subtitle

Love Letters to Friends, As Well As Very Important Musings on Earth Shattering Matters:
Thread Count, Powerlifts, Quilting, Karaoke, Lemon Cookies, and Graphomania

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Architect and the Water-Melan: Some Adventures

...Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver-tongued and the other, comedy gold.

In a flurry of productivity over the holidays, I finished up a few things that had been WIPs for a bit - among them this here blue-and-white hourglass dealio, which has gone to my ol' college chum, Loquacious_E, and his fabulous ladyfriend Melaquious Trombone (a favorite of her many, many Facebook nommes de plume):

Some shirting type materials + white, different hues of blues with the odd light brown thrown in.

I met Loquacious_E on campus as he was returning from a stint in Australia lo these 2.5 decades past, and I mostly remember two things: first, his anomalous blond dreadlocks (well, baby-locs, at least) and savage tan; and second, how he just appeared one day on the quad to his friends' aggrieved joy that he was back, but hadn't told anyone (this, clearly, in the Time Before Facebook).  He seemed the sort to keep his own counsel, but it was also pretty apparent that there wasn't much happening that wasn't being captured and analyzed somewhere in that big computer he uses for brains.  

Eventually I recognized a punny-tongued kindred spirit, an amused realist with a trenchant wit as dry as the Outback.  He was one of my four dude roomies in a college house that went by the deceptively bland name of "The Clark House" (for the street) but that house, though I only technically lived there for a semester, figures at least as prominently as any other campus character in my stories from that era. Apart from the open sewage drain in the basement floor (which did not seem to bother the bands that played there) and the crumbling ceiling tiles out of which may drop, for instance, an actual goddamn mouse, this house was situated strategically between where everyone else lived and the bars where we all drank and went to see rock shows, so it was routinely pressed into service as a way-station, or location of the after-party, or emergency quarters for any too "tired" to make it home (and/or too drunk to be afraid of sleeping on the couch, which was... not very clean.)  And at any given event one might find Loquacious_E holding up a wall somewhere, eyes shut and giggling in characteristic glee, and making wry observations at the absurdity of it all.  Certainly I saw him doing this way more than I saw him doing any schoolwork, which minor irritation apparently wasn't worth bothering to do if you have the sort of brain that E has.

Brain not pictured.  He's already thought of 10 replies to the stupid comment you haven't finished making.
Best Portrait Ever, from Champaign by Go Pellegrinetti, circa 2008 I think?

Anyhoo, E absented himself from the midwest after college to soak in the glory that was mid-90s Austin, TX, along with several others of our crowd - I swear for a good 10 years there I was never in want of a couch (cleaner than those of the Clark House) to crash on in Austin.  But as E returned in the early oughts to the midwest to go to school for another approximately 30 years to finish off an Engineering/Arcitectural combo platter, and as he has now purchased a 2 flat with his ladyfriend, I think we can call him local once more.  And that Architecture degree is going to serve me well someday too, when I scrape together the cash to hire E to design me my tiny cabin on the grounds of Mikuador, amidst the vegetal splendour of the SW Wisconsin driftless area.  (Amusingly, E offered to thank me for this quilt by helping the next time I needed butter churned or a barn raised - little does he know that this latter thing is EXACTLY what I will be asking for, down the road; at least, one raised on blueprints that can satisfy Richland County building codes.  Mwahahaha!)

Here is Loquacious_E, at left, cracking up me and another roomie from the Clark House, Murphy, in
the Logan Square kitchen of friend Ellen.  I am in danger of spilling whosever's leftovers those are, which I surely poached.  Was this the one where Ellen later injured her back trying to dance to "All The Single Ladies"? Picture by Krystal.

