Monday, September 27, 2021

A dream come true

The weekend before this past one my son and I went on a trip together. When I had asked him in May whether he would like to join me I had not expected he would be interested, but he was – as long as Mom pays the bill, and he gets out of the pandemic stay-at-home for at least a little bit...

When we got to the airport, we both agreed that we had been really missing the atmosphere of such a place. I did notice, though, that is was considerably less crowded than I have seen the Munich airport before.


And then the feeling of being close to getting on board a plane...


We were a bit limited in our duration of the trip due to the fact that he is back in school now, and I had further plans coming up, and there were only three weekends to do this at all – because we were going to Paris to see the final (?) Christoand Jeanne-Claude wrapping, of the Arc de Triomphe.

I have written about my other attempts at seeing a real live installation-sculpture of theirs here. Has it really been eight years...? So when Christo died last year and I heard that the wrapping of Arc de Triomphe would still take place, I made a promise to myself that I would go.

Negotiations with the young one were a bit complicated as to how to shape the program around visiting the Arc proper, I probably would have just sat there for hours until in the middle of the night, but you can’t do that with a 16-year-old.

So we had booked a tour of the catacombs, on the way to which I dragged him across the cemetery of Montparnasse as it all was in walking distance from our hotel.


Then we went to see the Eiffel Tower, and he was duly impressed at how big that thing is. 


A boat trip on the Seine for the highlights, passing by formerly wrapped Pont Neuf and Notre Dame still under reconstruction.

 Of course we passed a former site of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's activity, the Pont Neuf.

I loved this wooden boat which we saw from the tour boat.


And I caught this man walking along the Seine, a picture that would well fit into a series of photographs I follow on Instagram, @josetorerowalkers. Not quite as spectacular as some of the pictures posted under that title, but I think it would fit.


Afterwards when we continued our way on foot, we passed a demonstration against the most recent health and safety rules of the French government, and the youngster was impressed by the amount of weapons the attending police were carrying. I didn’t dare take a picture of that.

And then... the first glimpse ahead, behind the trees.


Coming up onto it from one of the roads that show the narrow side.


And then the full glory. 


It was absolutely wonderful to be there. We were lucky with the weather – sunshine, to bring out the reflections of the fabric used. (We managed to get a couple of pieces as they were being distributed by the helpers.) It was warm, everybody on the Place d’étoile was smiling, and we circled around a number of times.


(Imagine here another hundred photos - which you can find on the internet... I am not going to post them all!)

We even came back the next morning, he patiently tolerated this whim of mine, did a few more circles around, and just as we were going to leave, a man came up to us whether we wanted to go up onto the platform, he had tickets which he could not use, but we would have to do it NOW as they were for 11.30 and it was 11.24. Up we went, enjoyed the view, and seeing the folds of the fabric on the top.


After that we went to Montmatre and let it all peter out before we had to go back to the airport. 


We did see the cathedral, too, but two stops in coffee
houses were just as important.

We had a great time together, the youngster was suitably impressed with the fact that my French got us around (his would not have been any kind of help!), he got a decent impression of Paris, I fell back in love with it after it must have been almost 30 years... What a wonderful way to spend a weekend with your 16-yr-old...

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Temperature Quilt, 2nd attempt


For the first week in September I had the house all to myself, and at some point I developed a stage of beginning Blues. Couldn’t go anywhere because of the strike on German trains, my husband and son were away with the car, longish distance biking still not possible due to the wrist, and no other activities in the exercise realm either. It was a bit weird – because during lockdown times I had sometimes thought it might have been slightly easier if I had been in lockdown by myself, now the guys were out of the house and I still wasn’t really content. Of course, it wasn’t lockdown, travel would have been possible in principle, only I was not physically able to go anywhere, nor technically equipped to do something interesting. I didn’t mind being by myself, I can do that very well, but I did mind being scooped up in the house despite without the real possibility to move about.

I figured sitting down with sewing was the most helpful remedy and went upstairs to work on my scrap project, which had already progressed a bit since the former post about it


There is more to the right, just not shown in the picture.

After just a few minutes, however, I got very itchy because we were finally having a few nice and sunny days and I really wanted to sit outside. I searched (and relatively quickly found) my temperature quilt project, 2nd attempt. I had started that earlier in the year but put it on hold when I realized how big it was going to be as I had not really calculated what the chosen block size would add up to. It would have been over 7’ in height, and that was just too overwhelmingly large. When I reported my dismay my good friend Kathy had suggested I scale down the block size, which was a wonderful idea but also meant I would have to take apart the entire first month which I had already assembled. Of course, I am glad I had assembled that first month and made it a vital part of the production process, because otherwise I would never have found out until much later that I was facing this serious size problem.

