Author Archive

Modern Medicine at Work

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 1.24.19 PM(Just because I like this poster…..)
Hubby has spent 30-plus years as a diabetic. His internist suggested in June he might be a good candidate for an insulin pump. After numerous doctor visits and learning all about carb counting, he hooked up about 6 weeks ago. This is an amazing tool – his sugar highs and lows are much better. His moods don’t swing as much and he is sleeping better.

This whole process is based on carb counting, and everything is very different from when we first worked with the needle years ago. You become very aware of just how many carbohydrates are in various foods, and for me the ah-ha has been huge. No wonder losing weight has been so difficult. Four small hard candies are 30 carbs….and useless calories. I am hoping that coupled with new depression medicine, a healthier me through yoga, and this desire to watch carbs and take off weight to save my knees will work for me.

An interesting book hubby and I have been working through: Think Like a Pancreas – excellent information about diabetes research and all the changes in the last 30 years. So much we didn’t know. The pump is hooked to a meter for blood sugar testing via a wi-fi signal. Test the blood, enter the carbs, the meter tells you how much insulin you need, and voila, the pump delivers it.

At this point, Medicare is paying for everything, due to the new insurance hubby switched to two years ago. He is certainly getting his money’s worth. When I was doing some research on the pumps and their costs, one article said most insurances will pay all or part, but if not, then have a fund raiser with your friends on line.

Seriously? Only in this country would you need to raise money for a life-saving piece of equipment. Now that hubby has what is referred to as “durable medical equipment,” his expensive insulin is free (do you want to hear about the hoops we had to jump through for this benefit??). One more worry about what will happen in our retirement, given the state of medical care in this country. Another reason for moving back to our roots in New England, where saner heads prevail.

Works in Progress…

More Geckos

More Geckos

…and there are a lot! Four quilts lined up, including the one you’ll see pictures of here.

We have a really great friend here in Tucson, and several years ago I made her a lap quilt as a birthday present. Trouble was, she can’t get completely covered under it when she wants to take a nap on the couch. So I decided for this year to make her a bigger one…..turns out I processed “66 inches” differently from 5 and a half feet. This is one big quilt! It should easily cover his double bed, which is exactly what she would like.

I am using a pattern I saw from Geta Gamma from Romania – I loved the design, especially the quilting, and am doing it in shades of purples and blues. It’s getting quilted to within an inch of its life! Needless to say, I am getting very good at free motion quilting feathers. The stencil work has been interesting – at one point I forgot about the registration marks and turned the pattern, but I am the only one who knows that.Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 12.26.16 PM

I caused some bleeding with one of the fabrics when I attempted to use a stain remover to get out the rest of the gray chalk marks. I will need to use a little paint to cover that up. I have 8 days to finish – started about three weeks ago, and I should make the Christmas deadline. It is really looking good.

It is a little tough on the shoulders, cramming that quilt around under my trusty Bernina 1008, but I am getting much better at that. Thankfully the remaining three quilts are all much smaller. After this one, though, I am taking a quick break to do some traditional blocks in a Hawaiian theme for a block of the month, making a queen size quilt for my own bed…..then back to the list!

Some progress pics of my version -

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Sweet hubby helped with all the pinning…..

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Wrestling it under the machine….it’s looking gorgeous!SneakPeak10

Back Again….Hopefully Longer….

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It’s been an interesting year. Two years ago this time, I looked at my blog and was 200 posts away from 1000. I thought no problem, I can do that easily. Well, I am still about 185 posts away from 1000. Life really has gotten in the way, with illness, depression, and a sense of disequilibrium. It has taken a while to determine what paths I will be following.

It is also ironic that while I haven’t written many blog posts, I have written 110,000 words in a novel. This has been ongoing since August of 2013. I am nearing the end of what looks to be volume one of a trilogy. It is my way of processing political events in this country and trying to deal with how this country is changing. It has meant some interesting research (what is the saying about a true friend? One who will clean out your browser history after you die?). I’ve delved into some pretty terrible things on human trafficking, read lots of government reports, and overall tried to get up to speed on policy that I haven’t spent much time caring about in the past. It will be interesting to see if I can find a publisher….in the meantime, I have started a webpage for the book: http://the-secession-wars.webnode.com/. This is very much a work in progress, and I want to include writing tips as I finish up the novel.

