Thursday, April 30, 2009

A different way to think about creative genius

I discovered a website today. It's and is full of free videos of talks from conferences put on by TED (Technology Entertainment Design) I perused a number of talks and thought I would share this one from Elizabeth Gilbert who is the author of Eat, Pray, Love. I have not read the book, but after this video, I'm thinking I'll go look for it. Or I'll wait for her new one to come out on creative genius. She talks of a different way to think about the creative genius and how we try to ruin it.

Here's the link if my embedding the video doesn't work!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Raven Cliff Falls in Casears Head State Park

Sunday was 85F here, so we headed out hiking.
There are hundreds of choices, but we picked one we took Dakota on years ago when he could do such a thing. It was again a celebration of who he was and a great day besides. We started at Casears Head State Park. Above are pictures of the view from atop Casears Head. We had to pass through Devils Kitchen (below) to go out to the deck that allows you to see Casears Head itself.
The hike we took was to Raven Cliff Falls within the state park. The falls are 400 feet long and the hike is about 2 miles one way. That's about an hour drive from home, but about 2000 feet higher than home. It was amazing to see how much that 2000 feet influenced what was in bloom. For example, our dogwoods are leafed out, but many up there were just now in full bloom. It was a beautiful day all around and here's a few photos to share.
Hiking in the Appalachian Mountains is one which you generally get to enjoy lots of green trees and hang on for a great view at the end. This time though, the trees were just beginning to leaf out so there there many times one could peak through at the view - and enjoy the breeze that could pass through!

A tree greeted us in the first little while. Reminds we of a Veggie Tale Character...

A few of the mountain laurel were in bloom with the promise of many more to follow. Large buds are beginning to develop on the rhododendron.

Small Dutch irises lined the trail in a number of places. If it wasn't irises, there were ferns coming in - and even a few fiddleheads uncurling. It reminded me of the weaving, Spring Profusion, Tommye was working on when I first met her last year.Can you find the snake?Finally here are the falls from the observation deck. Soon there will be too many leaves to even see this much.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I appreciate everyone's comments about Dakota. It was heart warming in this week that I was in Chicago. Coming home to a quiet empty house was a bit of a bump to overcome, but he's in a better place and each day will get easier. It's amazing the memories that are coming back. James and I will spend sometime blogging those just to have them in one place. In the meantime, let me tell you about Chicago! My first day started at the Yolk on S Michigan at 11th. I highly recommend it. It's short order place the specializes in eggs, but does have other dishes. Sit at the bar to watch to action in the kitchen!From there I headed to the Field Museum of Natural History. Here are a few shots before I entered.
At the entrance is Sue - the largest T-Rex fossil that has been found. I almost thought I was in Night at the Museum, but hat was filmed in NYC. Still it was a little eerie! There is a room in the evolution exhibit of more dinosaur bones that has an interesting view of Chicago. through the windows.
From there was a week at the Coverings show - which was overwhelming in itself, but I actually was able to see a tapestry there. The show was held at McCormick Place and here adorning the wall as part of the permanent collection was a stylized view of Chicago.
When I saw all I could see at the show and FedExed all the samples back to the office. I treated myself to a trip to the Art Institute. There are many textiles in their exhibit, but alas all of the textile galleries were closed that day. There is information online about tapestries if you are curious, but it is all historical...
But that's okay there was still much to see. There's American Gothic, the Nighthawks, Sunday on the Grand Jatte, rooms of Renoir, van Gogh, and Monet. The one I actually photographed was The Weaver by Diego Rivera. It was painted in 1936. The placard states: "A leader of of the Mexican muralist movement in the 1920s, Diego Rivera sought to challenge social and political iniquities, often turning to indigenous themes to foster pride in Mexican culture. In The Weaver, Rivera depicted the centuries-old tradition of weaving with a back-strap loom. The woman, a well-known weaver and popular artists' model names Luz Jumenes, appears intently focused on creating the intricate red, blue, while and black pattern of the fabric that is rolled up in her lap. placed against the spare background of Rivera's studio, the weaver's actions take on greater significance, giver her life and craft a poignant grace and quiet dignity."
James joined me in Chicago later in the week and the nightlife included the Symphony and Mary Poppins. If you are particularly attached to the 1964 film version, let me warn you that Mary Poppins is not the story it used to be. If you can let that go, there are wonderful scenes with Step in Time and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious - again only as Disney can do!

