Monday, March 31, 2008

98% Done - Sparkle Plenty Quilt

All I have left to do is hand whip down the binding on the back and add the label. That will happen this evening or soon, when WQXR plays a symphony or concerto I especially want to stop and listen to.

Yes, I'm calling it "Sparkle Plenty" because I liked the name of Dick Tracy's girlfriend though I never liked hatchet jawed Dick and didn't read the comic strip. It sparkles embarrassingly! But the fabric was interesting to work with. It is from Wal-Mart, not a wonderful quilting cotton, probably mostly polyester The hand is that of a nice silk taffada but it handles very comfortably. The pink border is a decorator fabric, a bit heavier but also easy to work with.

What got into me to make something so shiny-bright? Well, today is gray, chilly and damp and so many of the last three weeks have been like this, so call it sun hunger, reaction to gray. I need to find someone who would really like something like this as a throw for a sofa -- it sure doesn't fit in my living room. Did I use the word "madness" yesterday?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Bit of March Madness

Ever since I was a kid I've loved questionnaires and opinion polls and such whether they are in magazines, e.g., "Are you a romantic?" or on telephone, "Do you have a minute to answer some questions about the governor?" Now there are endless such things on the web and I've found out what kind of flower I am -- but I forgot -- and various other forgettable trivia. The most recent is which tarot card I am -- I kind of wanted to see if it would come out The Fool. Nope? I don't know why I do this, I never found Tarot readings interesting although the symbolism of the picture cards is fascinating. So this is me ...for the moment. The quilter me is going into gear shortly after I read the first section of the Sunday paper that just thumped against my door.

You are The High Priestess

Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.

One last thought: I think I used to do those questionnaires because I had a shaky grasp of who I was. In my "Golden" age, I think I am as sure as possible who I am, so why am I still doing these things? Habit? I kind of like being the High Priestess, but where are are the learners who sit at my feet with notebooks real and digital poised to record my every brilliant thought? I guess we can't have it all.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Museum opening and Open Weekend

The Rubin Museum of Art, Himalayan art, is the museum I visit most in NYC partly because it's quite near where I work and because they have fascinating, always comprehensible exhibits where I don't have the sense of overload I get at other museums. I'm a member so I get invitations to openings. There was one last night with some wonderful bronzes from Nepal and a black and white photo exhibiton of Nepalis that is lovely. < I like openings as a chance to people watch; especially the women who put on their most exotic silk jackets and blouses and wonderful Himalayan jewelry. And I always wish I had done the same, but I rarely do. I wound up having a long conversation -- well, not so much conversation as listening session -- when a woman I happen to sit beside poured out a contratemps she was in in a restaurant and threw in most of the rest of of her life, and she was 74 so there was a lot of life. I like listening to people's stories.
It seems there is so little work at my place of employment that I've decided to tell myself I'm "semi-retired" and plan days accordingly and then be flexible enough to go and do some work when I'm called. So I'll divide time between writing and sewing and some piano and evenings, of course, usually reading. A small change of attitude feels good. I may finish the glittery quilt this weekend and maybe even a UFO. I had hoped to go to a big quilt show in Lancaster with my guild but the trip was cancelled for lack of interest which makes me sad. I've even played with the idea of getting on a bus and going to Lancaster; but I was mentally primed for getting on a bus here and going directly to the show, no steps in between. So I'll do my own sewing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The law of threes?

Lots of people have heard that things come in threes, be they good or bad. I'm not sure that's true but I've noticed that political things are impinging on my attention a great deal lately, and not just because the omnipresent primaries [I think I've hung upon Hilary's telemarketing mssage three times in three days and I LIKE Hilary]. The bigger things going on: Tibet is still top of the mind and I'm alert to every piece of news, hoping the Chinese will talk to the Dalai Lama. Glad the a Polish dignitary says he won't go to the Olympic opening, and Sarkozky of France might not either -- Hurray! I hope more join them in protest.

