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Olympics in China: That’s Not All!

Can anybody read Chinese?

Can anybody read Chinese?

The Olympics aren’t the only exciting thing occurring in China. This package arrived on my doorstep from Hong Kong: the bluelines for Color Mastery. I sure wish I knew what this said. I’m sure it’s something quite boring, like “folio 1 of 7,” but the writing looks so elegant.

Color Mastery color proofs

Color Mastery color proofs

I’ve been poring over (thanks Marla!) these proofs to make sure the colors are dead-on accurate. I drove Gregory Case, my photographer, crazy with my questions and his constant assurances that, yes, the colors would be accurate even though they didn’t look that way on my monitor. Gregory was a therapist before being a photographer, and he told me I needed to take the leap and experience the result, even if I made a mistake. Wow, therapy and photography all from one guy!

I took these proofs with me everywhere this week: home, carpooling, even pee-wee football practice. Quite the contrary to Alicia’s experience when she and her husband Andy secluded themselves in a quiet diner to look over hers for her book. I remember those days, bc (before children).

My pee-wee football player

My pee-wee football player

Here’s son #2 in his pads and uniform, ready to hit somebody! This is a new experience for me, and not an easy one. Watching my son get knocked to the ground repeatedly during practice is tough. And for 7-year-olds, there’s no such thing as a clean hit: they grab onto anything they can to bring you down: shirt, mask, hit from the back. My husband tells me the goal for son #2 is to get through practice without quitting or crying. He will, but I might not.

Olympic Quilts

1996 Olympic Quilt with pins from Atlanta games

1996 Olympic Quilt with pins from Atlanta games

We’re Olympics junkies here. We’re glued to Olympic coverage and letting the boys stay up late to watch even though school has started. I love everything about the Olympics: the collective enthusiasm of the world watching a single event all at once and cheering on the athletes, the spectacle of the ceremonies, the stories of persistence and courage. I’m a sucker for all of it.

When the Olympics were in Atlanta, quilters from Georgia en masse turned out and made quilts in droves, and each country received two quilts: one went to the flagbearer, the other to the head Olympic official for that country. I worked on two quilts, one going to El Salvador and the other to Belarus. They are documented in this book: The Olympic Games Quilts: America’s Welcome to the World (Olympic Games Quilt).

A group photo of all the quiltmakers is on the back of the book, taken in the rotunda of the Georgia capitol building in Atlanta. It was so hot that day some of the older ladies were passing out, and I was five months pregnant with my first child.

My guild at the time, East Cobb Quilt Guild, had a meeting where we all made an Olympic wall hanging with one star for each of the Olympic rings. I attached all the pins to the quilt and it’s hanging in my powder room, along with lots of other Americana-themed decorating. One pin is special, and wasn’t available to the general public:

Pin given to quilters who made quilts for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games

Pin given to quilters who made quilts for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games

This pin you couldn’t buy and it was special to me for being a part of the games. I’ll never be an Olympic athlete, but in my own small way I was a part of the games in Atlanta.

It has on it the quilt of leaves that became the symbol for the 1996 Atlanta games, saving us from that horrible initial mascot, Whatizzit.

An Open Letter to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Today I wrote a letter to my local newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, about the cuts management is making to its newsroom and how disappointed I am in the results. Ya’ll know I’m a reader, and I’m saddened at the changes I’m seeing in the newspaper that is so much a part of my daily life. I thought I’d share the letter with you:

Dear Ms. Wallace,

I am a long-time AJC subscriber and am devastated at the cuts and changes I’m seeing in my daily newspaper. If bad news comes in threes, the AJC certainly had its share in a second large round of newsroom job losses, the decision to cut the Sunday @issue section, and the news that Cox is putting up all but three of its newspaper holdings. I am saddened, indeed.

My perspective is unique, and quite relevant to the forces you are experiencing. May I explain? I graduated from UGA with a Journalism major (News-Editorial) with a minor in Computer Science. I am an eight-time published author who developed my own website and two blogs, and I do most of my work and reading online. I depend on the AJC for something entirely separate from what I get online, and your management is slowly chipping away at the very properties and personalities that make your newspaper unique.

I grew up reading Celestine Sibley and Lewis Grizzard. I depended on the movie reviews of Eleanor Ringel Gillespie and Steve Murray (I couldn’t care less what Roger Ebert thinks, and I can get his movie reviews anywhere, so why turn to the AJC for them?). As a former Director of Courseware Development for ExecuTrain, I depended upon Maria Saporta for news of the local business community. The only real columnists left are on your Sports page (which as a woman I don’t crack) and John Kessler in the Food section. Get rid of him, the last bastion of enjoyable Southern charm in the paper, and I relinquish my subscription! (I realize you have political columnists, but I live in the north Georgia mountains, so local Atlanta politics have little relevancy for me.)

Section A of your paper is now filled with more AP stories than stories from local reporters. I can get that from Yahoo! news. Movie reviews are from nationally syndicated columnists, also available in multiple places. The local perspective is slowly disappearing from your pages, leaving readers with their own version of the USA Today, printed in Atlanta. I want local perspective on everything in my newspaper, from the war in Iraq, to politics, to movies, art, books (as an author I sorely miss the column from a real book editor), community . . . .EVERYTHING! And you are slowly, painfully, taking every bit of local perspective out of your metro newspaper.

