Thursday, July 31, 2008

Field Trip

Yesterday I went to San Francisco to see an exhibit of glass art by Dale Chihuly at the deYoung Museum. Only one word applies here... "Overwhelming"! The sheer volume of the artist's work is mind-boggling, but the work itself is so imaginative, colorful, unique, varied, fanciful, extravagant, and yada, yada, yada! Behold...

A 200 square-foot forest of glass...

This vase is over 3 feet tall...

These flowers are two feet wide...

These bowls are three feet wide and two feet deep...

Dozens of 3-5 foot glass rods embedded in a tree stump...


A row boat full of glass globes...

Another row boat filled with amazing gee-gaws...

How would you like this six-foot chandelier over your dining room table?

Overheard being uttered by a dumpy dowager, as she swept by them without a second glance: "Oh, these are just ordinary vah-zezs..." Who needs taste when you're a dumpy dowager...

A neon jungle...

Last, but not least...

The Christmas Tree/Channukah Bush of my dreams!

This 25-foot tall structure is illuminated at night - sure wish I could have seen that, though it was plenty impressive in daylight.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Color Purple

The weekend prompt for The Art Journal Group was to pick a color and make it the subject of a journal page. Purple is my favorite color, and I probably have more purple fabric than any other color, so it was an easy choice for me. I've concocted a mix of my favorite things - cats, aardvarks, flowers, a Day of the Dead skull and a Sacred Heart. It was hard to call it finished without adding a few beads and some glitzy stitching, but my UFO bin is still overflowing, so I have to move on!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More Basil! YAY!!

Today's Riverdog Farm veggie box granted my wish for more basil, and also included these beautiful little Orange Blossom and Early Girl baby tomatoes. They'll all dance together with some angel hair pasta and chunks of fresh mozzarella for tonight's dinner. (Oh, yes, and a glass of Smoking Loon cabernet!)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Music of My Hands

Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor is a fiendishly difficult work I've dreamed of playing since the first time I heard it decades ago. I honestly believe The Master was seriously honked off at someone when he wrote the piece - the Fantasia is a violent, gnashing collection of more notes than it's possible to count, and the Fugue goes like a bat out of hell as it rips over the keyboards, with a pedal part that would give Michael Flatley a run for his money. All of that aside, it's one of the most glorious organ works in the entire repertoire, and I lust to be able to play it!
A recent journal "prompt" from the moderator of my online Art Journal group, was to create a journal page using our hands as the subject. So on my page my left hand (always the most difficult part for me to learn) is effortlessly spewing out the notes of the fugue motif and I'm really playing the piece! Ah... maybe one day...!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

First Bug Quilt

For the past month I've been a member of a Yahoo group working with this book. It's a fun book, full of ideas, exercises, examples, and links to art quilters' websites, and, even though I've made art quilts for almost a decade, I'm discovering new ideas and ways to think about designing and constructing my future art quilts. The group is studying one chapter a month, and I, and most of the other participants, will be making a small quilt every month utilizing techniques and methods discussed in each chapter. Each of us chose a "theme" for our series, and I chose "Bugs". I've never worked in a series before, so I'm looking forward to the challenge. Below is my Chapter 1 quilt. Though it's difficult to see, I made my first attempt at free-motion machine quilting, and it came out really well. Like the organ lessons, this is another example of "why did I wait so long???!"

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Birthday!

My husband celebrated his 58th birthday last week, and this is the card the cats gave him. They claim to like what I've been doing with my journal pages, and said it was okay for me to make one for his card. Since, unlike dogs, cats can experience color, I made it as bright as possible, using a piece of fabric I hand-dyed for the background.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Goodbye, Tony

Today I was privileged to play for the funeral of Tony Cenotti, the husband of Fran, my friend and co-worker. Tony came from a large and loving Italian family, and lived a typical Italian Larger-Than-Life life, filled with boundless love and joy, family, friends, and 21 years of service to his country in the Air Force. Today one of Tony's daughters talked about her father's philosophy of life, which pretty much parallels my own, and lifted my sorrow a little:
1. Love passionately - that includes family, friends and food!
2. Be proud of your family and your heritage.
3. Be Positive, and remember to smile a lot.
4. Don't be afraid to use your imagination and to be creative.
5. Be a good listener.
6. Love animals and be kind to all living things.

Tony with his his "baby", Fancy.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Two Timer

As an very amateur orchid grower, I'm always ecstatic when one of my orchids blooms a second time. Despite advice from the pros to always buy from a "reputable" source, I buy my plants on the cheap, usually from the supermarket nursery department. Of course, the supermarket doesn't have a clue about names, so there's never a reliable tag in the pot - thus I have no idea what this plant is. Not to worry, it's beautiful and that's all I care about. Back when I first started this orchid addiction, I brought home more than one plant in full and glorious bloom, only to have it never bloom again. Disappointing, but I accept that you usually get what you pay for, and move on. I got lucky this time when this kid outdid itself and gave me four flowers - up from two the last time it bloomed.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Aren't these just incredibly cool?!

