Monday, October 31, 2011

Prayers for Meetings

I spent the weekend in CT where, yes, there was a snowstorm. I was there for the annual Board of Trustees meeting of the Franciscan Family Apostolate - an organization that my family has been involved with since it's beginning in the early 1970's.

I noticed on Saturday morning that the Agenda that the President had given me noted that I would open the meeting with a few remarks and a prayer. Hmmm. The meeting was only a few hours away. I make absolutely no claims to know much in the realm of official/organized prayer. The act of praying is more of a contemplative personal experience for me.....

So, what does one do in such circumstances? Why Google, of course. I entered something like "prayer for opening board meeting" and sure enough I was greeted with several options to surf. I wound up on a site of the Benedictine Health System. This actually is an organization that runs long term and compassionate care facilities in seven states in the upper midwest.

Why exactly they had prayers for meetings on their site, I don't really know. However, I found their suggestion for a Board Meeting to be quite appropriate for how I visualized starting a meeting. Here is what they suggested:

Almighty God, Ruler of the Universe,
   by Your power we move and have our being.
We are gathered here today to serve You
   and conduct the affairs of (name the facility).
Give us knowledge and strength to do Your will,
   with a proper balance of eternal values and our present needs.
May we accept our responsibilities and act with courage,
   considering the feelings of other people.
Grant us a sense of justice and stewardship both now and forever.
Not bad! The website actually has a whole selection of prayers for various meetings and other special occasions. So, if you are ever searching for just the right words (or a thought that you can customize to meet your needs), check them out

By the way, it was a good start. We had a great meeting and the power didn't go off until we had finished!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Taj

At the end of our trip to India, we visited the Taj Mahal. I was told everyone should visit. I didn't understand why but trusted. I am glad I did. The Taj is an experience at many levels. Two thoughts stay with me - diviersity and detail. For this post, let me focus on detail.

I have always thought of the Taj as a huge white structure. That is certainly true.
First View of the Taj
 But, as you approach, you begin to realize the artistic detail of every inch of the building. Can you begin to sense that from this next photo?

Every inch of the marble is etched, inlaid. You can see that even more clearly in these photos.

 And here is some detail of the marble inlays and carvings.

This one almost looks like a quilt! It is actually the inside of a dome structure.
And, I am only sharing detail for the actual Taj. There is a mosque to one side of the Taj that was built for the workers (and a replica of that mosque on the other side simply for balance). These structures are art works in themselves - not to mention the artistry in the various 'gate' buildings through which you approach the Taj.

It is no wonder that people walk about in awe, sitting a bit to take more in. Your senses are continually bombarded by beauty - at a grand and a detail level. It is truly an inspiring site - majestic seems too small a word to describe it. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Did you know?

Did you know that there was a city built underground in Turkey during the 8-7th centuries B.C. that could accommodate between 35,000 and 50,000 people. The city, named Derinkuyu, had a total of 11 floors, each of which could be closed off separately. The city had many amenities, such as wine and oil presses, stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, and chapels, that were also found in other underground complexes of the day in the area. I found that absolutely fascinating! The city is located in the region of Cappadocia in Turkey - a region characterized by soft volcanic rock which made construction underground relatively easy. The rock was soft to dig through but hardened upon exposure to air.

I learned all this while out for a long run on Sunday. I always listen to podcasts of travel guru, An hour passes in no time as I visualize the places that Rick and his guests describe. Rick's podcast from October 8 includes an interview with Lale Surnam Aran, tour guide/organizer based in Istanbul, Turkey.

Back to Derinkuyu, can you imagine 50,000 people living underground? Even today, it sounds like a futuristic concept. And, this was already accomplished over 2500 years ago.

An old stone winery

 Here is a little more info from Wikipedia on Nevşehir, the province that Derinkuyu is located in and apparently a popular tourist attraction:

Nevşehir Province has several other historical underground cities. The cities and structures are carved out of unique geological formations. They were used by Christians as hiding places during times of persecution and raids. The locations are now archaeological tourist attractions. They remain generally unoccupied. In excess of 200 underground cities containing a minimum of two levels have been discovered in the area between Kayseri and Nevsehir. Some 40 of those contain a minimum of three levels or more. The troglodyte cities at Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu are two of the best examples of habitable underground structures.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cats, cats, cats!