Then as I wrote about yesterday there was the Carter documentary. Number three was today's transcription job, a documentary about Kennedy's presidency. The experience is very different sitting comfortably in a theatre or listening with full attention to every word on a documentary, trying to remember who was who in the Cabinet, etc. So the Kennedy story was very vivid today -- with the inevitable lump in the throat at the end. And how beautiful Jackie was!
Enough seriousness. I've been making little quilt things, a small wall hanging for a woman who likes Frida Kahlo with four little photo transfers -- and I mailed it off before I took a photo -- call it a senior moment! Today I'm quilting one the orphan blocks from Cori's quilt for another woman -- it will turn into a pillow cover. Nice to use up something like that and maybe there'll be a photo [if memory holds out]. The photo above is a pincushion, hand made and sent to me by a woman in France. For a reason that is probably not rational, I find it delightful -- sort of a sunflower -- plus it sits solidy and holds pins as I do hand work at my comfy chair away from my sewing table. One of life's tiny, but heart warming little things. I am finding lovely people from many places hrough the site.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Man From Plains

I know a lot of people who are mainly involved in arts or crafts pay little attention to politics. This is an unusual year and more people are paying attention. Record numbers of people have registered for the Michigan primary. People are aware historic things are happening In fact, I heard a beggar sitting on the sidewalk, talking to someone say, "We could elect a woman or black man this year. We are going to make history." This is not a typical voter or political comentator. So I can't apologize for bringing up politics, be it Tibet -- which I'm still watching -- or the documentary I saw the other night.

The Man from Plains is, obviously, about Jimmy Carter. It was produced, apparently, to help him push his book Palestine, Peace or Apartheid. His most controversial foray so far. The film mainly shows Carter in debate about his position which is that the Palestinians are being treated in much the same way blacks were treated in South Africa during apartheid. He backs up is assertions very convincingly and he debates all kinds of people with calm and with facts and he maintains his moral stance with dignity. The film gives us a broad background of Carter, emphasizes the Camp DAvid peace accord - which as far as Egypt and Israel are concerned has held. But he is adamant that the Israeli's are very much in violation of human rights in their treatment of the Palestinians.

Like many documentaries, there are periods that are dull and times when you say, "enough already." But it is a strong statement and still needs to be discussed and shown. Knowing that there are two sides to political situations is important and listening to the loudsst, most popular voice is often a mistake. I've always admired Carter. I was especially moved when someone asked him if he shouldn't have bombed Iran when they took the hostages and suggested we might not now have an "Iran problem" [if we do] -- Carter said he negotiated and as a result all the hostages came home alive and no innocent Iranis were killed. ... Put that against the number of innocent Iraqis who've died in the last five years and the 4,000 Americans who have also died in the abominable war that continues in Iraq.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spur of the Moment Quilt

Once in a while, perhaps once a year, I see a quilt in a magazine and think: that should be quick and easy and I know just the fabric I could use. Then I get busy and make it spit-spat like Mary Poppins says -- at least the top. Here's a lay out in the recent newsletter of the Ameican Quilter's Society. I actually don't think it's very pretty and I've kind of avoided quilts that have a stained glass effect. But --

I knew the exact fabric I could use -- pastels with gold patterning, too glitzy and yet something about them appealed to me. So I followed the quite easy dircitons -- use 24 10-1/2 squares cut them a shuffle them to get different color combinations Then sew them together using narrow stripping. Super easy, I had a navy that would make nice stripping.
And quick=quick it was done, all the main part is together. I've decided on a border -- NOT red -- that calms the piece down a little, and a backing that should be just fine. I think it's going to be too glitzy and pastel-y for me and will be given away somewhere unless I see an opportunity to sell it. I'm not sure how to quilt it. There's the rub -- if I can't decide on quilting it could move into UFO-dom ... I hope not. We'll see.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

What I Just Finished Reading

Sometimes when browsing the thrift store bookshelves I buy a book because of its jacket copy which is why I bought Per Olov Enquist's The Book of Marie and Blanche -- certainly not for the photo if a swooning Blanche which made it look like a bodice ripper. Enquist is Swedish and apparently has a good reputation -- certainly I will read anything else of his I come upon. Marie is Madame Curie, who won two Nobel Prizes for her work with radium, once with her husband Pierre and once on her own, and Blanche is Blanche Wittman, who worked as an assistant to Marie -- and lost both legs and one arm to radiation poisoning but had previously been an inmate at the infamous asylum in Paris, Salpeterier where she was a protege and possibly lover of Prof. Charlcot who is remembered as a hypnotist and mentor of the young Sigmund Freud. Two VERY interesting women with complex and interesting lives who lived together after Pierre's death.

Enguist has a poetic style that was both fascinating and sometimes irritating with overwrought language at times [but appropriate to the period and to Blanche's "hysterical" personality]. Little by little their biographies are told, a process of discovery that is appropriate to the story of scientific discovery also. With one brief love affair, after Pierre's death, Marie destroyed her career basically for the same reason Eliot Spitzer destroyed his career -- because the public outrage was brutal. True Spitzer was apparently arrogantly careless. Marie was alsocareless in writing a letter that she said "should never have been written." One brings to whatever comes across our path whatever is in the current "air" -- so this parallel was timely and would not have come to mind had I read the book two months ago. It is unlike any other fictionalized biograhy I've ever read.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Links about Tibet Unrest. New Quilt Done

No bloody pictures today but, you can be sure there's a great deal of blood still being spilled in the uprising, which is general throughout Tibet and areas of China with Tibetan populations. Here are two links so any one interested can read what news is coming out [or part of it] First a compilation of artricles from a Buddhist magazine
Tricycle which is put together by the editor and has been a good source of information. And then a day-by-day listing of events from Reuters and I sincerely hope these links work because inputting them can be confusing. But click and try. And you can Google both Tricycle and Reuters. Click the links.

So okay, this is supposed to be a blog mainly about quilting. I've finished this little art quilt and sent it off for a SAQA regional trunk show. And I immediately regretted it, feeling it's really not as good as it should be and I should start all over again, maybe use different colors. I actually did make two versions of another little quilt I had in a SAQA trunk show and still don't like either very much. I don't feel like a visual artist and feel helpless about putting my mental vision into actuality. The first picture is of the whole quilt minus a bit of it's edges. I'm about to decide I must get a different digital camera. I don't get color or defintion I want -- ever. The second is a detail which shows the "Five First Daughters" of the title. On the viewer's left in the picture is my mother with infant me in her lap. In the round picture the young woman is First Daughter #5, Leslie. The subtitle is "mitochondrial DNA" which, if I understand right, is passed from mother to daughter. So I may make another one, but in the meantime I'm sewing a traditional quilt again, partially cut out, my first made with Drunkards' path blocks. The second of two that I showed pictures of way back in the fall and said I wanted to make. I have been afraid of the cuved seaming although in dressmaking I never had much trouble setting in sleeves. But I am having some troubles with these. Well, I need a lot of little blocks and I'll get it right, it's got to be a matter of practice, practice ... The new quilt is almost entirely black and white which I've also never done. I can stick to traditional quilts and still have new challenges for many years to come.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I am not sorry to harp on Tibet

