Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Quilt Update

I've done no work on the new quilt since my "accident" last week, but had managed to get off to a good running start before things went amok...

This is the main "super-structure" of the piece - vertical rows that will be filled in with piecing between the rows.

Here, the rightmost two verticals have been attached to their horizontal "filling" strips...

One section down and six to go, and I'm practically out of my mind wanting to get back to work! Likely won't happen for at least another week, as this process involves endless amounts of cut/audition/sew/press/repeat... up and down and up and down between the cutting board, design wall, ironing board, sewing machine, and back to the design wall - movements that are almost impossible for me to execute at this point. At least I can hobble over to the studio, sit down at my work table and fondle fabric and design in my head! Believe me... I'll never take my good health and mobility for granted again.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bah! Humbug!!

This has been THE WORST holiday season ever! Flat on my back in bed, in more pain that I could have ever imagined, and nothing to listen to but foghorns and cat fights, instead of sleigh bells and carols! Not to mention rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, etc.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought I'd be slick and schedule some major dental work for last Monday... you know, get it over with before the holidays... make my smile beautiful for happy holiday photos, yada, yada. That was the first disaster. Midway through the five root canal/four filling/peridontal treatment procedures, the work was aborted because the dentist found more than he'd bargained for. Since I'd been under anesthesia for almost five hours, he did a quick patch up and set me up to come back in two days to finish everything. Home I went, under the influence of loopy-making pain killers, and, sometime in the middle of the night, on my way to the loo, I fell down and smashed my hip. I spent the next twelve hours in the emergency room, in and out of a purple haze of pain and morphine. Four x-rays and a CT scan later, it was, thankfully, determined there were no fractures. I had, however, sustained a massive contusion, and bruising and swelling were roiling up by the minute. And PAIN! Ach! It was indescribable! Since there were no fractures, I was, of course, deemed "fit for release" and sent home, whereupon the real fun began.

Let me tell you, if I didn't know it before (actually I did), at this point I can totally verify I'm married to a Saint. My DH gets squeemish when I sustain a cat scratch that draws a little blood, so he was totally unprepared for what lay ahead this time. To his immense credit, he's weathered it all beyond any expectations I could have had. I'll leave it to you to imagine the details of caring for someone who couldn't move without screaming, couldn't carry on a rational conversation, and pleaded for another pain pill every ten minutes. He lovingly prepared soups for me, applied ice packs every two hours, propped me up with pillows, endured my howls and cries, cared for nineteen cats, fed the outdoor birds, did laundry, washed dishes, went shopping, picked up my prescriptions, and on, and on.

I'm happy to report, I'm feeling better today. I'm a long way from walking, but can now navigate my crutches with a decent amount of grace, can put about 2% of my weight on my injured leg, and can go for over 8 hours between pain pills. I was able to get to the computer for the first time since last Monday, to be greeted by nearly 300 e-mails! A daunting lot, but I plowed through all of them. I received lots of good wishes from FaceBook friends, for which I'm very grateful, along with the usual array of tasteless jokes from my crazy chiropractor - all of which made me feel even better... proving how important laughter is in the healing process.

I'm beginning to feel the effects of being vertical, so I'm back to my cozy bed now, made even cozier by a large assortment of furry rocks snuggling all around me.

I hope deliciously happy holidays were enjoyed by all!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I'm participating in the Vallejo city-wide Open Studios event this weekend, and today I sold one of my quilts! I'm over the top!!!

I made this quilt in 2001 to honor Lee Hackmann, a teacher with whom I studied at PIQF in 2000. "Ladies of Senegal" will now be hanging in a doctor's office in Novato, where it will, hopefully, bring much pleasure to patients and staff alike.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Strip Quilt, my way...

I've been spending many hours over the past few days doing the quilting on one of my quilts, and, frankly, my dear, I'm bloody sick of it. So today I said to myself, "Self... let's do something quick and put the quilting on hold for a few days." Since I can't seem to stop buying African fabrics, in spite of the fact that I have more than I'll ever use, I decided to rip through that section of my stash and blow a few away. Some of my quilting friends have lately been having fun doing Strip Quilts... it's a great way to put a hole in your stash, but I'm not too crazy about the "traditional" kind of strip quilt. Sooooo, I'm going to do my own version using some of my overstock of African fabrics. I pulled these out of the mix today, but will probably use many more before I'm done. I just love African fabrics... all that color... it makes me happy!

