Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Beneath the Surface Postcard

Here is the postcard advertising  Beneath the Surface. This is a special exhibit curated by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison, which will be presented by the Dinner at Eigth Artists as part of IQF in Long Beach in July and Houston in November.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Reason to Celebrate

The first weekend in June was a special time for us. We traveled to the Tampa area to celebrate the much anticipated high school graduation of our youngest grand nephew!
On the way down, we stopped in Tallahassee for dinner with the family of our adopted Goddaughter. While we indulged the two little boys with gifts and tons of attention, she and her husband prepared a truly gourmet meal for us. They are both outstanding cooks and it was amazing. Think Chilean Sea Bass...the real thing. (Sorry there are no pictures.) The highlight of the meal came when, after already having served amazing wines with every course, Winston opened this bottle of Grand Vin Chateau Latour 1995! When we got home, I realized I had NO pictures of the family, No pictures of the food, but I did have this close up of the wine. My only defense is that we had already enjoyed several glasses before this.

Then it was on to Tampa for a really big celebration. There were parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends. We had all been pulling hard for four long years and it was time to celebrate!  The next morning the graduate still could not believe it had finally happened. It was a pretty bumpy road. Here, reality seems to have set in as he and his older brother examine his diploma more closely.

Even the four-legged brother, Kaiser, needed to be convinced. Yes, Kaiser. He really did it...just as we all knew he would. I cannot WAIT to meet the man he chooses to become.

The next morning, older brother was off to fulfill his duty as an Army National Guardsman. I pray that perhaps cleaning Florida beaches will be as close as he ever has to come to the mixture of heat, sand and oil.

We try never to leave Tampa without having a meal at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. This authentic Cuban restaurant was established in Ybor in 1905. There are now several others in the area, but for me, this is the only one that really counts. If you are ever in the area, it is worth a visit. At dinner there are Flamenco dancers and reservations are highly recommended.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Interview on Dinner at Eight Artists

I was recently interviewed on Dinner at Eight Artists blog. Please click on the link to read the interview. I am honored beyond belief to be included with the artists listed here.  My quilt, Quagmire, will be part of a special exhibit at the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, California  July 22-25; and in Houston, Texas , Nov. 4-7. This has been a real growth experience for me.  I want to sincerely thank Jamie Fingal and Leslie Jenison for their work as curators for this exhibit. Also a special thank you to the sponsors Moore's Sewing Centers( and Brother International ( in Long Beach; and MistyFuse ( in Houston.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Last Times

There have been so many, and looking back, I wish I could have known. I wish I could have known it would be the last time I would hug my daddy; or the last time I would ride a horse bareback and lean forward with my cheek on her neck and smell that "horse" smell. I wish I could have known it was the last time I would pick lilacs from the bush outside my window. I wish I had known it was the last time I would reach under a "setting" hen to retrieve warm eggs or lie on my back under a plum thicket stuffing myself with wild plums. But seldom do we get the, "hey-Rachel-this-could-be-the-last-time-you-get-to-do-this" warning. So when I kept hearing about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I kept thinking, "Have I walked those beaches for the "last time' without knowing it?"

The sugar white sands and emerald/turquoise waters of the LA (Lower Alabama) and Florida panhandle beaches have been sacred space for me all of my life. Even after we left the South, it was here we returned year after year to have our spirits renewed. My DH shares my feelings. So, when on Mon. May 3, the CNN people told us that a massive oil spill would make landfall on the LA beaches probably by Thurs., it was not a hard decision to pack up and head to the beach  lest this be the last time we see it in its pristine glory.  I am not a doom's day kind of person; but I am a realist. I am 65. If an oil slick hits this beach today, it will not be restored in my "beach-going" lifetime. So, on Wed. we left home at 9 a.m. and by 3 p.m. were on the beach.

I came to send love and energy into the water and invoke the favor of the earth that it might, one more time forgive us our transgressions and cleanse itself for our benefit.

So here we are in Orange Beach, AL, enjoying absolutely perfect conditions. Most everyone seems to have been frightened off by the news reports. We have NEVER seen this beach so empty, even in winter. You can see the concern on the faces of the people whose livelihoods depend on this beach, and you can feel the tension in every establishment you visit. When we arrived,we were told there was a ban on sports fishing but it was apparently lifted that day as there has been no sign of oil; and we saw several boats come in with magnificent catches of red snapper.
The sea was offering up all sorts of treasures for us. This was a tad unusual as this is not always a good shell beach.