I booth-sat at the Solano County Fair today for my quilting guild, and, wandering around the art exhibits, found these fabulous masks. No information about where they came from... a crafts class? a club? a school art class? Dunno... Anyway, they reached out and grabbed me! Wonder if something similar could be rendered in fabric??? Something to add to my ever expanding projects list.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cool Jazz for a Hot Day

The fabulous Wesla Whitfield / Mike Greensill duo has scored again with this great new CD. It's just the two of them in an intimate, lounge-type setting that gives you the feeling they're singing and playing just for you. While it did nothing to lower the temperature of this muggy/wretched day, this album (and a Cuba Libra) certainly cooled down my attitude, and made me a much nicer person to be around!

Monday, July 7, 2008

New Art Journal Page

I made this journal page today in honor of two couples I adore who were, at last, able to be legally married this holiday weekend. It includes my first effort at rubber stamping, and my third or fourth effort at painting on fabric. Both processes need a little more practice, but, in the meantime, I'm having a hell of a lot of fun playing around. I recently joined an Art Journal group on Yahoo, and am getting oceans of inspiration. Watch this space...!

Ralph Beats the Heat

It's another bloody #@%&?!$ hot day, and the house is full of inert furry rocks. Ralph definitely has the right idea for saving energy.

July Adoptee

This month's new family member from World Wildlife Fund is a Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), a native of the islands of Borneo and Sumatra in Indonesia. These rhinos, sometimes called "Hairy" Rhinos, are the smallest members of the rhino family, weighing only (!) 1,300-1,700 pounds. They have two horns, the front horn measures 10-30 inches, and the second, much shorter horn, is only about 3 inches. They have a ruddy skin that is variably covered with long hair, and they sport tufts of hair on their ears and at the end of their tails. Sumatrans are critically endangered, and there may be as few as 300 individuals currently existing in the wild. As usual, their threatened existence is due to habitat loss and poaching. Urgent measures are needed to save the forests where these guys still survive. Morever, it's imperative that trade in rhino products be halted immediately.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


They did it!! It's LEGAL!!!!! Jeani and Kathy got married for real and forever yesterday in a heart-stopingly beautiful and meaningful celebration of love, dedication and perseverance. If the "Marriage-equals-one-man-and-one-woman" nut cases could have witnessed this mountain-moving declaration of love, I'm sure more than one hardened heart would have been softened. No human on earth should be denied this right. I've played for hundreds of weddings in my church organist lifetime, and this wedding was one of only a handful that had me in tears. Congratulations, Ladies - may your love live long and prosper!

Jeani and Kathy say their vows as Priestess Elaine officiates.

Jeani expresses her joy!

You rock, Ladies!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Last week I made a decision I equate with doing a cannonball off the high dive... you know the kind... a decision that's going to make a whole lot of big waves in my life! After nearly three decades of "thinking" about it, I decided to resume organ studies - something that hasn't happened since I was in college. Now, I've been working steadily as an organist for most of those years, but, during that time, I've watched myself become less and less of an organist and more and more of a schlepper. My technique and skills were going slowly to hell, and my self confidence was eroding at a frightening pace.
Last Monday I attended the memorial service of a good friend, and at that service the organist was Sandra Soderlund, a well-known, nay, famous, concertizing organist/educator/author who lives locally. While sitting at the table with her during the reception, I found my unfamilarly timid self asking her if she did any private teaching, and, if so, might I possibly study with her. Good booguh-mooguh!!! WHAT did I just say??? The words having been uttered, I could only sit there, smiling (and sweating), as though I'd just asked a completely normal and well thought-out question, while I heard her reply that she loved to teach, and was quite willing to take on a new student. An exchange of e-mails then followed, written with trembling hands on my part, the end result of which was that I had my first lesson yesterday and loved every millisecond of it. From today's perspective, I find myself looking forward to a fun and exciting experience in future months and years, as I regain my identity as a serious organist.
I can only wonder what on earth sometimes makes us sit in limbo, while we long to take a risk, all the time fearing we'll be clobbered if we take that risk, only to discover, after taking said risk, that it was just NO BIG DEAL. I coulda/shoulda done this years ago, but, at the risk of sounding trite... better late than never!

Food for Body and Soul...

In this week's veggie box from Riverdog Farm was the biggest bunch of basil I've ever seen. I made a huge batch of pesto and enough basil tomato sauce to get us through dinners for the rest of the week, and today there was plenty left over for chicken basil fried rice for lunch. Riverdog can send me as much of this stuff as they want. I never get tired of it!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

YAY!!! Something new!!!

Thanks to members of the Creative Life Yahoo group, I've discovered art journaling. I believe this will, quite rapidly, become my newest passion! What a trip to just fuse some fabric together, stitch a little, then let the words pour out! Rubber stamps are next. Aren't addictions fun?