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  • Writer's pictureBetsy Grace

Friendship Star (Week 11)


Making


I finished all 26 Friendship Star Mini-quilt Ornaments. Why 26? Why not - that's just how many I made. They will soon be off to new homes.


The friendship star design is significant and I chose it for a reason. For more than 200 years, circles of quilters (mostly women) have been stitching this star into quilts made in secret, as a blessing for a friend who is moving through a big life transition - embarking on a journey, beginning a new marriage, or persisting through sickness or grief. When the quilt was finished, these blocks carried the name(s) - embroidered or signed - of the friends who dedicated their love and labor to the gift, becoming a soft, warm physical embodiment of the connectedness and love between people that inspired the quilt to come into being. The friendship star transforms a quilt into a blessing that the recipient can literally wrap around their bodies to keep themselves warm.


Although these little guys aren't big enough to keep anyone warm, I made them in the spirit of the friendship star tradition - and will gift them soon as a reminder of the threads that bind us, no matter where our journeys lead.




 

So - what to turn my quiltmaking energy to next? Though my cabinets are full of works in progress that I am dying to finish, I decided this week to start a new baby quilt project. A friend is expecting a baby in a few weeks, and I figure that if I get going on a quilt now, I can probably have it in their hands by the time the little one is starting to have tummy time.


To brainstorm, I busted out a bunch of orphan blocks from prior projects and played around with them on the design wall for awhile. I was tempted by the idea of doing an improvisational quilt - meaning, choosing a few of these elements and using patchwork, sashing, and blocks of fabric to tie them together into a quilt - but ultimately decided that taking one idea and building a new quilt design out of it felt most fun and exciting to me.



Here's my fabric pull (how it starts):


And a preview of where this is going:


 

Also, remember that visible mending I did on Justin's shirt sleeve last week? Well, the other sleeve on the same shirt busted a hole this week, so now he has matching custom-patched, gold-stitched elbow pads.




Writing


Priorities Sketch Journaling exercise: I'm experimenting with new ways to organize how I make decisions about my time, and this week came up with a new idea that I like so far. It starts with two lists:

  • Set tasks - such as household chores, yoga, weekly stuff, etc.

  • Commitments - everything else that is planned/on my calendar this week

Then, a question: which of my needs are already met? I came up with things like connectedness/friendship, physical health, etc. Then, I made a list of "hungry needs" - what am I craving? For me this week, this included things like making and reading. Last, I made one more list - this time, of the things I could do during my flex time this week. This week, my list included things like "finish mini-quilt ornaments" and "read a chapter or two of Inciting Joy" on this list. Then I prioritized it and commitment to myself to do 2-3 of these things. And I ended up doing 8!


I found myself referencing this a lot this week, it felt like a helpful home base to guide me in deciding what to do with my time, while prompting me to reflect on why I was making those decisions. It also helped me see the impact of the choices I made - which, for me - a person who is constantly dogged by the "Did I use my time well today?" question, gave me some peace.

 

"Most Influential Films of 2022" Project: I have finished up the A-Z list - now, all that's left is to grab data on the films that came out in December (I've been saving them for the end, so that each film has at least 4 weeks of accumulated data).


However, at this point, I am beginning to see some trends. One weird/new one emerging from our current cultural zeitgeist, apparently, is that there were 5 movies that came out last year that all pivoted on confusion about AirBNB bookings as a primary plot device. Two used the premise as a set up for romance (Love in the Villa, a Netflix rom-com starring Kat Graham aka Bonnie Bennett from The Vampire Diaries... and Alone Together, a COVID drama written, directed by, and starring Katie Holmes), one for hijinks (The Man from Toronto, a Kevin Hart action comedy), and two for terror (Barbarian obvs as arguably the best/most successful of the lot, as well as the lesser known Gone in the Night). More hot takes and the full list of most influential films of 2022 coming your way within a few weeks (hopefully!).


What WOULD happen if you found a stranger in your AirBNB? 2022 Hollywood has a few ideas.


Watching


Babylon (2022) - An outrageous 3-hour indulgence... Everyone is the most: Brad Pitt is the most charismatic, most gentlemanly, most movie star; Margot Robbie the most stunning, the most otherworldly, the most unhinged, the most hungry; Diego Calva the most reasonable, the most hard-working, the most earnest; Jean Smart the most jaded, the most realistic, the most beautiful eye makeup; Tobey Maguire the MOST creepy little weiner.


