Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rolling Right Into a Ditch

Sometimes when you're on a roll, as I was with the selvage jacket, you suddenly roll right into a ditch and - phfft! - dead stop. That's what's happened this week. Long days at work, so that I get home later than I like and am always hungry, because I don't really eat lunch -- a 90 calorie container of yogurt is NOT sustenance, it's just a gesture to recognize the tum-tum has its needs too. So I eat when I get home and, feeling a big tired, I give myself time to read quite a lot and sip a slow cup of tea at the end. Then it's DARK! We're two whole months away from the winter solstice but it's getting dark earlier and earlier -- I know the time will change but that doesn't make much difference in these dark days when there's very likely to be cloud covers.

Well, being a farm girl, born and bred, when it's dark the chickens go to roost and the day is essentially over -- you know, we get older and return to the roots of our earliest training, extraneous layers tend to peel away and we get down to the essence. If you don't believe me, you're under 65 and haven't carefully observed those who are in the over 65 category. Not that we don't learn a lot by living our lives, but it's the paint on the canvas. Without the canvas it would be so many flakes of pigment scattering away in the wind. ... Hmm, I've got this far with this metaphor and haven't thought it through further. It's best to stop -- perhaps this should have been a post on my other blog. But then I have a different subject for it this evening. Come check it out too.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Too much sewing

May I indulge for just a little bit about this wonderful batch of fat quarters (and some larger piees) from a private swap. It's just wonderful! I love having so many great new fabrics to add to my stash. The other half of the swap says she's pleased too; I hope so. It makes me very happy! It doesn't exactly make me a "cheap date" but I really don't need to win mega-millions to be very happy.

As a cautionary note, let me explain why I have been limping all day. In my job I use a foot pedal constantly to listen to the stuff I'm transcribing. The pedals are similar to piano pedals. Yesteray while working on that selvage jacket I spent 4 to 5 straight hours at my sewing machine using the pedal which is a different sort of pedal. I prefer to sew barefoot. I only work at transcribing barefoot a few really miserable days of the summer. It took only a little reflelction to realize that the serious aching in the ball of my right foot today when I walk is from a protesting set of muscles that was sadly and relentlessly overused yesterday. It triggered a memory and I realized this had happened at least once before. From now on I'll try to remember to keep my shoes on when I'm sewing for lonvg unbroken periods of time.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Selvage jacket

The kennel quilts will have to wait probably until next weekend. In my cleaning spassm, putting away summer, getting out winter clothes, I came upon a sweatshirt purchased early last summer for the specific purpose of turning it into a quilted light weight jacket. About 18 months ago at a quilt show I met a group of women from a Connecticut quilt guild who all were wearing quilted jackets. Each was different but all had been made from the same basic pattern, or non-pattern. in fact One took the time to explain how easy it was. I have kept her words in mind for all this time and now I'm borrowing her directions, which she said where not original to her group but was unsure where they had originated. Start with a over size sweatshirt. It has to be at least somewhat over size because it gets smaller in the making. Thus I had purchased a large sweatshirt. When I found it folded with other things I tried it on and, indeed, it was large enough to be uncomfortably sloppy worn as is. Then a coupled days ago I had the ah-ha! eureka! moment. It can be a selvage jacket. I have lots of selvages because 3 or 4 wonderful women, whom I've never met in person, have sent me bags of selvages.

Here are the steps accomplished so far today -- and it took a good part of the day.
1. cut off the bottom ribbing.
2. cut off the cuff ribbing on the sleeves.
3. cut off the neck ribbing
4. find the exact center front and cut straight up
5. cut up each side at the seam and continue cutting the sleeve seam
6. open out the sweatshirt. [This is the feeling of skinning an animal for its pelt, but is a lot less bloody and requires no killing [obviously] Much better of the soul and the karma.
7. Then sew chosen design onto the sweatshirt. I started with a sleeve as you can see. I continued until I had sewn selvages all over the sweatshirt, and then I sewed extra pieces along the shoulder seams and on the inset seams of the sleeves. And now, I have turned the sweatshirt with the inside out and will prepare to put it back together along the side nad sleeve seams, as soon as I trim them neatly and pin them careful in place.