This temperature quilt is a hand sewing project, so sitting outside on the terrace was a perfect surrounding for taking it up again. 


I made new templates, which left the quarter circle at the same size but seriously shrunk the background. That meant I could take apart the first month in complete blocks, mark the background fabric smaller and sew it all back together. The work of one afternoon, and I got a few new blocks for the second month done in that sitting as well. 


Since then, several more afternoons on the terrace have followed. I take my box, sit in the shade on an umbrella, and stitch the individual blocks, assembling them right away in monthly strips. 


Orientation is determined by whether there was a rise or a drop in temperature, and depending on whether the difference is larger in the maximum temperature or the minimum temperature of the day. (Not fretting about it, because, strictly speaking, the four possible orientations don’t cover the entire range of possibilities that can come up.)

In this respect, of course, this temperature is not wildly original, there have already been many that did that. 


But I am juxtaposing two years: the past year, when I turned 55, and the year of my birth. The idea had started before I knew that 2020 would be the year of the pandemic and there wouldn’t be a whole lot of variation in terms of days out of town. (During my first attempt at a temperature quilt I had the trip to South Africa in August, which meant it could have been a difference in temperatures. Except for the fact that winter in South Africa is not much different in temperatures, at least maximum temperatures, than summer in Germany. Only the minimum was slightly cooler.) The difficult part in this concoction had been obtaining the data for my year of birth, which took several attempts, even almost led to the abortion of the project. But I managed to obtain those, and then the size hick-up... January 1965 will be followed by January 2020, February 1965 by February 2020, and so on.

Meanwhile, the project is growing. We have had a whole row of nice warm days, nicer and more consistent than most of the summer. While I have been stitching, there have been news that it was the summer with the most rainfall in Bavaria since who knows when, the hottest summer on average in Europe since the beginning of temperature records (except that it doesn’t feel like it for me), and the EU commission is passing a weird trade agreements which endanger the Amazon Forest, it’s been Earth Hour Day, hurricanes are sweeping the Southern US.

Tomato harvest has been pitiful due to the amount of rain we have had...

But sunsets have been very pretty lately.

 This quilt contains a lot of climate related thoughts indeed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Serious Destashing.

A friend of mine had mentioned recently in a message that she needed to find some ways to raise funds to buy fabric for her group which gets together regularly and makes what commonly are called ‘heart pillows’ here in Germany: heart shaped pillows that are distributed to breast cancer patients on the respective wards. I admire and respect those kinds of activities, even though I don’t participate in anything like that. So I offered her that I would go through my boxes and pick out some fabrics that they could use. After all, there is an abundance of fabric stashed away here that will never get used, at least not by me in my lifetime. And as my husband has been talking more frequently about ‘downsizing in preparation for a next move’, even challenging me by boasting how much he has done... (yes, he did reduce his huge collection of CDs the other day, and I admit I have much more stuff than he does) I figured it wouldn’t matter at all to give away some of it. This activity developed into a serious crisis for the accessibility of my studio, but it turned into a flow eventually. 

Chaos that will hopefully lead to some sort of order...


In the end I posted a package with more than 17 Kilograms of fabric to this group (the carton in the upper picture, more on the right). I could have posted at least another package of the same size, but I withheld from sending ‘all my brown fabrics’ as I thought that color is not really appropriate for that purpose. Did get rid of almost all my pinks and purples, though. Not my colors, no need to hang on to them. And – do I really need three boxes of green? I hardly ever work in green, I wonder where all that came from. Lots of green scraps, too. Anybody want any? Just let me know!

A couple of days later,  this destashing extended itself into a thorough clearing of book shelves. My son wants to use the room where my longarm is not longer blocking everything, but there are book shelves in there. Our library. He wants those shelves to take up less space, i.e. dismantle at least one or two sections.

I have always been a book lover, and I love buying and having books. For a while I was regularly going to a Women’s Bookstore whose owner was a friend, to support the business, or I was collecting literature from female authors from the early 20th century. But my husband – correctly - keeps saying we need to size down as he thinks our next living quarters will be much smaller. So I went through the shelves, pretty rigorously, taking out books in three different categories: the stack to read now and then decide whether they will stay, the stack that can go to second hand books or the newly introduced book box in town, the stack which is not likely to find any appreciants around here (mostly English language books, alas, I don’t know anybody here who reads English). 

After I went through, the gaps are getting bigger.
Now it's my husband's turn, and then things will get pushed
closer together.


The rearranging of the room as such will happen according to the Junior’s plans.

