Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Where did 2008 go?

This year feels like it never happened to me. It is just a blurr, a trick of the calendar. Where did it all go??? When I do retrace my steps through 2008 I remember then... It has been a strange year but there was some very good times. It was the year where I could not stay in the studio long enough to do anything. I got to learn many things but didn't get to apply many of them. It was the year that Curt's Cousins came to visit with his Aunt Leona. It was the year that Dominique and Martin came to visit. It was the year my children were not home for Christmas. It was the year I visited California three times, Colorado and Arizona once. It was the year that Bunny turned 60, and the year Nancy turned 50. It was the year that Bunny and Mimi discovered Homer. It was the year I didn't get to go to France and see my family. It is the year that Curt turned 50. So I should not feel the way I feel about 2008, it really happened and I have a lot of entries on this blog to prove it. I am looking forward to start 2009 in the studio though. That is my goal to get as much time as possible in there. I started reorganizing it a year ago and still have some work to do like the lighting and some few piles that need disappearing. All righty then, I am ready!!! Let's turn the page and start a new chapter.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Joyeux Noel!

Merry Christmas to all my family and my friends. May all your desires go far and wide and blossom with peace and joy. I am truly blessed by having you in my life.
Curt and I had a quiet but nice Christmas eve. We had our traditional seafood meal with Oysters, smoke salmon, King Crab Salad with feta cheese, artichokes and Kalamata olives. A dark vinaigrette. Peppercorn pate de campagne. All that "arose" with Champagne. Then a mini chocolate cake. We watched "Elf". I got to talk to Paul and Emily earlier and they seemed to be having a good time too. So life is good right now. I wonder if Santa is going to come over tonight. It is cold out there... Poor guy!!! He always seem to come through though.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Natural Embellishements

The full moon was showing all it's splendor the other night. It was hard for me not to stare.

Then on the way to New Sagaya for Paella supplies here was that perfect Maple tree just in front of my car. All the natural ornaments of the previous season added with the present one was a sight that just made me stop and stare.

The Sunrise was a welcoming pleasure one day. When it has been grey for so many days and the sky is finally baby blue and I wait for that 30mn of sunshine on my house at lunch time. How can I just not stop and stare?

Sunset at 3:30pm can be a beautiful thing against all judgement. So I had to stop for a meditative stare

Finally going to Eagle River yesterday and those huge birds were hanging up on cottonwood trees just adding to the winter natural decor. I had to stop the car to stare.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Another two weeks before the Solstice

This is the time when the Mantra "I can make it! Yes I can" comes to my mind. It is so so dark and gloomy outside I need a bit of reinforcing. Just a bit hard to keep up the "Cheery" attitude for the Holidays. So the goal is to make the most of those few weeks when you have no bearings anymore. Looking out the window doesn't match the clock on the wall. The moon is half full. The blue light that I love so much is back and that by itself is something to be grateful for. This picture is like a giant eye in the sky....spooky!
I have been playing with beads. I am going to take few ornaments out tomorrow and decorate the house a little.
On a different note I rented the movie "The Memory Keeper's Daughter". I have been listening to the book on tape and didn't particularly enjoy it although I am half through and things are getting a bit better. The movie is not great. It is not following the book. The dialogues are not great. The actors are doing a good job with a bad script. Why do authors accept to have their story changed so drastically? Money? Fame? Hard to imagine. I also watched "Transsiberian". That was not great either. Pretty hard torture scene. Not OK with me at all. Still waiting for the "Night in Rodanthe"....
Anchorage Movie Festival started yesterday so there is going to be opportunities to go check some interesting shorts and independent movies. I am looking forward to that. Another thing I am looking forward to is Billy Collins new book of poetry "Ballistics". Just got it.
Check out my Banana Bread. I made it in memory of Dewey from the blog "The hidden side of a leaf". It was one of my favorite Book Blog. Dewey passed away last weekend. She had reviewed the Moosewood Cookbook and had given us the recipe of that fantastic Banana Bread. I think that Dewey would have been proud of me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More fun in Ventura

