Monday, August 25, 2008

Dragonflies, Teddy Bears, Elephants and Classes

Here are some more pictures of things that keep me busy! I have made four dragonfly afghans so far. I love the pattern. Easy to carry around and work on as it is crocheted in squares. This sage green (have you figured out that green is my favorite color?) was the first dragonfly afghan I made. I usually make something first and keep it -- figuring the pattern out and getting the mistakes made and corrected -- then make it again and give it away. The afghan pattern is called Dragonfly Dreams and I found it in the July 2006 issue of Crochet Magazine.

Another one of my favorite things -- Teddy Bears. The pattern for this bear and his toys can be found in two booklets -- Birthday Blankets and Bears Volume I and Volume II (1993). Each bear comes with a toy and his own crocheted blanket.

This little elephant (not so little) -- Ellie Phunt -- is my latest finished project. She is going on a journey today to California to her new home. Every time I look at her, I laugh. She is soft, funny and has a great multicolored tail that you can't see in the picture. Ellie is from the booklet Safari Friends. Safari Friends includes directions for 6 friends: elephant, tiger, giraffe, lion, chimp, and alligator. I ordered this booklet from Annie's Attic.

Today Dick starts the fall semester with a new art class. He was off early this morning trying to miss the school traffic (also first day of school for all the kids in town). Mid-September I start an online class that will, hopefully, make me make time for more mixed-media.

It amazes me how busy everyone gets with the first hint of Fall and the start of school. I've been trying to schedule time with two good friends for a Girl's Art Camp and it's tough. I know we'd have a great time and I'm not going to give up!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Armchair Traveling With Books

I admit that I'm an armchair traveler. I enjoyed traveling to Provence with Mayle's A Year In Provence. Not too long after, I traveled with Frances Mayes to Tuscany in Under the Tuscan Sun. My latest visit was to a place I've always wanted to visit - Morocco.

The Caliph's House: A Year In Casablanca by Tahir Shah continues the tradition set by Mayle and Mayes. Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Shah buys Dar Khalifa, a crumbling ruin of a mansion that once belonged to Casablanca's caliph, or spiritual leader. An empty house is thought to attract jinns, invisible spirits unique to the Islamic world. Shah copes with a new culture, the guardians of the house, repairs to the house, memories of his grandfather and his own growing family. I laughed. I was entranced. When I was finished, I wanted more of this exotic land . I was happy to read that In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams, Shah continues his adventures in Morocco collecting a treasury of traditional stories. I have it on my wish list.

My guess is now you are going to say "WAIT! Still Life is not a travel book. It is a mystery. And, you'd be correct. is a mystery complete with murder and solution. It is also a visit to Three Pines, a small, magical village not too far from Montreal or the United States border. I can imagine sitting in front of a fire, eating, drinking cognac (and I don't like cognac), watching the villagers of Three Pines come and go. There is something about the place that is intoxicating. Even Dick enjoys reading the Three Pines books. He asked me today where the third Three Pines book was so he could start it. He's picky about his mysteries. It's not the mystery that draws him to these books by Penny -- it's the place. In Still Life, she introduces us to characters that we'll meet again and again in Three Pines: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec (a strong, charming, happy man); Clara Morrow and her husband, Peter (both artists); Myrna who runs the new and used bookstore; Gabri at the bed and breakfast; Ruth Zardo the poet and curmudgeon. Spending time with them is not dull and boring.

A Fatal Grace is the second in the Three Pines series followed by The Cruelest Month. We both think The Cruelest Month is the best of the bunch so far. The fourth Three Pines mystery will be out the first of the year. Another for the wish list.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Seattle, Part 3 With Lessons From the Grandson

This year we took the free bus into China Town and the International Center. Forgot that it was Monday and the Wing Luke Museum was closed. We did drop into Uwajimaya and I found some wonderful papers that I hope to use in collage. I have to say that Houston's Hong Kong City Market makes Uwajimaya look small.

Dragon In China Town

There are lots of lighthouses along the coast. This is the one at Alki Point.

Downtown Seattle and Pier 66 from our hotel room

Looks like Seattle and Houston have something in common -- building. Cranes everywhere.

This is one of my favorite pictures -- Seattle and Mt. Ranier from the Queen Anne District.

Double Rainbow

We were just back from Bainbridge Island, relaxing in our hotel room on Saturday afternoon watching the Mariners baseball game, when the announcer mentioned a rainbow over the field. We dashed out to the balcony and found a double rainbow. It was beautiful. I can't tell you how long it had been since we'd seen a rainbow, let alone a double one (squint to the right). One of nature's many miracles.

From the moment we checked into the hotel, there was solitary gull sitting not far from our balcony door. We didn't think much of it. We thought he/she was hanging around looking for a handout, just like the gulls in Galveston. The day after we saw the rainbow another one of Mother Nature's miracles appeared ... baby gulls. First, we saw one and then two and finally, the day before we left the smaller third baby (didn't get a picture of all three). We were delighted and had a great time watching this little family.