Yes, I did some quilting today but I'm going to write about that tomorrow. The things happening in Tibet, India, Nepal are bigger than our media are telling us. I've been reading blogs and other websites with news directly from Tibet. The uprising is not a few monks, it's ordinary men, women and children - and, yes, children are being killed too. But this can't be another Tieneneman Square with the uncounted bodies hushed - times have changed, partly thanks to the internet and thanks to China's eagerness to look like a bright shiny new dime in the world of Olympics and trade. Something very important is happening. I don't dare think Tibet will become truly autonomous but I think the situation is reaching critical mass. Please click here to send a letter to the Olympic committee asking them put pressure on China to stop the killings. There's also a petition you can sign to be taken to the Chinese leaders, the more names the better of course. It's only a couple of minutes of your time; you don't have to sit on our hands and watch history without participating. The Tibetans have lived under the iron hand of China for fifty years. They want to be free to be Tibetans, not second class citizens in their own country. PLEASE help them at least with a signature.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Keep Tibet in Mind

What if the President of the US announced that the Congress or the Constitution should now replace Jesus in the lives of all American Christians? Youmd think it was a comedy routine, or you'd be insulted, and probably furious. Most Americans take for granted they can have their religion AND the political system they believe in. Well, the new head of what has euphemistically been called The Tibet Autonomous Region. I think he believes it.

I know people who read this blog are not much interested in politics but do one simple thing, please -- to understand what's happening in the Asia. Click on this link which is a blog written by a wonderful man from New Jersey who happens to be a Buddhist monk who works in Mongolia. He writes his blog brilliantly. He quotes part of the long NY Times article that describes the above comment. Reading the article on the subway home today gave me a real stomach ache. He gives lots of links also, exploring them is fascinating. Konchung's [his Buddhist name] is a blog I always read even when he's off on a birding adventure.
I'm moving along with this little quilt, there's a real possibility I'll have it done tomorrow; I've just finished the hand quilting of double helices on either side of the central picture. I have more quilting to do, by machine, and then the finishing touches--a decisin whether I'm going to use some buttons to echo the round picture. Definitely there will be twine around the outer edges. I'm liking the knots in it a lot. And still wondering why I felt like giving those dour old grammas such pretty colors when I have plenty of grays and browns in my stash --guess I'm grateful for the mitochondrial DNA they passed on.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Bestial and the Beautiful

The last few days have been a mix of awarenesses. I'm following the events in Tibet and am happy that finally some of the news media are covering the protests as Tibetans ask to be recognized as legitimate citizens of their own country. I am horrifid, but not surprised that the Chinese military police are using murderous force. The Dalai Lama has been quoted using the term observers have been using for years, "cultural genocide" which has been a policy for 50 years by the Chinese in Tibet. For further coverage go to the Tricycle link in my previous blog,they are covering it as well as anyone, they are a Buddhist publication in America.

I've just returned from Cori's wedding. So many photos were being taken by a very good photographer that I did not even take out my camera except a couple of times. The picture here was from a distance and of course, as always light is a problem. But this is just after they were pronounced "man and wife" and the look on Cori's face was so radiant I thought she was going to levitate.
Altogether it was an amazing weekend - in several senses. It was sort of surreal to stay at an opulently decorated B-and-B called Fernbrook Inn, in Centerville which I would recommend. It's an historic estate with grounds planned by Frederick Law Olmstead, it's still a work in progress with more rooms becoming available each season. In the midst of family, of last minute details, of a birthday party for the bride's father ... a segment of my mind was on Tibet. At the same time I was watching two young people's extremely happy moments. So many contradictions in life, the immediate is the most real apparently, yet I have been in Lhasa and seen the omnipresence of police so that is more real to me than, say, problems in Kosovo or Iraq. What a painful and sometimes wonderful world.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Chinese violence against Tibetan in Lhasa

I have to write another blog today which has nothing to do with quilting, nor anything domestic and local. We New Yorkers are all hung up on the sexual antics of our now-ex-governor Spitzer. This is puppy poop compared to what I've just read about on the blog of an American Buddhist monk that I read regularly. I have been to Tibet twice and written a book about traveling and travelers there, Phantom Voices in Tibet. Sadly, few Americans share my passion. However, even with the summer Olympics looming and China being very anxious to prove it is a fit partner on the world stage [never mind the poison in heparin, the lead in the paint on children's toys and all the other ugly things we read about regularly]. Even with the world watching they have pulled a Tinenaman Square manouver in the heart of Lhasa, Tibet, bringing in tanks and killing protesters. The BBC news covered the incidents and so has Tricycle magazine but NOT the New York Times nor any other US newspaper as far as I know.