After that I will take a 1/2 yard piece of fabric, I haven't decided what color to use yet but it may be a black print because I wear a lot of black pants once summer is over. I will make bias strips and bind all around the outside, including, of course, the sleeve edges. Then I will probably make tabs for buttons [because I really don't want to make button holes] and will sew on four [probably] largish buttons.

Oh, and before that I'll add some of the bias to the inside shoulder and side seams and enclose them so that the inside has a nice neat look too. I've been thinking about pockets because I really like jackets with pockets. Haven't made up my mind, but I might make selvage covered patch pockets for both sides of the front -- we'll see. Probably 3 or 4 more hours and I'll be done.

Of course it didn't HAVE to be selvages, it could have been random patches, crazy quilt style or anything a quilter's fertile imagination could dream up. As "they" say, the possibilities are endless.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Kennel Quilts

Never heard of kennel quilts? Or maybe your dog has one, but by default -- some worn out rag of a quilt [one of those cheap Chinese Smithsonian Collection rip-offs that are still in all the big box stores?] I think I will make a couple or few kennel quilts this weekend. In my quilt guild newsletter was a note from a woman whose belonged canine companion has got to dog heaven. She is volunteering at a shelter as a foster care taker and says that she would like donations of kennel quilts, approximately 14x18 for the floor of a kennel cage. She says having quilts makes the doggies more adoptable. I wonder about that but it surely makes them happier to have something softish to lie down on. And their lives are not full of joy in a kennel.

I awoke this morning with an ah-ha PING in the brain. I have a UFO that surfaced in housecleaning a couple weekends ago. I've put a little time into it but not worked up any enthusiasm. It was an idea that just didn't work out. BUT I could take some of the squares and some pieces of older ugly fabric -- I've been trying to get rid of what once was appealing but with time has become ugly. What to use for batting? The note writer suggested an old comforter but I don't have anything to sleep under in my house except quilts. While the brain was buzzing I realized that I have a couple of terry towels, one has turned ugly in my eyes and another turned spotty in the washing machine with bleach added at the wrong time. They can be cut up and become filling. So I shall tackle that idea this weekend and come up with a few kennel quilts and my ever thrifty tendencies will be satisfied that the UFO can be put to some use. Pictures anon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Raising the Bar - or following fads

November Issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine arrive some days ago and I delved into while I was eating dinner. I don't usually read editorial comments which usually just preview articles. But Jan Magee, the editor, says, "A swing toward intricate quilting and elaborate embellishment is raising the bar for those quilt makers who wish to enter contests and win." I totally agree. I have no ambitions to enter contests and win, though I like praise as much as the next person.

I am both bothered and perplexed about this trend in the quilt world which I have been a part of and watching since the 1970s. Even with long arm quilting -- which is mostly done as a paying service by the owners of the machines and usually is not done by the maker of the quilt top -- the making of an especially notable quilt has become a very, very labor intensive creative endeavor. And if one does the quilting, on home machine or by hand plus the embellishment a quilt can account for vsst numbers of hours. It can also be quite expensive. Who are the women with the time and money for this craft? I know quite a few of the well known names are indeed professional quilters who create and teach, sometimes design fabric lines, write books - it is their life. Okay, I understand that and I enjoy watching their work change and develop for many of them are truly artists or certainly highly admirable craftspeople.

But what of the aspiring ones? Where do they find the time? Are most stay-at-home women/wifes/mothers who have the time and the expensive machines and use the expensive fabrics - or dye their own -- and buy the expensive notions? This is a kind of "monied leisure class" [although I understand they're working hard] that is unknown to the majority of American women who must live in two-income families or if not married must work at full time jobs. Can those working women hope to accomplish the kind of quilt Magee means? Maybe if that's all they do in their spare time for a couple of years.

