Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Q: What does 4 cubic inches of fun look like?

A: Like this...

Q: And what does it look like when you take the lid off??
Here's 4 cubic inches of HOT...

And here's 4 cubic inches of Black & Silver, after having been put through Francie's Anal-izing process - each piece unraveled, straightened, finger-wound, filed in it's own compartment, and RTU!

Each cube has 50-60 yards of gorgeous fibers inside... and there are cubes in many other colors... blue, green, purple, gold... O be still my heart...!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Keeps on keepin' on...

It's been cold and foggy every day, we've hardly seen the sun for a week, the drip system is broken, the weeds and the leaves from the deciduous trees are six inches deep everywhere... and still the roses keep going. My mother fussed over her roses like they were infants; my grandmother basically ignored hers and left them to their own devices... both women wound up with spectacular roses that won prizes in local garden shows. Given my own lazy streak, I've chosen to follow Grandma Catharine's path, and, hot dang!... my babies look pretty good too!

Here's Leonidas...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Beauty in the Greenhouse

Here's the Chanukkah addition to the Greenhouse in the Loo. Don't know her name... and don't care, as usual... I just know she's one classy lady, and she whispered "Buy me", when I walked by her in the supermarket nursery. One of these days I'll get around to looking her up in my orchid dictionary, but for now, I'll call her Helen, after my classy mother.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pillowcase Posse Rides Again!

Here's the amazing Sheriff Nancy and 265 pillowcases made by the members of her Pillowcase Posse, a sub-group within the larger Vallejo Piecemakers Quilt Guild. Some of the pillowcases will be donated to the kids at Foster A Dream, and others to an organization that sends a touch of home to the awesome members of our military forces. This is the second year Nancy has headed up this project with, as you can see, prodigious results. Nancy's one of those super-women who scares the shit out of a lazy slug like me - she does sooooooo much every day of her life, always does it with a smile, and is always willing to do more when everyone else balks. She's a walking embodiment of the saying, "If you want to get something done, ask a busy person!" Way to go, Nancy!
In case you weren't able to grasp the scope of 265 pillowcases, here's a picture of the table from the other end...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today his Her feast day... Party on!!

I love Guadalupe. I don't believe in her miracles or anything she stands for, but she's so beautiful! She's always surrounded by roses (my favorite flowers) and gold and glitz and all of that stuff I love to play with. I have her images in my Greenhouse in the Loo, and have made, and am continuing to make, quilts in her image. Her artistic possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Diffference Between Heaven and Hell...

I've always wondered about this..

In Heaven:

The Chefs are French,
The Lovers are Italian,
The Auto Mechanics are German,
The Police are English,
and the place is run by the Swiss.

In Hell:

The Chefs are English,
The Lovers are Swiss,
The Auto Mechanics are French,
The Police are German,
and the place is run by the Italians.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weird Holiday Humor...

Now here's someone with a truly deranged sense of humor... he felt he'd totally outdone himself with his holiday decorations this year. Unfortunately, he had to take them down after just a couple of days, for three reasons:

First, the cops advised him that the decorations would cause traffic accidents, as they, themselves, had almost run into a parked car as they drove by...

Second, a 60-year old woman grabbed the 75 pound ladder and almost killed herself putting it up against the house and climbing nearly to the top before she realized the "decorations" were fake (she was NOT happy). She was only one of quite a few people who attempted the same thing...

Third, his lawn and front yard rose bushes were taking a beating from the tire tracks where people literally drove up into his yard...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday resolve tanks...

I lead-ballooned my lofty ideals about not shopping yesterday... I don't know how it happened... why my exalted intentions just boogied on out of my mind... but they did... probably had something to do with my love of African fabrics... you know how it is... something so beautiful just popped up on my screen while I was surfing... which I shouldn't have been doing... because when something wonderful pops up on my screen while I'm surfing my resolve usually heads directly down the toilet. So I thought I'd look at a few new sites for African fabric... you know... just look... not buy anything... just get some ideas for fabric with which to make some of the new patterns I haven't been able to resist over the last few weeks... I really wasn't going to do any shopping... after all... I was preaching to the world through my blog and FaceBook about giving the planet a break and not spending any money on Black Friday... and moving my mind to greater heights through pure resolve and determination... and yada, yada... and there they were... T.H.E. P.E.R.F.E.C.T. fabrics for a couple of the swing coat patterns that have been sitting on my sewing table... quietly urging... "Make me!"... "Buy some gorgeous new fabric and make me...!!" It's interesting how stuff in my studio talks to me all of the time... usually urging me to buy further stuff that will complete my life and fulfill all of my dreams... sort of like those incredible cheesecakes at Costco... except the cheesecakes aren't quiet... they scream at me... "BUYME! TAKE ME HOME! EAT ME! NOW! AND WHEN I'M GONE, COME BACK AND BUY ANOTHER ONE!"

