Saturday, February 27, 2010

Slip-Sliding Away

Interesting results last night in Ohno's 500 meter race, where they ruled that because he touched the Canadian skater Trembley, and Trembley fell, Ohno was the cause of it and was disqualified.

Rewind the tape to the previous night and the 1000 meter race, where the Canadian skater Hamelin touched Ohno on the hip, causing him to slip. Ohno recovered and fought back for the bronze. See the review •here• in an interview with Bob Costos.

So, now what do you think about his disqualification?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ice Dancers

While I was definitely rooting for the Americans to win gold, I thought the medals ceremony, where the Canadian gold medalists--and the entire hall, it seemed--were singing O, Canada, to be a touching end to a wonderful segment of Olympic competition.

I think I like pairs ice dancing better than pairs figure skating, if that's possible.

Click on the picture to go to and watch the ceremony.
Now back to the grading: the second set of essays came in yesterday.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fall Fashion Shows in New York

File this under Another Good Way to Waste Time on the Web. Along with this week's Olympics, which I'm crazy for, are the fall fashion shows held in New York City. I love heading to the New York Times website and looking at all the clothes. I kept finding things I wanted to share with my sister Christine, who is there in New York currently serving a mission, as she has such style and embraces different ideas in fashion easily.

This is not representative--just what I like this morning.
First up is Anna Sui, or How Many Patterns Can I Wear at One Time? And I love them all.

The way the NYTimes lets you see things is an outfit at a time, with thumbnails below (if you wish it that way). The way Sui layered the clothing, the accessories is inspiring. I kept thinking how it would look on a middle-aged woman of a certain size, in a hot climate, in a classroom. I guess I just get to admire them here.

The line of this dress is a throwback to what I used to wear as a teenager--I still have the dress patterns out in the garage to prove it. But what's amazing is the tights, the handbag, the necklace--all giving this simple design elegance and style.

Check out not only the scenes from Montana on her sweater, but also the designs on her knees.

Same tights. Different layered (both in the clothing and in the pattern) look.

The fabric design is echoed in her tights.

Ralph Rucci had some interesting things going on with accents of textures. The jacket is pretty straightforward, until it comes to this gridded jacket front. Detail below.

And what's wrapped on her hands? Everyone of his models had these stringy-faux-glove thing.

In honor of the Olympics, from Marchesa's collection, I present:
Girl Gone AWOL From the Skating Rink.

And in nearly every season there's a picture I call the Feed Me picture. A model that looks like she hasn't seen real food in about a year, with emaciated looks (beyond what the show has in mind) and too-skinny of legs and body.

This is this season's Miss Feed Me.

Tommy Kane, a guy who always has his sketchbook with him, recently drew what he thought they ate:
Love the pencil shavings bit.

Okay, carry on. I've done enough time wasting this morning. I had a late night last night, staying up to watch the Men's Figure Skating Finals, loving that Lysacek's style of skating won out over the jumping Russian Plushenko.

As I watched I was also able to quilt on my long-long-long-term quilting project: my appliqued Medallion quilt that I began in Washington DC. For some reason the quilting is taking FOREVER. One reason is because I was trying not to use pencil to mark up the quilt top, trying to use masking tape to keep my lines straight. Last night I said to heck with it, and with a ruler, drew the quilting lines. It's amazing how much faster I can go if I'm not struggling with strips of blue tape all over the place.
Last bit of news: we had an earthquake this morning, rattling my nerves. Ever since I was in the HUGE earthquake in Lima Peru as a child, any little shaking makes me tingle all over.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lindsey Vonn and the Gold Medal

Watching Lindsey Vonn race her gold medal-winning race down that mountain was really exciting. But what I loved was her interview afterwards, and her tearful hugs of her husband. Head to the NBC website *here* to see the race and the interview. Unfortunately, they don't show the segment with her husband, but this shot is right after she said hi to her grandparents and told them she loved them--ah. What a woman!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Visitors. . . and a Story

We had some visitors from out of town last week. It was my daughter Barbara and her three kids: Cute, Cute and Cute. Did I mention that they were cute? All my grandchildren are cute. I'm so very lucky.