But what about all that quilting and embellishment? I also read Quilting Arts Magazine and I am often aghast at all the stuff it takes to embellish even small "art" quilts. Also I'm also aware of the popularity of many other kinds of crafts, most especially scrap-booking and the renewal of interest in knitting and various kinds of beading. All this creativity is a necessary outlet for women with imagination who otherwise feel trapped in a world of things -- all the junk at malls, all the gadgets, all the prepared foods so that even cooking is not a creative outlet unless one makes a conscious effort to make it so. Isn't all that embellishment and even all the fussy quilting essentially a fad? A make-work way for commerce to sell more stuff? More beads, more special threads, more special fabrics, more notions, more expensive machines? There was a fad of sergers a while ago, now it's felting machines and there are other things at the periphery of my attention. And the expensive long arm quilting machines!!

Aren't we women, as always, treated like by commercial like dupes? "They" think we'll buy every kind of cream to make our skins look young, every kind of diet pill, every new fashion fad, every new kitchen gadget, every new sewing/quilting gadget. Are our quilts more beautiful, truly more creative, more expressive of ourselves because we've added a bunch of beads, because we stipple quilted the thing until it stands alone instead of lying nice and soft and fluffy on our beds to keep us or our children and grandchildren warm?

Frankly, I'm tired of going to quilt shows and looking at unnessarily heavy quilting, looking a beads in the center of every flower, and all sort of stuff bonded on. Let's hear it for self-expression but let's look at who's telling us what's "in", who's influencing our choices. And let's think about what we really LIKE to make and have in our homes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The O.P. Mother-in-law phenomenon

O.P. stands for "Other People's" because this is about lovely things that have come to me in part because they once belonged to someone's mother-in-law. Saturday the mail brought a package from a penpal, who I've never met in person, but a correspondence compadre who sent me this silk scarf and another beautiful one that I was less successful photographing. They, along with others, had belonged to her mother-in-law, deceased for some time. We've been writing long enough that she intuited that I like scarves - I have a whole bureau drawer full, all divided by color into plastic bags so I can find what I want. I was surprised and delighted and began thinking of other O.P. mother-in-law possessions.

These two bracelets belonged to women who had died before I ever heard of them. The art deco bracelet with a filigree bell which I think is the wonderful, walked into my house over 40 years ago. A friend had been with her husband cleaning out the husband's mother's home. "Do you like this?" she asked. "I hate it." It really wasn't her style. "I love it," I said. "It's yours," she said. I've loved it all these years.

The other bracelet was a trade. I had a few quilt hanging on a clothes line when I was having a moving sale before coming to NYC. A couple in a very loaded van stopped. The wife wanted one of the quilts. "But we've just spend our cash on gas," the husband said. They explained they'd cleaned out his mother's house in Michigan and were taking all their van would hold home. "I know," said the wife. She disappeared into the van and came back after a while with this bracelet. "It's good silver. Would you trade the quilt for the bracelet?" I did. And I've worn it with pleasure for about 25 years.
junkjunkjunl This last silver bracelet I add although it never belonged to a mother-in-law; it was a bit of the spoils when I was helping clean out another deceased woman's belongings. It is Mexican from the era -- art deco again -- when William Spratling was reviving the Mexican silver industry in Taxco. It is not his design, it has a different name stamped on the back. I do not wear it as often, only because it just fits my wrist and has a clasp I cannot explain but which is difficult to undo because of how snugly it fits. I think it's an amazing bit of silversmithing.

When Helen Squires spoke at the Empire Quilt Guild she showed a very beautiful quilt and told the story of acquiring it: She had a quilt shop in northern New Jersey. One day a man came in and said, "I have a quilt I want you to buy." He produced this astonishing quilt. "How much do you want for it?" she asked. He said something incredibly low. She bought it. Why was he so willing to part with it? He was married to a second wife and, said Helen, "Did you ever hear someone say, 'If she made it, it goes out'?" So it's not only mothers-in-laws, loved or not.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Selvage quilt once more

I really do like this selvage quilt and I'm restraining myself -- with some difficulty -- about starting another. So much else to do first!!! So this is the last time I'll post this -- the photo was taken by a good photographer with a good camera at our show and tell last week. She even manages to flatter me.

