Friday, January 05, 2007

Pile o' Possibilities or KISS

This pile of stuff is really just a glimpse of what I've been up to. The real problem for me is to pair things down or Kiss-Keep it simple, stupid. I have to keep reminding myself that it's only a 12 in. piece and I must think in the spare, Asian tradition of less means more.
In line with that notion, I got out a book of woodblock prints by Hiroshige. His 100 Views of Edo is very famous and when the plates are viewed individually what comes across most is the simplicity and deeper meaning of certain images. For any of you who are not familiar with these prints-Edo was the ancient name for the village where Tokyo stands today. As with all places depicted in ancient times-much is different. However, in Japan, the ancient is revered and kept sacred so there are many items within these views, such as bridges and temples and even prefectures that remain essentially the same. I decided that since I am using the shoe and bag theme in Japan, I would also incorporate the element of the seasons since they play a very important part in Asian culture. They provide a rhythm for celebration and honoring the families departed members as well as honoring the living. There are festivals for sending the souls on their way, and honoring ancestors by sweeping of the grave stones and placement of favorite foods for the departed spirits. There are children's festivals-boys day and girls day in late spring, I think. Some celebrate the full moon by having a festival for viewing it and the there are lantern festivals and a personal favorite of mine is the day in January when women have traditionally taken sewing needles and put them into large beeswax blocks in temples where they are blessed for the coming year. The sewing of Kimono in Japan is done by artists who are sometimes made official national treasures by the government. They are a dying breed as the money culture has taken young people away from traditional arts &crafts. Anyway, as you can imagine, there are so many things churning around in my head that I am tempted to use a line from Monty Python-"My brain hurts" So as hard as it is for me-I'll try to keep it simple because as it is in Asian culture...simple is what best illustrates something of dignified beauty. So for my first piece I plan to use "winter" as a theme as well and since I'm making four of these I'll go along with the seasons.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Create a Connection quiz, for DebR

DebR of Red Shoe Ramblings is a guest blogger on Create a Connection and asks us to do this quiz. Since I am a huge fan of Deb, here goes.........1. I have never wanted to- climb mountains. I've never understood why someone would need to put themselves in danger and subject their families to endless grief and loss, to get to the top of some rocks. Life is too short and precious.We need to see(really see) what is here on earth around us. and-gamble-I can't stand the thought of money down the toilet; but I've always thought I might like to _fly-before all the bad things happened in 2001,flying was the coolest thing ever.I loved every minute of it.
2. When I was _10_ years old, I believed _that God hated me.
3. If I was my own best friend, what I would enjoy the most about spending time with Me would be- I'm very adaptable, kind, and a great listener,sometimes too good; while what I'd find the most irritating would be -everthing I don't do that I should-I'm irritatingly easily distracted and that is the reason for the chaos that often accompanies me- and that I'm not much of a talker. I'm a student of human nature. I'd rather listen and people watch. I often think of social gatherings as theater.
4. If the story of my life up to this point was being published tomorrow, it would be titled "_Thanks for Giving Me Back My Life" and it would be dedicated to- My husband ,Roger & my son, James
5. When my time on Earth is over, and the people who loved me are remembering me, it would please me if they said- she was a great friend, a woman of faith, and boy was she smart.
Here's the Create a Connection site-scroll down a day or so since I'm late doing this.Sorry Deb.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

WIP Wed ... not & remembering Keiko

I wish I could show you all something more coherent and closer to looking finished but that would be a lie. I have several possibilities churning around and I just wish that it wasn't due on the 12th. Usually, Jan. is a month where I could unwind and do basically not a lot. This year, I have a number of pleasant and a couple of unpleasant things looming. It figures! That's just the way life goes. It goes into the same category of questions such as "why don't I make a Christmas quilt or decorations in July when nothing is going on?"It's just the universe laughing at us when we think things will be smooth sailing. Punishment for hubris? Whatever.
The little doll in the pic is a gift I received from a lovely Japanese girl who worked for the cosmetic company, Shiseido. Many centuries ago, when I was a young woman in the business, I had to arrange for the opening of their cosmetic line in a big department store here. The company sent 4 very young girls who spoke something resembling English to demonstrate their product. They really were so adorable. Keiko was the older of the bunch and probably 19 at the time. They all came dressed in Kimono and accessories, right down to their tabi socks and zori. I was enchanted. When I would drop them at their motel I had to allow extra time because they would bow and I would bow and they would bow and I would bow and...well...that would go on until I had backed out far enough to get in my car and leave. Very amusing and completely enchanting. As a parting thank you to me for the help-Keiko gave me this doll that she made. That was 36 years ago. This little doll normally resides with my Guan Yin and other Asian figurines.Whenever I see it I wonder what became of her. I think she was engaged to a guy from Canada. I was hoping for inspiration seeping through this well-made doll. My mind is cluttered with "have to do" & "should get done" and I'm just not thinking clearly.
The Mary Englebreit card is one I bought a while back and I'm showing it for Janet who also saves ephemera(crap) and makes me smile daily. Thanks Janet! Anyway, she was saying that she woke up thinking in a very positive manner about being creative from this day forward. I felt the same way the night of New Years Day. I thought, "tomorrow I will get up and begin a new and more creative life." I really couldn't wait to go to sleep so I could wake and get going. Life just gets in the way and I am unable to live with total chaos. Controlled chaos...that I can handle. I need to get out the dust cloths and super-sucker(electrolux) and a bit of lemon oil or I can't function. The grocery store is also a must since we are down to crackers and tuna. Lets not even talk about the laundry, O.K.? I need some clothes to wear to N.C. for Aunt Mattie's 90th. Unfortunately, I'm a "do one thing at a time and do it well" person so I'm not thriving in this climate of chaos. The point of this long and winding ramble is that I have nothing good to show for myself yet. I am fairly good in a crunch though so lets hope I can pull my tush out of the fire in the stretch. It could happen! Yeah! it could!!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

