Monday, February 28, 2011

Running Trumps Art

My birthday is this week, and as a gift to myself I am running/swimming six of those days. (So excited!)

And, to support that, heading to bed at 9:00 every night.

I guess running and the things I do to support my running (swimming, yoga, sleep, eating well) trump art for me. Last year, when I planned time for myself this week I thought I'd use it to paint. And I have been working on my projects and expect to do more on them this week as well... but, really, it's all about the running. And I've been seeing that over the past two months anyway. Just... interesting.

But also that making things is essential too, in a different way. To borrow from Ntozake Shange, "art as necessary as collards, running even in our dreams."*

*Borrowed liberally from Ntozake Shange's Ellington Was Not A Street ("politics as necessary as collards / music even in our dreams"). Read this!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Workshop in Progress - Feb. 23 (On Not Making Any Progress But Eating Well Instead)

What, it's Wednesday again?

No sewing progress to report this week, I'm afraid. Intense work stuff + a cold + a weekend spent cooking/baking for my family = no sewing. That's okay, I know where I'm going with the amp cover and have a number of evenings to myself coming up, so I expect to have it mostly done by next week. At least I better --- his next gig is March 5.

But here is a photo of what I did do this weekend...
Butter cookies with frosting (for a party that didn't happen --- I froze some and brought the rest in to work).

"Morning Glory" muffins, healthy version. Yum! This will become a new staple. Plus I figured out another reason why muffins are better than quick breads --- much easier to halve the recipe.

Then a spicy cauliflower and potato dish from my new cookbook, The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla. I am so pleased with this. I love Indian food and have always been intimidated by the thought of making it, but it's so expensive to eat out. This was easy and I only had to buy a couple of extra spices (note to self: when an Indian recipe is titled "spicy," cut the spices in half). I do have to go to the library now though for a more tradional Indian cookbook --- seeing all the lentil dishes got me excited to try them but as I'm the only one who will eat lentils I don't want to make an entire slow-cooker's worth.

Oh, and why did no one tell me before how amazing jasmine rice is? No more Uncle Ben's for us!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Good Stuff for a Sad Tuesday

Today I like this.

And this.

...if you follow your tears, you will find your heart. If you find your heart, you will find what is dear to God. And you find what is dear to God, you will find the answer to how you should live your life.
from H. Norman Wright, "Experiencing Grief"

And this.
Yesterday at the Field Museum.
Apparently, "Rawr" means "I love you" in dinosaur.


Sad Today

Have been learning about child sexual exploitation and doing more work with your garden variety, run-of-the-mill child abuse, so I keep having moments where I look at Buddy and get overwhelmed with sadness about the children who are not safe in the world.

And then remembering him say, "I sorry, Mommy," when prompted, after actually doing something wrong, and thinking of children saying the same thing who haven't, but feel they must say it, say something.

One of The Dude's friends had a stillbirth yesterday.

And I have my period, so aside from the swing in hormones which is probably at least in part responsible for my tears, that also means I'm not pregnant. And we didn't even really want to be, not yet, but...

I was going to go swimming this morning but I think a run is the only thing that will help me negotiate the day with some calm.

Prayers to all who suffer this day. Thanks for all we've been blessed with.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Notes on a Wet Week

I ran 5 times in the past eight days, and every single time I had to set my shoes out afterwards to dry.

First, all the snow from our blizzard melted --- rapidly --- and sidewalks turned into lakes. The first few days of this the walks were still lined with treacherous ice banks. Through the puddles I went.

Next, the ice on the sides melted, only to leave behind shoe-grabbing mud and I didn't want to think about what else. Through the puddles I went.

Finally, many (not all) of the puddles cleared. So I went out yesterday for a nice 7+ mile run... in the rain. Freezing rain. No music even, just me, getting wet (again), grinning like a fool, thinking big thoughts.

God, I love to run.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Happy Friday!