Cindy Russell is both photographer and web master for the Empire Quuilers Guild - anyone interested in quilt resources should click the link to the right. The site is not only guild info but a resource center and SO easy to navigate. Cindy is half of Hamlin Rose Photography with her husband. They produced both a CD and a book of Urban Inspirations, out guild show two years ago -- excellent work. I'm really quite proud to be a part of the both. And that is why I must not make another selvage quilt until I finish my 900 piece star quilt. Another guild show is coming up in March and I want that to be a worthy addition.

Friday, October 17, 2008

NYC buffet/deli food

Evelyn commented yesterday about the abundance of salad and hot buffet places in midtown New York and wondered what happens to the left over food. I wish I had a photo but probably could not do justice to these places which exist most abundantly in the midtown and also in the downtown legal and financial center. The buffets and salad bars in other cities and malls across the country are a sad hint of the variety and ingenuity of these places. They exist specifically for the office workers. Very few are to be found in purely residential areas -- there one may find much prepared food but in most cases it's the sandwich variety or tossed salads and soups.

Since I had been writing about poverty and hunger, Evelyn quite rightly wonders what happens to the left overs. I strongly suspect they're mostly put in the garbage, perhaps a fair amount goes home with the cooks who are mostly immigrant workers. But I think the operators of these places have a fairly good handle on what sells and how much to make. There have been times when I stopped late in the afternoon and found the choices very skimpy and getting dried out.

New York does have a wonderful organization called City Harvest that gathers food from bakeries and all sorts of restaurants and distributes it to soup kitchens and other organizations that feed people, like the City Meals on Wheels which takes meals to shut-ins. I strongly suspect with the economic problems we're all beginning to be aware of, these organizations will be even more diligent -- and in need of volunteers and donations. I know that the Whole Foods stores use their own produce that is looking a little wilted and their meats that did not sell the day they were cut, to make the food that is sold both in their hot foods sections and in the take home prepared food sections.

Surely there is a lot of waste, but perhaps not as much as a casual observer might think. I know too of sandwich places that sell the day's foods half price after 5:00 and a local bakery/cafe sells its breads half price after 7:00. I think many people have an awareness of the need and concern for those who are needy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Food, Glorious ,,, Veggies

Seems a little callous to go from writing about poverty to food that's fancy enough to cost a slightly ridiculous amount. But have a look at these cauliflowers [click photo to enlarge]. I have never met anyone who said "Cauliflower is my favorite vegetable." It's not my favorite either but I like it once in a while. Barzini's is a local fruit and veggie store that grew as they do here in NYC into a very crowded general store with lots of specialty items, has four kind of cauliflower -- just this time of year. Not other times But they often have green, red, yellow and orange peppers all at the same time - I LOVE the yellow and orange and can eat them like candy. They have grapes in several colors all at the same time and quite an abundance of other wonderful veggies. Inside the store is one of the largest selections of specialty, micro-brew beers I've ever seen, artisanal butter, amazing yogurts even if I don't like most yogurt ... I could go on. This is a haven for the middle class -- yes. Barzini's is not a Dean and DeLuca or even a Zabars. It's too far uptown to be that kind of upper-middle classy. There's fresh bread and good coffee beans and all kinds of prepared stuff [iffy and uneven as far as I'm concerned]. But, hey, when it's three blocks away it's a frequent stop.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I wrote a rather long post about poverty this morning on my other blog [get there via my profile page]. It's afternoon and as part of the blogosphere's "write about poverty day" I've been thinking about it as I worked. I think I"m a fairly hard-headed person but I had trepidations about traveling to India because I thought seeing all the poverty would be very painful. Perhaps other people have the same feeling. I had at the time been living in NYC quite a while and saw homeless people every day on our streets but the propaganda was so great I expected -- heaven knows what?

Yes, I saw some people living on the street, and was approached by some beggars -- no more so than in many other cities I had visited in many other countries. No more so than in NYC. What struck me in India was that I did not see any fat people. The people on the streets were very slender. Quite a contrast to the crowds we see in America! I suppose there ARE fat people in India, they are probably the ones who travel in private cars to wherever they have to go and are not out in the streets. I think of this because our ideas of poverty are defined by where we live. In India I saw people who go to a river to bathe [and not solely for religious reasons] people defecating in fields behind their homes, people sleeping on string beds on flimsy porches. But being in India was not depressing; something very beautiful happened every day.