I’m doing a lot of quilting. I’ve been slowly moving away from the marbling business, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. We still enjoy marbling, but the business end of it is tedious. I have lots of projects using the fabrics I have, but not the energy to do anything. I have been quilting other projects, and I have four commissions for quilts lined up: for a good friend, for a new baby,
for my yoga instructor, and for my great niece. I made the commitment to myself that when each of my eight great nieces and nephews turn 13, I will gift them a quilt. Gracie is the oldest, and she turns 13 this August. I want to have the quilt finished for when we move back east and stop to see them on the way. I found a great fleece in her favorite color for the backing, so that’s in the queue.

I’ve also taken up sketching again, through a couple of Craftsy classes. I did some sketching on the road this summer, but I want to make this a regular habit. Pen and ink has always been my medium (and charcoal, too), which is probably why I took to zentangles so quickly.

I have joined a weekly writing group to make my writing more of a regular practice. We meet for two hours and just write – a brief statement of intentions from each person in the group, and then it is total silence for writing. It’s been great, and I think it will get me back to blogging on a regular basis.

So this is a quick catch-up, more so for myself, as I look back on what has happened over the last years.

Till next time…..

Latest FMQ Commission

While I haven’t been posting, I have been moderately busy in the midst of still dealing with illness. I quilted a small wall hanging for my yoga instructor (whose house is now FILLED with art I have made for her). Here are some pics – she made the top and I finished it off.

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The brown blocks have a cathedral square pattern, the center brown and beige have a diamond pattern, the four corner blocks are a leaf pattern, and the green blocks are just a plain stripe.

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PS – this was the picture that made me realize I had forgotten to do one of the patterns……

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And….the back – one of my favorite pieces of fabric…..

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I’m still plugging away……

Thursday Thoughts: Coursera and Duolingo

Evening Moon

Evening Moon

I have been taking courses – MOOCs (massive open online classes) from Coursera for over a year now. Some I just read the material and watch the videos – a lot for research for my novel. I have done enough for the certificates for a couple of the classes: Art History for Animators from Cal Arts (great class), Coaching Teachers from Match.com, and A Look at Historical Fiction. I learned something from every class, and my art appreciation went up considerably. I also did Post-9/11, Counterterrorism solely for the research.

Currently I am looking at The Camera Never Lies (too much lecture, not enough photos, so I won’t work for a certificate), Beauty Form and Function in Symmetry – absolutely fascinating, love the videos, but the math is  beyond me (but I’m following it a little bit – I just don’t want to spend the time actually studying it). The last is on Human Trafficking, which is for research, but I am also working on the certificate.

The information in this latter class is staggering – and frightening, and disgusting. We all need to be aware of the labor and sex trafficking that is happening all around is, not just outside our borders.

If you are at all interested in continuing your education, this is an easy, quick, simple way to do it – and no cost, unless you actually want credits.

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Also, I’ve hated the fact that I can’t afford Rosetta Stone to relearn my French. I used it for a while at the high school and really liked the approach. Well, enter Duolingo – major languages at your pace, and entirely FREE. Already reviewing basics in French and I love it!

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Sunday Stories – The Chakra Commission

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Last September my yoga instructor Susan asked me to do a series of chakras for her home, which is also her yoga studio. She had the idea to have the chakras around three sides of her “great room,” so she would be surrounded by their energies. I had previously done a small 10 x 10 inch thread-painted root chakra, and that one led to this new idea.

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We debated about size, because the wall space is quite tall. Using the floor tiles as an estimate, we decided each would be 24 inches square – wrapped around four 12 by 12 inch canvases that we would put together.

