Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sunday crats fair

I love taking Sunday walks here in the city. So many places to go, so much to see, such tempting things to buy or talk oneself out of buying! Such interesting people to watch and cute little dogs not to trip over. Sunday was not a sunny, beautiful day that called me to the parks so I walked along Columbus Ave. and found it's already time for the spring crats show on the blocks behind the Natural History Museum. Two blocks of these promising tents! Each one full of wonderful things.
Treasures! I am just agape at the wonderful things crafts people make. Necklaces and earrings of great imagination and beauty, ceramics so interestingly built and glazed, glass, photographs, weaving, more. This annual craft fair, which will be there next weekend too, has high class artisans. Prices are reasonable for the quality, but higher than I'm willing to pay considering that I don't NEED anything .. but who does? These aren't things to need except if you are sensorialy deprived. I'm not. Those who are aren't at such shows. Those who buy, and I hope for the artist's sake there are many who do buy, are indulging and that's okay. I resisted but enjoyed looking.

But the avarice or acquisition button had been pushed. Across the street is a weekly flea market, cheaper stuff, most of it not of the same quality. So when I saw a hand painted [by hard working Indian craftsmen who many, many of the same design] leather purse, I asked the cost. $25 said the vender, who had two tables heaped with bags, most of them embroidered or appliqued fabric. "I love it but it's more than I want to pay," I said. And then, because I have some experience bargaining, I looked at other purses, came back to that one and sighed. "I'd take 20," he said. Well, okay. If it were a market in a different country, I would have bargained more but this is about as good as one can hope and I was willing. So it's mine, sunny and cheery and large enough to hold most of what I carry around. I was happy with the day.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Not senility, Somenex

About once every couple of months I have a toss-and-turn night when I can feel the quality of restlessness is not going to turn off easily. Not that there's any specific thing I'm worrying about or keyed up over. So I put on the timed radio and try to fall asleep to whatever classical music is playing. One would think a Delius Nocturne would be dull enough to do the trick, but no. After midnight there was Schmidt's first symphony [Yes there is a Schmidt, a Budapester who died in the 1930s]. And so it went from 11:30 to 12:30 to 2:00 and I wasn't any closer to sleep. This is so rare that I haven't asked my MD for a RX drug, I resort to Somenex OTC or if there's arthritic pain in a knee Tylenol PM. My impression is that I am suspectable to most any drug that is taken so rarely and the placebo effect is not to be discounted. But it works.

The crummy thing is if I've waited until after 2:00 to take it, I don't really feel like getting up at 6:00 or 6:30 and when I pull myself out of bed at 7:00 I'm a bit groggy and slow. Thus it was this morning. However, I made my usual strong coffee and got to work at 8:30 and my mind had cleared and I was awake. Today has been gray and rainy all day and my apartment does not get sun -- I hate the paltry light I get! But, aside from the drippy umbrella and the puddles to avoid it was an okay day. Nothing unusual happened at all -- until I went out about 2:30 leaving work and started down the sidewalk in what passed for broad daylight in this weather. I looked down and -- well the picture tells all.
I have worn one navy and one black sock at times. But NEVER before shoes from two different pair. Thus my title above -- this is not senility, I swear it! It's the Somenex. If it ever happens again it WILL be senility because I'm going to be VERY careful hereafter on these hung over-ish mornings.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Scraps - scrappy quilts

A very satisfing afternoon is to listen to a broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera and play with my bag of fabric scrapes. To me "quilt" and "scraps" are almost synonymous even though I know better ay are leftovers from other projects. My fabrics are new but "scrappy quilts" are my favorite. Lots of patterns, lots of colors all sewn together into some pattern, all working together. Both will take quite some time, one will be just 2 inch squares hand sewn while traveling, a take-along project, mindless but remembering the old adage, "idle hands do the devil's work". Not me! No idle hands if I can help it. Someone sent me her UFO, rows of 2" squares. I'll make more rows untl if have enough for a square. I won't be be "special" or very creative. but it will be "quilty" in an old fashioned sense.