In the streets of New York, on the subway, in suburban malls when I happen to be there, I know that many of the most obese are the closest to poverty. The cheap food they eat - partly because it's cheap and partly because they do not know about nutrition or how to cook healthily is the cause -- and as I wrote this morning, we have a poverty of education. Many can barely read and write, but literacy is only the start. Contrast the age old vegetarian notions of India with America's traditional meat and potatoes meals with pie for dessert which have now turned into whoppers and fries and oreos or candy bars.

As I've mentioned to friends, when I'm out and meet someone saying, "can you help me, I'm hungry, anything you can spare, a nickel, a dime, any kind of food," If I have an apple or a granola bar in my purse I give it to beggar. I may get a mumbled thanks but I don't get a hearty "god bless you." They don't want healthy food, they mostly aren't that kind of hungry. They are needy but what they need is often not something I can help with. What can I do to help poverty. Very little. I can vote to change the aministartion but I am not convinced that can make a great difference.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Personal style

No, Dear Reader, this is not a picture of me -- it's just to talk about the ever popular NYC style, Basic Black. I'm still thinking about clothes and personal style since I got started on the subject last week and since it's closet shuffling time of year. And when cool weather comes I DO wear a lot of black, in summer I like black slacks but I like colors a lot. However as we go into the basic black season I think of a woman I knew in a former life who wore nothing but black and white -- mostly black with touches of white, never any colors. She had dark hair and looked quite dramatic and attractive. I always thought how easy to keep her wardrobe and to look good all the time. But I realized I like color too much. I really like a bright red with black or, well, lots of other colors too.

Back in the days when I belonged to groups of playwrights and actors, there would be group meetings when I could look around the room at men and women alike and see a sea of black. It was both easy and arty. In fact, people looked pretty good! Although not exactly individualistic. But better, I thought, than a sea of suits and ties.

On the individualism note I remember a woman in my dorm in college who had a collection of bee pins, jeweled mostly. She always wore one on the left shoulder seam of whatever sweater, blouse or jacket she was wearing. It was her trademark and I admired her for it. Also always thought it would be fun to have butterfly pins to wear the same way. But, no, I've not done that either.

It's actually not difficult have a personal style. I guess I'll blame my Gemini personality -- comes in handy when there's no sensible explanation or I don't want to be terribly introspective -- for my helterskelter choices of colors to wear -- and to collect in my quilt stash.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Guild meeting and charity quilts

The Empire Quilt Guild met on Saturday. Te speaker whose name I have, alas! lost was a rep of the Sulky Thread Company. She showed a great many beautiful vests and jackets as well as many quilts, mostly wall size, that were quilted with the great variety of threads Sulky makes, including many metallics. Most of the pieces were very handsome -- almost enough to make me think I really should indulge in a proper, modern new sewing machine that could handle these rather precious threads as my ancient machine cannot. The above is just one example. I took the picture, not because of the quilting but because this is a unusual example of color-wash technique - it's much more dramatic and effective than the ones that are generally, to my taste, too pretty and precious.

I showed my selvage/reversible quilt in show and tell and I'm glad Karen Griska was there to see it for real. It'll be on the quilt website with a lot of beautiful show & tell wonders [and I do mean wonders].
Because I was a part of S&T a woman came to me after the meeting and told me that she volunteers at a children's organization in the Bronx. She said she had wondered who I was because three of my charity quilts have been hung as wall decoration at the place she volunteers. Of course I didn't know this, I supposed all the quilts I've given the charity committee have been given to children. So that was very interesting to know. This quilt is another charity quilt I've made and just finished Sunday and will contribute next month. At each quild meeting two or three tables in a separate area are covered with sheets with multiple lumpy piles beneath them. These are the scraps or unwanted donations of fabrics - notions like buttons and such, even tote bags] that members bring in to share with others. These are not available for examination until the meeting is finished. The quantity and quality of course varies greatly from month to month.

At the end of the meeting those of us -- and I'm certainly among them -- curious for bargains, surge toward the tables like pigs to a trough when the farmer appears with his bucket of slops. It is truly a feeding frenzy scene. We each see what we can find that will fit our needs. The chairwomen of the "share tables" then arbitrarily set a price for donation, it's usually only $2 or $3 for a handful of fabrics.

