked up “estranged” in the dictionary. I thought it meant “not in contact.” It’s a bit sadder than that:

estranged |iˈstrānjd|
adjective
(of a person) no longer close or affectionate to someone; alienated: John felt more estranged from his daughter than ever | her estranged father.

My aunt told me something by accident that made me at once very sad and very happy, which is an emotional combination more common than being sad and busy, but not any more comfortable. We were talking about pies, Leesa and I, our favorites and methods for making them. We were at the kitchen table.

“You know, we Fonses have a real sweet tooth,” she said, coffee mug in hand. It rained so hard that day, leaves and mud fell out of the gutters onto the sidewalks.

“Really? Like, all of us?” I asked, instantly brightening.

My love of sugar causes me much anxiety. I’m usually worried I eat way, way too much of it, but when I try to eliminate it from my diet (or even cut down on it) I see no point in being alive. That I was somehow not responsible for it, that my sweet tooth was a genetic sentence, that my love of pecan pie and pistachio ice cream actually served to count me among my tribe, well, this made me feel fantastic and warm inside. I instantly thought about eating another one of Leesa’s gourmet marshmallows from the pantry.

“We’re definitely sweets people,” Leesa said. “Your dad, he’ll eat dessert for breakfast. Always would, always loved to. Pie, cheesecake. That’s not for me, but that’s what he would eat for breakfast every day if he had the option. Isn’t that funny?”

I swallowed too much hot coffee. It burned the back of my throat but couldn’t melt the insty-lump that had formed there when Leesa said the words, “Your dad” and “dessert for breakfast.”

I love eating dessert for breakfast. It’s my favorite thing in the world. If there’s cheesecake in the house, I will eat a slice for breakfast and genuinely take no interest in it the rest of the day. In my world, apple pie and coffee are perfect 7:00am foods. Just today, a hazelnut Ritter Sport chocolate bar and a pot of Earl Grey tea constituted my breakfast and you betcher bippy I was at my olympic best all day.

I didn’t know I shared this trait with my father. I didn’t pick up my love for coconut creme pie with my morning coffee by seeing him eat coconut creme pie with his morning coffee. I couldn’t have; I’ve been seated at a breakfast table with the man no more than a handful of times since the divorce. To be thirty-something and discover things about your father, (e.g., he likes cheesecake for breakfast just like you) this information would be bittersweet if he were dead. But as my father is alive, these sorts of discoveries are bittersweet as well as bizarre. We could technically have cheesecake for breakfast together in the near future, my dad and I.

Technically, we could. But emotionally, we can’t. Philosophically, we can’t. Historically, we simply can’t.

I made a pie tonight for Yuri. Buttermilk-brown sugar. Seeing as how it’s delicious and wrapped in foil on the little table where we eat, breakfast is served.

 

Traveling Quilter

See, it's a hobo duck and it's got a patch on its jeans, so it's like me, kinda homeless, trying to figure out how to be a quilt designer/maker without a studio.
Illustration © Magic Sweater 2013. Permission Pending. (Also: a patch on the elbow and on the pants? He’s so a quilter.)

The phrase, “I’m just really stressed out” is a tired one. The phrase is tired. Upon hearing it, the listener is tired, and we all know the person saying it is extremely tired. I stay away from phrases like this because George Orwell said I should. But Orwell also believed in saying what you mean and this time I mean it: I’m stressed out.

On Wednesday, I get in a plane and fly to New York City. I will stay there for six weeks. Six weeks! If you’re new around here or if you don’t have room in your head for the details of my life (I don’t either), here’s why I’m leaving Chicago: I have a refrigerator, a dishwasher, a range, and a kitchen’s worth of cabinetry in my living room which was already layered with dust and compromised with construction zones. (I’m renovating a kitchen and bathroom in a 1500 sq. ft. condo.) Also, my main squeeze is moving to New York City. Also, my sister lives there. Reasons abound for a sojourn in Manhattan, but it’s no weekend jaunt: I’m going there to live for over a month and a half. It will be mid-March before I’m home again. Jiggity-jig.

Here’s the main issue: I’m a quilter. I make quilts. I ask you, fellow quilters: how do you pack up your studio for a six-week trip in the middle of a tremendously inspired and productive period? Seriously, your input — or commiseration — would be appreciated.

 

For those of you who don’t know, fabric to quilters is as paint is to painters. Fabric is our palate. I have a mad decent palate, too: my stash is sick. If I want, say, a black and white polka dot, not too big, mostly black, well, I just go grab it from the drawer. Whatever will I do in New York City? Yes, yes, I could buy more, but I’d rather not my NYC spell be doubly expensive because I’m 3,000 miles away from my fabric. Trust me: this relocation is gonna cost a few bucks already. And my design wall! And my cutting mat! Oy.

Here’s my solution so far: make up kits for the two quilts I have going right now. Pack them with fabric I want and additional fabric that I might want. Send my machine ahead of me. Commandeer a wall in the apartment to serve as my design wall: be flexible, gentle, and concessionary on everything but this in terms of space-sharing with the fellow.

And make my quilts. And do my work. And look out whatever window I end up with and smile, because my life is charmed, charmed, charmed, after all.