Here You Go, Internet: Speaking On Luke’s Art

posted in: Art 0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=47&v=5EnjMourqp8

On Saturday at QuiltCon in L.A., I gave my favorite lecture on The Great American Quilt Revival. I rehearsed the talk twice that morning though I’ve given the lecture many times; I’m a Girl Scout at heart and try to always be prepared. Usually, mostly, I am.

At rehearsal, there on my bed, wrapped in my robe, wet hair, stopwatch running on my phone, I realized I was finished with the talk with ten minutes to spare, which surprised me; I usually take about an hour with that one. Maybe I was excited and clipping along faster than usual, I don’t know. But there I was with the luxury of extra time. I thought to myself. I chewed my lip. I looked in the mirror. And I decided to use that leftover time to make a statement. As I say in the clip above, everything I think I know is up for revision, except in a case where someone I care about is getting beat up. Then I do know something, which is that I want to help. The road to hell, yeah, but there are times being neutral is as unhelpful as feeding flames.

Most of the kerfuffle about my friend has taken place online, which is not surprising and also disastrous, because no one is accountable. Not being accountable for character assassination seems wrong, but there’s a lot on the Internet that’s wrong (e.g., 9/11 conspiracy theories, etc.)

I’ve been guilty of online snark, but I can say with sincerity I’m cured of it. Last summer, I said something unkind about someone on this blog. It got back to her and it was awful. That day, I knew that can never be something I do. This little impromptu, impassioned speech is indeed an argument and shows ire toward those I disagree with on the issue at hand. The difference is that instead of writing a blog post or responding to comments online, I took a place onstage. You can see my face. There is no avatar. I’m not hiding behind a computer. I’m speaking to you, and you, and you, ready to take it on the nose.

You can disagree with me — I hope some do, for the sake of moving forward with an important conversation — but it seems that to be taken seriously, you must be informed and be willing to identify yourself as a whole person. Otherwise, your content is as good as my backhanded comment this summer, which is to say that it is no good at all.

I’d like to introduce you to my nose. Enjoy.

*Thank you to Jennifer Moore for taping.

 

 

Mission: Peeps

posted in: Day In The Life 0
I may be looking at the next quilt I want to make; I may be looking at cheesecake. Photo: Claus
These guys are a start. Photo: Claus

I’m on a mission. “Mission: Peeps.”

Here’s what my life is like: working, traveling, writing, sleeping, running errands, hanging out with Claus. Many of you will find that list is roughly your life, too, except for the Claus part — I hope. It’s a busy kind of life, but it’s important to not lose sight of what’s really important. Community. Relationships. Friendships.

I talk to friends and family in my life and write sincere emails, comment on posts, and send/receive funny texts and things. I have people I love and I assume these people love me at least a little bit or they wouldn’t send me .gifs of dogs getting blowouts. There are catch-up calls with long-distance friends from time to time, but those are often months apart. Even years apart in some cases.

The problem (and I hope this is not a problem for you) is that I don’t hang out with people much. When someone asks me to do this or that fun thing, I’m out of town. When I’m home for a spell and want to get together (in the past year or so I was never, ever home for a spell but that’s another story) other people are on vacation. Or they have a commitment, or they have a baby. So it’s all texts and emails and it’s better than nothing.

But then I need a friend and there’s no one there. “There” like on my couch “there.” One friend would be fantastic; I don’t even let myself dream of a whole crew coming over and hanging out just because. It used to be like that. In high school, in college, people just dropped by, and your whole world was your relatively tiny campus, so it was easier to have a close community. If you were going through something, sometimes you wished you could isolate and think for five minutes, but nope, there’s The Fons coming in in her leather jacket going, “Eeyyyyy!”

This has to change for me, this lack of real-life peeps in my life who I see on a regular basis.

When I come home from a teaching trip, I can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing for a long time, now: flop, bake things, write things, work on the next thing. I have to call people. People who are in town, not six states away. There’s a once-a-month sewing group that my (fabulous, steadfast, now longtime) friend Heather hosts. I love going to sewing group and even if I’m bushed, I need to go to sewing group. And I have to connect with and follow through with new friends from sewing group. I need to make friend dates and keep them. I need more women in my life and I need them in my house, not just on my text message screen. If I can go to someone else’s house, great. Not only will new relationships form, hopefully, I enjoy seeing the inside of people’s homes.

The great news is that it’s already begun. In fact, I began Mission: Peeps almost two months ago. I’m happy to report it’s working. You just have to say yes to things. For me — an introvert who likes activities that are usually done on one’s own, e.g., writing, sewing, bathing — it’s a challenge to say yes. But I need people around me like anyone else and I’m not going to stay stuck in a place that on a really bad day, has an echo.