And at some point after his homecoming - I'ma wanna say maybe a little over 10-11 years ago now? - he located his petite amie Melaquious (who had also lived some time in New Zealand, so they could maybe compare notes on Australasiatic accents and foods)  and brought her into the fold, to the great benefit of us all, and to the ten-fold increase in the fart-smell-related-humor one might experience at any given cocktail party.  Sometimes your friends find a mate/spouse/partner who is always just their mate/spouse/partner, and that's cool - we don't all gotta be having sleepovers and shit - but Mel has become a friend in her own right, too.  For instance, I can't recall how many times I've asked her to explain her remarkable talent for getting free airline miles, which is like some sort of superpower; or made her promise to teach me how to properly lay tile, a trade she picked up in New Zealand.  It's also possible I've seen more of Mel than of Eric in recent past years - it was indeed the same Mel who came to visit me in Cape Town, the origin of this very blog, and also the origin of this extremely great picture that I cherish in my heart always, of Mel being forcibly ejected from our white-water raft somewhere outside of Livingstone, on the Zambezi River:

Mel in full extension. My god I love this picture. I will never not love this picture.
This is the event that inspired our river guide to call her "Water-Melan" for the rest of our trip.  Also, ask Mel to dance for you sometime.  It is incredible.  Cape Town will not soon recover from those particular stylings, and that was 7 years ago.

So, bound by their mutual love of travel, organic vegetable gardening, extraordinarily fat felines (RIP, Nastee - we hardly knew ye), and a keen sense of the ridiculousness of things, Loquacious_E and Melaquious form a dynamic duo who are instrumental to my greater social life back home - which is true even though I may only see them a couple times a year these days. (Which gives you a pretty good indication of what my social life is like, but that's certainly nobody's fault but my own.) One such event was the wedding of B & S  two years back - a wedding Mel both precipitated, by introducing the happy couple, and officiated, with all of the pomp and dignity one might expect from a mail-order minister with a hot line in bathroom humor.  (It was lovely, actually.  I was teary.) 

Side note: E and M also went to the Dalmatian coast and environs this past Labor Day, and damn me, I really should have gone with them: first, because that would have been fun, and cool to see, and second, because Mel is an excellent person to travel with, because she always has plans and ideas (which I tend not to have.)   AND she takes excellent pictures, to boot, such that you may not have to worry about taking substandard crappy ones with your shitty phone, because hers will be better anyway.  You can see proof of this in the afore-linked blog posts from Africa: if it's detailed and interestingly composed, that's Mel, and if it's grainy and possibly has a thumb in it, that's me.  Here's one she took of me as we safari'd, which is one of maybe three pictures of myself I actually like:

I don't have plans to make a musical record album or write a book, but if I did, this picture would be on it.

Thus, this quilt is for many things, even beyond taking a good picture of me or making me laugh for 20+  years: for shooting the breeze on a hot July night waiting for renegade fireworks to begin, surrounded by Mel's lush backyard jungle of a garden and her outdoor bathtub; or hogging the whole al fresco dining portion of old neighborhood haunts, from just before to well after happy hour; or driving across three countries in search of springbok carpaccio; or sitting on the Clark House porch, vaguely queasy from a night of music and beer, waiting for everyone to wake up so we could go eat at Fiesta and get back for a nap, back in the day.  

And among these, there is also that one time that I plant-and-cat-sat for them while they were gone for Christmas - Japan, I think? or was it Turkey that year?  - in 2010, which seems to be an odd thing to be grateful for, but which engagement came a critical juncture when I was stranded in Louisiana at sister Lulu's, recovering from unemployment, relative homelessness, and exploding appendix surgery, and desperately trying to return to my home base.  It was the combined efforts of many of my comrades, most chronicled here by now, that got me home; and it was staying chez E&M that got me that first foothold back in the locale and the life I was hankering for.  So a hearty mwah! and an egregious bear-hug to you both, essentially for leaving town right when I needed you to, so I could park my kiester on your couch and get my bearings in the company of your portly kitty and your large vinyl collection, and drink all of your herbal tea (I had a cold.)

I went pretty simple on this here quilt - when I asked Mel some months ago what a good quilty thing might be for them, she voiced "blue" and "modern" over traditional and other colors.  Though the hourglass pattern I used is anything but modern.  That sucker has been around since at least the 18th century as a quilt block, let alone the centuries prior as a regular old decorative motif favored by aboriginal peoples - cultures who never actually saw an hourglass in the flesh. I mean, triangles aren't exactly the intellectual property of any particular era.  

closer up on some hourglass blocks - not too tricky.  

While there are as many definitions of "modern quilting" as there are actual quilters, some consensus seems to have been reached about the "modernization" of traditional patterns being part of the trend - spiffing up the colors a bit, making the pattern outsized or deconstructed someway, to put a new spin on an old beast.  Simplification is also part of that overall aesthetic.  True modern quilters would probably poo-pooh this as an example of the art, though.  Whatever my modern intentions, E&M's blue and white hourglasses really call to mind something breezy and nautical, more than screaming MODERN (but really, who wants a quilt that screams at you?)  

I AM NOT SCREAMING YOU ARE SCREAMING

For the back, just a big old swath of more stripedy blue and white, which fabric came from the Stash of the Unknown Benefactress, and a skinny band of chambray at the top (or bottom, depending) because as usual, I was just short - and sometimes it's nice to break up an unrelieved expanse of one fabric anyway. Daringly, I made the stripes go horizontally across the width of the quilt, rather than the more traditional vertical stripes you might expect.  I KNOW.  I'M A RENEGADE. I liked the skinny stripes - they made me think of old school ticking, but not quite as Gramma's Featherbed as all that.

Just bashin' the status quo, that's me
And the quilting was a quarter inch to either side of the seam lines on the diagonals, making the back all diamonds, toute suite and easy peasy.  I have not had the energy to dive back into free-motion quilting on this machine; that feels more like pursuing an artform, whereas I just want to play with fabric and make geometric patterns out of different colors as a hobby.  Someday maybe I'll have the attention span to put into decorative quilting, but for now, peeps be getting straight(ish) lines and grids up the wazoo.

Diamonds are a quilter's best friend

And there you have it, my fine favored friends - a wee binkie for your lovely home, where I may yet need a couch to crash on, and will always need a beer to drink and some breezes to shoot.  No matter where you may roam, you should be prepared to find me sleeping on your porch or possibly in your outside bathtub (weather permitting).  And next time you cook up a travelin' plan, keep me posted.  Even if I can't go with you, I will still definitely want to hear all about the absurdities of the trip, since experiencing things through the prism of your particular worldviews is the next best thing to being there; and in some cases, way better.

See you soon, don't go changin', and save me a seat on the patio.

Lookit you, you starry-eyed wastrels.  photo by Craig DeA.  


Love! and Besos,

Astrid.



Friday, December 30, 2016

What I Learned in B-School: The Wedding of A and R

...a compilation of mistakes I made in and around grad school, where what I learned was "don't go."

I was delighted this fall to go to the wedding of my b-school classmate and sterling fellow Alex, and his bride Rachel (wherein I also got a chance to catch up with another classmate Greg and his ladywife Liz).  I'm not sure why I went with a quilt based in brown for Alex and Rachel - the wedding color was a superb and gorgeous deep purple - except that I'm down with brown, as anyone will tell you, and it seemed to set off the glowing jewels of these shot cotton squares quite nicely.  (I tried gray: it didn't work. That's about as far as my neutral color palette extends.)  This quilt itself is no great feat, just squares and sashing, so I'm mostly going to write about why grad school was a terrible idea, but I'll still show pictures.  Like this one:

Post washing - all the quilting is in the sashing, so the colored squares look kind of puffy/saggy, but are quite soft.

Granted, Alex was only really my classmate for a hot second before his interest in, and aptitude for, Advanced Corporate Finance far outstripped mine, and we parted ways in terms of curricula, but by then we had discovered a small posse of like-minded folk within the greater group of tiresomely brilliant Type-A financiers, entrepreneurs, and engineers-turning-managers that comprised the rest of the school. Though to be clear,  I was probably the most notably Type-B person in the entire university - even my friends were clandestine over-achievers, though they were humble about it, kind about my LAS-induced lagginess, and often helped me with my homework, which probably seemed laughably remedial to them.  Thus my first mistake was in going to the school I did, which was....over-challenging, shall we say:  as I lamented at the time, I'm pretty sure I only even got in because they needed SOMEONE to be below average.

I was trying to capture the pretty iridescence of these colored
squares, but I'm afraid that subtlety is beyond my phone's camera.

