Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Harvest, Thanksgiving

Happily, I've reached an age and am in a small enough apartment that I do not do big family dinners, I merely contribute, modestly.  This morning, it is an apple pie. These are the after and before photos, I even admit that the crust is courtesy of the Pillsbury company.

As I stood slicing apples I realized that all over the USA millions of women were also in their kitchens (and a few men, I hope) preparing dinner.  Thanksgiving began as a havest festival, we are told. Our history usually neglects to mention that havest festivals are as old as the beginning of agriculture. Some of us still grow our food, or some part of it, but most of us are modern hunter gatherers, roaming supermarket aisles gathering foods from many places around the globe.  Apples are grown nearby but I don't believe these came from a hundred or five hundred miles away.  However, I also made  some spiced cranberries for the feast and those came from no more than 20 miles away. 

I am not a party to the shopping frenzy that is a part of this holiday weekend. "Black Friday" and all the shopping in stores and online that is expected in the next few days is another kind of hunting-gathering. We are no longer an agrarian culture. We are a manufacturing/comercial culture. All those people in the big box stores and others, those surffing the web for the best bargains, are present day gatherers.

We talk about giving thanks, and I think the majority of people will pause, at least briefly, to consider the bounty on their tables. I know many have given time or money to organizations that will give dinners to the needy today ... in America.  Around the world many, many are hungry and needy. A small proportion of people will remember that -- the destitute in the Philippines, refugees in and from Syria, and many, many others on every continent.  When the day was designed for us to enjoy what we have, pausing even briefly to consider the less fortunate is difficult.  However briefly, a moment of  compassion will enhance our day. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Taking braids to a whole level

This photo of an unnamed student in an unnamed classroom has gone viral on the Internet and I can certainly see why. 

I wonder how long it took to achieve this arrangement of braids.  Sometimes about all I can say when I see something like this is that people have endless creativity. 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

One of hte most beautiful autumns

Driving on Rte. 28, a two-lane road, lined with trees in greater proportion than the various homes and commercial areas along that 15 mie stretch, I was constantly in awe of the magnificence that has fallen upon Cape Cod for the last three or four weeks.  Even the years I lived upstate in New York where brilliant foliage is  expected, I sometimes saw great hillsides blazing in these reds, oranges, and golds and bronze, I never felt so enveloped with gorgeousness.  Of course I have no photos of those specific trees because I was driving and I didn't have my camera with me anyway.

The conjoining of crisp nights and mild days (although yesterday was bitingly chilly) has given us an autumn that blazes in brilliance. I kept interrupting my passenger's conversation to exclaim on the beauty. I wasn't trying for silent awe but I was excited to be able to share the spectacle with another person. Usually we have the nasty end of some hurricane (last year, memorably, it was Sandy) that tears the leaves from the trees, or the balance of chilly and warm just doesn't happen.  This year is a gift. I'm delighted that tomorrow I have another 10 mile drive on a two-lane road.  Much too soon the leaves will fall and then the snow will also fall (not too much, I hope) although it, too, has its kind of breathtaking beauty.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

New England Quilter's Gathering

A Quilter's Gathering is an annual quilt show inviting a number of New England quilters and quilt guilds to participate.  For the past couple of years it has been held in Manchester, Vermont at a convention/exhibition Radisson hotel. I went with the Bayberry Quilter's guild yesterday, boarding a bus at 7:30 and returning about 6:30.  The quilts shown here are not typical of those at the exhibit; they are ones I managed to  get photos of before the battery of my camera  quit.  I was flustered by the camera problem and didn't write down the name of the quilter.  I like the Warhol-inspired set of  faces , the colors and the skill using different fabrics.  I recently tried such an effort and found it devilishly difficult.

I like the selvage use in the tree -- this tree was trimmed with Halloween symbols because superstition was one theme of a groups of quilts and because the show was Thursday, Friday and today (Saturday) spanning Halloween.  This is not a holiday I care to celebrate so I was turned off by the embellishments.  But I was happy to see the selvages used. The same woman also made a cloak and a hood using selvages.  I am regular reader of Karen Griska's blog, (see side bar).  And I enjoy using selvages in quilts and am dreaming of making one later in the winter.  

The show has an aura of New England about it; the earth, sky, forest tones of the fabrics, the frequent traditional block styles, a certain quiet strength and reticence. For me the most beautiful quilt was called "The Shell Collector" by Bethanne Nemesh of Allentown, PA, almost a whole cloth quilt, a central panel of quilting that showed her two children at the ocean and a border that showed seashells and such -- all in light blue and sandy beige, all expertly home machine quilted.  The only pieces were an interior border of triangles to separate the central square from the border. 

An astonishing quilt was called "Insanity" a compulsively pieced, reversible quilt with tiny stars about 3 inchs square in gold and dark blue, made by Dan and Carol Perkins of Rangeley, Maine. Dan did the piecing and Carol the quilting.  It had 13,500 pieces of fabric, none of it paper pieced, points of the stars perfect (I think, I certainly did not examine every one).  I just hope they had time to get out of the house and have a social life last winter when the quilt was being made.  It was jaw dropping, I'll admit.  But the overall pattern was too much like printed wall paper for my taste.

From a vender I purchased the catalog/book of  the 2013 Quilt National exhibit and spent the drive home reading the artists statements and looking at those important art quilts and thinking about the quilt world where in textiles are used so variously -- all the  fairly "quilty" quilts I saw during the day and all the works of art, each attempting to make a statement of some profundity, at Quilt National.