Monday, June 29, 2009

I learn to copy a meme!

Nellie of Nellie's Needles had a meme [I think what's what these things are that go from blog to blog and each person responds. I've been an questionnaire answerer since I was a kid. I just love them. This one is asking how many of these things have you experienced in your life. The thing I've experienced will be in bold.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped - no way!
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb a lot of other farm animal babies (even delivered a litter of piglets)
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
(even a moon set)
31. Hit a home run (broom ball count?)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (as long as there's enough for a few fat quarters then I'm happy)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain (and the snow)
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie (been on TV)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check/cheque
68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (those of my children)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
Toured the Everglades (fished for crabs with chicken necks on a string)
75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone

Been a passenger on a motorcycle,
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88.Had chickenpox (subsequently shingles)

89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club

. Got a tattoo
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person

6. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

I count 54, some of the ones I haven't done I don't want to do, like get a tattoo. Some I would like to do. Such is life. I do love questionnaires. End of silliness for today.

The summerless summer

Those are raindrops on the bush outside my living room window. They've come and gone but mostly come for three weeks now. More are falling even as I sit here and type. This is, so far, the summerless summer. Brief hours of sun appear here and there as teasers. The temperatures hover on either side of the 70 degree mark -- no complaints about that, really. A light jacket against the damp breeze is okay.

A good time to get on with quilting projects. I finished quilting the batik quilt but can't post a picture because I'm waiting for some sunlight to take a picture that approaches the true colors -- which are deep and wonderful. End of today's complaint.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cape Cod Art Museum

The sun finally shone all day yeserday! Hurray! R. and I went to see a show at the Cape Cod Art Museum [see my Big 7-0 blog] which was a lovely place. This charming lily pond with ceramic castle greeted us in the front garden. The potter is, says R., known for the castles. This one certainly was charming. The gardens all around the museum, obviously, once a private home, were beautifully kept and lush from all the wet weather -- moss was trying to take over the brick walk ways and invading marble benches.

I wrote about the show we went to see, as I note above, but was so charmed by the place that I had to post this castle. Inside were two sizable gallery rooms and a small room with bright red walls against which some beach landscapes with much pink and orange held their own. Downstairs were paintings and objects apparently from a permanent collection. And on an enclosed porch was a sculpture gallery shadowed by the trees outside, but I had to try to take a picture of this wooden lady called "Pushing 40" -- we both remarked that she seem to be shrinking from 40 as hard as she could -- it was very expressive.

The museum is in the town of Dennis which has the mid-cape's major playhouse and an art movie theatre. Nearby are a couple of very pleasant restanrants, at one of which the museum entrance sticker gave us 10% discount. The man behind the counter was very cheery, the sandwiches were good, especially eaten on a picnic table outside in the sun in which we were happily basking.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Challenge

I've been sewing hexagrams for this quilt for a couple of weeks. It's from Maxine Rosenthal's One Block Quilts. The hexagrams are all different, all kaleidoscopes, and, in Maxine's book she arranges her hexagrams in interesting patterns like abstract paintings, the edges blur the quilt becomes a visually fascinating whole. Above is my first take at arranging the hexagrams I had made to that point, which was on Saturday.

I flipped through Maxine's book for a sense of color placement and then just starting putting the hexagrams on my design wall, overlapping the edges. I felt fairly pleased. Called R. to come and give me her artistic guidance. She did not like the placement of three particular hexagrams. They were marked with pins.
This is my work table during the process. One can see a hunk of the original fabric from which the hexagrams were cut. I searched quite a while for it, trying to meet Maxine's criteria. As I sewed I was afraid I'd made a terrible mistake. I couldn't imagine them going together interestingly or at all coherently. But I think they did. And, though they may need some juggling and maybe I'll need to sew a few other hexagrams, below is today's final arrangement which will get a few pieces added to the zig-zag sides to make it even. I'm not totally sure the arrangement below will be the final one. I'll get R's opinion probably tomorrow and I will leave it hanging on the design wall for a few more days before I actually start sewing it together. At this point, I'm eager to get a fabric of very different design and colors and see what very different quilt I can make. I love the surprises of this kind of work. I'm sorry this one is so dark. I think I'll name it "Fireworks over the Tree Tops."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Top Done

This is the quilt I've been calling the "'30s vintage chain design." The squares are all done and together with, as one can see, reds making the horizontal chains and a mixture of other colored scraps the vertical chains. [Reds are also scraps but fairly close to the same shade of red]. I was delighted to have only a little of the tone-on-one ecru background left over. In fact I wish I had a bit more to add about a 3 inch border. But there isn't enough. Part of the idea is stash busting so I'll us a stash fabric for the back as well.

This was paper pieced. I managed to remove about half the papers today before I got bored with the chore. So I'll have to finish that and then set it aside because I've got two other quilts ready to be quilted that I will do first. Quilting is my least favorite part. I know it's become a major design part lately but not by me. My sewing machine is too old to do fancy quilting and I'm too stingy to send not very important quilts out to long arm quilters. This will simply follow the design. But it's good to have it done. Each square took nearly a half hour to sew and there are 42 squares so that's 21 hours -- probably more because I had spells of going through the stash for scraps I wanted to use. Before the summer is over I will make another of the same design but in a different color choice because I want to give two to a charity in the fall.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Davies on Writing

So, you see, he does have a "merry" look in later age -- but much of the sternness is there. And I couldn't agree more and love it when I read my thoughts expressed by someone in a better position than I to know what he's talking about.

Davies said that he knows many decently educated professional people, say doctors, lawyers, engineers, even teachets, who say they think they "can write a pretty good letter." Often it is not true. They can't managed to say anything clearly and succinctly using truly appropriate language and paragraph structure. Why? Because, he says, they read badly. Not that they can't read, not that they aren't proficient readers, not that they don't read. They read nothing that is not mediocre be it papers, fiction or nonfiction. Says he: "They admire cheap stuff, they imitate cheap stuff, and they appear to have no understanding of how they cheapen their own minds and powers of expression by so doing."

What I don't agree with is Davies' believe that writers are born, not made. He talks about his own family where both mother and father were writers, where language usage and pronunciation was a dinner table topic, where the house was filled with an abundance of literature. It sounds much more like nurture than nature to me -- especially after my reading of Malcolm Gladstone earlier this year.

A concept he discusses at length is a word he found Nabokov using, shamanstvo, which fits into his emphasis on Jung's idea of a universal unconscious. He believes all fine literature arises from the writer's connection to the universal unconscious. I'm pondering this. It makes sense to me in so far as Jung's ideas make sense, and many, even most, do. I think he would go further and say all great works of art. Could be. But a lot of drivel has been written about and by people supposedly in touch with that universal subconscious and I think Davies would have agreed with that.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sewing and Reading about Reading

As I moan so often, quilting is very labor intensive. I am working away on the blocks for my 30's scrappy chain design and makes hexagons for the Maxine Rothschild "stack and whack" style quilt but I have nothing interesting to show yet.

Meanwhile I am also reading a weighty book of posthumously collected essays and talks by Robertson Davies -- the rather fierce looking fellow in this old-ish picture. The dust jacket picture of the book I'm reading, The Merry Heart, makes him look much more avuncular, almost Santa Claus-y. But he does have a certain strictness if not fierceness about him. Some of the pieces I'm scanning but I'm very impressed with two, which have, in fact, been published on their own -- two related lectures at Yale called Reading and Writing. First about reading. He urges speedy reading only of dull stuff, like directions for preparing your tax or the contents info on grocery packaging.

He believes serious literature deserves a reading slow enough to hear it in the mind and to savor its rhythms and eloquence as one reads. I'm glad he confirms that my habit of slow reading is not only okay, but optimal. I can't help but think so, for it means I almost always remember the serious books I read, if not all that they said, the sense I had of the writer's mind as I was reading -- what an individual style says to me about both the material in the book and the thought process that produced it. This method of reading honors the creativity of the author and enriches the pleasure and life of the reader. I absolutely agree. Tomorrow I'll go on with what he says about writing. And maybe I'll find that kindlier looking photo.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Roses and some music

Since I find that fairies somethings read my blog [see comment on previous post], I thought I'd photograph some other roses and print them too.

Sunday evening Rachel, Patrick and I went to a concert given by a local pianist billed as "an international recording artist" -- and, indeed, he had 15 CDs for sale. A much blown up photo of our hero sitting on the beach looking pensive, wearing a starchy but billowing white shirt set the tone. What did I expect? Not Andre Watts, maybe I sort of hoped for something Bobby Short-ish.

I knew he was not going to play classical music but his own compositions and music from movies and theatre. Could have been interesting. Wasn't. Everything suffered from his taste in arrangement which was saccharine and dependent on a heavy left hand and foot firmly holding down the pedal. Big gooey sound. He was fond of doing what he called "free flow" which other people might call noodling on the piano -- shapeless meandering in major keys. I call it self-indulgent and uninteresting. Ah, well w de rigeur at all performances.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Roses of Summer

Ten days of largely gray and damp weather have not inspired me to take long walks despite a few breaks in the clouds. This morning was very beautiful so off I went to do a couple of errands. I noticed that the masses of magenta colored rhododendrons have lost all their blossoms and are simple green bushes now. But, I notice the town is full of roses in bloom -- several kinds of roses both in places where they were formally planted and in places that seem casual, as if they sneaked into an empty spot just to add their touch of beauty.

I've just put in the mail, in an exchange, several "summer poems" -- some of my own and others more professional -- like Mary Oliver's "Summer Day," one of my favorites with the final thought, "What will you do with your one wild and precious life?"

Since I'm chugging away on a couple of quilts but not making photographable headway, it seems an apt time to include three in a set of rose poems I wrote when I was thinking of all the places and kinds of roses I've seen, not at all an exhaustive listing.

