Saturday, March 29, 2008

What I Should Have Done Today

This is what I should have been working on today:

This is what I did instead:

A "quick" visit to the sewing show netted a few treasures. There are some African woodblock prints, batiks and some wonderful thread. The bag of thread was a deal. I came back to the booth three times, dithering whether I should spend the $30 for a bag. Pick up, put down. Look at all the colours. Leave, repeat. The woman at the booth on the third time said "you've been back three times, I give it to you for $24". Okay. Thirty spools of rayon thread for less than $1/spool works for my frugal tastes.

I was a bit disappointed in the show this year, though. I went expecting to find some specialty threads like last year, but one booth specializing in crazy quilting supplies with silk ribbons and more wasn't there this year. Over half the space was taken up with sewing machines. Must resist, must resist. I saw an Elna for only $1099, much more decked out than my machine. Must resist, must resist.

I did wish I knew what the colour palette for April was going to be. I could have picked up fiddly bits (not that I need more) in the colour palette. Oh well, it is probably a good thing. This way I think I spent less money than I might have otherwise. Must stop thinking about that Elna though!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Wow, this was a busy month. Every time I think I'm catching up, something else is added to my to do list. I agreed to help a friend teach a tango workshop for beginners at a community centre. It is this weekend, but it meant that Tuesday I had to go in early to tango so we could practice. But, I finally finished the first idea for the TIF Challenge. I'm not sure if I like it, but my daughter does, so I'm going to give it to my granddaughter.

A detail shot (because it's all about the details):

That gives me Friday and Saturday to whip chapter two of my NaNo into shape for my writer's group on April 6th. That wouldn't be so bad, but it needs a complete overhaul. Ah well, it will be so much better. Maybe. Of course, it might take another five or six re-writes.

Then yesterday, I discovered I hadn't missed the sewing show after all. Except it is this weekend. That would be the same two days I have to finish the writing and help teach tango. Hum, somewhere in there is a wedding dress too.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I've been thinking more about details. In my writer's group, we were each to write a story for one member to fill in the details. When offering critiques of our writing, Josh often comes up with convoluted backgrounds for characters. We were joking around the last time we met and decided that each of us had to write a story for him to fill in the details.

This is what I wrote. Of course, it is missing all the details. Go ahead and fill in your own!

Mumbai could hear his women below, their cries prickling the soles of his feet, pressed hard against the cold planks of the ship’s deck. He was powerless to prevent the fate about to befall Kantha. Mumbai thought of the promise he’d made, regretting it once again. Now it was too late to take it back. It might be too late for everything. Sighing, Mumbai broke his contact with the deck before he was caught.

These self-important pale men, fair of skin and eyes had no right to chain him like this. They were like demonic ghosts. The tallest white devil strode back and forth down the rows, tapping a whip against his thigh in rhythm to the chanting--chanting he could not hear.

Beside Mumbai sat three others. On the bench beside him were four more. And behind him—an entire crew pulled in rhythm, their chanting heard only in Mumbai’s head. His manacled arms clanked an offset beat. Chant, stroke, clank. Chant, stroke, clank. On and on. He thought the sound would never end.

Kantha cried again, screams of agony disrupting their rowing. The rhythm faltered, and the white devil raised his whip in threat. Growling, Mumbai started chanting again, and the rhythm quickly resumed. The white devil stayed his hand, scowling at Mumbai in anger. Once again, the whip beat in rhythm to the unheard sound.

Mumbai risked a glance at the shore, hazy in the distance. It was at least two days away. He shivered, partly in anticipation and partly in dread. Inside, Mumbai could feel its pull, chanting to him in time to the rhythm in his head.

“Do you think to stop it?” The devil leaned in and whispered in Mumbai’s ear. Mumbai hissed in shock, and the devil laughed. “You are powerless to stop it. Don’t even try.” A whip across his back emphasized the devil’s point.

The cries from below stopped abruptly, the silence eerie. Mumbai splayed his toes flat against the deck of the ship, trying to feel what was below, but nothing reached him.

“Don’t.” One word was all that was spoken, but it was enough. Mumbai curled his toes inward in recoil. Chant, stroke, clank, the sound continued. Dread built with each stroke of the oar. It wouldn’t be long now.

“Yes, good. Good,” the devil whispered in his ear again.

Promises made, promises broken. If it wasn’t for his promise… Glancing furtively at the devil, Mumbai placed his toes flat against the deck once again. This time, Kantha’s shallow breathing whispered through his toes, fueling Mumbai’s resolve. The whip came down hard on his back, breaking the chanting to a million fragments in his mind. Breaking his connection to Kantha. At least he knew she was alive. For now.

Mumbai smiled inwardly. He’d bought them a small amount of time, but it might be all he needed.

“Again,” the devil ordered. Rather than risk another whip across the back, Mumbai started to chant again. The devil watched the shore, appearing disinterested. Mumbai knew the truth. The marks on his back proved the devil’s interest.

Turning abruptly, the white devil stared at Mumbai, chilling him to the core. “Do it now,” he ordered. It was time. Mumbai had only one chance. One chance to save himself or to keep his promise, a promise he did not want to keep.

Splaying his feet flat, Mumbai started to chant out loud. The noise roared around him, evil, noxious. Bile rose in Mumbai’s throat and he choked it back. Kantha cried in agony below him, and Mumbai wept, bitter tears of anguish. He’d kept his promise, but Mumba wondered if he would miss his soul.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

It's All About the Shoes

This was the idea that wouldn't go away, so I just did it. The border is small details of shoes. I used photos printed onto fabric. For the border, I made 1/2 square triangles from the shoes I'd printed. It created an interested effect. If you look closely, it is possible to see a bit of heel, buckles etc. Kind of interesting.

Now I can go back to working on the other idea I originally had for the TIF March challenge. It is interesting how this one is coming together. Originally, my inspiration came from William Blake's poem Augries of Innocence. The flowers almost have a feeling of innocence to them. Strange how that works out.

Yesterday, I did the first fitting of the bodice for my daughter's wedding dress, so I guess things are going along on the time track they should be. I still feel somewhat overwhelmed with what I have to do, but that will pass after May when the wedding is done. As long as I don't remember what I have to do this week that is.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Possible Direction Shift

I might change directions for the March TIF Challenge. This one will get made no matter what. I've been pondering over "My Favourite Thing". Of course, shoes top the list. This comes from a woman who only owned two pairs of shoes four years ago. Now I own--give me a minute here, um ooh, four pairs of Comme il Faut, three pairs of Lolo Gerard, three pairs of Tango Brujo, a pair of Madreselva, and several assorted others. Oh, and a pair of Neo Tango.

The idea that has been swirling around in my head (kind of pushing everything else out) has to do with several of those favourites. In Buenos Aires, I fell hard for shoes and brought nine pairs back. I've bought three additional pairs of top end tango shoes since I've come home. I surf the web looking at new styles and colours frequently. Ah, it's a love affair. Who knew.

So I took photos of some of my favourites, heels (yeah, ooh I love, love, love stiletto's), positioned and took more pictures. In Photoshop, I played with filters, applying various styles. I've printed this out on fabric already:

And this will probably form the border so that the finished size winds up 13x13:

This would work for the March TIF too. It is a detail shot of shoes, and with tango, the ability to dance well is all about details. From the perfect pair of shoes, the correct posture, the embrace, and more, it is a dance of details. I'm still working at my first idea, but this one keeps pushing at me. Guess I'll try to do both, but the shoes will probably get finished first.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Those of us who dance serious tango know the feeling. The one you get when your torso and your feet don't actually move together. They are like two separate entities joined at the navel. In close embrace, feet don't tangle with your partner, two bodies move as one unit with four legs. It is pure bliss.

So last night, I had a conversation with someone (who shall remain nameless). We were talking about connection, the level of dance in our community etc. So far, so good. Until this individual pointed at a lead and indicated that he was one of the leads that didn't connect correctly. I mentioned that he didn't have a full enough torso connection, but that he was one of the few leads that was able to disassociate. And was told he had to or he'd "get in the follow's way". Um, yeah. That's the whole point. If you don't disassociate, you get in our way. And we get in your way. Our feet tangle, and we have to resort to strange methods to keep from getting stepped on.

The person I was talking to figured that with less connection to our torso, this lead would dance better. I wonder where the idea that disconnecting rather than disassociating is the answer. It might seem like the same thing, but it isn't. Personally, when my lead disconnects, I hunch my shoulders in an attempt to reconnect, throwing off everything. If I disconnect as well, I get stepped on, or lose my balance as I try to follow their body.

The lead starts with the chest. All the intention is from this connection. Our torso's should connect from the navel to the collar bone (more or less). There is this new "V" embrace, but the connection is still from the waist up. If you lose connection in a molineta, it breaks the rhythm. Disassociation will help to prevent the loss of connection. First your torso moves into the circle, then the legs follow.

This video from the Portland Tango Festival in October shows what I mean. Watch how little room there is between lead and follow. Murat and Michelle, Nick and Tara and Somer and Agape are amazing. (Nick dances with Murat part way through the video and Tara and Michelle dance together, just so you know who's who).

Once you've felt it, you can't go back. In the meantime, I try to explain how it works and hope more leads (and follows) figure it out.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. It is my own fault. At the beginning of the year I added several projects as I needed to be busier than I was. Looking long-term, I knew if I had more on the go, one aspect of my life would have to fall into the background as a result--you know, I can't do thus and so because I'm too busy. Now that the reality is upon me, I wonder if I have what it takes to carry through with dropping what I need to drop, or if I will instead let slide other things I've added more recently.

Yesterday, I had a bit of a panic. I have a 600 word story to write for my writer's group. For some reason, I thought it had to be submitted tomorrow, and I hadn't even started it yet. Eep. I came home from work and pounded out 297 words. What happened to the 1,666 I wrote every day in November? Then I discovered I had another week, so left it. That is when I realized I might choose the easy path, rather than the harder one.

I still haven't done much on Bekah's wedding dress. I suppose I could cheat and consider it my TIF March project, as I always pay attention to detail when I sew (properly finished seams, careful zippers etc.), but that wouldn't be much fun. Besides, I'm loving the process of the TIF challenge.

It is also making a difference to how I view my writing. I would have finished the 600 words yesterday without a second thought, but now I'm analyzing how to take it further. Instead of the obvious conclusion, I'm thinking of tricky endings.

Ah well, off to sew a bit on the wedding dress and then maybe some editing of my NaNo before bed.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Grain of Sand Background

I've got the start of a background for my idea for the March challenge. I've cut out "flower" petals and need to arrange them on top and start to applique.

The perfectionist in me needs to fix the spot in the middle where the greens join. It is off by less than a 1/4 of an inch, but hey, this month is about attention to detail. Seems like a good place to start.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Thoughts on March

This month's challenge is to think on the small things in life (the details). Sharon comments that "sometimes the small things become emblematic for something larger".

Pondering this yesterday, I thought of how our lives (or mine anyway) is about the details. Thinking of the past in the last two months, I can see how a small action or comment changed my life forever. I remember reading William Blake as a teenager. I knew many of his poems and could recite them endlessly. A snippet of one came to mind as I pondered the small things, but more, how the small things are a symbol of larger things.

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

An idea came out of this--flowers on a surreal background, the centers different sizes, each one a planet in our galaxy.

I fully believe that each small action (kindness or otherwise) has immense effect on not just us, but those around us and as a result, the world at large. So small things are in effect large things. Okay, and I promise I won't beat you with the symbolism.