A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quilt Project.

It involves stitches.

In 1990 I bought a terrific jacket pattern called "The Oregon Trail."  I thought it would make a wonderful Christmas jacket, so I also bought a lot of Christmas fabric for it.  Problem was, I was already wearing an XXL in jackets (was more comfortable in an XXXL if I could find one) and the pattern only went up to size XL.  So, I tucked it away where it has been languishing for 21 years.  It occurred to me this year that - having already lost 60 pounds (am wearing M/L clothing now) and with the potential to be down 90-100 pounds total by Christmas, I should make this jacket.

I started today.  The first step is to make a 44x18" piece of wonkystrip quilted fabric.  I finished this today as well as two other, slightly smaller pieces.  I'm using black duck for the body of the jacket and these strips are used for collar, pockets and embellishments here and there on the jacket.

So far I've made one serious - although correctable - mistake and have broken one needle.  Also turned out I had only one small spool of black thread in the house so had to quit earlier than I'd hoped.

For me, though, (The Frog Queen) this is "so far so good" status.

It feels good to be sewing again.  I'll be taking some cross-stitch with me to my mom's for the week that I'll stay with her after knee surgery, and bought supplies for her to teach me some fancy knitting.

Fiber, color, movement.  Awesome to be back in it.

(More time, please.)


from Joseph Campbell

It is by going down to the abyss that we recover the treasures of life.  Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's Quiet Here.


I've started a couple of blog posts in the last few days, but don't manage to finish them; don't end up with anything worth sharing.  So this may be a ramble, just to catch myself up with where I've been.

I turned off the fan for a while the other morning, so I could enjoy the quiet while I did a post.  Then I postponed writing it because the keyboard sounds were interrupting the silence.

I crave silence. It's one of the appeals of the garden.  Rarely I'll take the ipod out and listen to music while I weed but normally I just enjoy the relative quiet, conversations with grumpy hummingbirds (who don't seem to understand that I'm the one who fills the feeders they are so determined to keep me from) and butterflies.

Pretty sure this is a mail broadtail hummingbird.  It makes a clacking sound as it flies.
I've been enjoying the fritillaries that have found my passion vine.  I don't know if I'm seeing the same female multiple times, or different females, but there have been a lot of eggs laid.  Yesterday I finished a clean-up project in the front courtyard and finally (it's been a year) planted the red milkweed that I got at Roger's Gardens last summer.  It hadn't been in the ground a full hour before a HUGE Monarch mama fluttered in and fed, then laid eggs all over the plant.

That's rewarding.

The courtyard is looking better.  Thanks to DS2 and his girlfriend, the pond area is looking good, too.  They started the grass removal and I joined in to help for a while.  The north sideyard is gorgeous and if I get nothing else accomplished this summer, I can live off the satisfaction of having finished what I have of that garden.  I moved a large pot around to the side.  It has a set of hooks anchored in a pot of cement.  I planted a new Mandevilla, this time a deep, velvety red.  It's just a baby plant right now.  It's root system will be restricted by the way I've potted it up, but the last one I had in the pot did live for several years, did climb to the top of the hooks and did bloom.  That will all be good enough for me.  The hooks gave me a place for my extra hummer feeder.

There's an empty hook.  Oh, dear!  What shall I hang there?  I told DS2 that I have a pot hanger that I can put a saucer in and fill it with peanuts for the scrub jays that nest in the pyracantha on the other side of the back fence.  In the south side yard I have a windowbox sitting on a shelf, just outside the kitchen window.  The other day I watched a scrub jay burying a peanut - a gift from another neighbor.

I've been keeping "busy" puttering.  I love to putter.  But I know that - again - when the summer comes to a close I will look back on this summer break and be - again - dissatisfied, angry with myself for all the time I squandered.  I'm trying to get something done every day that will help carry me through the school year with a more peaceful mind (I HATE having chores hanging over my head nearly as much as I hate doing them).  I'm looking at different maintenance scheduling programs on the net and talking with friends.

There's good guidance on the internet of course. 

DH is retired.  I went from stay-at-home mom/housewife to full-time teacher twenty years ago.  Naively, I assumed we would split the housework 50/50.  Snort.  I guess I deserve a good smack up side the head for the "fool me twice" assumption that once retired, he would step up and at least clean up after himself.

We had The Talk a couple of years ago.  He agreed that it was his turn to take over the housework.  He would do it HIS way.

I tried - I really did - to live in filth.  I just can't do it.  Happy clutter, the clutter that comes with little children or busy crafting, I can handle.  But I need to know that under it there's a clean floor, a clean carpet.  I need a clean bathroom and I REALLY need to be able to make my breakfast and pull my lunch together every morning on a clean counter.  My cluttered mind needs my surroundings to be in order.

Decades ago I read a quote from the great fabric artist, Jean Ray Laury.  She wrote that housework while important, is maintenance.  Maintenance on a grand scale, I think is what she said (my mom has the book or I'd go look up the quote.)  And she said (and this is the part that has stayed with me all these years) maintenance on a grand scale is still just maintenance, not a life.