Well, that's how my Black Friday went. But now that the deed has been did, you just gotta see these outrageous pieces of fabric... perhaps you'll understand why my clicking finger hit the "Buy Now" button.

Imagine this jacket...

...made up in this fabric...

And this jacket...

... made up in this fabric...

Or maybe vice-versa... you get the idea!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Buy Nothing Day...

That's today - Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving - the day when the Christmas shopping feeding frenzy begins.

How about we do something different this year?

How about a Wildcat General Strike? How about millions of people around the world bringing the capitalist consumption machine to a grinding, if only momentary, halt? There’s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth:


Don't buy anything today. Not only that, try turning off un-necessary lights, your television, and other nonessential appliances. Park your car, turn off your phones, log off of your computer for the day. Go ahead... take the plunge.

Think about this: a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. If you feel things are falling apart – the temperature rising, the oceans churning, the global economy heaving – why not do something? Take just one small step toward a more just and sustainable future. Make a pact with yourself: go on a consumer fast. Lock up your credit cards, put away your cash and opt out of the capitalist spectacle. You may find that it’s harder than you think, that the impulse to buy is more ingrained in you than you ever realized. But if you persist, you will transcend – perhaps reaching the kind of epiphany that can change not just your world, but THE world.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Would you believe, I did it again?

Of course you would! You should know me by now...

Vogue Patterns had another 70% off sale I couldn't resist. This will probably be it for a while, because I can't find anything else in the online catalogue I want. And, I believe I heard someone say, "When are you ever going to start sewing???"

Here's an Issey Miyake I somehow missed along the way...

And another Lynn Mizono...

This one should look great in African fabric...

How about slinky purple?

Don't really care all that much for this one, but it'll be good practice for doing pleats and tucks. I do like the pedal pushers, though... they'll give me a chance to show off my Frida Kahlo sox!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


When I was a child, my mysterious and, to my child's mind, fascinating, Grandmother Catharine, had enormous collections of stuff that just about sent me over the edge with excitement... boxes and boxes of buttons, pieces of lace, beads, postcards, dried flowers, ribbons, small rocks she had painstakingly ground to a gleaming finish in a hand-operated rock polisher, tiny figurines of animals, seashells, Mexican tiles, and an absolutely amazing collection of small crosses and crucifixes. She kept all of these magical items (and many others) in dozens of boxes in the drawers of several large dressers in her dark and tapestry-draped bedroom, which smelled of the most wonderful incense ever. (I learned many years later it was myrrh and was pretty expensive stuff - I have no idea how she came by it, but it was always in the house, and I loved it!) She would spend hours with me in this exciting room, letting me paw through the boxes while she explained everything - where it came from, how old it was, and, most thrilling to me, the magical properties of all of these treasures. My favorite items were the Milagros, and she had hundreds of them. I loved spreading a handful of them out on a piece of silky fabric, while she told me what each one of them represented, and what kind of petition it might accompany, and to which Saint it was best to pray for that petition. My thoroughly modern (and thoroughly square) mother dismissed her own mother's stories and collections as superstitious claptrap, and cautioned me not to believe a word of it, which of course, only reinforced Grandma Catarina's mystique in my eyes.

Recently, I've been in serious Unclutter Mode, and have been divesting my life of lots of things I no longer need or want, or wonder why in hell I bought in the first place. At the same time, I've allowed myself to indulge in one last overindulgence. I'm finally doing something I've wanted to do for years... start a collection of Mexican Folk Art. Mexican culture was a big part of my life when I lived in Goleta, and things Mexican have always held a special joy for me. Goleta and Santa Barbara had many fiestas and bazaars and other such events, beautiful Spanish and Mexican architecture, and, most important, tons of Mexican restaurants. While I've never tried it, I'm pretty sure I could eat Mexican food for every meal of every day for a decent span of time without burning out... especially tacos... I'm constantly in search of The Perfect Taco - haven't found it yet, but I'm never going to give up hope! I make a pretty mean taco myself, but that's not the point. I want to be able to go to a restaurant and be fed perfect tacos until I pop!