The Dalai Lama called for nonviolence from the Tibetans and for discussion with the Chinese to talk about ten years of especially disheartening and severe repression. The Chinese claim that Tibet is a part of China and has been for hundreds of years. Way back in the 13th Century when Ghingas Kahn conquered the whole shebang as well as parts of what we now call "the stans" and Iran -- the politics were divided into three spheres on leadershinp, Mongolia, China and Tibet. Tibet was entirely independent during the early part of the 20th century. China has heavy handedly, especially during the "cultural revolution" destroyed most of Tibet's monasteries and since then done everything they can to make Tibet and the Tibetans disappear as a culture, from murder to enforced sterilization of women, to colonizing the country with millions of Han Chinese so that they now outnubmer the native Tibetans. Activists are still regularly jailed and tortured and the faux renaissance of the monasteries around Lhasa to which thousands of tourists are now taken are really no more authentic than the Venetian canals to be fournd around casinos in the dessert city, Las Vegas.

There are many horrible situations in the world today; the first news I hear every morning is about how many died in terrorist bombings somewhere, Iraq, Israel, Pakistan. There is NEVER any American news coverage about Tibet. Our general ignorance of this big world we live in is heartbreaking but more heartbreaking is the violence that never stops.

Moving Along/new little quilt

At last a couple of hours to get back to work on this little geneational art quilt, with luck I may be able to finish it by the end of Monday. I'm away for Cori's wedding this weekend -- I've mostly packed and as I work my mind goes over things I want to remember -the battery charger for my digital camera-etc. I've got mostly quilting yet to do. The top picture is a detail, the last three generations. Around the pictures I've couched with clear thread colored twine. In the next picture is the whole handful of the twine that I have been saving for some project.
I'm happy to have found a first use for this pretty twine. I was wandering alone in Ching Mai, Thailand one afternoon and went into a shop which I hoped would have some textiles. It had lots of attractive crafted items but nothing I felt calling my name. Then I noticed this twine - two foot lengths of it, hanging behind the cash register and asked if I could buy some. The proprietor was surprised, maybe shocked. It was simply what they used to tie up bundles of purchases. But like the smart merchant she was, she named a price, a small price, so I bought this twine. It will appear in future projects also I think I am going to finish this little piece with a pillowcase type backing and then will couch twine around the very outer edge. Back to work now.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


On 6th Ave. and 21st Street is a big Barnes-Noble; that is to say at the other end of the block on which is the place I work. My route is usually limited to 7th Ave. unless I specifically want to shop at one of the stores on 6th. So I was stunned when people at work today mentioned the ongoing sale at B-N becasue they're closing. Seems their rent has been increased six times in two years. They are having a 50% off sale -- not everything in ths store which would have een disaster for my credit card -- but off big tables of books in the whole center aisle. The table tops are filled and each side of the table has two shelves beneath -- possibly 500 books per table. And not as much repetition as one might expect.

I sent 30 or 40 minutes browsing, not minutely but, I think efficiently and got off cheap, only a couple of design books and a magazine I was planning to buy anyway. But as I looked over books and books and more books, many novels and nonfiction but also many "junk" books, i.e., picture books, little books of warm fuzzy sayings, books abou cats or dogs or horses, cookbooks, how-tos I began to feel sad about all the stuff that is printed, has no intellectual content, is meant to be eye candy and brain candy. Also, so many novels that someone put a lot of time into with more or less artistic intent and often less artistic accomplishment.

