rocket tracking


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thinking about Raising Girls

The last few days have been spent working hard on a small quilt which hasn't behaving, doing household chores, trying to divest myself of things by selling them on eBay and just the general business of living.

Earlier this week, a high school classmate of mine IM'd me on Facebook to tell me about a woman who had been a friend but who had been a year behind us. Unfortunately, the news was not good.

Beth Barton had been sweet, caring young woman who was very good friends with the younger sister of one of my close friends. She had struggled through Track, done well in school and just was an all around nice person. I think she took Advanced Biology with me, and a few other classes.

When she graduated, she went on to nursing school and became a traveling nurse. She loved to see new places and continued to help people. On January 22nd, she committed suicide.

I called my friend's sister who also lives in Ohio, but not near me, to let her know. She had known, but sort of filled me in on some other things. Beth had struggled with depression. She also seemed to regret that she had never married and my friend said that sometimes she seemed to have a hard time with the fact that my friend had children and was married, and Beth did not. In addition, a few years ago, one of Beth's brothers had died. She had been devastated.

My friend had suggested that probably part of her inability to form lasting relationships is that she moved a lot, both with her position and also as to where she lived. Certainly, her career choice would not have been one which would allow one to put down roots.

But this also got me to thinking about something else. When we were growing up, it was a given that little girls would grow up, get married and have children of their own. While even as a child I recognized that not every one would marry, or that everyone could have children, this was still the norm.

I know that when I was in my 20s, when everyone else was getting married, I still wasn't dating anyone. When one is the sole employee where most of the members of the institution are older, you don't get a chance to meet other younger people or potential mates. I didn't meet my own husband until I was 26, and I got married at age 30. I remember being a bit miffed at my sister who called me "her career girl sister." It seemed somewhat lonely.

I think that perhaps we don't raise girls with this in mind anymore. At least I don't think I have ever held it up to my daughter "when you get married." I don't recall doing so at any rate. I must admit that there have been a few times when I have almost said "Just wait until you have kids of your own!" But I have restrained myself. I must admit, there is a little part of me which is just vindictive enough to be unhappy at the prospect of my daughter not having children because I want her to know what it is like to be the mother of a teenager.

I wonder if things would have been different for Beth if we hadn't had this expectation of what life is supposed to be like. I also wish that she could have gotten the help she needed. Mental illness still is not treated enough (what other disease or chemical imbalance is shrugged off and the person is supposed to be able to pull oneself out of the darkness???), accepted socially (although it is getting better), or I even think understood enough.

I do know that the world will be even a little less kind without Beth in it. I hope that she has finally found the peace that she longed for while here. I wished I could have let her know what I thought about her while she was alive.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thinking & working

I've been madly working on my Fast Friday Challenge....and taking care of the in our furnace fritzed out last night and we woke up to 57 degree house....which is a testament to the insulation of this house. If we were still in Connecticut in our 1941 vintage house I'm sure we would have been much colder. So...I've been researching furnaces in order to try to figure out if we should replace this one or just the it is 20 years old.

I've also been trying to heave things out. Move them along. Simplify. All the while, I've been thinking of three series I want to do....hmmm.... I need this Buddha to give me the tranquility to get it all done....or be happy with what I do and don't get done.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Birds of Different feathers

Ok...Only one person guessed....Shady (aka Mark) guessed a fish...which is amusing because he's a birder. No, my "Inner Animal" was a DOMESTIC turkey. For anyone who knows me, they know the struggle I have with piles of paper, keeping things neat and tidy and balancing working in the garden or quilting with HOUSEHOLD TASKS. Except cooking. But even that sometimes becomes a chore.

When I quilt, I use a lot of texture. The feathers are layers of organza and other sheers fused together to give some body. The area behind the bird's head is a damask which I heavily quilted to make it look "feathery."

His wattle and the area around the eye is Tyvek which I painted with acrylic pain and then distressed with heat. I stitched it on, and with the area in the head, I then used some decorative stitches which I free motioned on. His eye is a hematite bead.

I didn't quite get his ear in the right spot...I forgot to make my usual acetate or vinyl overlay for placement and I was guessing.

My inner animal wasn't selected for Quilting Arts Magazine, but that's ok as he was really fun to make and I knew that I wanted to work on this when I snapped his picture. Incidently, I found that the tom turkeys at the fair were difficult to photograph as they were constantly flicking their wattles out of the way. I didn't want to use a flash on them as I knew it would frighten if I showed you the picture I used for this, you'd be amused. It is as blurry as all get out!