Right before I left on my last trip, I received a call from our local humane society from someone about making some cat quilts from some donated fabric.

Each cat receives a quilt for their bed from they are brought in to the facility and the quilt goes home with them when they are adopted.

It is a really simple project - basically cutting fabric, adding batting, and sewing everything together yields what the Humane Society wanted. So, of course I said yes. I am half way through the fabric and the results are a wide ranging assortment of colorful little rectangular quilts.
It is a good project for me right now. A bit mindless, but giving value to an organization. I am betwixt and between on my next 'serious' project so this is a good way to feel productive when I am a bit lacking in actual direction. :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Colorado Venture

I just spent the past few days in Colorado. While there I was able to return to the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum I had been able to visit the museum last May during the SAQA Visioning Conference. This time it was much quieter and I was treated to a personal tour by one of the volunteers.

The museum was hosting two exhibits - one was a stunning collection of quilts by Ann Elliott. The appliqué and hand embroidery was amazing. Check out this close up:

The museum was also displaying the work of art quilter, Kathie Kerler and some works from their permanent collection. The juxtaposition of the traditional and art quilts really worked in ways that surprised me. I found myself more attuned to the similarities in craftsmanship of all the quilts rather than the differences in composition. For example, Ann's quilts had a good deal of hand embroidery in them. Note the very effective and exquisite use of hand stitching in the close up of one of Kathie's art quilts.

From Golden, where the museum was located, it was a quick trip over to Lakeside where I was able to catch the Re-Visioning Fiber exhibit that Rebecca Benson had organized. I was really delighted to have the opportunity to see some of the quilts of SAQA member, Nancy Cook in the exhibit. I have followed Nancy's work through the Vision Project and met her last May at the Vision Conference but this was my first opportunity to view her quilts in person. They were wonderful. I had heard Nancy describe her techniques and seen photos but nothing compares to viewing in person.  My photos definitely do not do her work justice as the lighting, among other factors, was not optimal. However, here is one of Nancy's displayed works and a close-up which shows hand stitching, obviously a theme of appreciation for me that day!

 As you can expect, I came home energized and inspired, ready to create more myself!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wonderful Memories

We had many wonderful experiences during our trip in India. My daughter created a video from different scenes that she captured during our trip. I love the sounds .... hope you enjoy it too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Celebrating Onam 2011

We were in the Indian state of Kerala for the celebration of their holiday, Onam.

According to wikipedia, Onam  is a Hindu festival celebrated by the people of Kerala, India. The festival commemorates the Vamana avatar of Vishnu and the subsequent homecoming of the legendary Emperor Mahabali. It falls during the month of Chingam (August–September) and lasts for ten days. Intricate flower carpets, elaborate banquet lunch, snake boat races, Puli Kali (the tiger dance I had previously posted about, and the Kaikottikkali dance all play a part in the festival.

While we were in Kochi, we stayed at Sajhome. Saj and his family were celebrating Onam and I was able to help decorate their pookalam, a flower carpet,  assembled on the sidewalk outside their home.

Have a peak at its construction:

Some pookalam are quite elaborate. Here is the one in lobby of our hotel in Alleppey - that is my daughter and son-in-law in traditional dress.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another Scrap Project Completed

This must be my week for using some of my stash. Our quiilt guild, Genessee Valley Quilt Club, has an on-going project of donating Comfort Quilts to local hospitals, nursing homes, etc. I always try to make a few quilts each year.  Here is my latest:

It was really fairly simple to make and, once again, came out of my stash. The pattern is Bento Box. I had used it before to make a quilt for my son. This time I simply gathered some of my stack of random 'busy' pattern fabrics and then look for some solid color complements. You simply pair light and dark fabrics and then cut and sew.

