Tag Archives: A to Z Challenge

Tuesday Morning Wisdom: R is for Nora Roberts

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Tuesday Morning Wisdom: R is for Nora Roberts
  • Some things in life are out of your control. You can make it a party or a tragedy. ~Nora Roberts

  • If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place. ~Nora Roberts

  • I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page. ~Nora Roberts

  • Life is like a moustache. It can be wonderful or terrible. But it always tickles. ~Nora Roberts

  • Sometimes a wind comes up, blows you off course. You’re not ready for it, but if you’re lucky, you end up in a more interesting place than you’d planned. ~Nora Roberts

  • Every time I hear writers talk about ‘the muse,’ I just want to bitch-slap them. It’s a job. Do your job. ~Nora Roberts

Photo of Ms. Roberts by Dev Librarian, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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Q is for Quilts

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted about quilts I’ve made, but I wanted to actually finish them first. <sighs dramatically> I sometimes take a long time to get them completely done.

Here’s one I made for the quilt ministry at my former church (and this one got finished reasonably quickly):

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I’ve made one like this before, but with an additional border. This will be used as a baptism quilt for a baby. The sheep block is a design from Farm Girl Vintage by Lori Holt.

I confess this next one is almost done. It’s a comfort quilt for the same church ministry, usually given to a senior citizen facing a challenge. I’ve been working on it about a year. It’s been way more tedious than I ever expected. I saw a video on YouTube that showed how to put a Dresden plate together easily by cutting the pieces with a special ruler. I went out and bought the ruler and couldn’t wait to try it. The plates went together easily as advertised.

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One block done!

But I hand-appliquéd them onto the background. Next time I’m going to learn how to use the appliqué stitch on my sewing machine.

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Top done!

Then I figured out a way to stitch-in-the-ditch machine-quilt the plates. If it makes any sense, I planned to outline every other blade and travel to the next blade a short distance around the center so that I could do each block in one long continue path with only one beginning and end. However, when I started to sew, I zoned out and quilted all the way around the outside of the first plate. Now, I should have just pulled it out and started over, but I couldn’t bear to do that. So I decided to quilt around every other blade and stop when I got back to the edge. I did it the same way for each of the four large blocks. That mean that I had 10 extra beginnings and 10 extra ends–20 extra ends of thread to bury–for each block. It’s not hard, it’s just time consuming, and my arthritic fingers are not so nimble knotting thread and re-threading needles any more.

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Done! (Well, almost.)

The final quilt took the longest time to finish. I completed the top at least ten years ago. Then we upgraded from a full bed to a queen, so I redid the borders. Then it sat while I watched many videos about how to quilt a large quilt on a conventional sewing machine. They say it can be done, but I didn’t know where I was even going to lay out the quilt to sandwich the layers. I don’t have any big tables, and besides, I don’t have the floor space.

 

Finally I decided to treat myself to a professional quilting job. Through the Arizona Quilt Guild website, I found local quilter Cindy Stohn. Working with her was a dream come true.

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Cindy sent me this photo of the quilt on the frame.

She asked me what I had in mind for this quilt, sort of a scrappy Irish chain. I knew I wanted an overall pattern, but exactly what I had no clue. Instead of overwhelming me with everything her long-arm machine was capable of, she showed me maybe half a dozen designs she thought would complement the quilt. I chose this swirly design, but really, any of the ones she showed me would have been awesome.

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Photo by Cindy Stohn

Then she asked me my preference of thread color. I wanted a blue that would be visible but not detract from the beautiful fabrics. I didn’t want it to contrast sharply. She nodded and grabbed a box of thread cones that must have had 50 different shades of blue. She suggested using a different shade for the backside (a small blue and black checked flannel). Instead of making me pick, she pulled out several shades she thought would work, and honestly, every one gave it a totally different feel. She kept substituting and refining the choices, and I really think she came up with the perfect colors.

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Cindy’s quilting really enhanced my quilt. What a wonderful job she did!

Next up: a three-dimensional pinwheel quilt for the Choices Pregnancy Center, through the church’s quilt ministry:

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I’ll post more pictures when it’s done. Don’t hold your breath.

P is for Poetry Slam

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I am obsessed with the concept of poetry slams. Don’t know what a poetry slam is? Watch this for a little taste:

Doesn’t that seem awesome? I really would like to go and observe one. There’s a bar in Phoenix that had poetry slams. I even got free tickets for one. But when the time came to go, I balked. It’s hard to park in the art district at night. I could take the light rail, but it’s an hour to get there and an hour back, double the travel time if I drove. Plus I don’t drink and I haven’t been in a bar for forty years. Yep, I talked myself out of it. And now that people don’t gather any more, the bar in question isn’t sure they’ll even still be in business by the time restrictions are lifted. I lost my chance. Maybe I’ll try again when the pandemic is over.

In the meantime, virtual poetry slams are an option. Thank you, YouTube. Grand Slam Poetry Champion Harry Baker recites three of his poems. I’m glad it is closed captioned. (You’ll see why when he gets to the second poem.)

Maybe someday I’ll actually read one of my poems. . .

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O is for Organ

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The earliest pipe organ originated in Greece in the third century BC. Called a hydraulis, it was powered by air compressed by water pressure.

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This photo of the Zliten mosaic is attributed to Nacéra Benseddik and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 1.0 Generic license.

Bellows were added to organ design by the sixth or seventh century AD.

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St. Cecilia playing a portable organ; her left hand operates the bellows. By “The Master of the St. Bartholomew altarpiece.”

Charlemagne was the first to request a pipe organ in his chapel in Aachen in 812, which established the organ as the premier instrument in Western European church music for many centuries.

In the 12th century, the organ began to evolve into a complex instrument capable of producing different timbres.

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Typical modern pipe organ console; located in St. Patrick’s cathedral, Dublin.

My favorite organ piece is the Toccata and Fugue by J.S. Bach:

And my second favorite has got to be this one:

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Video of the Week #249: N is for Nathalie’s Art Journal

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I follow Nathalie’s blog. She designs the lovely rubber stamps she uses in her work.

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M is for Masks and Marsalis

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Joann’s Fabrics has sent links for mask-making directions to all its email subscribers, so sewers can make protective masks for hospitals and for their families and friends. Unfortuantely, the directions I like best (see video below) call for 1/4″ elastic. There is no 1/4″ elastic to be found anywhere. (Amazon had no-name spools of elastic from 3rd-party sellers, but the comments indicated the quality was disappointing.)

So I opted to try this design with ties. I like it, but it took me an hour and a half to make one.

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After making three of these, I thought, there’s got to be a quicker way. So I watched lots of YouTube videos, and decided to try this one:

I bought 4 packages of hair elastics at the dollar store. (I was very optimistic.) It took me 30 minutes to make one. (I guess I’m a slow sewer.) However, it’s very uncomfortable to wear; the ponytail holders keep slipping off my ears. So don’t set up an assembly line until you’ve made one and tried it out. (The purple and green one below.)

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My original plan was to make a bazillion of these, first for my husband and me, then for our kids, and finally for our neighbors. Now I’ll be happy if I can just get a few more done before the pandemic is over (and I’m praying for it to be over soon).

I made one more mask last night. This time I used 1/4″ bias binding for the ties so I wouldn’t have to make them. It didn’t save me any time, since it was very hard to sew neatly on the skinny binding:

If you don’t like the masks I made, maybe you’ll like some of these.

The news program I watch has a segment about the remarkable people whose lives have been taken by this virus. Ordinary people who were loved by their families, communities, and coworkers, distinguished by accomplishments of excellence and kindness. Most were relatively unknown outside their own circles, but one hit me especially hard.

Ellis Marsalis, Jr. was born November 14, 1934. During high school, he played saxophone, but switched to piano while majoring in music at Dillard University. During the 1950s and 60s, he played professionally with jazz greats like Al Hirt and Cannonball Adderly. He was a greatly respected teacher at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (where one of his students was Harry Connick, Jr.), University of New Orleans, and Xavier University of Louisiana. He recorded 20 albums, and was the patriarch of a great musical family. You may have heard of some of his sons, including trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and saxophonist Branford Marsalis (who was the bandleader for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno for a time).

On April 1, 2020, Ellis Marsalis, Jr. succumbed to pneumonia brought on by the Covid-19 virus. Rest in peace. You are so missed.

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L is for Letters

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This year I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time–I joined a photography club! At my church, there’s a group called Go See & Do. They meet once a month for an informal lesson on an element of photography and some show and tell of our photographs. Most months there’s also a picture-taking field trip. I was only able to go on one field trip this year, to a monastery. It gave me enough material for three blog posts. Maybe you saw them? There was one about the buildings, one about the icons, and one about the gardens.

Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 pandemic, all gatherings are suspended, including Go See & Do. However, the leader suggested we continue to take pictures, and he gave us a scavenger hunt as a potential assignment.

