I’ve been doing quite a bit of stitch-in-the-ditch sewing lately. For non-quilting readers, that’s sewing exactly at the intersection of a seam so the needle slides between the pieces of fabric. It is a precision skill and any deviation from the intended path is obvious as the stitches become visible instead of being hidden in the seam. As I concentrate, I am aware of the sounds my sewing machine sings to me. A crunching tearing sound with each stitch means I probably need a fresh needle. The motor whine varies with speed: three distinct notes at low speed, only two distinguishable at higher speed. I’ve chosen to make self-affirming mantras from the motor sounds. Three beats = “Yes I can.” and two beats = “I can.” If the sewing project under the machine is self-expressive, “I can.” becomes “I am.” This brief phrase lingers in my mind from a short film I viewed many years ago as an art major in college. The two words “I am.” was the summary of why a human makes art, or tools, or whatever tangible things outlive him. To me, it is the shortest possible sentence to define art.