Friday, January 23, 2015

week in a blur

It has been mostly a blur of kitchen renovation angst and spending every spare minute with my two cousins, running around for backsplash tile samples (finally selected!!) and with no set plans, waiting to see how every day evolves.  For some reason, I am waking up before the crack of dawn here: I don't know why.

 I will not go into the aggravating details of the kitchen, which is now stalled because my electrician has the flu and my plumber can't come till next Tuesday.  Fortunately, the fridge has power, my beautiful soapstone is in, and the details will sort themselves out eventually.

In the meantime, here is how the kitchen looks this morning.  I haven't removed all the blue plastic yet.
I love the caramel vein in the soapstone on the peninsula that divides the kitchen from the dining area.
Weather has been spring-like with no humidity -- great walking weather.  And the early evening sky is always dramatic.

I've been reading: finished Cutting for Stone and am now en train de lire The Hare with Amber Eyes.  I have also been sewing a bit, seeing what I can do with a few of these ugly blocks.
Clearly, a work in progress - also stalled.  But at least better than it started.  Now, off to start the day.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thursday - cloudy, but who cares?

After the plumber, the electrician, and the soapstone fabricator left today, so did I.  Got in the car and felt as though I'd been let out  of jail.  Went to Boynton Beach to a tile warehouse, which had nothing I wanted for a backsplash -- and called my friend Elinor who moved down here from next door to me.
It was great to catch up with her! 

The guest room in this apartment has been turned into my Florida sewing room and it is uncluttered and serene.  I have good  memories of this room, which is where I slept every time I came to visit my parents.  I have a couple of small design walls - a 4X8 piece of foam from Home Despot that I cut in half so it would fit into my rental car last year. I read in here, listen to Classical South Florida on the radio, and I feel at peace.

The porch is on the other side of the sliding doors; right now, a repository of stuff that needs to be taken to Good Will.  And carpet that needs to be replaced with something else.  But that is far from an emergency.
You can see my design wall leaning against the closet doors, with the string quilt blocks I am working on in an effort to decrease the bag of strips.  It will probably not be news to you that this reduction strategy does not work. The bag is just as full as it was when i started.  The best strategy is to toss the whole bag, but I can't bring myself (yet) to do this.  

In the meantime, picture me in this oasis of calm, reading Cutting for Stone until the wee hours.
Tomorrow, a few appliance things to take care of and then over the weekend, my cousin Nancy from Los Angeles arrives and it will be the three musketeers (Nancy, me, and our cousin Mimi who lives in Boca Raton).  I expect that our main activities will be laughing, eating, and shopping at the outlet mall.
Works for me!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I think it's Wednesday

Hard to tell, since I have had workmen traipsing in here every day and have lost track.  Will not bore you with the bumps in the road to my new Florida kitchen: suffice it to say that I have finally gotten to the point of shrugging my shoulders and saying "whatever.  Let the electrician and the cabinet guy work it out between them. They are both at fault and I don't care who fixes it, as long as it gets fixed."  But, it is moving along, despite the glitches.

Today, after everyone left, I put my feet up and  started to read "Cutting for Stone. After dinner, I finally sat down and got out paper and gouauche and charcoal and brushes and started to play.  This is something new for me: I have only ever worked with paints on fabric, but have wanted to try this for a long time.  "Play" is the operative word, since I don't have anything in mind when I start (surprise, surprise) and don't care how i turns out.  However, I am feeling a bit tentative and it is taking me time to relax and let my hand move without thinking about it.  Yes, I can do this with fabric.  But in another medium, another story.

I took pictures of what I had done to see what these really looked like from a distance, when I posted them.  This was what started me blogging 10 years ago (at the end of this month) and it still works to help me see what I have done.

This first piece has been turned 180 degrees from the way I originally did it.
          It is tells a totally different story in the original orientation.
And the surprise is that there was no intent and no story in mind as I worked.  

This was done as a vertical.

And I honestly don't remember which of these orientations came first. i think this one works better.

but then, again...