If you like the pattern, you can find it on Tracey Brookshier's website.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Quick Project

Yesterday, I made another bag that I can use when I am traveling. I am tempted to call it a 'half-yard bag' as you can easily make it with two quarter-yard scraps and some left-over quilt batting.
The outside is some silk fabric that I had in my closet (I can find things now!) and I lined the bag with some cotton that was also left over from another project. Since one of my resolutions for this coming year is to use up some of my stash, I expect that this is not the first 'Scrap Project' that you will be reading about.

The bag is so simple, it is silly. Cut two pieces of fabric the width that you would like the completed bag plus about an inch. Next, decide on the depth of bag you want to make, and if you want the top flap to cover part or all of the front of the bag. Based on this, cut the length of your  two fabrics.

I decided that I wanted to play with my embroidery side of my Bernina so I put a motif on the front panel of my bag.

You need to have a clear idea of where you want a motif before you start to sew! This one was centered about three inches from the bottom of my outside fabric.

Once you have embellished the outside of the bag, it is a quick sewing task to sew the batting, outside and inside (good sides of fabric facing each other) together, leaving an opening to reverse the bag which you then sew closed after reversing. You could quilt the entire bag at this point, though I chose not to.

All that remains then is to align the bag so the overlap of the top flap is as you wish and then sew the two sides of the bag together. The sewing portion of this project took less than an hour.

I love my little bag. It will be perfect to store some of my neck scarves on my next trip!

Monday, October 10, 2011


Here is my finished piece, Outside the Box. I strongly suspect this will be my donation for the 2012 SAQA auction as it is a 12" square.

  I had a good deal of fun playing with various stitches to embellish my sketch.
You may remember, the idea came from my appreciation of the importance of getting 'outside of our boxes' by traveling, stretching ourselves. It is then that creativity flourishes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Unique Quilt Raffle

A fellow member of our local quilt guild, Chris Wickert, has donated one of her quilts as a raffle fundraiser for a local hospice, Isaiah House. Chris is a truly exceptional quilter whose workmanship we have all come to admire for its high quality.

The quilt she has donated is called "A Rose is a Rose... " It is hand appliquéd and hand quilted, queen size (81 X 94), and was made by Chris in 2001.

Isaiah House performs an incredibly valuable function in our community here in Rochester, NY and is in threat of closing if it cannot raise sufficient operation expenses. 

The raffle tickets cost $2 for one ticket or $5 for three tickets.  If you would like to help out, you can  send a check (made out to Isaiah House) along with your contact information including phone number to Chris at Christine Wickert, 94 Camberley Place, Penfield, NY 14526. She will fill out your ticket(s) and put them in the ticket pool. You can contact her at if you have any questions.

The winning raffle ticket will be pulled some time before Christmas 2011 (date to be determined).  You need not be present to win.

As I said before, Chris' work is amazing. This is a great opportunity to give to a good cause and perhaps win a truly special quilt.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rioult Dance

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend a performance by the Rioult Dance Company. If you ever have the opportunity, they are really amazing. The company is based in New York City but travels throughout the year.

Their precision, their artistic ability, the interplay of movment, set, costuming and music is absolutely stunning. They performed three pieces in Rochester, NY and each was more impressive than the last. The final piece, "Bolero", based upon the well-known music of Maurice Ravel, was choreographed with the same compositional characteristics as the musical score - their dancers repeat small repetitive movements over and over in a way that is totally mesmerizing and really builds to a climax.

Equally impressive to their dance performances are their outreach efforts in the New York City schools. Through DanceREACH, an arts-in-education program, the company offers performances and workshops in both dance movement and choreography.

Here is a brief promo video of the company that I found on YouTube.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Great start to October!

I received word this weekend that my art quilt, Homeless, was a finalist in Infinity Art Gallery's online Political and Social Art exhibit. It will be display on their website for the remainder of the year. What a nice way to start October!
And, if you happen to be near LaConner, WA this weekend, my quilt, Wintergreens, is on display at the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum Quilt Fest.