wrap it up, baby!

I must say, I'm so ready to put it all away. Next year I should give serious thought to how many lights get wound up into the tree since I nearly fell over from going round and round . Had I fallen it wuld have been one of those commercials-"help I've fallen and I can't get up"- only I would have been enrobed in tiny lights as well. While the tree is going up it seems like a good idea to load that sucker up...not so much when you're untwirling all the cords and such. Anyway it's a done deal! What I like best about the un-doing of Christmas is that everything looks so spacious and well...I hesitate to say it...but...neat. you in the back....stop that laughing immediately!
Here is a pic of the little Amish mini I finished for a friend. I have made a number of these and friends hint that they would appreciate having one. My only issue is not with making them but the black fabric. Oh! how hard it is on the eyes. I made aone for the wall in my home and I hand quilted it with black thread. Black on black..OMG I was like one of those little Italian Nuns who go blind from making hand sewn delicates for the rich women. I think I need one of those hilarious head lamps that Dorothy has-I'm not sure even that would help.
We had a really fun time New Years Eve. There were about 16 of us at the restaurant and then we went back to Joe&Jeri's house. There were cream puffs-nuff said! My son had a couple of friends over and they made themselves those puff canapes and had a bottleof champagne and some sparkling cider for the drivers. When we got home they were playing adults only Pictionary. It was very funny. I got "kinky sex" right and they all roared. Beneath the roar was that look they give older people like they can't believe you could know such a thing-pffft to them ! Kids always think their parents began life as such. Roger and I just look at each other and chuckle. How the hell do they think they got here anyway!
Well, I think I will say farewell now-I have the 12x12x4 thingy looming in a very small wondow of time before we have to go to N.C. for Aunt Mattie's 90th. I've never done one of these before and I'm hitting a brick wall. After I get done with the clean-up, I'll just dive in with both feet and hope something looks appealing enough to show you all. Adios too Roger!!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

All's well that ends well

Just a last post for the last day of the year. We are going out to dinner with friends at a very good local Italian place called Intermezzo. It's right around the corner and the food is outstanding. There will be about 15 of us. Should be fun. We go out early and the return to the same house where we had Christmas Eve, the famous Joe & Jeri's. It's like Ricks place in the movie Casablanca. To paraphrase-"Sooner or later everyone comes to Joe & Jeri's." We probably won't stay long since we have become old farts in the staying awake area. We are both so used to getting up at dawn that by 10 p.m. we are leaning sideways embarassingly. Even my son James and his girlfriend Dani are having a quiet night. He bought a bottle of champagne and some canapes to heat in the oven. We will probably come back early and crash their party. All of their friends are doing something else or have gone away for the holiday. I think they might be happy to see us.

Last night we saw Happy Feet- It was fun but I didn't like the way they did the ending. It seemed like they needed to put in something as filler and decided to use a rather serious subject to be solved by one little penguin. It just didn't feel right. I thought they should have kept it in the realm of a fantasy cartoon. Most of the movie was like a Busby Berkley musical and if you know who that is your as old as me. Then they switched to somber and dark. . Oh well, that's what makes a horse race. All kinds!

Here is a shot of a little chair my husband made for me and two little fishermen along with some of my chickens and a few of the books I have read recently and consider keepers. Big Calvin Trillin fan here I have all his books but "Dinner with Alice" is still one of my favs. His wife Alice passed away a few years ago. She was his somewhat reluctant travel companion and I wondered how he would fare without her. Now he gives great walking tours of obscure and undiscovered places to eat in Manhattan with fabulous food. There's a waiting list to get into a tour. I doubt many will get to go since Calvin is getting on and he only does it twice a year in the spring and fall. The novel "Distant Land of My Father" is one of my all-time favs. It's not new, a couple of years old but I rarely re-read too many things but this is one. Wonderful story.

Lastly-here is a shot of a couple of my husband's more precious toy trains. One is antique and the other is an exact replica of a New York Central train down to the sounds it can make. It's a Lionel and it was one of the first really expensive things Roger treated himself to when we were sort of financially better off.When was that?? Someday I'll take pics of all the trains, and there are many. Many. I enjoy seeing him delight in them the way he enjoys my delight in fabric and art so we work well together and isn't that just the best mix of all? Happy New Year to all of you wonderful people who have given me so much these past months and so generously. It means more than words can adequately express. Be well and warm and safe!