Monthly Archives: September 2013

Autumal corn Cross-stitch

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With the autumnal theme continuing, I was inspired by the bottom of the Autumn Leaves cross-stitch posted last week to make a piece focused on autumnal corn…

Autumnal corn
Autumnal corn

What do you think?

Tomorrow begins my favorite month: October…full of color, wood smoke, and quieter, more reflective days, until Halloween of course.

And the color of the season in all of its reds, yellows, oranges, and browns are the focal colors of my life.

Autumnal theme continues…in cross stitching

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I prepared for Autumn by cross-stitching from a pattern I ran across.

Autumn leaves
Autumn leaves

The pattern had only the leaves, but I felt it needed a little something more; so I enhanced it along the bottom from left-to-right, each a row of each color used in the leaves.

The result of the first 6 rows made me think of corn, and what ensued will be posted in a few days…

A book about autumn entitled “Autumn”

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AutumnA follow up to Life in the Cold about the winter season, Peter Marchand’s Autumn continues to demystify the myths of  seasons while astounding us with the true facts below the surfaces – ALL WITHOUT LOSING ANY ROMANTIC VISION WE ENJOY. The facts themselves juxtaposed to the myths reinforce, instead, the romantic vision of the most romantic season.

From bird migratory routes, to the difference between bear and vole hibernation preparation,  to the magical world of the  ‘shrooms importancy for the continuity of one season unfolding into another, Marchand is a biological maven.

There are no seasons per se; instead, they overlap and fuel each other along one continuous cycle, year-in and year-out. There is no need for sadness, feeling one season means death while another means rebirth. One season feeds into another, such as autumn preparation that begins in late-spring, and preparation for spring occurring throughout autumn and winter, not for rebirth, but a renewal…

     “So the fungi, blanketed in organic riches and refreshed with abundant moisture, thrive and reproduce in the crisp air of autumn. And within days of fruiting they release their spores in powdery wisps to drift over the land, infusing the ranks of the silent decomposers with new strength, driving nutrient cycles ever forward to the benefit of every higher organism on earth that requires mineral elements for its own growth and development. Mushrooms are a symbol of renewal and a symbol of the season. They are the shining fruits of the great autumn leaf harvest.” (page 134)

Of special note is the chapter about Indian Summers – what they are about, how the meaning has changed, and why they are not like they used to be.

Among the grandeur of this planet are the many variations on themes, such as preparation for winter where approaches are multitudinous and strikingly varied:

“In a world of seemingly infinite variation, there are no simple answers to the multitude of complexities and challenges that animals face.” (page 121)

I do so hope Marchand will finish the cycle of the seasons with two more books to complete the cycle of seasonal interrelatedness and its complexities.

Answers to Rhetorical Questions

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While choosing books to order from one of my favorite bargain book catalogs, I came upon this alluring title and knew I just had to have it in my library!

Answers to Rhetorical Questions
Answers to Rhetorical Questions

Answers to Rhetorical Questions by Caroline Taggart (2010) certainly was a good choice, indeed. Since it is a trivia book, I thought I might keep it in the “other library” for occasional perusal, but I fell into the book head-first and submerged later on in the day, reading completed and a better person afterwards.

As with many other books that focus on trivia, Taggart’s collection falls short here-and-there, but for the amount of topics that piqued my personal interest and attention, she emerges on top.

From the ubiquitous “Is the Pope Catholic?” to the classic “Do bears shit in the woods?” and all other points in between, I remained well entertained – sometimes by the rhetorical questions themselves. Remember these hits?:

  • How long has this been going on?
  • Do one-legged ducks swim in circles?
  • Are you pulling my leg?
  • Is it progress if a cannibal uses a knife and fork?
  • Who wrote the Book of Love?
  • What kind of fool am I?

Without pandering to sarcastic retorts, Taggart does her best to appraise us with knowledge when knowledge is available; thus, not all bears “take a dump” in the woods after all, especially if they are polar bears who leave their droppings anywhere they want since there are no forests in the Arctic.

