Thursday, December 15, 2011

the making of creative happiness that resembles tie-dyed earrings

tie-dyed t-shirt mini-scraps rolled into beads

This day I made 134 beads.

Looks to me like it ought to be soooo much more than 134 though...

before the real fun began...

the real use for the kitchen table -- making earrings

the first batch of earrings hanging on magazine subscription cards

another view of these beauties

the beads and the floss that Dan tie-dyed for me

and the 7-year-old model

the cards that Dan dyed and designed with the finished product

the very first recipient of all things tie-dyed!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

my number

Last year we received a Christmas card from a high school classmate who addressed it to both of us. We received it just a few days after I had arrived in NY to be with Dan. Today we got another Christmas card from him. This one was addressed to only Dan with a letter inside asking Dan to call him to let him know how things are going. Diplomatically, he's wondering if the card should have still been addressed to the two of us, but most likely now just to Dan.

Well, it's been 1 year and 5 days since I arrived in NY and moved in with Dan. Not only have we thoroughly enjoyed each other but it's been the best year of our lives, and at 55 years of age, that's saying a lot! I've never laughed so much in my life.

Now that we're embarking on year number two together, we've discovered a lot about each other and how we want to be in the world, especially with our art/business. We so love working together. I never thought I'd ever say that about a man again after working with a spouse in his field for way too many years. I was determined not to ever do that again. And yet, with Dan I have become a better artist, a deeper what-iffer, and one who wants so much more from myself.

We've been playing with a business concept for a few months now. We've been discovering how we want to show our work, and we're getting a finer concept on how that could possibly be.

I have loved Jude Hill's work for years, since Tina Ferguson brought it to my attention in an intuitive reading she did with me. I've been slowly sticking my toe in that ocean of hand embroidery, but with a different twist -- tie-dyed floss on tie-dyed fabrics. I've been making my own 3-D animals/angels with hand embroidered faces, and now I'm embroidering a shower curtain. Dan brought it home from a thrift shop. It's a Martha Stewart that he paid a buck for, and he tie-dyed it in pinks and purples. I embroidered on pieces of white linen -- a cat face, a woman's eyes and nose, and a flower -- and sewed them onto the curtain. This morning I laid across it and doodled all over it with Sharpie pens. I wrote large letters, drew spirals, formed leaves, captured a bee on a huge flower, and then I began to embroider each line. It's becoming... breath taking.

Yeah, yeah, it's a shower curtain that will eventually hang in the bathroom, something we'll look at only when we're using the sink or the toilet. Yeah, I get it, but while I'm doing what I'm doing in the bathroom I get to look at something that makes me smile, colors that warm me, and faces that bring me joy. What better way than to do it in my own bathroom? (Shared with two and a half men...) It's my bathroom graffiti. There are no phone numbers listed for a good time, but believe me, making this curtain with my own skill, imagination, and Dan's tie-dyeing magic has been a good time. And, the man who I'm having a good time with already has my number...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Vermont Trippin'

Frog and me somewhere in Vermont
Yesterday at this time we (my partner, Dan, and I) were in Vermont. This has been a lifelong dream of mine to visit that state, if not one day live there. I used to ride my LifeCycle to a VBT VHS, better known as a Vermont Bicycling Tour video. Every time I would feel my thighs burning I’d look at the TV and immerse myself into the Vermont scenery, feeling my way up the hills and around the corners, through the little villages and past the general stores. I would be mesmerized by the views. I longed to visit there.

And finally I did.

Dan and I upon first arriving in Vermont -- in the back of us is Canada

Vermont is more my place than any other. The art galleries and artisan stores were of a much higher caliber than what I’ve seen in a long while. For the first time I’d actually seen many fiber art exhibits – two places, Helen Day Art Center in Stowe and Creative Space Gallery in Vergennes – had two of the most amazing ones.