This needs to be the year that I finally get maintenance in control.  I have too much headed my way to have my mind (or what's left of it) cluttered with random maintenance chores bouncing from one side of my skull to the other.  So, developing a plan that I can stick to, live with, has to go to the top of the list of things to accomplish this summer.

With the quilt projects, garden projects and fun stuff that I already have planned.

Speaking of which, my mom has decided to have her crippled knee replaced (she had the other one done a few years ago) and her surgery is scheduled in August, less than a month away.  So...

DISNEYLAND one more time with her this Thursday!  Hoping to duplicate the great day of music we had week before last.

Saturday, July 09, 2011


Just stopped in to say that the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles gave me goose bumps at the beginning of their concert, moved me to tears during Thriller and had me rocking in my seat during It's Raining Men and I Wanna Dance with Somebody...

(And wasn't there some "Wake me up..." rockin' in there somewhere?)

Next year I'm buying TWO series' so that I can introduce them to a friend.


Giant Steps.

My older son just found himself in the following youtube video.  He played bass with the Santa Barbara City College Lunch Break (award winning) big band.  He can be seen in the back just to Michael Brecker's left - "lush" brown hair and goatee.

The braggage part?  I was at a competition for his younger brother once and this director was one of the adjudicators.  I was sitting close to the judge's table.  I noticed that my older son had come into the small theater to hear his brother's big band performance and had stopped for a few seconds to greet his then ex-director and have a short conversation.  After he had walked away, I overheard the director say to the judge next to him, "He was the most gifted bass player I've worked with in years."

Moms like that.

6. Giant Steps

Friday, July 08, 2011


In Every Way.

Yesterday's trip to Disneyland with Mom was pretty amazing.  Amazing how well everything went.  Amazing performances.

Had a little adventure with my passport.  Seems that when you renew online you deactivate the passport you had (mine was supposed to be good until July 29) so I had to spend a little quality time with the ticket lady getting a courtesy card and fastpass card, but it only took a few minutes.  As always, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast and lovely service at the Carnation Cafe.

Finding ourselves with a little time before the first music set we wanted to see, we headed over to the Mark Twain for a tour of the Rivers of America.  This was the first time we've been able to sit on the bow and we enjoyed the view from there.

One of my favorite animated vignettes.

Real.  Tiny ducklings.
From there we returned to Town Square for the Disneyland Band concert.  Sad to say, Family and Friends, I somehow messed up the definition settings on my camera and my video from the day turned out very badly.  Still, I have to post this incredible selection.  Brian Williams playing the piccolo in "The Wren."  Wow.

We had expected it to be incredibly hot and humid yesterday and it was NOT, but sitting in the sun waiting for the Band concert (and then the 30-minute concert itself) did take a toll on Mom and me, so we decided to arrive very early at the Golden Horseshoe for Billy Hill and the Hillbillies.  Even the Billies commented on the great AC in the theater.

There are multiple combinations of castmembers in the Billies and - just one of many happy events of the day - on this day it was our favorite team.  As always, they entertain with great music and great laughs.

We were quite early for the first set of our real "target" for the day, the All-American College Band, so we took a seat at the Plaza Gardens stage for some quality people watching.  Serendipity smiled on us again.  We were just in time for a Disney Performing Arts showcase featuring a dance troupe from Australia.  Their first number was to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now, " one of my current theme songs.  They proceeded to keep the stage cooking for a full 30 minutes.  Their teacher (Breanna?) taught them well.  You don't have to do difficult stuff (although some of it was) but what you do, you do BIG.  And they did.  Great energy, great fun.

Well-rested, cooled down and with the sun blocked by clouds, we decided to perch ourselves in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle for the first All-American College Band set.  We were SO glad we did. 
They did some fabulous hip arrangements - with choreography - of Disney theme music.
After the Castle set we moved back to Plaza Gardens for an amazing jazz set by the same group, then moved to the Corner Cafe for some "take-out" from the Pizza Port for dinner.  That area has been called the Coke Corner and the Refreshment Corner, but I call it the Piano Corner because that was where - after 50 years of RIDES RIDES RIDES - we discovered an upright piano six years ago during the 50th Anniversary Celebration, The Happiest Homecoming on Earth.  What a delightful surprise we found there.
Ragtime Jonny
We've enjoyed some terrific piano at this spot over the last six years, but this young man blew us away.  What a showman!  Energy, fun, talent and a winning charm.  We were delighted to "meet" him because we really enjoy ending our evenings at the Piano Corner and now looked forward to returning for those last sets.

After dinner we headed to the end of Main Street and a very nice spot to see both the new parade - Soundsational - and the last All-American College Band set.

Thanks for the kiss, Goofy!

Octopus percussionus.  This float spews bubbles and we were engulfed.  Loved it, but don't know if they show here.

Little Mermaid float.  Didn't we see him in another movie?


