Saturday, July 31, 2010

Raw: Being in a Natural Condition

Tomorrow is the first day of August, the beginning of late summer. I am feeling in every cell of my body the need to rest, recharge, rejuvenate, and revitalize. So after several days of research, I am ready to shut down and complete a two week raw food cleanse. I enter this practice with full intention to care for each of my systems. In addition to toxin elimination and healthful, mindful raw food preparation, this will include yoga, a full eight hours of sleep each night, and a break from distractions that weigh down my energy and productivity.

Papa took Big B and little b fishing today, which was perfect timing for me to prepare for Day One (tomorrow). After a beautiful raw lunch from a local restaurant and consulting with several friends who have knowledge in the cleansing arena, I visited the bookstore. There were a lot of choices...

...but I stuck with a tried and true recommendation from a friend. This book is gorgeous and I can't wait to create some of these dishes!
I made my grocery list and went shopping (by myself--a much different experience than usual).
I came home and am enjoying planning my menu for the cleanse. I will not be blogging during this process but will keep a journal and share results! Happy late summer to all!
"Late summer emerges around the first of August
and ushers us into fall at the Equinox.
Late summer is ruled by the Earth element.
The Earth is ruled by the Divine Mother energy
and fills us with gratitude, sympathy, compassion,
ability to give and receive nourishment of all kinds,
from being grounded, centered and balanced."
-Mary Lane, Divine Nourishment

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Quilts of Gee's Bend

Last night, I had the immense pleasure of visiting an art gallery with my dear friend Rose. In and of itself that would have been a rare treat to be savored. But what was inside was a collection I've wanted to see for years, one that moved both of us more than we expected. The quilts of Gee's Bend.

Two years ago I scrapped (no pun intended) my measured method of quilting and joined droves of modern quilters in the improvisational movement. This liberating practice of piecing to your heart's content and throwing straight lines and rulers out the window results in a much more interesting, personal, creative expression. The quilters of Gee's Bend literally pioneered this movement, and not by going down the road to the fabric store, but by finding scraps, jackets, blankets, whatever--and creating history.
Stopping at this pre-war piece entered me in conversation with another quilter moved to tears.
This piece shows just how resourceful the quilters were. Using swatches from campaign ribbons, army gear, sweaters, mixing knitwear and cotton and polyester and bedsheets with beautiful results.
Log cabin-style blocks become so much more interesting when pieced in this way!
I think this was my favorite quilt in the room. Again, pausing to admire it found me in conversation with another quilter, this time trying to imagine how the quilter's pieced this beauty. The juxtaposition of fabrics is spectacular.
Another friend was there, and she recognized one of the fabrics from a doll she had as a child!
I loved this very improv log cabin piece that used cottons and courdoroys in perfect accord, contrasting them with denim from old blue jeans. They kept the pockets! Love that!
Each of the quilts was so inspirational. Every piece of fabric was carefully transformed into something much bigger than itself. The quilts of Gee's Bend are metaphoric, iconic pieces of Americana that showcase community, creativity, and true sustainability. I was grateful to be in the presence of so much love.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nature's Complete Alphabet

A few weeks ago, we started our treasure hunt for the alphabet within natural elements around us. Here is our finished collection, accompanied by the great Arlo Guthrie.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Project Update: The Safe Motherhood Quilt

Tonight is the Full Moon in Aquarius, a time to manifest awakening and compassion, and to examine the relationship between individual expression and service to humanity. I felt tonight would be the perfect occasion to revisit The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project, and to honor a mother that lost her life in childbirth.

Pamela Jean Young Lippert died from an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) just hours after giving birth to her son Vaughn (Cameron), who is alive and healthy today. Ina May Gaskin, founder of the quilt project, noticed a sharp increase in the number of women dying with this diagnosis; moreover, a majority of these women (like Pamela) were induced with Cytotec, also known as misoprostol. Cytotec is a drug that has never been approved by the FDA for labor induction and causes the uterus to hyperstimulate like no other medicine. Furthermore, unlike Cervadil, it cannot be removed once it is administered.

Ina May wanted to create a special quilt to bring awareness to the far too many women who have died of amniotic fluid embolism. Pamela already has a square on the larger Safe Motherhood Quilt, which is how I came to know her story. The square, lovingly created by her sister Lauren, was on the panel I was honored to quilt last year. I communicated with Pamela's family and they gave me their blessing to create a new square for the special quilt.
I received many loving details about this beautiful woman, younger than I am, who was obviously in great health and full of love for life and the world around her. But one line in an email from her mother caught my attention:

"I remember how she loved trees, and how, if she saw a huge tree standing in a field by itself, she would marvel at its creation and at how strong it must be to stand alone."
I gathered the fabric that spoke to me and began to create a strong and mighty tree, alone, with Pam in contemplation. (The fabric I used for the trunk is the same fabric that binds the panel of the Safe Motherhood Quilt with Pam's original square in it.)