Meanwhile I have added a very eclectic mix of books to my usually eclectic mix. I'm still reading the big quilt book I got a the Metropolitan Museum six weeks ago, and reading the best poetry of 1989-90. But because Gary gave them to me, I've read Maryanne Wiggins, The Shadow Catcher, a novel ostensibly about Edward Curtis who photographed Native Americans, although in fact the books is more about Curtis' wife Clara and about a "character" named Maryanne Wiggins. I had mixed feelings about this book partly because I think the device of becoming a character in a novel you're writing is in a way unfair. It doesn't work because the reader doesn't know whether to believe or not; it's a kind of betrayal of the novelist's job. However, Wiggins can be a very fine writer I thoughtas she wrote a portrait of Curtis. The shortish middle section where he's a character was vivid and masterful.

I expect to finish later this evening, Subtext by Charles Baxter. He's an academic who also writes novels with some critical success. Much of what he write about the subtext of a novel or short story or play makes a lot of sense and is actually useful to a working writer even though this is not at all a how-to but a work of literary criticism

And I've finished Serpent of Light which may be called new age or lunatic ringe or for those who can believe in the importance of ceremony and rite may be a true story. The thesis, if there is one, is that the Mayan calendar which ends at 2012 actually heralds a new age -- one of feminine energy which will replace the masculine energy of the last 12,000 years. I won't go on, there is some informaiton in the book that I find interesting and maybe useful but I always resist the fuzzy thinking of self-styled mystics.

LIke the tables at B-N, I have a bookcase full of unread books - I don't NEED any of those many books for sale. I probably won't get these read because others will come my way, mainly via the thrift stoes. But nothing is more wonderful than books that give useful and interesting and challenging informaton as well as fiction that takes me into other lives. Love books!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

No time to quilt

Beatiful sun, blue sky, very crisp -- cold! -- air. A nice walk through Central Park. Heres's Cleopatra's Needle and a naked tree. The needle's twin is in Paris near the Seine. Both were already very ancient long before Cleo was born, they'd probably lost their brilliant sheaths of gold long before then too.

I was trotting across the park from my cardiologist's office after she had looked at my heart with every current technology including one that made me radioactive most of yesterday [stay away from babies and pregnant women, said she] So far as I could tell I did not glow in the dark last night. Get more exercise said she -- I try. I love these walks but there is only so many hours in a day. Yesterday was pretty well shot with all that imaging but the long waits between events let me nearly finish a very strange book. So strange I don't think I'll write about it = or at least not yet, maybe next week.

My frustration is that I've started the double helix quilting on my little art quilt: I think I should undo what I've done because it's not really noticable in a kind of nice, but hard to use shiny gold rayon thread. I like subtlty but this is too subtle. It's not that the quilting of the double helices, one on eiher side of the main photo, will take so much time, but WHERE am I to find tha time? I won't even list the bunch of mundane other things that are stealing my time. I can't count on good light on the bus going to the Cape this weekend - might be sunny, might not. I won't have much time when there for the wedding plus a birthday party for the bride's dad. Well, one way or another it'll get done -- maybe as early as tomorrow morning ...

Ah there's the a problem, way beyond my control: day light saving time. We "sprung ahead" Sunday, as everyone knows. That means a week or so of a jet lag type disorientated sleeping habits - experienced last night and this morning. This is a weird anomaly that our Congress imposed on us a very long time ago -- I remember being an adolescent and hearing my mother cursing FDR for that ridiculous day light saving time. Well, I'm my mother's daughter in that respect. I'd like it to be un-voted, repealled, is the word I was looking for.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Small art quilt

So the challenge is to make a small art quilt before the end of the month. I put the label on the wedding quilt and now my only excuse for not starting a new quilt is the UFOs -- since when do UFOs stop a new project? And on a late winter day which was deep gray, raining and with the Met's live broadcast being Lucia de Lamamoor -- is there a better aftenoon for dealing with ideas, fabric, transferred photos?

The above is what I laid out yesterday to contemplate. I had a feeling I shouldn't use all the pretty, sherbet-y colors but then this morning I took away the lightest fabric and tried the following and left it to simmer in the mind while I did some work during the morning.

When I set to work later I tried other fabrics but decided to go with these and as I fixed the circular bit, I wondered why I was thinking of those old ladies who really lived rather colorless lives, in such romantic colors. Maybe, thought I, it's what have -- but no, that's not the answer. I have nice dark fabrics in interesing dyes, it could have been very dark but, somehow that's not what I wanted to do. I also decided I don't want the buttons but some interesting twine I bought in Thaliand some time ago.

What I do know is I want to quilt it with double helixes -- the matrilineal DNA -- for these are five first daughters -- all in a line.

Does being a first daughter matter? Some psychologists believe birth rank matters a great deal. I think first daughters are supposed to be resposible an a bit bossy -- but that comes from a time of large families. The three oldest of this line were from large families, I don't know without research how many were in the oldest family, in the next to oldest [my grandmother -- the bonneted woman] was oldest of seven, my mother oldest of five. But thereafter only two per family. So it wasn't a matter of caring for younger siblings. But I do have a great sense of responsibility and my oldest daughter has the same [but so, in fact, does my second daughter] So this is not exactly a psychological proof.

Butwhat we do share is matrilineal DNA giving us high blood pressure, congestive heart disaease. What a cheery thought! I wonder if scientists will eventually discover genes for positive traits... Hmm ...

Friday, March 07, 2008

Neat swaps

When I got up it was a chilly day in March; when I came home and picked up my mail there was a well stuff Priority Mail box and I could tell from the feel of it that there was fabric. When I opened it I decided we had vaulted over most of the year and it was Christmas. A wonderful swap partner from Oregon, another quilter, sent far, far more than the minimum for that particular swap. There were four wonderful pieces of real Bali fabric -- not the Americanized version but the cottons in their distinctive prints, browns with a busy background and birds and flowers hidden in the pattern. Three of the pieces were actual sarong pieces -- I wish I were one of those slim, graceful Balinese women and could wear a sarong with their particular chic. Instead these will be used for quilts -- probably I'll start with the smaller fourth piece which will seem less intimidating to cut into.

Along with the fabric was a big selection of magazines and three books, plus a journal for documenting my quilts -- which I should use in longhand, having lost quite a lot of quilt documentation in my November computer crash. How wonderful to discover such generosity and kindness from a stranger. The special thing about kindness of this sort is that it inspires one to be generous also because you realize what joy it brings another person. It is contagious. Oh, I suppose there are some sorry, benighted souls who don't respond that way, but I think most people do. I'm truly grateful to my Santa-swapper.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hawk siting

A gorgeous sunny morning with a real nip in the air but great to walk home across a quiet Central Park from an MD appointment on the East Side. I was watching for signs of spring -- saw none but heard a lot of birds in the trees but did not see them -- if I were a real birder I'd know where to look.

As I neared my street, walking on Broadway I saw a sidewalk congregation with binoculars, cameras and mouths agape -- casual, incidental birders? Yep. On an window air conditioner just one story above street level was one of NYC's increasing population of hawks, apparently having an early lunch. I did not see what it was tearing into, possibly a pigeon -- hope it wasn't a rat, not for the rat's sake but for the hawk's. Anyway the crowd grew and a man, possibly to whom the air conditioner belonged was leaning out the next window with a camera virtually in the hawk's face. Mr. Hawk was too busy eating to give the guy the time of day but I imagine he got some wonderful photos. To see many photos our our hawks Google "hawks in NYC" -- that's where the above picture of Pale Male came from. A hawk siting makes one's day.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Blue & White Quilt

DONE! I'm done -- except for .. of course there's an "except" -- the label. I will picture this one more time with Cori & Jason in a couple of weeks when it's given to them. Then it becomes, like all such finished projects, living history.