Finally, if you don't have a youngster in your life -- get one! If everyone could see the world through the eyes of a child, we'd be a much better planet. Here are a few of the lessons we were reminded of by THE grandson:
  • Greet each day with a smile
  • Live each day to the fullest
  • Learn something new each day
  • Don't be afraid to try something new
  • Read
  • Play
  • Cranky? Take a nap.
  • Eat when you are HUNGRY
  • There may be a wonder right around the corner. Look for it.
  • Hug
  • Be sure your loved ones (friends, family, pets) know you are grateful for them. Don't be afraid to love.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Seattle, Part 2

Seattle has a wonderful new sculpture garden called the Olympic Sculpture Park. It opened last year. We walked the park last year and didn't get a chance to visit again this year. We did drive by several times and this is one of my favorite sculptures. You can visit the park by going to the Seattle Art Museum web site.

This is the view from in front of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. I love this picture taken of the space needle through this large sculpture. The Asian Art Museum is in Volunteer Park and was the original art museum building.

This is the front of the Seattle Asian Art Museum and if you squint you can see me walking down the stairs just left of center. This was our first stop during this trip. Family members played in the park while I "worked". I try to check out museums and their Asian Art collections for the Asian curatorial staff I work with. SAAM had a Korean contemporary art exhibition and some other Asian contemporary art that I was especially interested in. Now, I just have to write up my notes!

We stay at a hotel on the Seattle waterfront and this picture of the sailboat and ferry was taken from our room. We try to be good family guests and keep everyone on their regular schedules as much as possible. We also think everyone needs "personal" time. While THE grandson naps, we get the "adult" play in. By the end of the stay, we are napping when THE grandson naps.

We watched the cruise ships dock and reload Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- a total of 9 each weekend. Amazing to watch the people unload and then new passengers come aboard. We watched the trucks pull up to deliver all the food and various goods that the new cruise will need. It looked like a well choreographed dance -- trucks, people -- full flats of goods going on, empty flats coming off. The Argosy is a small ship that gives harbor, jazz and lock cruises. Both ships are on their way out of port.

This is one of THE grandson's favorite things to do -- take the ferry over to Bainbridge Island. This is a picture from the ferry on the return trip to Seattle.

I still have a few more pictures to share. Look for Seattle, Part 3!

Friday, August 15, 2008


We've just returned from our annual visit with family and THE grandson in Seattle. I have lots of pictures to share. Seattle is a wonderful place to visit -- easy walking city (once you climb the hills) and cool (great break from the high summer temperatures in Houston). Before I share the trip, a big thank you to those of you who have dropped by and left comments or sent emails. I hope you'll continue to visit and keep up with the Tales from Twisty Lane.

I love Pike Place Market. They are celebrating their 101st birthday this year. The Dahlias were beautiful. I have a brown thumb when I try growing them here. I did get them to come up this year (put them in pots) and got one bloom.

Seattle Aquarium

We spent a morning at the Seattle Aquarium. Our little man knew exactly what he wanted to see and was off and running the minute we were in the door.

Fremont Troll

The Fremont Troll gives new meaning to mixed-media! This large, fearsome troll devours an actual Volkswagen underneath the Aurora Bridge. It weighs 2 tons and sports one good eye made of a hubcap. The Troll is a must stop for tour groups. We were lucky to get this picture without people climbing all over him.

Kids can play in the cave, too!

A Big Lion Roar

At The Zoo

This was our first visit to the Woodland Park Zoo with THE grandson. He knew just what he wanted to see and do. He wasn't sure about riding the horse on the carousel and had Gramps move to a seat that didn't go up and down.

We ate in kid friendly restaurants: Buca Di Beppo (a national chain), the Coastal Kitchen on Capitol Hill (always busy no matter time of day and serves breakfast all day). We did get a few adult meals in. The kids took us to Salty's on Alki Beach for Dick's official retirement dinner. Great view of the Seattle skyline from Salty's and good food. A visit to Seattle means wild salmon and halibut. Yum! Dick and I had dinner at Ivar's (halibut) our first night in Seattle and a nice lunch one afternoon at Maximilien In The Market (more salmon).

I have more pictures and will post more tomorrow. I'm still catching up on laundry, mail -- all those little things that pile up while we were away having fun!

Friday, August 1, 2008


Creativity. So what is it? The dictionary says:
  • Creativity - creative ability; artistic or intellectual inventiveness
So what is creative? Back to the dictionary and:
  1. Creating or able to create
  2. Having or showing imagination and artistic or intellectual inventiveness
  3. Stimulating the imagination and inventive powers
Why the sudden interest in creativity? The July/August 2008 issue of UTNE READER had a series of articles on The Future of Creativity in our schools, our businesses, and our lives. Frankly, it was a little frightening. It seems to be one of those use it or lose it things. One of the articles suggested that we are robbing our kids of their birthright: the access to free, unstructured play of their own making. Remember playing with an old cardboard box and in your imagination making it into anything we wanted: castle, fort, car, plane, cave? Some kids, when you tell them to go play look at you and say "what should I play."

It got me to thinking about being crafty and if that counts as creative. Then I thought about just having fun! Why stop playing when you become an adult? Why not continue to play? Learn to play a new instrument. Learn a new craft. Finger paint!

I spend time looking at blogs featuring mixed-media artists/crafts people. I decided I wanted to try and here's my first collage.
This is what I collected all laid out on watercolor paper. The little girl in the picture is me. Lots of clip art butterflies. An information sheet on butterflies printed out on ledger paper.

Here's the finished project. I call it Too Cute I. I have more pictures of this little girl doing things she loved. I think there are several more Too Cutes to come!

Too Cute I