Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry, Merry, Happy, Happy!!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and most joyful New Year!

Christmas 1968 at Grandma's house in Catonsville, Maryland. That's me, age 5, in the homemade apron, along with my parents and big sister Jean.

I'm taking a little holiday blog break, but will be back bright and early in the New Year!!

Until then, much love, good wishes, and peace. xo Victoria

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happiness is a Warm Puppy Dog

Every year at Christmas time I get completely stressed out. I worry and obsess and try to create the perfect image of what a happy Christmas is suppose to be. The lights, the decorations, the tree, the treats, the presents. And I dread it. And I feel guilty for dreading it. And all of that worry, obsessing, dread and guilt wears me out.

This year though none of that matters. Life, (as well as our living room) got turned a bit upside down when Molasses entered into this final stage of her cancer. Funny thing is, I am starting to think that Mo didn't get the memo that she was supposedly on her way out, and I am so happy! As a matter of fact, this is the happiest I have felt during the Christmas season in a long time.

We joke that our blanket and towel covered living room, which I have affectionately dubbed Camp Mo, looks a bit like a crime scene, what with all of the little splatters of blood everywhere from her nose. Thankfully she hasn't had any bad bleeds in the last 2 days, but a sneeze or a simple shake of the head can send a few red droplets flying, (and we have been told that the hemorrhaging can, and will, start up again at anytime... which truthfully scares the daylights out of me.) She is more tired then usual, but considering that on Friday we were calling the Vets to make the preliminary arrangements for when the "time came", (which we all thought was going to be any day) she has rebounded remarkably well since then. Her appetite is still good, and she even gets a bit of energy now in the afternoons and plays a little with her toys.

Hubby is on vacation this week, and we now take turns sleeping by her side at night on the air mattress, and being with her during the day. The house decor is certainly not looking very festive, the tree is only half decorated, and half of the lights are burned out! I have completely slacked on the gifts, and only sent half of the Christmas cards on my list. But the home is filled with lots of love and joy and thanks to Molasses BooDill, I have my priorities straight this year. Forgive me, for I know I am stating the obvious, but it really is all about the love. Not the lights, nor the tree. Not the cards or the cookies. And not even the gifts on Christmas morning. It is just about the love. The Who's in Whoville had it right. So did Charles Schultz when he proclaimed that happiness was a warm puppy!

Thanks to everyone for their kind and loving words. Things are looking up that Mo will make it to her 12th Birthday on Christmas Day, which is all any of us here want. (However, we did give her a few early presents just in case. You never saw a dog love to open a present more then Mo. She won't steal your food, but she will steal your unopened presents!)

I have also been doing some quilting/sewing, when not watching Mo, as it is tops for filling my well and keeps me going. I hope to post some pictures here and some new items in my shop after the holidays.

Best wishes to all of you! xoxo

Friday, December 19, 2008

Keeping Vigil

My sweet Molasses took a sudden and serious turn for the worst last Wednesday night when she started hemorrhaging from her nose. I have no words to adequately express the feeling of fear and helplessness that we felt. Now it has become our new normal, as we keep a loving vigil over her. We have covered our living room with blankets and towels, and that has been where Mo and I have been camping out. She in her bed, and I most of the day and night by her side on a blow up mattress.

Molasses for the most part, has been alert and comfortable. I do my best just to keep her warm and quiet, and try to stop the bleeding each time it starts. Last night was good, and I awoke with hope that today things would start to really turn around for the better. Unfortunately after waking she experienced another pretty bad episode. Mo is relaxing peacefully as I type this, but I can clearly see the toll this is taking on her as she seems to be growing weaker. I still pray for a miracle, but know, as the vet has told me, this is most likely the beginning of the end.

Each moment over the last few days has been filled with much sadness, but also much much beauty and grace. I am profoundly thankful for getting to simply lay with her, to gaze into her big beautiful brown eyes, to tell her for the one millionth time how much I love her and to thank her from the depths of my soul for bringing me so much joy and happiness. Molasses returns my look, staring deep into my eyes. She sighs, rolls over for a belly rub and dozes a bit more.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Work in Progress

I have been fiddling around with this new piece for the last few days, constructing the individual blocks, and piecing them together to make the top shown here.

I knew that I wanted a contemporary quilt which was reminiscent of an old utilitarian work quilt. Utilitarian quilts were made from old recycled scraps and bits of fabric left over from other projects. While elements of creativity and thought were definitely put into their making, they also weren't terribly fussed over in the design and construction since they were going to be used for everyday day needs and would get a lot of wear and tear. Because of this, utilitarian quilts often have a wonderful randomness about them, as you had to use what was on hand and make it work the best that you could.

To help give my quilt top a utilitarian feel, I picked certain colors of blue that I had on hand and constructed the blocks from strips that were intentionally cut fairly straight, but not exactly straight.

Each block was stitched without any idea of how it would look in relation to the other blocks, as I wanted to be surprised and challenged with how they would best look when laid out. (This turned out to be much more of a challenge then I thought it would, and I am still not sure if I got it right, visually speaking.) Bits of red were added for the "pop!" element.

The top measures about 33" square, which will make for a nice lap quilt, throw or wall hanging. Hoping to get her quilted this week, wish me luck!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Catching Up

I have been hesitating to post this, only because I am afraid of jinxing the positive, but I do wish to report that Molasses has been doing splendidly! Her original symptoms have gone away, (knock on wood) and with the exception of a strange skin rash which we were able to treat naturally at home, (with some great advice from my friend Lori Jo) Mo has been just fabulous! Last month we weren't sure if she would even make it to Christmas, but now our hearts are full of hope. Her birthday is Christmas Day, and she really is our little Christmas Miracle! Thanks again, to everyone who said a prayer or thought a good wish for her.

As for me, I am feeling better, but still battling this cold! After two weeks I am wondering if it is ever going to go away, and am just doing my best to get along with it. Here is the truth: I am not a good camper when I am sick. It makes me very crabby, and I just want to lay on the couch and eat, and have people feel sorry for me. How pathetic! This is not the Lancaster County way of doing things mind you, (then again I am not a native Lancastrian). Absolutely no laying on the couch wrapped in a warm blanket for the true locals. Around here people take great pride in continuing on with their daily business despite strep throats and raging fevers. They delight in getting right up to your face and declaring how they have pneumonia and their doctor strongly suggested that they check into the hospital, however they can't be bothered with all of that sissy stuff. Then they cough on you. In this neck of the woods, I am a wimp.

I've been working on a pile of quilting blocks that I hope to turn into something wonderful. Getting frustrated as my last few projects haven't gone the way I had hoped, (so no photos!)

Spent the day today decorating the house for Christmas. Eldest is headed home from college tomorrow. We get to have her for a whole month, yay!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fashionably Warm

My energy is super low as I am still fighting this cold of mine, as well as the cold outside. As stated before I am not a fan of winter, but I do adore the look of these sweater outfits gleaned from old knitting pattern pamphlets!

See more in my Boodilly shop... here and here.

Now excuse me while I go blow my nose and brew another cup of hot tea. xo

Friday, December 5, 2008

More Gee's Bend Quilts

Still filled with emotion from finally getting to see the Gee's Bend Quilts. I am itching to do some sewing, but everyday life chores and obligations seem to be frustratingly demanding of my time lately, plus I am still nursing this cold that does not want to go away. Uhg!

I wish that I could show you the powerful feeling of seeing these quilts in person. Obviously, you can tell from the photos that they are indeed wonderful works of art. However when you see them up close, they are ...

Magnificent. Bold. Breathtaking. Humbling. Inspiring. Transcendent... In other words, knock me to my knees fabulous!

Created by Arlonzia Pettway

Created by Loretta Pettway

Created by Lillie Mae Pettway


To learn more about the quilts of Gee's Bend and the woman who created them please visit here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gee's Bend and James Castle

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving, (and to those of you spread elsewhere in the world, I hope you all had a lovely weekend!) We were busy like most of you enjoying family, good food and going here and there. I managed to catch a nasty cold and spent all of Saturday sprawled on the couch, (kind of like the last illustration in my previous post, but wrapped in blankets and clutching a box of tissue.)

But by Sunday I was feeling a bit better and hubby and I took off by ourselves for a much needed date.

We headed off in the pouring rain to the Philadelphia Museum of Art eager to see the quilts of Gee's Bend. I have wanted to see these quilts since they first came into public awareness. Seeing them up close and in person was almost like a religious experience, and I actually had to choke back the tears at times as I was so overcome by their power.

After spending a good deal of time soaking in the quilts, and feeling as inspired as I will ever be, we headed to the next exhibit where we were introduced to the works of James Castle. I am shocked that I had not heard of him before, but I had not... I really need to get out more.

Once again, my mind was blown by the amazing work laid out before me.

Apparently James was born deaf and mute, and I would wager autistic. He went to school for the deaf, but either rejected or was unable to learn traditional forms of communication.

However, James became proficient in his own forms of visual communication, executing many drawings and showing a masterful understanding of one point prospective. The drawings are mostly done with a mixture of soot and spit, applied with a hand carved stick to any recycled paper or cardboard he had on hand.

James also created intricate cardboard replicas of objects, birds, people and totem shapes, bound together with string.

And his books! So many books! Oh my, they were fabulous and fascinating, made of all sorts of recycled materials and filled with his sketches, doodles, and symbols, often repeated over and over again, to form a most beautiful language. What a truly remarkable human being.

I have often heard other artists discuss how seeing a certain show changed the direction of their own work, but have never myself experienced anything so profound despite having seen many, many wonderful shows throughout my life. But these two particular shows were different. Both left me changed, and I know, (the way you just know some things) that viewing the quilted works done by the fine woman of Gee's Bend, and the work done by the utterly fascinating James Castle, will absolutely have an effect on my work.

I thank them all for the gifts that they have given us through their undying artistic exploration, ingenuity and creative spirit.