Monday, January 31, 2011

Union Terminal

Inside Union Terminal, built in 1933

During World War II, 20,000 rail passengers a day would come through the terminal. The terminal was built to accomodate 216 trains a day, and there is still one Amtrack train stop.

Soaring ceiling, 106 feet high -

And Art Deco.

I used to take my daughters to the Museum of Natural History when it was in another location and remember the cave as being pretty much like it is at Union Terminal. For some reason, I found it scary then, even as an adult. Not so today. Aaron loves it, Nora is still a bit reluctant.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Museum Center

To celebrate Helen's last day in town, Steph treated us to an afternoon at the Museum Center.

I hadn't seen Cincinnati in Motion before. It's a 1/64" scale model of Cincinnati from 1900 to 1940, complete with running trains, cars, and streetcars. Huge display. I'm definitely going back to just study on it. Just for fun, there were 12 little snowmen hidden here and there. I understand that the hidden objects change from time to time.

Nestled behind the display were tracks for kids to play with. The sign said that Thomas engines could be checked out - I didn't tell Aaron that or we could never have pulled him away. It was hard enough as it was.
Tomorrow I'll post a few pictures of the building itself, absolutely fabulous.
Back at Bridget's, we made dinner, including chicken nuggets shaped like snowmen and snowflakes for the kids. I wonder where Bridget finds these kid treats.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Everywhere

Steph and Nora at Perfect North in Indiana. Aaron was at school, not suspecting a thing about the fun he was missing.

Sarah always did manage to look happy as long as she was outdoors. There's snow in western North Carolina, too.
There was a tiny slope across the street from where my grandmother lived and I used to love sledding there. To me, that was the big stuff.
I was surprised when I moved to Kentucky to hear sledding referred to as "sleigh riding." To me, in my mind because I never actually did it, that was riding in the big wagon with runners pulled by a horse or two.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

White Today

The top picture is a broken angel yard ornament, the breakage story of which shall not be spoken. The picture is better than the ornament, anyway, since it had aged and needed to be replaced. The truth is, it was a little tacky anyway.

I enlarged the drawing for my homework quilt and sent it off last night. At first I was a little dismayed that the individual pieces seemed so large but maybe I've gotten used to that. I decided to make the cross the focal point and made it a little bigger.

Interesting from a Christian story perspective that there seems to be a dove with a leaf in the upper right and a whale tail right underneath it. Cross, dove, and whale were totally unplanned in the logical part of my brain. The double lines are those that seemed to me to float upward but I don't know why some seemed to and some didn't.

I hope the teacher likes this because I'm getting attached to it. I can't picture what kinds of fabrics or what colors I'd use, but the teacher says not to think about that, or the construction techniques, at this point.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Purple, Yum

A friend asked me to embroider some towels for his girlfriend - I think he's pretty smitten. He requested purple roses and script lettering with an outline color. It's a couple of weeks until Valentine's Day, but I knew he was eager to mail them off so they'd arrive on time. The dishtowel is a little bonus - I had to resize the designs and lettering and wanted to be sure they'd embroider out ok.

And more purple -

I need to hurry if I want to get any wear out of this scarf this winter. I got the luscious yarn at Knit On! in Newport in December. TOTALLY unlike me, I decided to go in and pick out any yarn I loved without looking at or asking about the price. I knew it could be price-y but decided that it was only one skein, how much could that be. Turned out that it was $30. Glad I didn't know ahead of time or I might have talked myself out of it.

I'm sure that people who knit all the time know all about this, but I was fascinated to watch the store person take the clump of yarn and wind it to make a pull skein. One of these days I'm going to take a knitting lesson or two. Scarves is about all I can do. I'm picturing granola-kid hats for the grandkids.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thin Mints Anyone?

I lifted this picture from Steph - sorry about the small size. It's worth being bigger because Nora is the sweetest little Daisy scout ever.
I remember selling cookies as a Girl Scout and as a Brownie. I wonder how much the cookies sold for then.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Journal Project

I love Quilting Arts Magazine and Cloth Paper Scissors and feel happy looking at the designs and the colors. I even enjoy the ads, in a dreaming sort of way, and like to see what's new and what other people are doing. Rarely, though, do I actually do any of the projects - the last time was several years ago and is one of my favorite little quilts. It took ages to do and involved the pieces sitting in a drawer for awhile (ok, a long while) until I knew how to assemble them in a way that would show them off.