Helen Day Library and Art Center in Stowe
The Helen Day Art Center was upstairs in the library. The library was a picture postcard with sculptures out front, free books on the porch, and a gazebo in which to sit while enjoying the views. The inside was like something out of a movie with a large white front desk and an accommodating librarian welcoming us in. The walls were painted white with beautiful crown molding at the ceiling, paned windows with deep windowsills, beautifully crafted wooden bookshelves, and comfortably inviting Queen Anne leather chairs in which to hunker down and read.

Besides reading I am enraptured with fiber arts. I’ve spent most of the last few decades absorbed in the art quilt world. However, lately (since singledom) I’ve delved into the clothing side of the fiber arts world. And, the exhibit in Stowe knocked my socks off.

 Wylie Garcia spent a month on a dress for a year, and we saw her 12 dresses up close and personal.

 I was entranced with her intricate stitches, choices of fabrics, and intuitive creative breakthroughs. In the corner of the exhibit was a small display of her studio with a padded book that she used as a pincushion,

 piles of scraps on the floor beside her desk, a dog pillow

 and braided fabrics on her chair, and framed photos and artwork on her inspiration wall. Her work and ingenuity bamboozled some cobwebs still hanging onto my own creative muscle. I felt stretched, pushed, and truly inspired to do more with my own work. I studied her haphazard stitching with yarns and threads, her expansive amount of hand-sewn sequins, buttons, and beads. “The Tulle Did Her In” was the name of the exhibit exemplifying the debutante societies she grew up in while living in Houston, Texas. Once a Texas youngster myself I recoiled at the memories I have of being a charm school flunk-out and later a teenage Sangar-Harris runway model. The false eyelashes, mounds of make-up, platform shoes, walking with a book on my head, holding a teacup just so… Oh barf… I could so relate to Wylie Garcia and absolutely fell in love with her irreverent use of tulle. Wish I had thought of it.

Stowe Spoons

another Stowe sculpture
In Vergennes the owner of Creative Space Gallery spoke my language when she told Dan and me that Vermont was a mutually supportive community of the arts and the artists. It showed. The not-for-profit gallery promotes artists and their works. Vergennes is a small town in Vermont that packs a beautiful wallop with its picturesque town square complete with gazebo and white church with a tall spire. It could have been one of those towns in my Vermont Bicycling Tour videos. Even its thrift store looked like an inviting boutique.

I was told that I would notice the difference between New York and Vermont immediately upon crossing into each state. I did. Vermont is pristine. Even its one trailer park I saw was clean and inviting. As soon as we re-entered New York yesterday it was instantaneously evident. Rusted vehicles, unkempt yards, run-down houses, and vacant buildings with chipped paint and loose shutters were prominent. For the previous two days in Vermont we didn’t see any of that. There were no signs telling us who to vote for or who pissed whom off and needed to resign either.

We drove through the Vermont islands and gazed at the rolling meadows, red barns, silos, and farmhouses. The general store on North Hero Island had clocks to let you know the global times, all reading the same hour because every clock was set at one of the island town time zones. These people were speaking volumes when they set those clocks. Their worlds were right where they were, and it showed. They took pride in how everything looked. They cared about putting their best foot forward. They cared about how they did business and how it affected their community, their environment, and their state. There was an inexplicable ownership that made them silently boast.

We did meet someone from Vermont. (I mention this because most everyone we had conversations with were from somewhere else and came to Vermont later in life to live.) He owned an artisan’s gallery and café in North Hero. He and his wife worked one and a half jobs, had a goat farm, owned and ran the store/café, and made most of the items in the store. Yellow Dog Farm was the name of their farm. They had yarns made from their goats that were irresistibly named – Luigi’s Locks, Oliver’s Wisps – and the labels had pictures of the goats whose fleece was now spun for the knitter or weaver.

Businesses in Vermont were in houses with front porches welcoming me. I felt embraced every time I crossed a threshold. I’m sure there were businesses in other kinds of buildings, but apparently they didn’t register on my radar because I can’t recall seeing any at the moment. Even the little “strip malls” were two-story buildings with beautifully ornate facades with individual character for each storefront. There was an insistence on individuality with a strong sense of community. It invited me in. I just can’t seem to think of other words to use for it. It invited me in like an opened door that I longed to enter. I’ve always been in love with New England. I loved living there many, many years ago, and I’ve been enthralled with every trip I’ve made back there, but there is definitely something different about Vermont. There is something so quietly comforting. It’s the beingness, the no-need to speak-ness, that pulled me in. The pristine charm, the desire to put the best foot forward, and the pushing of the creative envelope put me in a spell. I could feel the sense of community without anyone saying a word. I didn’t need to hear that Vermont was mutually supportive. I could see it.

So, here’s to our first trip to Vermont. May there be many, many more for Dan and me to enjoy together. And, if there’s any place or person I need to be aware about, please let me know. We barely scratched the surface, and I know there are so many other people and businesses we need to friend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

And now...

Now, over nine months later I am still living and playing in New York. It's been quite a journey getting here even though here was never on my list to be.

I might've been born a Southerner, but since the age of 17 I never wanted to live anywhere else but Colorado. I left there in 2008 and have no intention of ever living there again. I've made my way across the country with a stopover in Texas and New Mexico before finally arriving in NY last December. If there's one thing I've learned it's that what I think I want and what eventually lands in my lap are two totally different things, or so it seems. When I really examine my desires closer, I realize that I have indeed come to the place where I've always longed to be -- in love with the most wonderful man in the world.


Before leaving TX the last time I was told that love was not enough, and I'm here to say that for me after all I've been through, I firmly believe that it's not only enough, but it's everything. It is everything. It's because of love that I leap out of bed in the morning and scramble downstairs. Okay, okay, the scrambling begins after the caffeine kicks in, but every morning I get to open my eyes to a delicious pair of baby blues looking at me and sip from a coffee cup with chickens ranging free on it. I am privileged to walk into a room where I can sew and create with wild tie-dyed fabrics and threads all day long. I am utterly and unequivocally privileged with the ability to think up things like I do, but also have a man like my Daniel who pushes me beyond what I thought was finished and complete. Finito means something totally different in his vocabulary!

I'm nearing my 55th birthday, and I'm realizing just how much I'm enjoying being me. That's been a tough thing for me to celebrate. I worked incessantly before to make amends for using up oxygen, and now... Well now, I breathe deeply taking in more than enough oxygen, more than ever before, and I appreciate how my lungs fill, my chest rises, and my head clears. I so love the ability to look clearly out the windows of my home and see pineapple tomatoes growing on vines or a newly-picked eggplant sitting on our kitchen table. I am blessed to find that the purplish color on the stove is from elderberries instead of dye. I have arrived in a place finally where I so eagerly belong. I fit right in. I meld perfectly with the artist that pushes me to see things differently. I marvel at our differences, and most importantly, adore who we are together.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

6 months and still going...

Tomorrow marks six months since I first arrived in Syracuse and was met at the train station by the man who has created with me a life beyond my wildest dreams. I never dreamed of a man with 5 sons, or one in upstate New York, or an artist, or someone from my high school that I had never spoken with until last summer.

And, I never dreamed it could be this good.

After six months of living together, of being with one another every single day and spending every single night beside each other, I love this man more than I ever thought possible. The life we live together is priceless. He dyes, teaches, and schemes with me. We set up our tie-dye magic at home or along the road somewhere, and we have a ball. We're constantly coming up with more and more things to create. As a matter of fact, in the washer right now is a pair of my blue jeans that he tie-dyed. We're going to a Phish concert tomorrow with a friend and one of the many, many sons and not only setting up a tie-dye world for sale, but indeed having the time of our lives.

Tonight he's going out with the best of the boys and making a killing at poker, while his youngest is going to help me price the things I've made with Dan's tie-dyed shirts. Right now I'm making yarn. I've been cutting t-shirts into strips and balling them into yarn skeins for sale. The younger generation has been scooping them up for jewelry. One innovate young woman combined them with hemp for bracelets. They are stunning. I've been knitting mine, and selling all my "rug mugs", sponges, or whatever you want them to be. I'm now working on a bath mat. We're turning our bathroom into a tie-dyed magical kingdom, especially as it serves as a fitting room during our sales. (Next one Father's Day!!)

