All blue and white

My double wedding ring quilt is growing.Have I mentioned I’m appliqueing flowers in some of the rings? Take a closer look at the upper right-hand bird, The outer ring is done in the light blues only. Except, once you step back from the quilt, it doesn’t really show up. So I decided to add some birds.I only have three of these light blue rings and wanted more birds. Here is the quilt top finished, with eight birds. Hopefully, they are scattered in a pleasing manner over the quilt top. This is an opportunity to use my appliquick tools. Here is the first bird. I think it looks just fine.Here is the final bird, maybe you can’t tell, but I feel like I’m getting better with these tools. My tiny circles are rounder. I know, it won’t matter, the quilt as a whole is lovely. I do enjoy mastering a new skill and with all these birds and circles, I feel very very comfortable with the appliquick tools now.I can’t say I love all the birds equally, I’m luke-warm on this one.The flower here is probably too big.The bird is fine, the vine, too big. But I was practicing making vines, and I’m pleased with how it came out, even if it’s a bit big in comparison to the bird.Just right! As I said, I’ve had fun with this and am really in the mood for a major applique project, something like a Baltimore album, but not with all the old-fashioned blocks. We shall see. This needs to be quilted and I do have other projects to work on, not full-size quilts. Also, now that the weather is warming up, I want to get back to sewing some more garments.

Leah

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

A ride out of the jungle and a quick puddle jumper and we were in San Pedro. An interesting thing, as we drove through Belize City to the airport, we passed a food shack that was called Jew Boy, written all over it I didn’t have time to take a picture. I’ve always said id root for a sports team called the Jew Boys, so I’m rooting for the success of that business.our resort, Ramons’ Village, is lovely. Cabins set in a jungle like,e setting, as small as the property is, we’d get lost at night trying to find our cabin. Here is the view down the path to the beach. The beach, this island really doesn’t have much beach, this resort built out a sea wall and imported a lot of sand in order to create a large beach. The colors are pure Caribbean. some structures need help.Old anchor School is one block up in town. They have an hour and a half lunch break. Some kids go home, some hang out on the beach. Christmas isn’t quite over, I tried hard to frame the elf, Jesus, the church and the palapa in the background. Sort of tells the story of this town in one shot. Many buildings in town are painted brightly, every street sign has a fish atop itThe whole area is tiny, so seeing the back of houses is not unusual. If you think these people are poor, take a look at the air conditioning unit. The tropics take their toll on buildings quickly. The traffic is like LA but with golf carts, bikes and a few vans. I have no ice what this caveman in the traffic circle represents. we rented a golf cart and with a young couple we had met at DuPlooy’s we drove 10miles north to Secret Beach. It isn’t secret anymore, but the last 4 miles were on a very bumpy dirt road. There were a lot of people here. Because of the road condition we didn’t want to stay for sunset, so we went back and stopped at a place called the Truck Stop. A bar and food trucks all in shipping containers. They had an area for games, they show movies outdoors on Wednesday nights. It’s only two years old, but it is thriving. They are on the lagoon side, so this is no joke. We didn’t see one, but other people told us they had. someone’s heaven.It was the perfect place to watch the sunset. Goodbye to Belize and a wonderful vacation.

Leah

Canoeing down a river

Our last day in the jungle and we decide to take advantage of the canoes at the resort. They offer an option of floating down to the town of San Ignacio, with a guide of course. Here we are on the Macal river, with a canoe and no guide. Joel went up to ask where he is, he’ll be right down. Nope, he never showed. Our salvation came in Roxanne, the resort accountant, although she had never canoed down the river she was game. So were we, let’s go on an adventure.A group of canoes came upstream, luckily for us, we were going downstream. We had to navigate some rapids, being in a metal canoe meant we scraped up on some rocks and had to avoid low hanging branches. No one fell out!Cows grazed along the shore. Roxanne told us her story. She was born in San Ignacio, due to an aunt in Tulsa OK, she was able to go there and study accounting. Now, she is back home, working at DuPlooy’s.A tiny waterfall. We joked about her job description. How this can be an additional part of the job. Over two and a half hours rowing on the river is a long time. By the end, the river was wide and flat and we were tired. Of course we were thrilled to see the bridge that indicated that we had arrived! Just make it under the bridge and we are there. look who else came out to greet us, a very large male iguana. He is yuuuge!We landed. we made it safely. We wore the life vests, for whatever they worth. Roxanne otoh didn’t have one. Ah Belize.Since this is her hometown she now became tour guide. The resort sends everyone to a certain restaurant in town, that is where the oars and vests are stored. That is where pickups are arranged. I’m sure the food is good, but we wanted local. So we went to her favorite local place, yup, just as good as Benny’s. Then she borrowed her moms car, and we drove back, seeing her home, her elementary school and her moms restaurant. We would have gone there, but it’s closed on Mondays.

