Friday, October 02, 2015

take a walk with me...

 Now that my brain is less foggy and I'm feeling better, I am finally getting around to posting a few pix from a little jaunt to New York City last Saturday.  We attended a bar mitzvah in the morning and afterwards, it was too nice a day to just go home, so Phil and I decided to hop the bus into the City and wander around.  We saw that there was some kind of street fair in Chelsea, so we walked down 8th Ave. from 39th St. to 23rd to see what was what. It was perfect walking weather, so we got our 10,000+ steps in

No, this is not a museum, but the main post office for New York City at 33rd St.  Gorgeous building, not unlike the old and beautiful Penn Station that they tore down to put up a monstrosity.

This was the first time I had noticed the drop-dead gorgeous Art Deco brass doors of the Manufacturer's Trust Company - later known as Manufacturer's Hanover (aka Manny Hanny). The construction interfered with my photo, but that's the way it goes.

 The street fair was mostly food stalls with a few craft stalls and some street performances.   Uh - Proactive Aloe Detox Water?  The emperor's new clothes.
This violinist and his tux had seen better days.

I love their rhyming motto.  

Broke our hearts that we weren't hungry. We've been to their place in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. You have to drive or bike there; there is no subway.  Their lobster rolls are iconic - we've been there.

I thought this woman looked wonderful in her red, orange, dress.  

Collecting bottles and cans so she can pay for her dinner.

About 3:30 we needed to sit down, so we went into the espresso & gelato place.  I had an iced expresso con panna. The gelato was not for me -- too sweet.
Around 4:00 the dancers from the Joyce Theater across the street came out and gave a lovely, graceful performance.
After the dancing, we headed back uptown.  As we were leaving the street fair, we noticed this restaurant and I had to have a picture. Uncle Jack's steakhouse and sushi bar?? What kind of a combination is that?  Too funny.

We stopped at my favorite International Foods market and stocked up on  spanakopita, taramasalata, real Greek feta, taziki, and halvah for dinner at home.  I've been noshing on the leftovers all week.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

how I spent my afternoon

Sitting at the walk-in clinic, sounding like Typhoid Mary, mostly waiting. Waiting for the nurse. Waiting for the doctor. Waiting for the x-ray tech. Waiting for a few other things. And especially waiting for the diagnosis of bronchitis, not pneumonia, which I told them it was when I walked in.  Ha! Doctor Mom gets another gold star for her self-diagnosis.

I have felt worse, but I have also felt better. Nonetheless, armed with a Z-pak, two inhalers to clear my lungs (yes, they seem to work), and some over the counter stuff that promises to suppress my cough - here I am.  The hot toddy was useless, incidentally. And so was the chicken soup.  Oh, well.

Over the weekend I sewed together, then took apart, this piece of work -- after I had stitched some of it.  I decided that I really hated the white background -- that it is great in theory but just isn't me.I also decided to make the units a tiny bit larger.  So that is what I worked on last night and this morning before said trip to the medical facility.

Yesterday I went to the studio and made a couple of screens so I could print scarves. Was planning to go today, but it was not in the cards. I came home and dyed some fabric that came out incredibly ugly. So I overdyed it and it got worse. Did you ever hear of such a thing?  Maybe someday I will actually take a dyeing class -- but probably not.

In the meantime, I feel lousy enough to stay home again tomorrow, so we shall see what develops in my sewing room. I may just sit and read.

Monday, September 21, 2015

relegated to the front of the house

This morning at 8:30, the doorbell.  Surprise! We came to do the roof. (oh, really?).  Well,  the part that leaked and that has toxic fire retardant in the wood. The fire retardant was replaced a decade or so ago, but apparently they missed the back of my roof over part of the living room.  

Hammers, crowbars, carryings I had to go to the front of the house for most of the day to get away from the worst of the racket.  My sewing room and the garage are in the front of the house and I didn't intend to spend my day in the I actually spent the day sewing:-)). Forced into it!

