Monday, June 13, 2011

Nothing to Write About

Most bloggers, when they have nothing to write about, just skip it altogether and don't bother. Life gets in the way, people get busy or, who knows, family emergencies or personal things take over and there's no time to keep up. I know how that goes. But don't you hate it when your favorite bloggers all of a sudden stop writing and seem to disappear for a few months? What happened? How can they do that to us?? Like characters on a favorite TV show, will they ever be back for another season? (Don't get me started on Mad Men and whoever produces THAT show . . . I'm usually fuming when I take time to think about it, wondering:  What will happen to the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency and will Don finally find happiness with his new, young wife??)

You have to admit - reading blogs has become such a pleasurable pastime for so many of us. Even if our own lives become busy we still manage to reach out to others online for that little bit of entertainment and connection. The blogs I love to read myself and keep going back to are those that reveal something about the writer, her life, often through quilts, but sometimes not. A little peek inside the window if you will.

I'm not always necessarily interested in the personal stuff alone, but I like to know, what makes this quilter tick? How does she juggle everything and still find the time to be inspirational? Sure, we all want to see pretty quilts or fabric, but when you begin to follow others' blogs and become involved in their quilting passion don't you also wonder what their life is like on an ordinary day? They become friends and you miss them when they're gone. What do they do when they're not quilting? Do they have the same routines and problems as the rest of us or are they always perfect, the way their quilts are or as we imagine them to be? It's like walking into the restroom at the mall with your mother when you were 9 and running into a teacher. Shocking! Yes, they actually shop and have to use the restroom just like the rest of us!

This blog has become so therapeutic for me lately I can't tell you. I think some of you understand that and I'm sure just click away when you don't want to read personal stuff, and are only looking for pictures of quilts. That's okay and I hope you're not too disappointed and come back. There will be more quilts - someday! Quilting is only a part of my life though. I feel like I've made so many friends from all over the world through your comments and good wishes and I hope at times I've been able to impart a bit of creative inspiration, humor, hope. Or maybe insight into just what makes this quilter tick, or perhaps what makes ALL of us tick, working things out through my ramblings as I go about my daily life.

So, never fear, Dear Readers, I won't disappear off the face of the earth. At least not quite yet. I will always try to be there for you, to entertain and inspire with tales of my dogs' antics, my adorable kids, mundane chores and often boring life . . .

So, if I'm not quilting, what's going on here? I am trying hard to get healthy and resume my exercise regimen. The doctor says I can walk, nothing else, so I've been walking a bit and trying to go a little farther every day. I get very discouraged sometimes but my husband reminded me last night that only 3 weeks ago I still had a difficult time getting up off the couch so walking 6 - 7  blocks (with puppy, at puppy pace!) is actually quite an accomplishment. I guess I need to stop looking at the glass half-empty and get out my gratitude journal again. I will be eating better soon too, less ice cream, more healthy fiber I hope, after I see the doctor on Thurs for my last post-op checkup.

I'm very behind on doing things around the house and other errands. Amazing what a bad year can do to your attempts at organization. I decided, however, not to think about all that and that it was time for some inspiration to keep me moving instead - I need to go shopping for some new shoes today.

These are looking pretty pathetic and I try to walk fast so no one sees the holes in the toes. But they are SO comfortable and broken in and I hate to give them up. Time for some pretty new shoes - That's number one on my Mundane list for later today.

I've also been catching up on reading and my daughter and I are going to the library after the shoe store. She's a little bummed because my son already has a summer job and, although she's applied for a few, there have not been any call backs for her in that department. Getting lost in a book helps.

I've been an Anna Quindlen fan since her NY Times column. I really, really enjoyed this book and want to get one of her earlier books I haven't read yet.

More Mundane

Cleaning up - Why does this take up so much of my time every day? Morning till night. Since my son graduated and has been home I feel like all I ever do is clean up. Never mind the nagging and yelling, I've learned to pick my battles and just do it so it gets done because I can't stand seeing dishes in the sink all the time. He's going to grad school in the Fall and hopes to get an apartment in the city after his summer job is over so I know our time together is limited and I don't complain too much. I'm just happy he's here. Even if he leaves dishes in the sink. And he'll be doing his own dishes soon enough.

We have a dishwasher, how hard can it be??

Making Snacks - This morning I spent time cutting up fruit and placing them into bowls  (LOL) so my kids can grab a healthy snack when they feel like snacking. Yes, I know, they're not pre-schoolers anymore - one is 22 and the other 18! They can cut up their own fruit, but I know they won't, and in the summer I can't help it, I always revert to Mom Mode, taking care of my cubs, enjoying the casual time spent with them at home, trying not to be the kind of mom who gripes too much. I know they can easily do these things themselves but I baby them nonetheless. My own mom used to do this for me and, I'm embarrassed to admit, also ironed my clothes until I was in my early twenties and moved out. Everything in its own time I always say . . . I eventually learned to iron and greatly appreciated everything she did for me when the time came to do it myself. Guess I'm passing on those bad habits.

I'm also back to preparing dinner most days - one regular and one vegetarian for my daughter. Takes time to shop and plan but I enjoy it and my husband is very appreciative after a long day at work. Plus, he does the evening clean up so I don't mind.

We're having pork chops, rice and apricots tonight because I turned to this page and, what luck! That's what's available in our freezer and pantry. The vegetarian meal?  Anybody's guess, LOL. Brown rice, vegetables and apricots perhaps?? Makes it easy on me.

Okay, so maybe I did have something to write about after all. You can't deny that my day is full - even if I'm taking it easy, puttering around, playing with the dogs, not quilting perhaps, but musing on the blog to keep my creative writing juices flowing at least. Has to count for something. But now I have to go shoe shopping and stick to the rest of the day's boring plans. No, not making time for quilting yet. If I get a few minutes later this afternoon, before starting dinner, I'll rest a bit on the sofa with my new Scrabble App to try to regenerate some of those brain cells I think I lost during my recent bout with anesthesia. So far, I'm beating the computer by more than 12 games. Not bad.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bring Back the Past

Guess what?? I have good news for some of you who are newish fans. I just found out that my first book, American Doll Quilts (published in 2004), which has been out of print for a few years, is now available in a Print on Demand paperback edition through Amazon .

This is very good news! You know that it is VERY expensive for publishers to print up copies of a book, particularly a book that is more than a few years old that may not sell as well as a newer book. This is a great alternative for publishers.  I know some of you have already bought the digital version (e-book, which is also still available) because it was better than nothing when you could not find the actual book even though you really wished for a hard copy of this wonderful little book. Wishes come true!

(Photo by Brent Kane)

Unfortunately, there is no way to get a signed copy of the book from me since the copies are very expensive for me to buy myself from Amazon and then resell to you. (FYI - I am not making any money on this whole thing.) But we'll take what we can get, right? The good thing is that the book has been thrown back out there in the world of quilting again!

(Photo by Brent Kane)

Please keep in mind that it was my very FIRST book and when I had the idea and sent it to my publisher, I was more surprised than anyone when they accepted my proposal and said they would like to publish my book. I was not a very experienced quilter but took a chance anyway and was given FOUR months to make all of the quilts, do the research and write the text. Sheesh! Can you get it done in four months? they asked. Short answer to a quilting career: Of course I can! The pressure, please. I had NO idea what I was in for and so while it is a wonderful little book full of small quilts and projects, you can tell that I was almost like a child struggling with learning how to quilt as I went along. I did my very best, LOL.

So forgive my lack of expertise in the quiltmaking. Maybe no one will notice. Often, over the years, I have thought of re-making some of those little quilts now that I finally know what I am doing. But they DO have a certain charm I think, crooked stitches and unmatched seams and all. And anyway, the way I look at it - the past is the past and cannot be redone.

