Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Just a couple of days before Christmas, Jacob and I were busy making Grammy's famous sugar cookies again. He is a deprived child...he had never licked the beater after the cookies were mixed until he came to Grammy's.....something about uncooked eggs....He is sitting on his counter reaching crate as his job was to decorate them again

Christmas day brought a surprise to our house! Santa Clause left things for Jacob and Ashton. Jacob has been spending a lot of time drawing, especially with the caulk on the blackboard! The other side has a dry erase but he can hang paper there also. Santa also left him a Jacob sized folding table and two chairs so he can sit down to play with his play doh that his grandparents got for him.

And not to be left out, Ashton managed to stay awake once in a while, when he wasn't eating, in order to check things out. He was not too interested in what Santa left for him.
And my dad....I keep remembering what he looked like 15 months ago at 115 pounds and bed was great to have him with us for Christmas eve and Christmas day.
I have been doing some fabric collages. These are $75 each and are framed but have not been professionally photographed so this don't look straight, etc and the lighting isn't good. These are 14 x 16".
Ginko 1

Ginko 2

Ginko 3

Ginko 4

I have been busy working on my class which goes on line on Jan 21. I only have a couple of slots open at this time. I have two students from Switzerland, one from Australia, two from Canada and the rest from various parts of the US. This is going to be so much fun! I have been busy doing the exercises that I will be asking everyone else to do so I have some examples to show.

It is winter if you live where it snows, don't laugh at me, but today the temp has been down in the low 50's and it has been very windy which makes it feel even colder. I went out just a little bit ago and it is dropping to the 40's fairly quickly and with clear skies I know it will get really cold. Perhaps we need to light the Christmas lights on the orange tree so it doesn't freeze!

Tomorrow we head up to our cabin in the foothills of the Sierra. It is at about 3700 feet and a couple of good storms are coming in so we are all hoping for some snow. That way we can sit inside and do puzzles, eat, and drink hot chocolate. Of course, I still need to do some more work on my lessons for the class. My daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren will also be going up. A week in a small cabin with two young children....well, I am planning on taking ear phones for my new IPod!

I have been praying for peace around the world but I know that the reality of this happening is pretty slim. There are just too many places in this world, including our own country, where violence is rampant and shooting people seems to be the way to resolve problems with each other. It makes me so sad so hear of another shooting, or another drunk driver, killing someone. But I keep praying....

I would like to wish everyone a very happy new year. Life has been good to me. As I was thinking about what I accomplished this year and I am really amazed. It has been a busy year but I am hoping to get back on track, get better control of my depression which has been rearing it's head now and then, and to make lots of art. I have some fun teaching gigs set up, traveling around the country which I am looking forward to...two trips to the east in March to Cape Cod and then in November to New York. Fun!

Take care, plan well for the coming year and enjoy making art!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Two Days After Christmas....

Finally things have settled down enough so I can finally get caught up here. It has been a very busy three weeks....

I have spent a great deal of time helping my daughter out. Even though her husband is home on family leave for a while, they are both sleep deprived and are tired when a very active 3 year old wants to play. So....Grammy to the rescue. Yesterday I received a plaintive call...Mom, are you doing anything? (Of course not!) Would you like to hang out for a little while? (of course).
so over I go. Jacob would like to ride BART. So we make a stop at the bank, head for BART, ride all the way to San Francisco with the idea that we would quickly look around and then head back. Nope...he spotted the cable car which has a turn table right there at the foot of Powell where we came up from underground. So, an hour wait in line with all the rest of the tourists, and we were able to get an outside seat right in front so he could look out the front window. He loved the fact that we went up high hills and then hoped we would go fast like a roller coaster, coming down. Of course, I prayed that the grip man was on his job and would keep us safely on the cable...which, of course, he did. Got off near Fisherman's Wharf, looked for a place to get a quick bite to eat and then back to wait for the cable car ride back. Again, we had a front seat! Arrived at the foot of Powell, went down to BART past all the street musicians and headed home. On the way back Jacob fell fast asleep almost doubled over and he wouldn't wake up when we had to get off BART...does he ever weight a ton! and a sleeping child is even heavier.
finally he woke up enough to walk to the car but I called his dad to come out to the car to pick him up...then I went home for a nap.