First challenge – choosing the fabrics. I wanted to purchase them all at the same time for consistency. I had thought about the Stonehenge line of fabrics, but the LQS was out of them. Susan found some hand-dyes that were what I call true crayon colors. It was a beautiful vibrant rainbow. This was when I first realized some of the attributes of the chakras. Second challenge – creating the patterns. I wanted the thread-painted chakra to finish at 20 by 20 inches, because that would give me enough fabric for wrapping the canvas. So I worked with a set of patterns from the Net and created a master set for approval. We tweaked some changes with the edges to better increase some of the symmetry. It is now the end of October and I am ready to start – I think.

In trying to explain to the copy folks at Office Depot that I wanted my design blow up to 20 inches by 20 inches, eventually we got a 24-inch-square canvas, with a 20-inch design on it. I had copies made as patterns.

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Once I had the pattern, I traced over it and then pinned the tracing paper onto the fabric sandwich. Speaking of fabric sandwiches, it too close to five hours to get seven sandwiches prepped: ironing the fabric (I cut each yard into a 30-inch square), matched it with low-loft batting, and found some unused fabrics for the backings. Then they all sat over a chair for a while.

Finally around the end of November I started the actual sewing. I pinned the tracing paper carefully to the fabric sandwich and, using washable thread, I outlined the pattern. Tearing off the tracing paper took a very long while….

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For the Root chakra, I decided to do some bobbin work with a gold thread. I was so-so pleased with the results, but not enough that I was going to continue with the bobbin work. Each of the other chakras used satin stitch on the major elements and a lot of free motion patterns for fillers. The chakras got progressively better in their sewing….until the last one – same elements but a much simpler design.

I thought about redoing the Root chakra, since it didn’t seem to fit with the others. But the more Susan and I talked about how these were developing, the more I liked the first and the last. As I worked on them, I added more quilting elements that added to the design. I used colors in the same family as the background fabric, with hopefully enough contrast. Up close they were all looking gorgeous. From a distance, they faded away. That bothered me for a while, but I realized as I was working on them that everything in the design was meant to be meditative. Up close, you could lose yourself in the design. From a distance, the more you looked the more your saw.

Susan summarized it pretty well. The root chakra is our beginning, and it can be very shaky and unsure. We develop from there, with whatever impurities becoming who we truly are. The crown chakra, the seventh, is the Divine, and as such doesn’t need to be ornate. The Divine in us can be very simple and beautiful.

So here they are, in order.

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(Have to find this one – will update……)

Photo: Chakra number 6 now at its new home - one more to go!

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I learned a lot. There are some stitching patterns I would change. I would probably use a much lighter background fabric and have the stitching pattern show more. Yet they move in complexity, much like the chakras do. I one I am missing is the one I think is the best design, yet in viewing it, the design seems very faint. The more you look, the more you see. This is also the chakra that is my weakest, so I find that fascinating. My yoga instructor is extremely pleased. The room is surrounded by color and it just vibrates. And she says she can easily meditate on whichever one she wants or needs. A very happy conclusion.

Monday Marketing – A Little Progress……

Cactus Fountain

Cactus Fountain

There are some things I have been slowly trying to attempt to get myself back in the swing of marketing. Right now (as I write) I am on hold with an Adobe representative for an inline chat to see why my Contribute program (which allows me to change my web pages and the ability to upload the changes). It looks like I will need to purchase another piece of software……I hate these kinds of changes…..Now I’m awaiting pricing…….

There are so many loose ends involved in getting back into some serious marketing. We have already restocked the Etsy store and are making plans for more marbling sessions.I need to dye some Kona so we can marble on top, and I want to review the Jane Dunnewold Craftsy class before I dye again. Really enjoying the surprises that dyeing brings. EBay seems pretty stagnant – seems to happen each summer. But primarily I need to get back involved in TAFA – The Textile and Fiber Art List.

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There are so many more connections I could be making.

I haven’t really marketed my marketing book (am I the only one who sees the irony here?). A friend purchased the book and raved about it to me. So I think for this next week I need to see about getting the word out on the book. It is iBook platform only, and I am planning on expanding it into a more involved ebook through Amazon, for all platforms.

In the meantime, here is Marketing 101: Niche Marketing.

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The book is a compilation of all the things I have tried (some successful and some not) to market our fabrics. I provide all the details and checklists. I definitely want to expand this into a larger book on a larger platform. Click HERE for the link to the book.

My task this coming week is to work on InDesign from Adobe Creative Suite, and I’m going to do a $25.00 subscription to lynda.com for a month of learning. I should be able to make a good dent in learning what I need to. It’s CS3, but there is no way I can afford $699 or $20 a month, so I will make do. Along with learning InDesign, I need to think through what else with happen with the website.

I am trying not to make the typical long list for me…..a few things at a time…..wish me luck…………..

 

A Few Great Snippits of Writings…..

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I’ve come across a few great ideas in some of the books I’ve been reading, and these books need to be returned. So I figure if I add them to a blog post, I will always have them accessible.

From David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell comes this about courage:

Courage is not something that you already have when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.

The conquering of fear produces exhilaration. The contrast between the previous apprehension and the present relief and  feeling of security promotes a self-confidence that is the very father and mother of courage.

- You should read all of his works – a great mix of history, sociology, psychology, and economics, and highly readable.

 

 

From Robert Heinlein and Revolt in 2100: Master Peter was right: the man who buys the meat is brother to the butcher. It was squeamishness, not morals….like the man who favors capital punishment but who himself  is ‘too good” to fit the noose or swing the axe. Like the person who regards war as inevitable and in some cases moral, but who avoids military service because he doesn’t like the thought of military service. Emotional infants, ethical morons – the left hand MUST know what the right hand doeth, and the heart is responsible for both.

War is a simple matter compared with revolution. War is an applied science, with well-defined principles tested in history; analogous solutions may be found from ballista to H-bomb. But every revolution is a freak, a mutant,  a monstrosity, its conditions  never to be repeated and its operations carried out by amateurs and individualists.

- Heinlein was an acquired taste for me, but this particular book is exactly the same premise as the novel I am working on. Spooky…..

 

From Sheri S. Tepper The Gate to Women’s Country: My art is drama, and my craft is gardening. Is your work a science, a craft, or an art….”My magic? If it has no science, it fails….If it has no craft, it bores, and if it has no art, it offends.”

-Really interesting take on the role of the sexes, and quite thought-provoking. I do love the idea of our lives consisting of an art, a science, and a craft.

 

 

 

Monday Marketing…….Not Really…..

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Stones 2

It is Monday, and I sure haven’t been doing much marketing these last few months. Part of it has been illness, part has been writing, part has been making art, and part has been not really caring. I have realized that when I get in the mood for serious marketing, no art gets done. I find that unacceptable these days. There are more art pieces than I will ever have time for. Marketing needs to fit in as it can.

This doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. During our trip we did a lot of talking to artists, sold some fabric, and made some really nice connections. We came home ready to start a new series, Preservation. Both of us are excited about this, and now we need to do some serious planning. But I am still left with a conundrum over marketing. In between being sick and getting physically exhausted (which according to the doctors will continue until maybe the end of September), I finished a seven-piece commission, nearly the rest of my seasons grouping (pattern is next on the list), free-motion quilted a lap quilt for a friend, cleaned the studio (which really was pointless….), and tried to be ambitious. I did write close to 15,000 words on my novel, but I am feeling the need to have art-making take over for a while.

I did partially complete a gallery marketing class, and now I am awaiting to see if I made the first cut to a year’s mentorship with a gallery in Scottsdale. It would require a lot more art-making, and I think we would be good candidates for selection. But what I think and what happens usually are two different things. I am still being positive, and men tally I am feeling good. I still have my lists, and they have every kind of loose end I can think of, including doing some apartment applications for next spring when we move, and organizing all our photos. But each day I look at any “must-do’s” and “want to do’s” and work from there.

And….there’s the marketing book which I haven’t marketed, plus a number of other things I haven’t done. So I need to get off my case, make art, and let other stuff happen when it does.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it………….

 

 

 

Relaxed, Renewed, Rejuvenated…….

DSCN0348Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe – just one of many stops on our 3-week jaunt into Northern California. This was an amazing few weeks, and probably only the second vacation we’ve done where we could truly say we were relaxed. Too many years and our opinion of California was based on LA and San Diego. Little did we realize just how wonderful northern California is.

Lots of small towns, no big box stores, local restaurants, vibrant main streets. Nothing like depressed (in so many ways) Tucson.  Once we got north of Edwards Air Force Base and Mojave, we got into some magical country. I haven’t downloaded camera photos yet, but I wanted to get impressions.

Majestic, from Yosemite to the sea.  From the Redwoods to the shore in front of Monterey Aquarium. We would sit at night on our porches (when we were lucky to find hotels that had nice outside spots) and talk about how gorgeous everything was, and how could we translate what we had seen into fiber. The best example of how in sync we are is that we are both standing in front of the jellyfish exhibit of orange jellies, both of us thinking about recreating these creatures in fiber….hubby with how he would marble the colors, and me with how I could stabilize some marbled chiffon so I could do stitching and still have it supple enough to move with the air.

This has led us to developing a new series for future work: Preservation. This can encompass loads of ideas – the environment, the written word, languages we are losing – so many possibilities, all attempted with marbled fabrics.

We enjoyed five glorious days in a cabin overlooking Monterey Bay (at 1600 feet elevation) that we found on Airbnb – our first time using it, and we were thrilled with all aspects of it. Great conversation with the guys at the cabin, great meals…and lots of mosqitoes, which I discovered after the fact (bought the cortizone on Thursday). We sat, read, and looked at the views. Supermoon Saturday had the full moon sneaking behind some redwoods, and the bay was perfectly clear all night, with the lights of the fishing boats visible from our deck. So nice to be wearing jeans and a sweat shirt for a change and enjoying chilly, moist air, which made the trip back to Tucson so difficult.

Met a long-time friend in Bakersfield for an overnight. I love how years can go by, and you pick right up where you left off. We had a ball trying to figure out a stubborn sewing machine so we could machine quilt on it, and then drowned our frustrations in some amazing dinner at Moo Creamery in Bakersfield. Ya haveta go if you’re in the area.

logoMade new friends, talked art in a lot of galleries, bought new spices and teas…and took lots of pictures. I have decided I need to upgrade my camera, as it is sllloooowwwwww doing what I want it to do.

Coming back to the desert only reaffirms our decision to move east. Near water and surrounded by green, friendly people, vibrant communities, and a state very friendly to artists (unlike Tucson, but that’s another whole blog post.) We both have our lists of things to do, we’re marbling next week to stock our Etsy store and try for some new fabrics, I’m writing up a storm, as I have set myself a deadline of July 31 to have the rough draft of my novel done. Life is good!

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Quality Materials and Pricing Your Materials Cost

Evening Moon

Evening Moon

This being sick for so long has really put a dent in my creativity, completion of projects, and overall well-being. I am trying to catch up on an online gallery class  by a gallery owner in Scottsdale, AZ, Jason Horejs. The assignment I am reading now talks about pricing out your cost of materials, as well as looking at the quality of materials. There are too many ideas floating around in my head to try and leave a plain comment, so I wanted to “think it all out” in a post.

We’ve priced out cost for our marbling a lot of times. Carrageenan keeps increasing, cotton fabric is increasing, and we’ve changed paints because of pigment issues. Probably doesn’t hurt to do the costing again. A half pound of carrageenan in over $30. We can get 8 marbling sessions out of that. So $3.75 per session for carrageenan. We spend $6.00 for each bottle of paint. In one session we use the equivalent of 1 full bottle. So there’s another $6.00. Cotton fabric – we buy prepared-for-dyeing fabric from Dharma (which isn’t wholesale at all but is the best we’ve found to be able to use – offshore fabrics won’t take the paint well). Cotton runs about $7.95 yard, and we attempt to do about four half-yards each session, is not more. That’s $16.00 for fabric. Alum (pretty cheap) and distilled water (also pretty cheap) are the rest of the supplies. Probably $3.00 per session. That’s $28.75 for the marbling session, not counting prep time and clean-up time.

originally we used to sell our fat quarters for $6.50, more for the half-yards. The prices of supplies have gone up, so fat quarters are now $8.00. There are 4 fat quarters to a yard of fabric. If all we do are 4 fats, each would cost out to  $7.19.  Eight fats cost to $3.59. Better, but not accounting for labor. That’s one reason why we try to do 12 fats and a lot of remnant pieces, which sell well on eBay, where people want something for virtually nothing. Twelve fats is $2.40 a piece, considerably better. We’ve found  that there is an upper limit on what people will pay for a relatively small piece of fabric (18 x 24 inches). I’m not sure we can raise our prices much more, yet we are having success selling on Etsy and charging about a dollar more per piece. We make our money on the larger art pieces.

Concerning wholesale, Dharma, where we get our fabric, does not wholesale at all. We can get a bolt of fabric from Kona Bay, but we need to dye the fabric first before it will take the marbling. More labor, a little more expense, but certainly a cheaper source of fabric, but we’re not finding much of a market yet for those fat quarters. Our carrageenan we get from a fellow marbler whose prices are about $10.00 cheaper, and  he also mixes the paints we need to a specific formula, so there is no variation in pigments. The acrylics we used to use (that we cheap) no longer work, due to pigment issues, water issues, and offshore fabrics. For the amount of labor involved in marbling, we learned early on not to use cheap fabric. The fibers rot, and it fades. We’ve not found that problem with well-produced fabrics.

As for the art pieces, Arizona is not a big market for fiber art, especially if it is not western. We have sold pieces, though. We tend to price based on earlier appraisals of our work and what we see for other fiber artists with comparable work. We need more current appraisals of our latest works, and then adjust prices accordingly.

There was a lot of discussion about framing. Most of our fiber pieces can hang directly on the wall, yet is seems that folks want them somehow framed, so we have taken to wrapping a canvas frame in black fabric and then sewing the piece to the fabric on the canvas. That way the piece hangs away from the wall, and it seems to look better. One of my goals is to do more pieces like this and see if we can develop a market for them.

So probably more than you wanted to know, but it is useful to revisit a cost analysis every few years. I’d welcome comments on what you’ve discovered in pricing your materials cost.

 

Operation Overlord: D-Day 70 Years Later

As an American History major, I have read extensively on World War Two, primarily the European Theater, and to a much smaller extent the Pacific Theater. My father was on the Murmansk run in the Soviet Union and then to India, my father-in-law trained pilots in India to fly over the Hump, and my step-father was two islands ahead of MacArthur with the First Cavalry. My father’s best friend was in a tank battalion in France. My sister-in-law’s mother was a nurse in the Philippines. I taught with a principal who was home guard in Hawaii, and an English teacher who lost an arm in Italy with the 442nd. Yet all I learned about the war came from books.

On today’s anniversary, I am reminded of lots of attempts to learn about the War. Waiting for a ticket for The Longest Day in the 1960′s, starring John Wayne and a lot of teen heart-throbs at the time. I remember at the tender age of 14, thinking we were lucky to have succeeded in winning those battles. When I showed The Longest Day to my AP History class in 1994, for the 50th anniversary, age and maturity made me see just how close we came to losing it all in Normandy. The whole film is available on YouTube, and it holds up very well.

There are a lot of articles out today that give a few hidden stories about D-Day. I’m going to spotlight them here in hopes you will click on them and read about ordinary people (and some not so ordinary, like the Queen of England) who fought in that war. May we always remember.

Exploding the Myths of the Normandy Landings

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The Critical Weather

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Footage of Soldiers Invading Normandy

D-Day: Then and Now

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Photos of Americans as they heard the news

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From the Smithsonian, archival footage of the invasion. Click on the picture for the video.

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And finally, the Heads of State at Remembrances:

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Always, always remember this Greatest Generation.

Memorial Day – in the Words of Howard Zinn

No one can really express these thoughts I have better than Howard Zinn. So I defer to him, a reprint of an earlier editorial of his that still rings true.

Published on June 2, 1976 in the Boston Globe (from the Zinn Reader)
Whom Will We Honor Memorial Day?
by Howard Zinn
Memorial Day will be celebrated … by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.In 1974, I was invited by Tom Winship, the editor of the Boston Globe, who had been bold enough in 1971 to print part of the top secret Pentagon Papers on the history of the Vietnam War, to write a bi-weekly column for the op-ed page of the newspaper. I did that for about a year and a half. The column below appeared June 2, 1976, in connection with that year’s Memorial Day. After it appeared, my column was canceled.

* * * * *

Memorial Day will be celebrated as usual, by high-speed collisions of automobiles and bodies strewn on highways and the sound of ambulance sirens throughout the land.

It will also be celebrated by the display of flags, the sound of bugles and drums, by parades and speeches and unthinking applause.

It will be celebrated by giant corporations, which make guns, bombs, fighter planes, aircraft carriers and an endless assortment of military junk and which await the $100 billion in contracts to be approved soon by Congress and the President.

There was a young woman in New Hampshire who refused to allow her husband, killed in Vietnam, to be given a military burial. She rejected the hollow ceremony ordered by those who sent him and 50,000 others to their deaths. Her courage should be cherished on Memorial Day. There were the B52 pilots who refused to fly those last vicious raids of Nixon’s and Kissinger’s war. Have any of the great universities, so quick to give honorary degrees to God-knows-whom, thought to honor those men at this Commencement time, on this Memorial Day?

No politician who voted funds for war, no business contractor for the military, no general who ordered young men into battle, no FBI man who spied on anti-war activities, should be invited to public ceremonies on this sacred day. Let the dead of past wars he honored. Let those who live pledge themselves never to embark on mass slaughter again.

“The shell had his number on it. The blood ran into the ground…Where his chest ought to have been they pinned the Congressional Medal, the DSC, the Medaille Militaire, the Belgian Croix de Guerre, the Italian gold medal, The Vitutea Militara sent by Queen Marie of Rumania. All the Washingtonians brought flowers .. Woodrow Wilson brought a bouquet of poppies.”

Those are the concluding lines of John Dos Passos angry novel 1919. Let us honor him on Memorial Day.

And also Thoreau, who went to jail to protest the Mexican War.

And Mark Twain, who denounced our war against the Filipinos at the turn of the century.

And I.F. Stone, who virtually alone among newspaper editors exposed the fraud and brutality of the Korean War.

Let us honor Martin Luther King, who refused the enticements of the White House, and the cautions of associates, and thundered against the war in Vietnam.

Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren.

On Memorial Day we should take note that, in the name of “defense,” our taxes have been used to spend a quarter of a billion dollars on a helicopter assault ship called “the biggest floating lemon,” which was accepted by the Navy although it had over 2,000 major defects at the time of its trial cruise.

Meanwhile, there is such a shortage of housing that millions live in dilapidated sections of our cities and millions more are forced to pay high rents or high interest rates on their mortgages. There’s 90 billion for the B1 bomber, but people don’t have money to pay hospital bills.

We must be practical, say those whose practicality has consisted of a war every generation. We mustn’t deplete our defenses. Say those who have depleted our youth, stolen our resources. In the end, it is living people, not corpses, creative energy, not destructive rage, which are our only real defense, not just against other governments trying to kill us, but against our own, also trying to kill us.

Let us not set out, this Memorial Day, on the same old drunken ride to death.

###

Top Ten Tuesday

DSCN5078   Another Tuesday, and I still keep finding lots of new ideas and posts to add for Tuesdays, and I still have a lot bookmarked! I also find myself going off on little research jaunts for my novel, with some interesting – and downright scary – disgusting articles. It is amazing what one can find on the net these days, and I chuckle when I remember the one cartoon making its rounds: a true friend is someone who will clear out your history cache on the internet when you die. I have really been reading some very strange stuff. But all of that is bookmarked in a separate place. What follows is the good, light-hearted stuff!

I thought this was quite cute. The site is in its infancy, but I like the premise. I will be following along to see just what they offer. Click on the pic to see more. I think the class offerings could be kind of interesting……

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The Eat Pray Love lady, Elizabeth Gilbert, recommends these books as ones that helped her become a writer. How many have you read?

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Useful websites you never knew existed – a lot to check out here.

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…and in my ongoing quest to eat healthy, the 15 grossest foods……yup, it’ll do the same thing Supersize Me did….

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Also available as a free download – 27 foods you should never eat.

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The 60 Most Powerful Photos Ever Taken – how many do you remember? The one I remember the most…..

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Limitations in a wheelchair? I don’t think so……

Molten aluminum in an ant hill? Look at this art…..

For Nelson Mandela – a flash mob…..

An Hour of Code – a way to help our youngsters learn computer coding – very cool!

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If you find cool stuff on line, send it along!

More Random Ramblings…..

KathyNida Yes! One of my favorite art quilters actually does exist beyond a blog!!! Kathy NIda (long i, as I have been pronouncing it wrong all these many years) is an artist I have been following for well over a decade, and it’s not just because she uses our marbled fabrics in her art quilts. She is one seriously cool lady – and amazing teacher to boot. We finally were able to get together on our last trip to San Diego, as she was also on school break. What a fun two hours! Laughing, lamenting, giggling, telling stories, talking shop – a fabulous time was had by all. Even better, I got to see one of her works at Visions Art Museum, and by far the best in the exhibit, which I didn’t really care for, especially after having seen the exhibit of fiber at the Mingei (yes, Kathy, everyone is right – you MUST go see this show!). But it was so cool to see the actual art quilt up close and personal, as I am in awe of her technique. Here are a couple of photos shamelessly borrowed from her blog (kathynida.com).

Here’s the quilt being dried after a washing (something about pet hair….) – our fabric is the pavement. Second one is a closeup. I so loved seeing an actual quilt of hers, because her process is so intricate, and seeing in person how it all came together is fabulous.

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Now, about the exhibit at the Mingei at Balboa Park in San Diego - one of my favorite museums – the emphasis is on “every day objects,” and this time the exhibit was two brothers, William and Steven Ladd, who work with beads, fabric and boxes in developing labor intensive, meticulous and abstract work that expresses their shared memories of family life in Missouri. )from the website) While some of the work I didn’t “get,” I was in awe of their use of unusual materials. This is from their website, explaining their “towers.”

Towers
A Tower is a stack of approximately 24 hand sewn boxes placed into a specific configuration.  Towers are often constructed of fabric, found materials, and board.  Each box in the stack measures approximately 9” square and can be closed or open.  When all of the boxes are open, they are  laid out into a specific grid-like configuration.  Textiles and found objects are meticulously sewn into the boxes and often resemble organic structures such as trees.  The Tower originated as a convenient way to stack and store boxes of the brothers meticulously constructed objects.
Each Tower has a story attached to it that is rooted in Steven and William’s shared memories.  Volcano, 2008, explores memories of extreme exercise while sharing a studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Explosive muscle building and marathon running evolved into forms that resemble volcanic structures.
Volcano, 2008
Archival board, fiber, beads, metal
Closed 13.25 x 19.875 x 18.875 in.
Open 39.75 x 19.875 x 8.5 in.
These are examples, and the top is a detail – needles, pins, metal ants, rolls tapes and biases….a feast for the eyes!
Ladd1
Ladd2
Ladd4
Ladd5
Ladd6
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