Thursday, December 30, 2010

Busy Crafters

We've been busy bees around here with all the new crafts items that arrived for Christmas, Hanukkah and recent birthdays.

Renée got a book on doll making that reminded me of last year's Felties. It's called Wee Wonderfuls. Check out these great mermaids. I made the pink and purple slightly lopsided one. She made the blue (she's 10). The directions were easy, and we adapted to the supplies (felt and sparkly glue) and patience we had. We're looking forward to trying others in the book.

During the holidays we headed to a quilling workshop at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. It was lots of fun. A quilling kit arrived for the holidays. Really all that's needed is some very thin paper and a quilling tool although a toothpick works in a pinch. We made snowflakes at the workshop and have been trying out other designs at home. Here's a bit of my work.

If you want to check out some great quilling pictures check out a post I did a while ago after visiting a paper crafts exhibit.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Back from the Fairy Woods

Back after a long hiatus. A busy happy week has brought me back...

Saturday we decorated our holiday tree with many Christmas and Hanukkah ornaments. There are balls and photos of the kids from years past. There are home made shell angels, glittery pine cones and embroidered hearts. There are collections of Tonka trucks, Harry Potter ornaments, ballerinas and princesses, etc. The kids did the whole thing themselves this year. I watched and took some photos.

Sunday off to church in our pajamas for a special breakfast before the service which included a Hanukkah song and a discussion of Jesus. At 4 pm we were back at church to sing Christmas carols on the church steps. It's a 50 year old tradition at this nearly 350-year-old church. I would have never thought a church would become such an important place for me. Somehow this Unitarian Universalist message is the one that has been inside me all along. My discomfort in every other religious house of worship I have ever visited made me so ready to identify with the love and tolerance preached here. It has been the most major change in my life since moving to Massachusetts. The church and the people I have met there are helping this place feel like home.

OK now onto other subjects... hope I haven't offended. Here are some cute photos I took in late Oct or early November. Enjoy...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Treasure Beyond Measure

Inside this round barn at the Shelbourne Museum in Vermont are treasures beyond measure. While we were there in late July, there was an exhibit of quilts made by the family and friends of those who suffered from Alzheimer's Disease, Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece. The quilts are a lasting and powerful tribute to the lives of those who lost their memories, the creativity and love of those who made the quilts and a reminder to us all to cherish every moment and memory.

Look closely at this one: from top to bottom it documents the activities that were lost sequentially by the mother of the quilt's creator, Christine Adams. Beginning with travel and golf, through communication and finally the ability to eat and breath. The quilt was so raw, so compelling, so full of pain.

This one was an intricate balance of color and quilting skill. The design reinterprets a photo of a young dancer who later died of Alzheimer's.

A closeup:

And look at this one by Liz Kettle. The heart drips a sea of endless tears of beautiful beads...

a closeup:

Also at the Shelborne until October 24 is
Ansel Adams and Edward Burtynsky: Constructed Landscapes
description follows:

"Constructed Landscapes
is Shelburne Museum’s first exhibition of modern and contemporary photography. The exhibit features over 60 photographs by Ansel Adams (1902-1984), one of the most influential and popular landscape photographers in history and Edward Burtynsky (b. 1955), a contemporary photographer whose images of “manufactured landscapes” such as mines, railway cuts and dams have brought him considerable acclaim in the past decade.

Burtynsky and Adams are in stark juxtaposition in Constructed Landscapes. Ansel Adams’ classic and pristine black and white images of undisturbed nature contrast with Burtynsky’s stunning color prints of landscapes altered by man, including quarries in Vermont."