I believe I have mentioned how big of a tragic financial disaster I found b-school to be - part of this was my age when I went back, which basically dictated that I would never make up the truly ridiculous monetary outlay in future salary gains before retirement or death, whichever comes first (am betting on death).  Part of it was my own inability to focus on absorbing the material, an albatross-y legacy of carefree days when I could remember things after reading them once, and majoring in languages and literature, surely the path I could follow with the least effort.  Because, you  know, I like words. (No, it's true. I know it's hard to believe.)

The back: deliciously soft double-gauze. The strip on the left was inadvertent - apparently double gauze
has a directional quality of which I was unaware.

(Side-note: At b-school orientation, of which two-day affair I quite characteristically forgot about/blew off the first day, I learned that on that first day they had shown a pie chart of the incoming class' undergrad majors, in a get-to-know-ya exercise of the sort I find most tedious - "40% of this incoming business school class majored in - business!  The rest majored in Accounting or Engineering." Revelatory! But I know this because the next day a new classmate, upon hearing my undergrad major was Russian, exclaimed, "Oh! YOU'RE the Slavic Languages person!"  and, faced with my evident confusion, explained that the pie-chart had had a tiny sliver of "Slavic Languages and Literature" to account for me; and that the orienteers had announced this to the group, perhaps as evidence of the "diversity" of the matriculants, and tried to find this exotic beast in the crowd when in fact, I hadn't even bothered to show up. (Hmpf. Typical Slavic Language major.) In spite of my mortified mumbled defense, "Well it was a double major with English," this was a clue that I was going to be an anomaly in this cohort right from the get-go, even in advance of my failure to grasp the Weighted Average Cost of Capital or the Dupont Equation or whatever the hell; and probably my only sad chance at ever being considered A One Percenter, to boot.)

The quilting was just 4 lines in each sashing, crossing in a grid at the intersections, easy peasy.
 
Another mistake of grad school turned out to be the lack of an actual job market for my new skills when I graduated, which was just after the bottom fell out in the economic shitstorm of 2008-09.  And Alex, who clearly did grasp market nuance much better than me (to the surprise of no person), cleverly read the tea leaves, and commenced to taking one class at a time forever, such that he graduated with his shiny new degree as late as possible, when employment prospects were already looking up a bit and that degree was legit just worth more.  (I had wanted to career switch and in fairness, I did end up in a job I love, albeit 5 years after graduation; and despite my employer's protestations that shiny degrees did not matter to them, I have to think that mine at least got my foot in the door.  Curiously, that job was in the same building in downtown Chicago as Alex worked, which we realized to our mutual surprise one day when I saw him unexpectedly in the lobby.  Which made it delightfully easy for us to have lunch...at least, one time, before my travel schedule intervened, and now he doesn't work in that building anymore. Boo!)

In spite of all of this disparity in ability, Alex proved to be an absolute rock-solid friend, a true salt-of-the-earth fellow, and another alum of our flagship state school (where he went some years after me, and where I'm quite sure he did not major in Russian, given that he and his family had emigrated from Ukraine sometime around the first heady days of Glastnost.)  And since each of my favorite b-school buds were Secretly Weird - this one collected Ivy League degrees, each of which made him successively less employable; that one kept her dirty dishes in the freezer when she did not feel like washing them and hoarded incandescent light bulbs; another had apparently been some kind of semi-pro soccer player - it was no surprise to me that Alex's secret hobby was collecting antiquities from ancient worlds, an off-shoot of his love of history.

I went simple on the label - a wedding date, and a blanket-stitched heart for the newlyweds. 
(History to me is one of those infuriating sandhills that one labors to climb, only to discover 50 million shifting layers lie between you and the "truth", or whatever truth got recorded, at least.  My brother Hercules also has a head for history, inherited from our mom, and sometimes I like to hear him take flight, with as little prompting as: "Knights of Malta, 16th century - go!"  Alex is quite the same way.  I trust in the future I will get more opportunities to shoot the shit with him over some beer and hear his collected historical truths.  As always, I am sure to have a LOT of questions in those cases, as I struggle to connect whatever random pieces of information have lodged in my brain without context or details, such that I might brightly burp out "Queen Anne Wars!" or "Boxer Rebellion!" or "Bessarabia!" at odd intervals, like Wikipedia talking in its sleep, possibly while also experiencing some mild dyspepsia.)