All of those have been sold already, so I'm adding that to my to-do list before we leave in the morning -- to package more of these babies to sell to Phish fans. We have a website to purchase those things we've got listed. We have so much more than what's online because I've been too busy to spend some time in front of the computer (not to mention behind the camera) to get the images uploaded.

I've never had such a filling and fulfilling life. I'm doing what I love with a man I absolutely adore. I did not know this kind of relationship was even possible. It has been the easiest, most compatible relationship I've ever had, and I guarantee you I've never been with ANYONE as much as I have with Dan and never, not once, uttered a disgruntled word.

We have one rule -- You can do anything you want. Yep, that's it in a nutshell. At all times we give the other person full reign to do whatever it is he or she wants to do. There's no judging, no criticizing, and no demands. It is that easy, that laid back... that loving. Unconditional. I love him no matter what. I wake up with him every morning feeling as if I have won the largest lottery possible. Every day spent with him widens my heart and just jazzes my creativity. Together, we truly are unstoppable.

Monday, May 2, 2011

a day in the life...

This morning... oh, this morning... sitting down with my cup of coffee and stack of books before hitting the trail.

My new chicken mug full of hot joe just waiting for me to sit down for a spell. I was just minding my own business really. It's a Monday morning after a very busy weekend of dinner parties and frantic pace in the dye lab and sewing factory. I wasn't prepared for what happened next...

Suddenly, with my back turned for just a minute. I mean, merely seconds, I have been bombarded. Well, my coffee has. Once the cup was full and hot... All I can say is that I hope they enjoyed it. Since I haven't been home all day, not much telling what Beanie Babies on caffeine are capable of doing.

I decided to take my coffee, or what was left of it to the kitchen where sooo much commotion had taken place over the weekend, and some remnants were still visible.

Looks to me like there's a dangerous combo happening there -- metal, tools, and alcohol, not to mention hot sauce and bananas.

The wire "sculpture" is becoming, will grow up to be one day, a free form of my body to use for our websites. Women's clothing will be displayed on it for pictures on our etsy site, our meylah site, and our website. As of this posting our website's not hooked up yet, but check back to one day and hopefully it'll be up and running.

One of the things I worked so diligently on over the weekend were flowers made from Dan's tie-dye fabric. I was supposed to put it (the fabric) up on  our etsy site, but I couldn't keep my hands off it, so here's a little sampling of what I did with it over the weekend.

A herd of flowers? A flock? An overload? Not enough? The inside circles are cut from a yellow wool jacket that Dan brought home from the thrift store. The backs look the same as the front. We're selling them on our etsy site also. The piece of fabric they came from looked like this at one time.

Dan's a master, and I am just smiling all the live long day thinking about him. I used to buy fabrics for $25 a yard that were hand dyed, and now I get the very best in all the land right here at home. Oh sweet baby Jesus!!

And here's how some stragglers in the flock look. Actually, these are the first born. This was before the rest of the flock landed on the kitchen table while Brazilian music, Ricky Ricardo style, was blasting from the boom box, and way before the Scotch and wine were brought onto the scene.

And now there are thirty-three... just a lot of watering and tending to the gardens going on over here. Hm, and there are the caffeinated Beanie Babies to check on. My work is never done it seems.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Decent Thursday

Dan deemed today Decent Thursday since tomorrow is Good Friday. We've developed new rituals for everything we do, including Decent Thursday. We have three things on our list, just three, and it's almost 6:00 in the evening and none have gotten done, but it has been so very much more than decent today.

