Sunday, December 30, 2007

Rough Draft

I finished the first draft of my novel today! Wow. Now to let it sit and percolate in the back of my mind and it will be off to revisions (and more revisions) starting some time in January. The advice is to let it sit for a couple of weeks while I do other things.

That would be quilting.

I've been working on a project as I've written this month. It didn't go as well as the November quilting. It seems when I'm writing, I need something in the quilting stage, not the creating stage. It is harder to multi-task during the creative process. I want to use all my creative energy on one or the other, not divide it between two different endeavors.

This is what I'm working on right now:

The leaves feel too far to the right, so will need to rethink what to do next.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Finally Finished

The large quilt I've been working on is finally finished. It is large: 46 1/2" high by 52 1/2" wide. Any ideas for a name would be gratefully appreciated!

This one took forever to completely. Guess that is what I get for starting (and mostly finishing) a book in November. It was an interesting process. When the writing wasn't working, I'd quilt until I knew what to write. I've started a new quilt. Hopefully it will work the other way too!

I'm going to try to keep track of creative process (a warm up for the Take it Further Challenge

So to start it off, here it what sparked the idea:

Here are potential fabrics:

I'm intending to use mostly the black and white with only a small bit of the greens for shock value.

To start, I freehand drew a stem on the fabric in pencil and slashed it with my rotary cutter. I placed one of the greens underneath and I'm reverse appliquing the black to create the stem. This is what it looks like so far:

Hopefully while I work on this, the next idea for what I'm writing will come to me. I know what it is supposed to be, but not the execution. Sounds like how I quilt.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


I don't do New Year's Resolutions, but set goals for myself instead. Losing weight will be back on the list of goals again this year unfortunately. I put weight back on after I purchased a vehicle.

On my list of goals for the next while:

1. Finish my NaNo. I made the 50,000 word count by the end of November as desired, but I still need to complete the story. My goal is to write another 30,000 words by the end of December. That is only 1,000 words/day instead of 1,666. Easy.

2. I signed up for an quilt challenge for 2008 called Breaking Traditions. The guidelines will be sent out later. Okay, so far so good.

3. I'm doing an art doll challenge--create a quilt that represents yourself. Think paper doll. Clothes, shoes, hair. Zwinky's here I come. Yep, still cool(ish).

4. I joined the "Take It Further" challenge ( Each month for the next year, a coordinator will post a challenge and we have one month to complete the task, including posting our progress during the month. Hum, I think those might be beads of perspiration forming. Oooh.

I once did a personality test. My results told me I'm the type of person who likes to climb slippery mountains. There was something about my shoes too--of course--but I can't remember exactly how it went. So I've pulled out my stiletto's and I'm good to go.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I did it!

Wow, 50,000 words in one month. The story isn't finished, but the word count is. A bit of rest, and then to complete the tale.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I'm up to 41,000 words on my NaNo. I'm still afraid I'm going to run out of plot before I get to 50,000 words, but things keep moving along. If it was just to write, it wouldn't matter. I'll keep plugging along and see where it end. Hopefully it is with enough words, though. Writing has been a very organic process. I went into it with a plot, but it didn't last long. Things are happening that I didn't anticipate and I'm only figuring out now how to resolve what had looked like gaping plot loopholes.

The way I'm writing is affecting how I view art and how it gets 'done'. I tend to work organically with my art work, but I think it will be even more so now, less 'plot' and more surprise. I've been working on an art quilt as well and it is almost ready for binding. It is densely quilted, so it had taken forever. Here is a peek at the quilting.

There are spots where the background doesn't lie flat because of the silk shifting possibly in the applique process and possibly in the quilting process. Ah well, off to write another 1,600 words. Before tonight's dinner and live music at the cafe. Well actually, before 3pm when I have a meeting with the other NaNo's.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Community Connection & Dance

Hedy and I had a conversation about tango connection--the one we have with our community and how it affects our dance. We were in agreement that in Buenos Aires there is a different form of connection. We decided that on a crowded floor, there is a bit more anonymity. This allows leads especially to access the passion of tango. She told me that Brent had commented that he missed watching men cry on the dance floor.

I couldn't help but wonder if this is part of what we are missing in our community. We have a wonderful group of dancers, but some of the heart I've felt in other communities is missing. Here, we have fewer members, and less dedication to excellence. Hedy is lucky, she has a lead with a sense of dedication and a willingness to experience that passion.

For the last while, I've closed myself off to the heart of our community (for various reasons) and I miss it. Last night, I cried because I feel that sense of loss deeply. I've considered giving up tango. Without the passion and heart it has felt meaningless. But I'm not ready to quit this dance. Instead, I'm going to give myself a swift kick in the rear end, put my heart back into this dance and see what happens.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Over the Hump

With twelve days left, I've completed 30,735 words of 50,000. Impressive, I suppose. My fear though is that I'll peter out and although the story will wrap up neatly, the word count will fall short. So I'm blathering. Ah well, guess I'll just wander in hopeless circles and edit ruthlessly later.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Yesterday at work I was sitting at my desk, quietly minding my own business imputing stuff into the gift recommendations, answering the phone, the usual. A client of our sales guy walks in. Usual stuff.

"Nice shoe" he says, pointing at a note pad holder in the shape of a shoe—gee, wonder what something like that is doing on my desk.

"Thanks, I have a shoe fetish," I tell him. Things are going swimming up to this point.

"Cool. I have a foot fetish myself." He responds. Oh. My. God. I'm at work here! Cute, okay, attractive. And a foot fetish. Perfect opening line. Except I was at work. Swell. Hope he does lots of advertising! And needs to come in to office.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Great Canadian Urban Fantasy

Word count is at the side. I lost over 1,000 words the other day and had a full on panic attack when I had to rewrite them. That wasn't fun at all. One character has now taken on a major roll when I thought she'd only be a photograph. I have no idea where I'm going. I've been know to yell at my computer things like:

"Just what are you doing:

1. Here,
2. That for,
3. With him/her.

Hopefully they will tell me eventually where I'm headed.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Word Count

Day Five

Present word count: 7,039
Words needed by the end of today: 8,333.33

So far, I've been on track for daily word count. I'm staying a bit ahead each day and managing to keep up with other tasks as well. Yesterday, in addition to writing, I met with other NaNoWriMo's, did laundry, worked on an art quilt, and went to tango. And didn't fall behind in my writing.