Can you tell the chimney sweeps are my favorites?

This marked the beginning of the most delightful part of an already awesome day of musical fun.  The sun went behind the trees, the cool breeze increased and suddenly we were enjoying an ideal Southern California evening.  Within a few minutes the All-American College Band returned for their final set of the day.  Stevie Wonder. Earth, Wind and Fire.  If this doesn't fill your serotonin reserves, there's no hope.

Gonna try to share part of their last number with you but, again, I apologize for the lousy video quality.

Sorry to say good-bye to these talented young men and women, we headed back to the Piano corner for a bit of ice cream and people-watching to some awesome piano music.  This is my favorite time of day at Disneyland; as the sun is setting and the lights come on all over the Park the magic really starts to saturate this place.

We enjoyed two more sets with Ragtime Jonny, who showed us he is also a warm and hospitable host.  We learned that Jonny is 24 years old and has been playing piano at Disneyland for SIX YEARS!  What were YOU doing when you were 18?

Jonny with Mom
As if the evening hadn't been quite delightful enough, as Jonny left after his last set, he introduced us to his wife.  We were captivated by this charming, friendly young woman and  Mom and I will keep our fingers crossed that we cross paths with her again. This sweet couple set the bar very high for our future visits.

After fireworks we made our way home.  There must have been a horrible accident on the 5 north of the 118 interchange because we sat in stopped traffic for quite a while on the way home, but nothing could dampen our high spirits after such a wonderful day.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Life is Good.


tomorrow with my mom.

GMCLA concert TOTALLY! on Saturday.

Should be full to overflowing.

It Gets Better: Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles "True Colors"

Sometimes You Swing.

Last summer someone directed my path to Julia Cameron's, The Artist's Way.  It's a brilliant writing-based personal growth program intended to help each person embrace and nurture her (or his) creativity.  I was warned to expect "transformation."  I was cynical, and responded that transformation was probably reaching too high, but if I could just find a few missing pieces it would be worth it.

He then gifted me with this analogy.  He said to think of it like a strand of old-fashioned Christmas lights.  The kind where, when one went out, they all went out and you had to try, one bulb at a time, to find the burned-out bulb.  But when you did, the entire strand was transformed.  I remember that experience.  You started with something dull and kind of hopeless looking, and ended up with something lovely.  Sparkly.

I wanted that transformation, and set out to work Cameron's program in hopes that I, too, would end up sparkling through the rest of my life.

It wasn't always easy to work.  Her prompts forced me to face some issues that I didn't want to face.  But, face them I did.  Finish I did. And transformation is my gift.

For me, part of transformation has been developing a new openness.  Open to new experiences, new people with new ideas, new direction.  Transformation is, at least in this new stage, fragile.  I have down times, when I question what I've done, where I am and where I'm headed.  This morning was one of those times.

But one of the appeals of Cameron's process is that it is premised on a spiritual belief system that I already embraced, although I didn't have vocabulary for it.  She gave me the words, which I paraphrase to remind myself several times each day that...

  • The Universe is always working for us.
  • There is no such thing as a coincidence.
  • We have to be paying attention - stay open - to see the coincidences as opportunities and grab them when they come.
This morning was a down day for me, a questioning day.  But immediately, the Universe responded.  My friend Scott (there's a link in the sidebar that will take you to his poetry, which frequently helps me get my head in the right place) posted a link to Em.  Em's life concept is phenomenal - rich - and she shares generously.

This morning, as I questioned whether it was worth the painful moments of living outside of the void, Scott's group, A Circle of Twelve, posted this:

You see,
sometimes we are emptied.
We are emptied
Life wants us to know

- Em Claire

And just like that, my day was right again.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Sunday, July 03, 2011

I found it...

...and it wasn't hard.  Amazing.

I've had this pattern since it came out.  Copyright is 1990, so I've had it for 21 years.

Black fabric for the body of the jacket, Christmas print for the lining.

Yep, it's going to be a Christmas jacket.

I collected some fabrics for the embellishments.

Of course, every year there have been more beautiful fabrics to consider.  I have a hard time resisting.

I remember having a hard time deciding what to put in the "quilt" area of the back.  Apparently I experimented with pieced Santas, trees, hearts...

Pretty sure I don't like the muslin-colored background but the designs might be cute.  Maybe on those newer, lighter fabrics?

So this is a summer project.  Lots of decisions to make.  One definite that has stayed with me for 21 years, though?  See the fringe in the pattern photo?  I have always seen this as forest green satin ribbon with a tiny bell tied at the bottom of each strand.

This is gonna be fun!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Stitchy update.

Purging pays.

I finished the stitching on this a few weeks ago, but couldn't find the "right" buttons in my stash so lost interest.  Then, yesterday was purging some clothes and cleaning out my closet (in which a lot of craft supplies are stored) and I found more buttons.  These are just right.  Once I get them on, I'll find my pretty pink fabrics and make it into a pillow.