Here are the three things:

1. build a free form to use in photo displays
2. design business cards
3. get inventory set up

Dan has been dyeing in the lab like a crazy person, and that creates soooo much inventory for the sewing factory. There's the determination of where the finished items end up -- in the cutting section of the factory, in the photo department for our shop, or in Jill's and Dan's closet. Let's just say that out of the forty items that he's dyed so far, I have the biggest load hanging upstairs in our bedroom. I am scoring in the clothing department!

Here's a glimpse of what the factory and the lab have been looking like:
Chinese Spring Roll Sauce always goes so well with tie dyes!

and then of course the beverage of champions -- chocolate ice cream in coffee -- keeps the master going...

So here's what the factory's been looking like (this is not for the faint of heart):
There are two finished wall hangings on the back of the love seat waiting for their owner to come claim them. The rest are either clothes from thrift shops and/or tie-dyes from the lab.
You may think there's a pile of clothing in the corner, but I call that my fabric stash. It's filled with silks, linens, and wools. All either free or just a few cents each.
And yes, I have officially encroached upon what was once called the sports room with another sewing machine and fabrics. Oh, happy day...

And as far as what we have yet to do on our list, well, it will get done. Maybe not before midnight, but it will be completed. We are having the time of our lives, and documenting every step of  the way. We've also opened up our very own online shop, called Dyed Stitches. We have our things in three stores, and creating new magic every day.

Well, Dan just stopped by the Magic Kingdom Office where I've been busy typing and interneting away to let me know that son number two has dinner waiting for us -- a home-cooked meal of chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, salad, beer, and... I'm drooling. I'm getting off now and continuing with The Decent Thursday Celebration!

Monday, April 11, 2011

the wind

I am 54 years old. No spring chicken. Been around the block a time or two. So, how is it that I feel brand new?

It seems as if every single thing in my life has occurred to bring me to the moment I'm in now. I am here in NY with this man for a very great reason. I'm learning every single minute how easily love grows. It's astounding to me to feel the way I do about him. I think about him when he's not with me, and when he is, I can hardly keep my eyes (and hands) off him.

Where did this come from? I thought I'd been in love before. I thought I knew what it was like to share my life with someone. I'm finding that those beliefs are false. I'm discovering now what it means to love someone so deeply, so unconditionally that there's not a thing he can say or do that will lessen the love I feel. By opening to him, I've opened myself to the world, the most beautiful, contagiously gorgeous parts of the universe. It's a world I couldn't have wished for because I didn't know it existed.

I look back on my life as a single woman -- my real life, I call it -- and categorize my "episodes" like this: Steamboat Springs was my time for extraordinary spiritual growth and discovering who I could possibly be. The next phase, McKinney, TX, was my I-never-got-to-be-a-wild-teenager-before time, so I took the opportunity to let loose and cultivate wonderful friendships in a magical small community.

And then New Mexico hit me, and I mean that literally. My three months in NM was what I call my "hosing off" time. Apparently, the wild teenager in me needed a major hosing to integrate all the phases I had experienced so that I could be prepared for my NY experiences.

I came here to NY with three suitcases and a box. Absolutely no record of a past to speak of. Pretty amazing considering I used to live in the midst of great quantities of things. Things, things, and more things. I arrived with clothes, a few books, and essential papers. That's it. Nothing more.

However, in the 125 days I've been here, I've accumulated the greatest of all wealth. I am deeply loved by the most amazing man in the galaxy. I am rich beyond words.

I wake in the morning and look at his face. My heart fills to overflowing. I get to wake up next to him. I've never experienced such amazing wealth before moving here.

I recall my childhood with three brothers, a Catholic upbringing in the 50s, 60s, and 70s (And did I mention that it all occurred in the south of all places??), and I see myself now living in the north, non church-going without those said brothers, and I realize the transformation that has transpired. Every single experience, every moment, every breath has led to right now, right here with this man, with our art, with our love, our passion for each other and what we do. It's an extraordinary time, an amazing chance to create the perfect life with this very, very perfect man for me.