I go into all this because this baby quilt is a product of the September share table. The Mother Goose motif fabric is a decorator fabric of which I found a couple of scraps adding up to at least a yard. The bright green pin dotted fabric was also from the table. The other fabric is a larger piece I which was sufficient for the backing as well as the stripping. Found, turned into something useful and redonatd. Very satisfying.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Closet Cache

Closet cleaning is not very different from that habit of NY antique hunters known as "dumpster diving." Yes, they scour dumpsters for discarded antiques of all kinds. When I decided to hunt for a collection of neckties (acquired for quilting purposes, of course) I found I had apparently had a previous fit of closet cleaning and given them away. Good idea -- I just didn't remember having done it and had suggested to someone I'd swap ties for other quilting goodies. Alas! Too late.

BUT I did unearth forgotten and partially forgotten quilts. The pictured one above I had utterly forgotten -- and it was stored so long crumpled that I can't easily straighten the top and am hoping time will help. It's a fairly puffy quilt so I don't want to get out the iron first off. It's nicely dramatic and I remember why I liked making it. It's more eye catching that the quilt below which has been hanging where this one now is.

This quilt has more sentimental value but is artistically a failure. It has three photo transferred scenes of me trekking in Mustang [a sub-kingdom in northwestern Nepal] one of the best trips I ever took. So I've enjoyed having it to glance at often, and I like the prayer flags on the top which "came" to me -- truly. One morning when I had just finished the quilt I went out of my building early and there they were on the sidewalk. Literally. It happened to be a time when the Dalai Lama was in NYC and I think someone lost them who was going to or had come from one of his teaching sessions. But I truly felt they were a gift. So, lots of sentimental value.

This quilt I had not forgotten but did not know where it was stored so I was happy it surfaced and it will probably go on the wall for some part of the winter. These are the eight auspicious signs in Tibetan Buddhism. They are replicas of paintings on a small shrine building on the roof of one of the sections of Sera Monastery near Lhasa. I photographed all eight. At home my artistic daughter, Rachel. painted them on the squares of fabric and then I made the quilt -- this one is entirely hand quilted.

The colors were so bright because when I saw them, in 1997, the Chinese had allowed some restoration of the mostly destroyed monasteries so those recently painted signs were a part of that loosening of the noose. I cannot think of Sera without thinking "beautiful" - Sera, I believe, means rose for there were once, I've read, many wild roses there. It was the most graciously situated and proportioned monastery I saw. Beautiful. So this quilt far more successful than the trek one makes me very happy.

I found also a quilt of photo transfers of doors and windows, mostly from Tibetan travels. I don't know why I used the ugly colors I did. I'm seriously thinking of taking it all apart, salvaging the photos and making an entirely new quilt ... not soon, however. There's too much in the works. Closet clearing, like dumpster driving, is full of surprises. And that's only one of three closets where the high shelve are stacked to the ceiling with boxes or blanket bags of quilts. Who knows what other surprises await another day of discovery?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Age Appropriate Dressing

Replying to Ellie's comment on a previous blog, she asked if dressing my age might be a mistake and make me start acting my age -- a very good question really, because we do put forward the version of ourselves we want others to see. The matter comes to mind quite often because I live in a very large apartment building and frequently see 3 or 4 "older" [than me] ladies who I beleive had professional careers. They dress like serious professionals in suits and nice dresses and shoes and stockings and are well groomed and wear makeup. Their styles haven't changed in quite a few years. I admire them for sticking to who they are -- I know too that a bit of it is a matter of not buying new clothes when they have quite good quality clothes from their past needs. But they are out of step, of course. Still why should they keep up with styles? Each time I see these ladies in the elevator or lobby or nearby streets I say to myself, are they stuck in the past or are they being true to themselves? I don't know the answer.