As I was working on this piece, little b was digging around in my notions and found two little oval mirrors, and tossed them in my direction. One of them landed right in the center of the tree. This moment of contemplation instantly became a portal between Pamela's birth experience and the strength and solitude she so admired.
After placing the pieces on the 12" x 16" square with fusible webbing, I gave each a decorative stitch treatment to reinforce and embellish the details of the square. For Pamela's silhouette, I used a free motion foot; it may not be perfect, but I think its fluidity represents the moment in a nice way.
Pam was only 26 years old when she transcended this world. The real tragedy here is that her death quite likely could have been prevented. If you would like to join Ina May and me and many others in the fight for healthier childbirth, there are many ways to help. If you would like to create a quilt square for a woman who has died of amniotic fluid embolism, please visit this list and find a woman (who doesn't already have a quilter assigned) that resonates with you. Please comment here or email me with your contact information and I will fill you in on specifications, etc. These stories need to be told.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sushi for Kids

Big B has loved sushi since he was old enough to eat it. He not only devours the veggie rolls, but genuinely enjoys the more adventurous sushi that Papa and I eat. We have intended, as a family, to make our own sushi--I used to do this in college at a macrobiotic restaurant--but it hasn't quite made it to the table. Then last week, on a trip to our local Whole Foods Market, I noticed a flyer for a free kids' sushi making class. I immediately signed Big B up, and this morning, we joined nine other families as their little ones, wide-eyed, awaited instruction.

The display before them was gorgeous: nori, rice, crab, tofu, cucumber, scallion, carrot, asparagus, cream cheese, mango, pineapple, melon, and strawberries.
Who knows what Nori is?
The teachers were patient and creative and helped the kids through each step. Big B laid out his nori and flattened sticky sushi rice into a neat little rectangle, leaving about an inch of room on either side.
He then chose from the filling buffet. For his first roll, he decided to go sweet: cream cheese, mango, and strawberry. He called this one the Jasmine Dragon roll.
His second roll was a bit more adventurous, including crab meat, cucumber, pineapple, strawberries, cream cheese and mango. This one was called the Rainbow Dragon roll.
Big B really impressed me today. Rolling sushi is not easy for adults, let alone six-year-olds. When it was time to roll the Rainbow Dragon, Big B did not need any help, and did a beautiful job.
The finished Jasmine Dragon and Rainbow Dragon rolls. I would easily pay $10 for this at a sushi bar.
After class, we found a table outside and shared Big B's creations. Little b and I raved about each piece, and we saved one of each for Papa. We are looking forward to creating many more rolls at home!

Book Love

In the last two days I have acquired four coveted books that have been on my wish-list for some time, and I can't wait to dig in. All of them (only one purchased new) make me smile just looking at their tempting covers.

1 : Radical Homemakers, Shannon Hayes
How can I resist a book that comes so highly recommended by my dear friend and domestic muse Rose--not to mention one that has a preface entitled "Tomato Canning Feminists!"

2 : The Joy of Cooking, Rombauer, Becker and Becker
How I have not previously owned this book I have no idea. This should be a permanent fixture in any kitchen, right along side a Cuisinart and a music source.

3 : The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Judy Rodgers
I have coveted this collection since I learned of my college friend and his darling wife working at the renowned San Francisco restaurant of the same name. We will dine there one day!

4 : Glorious Patchwork, Kaffe Fassett
Kaffe Fassett's work makes me dizzy, in a good way. The man has no fear. His bold color and print combinations and sharp, meticulous quilt patterns have me reeling.

The dog days of summer have many of us inside, gleaning inspiration from good books, sending us inward to continue our journeys. Happy reading!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Local Colors

What a beautiful weekend we spent enjoying the vivid brightness of our village. Here are some snippets from our journey to our farmer's market, a hidden state archeological site, and a local fishing pier.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Yard Sale Score: Ukulele

Could there possibly be anything sweeter than happening upon a fabulous estate sale on the way home from a fabulous morning at the beach?

I scored an antique German Little Red Riding Hood board book, a hand carved linoleum block for prints (which I am in love with and will be shown again in December, I'm sure), and a ukulele. In and of itself, a ukulele (pronounced oo-koo-lay-lay, I've recently learned) wouldn't be a big deal, but Big B was gifted one for his sixth birthday, and we are both learning to play it. Such joy to see his face light up at the prospect of us playing them together!

Car Painting, Take Two

The walls of our house are in need of refreshment. Recently inspired by the very cool, very comfortable, very efficient interior design in the small home of our friends, we have been rearranging furniture and artwork. At a quick stop at our local art and frame store, I saw large stretched canvases marked down beyond belief. I scooped two up and resurrected a project we enjoyed last year with shiny new paints and refurbished gusto.

Big B's finished Car Painting:

little b's finished Car Painting:

New Front Entry Table Art: