Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Thursday morning I am doing radio interviews about my new book from 8:30 until 11:10. My voice will be heard on radio stations all over the country. It is a terrifying prospect. My friend Jennifer, a PR person, has been helping me to prepare. She has mock interviewed me and coached me on my answers. She has instructed me to dress professionally and smile when I speak, even though nobody on the radio can see me.

Then, next week, I'm going on tour. For the whole week, all up and down the East coast. I'm calling it my Read Lots of Books without Interruption week and am taking all kinds of novels and books about quilts. By calling it my reading week, I don't have to think about how tired I will be after talking to two or three or four groups of people every day, and saying the same thing each time. I am almost 46 and I still have the energy for all kinds of things, but I don't have the energy for this. I do, however, have the energy to sit and airports and read, which I'll be doing a lot of. So that's what I'm focusing on.

I'm trying to be a trooper, though. I am trying to remind myself that I might sell more books by doing radio interviews and going on tour. But, you know, I've never made a strong connection between writing books and making money, though it is actually how I make my living. The two don't seem to have anything to do with each other. Writing books seems deeply personal to me. How can it be a money-making venture?

On Monday night I went to my first local Quilters' Guild meeting (and I joined--I am a guild member--whee!). The speaker was so hilarious she was exhausting to listen to. What was funny was her quilts were absolutely beautiful. She seemed too funny to make beautiful things. I couldn't put her and her quilts together.

My favorite part was at the very end, when people came up to the front to show their most recent work. It was all amazing. What artists!

And it was nice to sit there safe in the knowledge that I will never quilt for money. I will never have to worry about what reviewers say about my quilts, or whether kids like my quilts, or whether not anyone will buy my quilts. I don't think there's any fear I'll start getting stressed out about whether or not I'm the best quilter in the guild, because I could make a quilt every week and take every class offered for the rest of my life, and I'm never going to be half the artist or seamstress that a lot of these women so obviously are. It's nice to be really mediocre sometimes. It's nice to do something just for the love of it. It's nice to do something and never, ever have to go on the radio to tell people how you did and why they should like it.

I don't know if I'll have time to do another post before I go. So I'll go ahead and say goodbye for now, and I'll see you again the week after next. If I survive. Which I might not.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Material Culture

I'm almost done with my Underground Railroad quilt--I've made the binding and just have to attach it. As you'll note, I still can't quilt a straight quarter-inch seam. Right before we left for D.C. the quarter-inch foot for my sewing machine arrived, and I'm hoping this will made a world of difference. My mom says it will, but she's a much neater person than I am, and I have a hard time believing she's ever sewed as crookedly as I manage to on a regular basis.

You'll be pleased to hear--given how I'm subjecting you to pictures of my crooked quilts--that I'm taking Machine Quilting I at my local quilting shop beginning in May. It's a four-session class, and I'm hoping it's going to clear up a few details for me, like how to quilt evenly and not end up with little clumps at the edges, and, of course, how to sew in a straight line.

The funny thing is, I sort of like the crooked look of the three quilts I've made so far. I've been reading a lot about quilts lately--did you know there's this whole subculture of quilt historians out there who are totally obsessed with antique fabrics and patterns and who made which quilt when?--and I find again and again that the quilts I'm drawn to are the ones that lack any sort of technical proficiency, the off-kilter log cabin quilts and the haven't-got-a-clue patchworks. You heard it here first: I like bad quilts.

Except there's no such thing as a bad quilt, if you don't count quilts with repeating images of lollypop-licking teddy bears running under rainbows. That's the beauty of quilt-making, I've discovered. You can be as messy and hopeless as I am, and you still end up with a thing of beauty.

I was interested to learn that at the turn of the 20th century, the Colonial style was all the rage for American quilters. They were freaked out about industrialization and wanted to return to a simpler, easier time. Sounds familiar. Also, there were a ton of quilting magazines, and you could buy quilter's kits, just like you can today.

If you want to read some interesting stuff about quilt history, just google "material culture quilts," and you'll get to all sorts of neat sites. If you want me to sew a quilt with actual right angles, well, you're just going to have to wait awhile.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Back from D.C.

Frankly, I'm amazed I can still walk. From 10 a.m. Sunday morning until 1:30 Tuesday afternoon, I did nothing but. We toured the Capitol Building, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court. We paid our respects at the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial. We went to Air and Space, Natural History, American History and the American Indian. It was great, and I am pooped.

Here's the difference between me and the Man when it comes to museum-hopping: I want to see stuff about people, he wants to see stuff about space ships and fossils. The Air and Space Museum worked out fine. The boys gawked at missiles and rockets while I had a delightful time reading wall plaques about Orville and Wilbur Wright's family life.

The only downside of the trip was my hair. I had it cut and colored on Friday. The color is very nice. So is the cut, except that my stylist and I are currently having a difference of opinion. I want to grow my hair a little bit longer. She wants me to look like Kate from Jon and Kate Plus 8. So she says she's just going to trim, and then she goes to town. Once she takes off a chunk, there's nothing I can do. I sit there in the chair, helpless and hoping that the mirror is lying and she's not actually making the hair on my crown stand up like a rooster's comb (she did).

So I went to D.C. and my hair was too short and my bangs were too spikey. I tried to not let it spoil the trip. Jack and Will were amazingly well-behaved (not that they're usually horrible, but you know how it is with kids and vacations--serious breakdowns can and often do happen, and Jack has a bad habit of getting upset at restaurants if a waitress dares to bring him a kids' menu). They didn't get bored and they didn't complain and they didn't start kicking each other for no reason.

Now we're home, and my hair is still too short. Cute, but not what I wanted. I will try to lay that aside and enjoy the many spoils of our vacation--the postcards and books and interesting pamphlets. The fact that my children did not self-destruct and no waitresses were harmed during our stay in the capitol city. Because that's much more important than my hair, right? I'm pretty sure it is.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Another Crazy Week

Busy, busy again, and add to that I got sick on Tuesday night. I was watching Jack's basketball game, and suddenly I felt my cheeks get hot. The excitement of the game? Maybe. But as soon as we got home, I went to bed, and I had a hard time getting up in the morning.

But it was one of those weeks when I couldn't stay in bed. Fortunately, I was functional, and so I got 'er done, and I tried to keep my woes to myself.

Now we're on our way to Washington, D.C., for four days, and when we return I'll have the rest of the week to lounge about, since it's the boys' spring break. I have big dreams of doing a thorough spring cleaning. I want to clean out all the cupboards and straighten out the laundry room and dust all the places that don't get dusted (there are a lot of those) and go through the kids' stuff and purge.

Jack's team lost the game, by the way. But they played well, and Jack was Mr. Defense. It's funny, the assumptions you make about your children. Jack is not a big jock, and I've always assumed his athletic skills were limited--that he was like me in that regard. But he's really put his mind to it this season and tried hard. It's made me very proud of him, and really thrilled me to see how much better he's gotten. It's been an important lesson in remembering my kids are still growing and developing and that nothing is set in stone yet. Maybe I've been too quick to label Jack as smart but not athletic. Who knows what surprises he still has up his sleeve?