Sunday, September 30, 2007


Let's call this the official photo even though it still doesn't have it's buttons and inspiration may yet dictate some beads here and there. But I won't foist another photo on anyone again until it is inhabited by a living, breathing body -- i.e., moi. A long thought about plan has reached fruition. What a good feeling! Now I have a couple of small quilts to quilt and bind and the one with the roosters to carry on making Now I have a "definitely will do" plan to make a winter counter part of the one that, as of this year, is the official summer one. The winter one will have a black background and jewel colored, paper pieced pattern. Enough for now. The first step, decision, has been taken, second step, color choice, is basically made, the third step, washing fabric not yet done, and fourth step, printing the pattern on the foundation paper not done. THEN I can start to sew. Soon, soon.

Another incredibly beautiful autumn day. After brunch with Katherine, who I met on my vacation, we had a little time to walk in Central Park and a bit of time on a bench in the Shakespeare garden where the usually neat and trim spring/summer flowers have given way to a wild English backyard of tall, tough stuff with flowers here and there like the last gasp of fecundity. [Is autumn the seasonal menopause with those summer like days the hot flashes?] Katherine enjoyed the trip at least a much as I did and I was surprised and envious when she said she's actually going back to Czech Republic in a couple of weeks with a friend and will see the southern part of the country and do some hiking/walking. Lucky lady!

Finally apologies for the sometimes mistake-full posts. I am a lousy proof reader of my own writing and sometimes I feel kind of rushed and don't really proof, so letters get left off or words run together or small words are left out. I'm just not a perfecionist by temperament. I guess that's a confession - but it hardly needs to be said, it's pretty evident.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


I do not need books! I have in my living a 36" wide bookcase with four shelves of books I want to read and besid my bed, is anoher 48" of poety books [poetry books are slender so that's A LOT o f books] But it was a glorious fall day and I know that Housing Works Bookstore in Soho was having it's block-long, 30,000-book sale. How could i not go? Of cousre I went. I was not greedy, I did not spend hours going through all the boxes of books. BUT I did come home with all I could comfortably carry; I purchase a total of 9 books: This is what they are:
Fiberart Design Book 7 [a big book of wonderful pictures]
Art/Women? California [another big book]
Off to the Side, Jim Harrison [memoir by one of my favorite American writers]
Inez, Carlos Fuentes [ one of Mexico's most prolific an esteened writers]
and five books of poetry: The Crooked Inheritance, Marge Piercy [ a writer I've admired for years[
Science and Other Poems, Alison Hawthorne Deming [new to me but they look good]
From the Iron Chair, Greg, Glazer [also unknown to me but sounds good[
An two volumes of the Contemporary Poetry Series [each volume containing 5 complete books of poems] from Quarterly Review of Literature
Thus nine books, which in a way are seventeen books... for all of $15 and $2 transportation.
Is that fantastic or what!??!! What a way to spend a couple hours in the morning!

And then I came home and I continued my work on THE quilted jacket. It's not done but it will be tomorrow -- it needs handwork, buttons for the tabs, lots in finishing bits; but it's here -embellished with buttons and more embellishment to come. More about it in a couple of days.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Heartening day

I try hard to think that there are many good things happening in the world, but it's hard. When the news says the Myanmar goons opened fire and killed 8 protesters, I think ot Tienenaman Square where the official count was less than 50 and the word since is hundreds. I automatically multiply 9 by ten, at least. And the news spoke of stepped up attacks in Darfur -- which all the world seems to know about and does nothing to stop. Then there's the Blackwater goons in Iraq who supposedly shot eight people. although the first Iraq number was 20 and it may be more and now they say the whole operation was unnecessary! Then I hear that Bush refuses to sign global warming agreements at the UN. And the bad stuff just keeps piling up -- two school gunmen in the last couple days ... Nightmares around the world.

A job I did today helped cheer me. While Bush is being his arrogant usual, I transcribed a video of real estate managers for large companies say that in their global dealings they maintain green standards in buildings ... because companies in other parts of the world don't want to deal with them if they don't meet those standards. The enlightened other parts of the world are forcing us to shape up!! Hurray!!

How I wish Americans had that kind of moral courage. A couple days ago I saw a picture of Mantel's chairman apologizing to a Chinese offical because of his actions against the shoddy practices of Chinese toy manufacturers. Why was he apologizing? Because he wants cheap toys, because he has no moral backbone. If we had any moral backbone we'd pressure the Chinese government when they want to show off their progress in next year's Olympics, about their human rights record -- which is abysmal, toward their own people, and toward Tibetans in particular. Yes, I think the Dalai Lama is going to be given a Congressional Medal of Honor -- I hope that sends some kind of message. But it needs to be backed up with meaningful pressure ... I despair. It's very hard to be positive amid so much that is negative. Positivity is better for one's health [it seems] but it may not be honest.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Slow progess

Everything, at least in the quilting world, takes longer than I think it's going to. Thus, no comments about the quilted jacket for a week or so. I realized as I put the sleeves in that I really do enjoy making garments. And I enjoy finished them neatly inside -- in this case hiding the seams in binding. Of course that takes time. Then I decided to do a facing on the front and binding on the bottom and sleeve bottoms. Decisions, decisions. What fabric/color to use? A hot pink hand-dye, it's just a quarter inch but the extra touch, a tiny omph! All this, of couse, means more hand sewing and more time. Enjoyable work. I've added a few buttons and will add more. I've done tab closings per the pattern, and must quilt the part of the facing that will show when the jacket isn't closed. More work. And I really dislike a couple of jacktets I have that don't have pockets, so I'll add in-seam pockets although they're not in the pattern -- not difficult for someone who's sewn a lot. Will it be done by the end of THIS weekend? Well ... I hope so but that remains to be seen.