Make + Love Quilts: Signed, Sealed, Delivered!

posted in: Quilting, Work 0
If you start a Christmas quilt now, you will totally get it done.
If you start a Christmas quilt now, you will totally get it done.

This weekend I met hundreds of sweet, talented quilters at Meissner’s sew/quilt haven in Sacramento. Generous stacks of my book, Make + Love Quilts: Scrap Quilts for the 21st Century, went quickly, especially when you consider everyone in the shop was drooling over the newest BabyLock machines and waiting for my mom to come out of the bathroom so she could sign their first issue of Love of Quilting. 

The good news is that there are books left! I’d love to sign a copy of Make + Love for you and send it to your house/apartment/yurt. The bookstore price is $22.95, but I’ll give you for $20, plus $5 shipping and handling. Yeah, it turns out to be about the same amount of money, but it’s signed. Can’t get that on eBay! (I hope.)

The book is my first and includes 12 original scrap quilt patterns for bed-sized quilts and a lot of sparkling content. You get full instructions, tips, and various extras in the book, including this quote from Marilyn Monroe: “It’s not true I had nothing on. I had the radio on.” I’m serious, that is in my quilt book. You’ll see.

Click on the Make + Love Book tab on my website. Scroll down and you’ll find a PayPal button. You don’t need a PayPal account to buy the book. Click the button! PayPal will give me your shipping address. Please let me know who to make the book out to if the name is different from the person paying. I will get books out as soon as I can; my goal is within three (3) days of ordering, but with my travel schedule, be kind. I’ll let you know if it will be much longer than that. Books will be sent media mail.

Isn’t it nice to buy something not through Amazon? If you haven’t done that lately, give ‘er a shot.

*If you live in a country that is not the USA, I’ll happily send a book, but we have to get together on shipping. So put a note in your order when you click it to me.

When Your Arms Are In The Wrong Place.

posted in: Sicky 1
Actual document.
Actual document.

I was in the ER recently. It happens. An amusing thing happened this time around.

The triage nurses put EKG nodes all over my chest and arms to get my ee-kay-gee-zies. A male and a female nurse worked together to stick the suction cups all over my torso — unceremoniously, I’ll have you know — and then they punched EKG buttons on a machine atop a rickety cart. They looked at the reading that came out and I saw their eyes get very wide. They looked at each other, subtly panicked.

“Wait, wait…”

“Okay, so…”

I was understandably concerned. I asked if everything was okay. I got no answer right away, but then the male nurse sighed a huge sigh of relief and turned to his colleague.

“We’ve got the left and right arm nodes on the wrong side,” he said. He turned to me. “The machine thinks your arms are on the wrong side of your body.”

When you feel bad enough to be in an ER but have no flesh wounds and have been given sufficient pain medication, you are able to cackle with delight. Arms in the wrong place?! What a hoot! I managed to slap my knee before they came to switch the nodes.

“Can I have the EKG?” I asked. “I love the idea of a machine thinking my left arm was on the right side of my body and the right arm was on the left side of my body. I mean, how often does that happen? Can I have it?”

“Uh, sure,” the nurse said, and handed it over.

EKG paper is awesome; it’s onion skin-like, and it’s nice and pink. And hey, it’s your body in pen ink. I told him I wanted to blog about this. And I did.

Mary Fons, Dust Destroyer.

posted in: Day In The Life, Washington 0
Rosie The Riveter, put up your dukes. Oh, wait. You've got one up already. Okay, put up the other duke! Photo: My neighbor Mark
Rosie The Riveter, put up your dukes. Oh, wait. You’ve got one up already. Okay, put up the other duke! Photo: My neighbor Mark

I want to tell every last story from the trip — but where to start? Should I talk about the delicious meals we made in our wee cooker? How we added parmesan cheese, diced apples, and salt and pepper to Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper boxed soup and made it taste like something you’d get in a 4-star restaurant? I should probably tell that story because right now, no one can believe me. But it’s true, we did that.

Maybe I ought to bang out the post I promised someone I’d write asap, how a Crohn’s/Colitis person can go camping. How they can give one of their biggest fears the what-for. There’s not much info out there for gimpy GI people on how to camp successfully; I know because I looked. For those without problematic intestinal conditions, prepare for TMI. But the post will have value for people who do suffer from all that and sharing what I learned is of utmost importance.