My plot has gone out the window, my characters are taking over my book and I haven't got a clue where they are going from here. And I'm using perfectly good words in my blog.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Connection & Musicality

The last workshop at Portland was with Murat and Michelle. He walked us through the pause, that chance in the music to reconnect. This put in to words what I felt when I danced in Argentina. It is an unbelievable thing to watch an entire floor dance together. Collisions are few and far between as the dancers hear the music and dance to it. Together. The pause is just that, the pause. Collect with feet together, ocho cortado, the cross. All are ways to reconnect with both your partner and the dance floor.

I've mentioned it before, but here in Victoria, we are in a race to get to the end of the dance first. We rush through moves, don't hear the melody of the music, only the rhythm—beat, beat, beat we move. Pause and listen and you hear a room of people. You hear the underlying melody of unity. Unity to each other, to the dance, to your partner and back out again. It builds an intense energy in a room. No longer are you dancing your own little dance in your own little world, you are dancing everyone's dance. You breathe in the synergy and it builds and builds and builds.

How do I bring this home without offending anyone? How do I tell my leads (including the wonderful dancers) to wait, to breathe in the pause. How to you create a room of such synergy? Once it starts, it will look after itself. But how to start it. Guess I'm going to have to learn to lead.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Portland Tango Festival

Ah, we are in Portland. Denise and I picked up Homi in Sidney and drove down on Thursday. The weather wasn't bad, but the wind around Seattle created an interesting driving experience. We pulled one of those quick changes once we arrived and headed straight to the milonga, which was already in progress. Fashionably late. Not that any one else would notice as so many others were as well. Both fashionable and late that is!

We would have danced until the bitter end, but I was pretty tired from driving, so we left at about 1:30 (close enough, eh!). Saturday was a workshop day. The first two were decent. I am back to hunching my shoulders again, something I had stopped doing after my first private lesson with Eduardo. I already sensed that I was doing it again, but to have the instructor point it out just reminded me.

The third workshop was a bust. The instructor was showing how to make linear moves into circular moves, something I'd learned with both Eduardo and Julio Balmaceda. He had so little "presence" compared to the first two. It could be the fact that he knew no English, and his assistant was one of those "put together" women that don't laugh much.

From workshops, Denise and I went to the afternoon practica. We met up with Gord and Alva and were invited for dinner. We were finalizing arrangements when Hans and Wendy showed up. There wasn't enough room in Gord's car for all of us, so we started walking up the street to pick up Hans's vehicle. And ran into Kitty, Vanessa and Dean. So we went for dinner with them instead.

The evening milonga was wonderful. Again, the bodies were fashionable and we were late. Ah, the dancing. When I wasn't dancing, watching all the beautiful footwork (and footwear) made the time pass very quickly. I danced with Richard from Seattle. Another one of those fleeting tango moments.

Connection. It is the heart of this dance. The last tangasm was with Valentine from New York. These moments are getting fewer and farther between. I'm closing off parts of myself so the ache inside isn't so bad, but after this I know I need a partner. There has to be the ability at home to dance regularly with a lead you connect with. I wonder if any of those young, attractive, dynamic dancers would be willing to come home with me? Hum, guess not. But I did find a pair of shoes willing to come home with me!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Novels and Such

I got the following email on Sunday:

Subject: An email from your imagination

We got this email today from your imagination. It was misaddressed to us, so we're sending it along to you. We hope it finds you well.

-----Original Message-----


This is your imagination. I know work, school, and general craziness have been keeping us apart lately. But there's something we need to do together this November.

It's called National Novel Writing Month. For it, we'll bash out a 50,000-word novel, from scratch, in 30 days. You and me. Writing a book. Together.

I need you to sign us up. Because I don't have any arms.


Your imagination

Apparently last year before heading to Argentina I was thinking of writing a book. I'd heard about NaNoWriMo before and must have signed up for it. And forgot about it. For a year. Aren't reminder emails wonderful. Just think, I could have gone on forever with my dancing and my quilting and never written that book. Writing is on my list of "things I've done in the past". Kind of like art.

It would be easy to ignore this, after all my life is very busy right now. I dance, am part of the Tango Pacifico board and all that includes and have a deadline for an art quilt in the middle of November. So I signed up for it. And told people at work I'm writing a book in November. Insert eye rolls and laughter here! OMG, I signed up online to write a novel in November. What AM I thinking! Good thing I'm not going to Argentina this year after all.

Portland Tango Festival

Eleven of us are heading to Portland this weekend. It will take us four vehicles and a train to do it, but I'm sure we will all arrive safely. Unlike everyone else, I'm going to combine pleasure with more pleasure and fabric shop as well. Portland has Fabric Depot, more than an acre of great fabric all in one place. I hope my car is big enough to bring it all back! There is also a showing of Gees Bend quilts that I'm hoping to be able to see as well.

Of course, with all the tango workshops, I might get distracted and forget fabric and wear my feet out instead. Ooh, guess I need to figure out which shoes to bring. Green, check. Zebra, check. Red? Hum, the Lolo Gerard are starting to feel a bit loose, but that might be okay and I always forget about the Tango Brujo custom made. A spin with them on the dance floor last night reminded me of how comfortable they are. Hum, I might not have room for the fabric because of the shoes.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I had an epiphany yesterday. It was a bit awkward though, as a little old man in Starbucks said "Don't look so sad, it can't be that bad" and I started to cry. In public. I never cry and certainly not in public, so I practically ran to my car. No kleenex anywhere, not in my purse, my coat, the glove compartment. Thank God for shirt sleeves.