It fits right in with the theme of the book - making doll quilts with a childish hand the way they made them in the past. So many of you loved the  book  anyway and it became a best seller and allowed me to grow and have 3 more books published since then. So now you, my newer fans, who have been following me since my later books have been published, or maybe since I began writing this blog, will have the opportunity to finally collect all four of my books.

I am so happy about this. I am not sure how long this will last or if it will only be available for a certain time period, so make haste as they say.

So here's to simple little quilts and the beginners and children from long ago who made them and got started on a quilting journey . . . and the book that started the journey for me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Proud Mama

Bragging rights! This past weekend we attended the graduation of our son who graduated with a double degree in Philosophy and Psychology - cum laude, no less. And an Art minor. And in four years too! He worked hard. I can't tell you how proud we are. He received an excellent education and I know he has a bright future ahead of him, even if he doesn't have a full-time job just yet, LOL. My son, the Philosopher . . . I told one of his professors I was afraid at times that his head would explode from all of the critical thinking he was doing.

My daughter deserves kudos too - she graduated early from high school this past January and will be attending the same college that her brother attended in the fall. We're very happy about that. She's taking a different path though. Do we really need TWO philosophers in the family?? How time flies . . . . and so many transitions coming up for all of us.

This one's a Philosopher too, always thinking about something . . .

Will I survive the Empty Nest?? (I told my daughter that I will miss her so much when she goes away that I may just have to get another puppy. Shh, don't tell my husband I even SAID that.) The upside to all this is that we have only four more years of tuition payments . . . Yippee - we're halfway there!
*  *  *
I'm still not quilting yet, have been too busy. But thanks to those of you who are still sending me so many words of encouragement (and precious gifts too!). I will respond soon, I promise.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

If I Were to Make Something

Let's say I was inspired to make a quilt. I'm not there yet, so don't get too excited. But let's imagine. I might very well applique these basket blocks and put them together into a small quilt. Think how much fun that would be!

Shirley sent these adorable baskets to me to help keep me occupied (and probably motivate me) while I am recovering. What a sweet gesture! She prepped all the blocks for me - even basted the baskets onto the background squares to make it that much easier. I am amazed at the work she put into them. Sorry, friends, but I have never done anything like this for ANYONE, so you know just how much it means to me. Thanks so much, Shirley!

Let's say I wanted to pick up another quick project. I might take these 1 1/4" strips that I cut a few months ago  . . .

. . . and combine them with these squares to make some simple scrappy blocks.

I have the idea for the quilt in my head, and know the prints I want to use, just do not have the energy to actually follow through. But someday soon perhaps . . . right after I get back to making progress on my daughter's quilt.

Looks like the wheels are definitely starting to turn, doesn't it?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thank you!

I have the BEST fans, don't I? Thank you all so much for all of your comments after my last post. You are all so right about everything - but please don't be alarmed, sometimes I just have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel but I just cannot see it yet because I am too deep in the middle of that tunnel. I WANT to quilt but I think I also DON'T want to quilt, does that make sense? Push - pull, I need a break, I don't want to take a break. Like so many of you I am addicted to quilting and my life feels off if I am not making something. That's the hard part because I simply have no energy yet, so that's part of the problem. I know it will be resolved in time (sooner than later I hope) and I will find a good balance.

Lovely squares I really can't wait to put into a quilt . . . .

Don't worry, I do intend to take it easy and simply take the pressure off myself for a while and try not to worry about the fact that I am not being especially "creatively productive" right now. I always have enough to do to keep me busy anyway. I have a doctor appointment coming up and will get a good post-surgery checkup. Will get some of those questions answered. My daughter and I are going on a little shopping trip this week to find something for me to wear to her brother's graduation next weekend. I have nothing to wear that's loose and comfortable around my middle . . . . Also, I need a haircut like you would not believe. Enough little outings, one a day,  to tire me out for sure but without TOO much exhaustion.