So far summer lingers -- hot and humid the last three or four days, not jacket weather at all. But it's around the corner. I'll have this jacket done for then. It's THE only project at the moment. I'm not complaining about a lingering summer even though I did make a mistake by putting away the sandals a couple weeks ago. My imperfect-ness is something I accept without embarrassment ... one of the things that comes with what passes for wisdom as one ages.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Vernal Equinox

Yesterday was the vernal equinox. Blogger was having a fit of contariness and wouldn't post. It seems to be okay today. Anyway the first thing I heard on my alarm-clock-radio was that the stock markets in Japan were closed for the vernal equinox! How about that??? The wheels of buying, selling, fortune seeking, big business trading STOPPED in a major exchange for the sake of a natural event that occurs once a year! Does anyone in the American financial industry have that kind of respect for an equinox? The idea really blew me away and I lay in bed contemplating it for some time.

Then I had time in the morning for some errands. On the street I saw a big tree with lots of green leaves, but scattered among them were yellow leaves like hints and/or decorations. Then I saw the autumnal berries in the picture above. It was a lovely day again so I walked by the river and looked at al the sail boats moored up and down the river beyond the 79th St. marina and wondered how many had persons onboard sleeping in their tiny cabins, rocking to the inflow of the tide which was happening.
As I left Riverside Park at 72nd Street and I stopped to look at the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt. I'm usually there in the afternoon when she is shadowed by the tree at her back, but the sun was on her face. What's more, someone had given her a bouquet of flowers to hold in her arms. Another passing woman stopped to smile and say what a nice thing to see. I thought so and took this picture to share.

This is one of only two statues of women in NYC. The other is Gertrude Stein and I have never seen it. All the rest of the statues in public places are men -- yes, and the dog, Balto, a noble dog and nice statue but really ... all the other female statues are mythical: Mother Goose, Alice in Wonderland, the Three Graces. 'nuf said.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Statue: The Disappearing Man, Prague

Someone just mentioned walking in a sculpture garden as a metitative thing to do for Yom Kippur. I remembered this sculpture which I tried three different times to photograph, and deleted most of the attempts. This is less than wonderful but gives some idea of the meditative nature of the sculpture. It is in Prague, on stairs in a park which was across the street from our hotel.

It is called The Disappearing Man and is a memory of what it was like to live under Communism. On the lowest, nearest step the man is whole, but successive replicas, on succssive steps, show him beginning to disintegrate. It was moving and very effective, seen both in the daylight and one evening after dinner when there were street lights but the "man" not only became sketchier but also disappeared into the shadows.

I have just finished Mary Lee Settle's novel, CELEBRATION. In it each of the main characters is changed and matured by contact with death, in very dramatic settings. At the end as we seem to have a happy ending, the one truly good and whole character is murdered in a random act of violence, it is not a deus ex machina, she is [was, for I believe she died recently] a fine writer. The end was unsettling but not entirely surprising ... I am still unsettled. I get deeply into fiction, the stories become part of my life. Being sad about that reminded me, after reading the comment I mentioned, of this powerful sculpture. Art -- literature, visual arts, music -- enrich and enlighten my life immeasurably.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Before the equinox

It is two days before the vernal equinox, still summer but an autumn feel is in the air in the mornings. The sky has a magnificent marine feeling of becalmed purity, not a cloud. What painter would sweep that kind of blue across half the canvas? Gaia is the only possible answer. The top photo is looking south at the conglomeration of midtown's spires and pinnacles. The other photo, from the same spot on the Sheep Meadow in Central Park is looking west at the faux castle of an apartment bulding - it has a grand name, I'm sure but I haven't learned it.

I'd like to think of this as analogous to my time of life, but I might be fooling myself, only time will tell. After last year's medical interventions I certainly can't claim to be in the midst of summer, I suppose I've got to admit to being somewhere over the line of the equinox ... sigh! But then that is a magnificant time too.
I spent my working portion of the day listening, first to two 40+ women trying to talk about where they are in their professional and personal lives. Their speech was full of hesitations and gap filling terms [you know, I mean, I guess, like, I suppose] They didn't have answers, they knew enough to know they don't know enough. And then I listened to a younger woman, about 30 speaking in strong, definite terms about women, especially of her age but also speaking of her mother's and grandmother's contemporaries as if she knew exactly what their lives had been like. She was not arrogant in her delivery but her thinking was a black/white attitude that the older women both deplored.

And I, almost as old as the two added together, have almost a clear, blue sky attitude that amazes me. In fact, a note from someone older than I am saying, "I'm still trying to understand the past and the present." And I thought, how foolish. At his age, what he doesn't understand he's never going to understand. The past must be accepted as the egglike, completeness that it is for it cannot be changed. The present is what exists, really the only thing that exists. It's that blue sky, and sometimes it is gray and threatening or pouring rain or spitting snow. But it is what it is and can be enjoyed if one is not distracting him/herself thinking about the illusion of a need to understand the past or the present. All those women talking, talking .. solving nothing and offering no wisdom, so confused. Not taking time to look at the incredible blue sky.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lots of quilting

"I like that when you're making art, that you're taking energy out of your body and putting it into a physical object. I like things that are labor intensive. You make a little thing and another little thing and eventually you see a possibility." Kiki Smith. I found this quote from a favorite woman painter/sculptor on a blog called Judy's Journal which is by the Judy Martin who is an art quilter in Ontario. I believe there are three Judy Martins who are well known in the quilt world, although at the moment I can only think of the one who has written at least a couple of books about scrap quilting. I was surfing the Artful Quilters Web Ring by going to a favorite blog, and after perusing it, clicking the "Random" on the Artful logo. Often a person who is on that ring is also on the SAQA ring and I jump to random surfing on it. I love the sense of knowing there are literally hundreds of women out there making art quilts and many of them write about what they are doing and post pictures of projects in hand, write about shows and teachers amd so on. They post interesting quotes like this one and write about new books and techniques. I recommed surfing starting with the logo on my blog and just wandering on. It's not all about quilting, it's real people with real lives who digress from quilting like I do [though some are more focused than I am].
Here are a couple of pictures of the quilting I've been doing on my jacket pieces all week. It is labor intensive but it's also creative in that I don't know how I'm going to quilt a section until I get ready to quilt it. I'm using a fair amount of gold thread because the quilting will be a large part of the embellishment, although I'll add other things too once the quilting is done -- whether I'll do much other embellishment before I sew the pieces together I haven't decided yet. I love working this way, making decisions as I go along. I hope I can have it done by the end of the coming weekend but I have some doubts - that will depend on how much embellishment I can do on the machine and how much must be done by hand. But it's coming along. And the brain is racking up three or four other projects to start -- except I've got two time consuming ones to finish... so it goes...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Age of Rembrandt

What does one do when the living room is a mess of stuff that belongs in a closet; workmen are deconstructing a wall to put in a new pipe and the noise in infernal. Escape! Nomally I'd just go to work, but we're having a seriously slow spell. So off I went to have coffee and a bagel at a favorite neighborhood spot. Then into Central Park to finish reading the paper [Science section says morality may be genetic -- that everything might be gentic is the fad of the time since the genomic code has been cracked], and do the puzzle. And then I read a review of the new show at the Met: The Age of Rembrandt -- not just Rembrandt but 280+ paintings, all the mid=1600th century paintings the Met owns, of which usuallly no more than 1/3 are on view.

The show just openned so I did a quick calculation: there will be a crowd; but it's too soon for school groups, it's Tusday morning, maybe a possible crowd level. A good way to spend a couple of hours although it's such a beauiful blue-sky day it's almost a sin to go indoors. But I do and the crowd is sizable, but a quiet crowd -- that strange, vibrating silence of people in a museum ... except for the accursed cellphones and their annoying rings. People whisper, move politely so as not to block other people's views, go slowly from place to place, congregatge in gaggles in front of the paintings mentioned on the audio guide [which I eschewed].

A wonderful show telling me what Holland was like in the mid-1600s; the portraits of serious genelemtn in velvets, the women in satin, sometimes with their heads on the platter of a large lace ruff - always a middle aged face, such propriety and prosperity accumulated well into life. But the bawdies are there too in the Hals paintings, eating, drinking, merry making, flirting. There are village scenes and beautiful Reisdael landscapes and Kaiser village scenes, looking truly peaceful There are shepherds and cowherds -- cyoung boys. Some, but not many, religious scenes. A few still lifes, flowers or dead birds and lobsters, A few Vemeers whih are a little disappointing because the beautiful light in reproductions is not so light and bright and the paintings are small. And then there are the Rembrandts, the portraits of burgers and their wives, Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Honor, and RVR as an aging man with his lumpy nose and little, bright eyes, a solid, serious man.

A whole world was there in those rooms, a time and place. And the usual religious paintings in which Abraham and family are dressed like the Dutch except for a turban on Abraham's head. A group of upstanding citizens, sometimes with their children or their dogs, a world that existed for a while and now lasts as it was painted by a wonderful group of geniuses.

Here is a picture of my own still life which I noticed on the table as I was having dinner. I cleared the odds and ends and left what would be a painted -- or even, for the ambitious, a quilted -- picture.

Monday, September 17, 2007

End of an Era

The IBM Selectric typewriter is the greatest typing machine every invented! I loved it so much, I kept this one, my second reconditioned one, in my closet, on top of a trunk full of off-season shoes and tops and underneath a pile of jeans. This behemoth lurked there to be lugged out when I needed to change the contents of the trunk. I loved it. The fingers flew on it, everything about it was easy to use -- except lifting and moving. No portable this!

Alas it is gone. Into the garbage. A great, sad shame, I'm sure there is someone in Kurdistan or Uruguay who would be happy to have it. But ... no one here wanted it. Not even as a gift. Sigh ... And I have a superstitious fear that my little iBook and the printer will implode and I'll wish I had it. Why this drastic action when it had done nothing more heinous than take up precious space?

Seems there is a pipe in the wall of the closet that must be replaced. The plumbers need the closet empty tomorrow. Holy-maloey! Can anyone understand the way a fairly decent sized step in closet [it's not quite big enough to be called "walk in"] closet can be crammed by a truly determined, practiced reisident of a NYC apartment? As seen in the picture above I've succeeded after several attacks today, in getting almost everything out but the hanging stuff. That I'm not moving until tomorrow morning because I'll lay it on the sofa and hope things don't get wrinkled in the few [I HOPE!] hours of the plumbing operation.

