Tuesday, June 30, 2015


After a delay of several hours for mechanical issues, we finally left Newark shortly after midnight.  This meant, since it was a dinner flight, that we had dinner somewhere around 2:am.  Happily, I was in first class, so the seat turned into a bed of sorts.  I slept like a log till 7:30 this morning.  We landed in Sao Paolo around 10:30, SP time (an hour later than NY time).  The international terminal is new and elegant, but empty of people.
Although, even here -- a familiar airport sight.  
The Star Alliance airport lounge is the most beautiful I have ever seen, but the food isn't very interesting or very good, sadly.  However, it, too, is pretty to look at.

So here I sit, wondering what I haven't had to eat that I should go back for.  Pasta? Meh -but maybe.  Dessert? I rarely eat dessert, but might have to see what's available.  OTOH, I could go downstairs to the terminal in search of a good empada...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

vacation on the deck

After yesterday's impossible heat/humidity, the rain cleared it away and today is soft and dry with a lovely little breeze.  A perfect day. I'm taking advantage of it with a mid-afternoon break on the deck, from the computer, where I was researching the Sao Paolo airport (reviews from travelers are grim and apparently nobody in this international airport speaks English (or even Spanish or French)  Consequently, I have been on Google translate trying to find out how to say "where is the ladies' room?" and other various necessary questions in Portugese. I did find the airport website, which at least told me that my arriving airline and departing airline leave from the same terminal -- and that I have my choice of two airline lounges.  Both of my flights are overnight, so my 11 hrs in the airport between flights is during the day.  At least I won't have to worry about where to sleep while I am there.

The Bambis have been ransacking my garden again, despite the anti-deer spray. I was so happy to see these beautiful daylilies yesterday, that I took pictures.
Here's what my garden looked like this morning.

I am attempting to get two weeks worth of clothes and five days worth of 4 different workshops into one suitcase.  Right now, all my stuff is on the living room floor - do you see why I need a mid-afternoon break?  This is probably an exercise in futility, but I have numerous flight changes en route to Durban and think that one suitcase has a better chance of arriving than two. It's a crapshoot, however  and we will see.

I have also loaded up with 5 or 6 books in my carry-on (what else will I do for 11 hours in an airport?)]

On another subject, as I was going through my UFOs the other day, I came across this top that I never made into an actual quilt.  What was I THINKING?  1976.  Cut with scissors, pieced by hand. I am trying to decide how to cut it up.

That's today's update.  I am now going to put my feet up, read the rest of today's NY Times, and then force myself back to the packing and the organizing (not necessarily in that order. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

still in a time warp

Eating at odd hours, staying up late, and waking up early.  Oh, dear. So here I am at midnight eating toast and peanut butter with a cup of tea, taking a break from cleaning and organizing this sewing room so I can think straight. Haha - this will take more time than I have.  I have emptied my suitcases so that I can pack them again, and since I am teaching four classes in five days, I need to take a lot of STUFF. Logistics require a sorted room to  figure out what I need for 4 different classes.

Speaking of classes - you may remember this in-process piece posted from my Friday color class in Tucson.

What a happy surprise to get Karen's picture today of the finished piece! Dynamic composition and an unexpected fourth color, which adds such richness. I hope to get photos from some of the others.

I spent some time this afternoon puttering around and came across this baby quilt which I made in 1994.  I never could bear to part with it beause it uses vintage fabrics from the blanket covers and aprons my Nanny made from 1940's & '50's fabrics she brought home from the dress factory where she worked:stripes and plaids, particularly.

Now that I've rested my feet for a bit, I can go back to sorting for a while, at least. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

blogging in the airport.

 morning I spent a few hours in terminal A at DFW.  Except for the fact that there don't seem to be any real bookstores there, it was a pleasant place to spend time.  Lunch was the highlight of the day.
No, these are not colorful luncheon napkins, they are fat quarters of you-know-what.
For a person who claims not to buy fabric, I have made a liar of myself once again.  Inspired by the students in my Fearless Color class, I am ready to play again, between laundry and packing for South Africa.  We shall see if I am as good as my intentions.  In the meantime, here are a few of the things that were on the wall last Friday.  I did not get pix of all of them, sadly.

Time to get back on my eastern time schedule, so that's it for tonight. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

An afternoon of Art

While you were reading the previous post (and I really hope you followed that link), I was starting to post some visual highlights from the Tucson Museum of Art.  
What a lovely museum, and just the right size for me.  Don't you love the shadows on the wall?
Here are some of my favorites from the contemporary exhibition.  
This is by Miriam Shapiro, who uses cloth and clothing in her work.  