Please, I did not mean to criticize those of you who are looking forward to future projects. I'm flattered that so many of you always become excited about a new book! They take a looong time, however, and a lot of work, which is a little overwhelming at this point. I like to tell people to please make some of the quilts from my last book first . . .  don't just look at the pictures, LOL. It's very frustrating for me because I know I also put  pressure on myself to please people with new things/projects as well. This blog will have to stand in as my Creative Outlet for now.

The birthday barbeque yesterday was nice and it was great getting together with our families. Everyone brought something to eat and also helped with clean-up so I was able to take it easy a little. I have four sisters and when we get together my husband says we all talk at the same time, over each other, LOL. By the time everyone left, I ran out of steam and went to bed at nine . . .

My daughter's favorite gift was probably these shoes we got for her. What is it about teenagers and shoes these days??

Thank goodness for wish lists, online shopping and free shipping 

Oh, that and the fact that I let her use my Barnes & Noble account to buy some e-books to read on my Nook.  Years ago, after disasters always seemed to occur whenever one of my kids "borrowed" my CD player, ipod, phone, etc., I  instituted a "hands-off" rule as far as my personal electronics went. The ban was finally lifted. What a mom, huh? But I doubt I'll let her take it to the beach.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Creative Stress

I'll be honest. I won't lie to you. I'm feeling blocked and stuck these days. I just cannot get over it and have almost no creative urge or impulse AT ALL. Nada. Totally lacking in inspiration.

I really used to enjoy playing around with ideas for new quilts.

The box is empty  right now . . .

Does that ever happen to you? For someone who calls herself a "quilt designer/author" it's pretty stressful and depressing, let me tell you. Not many will admit to this I think. I pick up magazines and books and look at blogs to see what's new but it seems like everything is whirling past me so fast and I have not kept up for so long. Will anyone still be there waiting for me at the station when I finally get off this recovery train?

I get e-mails asking me "What's next, what's next, What are you working on, When is another book coming out??  Soon, soon, soon, we hope . . . can't wait for another one!" Give. me. a. break. Actually, forgive me for sounding rude  and cranky, I'm really a nice person, honest, but I simply want to scream back sometimes: "I'm on a break! I'm still having a hard time making myself lunch and walking up and down stairs . . . "

The dilemma is, if I'm technically on a break, shouldn't I still just be quilting for fun or whatever? Happy as a clam to finally have time to myself?? Quilting always used to make  me feel good. Last week I was all ready to pick up a few of my Dear Jane blocks and see if I could at least whip up a few easy ones to add to my meager collection. I got out the Dear Jane book and poked through some of my scraps -

I turned on the iron and promptly burned my left hand. Ouch, has it been so long since I've quilted that I forgot how to use one, LOL?? But I persisted, slipped on a bandage and put an ice pack on it. It's only my left, I can still cut and sew with my right. 

I chose a block, then went over to the printer with my freezer paper to transfer the block pattern from my DJ  EQ software. Yes, you guessed it, the printer decided that now was a perfect time to break. I'm pretty sure I just used it 2 days ago and it was FINE. Could not get anything out of it except for a loud, angry, grinding sigh. Or, wait, was that coming from me?? I suspect this is the Universe telling me to just go sit down and watch another movie already or read a book or something until I feel better. No quilting for now.

Big sigh . . .

Actually, I do have a few other things on my plate at the moment - a party/barbeque to plan for tomorrow for My Daughter's 18th Birthday. Nothing fancy, hamburgers (and one veggie burger) on the grill,  some easy sides and a salad. A cake from the store (sorry  Hon).  Not stressful at all but nevertheless a lot more than I've done in awhile. But she's my miracle baby - the one I was lucky enough to have at a late age when we thought there was no hope for another - and I always like to make her feel special you know. The weather should be nice and, oh yes, some of the perennials are blooming and all of the bought plants are now in pots or in the ground! Yay for super hard-working husbands!!