A rhetorical question is a question that does not expect an answer, assuming that the addressee knows the answer already. Most often, rarely is this true, and it is about time somebody finally addressed the issue itself. Lest otherwise, an ass is made of u and me…

 

Amanda Lee’s Cross-Stitch Before Dying

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Cross stitch before dying
Cross Stitch Before Dying

I just finished Amanda Lee’s Cross-Stitch Before Dying, an embroidery mystery (2013). It is a sweet read, akin to the tone of Lillian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who series. CSBD even has an endearing pet sidekick, in this case Angus, the Irish wolfhound.

I did not learn anything special about needlework in this tale. Several terms are mentioned such as crewel and candlewick work, but there was not any detail about them – not even chikankari, a main element of the novel.  I was disappointed that the embroidery store is just a background prop. I do embroider and avidly cross-stitch, but this novel only introduced me to chakankari, and I had to look it up myself.

Like Bruan’s Cat who series, CSBD does provide a few interludes about other topics, mostly referring to the behind-the-scenes world of costume design for Hollywood (even Bollywood). Also, a la Braun et al, Lee is using this novel to set up an appealing small town and cast of characters for future forays, still for my tastes, a little more depth would make me kinder to this story.  All in all this is a mild mystery – good for bedtime reading when one’s mental faculties do not need  stretching. Still, I would need to be seriously wooed to read what follows in this new series.

(As well, like other craft mysteries, a nice touch would be a pattern at the end of the book.) ∞

American Craft Exposition (ACE) 2013

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Jo and I attended another of the many wonderful arts expositions that come through Chicago each year: this time the American Craft Exposition (ACE) 2013 in Evanston, August 22-25. http://americancraftexpo.org

Although the show can be a bit uneven from year-to-year (in our humble opinions), nevertheless, we are often rewarded by some artists, if not many.  The WOW factor of my wanting to possess some of these objects has waned over the years, but that is only due to the increases in my own craft abilities and investigations.

Sorry this post is later than I wanted, but many other wonderful events have held this back until today’s opportunity. So, what follows are the artists who particularly  grabbed my attention and touched my soul. Many of them spent their valuable time with us, explaing their work and techniques. Please visit their websites to view their work and artistry.

Christine & Michael Adcock: www.adcockstudios.com -I am always happy wChristine & Michael Adcockhen they display at ACE. Their strengths are in ceramic (their Spirit Boxes are a knock-out); but this year Christine’s focus is on basketry. And always, Michael is very approachable for a chat about their work.

The first of several fiber artists featured here is Ann Brauer: www.annbrauer.com -Her use of color gradation is spectacular. You’ll need to visit her site to view her many projects.

Laura Breitman: www.laurabreitman.com -Laura is another artist who reappears at ACE when we are lucky. As she explains it, Laura “is committed to expressing how light interacts with form and the task of fooling the eye. Thousands of pieces of fabric are often contained in each collage.”Laura Breitman

Cal-Ling Paperworks has a stunning paper collage booth. Unfortunately, I do not have a working link for her, but she is on Facebook.

Karen Dixon works in kiln-formed glass at www.kdixonglass.comKaren Dixon

 

The lovely Martha Fieber works in decorative fiber (pun intended?). She is also a joy to talk with. Her website, http://marthafieber.com ,posts: “Original, one-of-a-Cloud-Bank1-1024x459kind, hand embroidered fine art landscapes.  I use traditional hand embroidery techniques and apply them in a new way to create incredibly detailed and layered images of the beautiful world around us.”

I better stop lifting images from the artists sites to show you before I get into trouble; hopefully these are enough to make you visit their websites and see so much more.

Other artists I would like to mention are:

I only needed my POOH-POOH cards 4 times this year!!! That how good this year’s show was for me.

Another note: This is the 10th year out of 12 that I have attended ACE. In 2001, very few of these artists had web presence – now, it is de riguer. This not only helps to get their work out there for all to see and refer to, but it makes up for all of the past catalogs that rarely display the best of the artist’s outpourings.

