Friday, October 30, 2009

Have yourself a scary little Halloween

Maybe it's just ME, but this drives me nuts--instead of decorating with a pleasing fall or harvest theme, the local shopping center in the town I live in thinks THIS is a great display for the season. For a few weeks we've had this HUGE, gory exhibition at one of the main intersections in town--visible from both sides in case you miss one. Lovely, huh?

Yep, those are fake bloody legs coming out of a grave. I'm all for "Fright Fest" and haunted houses if that's your thing but what if I personally don't want to look at it every day, several times a day, while I'm driving past? Actually, I try to avoid this popular intersection because it grosses me out so much. But I stopped and took pictures just for you. If you come to visit, be sure to bring the little ones, they're sure to love it. The local preschool my daughter went to is just a 1/2 block away.

When she was 5 or 6, we took her and a friend trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. It got a little dark and they ran ahead a few houses. When they got to this house below, they had no idea that the bodies in the coffins were really teenagers that lived there, dressed up as vampires and mummies, lying very still. When the girls got close, they "came alive" and actually chased them down the block, screaming. I was LIVID! I should have complained to the parents, but I let it go--my daughter didn't want everyone to think she was a "baby." Everyone else apparently thought it was funny and a great joke, but my husband and I were the ones who sat up with her every night after that because she was afraid to fall asleep. Oh, they're probably still doing it, but we avoided that block the next year, and they recently won a prize in the community for best "Creepy" house.

My own taste in Halloween decorations is pretty tame, no bloody body parts, and usually runs closer to this:

My kids just roll their eyes. "Mom, CASPER??" My reply: "Isn't there WAY too much gore and violence in real life already? Do we really need to scare little kids when they come to the door expecting candy?" I just don't get it. Maybe it's because I'm so OLD. When I was a kid, Halloween was FUN. You dressed up like a princess or a pirate and didn't scare each other to death.

I asked my husband if he thought I was being an old fuddy duddy stick-in-the-mud. "A bit," he said. Oh well, I just needed to vent. I think I'll go watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown all alone and eat some mini-Snickers now.

                               HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Trick or Treat!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Take the Long Way Home

I love the change of seasons and of them all, I love Fall the most. I consider myself lucky to live in an area where the weather gets crisp and the trees burst into vibrant orange, gold and red every October. I love the sound of the leaves crunching under my feet when I walk the dogs.
“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree”
~Emily Bronte

Who says we don't have Fall in Chicago? There's a local joke that goes: Chicago has only 2 seasons--Winter and construction, and sometimes it seems like that's true. I've been to New England in the fall and have seen other parts of the country at that time of year as well, and while our fall can't necessarily hold a candle to Fall in some other places, there's still a little bit of beautiful foliage and color changing going on around here too. Right in the neighborhood.

The ride to and from my opthalmologist's office is pretty quick if I take the toll road.

Last week, I opted for a different route home that added maybe 10 or 15 minutes to the trip. But it was definitely more scenic:

So much better than staring at the back of a truck on the tollway!

         “Summer makes me drowsy. Autumn makes me sing."
~Dorothy Parker

There's a house at the end of this lane and I want to live there, LOL. I grew up in the city and worked in the city, but I've always wanted to live in the country. On this particular ride home I almost felt that I do. Who knows, I still may someday. Also, I'll bet you didn't know that we had so much "country" in the Chicago area.

Watch out for Equestrians?? It's difficult enough to cross this road in a car, much less on a horse. Can't say I see too many of these around here.

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns."
~George Eliot

I became so inspired by looking at colorful leaves that I stitched up these scrappy little maple leaf blocks over the weekend, using some of the same colors. I'm telling you, go outside and look around, there's inspiration everywhere you look. Sometimes you'll find it in the smallest things. Take the long way home.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rainy Days and Creativity

Today it's cold and rainy here and I'm working hard on quilts for the next book, plugging my way through 16 projects. Rainy days lift me up and inspire me much more than sunny days, when I want to be outside, busy, enjoying the nice weather. I especially love rainy days in the Fall. I'm creative and contemplative when it rains.

I think I stay focused more when I'm forced to be inside. When it rains I don't feel like rushing around doing errands, getting cold or wet, so I stay inside and accomplish things that need to get done here and save the errands for another day. I get comfortable, no makeup, pull my hair up--rain makes it frizzy and I can't do anything with it anyway--make tea and get working.

I'm having tea in this mug I bought at a shop in Shipshewana last week. Tea definitely tastes better in a pretty mug. I could write a whole blog about my coffee and tea mugs.

This is the box it came in --I like it almost as much as the mug. Isn't it great? Big enough for recipe cards.

There's a huge puddle in my back yard.


The dogs have slowed down too. Can't go outside. Mom's busy. Nothing else to do but take a nap.

And listen to the rhythmic whir of the sewing machine . . . .