Sadly, I have only met Rachel on a couple of occasions, once when she had to run the gamut of our grad school posse on a lovely summer day at a riverside bar after work - which is really an overwhelming sort of way to meet a pile of people; and again on the day before her wedding, when I foolishly and hilariously got the date of the ceremony wrong and showed up 24 hours early, right at the end of their rehearsal.  How I managed that I will really never know, but Rachel to her everlasting credit did not laugh me out of the venue, but instead kindly asked if I would like to join them for the rehearsal dinner - which generosity I truly appreciated but hastily declined, as there's already enough stress and expense in a wedding as it is without dopey friends of your fiancĂ© showing up a day early expecting to be fed.  In any case, she is accomplished and fascinating in her own right, having been a roving news reporter at several local stations before moving into the already saturated news-media market of Chicago to be with Alex....and I have a lot of questions for HER about that, and how she likes the job switch, and whether maybe we shouldn't go on that canoe trip down the Chicago River like we'd talked about three years ago.

Here's the label from the front: just a ghost heart on the purple.

But not really getting to know Rachel does highlight the last mistake of b-school, which is:  losing track of my b-school friends.  Because this was a part-time/weekend program, everyone already had jobs and lives and in many cases families of their own, so it was dissimilar to undergrad in that it was not the sole pre-occupation of most of us.  And let me tell you, there's nothing you want to do more after 8-10 hours of work than sit in a classroom for another three hours, twice a week, squinting at formulae and modeling economic theory and TALKING TO PEOPLE SOME MORE.  (Well, the economic parts weren't that bad.)  But b-school was nevertheless a deep bond: of fatigue and of stamina, of handling hyperactive partners in group projects, and trying to sort out when one might have time to write a 15-page paper; of meeting to grab some Chipotle for dinner to fortify ourselves before a slog through Implications of Foreign Currency Valuation, and meeting afterwards for a relief beer in the student lounge.  And while I do not miss those classes particularly - especially the stats class that made me cry every week and required me to run on a treadmill for two hours after each class to decompress - I miss the hell out of those people, and their quirky secret weirdnesses, and their brilliance, and their willingness to let me play their reindeer games, despite being a Slavic Language (and English) major.  To not know their spouses - or children, or about their new jobs and how they might be applying that wretched degree to them - strikes me as the worst mistake of all, one I hope to rectify, and soon.

I was going to put "Sept 24", for the day
I showed up to the wedding, but is it really
something I should commemorate?


So, Alex and Rachel, congratulations to you, you delightful weirdos - I trust you will revel in each other's eccentricities for many many years to come, and I hope to be able to appreciate them some more in the future myself.  Because if there's one thing I learned in grad school - and actually, it might have been just the one thing - it's that appreciation increases the value of things over time; in business, in friendship, and with some luck, in marriage, too.

Besos to you both and Mazel Tov!

Astrid.



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler While You Still Can: A Late Celebration

....because they found love in a hopeless place.

I'll get political here in a sec, fair warning.  It's been that kind of week.

Back in the carefree, liberated days of March, 2016, these two fine gentlemen got married, because they are in love, and they wanted to celebrate that love with their loved ones....and because it was finally legal for them to do so.

This is grainy because my phone camera is crap, but also
possibly because I was trembling with joy when I took it.
Remember the bow ties. Those show up later.

I know JJ through his ex, an old college chum, and even though that is over now I am pleased to keep custody of both of them.  JJ is one of those organizers of people...because it was his job, for one thing, but it's also his nature to gather up the loose elements of disparate groups and throw them all together onto the porch and fuse them together with some wine and a string of christmas lights for an excellent dinner party.  It was JJ who up and moved from his wintery, urban-midwestern perch to New Orleans, convincing 4 of his besties to go as well, all owing to a dream he had that they had found happiness there.  He is a sterling host, an unfailingly generous friend, a devout lover of this cashew brittle I make every Christmas, and a mysterious jack of all trades that I'm pretty sure makes things happen with just the force of his mind.