For my part I'm so addicted to certain thrift shops that my wardrobe changes pretty frequently although not with the hottest styles. But I have no need for the hottest style. I can live in pants and tops and jackets when layers are needed. I have only one pair of shoes with "heels". Long ago I defined for myself the style that feels comfortable, it's separates that can be mixed endlessly with scarves and my much loved collection of not very expensive but individual rings, bracelets, and necklaces acquired on travels. I'd call my choice of clothing probably Talbots with a dash of J. Jill and Chicos although mostly I don't shop in those stores. So when I write about "age appropriate" I really do mean that socks with pandas aren't my thing -- never has been. So I know what I'm comfortable wearing and I doesn't change much.

Yes, sometimes I look at what I think of as the earth-mother-Woodstock styles. You know the flowing skirts and Indian print tops and such. In fact, I really like those clothes but when I give in and purchase something I find myself not wearing it. I have a couple pieces of that sort and love them but somehow never reach for them when I'm getting dressed. So there it is. On the other hand I feel entirely too much out of my style if I put on sneakers for anything other than walks in the woods [or the rain when I don't want leather shoes to get wet].

Long ago I read "know our style" in those advice columns and thought it good advice and have stuck to it. The picture above is another street fair pictures. I often see some really nice one-of-a-kind jewelry at street fairs. Rarely, very rarely do I buy any because, as said, I have stuff from my travels. I prefer to remember a shop in Spain or a bazaar in Egypt than a no longer exotic [to me] New York street fair.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Changing seasons

We are shifting in autumn. Morning are cool, afternoons pleasant. The heat has come on in my apartment building at just the right time for a change. On the streets the young women are showing off their fake pashmina scarves. It's okay if they aren't expensive fine wool, they are magnificent colors. The above picture shows some that were for sale at the street fair for $10, because they have subtle designs. The totally plain ones in acrylic [tho sometimes labeled "Pure pashmina"] are often only $5. They are wrapped around throats or looped in ingeneous ways. The colors are a rainbow! It's gorgeous to see -- so much panache for so little money!

Another offering at the street fair was socks, often 3 or 4 pair, depending on plainness or fanciness for $10. Here are some fun ones. At the next street fair I will buy some dark colored trouser socks, much plainer than these, more age appropriate. I do have some fun socks for keeping my toes cozy while reading at night but I try to maintain a degree of dignity when I get dressed to go out.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

NYC Street Fair

Fall street fairs always seem especially colorful and fun to walk through. Maybe it's because all the faux pashmina and cashmere come out in their rainbow hues. Street fairs happen in the spring and the fall, not the dead of winrs are around but venders do change because any Saturday or Sunday there may be at least a couple of street fair locations. Some things can be expected. The crepes stalls are a favorite. Other food venders can be expected too; the roasted corn on the cob people and the Thai food, the pickles, the funnel cake, the turkey legs and the gyros and shish kabab,and the cholesterol packed fries, Italian sausages and the utterly disgusting "deep fried Oreos."
There are many hat and tee-shirt and pocket book people. Here are some pretty neat pocketbooks made of zippers. Click the picture to enlarge. They're study and spacious and attractive. There are other leather goods, lots of sweaters this time of year, the people with beautiful embroidered "Kashmiri" jackets -- like one I purchase in Nepal ten years ago. I had a nice conversation with a couple of Nepali jewelry venders who mixed in Nepali and Tibtan designs with celtic designs. I thought of a a silver eternal knot pendant and the vender was more than ready to reduce is price -- very minimally and I didn't feel like dickering because I had decided not to buy it. I kind of wanted the silver barrel shaped aumulet box with a 'mani" prayer on a scroll inside it; but that I skipped as well.

There are always plant people, usually hearty looking foliage plants to bring some green inside for the winter, but lately the orchid people are around and they really are beautiful.
It was wonderful to see a lot of the bent elderly people of the neighborhood out with their cane and walkers enjoying the street fair, people with dogs of every size and shape, most in leashes but some in carry bags and one in a rollng doggie case, like kids' rolling book bags. I have more photos and will probably add them tomorrow.

Finally I only purchased some bags of crunchy snacks at a good price and a platter of Thai food that was so generous it was not only dinner but I save the entire large serving of pad thai for lunch tomorrow. All in all a relaxing hour of wandering around before coming in and attacking the laundry and closet mess I had made before I went out.

Book addiction

This is a PARTIAL view of my bookcase of "to read" books. There is lower shelf not in the picture. In the bedroom there are about 75 books of poetry also. Do I need more books?

Absolutely!!When there is a book sale that fills a full block of a cobblestoned SoHo street and the books are $1 each. You bet I need more books. But I am learning restraint -- yes, I am. Here are the ten books for ten bucks that I got.

Yes, it took a while to be sensible. I lugged around others, including a couple of really neat coffee table photography books. But do I need more coffee table books? Especially when they're heavy and,of course, the ones on the coffee table aren't all there are in the place? Rhetorical question.

Except for the Tulip book, a recent purchase form the Metropolitan Museum for $12 and containing far more than I ever thought I wanted to know about tulips, these are mostly art quilt books and Tibet books and if I get into a long telephone conversation, I love sitting here and paging through them as I talk.

I have always been a book addict. Not the devouring Jane Austin at age 13 type [our small town library did not have Austin or Bronte!] but because everything I want to know is in books somewhere and many things I didn't know I wanted to know or ought to know or would just enjoy knowing or would feel greatly enriched by knowing -- it's all been written. I find gems of wisdom nearly every day in the stuff I read. This is an addiction I do not plan to give up.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Shagy Dog Story

[just shrunk my head - wish I could do that to my waist and hips with a few key strokes.]

I look like a shaggy dog -- shaggier than this picture and it was pretty shaggy. In fact, I think I'm beyond the shaggy dog stage and into the wild Shetland pony phase. I wish I could cut my own hair. But I learned way back in junior high that I couldn't even cut bangs straight, let alone tackle other part of the mane. There's two problems -- or really only one problem but it's compounded by the second which would be a non-problem except for the real problem. Confused? It's this way: I don't like having things done to me, i.e., I don't like sitting in a hair dressing salon and I've never had a salon manicure or pedicure in my life. The problem that shouldn't be a problem is that my hair grows fast. This wasn't bad back in the years when I wore it long but now that I'm acting my age and wearing it in a very easy short style it's a problem.

Every day this week I've promised myself I'd get a hair cut and every day I've found a more or less legitimate reason why I didn't have time. In fact where I work there is a salon on the lowest floor but I don't go there although the price is quite reasonable. The hairdresser is Igor, who does "unisex" but, in fact is a barber. He's also an egotist who is short, stocky, wears what he thinks is a fashioniable 36-hour shadow stubble -- and consequently looks like a member of the Russian mafia. Various things suggest that he's actually an okay human being but I got off-put when he posted a sign of his definitely unappealing mug with the misguided advertisment "Igor is here!" If he thinks that's attractive, what would he do to me? In fact on the occasions when our paths cross he is friendly and pleasant ... still ... it's wooly mammoth time for me.

Now on the subject of having things done to one I also am not a fan of massages -- except for the Turkish hammans [baths] - that's another story that I think this is not the time to tell -- those slippers shown a couple posts ago have me thinking about things I enjoyed about Turkey. I won't say the hamman was the most fun I've ever had with my clothes off, but it ranks pretty high. Believe me, it's not a dirty story -- it's possibly the cleanest I've ever been. But the massage -- oh, wow!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Thanks -- and an unconnected thought

Thanks to the people who've weighed in on my choices of arrangements, include a couple of emails not in the comment section. I'm still very torn and have turned for the moment to making a baby quilt for charity while my mind is spinning. Any other comments will be appreciated also.

As I was working at my transcription job today I was stopped with great sadness by a rather casual remark. The interviewee is a woman who moved back with her mother's house to care for her as she slips deeper into Alzheimers. The patient had six children, four sons and two daughters. Said the caretaker daughter, apparently without pain, "when you ask her how many children she has, she names the four boys. Then I said, but what about me?" And the mother says, "oh, yes, there was Cathy and Linda."

We feminists will never win our battles for equality as long as mothers value their sons more than their daughters. How many hundreds of years will it be before boy children and girl children are valued equally? How often do we hear of sons giving up everything else in their lives to care for an aging, needy, perhaps demented parent? And how often is it the daughter or even daughter-in-law? 'Nuf said.