And now, a story.
Some time ago, I'd made a quilt with pinks and blues and cherries and flowers and was so frugal with my fabric I had enough for another quilt leftover. I starting piecing the pinwheels and put them up on the pin wall, and then was stuck. I tried this combo and that combo and nothing would come together.

Then one horrid horrid day, our friend Heather wrote to say that she had Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, and it had spread to her liver, and maybe her brain but they were doing CT scans checking, checking. We waited. Good news! No brain mets, as she said.

I began to work again on the stuck quilt. Only I knew now it was for Heather so it flew together in a glorious explosion of work and love and tears and care for our friend. I thought long and hard about what to name it.

I arranged a visit to see her shortly before she would begin her first of six rounds of chemotherapy, a grueling process. I wanted her to have the quilt. I had in my mind what I wanted to call it, carrying along my pen to sign and write the name on the back, just in case I was right.

We had one of those happy-sad-teary-laughing conversations about what lay before her. I knew then what I planned to call it was correct, Earth's Crammed with Heaven, from E. B. Browning's verse:

Earth's crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

And only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

I told her that it meant to me that because of her suffering she would see and understand so much more about heaven and earth than she ever would before. She would see that indeed, earth is crammed with heaven.

I tracked her chemo treatments on my calendar, trying to visit when possible, emailing whenever as I waited for her to come up out of the vortex of chemo and bendy bones and pain.

Last week she had another CT scan, and because of her treatments, and her faith, and the doctors and her sweetheart and prayers and heaven and everything-we-could-throw-at-it on earth, her tumors have been eradicated. As she put it: "lots of high fives and tears in the doctor's office."

Oh, yeah. You go, Heather! Happy Valentine's Day. Happy Chinese New Year.

Happy Life.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Says You Radio Show Taping

Last Saturday, my friend Judy and I got tickets for the taping of the radio show titled "Says You." Amazingly Judy's next door neighbor was right across the aisle and using my phone, he took this picture of us (that's why it's sort of soft-looking).

What is Says You? "A game of whimsy and words and bluff and bluster," according to the website. It was held at Pomona College in the Mabel Shaw Bridges Auditorium, built in 1931. Across the interior ceiling are huge renditions of the signs of the zodiac in creamy white, against an aqua background. It's an old-fashioned auditorium, with large red velvet curtains, cushy seats and a broad proscenium and stage. Lovely.

They had two shows to be taped, with lots of clever jokes, puns, recurring jokes. It was a good day, with good company.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

N'Arlins Food

Over at I posted recipes for some Saints-Be-Praised-They-Won-The-Superbowl Food. One recipe is for Scallop Gumbo (really good, but you have to watch the roux so it won't burn) and the other was an old favorite: Cajun Jamalaya.

These dishes will also work well for Mardi Gras, which according to the internet is in about ten days, on February 16th. In case that doesn't float your Mardi Gras float, I also have posted a few others that have been hanging around for a while.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Road to California 2010

This was my tenth appearance at the Road to California Quilt Show, held in Ontario California. I have entered in the past, but haven't since grad school, lacking either the time or the interest.

But there's also this nagging suspicion that my quilts may not measure up, given the direction that quilting seems to be going. So when I come to the show, I come with a critical eye, trying to identify trends. Or fads (such as crystals).

One trend is in the quilting. Not just the single line of thread tracing around a patch or creating a feather, but Quilting As The Star.

This quilt typifies that, with its narrowly spaced lines of thread (don't even get me started on why we quilters need to use certain types of thread), decorative jewels, sequins, crystals adding to the main pieced design. There are quilted flames shooting off the appliqued fabric flames, and tightly scrolled quilting suppressing certain areas of the quilt in order to create a sort of trapunto effect. The whole quilt is layer upon layer on texture, color, design.

Fire and Ice, by Claudia Pfeil of Krefeld, Germany

While I think the above quilt is beautiful, I think this trend has gotten out of hand. In the early 1990s I entered a large bed-sized quilt (quilts are not identified anymore as "bed quilts," that idea having faded as it seems the main thrust of quilting now is about art, design and its decorative function); this quilt was evaluated by a team of three judges as it was a juried show. No noticeable faults with my piecing or design, but one judge scrawled, "Not enough quilting."