And when I refer to him as a "jack of all trades," I mean the trades part quite literally, since he is a carpenter of some note but also a mason (the stone kind, not the Dan Brown kind, though...maybe! who the hell knows?), a gardener, an electrician, a restorer of all things vintage, and a tinkerer down to his very bones.  It was JJ who stepped up when I was fumbling my way through the last stages of a kitchen renovation, having to sell my condo - sweeping in, in a flurry of drills and circular saws and concrete mixing and levels to get me something presentable to sell in a matter of hours - the only reason my place sold when I needed it to, for which timely magnanimity I am forever grateful.  (Shout out also to the Bean's husband Senor "Sleepy" Fitzgerald, who hung my wall cabinets on brick with some fancy French cleats.)  So JJ was already due a Quilt of Gratitude anyway, but then, a wedding on top of it?  Get cracking, Astrid!

A hole in my kitchen brick wall, patched and still wet, by Mason JJ.
(It blended much more than this flash makes it appear).
The front of my island, fashioned out of leftover cabinet doors, by Carpenter JJ.

To my dismay, I haven't gotten to know Chris, JJ's betrothed, very well yet, apart from a brief pizza-n-beer outing and some good chats on FB. (And he has joined the select group of People With Whose Families I Routinely Argue on FB, because I have impulse control issues.) But I can tell he is wonderful: because he makes JJ happy, sure, but more vitally because of his measured equanimity in the face of puzzling callousness from people he loves and who love him; and his refusal to be anything other than who he is - a good man, in love, with a steady job and convictions he will defend to the end -  which should clearly be enough for anyone, and is definitely just the right cocktail for JJ.

ANYWAY: To the shock of no one who has read past posts, this gift was late.....7 months late. I had been plotting a quilt for them for some time before that, but I could never get it quite right - some hyper-rainbow-y attempts were set aside midway through the process as being too dissimilar to the proud, out, but nevertheless only moderately flamboyant couple it was for.  It's not every gay activist who wants a rainbow-brite bedspread in his spare-room, surely.  (And why SHOULD it have to be a statement of identity - why can't they just be married in peace and have an ugly damn quilt made by an old friend for the fricking spare-room, already?)  What could I make for them that was a little closer to their taste in, say, clothes, furniture, paint color, and general aesthetic, but still acknowledge the momentous (and, sadly, still brave) decision to unite as a matter of public record?

And so this is where I ended up.

Not quite large enough for the king-size bed.  Sorry, that picture is kind of dark.

The front is a old traditional pattern (I do favor the traditionals for wedding quilts) sometimes called Trip Around the World.  It's done in scrappy grays, some from men's shirt material, many of which were included in the first quilt I ever made - which quilt, coincidentally, I hand-bound at JJ's first N'awlins house, sitting in the sunshine on his back porch, listening to him putter around cleaning up old bikes to sell, after a night of raucous, farty, whiskey-fueled games of Trains some number of Thanksgivings ago.  (Thanksgivings were kind of JJ's thing, collecting many "orphans" who didn't want to, or couldn't, go home for the holidays.  Though I had a perfectly delightful family to go home to and no one second guessing my sexual orientation, I did enjoy their Orphan Thanksgivings, because they were fun as hell, and also because the food was second in fabulousness only to the company.)

If you haven't played Trains before, I recommend it.

Anyway, somehow that particular fabric reappearing in JJ's wedding quilt feels fitting, a circle completed - but also, these gradations shade from light to dark and back again, an apt summation of marriage if ever there was one (from what I can tell, being a single girl and all.)  And, perhaps as importantly, they will hide either the black or the white hairs of their Dalmatian, Lucky....though hairs have a way of finding their most opposite-colored fabrics to land on, which a regularity that suggests an actual Law of Physics, I dunno.

Not actually Lucky, but still a menace to white AND black AND gray fabrics.  And purple, forget about it.

The back is a stretch of startling, shiny purple cotton sateen from the Stash of the Unknown Benefactress, which shade I have mentally dubbed "Prince Goes To Mardi Gras."  The binding is mostly a nice N'awlins green, with a tiny 3-leaf botanical print, that will stand as my fleur-de-lis analog, and a little bit of gold binding thrown in on one side to complete the trifecta of carnival colors (but not much gold because light colors don't wear very well on the edge of quilts, as I discovered to my great regret.)