Some time ago I made a quilt out of leftover random blocks. It was meant to be a baby quilt but I  decided against it and instead, lugged it around to classes.  
I finally decided it was a mishmash and took it apart, sorting out the units and putting aside the ones I liked best.  Today, I added some white fabric around the edges and now I am auditioning layouts. 

 I think I have some more of these, lying around loose. The roofers are coming at 8 tomorrow morning, so I suspect I will be back in this room doing an archaeological dig. Who knows what else I will find?  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

new post

When I got home from Alaska, I had no deck.  All of the decks in the complex are being replaced and they are still not finished.  My furniture and my grill are in the yard, so I have actually had to COOK on my range in the kitchen all summer. Bah!
 Finally, the deck is done enough for me to sit out there, although it is still not stained and there are some rough/unfinished places.  So I dragged a couple of lawn chairs out of the back of the car and this afternoon, because it was so beautiful out, I abandoned my sewing room for the deck.

As I write, I am on the deck,feet up, drink in hand, watching the bambis wag their tails and munch nonstop on the foliage and contemplate my furniture. The weather has cooled a bit and the humidity has gone. The air has the crisp tinge of fall in it, which is lovely and makes for perfect walking weather. I took three walks today.

It has taken me several weeks to catch up with myself and relax. I spent several days last week cooking for Rosh Hashanah, and even baked my own challah for the first time in eons.  Last time I did that, my children told me they liked the bakery challah better.  But I vowed not to be defeated and this time, using a recipe from Joan Nathan, it was delicious.  Of course, I forgot to take pictures of the beautiful (well,sort of lopsided but who's looking?) round breads.  We ate the raisin challah and I put the poppy/sesame-topped one in the freezer because home-baked bread gets stale quickly.  One Sunday morning it will make fabulous French toast.

In the meantime, am on working on some new ideas, which are coming along slowly but surely.  I seem to work in fits and starts these days, hopping from one idea to another and leaving them all in various stages of "what if?"

I still mean to use my African fabrics - the traditional shweshwe fabrics of the South African women, along with some of the African batiks from the west. I am especially motivated because my talented student Wendi sent me a photo of her prize-winning quilt, hanging in a show. She did not start it in class because she was finishing something she brought with her.  However, she made it
it after she went home and it won two prizes in the exhibit. Wendi lives in Zimbabwe and had traveled to take the class. Just look at the way she used her fabrics!
 Here is a detail.  Aren't those fabrics wonderful?
I am off to make a cup of coffee in an effort to stay alert enough to do something imaginative for the rest of the evening.  It feels later than it is because of course, it is already dark.  As Yogi Berra is reuputed to have said, "it gets later, earlier."  See 'ya.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Day two of class - moving right along

Yesterday, everybody tried to get their right brains working and we mostly succeeded, despite some whining about "I can't work without a pattern."  Today, some of those left-brained people  had learned to trust themselves, rely on their instincts, and to stop censoring their work/trying to control it before they had even made enough STUFF to play with.

One person, who started working with a piece of this god-awful log cabin block, was well on her way to incorporating it into a very cool piece.  She's still working on it - so we'll see what develops.
One of the women, who was a new quilter and had only ever worked with patterns, had this piece done by the time she left today.  She has promise.

Everybody was busy working with some color limits, and Debbie (front right) was working in black/white/chartreuse and making great progess on it.

(shows up navy blue on my screen, but is really black).

Tonight, Debra Jo Hardman hosted a FAB pot luck at her house. Everything was beyond delicious and it was probably the best salmon (chinook?) I have ever had.  The company was great, too - and it was good to meet the husbands and - uh - talk about other things besides quilting.