If I have time to play with paint and paper and other art supplies for a bit every night, I think I may remain sane for the next few weeks.  This is fun!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

afternoon at the quilt show

The Palm Beach Convention Center has been home to a Mancuso show for the last 3 days and I finally got there this afternoon, while the men were putting down my beautiful new wood floor in the kitchen.

Had lunch with Robbi Eklow, who was teaching here, then spent a couple of hours waltzing through the lovely, wide aisles full of vendors and then quilts.  I thought the quilts were, for the most part, better than usual.  The Gold Coast Quilt Guild had a special exhibit called (what else?) 50 Shades of Gray, and it was fun to see the variety and use of black/white/gray.  Amazing what you can do when you have limits.  This is Judy Shelton's quilt.  I heard someone calling my name and it was Judy, who had taken a class with me some years ago and then we met again at Art Quilt Tahoe.  I'm teaching next month at the South Florida MQG and she has signed up for my class -- so we will see each other again.  I love when that happens.

There was a lovely exhibit of Israeli quilts, which included pieces by Maya Chaimovich, Bella Kaplan, and Shoshi Reimer. I am lucky enough to know all of these delightful women.  Maybe some of you saw Maya's quilts at the Art Quilt Gallery in New York last year. I didn't take pix of those.

I thought the quilts, in general, were of higher quality than I have seen in the NJ show and they were much  better lit.  Of course, there were the usual ordinary quilts and a bunch that had no names; no attributions, so you had no idea who had made them.

 Here are the few pieces that caught my eye. Makers from the U.K. and Australia.  The photos are bad, but it was a relief to see some pieces that were spare and graphic.

So that's it.  Tomorrow brings the electrician and who knows what else.  Dinner with my friend Bev Snow will be the highlight of the weekend, I am sure.  And Monday, the ceiling, the lower cabinets, I hope; the appliances delivered, and I forget what else will be happening.  Never a dull moment.
Here is how the kitchen looks at the moment. 
Red oak.  delicous to walk on.

Friday, January 09, 2015

I won't gloat

About the weather in West Palm Beach. Have been too busy running like a crazy person with kitchen stuff ( see facebook)  to take advantage of the sun here.  Even yesterday, very cool meant the high 50's/low 60's and it still felt like heaven.  Lots of Canadians live in this village, or are snowbirds at the very least.  

My sewing room is full of IKEA cabinet boxes, so that even if i had had time, there is no room.  But today, I am finally out of patience and checked the closet where I had left some fabrics last year. All I found were boxes and bags of strips, along with this block:
I guess I know what I was doing last time I was at my sewing machine here.  Time to make a bunch more of these no-brainers.  Unfortunately, we have no newspapers except for last Sunday's NYTimes book review - so I copied down all the books I want to look for and now am going to cut the paper up.
Maybe I can clear some space somewhere.

The floor guy is here scraping off the 1970's linoleum (I will spare you) and preparing the floor so by tomorrow I will have a new wood floor.  But in the meantime, my strings await me.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Arrived safely

 Given the state of the traffic on I-95 , it is amazing that we arrived in only three days. Parking lot. Don't ask. 

The hotel we stayed in last night had carpet i thought could be a design inspiration. 

In West Palm, air conditioning on. Oh, joy. After three days of sitting in the car it was a pleasure to go for an hour walk the minute we arrived. 

We ate all too well in Savannah and had some of the best barbecue on the road in northern Fla. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

ancient history

Earlier today, I sent a photo of my first quilt (1974) to a friend. Yep, it's sort of ugly.  But this spiderweb scrap quilt bears an eerie resemblance to some of the spiderweb quilts being made in the Modern resurgence of quilt making. In those days, I loved using muslin in my quilts - so yes, there is a lot of (almost) white.  While you can't see it from the photo above, you can see from the detail that I really did use other fabrics when I ran out.  Needless to say, the fabric choices in 1974 left something to be desired.

