Monday, September 27, 2010

Scenes from a craft fair

On Saturday I headed out to go to an arts and crafts fair on the plaza here in town. Despite the heat, it was a wonderful day to stroll and look at beautiful creations. I had my camera with me and had a good time taking pictures (a good way to bring home so many of the lovely things I saw!)

Look at the beautiful colors and textures on this pottery:

And more from the same artist:


(You can see more of this potter's work here.)  
The potter's chair was as colorful and graphic as her pottery.

At a different pottery booth, I saw these wonderful little hands.  I'd love a grouping of these!

There was an occasional breeze, bringing attention to this wonderful booth full of scarves:

And of course there were dogs.

The face painting booth was a magnet for all ages.

No, I didn't get my face painted.  But I had a very fun time nonetheless.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Making a Joyful Noise

I have mentioned here before that I am smitten with Gareth Malone, the choir master and presenter of the BBC series "The Choir" which BBC America has started airing here in the US this summer.  Apparently, I am not alone.  He's a charming fellow, that Gareth.  He's determined to get real people -- kids in school, communities -- singing together, and he speaks energetically and inspiringly about the important positive effects of sharing music.  (I can't recommend these shows highly enough -- they are, I think, the most uplifting things I've ever seen on TV.)

I've been thinking about how I used to love Glee Club back in middle school -- which was the last time I sung in a group, aside from Christmas caroling parties over the years.  I really did love it -- especially the feeling of adding my thin little voice in with a bunch of others to create a really beautiful sound.  And that memory got me looking on the web to see if there were any singing groups in my area for rank amateurs for people like me -- and lo and behold, my very town has a community choir!

So, for the last several Monday nights I have trotted off to sing along with a group of 50 or so other adults who find singing fun.  It was daunting at first -- I feared an audition, which I would surely fail -- but I was reassured to learn that if I could carry a tune, I'd be in.  I spent five minutes alone in a room with the choir leader Betty, who showed me how much better I could sing if I'd just open my mouth widely -- and I found myself hitting notes I didn't know I could hit.  So I now know I'm a soprano (la la la!) and I am seated toward the back of the group (by height and I am tall) next to a lovely woman named Paula who has a beautiful clear and strong voice for me to follow.  

We are preparing for a set of holiday concerts in December, so I am now singing holiday songs all day long.  We've been given CDs with our specific parts on them -- which makes practicing quite easy, really, and I'm finding it especially nice for driving around in the car.  Yep, that's me going by, singing with my mouth wide open but the windows closed so my shrieks don't alarm others AND the bugs don't fly in! 

I have no illusions about being a great singer -- but I am having fun and I come away from each practice feeling very happy and energized.  Thank you, Gareth!

Oh -- and if you don't get the Choir, here's a video of Gareth leading a group of boys (very, very reluctant choir members at the outset of the series).  Watch this and see if it doesn't make you happy!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Meerkat Monday

There is no reason for the meerkat picture, other than I wanted to open with a photo and this was in my photo archives.  I snapped this fellow at the SF Zoo. There is something so appealing about meerkats.

I've not had much to say lately (as you may have noticed) and it occurred to me it's partly because I'm tense.  Yes, tense.  And I think it's related to the start of the school year.  If our history with Miss C has shown anything, it's that things don't seem to go the way we plan.  Which is not a bad thing, although it's unsettling if, like me, you find security in having plans.  Over recent years, September has found us launching into a new school situation, and we've tried all sorts of alternatives in an effort to find a good-fitting academic hole for our square peg child.  That has led us to home-schooling, as I've described here, and things are going just fine.

But I have this sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop... As in, this is going well but what could go wrong?  And no wonder, as in recent years we've started off great and then have watched as things slid slowly and painfully and inexorably downhill.   No wonder I'm a bit nervous.