Belize has is a gathering place of many people. On her fathers side, the Family is from India, by now mixed in with many others. She is resourceful and kind. The best kind of guide for the day.

Leah

Xunantunich, or Tuna Sandwich

 

Not a lot is known about the Mayans. Not much of a written record left behind. Yes they had an alphabet, later I’ll explain why I think few people know how to decider it. Anyway, there are all kinds of Mayan ruins, throughout the Yucatán, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. We didn’t want a three hour ride, so we stayed local. this is a small archeological dig, but just right! To get there we needed to cross a river. we crossed on a hand cranked ferry. For years I toured the Central American gallery at LACMA, so I know how little we know about the Maya. I take information with a bowl of salt. At this site most of the structures or this Temple were rebuilt. People won’t come to visit an area that only has faint footprints of buildings. So they rebuild. The smooth rocks are original, the jumble of rocks above are what was rebuilt. Clearly the Maya took more time and effort. One of the ideas about the smooth stones is that they burned the limestone, ground it to dust and then created smooth bricks. That takes a lot of clear cutting and burning trees. So no, the Maya weren’t great stewards of their environment. These glyphs are reproductions, based on the remains they found. Gives you an idea of how tall the Temple was. This would never be allowed at the bigger sites, or heaven forbid in the US, very different rules here. Just so you can see how high up we are:There is a small ball court. There are so many theories about the game, I think it was just a precursor to soccer.A very compact site. There is a lot more to uncover, but it’s not clear there is the money to do so. The Mayans were a very stratified society, rulers, who could read and write. Middle class who did most of the higher level work and then the masses of hard working laborers who did all the manual work. So as the surroundings were degrading, society fell apart. The lowest class probably melted back into the distant forests, with the skills to survive. The other classes, not so much. With them was lost the lore and The ability to read and write. Many claim to be descendants of the Mayans, genetically, they are, but none of the culture survived.On our way back we watched horses go on the ferry, then it was on to the best restaurant for rice and beans and stewed chicken. These foods are common throughout Central America, yet each country has it’s own spices and flavors. The Mayans May have had beans, but no rice (Asia) or chicken either. They probably ate the local rodents.

Leah

San Ignacio

Belize is a poor country, although everything is relative, neighboring Guatemalans come here for work. On our two hour drive up into the mountains showed a third world country. A lot of brightly painted houses along the way, but due to the climate and the economy, I could see how simple the lives are here. At one point I asked a guide where the rich live, he said: The US.A visit to San Ignacio, the nearby town. You can see what I mean by bright colors. A three story building is unusual, I was wondering, is this Art Deco, or Mayan influence? I’m going with Mayan.The colors! The population here is one big melting pot, native, African, European, East Indian and Chinese. They all seem to mix. One the surprising things was to learn that there are. There are Mennonite and Amish communities as well. Most of the Amish are up north, we did see one woman with a long blue dress and a Mennonite with her tiny bonnet and floral dress. Love the name of this street. Just around the corner we stopped for a rum tasting. We got a history lesson along with many tasty rums. I do enjoy visiting local distilleries when possible. Who knew rum was so good on its own. The Macal river, the bridge was built in 1949, the other side is Santa Elena, but they operate as one town. So glad we didn’t stay in this ‘hotel’. A row of typical houses. Especially the unfinished second floor, that is a hallmark of third world countries. I like how the blue house on the corner fits into it’s unusual shape, especially that roofline. A church, the countryside is full of them, every denomination is represented. English is the official language since Britain controlled Belize till independence in 1981. Most people speak a Creole or pidgin. I just Love these signs.