Purple Rain Down on Bourbon Street
Purple for Justice, Green for Faith, and Gold for Power.

But Astrid, you may be saying, what part of this quilt *does* shout "#lovewins!" so that all can hear it?  Especially now, the week we have found out our new president elect is not someone who will bear the rainbow standard going forward, but fosters a divisiveness that puts my gay friends and family at risk from people wearing homophobia openly and proudly, emboldened by an environment of xenophobia and mistrust?

It's not a grand statement, per se, but it's here, in the quilting, where I used a multi-colored variegated thread called "Over the Rainbow."

You can't see it much here, but Judy Garland would be proud.

You can see a bit more of the colors here, from the back.

My sewing machine and my skills were really not cooperating so some of the sewing is just...well, it's what I would term "bad," if I were to be judging this quilt for show.  Many of the quilting intersections ended up getting tucked, which fortuitously created a sort of intentional-looking ruching in spots; and the stitch length varies wildly from "teeny weeny" to "yeah, that's not going to stay in."  But though some of these stitches may not hold, I figure of the thousands of loops that comprise all the stitching, *most* of it will keep the rest of it together.  And I fell back, of course, on my very favorite wine-glass/orange-peel pattern, because wine-glass pattern!  I love it so.

A bit o festive green to hint at the party in the back.

And here, in the label, the bowties that my gents wore on their wedding day (bow ties are *also* kind of JJ's thing, a legacy from his own preppified youth and, let's be honest, the 80s):

From before I attached it to the quilt....attempted font based on
the wedding invitation...bow ties based on my boys' finery!

And in a week where they have discovered that their very marriage could be under fire from the new regime - don't believe me? "Cultural Warrior" and Governor-cum-VP-Pence wanted to defund AIDS clinics for promoting a dangerous lifestyle, ferchrissakes - I have finally finished their quilt: bits of light and dark, like clouds passing over a midwestern field of snow, underlaid by the shiny escapist promise of a midwinter Mardi Gras parade (and a good pattern for a time when many of my friends are contemplating their own four-year Trip Around the World, or creating their own wine glass patterns with greater frequency....); and all stitched together by the power of a single, fragile rainbow thread that nevertheless, woven over and under a hundred, a thousand times, ten thousand times, ties together the shifting layers into a cohesive warmth, as welcoming as dinner party christmas lights; or a new home town where you have found a dream of happiness; or a husband's embrace at the end of a day of anxiety and frustration.

Beautiful photo by Michele Encar, used with kind permission. 

And though New Orleans is only a tiny anomaly in reddest Louisiana, and not free of homophobic assaults, I trust that their adoptive city may provide some safe harbor.....or, failing that, one hell of a party in our darkest days to come, akin to Paris during the occupation by Germany, where the wine and the resistance flowed freely (unless you were Jewish, of course).  Sign me up for *that* float, boys!

So a belated toast to you, JJ and Chris - I wish I could cocoon you in the safety you felt among the celebrants of your beautiful wedding, that lovely March night in NOLA when we all really believed It Would Get Better.  But in lieu of that, a humble gift of love and ally-ship: good for a spare room, or for farting under while eating cashew brittle (or Toffi-Fay) or for wrapping yourself in to play Trains on the back porch; and hopefully you know that in wanting to reflect your identities I do not mean to tie you to a stereotype, but honor who you are.  And in honor of what you've both gone through, and what others who are denied a family or a place at the Thanksgiving table might experience, I also made a wee donation in your name....love you guys, and keep the faith.  Numbers, history, and the inexorable tide of demographics and time is on our side.



Oh....and about those hyper-rainbow quilts that were started but rejected as wedding gifts for being too TOO colorful?....those will find a home in a Community Center like this one, too, if they will have it; or a hospice care, or wherever those colors can proclaim to someone, even if they don't see it happening every day, that #lovewins.  Because it must, and because I believe that it will; and because I can, in a small way, contribute something to make sure it does.

Dusting off some old rainbows.


Besos, always and always,

Astrid.