A Crafter's Life, Bags Bags Bags

That darn grief, the Etsy shop saga, and a little grace

Over the past couple of months on Instagram, I’ve been posting images of the project bags/drawstring bags I’ve been making in preparation for holiday season sales on my Textiles & Smiles (textilesandsmiles) Etsy shop.

Here are some of the cuties I’ve made:

And I had a lot more planned…

The bags are super cute in person and they have interfacing throughout the bag so they have a good heft and stand up on their own, I love them so much and I was excited to offer them on my shop (I sold out of the batch I made last year for the shop).

But, alas, that darn grief has taken ahold of me this holiday season/pending Winter again and as I approach the 4th anniversary of the passing of my life partner for 30+ years, Terry the Quilting Husband.

And I am not up to fulfilling orders this holiday season so I am putting my Etsy shop on hold for now.

This widow thing is a curious journey, you never know when you will suddenly be gutted with grief…

Thanks to everyone who has supported my Textiles & Smiles Etsy shop since I reopened it last November. Also thanks to those who were enthusiastic about the Project Bags (the photo below = a bedroom closet with some of the completed bags I was going to sell) I’ve been posting on IG that I was getting ready to offer on my Etsy shop this holiday season.

I was taking forever, and it did not make sense, to get the photos of the items and the listings up on Etsy. I finally figured out was was paralyzed with grief and could not bear fulfilling orders, etc. I had a recent sale on Etsy of the spools that John had made (see post Handmade Spools) and it was pretty excruciating to get that order completed.

Who knows why last year during the holiday season I could offer stuff on my shop and fulfill orders but this year I cannot. Grief is a mysterious weird thing.

I think of a wonderful card my friend Wendy sent me awhile back with with a reminder to “give yourself grace”:

I keep this card along with a matching candle I found while thrifting right before the card arrived (!) on my bookshelf to always remind me that sometimes I need to just take a breather…

So giving myself some grace, I’ve put my Etsy shop on hold for now and I am going to work on what is calling my heart – working with recycled materials and creating a new body of work of my art quilts.

And what will become of the existing project bags? I will put the completed ones away for now and then decide whether to just finish up the ones in progress or put them away also…

A Crafter's Life

Closer to Fine

I will eventually return to posts on my recent trip to Ireland (either by me or by the tierneycreates Beastie…smile) but I thought I would share a recent musing in this post.

When I travel by airplane I like to listen to music when the plane is taking off (it calms me) and I usually listen to Pandora which has on offline option (when no WiFi available or device in “Airplane Mode”) which plays downloaded stations.

Well on a recent flight as the plane was taking off, the song “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls came on…

At first I gasped as I’ve been trying to avoid for the past nearly 4 years all songs and performers that my late husband Terry and I listened together, especially if they were his beloved groups such as the Indigo Girls.

Terry passed suddenly and unexpectedly in December 2018 (I am approaching the the anniversary of his loss) and he LOVED singer-songwriter music. Our favorite bands (that we enjoyed together as we also had music that we enjoyed separately) included the Indigo Girls, Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, Gov’t Mule, Ben Harper, Joan Osborne, David Gray, and other music similar to those artists. We’ve seen also those artists in concert (some many many times) but the group we’ve seen in concert the most times was the Indigo Girls.

The Indigo Girls were Terry’s favorite singer-songwriter group and he knew the words to most their most popular songs including “Closer to Fine”. We’d go to their concert and he’d sing along (quietly) to most of their songs. But the song he really loved, knew absolutely every word and would sing at the top of his lungs along with the other audience members was “Closer to Fine”.

Over the years I guess the Indigo Girls made “Closer to Fine” a “sing-a-long song” with full audience participation expected. And Terry would always sing along at their concerts (which we attended at least yearly). One of my favorite Indigo Concert memories is when they had a concert in one of Bend’s neighborhoods – NorthWest Crossing. I guess they story is they were visiting friends who lived in the area and decided to just have small concert at the neighborhood monthly festival! Not a lot of people knew about it and it was a small audience crammed into a little neighborhood space watching the Indigo Girls play with a smaller version of their band. Sort of one of those once in a lifetime experiences! So glad I got to experience that with Terry.

Before I go further, let me share a video of the album version of the song if you’ve never heard it before:

And here are the lyrics to Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls (courtesy of Google):

I’m trying to tell you something ’bout my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It’s only life after all, yeah

Well, darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
And I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
I’m crawling on your shores

And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains

There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine, yeah
Closer I am to fine, yeah

And I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a B-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
Got my paper and I was free

And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains

There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine, yeah
Closer I am to fine, yeah

I stopped by the bar at 3 A.M.
To seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
And I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as I’d been the night before
And I went in seeking clarity

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
We go to the doctor, we go to the mountains
We look to the children, we drink from the fountain
Yeah, we go to the Bible, we go through the workout
We read up on revival, we stand up for the lookout

There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine
Closer I am to fine

Closer I am to fine, yeah

And if you are curious, here is what the concert sing-a-long version of the song is like:

I get chills (and tears) when I hear the audience sing acapella: “we stand up for the lookout” and then sing loudly with the Indigo Girls the last couple lines of the song together.

I can still hear Terry singing along with the audience the last three lines:

Closer I am to fine
Closer I am to fine
Closer I am to fine, yeah

At first listening to this song again, I was overwhelmed with sadness and despair (over what was lost – a lifetime with my music/concert buddy and amazing life partner/best friend) but then I turned it around in my mind and realized that over the nearly past 4 years I’ve gotten myself:

CLOSER TO FINE

I’ll never be fully “fine” and I accept that. I will always be a widow who lost the love of their life (even if I am so blessed to have my wonderful partner John in my life, who is a widower and deeply understands my journey and the heartbreak I carry around) but I am at so much better a place than I was a couple years ago.

And better than I was last year.

I get a little more “closer to fine” as the years progress.

If any of you are on the same journey as me (dealing with a life changing loss) I hope you getting a little “closer to fine” everyday even if you gain only millimeter of distance each day.

Thank you Amy Ray and Emily Saliers for your amazing song and lyrics…

Indigo Girls, image credit The San Diego Union-Tribune

 


Postscript

I think one of the things people do not realize about widows and widowers, is that they did not just lose the person they (likely) loved most in this world. They also lost their entire life with that person – all the history they shared, things only they knew, the memories and experiences they shared, and most of all (in many cases) their deep bond and friendship. You lose the person you shared your deepest secrets, your partner in life. For many (like happened to. me), they also lose their identity and have to create a new one. 

As my grief counselor said: “You have to now go out and create new experiences and memories on your own” (and yes that is unbelievably difficult to do)

Thank goodness I had a wonderful grief support group and continue to know and interact with amazing people who are on my same journey and understand the depth of the loss. I am also thankful to those who do not understand the experience of the loss but are kind, patient and supportive with me on my journey.

If you know someone who is grieving such a loss, please be patient and kind to them – their loss is more than you can imagine.

A Crafter's Life

Remember Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH)

Today would have been the 61st birthday of Terry the Quilting Husband (1960 – 2018), and I want to celebrate him on his birthday with this post.

In 2019 I began doing a remembrance post on this birthday but it was not until earlier this year, after a discussion with a friend who had lost her sibling, that I made the decision not to officially celebrate his life any longer on the date of his passing but instead on the date he came into this world.

His life was more than his sudden death at 58, he had 58 years of life, and over 30 of those with me before he left this earth and moved onto his next plane of existence.

I do not want you to be sorry for my loss, I just want you to celebrate with me this awesome man who I grew up with and became who I am as a person with during the 30+ years we were together.

Here is an excerpt from his obituary (writing his obituary was one of the most difficult things I had to do in my life – how do you summarize the life of the person who was your integral to life for 30+ years?):

Terry was a quiet and gentle soul who always treated people with respect and great kindness; a very patient person; and a loyal friend. He was an awesome husband, best friend and life-partner to his wife and made marriage a rewarding union. He was brilliant on many topics such as Military History and Military Strategy, his favorite hobbies. Terry was also a quilter and his quilts were part of the “Man Made” exhibit at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. In addition to sharing a love of quilts, he also shared with his wife a passion for dogs, and adopted numerous rescue dogs throughout his life.