1. Indiana

They sprawled down the hill behind the mailbox
mere weeds like the Queen Anne's lace
that sours the hands that pick it.
Fragile five=petaled pink blossoms
cupping a knot of messy yellow filaments,
the tangled stems too short and brier-y
to pick. The flowers like petulant
orphaned children, pouted "Leave me alone."
They hardly seemed related to the tall bush in the yard
that unfurled nests of petals so red touching
seemed a sacrilege. The scarlet scent
proclaimed that beauty comes in many vivid
dimensions. Those wild, ragged second cousins,
untended and unkempt beside the gravel road,
their pale faces dusty from the traffic,
offered only a timid, tentative scent.
Banished from the garden,
so plain, so scantily attired,
they would never be taken to the ball,
never be worthy of romance
or to symbolize ideal love.

2. Nepal - The Himalayas

Two miles high in those most magnificent
anciently inhabited mountains, in a profusion
of possession, wild rose brambles tangled,
spreading across a desert plateau
between two high passes in upper Mustang.
They claimed barren acres for themselves
in a field of rocks and sand and goat turds.
Only a narrow foot path led through their domain.
What a delight to cross that plateau
in flowering season! To wade through the miracle
of sudden pink or white blooms, their delicate scent
thin and rare as the air it permeates.
Why build chortens or mani walls to remind
a traveler to wonder at the casual beneficence
of a world where roses riot in such unlikely habitat?

3. Cape Cod

Well above the wave-washed ribbon of sand, among
the tough dune grasses but before the hearty
shoreline trees, thorny wild roses spread low.
Their meager diet comes from what soil lies within
and beneath the drifted sand. The salt sea winds
have forced the roses to flatten their tangles
like a scouring pad, impenetrable except
to small flying or crawling creatures.
In August their fat red hips are storage vats
for vitamin C for the few who use them for tea.
Amid the dangerous bramble the plenteous hips
glow like glass balls hung on Christmas trees,
festive but not so fragile. The shell-hard skin
is polished by the wind-blasted sand to a gilded
crimson that shout choruses of hallelujahs.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Beautiful Textiles

This beautiful scarf, made by Stephanie Panasci, was a birthday present from Rachel who also appreciates lovely textiles. I Googled Stephanie and found only that she works for the Christmas Tree Shop --an off-price store that I love to shop but not the kind of place that carries art textiles. [click the photo and enlarge it to see the intricate work, and this is only a little of the the scarf]. And that is certainly no where Rachel found this scarf.

I've read in Quilting Arts and Fiber Arts Magazines about methods of making fabrics using a variety of beautiful yarns, threads, ribbons, Angelina fiber and such -- this one includes sequins - but I've always wondered, why? Why gather all those things, which can be expensive, and then make a brand new textile? Now I know the answer -- because you can make something beautiful. What more answer is needed?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Another selvage quilt

On the list of quilts I wanted to make this summer was another selvage quilt. I have a large bag of selvages, many sent by women across the country who are part of Swap-bot. So I went through Karen Griska's book, (click here) and looked through her examples. I saw one I like most of all and immediately began pulling dark prints from my stash for the background parts. Ah, some stash busting! Then I had to do other things but my mind kept nattering on how I would piece it. Suddenly it seemed more difficult that I had thought. Never mind, I could do it.

The next morning I sorted the pile of dark prints, added and subtracted and then had the very good idea to read Karen's directions for this complex quilt. WELL... I should-a done that in the first place! Her method is super easy and totally sensible. Why didn't I think of that? So I set to work -- this being while my computer was in the shop and I was looking for ways to allay my irritation that it was taking so long. Above is the result, minus an outside border [added after the picture was taken] and of course, minus batting and backing although the backing has been picked out -- two more stash pieces one of which was pre-washed but the other must be washed so I can't put it together just yet. I like this particular design very, very much. Using selvages satisfies all the frugalista urges I have and I love writing on quilts and the surprising designs of the color dots and the selvages that have a fringy finish add just that much more interest. Finishing it will be a joy.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Not Gone in Spirit

I have been gone because my computer has been in the shop -- it's screen started going black intermittently. I've often not purchased extended warranty contracts for mechanical things but in this case I did and I'm glad. All seems to be well and I've found a friendly Mac store very close by. I might learn how to make an actual web site in the next few months.

In the meantime I've had a birthday and received, mostly coincidentally, some lovely gifts from my Swap-bot friends [and other lovely gifts from family]. The picture above was a gift that arrived the day before my birthday but I didn't actually find it at my door until the morning of THE day so there was all those lovely fat quarters -- all have wonderful touches of metallic which I love. Plus a big handful of selvages which couldn't have been more timely as I had just started another selvage quilt -- photo in a day or two. Plus there's a box of flower headed pins which are so great for some quilting projects.

It was a lovely day that included my youngest grandson's graduation. The only negative of the day was that the tent under which the graduation was to take place had accidentally been taken down the evening before so tubes of sunscreen were passed around to those gathered on the green of a park beside Hyannis bay. I used sunscreen liberally on exposed neck and shoulders but still got a lot of red. Felt sorrier for a few bald guys, they must be suffering these days.

While without a computer I used Rachel's a couple times just to check messages. But I decided to use the time to forge ahead with my list of quilts to make to use up stash -- so I sewed a lot. Perhaps the sun will come out tomorrow -- after a brilliant appearance Sunday the sun let the clouds take over. I hope to get some photos tomorrow.