But tonight, I’m overwhelmed. Can’t pick. Therefore, I offer this picture of me in my hallway at the Kennedy Warren. I bought a huge, fabulous area rug at Mom & Pop’s Antiques yesterday and man, did that rug need to be vacuumed. But I don’t have a vacuum because I stupidly left it in New York. Undaunted, I went down to the front desk and asked if I could borrow one. Just as I was inquiring — that very moment — a maintenance guy came from around the corner with his awesome Ghostbuster vacuum. I asked if I could borrow that vacuum. The guys were like, “Uh…yes. This has never happened before.”

Man did that vacuum suck. My rug is like new! It was so fun to wear. Wow. Just like a backpack! As I was taking it back down to the office, my friendly neighbor Mark passed by with his daughter. Every time I’ve run into Mark he’s wearing expensive-looking red-framed glasses and a ball cap; I like Mark a lot. I told him how much the vacuum sucked and how everyone should get one. We laughed and Mark said he’d love to take my picture.

And he did!

Winged Victory: I Am Better.

posted in: Sicky 5
Winged Victory of Samothrace. Photo: Wikipedia
Winged Victory of Samothrace. Photo: Wikipedia

Sometimes, the universe cuts you a break and life’s cheese grater is swapped for a feather pillow. This morning, I flew into NYC to have a procedure that would determine the health of my intestines.

Diagnosis: awesome.

There is no detectable inflammation. My pouch is scarred, it’s too small, and related aspects of all this will cause me discomfort from here on out, but how could I possibly care when the doctor tells me I’m not bleeding internally? My long-lost colon literally ate itself to death, but it appears my j-pouch don’t even want a snack.

When you think you’re on a bullet train to very bad news, it colors everything you do. Having a bad day? It’s worse than it would be, because in the back of your mind, you think, “This day is lousy and also I’m dying.” When you think the clock is ticking toward bad test results, a good day is tinged, too, just a little, because you find yourself fleetingly thinking, “This day is fantastic; I don’t even care that there may be something terribly wrong with me.” O, pernicious subconscious; how ye thwart joy and gladness.

That this burden is lifted from me for the foreseeable future… It’s hard to express my relief. To be absolutely honest, the tiny August Strindberg in me does wonder how long the good news can last, but the Chiquita Banana in me is beating him down with a banana.

I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay.

 

I’ll Be Darned: Baking Soda Wins!

posted in: Tips 8
That's some hot sodium bicarbonate.
That’s some hot sodium bicarbonate.

A poet friend of mine in Chicago used to do a piece about his heritage. Rather than examine his family tree, he focused on behaviors he had picked up over the years and memes that had stuck. His “heritage” was more about the people he knew or had known, rather than dead people he had never met. A certain expression he used came from his dad, for example, and years back he had consciously adopted specific laugh from a kid in school he thought was really cool.

I always liked that piece because it hit on something so true: we are the people we know. We know the things we know and care about the things we care about because of what we pick up from others that we feel looks good on us or works well. It can be a laugh or a political view. A gait. A preference. An entire life path.

There is perhaps no faster meme generator than The New Relationship. Yuri and I are swapping behaviors and ideas and memes right and left. I see it, I feel it; he sees it, he feels it. It’s great fun. (Think of the inside jokes you have with a loved one. That’s meme-swapping.)

Here’s a great example of what I mean by all this:

Yuri has shown me that I never need to buy deodorant ever again.

Wait.

Yuri smells good. And so do I. Neither he nor I are advocating going au natural, here. What he has shown me is that baking soda — pure, straight up sodium bicarbonate — is the best deodorant money can buy. After your shower, you put a little in your paw, maybe with a little water so’s that it’ll stick, and you apply it in those cute armpits of yours and you will not smell. You will stay dry and fresh and you will not have purchased a cake of deodorant at the store that a) smells weird and b) costs a lot and c) has plastic all over it and maybe aluminum or weird stuff inside of it. I’m telling you: baking soda works. It works better than any deodorant I’ve ever tried. I’ve been using it for months, now, and it has not failed me.

The natural deodorants you buy at the store that use baking soda? Pffft! Skip ’em. Not only do those very expensive “all-natural” deodorants not work, they’re just puttin’ lipstick on a pig! (I don’t know if that’s exactly what they’re doing but I have been wanting to use that expression for several days.) Listen to me: you do not need to buy any of these products ever again.

Put. Baking soda. In. Your armpits. Put it in your armpits!!

I’m all worked up. But it’s just that wonderful. Think about the money a person could save over the course of a lifetime because of this tip! If you switch to baking soda, why, together we could save millions! At least a few thousand. That could go to a lot better things, that dough. I don’t know what.

And so it happened that I became a woman who has baking soda in her medicine cabinet. If anyone ever asks me about it, I will say, “Oh, yeah. It’s the best deodorant you can use. Just plain baking soda. I learned that from Yuri.”

