Friday, January 26, 2024

First stint completed

And just like that the first two weeks of my new job in the north of Germany have passed and I have been back with my family for six days already. Things up north have developed nicely and I am beginning to think that it was indeed the right decision, despite the fact that many people (including my own mother) are more sceptical than as exuberant about the arrangement than I am.

I even found an apartment already - I agreed to take the first one I looked at because it was so absolutely convenient in terms of distance to the clinic and the lake and the town center and the bus stop for the bus to Hamburg that I would have been very stupid had I not taken it right away. It will be a few weeks until they have exchanged the windows, before I can move in. Until then I will stay in the nurses' dormitory, which is nothing to write home about, but a place to stay, and also very conveniently located in terms of distance to the clinic, the lake, the town center. The main question that is still open concerns the ease of commuting as reliability of the German rail system, once known for its punctuality that was even incorporated in a saying 'as punctual as the train', has severely deteriorated during the years since privatization of the organization, and that may be a special training in resilience. But we will see.

So far I have been enjoying the lake, and the long walks I take there after early shift.

Stitching has been limited to a good amount of knitting and I have finally finished (the body of) a shoulder wrap that has been years in the making, I am certain it was started before the big plague, and now there is only a long i-cord left to finish it completely.


When that is done I am allowed to start a new knitting project!

I took many pictures when walking along the lake and have decided to use one of them to make my personal entry to the current EQA-challenge on birds.

Although I haven't quite figured out where I am going to include the fabric heart that somehow came along home with me from FoQ last year, and Susan Vogel of PatCh Swiss and I had rashly said we would include those in our contributions...

Since I came home I have finished my entry for Brno, made a decision about how I want to enter SAQA's Wide Horizons (time pressure! deadline!) and made plans for my bobbin for the Swiss-EQA Round Bobbin that I had said I would participate in (but haven't done a stitch for yet - more time pressure!). Sleeves to be sewn on. Things to be sorted... But I am content with my decision and optimistic that things will develop nicely.




Friday, January 5, 2024

A full week

 This past week, inbetween jobs, years, with lots of changes coming up, has been a bit emotionally draining. Original plans to do the first commute by train were all worked out, but the German train engine drivers are threatening a major strike, plus we had one day when the local line we live on was completely without service as all their engine drivers were all sick. And I had already been receiving messages from the train people that my original connection wasn't possible, I should check the new suggestion. Two days ago I finally decided that I would go up by car, canceled the tickets, and have been feeling a bit better since then.

I worked on clearing my cutting table and made a lot of progress, even though the result is not completely and entirely satisfying yet.


 

I could stitch a bit, working towards a completion of the piece I want to enter at Brno Festival.

It has progressed so far that I can proceed to deeper layers of my design wall that were hidden.


And I started swatching for a new sweater I have been wanting to knit for about a year now, the Spot Sweater by Anne Ventzel.


But I am not yet allowing myself to take the yarn with me when going north, as there are two other knitting projects that must be finished first. 

Tomorrow I will leave, and it will be an entirely new phase in life.



Sunday, December 31, 2023

Changes coming up...

 Yesterday I took an outing with a friend of mine, enjoying the sunshine, training our resilience in terms of reliability and punctuality of German Rails, and visiting other friends.

I posted this picture on Instagram yesterday, as 'Picture of the artist taking a picture',
because that is what happens when I am waiting for the late train at Landshut main station
- usually it is one of the graffitis on the waggons, but this time it was ...


this gorgeous piece of found art.

It was a nice day, and the train issues were the preparation for my upcoming more frequent travels when I start commuting on a bi-weekly basis by the end of this week. My last three days at work this past week were two thirds ok, one third straight from hell in terms of stress and enjoyability, fortunately that was not the very last one. So I went out of there with a sigh of relief and a bit of regret at leaving a number of nice colleagues who were indeed pleasant to work with, but couldn't even out the brat's misbehaviours. Now I am ready to start the new. And hopefully get back to some more concentrated making in the textile and fiber realm. I can't quite oversee how the daily routine will work out when I am up north, but I am planning to do daily art again, and will decide later today just what it will be that I am doing.