Leah

Belize

It’s the new year and we are off to an adventure in Belize. Why here? Joel wanted to try some place new, we’ve been to Mexico, to Costa Rica. Belize offers both jungle and beach. We started in the mountains, at a Jungle Lodge. We were greeted by a Goddess and by Rosie. This is the way I see her every day. No work for her.More garden statuary.These fearsome Collared Aracaris get first choice at the fruit. Only later can other birds join in. A Kinkajou is tempted down most evenings with bananas. 30 years ago this area was stripped bear for farming, but wasn’t doing too well. The DuPlooy Family bought the land and painstakingly brought back the jungle. Along with the lodge they have created the biggest ecological garden in the country. some of the flora in the garden.Jungle and bridge.Bamboo is not native to Central America, it thrives. Look at the tunnel it creates. The beach, and the cliff on the other side of the Macal river.

It is a little chillier here than expected, part of that is the horrible winter storm up north. Part of it is because it’s been cloudy with a dense canopy. Now to go out and explore.

Leah

Oops, making big mistakes

One of the big complaints about blogs and social media is that we only share our successes.  There is a reason for that if I whined all the time I’d have no followers at all, but, sometimes it’s important to share the big major goof-ups.

As you know, I’ve been busy sewing shirts. You saw me wearing this, I didn’t see any reason to have a full post on yet another shirt.Four of them together? Why not? You can see how different fabrics really change a shirt. Time to make another one, for Joel. I bought the chambray at the Pearl Soho outlet in Irvine. I wasn’t crazy about their fabric selection. Chambray is wonderful to wear but not that easy to sew with.Here was a tip from the Craftsy class that I had not used on any of the other shirts, not even the silk one. This piece of embroidery thread gave me something to hang onto while topstitching. It really does work and I should do this even on a cotton shirt. You can see that the tip of the collar is a little rounded, that is how chambray behaves.Unlike silk where one gets a very nice sharp point.So far so good. I sewed this while Joel was up skiing at Mammoth. I used the large size, I measured the body of the shirt against a shirt he owns and it looked very similar. What I didn’t do was check the length of the sleeves…When I measured them against the store-bought shirt – they were a good 3 inches too long. Uh-oh! So Joel got home, tried it on and those sleeves were too long. So I started out carefully unpicking the underarm and sleeve seams. You guessed, the seam ripper slipped and a big gash in the back of the shirt.

No, there is no photographic evidence. I was so angry, upset and pissed at myself. I just balled it all up and into the garbage went! So no more pictures of this shirt! I’m sad that Joel can’t wear it. I’m sure I will make another, but just so you know, this happens to all of us.I don’t want to end on a sad note, so here are my new socks, after I wore them and before I washed them, a little dirty, as socks should be.Another hat for Eyal, he outgrew the first one, that kid is growing very very fast.Even with life’s little mishaps, always remember to celebrate the wonders.

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Leah

A changing neighborhood

20 years ago a section of North Hollywood along Lankershim Blvd was going to be the new hip area. Not much happened. Yes, the Redline of subway ends here, but it all takes time. The changes in the neighborhood are much more visible now.I’m pretty sure this was one of the first apartment complexes to be built at the time. The paint fob and decoration is new and fun. I used to park in that garage, they built a supermarket right across the alley. Well the supermarket failed and now that space is all kinds of smaller shops, restaurants, coffee shops, a yoga studio. One has to drive a mile or two to get to a supermarket.Very large apartment development is happening all over.  This is a huge plot of land. I was very concerned that an old house would be torn down. I kept on meaning to take a picture of it, but forgot.So you can imagine my delight when I saw that it was being saved and refurbished. You can see that large complex on the left. Someone is fixing this up beautifully.I don’t know if it will be a private home or something else. But I love it when some of the old is maintained alongside the new.It’s unusual to get this image, no cars on Lankershim?? Well, fewer cars, I managed to capture this between cars.  El Portal was saved years ago and is an active theater.Walking along the side I spotted this. I wonder if there used to be more and this is all that remains. As I walked along this street there was a guy leaning against the wall. Usually,  I’d just walk by, but he smiled, so I smiled back and wished him a Merry Christmas, at that point, he smiled back broadly and wished me the same. One of the things I love about the season.Another old building that isn’t going anywhere. It was a bank, with tile work made by the famous Gladding McBean company. Today it is the Federal Bar, a really nice bar and restaurant that also has a performing space upstairs.Lankershim is one of those diagonal streets, so although it’s a little hard to see, the buildings were built accordingly.  I met a cat, she rushed over for scritches, which I gave her of course. But that meant not a great picture.I’ve already blogged about this station that is now a coffee shop. In the background is one of the tallest and oldest apartment buildings in the area. With all the building going on, I’m still hoping that most won’t be this tall.Another example of old and new. I don’t think this building is that old, it just looks it. but behind it is a brand new building I had not seen before.Its’ a three-star hotel! I’m not sure it’s open yet, the lobby area looked like they were still working on it. I notice it is advertised as being near Universal Studio. It is near the subway station, one station away is Universal Studios.  A few blocks away there is a new Holiday Inn Express. So I guess the area is really becoming hip and desirable.Right behind the hotel is the adorable coffee shop, one of the oldest buildings around, hopefully, it remains. Next door is a beautiful church, across the street is a large park, with a community center, a pool, and a library. All the things needed for a vibrant neighborhood.

