Saturday, June 22, 2013

My colleagues, my friends - Part Two

Do you ever make assumptions about people based on their appearance?  C'mon now, be honest.  As much as I hate to admit it, I do.  Luckily, however, I am always open to changing my opinions based on actual knowledge, rather than impressions.

Ten years ago, my first impression of Jonathan, the second-in-command here in the Admissions Office, was of a stuffed shirt.  Here I was, motorcycle-driving, mixed-race, archaeology-major, child of activists who grew up in a log cabin in Maine, and on day one at W&L, I met Jonathan, probably wearing a pastel-colored oxford shirt with a bow tie and scholarly glasses, clean cut all-American-looking Tennessee native with formal mannerisms, and I was thinking, "sheesh, we are going to have NOTHING in common."

Shame on me.  Behind the proper speech of this English major who uses words like verklempt in daily conversation and expects people to understand his meaning (verklempt = Yiddish word that means overcome with emotion - yeah, I had to look it up!), is a really nice guy with a killer dry wit and an ability to laugh with me when I am laughing at him (true confession time - laughing at him is one of my favorite pastimes).  Upon getting to know him better, we have much more in common than I originally thought.

And then, there is something to be said for working with someone for a decade.  There is regular turnover in the professional staff of any admissions office.  That is normal.  Most of the people I work with are here for 2-3 years and then move on.  The camaraderie and shared experiences take on new meaning when you are the two left behind as others cycle through. What a blessing he has been to be a sounding board when I wanted to talk with someone who "understood" where I was coming from - we are contemporaries, but let me state for the record that he is a good 4 or 5 months OLDER than I am.  I remind him of that every chance I get.  But that means he understands better than some of my younger colleagues the challenges of parenting, of finding balance between your home life and your work life, of home ownership, of aging parents, of so many shared life experiences, and I have really appreciated his open door and his listening ear.

Something else that Jonathan does well is provide feedback for a job well done.  Sometimes that goes unnoticed or unsaid in the workplace, but Jonathan has consistently boosted my self-esteem by letting me know when a program I have planned or a project I have completed was successful.  I am forever thankful for that.

When I opened my gift box from my colleagues, Jonathan's block was on top, the first one I saw.  It took my breath away.  I was immediately reminded of the fibers and weavings and whatnot from my yearly trips to Latin America - both the colors and the patterns.  Those trips were my favorite every year, so I'm touched that he choose to bring that into his block for me, and I'll be honest, folks - I never figured Jonathan for being all that creative.  He has many strengths and talents, but I never guessed that this would be one.  Isn't it gorgeous?

Thank you, Jonathan!

Friday, June 21, 2013

My colleagues, my friends - Part One

This weekend, I am ending my 10-year career in undergraduate admissions at Washington and Lee University.  I've been packing up my office, creating checklists for my successor, and saying goodbye to friends and colleagues across the University.  There's nothing like saying goodbye to make you realize how much someone means to you.

This morning, my fellow Admissions staff gathered around me to give me a gift.  Now, I've received many gifts in my life, but not many, if any, as meaningful as this.  This gift is so special, so perfect, that I'm not going to try to squeeze it all into one post.  Thus, this is Part One of a series of posts that will follow, highlighting my gift and the wonderful people who gave it to me.

(If you are a new reader to my blog, important context for this gift is that I am leaving this job to pursue a creative dream of mine - I'm opening a creative space for fiber artists here in town.)

It was tough to decide where to start, but I decided to start with Scotty, our receptionist.  I'm fairly certain that this gift was her idea, and it was a brilliant one.  I'm not surprised, though.  Scotty is an incredibly compassionate and insightful person, someone who listens to you with her whole being so that you KNOW that she is not just listening, but actually hearing what you are saying.  Her attention makes you feel like the most important and interesting person in the room.  It is what makes her a phenomenal receptionist, being the first smiling, welcoming face that prospective students see when they arrive at our office, and it is what makes her such a treasured friend.  She recommends books that are perfect for me.  She brings in delicious baked goods from her healthy kitchen.  She pays attention to what is happening in the lives of all of us here in the office, and makes little accommodations, unasked but so appreciated, to make our schedules better fit our frame of mind for that day.  She is one of those people that always seems to put others first.  She has been so wonderful to work with.

So apparently, she coordinated for everyone to receive a square of canvas, blank canvas, and they were each to create a block for me.  Can you think of a better gift for a quilter?  Personal - the personality of each person really comes out in their block; practical - I'm opening a fiber arts shop, so this gift will fit right into my scheme, especially since one of the things I want to offer is opportunities for people to come together to make occasion quilts for friends and family; and above all, creative - it is what I value most about quilting, the ability to express myself creatively.