I recently discovered an internet site, Artelexia, which offers a wonderful selection of Mexican Folk Art. There are plenty of internet sites offering Mexican Folk Art, but I like this one best because Elexia, the woman who owns it, along with her father, is just sooooo cool! After working the quilt shop with Sandy, I know how important customer service is, and Elexia has customer service down to a fine art! Not to mention the great stuff they sell! Elexia also maintains a blog which she's peppered with an outrageous collection of recipes, all of which I want to try for dinner TONIGHT! Anyway, my most recent purchase was the beautiful collection of Milagros pictured above, and this incredible Milagro cross...

Artelexia has a great selection of Frida Kahlo goodies, and I'll be pointing my attention in that direction next. Stay tuned...!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Spooky sunset...

We often have sunsets that look like this - an ominous, solid mantle of clouds with just a sliver of bright sky streaking through the middle. It always freaks me out, because it reminds me of the scene in "Independence Day", where the humongous alien space ship appears and fills the entire sky except for a little strip of light underneath it.

At the same time, just to the south-east, the sky was clear, with just a touch of the dark, threatening cloud, and the bright moon looking hopeful. It's now totally dark, the cloud has expanded further east, and the moon is gone... probably won't see it for a while, as rain is promised tonight, tomorrow and beyond.

Monday, November 16, 2009

More sewing ahead...

Last week I made a remarkable find in my studio... as part of the great re-organization campaign, I discovered a huge container of wool fabrics I've collected over the years with the intention of making coats and other cold weather stuff. Alas, moths have also made their own discoveries, but, for the most part, they haven't done too much damage. Once having discovered this fabric, I realized I needed some more patterns, and, wouldn't you know it... McCall's came up with a pattern sale. Now it's definitely time to stop collecting patterns and hit the sewing machine. Two of these patterns claim to be "1-hour" patterns, which, for me, probably means "1-week". But, even at that, I can have at least a couple finished by the end of the year, before the really cold weather (for California) hits. Here's the latest bunch:

Monday, November 9, 2009

In which a friend leads me astray...

But, what are friends for?? you ask... Exactly my point!

Years ago, in the dark ages before the internet and e-mail, my friend Rosalie published a newsletter called, "Art You Wear". It was geared toward, if you hadn't already guessed, the then small, but growing, wearable art community. I enjoyed the newsletter very much, but one day it stopped showing up. I missed it, but didn't pursue it as I was busy with other stuff in my life - being a free-lance musician, working with the local artists' guild, and just beginning to learn the ropes about being a multi-cat-mom. Recently, as I was chasing links (one of my favorite pastimes), I wound up on a blog called Art You Wear and me, and realized, after many years, I'd found Rosalie! As fate would have it, within a few days, she posted some information about the Vogue Patterns website having a sale. As fate would further have it, I've been thinking, recently, of getting back to sewing clothes for myself. When I retired from UCSF in 1993, I slowly drifted into slobdom, fashion-wise. After moving from San Francisco to the wastelands of Vallejo, I discovered the fashion here was No Fashion. The only thing worth dressing up for in Vallejo at that time, was the Symphony, which only gave six concerts a year. Now, they only give four concerts a year, so the need for new outfits decreased even more! Alas, it's been sweats and tees for me for far too long, and I've finally decided I'm tired of that non-look. Anyway, Rosalie had posted pictures of some Vogue patterns she'd purchased from the web sale, with an eye towards garments for wearable art. Seeing them, I was hooked, and went to the Vogue website to "have a look". I found a wonderful selection of patterns available at absurdly low prices if one was willing to join the BVM (Butterick-Vogue-McCalls) Club, which I immediately did, because who can resist the opportunity to buy notoriously expensive Vogue patterns at 70% off??? This "opportunity" sent me over the edge into becoming thoroughly determined to start sewing my own clothes again. Here are the patterns I bought - yes, they're all coats, because coats lend themselves beautifully to becoming wearable art. Besides it's finally starting to feel like fall around these parts! Vogue features patterns by avant garde designers, such as Koos Van Den Akker (first pattern, below) and Lynn Mizono (second pattern). For many years they've had a line by Issey Miyaki, one of my favorite designers. Before I get started, though, it looks like I'm going to have to go out and buy some fabric. Awww...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Roses Still Going Strong...