And (maybe) you learned it from me.

Airportal.

posted in: Day In The Life, Paean, Travel 4
Universal.
Universal.

I like planes. Love them, actually.

I love planes so much, I’d marry them. I’d marry planes and have plane babies. And those babies would play with toy planes on planesAnd they would be very well behaved, my children.

I like airports too, quite a lot. As a rule, I arrive at least two hours early to any flight I take just so that I can walk through the terminal a bit then find my gate and plop down to work. I get more done in airports than anywhere else. I’d wager there’s 15% increase in my overall productivity and a 10% spike in creativity. If I knew how to merge those numbers to yield some kind of work-probability number I could stick into a P&L, well, I wouldn’t be a content creator, I’d be doing something else and probably be flying first-class.*

People move through space in airports with a plan and a purpose and that is a comfort to me. I like the scale of airports, even the small ones. I like that I can buy stamps, newspapers, and hot coffee every fifteen feet; I like how airports are basically vast, continuous newsstands where planes drop down and scoop you up and deposit you someplace else.

It’s lucky I feel this kind of way, since I seem to be traveling by plane every other week right now. Maybe it’s because I fly so much that I’ve come to love planes and airports like I do; maybe it’s just the familiarity. After all, I have my rituals, like anyone else who travels all the time for work; everyone loves their rituals, travel or otherwise. (A few of mine: if I’m on a flight out of Midway before 10am I go see my friend Sam at Potbelly’s, who never charges me for extra cheese; I always bring my journal, a book, and and eyemask; I know where the secret bathroom is at LaGuardia; I visit the USO and donate money wherever there’s a USO and I have enough time. Stuff like that.)

I hear air travel used to be sort of glamorous, but I don’t know anything about that. I book my own flights. I schlep my own stuff. From time to (glorious) time there will be a car service waiting to pick me up and my name will be one of the names on signs when I come down the escalator, but that’s atypical. Usually, it’s a solo walk to a taxi line. Indeed, loving airports is loving them alone most of the time and in spite of the hiccups and the headaches that will forever occur.

But we can fly. And that’s the real reason I’ll always love being there.

Human beings can fly through the air. Airplanes, and the airports that facilitate their operation, are human ingenuity and effort, materialized. There were so many failures. It took so long. The Wright brothers were just one part of a really, really long process of creating viable air transportation — a process that has probably only begun, in the grand scheme of things. And to coordinate the hundreds of thousands of people who fly every day, to get their bodies and their belongings safely from one end of the earth to the other — it can’t possibly ever work. Of course it fails, sometimes, but more often, the system does not fail. And I love humans for that. I love what we make and that we know we need to make it better, now, so that air travel is gentler on the earth. (I don’t have a car, by the way, or a kid, or a TV, so I feel like I kind of offset my footprint in those ways.)

I love planes and airports so much, I would tattoo a plane on my body. Hypothetically.

*I am A-List on Southwest at this point! Glamour for days!!

“I Love Your Necklace.”

posted in: Art, Family, Fashion 5
Robust, not fragile.
Robust, not fragile.

Most days, I have on a gold necklace. It’s the same one all the time; I hardly ever take it off.

This is necklace, in my view, is gorgeous and conspicuous. A woman is allowed one, maybe two conspicuously gorgeous accessories on any given day. She can switch out the conspicuously gorgeous accessories as she wishes, but more than two at once (e.g., nice earrings and a handbag) and you’re breaking a cardinal rule made by Big Mama Chanel. Chanel — who we can all agree was a real pain in the ass — said that before you leave the house, you should take off the last thing you put on. (I’m pretty sure she was taking about accessories, not shoes or pants.) And she’s right. If you find yourself wearing a necklace, earrings, a couple bracelets, a handbag of consequence, and a selection of rings, you end up looking rather…accessible, if you catch my drift. Can’t have that.

My necklace is my secret wardrobe weapon. It ensures that I am never over-accessorized. This is because my ensemble on any given day starts at the necklace; not the other way around. Because I never take it off, the piece anchors my look. (Verily, it anchors my very soul.)

The medallion is a solid gold coin from Canada. My grandfather on my dad’s side did some business up there many years ago. The company he worked for screwed him over (this is what grampa told the adults in my life, who then vaguely explained it to me and this is how family lore is created) and grampa is dead now, but before all that depressing stuff happened, the man bought a few of these gold coins.