The night before Elizabeth had commented to me in passing that her dad and I still talked about one another the same way, were still so bitter. When I started to tell her I wasn't bitter, she snapped "You're not bitter, I get it. I get it," and walked away. Pondering this I couldn't help but wonder if I was still bitter.

The next morning in Starbucks, I was sitting and contemplating how frustrating it is to be thought to have said or done things that you didn't. How hurtful to have someone you care about accuse you of saying things you didn't say.

The breakup of my marriage was a horrible thing. Steph accused her father of sexual abuse, and social services removed him from the home. It took about that long for them to do it too. I heard later from my neighbour that he was telling everyone that Steph and I concocted the scheme in order to get him out of the house. His jump in logic was that because I was sexually abused I'd coached her on what to say to make the accusation stick. Six years later, and that still hurts. Deeply. Painfully. The result of this kind of branding is to try to encase my heart in ice. It was easier to appear bitter and angry than to hurt that much.

I've been a "victim" in the past. Been there, done that, burnt the t-shirt. So here it is, happening again in my life from yet another source. OMG, stop with trying to make me a scapegoat. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a couple of t-shirts I need to go burn.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Running With the Wolves

I've been feeling out of sorts. It started in about May and was getting worse and worse. For various reasons, I had decided to drop tango completely, but commitments to the community dictated that it couldn't happen until after the middle of September. So I distanced myself emotionally from it instead.

I'm reading the book " Women Who Run With Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Estes is a Jungian therapist and cantadora (storyteller). Each chapter deals with issues deep within a womans psyche using fables found in different cultures. Estes speaks of how women sever themselves from their internal creative force, becoming quiet, good, perfect... fill it whatever word works in your own circumstances.

Reading Este's book, I've realized that the decision to quit tango has severed me from my own internal energy. Via tango, for the first time in my adult life, I was fully connected to myself. Tango fed the artistic creation, which fed the tango, which fed... When one wasn't working, the other was. So, do I restart the tango fire? Or do I walk away from it and find another way to light that fire? Which would be best for who I really am?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Working with Silk

This piece started with a piece of silk picked up at a thrift store a number of years ago. Although gaudy, it is silk and would have been thrown away if I hadn't taken it home. The fabriholic in me couldn't let that happen. What can I say... I knew something would occur to me, but quilting wasn't what I had in mind at the time.

Silk is interesting to work with. Cottons are predictable when hand appliqued. Raw silk or duponi silk have a similar dynamic to cottons and don't move around, but the fabric I was working with is the lighter weight charmeuse so is very slippery. I fused interfacing to the back (not something that works well with a silk as the heat needed to bond the interfacing is too hot for the silk). Silk does applique easily even though it is slippery and doesn't seem to fray the same way, so it created wonderfully sharp points where I wanted them without the frustrating little bits of thread everywhere.

Now I'm at a loss how to quilt what I would consider the background. I've had several ideas and tossed them, so it sits on my design wall and taunts me. I wish it would talk to me instead.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Grief, it is never easy, but in our family it takes on a whole new meaning. Every loss leads back to my mom's death. The minister mentioned at Frank's funeral that grief is the price we pay for loving someone. All of us wonder if it was too high a price to pay. At every funeral, we swap stories of both the recent death and those of my mother. Joyce, Glen and I grieved for Frank, but we also grieved again for my mother. It has been 34 years, but her death is still as real and tangible.

Sudden, unexpected death has that effect. We have no time to prepare, so it changes how we look at life. We wonder--I wonder--will those I love the most be snatched from me with no warning yet again? In my family, we love from a distance. Neither of my brother's ever married, nor will they. There is a touch of fear in our love. I love my kids and granddaughter so deeply, but sometimes I know there is a veil over that love, just in case.

At Frank's funeral, I reflected on things. How Frank saved my daughter's life. The year after my separation, the girls and I went to visit Joyce and Frank. Steph was hostile and angry, fragile and still teetering on the brink of anorexia. Frank took Steph and taught her to ride, gave her multiple trips on his quad, puttered in his work room with her, and loved her unconditionally. That's just the kind of man he was. But he saved her life. If I'd told him that, he would have said "there are no bad kids, only kids that did bad things."

Glen and I also talked about how grief affected my mother's life. Losing her husband when she was only twenty-one, I now recognize how that changed her. How she also loved us deeply and unconditionally, but from a bit of a distance. Now, I have a chance to change things, to love without the veil. Elizabeth has a spirit so similar to my mother's. She is energetic, passionate and loving they way my mother would have been without the veil of grief. I have a chance to see how my mother would have been.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Shoe Study

Years ago in art school, one of our assignments was to do a study of one subject. We had to do at least ten different images using one still life.

A discussion of black and white quilts started me thinking of possibilities, and it seemed natural to use one of these pictures. I photocopied the original drawing to create templates for the major areas. Each piece was fused onto the background fabric and thread highlighting was added for additional depth. The black border gives it a nice frame as well.

I've also been painting with acrylics on fabric. This is great fun. I've accumulated a nice little stack of fat quarters. And this Rorschach ink blot. Hum, what do you see? That would be a good thing to figure out before I start to quilt it! I might also turn it over. Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Zenkoji Temple

Here are a few pictures of Zenkoji Temple in Nagano. There are two gates to enter into the temple. This is one side of the first gate:
The second gate is under construction, so it isn't visible to the public right now.

One temple had a museum in the basement. Some of the Buddha images on display show a remarkable similarity to Christian symbols. There were several that showed pictures of a man, woman and baby kneeling before an "angel". The only difference is that the "angel" was Buddha. There were also three paintings of a Buddha in a field of flowers. I was mesmerized by these. They were beautiful. I looked for the remainder of my trip hoping to find a poster or postcards or something with those pictures, but to no avail.