Everything is the most - the film begs for expletives. It has the most ideas about cinema and legacy and art and it just desperately wants to make the most interesting points. The most orgiastic parties, the most beautiful sunsets, the most stressful soundstages, the most beautiful cars and homes and fashions, the most body fluids, the most drugs, the most uninhibited sex, the most casual disregard for human life.


And that ending. What.


It's a fun experience. And it's hard for me not to admire such a committed, passionate, earnest swing - even though all that smacking sure makes a big mess.






 

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022) - Watch this one through the lens of UHF. Like its namesake, this movie is far sillier - in the most wonderful way - than it appears on the surface. The "real life" photo recap at the end made me laugh so hard. Casting Daniel Radcliffe was a masterstroke. What a treasure! He is completely committed to the bit with his super cut abs and rockstar/action movie hero delivery, but brings such an undeniable goofy sweetness to every moment. Because of him, you never forget for a moment what a doofy nerd Weird Al is... which makes the joke of this "biopic" so much funnier.




 

Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody (2022) - Whitney Houston was a complicated person who deserved a more nuanced biopic, to be sure, but as a person who completely ate up every moment of this film, I'm really not about to complain. Though Whitney's shoes must be very intimidating to step into, Naomi Ackie was wonderful... I learned a lot about her life that I didn't know and I felt so many things. Biopic goals: achieved.



 

Also on-screen at our place:




Reading


This week, Wislawa Szymborska's "Life While-You-Wait" keeps circling me. Here's a taste (listen to the full poem here):

If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance, or repeat a single Thursday that has passed! But here comes Friday with a script I haven’t seen. Is it fair, I ask (my voice a little hoarse, since I couldn’t even clear my throat offstage). You’d be wrong to think that it’s just a slapdash quiz taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no. I’m standing on the set and I see how strong it is. The props are surprisingly precise. The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer. The farthest galaxies have been turned on. Oh no, there’s no question, this must be the premiere. And whatever I do will become forever what I’ve done.
 

I finished the Stories from Your Life and Others collection by Ted Chiang. Altogether, a really strong collection - I really like his writing style, creative structural devices, and weird scifi ideas. The final story was "Liking What You See: A Documentary" - which explores the idea of how our culture might respond if there was a way to block the neural pathways in the brain that perceive physical beauty in other humans. It's an interesting idea, but honestly I was disappointed by what Chiang did with it. Initially published 20 years ago, its cis- and heteronormative, fem-objectifying lens obscured the more interesting points the story was trying to make. But it was kind of wild to see just how much our cultural norms have changed. I thought to myself many times while reading - "wow, that would just not fly today." And that's helpful, I guess. To see how we are changing, despite all the ways daily life reminds us of how far we have yet to grow.


Also


Justin and I went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art on Saturday. Here's "Pulse" by Tony Cragg (for scale, this piece is big - as tall as us):



Max Ernst (+ us):


"Alixa and Naima" by Swoon:


Our favorite part of the day, though, was the special exhibition of 15th century German prints. It's hard to fathom the technology used and craftsmanship required to make these extremely detailed artworks. Otherworldly and allegorical, nearly all religious, each one felt saturated with secret meanings. Here's Albrecht Durer:





Holy Time - You Make the Path by Walking


Slides from this week's experience--with words from Billy Collins, Wislawa Szymborska, Howard Thurman, Aldous Huxley, and Antonio Machado--are available here.


Holy Time is a weekly online gathering - Thursdays, 8:45pm CT on zoom (https://zoom.us/j/94849428936).

All are welcome.


Contact me at bgmatheson@gmail.com with questions or for more information.


Soundtrack


Justin and I went to The Electric Fetus last weekend and got a copy of employees' top 10 albums of 2022 lists (a treasure trove!) and I've been working through it. One gem I started listening to this week is Sharon Van Etten's most recent album, We've Been Going About This All Wrong, particularly "I'll Try"

 

What you are making and reading and writing and doing? What is inspiring you? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.


Love,


Betsy

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