Now I move on. I saw one quilt blogger who was brave enough to list her UFOs -- about a dozen. I'm not that brave. I'm going to try to make a small quilt for an unjuried SAQA regional trunk show. There's an idea I've had for a long time, photo transfer and... what that "and" is ... that's haunting the edge of my mind. I wrote to my dear art quilter friend,Dottie Moore who makes the most wonderful quilts, often with trees and vistas within vistas, that my admiration and amazement about true quilt artists like she is leaves me sometimes too stunned to put my ideas into form because I know that traditional quilts come most naturally to me and I do not have an innate artist inspiration. However, I am going to give the idea in my head a try and see ... It will be small and if I give up in failure, okay, it won't be because I didn't try.

One little note: this blue and white quilt is spread on my "design sofa" across the room from me and whenever I let my eyes fall on it I think what a grand thing a lot of white space is. Perhaps few people will understand, but that is also a thought I have when I look at a play script. White space usually means the dialog is the way people really talk ... very few people talk even in whole sentences, let alone paragraphs. So white space on a page means short dialog. White space in a quilt like this means the stars are able to stand out in their individuality and the eye is not distracted with lots of busyness ... although I also like busy scrap quilts. Hmm...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Strawberry Fields and the Dakota

Today was as sunny as yesterday and warmer. So I went back to get the photo I thought I had yesterday. I realized also that many people who might read this [just about everyone] does not live in NYC so I ought to have a picture of the Dakota. This is it. click to enlarge. The blur of pinkish color is not a photo problem it is a line of small trees beginning a spring blush.

The Dakota was the first big apartment building in this part of NYC way back in the late 1900s. A whole book has been written about it and it was fascinating. I can't begin to go into the whole thing. I think the author was Steven Birnbaum -- could be wrong, do a subject earch on Amazon if you're interested. It's fascinating, really.
I think there were more flowers on the mosaic today than yesterday. And yesterday I did not see the notebook with a picture [again, click to enlarge] and I know the guitar was not there yesterday. So I'm glad I went back. I think this is really amazing, don't you?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

First Flowers of Spring

It was a beautiful sunny day, the kind when it's almost a sin to stay indoors when the sky is so blue. So I went for a walk in Central Park. And, as you can see, the sky was cloudless and in protected spots the grass had turned green.

I know some spots where crocuses come up early, but there was no sight of them. It's been a cold week, and, in fact, it was still pretty cold -- colder than expected when I first went out. However, I went up into Strawberry Fields, the memorial area for John Lennon and, there, under some trees were tons of little white snowdrops. Click on the picture and it will enlarge. My first "wild" flowers of the spring.
At the "IMAGINE" mosaic near the entrance to Strawberry Fields there were many tourists and the circular mosaic had lots of flowers on it, some in bouquets and some arranged around the outside -- I truly thought I took pictures of it but there are none on my camera. Maybe I was so amazed by the abundance of flowers -- the most I think I've ever seen, that I didn't open the camera properly. So, take my word for it, there was an outpouring of tribute -- often there are just a few, but usually there are some flowers there.
I am moving ahead with quilting the quilt. This picture shows the double rows of chain quilting in the white areas. I'm going on to the wide print border. Here the quilting mostly will not be very visible -- more so on the back than on the front, actually. But it just has to be quilted. I spent more time, actually marking the quilting, with barely visible red chalk pencil, than actually sewing. I'm aware there are computer programs that will figure out the exactly right size for border quilting but I say Poo! Yes, Poo, I say to fiddling with a computer program -- I'd still have to mark and sew. And this is MY quilt with my generally non-type-A personality which is happy to work out what is necssary at the corners to make them "work" even if they're not a perfect fit. Happily the chain stencil was a very near perfect fit -- just a little fudging on one corner, really. So ... moving right along. The border is wide, lots of square inches to fill up, but I may have it done tomorrow and then there will be only binding and label. HOORAY!