 Of course, we made cardboard templates, added ¼" before we cut them out with scissors, and made a different size template for each strip.  Today, the spiderweb is a string quilt, pieced on newspaper -- much less labor intensive,more random, and more fun.  Nonetheless, Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.    Here's one I swiped from Pinterest; you can find lots more examples there.
Then I remembered that I used to make a log of baby quilts. In the day before digital cameras, I shot them (poorly), had them developed, and put the photos in a little album.  I had come across the album when I was cleaning up this room and tonight sent me scampering to find it and scan in the photos from 1997-1999. I thought I'd share a few of them with you as I look at them for the first time since those early days. These blocks were experiments: I would make random blocks just to see whether I liked them, and I would play with different color combinations.  Even then, I was throwing them into a box and when I needed to make a baby quilt, I pulled some out and went to work.  

I love this one the best: it was the first, and I was going to give it to my first grandchild.
But I didn't -- and I'm not sure where it is now.  Most of these fabrics were from my grandmother's blanket covers made with scraps from the dress factory whee she worked in the 1940's.
  I have absolutely no memory of this one: I wonder whose baby I made it for. This and the one above could easily have been made today. All that negative space - LOL.
 Oh, yes - I loved making this one: what a challenge!  The fabrics, again, were all my grandmother's leftovers.  The top left white fabric with the blue & red circles was from an apron she had made.  don't know who got this one, either.  The photo says 1997. I would not have used the blue sashing today, but it was probably for a boy.  

 There were some other interesting pieces, but I'll share them with you in the next post. Meantime, it is 2:am and if I am going to make my 11:am appointment in the morning, I had better turn out the lights and scamper.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Xmas & Chanukah overlap a bit tonight. Happy Merry to all!

December 24, 2014 is the last day of Chanukah. It ends tonight as Christmas Eve takes its turn.  Whichever holiday you celebrate, I wish you all a happy one.

For me, this has been a long week and I'm only halfway through. I've been trying to use up anything perishable and think I'm in pretty good shape with that.  Today I cleaned the fridge more thoroughly than the weekly lick and promise it usually gets, so that's a big accomplishment.

Tonight I came across a photo of a small piece I threw together on the wall two years ago when I taught a class. The bits came down from the wall and some of them were used in other work -- but that photo inspired me to see what I could do with the ones that were left, along with some fill-ins.  So I threw them at the wall again.  It isn't quite there yet, but almost.  The bottom isn't working and I'm not sure about the left-hand side.
I took a photo of it so I could see it better,  which is what got me started blogging in the first place on January 31,2005.  Good grief -- in another month I will be celebrating a DECADE of blogging. How did that happen?  OMG - I am a decade older. I hate that.  But nothing I can do about it except relax and figure out how I can celebrate with you, dear friends!
The piece works ok in black and white, but there is too much horizontal in the bottom row and I think the square shape is wrong. The piece was originally a rectangle and it worked better - so it's something for me to work on tomorrow while everybody who celebrates Christmas  is opening their gifts.  

In the meantime, many of us who just finished celebrating Chanukah will celebrate Christmas by volunteering at church food banks or going to the movies.  And then, we will have our own traditional Christmas meal.  I have borrowed this from Connie Rose, who posted it on Facebook and it is so appropriate to the holiday season that I post it with thanks to Connie for sharing it!

Happy Holidays, indeed.  And warmest wishes for a happy, healthy, year full of laughter.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Yikes! Two posts in a row.

On one of the lists there has recently been a spate of posts about what constitutes a Modern quilt.  I didn't join the discussion because I was really too tired to write a whole megilla.  And I'm too tired now.
But I will get to it here at some point, when I am not ready to put on the dishwasher and go to bed.