My mom and my now-deceased grandfather had a complex relationship while my parents were married; the relationship remains complex to this day, even though it now only exists in the abstract. It’s like that with most people who knew my grampa; he was not a kind man. I’ve been assured from several well-intentioned sources that he mellowed considerably toward the end of his life, but to me, being mean your whole life and then being nice toward the end is like apologizing immediately after slicing someone’s throat: you feel terrible and you help with the paper towels, but someone is dying and it’s a little late, darling. Carnage wreaked.

But Grampa, feeling expansive one day, decided to have one of his Canadian coins set by a jeweler. And so he did, and he gave this piece to my mother. She did not wear it then; she did not wear it ever. It sat in her jewelry box for decades, sleeping the days away in the box’s velvet lining.

Mom and I were looking in her jewelry box several years ago she came across the coin. I gasped. I had never seen it before. I thought it was beautiful.

“Zounds!” I exclaimed. “What’s that?!”

Mom helped me unclasp the gold chain I was already wearing and we slid off the little seashell I had hanging from it. We replaced it with the medallion. As soon as I felt that coin around my neck, I felt like I had discovered America. The weight of it on my breast was thrilling; actual gold is heavy, it turns out! The shine, the yellowness of the disc communicated a first-prize win, a blue-ribbon. I felt like I had received a gold medal for simply being alive. I think we should all get a medal for that very reason; life is too hard to not get an award just for surviving more than a few birthdays. Mom saw how much I loved it and it is on permanent loan.

It’s only a piece of metal. But my necklace is the closest thing I get to a talismanic object. I wear my necklace around my neck and my heart on my sleeve and that’s all the adornment I need. Well, then there are my diamond earrings, but that’s another jewelry story for another day.

Note: Chanel also said, “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” This declaration was made in 1930, presumably from a chaise lounge inside La Pausa, Chanel’s home on the French Riviera. A person has to admire Chanel the businessperson, but no one has to like the woman herself. I mean, ew.

Mary Fons, Chips

Google Analytics reveals much. But lo, like the Oracle at Delphi, the Great Google Analyst In The Sky conjures more questions than answers. Oh, Great Google Analyst In The Sky, what secrets do you hide? (Cue synthesizer music, fog machine.)

According to Google Analytics, the top-rated searches that lead to this site are:

Wow, okay.
Let’s discuss.

What can we learn?

Well, people like to get the dirt. Am I divorced? how long ago? pregnant? how recently? diseased? in general or in a specific place? But we know already that people are like that. Heck, I’m like that. Scuttlebuttery is to the Internet as puddin’ is to a long-john donut: inevitable. And bad for you — and delicious.

That “mary fons divorce” comes up before the actual URL to my website is a little weird, but all right. And I look at the words “divorce” and “cancer” attached to the googling of my name and feel a little defensive. But who knows? Maybe those searches are born of concern. I have been very sick in the past and I am divorced. There you go: your search has ended.

The “is mary fons pregnant” search throws me into a mini-funk, though. It really is true that television makes a person look wider than they are in real life. I went through a phase when I enjoyed wearing geometric tunic tops with black tights and kitten heels. A good look walking down big city streets, for sure; on television, not so much. I look like I’m wearing a different mu-mu on every show that series. Why would I be wearing such strange, diaphanous clothing on TV?

Well, many people thought I was pregnant. A woman actually came up to me in Sacramento and whispered, “Mary, I hope you don’t mind if I ask, but… Were you pregnant?” I opened and closed my mouth like a fish for a few seconds and then the woman realized she did that thing that you’re never, ever, ever supposed to do. I said, reflexively, “You’re not supposed to ask people that.” She blushed nine ways from Sunday and that was the end of the conversation. But seriously: what if I had been pregnant? I don’t have a baby. If I was pregnant in the recent past but don’t presently have a baby, we could conclude one of a number of sorrowful outcomes had occurred in my life. Best not to ask a person that. Just google it when you get home.

Enough of that. We need to consider that other google result. You know, the other one up there. Third from the bottom we see:

Chips.

Chips!?

Just “chips.” Not even “Mary Fons, chips.” But it has to be. People have to be typing in something that connects my name with chips. I’m picturing potato chips, but is it paint chips?? Chocolate chips? Chip-off-the-old-block chips? Cow chips? How can we know? Separated by a comma like that in a search engine field, it sounds like a command to eat potato chips: “Chips, Mary Fons.” Typed the other way, it’s like I’m being introduced by a friend to chips:

“Mary Fons, chips.”

“How d’you do, chips?”

:: crunch, crunch, crunch ::

“The pleasure is all mine. That’s a lovely blouse.”

I can’t explain these search results. I do not understand “chips.” But I am happy with the wisdom and insight you have brought to me, Google Analytics. Please let me know if you would like me to make a burnt offering, or perhaps tithe to you a small goat served with chips and a pop.