Saturday, October 27

Scary Stuff

Now THIS is scary! 14EA6F97-188B-3B72-2E2BBFF5E667987A

Big golf game tomorrow—I’m going out to clean my clubs and bag after I finish this. The Nick Tournament course, which is the course I live on, opened yesterday and we’re going to play it tomorrow. It is a monster of a course and we won’t able to drive on the grass, so there will be a lot of extra walking and climbing up and down over hill and dale, which will really test my hips and my endurance. Hopefully I’ll stay out of the sand traps, that will help. No, I don’t have to swim over to that green. But I have to lay up just right and hit to it, and not go long over the back to those huge sand traps. Just looking at it is enough to make me tremble in my saddle oxfords. Don’t look, don’t look. 

I bought two pieces of luggage—I am thrilled. I have increased my carryon capacity 3X and I have four wheels instead of two. Can’t wait to go on the next trip…which is in a couple of weeks.

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I’m ashamed to say how much the two pieces cost. We went to a proper luggage store and I took into consideration the “value” brands, but this was JUST RIGHT. Next week, after JJ gets over sticker shock, we’re going back for a large piece for him. His bag didn’t hold up as well as mine even though they are the same brand and have been on the same number of trips.

IMG_7791I’ve been drawing zebras. What I learned in the process is that no two zebras look alike, and the stripes are symmetrical—same on both sides. I guess that makes good sense. In Africa I was told that zebras are striped black ‘n white because lions don’t see color and thus don’t see the zebras. But Wikipedia says the stripes evolved to keep biting flies away. As I drew the stripes they reminded me of a clownfish. So I might color them orange and periwinkle.

Have you ever heard of MSM? DD Michelle, who is on a health-nut kick, learned about it from her nutritionist and recommended it to me for joint pain (my poor, tired, put-upon hips). It is also supposed to help migraines, plus a slew of other ills that didn’t apply to me. I’m here to report that IT WORKS! My joint pain has gone from about a 7 to a 2, and my flexibility has increased to the point where I can actually stretch. I’m overjoyed. I can’t say for the migraines yet. I haven’t had one since I started taking it, but it’s not uncommon for me to go three weeks without one. Dare I get my hopes up?

Wednesday, October 24

Tis the Season (Already?)

Have you noticed that the stores have their Christmas stuff out already? Did you cringe and say “Holy fruitcake! It’s not even Halloween yet! What are they thinking!”

This year I have come to realize that there are legions of people who actually NEED to get Christmas going early and appreciate this folly.

Having shared this revelation, I am shopping for giftwrap and cards already. True. We are leaving on yet another sojourn in three weeks and I have to have everything thought out, bought (or made), boxed (that’s a problem), gift-wrapped, ribboned, packaged up, and taken to the post office by November 13.

Here are the quilts I made for some lucky family members:

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You can’t tell from the photo, but it is roughly queen size. My son is a big, strapping fireman and needs a big quilt. He’s into sailing and all the motifs are nautical.

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This one is for 4 year old Savannah. It’s reversible. The motif is fairies and it has sparkles. Savannah definitely digs fairies.

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Saturday, October 20

No Apologies

Dear Diary~~

While looking for an old photo today, I realized that I have been blogging for a long time. I started Rian’s Pages in 2005 to chronicle my quilts, share my work with other quilters and maybe offer some tips, and share techniques. In the seven years I have lorded over this domain, I have posted several thousand pictures, told many stories, made a few quilts, shared some techniques and recipes, collaborated on a quilt or two, swapped fabric, and, perhaps most importantly, made some new friends.

The blog has become more than a chronicle of my quilts, it’s a chronicle of my life. In addition to the quilting content, it shows that I moved a few times, nursed a sick husband for a few years, threw a bunch of dinner parties and brunches, joined a few golf clubs and played a few hundred rounds of golf, traveled to foreign lands several times and put on a few pounds, bought a motorhome, rediscovered photography, took a million photos, wrote a couple books (unpublished), suffered through countless migraines, and made a lot of friends online. And over the years I’ve shared triumphs and sorrows with those friends.