I got to go out few times in the evenings for different activities. One of them was to see Robert Schimmel at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills. This guy is a comedian of some reputation and has a real filthy mouth but I was laughing the whole entire time. One joke after the other it was incredible. I was just glad that my kids were not with us as it would have been most embarrassing to listen to that show with them... It was a very nice evening. The other comedian that night was also funny in a more subdued way but I cannot remember his name. One of his joke was that Obama needs to get the troops out of Iraq because he needs them to protect him... that was funny I thought. Then I went to see the movie "Australia". Well that was a movie that had a lot to see (3hrs). You could laugh and be surprise and get to admire Hugh Jackman's gorgeous body, fall in love with the little Australian boy who plays one of the leading roles, enjoy the amazing countryside and colors of Australia and get a bit of historical facts in between, of course Nicole Kidman is fabulous. The filming is surprising with a mix of graphics. I just enjoyed it very much. It is a sort of parody or at least it was for me. So that was a great surprise, Cynthia, Emily and I had set off to see a totally different movie that happened to not show anymore.
On Saturday night after a nice walk on the beach, a nice diner in a Vegan Restaurant (Mary's Secret Garden) we ended up at Zoey's a nice place at the end of an alley in Downtown Ventura where you can listen to music have a bite to eat or just a glass of wine. That evening we were serenaded by a nice young man and then a group of three people named "Threes and Nines". Both venues were exquisite. Young people with lots to say about the environment relationship and personal feelings all expressed with great beat, great music and strong voices. Just fun, fun, fun. I hope that I get to see them play again in the future. In the meantime I am waiting for their first CD to be released.
What else...
Well I enjoyed spending time with my nieces: Madison and Delaney. I even helped by taking pictures of the girls for their traditional Christmas photo shoot. The one that enjoyed it the most was Coco who was a professional model gazing at the camera with an air of grande dame. Too funny!
Gaylene was doing very well and we got to go on a ride to the Nut House... in Somis. We bought some goodies there and then moved on to Santa Paula a little Mexican town with lots of history. To illustrate the evolution and diversity of the town the city has asked different artists to do murals throughout the downtown area. So we picked up a map at the museum and had a little driving tour around and took pictures of the murals. One of them is in front of a gorgeous Australian fig tree. A lot younger than the one in Santa Barbara but still was planted in 1879 so is 129 years old. See for yourself.

Gaylene and Dina taught me to play Mexican Train Dominoes. I lost!!! But I am getting better and understanding the strategy a bit better. I might try to find friends that would be interested to playing games. I used to play Scrabble and Gin Rummy and Canasta and loved it. Oh and another thing that happened. For two nights straight I heard a whole herd of Coyotes barking and howling in the night. Bob and Cynthia's House in on the edge of a huge field where there is some wild life activity. Those were really strange noises to hear so close to an urban area.
That just wraps up this Thanksgiving week where fun things happened in my life.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

California is a trip!

Taking off for few days for Thanksgiving to Ventura, CA from Anchorage was a Beauty Max moment. The cloudy skies with rays of sunshine and the water and the vantage point from the sky. Judge by yourself... Gorgeous!
After a day of downpour rain we have had a beautiful clear sky and moderate temperatures for the most part. Thanksgiving was fun. Very good food. Emily made two pies (apple and pumpkin/pecan) that both were "zee bests". We were 16 people at Gaylene's. A nice crowd. Paul and Windy were unfortunately missing. I miss my boy.
Curt, Claudia, Emily, the three dogs, and I went for a walk along the beach at sunset. It was what we needed a bit of fresh air and exercise. What a sight. The sandpipers, the pelicans, the surfers, the salty air, the waves crashing gently in that half dim light. Waou! That is the part that makes me happy to be in California. The dogs had so much fun playing chase in the sand.
Yesterday was a visit to Ojai to an outdoor Bookstore: Bart's Bookstore. It is a dream come true. Imagine a large patio, very large with few awnings to cover the multiple bookshelves positioned now and then, making a friendly maze. There are few enclosed rooms, one for the most valuable manuscripts and the "Gallery room" for the art books, one for the poetry and classic literature books. Anyway Madison, Emily and I were there for quite a long time. They have nice little tables and chairs in various area for you to read or visit your friend among the stories of the World and the Ages. I love it! I do hope I get to come back to this place again.
I got an old copy with great fonts of Ulysses by James Joyce that I have been wanting to read but didn't like the new copies available. Then a book of short stories (The Tiger in the Grass by Harriet Doerr) and a wonderful old copy of Alice in Wonderland. This last one too was on my list but wanted a nice copy. I get more and more picky about the way the books are printed. I like nice size well formed crisp fonts. I have a hard time right now with "The Shadow of the Wind" copy because in one word you will have a difference in the spacing the size of the font. For this strange book it adds to the mystery and the drama building up. It might be a conscious trick from the author and the publisher to keep the reader unsettled. It annoys me right now! Anyway.... I am happy with my purchases. I got to do Yoga with Emily once in a studio in Oxnard by the water. It was really what I needed before the big thanksgiving day.
More to come tomorrow about what I have done so far.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Reading when it is cold out there!

There are many hours in the day when it is cold outside. A quick run outside is sometimes the only fresh air that I get, thanks to Gaia who doesn't have a choice to stay in. Those moments are precious because I get to assess the temperature (passing by the thermometer) and reinforce that inside the house is the place to be at the moment. ahahah. There are plenty of things to do when you have a three stories house, always something to clean, to eat (!), a tea to brew, sewing, beading, paying bills etc. Once things are under control reading is a natural choice. So I have been catching up with some books that didn't appear on my sideline category "What I am reading right now". Years ago I had started "The Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri. She is a master storyteller. Not realizing that it was a book of short stories I starting with the first "chapter" and loved it. Then the second.... wait a minute something was wrong.... the second "chapter" had nothing to do with the first one and.... oh I get it!!! they were stories standing on their own.... (I know I can be dense) Anyway I got really angry because I wanted to know the rest of the first story. It was too short. So many things unresolved. In few pages I was hooked, I cared and loved and felt and cried for those characters so I felt let down. Eventually I read more of it after that and loved every stories. First I am passionate about India and Ms Lahiri seems to know the essence of India, the joy and the sorrow. Also a lot of them have a real ending some finality about them that things have been resolved. She is very clever about mixing situations and characters and adding the charm and wisdom necessary to make you think and change how you see things yourself. Every one of the story is strong and makes you reevaluate your views on human behavior. This read was long due. I have read "The Namesake" making sure that it was a "real" novel this time..ahahha. I purchased her new book of short stories "Unaccustomed Earth". I am looking forward to travel through the visions of this fabulous author once more.

I have also read the first book of a mystery series by Jacqueline Winspear, "Maisie Dobbs". Ms Dobbs is a detective living between WWI and WWII in London. Lots of British lingo. Very well constructed and informative about that time in history. Some flashback to set the characters in perspective. I am hooked. I got "Birds of a Feather" the second in the series. I am finishing also a very short book "A Month in the Country" by J L Carr. Also very British. I didn't get some idioms but it is so entertaining. Really fun plot and can't wait to get back to it.

Billy Collins has written a new book of poems that I am waiting patiently to come from Amazon. I keep in my car Margaret Atwood's "Moral Disorders and other stories". Another book of shorts. This is a great one because those stories are all about the same character during different time of her life. I like more and more short stories because you don't have to read the book all at once. It is like sipping wine or even sipping tequila. Margaret Atwood is so acidic at times that she could give you a heartburn if read in one "shot". I do love her twisted stories.

I am off to California for a week and I am taking with me "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I love her first page... that is how far I have gone since two months that I posted it it as my current read... What is that all about? I am a bit scared of the story, that might have something to do with it.
On my PTR (pile to read) I have:
Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer
Blindness by Jose Saramago
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
So may the winter be long and cold.... just kidding!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Enough Politics!

Ok now a bit of fun with what I have been doing in the past few weeks. First I spend a whole Saturday sewing projects with 16 other quilters of the Chugach Mountain Quilt Guild of Eagle River. I ended up with many patterns (7 or 8 I believe) and 3 projects nearly completed.
A tote bag big enough to put all my groceries in one bag. (not sure if I can hold the whole lot though....), a table runner with a Fall flavor (thankgivinish I guess), and a journal cover. This little thing is the bead at the end of the signet attached to the journal.
I am working slowly on two quilts.
One is the "Urban Legend", I am adding beads around the face like branches in two different tones. The other quilt is a part of "Treeptyck". I am done appliqueing it on the turquoise and brown background.

I have done some jewelry. Those are Christmas presents so no pictures yet.

I do want to show you all the goodies that I got from the "Breaking Traditions Show". It was soo nice to participate.
Finally I am working on a quilt that represents a view of Fish Lake in the Matanuska glacier valley for my friend Lorraine. It is in the first planning. Sketching different views. But even at this early stage I have had a great idea that I can't wait to try out... to be continued!!!

50 days to 50 years!!!

Last night Curt and I were invited to the "Honoring Our Governors Evening" at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage. It was part of the Alaska's 50th Anniversary of Statehood numerous events that started a year before the actual Statehood's Anniversary which will be held on Jan. 3rd, 2009. Anyway it was a beautiful evening. Very low in the amount of speeches and very big in the quality of entertainment ( Paul Avedisian, Bryan Chadina and James Anest sang arias from different Operas and Parris Lane sang "America the Beautiful" She was amazing). The ballroom was decorated like a fairyland room with silk tablecloths and high bronze metal centerpieces garnished with tiger orchids and corkscrew willow cascading over each table. It was enchanting. Two big screen TVs were showing snap shots of the years gone by. So for $375 per person!!!! the menu was very nice and matching the classy environment
Appetizer of Alaska King Crab Spring Roll
Salad of Bacon Cucumber and Hazelnut and Gorgonzola
Entree of a Duo of Bison (braised short rib, grilled tenderloin, potato gratin and black truffle jus)
Dessert of Blueberry Chocolate Mousse Bombe (blackberry/raspberry reduction and 14 carat gold dust)
It was quite an evening. The governors being present were Governor Stepovich, Governor Hickel (Owner of the Captain Cook Hotel), Governor Miller, Governor Sheffield, Governor Cooper, Governor Knoles (my favorite) and finally Governor Palin (Sarah Barracuda)
Tote being one of the sponsors we were sitting with collegues and clients of Curt that we enjoy spending time with so that added to the fun of the evening.