And this one is by Jaune Quick To See Smith, whose work always speaks to me.

After a lovely dinner in a restaurant that specializes  in the cuisine of Mexico City, I crashed early.  Still on jet lag.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Does this sound familiar? You have to read this!

This was supposed to post yesterday but apparently my internet connection didn't agree. 

The Sewing Lawyer: A speech on quilting

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Yesterday's Lebanese breakfast

Labneh (yogurt drained overnight).  The Lebanese pita is thinner than the Greek pita.  I mixed za'atar with a little olive oil, spread it on the bit of pita, and heated it in the oven.  Breakfast to die for.

Tonight, out with friends to their favorite thin, thin, thin crust pizza joint.  Will let you know whether it is the gold standard they claim it is.  Meantime, back to trimming my string squares...

Friday, May 29, 2015

a day full of sunshine

Literally and figuratively--a joyful day in NY.  No rain!! I met my friend Carolyn at City Quilter; Carolyn and her husband Bruce are here from England, spending  a few weeks in and around Manhattan, visiting friends.  Luckily for me, the friends had other plans today, so Carolyn and I had a chance to browse around the shop and then go for lunch till Bruce met up with us. 

Ahem. After declaring that I never buy fabric, I managed to make a liar of myself with these two fabrics I couldn't resist.  (Especially since they were on sale).  They don't look like me, do they? 

 Love those cocktail glasses with the striped stems (the fabric designer seemed to think they were posies - but what does she know?) and the color combination makes me smile.  Ditto those big circles.  They are so whimsical that they are inspiring me (to do what?). Washed and ironed, they are smiling at me while I finish making those string blocks.  Four more to go and then the real work begins.

I just made a small pot of coffee so I could stay up and sew. There is something lovely
about being able to make coffee at 10:pm and stay up as late as I want to because I don't have to be anywhere else tomorrow. I love my little French Press that theoretically makes 3 cups, but it really makes only one.

On the counter is a strainer with yogurt that will be labneh (Lebanese yogurt cheese) by morning. I have been reading cookbooks for recreation, which is not such a great idea when I am trying to lose weight.  But I walked 4.5 mi. today so I figure it evens out.  Before leaving the city, I stopped at the International Foods shop on 9th Ave and 40th St. to stock up on feta, spanikopita, kalamata olives, halvah, taziki, and taramasalata (their taziki and tarama are the best anywhere, hands down). Oh, and Lebanese pita which is thinner than Greek pita.  Tomorrow, I will have a Lebanese breakfast.  But tonight, back to the sewing room for a little while, at least.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

rain, rain, go away...

I shouldn't complain, based on what is going on in the rest of the country.  Hope all of you in Texas and Oklahoma are safe.  But I'm going into the City tomorrow and would prefer not to use my umbrella. 

Today, I did not put one toe out of the house  aifter I retrieved the newspapers from the driveway.  I sewed.  

String squares: the original paper piecing.
A friend of my mother's showed me how to sew strings to newspaper squares a full decade before I made my first quilt. She was not a quilter - just had a lot of sraps and was making summer coverlets. I thought it was fun, but I was newly married and forgot about string quilts  for about 40 years.  Then I discovered that they made fun baby quilts -- and made some for gifts. Then, forgot about them again when my kids' friends took a break from having babies.

 A week or two ago, too tired to think, but needing to sew, I cut a bunch of squares from a junk mail prospectus (phone books or newspapers are good, too), threw a pile of strips into a trash basket, and went to work. These were single strips of all lengths and widths.
But I also have a ton of already-sewn-together leftover free-form therapy strips.
I set my machine stitch at 1.5 because it's easier to rip the paper off when you have small stitches.  I assume that every quilter on the planet has made a string quilt at some point because they are so basic.  But just in case you haven't, here's my process.

1.  Lay two strips down and sew them to the paper.

 2. Flip the top one so it's face-up.  Then flip down the rest of the triangle so it is out of the way.
 3.  This is what it looks like on the back with the corner flipped out of the way.  Now just ignore it and keep adding strips to the strips.