I don’t blog as much as I used to, partly because Facebook came along, and partly because I don’t make as many quilts as I used to. But I like to write just for the sake of writing, and, as I discovered today, looking back through my pages sheds a lot of insight as to what’s gone down in X amount of years and how I felt about it at the time. Memories are rekindled that may have otherwise faded. I see pictures of places I’ve visited and remember the awe-inspiring beauty of those lands. I see pictures of Riley and my heart fills with dog-love all over again. I see pictures of my kids and grandkids and I am transported back to the times we spent together. I see pictures of my friends from the central coast and I am reminded of how wonderful people are. I am reminded of the fun, exciting life Jim and I have had. It’s like counting blessings.

I don’t read as many blogs as I used to either, and I don’t get as many visitors to mine…partly because the posts are fewer, and people’s lives get busier and busier. Nobody wants to read through all the minutae. I think that’s why Facebook and other social media are so popular—it’s like blogging lite and so easy to check in with your smartphone. Click, click, done.

But blogging has character and substance that Facebook doesn’t have. It’s real writing. Paragraphs. Trains of thought that have to flow in context. It requires focus, something we humans seem to be lacking more and more. And it requires time, another thing we have less of.

With Facebook, you upload or “share” a picture and write six words. And people can “Like” it with a single click. Sometimes a few words of comment are supplied. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It has its place. It is much easier to keep up with family when traveling, that’s for sure. Uploading pictures to a blog is a frustrating experience with slow (and expensive) wifi at sea. Facebook is much easier. And birthday wishes are a click away.

So let’s have a picture today.

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You obviously know this is the view from my back yard. They have just changed out the summer grass for winter grass and the golf course has not yet opened for the season. It’s brand-new, virgin winter grass. The sun was just about to go behind the mountain and the shadows are long and the colors saturated.

Today my house is being cleaned (goodbye spiderwebs) while JJ and I are loafing in the casita. He’s watching football and I’m talking to you. Pictures of zebras are spread out and after I shut down I’m going to work up some drawings.

Saturday, October 13

Summer is Over!

Fall is in the air—it dropped to 77 degrees (high) this week. It’s glorious! We can sleep with the windows open, we can go for a mid-morning walk, and we’re back to saying every day how beautiful it is here. Another indicator was that the parking lot at the supermarket was full today. It’s like night and day. Reservations are now needed at restaurants and there are no more early dinner specials.

And golf season is upon us—yippee! It’s not official until November, and most of the courses around the desert are still closed for overseeding, but we have begun playing. We tee it up really early, just as the sun is coming up and casting pink shadows on the mountains. There is a chill in the clear desert air and stars are still visible in the sky. We have to wear our fleece for the first few holes and the ol’ joints are rusty and stiff, oh but it feels so good to be out there. There is nothing like standing on a fairway in the first light of day, feeling the club slide through the soft green grass, and hearing that perfect “thwack” as the club connects with the ball in the sweet spot…and your ball doesn’t go in the water on the right. Thank you, golf gods.

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Activity has begun to stir in the studio, too. I got everything all cleaned up, got rid of the spideys, bought some fabric, and started some drawings. Nothing to show yet, but the gears are starting to turn. Ideas are perking and the antennae are up.

Jim’s shoulder surgery went better than expected and he’s already out of the sling and should be doing dishes soon. The sheets and towels from the summer guests have been laundered and put away, and all is well.

Tuesday, October 9

Hey, Remember Me?

Hi, we are back from Europe. I’ve been busy unpacking and putting the house back in order. Daughter Michelle and grand Savannah were here (we’re talking early August) and we all took the motorhome to the beach for a month. We left for Europe only a few days after we returned, so even the sheets and towels haven’t been laundered in the guest room and the studio still has fabric scraps on the floor from the last two quilts. That’s how far behind I am. 

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In La Rochelle, France.

Spiders and other tiny things took up residence in the nooks and crannies of our house while we were gone. But that’s life in the desert in an empty dwelling. I need to have the ladies in to clean but first I have to put everything away so they can. 

Crazy me, I played golf the day before we left. There was a break in the searing hot weather and it felt so good to get out there—it was a glorious day and I hadn’t played in a long while, and it would be another month before I would play again. Happy, happy. Well, wouldn’t you know it, I pulled a hamstring taking my ball out of the cup on the second hole and by the end of the front nine I felt it was best to quit, given that we were leaving the next day.