As it turns out, I started on one of the books from the stack 'read, and then decide', and it happened to be a book I bought in 1994, then still an English academic person, so it has moved at least 5 times, if not 6 or 7, it might actually have come from the States with me. As it turns out, although the author is famous, and I do admire her for her position in literary history and some other aspects, this particular book proved to be rather dated with respect to certain opinions, and racism. I could perhaps tolerated it had I still been an academic, but since I am now only a reader for pleasure, I do take the liberty to not finish books that are too backward, or that don't catch my attention. I read only one of the three stories, started each of the other two, decided against them, and then it went into the bin. So Junior's desire has been helpful indeed.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Knighted! (If that applies to females.)

 By my son! 16 years old, definitely not wearing a hand-knit sweater or anything like that (only socks), and very sensitive to things I say and do in public when he is around - so embarassing...! But. I was shown this sad item, which he had bought from his own money and couldn't remember or explain how it had been ripped.

Strict instructions, though, it must be as unobtrusive as possible. I am observing how he is starting to develop a taste, trying for a style, and he has style (and at over 6 feet tall already he will be handsome, let me tell you!), so I knew that the fact that I was being asked was about the highest kind of leap of faith I would receive. I must not disappoint those expectations. I knew I was not allowed to do anything like either of these, which might have been what I would have chosen had it been my own piece of clothing.

Especially the red piece would have been my personal choice, but this is only hypothetic playing around, for the archives of creativity. I went ahead and auditioned three different kinds of thread color.


The fabric piece was used as a backing from the inside of the rip, which, being located at the upper part of a pocket that probably receives a lot of use from thrust-in hands, is bound to carry a lot of strain.

The outline is meant to keep the fabric in place, and the rip is fastened to the fabric with a separate outline, too. And then a bit of stitching began.

At this stage I asked him how much more stitching he wanted, and he opted for 'that's enough'. I did mention that I wasn't sure how long this would last, but he was satisfied. The finished piece looks like this:

We will see how long it will last. And how daring I get allowed to be next time he lets me mend something for him.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

SAQA Benefit Auction 2021

For the 12th year in a row I have donated a piece for the SAQA Benefit Auction, a fund-raising event for SAQA which is extremely important for the organization's financing. This auction starts this coming Friday, and that is "Diamond Day", you can purchase any piece you want for $ 1000, the bidding from top down then begins later. Please refer to the website here for the exact procedure.

As always, I wanted to select a 'Dream Collection', but, again as always, I am a bit late with this, so I am not putting it through the SAQA-website, but publishing it here. This year the rules for a dream collection allowed for 8 pieces. As I was looking through dream collections already assembled I realized: Blue had been done (although with different titles, but at least two!), cats had been done, faces had been done, places had been done... it was getting a bit difficult to decide on a theme! In the end I decided to do one that could theoretically include my piece: text on the quilt, with a meaning contributing to the quilt as such.

So here is my Dream Collection 2021:


Jette Clover, Celebration

Debo Hysak, She said


Denise Konicek, Flight of Idea(l)s

Karena Nelson, Communication Skills

The Pixeladies, What's the Point of White Pencils Only?

Susan Rienzo, Untold Story

Susan Shie, Stacey Abrams Rock Haiku

Anne Solomon, The Second Amendment didn't mean this

There are only few more pieces that could have gone into this selection, out of the more than 400 pieces only a dozen or so are using text as a message, although there are a couple of pieces that use fabric with printed text on them. Originally I thought I would be bold and include my own piece in my dream collection - after all, I must be convinced about it to donate it for a cause like this - however, I found 8 pieces that can make up an entire collection as such, so mine is not an official competitor. But I can show it here once more, after all, it would be nice if it got sold for the benefit of SAQA.

Uta Lenk, text messages 28

And, of course, any of the others above, too.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021


 Imagine my pleasant surprise this morning when I opened the local newspaper and saw this:


I had somehow known that City Hall was going to prepare an updated version of the leaflet that was a ‘Guide to artworks in V.’ (which I, actually, have never seen), but I didn’t know when it would happen. My pleasure increased when I saw that a paragraph specifically mentioned my quilt that I made during the art symposium in what seems almost dozens of years ago. It is referred to as a piece of art that is demonstrating a special connection to the city by using citizens' handwritings in their languages of origin.


The quilt has been up on the wall of the entrance area of the town music school for over a year now, but because of Covid there never was any kind of ceremony on the occasion of it being installed, and, even more disappointing, the building is still closed to the general public: music students have to wait outside the entrance, get picked up by their teacher, and nobody else is permitted access to the building. So it was nice to see this first introduction of the quilt to the public this morning. With a photo! 

I could not get hold of a copy of this new leaflet, however, as they are not displayed publically in the town hall, the person responsible for culture wasn’t in her office and the substitute announced on the door had no clue. I will try again some other day. But there is a pdf-download option here.