Today I like this*:

And it was there, flat on my face, that it occurred to me that at a certain point, in certain situations, willingness trumps qualifications... I may not be a "teacher" but with God's grace I can teach. I may not be an expert mother, but with God's grace I will raise these kids. I may not be a record-setting runner, but with God's grace I run.
from Kristin Armstrong's Runner's World blog

*With thanks to Jude Hill of Spirit Cloth.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Workshop in Progress - Feb. 16

I'm taking a couple of weeks off from working on my quilt (though not from thinking about it) to finally make the amp cover I promised The Dude, way back last summer. Way back before I was sewing on any regular basis and so was completely unrealistic in my estimates of how long it might take me or how complicated it might be.

So, the amp measures 11x18x24", with a handle on top that I'll need to accomodate. My initial plan was to make columns of horizontal stripes, using the jeans/pants materials that you see cut into strips above, and then line it with the t-shirt material at the top and quilt the whole thing.

After all the previous discussion about using knits I've decided to forego the lining/quilting for this project and instead embellish the completed cover with embroidery. And in the process of sewing the strips together I decided I actually like the look of rows of vertical stripes better instead. I also realized that I didn't have enough material so ended up slicing up another pair of misfitting pants (the darker brown below) and will incorporate that into the rows as well. Below you see smaller blocks of stripes --- I'll combine them into different-sized rows, depending on the width needed.
I was planning to edge the bottom and the handle opening with the brown ribbon, but now that I've added in another brown fabric I'm thinking I might switch to a navy blue ribbon for edging instead.

Feeling very happy about the progress I made yesterday. I can see that I didn't cut all the strips on the same grain, something I want to pay more attention to in the future (I did start paying more attention to that towards the end). But this is not something that is ever likely to get washed so I'm not going to worry much about that right now. Looking forward to assembling everything over the next week and then doing some embroidery.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Must. Have. Chocolate.

Silly me, waiting until Valentine's Day to buy Hershey's Kisses in Valentine's colors. And the plain old silver wrapping wouldn't do.

I came home yesterday with empty hands and a little extra time. Desperate times call for desperate measures, yes?

Mocha cinnamon pudding.
Oh, heck yeah!

Waking Up

My alarm clock is automatically set to off at 5:00am.

Or, like today, at 4:30.
Simon Cat. How does he know? He even adjusts for daylight savings.

I used to really hate this, but now I like my quiet time alone in the morning and am even disappointed if I don't manage to get up until after 5:00. I empty the dishwasher or dish rack, make tea/coffee and my breakfast, and have a quiet sit somewhere until Buddy wakes up. I even like that it forces me to go to bed early or at least know that I should go to bed early; my evenings end up being much more relaxed and thoughtful and focused, even if I end up deciding to stay up later than I should. The only drawback is that I truly can never sleep in, even if sick or on vacation.

I think it's worth it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Last year I made a chain of hearts from cardstock and tissue paper and hung it in our living room.

I also made individual Valentine's Day cards for family members.

And of course a special (painstaking) one for The Dude.

This year?

The extent of my Valentine's Day ambition.
I would have made the biscuits anyway.
Even The Dude only got an itty-bitty card.

My excuse? I have a cold (a-choo!), and am working very hard on other projects.

Maybe I'll pick up some Hershey's Kisses on the way home.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What a Gift

I've been looking at the online blogs for Hand/Eye and Spirit Cloth for a while now, and today I was directed to an article about using fabric for healing with children that just took my breath away. What a gift --- from the therapist to the children, from the artists to the therapist, and then to us to see what could be.

Stirs up all kinds of things in me...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Plus, Of Course, That Kid

Some pictures from this weekend...
Spinach potato (plus leftover veg) soup
Isn't it just the most astounding green? But oh so tasty. The Dude refused to try it but Buddy was quite happy to. That's all right, I'm happy to eat it all by myself.

Notice the haphazard arrangement of the magnets he can reach.
That's a toy car he has balanced on the edge of the cabinet door. A moment earlier I came in to find him playing with his cars on the counter (using his beloved footstool to get up there). He'd gotten down by the time I got the camera, though. He was quite pleased with himself this weekend for figuring out that he could bring the footstool from his bedroom to use in the kitchen when we weren't willing to get out the stepladder he prefers to use. His love of the kitchen just confirms for me that it is the heart of the home... maybe someday we'll have one with a table in it as well.

