Tuesday, November 25

What It Is

I can’t tell you because it’s a surprise. It’s a little piece for an old friend. 1-IMG_1437

I’m scurrying around in the studio every day to get it done for Christmas.

In other news, we had a little dinner party last night…of course I forgot the camera, which is a bummer because it was a really beautiful plate. I roasted thick, Yukon gold potato slices, then I sauteed fresh baby spinach with caramelized shallots. I piled the spinach/shallots on top of the potato, then I topped that with a piece of salmon that I grilled and finished in the oven. I spooned a beurre blanc sauce over all. Nary a morsel was left. We had gluten-free brownies for dessert. GF brownies are a little like sandy mudpies, but they are slightly better than no brownies.

I usually make hollandaise for salmon, but beurre blanc is easier because you can prepare the wine and shallots ahead, and just whisk in the cold butter at serving time. Hollandaise isn’t difficult but it requires last-minute concentration and focus. Things this cook is seriously lacking when the wine has been flowing freely.

We had our Carlsbad friends come to dinner because the guys were trying to use air miles to book a flight (together) that will take place next October. It’s a major headache to use air miles—almost not worth it. You have to do it yourself and you have to do it exactly 330 days in advance, which is when the airlines release a few “free” seats (damn few, and they don’t last long), and getting FOUR seats on the same flight was a nearly insurmountable feat. It took several hours, but they did it. They persevered and won.

Outside, we continue to be beset with delays. This time our pallets of pavers are sitting on a truck down the hill (maybe 300 yards away) because the guy’s forklift broke. They have called for another, but the lunch truck came, so who knows what the afternoon will bring.

Meanwhile they are pouring the slab that the hot tub will sit on. I got to worrying about the pointy corners of the slab, so I mentioned it to Bill  (Landscape Guy) and he said, “Darlin’, I’m way ahead of ya. It will be covered with pavers and you will never know there is cement underneath. You’ll never see it.” Cool. 1-IMG_1440

In other news, our beautiful Michelle celebrated her 40th birthday on the rooftop of a swanky midtown Manhattan hotel. Does this girl know how to party?
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She said everything was fabulous. Happy for her. They will spend Thanksgiving with family and friends in Connecticut. We have no plans other than of a can of pumpkin that will be turned into some kind of mousse, and a sweet potato. Neither one of us is fond of turkey. I will miss the stuffing, though.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Enjoy your loved ones and don’t stress.

Saturday, November 15

Taking Shape


We saw some progress on the landscaping this week. Now that they are back at it, they’re going full steam ahead.
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Here’s looking the other way, toward where the barbecue has been started. Our neighbors are getting underway with their landscape too. They are at the trench-digging phase, which means jackhammers. 1-IMG_1425

They’ve laid the first row of block to separate the planting area at the fence from the patio side. Now you can see the pattern—I drew it this way because it’s more visually appealing than just straight lines and I think we can use the space on both sides better. There will be a fountain in the farther hexagon, and some light-blocking bushes in the closer one. The poor little upside down bistro table at the left of the frame will go in the middle between the two out-notches…for lack of a better descriptor.1-IMG_1428

A little closer, you can see the barbecue taking shape on the right of the frame. And we’ll have room for a table and chairs in the area in front of the BBQ, which I was concerned about. A small one, not a big one. 1-IMG_1427

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While I was outside taking these photos just before sunset, the crows started going home for the night. They do this every day. There are thousands of them (just a few in this picture obviously), they gather in the sky and go west, over the hills toward the ocean. They keep coming and coming. And going and going. It’s so strange.1-IMG_1430

Monday, November 10

Moving Right Along

It looks as if our landscaper’s OSHA troubles are over and we are back in business.

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Of course we haven’t actually seen anybody working, but the materials are here, so things are looking up. Landscape Guy says we should have our planter retaining walls in by Friday, but we have learned not to put a lot of faith into his sense of time.

Indoors, I put the facing on both “Raven,” which I finished over a year ago, and “Ginkgos.” I still need to stitch them down but I am going to take them to the Stitching Club Wednesday and do them there. I usually don’t go to Stitching Club because my work isn’t exactly portable.1-IMG_1422

I like this new way of facing SO much better—perfect 90-degree corners and very easy. I used to miter the facing, it was a fiddly booger, and I never could get it exactly square…case in point:1-IMG_1423

It looks as if I did this quilting on the Grace frame, which I sold a few years back. I didn’t have room for it then and we live in much smaller quarters now.

I am going to join Beach Cities Quilt Guild this week—well, I’m going to go and check it out, I used to belong to that guild years ago. I want to start thinking about entering shows again…maybe. (And maybe not.) I got fed up with entering shows when I lived on the central coast; the same four people won every prize every show, imagine that. Everybody might ooh and ahh over your quilt and say it was the best, but you didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a ribbon.

The health-nut gurus tell us devotees to avoid “gluten-free” products because they are processed food, and I don’t eat that stuff right now anyway because I’m still (!) on a low-carb diet, but I have to sing the praises of the people who make these things:

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I know that to some people “gluten free” is considered a fad, but as a person who can’t eat a cracker at the appetizer table or have a treat when a special occasion rolls around, well, this just makes me want to cry.

Maybe there will be stuffing on my Thanksgiving table after all.

Thursday, November 6

Making Things Flat

How do YOU flatten a quilt? This is my scientific method… actually works pretty good. You have to spritz the quilt with water then weight it down. The edges were pretty ripple-y before. If you don’t have the same density of quilting across the entire surface, it’s gonna ripple.1-IMG_1411

See? Flat now. Ready to face. (I never bind them anymore.)

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Here’s a close up.

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I was feeling pretty good about my quilting and thought I might be ready for Prime-Time (competition) again, so I went to the Hoffman Challenge website to see the fabric… ack, maybe not. 2015 fabric texture

Around the house, travails continue. See this line? Pretty obvious, huh?1-IMG_1417

Well, three men could not see it (I was golfing). The line went from the carpet about ten feet into the kitchen area (some moron wheeled a cast iron tub over it). They didn’t replace these boards, only the ones they could see. And they did a pretty shitty job, so I called them out again (6th or 7th time) and said if they couldn’t do a better job I was thinking of having them take out the whole floor and replace it with something else (this wood has been discontinued). That got their attention.1-IMG_1418
Not only did they do half the job, the wood planks that they did replace are uneven and have sharp edges. I am not happy. They sent their JayVee team to do the job and they effed it up. Unacceptable.


Then the stove dropped about half an inch in the left front—whatever was holding it level isn’t doing that anymore and everything you put in a skillet collects at seven o’clock. Customer service guy was out today and they’ll take care of it, but SHEESH! I think they cut the granite just a hair too large. It will be interesting to see how the fix THIS one.

Two windows are being replaced next week. One is too small for the frame and therefore won’t close (I kid you not) and the other one lost its seal and vapor or whatever is between the panes and it’s cloudy.

Back yard is still a “dig.” Trenches. No progress. Landscape Guy promised this Monday FOR SURE.

But tonight is appetizer night at the club, so we’ll have some fun. They have something for us every week.

I’m reading this book for Book Club next week. It’s a good one if you’re looking for a good read. It takes place in Western Australia about 1920; it’s about a lighthouse keeper and his wife who are isolated on Janus Rock and what happens when a dinghy washes ashore during a storm.

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That’s all for now! Cleaning my machine and then putting the facing on Ginkgo. I am ready to be done with this piece.

Friday, October 31

Happy Halloween

Pretty scary, this. I think it's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I stole it off someone else's website...I'm bad. Amazing that Hollywood hasn't glommed onto this. 

Are you going out tonight to howwwwwlll? They are having a little shindig at the clubhouse but we don't have costumes...although I offered to paint us up as zombies and we could dress in tattered old clothes that are too big for us (which is everything in our closet), J wasn't interested. I would be willing to bet there is a football game on he wants to see. 

So we'll lock the doors and eat all the candy. Only kidding. We don't get candy and we don't get trick-or-treaters. The fences keep out the kids as well as the coyotes. Supposed to rain tonight. Bummer for the kiddos. Like it hasn't rained in a year, and it rains on Halloween. That's just wrong. But we need the rain so desperately it feels wrong to grumble about it. 

This is pretty intense work.