Right now I am getting ready to pick up my son at the airport after a few days with his friends on Malta, and then a quiet New Year's Eve with my husband after a visit to a small local theatre.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year, all the best for 2024, and looking forward to what this year will bring!

Not a crystal ball, so not suitable as a means to tell the future... but certainly
good enough as a container for all the good wishes to all of you,
and the hopes and wishes for myself!


Sunday, December 24, 2023

Merry Christmas!

I would like to wish everybody who is reading this, and, of course, everybody out there in the entire world, a Merry Christmas, whether you celebrate or not. Who is not hoping it will be a more peaceful year ahead of us?


My husband is a fan of candle-driven pyramids, and we have two, both of which are not out and taking his attention to keep them in motion. So besides the choir of angels (barely visible in the background) Christmas decoration is now in full swing. 

As has been the tradition in my family since my son was very young we had our family celebration yesterday evening already, and today is a severe work day for my husband, who is busy with services and all the necessary. A few times I would take my son to the Olympic pool in Munich in the morning of the 24th, keeping us out from my husband's feet when he was busy with all his preparations, especially in years when there was a children's musical to be performed in the afternoon service. This was before my son could participate in that. It used to be really quiet at the pool, and I always enjoyed that outing. Too bad he is too grown up now to come on a trip with me nowadays (but he did write me a very nice letter for Christmas, which touched me deeply.) If I remember correctly, last year I was working, but today being a Sunday that is not necessary, and as I have said before, my next (and last) days of work are Wednesday and after. So I now have time to start preparing dinner that will be served when my husband is finished and we will have our Senegalese guest over, who has been joining us for Christmas dinners for several years now. A little bit of time to reminisce a bit more, though.

Yesterday, as I was scrolling through pictures, I found this very old picture, which must have been scanned from a paper print, from way back then, when our group of exchange students from the Charlotte Exchange Student Program was on a trip west at the end of the year. Honestly, I had not remembered that I had this picture, though I did remember that we had stopped in San Francisco. I came back from that visit with a sweatshirt I had bought in Sausalito, where I didn't even go this time around...

What a terrible haircut I had - and you can't see how ugly my glasses were, thank goodness. Another picture I found was this:

I do remember taking that one - I was out on a walk on the 24th, it was sunny and too warm for the season and I saw this little dandelion and imagined I would write a children's book with a story of "The Little Dandelion who wanted to Celebrate Christmas". Never happened...

The good thing about celebrating a day before is that one is basically 'done' on the real day, and in earlier years I used to be completely relaxed in case I still needed to do a bit of shopping for the upcoming days when the supermarkets would be closed. Today, Sunday, I could just sit down in leisure and play with my sewing machine. 

I finished the baby quilt I have made using up the blocks from my aborted first attempt at making a temperature quilt. It hasn't been given to the child yet, but I am happy with it. Actually, I was amazed at how lively the colors shine in the quilt, which seemed to suggest that it wasn't a bad choice of color range after all - although you can't see it well on the picture.

But it was over-intellectual in how I was trying to incorporate an average temperature in the large triangles. Now I am glad it's found a purpose, nine single blocks remaining that will be the background for my contribution to the EQA-Birds-Challenge coming up.

And I continued on my piece that will be entered for Brno. Still some work to do, and some issues to figure out, but I was happy stitching.


Thanks for following this blog, wishing you a peaceful and quiet time and change of year!




Friday, December 22, 2023

8, (7,6,5,4) 3…

 



The countdown is on. When I handed in my resignation at the end of August I knew the remaining four months at the practice would seem longish, but I also thought that two periods of vacation and the overall arrangement of working 3 days a week, usually all in a row following each other, would make it relatively feasible. The feisty brat, too, has held back in her unpleasant behavior. Not talking at all except for an occasional ‘hi’ is much preferrable to her usual bitchy tone of voice. Which even – albeit very briefly  ­ let me wonder whether it would have been possible to stay there if she had been behaving like that all the time. But thinking about that is nuisance, as there are indeed several other issues that contributed to the decision to move on. And the new arrangement just seems so much more pleasant now, with the lake looming as a daily possibility. 