Everyone is familiar with Adams' work, although there are a few less known photos here that I hadn't seen before. I became familiar with Burtynsky's work through the documentary Manufactured Landscapes, you can see the trailer below. It is totally amazing. It documents his trip to photograph a rising China. He travels and photographs giant factories, huge landscapes of coal mountains, peasants taking apart homes brick by brick that will soon be inundated because of the Three Gorges Dam. At the same time he explores the devastation of our consumer waste stream: mining, production, transportation, recycling, waste, pollution, and the dismantling of an oil barge. Images from this film haunt my mind when I'm debating whether to buy typical consumer products. We have not gotten a microwave or air conditioning in our new house thanks to this film.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Visiting and Creating National Treasures

This rambly post started out as a catalog of the nature shots from our recent Maine vacation. Then I flew off on a tangent about how nature was preserved and enhanced by the rich. Then it occurred to me that great parks were also created by the New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). And finally I swerved to discuss what hiking and traveling means to me and the favorite places I have visited. Each one of these topics could fill many posts, but here's the current mess and perhaps I'll elaborate later.

I love visiting national parks, historic homes and beautiful gardens. Hiking gives me a feeling of challenge and peace at the same time. Exploring history stokes my curiosity and admiration for remarkable men and women. Looking at natural vistas, waterfalls, enormous sequoias, or mossy swamps rejuvenates my creativity. In all these situations, the stresses of the world fade away.

Some of the favorite places I have visited include: California's Yosemite, King's Canyon National Park, Route 1 corridor, and Mono Lake, Colorado's Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument, Virginia's Monticello, the Cape Cod National Seashore, and now Acadia National Park and its surrounding gardens.

Thuya Garden
(named for the northern white cedar, Thuja occidentalis, woods that surround it) is a beautiful tended English style garden outside Acadia National Park. Along with the Asticou Azalea Garden (a Japanese style garden) that I long to see in bloom, it's a worthwhile stop on a trip to the central Maine Coast. I sound like a tour director. But really, they are tended by the nonprofit Mount Desert Land & Garden Preserve, and deserve a visit.

These gardens and the National Park itself are oddly a tribute to the very rich of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The gardens are preserved now in perpetuity thanks to the estate of Joseph Henry Curtis, a Boston landscape architect and civil engineer, who "summered" in this part of Maine for almost 50 years. After his death he donated the land to the preserve. Charles K. Salvage, a local landscape designer renovated and further designed the gardens with plants purchased form the collection of Beatrix Farrand.

Acadia's carriage roads and stone bridges were built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. over 27 years with his family fortune. It's odd owing thanks to the largess of Rockefellers, Carnegies and others who made their fortunes by exploiting and monopolizing labor and land, but then donated and created national parks and cultural institutions through their generocity.

I enjoyed camping in Acadia. But how would it feel to have "summered" here in your own beautiful home with servants and cooks? To build 45 miles of carriage roads and bridges because you love riding your horses around and wanted to created beautiful drives and views? This is not to say, this is only way to create these wonders. During the depression the New Deal's CCC created amazing roads, trails, and facilities.

"By March of 1933, 13,600,000 people were unemployed in the United States. In the face of this emergency, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, only two days after his inauguration, called a meeting of government officials to create a Civilian Conservation Corps. Roosevelt intended to put 500,000 unemployed youths to work in forests, parks and range lands across the country.

"In its nine years, the CCC employed more than three million men and left an undeniable imprint on the nation's landscape. The CCC built more than 40,000 bridges, planted two billion trees, restored nearly 4,000 historic sites and structures, improved thousands of beaches, roads and shorelines, and created 800 state parks."
from this website.

What could we accomplish if today's bankers did generous things with their money? What could we accomplish if we put the unemployed to work creating the most beautiful national seashore on the gulf coast? Let's go to glorious places and determine how to make the world a more beautiful place.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tagging Myself

Tagged myself with questions from Light and Macaroni.

What is your favorite "me time" activity?
Reading, whether on blogs, The New York Times online, or interesting books. I have joined 2 book clubs since I moved here a year ago. The favorite books I have read in them are: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and The Uncommon Reader. Both lots of fun. Right now I am reading A Walk in the Woods, Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail inspired by our recent trip hiking and biking in Acadia.

Favorite made-by-you item?
My photo albums. I must have at least a dozen. The first one begins with a few photos of my great aunts and uncles when they were young and ends at college graduation. The rest are much more detailed highlighting my early 20's courting through my and friends' marriages, and tons and tons of photos of my kids through the years. I actually was showing one of the albums to a friend who came for lunch yesterday. I love looking at old photos of my kids. It brings back so many great memories. My albums are detailed with dates and souvenirs (tickets, flyers, etc), sort of like simple scrapbooks. I have not been as diligent with this since the age of digital pictures, but every once in a while I order prints and get to work.

I also have a "holiday" album with the Christmas photo cards that we get from friends and family year after year. Each family has a few dedicated pages, and each year when I add the current photo I get to see the growth of these kids.

What is your "crap I have no time but must make something to eat" go-to meal? [Jessica (this set of questions originally came from her blog) says: I need more of these in my repertoire and am shamelessly hoping for new ideas!]
Pasta with whatever else is in the fridge: sauted onions and greens (maybe with a little sausage thrown in) and lots of Parmesan; zucchini, onions, garlic and olive oil; in winter canned tomatoes, sausage, and small white beans. If greenbeans are in the fridge, they go well with rice and soy sauce. Bok choy and scallions might call for asian noodles and a quick peanut/sesame sauce (peanut butter, vinegar, sesame oil, crushed garlic stirred with hot water).

One way you've changed that would seem most surprising to the other people attending your high school reunion?
I've become more serious, more concerned about the world. I think my efforts to live a greener, simpler life would be highly unusual for most of the competitive, consumptive people I went to high school with. Many got new BMWs for their 17th birthdays.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I loved dance and nature. I wanted to be Jane Goodall dancing through the wilds. But somehow I didn't believe that was a viable career. When I went to college I gave up dance when it conflicted with science labs.

6: The next craft you want to learn?
I'm going to shift this question a little to reflect more on the last one. I'd like to learn to better follow through on all the various ideas I have. I have great ideas all the time, but I don't pursue them or see them through. Also, I'd like to start baking my own bread, but not until fall. I don't want to turn on the oven in summer. We have no air conditioning.

7: Do you like having your photo taken? Why/not?
No, I don't like the way I look in photos. I appear heavier than I think I am. I love this picture from our recent vacation though. I look happy and I my husband looks totally in love with me! I have this photo in my mind now all the time. My son took it and I know it will forever be one of my favorites.

8: Current favorite color combination?
The beautiful greens of mosses in the forest. Here are 2 photos from our trip, the first at the side of a carriage road in Acadia, the second in a shade garden at Thuya gardens. Of course, the photos don't capture the intensity and beauty of actually being there.

Thanks Heather and Jessica. This was fun.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Acadia Adventure

Now we're back from Acadia National Park in Maine. We stayed at the Seawall Campground. This was our first time really camping in tents. I loved it. Here are a few pictorial highlights of the trip. I'll do some more thoughtful posts on our 2 weeks of summer travel over the next week.

The first full day we did our tough hike up Cadillac mountain on the North Ridge Trail. On the way up there was lots of time to stop to pick wild blueberries or identify trees like black spruce and Jack pine.

Occasionally I made the kids pose for pictures. They never like to do this!

We ate lunch at the top where a cold rain had started to fall. It was crowded with nonhikers who had driven up the mountain road. We quickly headed back down onto the less populated trails.

Day 2: Hiking the ocean side trails from sand beach to otter point.

Then we visited some beautiful formal gardens (Thuya and Asticou) right outside the park.

Finally, sunset lobster dinner at a local recommendation, Maine-ly Delights.

Day 3: biking and hiking on the park's carriage roads.

Overall, a terrific, energetic and beautiful trip. I'm planning the next visit in my head already!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vermont Vacation

I've been gone, but I'm back for the moment with too many things to say to get it all into one post. We spent last week with dear friends at their house on an island in Lake Champlain. It was amazing, relaxing and fun. We also visited Burlington and Shelbourne, VT.

Making chicken friends at a local farm that sells maple soft serve ice-cream.

Cooking chicken (not the same chicken).

Driving little boats.

Sailing boats.

Visiting bigger boats.

Doing a few chores.

Checking out some local art.

Hiking to a cliff to look for fossils.

Making s'mores.

Renee loved swimming and playing with C.

Jack loved sailing and caring for R.

We are so thankful for Reid and Jennie our oldest and dearest friends.