Of course, I have found all manner of stuff. Some: "why did I keep that?" which went directly into the garbage. Some "I thought I'd use it but I haven't for too long to remember", too good for garbage, so into a thrift shop bag. Some, "Gez, how come I have five overnight tote bags from various travel companies?" Well, they'll come in handy packed with the things to go to thrift shop. Also "do those things secretly mate and multiply on their shelf?" Like what am I doing with so many wash cloths? All that are a little ratty go into the ragbag for scrubbing and cleaning -- if and when, of course.

So it's been a day of work and insight meditation. Yes, I DO need those shoes. I love those shoes. No, those belts no longer bear much relationsihp to my waitline. Which handbags will I really use? If I don't know, do I keep them or get ruthless about discarding? Haven't reached an answer to that. Some of the answers will arise tomorrow when I repack the closet. It's an adenture, living in an old building where, somewhat like the human body remaking all it's cells in the course of seven years, the building's infrastructure is replaced --- loudly and messily, usually -- possibly every five years. And unlike the quiet, unnoticed bodily replacements, the building replacements are a nuisance, always! Sigh ... and it's good-bye forever, old buddy, Selectric.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Poet: Beth Ann Fennely

The picture has nothing to do with a poet I've recently discovered, Beth Ann Fennelly, whose book OPEN HOUSE I've just finished reading. The cover isn't one of those pretty ones that would scan nicely. Her photo on the back is too small amid a lot of reveiws, but it's a pretty one -- she's young and lovey ... and talented, wow! A triple threat. More in a minute. About the picture, it's in the garden behind a castle which I think we visited while still in Czech Republic -- the line is kind of fuzzy in my memory since the vacation was half Czech, half Solvakian. The gnomes were sculpted by the same Braun who did serious religious sculptures -- the vices and virtues, at the palace we had seen the day before in a different town. They are charming little people. I like them better than the serious -- three times as tall -- religious statues. The sculptor must have had a large workshop and many apprentices for that particular area was full of his work.

Beth Ann Fennelly, as I said is young and talented. She's racking up a bunch of credits including a Kenyon Review Poetry Prize. This book is full of varied and interesting work. A long sectioin called "From L'Hotel Terminus Notebooks is a miscellany but a witty, thoughtful, interesting, fun and serious collection of pieces, some are conversations with an inner self she calls, Mr.Daylater. I'll quote a short piece that struck me as the kind of advice a young poet, or any writer, is apt to hear, presented with enough humor to know she is ambivalent: it bugs her but she doesn't believe it... it's called, "Mr. Daylater's Advice on Ambition"

Never admit to it.
Never say, "I've got words
of a higher wattage,
stand back, I'll screw
them in." Never say,
"You'll need a towel
around your hand, baby,
just to turn the page."
Instead, say "gosh" and "luck."
Otherwise, they'll crush you
under their boot heels
at someone else's wedding.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Good Hour Wasted

All hours are good hours ... unless something turns them into times of bordom, irritation or negativity. I got the works last night. Steven Pinker, a Harvard lingist was speaking at the local Barnes & Noble since he has a new book out. I read the last one and was fairly impressed. So off I went forgetting a rule I should have learned well by now: if I'm interested quite a few other people are going to be interested. So I should have left half an hour earlier. Of course when I arrived all the seats were taken and people were already on the floor and standing in most possible spaces. This ought to be a good talk, I thought. Soon in comes two BN women and Pinker -- he's looking super spiffy. A good looking guy with well cut collar lenght gray curly hair, an expensive suit and nice tie. He looked like successful hedge fund manager.

Then began 20 minutes of adjustments of a comupter/slide projector/screen. Yes, 20 minutes! I'm eyeing a chair, the only empty chair in the place. It's directly behind a pillar and has a brief case on it. Both screen and Pinker will be invisible from that chair. The man whose brief case it seems to be is deep in text messaging. I surpmise he's telling a companion to come and sit in the chair. But I SHOULD have, at that point asked if it were taken -- except I anticipated a great talk and slides and wanted to see.

Finally, Pinker starts talking --he apologizes for the delay. [Isn't a Havard prof smart enough to know to test the equipment ahead of time? Aren't the BN people accustomed to such matters?] Anyway, the slide show proves to be a Power Point of almost exactly everything he reads from his notes -- very likely a flunky was told to prepare it [and maybe prepare the speech]. What he had to say can generously be called Linguistics 101; if I weren't being generous I'd say it was so simplistic a fairly bright high school freshman could get it -- and might hear something new. I certainly didn't hear anything new.

It was hard to believe, as he went on and on, that "one of the 100 most influentical men in the US" according to Time Mag., was insulting the intelligence of this audience with his pablum. The West Side is known to be home of the teachers and professors of the various Universities [except for those who have decamped to Park Slope in Brooklyn]. As my boredom grew and my feet began to hurt, I diisplaced -- or maybe just extended -- my increasing anger at that empty chair. And especially at the two people on eithter side of the chair and the two people immediately behind it as well. The texting man was obviously so sefl-absorbed the rest of the world was contained only in his cell phone. The woman beside the chair was one of those very neatly coiffed, neatly dressed birdlike women who I had immediately taken to be an academic, probably of some pseudo-intellectual subject like theories of the capacity of the preschool child. She had been chatting animatedly with a younger woman and was as self-absorbed as the man. The two people immediately behind the chair, a 40ish woman and a 60s man who were not together both seemed just out of it.

Couldn't any of them look around the crowded space, see many standees, like me, and offer the chair -- preferrably to the white haired one [me]? [As an aside, the couple to my left both, girl and guy] had shaved heads. It was not a desirable chair until my feet started hurting and until I realized that seeing the screen was redundant. Then it became a VERY desirable chair but was locked in so tight I couldn't go claim it without creating a stir once Pinker started talking. I also couldn't slip away because there was a wall two or three deep behind me of standing people.