In spite of the constantly changing weather in recent weeks, including that bucket-brigade style deluge earlier this week, my roses seem happier than ever, and are starting to bloom all over again. Many of them are full of new buds, and I need to get out and groom them to make way for new blooms. Here are three of them showing off:

New Day

Falling In Love

Chris Evert

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Goodbye, Emma...

Emma Allebes, one of my favorite people, crossed over last week. Emma was a woman of extraordinary talent and creativity in the fabric art world. She made some of the most wonderful quilts and wearable art I've ever seen - colorful, imaginative, flamboyant, sometimes silly, always excellently crafted, and, most definitely, never boring! I met her many years ago when I was just a novice at art quilting, and used to attend quarterly meetings of the NorCal SAQA group. I've been unable to attend the meetings for quite a while, and have missed the group very much - the inspiration I got from seeing and talking with those exceptionally creative women every few months kept me going, even though their creativity and talent often awed me into an intimidated speechlessness (yes, they did... can you imagine???) I especially missed Emma - she imparted the most delicious sense of humor and style, and was such a delight to talk to, and to listen to. She was a great story-teller, an excellent teacher and always inspired me with her sense of flair and fearlessness in creativity and her joie de vivre. I attended her memorial service yesterday afternoon, and was moved by the wonderful tributes and stories I heard about her life. It was especially delightful to see all of the gorgeous flower tributes festooned with black and white checkered ribbon - one of Emma's imprimaturs, and present in so much of her work. Years ago, she and her husband, Ted, started Tayo's fabric store in Fair Oaks. It was too far away from me for a casual run to a quilt shop, but I usually made a point of stopping there after SAQA meetings, and loved the selection of fabrics that so closely mirrored my own tastes.

I'm so very grateful I had the opportunity to know Emma. Shalom, and נוחי על משכבך בשלום, My Friend.

Monday, October 5, 2009

25 against 1 - and guess who's ahead?

We have a mouse living in our kitchen and one would think, with twenty three cats and 2 humans, the mouse wouldn't last long... but it's been three days and Ms/Mr. Mouse is still running the show. The cats have practically destroyed the kitchen - knocking stuff off the counters, breaking dishes, burrowing under small appliances, rummaging in cupboards, ripping up plastic bags. Still the mouse endures. The two humans have set up the Tin Cat and loaded it with a big, yummy dollop of peanut butter and some cat kibble, but so far it hasn't had any affect on the mouse, although the cats sure are interested in it. All things considered, I think I prefer the mouse over the ants we hosted last month... at least there's only one mouse, and the cats just don't seem as interested in catching ants.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mmmmm... Something new to try

I really like black-eyed peas, and always look forward to New Year's Day when I prepare a giant pot of Hoppin' John, with lots of onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes and a fistful of bacon ends - enough to have for a half dozen dinners during the first couple of weeks of January, when the cold weather makes them taste sooooo good! Occasionally, during the summertime, I'll whip up a batch of black-eye salad, when the rest of the family gets tired of potato salad (me?... I NEVER get tired of potato salad...!) However, I've never prepared (or even seen) FRESH black-eyed peas before last Wednesday when a pound of them arrived in my veggie box from RiverDog Farm. I spent a very cool, and meditative, half hour this afternoon sitting at the kitchen table, shelling the peas, and enjoyed a tactile experience I hadn't had since childhood, when I often sat with my grandmother on her enormous front porch and shelled regular old peas for her famous pea soup, swimming with ham hocks, carrots and pearl onions. (Now, that's one recipe I sure wish I had these days, though I could probably concoct it if I gave it some thought.) I've just finished lining up my ingredients - fresh tomatoes from the garden, onions, peppers, and a ton of garlic from RiverDog, and a mess of bacon ends. I just fired up a pot of brown rice, and I'll start cooking the beans in an hour or so, after I've had a couple of Jack Daniels to put me in the mood. While the beans are cooking, I'm going to bake some cornbread in my cast-iron skillet, and whip up some Moroccan carrots and coleslaw. For dessert, I'll throw together a Cake Ina Cup, and I'll be ready for anything... but, most probably, CSI and bed.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chaos in the guise of improvement...

