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.