I had to break for a thread-buying expedition. (Red Rock Threads.) Initially I said I'd just use up what I had, but after I quilted the background you see with yellow thread I realized the folly in that logic. I don't mind the yellow, it's kind of a banana yellow, it's not too awful, but just about anything else would have been better. 

Hey, I played golf this week! I didn't do too terrible, I went with a neighbor-couple and I was real nice so hopefully they'll invite me again. I even got my car washed and picked them up. I'm on the fence about whether to renew my membership with the Ladies Club (which includes my handicap index) or just play now and then. It's such great exercise. So great, in fact, that it took me two days to recover! Man, was I tired! But I hadn't played in like 8 months. 

The course (San Juan Hills) is just okay (I'm so spoiled from the desert), you can see Saddleback Mountain in the distance, and you can see how dry everything is. This is the (dry) creek bed where I presume the coyotes live. I sliced my ball into this creek and I went to fish out another one from my bag, and evidently I must have left a granola bar in there because some little critter chewed a perfectly round hole about the size of a quarter in my bag. I know there are mice around here because the landscapers have set "motels" for them. We live in the wilds, yaknow. 
















We had some house snafus this week, Floor Guy finally came to fix the wood floor where the plumbers rolled the cast-iron tub over a large area and left an 8 foot long indentation in the wood. They came to fix it while I was golfing (Jim was here) and I didn't pay any attention. Well of course after they left I saw that they only did about half the job, but you couldn't see it unless you stood in the bedroom and looked the opposite direction toward the kitchen, which of course, was inevitable eventually, so we called them to come back. This time it will involve tearing up the baseboards and carpet because of the location and I'm not sure I want to do that, and the replaced boards never fit the same. It's not that bad, you have to really look, but I know it's there. Floor Guy came back and sanded it a little and I said to leave it and maybe it won't bother me after a while. Like the holes where one of the shades was hung that I demanded be taken back, you'd think I'd take the ten minutes to patch them and paint them, but nooooo. I don't see them anymore. And the chunked-out corner in the hall where the movers tried to fit the hide-a-bed sofa without taking off the feet. I know it's there, but I don't see it. 

The other snafu--you won't believe this--OSHA shut down Landscape Guy because he didn't have Worker Comp insurance for his guys. And I think it's because his workers use the other contractor's porta-potty and he got hacked off and reported our guy to OSHA (the workers talk, they all know each other, they all take lunch at the same time when the roach coach rolls down the street). Well, it's his own damn fault he got caught, but we're the ones hanging with trenches and unfinished thises and thats. Not exactly happy about it but whaddaya gonna do. Work is supposed to resume Monday. 

Well, that's all the news. Stay healthy! 

Sunday, October 19

Falling Leaves

I finished the top and I began to cogitate the quilt design. Something didn’t feel right. The ginkgo leaves looked like they were floating up. Leaves don’t float up. Plus, there was just a little too much “white” space at the top. Not over the moon with this.

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So I flipped it upside down.

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And I like it better; in person the leaves look like they are coming toward you. I can always change my mind again. The one yellow fabric is a little too bright, it grabs my attention too much. I can change it out, it is possible, but it involves careful surgery with a tiny scalpel to remove the teensy stitches without cutting into the fabric, then making a freezer paper template of the removed piece. Doable, but I think I will just paint it with tea to take the “scream” out of it.

I won’t start the quilting until late next week, we are babysitting our grandchild (age six). The kids are going off to Las Vegas for a solar energy conference.

This weekend we went to Whittier for Jim’s 50th reunion (college). The reunion dinner party was held in the courtyard at the president’s mansion (below). Very nice. The view was incredible, especially if you climbed up to that turret, which I did. In heels.

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We had a great time as always. The young people on campus were so nice. They always spoke to the alums and said things like “welcome back.” After the party we went to a nightclub [of sorts] and the DJ played some sets of music from the 60s in our honor. I had the foresight to bring comfy shoes for the after-party and I danced like a crazy woman. I loved it!

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There will be more pictures to share as people email them to us. I didn’t take my camera. Sometimes I just don’t want the hassle.