 


The only thing is the fact that I am planning to commute by train, and given the current situation of the German Railway system, that may be a training in resilience. We will see.

Had a creative brainstorm meeting with my good friend Barbara on Wednesday last week, we met in Landshut in a café. Barbara gave me one of her quilts that is going to Abilmente with me in February, and we had a wonderful time talking about options, ideas, textile projects. When I returned home I immediately laid out the dimensions needed for the upcoming challenge for Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, and positioned a couple of pieces I had already made in other contexts but want to include in this piece. For example, my one and only piece for this year’s German Guild’s Sew Along “Meer Gilde” (Ocean Guild) will become a part of this piece. 

My island in the Sun....

 

Then Thursday was day 8 before goodbye from the practice, I had been feeling unwell all day but had gone to work nevertheless. When I came home after the early shift I returned my lunch to the sewer and took myself to bed. Friday a trip to the doctor gave me a 6 day-sick call, which cut down the remaining 7 days of work to three. The doctor suggested a corona test, which was negative, as was the second one a couple of days later, but so far I have been taking a very long time in getting better. I was able to do a little bit of stitching on Sunday, in deed working on the new piece for the Ste. Marie-aux-Mines competition with the challenge topic ‘ocean’. It gives me the opportunity to try to put into fabric an idea I have been hovering for a few months now.

Rather more pictorial than I usually work, but why not try something new?

 

But it’s been a roller coaster since, I haven’t been able to do much at all and am simply hanging out in bed, using a lot of tissues  and coughing. I don’t think I have felt as miserable as this since the corona infection in July 2022, but as the tests say negative, and the cough feels very different from the one back then, I hope that it really is just one of the other viral cough infections and this pandemic unpleasantry will pass me by. The remaining three days of work are up after Christmas, I hope to be able to recuperate until then. After all, solstice is over, starting today the days will be getting longer, that must have an influence on my physical well being!

Friday, December 8, 2023

A Month from Today

 When I returned from California I found waiting for me the contract for my new job, which I signed and sent off as soon as I had clarified the last details necessary for my start there. I will again be working in a dialysis practice, and I am starting on January 8th. I am looking forward to that, and as there are only 8 work days left for me now in the old job, I am sure that I can get through them with nonchalance and coolness. Better to leave some things unsaid than dwelling on stuff that will soon be behind me.

Late last week we received a record snow fall of  'the most snow within 48 hours since the beginning of weather records', or something like that. 


 

I love snow, and I was fortunate that I did not have to go anywhere last Saturday, so could stay home. At one point I thought we were actually getting snowed in. Our magnolia tree did not fare too well with it all. Two major branches broke from the weight of the snow last Sunday, and yesterday I saw that another major branch had come down, probably due to an avalanche from the roof behind the tree.

There will be a lot of cleaning up to do once the snow melts!

 

It would have made for a record snow-dyeing frenzy, had I had any pfd-fabric in the house. I didn't, and I still don't, but I did take a bit of an inventory of my dyeing utensils. It's been years since I looked into that cupboard after closing down my fabric dyeing for the fabric club.

I had only a rather dim idea of how much material there is still
available at my fingertips. Should I prepare fabrics -
or will we have to wait for another 5 years before another
snowfall will make snow dyeing possible?


In another corner of the cellar I found this piece of ice-dyed fabric which I haven't washed yet, obviously I was intending to add some more color in one way or another.


Of course, the kind of ice-dyeing I had been doing is possible even without snow. However, the results of my snow-dyeing had always been more to my liking than the ice-dyes - which weren't bad, either, but...

With these days of relative quiet I have managed to return to a piece on the design wall which had been up there for far too long.


It has turned out completely different from what I had originally thought I would be making. At one point, just during this last week, I was ready to take it down and throw it out because it seemed so unyielding and just wasn't coming together. But I persuaded myself to keep going and get it done so I would be able to start something new without presenting myself with a feeling of failure before that. So I persisted and added into the corners and pieced and... finally finished the last seam this evening. It's been basted already and will be quilted soon. We have black ice on the ground now, can't go anywhere, still.


Friday, December 1, 2023

California Fiber Adventures

The sightseeing I did in California, of course, also included the Golden Gate Bridge. Actually I went there twice, the first time because the person I was going to visit didn't open the door when I arrived a mere 90 minutes ahead of time (it turned out their doorbell was broken, she simply hadn't heard me). As their house is right on the edge of the Presidio (talk about a very attractive place to live!) I consulted my phone and maps app and decided there was time to walk to the Golden Gate Lookout and be back for an on-time-appearance. That way I got to experience a sunset at Golden Gate Bridge. 

The next morning I parked my car on the eastern side of the bridge and went up to it, saw the visitor center and the interesting display on how the bridge was built, and then took a long walk along the bay.

Did you know that there had been thoughts for painting the bridge black and yellow?


My travels also included quite a bit of fiber activity.

Apart from meeting Dolores Miller and Judith Content as I have already mentioned, I also went to see Ula Ludie's exhibition which she had posted about on Instagram, @ulaludie, just a little bit before I departed for my trip in a bookstore on 16th St. (For once I managed to easily find a parking space, right in front of the shop, but then almost left my phone there...)

The next day I visited Joe Cunningham in his gallery on Market St., a meeting we had talked about when I saw his exhibition at Festival of Quilts in Birmingham.


 
At Festival of Quilts, Birmingham, Joe Cunningham and I in front of
his triptych "Marisupol" in remembrance of the lives lost during
the Russian attacks on the city during the ongoing war on Ukraine.


 

And then, for the remaining four days of my stay, I got to spend time with the Pixeladies.  First stop with Kris after a stroll across campus and through the Berkeley University Library 

Thirty years ago, when I was an exchange student in High School and
all my classmates went off to college I was already disappointed
that I was not a resident of California, because I really would have liked
to attend UC at Berkeley...


and Indian Food for lunch was ... a yarnstore.

Very tempting, of course, and I did give in to temptation, a little bit.

These days with the Pixeladies, of course, were not only fiber talk, but a lot of fun activities plus fiber talk on the side. We went for a wine tasting in Napa Valley as a group


Dolores Miller, me, Deb Cashatt, Kris Sazaki, Jan Soules (from left)


 with a conclusion of the trip at the di Rosa Gallery with the Northern California Funk Art collection.

Deb taking a picture of this installation, which, unfortunately,
I did not get the details for...


Richard Shaw, Sinking Ship in Couch, 1971

I was very much intrigued by the feeling you get when entering this house made from glass bottles. Yes, not a construction method for houses all over the world (certainly not in German latitudes as insulation would be slightly difficult during winter), but...

Mildred Howard, Memory Garden, Phase I, 1990

I mean - wouldn't it be interesting to live in a surrounding like this?

I spent a full day with Deb Cashatt, first touring her studio and then interviewing her for the Guild's magazine, probably the issue after next one, and we enjoyed exchanging aspects of our fiber involvement and thoughts on making quilts. Now that the Pixeladies have 'retired' their joint venture, she is embarking on a promising solo trip in the quilt world, with a quilt in Quilt National and several others in other prestigious events as well.

A special facet of fiber adventure was my attempt at sending a printed copy of the Guild's magazine to Sarah Swett. I had thought it would be cheaper to mail her personal copy with the article on her from within the United States than from Europe, and so I ventured out to the post office. On a Saturday morning - bad idea, and we should have just got the postage on the computer. The long line quickly convinced me to try the self-postaging machine in the hallway, and after only three or four attempts Kris (who had be then come to assist me!) we did manage to get it off. Sarah has since confirmed the safe arrival of the little package, so everything went well. And it was still just a little bit cheaper than from Europe, if not by much. 

By now I have been back for 10 days already, with many wonderful memories, and I do feel inspired to get back to my sewing machine, making method(s) and fiber concerns. A lot is changing here in my daily set up as I will be starting a new job in January with a completely different arrangement of living circumstances, but right now I am taking it easy, weathering off a cold which I caught from my son and looking out at the snow.