I left in such a negative state of mind I'm only now calming down. The jerk probably put his brief case on the chair just because the chair was there. And the dunces around about who couldn't do a random act of kindness of offering the seat are beyond understanding. Why Pinker thought he needed a Power Point of his talk I don't know. Perhaps he's seen enough students -- yes, even the supposedly elite ones at pretigious Harvard -- are so accustomed to getting their information from a screen rather than a human being in front of them, that he thought, reflexively -- without considering [what hubris!] the probable audience would be made up of many older people who still know how to listen to a human voice and don't require extensive outlines to follow. We probably would have followed a talk with some depth and insights about language and might have been inclined to purchase his book. I'll never buy another Pinker book.

Whatever ... I expected a good hour. I got all those bad vibes; I simply expected greater intelligent and some degree of human kindness and was disappointed.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Deja Vu All Over Again

For some years I've seen other quilters wearing gorgeous vests and jackets they have made. I've thought: I want one too. I could make one. But I haven't done it. Then last summer I bought a Vogue pattern, very simple, but just a bit special. I've been collecting fabrics for a long time, mostly batiks in the purpleish range. [see below] But what about the lining? A couple days ago I decided on the lovely fabric above. I've had it a long while, don't remember buying it -- maybe my dear friend Lynn sent it. Its designs are copied from a collection of textiles in England. I've never wanted to chop it up and it's too wonderful for the mere back of a quilt. So it will be the lining of my jacket.
Deja vu came on in a strong wave when I set up my old cutting arrangement -- I have a folding cardboard "table top" that I always used to use on my ironing board. It makes a 4x5 foot surface, a little tippy but I became accustomed to it. And the ironing board is adjusted to a comfortable working height. I've unfolded so many tissue patterns, thought about placement on the fabric, pinned, cut ... I used to make almost all my clothes. So many garments!! So long ago. But it was all so familar. I'm making a jacket, just five pieces: one back, two front sides and two sleeves! I'm leaving out the facings and will finish with a narrow binding. I REALLY enjoy making garments but a dedicated shopper [which I am!] can find in this fine city.
So this morning I dragged out not only the assortment of fabrics seen above but other parts of my stash. By the way that "yarn" in the picture above is actually wonderful package twine I purchased in Thailand a few years ago. Maybe it will become part of the embellishment for this jacket .. we'll see. Anyway I spread everything out in my work space -- yes, the whole 3 ft. x 3 ft., area -- including "design table". This is IT -- except for the stash storage and storage of thread, and such which is hidden in a closet.
I was happy as a clam at low tide laying out this and that and t'other on th back section. Then I started sewing them together, making adjustments and major changes ... of course it took longer than expected because I had to stand back every so often, and then dig up something from it's bag and so on. But this is great fun. It's the real moment of creation -- although I did a bit of ripping and changing. I can already tell this is going to take longer than I think it's going to take -- if that makes any sense. But it's going to be fun. I'm going to do a lot of quilting for texture and then whatever embellishments come to my burbling little brain. By the next quilt meeting I hope to have a jacket ... and I'll hope for a lovely crisp October day so I'll feel like wearing it. ... That is if I haven't major-ly misjudged and find it's not finished by then.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Say it again, Sam

I was going through some old notes this morning and came across a list of things I heard while transcribing speeches and interviews. People often need to make themselves absolutely clear, or simply don't trust their knowledge of English, and repeat themselves unwittingly. It's a category I call, "Say It Again, Sam," I had made a list of examples. You'll see what I mean:
.. it all came out simultaneously at the same time
.. that is something the patient has not experienced before in the past
.. saves us $32 million a year annually
.. it was minus 40 degrees below zero.
.. the competition is now more numerous in number
.. the basic underlying difficulty
.. we'll do more national advertising nationwide
.. ultimately, I think in the long run ...

Then there's a few that I call "Huh?"
... seriously, I'm just kidding
.. It's a bar that seats aout 800 people standing up.
.. if you let us use your X-rays, we won't show the faces.

Just had to share these. Listen to people talking, you'll hear such things all the time. If you make a habit of listening, you'll do it less often yourself -- that's an additional plus also.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New small quilts

My transcription job has always been feast or famine and it's not entirely predictable. As it happens I've had five days at home. I have not wasted my time. I was so excited by the bright colored pieces of batiks and other fabrics I purchase at the Guild meeting Saturday I set out early Sunday morning and pieced this baby size charity quilt. It is not yet backed and quilted but I had great fun piecing the bright squares. Then today, I got busy and made a slightly larger charity, baby size, quilt but in deeper colors -- perhaps for a boy child. This does not show the entire quilt but gives a flavor of the larger squares and the brilliance of the colors.
Hmm ... I see I've got the pictures reversed and the cropping on the bottom one didn't translate to this picture. In short, I'm a technological failure. Please bear with me.

In a way, I still believe that ''quilt" means "scraps". This second quilt owes a lot to my scrap bag into which the excess 2" stripes get stuffed. Fabrics appeared that I thought were long gone, and I finally used up a few that I thought I might never get rid of. I love scrap quilts above all -- except for truly artistic art quilts which are another category altogether.

I'm told there is work to do tomorrow, which is fine by my thoughts of my bank account. But I have two more ideas for quilts I want to make in the near term, one probably this coming weekend. I'm on a roll! Why stop? Of cousre, I'll have to stop and get out the batting [I have selected the backing and cut it to size] and then quilt them.