In the main temple, we went down stairs into a dark corridor. There is a brass door that you move and a string is supposed to be attached to the pinky of the Buddha. Once we moved the latch, Beth wanted to turn around and go back the way we came rather than going forward. Rather than be left in the dark alone, I turned around too. Not fun. Later, Beth confessed that she thought that there was a door that we had to open and that it wasn't. She thought we would be trapped down there. Ooh, that wouldn't have been fun.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Moss Street Paint-In

Saturday Elizabeth and I went to the Moss Street Paint-In. We haven't been for several years. The art gallery had free admission to the Rodin exhibit. Wow, what an exhibit. I've always been fascinated by Rodin, seeing what he created and some of his thoughts on creation, I admire him even more. The two of us spent almost two hours in the gallery.

Because of the weather, there were fewer artists at the paint-in than there normally would have been. It is interesting attending an event like this with another artist, to see what captures another person's attention and why. Both of us are drawn to artists with a unique voice. We blew by all the Emily Carr look-a-likes, the water colours of flowers and more flowers (and more flowers). This might be why it is the first time I've ever made it to the very end.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Matsumoto Castle

Now that I'm home, I can post pictures of my trip. Our first weekend in Nagano, we went to Matsumoto Castle.

The castle was built during the Eisho Era in the 1500's. Additional parts were added to the castle in the Tensho Era (1590). The castle was slated for demolition in the late 1800's. At that time, it was believed that relics of the past should be destroyed. Ryozo Ichikawa and others purchased the castle in an attempt to save it, but their efforts were not enough. Fortunately, Unari Kobayashi, a school teacher, formed an organization to preserve the donjon tower.

This model displayed in the museum shows a bit of what the area around Matsumoto Castle would have looked like at one time. Now, the city of Matsumoto takes up much of the space. The castle itself is still surrounded by the large moat. The koi inside are enormous, and apparently the white ones are very rare.

On display inside the castle itself and in the museum attached to the castle are several examples of samurai armour. Hum, looks familiar. Got to say it was a bit strange to go around a corner and look Darth Vader in the face.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Earthquakes, Weddings and Monkeys

Wow, so much has happened since I was able to post last. Of course the biggest event was on Saturday when Kirk and Hitomi were married. Their wedding was beautiful. Hitomi wore a traditional kimono. The ceremony started with a Buddist chant--very moving. After the wedding, the reception and an after party. This is the first time that I've been at a wedding where the guests were served steak and lobster. Definitely a treat. The Japenese also believe in serving more food than anyone can possibly eat. There was yet more food at the after party.

Yesterday, Beth wanted to leave Kirk and Hitomi alone (go figure), so we wandered downtown. The temple here is celebrating an anniversary, so their was a parade, Geisha girls, and dragon dancing. At the temple gate, one Geisha turned just as I took a picture. Wow, was that a smile?

Today is our last day here. We enjoyed a very full day today starting with a traditional Japanese garden. We had just entered, when the whole room shook--a 5 point earthquake. This is one of the most beautiful gardens I've seen. Ah, to post pictures... From there, we went to an art gallery featuring one of the most famous artists in Japan and then visited some monkey baths. The monkey baths are set in the hills above Nagano. You drive up a long winding road only big enough for 1/2 a car (no wonder their vehicles are so small!) The hills are interesting. Some of the forest seems more like it has been planted than just grown as the trees are so uniform in spacing.

Right now, Beth, Hitomi and her friend Sarah from Denmark are enjoying a traditional Japanese bath. I wasn't too interested (public nakedness and all), so came to use the computer instead. It will be good to get home. This has been an interesting trip, but travelling with someone else has unique challenges and I'm ready for a rest. Oh right, I have to go back to work right after I get home. Oh well, maybe next week!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More Eastern Snippets

Our trip to the temple was very interesting. It is hard to tell where everything is, as it is all in Japanese. We walked in on someone praying in one temple and were chased out. Beth was convinced this was the temple and kept trying to go back in, and the fellow kept chasing her out. We walked further along and came to a gate the first gate. Lining the gate are vendors selling temple souvenere. The main gate is closed for repairs, so were unable to enter that way. Thank heavens for big red arrows!

There are three temples. We were able to see two of them. Unfortunately, by the time we finished our shopping it was a bit late to see the third. There is a sense of awe in the lesser of the two. The largest is so much a tourist location now that it is overshadowed. In the lower level of the temple, you walk in pitch black until you find a brass plate set in the wall. It has a hinge that is attached to the pinky of the Buddah. It is supposed to bring you what you wish for. Beth got frightened as she thought it opened a door, so insisted we turn around and go back. It was pitch black and I discovered an inordinate fear of the dark. I would have prefered to go on, but sure didn't want to get abandoned in the dark!

Yesterday we spent shopping with Kirk and Hitomi, partly for their wedding and partly just to shop. I found a wonderful cabinet that was actually free. It would work well for thread, so Kirk is going to wrap it up so I can bring it home with me. Good thing I only brougt one check on bag with me! Beth isn't doing much better, she bought a small suitcase for a granddaughter, so will have to bring a Hello Kitty suitcase as carryone. Oops, I think she already had two. Hum, I have two, promise.

In the evening, we went to a village outside of Nagano where Kirk used to teach. His english students had a potluck for us. We were served amazing food. I did find out that the giggling accompanying my use of chopsticks is pleasure. The Japanese laugh when you do something from their culture. Beth was given a kimono by one of the women. It is beautiful silk and very wonderful.

Today we learned traditional Japanese flower arranging. Greenery and flowers are placed in a flat dish filled with water. The flowers are held in place with a flat metal plate with prongs. It was very interesting. The teacher went around the room fixing our mistakes. The end result was very interesting and it is too bad that we had to leave them behind. After lunch, Hitomi gave Beth and I a bra fitting. She insisted that we each accept one. Fortunately, I found a shirt I liked as a shirt seemed less expensive and they are already doing so much for us.