Back in 1993 I bought some African fabrics at a quilt show, then didn't have a clue about how to use them. Enter Roberta Horton, who had just returned from a fabulous fabric safari to Africa, and was all revved up to teach a class on making quilts with African Fabrics. I took the class - four days of pure bliss - and have been in love with African fabrics ever since. In 2000 I got a further super-charge at PIQF from Lee Hackman, African Quilter Extraordinaire, who changed my life and quilting style and I've never looked back.

I absolutely LOVE this fabric, so much so that many years ago I bought five yards of it and have used it in practically every quilt I've made since then. This piece is all I have left... about fifteen inches square, I'm going to use it up in this new quilt. It'll have a place of honor, and I've even left the printed selvedge label on.

I spent several enjoyable hours working on this new piece today, but my $%#@*&?!! sewing machine crapped out on me again so I had to stop. I guess I'm in for another trip to the machine shop on Monday. Probably another 200 bucks as well. Feh!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Remembering a Legend...

John Lennon
9 October 1940 - 8 December 1980

Song Writer
Peace Activist

Timely and timeless quotes:

"Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted."

"I don't believe in killing whatever the reason!"

"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace."

"If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that... I believe in what I do, and I'll say it."

"Reality leaves a lot to the imagination. "

"You don't need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are!"

"Yeah we all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Open Studios Preview Reception

Next weekend, December 11-12, will be Vallejo's first city-wide Open Studios. Vallejo is fortunate in that a wealth of very fine Bay Area artists live here. Over 50 artists in 20 locations throughout the city will be participating in this year's event, and studios will be open Noon - 7:00 p.m. both days. Last night, the preview reception was held at the McCree Goudeau Gallery, and was enjoyed by a great turnout of enthusiastic guests.
Here's a sampling of wonderful stuff from last night's show...

Through the front window of the gallery...
A whimsical teapot by Vanessa Gentry...
A thingy on wheels by Matt Neubauer...
A fanciful giraffe by mixed media artist MaryJane Etchegaray-Szalan...
An oil by Ro Lopez...
Sculpture by Aaron Pearce, a drum by Kemper Stone, and a painting by Sarah Nichols...
A chainsaw wood carving by Earl Stevens...
An art quilt by Me...
Jewelery, stained glass, pottery, and clay sculpture...
Some of our wonderful friends and supporters...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Party Time!

Today was the annual holiday party for my quilt guild - lots of food, way too much sugar, and plenty o' laughin' and scratchin' and good times. Here's my group of friends who always hang out together at meetings - we decorated our table with in a "Chocolate" theme (what goes better with quilters than chocolate?!)

On the right, front to back, Sandy, Nancy, Dale K, me, Lani. On the left, Phyllis, Dale W. and Annette.

Here's Sandy with a couple of her food-inspired decorations... styro tree forms covered with chocolate frosting and candy kisses, and choco frosting and choco chips. Silly fun!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hannukah - My favorite season!

Anyone not familiar with the story and traditions of Hannukah can read this for a rather good overview. But miracles and dedication aside, one of the best things about Hannukah is this: for eight days it's not only totally legal, but we're actually encouraged to EAT! And eat not just any foods, but especially sweets and fried foods - all of that delectable stuff we have to avoid for the rest of the year.

Yummy stuff like:

Latkes (potato pancakes)...

...and, better yet, Sweet Potato Latkes...

Deep-fried Artichokes...

Apple Fritters...

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart...

Gelt (chocolate money!!)...


And my favorite... Sufganiyot (jelly donuts)!!...

You're not really done until you can feel your arteries hardening...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I had an interesting day on Sunday - subbed as pianist/organist at my former church job. I found, to my embarrassment that I'm pretty out of shape musically... not a surprising discovery considering my dislike of practicing. I play the piano a fair amount at home - nothing serious... mostly just improvising and playing around with jazz harmonies. The organ has been pretty much ignored for the past year, thanks to taking care of a string of sick cats, and the organ itself being on the fritz for several months. The organ was recently repaired, and the cats are less demanding these days, so I really should get my butt back on the bench and back in shape, so as to not embarrass myself further!