Often, very often, I've made scrap quilts and likened them to the variety of people in the world. I am not alone among people who love living in New York who enjoy the variety of our people. To return to the city after a week in the Midwest among people who all "look like me" and to get on a subway or a city bus and look around and see that almost no one "looks like me" is a great joy, to see the variety of people, age, race, social class. The variety and that it's all there in harmony is wonderful whether bits of cotton print or crowds at Times Square.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Received, art quilt

Yes, it's a bunny. And I do know Easter is long past; but it IS spring and bunnies are busy this time of year, you know. This one was a little extra gift. If you click the picture, he'll enlage to bigger than he actually is so you can appreciate him.

This is to share with you-all the work of Crystal who made the bunny and also, entirely by hand, a double sided 8x8 little art quilt Here are the two sides.
Again if you click you can see the embroidery stitches and that she's usd layers of felt and ribbon and added beads and the two sides are complimentary while being whole unto themselves. This is a talented woman! Just had to show it off. It may inspire me to do double sided piece one of these days ... a good idea is always worth stealing.
The only thing missing is that she did not add her name, which all artists really ought to do.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Birthday Boy, April 23, 1584

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impeduiments; love is not love
which alters when alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove,
Oh no, it is an ever fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compase come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man every loved.

Yes, it's Shakespeare's birthday and this is one of the most famous sonnets.

To read the sonnets is to understand that a language may become poorer and threadbare with use over a few centuries. Yes, we have many new words and new ideas, but we don't have the cadance that is poetic, we don't routinely use the metaphors and similies as they were used in the 1600s.

To read the plays and see them, is to understand that human psychology didn't need Freud to define everything from grand passions and ambitions to neuroses to stand up comedy. It's all there and more -- how did one man capture so much and simply put it on a page without having to say "look, look, Hamlet's depressed, Othello is so insecure he's a pushover for a whispering, envious bigot, Lear's an egosticial old tyrant..." he just shows us these and all the others. This is genius, this is amazing. And it's on our bookshelves to read and wonder at any time we tear ourselves from lesser things and crave a brief hour or two in contact with the best of the best. The I Ching which is full of ancient wisdom says we are what we put into our odies - both the food we eat and the things that fill our minds. If we choose Shakespeare, even once in a while, over a best seller, we are made better. Truly.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Did I miss EARTH DAY? Or is it still coming? The Sunday NYTimes Magazine was chock full of things people are doing and positing. I hope some of it works even though it's all a drop in the bucket. I hope it's not going to be all hype and nothing really happening -- it seems there is even a mental disease now about guilt for not doing enough. Jez!

Those of us who grew up several decades ago in simpler circumstances learned a lot of the things being suggested now -- like drying clothes on a line outdoors. Like not washing a towel just because someone dried on it after a bath -- good heavens, it's got only clean water on it. Like not leaving the lights on or the refrigerator door open or the tap running. Many of us learned "waste not, want not" as a way of life. Save left overs and make soup or casseroles. Those are the simple things. Some of us like to walk or ride bicycles.

It's still poetry month. Here's one by Susan Hahn called "HYSTERIA"
I know I know
I took in too much
the tree was there
with its enticing skins,
the garden intolerably quiet,
the snake so colorful, resolute,
I thought if I could just fondle
the fruit ... but now, Please God,
I want to go back to the beginning
of the day so I can say no thank you
it's all considerably more han I can handle.

And while we're drawing morals - or are we? -- this poem speaks to why we need to make a fuss about Earth Day and all the ecologists are talking about, everyday.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Beautiful Weekend

What a lovely weekend! SPRING!!! In all its glory was here. It will probably regress, it always seems to but this was a gift to savor. Plus to was great to see people. Ellen was here for a couple of days and we went to THE CONNECTION, a play off-B'way. An anomaly, a play made from a movie and not vice versa -- and although I didn't see the movie, it worked as a play.

Saturday was a perfect spring day and we took advantage of it by going to the Brooklyn Botanical garden where, among much, much else we saw these spectacular tulips ... and about half the popularion of Brooklyn. When spring bursts forth so do all the people who have been penned up in their apartments. There's a sense of general enjoyment in the air.

Ellen's purpose for coming was to see Martha Mithcel, In Mostly Her Own Words, written by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro and acted by Geraln Horton, dircted bo June Lewin. It was especially delightful to make dinner for the group, minus Rosanna who has family in NYC, but including the pianist, Joan Faber and
her husband. It's a wonderful play, a talented bunch of people -- all from Boston -- and so timely since civil liberties that are still being ignored by the Washington insiders. Wonderfully done to a far too small an audience. So there was good theatre, good talk, and good, good weather, which included beautiful flowers.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stash additions

I have been stash building with some private swaps and added some really neat things. The first picture shows several European fat quarters swapped for some of my excess magazines. I think many of these are going to go into a black and red commissioned quilt. Hurray!
And then there was a swap with Tina who is Hawaiian by birth but now lives in Georgia; she wanted buttons and generously sent a LOT of fabric cuts including a couple of her hula prints, one with wonderful little "hula kids." And then a really great selection of prints and plains -- I had a Christmas in April moment - in fact almost felt like I'd won a lottery -- all for clearing a lot of buttons out of my button box.
It is still April and still National Poetry Month and I have been lax about sharing the wonderful poems I enjoy very much. Here is the end of a fairly long poem written by Stanley Kunitz when he was in his 70s. He's no longer with us but he was over 90 when he died and left us much wonderful poetry, the wisest, I think, written in the last two decades of his life.

From "The Layers"

How shall the heart
be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of
my friends,
those who fell along
the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulating somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone
on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night
when the moon
was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus=clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not in the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of
in already written.
I am not done with
my changes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Finished, well almost

So the asnwer was simple, I added a flock of parrots, fused from an interesting big piece of fabric I've had quite some time. They stretch all across the top and some have settled further down in the quilt
and now that it's done -- except for hand sewing down the hanging sleeve and adding the label -- I am beating myself up because I have not yet learned the color lesson of contrast. The parrots blend in entirely to much. I like them but that's because this is the method I've been using to dress myself in a near monochromatic way most of my adult life. I did all those 20 "star quartet" quilts to learn the lesson of contrast and it hasn't sunk in yet. Well, I have an idea for one more of these chopped up nine patch designs with what, I hope, will be an interesting contrast with a fabric I have with some dramatic beasties to add more dramatially than these parrots. We will see ... it'll be probably a month. There's always more to learn, more to try. I doubt I'll ever, every be bored.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ah spring!

Yes, I promised a picture of the finished jewel colored quilt and the additionas and, yes, I have those photos but that will wait until tomorrow since Blogger did not want to accept photos yesterday. Yesterday was a Sunday when it would have been almost a sin not to go out and enjoy the abundande of flowers that have burst forth. It was so beautiful I took a lot o pictures. Yes, I know everyone in the northern hemisphere is enjoying spring and I'm not the only person looking at two-tone daffodils and thinking I'm looking at some kind of miracle. There are areas of massed daffodils and massed tulips under trees throughout the park. It's breathing takingly beautiful.

Then there are the flowering trees, some are magnolias, I'm not sure what the others are, I just call them delights. For about three weeks it will be glorious to walk through the park, and also through the city for the sidewalks ar bordered in many places with flowering trees. When you're old enough to know that there will not be 50 more springs during which to enjoy this wonder, you try to take time to look and enjoy
The garden that is the center of Broadway -- from the sixties on up -- is planted with flowering trees an beds of flowers. Just walking along the street is a treat, even when there's a surprisingly chilly breeze as there was today.

It's poetry month still and I don't have a spring poem to quote today but they're all true.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Empire Quilters Guild

It's been three months since I've been to an Empire Guild meeting. I was reminded of the things I like about the group. It's a VERY large guild -- I don't know if there are any larger ones in the US. There are over 350 members so it's not intimate, but the tone is always warm. And it's SO New York -- the members are so varied, just like the city and area, becaue many are not from the immediate MYC area. Show and tell can be lengthy, but it's wonderful because one sees the variety: white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Russian, European and the quilts range from beginning to very accomplished; it's not all quilts, there were tote bags and vests and jackets and an embroidery piece. Two members, as well as the guest speaker were touting their very attractive books on quilting.

The quilt pictured here, the Big Apple Quilt of course, [photo by HamlinRose who do all our photography and the very excellent newsletter was a fund raiser. Many hundreds of tickets were sold to people all over the area. I think to everyone's surprise, one of the very active members of the group, Debra Levin, won the quilt.

Every month there are 15 to 20 assortments of quilty items raffled and I always buy tickets -- but so does everyone else. I really had hoped this would be the time this year my name was called, but it wasn't. Alas. This illustrates why I don't buy lottery tickets -- I always think of an ad Citibank ran years ago on billboards, they said, "Somebody will win the lottery. But it won't be you." The tag line of course, advised playing it safe and sane with a Citibank account. Well, I consider it my $2 contribution each meeting to the guild. Plus I am still getting rid of years of magazine I've saved so I donated 40 or 50 which they sell for 25 cents, so maybe another $10 donation and happy to have they out of the house -- there aer still many, many to haul off to future meetings.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Quilt top. Nancy Pelosi

As promised, proof that I am quilting. This is the second step -- after I put together 25 nine-patch squares, all alike,just nine fabrics, no r.andom additions, and then I cut them up and put them back together, this is what I had Then I sewed the 25-blocks into a square , bordered it first with black and then with a blue print [print doesn't show in picture] and it will have a stripped binding. I like the colors which aren't very true in the pictures [as usual]. So here's a corner. I like it but not enough. So I've been adding fused additions which I will show after the weekend when Ill be able, I hope, to get the whole thing quited and finished.
I like it but I think, oncea again, I've been to conservative and need more contrast.

Now to the Tibet situation once more -- it hasn't ended and I hope it doesn't until China makes some move in response to Western criticism. Nanc Palosi and others introdced a resolutioninto the House of Representatives today calling for China to stop the violence in Tibet and to meet with the Dalai Lama to attempt a substantive agreement. The resolution passed with only one dissenting vote [Ron Paul of Pennsylvania] This vote may not influence China but the it could be heard of Bush's advisors. A real move seems to be afoot for heads of state to boycott the opening ceremonies, which would be a real problem for Chinesed dignity. Hurray Ms. Pelosi!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Critical Mass, Amassing?

In unsettled times there are always people who get beat up, jailed and too many are murdered but there are wonderful -- even amazing -- stories too. The wonderful American Buddhist monk who is working, and blogging from, Mongolia, Konchong is worth reading as he, with input from the Brazilian journalist/photographer, Heraldlo, tells a purely Tibetan story.
I am highly skeptical about reincarnation but it seems to me that it "works" in the Tibetan Buddhist sense although the skeptic in me says it could be that once a child has been "recognized" he, once in a while she, is on a road that leads to extraordinary education and accomplishment. This young tulku leaves me agape.

So much is happening with the torch, surely the critical mass of world opinion must reach even the deafest ears of the Chinese honchos who are, we all believe, very concerned about how the world reacts to the Olympics. I hope we are watching history in the making.

In the making here at my sewing machine is a small quilt that is pleasing me, color-wise especially. It's all jewel colors -- deeper than my Sparkle Plenty" quilt and more satisfying to me. But it needs a bit of a kick. I have an idea ... pictures tomorrow.

