"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Rant About Male Quilters and the Women Who Adore Them

I am just about ready to embark on a frequently unfair, mean spirited rant. The subject of the rant is MALE QUILTERS and the women who adore them.

Here is the substance of my rant:  Let me set the stage:  You have two magnificent quilters, a man and a woman, sitting side by side, each doing good deeds, having sweet thoughts, and creating fabulous quilty works of art.  Just then, someone who writes for a magazine or, god forbid, has a microphone goes by and they will experience a shiver run up their leg at the sight of the quilter with the p*nis.

Yes, I just wrote that. I sure did.

If you’re a quilter with a “Y” chromosome, many people drop everything and think you are god’s gift to quilting.  Actually, it is almost entirely the WOMEN who do this since most men tend to avoid male quilters like the plague unless they are directly related to them or the quilter owes them money.

I used to see a similar phenomenon back in the day when I was a checker at a local grocery store. A women comes in to buy ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner, loaded down with three toddlers, a baby in arms and a bun in the oven and no one thinks anything of it (not even that she sure has a whole lot of kids). 

In waltzes a man picking up cigarettes and beer.  He has with him a five year old sporting a Mohawk, a pierced eyebrow, a tattoo of a dragon and green, glittery fingernail polish.  You’d think he is the world’s greatest dad by virtue of not having a woman with him to take care of the child while he shops.  If the female shoppers and checkers find out that he actually had custody of the little tyke (and the ladies will swarm on him and ask), they want him to father their next child and/or be his s*x slave. Even the grandmas. Hell, especially the grandmas.

“It’s just so hard for a man to raise a child, alone,” female (never male) shoppers would whisper to me, gazing admiringly after the man she just allowed to cut ahead of her in line.

What I would be thinking (but wouldn’t say) is that the father probably has two sisters, his mother, both his grandmothers and various girlfriends begging to help and more than willing to make sure he had hot meals, clean clothes and “a break” from time to time because, "It is just so hard to be a single dad."

Mothers? More like:

“She is so lazy!  Did you know she feeds them Happy Meals twice a week?”

“Why should I babysit her kids just so she can go out and have fun? She has to grow up, sometime.”

“What kind of mother doesn’t pre-sort her laundry?  Her kids look like she has been washing their clothes in red dye.”

Yes, yes, I know I am advancing a stereotype. And things have gotten better. But it wasn’t too far off when my kids were little.  And just to set the record straight, I adore men.   My husband is male.  He is so male he even thinks WOMEN quilters are weird. 

Men are certainly in the minority when it comes to quilting so they stand out. But I don't think it is just a question of noticing or encouraging the ones who are different. If it was, I could walk into an auto parts store and be mobbed. But no. If I walk in to an auto parts store I am generally ignored. I mean, I usually can’t even get someone to help me find something.  None of that rushing me at the door and fawning over me when they discover I am there for a muffler. And they didn’t even do this when I was young and skinny.  And it isn't as if they ignore everyone.  Men huddle together, clerk and customer, talking about oil and lug wrenches. 


Contrast that with a man who stops into a fabric store to pick up a needle. If it is for himself, he gets applause, a few ladies might swoon and perhaps someone will slip him her phone number (not that it is likely to do her any good).  If he is buying a needle for his wife, he is treated like the Son of David (I threw that analogy in there because the holy days are rapidly approaching and some of us might need to get a blasted card in the mail - I'm just saying).

I honestly think it has less to do with that the male quilter is different than the majority of quilters. I think it has more to do with the fact that the majority of quilters are women and that is something some women seem to like to do. I don’t get it, frankly. I simply don’t understand, and may never understand, why so many women dote on male quilters. 

So often, if a woman makes a gorgeous quilt, the quilt is the story.  But if a MAN makes a gorgeous quilt, he isn’t “just” a quilter, he is an "artiste." And the story isn’t about the quilt; it is about the person who quilted it. So a female quilter may be “just such a nice, down to earth person and she just makes such pretty quilts.” But a male quilter, if he made the exact same quilt, is “Utterly BRILLIANT!! BRILLIANT, I tell you!”

Get his autograph. Write him a check. Put photos of his quilts and his “studio” (not a lowly sewing room) in the glossy pages of a magazine. Invite him to speak at your guild. Blah, blah, blah.  If I have read an article about male quilters once, I've read such articles fifty times.  Ho hum.  Men have been "tailors" forever.  They upholster things.  We get all excited about men who quilt, usually, because they take the lowly quilt and repackage it as art. 

