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We’ve been engaged in a long-term, spring-summer cleaning project around Casa Cunningham.  My guiding principle has long been, “If it’s not useful or doesn’t make you happy to see it, get rid of it,” and it seems the Mr. is coming around to that point of view as well.  As he’s been revising his office floorplan, I’ve talked to him about getting rid of our big multidrawer CD case, or at least the CDs themselves, since neither of us use our CDs anymore; everything’s been converted to mp3s and lives in iTunes (for me) or Google Music (for him).  

Years ago, I got rid of all my jewel cases and put all my CDs in 2 large binders, but of course over the years I have collected a bunch more CDs from friends, and at shows, and sometimes bought through traditional vendors when there was a good reason to have a CD over just buying the mp3 albums.  Scott was loath to get rid of his CDs because iTunes occasionally sends out a clunker of an update, tanking everything.  Hard drives die and computers croak, and the idea of losing thirty-some years of music because we didn’t keep the disks didn’t sit well with him.  And I thought it was a valid point; after all, I hadn’t chucked my binders, either.

But we did agree that we could save a lot of room and perhaps use some of those CD drawers for other storage, if we got rid of all our jewel cases and switched to those paper CD envelopes:  red for me, and white for him.  Because while our lives are fully merged after 22 years of marriage, and our music collections can reside peacefully side by side, if I DO have to go looking for something, I don’t want to have to wade through every one of his Dave Matthews and REM CDs to find my stuff, and he doesn’t want to go through my endless James Taylor and George Harrison CDs to find his.  Color coding seemed the sensible answer.

So Sunday afternoon, I took 4 drawers of my newer CDs and transferred them to sleeves, and when all was said and done and alphabetized, they didn’t completely fill even a single drawer.  So the space-saving plan was a success.  Which I fully expected, because it was my plan.

What I didn’t expect is what I found as I pulled CDs and booklets out of jewel cases and slid them into envelopes.  I found that I missed the booklets.  I used to read all the lyrics and every liner note, and the PDF booklets you get with some albums are just not the same; at least, to me, they don’t lend themselves to that kind of old school music geekery.

And I didn’t expect to find, inside a Jason Mraz CD, this:

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I remember seeing the note when he first sent it to me, but I had forgotten it existed, and that I’d left it in situ and tucked the CD away.  

My breath caught in my throat and my eyes filled with tears, but I was grateful. Grateful for this unexpected gift, the discovery of a forgotten relic, in this of all weeks.  It’s hard for me to comprehend, to even say it, but he’s been gone 10 years today.  10 years.  We celebrate things that last 10 years–marriages, friendships, businesses, jobs–as a long time, but I don’t know how it can be true, how it went so fast.  It seems like a million years ago and yesterday at the same time.  Probably always will.  I think that’s how it is, with these things we get through, but never get over.

What has surprised me in this time is how your relationship with someone who’s died can keep evolving, as you understand circumstances, or yourself, or them, from new and different perspectives as you keep learning throughout your life.  And how you really do carry them with you.   Craig (aka Antiguo) is with me every time I pick up my guitar, every time I listen to the music we shared (quite literally–we ultimately swapped our entire collections), every time I go to a show he’d have liked, every time Santana comes on the radio, and there’s something every day that evokes him.  And when it does, sometimes my breath catches in my throat, and my eyes fill with tears, and I’m grateful to have known such a truly excellent human.  It is my pain, but also my very great privilege, to miss you, Craig.

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Bathsheba made me do it!

I watch a lot of movies when I iron Scott’s work shirts, because ironing is tedious as hell, but as homemaking is my full-time job these days, I really couldn’t come up with a valid reason I should not iron his shirts when he decided to give up the men’s Tucson uniform of polo shirt and khakis every day for a more stylish look.  As much as I hate ironing, I have to admit, he looks damn fine in a shirt and tie.

So one day, I was looking for free movies I could stream on Dish while I ironed, and Far from the Madding Crowd was available.  I’m a Carey Mulligan (who plays protagonist Bathsheba Everdene) fan, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.  I liked the movie, but I fell violently in love with the costuming, particularly these blue and white numbers Bathsheba sports throughout. (Click photos to embiggen.)

So I went on the hunt, scouring the internet for similar fabrics.  The ones available at the major fabric sellers weren’t quite what I was looking for, and the one I found that I loved I could have direct from China for a minimum purchase of 3,000 yards.

Um, no.

So I checked Etsy and less mainstream online stores, and even eBay, and didn’t find quite what I was looking for.  Until I ran across a seller who had 6 different prints she was was selling in lots of six 1/2-yards.  And while that wasn’t optimal, I was intrigued, and bought it, because 3 yards is plenty for a skirt, or I’d figure out something else.  The first rule of sewing, much like other crafts, is, if you find something you like, buy it now; figure out what to do with it later.

But the thought of the skirt stayed in my head, in the form of a panel skirt.  And what started in my head as a maybe 8-panel skirt turned into a 24-panel (4 fabric patterns repeating 6 times) concept after some internet research, and my discovery of this skirt.  After looking at some tutorials that assumed that my body was completely symmetrical around my waist/butt area (which applies to a very small percentage of women, methinks), I decided to make my own pattern by modifying the world’s simplest skirt pattern which I used for my very first sewing projects when I started taking lessons in the summer of 2014.  The pattern had already been tailored to my particular needs, so all I needed to do was divide the 2 pattern pieces into 6 sections each, add seam allowances, and see if, through the magic of math, it all worked.

I did half a muslin just to make sure it was working as planned, made some adjustments, and was good to go.  Then, because I just hadn’t complicated things enough, I decided to finish the raw edges by folding them under and topstitching them, both for tidiness and to make the skirt lie flat in whatever plane it was moving instead of it wanting to turn in at every seam, of which there were 24.  Which meant that just to piece it together, I had to sew 72 vertical seams–3 seams at every connection.

This is why when people assume I’d like to sew something for them, I laugh.  I’m the only person I like well enough to put in that kind of work for.  Maybe Scott, though it hasn’t happened yet.  (I DID buy a shirt pattern for him, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.)

But I’m pretty pleased, and the skirt looks nearly as good on the inside as on the outside. Which makes me feel like a fancy sewing genius instead of the novice I am.  I finished the bottom with bias tape at the excellent suggestion of my sewing teacher, Jenny, and did a simple drawstring at the waist.  And I finished it today!

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