Parenting teaches all sorts of lessons.  Patience, for one,  Finding resources in yourself you didn't know were there, for another.  And the current lesson that keeps whacking me in the head?  Just enjoy the moment.  Take where we are right now and go with that.  I'm  really trying to just relax and enjoy where we are RIGHT NOW.  But for a person who likes to plan ahead, and sort things out and then sit back and relax, it's strangely difficult.  I remind myself (even while I'm mapping out lesson plans for the next several months) that all that matters is what happens today, and tomorrow will be another day.  If things need to change, we'll change them.  If not, we'll keep going. It's that simple.

The only part that is not simple is me, resisting and trying to anticipate Plan B, Plan C and Plan D.

Here is another thing I'm thinking a lot about.  It's typical of moms, I think, to feel unsettled and a bit distressed when their kids aren't happy.  That mother thing kicks in and we do what we can to make things better.  And here's a big challenge I keep bumping up against as the mom of a child with Aspergers:  I can't make it better.  I can't fix it.  Miss C is struggling with things I can only glimpse, and I can't change that.  I can try to understand her needs, and I can try to help her cope, but there are certain things she faces that I can't change.  When Miss C is overwhelmed or struggling with life as she sees it through her particular lens, I can't reason her through it.

When I talk to friends who ask about how our homeschool routine is going, I can honestly say it's going great.  We're feeling our way, but things are going smoothly.  I just need to relax and accept that it IS going smoothly.

I think I need a massage and some chocolate.  All this peaceful living in the moment has me stressed out.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Music Around Us

A musician saw birds on telephone wires and translated them into musical notes...

Now, when you see birds on wires overhead, won't you wonder what tune they're playing?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Ta dah!

Coming soon to a bookstore near you!  Well, March, 2011.  Six months.  Not like I'm counting days or anything...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Labikeet Colors

We are revealing our newest round of 12x12 inch quilts over on Twelve by 12 today!  This time, our color theme was "Lorikeet colors."  Brenda, who lives in Australia, sees these bright birds in her yard all of the time (I've only seen them at the zoo!) and was inspired by their lively colors to choose this palette and see what we'd all do with it.  I love that this challenge involves all of us sharing some of the color in her daily life.    If you've not seen a lorikeet, here's what one looks like.  Imagine, having these fly about your backyard!

I love bright fabrics, and I have lots of brights in my fabric stash.  So my difficulty in approaching the challenge wasn't the color palette, but how to use them.  I have such a literal brain that I kept getting stuck on lorikeets!  I sure looked at a lot of pictures of them!

Coincidentally, I had just gotten Susan Carlson's new book Serendipity Quilts.  In this new book, she's refined the free cutting fabric collage technique from her earlier book (remember all those great fish?) and I was eager to work a bit with that technique.

At some point as I was looking at lorikeets and their colors for inspiration, I started thinking about how funny it would look if other ordinary animals had these flashy markings.  That thought amused me and it was an easy jump to imagine my lab/weimaraner mix Gemma as a "labikeet"!

To accomplish that, I started with a photo of Gemma that I thought had enough profile to allow me to show the colorful markings.  Using that as my guide, I made a muslin base which I marked up with sharpie markers to show where I wanted the colors to go.

Using that as the base, I placed fabric pieces almost mosaic-style to create her markings and (trying to) create the shadows and highlights.  Carlson's technique involves gluing the pieces down loosely using a glue stick or other flexible glue, and then trapping everything under a layer of tulle before stitching.  To be honest, I found that sort of fiddly, as the little bits wanted to move around.  I guess I was too light-handed with the glue!  I'd be inclined to work with fusible next time -- although fusing the WonderUnder to the fabric is a step that takes some time, and this process allows you to jump right in with even tiny scraps that you happen to have lying around, the ease of working with un-adhered bits vs ones you can fuse in place makes the advance work worth it in the end, I think.

I made a heck of a mess while I was doing this -- fabric everywhere!  The quilting was great fun at the end, and then I finished this with a simple facing.

Gemma is now "Labikeet!"

Be sure to hop over to the Twelve by 12 blog to see what the other 11 in the group did!  You won't be disappointed!