I read local blogs, such as Fitzlew’s Georgia Daily Digest and Georgia on My Mind for local stories, but I rarely know the people writing them. Readers come to know the reporters and columnists they depend on in their local newspaper, and they are slowly disappearing from your pages. I can always depend on Mike Luckovich for a hilarious poke at politics and recent events . . . and that’s exactly the point: I depend on the AJC staff. I know them, I email them (even Elizabeth Landt (?) on her beautiful art), and I allow them to come into my home everyday. But lately, I don’t know the names on your pages. The ones I cared about are gone, and I’m seeing them replaced with “downsized” versions coming from syndicates and news wires.

I have two sons who are being taught by their teachers to use the internet as their main source for their reports. They turn to the AJC only for the comics, sudoku, and News for Kids. As they grow older, I’m hoping the AJC retains enough local news, columnists, and flavor for them to deem it relevant.

The recent essay written by Mike King on the passing of his wife was touching and so much a part of what I miss reading in my daily newspaper’s pages. I enjoy reading the editorials (all three pages!) and especially so now that the editors assign their names to them, and I learned a little more about Mike and his life. Give me a reason to turn to my newspaper everyday for news and perspective I can’t get online or syndicated anywhere else.

I realize how difficult it is for newspapers to remain relevant, but I believe the AJC is moving in the wrong direction. Don’t take away the very elements that set you apart from homogenized versions of national and local news.

Sincerely,

Maria Peagler (29 years of reading the AJC)

My Baby Brother’s Home Profiled in Atlanta’s Newspaper

My baby bros home

My baby bro's home

My younger brother, Michael, had his home profiled in Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His wife is pregnant with their second, and she looks so calm and relaxed in the photos accompanying the story. We get to see them on Sunday at their son’s second-year birthday party. We live a good distance north in the mountains, and it’s always a treat to venture into Hotlanta . . . and even better when we return to the lush, green, cool mountain air.

Here’s the full story:

Modern Tudor shakes up traditional floor plan | ajc.com

Surf’s Up at VBS

Surf's Up Dude!

So what does an artist do to her generic VBS t-shirt? She adds her personal touch, of course. I painted the flowers and surfboard during a family painting session on Sunday. My older son painted a sample surfboard craft for Arts & Crafts while my younger painted his own shirt.

This is VBS week at our chapel, and I’m always involved in some way. I used to be a Director of a VBS program at our previous church that enrolled over 300 children and 80+ volunteers. Now I enjoy just getting to be a regular person and enjoy volunteering. I chaired Arts & Crafts for a couple of years, and now I’m just helping. I’m a big believer in letting talented individuals take their time at the helm.

My husband was just promoted to permanent Scoutmaster of our son’s boy scout troop last night. I’m proud of him, but wary of the time it takes to really serve that role well. Only halfway jokingly, I told him I would refuse to sew on his Scoutmaster patch in protest.

Mom, I Just Want to Sew

I Just Want to Sew

Last week my son bolted into my studio with his normal after-school hug for Mom. He saw me finishing my manuscript on my computer, with my sewing machine next to me unused and said, “Mom, can I sew?”

Music to my ears! I dropped what I was doing and immediately asked, “What do you want to make?”

“A bag or a pouch.” He’d already made oodles of those. So I tried to steer him in a different direction.

“How about a pillowcase?” I asked.

“Okay!” he beamed.

We immediately started picking out appropriate fabrics from my stash, and I rotary cut and ironed. Then, quietly, looking up at me with his big baby blues, this adorable young man offered this:

“Mom, I just want to sew.”

Oh. You mean it doesn’t matter what it is? You don’t have to “make” a finished product?

Nope. He just wanted to sew. Use the machine, sit on my lap, and sew.

So in the vein of not having to “make” anything, I’m not showing the finished product, which he is sleeping on. He did enjoy having a pillowcase, it just wasn’t necessary, for him anyway.

What a difference in perspective.

Mom, I'm Sewing!

Checking In to Say “Hello”

I’m sneaking this post in between bath and bedtime for my kids, writing on my book, coordinating with illustrators, graphic designers, the photographer, technical editors, and it’s all so fun. Life right now is one of those crazy busy fantastic times, and I’m trying to soak in every single moment.

This is the busiest month for me as my deadline is March 1. After that, the book schedule will be mostly revisions for me and will ramp up for the rest of the creative team. I can’t wait for you to meet the people involved and see the results. I can post bits and pieces as we go along. Can’t wait to share with you!

Christmas Preparations

Christmas 2007

The elves have been busy here. Playing Christmas tunes on the keyboard. Putting up the artificial tree, which husband curses every year. Decorating the mantel with the snow family and string-pieced stockings.

Gearing up for the much-anticipated event around here:

Gingerbread Pieces for House

The annual making of the Gingerbread house. I used to do these from scratch and cut out the pieces by hand. Then I wised up, or my sister did, and she gave me a Pampered Chef mold for Christmas one year (unfortunately they don’t sell it anymore). This is one of my boys’ absolute favorite traditions. I save the Halloween candy they don’t want and use it up on the Gingerbread house. Messy, sticky, and lots of giggles.