There was evidence that at least some children had been around.

And this nice woman was pleased to show off the beach-ready  wheel chair she was trying out for the first time. These chairs can be rented from and what a joy this one was bringing to this lovely lady.

By Friday afternoon a few more people decided the beach was safe; and by Sat. we had a much more normal population.

The birds were there but not as numerous as in times past.

The only possible clues that all was not well were the dozen or so dead fish that had washed up at various points.

On Sunday we had to head home. We left our beloved beaches with a fervent wish for:

And with the knowledge that if this was" the last time" we would get to play on these beaches in their pristine state, at least we had done it with conscious awareness and love.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Beneath the Surface I'm IN!

 Beneath the Surface, a special exhibit, will be presented by Dinner at Eight Artists ( at the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, CA - July 22-25th at the Long Beach Convention Center. This special exhibit is sponsored by Moore's Sewing Centers( and Brother International (

And the most amazing thing is that my quilt, Quagmire, is going to be a part of this special exhibit. I am SO THRILLED! This is a first for me. It is the largest piece I have ever made, 3'x4'; and it is the first piece I have ever had in a juried show.

With this quilt, I tried to work through the self-imposed demons that keep me "beneath the surface" of the magical world of art quilting. I get all tangled up in self-doubt, laziness, fear of failure, and procrastination (just to name a few). BUT, I have good friends who keep throwing me lines of encouragement, offering me their support as I reach for growth, courage, confidence, creativity, artistic expression.

As I worked on this quilt, I had a real "ah ha" moment, the clear understanding that I dishonor my friends as well as myself when I make self-deprecating statements about my skills and abilities.  I am not going to do that anymore. I might still have those feelings; but, I am no longer going to give them voice. I will still need and treasure the support of my friends; but I will accept and honor my own creativity. Not a bad outcome for one quilt do you think?

Here is a detail shot of the quilt.

Did I mention that I am SO THRILLED?

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Did It!

I did it! I made the deadline for a quilt submission to a juried show. AND it was the largest piece I have ever attempted. It was 3'x4'! I know that sounds insignifcant to most of my quilting friends; but believe me, it was monumental for me. I never could or would have done it without the encouragement and support of several good friends. You can't imagine how much that means to me.

I cannot, of course, post a picture of the quilt; but I thought you might like to see my (sometimes) studio aka my dining room. Note that the ironing station, sewing station, and cutting station are all situated within easy reach of one another. No one from "Studios" magazine has not contacted me about doing a spread yet, but I expect a call any day now.

Here is a detail from my quilt. I was really stretching myself on this and WAAAY outside my comfort zone. I started over three times and quit twice. Now I am very glad I kept going as it was a wonderful learning experience. I learned that,unlike Francie, I get real fuzzy staying up into the wee hours of the morning and don't always make wise decisions in that condition. I learned (at the last minute) that not every professional photographer knows about shooting quilts. I learned that it is very hard to get measurements just right and that if you go ahead and cut, without double checking, there is no going back. I learned that I have a lot to learn about what to do with the back of a quilt. Is it ok just to fuse another piece of backing over the mess? Again, I learned that I know some of the most helpful, supportive people on earth. I owe such a debt to my husband who,while under a major allergy attack that would have put me to bed, kept us fed, clean, and laundered during the last week. He is my rock.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Alabama Snow

Snow does not come often to Birmingham, Alabama. When it does, it is an event. Even when most of the country is buried under several feet of the white stuff, a few inches can elicit really strange behavior around  here. I mean it can make us do some really strange things!   My friend and I have been trying very hard to persuade another friend to join us in water aerobics class, as our other friend suffers greatly from arthritis. She has been reluctant to join us in the pool due to some body image issues. So we planned a "surprise" desensitiation party. How were we to know that the day of our surprise party, we would get a surprise of our own!?!We decided to view it as an opportunity. We are women. Hear us roar!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Feet Again

Funny how feet keep showing up on my blog. I think feet are important; and if you have ever had any kind of problem with your feet, I know you will agree. Last Wednesday my sister-in-law had surgery to correct some painful distortions caused by her long-time nemesis, Rheumatoid Arthritis. Since she traveled from out of town to have the surgery here in Birmingham, my husband and I went to hold her husband's hand during this same-day surgery experience. She had asked to stay over night as she knew the RA would present problems.  She had to come off her RA meds for the week before surgery as those meds affect her autoimmune system and might hinder healing. By the time she went in, she was already in considerable pain. Unfortunately, the medical staff decided she did not need to stay over night. Sooo, we followed them home to help them get  into the house, get settled, etc. Today is Monday and we just returned home. The pain from surgery has been negligible, but the pain from the Rheumatoid Arthritis has been horrendous and for a couple of days made her totally dependent on all of us for activities of daily living. She HATED this. Happily she is now able to transfer from bed to chair or toilet with minimal assistance. We are taking bets on whether she will ever have the second foot done as scheduled.

Inner Animal

This was a detail from my submission for the Inner Animal Challenge by Interweave Press. It was not selected, so I hope it is ok to put on my blog. My inner animal is an elephant. I have loved elephants all my life and feel a deep connection. Elephants embody many qualities I strive for in my life. They are wise, calm, loyal, patient, strong, fun, protective of their friends (especially their girlfriends); and, ok, wrinkled and fat. Sadly, elephants are also vanishing. This is not a quality to which I aspire!

This was my first time ever to use a stock photo. Finding just the right picture that was free and royalty free was a challenge for me. Having my computer crash in the middle of the whole process while I was manipulating the image was even more of a challenge. I screen printed the background onto denim cut from an old pair of husband's jeans; or it might have been from the one's that were waiting for a new button. By the time the deadline arrived, I was racing to beat it and did not "finish" all the embelishment I had planned. Since the piece was not selected, maybe I have time now to tweak it a bit. While I had fun screen printing the background, I can see that it would not show off well in a magazine which might be important. I'll do better next time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Root Cause Analysis

"Molar Eclipse" a wonderful art quilt by my friend Jamie Final. $800 on SAQA website. I love this quilt and spent a lot of time thinking about it this week. Read on.

It all started with that little "twinge". I really wasn't even sure I truly felt it. Maybe I just bit down too hard on something. Time passes. No, no, it was there alright. Maybe if I just ignore it, it will go away. More time passes. It is not going away and now it HURTS! Trip to my dentist confirms the worst fears. I need a root canal!

I was referred to Alabama Endodontics where I have been before. In all honesty, if you MUST have a root canal, this is the place to do it...if you MUST!

It all starts off pleasantly. Lisa smiles and takes my insurance card; and Rachel smiles and assures me I have nothing to fear. She will be right beside me through the whole thing. HA!
She failed to mention that she will be right beside me handing the doctor the instruments of torture.

OK, so first Dr. Chris Jebeles gets out his little dry erase drawing board and a sharpie and draws me a picture of what is wrong with the offending molar. This is impressive. I am, after all, going to pay this man over a thousand dollars for this visit so I darn well expect some high tech, explanations. Then, they shoot me with enough Novocaine to put down a small elephant. Dr. J: "Are you doing ok?" This question will be repeated often throughout the visit. I am ok if you discount the fact that my left eyeball is numb, I can't tell whether I am breathing or not, and I cannot swallow on the left side. Next they fit my mouth with a green trampoline with a little hole poked in it for the offending tooth to present itself. This contraption is not to protect the modesty of the other teeth, its purpose is to keep all the debris that he is drilling out of the tooth from falling down my throat. It is a good idea but an odd sensation. THEN he comes at me peering through a microscope mounted over my head while wielding the inevitable drill. As you can see, at this point, I was a little nervous.

It is finished! Doctor J looks pleased don't you think? I am feeling no pain. I am feeling nothing. However, my initial feelings of trepidation seem to have frozen into place.

This is me forcing a BIG smile. The left side just won't join in the party. At least I don't have to fear awakening in the night screaming with an abscessed tooth. Seriously, gang. These folks are the best there is at what they do. And Dr. J is not hard on the eyes...if yours are not numbed, that is.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Charleston Christmas

Christmas was spent in one of our favorite places of all, Charleston, SC. This is a Charleston "joggle board". It was a fashionable passtime for courting couples. Many Charleston gardens had one. Note the direction of the rockers. It is a hoot to try to sit on one of these. It holds up to eight adults; and, it is impossible to be unhappy sitting on a joggle board.

No visit to Charleston is complete without taking in at least one graveyard. I thought it interesting that even in 1889 there was interest in "green things". The inscription reads: "Oh Lord keep my memory green."