The hamstring was a minor nuisance, and just about the time it had quieted down I took a header in the bathroom on the ship. I was hurrying and I tripped on the little threshold and went flying across the tiny bathroom. I landed safely, but on the slide into home plate I tore something in my left butt. Ouch! I was okay on walking on flat ground, but any ramps, stairs, curbs, etc were killer. And there are tons of all those to navigate getting on and off a ship and in port. You don’t realize it when all your parts are in working order.

I played golf a couple days ago on an executive course—I never turn down an invitation to play—and by the end of the round it felt the best it had felt in weeks. More proof that golf fixes everything.

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Gibraltar—a colony of monkeys lives on the rock.

Today I am taking Jim in to get his rotator cuff repaired. We think he tore it hefting luggage in Africa a year ago. It has bothered him ever since and he wanted to get it repaired before it tore any further. It’s outpatient surgery and he’ll be in a sling for several weeks and won’t be able to do much. He helps a lot around the house so it will be tough. 

Okay, so what was the highlight of my trip? This.

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It’s the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain.

I have wanted to see this structure ever since I first saw it in National Geographic over ten years ago. Unfortunately it was rainy and gloomy that day, but I got to see it and touch it (it’s made out of titanium) and go inside. Bilbao is kind of off the beaten tourist path—it’s up  on the top of Spain.

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I also dug the London Eye. When we disembarked, the setting sun cast the most beautiful light on the Parliament buildings. Please click to embiggen.

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Well, that’s the news. I’ve got all my pictures up HERE should you want to take a look, but I’ve been told there’s a problem with the link—but I think I've fixed it—so let me know if you can’t go there.

I am itching to get into the studio—I have ideas.

Wednesday, October 3

Arrivaderci, Italia!

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I finally have free, fast internet. Yay! We had internet at the villa, but it was about as slow as dial-up, so I couldn’t upload pictures to the blog, only Facebook. On the ship they charged by the minute ($1 per!) and it was even slower.

We are camped out in the airport motel in Milan, Italy. We could take the train into the city and see the Duomo or something, our flight isn’t until tomorrow morning, but we are frazzled from the drive in and all we want to do is laze about and watch TV. Yay, TV! News! And for lunch there was a salad bar. OMG I scarfed salad like never before. Greens! Veggies! Yumyumyumyumyum!

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Driving on the Autostrada this morning was stressful. Driving east into the sun we missed the turn to go north toward the airport—we were passing a truck just as the exit sign went by….they don’t give you much warning—so we had to wing it by the map and without our host Tim’s personalized directions. It’s not like you can turn around, and the maze of roads on the map looked like a plate of spaghetti, plus it was morning rush hour and the names are impossible. Try saying Abbiategrasso d’Villavesco before you’ve passed it.  But eventually we found the airport and we returned the car with one minute to spare and not a scratch on it, and we are comfortably ensconced in our room near the airport with full bellies and a bottle of Tim’s homemade wine.

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The roads in Italy are great, and the Italians are excellent drivers and have beautiful cars. But they like to go fast and they come right up behind you so they can whip around and zoom past you at the first opportunity. You can’t tarry! It’s actually easy to make your way around in Italy, you have only to know your destination and you follow the signs toward it.

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Picture stolen from the internet. We are farther north than this.

I don’t know how the Italians stay so thin. They are slim and sleek like a greyhound dog. They don’t walk everywhere like in some other countries, they drive (or ride those omnipresent Vespas), so it must be genes. They eat huge meals with pasta, desserts, and espresso with sugar, and wine with every meal. Maybe it’s nicotine—they smoke a ton. There are even cigarette machines on the street (next to the condom machines), and cigarette butts are everywhere.

We looked up American Airlines online because of the recent news about layoffs and canceled flights etc, and we were reading about some of the shenanigans AA has been pulling—and I am convinced our cancelled outbound flight was because of that. Doesn’t it seem strange to cancel a flight because a little red light in the back of the plane (in the galley) won’t go out? And the fact that they unceremoniously dumped us into the terminal with no apology at 4 AM. And  then they put us up in a hotel on the lower west side of Manhattan and never called with the arrangements. If you know anything about NYC and JFK, that’s about as far away as you can get. There are hundreds of hotels closer to the airport. I was going to write a scathing letter to AA when I got home…now I think that’ll be a waste of time.

So that’s it until we get home tomorrow afternoon. Wish I could click my heels together three times and be there already.

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