Monday, April 07, 2008

A Melange

The British protested, but with some restraint. The French were more forceful, they put out the Olympic torch a couple of times so the authorities resorted to taking it. They've already hung a Free Tibet sign on the Golden Gate Bridge and thousands will be out protesting. The Chinese leadership proclaim that the torch is a sign of peace and fellowship. They aren't fooling anyone when in their own country peace and fellowship is at the end of a gun and in crowded jail cells where the potential protesters are, they think and hope, out of the way. HURRAY for the French! And everyone else protesting. Hurray for Hillary who said Bush should not attend the opening ceremonies.

On one of the many blogs and news-feeds I've read someone mentioned that it seemed a ceratin critical mass no one saw building suddenly toppled the Berlin wall and the mighty Kremlin power structure [we know the Kremlin's still got an iron fist in their velveteen glove]... so maybe the critical mass is accumulating when the Chinese honchos will see they can save what bit of face isn't egg smeared by changing tactics. It's a drream. I'll make no bets nor hold my breath. But hope, oh, I hope!
A grandmother can't
be faulted for showing off a little bit. This is Cori, the grandduaghter married three weeks ago to Jason [definitely the tallest member of the family! if you except the Indiana contingent on my side].

This being a melange sort of post, and National Poetry month still moving along day by day, here is a piece of a much longer poem by Charles Wright called Desjecta Membra, which means picces of memories and which he calls in a note bits of things he has learned in a lifetime. I don't find this dour, perhapsl world."

Is this the life we long for
to be at ease in the natural world,
Blue rise of Blue Ridge
Indente and absolute through the January oak limbs,
Turkey buzzard at work on road-kill opossum, up
And flapping each time
A car passes and coming back
huge and unfolded, a black bed sheet,
Crows fierce but out of focus high up in the ash tree,
Afternoon light from stage left
Low and listless, little birds
Darting soundlessly back and forth, husn, hush?
Well, yes, I think so.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

How a Quilt Series Start, Opera in HD

I looked and looked at the quilt I finished a couple days ago and wondered what would happen if...the block is smaller the choices are less random...so I've started another with 3-1/2 inch blocks instead of 5 inch and the squares will all be the same except the center blocks of which half will be green and half red. It'll be lap size not throw size- unless I decide on a large border. So I sewed the squares today and will take a photo before I cut them up and put them back together. it's the "What if" factor...that starts series. This has some promise. We'll see.

I was going to do another poem today but I went this afternoon to another opera from Italy in HD video at Symphony Space - this from Florence, La Forza del Destino, a Verdi opera I've been listening to for 50 years but never saw. And never paid much attention to the convoluted story. href="http://bp2.blogger.com/_jjrQOShQkdg/R_lmOo95KdI/AAAAAAAAA0w/BU1ibttiIuM/s1600-h/media42c14486b75fc.jpg"> Just as well I never focused on the story - it's horrible! Based on the machismo "revenge" motive, full of glory of war and religious mania. Tried hard to listen to the glorious voices -- the sound was excellent, voices beautiful. [Violetta Urbana as in picture here and marcello giordani and Carlo Guelfi]. But only one scene was theatrically powerful and my critical mind just wouldn't stop hating the ridiculous story.

Plus the video was almost primitive. There was no editing as such, long periods of nothing -- or orchestra tuning up what seemed interminably. Lighting awful. I know the Metropolitan Opera is truly well produced and the video is top notch, but the Italians, justly proud of their opera tradition, should be ashamed of not getting good video people. It was painful - truly painful to listen to the orchestra tuning and have the camera focus on cables on the floor! Picky, picky! But really ...

Saturday, April 05, 2008

One more done - no end in Tibet

This was my first spur of the moment quilt - well not first ever, first this year. There was danger of it languishing into UFO-dom, but instead I finishded it last evening. You can't see but it has a peachy colored backing with little white polka dots. This turns to the front for a finishing border about 2" wide. At first I didn't like this quilt very much but as I finished it I liked it quite a bit. Then I lay it on the sofa for contemplation and realized I've used the same colors as on the "Sparkle Plenty" quilt {you can scroll down a little bit and see for yourself} here with emphasis on blue, there on pink but very similar. The backing is such a lovely cotton, it feels positively silky. Very happy about the quilt now.