This Christmas has been full of delight for Jacob...his family helped us put up the tree the Saturday before Christmas, after we had picked my son up who had come in from Ohio. He carefully held every ornament and exclaimed over their beauty. I have a wonderful pile of tinsel on one branch, right at his level. And of course, the tree is much more heavily decorated in one section! The joys of a young child.

I took Advent to heart and spent a lot of time in contemplation and then realized I had to get some shopping done. I had already made arrangements with the other parts of the family that come over that we would not exchange gifts, except for the children. The tree seemed a little forlorn without tons of presents but I felt much better about it...not piled with stuff. Of course, I gave my daughter and her husband a new dishwasher for Christmas which, needless to say, was not under the tree!

I received a number of books on art by Sister Wendy Bennet...I have just started reading them and am enjoying her commentary. I also received an 80gig IPod so I can also put books and photos on it. The idea is that I can put pictures of my quilts and grandchildren on it so I can show both around....

I received good news that my piece, Life Circles 2, was accepted in to the final jurying in my David Walker and that it was chosen for the cover of the catalog that is being printed for the FAVA show, The Artist as Quiltmaker XIII which will open in May. That was exciting.

Also received my comp copies of Vicki Anderson's brand new magazine, Machine Quilting Unlimited. She is the publisher of Professional Quilter. I received comp copies because I have an article in the very first issue! And the photo she has of me is to die for!

I have also been busy making robes etc for both three large kings and three small kings for the Christmas pageant at church. They all looked good although I wasn't able to be there...I go to the midnight service which is so calming and affirming.

I have done a couple of little things of birch trees....they are each 4 x 6 inches and are mounted on black mat board and framed with a matt black metal frame. These will go for $75 each and are ready to hang.

Birches 1

Birches 4

Birches 5

I am also finishing up postcards for the Art2Mail group which should go out in a week or so.

I've been busy cutting out rubber stamps that are 4 x 4" and have had a good time doing those...

And....writing the lessons for my on line class...I am really excited about it and feel it will be really good. Lots of exercises and fun things to do! I still have a couple of places available

The class will start on January 21 and will go for 6 weeks. Each week students will receive a lesson with a number of exercises to do. Each student will post their exercised in the folders on our Yahoo site and then we will discuss them before we go to the next lesson. This is all about the elements and principles of design.

I am feeling like I am about ready to start doing to serious work again. We will go away for the first week of January with our daughter and her family and go up to the mountains and hope it snows so we can sit inside where it is warm, eat home made soup, and watch the snow. What could be better? And then, it is time to get back to work! My studios await me!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Where Has the Time Gone? or, Why Haven't I Written Lately?

So much has been going on... for the past several weeks I have been trying to get my piece together for a show Larkin Van Horn is curating this spring. The title, "It's good to be green" can not include Kermit but may be anything else. I have gone through five different attempts to do this piece, which also happens to be 18" by 45" in the vertical. So, between a number of other things, like Thanksgiving, on Monday Nov 26 I daughter went in for a planned C section to deliver her new son. Of course, the night before I sure didn't get any sleep.

I had finally gotten my green piece together enough so that my plan was to get the facing stitched down while I was waiting.

We got to the hospital just shortly after she had gone in to the operating room. Three years ago, she gave birth to her son, Jacob, via an emergency c section so a planned one was much calmer and she was awake so she could see the baby immediately, etc.

David, my son in law, came out just 30 minutes after we got there to let us know the baby was in the nursery getting cleaned up...not much work done on my green piece then!

Of course, it was off to the nursery to goo over the new baby, Ashton.

this picture is actually within 30 minutes of his birth!

Of course, then in to the recovery room to spend time with our daughter and then the baby too. We hung out there for a while, got home later in the afternoon and then I picked up Jacob at the babysitter's and took him out to see his baby brother. Ashton is his baby...but he lets his mom feed him!
He is so cute with the baby and insists on holding him daily and giving him kisses. And of course, his dad has to help him change the diaper on the baby doll that I got him several months ago. The doll can wear the same clothes as Ashton.