I was told by two people in Texas that I would have a relationship beyond my wildest dreams, that I would be loved like this, be given gifts regularly, and not once could I believe them. I scoffed at them actually. I had never had a man treat me with such respect or gratitude. I had no reference for that. I couldn't fathom working with a man I was in a relationship with and loving every minute of it. How could that be after working with a husband for 26 years and knowing that with each passing day, more and more of me was dying?

I was reading some messages that Dan and I had been sending to one another on FB last year before either one of us was ready to admit that there could possibly be more between us than we were letting on, and I marvelled at the genuine concern, beautiful sentiments, and glowing raves we shared with each other. We have respected each other from the very first word. We have believed in each other from the moment we saw each other's work. And now, what we have done together... I am humbled to call him my partner in business, in love, and in life. He is truly so much more than I could have ever imagined. He's allowed my freak flag to fly. He's actually encouraged it, and he truly is the wind beneath it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

You and me together

I just looked at the pictures and video that are on my camera to see what I wanted to post today. What I really want to post is a video that I took of Dan this morning, but I don't dare do it unless he okays it. Dan is dancing to the J. Geils Band while cooking breakfast. The reason that I videotaped his dancing today is that it just feels so good to see him back to himself. He's been soooo sick, and to see him dancing today was truly one of the greatest joys of my life.

What last week taught me while he was bed-ridden is just how much I'm capable of loving. Even though he was right there in bed with me, I missed him. I missed his joking and his laughing. When he'd experience a coughing jag that would bring tears to his eyes, I would cry. I massaged his back, laid my cold hands on his forehead, and rubbed his arms. I wanted to do everything I could to make it go away, but I couldn't.

The only thing this experience mimics is the helplessness I felt when my baby girl was sick with strep. I remember holding her and rocking her little body through the night while tears ran down my cheeks. It hurt to watch her and to feel her little body be so hot and listless.

I'm learning the art of detachment over and over. I can love deeply, more than I ever knew existed, and still feel helpless. I'm learning that sometimes there is nothing to do but to let go. There are times when there is nothing I can do. Nothing at all.

I've been living with Dan now for 111 days, and what I've discovered is that with each passing day I am clearly more in love with him. Even in the dreariest, sickest moments I wanted to be nowhere else but at his side. There are times that just looking at him breaks my heart open even more.

And with that being said, I just remembered a video that I want to include in this post. Baby, it's you and me together. We can do anything. Ah, how I love you...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Tam Prize

For Dan's birthday a dear friend gave him one of his paintings.

This isn't the best picture of Ron Throop's painting, but it's what I've got on me right now. Notice the little triangular guy placed throughout the piece?

His name is Tam, and he was invented by Ron's 10 year old daughter, Sophie.

Ron entered an art show with two pieces, neither one having Tam on them, but brilliant nonetheless. Extraordinary, really. Dan and I decided we would honor Ron with our own award, so we set out to make our very own Tam prize with Dan's tie-dyed fabrics.

Here's the mastermind behind the pattern making...

I sewed the face together complete with alpaca dredlocks for his eyebrow.

And here he is upon completion...

And then we have one "mad" artist presenting the award to another who has chosen to hide behind his hand.

C'mon, have you ever seen a happier face on anyone??? And I'm talking about the man, not the Tam... Congratulations, Ron! You are an amazing artist and writer, and Dan and I are so privileged to call you friend.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

what a life...

My most enjoyable moments are when Dan and I are in the house working, not together necessarily, but jumping from his room (the kitchen where he's dyeing) to the sewing room where I'm cutting and stitching away. It's been raining all day. The snow's almost gone, and it was perfect weather to stay home and dye and sew. We've got a few projects that are needing to be done this week, and I'll show you the latest "invention" -- the sleeve purse.

This one is made from a tie-dyed t-shirt for a toddler, so the sleeves are really small. Dan took the picture with the measurements visible so you can see just how tiny this bad boy is. Perfect for a cell phone, lipstick, ID, and credit card. The strap is braided decorative yarns, and I sewed a little tie-dyed fabric bead on top of the patch in the corner. This is the beginning of this line. Well, not really. We've already got some at a store here in town. However, it is the first purse from toddler sleeves.