Other Races

Not that I'm trying to be coy about what races I'm training for this year, but... I don't quite know myself. I'm trying to not be so intense about racing this year, and just train for the heck of it. My focus right now seems to be more on recovery and weight loss and building up my base. Plus, I want to leave myself room to be in a more, ahem, delicate condition, and not worry about how any such changes may affect racing plans... So no signing up for races months in advance this year.

But I've been upping my mileage (slowly) and my overall number of workouts, and am swimming steadily again, plus fitting in more yoga and strength training, so overall I feel pretty good about where I'm at and where I'm going, even if I don't have any amazing progress to report. Trying to practice balance in all things...

Workshop in Progress - Feb. 9

I put together my blocks over the weekend, and out of 32 total, "only" had to redo six (groan).
Clever me, pinning strips on backwards.
After ironing and laying them out I feel like I really have three color sets to work with, not one.

These are the fabrics I'll use for the current quilt.
I feel that I'm learning a lot through this, both in the making and in reading about other people's process. About what kind of quilter I may turn out to be, about how I like to work and what I want to do. Mostly now I see that, for all my planning (and I love to plan), I like to see where the fabric takes me as I work with it, I like being open to changes. Much as in my life --- I plan a lot, and then I try to go with the flow.

I also see that I prefer to work with fewer fabrics at a time rather than more... That's okay, I have some children coming up on "big" birthdays that I'd like to make quilts for --- everything will get used! And I have enough fabric to make more blocks in the color scheme I want for myself. I think no sashing though... I started to play around with how the blocks in the third set might talk to each other and I like them close --- it's not a very big quilt, after all.

But now I really do need to focus on The Dude's project for a while, I'll have pictures of that next week.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ask & You Shall Receive

So, the same day that I wrote about the races I am not running in 2011, I came home to find a card in the mail advertising this:
St. Paddy's 5K Run/Walk, NEW 8K Run & Leprechaun Leap

Let's see...
  • Decent race distance for early in the year? Check.
  • Benefiting the Irish-American Heritage Center, and I am Irish-American (under all the German)? Check.
  • On a free weekend? Check.
  • After-race party at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (very cool place)? Check.
  • Free Guiness to those over 21? Check.
  • Opportunity to rase funds for the Special Olympics, an organization I already support? Check, check, and check.
My registration fee has been sent in and my fundraising page has been set up. Booyah!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Workshop In Progress - Feb. 2

No photos today. Spent a couple of hours on Monday arguing with the sewing machine until I had stitched together all my strips for my nine-blocks. Now I'm ironing the seams flat (boring) and hopefully over the weekend can put them together so I have my blocks ready to play with again. I'm learning that the design and anything I do by hand are my favorite bits of any sewing project, though that doesn't extend to piecing.

Soon I'm going to have to put this project to the side --- I've promised The Dude an amp cover and need to have it ready for an early March gig. I've got the design set for that, now I need to cut the fabric. Maybe I'll start work on that this weekend as well.

In the meantime, we're all at home, tucked in from the blizzard. I'm about to start soup, and hopefully the gym down the street will be open during Buddy's naptime. I could use some quiet sweat time alone.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Races I Am Not Running

The Dude signed up for the Chicago Marathon today.

I am so happy and excited for him.

I wish I were too.

I am very grateful that my pleasure in his training for it is not diminished by my sadness that I am not. Especially since the one is a direct cause of the other. Evidently I have grown (some) in maturity along with years.

I am also not signed up for the Wrigley Start Early 10K, and I am sad about that too, though for an unexpected reason. I was looking forward to having that be my fundraising event for the year, and now that I am not doing it I feel oddly bereft (it's on Easter weekend this year and we expect to be traveling).


There are all kinds of good reasons beyond scheduling to not run the marathon this year --- I do very much want to spend the year building up my base and getting more experience in racing mid-distance events. And now that I know how important it is to me to have a fundraising event I will keep my eyes open for another one. So all will be well...

But for today, big sigh.