Scotty made two blocks:

Yo-yos and beads, precisely aligned, and bursting with color.  Orange is my favorite color, what I consider my power color, the color I put on when I'm worried about having the strength to make it through the day.  I love that she used orange as well as the colors that make up orange - the combination makes me feel so happy and energized.  And the precision - folks, that's just Scotty.  She organizes our schedules down to the last detail and is always on top of what is going on.  This block is such a wonderful depiction of her personality.
How fun is this second block??  I love ric rac, and buy it up every chance I get.  And the jingle bells - what a wonderful detail.  She probably didn't know this, but I plan to have a strap of sleigh bells on the front door of my shop to alert me to when people arrive.  But what I love most about this block is how different it is from the first.  Where the first is orderly and precise, this one is so free and exuberant.  The two blocks together tell such a neat story of a woman that I am so honored to call friend.  Thank you, Scotty!

Stay tuned for more about my wonderful colleagues and their beautiful blocks in the coming days.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Last days

I have 5 days left working my current job, including today.  There are a lot of "lasts" taking place.  Last weekend was my last work trip - I presented at a conference at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.  It was bittersweet - even though I miss my family when I am gone, I enjoy traveling for work.  I tried to really relish this trip - after lunch the first day, I took a 3-mile walk around the neighborhood.  I was very excited when I saw a shop sign that read "Forget Me Knot".  Doesn't that make you think of thread of yarn or something fiber related?  I rushed over.

OK, a consignment shop of women's clothing, not what I was hoping for, but not a complete loss, either.  They actually had some really neat stuff in there, and I left with a dress and a pair of shoes, but I left behind several things that the me who hadn't just quit her job and decided to start her own business would have snapped up in a heartbeat.  Gotta be more frugal now that my income isn't going to be as stable.  But if you are ever visiting Chicago and like consignment shops, this one was tops, as far as I'm concerned!

On the plane, I got nearly all the hand quilting done in the rainbow chevron baby quilt.  I bet I have less than an hour of quilting left.  I should get it done so I can get it to the baby before she gets too big!  But instead of quilting, I've been painting.  They put a new bathroom floor down in my new shop, and so they pulled out the toilet and sink.  That was the perfect time to paint, right?  So even though I had to do it after work and after karate, I spent the last two evenings first priming and then painting.  Can you say "sore"?  But no more painting until my lease starts on August 1.  At that time, I plan to have lots of help to get the store prettied up in no time.
Here's what I was covering up - I've never painted over wallpaper before, but the landlady encouraged me to try it, rather than take the wallpaper off.  That's why I really had to prime first.  No after photo yet, but I painted the room Sherwood Green, one of the colors that will be on the exterior.
I also stitched up a storm so I could present Adam with his quilt top, made from his mother's shirts, on Father's Day.  It was 11:30 PM when I finished, but it was still Sunday and he was still awake, so that counts, right?  When he realized what the material was, he brought it up to his face to inhale, to see if her scent still lingered there.  The lump that formed in my throat is still there.  I think he likes it.  Now to get it finished!

There's a lot coming down the pipe for me.  As soon as I am finished here on Sunday, we are headed north to spend time with family for 2 weeks.  As soon as I get back, I'll be teaching at the summer art camp.  I have so much prep work to do that it makes my head hurt!  But I'll get it done.  And I'll enjoy doing it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

SO exciting!

It seems like everything in my life is exciting to me these days!

Here I am making my first deposit into my business checking account - my first summer camper's deposit!  I have 2 of 12 spots filled so far, and 2 months left to fill up the rest.
Yes, I gave the teller my phone and asked her to take my photo!
I've been much busier than I'd like, what with finishing up at my current job, planning a new business, a karate test (today!), a new puppy, etc, but I am still making progress on my hubby's quilt made from his mom's shirts, and I haven't given up hope of having the top pieced to present to him on Father's Day this Sunday.  I also think I want this one to be my entry into the County Fair Quilt Show this year.
The bottom left is already sewn together, that row through the middle is sewn together but not sewn to the bottom right section yet.  Playing with border ideas, trying to use up every scrap of the shirt sleeves and fronts for the front of the quilt and piece the shirt backs together for the back of the quilt.  The white is from 3 white oxford style shirts of hers, so it is all up-cycled shirt fabric.
And back to the puppy...we found the puppy's owners :(

But they are willing to let us have her since she's been gone over 2 weeks and they thought she was gone for good and since we've already invested in her by taking her to the vet. :)

Turns out her name is Belle.  I think that goes much more nicely with Biscuit than Jumpy.  Besides, she responds to Belle already.  Biscuit and Belle, my canine buddies!

