Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fantastic Class!!

Susan Shie, one of my art quilting heroes, was in California this past weekend and taught a class at my guild, East Bay Heritage Quilters. It's been almost ten years since I was lucky enough to take a class with Susan, so I was ecstatic when I found out I'd jumped off the waiting list and into the class! It was two days of solid fantasmagory! We journaled, painted, sewed, let our inner child run riot, and just generally celebrated. Each day the class chose a theme and did our painting based on the theme.
On day one, the theme was "Tomatoes". My piece features my tomato-killer cat, Sarah and our three new kittens, LaVerne, Maxene and Patty. Whenever I buy tomatoes, or pick them from the garden, I can't leave them unprotected on the kitchen counter for a second, or else Sarah will chomp into every tomato in sight. She isn't satisfied to attack just one - she has to massacre the lot of them. My fear is she will teach the little ones her "skills".

The theme for the second day was "Dreams." My painting depicts my "dream" garden - a garden of peace where there's enough food for everyone, enough flowers to decorate the world, and everyone gets along, including the cats and birds. On day one, I experienced the paints running and the color going outside the lines... sometimes waaaay outside the lines. I know this is no big deal, and is perfectly okay, but I wanted to experiment with using thicker paint and applying it to dry fabric, instead of sloshing water all over the place. Because it took so long for the paint to dry, I didn't get the picture finished, but I'm going to heat set what I have, and then forge ahead.

Both of these pieces are in the earliest stages, with lots more work to be done - journaling, quilting, embellishing, and other stuff I haven't even thought of yet. I'm so grateful for this opportunity to work with Susan - I learned so much! I'm already looking forward to the next time I can take one of her classes. I just hope I don't have to wait another ten years!
I was able to buy a Susan Shie Original!!!
It's just the painting and I get to finish it - sew it, bead it, embellish it, quilt it, add a border, whatever I want!! How cool is that? Here it is... Saint Quilta and her Studio Blessing.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Another Fun Field Trip...

Today I attended an open house at Schoenstein & Company pipe organ plant. They recently moved their operations from their tiny San Francisco facility to an enormous new plant in Benicia, about ten miles from where I live. Hundreds of people attended, and we noshed on wonderful food while wandering about the 30,000 square foot state-of-the-art factory. A new, two-manual, 17 rank instrument bound for St. James Episcopal Church in New York City, is just about ready to ship, and was available for "open console" where anyone could sit down and play this magnificent instrument. The ranks of pipes were not enclosed in their chests yet, and thus were exposed, enabling guests to walk among the ranks of pipes, and experience the sound of the organ from the inside. And what an experience it was - quite earth-shaking in several instances, when a couple of show-offs let it rip with some bombastic Bach!

The console was set up in the main assembly shop, just in front of the erecting bay housing the pipes.

The erecting bay, complete with bridge crane, is 42 feet high and enables Schoenstein to build any size instrument.

Ever been inside the business end of a pipe organ? It's damned, fraggin' awesome - especially when someone's playing the instrument!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Today's Laundry Helper


Gerald, Elvis, Ralph and Lucia await their turn to "help"... Lucky me!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Like Pulling Teeth...

The plaintive question, "What's wrong with those people?", has probably been asked by church organists ever since the invention of the church organ. "Those people", of course, refers to the members of the congregation, and the "what's wrong" part refers to another question... "why in hell aren't they singing???" With regards to singing in church, I've always been a strong believer in the old saying, "He/She who sings, prays twice." Now, I'm not a praying woman, but, nevertheless, I feel raising one's voice in praise of The Eternal One is one of the most uplifting and energizing things a person can do. I've always been a big fan of Anglican Hymns - I love their British Swagger, wonderful melodies and lofty words. I like Gospel music too, but the only church jobs I've had have been for predominately white congregations, and, another "true-ism" among church organists is that trying to get a bunch of white folks to sing anything even remotely resembling Gospel is a waste of time and energy. The newest music I've been obliged to play in church is something called "Praise Music." This stuff is schlocky crap. I can hardly stand any it, but I play it because I'm paid to play it. I do try to give it my best effort, and have to admit, every once in a while, I find a rocking piece that I come close to liking - as in
Jesus Is The Rock and He Rolls My Blues Away.  Most white folk actually like that song, and sing it as though they mean it - some, amazingly enough, even clap, switch their hips, snap their fingers, and jive a little. For the most part, and most of the time, though, no matter what I'm playing, I feel as though I'm pulling the congregation along by the nose through lukewarm taffy. After last Sunday's attempt to lead the congregtants in an up-tempo song, I was inspired to create this journal page:


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Baby Congratulations Card

Now, this has got to be the coolest piece of mail I've received in the 43 years since I received the last card of this ilk. It came from my friend Susan, who constantly amazes me with her creativity. This is actually a postcard, and it really did come through the mail... arriving totally unscathed! But... the coolest thing - look at the stamp... it's a legit stamp, and it's got Susan's mug on it!! I've heard you could do this, but I've never seen it. I've GOT to find out how!

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Family Members

I'm sure there are those who will say we've totally lost it, and, maybe we have... but, lost or not, we've done it again - we've rescued some more cats. Our population now stands at 24... an even two dozen... that's a nice number, wouldn't you agree? We always name our kids after musicians, and this trio of lovelies are named for the gorgeous and hugely talented Andrews Sisters.