Mom and baby came home this past Thursday. But what long days it was while there were at the hospital. I think I made two round trips per day which were 40 minutes each way. I spent the night at the hospital Tuesday night to help my daughter as staff did not return as quickly as she needed after she nursed the baby at night and she couldn't get him back to the nursery as she had had the picture me running around the hospital wearing my bathrobe in the middle of the night pushing an isolet to the nursery and then plopping back down on the plastic chair that stretched out so it looked like a bed but wasn't until the nurse brought Ashton back to us an hour (that's what it seemed like) later. I went home and collapsed and then took Jacob back out in the afternoon.

Then I spent the night at his house and then finally got word that they were coming home on Thursday afternoon. I am too old for this not sleeping thing. I was so happy when I finally got past the hot flashes and constant need to get up at night to go pee...

So now, I deliver meals, take Jacob out to ride the train, ride the kiddie roller coaster which is really herky jerky (I don't especially like roller coasters), and have him over to make cookies.

Jacob is a child who has not grown up with sweets...his parents are doing all the right things! He has only had cake on his birthdays! Well, just look at this face as he enjoys Grammy's sugar cookies! He ate four...completely surprised his mother but I know what magic those cookies have!
Now this is one happy little boy!

This is a small part of my green quilt....I wrote a whole lot about being green but most of it is covered up. I have been doing this a lot lately...writing on my quilts and then covering it up...the thoughts are there but are not necessary to appreciate the least that is the plan.Our church and another one have a youth art group together. They are looking at the 8 millennium goals of the UN and made six walls pieces on the goal of providing education for every child to the eighth grade. These plaques have casts of their arms and hands, raised as if in class with the answer. On the side of each on the back board is a prayer and then their names are on the bottom.

I met with each group as they decided what issue they wanted their board to focus on and then located images via the web which would express their thoughts. I then printed the images and did get transfers on the the back boards above the hands. The images come out a little rough which really is a good look with these pieces.

so, I have also been quilting my California Dreams 3 piece, working on my lessons for my on line class and now have a list of people to notify that they can sign up for the class. And all this is in between running a catering service to my daughter and playing special grammy to Jacob. Oh, and after I get my hair cut tomorrow, I finally get to go to my studio away from home!

I now have Pay Pal live on my website and will start registering for the class on Dec 4. But first I have to notify my list!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

On Line Class in the Works

Well, I am committed to doing this. I have set up the Yahoo group and am working on the Pay Pal stuff to collect the money, have a description ready and have outlines for the individual classes.

So, before long I will be announcing enrollment in my on line class on the Elements and Principles of Design. This is getting exciting.

The E&P of design have been the topics of conversation on the quiltart list for a couple of weeks now. I know Pamela Allen is setting up a class but I think our styles are different and how we approach the class will be different.

We are going to explore the elements of design, learn to understand how they work together to form the Principles of design and do lots of exercises so that the ideas become ingrained in our subconscious. Doesn't that sound fancy?

But most importantly, we will look at each other's work and learn from each other as we discuss what makes a good design and learn the gentle art of critique. Not criticism, critique. There is a big difference.

Oh, this is going to be fun!

Stay tuned!

Oh, yeah, I've been working on the ideas for my green piece...following directions I would give others...what a concept!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

In a Muddle

For a year I have known that I had a piece to do by December 1 of this year. All year I have been thinking and thinking about it, trying to decide how I wanted to approach the title of the show "Its Good to be Green". should I do things around conservation? green building? green cars? or the color green? or things that are green?

Well, I still don't know.

I spent a couple of days dyeing more green fabrics and then spent a day playing with some and doing some cutting and piecing...not fusing...piecing. You can tell that I don't enjoy lining things up the way I should so the line is continuous. This is just a small piece to play around with the idea but it is a no go.

So here is a pile of fabric that I have dyed and painted on my work table.
And another view in case you didn't see the first one well enough.Then I started painting on some of them and did this mono print.