Next show coming up will be SOFA (www.sofaexpo.com), Sculptural Objects Functional Art & Design at Navy Pier October 31st – November 3rd. See you there?

Quilt Expo Madison, WI September 2013

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I just returned from this years Quilt Expo in Madison; and, as always, the experience was most gratifying. You can visit Quilt Expo at http://wiquiltexpo.com

Here is a gallery  of what caught my interest: please click on each image to view a larger version, or follow the slide show…Just a reminder, you can click the upper right corner to see the full resolution version by itself.

There are 100 pictures here from the many hundreds of quilts on display (and of course there are many knock-outs at each vendor’s booth). For those of you who could not attend, I hope this will entice you to go next year. In a few instances, I do have some description under the bottom of each slide. To the best of my ability, I have left some of my impressions and personal insights. ENJOY!!!

 

Ray Bradbury’s Farewell Summer

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Another re-read for this summer is Ray Bradbury’s Farewell Summer (2006), a follow-up 55 years later to Dandelion Wine, which was also a re-read this summer.

Farewell Summer
Farewell Summer

Whereas I always enjoy the lyricism and romantic tone of Dandelion Wine, Farewell Summer totes a harsher tone as Douglas Spaulding moves into adolescence.  The first time I encountered this follow-up, I was captured by the cleverness of the plot: a battle between young and old that parallels three stages of our 1860’s Civil War, and a change of hormones of the two generals, Douglas and Quartermain at the end.

My own member was pleasantly surprised that a book’s ending is resolved by the glans.  But since this a battle between young and old, foreshadowing the battle between the sexes, the tone is brisker, and the story more brutal. Gone is the flowery and day-dreamy descriptions that weave throughout DW; instead we are presented with short paragraphs that shoot right to the point in FS. Although the novella works very well, I do not re-read this as often as Wine.

Bradbury explains in the Afterword that FS was part of DW, but cut back in 1957 because of lengthiness. This was a wise move on the publisher’s part since the tone of Farewell Summer would sour the taste of Dandelion Wine.  The gulf between age twelve and age thirteen is a very wide chasm where hormones are concerned; indeed, the two are different seasons of life when considered.

(Also, the grayness of the old men reminds me at times of Michael Ende’s Momo.)

Excerpt:

 ‘Farewell summer, Doug. That’s the name of those flowers. Feel the air? August come back. Farewell summer.’
‘Boy,’ said Doug, ‘that’s a sad name.’  (pages 3-4, Chapter 1)

William Saroyan

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My Name Is Aram
My Name Is Aram

Today I finished another book by William Saroyan, Armenian-American author (1908-1981). My Name Is Aram (1940) is a captivating reading experience for me coming on the heel of re-reading The Human Comedy (1943). The prose styling is simple, which keeps the sentiment fresh and in the forefront, making this an excellent choice for late night or bedtime reading.

Both books carry a nostalgic tone: whereas Aram is a recollection about him as a boy and family members, friends, and other people he encountered throughout his formative years (1915-25), The Human Comedy has a loose narrative linked to some of its anecdotes (during WWII). Both refer to life as Armenian immigrants in Fresno, CA.

These fictionalized memoirs are very touching, taking the reader to a time that can never occur again although the essence of the material is eternal – back to a time predating the modern distractions of contemporary life that make us stray from the real issues of family, love, and compassion.

By the way, please try to read editions that have the original drawings; they are quite evocative, especially those of Ulysses in the The  Human Comedy as he wanders through his young years, attempting to understand our joys and our sadness.

Excerpt:

This Coffee House was a place of great fame and importance in its day. In this day it is the same, although many have died who went there twenty years ago.
For the most part the place was frequented by Armenians, but others came, too. All who remembered the old country. All who loved it. All who had played tavli and the card game scambile in the old country. All who enjoyed the food of the old country, the wine, the rahki, and the small cups of coffee in the afternoons. All who loved the songs, and the stories. All who liked to be in a place with a familiar smell, thousands of miles from home. (page 198, “The Poor and Burning Arab”)