I've been sorting out what I want to take on my next teaching trip, and along theway, I've stopped to play a little with the improvisationally pieced bits in my bin.  Just for the heck of it, I took a few of them and challenged myself to see if I could put them together in a "modern" way -- with lots of negative (ie. white) space.  I got this far before I decided it was enough.  I could visualize an entire quilt with units like the one below, placed in a carefully random way, in a white background. But not by me.  This felt too self-conscious: not the units themselves, which I made some time ago without thinking -- but the white space around them and the decision to make the whole big unit deliberately uneven.  I think it is the deliberate part that did not make me happy.  
And then I found the child-sized quilt top made from a bunch of blocks done in solids and thought that perhaps if those random blocks had been surrounded by lots of white space, this would fit the description of a Modern quilt.
  I loved making the blocks, and even putting them together.  But with lots of negative space, it would be a different piece.  Or even without the printed borders. Hmmm...but is it worth the effort to redo? I think not.  But maybe next time.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

been organizing my life

it has been one thing after another, and before it becomes one more thing, here I am. Sunday morning, coffee in hand, waiting for my toast.  And when I hear the beep, I open the microwave oven, which is empty.  Oops - am I loosing it?  Nope; my mind is in 17 other places.  You know the feeling. Right?

For the past three weeks or more, I have spent time every day working on this room; filling up trash bags, moving boxes, and clearing the mountain off of the cutting table.  Have I actually cut anything?
Well, yes.  The fabric for the pillow on the right, which will remain unfinished for a few more months. But at least I can breathe in here!

Spent last weekend in NY, celebrating my grandson Alexander's bar mitzvah. Stayed in a "boutique" hotel (meaning mega$$$, tiny room).  Here is how much space there was between the foot of the bed and the closet.  You had to stand sideways to open the left-hand closet door, which hit the bed so couldn't open all the way.  The mirror was on that door so if you wanted to see yourself in the full-length mirror, you had to open the other door and stand IN the closet. Nonetheless - we had fun.
A few family pix... with Jeremy, who didn't look too happy about posing for the camera:-))
My daughters and daughter-in-law.
And you-know-who.

Was back in the city on Thursday for my friend Susan's opening at a gallery in Chelsea.  We went in early and made the rounds. Saw a really disappointing Motherwell show that looked like they had dredged things from his closet.  We couldn't understand why it had gotten such a good review.  But the highlight was the show of Martin Puryear's work: every piece was elegant.  My photos don't begin to do them justice.

Enough for now.  Coffee cup is empty and it's time to start my day.  More tomorrow.

Sunday, December 07, 2014


Stayed in all weekend, still cleaning my sewing room in the frigid weather.  No photos till I am finished, which had better be relatively soon!

This is not to say that I haven't been in the kitchen.  I've made pots and pots of soup this past week.  First, what to do with the poached chicken breasts I was going to make into a Mexican dish but didn't?  Aha -- Thai coconut chicken soup!!  I just happened to have a stalk of lemongrass in my fridge, a couple of cans of coconut milk, some mushrooms, and the staples in my house: cilantro,lime, red and green curry pastes,and nam pla or nuoc nam (Thai fish sauce). It was so fabulous I wished I had made a gallon of it.  I used green curry paste.  

Later in the week I decided I had better do something with the somewhat over-the-hill cauliflower I hadn't gotten around to using. This one was a no-brainer I found on my NY Times cooking app: Melissa Clark's lemony carrot cauliflower soup.  I just finished the last of it. Delicious and low calorie.

Friday and Saturday I made two pots of vegetable bean soup. I just threw in everything else in the fridge and it was divine.  Soups make easy meals when you have no time to cook because you are sorting and ironing you-know-what.

Thanks for your comments for the giveaway.  The random number generator picked #2, so Sandy Ellison is the lucky winner.  Will get the books out to her this week. I do have to say, however, that if you leave a comment and want to be included in the drawing for whatever it is, you must leave an email address. Otherwise, i can't get in touch with you. No email address, no goodies.  I will have more books to part with next week.

Meantime, I have finished burning the midnight oil. Enough sorting/ironing for tonight!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

where have I been?