On Saturday, we had another visitor to my garden. I feed the birds and of course that means that my garden is a smorgasbord for all sorts of hawks. I don't mind, although sometimes it is a rather grisly scene, because hawks have to eat too and they don't kill for fun.

I believe that this is a female sharp shinned hawk. We have a Cooper's hawk around here too, but based on the size I think this is a sharpie. They predominently eat rodents and it was amusing to see this one cock her head and look at the ground.

Meanwhile, in the spruce trees on the edge of my property (of course they belong to the neighbors) the chickdees were showing their anger at the sharpie sitting on their fence and not allowing them to eat their thistle seed and black oil sunflower seeds.

Here is her back side. Given the amount of white, it may be an immature female.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Little Quilts lotta time!

Wow. Yesterday and today, I spent most of my time working on finishing up my entry for Quilting Art's Inner Animal Challenge. It is due today. Figures. The challenge was to make an 8 1/2" x 11" representation of "our inner animal." The beginning of the call to enter was "show your wild side." HAH! Another part of it suggested that we do something that represented what animal we thought of ourselves as or an animal that others thought we resembled.

I'm a little unhappy with it...but it is a little neat too. Basically, I wanted to work with the photo I had taken last summer.

I don't know if I can show you the whole thing, but I thought it would be fun if you could see this little bit and take guesses at what it is.

If I have already told you what I was doing...then you're disqualified. :) I can't believe it, but I spent over 24 hours working on this little page-sized piece. So, lets hear what you have to think about what it is.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


For the last couple of days, I have been feeling what I term "psychically bruised." I was concerned about my daughter's car accident as the fellow she hit said some very peculiar things which set off all sorts of alarms. I found myself feeling drained.

If you read my previous post and looked at the damage inflicted by this accident, you will probably think that I am over blowing things. How could anything come of such minor damage? Indeed, the back bumper on our van has deeper scratches caused by when my husband forgot the 626 was parked behind the van (something I had warned him about as the van was the mom-mobile before it became the rolling wardrobe for my daughter) and he backed into it from a dead stop.

My reading of such things is rarely off however and on Monday I got a call from the insurance company saying that the guy was putting in a personal injury claim. I told the insurance company the entire story, including how he didn't go to the hospital right afterward, but took his van in for it's lube appointment after the police left. They are doing an investigation.

How could this possibly go wrong? Well, here's the story I keep on thinking about. A friend of mine who was in her 70s at the time was indicating a turn into her driveway, but swung a little to the left in order to negotiate the entrance. The guy behind her wasn't happy that she was slowing down and decided to pass her on the right (this was in Connecticut ). He went up over the curb and my friend actually hit him in her driveway. The fellow was cited for failure to control his vehicle.

However, he took her to court for damages. Since it was in Civil court, they didn't allow the ticket to be brought up, nor what he had been charged with. The Insurance Company appeared on my friend's side because she was in the right. They lost. The man was awarded damages. We decided that my friend was convicted of driving with white hair.

So, things can go terribly wrong and my daughter can be convicted of driving while being a teenager. My insurance rates are obviously going to go up and I am concerned that he will come after more.

This caused me to wonder why there was such a black cloud over my family. I had knocked my teeth out as a 12 year old and have had to deal with that, and the cancer and.. and.... Yes. I was having a pity party all for me.

I indulged myself in this only for a bit as I realized that I wasn't trapped under concrete in Haiti, I had food and water and none of my family or friends had died or were injured. I was angry though that people such as the guy my daughter hit could be so nasty and dishonest. I try to live my life in a way that I can be proud of, to think of others and to always be honest. I can often be frustrated that the world doesn't spin in the way I think it should.

Haiti is also on my mind. I am going to go down and make a donation to the Methodist Relief fund as 100% of the donations go to the aid. Nothing is siphoned off for administrative costs. My niece is going to go down as a volunteer at some later date. I must admit that it was all I could do to keep my mouth shut when my daughter made plans to get a spray tan before she went to the formal on Saturday night. I almost said "why don't you give the money for Haiti's relief instead? You don't really need to spend that $25 in that way."

But she is a teenager. One who cried when my mother-in-law told her the story of my husband asking for some soda in the airport in Boston in 1967 because he was thirsty. She couldn't give it to him as they had next to no money. Everything had been left behind in Cuba and life for their family was precarious until if and/or when my husband's father would be released from the Cuban government to join them. She is still too self-centered to understand the silliness of having her skin artificially darkened when so much else could be done with that money. It's not my money. She worked for it and she can spend it how she wishes no matter how frivolous I might think it is.

At one of my quilting groups the other day one of the quilters mentioned that she couldn't figure out why the buildings weren't built to sustain earthquake damage. I answered that making rules and regulations for building structures to be earthquake resistant is dependent upon having someone write the codes and enforcing them. This requires a strong government and one which isn't corrupted in such a way that one can bribe their way out of compliance, something which Haiti hasn't had. Building structures to be earthquake reisistant is also expensive. You need the re-inforcing materials as well as concrete factories to make the materials to put in deep footings, something I understand the country was lacking. The degree of poverty that these people have suffered for years is beyond the understanding of most Americans.

I also watched the Today Show today where the parents of the missing Lynn University students were on. One of them was blaming the U.S. government for not going in and digging their students out.

While I understand this was his grief and mental anguish talking, I also felt it was a case where we cannot really grasp the difficulties involved in this project. We cannot go in and overrun a country with our military in the name of helping. We have to work with the government of Haiti no matter what we might think is the "correct" way of doing things.

The infrastructure, i.e. good roads, ports, and accessibility, was lacking before the earthquake. Now, it is non-existent. I would imagine that back-hoes and bulldozers are in short supply as well. Surely there weren't a lot of them in Haiti before (as again, they are expensive), and I would imagine that some of the ones which were there were damaged.

While we look in frustration as the airplanes carrying support are turned away, we must remember that the airport, even when it hadn't been damaged, was only built for 2 - 3 flights coming in and out per day.

I'm not saying that more can't be done. I'm not saying that more shouldn't be done. Even though time is running out, we must be somewhat patient in our wishes to see things accomplished yet impatient in our financial response. After all, Haiti was one of the poorest, if not the poorest country in the Americas for many years before this happened and we as a country weren't doing much. I applaud all of the religious groups who have done relief. I must say that I am more than a little proud of the amount of aid which Ohio has given over the years. I hope that this aid can be strengthened and will continue for months afterward. While we have made a large contribution now, more will be needed later.

For ideas on where to donate or how to make a difference:

Friday, January 15, 2010


Today I shipped my Great Blue Heron off to the Quilting Natural Florida II show in the Florida Natural History Museum in Gainesville. It will be on display there February 6 through April 25, 2010.

At left is my 11.5" x 11.5" quilt entitled "Rocky." I did this for the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network's challenge with the theme "chocolate. " Rocky is my brother's chocolate lab and here he is snorking along the banks of Cut Bank Creek.

Here's the original photo. I was standing on the bank about 10 feet above Rocky. I had to take some artistic license as you can see that the only indication that it is a creek is the riffles in the water in the center of the photo. Since the water is so clear, you can't really tell if you didn't know. In fact, my friends were commenting on that....Chris said that she thought the water should be at the bottom because otherwise the rocks were falling on Rocky's head. It wouldn't hurt him as they are painted Tyvek.

The water in the quilt itself is various layers of different sheers. You can actually see the bottom fabric in through the water. The grasses are different specialty yarns and two fringed trims.

This is a detail of a quilt I did for the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge. Information on how I actually did it is here. The challenge guidelines were to do a still life with a plant using packaging as an inspiration and color scheme.

The plant is a money plant, also called honesty (Lunaria annua) and the packaging was taken from a perfume offered in Anthropologie.

Here's the overall.

Another piece I did for the FFFC is this one. I meant it to be fun and funky.... It is a quilted rendition of cellular junction (a connection between cells, usually skin cells.).

While I was working on this and another for the microscopy challenge one of my co-quilters in the local Batty Binder's guild said "Is this supposed to be fun?" The answer for me is yes.

I do challenges because I think they make me go outside of what I usually do, or think about things in a different way. They also give me deadlines without which I am afraid I would produce very little in deed.

In fact, I joined the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge to see if I could get over my tendency to over think things.....So far, it isn't working well, except for the microscopy one...But, I'll just start whacking away at them and get it so it is very quick.

So...this is fun for me.

What isn't fun is another challenge I had to face today. Just as I was sitting down to write this, I got a call from my teenaged daughter. "Mom, I sort of rear ended a guy." I told her to sit tight and I'd be right there.

When I got there, there was already a police officer there. I was a little mystified though as I looked at the rear of the silver van she hit with our silver van.

I always carry a camera with me, usually for quilting notes, but in this case I'm glad I do...much better than a cell phone camera in my mind.

Can you see the damage? The blue marks are the transfers from our license plate to the bumper of the car she hit. There weren't really scratches, just the color transfer. He said that he thought she was on the cell phone until he realized that she had to get it out of her purse and turn it on to call me (talking on the cellphone while driving is a big no-no to me).

It's really too bad. While the guy said he wasn't hurt to the officer in the beginning at the end, he said he was going to drive over to the hospital and get checked out because he had a headache. However, he refused to be checked out on the spot or to be driven over. Of course, alarm bells are ringing all over the place for me.

She will have to go to court and will probably love her license for a while as she's almost 17 and hasn't had her license for a year yet. I am going to make her pay for the traffic ticket and any increase in the insurance. The Police officer was apologetic that he had to turn it in as he was sort of mystified at the damage as well.

I count is as a good learning experience for my daughter as I have gotten after her for not slowing down before she needs to. She tends to rely on her brakes too much. I'm grateful that she wasn't hurt...and that the guy didn't appear to be hurt (although he did show me his broken fingernail which broke on the coffee cup he was holding). Still....this is a challenge I'd rather not do.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Winter Chill

I've been working on the silly I'm just going to share some more photos I took on Sunday.

There's something about these arborvitae soldiers standing at attention at the back of our property. While I don't as a general rule like arborvitae, I do like their contrast. Every morning I look at them out my bathroom window, my silent sentinels of the back yard.

Pannicles from the Panicum "Dallas Blues." I have this one, and Panicum virgatum "Heavy Metal." Dallas Blues has a redder color once it has dried.

Again, I should have cut down the sunflowers...but I kind of like how these look. Once we get some warm weather and I have the time, I'll go out and cut them down. I'll chop up the stalks and put it in the compost.

And to leave things on a warm note...some more Chilhuly for Vivien.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


This weekend is Troy High School's Midwinter dance. While it is a formal, the tradition is that is it sort of a Sadie Hawkin's dance...the girl's ask the guy to go with them.

My daughter said that they all try to do it creatively. Here's how she asked the original guy. She baked little cupcakes and frosted them with her trademark home-made chocolate frosting. She picked out the sugar decorations to spell out "Midwinter?" She handed the plate to the guy in order to ask him.

We purchased a deeply discounted formal last year in her favorite color. The only problem was that although it was marked a size 7 (and she is a 6), it is more like a 10. I have had to take it in 2" on the sides and 1 1/2" off the strap length. I'll also have to shorten it. The issue is that it is fully lined. I've been ripping and re-sewing and struggling. The correct thing to do would be to take the whole thing apart, take in the side seams and cut the underarms deeper and then put a new zipper in it as I am sure it wouldn't survive it. Only I really don't want to do this. So...I just decided to take the coward's way out and I just basted it...right through the lining. She'll never wear it again, and at this point since I only have $30 into it, that's how I'm going to do it.

It's hard to believe it is really almost midwinter, but the thermometer tells us it is. It has been in the teens during the daytime. This is still last weekend at the Franklin Park conservatory. I don't think this is actually a Chilhuly, but merely a garden ornment. I might be wrong. It is in the little area which is usually filled with plant material in the summer time. You can't get in there at the moment as all the doors are shut.

This snow covered ball, however, is a Chilhuly.

When we woke up this morning, the world was covered in hoar frost. It was gorgeous. Our neighbor called at 8:00 to make sure we were up and had taken notice.

Even though it was 10 degrees, while Carlos went to church, I went outside and started taking photographs. I must say that the camera began to balk a little.

This is my neighbor's blue spruce which now has frosting.

I thought my sedums had a really cool look. I look around at my yard with all the plants other folks quickly cut down in the fall, but I leave up for winter interest and am satisfied that although I'll have a ton of work to do in the spring, indeed as soon as it warms enough that I can do some of it, I still have the better part of interesting things to look at.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More from the Columbus Art Museum

I guess once a museum professional, always a museum professional. I was impressed by the Columbus Art Museum's children's/interactive gallery. But then, I was also impressed by the Dayton Art Museum's as well. It seems that here in Ohio there is some attention paid to having people experience art, not just "find the bird" activity sheets, although they have those too if you want them.