I went through my vacation pictures to see if there were some I want to send to people who were on the trip with me and found some, so I went to the local drugstore with it's one-hour and instant digital photo development [because my printer is painfully slow on photos and the drug store is inexpensive. In fact I went twice in the last two days only to be told the system was down.

Today I was told it was up and okay, but it wasn't and finally the clerk was sweet enough to work from a master computer and let me select the photos I wanted. Somehow I had over looked this dinner time photo before. It is so happy I just have to print it here. Tomas [at end of table] had taught us how the Czechs toast, not only clinking beer glasses, but sliding them together and then touching the table before drinking. Drinking what? The Czech's pride and joy, Pilsner Urquel -- and pride and joy it should be. It's wonderful beer. By the way Anhauser Busch "lifted" Budweiser from the Czechs. We had their beer called Budewar and it was light years different for the American Budewieser! So you can see our group was enjoying their beer before dinner was served.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Going to the dogs

I've been reading. Of couse, I read a lot. I like to know what's going on in the world. Sometimes I'm appalled at what's going on in the world. Sometimes for big political reasons, sometimes for smaller but indicative reasons. That's the case with this weekend's reading. Why I receive Metropolitan Home is involved. I like shelter mags for the design element but MH is often ot of touch with reality. This month's issue has pictures from an L.A. showhouse -- which is meant to suggest new and exciting design to the attendees of the open house. It's a big house with various rooms designed/decorated by various designers. That's all usual, and there are show houses as fund raisers for various worthwhile causes all over the US. The thing is this show house has a dog's room. Yes, an entire room for the dog! It's as large as the bedrooms of children in normal suburban homes. Yes, dog houses out in the backyard sometimes get fanciful but does anyone need a house with a whole room for the dog?

It's housing insanity time, maybe because of the mortgage problems. You wouldn't really know many normal people have been pawns in the great mortgage, housing equity suffling of the last several years. The NY TImes special real estate magazine this week offers one luxury tower of condos after another. Some 30,000 new apartments are being built in, mostly, Manhattan, at prices to make you breathe shallowly and maybe even faint. An article also notes that imaginative developers are building garaging space for the third or fourth special sports car -- not just parking space but space for the owner to "express himself" with whatever amenities might be needed, wet bars, wifi connections, entertainment areas. They didn't mention jacuzzis but if you really want one -- what the hell, why not?

Who are these people who care about dog rooms and places to sit and commune with their new.,stationary, Porsche or BMer of Alfa Romeo? What kind of people are they? Do they have poor coursins whose houses are being repo-ed by the banks, who are forced into bankruptcy because they've over borrowed or purchased a house too expensive for them tyring to keep up with their rolling-in-riches cousin, the MBA Bank Executive or the Hedge Fund Manager?

And who are those people who are going to spend megabucks to own an apartment in a glass tower with 30 mile vistas on a clear day? Will they be home enough to see their vistas or are they the ones who get up at 5:a.m. work out in the gym, get to work at 6:30 and come home at 10:00 after a long day selling tax xhelters to other people just like themselves? These are not only men, there are many woman doing these jobs. Probably they stay at work long enough many evenings to see the platoons of immigrant women who speak little English come in to clean the offices ... at only a little over minimum wage. They leave their children with a husband who works a day shift delivering pizza or being a janitor somewhere, in a tiny tenament size apartment somewhere in Queens or the Bronx. It's always been a country of inequality, in fact, if not, theoretically, legally. The gap grows wider, right here in my city ... never mind vis a vie the masses who have yet to have running water in their town, let alone home.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Empire Quilt Guild meeting

I was looking forward to the Empire Quilt Guild meeting today, partly for inspiratioin and partly for the sense of belonging. I was not greatly interested in the speaker. But as often happens, I found I was wrong to think "Jacobean style applique, ho-hum." Jo Coon, the speaker, who has been a quilt teacher for some years, spoke very well and showed a varied selection of her quilts, many inspired by Jacobean crewel work but all of her own design, some inspired by William Morris and others purely products of her own creativity. I managed to take pictures of two of the largest ones, but many others were taking pictures and often getting in my way so I didn't get the brighter colored ones. The one above is her version of "cut work", very painstaking and fascinating.
She does not liken the second one to Baltimore Albums quilts although that's what I thought of immediately. The creativity and time involved are somewhat staggering. "How long does it take?" someone asked. "As long as it takes," she said. Then explained, "I don't calculate that way, I work for the pleasure of the project. I don't let anything interfere with my enjoyment of quilting." And that included various rules she has heard others espouse. "Those rules weren't made for me," she said. A lady after my own heart.

I noticed too that in some cases she used simple quarter inch rows of quilting instead of more complex designs. "Because the design is complicated enough already," she said. In other cases the quilting is more showy but always with the idea of enhancing the overall design. No quilting is done for the sake of using a long arm. Jo Coon's website is Some of her quilts as well as the quilts of Janet Randolph, the Quilter of the Month, and also a long time quilt teacher who showed a variety of bright and wondeful quilts, will be on in a day or two and well worth looking at. Go to Show & Tell for the Quilter of the Month listing. Seeiing so many quilts is one off the great pleasures of guld meetings. I truly love looking at quilts of all sorts, traditional, contemporary, art quilts, everything.

The real treat of the meeting was the members' flea market before and after the meeting. Many members who had collections of "stuff", mostly fabric but also books and other quilt related things, had tables. I knew I would find inexpensive fabric. One woman who, at such events, always has lots of offerings at good prices {I'm sure she works in what New Yorkers call "the rag trade" - garments/imports/textiles] had bags of sample cuts and collections of pieces, mostly eighths, of wonderful batik fabrics. I have considered ordering collections of batiks from some catalogs I receive in the mail and so I know the prices. I can unhesitatingly say that, from this woman and other venders, I purchased less than $50 of fabric -- and I bought a one dollar raffle ticket and won a half dezen fat quarters of wonderful fabric -- so I came home with between $200 and $250 worth of fabric. And so much inspiration for what i'd like to do with it, my brain simply seems unable to comprehend that it will take A LOT of time to do the projects it conjured on the subway home and later as I sorted, folded and stashed my haul. This, in rural parlance, is called being in hog heaven. Oink, oink!!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Surprises in the mail

I joined the Swap-bot group a while ago partly to get some interesting mail. I'm tired of the weekly blank checks from the credit card companies urging me to spend, spend, spend. And the endless brochures from a travel company I like but, jez, I can't go on ten trips a year no matter how much a bargain. Lately I have been getting intereesting stuff in my mail. Some are letters, structured or otherewise, and some are "stuff". In the latter category have been a week's worth of cards from one person named Julie who makes her own cards and they are truly charming, don't you think? I get some Hello Kitty stuff, ugh, and other terminally cute or sweet stuff. But these cards are elegant and tastefully done. A joy to open an envelop and find them.

Another surprise was a fabric "scavanger" hunt, four kinds of sewing related items were suggested but today I got a major treat from Kaye. Four fat quarters, some wash away stabilizer which I'm really curious about since I've never used it, a couple of kinds of neat buttons, some ribbon with polka dots. AND, surprise! Kaye read the profile I wrote and went to Trader Joe's and found a Thai red curry dish that looked and sounded so tempting I forgot about the stuff in the fridge and had it for dinner. Lovely hot spice tinkling the mouth! I needed some of that lovely Czech beer but didn't have any. There are also beautiful packs of Ermil's coffee. NYC has a Trader Joe's but it's not on my usual path. This Thai stuff was so good, it's worth a special trip and if they carry it here I'll stock up. It's a quick microwave dish, great with rice as I did. But I'm sure with Thai noodles too. So nice of Kaye to think outside the basic listing and get something special for me! She's a stranger but feels like a friend.
Also lurking in a bag in my mail when I came home from vacation was this harmless looking fat black snake made of felted wool and trimmed with hand stitching, a glass ball on his tail and embroidered head. I'd been warned about his arrival a couple of months earlier by Ruth, my long time correspondent who was also a roommate on a trip to Tibet. She's retired to N. Mexico and concentrating on doing whatever crafts her imagination comes up with.

-- I have to change subjects entirely since, being a WQXR devotee [the classical music station of the NY Times] the first thing I heard this morning was that Luciano Pavarotti had died. And as I write they are playing him singing the quartet from Rigaletto; they have been playing various short pieces all day. I like the way WQXR celebrates such events. They also celebrate musical celeb's birthdays with recordings. The announcers are also allowed to share their own personal memories of people like Pavarotti. Radio can do this sort of special programming, in a way televison cannot. There will be more arias as the evening goes on.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Quilting in the ditch

I made a list about three months ago of the quilting projects I hoped to finish this summer. Ha! I finished a small wall hanging. Another wall hanging needs mainly hand work. That is slow. This quilt WILL be done soon. This week I've been quilting the main part, simply, in the ditch. While repetitive sewing straight lines, I can think about what I'm doing. Clearly, taking the easy way out. Making the quilting as unintrusive and unnoticable as possible. The border, which is medium dark green isn't visible in this picture but it will have a quilting pattern, very like a simple egg-and-dart because it's easy and I like it.

I ask myself, am i being lazy? No, it's more mechanical than that. My sewing machine is only good on straight stitching. If I really wanted to do free form quilting, which once in a while I would like to do, then I must get a modern sewing machine. In fact I SHOULD get one, this one is tired and not as dependable as one would wish -- it's 45 years old and has probably sewn a million miles of seams -- reliably! One broken part in all those years, When I think of buying a new machine I think: with that money I could fly to Australia and stay two week. Truly, I'd rather travel than get all steamed up about my quilting surface. So I recognize my priorities. I quilt for the pleasure of watching patterns evolve -- which I wrote several weeks ago when I talked about the joy of putting together these "stack and whack" squares. But after the top is together, every quilt that isn't a wall quilt becomes, in my mind, a utility quilt. I don't care if it has a fancy surface.

Then too -- this could be sour grapes, I realize -- I don't want a busy pattern on top of this. The pattern is super busy. I sometimes like complexly patterned quilt surfaces, especially on arty quilts, but I think they need to serve the concept of the quilter. Not the fashion of using a long arm machine and doing swirls or feathers or whatnot just because, technically, you CAN. I noticed at Quilt National all quilting seemed to be very much planned as part of the quilts [as you would expect in really fine art quilts] and much of it was really simple.

I am not a quick adapter of new technology; often I do not think new gadgets add qualitatively to what one is doing. I've gone over all these thoughts, most especially the thought about a new sewing machine all during the several hours I've spent afternoons this week simply quilting in the ditch on this quilt. By the end of the week, I will have finished the borders, put on the binding, afffixed a label and will be ready to carry on with the "chicken" quilt that was comoing along before my vacatioin but iis qute a way from the top being done, let alone together. And then there will be only a couple of other summer plans hanging over my head ... now that summer is officially over. Sobeit.

Monday, September 03, 2007

End of Summer

Labor Day Weekend, the official end of summer -- it couldn't have been more beautiful! A hint of coolness in the mornings, low-ish 60s, and then up to a beautiful not too hot mid 80s. With a breeze, and a few scattered non-threatening clouds.

Lately it's been happening that summer doesn't really end until sometime in October. A chilly night will turn leaves; then autumn is here. But summer lingers, usually through September unless an errant hurricane blows a storm this far up. I can't help thinking about it meditatively and likening this phenomenon to aging. On the trip I've been writing about everyone was [I think] over 50 and more than half in the 60s. In the fashion and demographic world, we were in the autumn of life. Yeah? They should get to know a couple or three of the more atheltic women -- what wonderful examples of endurance! Like today wasn't summer? No, women [men too] in the so called first world, are not done with the summer of their lives just because they reach the big 5-0 or even the big 6-0. Autumn sneaks up on some of us like those frosts that turn leaves red and gold. I suspect last year was one of those frosts in my life. But then it happens that even after the leaves turn a bit we get more days like these last three have been. Sure seems like the perfecion of summer!

I am gratified to find that, feeling somewhat stiff after the vacation, I put my yoga mat (aka madala quilt, Amish style] down on the floor and began stetching exercises and felt results almost immediately. Not only did the stiffness begiin to dissipate, but I slept better and began fighting the jet lag symptoms as well. I began yoga more than half my life ago and have always found it helpful, whatever the problem ... as long as the problem isn't called chocolate and donuts.

I'm back at the sewing machine too, but no pictures, though much mediataion about quilting matters. 'Tis time to finish projects and get on with others. My guild meets Saturday, I'll have an infusion of inspiration when I see everyone's show and tell pieces.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Fav Fotos

I wrote "Fav Fotos" just to show you that I'm cool. Unfortunately, in the slang area I seem to have got stuck with "neat". "Cool" does not come trippingly to my tongue, alas and alack!! ... This is self-indulgence evening. A last half dozen photos from Central Europe and a few words about what and why, then I'll drop the subject and maybe even write about something quilty or literary. Be warned.

The first photo is the roof of the oldest synagogue in Prague. Prague was not destroyed in WWII - Tomas told us the history but it's more than I can repeat here. In short the Czechs were betrayed and taken over without fighting. Anyway, the ghetto is intact, and this stunning roof is where the fictional golem took refuge just before he was disposed of by the famous rabbi who presided in this very building and had invented the monster.

The next building was in Lovoca Slovenia. It also has a wonderous roof line -- don't you think? It's the town hall and is at least 300 years old, older, I think. What exuberence! I might add that our hotel in Lovoca was very near this building. It had been a rich burger's home, built in the 1400s, rebuilt a number of times. The walls were 15 inches thick! The rooms were done in early 20th century deco furniture.

From grand to very humble. We walked through villages in Slovenia where there were log houses, and in this case a log barn which perhaps once was a house. This little complex of buildings was in a village where there were much more modern homes and barns, some new ones under construction which even had two-car garages. On our rambles [well, I rambled, and the others hiked] we passed through several villages. There were no cookie cutter villages, the homes were very individual. Most had many flowers in the front, although some gave much of the space to vegetables gardens. On the parkland trails and in the cities people seemed to prefer small dogs, rarely more than a foot tall. But in the villages many people had guard dogs, German shepherds or dobermans - often very vocal as we passed the yards in which they were kept.
This is a sweet little church in a town that I seem to remember was in the Czech Republic, very near to the border with Poland. A place where we walked through some underground bunkers, quite a complex and one of a long line of such which were never used because the Nazi take over referred to above.
I do not have a decent picture of my other underground venture which was the 900 year old salt mines at the edge of Krakow. We spent an entire morning walking corridors into huge rooms, often with statues carved in the salt, a very large cathedral which is used weekly, a complex of dining halls and souvenier shops, and much, much else -- and after that time we had seen only about 2% of the mines. That fact is staggering! My mild claustrophobic bent kept reminding me that I was nearly 300 steps deep in the bowels of the earth. I tend to feel like Debra who enjoyed the mines more than I did but who said emphatically that humans are not supposed to be deep underground -- nor high in the sky for that matter. It's not natural and it discomforts those of us who are sensitive to our bodily sensations.
This is a lovely flower we found in a forest. Everyone noticed the unusual pink and purple petals on the same flower. The ever accommodating Tomas spent some time that night on his computer but could not discover the name, either folk name or botanical name. We were all enchanted with it.

And finally a mildly decent picture of myself in the rolling pasture land. There were hay fields and truly pastoral herds of sheep in the distance. We walked through the near village [I think that's where the log barn was] and then through the village in the left hand distance. After a hot uphill slog in the noon day sun -- as sweat drenched every part of me -- we stopped for one of the wonderful picnics under some shady trees. The hearty half of the group then hiked over hill and dale another hour and a half, while others of us went in the van to the foot of a grand castle where we had time for ice cream or beer or coffee, depending on our bent, which fortifed us for the several hundred steps up into a very, very grand castle the construction of which spanned from the 1200s to the 1700s. Views from it were spectacular.
... End of travelog -- until I feel the need to write about some other aspect thereof. I'm truly happy I now have seen a bit of Central Europe. My world view is broadened, I feel enriched. And I'm still just a bit stiff from all the walking and intend to soothe that very promptly with a hot bath.