Mostly at home.  Thanksgiving was particularly lovely this year. I spent most of the day organizing the cabinet above my desk in the kitchen. This was a result of my starting to reorganize and clear out my sewing room.  Some things simply needed to be moved to the kitchen cabinet but I had to clear those out first.  Ya know what i mean?  One thing leads to another and my shredder got a good workout.

Thanksgiving night, my daughter Hilary and I went out for drinks and dinner.  A relaxing holiday, I must admit. No cooking, no cleanup, no dishes. Ahhh....

I have spent the rest of the week (including the weekend) clearing the clutter (have a long way to go), filling trash bags galore, and getting rid of STUFF.  This includes books I no longer need/want/have room for.  And I have uncovered a stash of small (i.e. journal) quilts I have to put aside and decide what to do with. 

The difficult part is making the small decisions - but that's an old story.  And I still have all those family photos to go through.  Here's one for you: I not only have my own wedding album from my first marriage, but now, my mother's duplicate plus all the proofs, and my grandmother's version. ARGH. These have to go downstairs in the lower level, but not till I clear THAT out. And on and on.  This is what I have been doing for a week - and I still have not touched the fabric in this room.  No pictures till I am done.

Today I went into NY and met Usha for lunch.  I bundled up - hoodie, coat, scarf, and furry clogs, and was amused to see that one of the commuters in George Segal's iconic sculpture in the Port Authority Terminal had decided she needed a head-warmer.

The Port Authority has already started getting dressed for the holidays.

Usha and I had a wonderful South Indian lunch at Madras Mahal on Lexington Avenue and had a chance to catch up -- but it was much too short a visit. She headed to Chinatown to stock up on ginger and I headed to the bus, hoping to avoid rush hour. Nope. Rain and traffic doubled the trip from ½ hour to an hour to the mall where I had parked my car.
I was happy to get home and have decided to leave the continued clearing till tomorrow.

In the meantime:
I have packed up the Quilt National catalogs from 1993, 95,97, and 99, a Visions '98 catalog, and another book and am ready to send them off, book rate, to a good home. If you want them, leave a comment and I'll let the random number generator pick the new owner by Friday morning, Dec. 6.

Monday, November 24, 2014


I can't remember having spent a whole weekend doing NOTHING. I mean nothing! Saturday evaporated in a minute, after I had slept the morning away.  And Sunday, I spent huddled over the computer doing geneaology research which may ultimately lead to a big question mark. Ah, well.

Probably the exhaustion was due to a hectic week, crowned by spending a cold Friday in New York, visiting a bunch of galleries on the Lower East Side and getting an education in some art I might never had given a first glance, let alone a second one.  Stimulating, educational, exciting.  And exhausting -- climbing all those flights of stairs to art galleries in lofts.   Worth the effort.

Our curator and passionate, knowledgeable guide, Justin Polera, gave us the backgroun and the intent of the artists we saw -- but to me, art evokes a visceral response and while knowing the artist's intent helps me understand it, it does not make me like it.  Here, a couple of pieces by Klaus Merkel at the Joe Sheftel Gallery on Orchard St.

Across the street, Andres Carranza. He was cutting up canvas on his hands and knees and took time to speak to us about his work and his process.  Although he is right-handed, he worked with his left hand on these canvases, which were site-specific installations on the gallery's walls.  It was these that he was cutting into smaller sections, to sell.  Andres is here from Costa Rica on a residency and is heading to Art Basel Miami next week.
Sam Lewitt works with plastic-clad copper (or is it copper-clad plastic?) - the material many computer components are made from.  His work was in two galleries, and it was the work in the second gallery that captivated me. Drop-dead gorgeous; it could have been cloth, but it wasn't.
I don't normally cook on weekends, but Friday night I was too tired (and cold) to even venture out to eat.  Takeout from the Greek restaurant that delivers was the perfect answer.  So tired that we did not go out till Sunday night.  Saturday night must have been leftovers.  A blur.

I've been reading, staring into space, and taking a few days off to nurture myself a little -- without guilt.
Feels good.