What's exciting in YOUR life these days?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Too much going on!

I'm making progress on my hubby's quilt, piecing the center together and adding setting triangles, but not as much as I would like.  There's just too much going on!

This Saturday, I made an admissions presentation to my husband's Elite Basketball Camp, went to the quilt guild meeting, then spent several hours at Family Safety Day sponsored by our karate studio.  The smoke house that the firefighters brought was a big hit - I've never been in one before, but it was cool!  I think Donald thought it was his clubhouse - they couldn't even smoke him out of there with the fake smoke!

That evening, I invited my friend's 3 kids over for a sleepover.  They played basketball, and cooled off with popsicles.

They caught firelies, then took a break to bake sugar cookies for their mom/my friend
(her birthday was Sunday - maybe this is a new tradition, I had her kids for a sleepover the night before her birthday last year, too!), and then went back out to play kick the can under cover of darkness.  Luckily, they all slept in until 9 AM the next day after staying outside playing until 10:30.  That's what summer vacation is supposed to be like, right?

The next afternoon, we had a get-together out at her cabin, a combination birthday party for her/graduation party for all the scouts moving up to the middle school next year.  We ate, and the kids played in the creek while the adults talked and I stitched down one edge of binding for a Hurricane Sandy Relief quilt.

When we got home Sunday evening, I though, "OK, I'll prepare dinner, then go sew for a few hours."  Nope.  Donald was out in the woods building a fort, and look what followed him home.
The kids are calling her Jumpy.  I see why, since she is always jumping on people, but I imagine they might come to regret it 8 years from now when they are introducing her to their friends.
I will say, she wasn't nearly this cute when she followed him home - she was FILTHY!  Her hair was matted with burrs and twigs and who knows what else.  We gave her food and water, then after we ate, took her down to the creek at 9 PM to give her a bath with flea and tick shampoo, at which point, I discovered she was COVERED in ticks.  Ugh!  We set up the crate for her with a clean sheet for bedding, and it was after 10 PM before she and the kids were settled - no sewing that night.

Yesterday, I took her to the vet in the morning to find out if someone had reported her missing, what she is, how old she is, if they would do the tick removal for me, and if she's healthy.  When I picked her up in the evening, I learned that:

1) the vet put her photo on their website, and notified the SPCA and other area vets, but so far, no one has claimed her.  I'll be putting flyers in mailboxes in our area this afternoon.
2) She is likely an Australian Shepherd and is somewhere between 3 and 4 months old
3) She appears healthy, but they did remove a ton of ticks, one of which had the telltale bulls-eye mark around it, indicating Lyme exposure.  We started her on antibiotics - at this stage, it can be caught and cured, is my understanding.
4) We also started her on some vaccines, since we don't know if she's had any yet.

They were really good about doing some of the work for free since she isn't really my dog, although if no one claims her, she will be.  She's a sweetie!

And the best ting is, she's a GIRL!  She came right when I needed her, too.  My husband has a basketball camp all this week, and his 27 year old nephew and a college friend who now coaches basketball in Ohio are both here for the week working his camp and staying with us.  I'm surrounded by testosterone!  She is my ally in my male dominated world!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Can you tell?

The shirt stripe box quilt made from my MIL's quilt is getting bigger every day, so I needed to clear my design wall to make room.  An inner border, a pieced border and an outer border later, and this Spiral Log Cabin quilt was ready to come off the wall and into the "to be quilted" pile.

I LOVE IT!  It is 51" square.  Why did it take me so long to finish it, you ask?  Ah, the usual lament of the scrap quilter - I ran out of my background fabric.  I searched locally for more, but to no avail.  But I found another fabric that was close enough for me.  Can you tell that the background in the borders is different than the background in the blocks?  Take a closer look...
But you know what?  I don't care.  I've said it before, but the first quilting book I read, and the one that has had the greatest impact on me, is Roberta Horton's Scrap Quilts: The Art of Making Do. 
Do you have a book that has helped you to define your approach to quilting?

And back to the shirt stripe box quilt - it wasn't quite speaking to me until I turned the blocks on point.  BINGO!  This, I love!

As if that weren't enough sewing, I also sewed the binding onto the front of the last of the Hurricane Sandy Quilts that I have quilted.  Now to just have some waiting time to sew down the back.

The other thing I did this weekend was set up a website for the Quilt Camp for kids that I'll be running this summer just before my shop opens its doors to the public.  I put the link out on an announcement email at the University today and already got 4 emails from interested parties.  After work today, I printed out my corresponding brochure with the little tear off slips at the bottom and posted them in 8 or 9 places around town.  I am SO EXCITED about all this!  Can you tell?