Tomorrow, we will vist a forest with 300 year old Japenese cedar trees as well as a monkey bath. Today--more shopping. Shoes, I can do shoes.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Snippets from the East

On Saturday evening, we went to Hitomi's parent's home for dinner. They put on a lavish spread without a raw fish in sight. I seemed to amuse them greatly. Every time I would eat, Hitomi's mom and grandmother would giggle. I asked Hitomi if I was using the chopsticks wrong, but she said they were very impressed with how well I did. Didn't stop the giggles though.

After dinner, we went with Kirk to a small cafe where he often plays. The cafe is run by a Canadian woman from Toronto. It was an open mike evening, so musicians would play or sing as the mood took them. What an amazing group of talent.

Yesterday, we spent the day with Hitomi and her parents again. We went to Matsumoto Castle. This is the oldest standing castle in Japan. It is steeped in history (and stairs). From the outside, it appears to have only three floors, but their is a hidden floor where Samuri hid during conflict. They were able to marshall in secret against their enemies. I do believe that George Lucas had a tour through the castle at one time. On display is Darth Vadars outfit (Samuri armour that is the prototype for Darth's I'm sure!) We also went to a wonderful Japense restaurant where I tried a curry that was amazing.

Today, Beth and I are going to visit Zenkoji Temple. This is a short walk from where we are staying and is very famous.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Hello from Japan

Our flight from Japan was on the inagural trip of a new Boeing 777. The plane had that new car smell for most of the trip. We were lucky enough to have our seats upgraded, so we had lots of leg room. It made for a much more comfortable flight. Because we sat right beside the emergency door, we could get up without have to crawl over anyone.
We are staying at the house of a friend of Kirk's (Beth's son). It is a very nice place in Nagano. The weather is incredibly hot and muggy. Beth and I have done some walking today. I didn't bring any money with me today, so will need to go back to check out the fabric store again (ah, how sad is that!). Apparently there is a store that sells used kimono's, but I think we managed to walk past it without noticing it. Much like Buenos Aires, the stores aren't obvious for what they are. We walked Buenos Aires, the stores aren't obvious for what they are. We walked to a cultural centre, but missed that was where we were until we went to walk further on and I looked up and saw the name on the front of the building. Thankfully, many buildings and streets also have English as well.
Nagano is about the same size as Victoria. I am an oddity here. As I sit at an internet cafe typing this, I'm being video'd. Oops, maybe I'm doing something wrong! Hope you don't get this in Japanese. Just dig out a dictionary if you do!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Black & White

Once again, I've left the wallflowers and jumped on to another project. This time, it was because the idea kept bugging at me wanting to be created. When I joined the QuiltArt list, and they were discussing black and white images and how it would work in a quilt. The thought sat in the back of my mind and I knew eventually I would do something black and white.

Years ago in art school, one of our projects was to draw ten studies of one subject. I chose to draw my favourite pair of shoes. I photocopied my favourite drawing and cut general templates for blocks of colour. It still needs shading, but I'll do this with thread and then later quilting. Seeing the pictures together helps me see where things need to be changed or highlighted as well.

This one is exciting as it feels the most like "art" of anything I've done yet. Off to stitch some more. Somewhere in there I have to remember to pack. Less than a week until Japan. If I count it in tango nights, that is three evenings. Otherwise it is 5 more sleeps!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wallflowers I

The first version of the wallflower quilt is finally finished. This sat in my pile of unfinished stuff while I played around with techniques and basically just farted around. It felt like writers block. I would try to come up with ideas, and my mind would skitter away. With a background fabric that I just knew would work, I started on a second wallflower quilt. I started with the same couple dancing, found a rubber stamp with an enigmatic face that will make the "perfect" flower. I was itching to work on it, when I went to the weekend with Julio and Corina. I picked up a card with Julio and Corina that I thought might work better, but it overshadowed the wallflowers. It was one of those ah ha moments. The problem with the first quilt was that the flowers were too random, therefore seemed overshadowed. So I picked off the applique on the first quilt, re-quilted and voila… Wallflowers I—In the Shadows.

The block is gone now too. The second wallflower quilt is partly done, and I have at least two more solid ideas. Now I'm off to make tablecloths for the July long weekend.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Shrek the Third

We went to see Shrek the Third last night. Very funny movie. Pokes fun at Hollywood (Far, Far Away) and every fairy tale's Hollywood ending. Cinderella is an airhead, Sleeping Beauty has narcalepsy, and Black Beauty is a closet goth. It was nice seeing a movie like this with Glen and Elizabeth. Often I'm the only one to get the jokes and with my big belly laugh it is very noticeable. Last night, at least there were three of us with big laughs all guffawing at the same time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


My brother arrived for a visit yesterday. He, Elizabeth and I went to the Shark Club for a bite to eat after he got here. When we walked in, I warned Elizabeth that she would be ID'd. It turned out that her "age" was effected our seating and our service. We were ignored for at least 5 minutes at the door, so we found our own table. And waited some more. Once a waitress finally showed up, the first thing she did was card Elizabeth. She stared at both her BC ID and her Driver's license for a long time. Looked back and forth. Looked some more. Then asked us what we wanted to drink.

Later, as we sat with martini's waiting for our food, the manager walked past our table. He glanced back, did a double take and walked away. A minute or two he walked back and openly stared. He walked past again, and went straight to our server. You could see her nodding. Hum, ID maybe?!? Too funny. Elizabeth is almost 20, but looks very young. At least when she is my age, she won't look almost 50!

Friday, June 08, 2007


Highlights of the Julio and Corina weekend:

If you want to know how they teach, attend a workshop. There are things best left unsaid.

The best pizza I've ever eaten. Ali Baba's doesn't even come close. They do internet orders, wonder if they deliver to Victoria?

Leads out numbered followers (yes, you read that right!) in every workshop we attended. These men are serious about their dancing and it shows. The dance community in Seattle is attracting a large amount of younger dancers. They are graceful and elegant and put my shoes to shame. I asked Illana about it, but she doesn't know how it started, although she is delighted to foster it.