I'll leave you with one last picture from our window at the Hilton. It's of the Sears tower intact after the lightning strikes of Thursday night. The day had been beautiful and in fact I had just gotten home from the Symphony without any incident, but suddenly there was this storm. We heard lightning and thunder 3 times and it was over..

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Decade with Dakota

Back in 1999, a German Shepherd mix puppy showed up in our driveway with a swollen belly, with most of his puppy teeth broken in two and covered in ticks. He was terrified of our Shih Tzu and screamed at the sight of her. It took 1/2 an hour of waiting to get him to come out from his hiding place under our car. He ended up in my lap with his head buried under my left arm. We intended to take him to the Humane Society. A dog this large deserves a farm and a boy to play with not two working people and 2/10s of an acre. It turns out that the Human Society and the pound are the same here and he would not have been put up for adoption. So he came home and there he stayed until today. Dakota likely had been hit as a pup. That's why the teeth were broken, but the injury has manifested in other ways. He had one hip that never developed right, but then there was this neurologocal disorder that slowly took over his hind quarters. We dealt with pain management for years, and even went so far as to get into laser treatments. There is no telling how much pain he was in. He never truly let on. True to his species, he took the happiest, most forgiving view on life he could. He loved my husband and they were best friends. For the past year, the good days out weighed the bad, but the bad kept increasing in numbers. In the last month, he started to give up trying to go anywhere and in the last week he made it clear it was over. So his best friend ended his suffering today. Dakota is now free to run, wag his tail, sing, and be all that a dog can be.
That tells you why he's gone, but oh how I wish we all had the time to talk about the last decade with Dakota. For my sake I'm sure I'll add posts just to record memories as they come up and when I'm home to post more pictures. For now here's a few of his last days and a couple of his glory days.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tapestries in Chicago

I'll be heading to Chicago next week for a show. In fact, it's Coverings 2009 , which is the "ultimate tile + stone expereince". Most everything workwise is squared away and am now looking at other adventures I may undertake. For example, Mary Poppins is playing at the Chicago Palace theatre and the Symphony is performing Bruckner's 8 and Shubert's Great Symphony. Those are my evenings and the only chance I have for many museums is before 5 on Monday. There's of course a number of museums and I'm hoping you all have leads on where I can see some tapestries??? The Art Institute of Chicago has a number of historical textiles - even the modern yardage most recent is 1920. I'm not finding any textiles at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Got any other leads?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Yarn Stash

I am relatively new to weaving, so I have been buying yarn and using it directly in the projects I am planning. I wonder with time how this will change. I've read a number of blogs about people's stashes of yarn. My house has one closet. I barely know if I have enough room for the looms, so I think occasionally about how to store yarn. We are in the middle of a renovation that could be influenced by those thoughts. Anyway - it's a wondering time. Then I read Theresa's blog Camp Runamuck entry on creative ways to reduce her stash of yarn. She was offering some leftovers of yarn with some rules. Pay her the postage to ship it and then make a donation for what the yarn is worth to me to my favorite charity. She had Noro yarn that I've discovered in my wedge weave class, so I asked for it. It came in this weekend and I already know I've got the yarn bug. This is opposite from my previous yarn adventures where the project comes first and then the yarn. This time I just have yarn with a vague thought of what to do. It's 4 skeins and I'm already dreaming up ways to use it. As far as the charity donation, the local grocer was taking food donations for Easter to be sent to the local food bank. My husband and I shopped around the store with our remote checkout scanner and filled the cart. As we transferred from the cart to the buggy for the food bank, my husband looked up at me and grinned, "This is cool!" We then started all over with our groceries. It was a convenient way to get the job done.

I wasn't completely distracted by the yarn, because I did start a new adventure this weekend. I have a simple piano and on Christmas my husband had bought me the tools to tune it. I was a bit overwhelmed, but with tuning the harp, I began to really think I could do this. So I opened the top and started with middle C. In principle, it's rather simple - take rubber wedges and damp two of the three strings. Tune the remaining string with a chromatic tuner. Remove a wedge and tune by ear the second string to the first. Repeat with the third string. Repeat, repeat, repeat until the first octave is tuned and then tune additional octaves by ear to the first. I tuned another octave to the first, but found that tuning steel strings does take a little more strength than the nylon strings on my harp. So we'll do this in stages. Not to mention I think my ear was beginning to get tired to listening to the subtle differences!
The wedge weave is still growing, but I only completed two wedges this weekend. Even with Friday off, there was still much to be done including spending Sunday with family. One thing that I'm particularly proud of with this weave is that I'm getting the tension consistent in the weaving to keep each wedge flat on top. That took me nearly all week in class and I'm glad to see that it stuck with me!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Weaving at 91

My husband subscribes to American Craft Magazine and he left it open for me this month on a weaving article. There were two articles on weavers in this edition. One was on a weaver who was painting traditional designs as outdoor murals. She labeled each from the various countries of origin. She also had looms that she placed nearby for people to weave - for example, one was out of plastic trash bags to form an America flag.