After church I went out to lunch with some fun ladies I hadn't seen if far too long. We spent a couple of hours at Applebee's, gabbing and giggling, and having too much fun. I fell off my respective wagons and 1) ate some baby back ribs and curly fries, and 2) slammed back a couple of Long Island Ice Teas. I paid for my sins by feeling like crap all day yesterday, so today I'm back to the vegetarian fare and plain ole' ice tea, and, have to admit, am feeling a lot better! There's definitely a lesson to be learned (or re-learned) here.

Here's my wonderful "Auntie Betty"...

And Betty P. and Super-Fran...

Thanks Ladies... it was grand!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mystery Quilt

I LOVE doing Mystery Quilts! Trudy, in my quilt guild, does a mystery quilt class every year, and they are totally fun! Here's my finished top from the class last Saturday. I'm working on the back right now, and hope to get it to the quilter in a couple of days. I like the pattern a lot, and it was super easy. I love these colors, but I had a terrible time making up my mind between these and some beautiful green hand-dyed fabrics I have in my stash, so, I'll probably make another quilt soon... maybe two...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Our beloved little Jenny, the 20-year old Matriarch of our cat family, left us today. Out of nowhere, she went into convulsions last night, and never recovered. We rushed her up to the after-hours pet emergency clinic at 3:00 a.m., and they worked with her for several hours and got her stabilized, but were unable to bring her back. When the clinic closed at 8:00 this morning, we brought her back to our established caregivers at Redwood Vet Hospital here in Vallejo, where their fabulous staff of caring vets and techs spent the day monitoring and caring for her. Alas, the damage was done - both cerebral and cardiovascular - and there was no hope of ever getting her back. At 6:30 this evening, we made the impossibly difficult decision of euthanasia, and released her to cross the Rainbow Bridge and join her brothers, Boris, Michael and Josef, sister, Crystal, and special mother, Cuddles. Our grief is overwhelming, but she was our wonderful, fun and special little girl... and will live with us always.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Late Harvest

Thanks to the incredibly fabulous weather we've been having recently, the garden is still going strong, though it's beginning to look a little shabby, as well it might a week before Thanksgiving.

Yesterday was probably the swan song for the nice weather, though. Even as I type, the temperature is dropping and the winds are rising. The sky is completely clouded over and is turning darker by the minute. I just revved up the fireplace, and a crowd of cats is already gathering in front of it. I intend to join them with a book and another cup of coffee as soon as I finish here!

This morning I picked most of the veggies so they wouldn't get pounded by the rain that's been promised. For dinner, I'll fix the beans, along with some salmon, and grab a hunk of basil from the herb garden and mix it up with the tomatoes, some fresh mozzarella and spinach.

Last night's sunset was truly spectacular, and, if you can believe it, got even better after I took this picture!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

YAY! After far too many years, and Goddess knows how much haggling and negotiating, the Beatles have finally arrived at iTunes! Just in time for the Holidays! (imagine that...) Now you can buy Beatles singles for $1.29, entire albums for $12.99, or, if you want to totally blow your mind, you can get everything in the iTunes Beatles library for $149.00! I may have to restrain my husband in that last category, but I guess even I wouldn't mind that kind of splurge. I used to think the FabFour were a waste of time, but thanks to DH, I've learned to appreciate them over the years, and, after watching Sir Paul in a special broadcast on the tube the other night, I'm quickly approaching fanhood. While, in their early days, I thought they were the dorkiest looking bunch of dudes on the planet, I have to admit, they got better looking as the years passed and I began my own journey into OldFart-dom.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ready to dive in...

Today I finished the fusing phase of one of the pieces I started at PIQF... now to get going on the stitching/quilting. I haven't done a piece like this before, and I'll be trying out my free-motion stitching chops for the first time on a Serious, Real, Live Piece! Don't have a clue what I'm going to do... to quote the Queen of Hearts, I guess I'll just "begin at the beginning and proceed until I get to the end, and then stop."