The bad news from Tibet/China dosn't stop. More killings, many, many more arrests. The heavy handed, idiotic campaign to have monks write and speak defamatorily about the Dalai Lama is so exceedingly stupid! it pushes both monks and regular people right over the edge. This cartoon is from the Arizona Republic by Steve Benson.
And for those who aren't really following the news - the Moslems who are a majority in far also being brutally repressed. They don't want the Olympic torch passing through their cities. But you know it WILL.

Consider the extreme stupidiy of this: one man who has always spoken for nonviolence has become the most feared demon by the heads of the biggest country on earth. He is so demonized the simple people may be jailed for simply possessing his photograh. Think about that! Are the Chinese leaders crazy or what?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. For the third year I am on Knopf's list of people to whom they send a poem a day during April. It's lovely to know my email will contain a poem each day. Today I'm going to quote a part of a longish poem by Galway Kinnell that I have recently come across all by myself. The title is When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone. There are eleven thirteen line sections, this is #8.

When one has lived a long time alone,
one likes alike the pig the who brooks no deferrment
of gratification, and porcupine, or thorned pig,
who enters the cellar but not the house itself
because of eating down the cellar stairs on the way up,
and one likes the worm, who by bunching herself together
and expanding rubs her way through the ground.
no less than the butterfly, who totters full of worry
among the day-lilies as they darken,
and more and more one finds one likes
any other species better than one's own,
which has gone amok, making one self-estranged,
when one has lived a long time alone.

This is a crochety older person poem, a bah-humbg poem, a hell in a handbasket attitude. Well said, Mr. K. Far better than I ever could.

But to return briefly to the ongoing -- let's not forget there are ongoing problems. Thanks to my favorite blogging American Buddhist monk stationed in Mongolia, Konchong; is the following link to click which will take you to the English section of a blog by a
Brazilian photographer and journalist in Kathmandu who went to a peaceful protest with a group of nun and reports with some pictures, how Tibetans are being treated in that country which has a most ambivalent attitude, thanks to pressures put on them by the Chinese, who, of coures make up their northern border. If Konchong says Heraldo is worth reading, you better believe it. If you want to check on Konchung, here's
his link
just click.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Lastest book, latest atrocity

Alexandra David-Neel is such a heroine to me, I wrote a play about her that had a badly cast reading here in NYC and then when a computer crashed I lost the MS. I had thought it was on disk, had thought I had hard copy. No, neither. And I had some scenes that I really liked. Damn!. Anyway, I had read a long bio of her plus Alexandra's books, Magic and Msytery in Tibet and My Journey to Lhasa -- both amazing and still in print, I think. She wrote much else, mostly still only in French. Anyway, this book by Ruth Middleton is relatively short but a masterful job of telling a complex, highly episodic story in a readable and flowing way. There are only a few new details but the refreshing of my memory is done very intelligently.

Aexamdra was a French/Benglian woman who found Buddhism early in life but sort of staggered about trying to find her path until well into middle age. She was an opera singer, a writer, and finally married really brilliantly but almost immediately went off to India "for a year or so" which proved to be 16 years -- during which time her husband kept sending money. Amazing! She became very erudite and highly esteemed as a Buddhist, traveled all over the Orient and finally made her journey to Lhasa with one young lama for companionship, on foot, at the age of 54, in disguise, surviving winter in the mountains and innumerable hardships. That alone is amazing but so was the preceeding life and the life after which extended into her 100th year. What a story!

TIBET -- yes! The problems remains although China pretends they can lock down the country and no one else will know things aren't copasetic. They still plan to take the torch both to Lhasa and to the top of Everest on the nothern, Tibet, route. I am far from an anamist but I wish I were and could believe that Sagarmatha [the Sherpa name for the mountain, which is a goddess] would not allow such hubris and would throw up such terribe storms that the torch cannot be taken to the top. Well ... these mere human ambitions are all maya and meaningless finally ... except most of the world doesn't know that. I hate this whole awful situation.