A few years ago, at an art festival, I saw the work of Brian Smith, who spent five years driving around the country in an RV, taking photographs of things that suggested letters to him. He puts images together to spell words that hold special significance for his clients.

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I thought at the time I would love to try to do something like this; this scavenger hunt assignment was the perfect motivation.

Now, Smith took some pictures of actual decorative letters. I tried to avoid doing that, though it is so tempting to cheat by taking shots of signs.

Here are some “letters” and “words” I came up with:

 

Some of the letters are easier to “see” than others. It’s tricky to edit them so they come out the same size. This is a fun project that I will continue long-term.

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In the Meme Time: L is for Love

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This is a post from two years ago that I needed to see today. Maybe you need to see it, too.

ARHtistic License

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J is for Scott Joplin

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J is for Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin was born on November 24, 1868 into a musical African-American family of railway laborers in Texarkana, Arkansas. Studious and ambitious, he received most of his music education from Julius Weiss, a German-born American Jewish music professor who immigrated to Texas in the late 1860s and was employed as music tutor to a prominent local business family. Impressed by Joplin’s talent, and realizing his family’s dire straits, Weiss taught him from ages 11 to 16, pro bono. Weiss introduced him to folk and classical music, including opera, and helped his mother acquire a used piano. According to Weiss’ wife, Lottie, Joplin never forgot Weiss. In his later years, after achieving fame as a composer, Joplin sent his former teacher “…gifts of money when he was old and ill.”

While in Texarkana, Texas, Joplin formed a vocal quartet and taught mandolin and guitar. During the late 1880s he left his job as a railroad laborer and travelled the American South as an itinerant musician. He soon discovered that there were few opportunities for black pianists. Churches and brothels were among the few options for steady work.

He journeyed to Chicago for the World’s Fair of 1893, which played a major part in making ragtime a national craze.

Joplin moved to Sedalia, Missouri, in 1894 and earned a living there as a piano teacher. Two businessmen from New York published Joplin’s first two works, the songs “Please Say You Will”, and “A Picture of her Face” in 1895. On a visit to Temple, Texas in 1896, three of his pieces were published, including the “Great Crush Collision March”, which commemorated a planned train crash on the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad on September 15 that he may have witnessed. The March was described as an “early essay in ragtime.”

Publication of his “Maple Leaf Rag” in 1899 made him well-known. This piece had a enormous influence on writers of ragtime, a unique style marked by syncopation. It also brought Joplin a steady income for life, though he did not reach this level of success again and frequently had financial problems.

In 1901 Joplin moved to St. Louis, where he continued to compose and regularly performed. He created an opera company of 30 people and produced his first opera, A Guest of Honor, for a national tour. It is not known how many productions were staged, or if this was an all-black production. During the tour, either in Springfield, Illinois, or Pittsburg, Kansas, someone associated with the company stole the box office receipts. Joplin could not meet the company’s payroll or pay for its lodgings at a boarding house.

In 1907, Joplin moved to New York City to find a producer for a new opera. His second opera, Treemonisha, was never fully staged during his lifetime.  In 1911, unable to find a publisher, Joplin undertook the financial burden of publishing Treemonisha himself in piano-vocal format. In 1915, as a last-ditch effort to see it performed, he invited a small audience to hear it at a rehearsal hall in Harlem. Poorly staged and with only Joplin on piano as accompaniment, it was a dismal failure to a public expecting the grand opera popular at that time. The audience, including potential backers, walked out. Afterward, Joplin suffered a breakdown. He was bankrupt, discouraged, and exhausted. Treemonisha went unnoticed and unreviewed.

By 1916, Joplin was suffering from syphilis. In January 1917, he was admitted to Manhattan State Hospital, a mental institution. He died there on April 1 of syphilitic dementia at the age of 48 and was buried in a pauper’s grave that remained unmarked for 57 years.

Joplin’s death marked the end of ragtime per se; over the next several years, it evolved with other styles into jazz and swing.

Joplin first entered my notice when The Sting came out. The movie starred Robert Redford and Paul Newman, and featured Joplin’s rag, “The Entertainer.” His grave at Saint Michaels Cemetery in East Elmhurst was finally given a marker in 1974, the year The Sting won the Oscar for Best Picture.

In 1976, Joplin was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his contributions to American music.

Scott Joplin earned the title of the King of Ragtime. During his brief career, he wrote over 100 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas.

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Information for this article came from Wikipedia.

Video of the Week #248: H is for Handbells

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Our handbell choir, Ringing Praise, played “My Jesus, I Love Thee” in church a couple of months ago. I’m the short one in the back.

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