They grow up so fast . . . 
My son is graduating from college next week and, before I know it, she'll be gone too.

I will have more thoughts on this creativity thing coming up I'm sure. I'm not WORKING on anything so what else do I have to do until I get my groove back?

I'll get that box filled up soon, I just know it. The hardest part is waiting.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Slowing It Down Again

I had a few little setbacks recently and had to go into the ER the other day.  I am feeling a little better today but still having a hard time accepting the fact that my recovery is going slowly and I just cannot do the things I want to do yet. It's a little frustrating (and boring, too) but when I do too much I suffer. So I resigned myself and it was back to the sofa for more prescribed rest to help me heal faster.

I always have my reliable companions nearby - dogs and books, dogs and books.

I just cannot seem to get into quilting yet and have no energy to do much else. The most recent version of Little Women was on TV yesterday and it was a nice way to spend a lazy afternoon. I remember growing up with the classic 1949 version of the movie starring June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Margaret O'Brien and Elizabeth Taylor and I always liked it fine. But I decided I really love this newer version starring Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Christian Bale and Claire Danes from 1994.

The set designs were simply wonderful and I really enjoyed the New England atmosphere, the costumes, the quilts and even the dolls sitting on little quilts in some scenes.

I fell in love with one of the quilts seen in a few of the scenes from the movie and I intend to make a little one like it using a variety of my pink and indigo blue repro fabrics someday.

It looked something like this.

Anyway, if  you haven't seen this newer version of Little Women, it's worth taking a look.  I don't remember what kind of reviews it got in 1994 and I'm sure there are those who say nothing can live up to the original, but I still liked it. I think it captured the period very well.

I've read two novels since I've been home and after watching the movie, picked this one up again  - March by Geraldine Brooks.

Ms. Brooks wrote her novel from the perspective of the absent father from the novel Little Women and the story relates his own experiences during the Civil War. A little graphic about the war in parts but a wonderfully creative take on the story and worth reading if you like historical fiction. 

Have a good weekend! I'm going to send my husband out to the Garden Center tomorrow (before the world ends at 6 p.m. . . . ) for some flowers and then stand there and "direct" while he and my daughter plant them this weekend unless we determine it's still too early (or it rains) in which case it might be better to wait until next weekend. Next week is my daughter's birthday (18! I can hardly believe it . . . )  and we always celebrate the occasion with a family barbeque around Memorial Day. It sure would be nice to have some pretty flowers to show off, wouldn't it?

Monday, May 16, 2011


If there's a perk to being sick, it's the kind thoughts and get well wishes I have gotten from friends from all over. Thank you so much for sending all those cards and letters. 

I appreciate every one and if I could respond I would. I am still not feeling great yet and am working out the pain meds thing. I need to take something because I am not quite healed but more often than not the pills make me drowsy or woozy and because I have so many allergies, I am limited in what I can take. I also have had to limit my diet for awhile and go for soft and bland, very low fiber for a few months, which is not fun and sometimes boring, as much as I love mashed potatoes. It's definitely a challenge to try to be creative with soft, well-cooked vegetables and fruit and a little chicken or pasta on most days. I've handed over the meal preparation to my husband for awhile.

It's not quite this bad, but it might as well be . . . I have a taste for Chinese take-out or a nice big chopped salad - both no-nos.

Other perks from family and friends -

The turquoise bracelet was a Mother's Day gift from my daughter. Isn't it beautiful? The fabric was a gift from myself that I ordered before I went into the hospital - I knew I'd need something to perk me up when I was able to sew again.

Ingrid is anxious for me to get better so I can do yoga with her . . .

See, I still read real books . . .  This one is a wonderful collection of many of my favorite poems.