And did a bunch of silk screening on fabric and then pulled out a piece of white and just had fun painting.
and here you can see part of the design wall when I left yesterday with lots of printed and painted fabrics.

and the rest of the wall.
so today I went in and worked all day and got something that was just horrible. I will not show you what it looked like but I was very unhappy. I will be able to use the fabric in smaller pieces and postcards for my Art2Mail exchange.

So then I pulled out some more white fabric, put it down on the floor and did and brush design, let it dry some, put it up on the table and then painted in the background.

Not sure that is going to work either.

I am in the middle of a lack of confidence and also I want to move in some different directions but I am not sure which way so things are really puzzling for me right now. I will work it through, I know, but I would like to have it all worked out right now!

A side note, Mr Gills, the person we were working on the house for in New Orleans, died. It is so sad as the house only had about a week's worth of work to go but his body could just not hang in there. Please keep Miss Jackie in your prayers.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Well, I have finally decompressed after the trip to New Orleans. It is still in my mind but I have been processing what I saw and what I felt. Art will come from it at some point in time, I know.

I finished up eight small pieces that are for a very top secret project which was something of a challenge as I had to do a series of six on one theme...started off without a problem and then had difficulties trying to decide what else to do...partly because New Orleans was on my mind.

But I got them done and shipped off.

Last Sunday the three other members in my crit group came over to my studio to do some dyeing for the day. Here they you know who they are?

Behind the mask: Alice Beasley
and Claudia Comay and Robin Cowley
We had a lot of fun acting like mad scientists. It was the first time Alice had done any dyeing so we took things slowly. Did all low water immersion except for Robin who started putting dye down on the plastic and soaking up some of it with folded fabric...she will get some great stuff. We will be getting together in a few weeks for show and tell.

I had a great conversation with Claudia about doing good work and then doing work that challenges you and forces you to move forward.

We have a decorating store in town that sells upholstery and drapery fabrics as well as wall paper and flooring...etc. They have been giving me the sample books. I now have so much that I share it with friends!

This is part of the last two piles of stuff out of the hard carriers that it comes in. What a lot of work to get the stuff off of the huge staples!

In this picture you can't see the second tower of stuff right behind the front!

And here is another pile, waiting to fin a home.
I also have a lot of it at the studio. I have been using it for collages but have now started some really neat fabric collages...will do some sewing on them today so maybe I can show some off in the next day of so.

But anyway, I'm back to talking art again!

Friday, November 02, 2007

New Orleans and returning home

Tuesday morning I had a few hours before I had to be at the airport so I did some driving around to areas I had been to before but this time with the intent of taking pictures. I came across this elementary school which was flooded and is still not open. Kids are being bused to schools now as the neighborhoods are still not filled back up and children are few and far between.

I found the color combinations of this just wonderful, but obviously the house is not in a livable condition. I could not tell if it had been gutted or not...most houses have been.
Progress is being made on some houses. This house has been refurbished by gutting it down to the studs and bare floor and sometimes subfloor, redoing the electrical and plumbing and then rebuilding the house. But it does not look like anyone is living in it yet.
Here is a duplex that waits to be rehabilitated.
This little shopping area in the neighborhood is completely vacant. None of the stores are open, all have been gutted. People have to drive quite a ways to get what they want.
You can see Blockbuster all closed and gutted. Not enough customers to justify reopening, if they are going to.
This is a view of four different houses right in a row. Of course, the FEMA trailers are there. You can see in the background that one house is being rebuilt. I am not sure just what the status is of the other houses but people are living in their trailers.
And a corner house with two trailers...the house is gutted but does not appear to have had anything done.
And still another with no work yet.
But then I came across this vacant lot with this sign...a very hopeful sign!

Getting my overloaded bag down the stairs and in to the car caused my lower back to get slightly hurt, which I didn't really realize until later that night after I had sat in airplane seats for six hours and sat in the terminals for another four hours. By the time I got home my lower back was screaming.

