Here's a photo I took in September of the whole-cloth quilt Randy had just started. This is the center medallion: you can see the pencil-marked design (the lower right side shows the grid has not yet been quilted). More photos to follow.
* * * * * Last night I dreamed I had a conversation with Anne Sexton. She wore a black turtleneck and looked fabulous, and her voice was somehow a cross between Judy Garland (slightly quavering, hopeful) and Lauren Bacall (husky survivor). I don't remember what she had to say.
* * * * * The other night I finished reading Send Me, a novel by Patrick Ryan: a thoroughly engaging book from start to finish. I highly recommend it. You can read a (tepid) review by David Thomson for the New York Review here (Thomson carps about how young-looking Ryan's jacket photo makes him appear, and compares him unfavorably--and endlessly--to Faulkner).
Not so happy with A Scarecrow's Bible(by Martin Hyatt): for starters, it's riddled with typos, one on nearly every page. I actually got out my red pen and started marking corrections, thinking I would just send the whole book back to Suspect Thoughts Press and recommend they hire a better proofreader. (It's a shame, really, because I love what they're doing for queer publishing--I just wish the books were better edited.) But I couldn't get interested in the story, and in the end it felt like proofing someone's endless creative thesis. I gave up. Free copy here to anyone who'll pay the postage.
--when I need it: walking to campus yesterday, I saw a white squirrel. It scampered unhurriedly across the lawn, onto a hemlock branch, and then up an oak. Not pure white, but rather a pale gray shading to white (darker at "the roots"). Almost thirty years ago, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, I was at a conference at Western Kentucky University. My second day there, I got up early for my walk, and saw two pure white squirrels among the boulders and trees. When I mentioned them, some folks from the university said the squirrels were campus legends (something about a genetics professor having accidentally released them years before).
* * * * * I need to photograph the mini quilt top I made over the weekend: a simple paper-pieced pattern, my first attempt at foundation piecing. I stuck it on the flannel wall upstairs on Sunday and forgot to take photos on Monday. When I happened to see it on the wall on Monday night, it was a pleasant surprise: there's nothing like walking away from a project for a while to gain a fresh perspective. It doesn't look half-bad.
Tonight, Randy completed his firstcommissioned quilt, a cute blue-and-yellow boy's quilt. I cut strips, joined them, folded and pressed them into binding fabric. Just got started putting it on. Hope to have it done by Saturday so we can take the finished quilt to Verna's in Mifflinburg. (Verna was showing off Randy's last quilt--a whole-cloth quilt--in November, when a woman in the store asked Randy if he'd quilt her blue-and-yellow one.) I'm very proud of him.
Quiet Saturday, unusually warm. I'm not through grading yet, but I'm taking at least half the day off: doing laundry, catching up with a few blogs (nice beard, Charlie!) . . .
Highlight of the afternoon: I'm going to try foundation piecing (paper piecing) a miniature quilt. I'm an idiot with technical instructions and can't easily visualize a two-dimensional decription into three dimensions, but I've read through the process (like, fifteen times over the past month) and I think I have it figured out. * * * * * Virgil Goode is a jackass. And Virginia scares me more than Texas.
--to all, as we turn into the winter months. I've been waking from difficult dreams, dreams of conflict and trauma: an administrative figure who challenges my teaching and threatens to fire me, a mall robbery somewhere in Asia (?) during which someone literally shoots my head off. I know this is all about transformation, one stage of which may involve the physical tearing apart of the body (at least symbolically). I lean into it, into this period of loss & adjustment, hoping it opens space for some kind of gain. * * * * *
Poignant visit with my parents in Cincinnati. The weather, peculiarly warm, allowed me the chance to prune Mom's roses (I planted a row of assorted roses along their driveway fence a few years ago and some have grown rather huge) and a wisteria on the back fence. Shopping with Mom at the fabric store (whee!) and Half Price Books (which I truly miss), and canasta games in the kitchen (I lost $26; we checked the score sheets and I haven't won a game since I think 2003). * * * * *
Randy got bad news while I was away: his sister died in Louisiana. It wasn't entirely unexpected, but that's hardly a comfort when such things come to pass. * * * * *
Back home: grading final portfolios and catching up with West Branch. This is the time to send me work, folks. Query me [ron dot mohring at gmail dot com] if you have any questions about that. * * * * *
Student conferences all week: folks are coming out of the woodwork to request last-gasp meetings to review a clutch of poems before turning them in on Monday in their final portfolios. Next semester I am going to require two conferences--one before midterm, one after--so that I see everyone face-to-face, but I'm also going to limit each conference to 25 minutes. (No, we can't look at everything today. Yes, we can schedule another short meeting.)
Maybe I need to re-think the whole notion of a final portfolio, and instead grade revisions as we move through the semester. But I love the portfolio, the chance for students to polish and present the best of what they've written, and the self-assessment (which I used to have them write three times--week one, midterm, and again at the end). I always have visions of the students collaborating on a chapbook-type anthology, but I've never taken the leap to implement this project. Maybe this next semester is my chance to really push the envelope and take even more risks with my teaching.
* * * * *
I deleted some recent posts. I hated taking them down, but academia is not, alas, the land of the free (speech).