A few days ago there was a post with a little gentle whining that I didn't feel especially creative. As a follow-up to that, I've added a new resolution to do something from one magazine or the other every month. It doesn't have to be a completed project, just enough to try something new.

For January, I decided on this little pocket journal from the latest Cloth Paper Scissors. I'm really drawn to the mixed media aspect of that magazine but almost always end up stitching on fabric.

The little journal is made from a file folder with various papers added and stitched. There are four little pockets inside for tucking notes or pictures or tickets, whatever.

Some of the inside papers I remembered buying at an art store in downtown Cincinnati. I think they are mulberry papers and very sheer and pretty. I did a little stamping inside and a little fusing. The paper on the cover is from an old calendar.
The finished result looks pretty rough to me, definitely beginner's work, but that's ok. The idea was to try something new, and I've done that. It turned my thoughts to journals, which I'm always drawn to. It made me think in different ways, and that's what I really wanted.
Note to self: use gel medium, not gesso, for collaging.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Never Worn Out

This morning I turned on my computer and saw that the temperature posted on the sidebar was 4 degrees. I felt very cold. Another glance later I saw that it's actually -4 degrees, and now I'm really cold.

One of my Christmas requests was a pair of red lined CROCS. Steph got me this beautiful pair in berry, since red was on back-order, better choice anyway. For a couple of weeks I stuck with my worn-out slippers but now the new CROCS are on my feet as soon as I get home.

I've been reading some posts about "saving things for good" instead of using them up, and I have to admit that's my first tendency. One writer mentioned a New Year's resolution of using up her art supplies. I'm not borrowing that resolution, but I am going to wear my pretty things and use my treasured supplies.

I wonder if somewhere there is a hypothetical pile of those things that were saved for good and never worn out.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Class Work

I picked up various items for my online class, but never thought to check my pencil supply. Pencils just grow in the desk, right? Or, maybe not. I did find this one, from last year's Mennonite Arts Weekend.

Mennonite Arts Weekend is every other year in January in Cincinnati, and last year the weather was just about like it is now. I missed the Friday night session because of the snow (and hated to miss any of it because it's all so good.) Saturday morning I went late and remember driving along the interstate and noticing all the cars that had been abandoned off the road.

We had to submit three class sketches, and this is one of mine. I don't know enough to know if this is my best or is even in the ballpark. I turned in two with this shape because it could also work for my quilt guild president's challenge.

The challenge is called Bare Naked Quilts because the quilt is to be a contemporary, using just fabric, thread, and batting. No beads, no angelina, no foil, no organza layer, none of that. It is to have three or more sides, each a different length.

Last year I made my challenge in the last week before the show, and I'd like to avoid that this year. I know I'll put lots of time in this class and would love combine class and challenge.

At least my goal is to put lots of time in this class. I have to admit that the last two classes I signed up for I did nothing except read the lessons. Not a total waste, because I have the lessons and when the time is right I'll get them out. I had good intentions, think that both times I thought I could "squeeze them in" because the class looked so good but found that there was no squeezing to be done.

This year one of my goals is to take classes and workshops (think I already mentioned that.) I want to learn new techniques, get better with my machine free motion too. I've stippled miles of stippling, and that's enough.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Latest Round

The latest round of snow has started - should I have made one last trip to the fabric store?

Luckily for me, this round of snow coincides with my weekly day off work and I can look out the window from time to time and keep the shoveling going in small increments. My truck can stay where it is.

Some resolutions are long-term, some are hard and need to be broken down into segments to make them happen. Others are long term but simple. I always try to include a few of those, as well as some that are simple and short term, easily completed and crossed off.

Burning a candle while I sew or do a project fits into the long term but simple category. I want the reminder that creativity is spiritual. (To make this happen, I need to add the short term and simple goal of stocking lots of matches - I do lots of sewing.)

Also in my studio, to listen to NPR. I was a journalism major, have always loved newspapers, and find their shrinking size, along with their rising cost, to form a void. I'm not a fan of tv news, enjoy a weekly news magazine but their lifestyle sections are quite small. And of course, there's no local news. So, my long term but simple resolution is NPR. Not all the time, since I love silence, but sometimes.

