Monday, December 25, 2006

Neither Scrooge nor Grinch but ...

I'm one of those people who don't "do" Christmas. In fact, I really don't "do" holidays at all. No, they're not humbug to me and I recognize them as they affect the people around me. I just don't recognize holidays as weightier than days. As I wrote a couple days ago, I like Christmas greetings and I do get gifts for those I care about and I'm happy to receive gifts. Many holidays must be recognized for their meaning in the recurring cycles of our lives.

But the hype! Horrors. The hype has infected almost every corner of the world now that "we are all connected" an ad crows. I've been surfing blogs; I love the link on Dara Musing to a monk in UlanBaator, Mongolia. He recently posted pictures of the artificial Christmas trees for sale there -- in every plastic color imaginable. At least this country which has only scant forest along it's northern edges, does not use real trees. No, they import artificial ones from China and decorate them with plastic tinsel and garlands in other neon colors. Yes, there are some Mongolia Christians for whom Christmas is a meaningful event but for most it is a fun imitation of western ways ... something on which to spend money many may not have to spare. If the trappings of Christmas have spread to Mongolia, where haven't they reached?

I did not stop "doing" Christmas for political/ethical reasons. It evolved in steps. Autobiography would need a long essay that's not appropriate here and now, and probably too boring to ever bother writing. So, how am I spending the day? Quietly. At the moment WQXR, the classical music radio station, is playing one of my favorite Schubert piano sonatas. I've cleaned off my desk - sort of, I've made piles of to-dos and shifted my purse diary to the 2007 refill, noting must-dos from the old one. And I'm continuing work on the Laurel Burch cat quilt for Leslie.

This is the center of the quilt which is growing outward medallion fashion although it's not a medallion quilt. I call it ad lib quilting because I didn't know what I was going to do when I sat down with the two pieces of fabric, one with light background, the other with black background but otherwise the same. I saw that the repeat is really a 5x10 section with just six cats. So then what? Something to break up the feeling of too many cats. I needed solid or reads-as solid colors. The cats have lots of wonderful colors, so which ones did I have in my stash -- which is about 90% prints? As the picture shows, I found very dark green, red, turquoise and peach. If I weren't ad libbing, I doubt I'd have chosen these, but they satisfy me,

At first I thought I'd do the easy thing, just use strips but I've done a lot of what I think of as "window frame" quilts and worked out an easy and quick technique. I like the dynamic of four corners coming together and the way the implied diagonals move the eye across the quilt. It may add about a third more time to the sewing but it's worth it. So far I've done 25 blocks and have another ten I will add today. I think I will want to add another seven but I don't know that until it's together and I've looked at it on my bed.

Yes, I know lots [most ?] quilters know what they're doing before they start, at least know the number of blocks to make to get the size they want. I could do the math -- really, I like math, I'm good at math -- but I like the ad lib method. I'm thinking about the borders the quilt will have. I have an out-of-focus mental picture of the finished quilt but I anticipate the surprise and fun of discovering "what have I wrought" only when the binding is finally on. So that's what I'm doing this Christmas day ... oh, I'm fixing a somewhat more special than usual dinner. Let's just say the dessert is cheesecake and what comes before also delights the taste buds. I'm having a lovely day. And the radio has just begun playing Nutcracker music.

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