Sunday, July 30, 2006


Some weeks ago, I joked here about having gone to Hawaii as a reward for Roger finishing the textbook he's been writing, like, FOREVER. At the time, the idea was pure fantasy.

Well, Roger DID finish his book and as we were talking about how to celebrate this momentous event, he suggested that what he'd really like to do... is go to Hawaii! We looked at our calendar, found the one window of opportunity, called our travel agent, and next thing we knew, we'd booked a trip to Maui for 10 days! This is especially exciting as we've never really taken a vacation like this as a family. Since Caroline arrived 10 years ago, our vacations have usually involved visiting family and friends (in great places like Maine and San Diego), but still...this will be quite fun.

So, we are in BIG PACKING mode, as we leave bright and early Tuesday morning.

We'll be staying in Napili, which is just north of Lahaina... On this map, it's on the far left-hand side of the island.

We have a condo rented, which our travel agent assures us will be comfortable and perfect for staying with a child, near good beaches. We'll be somewhere in this complex, facing the water:

Looks gorgeous, huh? We are planning a whole lot of beachy relaxing, a horse-back riding outing, an evening at the Old Lahaina Luau, and, of course, plenty of snorkeling.

We are armed with a travel guide to Maui, all of our friends' recommendations about where to eat and what to do and (from my brother) the best place to buy fish for dinner. I have set out my pile of paperbacks for vacation reading, but I have already started rereading James Michener's Hawaii to get me in the mood.

So, if you don't hear from me for 10 days or so, you'll know why. This time I really AM in Hawaii. Really.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What I did on my vacation...

Look at all these nine-patch blocks! After all that strenuous floating on the lake and reading and chatting, I was able to summon the energy after dinner to do a bit of sewing. Luckily for me, the Tahoe house has a large, open plan main room, so that I could sit at the big dining table and stitch and still participate in the evening chatter with the family. Vacation bliss! And I can attest to the fact that a gin-and-tonic or two didn't impair the matching of seams on these...much.

I've been WARNING you all that I'm in a jumble-of-pattern mood these days. So, um, here's MORE of it.

A few years ago, I made a quilt like this (inspired by Kaffe Fassett's "Leafy Garden Quilt" from "Glorious Patchwork") as a gift for my sister. Laura brings that quilt as part of a display when she sets up her needlework design booth at shows, and as simple as the quilt is, it gets TONS of compliments. It's all that floral, leafy pattern.

So, I'm making another for my gardening-obsessed aunt, and having a grand time doing it.

Now, if only I can make my actual garden show such a gorgeous profusion of color!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Notes from vacation

We are back after a very pleasant week away with family. We had one of those quintessential summer vacation holidays, with lots of family and sun and water and laughter.

First, we travelled to Grass Valley for a family reunion of folks on my mom's side of the family. It was lots of fun, and I met cousins I'd never met before. Caroline was especially pleased to discover that she has a 3-year old cousin Evie from the same city in China where she was born!

No, these aren't family photos! At my aunt's house (where I stopped to make the artichoke dip my aunt requested I bring) we found these wild turkeys wandering in her yard.

From there, it was an easy drive to Lake Tahoe for our annual week with Roger's two sisters and brother and their families. Roger's sister has a house just outside of Tahoe City, and we converge there to catch up and relax and be lazy. It's the one time of year when Caroline sees her cousin Dash, who lives in Oregon.

Most days, we wander down to the lake to sit on the pebbly beach, swim, read, chat, and engage in other similarly strenuous activities. Here's the view of the lake from where we hung out all week.

Yep, that's snow on those mountains! Hard to believe given the heat we were having (and are still having) but it was gorgeous to see in the distance.

Of course, we all made it into the lake for aggressive water sports....that would be bobbing around on floaty chairs, mainly.

The trick, which we've all mastered, is to hook a foot around the rope which lines the swimming area...that way, the wake from passing boats and jet-skiers doesn't just roll you back onto shore. You can see all of Roger's siblings lined up here, floating strenuously.

When she and Dash weren't diving under the dock for crawdads (they caught the same ones each day, I think, then dumped them back in each evening) she was floating, too.

So, a fun time was had by all. I read a lot (made my way through a fun thick trashy book by British writer Jilly Cooper, called "Pandora" about the effect a painting has on a big, wealthy English family) and even did some sewing in the evenings to piece some nine-patch blocks for a gift quilt.

Now it's back to real life, and mountains of laundry, and piles of work...But it was worth it!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Gone Fishin'

I am pausing from running around the house in panicked packing mode to tell y'all that I won't be here for the week. We are headed up to Lake Tahoe, for a week with Roger's family at their house there. Should be lovely and peaceful. The smell of the Tahoe pines is SO heavenly. As always prepping to go away is crazy-making, but once I smell that Tahoe smell, my blood pressure sinks to near-catatonic mode and I will be quite happy.

On the way, we are staying over in Grass Valley for a family reunion orchestrated by my mom's sister, my wonderful Auntie Carole. Should make for an interesting Saturday. Caroline is most excited to meet a new, distant 3-year old cousin who is also from China.

I have a hand-piecing project (which should be interesting as I've never done any handpieceing) AND I am taking my sewing machine. Evenings tend to involve a lot of sitting around talking about family stuff -- fun, but I get restless after a few nights of that -- so I figure I can sit at the table in the corner of the room, participate in the chat AND get some sewing done. We'll see how it goes. It could be that the machine never comes out of the case, but at least the option will be there.

Make lots of great stuff while I'm gone, everyone!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Finally, an Art Day

Yesterday, Caroline and I decided we needed an art day. So we set up out on the patio, and got out the fabric paints. Much of this batch is stuff I got at the great yard sale about a month ago. We were experimenting with Golden acrylics (liquid form), Versatex paints, and Jacquard acrylic paints on muslin.

Gemma was thrilled and ready to participate.

My strategy? Slop on a bunch of paint and see what happened.

Caroline had fun splashing paint around, then decided to try a beach type scene.

Here is an assortment, drying. We discovered that the colors dried much paler. Perhaps we diluted the paint too much. Hmmm. More experimenting will tell.

Unlike Nancy Crow and Melody and Tommy and Gerrie and others with to-die-for (hah! note the pun) dyeing areas with sinke and everything, we use the hose under the kitchen window for our rinsing of brushes. It's not the best set-up, but hey, it worked for us.

Gemma grew bored when we wouldn't let her play with paints. I think she is sulking, and not appeased by the rawhide chewy.

I now need to heat-set everything with a good pressing. My art group's current challenge (due next March or something) is a "muslin challenge," where the only fabric you can use in the piece had to start out in your hands as plain muslin. (You can do anything to the piece, any painting or dyeing or embellishment, and theme for the quilt--but the only fabric you can work with is muslin.) So, perhaps I'll be able to use some of this for that project...we'll see.

We had a grand time. Caroline is looking forward to experimenting with free-motion quilting on her seascape. She has grand plans.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


I've enountered a number of discussions lately on what makes an art quilt a successful art quilt. In this relatively new art arena (in the scope of centuries, that is) it is not surprising that there are many different views on this.

Ricky Tims has posted something about the value of workmanship in art quilts on his website that is well worth reading and considering. Check it out here.

My views have tended to evolve. But at the moment, I have reduced the issue to this: a "good" art quilt is one in which the concept, the composition, the techniques, and the materials all work together to convey something. I find myself lately looking at art quilts and thinking, "why is this BETTER because it's in fabric?" In the art quilts I admire most, I find that there is some aspect which is different from what could be done with painting or paper collage or an ink print, and the quilt's imagery wouldn't be the same or as successful if it were not a layered, sewn, fabric piece.

Anyway. Well worth thinking about. Rayna Gillman has also started an interesting discussion, and you can pop into that here.

Friday, July 07, 2006

We're SO popular!

I have not been an efficient blog ring mommy lately. People apply to join the blog ring through Ringsurf, and I get a nice little email telling me someone else has joined the queue. If I have time, I'll go peek at the blog... and when I have a few minutes, I go into Ringsurf and work through the queue to decide "yes," "no," or "wait and see." It's been a while since I've done this, I'm sorry to say.

But I've spent some time with the queue this evening, and that means there are several new blogs in the ring. Welcome, Noobles! (This is my own coined word for New Blogs.)

But I thought you would want to know of a major development in the art quilt world.

Here it is: art quilting is apparently so popular that the big drug companies and telephone companies are getting into the act! Really! And they are getting involved with blogging AND they are applying to join our ring!

Why, just tonight, I was greeted with applications to join the ring from "Free Ringtones!," "T Mobile Ringtones," "Buy Didrex," "Phentermine," "Elavil," "Xenical," "Hydrocodone," "Xanax," "Cheap Fioricet" and "Ambien." I regret to say that the quality of their quilting art isn't up to our standards here, so I was forced to reject them.

I did email Cheap Fioricet to tell her that I think she is undervaluing herself and she should probably seek out counseling (and medication) for her self-esteem issues.

Anyway, if you want to check out the Noobles, hit the "previous" button from the link on my blog page. (up the right, UP THERE) That'll take you backwards around the ring, newest to oldest. I mean, most senior. I mean, earliest applicants. Yeah. That's it.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The day after

Well, a wonderful weekend was had by all.

We saw my family for a lovely barbecue on July 3, which was fun. I was charged with bringing dessert, so I decided to feed the kid in all of us and make s'mores. Caroline and Roger and I roasted a bunch of marshmallows on skewers, assembled them, and arrayed them on a platter decorated with mini-pinwheels made from red and blue tinsel. Very adorable! The adults initially bemused and sorta hesitant to try them, but as they ate they all looked so delighted and the rather huge pile on the platter disappeared VERY quickly. I'd read somewhere about putting peanut butter on the graham cracker before you mush in the chocolate and roasted marshmallow? Oh my takes s'mores to a whole different level. Gourmet.

And on the way home, we saw the fireworks show from the next town over (they always do them on the 3rd, don't ask me why) so that was a nice surprise.

The 4th saw us lounging around the house, Caroline and me playing games, Roger taking a master-nap. (You have to work up to that level, to nap that long and that well. :-)) I opted to stay with Gemma during fireworks time, which was good because she was quite disturbed by the distant booming noises. Me, I sat and watched the Boston Pops on tv and enjoyed the Boston fireworks display on the small screen. Which is how I like it, as you know.

Today, a few of my art quilt friends and I met to start an inspiration mini-group. It'll just be six of us, but we all get along well and we seem to be at relatively similar commitment levels. None of us is driven to compete or sell quilts, but all of us want to make interesting art quilts and grow. So, it was a lovely morning. We brought various things to share...books, magazines, quilts in progress, and inspirational stuff in general.

One thing we decided ... loosely, because we all have a lot of other stuff in the works -- is that we will commit to work in a series, so that each month when we meet we can talk about how what we've done and what we are doing moves that series forward. The details are up to each of us to work out.

We each brought our own lunches and had a grand time talking and laughing and looking at stuff. It did just what I wanted...inspired me to go MAKE something.

Oh---I will pass along a few interesting distractions:

Check out -- an online radio station where you can find all sorts of interesting music combinations to stream over your computer, and it's free.

And -- let me tell you now, if you've ever liked Pictionary, this is seriously addictive! You choose your "room" of players (sorted by language and difficulty) and away you go. It is very fun. My friend Sleen, with whom I recently connected online after 10 years, is a big player and I blame all the time I wasted this weekend playing isketch on HER.

It is REALLY fun.

So many fun things to do.....

Sunday, July 02, 2006

One word about...

I can't resist a good meme. This came from Deb R:

One Word for -

1. Yourself: scattered

2. Your partner: busy

3. Your hair: straight

4. Your Mother: comfortable

5. Your Father: handyman

6. Your Favorite Item: books

7. Your dream last night: blank

8. Your Favorite Drink: champagne

9. Your Dream Home: Lakeside

10. The Room You Are In: cluttered

11. Your pleasure: fabric

12. Your fear: clowns

13. Where you want to be in ten years: contented

14. Who you hung out with last night: Roger

15. What You're Not: neat

16. Your Best Friend: Beth

17. One of Your Wish List Items: laptop

18. Your Gender: female

19. The Last Thing You Did: work

20. What You Are Wearing: Linen

21. Your favorite weather: Rainy

22. Your Favorite Book: [I can't answer this in one word, so I'll answer favorite author]: Stegner

23.Last thing you ate: muffin

24. Your Life: secure

25. Your mood: distracted

26. The last person you talked to on the phone: Laura O.

27. Who are you thinking about right now? Caroline