Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Creativity Explosion

I feel like I am in the middle of a creativity explosion these days. Quilting is big part of my creative output and I have become more and more interested in making art quilts. Bed quilts and lap quilts are large and take more time than I want to give sometimes. If I am not driven by a deadline - like a birthday or Christmas - I get lazy about working on projects that I have started. Moonglow is a good example. It is a beautiful quilt that I made in a block of the month class; it was paper pieced and I couldn’t have done that on my own without the class. But it is huge and I am hand-quilting it; I feel overwhelmed by it and haven’t done a lot of work on it. I told Alix she could have it, but I don’t have a deadline to give it to her, so no pressure. Plus, I kind of don’t want to give it away, at least not yet.

I have made several small projects in the last year that I like very much. A thread-painted small quilt with a rural scene on it that I lavishly hand-quilted while Michael had chemotherapy is one. Another is a miniature quilt I made for a Guild challenge and just finished. Simple, but lovely colors. I have a quilt in process for baby Gabriel and a UFO quilt of Felix’s footprints during her first year of life. Admittedly, there are a few more UFOs in my sewing stuff, mostly from classes. I want to get them finished, but I don’t know when that will happen.

This year I added another creative outlet: ceramics. Michael and I have wanted to do ceramics for several years but never got around to it until 2017. Last March we took a four-week class at The Potter’s Wheel and both made several pretty bowls. I even made a pitcher to add to my collection! This fall, we decided to enrol at Lone Star College for a semester-long ceramics class. It is very intense, lots of class time plus needed studio time after classes. The teacher, Kelley Eggert, is great and has really taught us a lot in a short time. I have made things I would never have expected to make. When they are all finished, at the end of the semester, I’ll take pictures of them and post the pix here for review.

I retain my interest in photography, although I’m not too active right now. I did put a photograph in a show at the JCC this summer and sold it. Last year year I sold an art quilt out of a WiVLA exhibition. Selling things is nice. We have a slush fund/windfall account and extra money like that, refunds, Christmas money, etc go into it. We paid our tuition for the ceramics class out of the slush fund.

I plan to take the ceramics 2 course in the spring. I really like ceramics and I am better at it than I knew I would be. It adds to my repertoire of creative outlets. I like it.

(And lest I forget, I found a new writers group and I am getting back into my book. I am developing some ambitions about finishing it this winter. We’ll see.)


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Insomnia Night Three

Another night and I am wide awake at 2:06 a.m. For the last three nights, I haven't been able to go to sleep and I've ended up awake until dawn. Yesterday, I finally fell asleep around 6:00 a.m. Or should I say, TODAY I finally fell asleep around 6:00 a.m. This is such a problem for me. I am not getting enough sleep and I am sleeping too much in the daytime, throwing off my schedule. Going to yoga at 9:00 a.m. was too much for me today and I skipped it. How am I going to feel tomorrow morning (this morning?) when I have to be at water aerobics at 9 a.m.? 

Today is going to be really tough if I don't fall asleep soon. I have the water aerobics, then a program on colon cancer at Glazier I want to go to at 11, and an appointment with Dr. M. at 2 p.m. I am going to be whipped after all that. Hell, I'm going to be whipped duriiong all that.

Most evenings, I start falling asleep in the living room when we are watching tv and/or I am fiddling with my iPad. I try to stay awake, but it is hard and sometimes I miss hallf the program. That doesn't translate into going to bed and going to sleep though. Before I can go to bed, there are chores to be done. Feed the cats and clean that up, finish the dishwasher and run it, brush and floss my teeth, take medication, give the cats their nighttime treat. By the time I have done all that, I am wide awake AND it is late. Like 12 or 1 a.m. late. And I get into bed and I can't sleep.

I am getting phobic about it. I start worrying that I won't falll asleep and that keeps me awake. Or I start falling asleep and I become self-aware of the progress, which wakes me up. I try tricks, counting, breathing, pretending I am in my chair falling asleep watching tv. It doesn't seem to help. I have some sleeping pills aand I always think I'll take one of them and get a good night's sleep and get back on track, but it is always too late to take the pills by the time I realize that I can't sleep.

I can see what I need to do. Get everythiing finished early in the evening so that when I get tired, I can go to bed and fall asleep. Get on a better schedule, stop staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning on a regular basis. While we were traveling on the West Coast, we got up every morning and got on the road around 8:30 or 9. We traveled and did things all day and went to bed 11-ish. We didn't nap. I didn't have insomnia. We had purposeful days.

I feel that I am adrift. I have lots of things to do but little motivation to do them. I doesn't seem to matter whether I accomplish anything or not. There are rarely any deadlines in my life. But, of course, it does matter. The house is in terrible disarray, still disheveled from the flood last February. FEBRUARY. What is it that makes me not care enough to put my house back together? I don't know. And in the middle of the night, when I can't sleep, that is part of what I am thinking about. Everything I am not doing and everything I need to do and should be doing. 

When morning comes, that is all forgotten. I am adrift again. You know, at 65 I really should have this shit worked out. For all the years after I left the workforce in 1992, my family's schedule defined my life and provided the structure that I lost when I retired from work. The kids are all gone now and since Michael retired, he doesn't have a schedule either. Self-discipline seems to have eluded me. External requirements still get me moving most of the time. But I hate living this way. I hate seeing myself as a failure on this very personal level. I need to change up my life. I wonder how I'm going to do that?

Saturday, August 01, 2015

My AROHO Reading

In August 2013, I attended at women writers' retreat at Ghost Ranch sponsored by the A Room of Her Own Foundation (AROHO). During my week there, a videographer named Rebecca Scheckmann taped me reading the opening of my memoir-in-progress, "The Requirements of Love." Today, Rebecca posted the video on YouTube, making it public for the first time. 

Thank you, Rebecca!!

You can see the video at http://youtu.be/XjA-ir2-ecE.

Let me know what you think!

Ciao,
~Lanie

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cheryl Marshall Remembered

I wrote the following Remembrance for Cheryl and read it at her 
Memorial Service on Saturday, September 13, 2014.


Cheryl Marshall was one of my dearest friends. We knew each other for twenty years, we enjoyed Crones together for probably fifteen of them, and we spent uncounted hours in Starbucks. Twice every school year from second grade to twelfth, Cheryl accompanied me to my younger daughter’s ARD meetings, even when they were in Waco! Every December, Cheryl, Dan, Michael, and I went out to dinner for our wedding anniversaries, which were a day apart. Cheryl and I made road trips together, one all the way to Bellingham, Washington to see Bertie Edwards, who many of you know, and one to Dallas to see Eddie Izzard perform.

I guess you could say I knew Cheryl pretty well. And I know that if Cheryl were here, she’d have you all laughing by now. She was seriously funny. She’d probably undertake a pun or two - tell us we’re getting morgue than we bargained for and that we have to do more to urn our keep. If you tried to tell her there was mortal life than puns, she’d just laugh. It was her joy to post a pun on her Facebook page every morning for a friend she especially wanted to cheer up.

And what friends she had. Cheryl was Houston Gran to a couple hundred people all over the globe, on every continent except Antarctica. When I say she was their Gran, it was not just a word. These people loved her, they poured out their hearts to her, they sent her letters and gifts, called her on the phone, came to Houston to have lunch with her. For her 80th birthday, they sent testimonials about all that Houston Gran had done for their spirits and their hearts. Cheryl loved her Internet family deeply and truly.

Cheryl considered herself Eddie’s Gran, too. Besides the trip to Dallas, Cheryl made a trip to NYC to see him in a play. She owned every DVD of his ever made and then some, but let's not say bootleg. Cheryl and I had tickets to see Eddie on June 30, but she went to the hospital instead of the performance. She was heartbroken to miss him, she loved him so.

She loved children, too, devoted her life to them, as you’ve heard. Special education was not just her vocation, it was her calling. She continued standing up for children after her retirement, attending ARDs as a substitute parent for children in foster care. And there are more families here than just mine whose children Cheryl advocated for tirelessly, refusing to accept a penny for her skill and time.

Before Cheryl was Houston Gran, she was grandmother to the children of her friends and acquaintances, offering a comforting lap, a listening ear, a willingness to engage in childhood games and stories. And who could forget the bag of lollipops she carried? Cheryl never condescended to children and perhaps that is why they loved her so much. In local circles, she was mostly known as Lala, a name she cherished. There was a special place in her heart for her one and only Mazie.

Was Cheryl perfect? No. None of us is perfect. Cheryl was simply so full of love and laughter, compassion and comfort, wit and wisdom, that her imperfections didn’t amount to a hill of beans. I am proud to have been her friend, and I know you are, too.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sportscar Heaven

The fellow at the car rental counter scammed me a little bit when I picked my car up on Sunday. He convinced me that my pre-selected Economy car would have trouble making it up the mountains on my trip to Pagosa Springs. It sounded reasonable, so I let him sign me up for a car with more "pull." When I walked to the parking spot, I found a cherry red Mustang. Whoa! That was more car than I expected and I almost walked back in and said no. Giving it back seemed like a lot of trouble, though, so I took the Mustang and drove off.

The steering on the Mustang was so sensitive that I had to be very careful not to oversteer it. Once past Santa Fe, the road narrowed down to two lanes with very few passing lanes. Sunday traffic was busy and I did not feel like the Mustang was really such a great sportscar. It did zoom up and down the hills with a lot of verve, but, in the long run, I thought the extra $40 I paid was wasted.

Driving back to Albuquerque this morning, I changed my mind about the car. More rested than I had been Sunday, relaxed and in good spirits from visiting June and Bob, I took the wheel and fairly flew down the road. And I wasn't speeding! There was no one else driving, the steering felt natural in my hands, and the lusciious countryside seemed designed just to make me happy. 

I drove along mountain meadows with sunflowers in roadside profusion, all facing the morning sun. I drove along rolling hills, covered with dark green forests of mostly pine trees. In the background, great, rocky, grey massifs loomed over the landscape. Slowing down for a twisty turn, I came upon a doe along the verge. She hardly gave me a glance and even didn't bother to run away. I guess she's seen more than her share of speeding cars and wasn't impressed with mine.

As I got into New Mexico, the terrain began to shift away from tree-covered hills and mountains and into sere bluffs in the vivid reds, yellows, and purples that Georgia O'Keefe painted. The roads began to congest and the lovely smoothness of zipping along a peaceful highway disappeared. But I didn't mind. My hour or so of sportscar heaven made the $40 worthwhile. And while I never need to drive a Mustang again, I'm glad I did it this once.

Blessings

My week at the AROHO Women Writers Retreat, held at Ghost Ranch, filled me with blessings of the cerebral-spiritual kind, with nourishment for my soul, my brain, and my heart. The AROHO women bestowed care on each other with a fierce generousity of spirit. We danced joyously, with unbridled physicality, after the closing ceremony. My final good-byes were quiet on Sunday. The experience had been so intense that it felt right to slip away without a lot of emotion. I will be processing the experience for weeks and likely months to come. It is clear to me that my writing will benefit from what I heard, saw, learned. I am truly blessed to be one of the hundred women who were able to attend this retreat.

The three days at June and Bob's home in Pagosa Springs filled me with blessings of the heart, with the joy of laughter, and with the inspiration of gorgeous art. June and Bob are warm, caring people who are the most gracious hosts. Their home is full of lovely things, selected with exquisite taste and displayed beautifully. Walking through the house is a feast for my eyes. June is a talented fine arts photographer and many of the treasures are her pictures. I hate to leave tomorrow and wish I had allowed more time with them.

By Wednesday evening, I will be at my mother's home. It is a blessing of a most particular kind to spend time with her. She will be 91 in a week. Fortunately, she is vital, engaged person who is living a full life on her own terms. Mother inspires me. Visiting her means visiting many other relatives who live nearby. A bunch of those relatives are small children, great-nieces and - nephews, and they bestow the blessings of innocence and wonder on me every time I interact with them. 

August has showered me with such blessings. Who could ask for more?

Ciao,
Lane

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

ECO Award and Scarf Chic

Oh, for crying out loud!! I had so much trouble getting into my browser and then to my blog today that I can't remember what I intended to write when I got here! So I will take the opportunity to update a couple of happy items in my life.

Last March, I was the lucky winner of WiVLA's Educational and Cultural Opportunity Award (for a writer) of $1,000. I used the money to pay for editing services from Sarah Cortez, a fantastic writer (poet, essay, memoir) and teacher I have taken classes from in the past. With Sarah, I worked on my memoir, The Requirements of Love, which you may have read about in my blog in February. (If you missed it, feel free to go back and take a look.)

Tonight, I am giving my report on how I used the ECO award. That is, I will be reading the first chapter of my manuscript at the WiVLA meeting. This is very exciting. I have done so much work on the book this year. My ultimate goal for the memoir was to have it ready to submit to the Mayborn Literary Non-Fiction manuscript competition this summer. I am already signed up to do that.

Another exciting element of my life is my show at Galveston's Art Walk this Saturday, April 20th. Entitled "Scarf Chic," the show will be at the Tremont House hotel from 6 - 10 pm. I will be showing my handcrafted scarves. The varieties include ribbon scarves, ruffle scarves, infinity scarves, knotted scarves, and string scarves. I am quite excited about this and I hope that someone actually comes to the show and perhaps even buys a scarf!! The hotel is putting on a reception with wine and food, so it should be enjoyable. If you can get to Galveston Saturday night, please join me for the party.