Tuesday I went in to the doctor, he verified that it was only a strain and that it would get better, etc. etc. And it has.

Wednesday I tried to work on some projects but have had a hard time focusing on my art.

I have been reading a very interesting book by Chris Rose called "One Dead Body in the Attic". Chris is a columnist for the Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans. He chronicles a year and a half of his life from the hurricane to the end of 2006. He went in to a severe depression and finally agreed to get medical help. His first person accounts of the area are so touching.

He also discussed the fact that many of the people who have come down to New Orleans have returned to their own lives with feelings of anxiety. Certainly this comes from having seen such horrendous living conditions that people are still living in and knowing that one can only do so much and so much more is needed.

Today I started working on some small projects but still found myself having trouble focusing. Fortunately, my daughter called and wanted to know if we could take Jacob for a few hours so she could run some errands. Spending time with him has helped to bring me back to my world. Understanding all of the feelings that I am going through are normal also helps.

Depression is rampant in New traumatic stress. However, the tourists in the big hotels and also the French Quarter can go about their touring without ever seeing anything really bad.

There is so much help that is needed. Do what you can. It is the people-to-people programs that is working to solve the housing situation, one house at a time.

I went by the house we had worked on last week and a new crew of volunteers was there working away. Floors were almost done, re-taping was done and just needed to be repainted, the laminated floors were just about done, the tiling was almost done and they were going to be doing the baseboards before too long. I am so glad that I was able to be a part of this...oh, yeah, they were also painting my railings!

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Orleans cont. 2

On Saturday I again had transportation duty to the airport. We went out for a nice breakfast of French toast with brie and caramelized pecans...was it ever rich...This time, however, we had a little more time to explore some more. We went by cemetery in the Garden District. Then we headed off to Slidell to go on a swamp tour. That was a lot of fun and we saw quite a few small alligators, a couple of larger ones, a great blue heron, a great egret, and lots of other interesting things. The guide gave us lots of information about what happened to this area during Katrina but also a lot more information about the area itself. Dropped everyone off at the airport and then headed back to the St. Charles house, had some chicken and turned in to read.

Sunday morning I was on my own. I stayed in bed for a while and finished a book I had been reading, got myself up and out. today I decided I was heading to about three or four different cemeteries. I went to the Lafitte cemetery which is just outside of the French Quarter. This cemetery had more damage to it than any others I had seen. In this picture you can see that some of the marble slabs have come down. Evidently there was a lot of looting of the wrought iron here, as well as other ornamental things.

Here you can see that there has been some fill in where the door area broke open. Caskets were floating around.
You can see some of the aging process. Dirt accumulates and seeds settle in.

Here is the front of one of the tombs.
From there I went to more upscale homes for the dead. You can see row after row and each row backs on to another row with a small alley way between the two of them. This is a huge cemetery. I took lots and lots of pictures of angels which are all on my big camera and I didn't bring my card reader with me.
There is even a pyramid!
And here is the front door.
These things are huge!
After wandering around three cemeteries I headed back to the French Quarter and sat myself down at the Cafe LaMonde for about an hour. I just sat back, listened to the street musicians, took some pictures of people, and just enjoyed the ambiance.

This area is a feast of sensations. Visual, auditory, smells, whatever you want there is over stimulation of the senses. There is a constant hum of voices which sometimes break into raucous laughter but then subside to a gentle roar. But if you really focus, you can turn in just to the music. jazz, blues, it just blows your mind! When you walk down the street there is lots of different music coming out of the various bars and clubs around.

Finally I decided to take one of those mule driven tours in a wagon and really enjoyed seeing all around the French Quarter. Bourbon St. is not the place I want to be and I was glad we went through in the wagon. Lots of people drinking in the streets, many people drunk and lots of beer flowing.

Again, I took lots of pictures of shutters and balconies but they are on my big camera.
Had a great dinner of fried shrimp and then, stuffed to the gills, I headed back to my car and caught this view. On a power tower, there were tons of birds flitting around but I don't know what kind of birds they were.
This morning I am off to explore a different area. Just one more day, today, and then I am off toward home again.