 Alaskans are hearty souls, I must say.  I had my share of pitching tents and dealing with camping in the first decade of my first marriage.  Today, my idea of roughing it is staying at the Hilton. LOL.  No, I haven't seen a moose but at home I have deer waltzing up to my front door and standing in my driveway.  And haven't seen a bear, but we have those in NJ, too. Happily, I have not encountered any mosquitos.  But the people I have encountered are simply wonderful.  I am so happy to be here.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

pictures tomorrow

I was too busy teaching to take usable photos today.  Mostly, I was turning them into black and white so people who couldn't figure out why their quilts were just not interesting, could see their UFOs were all the same value.  More about this tomorrow.

Meantime, tonight I had dinner with Nancy Blick Dobson and Diane Melms.  They are both wonderful, accomplished artists and I urge you to go visit their websites.  For some reason, blogging on my iPad won't let me insert links, but please Google both of them.

I have "known" Nancy for a number of years. She lives in Grand Junction, CO and in Anchorage. The twice I had taught in Grand Junction, she had already left for summer in Anchorage, but her work is in both my book and in my lecture on working in a series.  We were both glad to finally meet in person.
Diane is generously putting me up at her home while I am teaching in Anchorage, and to me, it is like living in an art gallery.  I am just the luckiest person to do what I do and go where I go!

My class is Cincdrella Quilts: Reinventing the UFO, and I'll have some before and after pix later today.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

more inspiration

As I write this, it is 10:30 and dark.  But at 9:00, when I got back to the hotel after a lovely dinner chez one of my students for the upcoming 3 day class, it was still light.  How cool is that?  I have finally acclimated to the 4 hour time change; the first few nights I went to sleep when the sky still looked like this.  
Spent today at the Anchorge Art  Museum and the Alaska Native Heritage Center, both of which were eye-opening experiences.   Nan and I arrived at the Native Heritage Center shortly after the beginning of a wonderful program of native dancing and songs.  I didn't take pictures because I felt it would be disruptive, but it was beautiful and instructional.

Earlier, we had been at the Anchorage Museum and I loved learning about the various (the largest) tribes and looking at their art.  More inspiration for me!  Just a few of the items that caught my eye.
Class tomorrow: I had better sign off.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Glacier day

I got a real education yesterday -- one that all the Flat Earth People should have.  Yes, the glaciers are melting and dying at an astonishing rate.

Nan took me for a drive in the morning to Kenai National Park and we walked through the woods to where a glacier used to be.  Along the way were signs showing where the glacier was in 18-something, then 1929 and 1957, etc. as we got closer to the glacier. We were walking where there had been ice and was now forest.

See all this gravel?  This was ice not very long ago.  See that glacier?  That is how far it has receded.

Nan told me that 20 years ago, the glaciers came much further down.  Now, most of the ones I saw looked like snowcaps, they were so far up the mountains. (see the one on the left of this photo)
You see blue in the ice because blue light waves are the only ones that don't get absorbed, so they reflect back.  
This is glacier ice which has broken off from the big one.  This is continually happening.
Here is Nan, holding a piece.  It is as clear as -- uh --- ice.
In the afternoon, I took a six-hour cruise (more about this further down) and of course, the drinks on the boat were made with glacier ice.  

Here is the harbor in Seward.  The  tree line stops at a certain point, and the rest of the mountain is bare.
The cruise's destination was the Holgate Glacier, which has not yet receded -- and I was very sad to think that someday, it will also be gone.  Scary.  Right now, it comes down to the water, as they all did once upon a time.  Nan tells me that there in the last 20 years, she has seen the glaciers shrink like crazy.   Here is the Holgate Glacier, which comes right down to the sea.  Gorgeous!!
President Obama will be in Alsaka in September.  He ought to bring a posse of those senators on the other side who don't believe in climate change and refuse to do anything about it.

Today, Nan and I are going back to Anchorage and I'll be there for the rest of the week.  I give a lecture to the Anchorage guild tonight and then we have a couple of more free days to go to the museums in Anchorage.  Class starts on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

being a tourist

Although I am lecturing and teaching a 3 day class in Anchorage, I am in Seward, sightseeing with Nan Thompson, who brought me here.  Seward is a 2 hour drive from Anchorage and along the way, we stopped periodically so I could take pictures and walk around a bit.  I have been getting an education about Salmon, the glaciers, and other things.  Fascinating!  