Terry was a “Quilting Husband” and a “Crafting Husband” here is a photo below of him helping me on a crafting project (making the covered rope for fabric baskets that I would eventual give to his sisters and keep one for myself after his passing – see post The Last Baskets)

To my blogging friends who’ve been with me for a while – thanks for all your support and encouragement over the past couple of years as I’ve navigated my new reality of widowhood and dealing with a level of grief I did not know existed prior (and it is a terrible hobby, I do not recommend it!).

Here are the links to some posts on Terry’s creativity during his years as “TTQH”, if you’d like to take a trip down memory lane:

Update: Terry the Quilting Husband

Terry the Quilting Husband – Update

Terry the Quilting Husband Update

Terry the Quilting Husband Hard at Work

He was an amazing life partner, best friend and partner in crafting/quilting. He always believed in me and encouraged me in everything I did (or tried to do). Now that I am gaining distance from the day that he passed, I can focus more on just how lucky I was to have him in my life for so long.

I like to think that he and Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer (who passed in 2017), his amazing Mom (who passed in 2017), my Father (who loved him), and all our other rescued Miniature Schnauzers (Fritz, Snickers and Kerie), his Father, as well as his Grandfather that he loved so much, are all hanging out in the afterlife together or that their souls have all been reincarnated and they meet again somehow in their next life.

I know that I will carry TTQH always in my heart and he lives on in my memories.


Postscript

I wanted to follow up on my “oversharing” post My Etsy Shop is Now Reopened – tierneycreates is now TextilesandSmiles from Saturday. A friend reached out via email after that post and shared an AMAZING story of how she had to reinvent herself and her life after a major life change. It was one of those emails that you hold on to the rest of your life and refer to as needed.

One of the profound things she shared/reminded me of is that when the titles that we assign ourselves (“wife”, “employee of _____”, “owner of ____”, etc.) change this does not alter the CORE of who we are. We are still that CORE and it does not change by the loss of any “title”. It helped remind me that I am more than those “titles” and although I may need to reinvent myself into new titles because of life losses or changes, I am not losing my CORE. Positive Words Inspiration: At your core is a Wh Positive Quotes Inspiration


Feature Photo is TTQH along with Sassy and Mike “field testing” a quilt Terry just completed –

A Crafter's Life

The Last Baskets

I mentioned in my previous post What’s On the Design Wall: Sasquatch Quilt Top Completed, that I needed to work on something “emotional”. I’ve completed my “emotional” project and here is a post about it.

My late husband Terry (aka “Terry the Quilting Husband) was a quilter and a crafter. He also helped me on numerous projects such as making binding for my quilts, cutting fabrics, making hexagon templates for my English Paper Piecing projects; and being an all around “sous chef” for my quilting/crafting endeavors.

One of the projects he worked on prior to his passing in December 2018 was covering clothesline with batik jelly roll strips (40 – 2.5″ x 42″ strips) to make Bali Boxes (actually “bowls” as I do not make the boxes) from the pattern by Aunties Two:

Here he is sewing the continuous strip (entire jelly roll sewn end to end) of batik strips on to the clothing line (see old posts “Throwing Pottery” on the Sewing Machine, Prepping to Make Fabric Bowls , and Prepping to Make Fabric Bowls, Continued for more on the process):

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As a result of his efforts I had a roll of batik covered clothing line rope, but we got busy on other projects and I put it away:

Over the past nearly 2.5 years since his passing, I’ve slowly worked on completing projects he began and did not finish; or projects he helped me with and we did not finish. An example of one of these projects was a quilt for his eldest brother Andy (he came from a family with 7 kids and I sent one of his completed quilts to most of his siblings when Terry passed, except I did not have a completed quilt for Andy) that I discussed in the post – The Last Quilt.

(Trying to write this post without breaking into tears, but I want to share this experience with you as perhaps there is someone out there that wants to find the strength to complete projects started by a loved one who passed…)

So continuing my journey to complete anything he started before he passed, I realized it was time to make something with the clothesline he covered in batik strips. I decided to make two baskets: one for his sisters Diane and Susan, and one for me.