Last night on my way home I finally got tracing paper for my online class. I'd found it not easy to find and realized that surely the office supply store would have it. Now I can move ahead with my first lesson.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Going Backward

Sometimes when I don't know quite how to go forward, I look in my unfinished objects stash and go backward. These three heart blocks have been on my sewing table for at least a year, having been dug out of a box where they'd lived for many years before that. I don't know what I'd planned with them - potholders, maybe, since they had backing on them and one of them had a little quilting. Paper pieced, and I haven't done that for a long time.

To make it work, I sewed the blocks together wrong sides together and put the sashing over the seams. Pretty precise, and I'm thinking - yesterday at Hancock I got some red fabric stray paint for 80% off, left from Christmas. I could mask off the red areas and spray the white - maybe.

At any rate, this helps with my last year's goal, to decorate a little for the seasons. I have an after-Christmas sale red tablecloth to help out too, and a pretty glass heart on my desk. I can't find my list of last year's goals, but I do remember this one.

To give you an idea of how my mind words in January - this is the 18th, 28 days past the winter solstice. The last time we had this much daylight was around Thanksgiving. That "bowl" of darkness, the two months when the days are the shortest, is almost past.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Bridget

How nice of Bridget to have a January birthday to brighten a dreary month.
There was a mint chocolate cake, which Aaron declared to be too spicy. I thought it was delicious.

The kids love Bridget's husband Reza, who always has sugar cubes and nicely teases them, this time with a birthday candle.

Every bottle came out of the six-pack of Kentucky Ale, part of the present.

Aaron tickling Bridgie -

Happy birthday dear Bridget, Happy Birthday to you.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Snow Pillow

Not my sentiment, but this month's free Viking project is a fun one. Some embroidery on denim (done on a snowy day), a little software review to make the snowflakes, the narrow pieced piping. Not to mention the invisible zipper, always a good review for me.

I feel like I'm so boring in these early January days. Feel like I have little to say. Feel like I'm not creating. Perhaps I'm just taking in information, and that is as it should be. Perhaps I'm being a little lazy. Perhaps I'm not taking myself out enough. Perhaps I'm not looking around. Perhaps I'm focused on other things, like my new exercise program. Perhaps I'm forming my goals for the year. The wonderful thing about being 65 years old is knowing that this feeling will pass.

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Class

I'm looking forward to tonight when I start a new on-line quilt class. Lessons come once a week, in this case for four weeks. People in the class can communicate with each other and the instructor and pictures of completed work are available to everyone.

I've taken lots of classes that way and find that I enjoy the freedom to work throughout the week whenever I have time. I like that the classes are spread out and I can keep up (usually.) There are no weather-related worries about whether classes will need to be rescheduled.

I've been quiet about New Year's resolutions this year, but one of mine is to take lots of classes. I haven't taken any in the past couple of years and I've missed them. I plan to take both electronic and in-person classes, not all of them quilt classes. I feel like I'm not moving ahead like I'd like and want more skills.

The first lesson will come at 6 p.m. tonight and I'm excited.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Would She?

I needed something new to hang at church, since Advent is over. I was thinking in terms of blues or grays, which seemed to me to be January colors. With little time to ponder, I opened the cedar chest on Sunday morning and took out this quilt.

To be honest, I'm not sure of its origin. I need to check in with my Aunt Evelyn - I think she gave it to me, and I think my Great-Aunt Ella had made it, although the stitching is tinier than on her other quilts. I'd need my sister to help verify its age, but I'm guessing it was made around 1930 or 1940 and was used well. The fabric feels thin, but without rips and tears, and the binding is frayed.

I hesitated to machine baste a rod pocket on top. It didn't feel quite right to do that to an antique quilt. Then I considered that the quilt-maker was almost certainly Mennonite and would support my using it for worship.

Then my thinking went on and I realized that she would also think, "Why would she" if she knew I wanted to hang it in a church. In her mind, and in that time, I'm sure, a quilt was for a bed, not for a wall, and certainly wouldn't belong in a church.

Years have gone by and the universe has stepped in, and the quilt is now hanging and seems to me to be appropriate for January. The size is perfect. Time and fraying have contributed a softness. The mind can rest on it.

My thanks to the quiltmaker.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What Do You See?

So little snow, almost none, but it fell on Friday evening right at rush time, along with sleet. The roads quickly turned icy, which made for a long commute home.

My regular interstate was a parking lot and was eventually closed hours later so the salt trucks could go on and do their work. I decided to take the old road, Dixie Highway, into Covington and then cut east toward my house. Dixie Highway was constructed almost 100 years ago and I grew up a mile from it, many miles north. It goes on to Florida, but is no longer a continuous highway - it never was totally continuous but is much less so now. I lived only a block from Dixie Highway in Berea and in fact have never lived more than an hour from it except in my college days.

Traffic moved slowly as other people opted for that route to avoid the stalled interstates. In places it was very icy, especially on the downgrades going toward the river. I was talking to Steph on the phone, getting tired and nervous. I had an approximate idea where I was but without a reference to how much further there was to go.

She asked me "What do you see?" and I mentioned an apartment or condo area on my left when I looked up and could see the lights of Cincinnati, so close I couldn't believe my eyes. I figured that it was surely Mt. Adams (or if not I had a long climb up in front of me.) And from there it was a few blocks until the highway turned toward the left and I turned toward the right into Covington.

My planned turn-off was closed because there was a steep hill going down and I took the next one. Evenually I came to a street I recognized and I was soon driving past the basilica, always lighted and impressive and especially welcome on that night.

In retrospect, the chosen trip home was the right one. Traffic moved slowly but it did creep along. The skidding on the icy areas was no less than on other roads. People were polite and gave large spaces in areas where cars were skidding. I would have gained nothing at all by stopping for dinner in the hopes that traffic would clear up. The bridge going into my community was salted and open.

I'd like to think that this will be the last of the bad-weather commutes this winter, but it is, after all, only January 9.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

From Ariel

Yesterday I got a charming thank-you from my niece Ariel, with these words on the cover of the card: I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Thanks, Ariel, for the reminder.
I'm picking up in my office, where I find a piece of paper carefully cut with scissors (Aaron) and a discarded hole punch (Nora.) I'm thinking about how those two love to climb the stairs to the studio and office to what, for them, must be a kind of special place. The basket of scissors, including the amazing pinking shears. Markers. Bits of fabric. Pink erasers. A disappearing purple pen.
I always watch a little too carefully as little fingers explore my precious objects, but something in me realizes the importance of exploration and color in a sacred area. What really matters is the sense of creation for little ones. So, another resolution for the year: to have a special and large studio box just for them. Kid-designated adult supplies, the real things. Inexpensive pinking shears, lots of paper, fabric pieces with snowmen and tractors, those paper punches like scrapbookers use. Stamps, for sure. With a cleared off area close by where they can flop on their bellies and draw.
And one story: last time Aaron was here he plopped on my sewing machine chair, a tractor seat from IKEA, how could he not be drawn to that. He quickly studied the sewing machine and said, "How do you play this game?" and just as quickly managed to put his finger under the needle. The machine wasn't turned on, he must have positioned his finger just right under the needle point. There was much crying, as he tried to wiggle out the trapped finger, getting a fresh poke with each wiggle.
At some point in my yard sale shopping, I'm sure I'll find a sewing machine just for him and he'll learn that the sewing machine is his friend.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

In the Depth of Winter

In the depth of winter I finally learned
that within me lay an invincible summer. Albert Camus.

Krohn Conservatory, Christmas, 2010.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Not in My Plans

It really wasn't in my plans to take the tree down today. As late as last night, I was saying that I'd take the other decorations down but leave the tree up a couple more weeks. I love a Christmas tree, turn it on as soon as I come in the door, keep it lit all night.

But maybe tradition is too strong, or maybe it was time. I started with taking down the outside lights early this morning because it was wonderfully warm and therefore an opportune time. Later in the day the other decorations were packed away. Then I cleaned the attic storage area and ended up putting in the rest of the insulation there as well. Once again, it was a warm day and perfect for doing it.

Then the decorations could be put away and the totes that have been in my office went back into storage and the office grew a couple of sizes. The momentum just kept going and the tree came down. Now that it's done, I'm happy about it, glad to have the space back but missing the light and cheer.

Last night Steph and Mike and the kids stopped by on their way home from their Festival of Lights zoo trip. We had broccoli cheddar and vegetable beef soup, rolls, jam cake. The kids were happy. Bridget and Resa stopped by and we sampled Helen's apple pie moonshine. I was asleep well before the ball dropped. The best kind of New Year's Eve.

Happy New Year, everyone.