I think that was the year that two quilts were exhibited at the back of the hall, covered in heavily quilted design and crystals for accent. Multi-colored threads outlined feathers, swirls, circles, and a dragon (if I remember correctly). We were in awe. We all had a crush on this new boy in town.

Now the heavily quilted are at the front of the hall, strutting their stuff and this influence has had some unfortunate effects, I think. Case in point is the quilt below.

In this first picture, the appliqued vases and flowers of baskets have the full stage, but upon closer inspection. . .

. . . the quilting obscures the images, even competing for attention. I found this to be sad, as the handiwork done by the quilter was beautiful and precise, but the quilt was marred by the quilting--lots of quilting--in between each petal and flower. I think a simple gridded design in the background would have served the quilt much better.

This quilt gets the balance correct. Suzanne Marshall writes that her "quilt is adapted from a 17th century Norwegian tapestry that depicts the Legend of Guimar, the knight who shot a deer but whose arrow returned to injure the hunter." The entire quilt is show below.

The Legend of Guimar, by Suzanne Marshall of Clayton, Missouri

Every quilt show has its Ugly Quilt and I found this year's. It was in a group exhibit (otherwise I'm sure it would not have gotten in). Nearly every element has gone awry--from the choice of color and the applique technique to the quilting, which again, is too much, much too much, obscuring what little there might have been to redeem this sad quilt. I admit I have a few pieces which might qualify for this honor--all quilters do.

Even though this one has won top awards, I think it also qualifies in my book as one of the candidates for the Ugly Quilt.

The quilting really works in this quilt, and it is used to bring out the texture of the turtle and the motion of the water. The quilting complements what is going on in the design, instead of competing or obscuring it.

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, by Cheryl Spalding of Portland, Oregon
Quilted by Karen Saltzberg

Another idea I follow is design, and try to apply the basics of good design: does what the quilter intended come forward in his or her use of basic composition, inventiveness? Do the colors and the tonalities balance, in other words, is it harmonious? Does it add something to the quilt conversation, or is it merely echoing what has gone on before? I must add that I tend to be in the latter group of followers, often repeating what I've seen before. (Someday, I always say, I'll think of the next 10% new idea. . .)

Here are some that caught my (untrained) eye.

Puppies, a la Andy Warhol

Pup Art, by Nancy S. Brown of Oakland, California

Christmas Chickadee, by David M. Taylor of Steamboat Springs, Colorado
The inclusion of the Christmas tree light elevates it from a simple nature scene into a conversation.

A Summer Parade, by Joanell Connolly of Huntington Beach, California

The Moment of Inspiration, by Sandy Curran of Newport News, Virginia
Hitchcock keeping an eye on these birds was what pulled me in, but I also liked the reference to the film by the inclusion of "sprocket holes" on the side of the quilt.

Memories of Monet, by Joen Wolfrom
Joen Wolfrom's quilt works well on so many levels. It's the first I've seen of hers in many years. She'd stopped quilting for a while when her hand was injured in a dog attack.

Colors Unfurled, aka, If Betsy Ross Had My Stash, by Maria C. Shell of Anchorage, Alaska
Great use of quilting blocks and traditional motifs to create a flag. Depictions of the flag in red, white and blue are found a lot at quilt shows (we're a patriotic bunch, I guess) but this one, with its brights and bolds was a real stunner. It's huge, probably 9 feet long by 5 feet tall.

Love the paper doll blocks, swimming fish, flags--this quilt has everything!

A crazy-quilt version of the flag. This is a new idea as well, as most depictions are traditionally pieced.

Betsy Ross Never Imagined This, by Nancy McLerran of Santa Rosa, California

Play Dead (Guns Kill Children), by Janice Pennington of San Diego, California
Quilted by Laurie Daniells
Nostalgic fabrics, reproductions of designs from earlier days, are used in a quilt that makes a statement against handgun violence.

Enjoy these for now. I'll try to get a few more posted later.