Archive for the ‘Natural Curl’ Category

back to basics

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

call it living like a poet, call it zen, call it what you will, of late i’ve harbored the distinct urge to slow down, to live life outside the ubiquitous to do list.


today i spent 2 delicious hours in a local book store where i feasted on 2 books of poetry by louise gluck, several home interior coffee table books, and 3 random books spied on my way to a chair. i squirmed and fidgeted and wrestled with the angels as i determinedly focused on being there and only there.

though i haven’t made much time for stitching lately, when i have picked up some cloth, it’s been only when (i thought) i had a plan, and once i sat down to stitch, speed was the name of my game. get it done, and get it done fast. when things didn’t immediately turn out to my liking, why i just packed everything up and moved on to something else, something i could check off The List.

today, though, after my morning in training, i came home, cut out a new piece (and i did keep the speed for that, doing it fast before i could think too damn much), and i went back to basics: i basted. i can’t count high enough to tell you how long it’s been since i took the time to baste.


it’ll sure be interesting to see if the basting holds everything in place well enough to allow me to stitch fast . . .


an excuse from home

Monday, April 6th, 2009

To Whom It May Interest . . .

Please excuse jeanne herself for her l-o-n-g absence here. She’s been moving, you see, and if you’ve ever moved, you know how all-consuming and incredibly overwhelming such an act can be.

She’s also been sick for over a month, I’m sorry to report. It started with a drippy nose which went into sinus headache which progressed into sinus infection which lingers on even now as her first ear infection in decades. Ordinarily a healthy one, this stretch of over a month rendered her nearly completely devoid of energy. She slept more than she has since that nasty bout with the flu in second grade, and while some said it’s precisely what she needed, jeanne herself wasted precious energy fussing because all around her was undeniable evidence of all that needed to be done.

Sound not being able to get through and register in her right ear has created several humorous situations, I must say. The dizziness aside, jeanne herself never realized how difficult it is to determine directions with only one working ear. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

She hasn’t had any stitching adventures to share because of that nasty bout with the fingernail polish remover. You see, back in December, jeanne herself opted to kick off the holiday season by making good use of the spa gift certificate her hubbie surprised her with earlier in the year. It included a pedicure, and since she would soon be cruising to warmer weather, it made perfect sense to commit a girley-girl act and don the reddest of red polish on her soon-to-be-exposed toes.

Things got busy when she got home, and I’m embarrassed beyond description to tell you that it was February before she took the time to sit on the edge of the tub and attempt removal of that still redder-than-red-they-weren’t-kidding-about-the-color-never-fading polish. The three fingers on her right hand – the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger – still bear the brunt of damage from wielding those acetone-drenched cotton balls. (Bits of polish stubbornly refuse to leave this one particular toe, so jeanne herself – knowing that exposed-toe-season will soon be upon us – is prepared to tell people it’s where the toilet paper holder fell on her foot a while back. She’s even practicing a limp to further corroborate her story.) The first few days she couldn’t feel anything with those fingertips. That eventually morphed into a coating of thick yellowish-brown skin that is still peeling. Though the sandpapery feel is wonderful when dragging them across where it itches, she says, it’s less than desirable when those fingers encounter fabric or thread. Let me tell you, she has ruined more clothes from the threads unintentionally pulled by her affected fingers. Though she tried to cover the three rough fingertips with everything from bandages to tape to those rubber paper handlers from the office supply store in hopes of being able to touch and guide thread, she consistently met with a miserable lack of success.

Just last night, however, while unpacking her daily quota of boxes, I am delighted to say that jeanne herself happened upon her pedegg thingie and, after repeated rubbings, her fingers – though sore – show marked improvement.

Know that she is finally feeling better (even if she can’t hear worth a damn) and is quite hopeful that her fingers will soon allow her return to the playground of cloth. Until then, she looks forward to getting reacquainted with those of you who are smart enough to (a) forego the polish or (b) have somebody else take it off for you.


jeanne herself’s e-mom
jeanne herself’s inner mom
jeanne herself’s secretary
jeanne herself’s virtual alter-ego spokeswoman gal who shall remain nameless


sunday saunter

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

“to hell with the ego of it. be free,” jude says. and, as usual, her crystal ball works better than mine. it’s precisely what i’m after, the notion of being free. it’s what i’m perpetually chasing: an ego-free existence.

having been raised in a religious environment (i’m over that now) (as much as you can ever be over early religious training) (ever hear julia sweeney’s one-woman performance called letting go of god? it’s the catholic version of me.), the phrase “pride goeth before a fall” was something i heard as much as i heard the word “salt”. (i could tell you (perhaps convincingly) that we used salt to cure the hogs we killed for food – and i can actually remember that happening. but just barely. truth is: as grossly unfashionable as it is, we just like salt. which is good for my mother’s side of the family who has low blood pressure and bad for daddy’s side who has high pressure.) pride is, of course, a dress ego wears, and i think i’m pretty much over it now, given all the water that’s run under . . . well, let’s try to contain our metaphors: given all the stitches that have been ripped out of that particular dress.

and though i’m mostly over it (finally), there are still a few remnants of perfectionism (another dress ego wears) hanging around. there’s the brightly colored dress of “will-i-be-found-worthy” that often jumps to the front of the closet (stay with me: i’m trying to stick to the metaphor chiffarobe i created), just within reach (almost) every time i sit down to write a blog entry.

these are the clothes i’m trying to outgrow. don’t want to move off and leave them behind for somebody else to wear; don’t want to donate them to the thrift store because i sure don’t want anybody paying for a wardrobe of such burdensome attire.

and i think this (ever present) desire for a new wardrobe – a wardrobe in which every single piece bears a label (and this would be a good time to tell you how much i despise labels of any kind) with jude’s words – is what’s got me thinking about creativity. i mean i like how elizabeth gilbert resuscitated the ancient romans’ notion of geniuses – “distant disembodied unknowable spirits” who live in the walls of an artist’s studio and sometimes (frequently if the artist spends enough time in the studio doing their part of the work, as glennis so eloquently points out) come out with the most brilliant ideas and schemes.

but somehow along my way, i got stuck on the renaissance notion of self being the center of the universe. self-reliance became (and still) reigns large for and over me, and it permeates pretty much every area of my life. while i’m quite comfortable with the notion of being responsible for myself, for making my own choices and enduring or enjoying the inevitable consequences of those choices, it’s really pretty exhausting. (can we coin a word and say egohausting?) (exhausting = a word that back in steam engine days meant to let steam off after it had done its work. the “haust” part come from latin “haurire” which means “to draw”. and, in certain contexts, the ego does serve a worthwhile function: because orange is not my best color – and the ego knows this – it keeps me from, well . . . let’s just say that it makes me behave. so maybe i’m after an ego-free creative existence.)

ambling back to what i think was my central point . . .

okay. we’ll have to get back to this later. hubbie is (understandably) ready for breakfast and to get busy building cabinets that will, by the end of the day, replace the boxes in our bathroom.

to be continued . . .


enigma continues

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

continuing to think about creativity. about faith, trust, mystery, work – all components of or cousins to creativity. but after a day of shopping for (and finding!) flooring, bringing it home from n.c., and unloading the truck, i just don’t have the wherewithall to pull together a string of complete sentences tonight. i did, however, sit and stitch a wee bit. still creating the image i call enigma:



Friday, February 20th, 2009

must’ve seemed like i had taken the loot, said a public thank you, then rode off into the sunset.

not the case.

just have had no where to sit, and no time to sit – sitting being a prerequisite (for me, anyway) for stitching. but now – just today – i began to create an image i’ve been carrying around for weeks. there’s no translation, no explanation. just the image.


which leaves me (once again) pondering creativity. the intriguing, captivating mystery of creativity.

a few years ago, my son introduced me to TED, a convergence of creative, innovative thinkers and doers who gathered under the umbrella of technology, entertainment, and design. since its inception in 1984, the scope of TED has grown and expanded, while the concept remains the same. my son and i immediately put it on our list of things we want to do before we die: attend the TED conference. now, thanks to, we can!

anyway, this month elizabeth gilbert (author of eat, pray, love) presented a different way to think about creativity. after reminding us of the way ancient greeks and romans viewed creativity, gilbert proposes that we are not creative geniuses but we have creative geniuses. as gilbert says, the notion that we, ourselves, are not totally responsible for the creative end product somehow takes the edge off the immense responsibility creatives often assume.

take a few (about 20) minutes and watch the video. we’ll talk later.


update from here

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

still sleeping at the “old” house due to no heat and no bed at the new house. in the old house, we have heat and a bed, but not much more. a cardtable and those 4 straightback chairs i mentioned earlier. my computer. 2 sweatsuits (so i don’t have to wear the same thing every day). no washer/dryer, no food, no pots/pans, no plates or glasses, etc.

and my car has been in the shop for over a week.

so i guess it’s understandable – perhaps even predictable – that i officially succumbed to cabin fever tonight . . .


let the melioration begin

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

melioration has begun – finally. not much to show, though, because, well, we’re moving, you see.

that is, we might be moving – it all depends on when we will have our fill with the . . . well, never mind.

we thought we were moving before christmas, so all the fabric, floss, needles, fabric scissors, irons are now residing in one of the gagillion boxes somewhere in the overstuffed garage. i found a snippet of cream-colored fabric with white hearts that’s not too chirpy, and cut (more like hacked, really, given that those scissors have cut everything except fabric), and using ye-olde-fingerpressing technique, tucked under the edges. then, after much fussing and grumbling about how uncomfortable it is for me working with big pieces like a completed-if-tattered quilt, that one rectangle of not-too-chirpy fabric is in place, covering one of the bald spots and extending this quilt’s life well into future generations of little jeannes.


my plan (if you can call it that – it just occurred to me as i cut hacked the snippet of not-too-chirpy fabric) is to patch/cover/conceal/mend with various whiteish fabrics. 88 pieces, to be exact. same number of keys on a piano.


melioration temporarily on hold

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

thursday found us scooting up the road to n.c., and though i have thread, floss, needles, snippets of non-chirpy fabric – even ideas – i forgot THE QUILT.

so i spent yesterday doing maintenance on my blogs, upgrading to the latest version of wordpress software, a tedious, time-consuming task that i’m glad is done. (though i haven’t checked. twould be just my luck to find that the newest version came out last night.) spent some time uploading pictures to my flickr account that i set up ages ago, then abandoned.

there’s this internal brewing, you see: i am on facebook and i twitter and i have 2 blogs (4 really, but on one i’m a occasional guest blogger and the other i write under a pseudonym). i find blogging so much more enjoyable, so much more satisfying than facebook and twitter because blogs feel less surfacey. spending more than 160 characters promotes some depth and breadth, and through blogging i’ve made some friends, built some relationships.

now i harbor no illusions that anybody (other than possibly my mother and husband) gives a rat’s ass about where i am and what i’m doing, and i admit to feeling rather like an exhibitionist every time i update. facebook flat-out overwhelms me for reasons i plan to explore on my other blog. all that said, i have decided (at least for now) to continue with facebook and twitter because they are my check-in buddies. just as some folks get a friend to provide the accountability factor for exercise by agreeing to go to the gym together on a regular basis, updating on facebook/twitter reminds me to be more present, more grounded, more engaged with my life.

we head home tomorrow, and i’ll be able to get my hands in motion on that quilt, thereby giving my brain a (much-needed) rest because somehow i think better when my hands are in motion.


let the melioration begin

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

1552, “to make better,” from L.L. melioratus, pp. of L. meliorare “improve,” from melior “better,” used as comp. of bonus “good,” but probably originally meaning “stronger,” from PIE base *mel- “strong, great, numerous” (cf. Gk. mala “very much, very,” L. multus “much”).

meliorate. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved January 07, 2009, from website:


when i woke up just before that magic hour of 3 a.m., unable to sleep any longer for worrying and stewing about what this one needs and what that one wants, i knew it was time to mend grandmother’s quilt. the one she made for me. the one that has my name embroidered in small green letters in one corner: J-e-a-n-n-e. Jeanne, period.


the quilt my kids always want to sleep under, regardless of the temperature. the quilt the cats nap best on.


the quilt that’s frayed from much selfish taking and not nearly enough giving; ragged from more use than care. the quilt that’s in obvious need of an infusion of respect and appreciation.



now i don’t know much about mending, and i’m loathe to add chirpy new fabric to the weathered old fabric, so maybe i start by cutting up those old aprons – i mean, really: who’s ever gonna’ tie one around their waist again?

reclamation and restoration is something i’ve been pondering for a while now, and in the dark early hours of this morning, i realized that it’s a project whose time has come.

yes, it’s time.

it’s oh so time.


maybe it’s a goblin?

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

okay. am i working on this piece or is it working on me?


let’s review:
day 1: enjoyed collection of and introduction to materials.

day 2: discontent set in. liked the backside better, so back is now the front.

day 3: hate the lace, but like the way layers peek out from under the pink satin camisole as if they’d been sat upon, squished by the pink. when i started the piece, i fancied the fabrics as representative of various layers of my life. the pink satin = the pretty, fresh, little girl layer where i was absolutely adorable to look at and be around. now here’s little pink layer sitting on the other determined layers. i tend to personify and anthropomorphize, it’s true. (which makes me think of judith’s pathways, actually. and here i’ve been too embarrassed to admit publicly that i make up stories like this with my pieces.)

which brings us to day 4/today: i know i ought to take the advice of my stitching sages and put this piece up, tuck it in a drawer, set it aside for a while, but honestly, there are so many unfinished things, so many loose ends in my life right now that i just can’t do it. i can’t. i want to finish something, dammit. and, bless its heart, this project is what’s going to satisfy that desire. i know i run the risk of hating the piece forever and ever, but (for now anyway), the quest continues.

i tinkered around with it this morning, deciding to pull up the ends of the thread. i mean, they were just hanging there anyway (i didn’t bother with knots or embedding them or anything.) as i “worked”, i listened to susan susanka’s book, the not so big life. i have a strong affinity for place, and one of my favorite thinking candies is how our physical spaces support us. as i pulled those threads,

i got sculpture.


i got cubbies.


i got whatzits.


but i got no ah-ha. no magic. no eureka.

and that damned lace has to go.