I ate some bread at the party. There were what looked like artisan rolls on the table, with pats of butter. I know “eating some bread” is not of vital importance, but in a way it is; I just ate a little of the top crust, and oh was it heavenly. I now know, for certain, having not had any bread (or any wheat) in six months, that it fires up your dopamine receptors—I was happy, happy. Another revelation was that two hours later my chest tightened up and I was wheezing. Of course I didn’t have any asthma meds with me because I’m done with those, so it was a little worrisome for a while, but it cleared up overnight.

I am so glad (thankful) that I finally know wheat’s effect. Even just a little bit will affect me. But sometimes it gets into things you wouldn’t expect—like the beef short ribs I had at Cedar Creek Inn. My body knows it’s there, even if *I* don’t.

On the home front:

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Landscaping…I should say the demolition of our lot…is progressing. They are digging many more trenches and taking away the real estate by the truckload. The ground is SO DENSE (this is a good thing—less settling) that they have to use a jackhammer. It’s like concrete. The neighbors must love us. That’s okay, it will be their turn very soon.

We got a hot tub! Woohoo! It’s a small one because there’s no space for anything larger, but it’s just for me anyway. I can’t wait—I love a hot tub and I miss it. The Jacuzzi in the desert was nearly impossible to get out of…I feared for my life sometimes…I could get in but I could not get out without help. Now if that doesn’t make you feel old… “Honeeeee, come get me….”

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Annnnd, we bought the barbecue. Bill the landscaper will build a “surround” for it. It’s also small, we don’t need a big one. Not to mention there ain’t much room back there.

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Here is one more picture. I honestly could not remember why I took this photo, but…

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This is the hill in front of our house. It’s what I see when I look out my studio window. I like the way they landscaped the hillsides…they planted patches of various things, like a patchwork quilt…it will be much prettier when it fills in and after the winter rains. You can see the coyote fence, this runs completely around our development…keeps the riffraff out in addition to the coyotes.

ANYway, the reason I took this photo in the first place is because every afternoon, just around sunset, ravens (crows) fly in a westerly direction from one side of the valley to over that hill you see beyond. I’m not talking 20 birds, I’m not talking 200 birds. I’m talking 2,000 black birds, flying overhead EVERY evening, like they are going home from work or something. It’s the strangest thing. Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, there are no crows in the picture. They all dropped to the ground to poke around for whatever just as I snapped the photo. But I’ll be ready for them next time.

Sunday, October 12

Around The World Blog Hop

Hi, and welcome! I was invited by Suze (Caracol Creations) to participate in the Around The World Blog Hop. Suze and I go way back to when a group of us did The Artist’s Way several years ago.

First, an apology. I was unable to coerce any artists to participate! I tried, but no one took the bait. Which is such a shame because I know so many uniquely talented artists in my blogosphere! I am truly sorry that you’ve reached a dead end of sorts, but I hope you enjoy visiting my site anyway. So let’s get started.

1. What am I working on?

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2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Good question. It depends on if you’re talking about making a quilt or making art. Either way, I believe my work is fairly unique. My construction technique is an amalgam of methods I learned from Katie Pasquini-Masopust, Carol Bryer Fallert, and Ruth McDowell.

3. Why do I create what I do?

Now, that is really hard to answer! Why? I’ve been driven to make art my whole life. Why this? I love working with fabric, especially batiks, the wow factor is high, and I enjoy the technique even though it is lengthy and fiddly—it would go a lot faster if I fused but I don’t like the look. Besides, it’s the journey, not the destination. And I have many UFOs to prove it!

4. How does my creating process work?

Let’s assume we’re not talking about the process of actually making the quilt but the “thinking it up” part. I have an “inspiration box” that is full of clippings of various print media I’ve collected over the years. I also have an extensive collection of digital photographs from my travels that cry out to be translated to fabric. When it’s time to start a quilt I lock myself in my studio with my “visual aids” until I get a spark—and it could be culled from multiple sources—then I sleep on it and let The Universe help distill the idea.

Sometimes I dust my house or organize a cabinet, as a type of meditation. I have found that the sacred art of space clearing is invaluable for stimulating creativity. You don’t just sort your fabrics to get it done, you sort your fabrics to sort your fabrics. It’s called “mindfulness,” and it really works! And there is no shortage of dust or chaos around here, believe me! I have a huge pile of batiks that need to be folded, sorted, and put away right now.

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Thanks for inviting me, Suze. It was fun!