One of the things I realized today while I was watching Dan do his magic on his dyeing table is that we both dress very similarly. Our accents are now the same. (Only the two of us can understand each other!) We have slowly melded into one another. I told him today I can hardly tell a separation between the two of us. We've even awakened in the morning from having the exact same dream. This morning I walked into the kitchen singing the freakin' Monkees theme song, and he said that melody had been going through his head.

Here's one of my regular views, and apparently it was taken quite awhile ago, because I'm looking out the window now, and there's just traces of snow. The lake is flowing like crazy and not a piece of ice to be seen.

I have to admit that there is nothing as cute, warm, and homey as McKinney's square. I think of it often and remember having coffee in Spoons Garage, listening to Broken Code or Buzz at Cadillac's, having a UFO at Square Burger, and the list can (and does) go on and on. However, there is something about this town that draws me like no other. I am not really sure why I'm here except to be with Dan. It just feels very strongly that there's more to it than that, even though that's a huge reason. It's been life-altering. I told him last night that it feels like I'm more me than I've ever been when I'm connecting with him. When I touch him it's as if I'm plugging into who I really am. I've never experienced this before, so I find it extraordinary.

Happy doesn't even come close to the way I feel here.

I pull my hair back, throw on a few layers, and get to playin' in my room. The design wall behind me in this picture has parts of several commissioned pieces pinned to it. And, as you can tell I'm rarely alone. Just when I think it's safe to turn around without a flash aimed at me, there's Dan with the camera. I've never had so many pictures taken of me before. I was the photographer, so I was the invisible one. With Dan, I'm the subject.

Tonight's a night on the campus to see a documentary, and first thing in the morning off we go to see an art exhibit in Syracuse with his class. Afterwards we'll replenish our energy, and then commence with the drinking and dancing to live music.

Every day is a full one with Dan. Every night even fuller. I am at this very moment the absolute fullest I've ever been, and I just know it's only just begun...

Oh yeah, and here's one of the pieces now. The beginnings of this one is right behind my head on the design wall in the picture above this one. This is made exclusively from someone's clothing. The middle diamond is part of his handkerchief with his embroidered initials. His name starts with an "H" so I designed this piece to resemble an "H". The red is from an LL Bean chamois shirt. The blue plaid behind the circles are from a nightshirt as is the small squares and circles. The larger circles are from his ties, and then there's the bandanna strips.

Unbeknownst to the person who has commissioned me to do these pieces, I've also made a couple of items for her children from their grandfather's clothing also.

Here's a little purse for her daughter made of the pocket off that LL Bean chamois shirt. Of course, I had to sew in some tie-dyed fringe. The strap is made from decorative yarn and a strip of another shirt.

This is a zipper bag made from her father's overalls with the knee patch still intact. The zipper is from one of Dan's son's pants. You can see it a bit on the left side of the picture, and the lining is fabric from my friend's husband's shirt.

This has been an amazing experience to work with this man's clothing. I did not know him, and have only known his daughter since moving here, but from what I can feel while working on these items, this man was genuinely compassionate. What an absolute pleasure to be able to make these wall hangings, etc. I don't take this lightly. I've spent most of my adult life in anger, displeasure... just yuck. And now, I get to enjoy what I do with such magnitude AND with a man that truly is my magnifier -- he magnifies my joy, my level of happiness and sincerest love. I am awed. I am grateful. I am just blissed out. What a life...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

sixteen minutes

I have sixteen minutes to write something before this computer shuts me out. Sixteen minutes and I feel how fleeting that is right now.

Interesting because I was listening to an NPR show last Sunday about the myth of time. Well, tell that to this computer...