Connection. Such an elusive thing on the dance floor, so it was strange to have one of the best connections in months in a workshop not in the milonga. I'd go back this weekend again just to have a connection like that on the dance floor. OMG, I miss that.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Strings and Things

Before Elizabeth left for Uculet, she needed a sweater mended. Digging through old needlecraft kits for black wool, I wondered if there wasn't something I could do with all this yarn. Much of it is wool, so needle felting came to mind. Never done it, don't have the equipment, but thought I'd see what would happen with yarn and a sewing machine. Oh, and some fusible web. The yarn was fused to a piece of muslin. I discovered in the process how much I like to look at things straight on when designing, rather than from above. This couldn't be done on a design wall as the threads would have just fallen off, so once fused it sat on the design wall for a bit. When I added extra threads to make the colours work better, they wouldn't fuse, so I stitched it with metallic thread before quilting it. It didn't seem to be the kind of thing to put a binding on, so I stretched it over canvas instead.

I've been trying to find a way to get water soluble pencils to stay in fabric when washed. This is easier said than done. I had a brainstorm that might work though. Using Golden's GAC 900 mixed half and half with water produced a slightly faded result, but not as much as with no treatment.

Pre washing:

Post washing with metallic thread for quilting:

I'm going to try it with less water now just to see.

I've found the perfect background fabric for my wallflower quilt idea, and I'm just itching to get at it, but it will have to wait until next week as I'm off to Seattle for a couple of days to take workshops with Julio Balmaceda and Corina de la Rosa. Guess that means I should go pack.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Form Studies

I recently pulled out an art text book from my short stint in art school in the late 70s. I first decided to look at the book when a discussion on the QuiltArt list brought up the question of what is art. This seems to be an ongoing question within the group (and probably with artists everywhere!)

The book is a workbook intended to stretch how the artist views art and approaches design. The first chapters discuss the history of art, why art is important and what defines art. From there, different aspects of the technique of art are discussed. The first of these deals with form, how shapes relate to each other, how negative space is as important as positive space. Using fabric rather than paper, I've decided to try to do all the exercises. Or I may not. That will be a lot of fabric!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

In My Grandma's Flower Garden

I finally finished my flower garden, and managed to use every suggestion received--the large block was trimmed, but left and I added a border. Although I wasn't sure about that, it turned out to work as it made the piece look more dramatic and kind of tied it all together. Think of it as a mat, not a border and it's fine!

I've also been playing around with fabric dying using acrylic paints. Kind of fun. Here is a bit of what I've done. I like the purplish one. Paint was poured over fabric in a ziploc bag and all the air squished out. Then it was left to sit for about 20 minutes for the paint to absorb. It has a cosmic look to it. I might overprint the green ones, or maybe sunprint or stamp or something as they look a bit dull so far. Okay, off to play some more!

Embrace Tango

This weekend, Tango Pacifico launches their first event! Michael and Beatrix will be here doing workshops at Cafe Casablanca on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. Lessons include Friday evening: Tango-Vals-Milonga; Saturday, Tango: Role reversal, Vals and Milonga; Sunday, Valsing & valsing, and New Moves from Buenos Aires. All workshops will take place at Café Casablanca For complete details on our event, check out David's website

We will also host a milonga on Friday Night and Sunday night at Café Casablanca. Both milongas start at 9pm and run until midnight (or longer depending on the weariness of your feet). Michael and Beatrix will perform on Friday night to the wonderful accordian music of Roland Gritani. Tango Vita will also have their regular monthly milongs on Saturday Night at Lynda Raino's dance studio. If you feel like a bit of a jaunt on Saturday instead, Salt Spring will host their Por el Amor del Tango milonga Saturday evening at the Lion's hall starting at 9pm—just make sure you are back by 1pm for Michael and Beatrix's class!

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Certain Type of Woman

There is a certain type of woman I seem to have a great deal of difficulty with. The ones that have more men 'friends' than I have socks. Conversations always start out badly and end up worse. Partly because they are usually looking down their nose at me, partly because my inner bitch becomes my outer bitch by the end.

Take the conversation on Saturday with someone I hadn't seen for almost two years. I wondered why she had stopped dancing, something she seemed to enjoy. Her response "because the man I was dating didn't dance" left my jaw somewhere around the level of my knees. In my head I'm thinking "you would give up your life for a man?" That should have been my clue to walk away, but instead, I tried to understand the concept. Wrong! Mouth shut! Walk away! By the end, she was looking even further down her nose at me, and I was thinking "oh God Linda, you are such a bitch." Maybe it would have helped to tell her I couldn't catch a man with a fishing pole and live bait. Although that could be why she was looking down her nose at me in the first place.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

To Cut or Not to Cut

I while ago, I painted two flowers on some fabric. I left it sitting as I wasn't sure where to go from there. Digging in a cupboard recently, I found some pieced vintage grandmother's flower garden, so I pinned them to the background randomly. It looks kind of neat, but I can't decide whether to trim the bottom edge or leave the vintage fabric. Ooh, cutting those 30's cottons will be hard. Suggestions?

The "Perfect" White Skirt

I've been on a quest for the perfect white skirt. It started when Andrea wore one during a performance with Homer last year in September. Of course, there wasn't anything here in town, so I looked in Buenos Aires in November while I was there. After many hours of shopping (oh the cruelty!) I hadn't found anything near to what I thought I remembered Andrea wearing. By now what I remembered and what she actually wore were probably different, but no more obtainable.

Returning home, there was snow and a cold, miserable winter. Must be the memories of warm Argentina that made this winter seem so horrid. With spring finally here, the quest started once again. After much looking, and no success, I remembered that I can sew (for something other than quilts!) and bought the perfect white fabric. Actually four perfect white fabrics. I couldn't find a pattern that came close, though, so have cut, and pasted and fudged and trimmed my way to perfection. Cool, the perfect white skirt.