Here you see the gallery set up with tables and seating. The tables hold various activities for you to work with.

A Georgia O'Keefe painting of leaves might inspire you.

Here's Middleton Manigalt's "The Zoo (Menagerie in Central Park)" an oil on canvas dating from 1911. I enjoyed this as I have been here several times and the colors and movement is wonderful.

Not far away is a table with small pieces of paper and colored pencils for you to make your own drawings of zoo animals. You drop them in a little collection box made plexi-glass and some of them are put up.

Here you can see some of the examples of visitor's work.

Not far from the Georgia O'Keefe is a table with this wonderfully shaped blocks for you to make constructions. I was really taken with them and think I should put them on my Christmas list for next year. I can see all sorts of applications for this with quilting.

I was also having fun looking at the shadows that the Chilhuly chandeliers cast on the walls.

Downstairs were two of the Chilhuly neon works. I love the blue violet dance that they did.

I have to show you this installation in the Koi pond at the Franklin Conservatory...home to the fattest, most sluggish koi I have ever seen in my life.

I love the shapes of the staghorn fern fronds. I think that these very easily could be Dale Chilhuly's inspiration for some of his glass chandeliers.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chilhuly Columbus: Columbus Art Museum

The next stop for us, and I recommend that you do it in this order as well was the Columbus Art Museum. I make this suggestion because if you go to the Franklin Park Conservatory first you can get $2.00 per person tickets to the Art Museum.

Much of the Art Museum is closed as it is undergoing renovations. As I have managed to go through two museum renovations in my career, I really feel for the staff. While much of the permanent exhibitions were closed, the Chilhuly exhibition was wonderful. I also have to applaud them for coming up with great interactive elements to the exhibition and a fantastic children's area. More on that tomorrow.

This is the entrance to the exhibition. With its subtle color palette it hardly prepares you for the riot of what is to come.

For me, the most magnificent part of the installation was the Mille flore garden. No matter how many times you walked around it, you saw new things, wonderful angles and much more to appreciate the combination of color and form.

The room was completely darkened with the light focusing on the works....absolutely stunning!

I think I could have shot photographs of this all day. Hats off to Dale Chiluly and his team and the Art Museum for this installation.

One of the fun things about this portion was that they had "Glo Pads" for the visitors to sketch out what they saw, or outline the various shapes and the interplay as they looked through the pad.

A Glo Pad is basically a hi-tech etchasketch in a way. The frame has lights in the sides and there are two sheets of some plastic film. A stylus transfers the shape on to the film. You can see the mysterious green glow in the back in this photo. The two squares and people using the Glo-pads to experience the installation.

Several of Chilhuily's chandeliers are also included in the exhibition.

Here, you can see some of Dale Chihuly's Native American Trade Blanket collection. Some of his blankets inspired glass interpretations. This style of his work and his collection were previously highlighted at Lowell, Massachusetts in the Textile Museum. I saw it there years ago and was impressed.

Happily for me, the Art Museum included examples of his Native American basket collection. You can see the baskets with the glassworks inspired by the artifacts next to them. I love how the glass has the organic shapes which the grass baskets take on over time.

Many of Chilhuly's sketches--paintings really -- which lay out areas he wants to work with were also on exhibiton.

Not to worry, while it looks like the woman is touching the images, she is standing about three feet away. I watched them for a while as this couple really were interacting with the exhibition and as a former curator, it did my heart good.

More tomorrow....

Monday, January 4, 2010

Franklin Park Conservatory Chilhuly Exhibition part II

Cobalt blue is one of my favorite colors....and several pieces in the show are in this wonderful color. At left is a detail of the larger installation seen below. Arranged in a boat, it almost vibrates with energy.

One of the fun things about this is that they have a children's area where there is a wooden boat with holes in the front. Children can take plastic blown shapes similar to the ones used in Chilhuly's work and arrange it in the "boat." Or they can just play in the boat.

Several interactive items were designed for children in the lower level. One which intrigued my husband was an image of one of Chilhuly's works with magnetic plants. You could then arrange the "landscape" with the magnetic pieces to understand how they worked together or didn't.

There is also an outside pavilion where a glass blower is working with two furnaces. Here you can see the gather with the partially shaped piece being put in the furnace. Everyone wanted to get closer because we were freezing while the artist was in a short sleeve t-shirt.

This multi-color piece is a portion of one of his overhead installations.