Somebody needs to send all those climate change non-believers up to Alaska.  The white and blue section in the middle of those two mountains is a glacier.  Nan tells me that 20 years ago, the glacier came all the way down to the water and you could see the ice breaking off and floating away.  Now, the glaciers have receded all over the place and they are getting smaller because they are melting.
This is another glacier, also farther away than it was originally - but clearer, anyway.  By this time, the clouds had begun to lift.

We stopped to take a walk and Nan thought I should get off the path and experience walking on the tundra.  There is ice under the tundra, way down.  But the earth is very spongy and it is a strange feeling to walk on the tundra.  I don't know whether you can see my foot sinking down a little bit, but here is the photo I took. 
It is very beautiful here. and the mountains make me think of when I lived in Boulder.  Interesting about the plants that grow here: there are far fewer species here than it the lower 48 because of the light and the cold.  Plants that survive here need to be able to grow in low light and survive the winters. so they are somewhat limited by those two things.  I already forget what these are called, but they are all over the place, and such a stunning color.

Our last stop en route to Seward was to see the salmon spawning.  They lay their eggs and then they die.  These salmon have come home and are going to spawn.  There were lots of them in the water.

Today's tour is over.  I'm taking a day cruise tomorrow and promise more pictures.   Meantime, I have some catching-up to do with my sleep. My body thinks it is 1:am, although it is 9:pm (and still daylight).

Thursday, August 13, 2015

slogging through the week

Or so it seems. 

I've been focused on one particular project: coping with the 8,000 itchy insect bites on my feet.  I am a magnet, especially late in the day if I am outdoors. Last Sunday night I had the joy of watching David, one of my handsome and talented grandsons,play baseball in the Little League regional playoffs.

And despite my liberal application of OFF!(I want my money back) the mosquitos made a meal of my feet and had a few tastes of my neck. I will spare you the image, but the itching has kept me awake every night. I counted about 20 bites on my left foot, alone. Yes, I've tried every remedy:benadryl gel, vinegar, aspirin paste, and every other folk/drugstore anti-itch thing you can name. Benadryl pills work best, but they're not perfect.  

I am leaving for Alaska on Monday and was NOT happy to read this article in the NYTimes on Tuesday. BUT I just did some research on natural mosquito repellents: mint, rosemary, cloves, garlic - lemongrass, and catnip oil.  I guess a trip to Whole Foods is in order in the morning.  Swell

Have any of you had success with any of these natural repellents? Meantime, I am going to take a benadryl and go to bed.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Playing around

After having spent a good part of the day on paperwork and wrestling with Quicken, which refused to save the final version of my check register, I gritted my teeth and headed for the sewing room.  

I've been playing with a couple of ideas since last week that were influenced by my trip to KwaZulu-Natal and I finally sewed some things together.  I suspect the short stack on the right will go off by itself and the two long columns will have a sibling, but not sure where it will go after that.  I am mulling some options.  And of course, there is the challenge to use the Shweshwe fabrics in a piece 16" x 24".
Since I am playing, at the moment, with lines and rectangles, I cut some others and asked myself "what if?" a couple of times, in the process. I started with this a simple rectangle to see where it would take me.  I have a pile of them that I made a couple of years ago in various color combinations and haven't done anything with. Maybe now it it time.

I am again asking myself what the options are...and there are probably more than occur to me at the moment.  What if I cut and pasted these again?  What if I added another color? What if...? etc.  Here is a 12" block I made about 2 years ago, which went into a my Modern Quilt Guild quilt that was being sent to QuiltCon.  If you asked me to duplicate the layout, I don't think I could do it because I have no idea how I got there.  But of course, that's ok.  I wouldn't want to make the identical thing twice, would I??  
Any thoughts?
I have another couple of ideas generated by "what if?", so we'll see where they take me. Why don't you try it yourself and send me pictures of where you ended up?