Here are images from my recent creation of these baskets – I like to call the process “throwing pottery on the sewing machine”:

Here is the basket for Terry’s sisters fresh off the sewing machine and then an image of the binding for the top being put on:

Here is the completed basket and the view of the bottom of the basket:

You might wonder what is peeking out of the top of the completed basket. Well I decided that my era of making baskets was done for now and I put together a kit for Terry’s sisters to make their own baskets to include: 1) a batik jelly roll; 2) the pattern; and 3) several packages of clothesline rope:

Here is the second basket which I made for myself with the remaining batik strip covered clothesline. It came out bigger than I anticipated and I am using it to store batik scraps:

Last week I shipped the basket to Terry’s sisters in New York and they have received the package.

Along with the basket and basket making kit I included a printed photo of Terry working on covering the clothesline for the basket.


As I did in the quilt I sent to Terry’s brother Andy (The Last Quilt) I said that the gift was from Terry and me – from this life and the next

Shows and Exhibits, WCQN

“Giant Among the Sequoias” Returns Home

A couple days ago my art quilt Giant Among the Sequoias (2018) arrived in the mail. It was touring in an exhibit: “Yours for Race and Country: Reflections on the Life of Colonel Charles Young”, curated by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, head of the Women of Color Quilting Network (WCQN).

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Giant Among the Sequoias (2018) by Tierney Davis Hogan

You can read about this quilt in these two posts:

Secret Quilt Revealed, Part I

Secret Quilt Revealed, Part II: Yours for Race and Country

 The quilt is included in the book for exhibition:

2020-06-20_17-05-04_0422020-06-20_17-05-23_703It was bittersweet having this quilt returned to me.

This quilt was the last “art quilt” I created before my husband Terry (Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH)) suddenly died in December 2018. I remember having the quilt up in the design wall in the hallway in my former home in Central Oregon and soliciting his feedback as the quilt organically evolved.

I’ve continued quilting and making little craft projects since he died, but for the past year and a half I’ve lost my art quilt muse. I can make improvisational quilts like Seattle Scrappy (see post Seattle Scrappy (What’s on the Design Wall)) but I’ve struggled with wanting to create storied/pictorial quilt like Giant Among the SequoiasI even passed up an amazing invitational only opportunity in the spring of 2019 which would have led to my first quilt showing at the Houston International Quilt Show.

I am so happy I had all the quilts already made when I had my first solo show at the Seattle Municipal Center in April 2019 (see post Solo Show Seattle Municipal Tower (re-post)) as I could not have made new art quilt pieces for that show.

I did not attend the opening for the exhibit “Yours for Race and Country: Reflections on the Life of Colonel Charles Young” which opened March 16, 2019 in Wilberforce, Ohio. I had planned to attend it before Terry died and my sweet brother wanted me to meet him in Ohio and attend the show with me.

I just was not up to it and in retrospect I regret not attending the show and also missing on an opportunity to spend time with my wonderful brother Raoul.

Alas grief is a strange beast and now a year and a half into widowhood I have learned to tame that beast a bit, or at least live somewhat peacefully with it.

One day I did stumble upon, during my googling about the show, a nice comment by Dr. Mazloomi the curator on this website Dayton.com –  Military luminary Col. Charles Young subject of show at the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center:

The narrative quilts are a history lesson captured in fabric.

“Giant Among the Sequoias,” a quilt created by Oregon artist Tierney Davis Hogan, is a re-creation of a forest scene made from recycled batik fabric scraps. In the center, an image of Young is stitched into the largest tree, keeping watch over the park.

“I love that because it’s quite a twist,” Mazloomi said. “It’s not necessarily a narrative quilt but it is a modern quilt in geometric form and it goes on to tell a story about his work in Sequoia Park.”

I am so honored!

My muse has slowly returned and I am going to create a storied/pictorial art quilt for an important show, which I hope to  get juried into. Even if my piece is not accepted, it will be my next piece (I only have one so far) in my series Stories My Father Told Me (see series of posts Stories My Father Told Me).

I did hang up the quilt in the hallway headed downstairs to the daylight basement as there is other wall art related to national parks and the outdoors in that area.

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