Do you see a certain color trend here?? I'm glad everyone associates me with that wonderful blue-green, turquoise, aqua color . . . I think I need to get cracking on the thank you cards soon.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Home at Last

Blogger and I are both finally feeling better, thank goodness. I came home from the hospital on Tuesday and can't say that I've felt like doing much of anything until today because of the pain.

My abdominal surgery went very well but as I said I was in a lot of pain and exhausted for a week afterwards. There's no good way to get ANY sleep in a hospital and I think the healing doesn't even BEGIN until you go home. They sent me home with a minor dose of a pain killer. I was getting almost NO relief for 2 days and was not able to sit up without cringing it was so bad. So I called the doctor and he increased it a bit. You really cannot heal until your pain is under control. After that I was able to get some sleep last night, the first in over a week. I was grateful and though I woke up in pain because I slept through my 3 a.m. scheduled meds I felt a little more like myself. I had great nurses and excellent care while in the hospital but it makes such a difference being home and in familiar surroundings without those IV monitors beeping.

My caring sisters and my wonderful daughter are taking care of me again while my husband is at work. I have a visiting nurse this week and next who will come in a couple of times to check my incision and progress, which is also really nice in case I have any questions or concerns. I'm trying to remember how it all went last time I had surgery and even though this time I started out in more pain because of a larger incision, I think it's actually going better. Maybe I'm just used to the drill and don't get as frustrated if I can't do something or start to feel bad. I'm more relaxed and know it will get better eventually.

I'm not supposed to bend because of my incision, so there's a trail of stuff I've dropped all over the house that isn't going to get picked up until someone else does it. I finally see the need for a Lady in Waiting! It's so funny - the last time it drove me nuts but now I don't care. Someone will get it eventually and I'm not going to worry about it because I care more about taking care of myself than if there's a pen or piece of mail on the floor. Not worth stretching the wrong way. If I start feeling sorry for myself I just sit down and have a good cry, and that takes care of it and I move on.

I'm in good hands. My one sister went grocery shopping the other day and brought me my favorite ice cream. A surefire healing food, did you know that?? One of my other sisters came over and made me egg salad for lunch (protein) and brought dinner - vegetable lasagna. My friend Julia made us a chicken pie for supper tonight. Yum!

I have a lot of reading to catch up on in ther next few weeks and then maybe I'll feel like doing some hand stitching while I recuperate. All in all, it's sooo good to be home and I'm looking forward to getting healthy again. But first I have to eat all that ice cream . . . .

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy Pinwheels

I pulled out the Pinwheel blocks I made a few weeks ago when my head was spinning and everything was in turmoil over my dog's seemingly fragile health.

I put them together into a small quilt and added borders. I can't stop smiling when I look at it, thinking how different it seems -  almost cheerful, not so depressing. Now when I look at them I think of Spring and those toy pinwheels spinning away in the breeze. Reminding me that things took a "turn" for the better this time. Maybe it's a sign that things at the Tracy household are on an upward swing after a difficult year. Spring -  renewal, rebirth, second chances and all.

I'll layer it and get it ready to quilt tomorrow. I'm going into the hospital this week for my last surgery (hopefully the last one - keep a good thought). I expect I'll be there for about a week or so. The quilt will be something to add to the pile of hand stitching I want to work on after I get home, while I'm recovering on the couch.

I won't be too interested in blogging for awhile I suspect. The last recovery period was difficult. I probably won't answer e-mails for a little while either and book orders will be delayed, just so you know. For those of you who joined the American Schoolgirl Club this year (same club, same patterns from last year - I just ran it a second time) - you don't have to worry about this month's patterns, they'll be mailed out tomorrow after I take the dog to the groomer for a much needed trim.

Happy dog!
So wish me well and keep your fingers crossed that I'll be back to feeling great in no time. This time I'll try to avoid more horror stories of my health, only positive posts, I promise. I'm putting all that negative stuff behind me. Upward swing, remember?



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