Tango Pacifico

The official (non)launch of Tango Pacifico took place on Sunday evening. Frank gave a great speech and we nailed ourselves to the wall. Oh, that would be the plaque we nailed to the wall! It was a great way to top off four solid nights of wonderful dancing.

From here we plunge into the Michael and Beatrix weekend. Check out the flier on David's website

Friday, May 04, 2007

Paisley Fishes

In the February/March issue of Quilting Arts magazine there was an article on two different ways to create art fishes. So I created a third. Paisley looks like a fish (it might also look like a bird, so that could be next). The body of each fish is from a paisley fabric, fussy cut and fused to the background fabric. Once the fish were placed, I added seaweed forms.

I freemotion quilted scales on each fish, and bubbles from a couple of the larger fish. Kind of fun.

I'm trying to figure out what to do with all these small quilts. They are piled in a heap in my sewing room right now, no sleeves for hanging, no signatures, just bits of learning and experimenting.

I also overdyed some vintage (gasp) cotton that was once a dress of my grandmother's. I can remember her wearing it in about the 70's and maybe even later. This is the garish pink fabric with the funky flower I've used over and over. Right now it is an anemic blue colour, so I think I'll try some more overdying. Off to play some more!

Forever Tango

What an amazing evening. Live productions are so great! They are a delight to the visual and the auditory. Unlike taped productions, here you can choose what to look at, like the fact that the cellist was bowing so hard he broke some of the strings on his bow. Watching this string wave back and forth as the musicians played was a visual treat in its own right.

It is easy to see the passion of the dancers with the embrace, the foot work and how they move together, then apart, and together again. You can almost hear the caught breath in her throat as he pulls her close. But the passion is mirrored in the musicians in a different way. The broken string, the face hovered close to the instrument as if whispering love songs in its ear.

The evening was capped off with a milonga at Cafe Casablanca. Eva and Patricio (definitely the stars of the show) came to unwind. Later in the evening, they quietly got up and danced. It wasn't a performance, just two people dancing tango. Watching them, I felt the movement of Buenos Aires again, felt how it was to dance with Eduardo and others. Their movements were stretched out, elongated, elegant and so, so sensual. Their movements are understated and beautiful. What we dance here is closer to earlier in the evening on the stage. What they dance in the milongas in Buenos Aires was demonstrated in two quiet dances this wonderful couple shared. It isn't as flashy, it is close, intimate, private and OMG I miss it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More Class Work

Yesterday we did some fabric weaving. Susan had several fabrics for us to choose from, although it turned out both of us used the same blue so there wasn't quite enough. This is the start after class:

And today after some fiddling (it seemed to be missing something and the purple at the bottom was distracting as it was too heavy):

This is another piece done during the "artist's block":

Talking to Carolyn last night, I realized the the block has been caused by my "wallflowers". It is still in its adolescent stage (complete with rebellion), and until I get it right think other things are just noodling. This piece will need to finished and titled Wallflowers 1, and another started.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Class Project

The lastest thing I learned was painting on fusible web. It isn't much different than any type of painting, except your surface is sticky and the paint doesn't adhere well. I fused bits of painted web over random threads and a piece of fabric the instructor had hand dyed. The end result is rather interesting.

I also did another piece with the concept of appliqueing first and quilting from the back second. I like it, but feel there isn't enough contrast, so I need to change the vines around the middle flower (yep, there are actually green bits there). I did say there isn't enough contrast didn't I?

I have a bit of an artist's block right now. It isn't from lack of ideas, but from too many. About six ideas are jostling around in my head right now trying to get out and none of them are taking priority. A recent trip to Port Townsend and several art galleries has made it worse, as there were some amazing pieces that spawned great colour ideas. Those are swirling around in there now too. Ah well, someone suggesting cleaning the sewing room when it got to that point. Yech, I think I'll go to the cafe and dance some tango instead!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ordering Whom Around?

Konstantin commented on one of my blog posts yesterday. He said: "You make it sound like someone is ordering you about (like a child, so it is even more offensive, the implication is) - where to go and where not to go, and is also claiming you don't support tango if you don't come to dance at venues other than Casablanca. I am not aware of anyone actually claiming these things or ordering you around, though."

Several things occurred that started me thinking this. The first was a private email that in part accused me of being under political influence by those at Cafe Casablanca. The second was a "private" email from the then president of Tango Vita regarding the proposed split from the cafe. This stated in part:

"So, where do we go from here as a group of tango dancers in Victoria? We think it’s quite obvious that we need to find a new home for Tango Vita… We are actively looking for a place that… above all else has to be a non-commercial space that we can rent as a community. Until we find a new home for Tango Vita, where are people to dance regularly. Should we be sensitive to those who want to continue with tango dancing on Friday, Sunday and Tuesday nights at Café Casablanca and have Tango Vita dancing on nights that do not conflict with this schedule? Again, this is another difficult question to answer. Over the years, even long before our relationship with Café Casablanca, these three nights of the week were the traditional nights of dancing for Tango Vita. There have been numerous attempts to establish tango on a Saturday evening, but ultimately it hasn’t worked. It’s not clear why—it just doesn’t. So, as we consider a new place we need to keep this in mind."

As a non-member (at that time) of Tango Vita, and only a member of the tango community, I felt I was told where I would be allowed to dance, that the venue would change and I would have no choice, something I didn't agree with. To Konstantin, I would say, remember, I didn't ask for the split in the first place. If you don't feel comfortable at the cafe, fine. If you want to dance at the gallery, go ahead. My problem was always the whisper in my ear (in actuality) telling me that I was disloyal to tango if I chose to dance at the cafe. Hey, so am I also disloyal to tango if I go to Seattle to dance, or to Buenos Aires? Just wondering.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sunday Practica

If there was any doubt in my mind regarding the attitude of Tango Vita to Cafe Casablanca, the most recent newsletter would take care of that. In the annual general meeting, I pointedly asked Fiona if the intention was to support the cafe as a valid venue for tango. The response: yes. The reality: no.