4. Add a few more and flipped the triangle back up for a minute, just to see what length the next strip needs to be. They get shorter as you go along -- no need to waste long ones as you get closer to the top of the triangle!
 5. Almost there - then do the same on the other side. The center strip is anchored, so you can flip back the paper and just add strips.  Saves a lot of grief when its time to take the paper off.
6.  This is what it looks like when the whole square is covered.
 7.Now turn it over and trim off the overhanging pieces, using the paper as your template.
 See? This has only one or two seam lines going through the paper, so it's easy to remove.
 Because the stitches are so small, it rips away easily.
Done!  Now, on to the next one.
I have four more string squares to make and then I can cut them all to the same (more or less) size, put 'em together and go from there.  But I'm done for tonight, so these four will have to wait till I get back from the city tomorrow.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

a lazy week

I just haven't felt like myself or been in the mood to do anything but work on the string baby quilt I'm making.  Yesterday, I finally went to my studio and puttered around -- but after a couple of hours, came home. I have been reading.

Finally, today, I was forced into doing something creative.  I've been working on this little piece all afternoon, and amazingly, it has come together.  All done but the edges.  Hooray!  I have had these units sitting around for four or five years and have had them on-and-off the wall a dozen times.  I was trying to make a bigger piece that did not want to be bigger than 8-½" x 11". Ha!  Done.  The orientation will be up to the future owner.

Has this encouraged me or motivated me to do more small pieces? Hmmm...maybe.  It's a start, anyway.

The NJ weather has been depressing. If this were February, it would be a heat wave; if it were October, it would be lovely and mild.  But it's damn near June and it has been windy, in the low 60's, and cloudy/drizzly. BLEH!  Memorial day is forecast to be more of same, which is a bummer because our condo's pool opens this weekend. (Not that I EVER go in the water, but it would be nice to sit in the nice weather and read or schmooze). Sigh...I won't even begin to tell you about the pollen "tsunami" that the papers are writing about.  I have not stopped sneezing and I wish I could blame it on fabric dust.

So now you know my whole story. Now, I have to go clean up the mess I made while I worked on the above piece. Aren't you glad you tuned in?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

home again

It is Thursday, May 14.  I got home last Saturday from a three-states-in ten days- whirlwind of teaching and am just about recovered.  Mother's Day was pretty restful: I told my kids that if they wanted to see me, they had to come here.  So my daughters came, brought tulips, and put out a lovely spread for Sunday brunch,chez moi.

All week I have alternated between crashing on the sofa and walking a couple of miles a day in this New Jersey windy, October-like weather, to get rid of the extra lbs. I gained while I was away.  This happens every time: I am well-fed and there is no time or place for exercise.

Mostly, my brain has been on the back burner (without a pilot light) for the past several days.  It's a luxury, I must admit, to do nothing.  But it is time to start doing something.

Finally, after four hours of therapy sewing tonight, the beginnings of a string quilt on the wall, for a nw baby. I throw them up as I finish them and will worry about placement when I have enough to play with. Trying to get rid of all he strips but of course, haven't made a dent.  Nonetheless, this mindless sewing has been just what I needed. It is a start.

This is the latest I have been up all week, and I think it is time to end my day. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

a winding career path

In a little while I will be on my way to Seneca, South Carolina.  Admittedly, I am geographically challenged when it comes to anything outside of the northeast of the country, but it's about a two hour drive from Atlanta. Don't ask me in what direction...but when tomorrow comes and I'm in the classroom, I'll be happy to be there.  Those of you who teach know what I mean.  This was the Strips and Squares class.
                                         working on the wall
                                       doing a little design feedback

I feel so lucky to be in this profession.  I've had many careers, all using the same underlying skills. I've been a writer (always) and a teacher/coach/consultant/counselor in a variety of industries and guises. Have loved them all (except for the boss from hell) but what I am doing now is the BEST!  

Started  life as a French teacher and later taught writing skills to executives, scientists, and other corporate types who wrote in long, convoluted sentences of pure gobbledygook. More or less, government speak -- you know the type.  I had a career as a corporate image consultant (though you wouldn't know it to look at me now - LOL) and communication skills coach - great fun!  Among my clients, Citibank, Chase Bank, and the Chicago Tribune. I spent two years a marketing consultant for law firms.  Finally, a decade doing one-on-one outplacement counseling, helping with interview skills, networking, resumes;and giving workshops to people who had been fired/downsized. 

When I discovered 15 years ago that life was too short, I left the outplacement business and worked at my art full time -- never thinking that I'd end up as an author and international teacher, having the most fun ever! It is such joy to help people unleash their creativity!  Just a few happy artists...
Life is an adventure and you never know where the path leads till you get there.  Mine has led to a very special place.