When I was young, rainy days were for daydreaming. Or drawing. Or sitting curled up on a comfy chair on the back porch, reading about faraway places, thinking. When my kids were little, rainy days were often spent quietly, reading, crafting, finger painting, drawing, watching movies--slowing down instead of playing and being active outdoors--some of that conducive to being creative. Sometimes, when it got TOO quiet and the kids starting getting bored and antsy at being indoors too long, we'd get the umbrellas and head for the park to find sticks to swish through puddles and see who could throw pebbles the farthest into the way-way-far-away puddles. Or put on rain boots and stomp through them. Then come back home and change into warm, dry clothes and eat cookies and drink hot chocolate (them) and tea (me). Good memories. I love rain.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Life in the Not-So-Fast Lane

Just got back from a driving trip across the Midwest to Ohio and Pennsylvania for a couple of lectures and a workshop. For some, there's no choice--to get from one place to another the only sensible option is to hop on a plane. Me--I hate to fly and so I drive everywhere.

I love the not-so-fast pace, listening to books on CD or, if my husband comes along, reading while he drives, seeing the landscapes of a series of small towns and making stops at quilt shops across the country I would never have had a chance to visit otherwise. Can't do that on a plane.

If I reach a crucial moment and run out of Diet Dr Pepper or Strawberry Twizzlers, I can pull over at the next rest stop and replenish the provisions. Definitely can't do THAT on a plane. If my daughter calls with an urgent question or emergency I can usually put out the fire from my cell phone. ("Mom, the puppy threw up on the carpet and I used up all the paper towels, WHERE do we keep the extras?" Or, "Tell me again, HOW do you get Tie Dye off your hands and the sink??" This last one was a trick question--what she really meant to say was "How do you get tie dye off your hands after you've put green and blue streaks in your HAIR??" She put streaks in her gorgeous, long, thick, dark, shiny hair [underneath, so maybe there was a chance I wouldn't see it and scream] and it leaked through the vinyl gloves. At least she used good taste--blue and green are my favorite colors . . . .)

My husband recently completed a string of 15 weeks spent travelling for his job, something out of the ordinary--he rarely travels--and mildly stressful. Considering the time he spent getting to the airport, waiting in the airport, going through security at the airport, flying to his destination and then waiting before entering ANOTHER airport, he could have almost just gotten in his car and driven to wherever that other office is located. So even though I sometimes spend the better part of a day travelling to get to a lecture that's away from home, I'm fine with that.

The wonderful thing about travelling for MY job is meeting all of the simply lovely quilters that come out to see me. I can honestly say that I've never, ever met anyone who wasn't a pleasure to talk to or have in a class (well, there was that ONE lady that ONE time; just kidding . . .)

On this particular trip I met hundreds of women who were (or at least seemed) eager to listen to what I had to say and excited to see my quilts. And ask that question: What's the new book about? Can you give us a hint? Will there be a diary? Sorry, no diary next time.

(Chatting beforehand, warming up the crowd. If I look like I'm wringing my hands I probably was--I get awfully nervous before I speak in public. Don't be fooled by my calm demeanor.)

Classes are always fun and I get to talk about my quilts and sometimes see what others have made. Look at this mini nine-patch quilt someone in the workshop/class made and brought to show us. How tiny is that one?

Jill and Judith from Cambridge Springs, PA, said my visit was like a "dream come true." I think maybe they got me confused with someone else, some very famous quilter, perhaps, LOL. Or maybe the excitement was because they thought I was bringing Brad Pitt with me. (Nope, just my adorable husband).

Still, they seemed VERY happy to finally meet me after reading all of my books.

The drive home was rainy and I was pretty tired but not too tired to pass up lunch and a small shopping spree in Shipshewana, Indiana. I'd heard lots about it and since we were so close it seemed a shame not to at least spend a little time there. It's a quaint little town in the third largest Amish community in the US and is filled with dozens of arts-and-crafts shops and furniture stores. Apparently Shipshewana is the only Indiana site listed in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

We had to slow down for the buggies all over town. Wondered what it would be like to live here and use a buggy to get everywhere I needed to go. Could I slow down and live the simple life like the Amish?  Sometimes it has its appeal when life seems to be moving a little too fast and I want to scream. But I'd miss my cell phone. And my ipod. And my digital camera. And my laptop. And cable TV. And don't forget my computerized sewing machine . . .

Stopped for gas here. I guess the buggy did too?          


I knew there'd be quilts all over the place but I have to say I've never actually eaten at a restaurant that had quilts on the menu:

Great shops--and I actually got in some early Christmas shopping.

Lolly's, the quilt shop, has loads of great fabric, tons of books and notions galore. Bought some border fabric for a quilt in the new book and other assorted goodies. I looked for my book on the book rack several times (come on, all authors do this, right?) and was mildly disappointed not to find it anywhere. Oh well.
All the hoopla over Adelia back in Pennsylvania and Ohio must have gone to my head, I thought--why on earth did I expect Lolly's to bother carrying one of my books when they had so many other really, really good ones to display? Oh well. On my way back to the reproduction fabric section, I spotted it:

It wasn't on the book rack. They gave Remembering Adelia  it's own display! And not one, but TWO separate displays!! This is good. Glad I found it.


All in all, not a bad end to a trip that began pretty well. Even the rain couldn't dampen my spirits after that.