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?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dinner for one

While I am waiting for my shakshuka to get done, I figurered I might as well do something productive, i.e., blog about it.  This is a wonderful middle eastern (Morrocan, transplanted to Israel) dish that is easy, low cost, and low calorie. Perfect for dinner for one or two people.  Tonight, I am one.  My stepson Todd Gillman introduced me to this dish when he was here one weekend with the family
and it seemed like a good thing to have for breakfast.  Actually, it works beautifully for lunch (who  cooks lunch???) or, with a drink and a big green salad, for dinner.
I love Melissa Clark, the NY Times food writer.  If you get the NY Times cooking app you will think you have died and gone to heaven, and I have never made a bad recipe from Melissa. (I cannot imagine how she stays so skinny, since her baking recipes are also fabulous).  Anyway, I followed her directions and put the skillet into the oven to bake.  She says   "till  just set." but ick - I have baked this for 10  min and more and the whites are still - ewwwww.  So finally, I turned it on to "broil," which I have never done in the 7 years since I redid my kitchen.  Eggs now more-or-less hardboiled, but that is ok with me - better than the alternative.

Here they are in the bowl, with cilantro & tabasco sauce added -- and I have just happily finished my dinner.  There is a restaurant nearby that serves shaksuska but mine is better, if I do say so -- because I am not dumbing it down for the general public and it is loaded with cuminseed, cayenne, and paprika -- with a piece of jalapeno for good measure.
Shakshuka With Feta
by Melissa Clark
Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
⅛ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with juices, coarsely chopped
¾ teaspoon salt, more as needed
¼ teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
6 large eggs
Chopped cilantro, for serving
Hot sauce, for serving
Download The New York Times Cooking App on the App Store.
Considering that it is in the 90's here with humidity in the you-don't-want-to-know range, I have been in my sewing room all day.  This is not a bad thing, although it seems I should go for a walk -- never mind, I just poked my head out.  

I actually feel as though I am making some progress on the idea I had in my head (unusual for me) so if I have any visuals to post later, I will.  If not, I will upload this without further photos of what is on my bulletin board.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

working hard or hardly working?

Depends on what day it is. It's so hot and humid in the studio that I've been working/puttering/experimenting at home.  No sign of cooling down for the rest of the week.

I did finally finish the bizarro string quilt I was working on as a baby gift. When I finally took a picture of it, I realized that "wonky" didn't begin to describe this rather psychedelic quilt.  I hope the baby will not have any bad effects from playing on it.
Finishing that quilt has freed me up to play a bit with some ideas floating around in
my head.  They haven't quite jelled - so I'm at the beginning of a "what if?" period.  Here's what is on my sewing room bulletin board this morning: bits of unrelated, previously started and new experiments.
Will any of these turn into something besides bits and pieces?  Only time will tell.  I'm working on it.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

South African inspirations

South Africa is a visual feast, from the crafts


and the fabrics...


to the people

to everything else you see.


 Tip of the iceberg, but enough for now.