So, since my last post (I feel my Catholic roots coming on -- Bless me, Father, it's been 82,000 years since my last confession...), I've been sewing like crazy, delivering product to a new retail outlet for Dan and me, continuing to finish commissioned pieces, and throwing out resumes in Oswego. Yes, you read that right. I feel the need to sink my teeth into Oswego. A friend asked me how many people I knew here, and I felt it was way too few for the three months I've lived here. I've pretty much hunkered down with Dan (and loving every minute of it), and now would love to get out into the community and make myself known. Not sure, though, that Oswego's ready, but we'll soon find out.

Dan and I discovered new products today that will rock the accessory world. As soon as we're back home, I'm sure there will be pictures taken and posted for your viewing pleasure. The first one was completed today, and more, oh so many more, will be in production very soon. Let's just say it gives new meaning to pockets and sleeves. Just sayin'...

It's amazing what shows up for me under slight duress. Birthday presents were needed and voila! Out arrived the new baby of the Dan and Jill variety (and comedy) show. Cute as can be, and the only thing really necessary is to post pictures as soon as I can. So stay tuned, and witness the life emerging over here in the land of a great lake!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Today marks a milestone. I've been here in NY with Dan for 84 days, one day longer than I was in New Mexico. It's also the day before Texas Independence Day and Dan's birthday. Several milestones, I guess. I've never celebrated Texas Independence Day or Dan's birthday before. Again, new experiences, and believe me, celebrating with Dan is always a new experience. Because today is his last day to be 54, I want to dedicate this time and this space to the man that I am privileged to live with and to call my own. Ah...

Today we got our second piece of mail with both our names on it. I don't know quite how to describe what that felt like. I looked at both our names with an "and" sign in the middle, sent to one address. I know I live here with him. I wake up with him every morning. I go to bed with him every night. I call this home. This is where I want to encrust a few roots. Then I see our names typed together on a mailing label from a local museum where we are now members, and I feel as if the Universe is agreeing with me. We belong together. We sooooo belong together.

I'm working on a few commissioned pieces right now, and he's been documenting every step of the way. I've put up a design wall in my studio space so I can view the makings of the wall hangings from hour to hour, moment by moment. And before I know it, Dan's taking pictures of the progression of the strips, the circles, the squares, and the rectangles. I'm making five wall hangings and one pillow out of someone's father's clothing. He was a surgeon and a hunter, so I have a collection of silk ties and camo, dress shirts and overalls, not to mention the bright hunter orange shirt. Dan has given me advice, listened to my musings, and put up with whining when I couldn't figure out why I wasn't pleased with the pieces.

way before a million changes

I've never had this in my life. I've never had a man who was so encouraging to my artist whims. I've never had someone want to be a part of this growing experiment of making wall art from clothing. He has provided me with solitude when he knew I needed it and an ear when I needed to be heard.

We discovered each other when we were 54 years old, when we least expected it, when we both fought the inevitable. When we surrendered to the fact that we were meant to be together, it was (and continues to be) truly magical, and the easiest thing we both have ever done.

It's been 84 days of bliss, of extraordinary education in art, of stretching myself, and of allowing the most beautiful man into my life. I've grown my sewing space, and I've grown my imagination. The latest things I've done with his tie-dyes have yet to be completely finished, but I'll unveil the happenings here.

tie-dyed fabric beads

If it weren't for Dan Leo, I would not be where I am right now or who I am right now. I love it all more than I've loved any of it before. I've never felt like I belong like I do here, and believe me I knew I belonged in McKinney, Texas, so just imagine what my belonging in this place to this man feels like!

We're working on a name for our business. We thought we had it twice already. However, both names were already taken, so now back to square one. In the meantime, I'll keep posting our latest works and our latest comings and goings.

You know, people have always told me that if they knew what it was like to be a grandparent they would have chosen that first. Well, if I'd ever known what it was like to love this man and live with this man like I do, I would have done it first. But because we met up when we'd both been through a lot, after tremendous growth and pain, we have created a life together that is beyond compare. I could never have had this kind of relationship without first experiencing all that I didn't want first. So, to all that participated in that challenging growth, I thank you because right here, right now I'm the happiest I've ever been. This is right where I belong.