As if women aren't doing the same thing...

I don’t think women are better quilters than men. I don’t think men are better quilters than women. But I DO think some women treat male quilters as if they are extra special and more talented.  And that sells magazines and workshops.

Rant over.  Hope I didn't offend too many folks for, at the end of the day, something that isn't all that important.    Oh, and just to clarify before we move on... Mark Lipinski...  Quilters know who he is.  Some people love him, some can't stand him.  As for me, I think he is a hoot and he is packaging something no one else is, or no one else is doing as well.  So I don't mean him when I am ranting about male quilters.  Just so we're clear. 

But now, let's discuss something that IS important.

I hate binding. I have mentioned this. So on a regular basis, I get to the last lap of the quilt race and slow to a crawl. I even did this with Jezebel’s Quilt, the one I made while I was actively grieving our loss.

In the back of my mind, I thought that Jezebel’s Quilt might be good enough to put in a show. So because of that, I wanted to hand bind it. The individual blocks turned out really well.

Today, however, I took a long, hard non emotional look at it and had to admit the truth.

This is not a show quilt.

Why isn’t it a show quilt? Two reason, mainly. First, the quilting is not what it ought to be. I was just learning to use the longarm and I ended up with some dots on the back that don’t look good. A lot of dots.
Plus, the quilting, overall, is uninspired except for the dog paw prints which, in my humble opinion, ought to win “best in show” all by themselves!
Second, I really don’t like the sashing. Standing alone, the sashing fabric I used was terrific. Unfortunately, when put with the other fabrics, I don’t think it fits. It is washed out looking.  I wish I'd used something else.
So I decided to go ahead and machine bind it and put it to use. The notion is to stitch the binding to the front, the way you would normally. After that, fold it to the back and pin it so that it barely overlaps the stitch from the front seam. Here are a few pictures of it all pinned up like it is getting acupuncture.
Next, using the walking foot, you stitch in the ditch from the front and if it is working right, the front seam is hidden and just catches the far edge of the binding on the back.
Finally, go back and butcher the mitered corners. It is not pretty but, done carefully, it is “good enough.”

Yikes, that looks bad.

So I finally finished up Jezebel’s Quilt, today, and feel really good about it. While I was out taking pictures of it in the sunlight, I also took a few of the trees in the yard, just to be able to remember our first spring back home.
Even the Henbit looks nice.
And here are the girls:
Pearl loves Krazy Koon.  Evelyn knows this.  That is why she is laying on him so Pearl can't get him.
Evelyn's version of a coonskin cap.  It reminds me of the recently departed Fess Parker.
Evelyn is out of control.

Happy Quilting,

Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

Friday, March 26, 2010

I May be a Secret Catholic

It has been a busy week with a few milestones. We closed on our old house in Virginia on Wednesday, cutting our ties with the Old Dominion other than friendships. It is bitter sweet. We are certainly happy to be out from under those mortgage and utility bills, but loved the house and were happy there. As husband said, last night, if we were going back, he’d want to live in the exact same house in the exact same neighborhood. I agree.

We finished preparing our 2009 tax returns.

We also made arrangements to have the barn sided. We hate covering up the wood but not enough to have to repaint it on a regular basis. Moreover, all the trim is rotting and needs to be replaced. We’ll be going with barn red, a color that is very close to the current color, with white trim. Here is a barn owned by the company that is going to put on the siding where they used the same color siding:
Their barn looks a lot like ours:
The closing was a nail biter.

I sometimes hate lawyers. We were doing this long distance so particularly at their mercy. And some don’t have any. They promised to get the paperwork to us, in advance and assured us it would consist of about two pages that wouldn’t need to be notarized (we’d already executed and notarized a number of documents, last week). The buyers had been pre-approved and there were no red flags that suggested there would be any problems. The closing was scheduled for Wednesday at 2:00. Husband had an extremely important meeting at that time but since the paperwork was supposed to have been done well in advance, we weren’t worried about it.  We know closings often don't go smoothly but both buyer and seller came to the table, more than ready to go. 

Tuesday came and went with no papers.  All Wednesday morning, no paperwork. No explanation.  Which is inexcusable, right?

At 1:45 on Wednesday, the lawyers call to tell us the paperwork is on the way. It is six documents and some need to be notarized. Are you fricking kidding me? We don’t have a notary here waiting around on them (and I’d told them that, several times).

Grrr. The buyers are waiting around and have just driven five days, cross country. Their moving van is in the driveway and they had to have been more stressed and tired than we were. So while I didn’t mind the lawyers having to wait while we tracked down a notary, I felt bad for the buyers.

The paperwork arrives at the same time that husband’s meeting is starting (it was with his CEO). He has to bow out and hope there won't be ramifications. The paperwork is messed up so they have to redo and resend some of it. Once they got that right, we rush out to have it notarized and fax it back.

They are supposed to call when everything was done but they blow that off. 

I knew things had been done because neighbors saw the new owners moving in and let me know. Husband called the lawyers Thursday morning to confirm that it had gone as scheduled.  It is a good thing he did because they were preparing to mail our check to the old address. HELLO???? Criminy, we had to notarize specific documents related to our new address in a different state and I had specifically called and corrected our address, two weeks ago. ALL the paperwork has our Oklahoma address. We had to execute and notarize documents because we live out of state. Frankly, if there is ANYTHING they should know, it is that we don’t LIVE at the house we just SOLD!!!! Grr…

So while all that was going on, my youngest daughter was having her third wedding anniversary. And the card that I’d planned to send was sitting in my desk. And I didn’t even think to call her. I am such a horrible mother.

Thursday morning, I went to the quilting guild meeting and surreptitiously checked my e-mail when my iphone vibrated. I didn’t want to be too obvious because a lot of these ladies aren’t computer savvy and I didn’t want to come across as rude or snooty. So I get a text message from younger daughter telling me that she and her husband had gone out to dinner to celebrate their wedding anniversary the night before, and she just wanted to thank Husband and me for helping make that such a lovely wedding day.

Okay, just twist the knife, child. I am sure the blood drained right out of my face as I sat there, surrounded by lovely elderly ladies who I am sure were much, MUCH better mothers and grandmothers than I will ever be. I went clammy. My brain momentarily shut down and all I could see was white light. I may have had a small seizure. I may have actually died. For all I know, I had a minor heart attack and had an out of body experience.

So I sent daughter a quick e-mail expressing horror and promising to send a check or something. I suddenly understand why there used to be such corruption in the Catholic church so many centuries ago at the time of the reformation when people were buying papal dispensations. Suddenly, that didn’t sound so crazy. I slipped out of the guild meeting and called her at work. She was in a meeting. So they claimed.  I confessed my sins to the receptionist who sounded confused as to why I was doing that.

When I got home, I immediately grabbed her card and remembered that I had also bought a second one to wish Husband a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. And I didn’t give it to him, either. So I rushed into his office and shoved it at him.

“What is this?” he asks, looking at the romantic card – if a card with a shamrock on it can pull that off.

“Just read it,” sez I, “I forgot to give it to you.”

“Who is it from?” he asks.


“From ME!”

“It isn’t signed,” he says, looking confused. Then, at my level look, “Thank you. It is very nice.”

“You’re welcome, “ I say, snatching it back. “I will give it to you next year.”

“Will it be signed?”

“YES!,” I say as I head to my office, “Act surprised!”

No worries, he’ll forget all about it by then. I probably will, too.  I have about fifty cards bought out of love but never sent. My best friend suggested I start buying more generic cards that are blank inside so I can wing it, easier. She also kindly suggested a computer reminder so I wouldn’t forget. She didn’t mention that I hadn’t sent her a card on her birthday in several years.  I came THIS CLOSE to signing the St. Patrick's Day card to have one less thing to do, next year, but decided I might have to use it in an emergency for someone else. 

She and I went to the Medieval Fair, today and had a great time. We spent the afternoon oohing and awing over the cool clothes:

Great costumes:

I adore dragons.
If I ever got a tatoo, it would be of a dragon. 
I'm not getting a tattoo.


Exhibits (this is a model of a viking ship):
Exotic animals:

And we people watched.
I have to get myself a dragon. I think I would like to make a dragon art quilt.
Girlfriend gave me a lovely wooden box for my birthday. She didn’t buy it at the Medieval Fair. She bought it in advance because she remembered that my birthday is week after next.

It has been a week of guilt.

Happy Quilting,

Penny, Evelyn and Pearl