It's difficult to believe things could get more chaotic around here than they've been for the last few months, but this week we've managed to make it so. We've been having some major dry rot and termite repair work done to the front of the studio house, and the bamming and slamming and hideous noises of hammers, saws and power tools has been driving us, and the cats, bonkers. The smell of fresh paint and various other noxious sealing and anti-vermin potions has only added to our despair. Fortunately, the work will be finished by this evening, and, after cleaning up tomorrow morning, things should return to normal. The street view of the house will be freshly painted and far more presentable to the world (and the Neighborhood Association), even though the backside of the house will still look like a tenement. We'll take care of that later - no one can see it anyway, since it's far up the hill from the houses down below on the next street. The best thing about all of this confusion has been having a couple of shirtless, hunky guys running around the place all day...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Paphiopedilum lawrenceanum (Rchb. f.) Pfitzer 1888 SUBGENUS Sigmatopetalum SECTION Barbata SUBSECTION Barbata

What an overwhelming name for something so simple and lovely as a gentle orchid!

This is the second time it's bloomed for me, and I'm so delighted with it's grace and beauty! The Greenhouse in the Loo is incredibly blessed!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Back at the Auction... AGAIN...!

I'm in luck... tomorrow is the last day of the SAQA auction. That means I can start saving my money again! This is my most recent, and probably, final, purchase this year... "The Grass Beneath Thy Feet", by Judy Haas.

The stitching on this piece just blew me away - so wild and free - it rather reminds me of the beautiful, wild land at Sea Ranch - where I'd like to live more than any other place on this planet. A fun fantasy to have, but it'll never happen. Thankfully, I'm quite content right here on La Canyada Hill. The auction has been fun, and I'm absolutely delighted with my four purchases - all of which have a significant meaning to me in one way or another, and I'm enjoying looking at them every day, which is how art should make one feel. Biggest problem is to find a place to hang them - my studio is the best place, where they can inspire me on a daily basis, but wall space is getting scarce in there, especially since I added all of the new shelving. But, never fear... I'll figure something out!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back at the Auction

I just can't stay away from the SAQA Auction! Today, I bought two pieces from the Week 2 collection. I missed out on the one piece I reallyreallyreallyreallyreally wanted. The bidding in my price range began at 11:00 this morning, and even though I was watching the clock like a hawk and got my bid in at 11:04, someone else was more on top of it, and got there first. Dang! This is worse than closing moments on eBay! I was heartbroken for a few minutes, but got a grip and did succeed in getting my second choice, and quickly found another to fall in love with. Here are my two treasures from today:

This is titled "Currents" and is by Sally Gould Wright. Much of Sally's work is quite whimsical and full of detail - the kind of quilts I just like to sit and stare at for minutes on end. The thing that really made me fall in love with this one is the embellishments. I'm an embellishment nut... but you knew that...!

This is "Remains of the Day" by Linda Witte Henke. Linda is a very spiritual person - something with which I can truly resonate. Much of her art is liturgical, and thanks to many years of making liturgical art myself, her work really speaks to me. Again, this piece has the detail I love... I doubt I'll ever tire of looking at it.

Week 3 bidding begins on Thursday. I'm hoping I can rein myself in this time around. But it's for such a good cause...!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Garden Oddballs

Mother Nature has a wonderful sense of humor, and I enjoy weird looking, out-of-the-ordinary plants.

Society Garlic... A pretty, delicate, fragile little plant that sways seductively with every breeze, and emits a pungent blast of "garlic breath" that practically knocks you off your feet when you get within 3 feet of it - especially on a hot day!
Shrimp Plant... It doesn't smell like shrimp, and, though I haven't tried it, I seriously doubt it tastes anything like shrimp, but it certainly LOOKS like a shrimp.

Chinese Lantern... Doesn't look like any Chinese lantern I remember from San Francisco's China Town parades, but I'll give horticulturalists the benefit of the doubt!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Art Quilt Auction

Studio Art Quilt Associates, an art quilting group of which I've been a member for nearly ten years, holds an annual online auction, selling works by members to raise money to support SAQA's exhibitions, catalogs and outreach programs. This year, 234 12" square art quilts, in an awesome variety of subjects, colors and techniques, are being offered in a "reverse auction", in which prices begin at $750, and decrease every day for six days until they bottom out at $75. If you really, really want something, bid early and high, or else it's gone! I got wiped by a hugely generous lady (bless her!) who swept through the first day and bought three of the four quilts I'd oogled during the previews. I had to wait a few days before the prices dropped into my comfort zone, when I was able to bid on and nab the fourth, a spectacular piece by Anne Parker. It'll soon be hanging in my studio gallery... I can hardly wait!
Here it is: