Tag Archives: money

Saying YES and being GLAD

“I think you should get bitter as you get older.
It means you’re paying attention.”
Craig Ferguson

So often, with children and opportunities to volunteer, one can find oneself up to the eyeballs in unpaid work, wondering, “Did I really say ‘Yes’ to this?!!”.

Volunteer work is work, make no bones about it.  It can be fun and offer a host of positive (and often unexpected) benefits — friendship, discovery of skills one didn’t know one had, satisfaction of a job well done.  Some of my volunteer work has spun off into paid work, which is often the fantasy of an organized, creative PTO Mom.  But!  With college a mere heart beat away (three years is a heart beat), volunteering feels rather unadvised in my case (I am considering NOT grocery shopping this week to save money)…

So the question is, how can I get through this commitment to help decorate the halls of the high school for the after prom party without believing myself to be a complete and utter fool?!!!    My older son is not even a senior!!

Here’s how —

1) I am learning a lot about photoshop.

I’ve used the ‘cut out’ filter for a long time — a natural for a quilter who tends to see images in terms of blocks of color — but I have learned how to ‘bucket’ color in to areas with the express intention of making a more interestingt ‘cut out’ image.  In the Brookline landscape above, I brightened sections after cutting out and then cut out the entire image again, in order to enliven the lower right corner, which had gotten dark and uniform in the process.

2) I bought myself some paints, which I think will have benefits down the road.

3) I am so clear that I will never, ever do this again.

4) I finally got to see the inside of a neighbor’s house that I’d been dying to see.  I’d heard for years that she has beautiful taste (she does).

5) I have listened to some good music online doing my research that I never would have listened to otherwise.

The theme is all hush hush, but here is a stylized picture of the hall I am responsible for.

I have managed to find a way to incorporate my recent obsession with a collection of beech trees in Brookline…

My longstanding obsession with rooves is also making its way into this hallway.

Streetlamps are also making an appearance.  Cleaning out an armoire a couple of weeks ago, I came upon some pictures I made when I worked at a copy shop in San Francisco in the early 1980’s.  They’re a cut up and re-imaged house photograph with a street light.  This copy machine had a dial that scrambled (or skipped) passes of color, producing what is now easily done with photoshop.

It’s true we are drawn to the same images over and over, isn’t it?

color xerox, 1980

Isabella St., Northampton, MA

Beacon St, Newton Center, 2009

I guess this is yet another example of how radically computers have improved our lives.  The color xerox machine I used to make the top two pictures was almost the size of a small car, used carcinogenic toner, and did not provide a preview of the color-changed result.  Each copy cost a couple of bucks!

Since I’m behind on my Journal Quilts, some of the new photoshopped images will go directly onto fabric and become quilts!

February brings more light

pin cushion

February also brings lots of birthdays — mine, B’s, Elizabeth’s, Lisa’s.  I made this sweet pin cushion for my bow-tie-making friend Lisa Eaton.  She will appreciate how well it takes a pin.  (This project comes from a great book by Betz White).  The light coming from the skylight above makes the cupcake look like it’s glowing!!

This morning found me making lunch for B, whose birthday is today.  We had peppers stuffed with curried, mashed potatoes (from an old Bon Appetit)… oh, were they delicious!  I have decided that the best cure for living with picky eaters (boys, not Ken), is to cook for friends who will “ooh” and “aah” and inquire about ingredients!

If only fixing the finances had as easy a repair!  Today my head spins with ideas of selling the house, renting out the house, moving to North Dakota (not really, more like Natick or Waltham)…

This is one reason I go to the inspiring blog, High Desert Home .  To read Susan L’s reflections on how to stay centered, sane, and grateful while leading a simple life is a  much-needed tonic to my misery-grubbing.  Having said that, it is also worth considering how removing myself from a pocket of affluence (Newton, Massachusetts) might make feeling gratitude for my simple life a little easier.  I probably would feel like an alien just about anywhere (this, I know).  Nevertheless, would I feel less like a Have Not if I lived amongst others who mow their own lawns, do their own taxes, clean their own homes, rake their own yards…. among families who drive a single car for batches of years, who don’t go on vacations for batches of months (and in our case, years) and who worry about how they are going to pay for college?   Such a shared perspective might not ease the financial worries, but it would certainly render me more visible, which I suspect would feel better.

Here is this week’s Journal Quilt, up close.  It was one of the three sketch quilts from an earlier post.

I suppose this small piece can’t qualify as a  ‘spring’ quilt on account of the full grown gourds, but it was made with the season of spring in mind.  The checkered polyester that I used for the bottom has always reminded me of tilled fields.

The background is an opened light bulb box — a reference to the lengthening days.  When I assembled the Chinese flashcard with the ink-jet printed transparencies, I though the black shapes were seeds (again: ‘spring’).  Turns out, though, they are rats or mice!  I like the way artistic choices can surprise you.  Who am I to deem rats or mice ‘undesirable’ or ‘unspringlike’?  I ended up feeling that the presence of rats with fall gourds in a quilt about spring summed things up better than my intentional mind could have managed (maybe I’ll know how, tomorrow).  I cut up a piece of fabric that I had printed a collage on and placed a few pieces on the quilt.  The one shown below includes a sliver of an old astrological map of the sky.

Lastly, I was thrilled to discover that stitching a bent piece of pipe cleaner to the back of a quilt made with a stiff upholstery fabric makes it wall-ready!

Here’s the whole quilt (roughly 8′ x 12″):

Journal Quilt Feb 22, 2009