According to the most recent newsletter, Tango Vita wants to start "New informal practica groups" on, oh Sunday. Hum, last time I checked, James and Terry were also offering informal practica's on Sundays. Time for both: Sunday afternoon. Once again, you are asking dancers to choose sides. It seems every time they ask local dancers to choose, they go with the cafe. The losers are those from out of town. This weekend in Port Townsend, Mike and Liz told me they had no intention of attending Tango by the Sea again this year. They feel to support an event of this nature, they are also supporting the division and will not do so. By their own behaviour, Tango Vita alienates people again and again.

I for one will continue to dance at the cafe where I don't feel alienated. And remember, for a well established guided practica, Sunday 3-5pm at Cafe Casablanca.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Water Soluble Pencils

I've been experimenting with water soluble pencils. It started with a box of Derwent Graphtint. The colours in the box look muted and soft. With the addition of water, a vibrant effect takes place. The problem is finding a way to maintain their colour if you wash it. I painted loose shapes on fabric and heat set in the dryer. But once I was done, I didn't want to risk losing it, so used a gel medium over top to preserve the picture. The medium is stiff when dry, so not conducive to quilts.

I decided to try pre-treating fabric with Bubble Jet Set to see if it would make a difference. On the QuiltArt list, a suggestion was given to use water soluble pastels, so the flowers are done with two different pencils--the Derwent Graphtint and Cretacolor pastels that are water soluble. I heat set in the dryer and then washed.



It is interesting that the colour definition with the pastels disappears almost completely. I had used to different blues, but the one doesn't show at all. On the purplish flower, the center completely disappeared, almost like I'd used a resist. Now, I'll go back and add more colour to the blue flower and touch up the centre on the other flower.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What I See Coming

Cafe Casablanca is being set up. Those of us that dance at the cafe and support it's business are being set up to take the fall for the "split" in Tango Vita. Starting with Lilliana's president address, continuing with our inability to speak to or address issues at the board meeting it will end with the finger pointed at us as the cause of the split.

Prior to the AGM, one person (now a new board member) stated: "I am sure that whoever wins will need to seek an understanding with the losing side and invite them to unity. Hopefully Chuck will be willing to forgive those that run with Fiona and accepts them back, either as winners or losers."

However, he also claimed "It [was] also... very difficult to tolerate the hierarchical organization of CB. The owner behind the counter watching... Then middle managers (B and H and D and D) sitting by the band stage. The rest, the lowly people, sat at the sofa." This is what leads me to believe that those at the cafe--or specific individuals--are being set up. A leopard does not change his spots.

As I see it, there is only one way to prevent this: consistant attendance by the new board and their followers, scheduling of Tango by the Sea on a night that does not conflict with prior events at Cafe Casablanca, and a written letter of apology to Chuck, Brent and Hedy and David and Diane for the slanderous statements made against them. Okay, that is three things, but who's counting! To give them credit, some of the new board attended on Sunday. However, without a public statement of some kind or a letter of apology handed to Chuck, it looks strange.

As things progress, they will point fingers and say they are making an effort to attend the cafe, why aren't we attending the gallery? The thing is, I never asked for the gallery to come into existence. I was perfectly happy at the cafe. Many others feel this way as well. I am an adult. Do NOT tell me where I can dance, or claim that I don't support Tango Vita or tango in Victoria because of where I choose to dance.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Forever Tango

Bought a ticket today to Forever Tango at the Royal on May 3rd. How cool is that!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Annual General Meeting

Friday, March 30, 2007

More Flowers

As things heat up in Tango Vita, I retreat to quilting. Here is my art, a place to go without the conflict.

I am fascinated by this one flower shape and keep returning to it. The latest started as a whole cloth piece quilted from the back. I traced flowers from my gaudy fabric and quilted around the outlines with a silk embroidery thread for the bobbin thread. Once the quilting was done (and the binding on), it seemed incomplete though. The idea was nice, but the outline of the flowers was too soft. So on to embellishing. Oops, supposed to do that before the binding goes on. Good thing these are just part of that learning curve!

I cut out a fabric that matches the back and part of the binding already on, and hand appliqued it to the front. Then I again quilted the flower from the back. Because the flowers didn't match up, a very serendipitous effect happened.
Wow, I can see that one happening again. Hum, it would seem I'm unintentionally working on a series.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


At last night's pre-meeting meeting, one comment disturbed me. It came up in a recent e-mail, and was mentioned again last night. How do we define "in good standing". One person was adamant that this must mean people who have been members for a very long time and volunteered for Tango Vita in the past. Unfortunately, that is not a valid position to take. New people to dance could take out memberships (and have every right to do so). People who have been part of the dance community but not Tango Vita could take out a membership (and have every right to do so). These people then have the right to vote. This is what makes us a democracy.

I personally joined Tango Vita now because I feel the need to have a voice in what is happening. Tango Vita should become a larger whole now. We have dance happening in multiple venues--Passion for Tango, Martin Batchelor Gallery, Cafe Casablanca, and Camosun College. Tango Vita should be the organization that supports the greater whole. For those who want tango to continue as a club, dance at the gallery, but don't force your will on others. This is not democracy.

I would love to see tango in Victoria become a larger whole. Wouldn't it be wonderful if rather than seeing ourselves as a club, we saw ourselves as promoters? Wouldn't it be wonderful if our new executive saw it as their mandate to bring in world class teachers, people like Hugo Patyn and Miriam Larici, Alicia Pons or others. We have this wonderful opportunity in front of us, let's move on.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Still Dreaming of La Boca

I finished my funky little quilt. I was inspired by the garish floral fabric and created two little pieces using the flower motif. I used Derwent Graphtint pencils to colour the fabric then quilted. I'm not sure how colourfast they will be, but it is part of the experiementing.