The one left open for me was of Ethel Stein who is still weaving at 91. She had been taught in various art media, but landed in extensive study in historical textiles. This has influenced her weaving. It's quite inspiring and I hope to be like her when I grow up!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Big Deals

I am driving out tomorrow morning to another one of my employer's locations for a trial and then the next day to a potential end user of our products for market research. Think I'm using both sides of my brain this week??? I chose to rent a vehicle. I chose a mid-sized car. They would deliver it to work and leave the keys with the guard. I was told I would then go into the parking lot and hit the panic button on the remote to find the vehicle! It's only 2 hours away for tomorrow's trek and they are calling for snow - yes you read that right - snow. It crossed my mind it would be nice to have all wheel drive. Half an hour later I got a call from the rental agency - would it be okay if we sent you a truck? After work I found that they didn't send me a just any old truck - it's a MONSTER truck - mega cab Dodge Ram 4 x 4! I literally have to climb in. My husband is 6'4" and I don't think he could get his rear end high enough to slide into this thing. When I heard truck I was feeling rather provided for with the snow - but with this truck I'm wondering if there will be a blizzard to drive through!

I also have an update on the carillon in the neighborhood. I misreported it as from the church that's two blocks away. No, we have since learned it is the clock tower from the new city hall that's 1/2 mile away. Not a cheap purchase, but I guess city hall thought it was a big deal there was a secular musical offering floating over our heads. I really was beginning to wonder when I heard, "Jeanie with the light brown hair".

The wedge weave is now a foot long! Who Hoo! The block with the blending of the blue and purple yarn is finished and I've moved into straight blue. I'm praying the blue doesn't run out before I want it to, but I guess that will require some creative redesigning if it does! Another milestone is that the height of the weaving did require that I rotate the warp. I had warped this loom continuously to allow for a yard of weaving length. This was the first time I've done this and once I release enough tension - all moved smoothly. I've added before and after pictures - and included the after front and back.

So there you have the big deals going on here!

Friday, April 3, 2009

20/20 Sight

Last June, I decided to get LASIK correction for my eyes. I was legally blind, I have no children and my thoughts wandered to how life could be when I'm 90. Now my sight was certainly correctable with glasses and contacts and we'd been going that route since 4th grade. There's no reason at 90 I could not also. But I also know, my world was typically as big as I could see. If my mind could not remember where the glasses are or could not remember more than 10 seconds what I was looking for, I likely would sit in my little world for hours waiting for what I don't remember. I can remember my Grandmother being robbed of loose change and jewelry in her room is assisted living. If I can't even see well enough to recognize who was coming in the room....

So, I decided LASIK was a gift to myself. There were benefits now, but for that woman who easily could be alone. There's much I may not be able to do, but I at least could give her distance sight.

Surgery went well last June. No infections, no major scarring. But I didn't quite get what I wanted. I went from a -6 (or 200/400) to a -1 (or 20/70). That's a marvelous feat by itself, but one cannot legally drive in the US with that sight. After no change for 3 months I was told by the doctor (as I'm being told by many doctor's these days) that my cornea was just not as resilient as most people who undergo the surgery. My retort was - as the 20 something year olds who normally do this surgery! Yes, yes, yes this is "normal for a woman of my age"! I'm getting tired of that response! Fortunately they said they could fix it, but I needed to wait 3 months.

So January comes and I go to the pre-op exam. There no problem, but it might be best to only do the right eye. Then you can avoid reading glasses longer.....yada yada yada. I can't make him hear that I don't care about the reading glasses bit - it's the 90 year old that I'm doing this for. There are some low risks going back to surgery, so I agree to only the right eye so we can watch how I respond. "You're not getting any younger" - love that one also!

20/15 easily came in that right eye and we watched until March to see how it healed. No problem, so I pushed to get the left eye done. We did that yesterday and as of today we are 20/25. That will change up and down while I heal over the next month, but it's amazing to behold. Despite what I've gone through, I'll never regret this. Now what was it that I was looking for.....