It looks like Noho is really becoming what was hoped for 20 years ago, and the best thing is, the old and new are side by side.

Leah

Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving, a national holiday of gratitude.  I love the many ways people celebrate, from family dinners, Friendsgiving, or an early meal and going out for fun.We used to go visit my cousins, but these days with all the kids in town and five grandkids, I’ve been hosting the dinner.  I had fun making the tabletopper, finding a new way to fold the napkins and making a fun centerpiece.I brine and roast the turkey upside down, which is why the breasts aren’t crispy. But they certainly were moist and yummy.Alongside some of the traditional foods, I have added roasted Jerusalem artichokes. This is a nutty flavored tuber that is perfect for a fall meal.Then the family arrived, and the mayhem began. It’s wonderful having a house full of noise, joy and good cheer.I set up the camera for a family photo-shoot. In order to be able to use the remote, the flash is disabled. Which meant the smallest motion became a blur.It is easy to see that Cameron is a perpetual motion kind of kid.We all had a wonderful evening as a family, that is what really matters.

Oh and yes, the food was great, more leftovers for tonight.

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Leah

American Indian Arts Marketplace

Another event at the Autry museum, a combination sale, and show.

I went, I viewed, I’m a little underwhelmed.There were plenty of people around, which was nice. There were performances and food. There was also a large vendor hall.I love Navajo weaving, there were nice examples, but nothing exceptional.It’s nice to see the kind of loom that is used. This style of weaving is called tapestry weaving, each color is worked individually.

Native tribes wove baskets from local grasses. With the arrival of the Spanish in the southwest, sheep and wool were introduced. The Navajo adapted very well and started weaving blankets. These became very desirable items.

Another western textile, the quilt and specifically the Lone Star pattern became very closely associated with Indian quilts.

Cultural influences – learning from one another. Here we arrive at the present day cultural sharing. Yoda as a local shaman?

If you haven’t figured out, I hate the term cultural appropriation. What I like is that we can learn from one another and share ideas, techniques and art styles. I’m over the idea that the White man is evil, but if another culture takes over an artform -then it suddenly is valid. Or even if a neighborhood gets renamed because a new non while Culture moves in. Korea Town is the perfect example. It was Mid Wilshire for years. I love that it has become Korea Town, but I also have no problem with gentrification, if white people want to move back to the old neighborhoods they built many years ago, such as Boyle Heights.

Same thing goes for art, The Navajo didn’t invent weaving or quilting, but they use it to their advantage. I love it, it’s beautiful, but it doesn’t negate the fact that white people invented and shared their knowledge. I love a Texas Lone Star alongside and Indian Star. I’d rather see more sharing and less bifurcating into smaller groups. It was nice to see many vendors, I hope they grow and succeed. But the quality here was OK, I didn’t see great examples of pottery, or weaving. I didn’t even take pictures of the many jewelry booths. There were a few original jewelers. Most simply had the exact same rings, earrings, and necklaces.  Are they being made locally? I don’t know, I do know that I have seen much better work in the tourist stores throughout Arizona.Which leads me to believe that although this is marketed as Southern California’s largest Native American Arts Fair, it isn’t attracting the real talent. They must have much better places to sell their artwork.  If this is a stepping stone for artists, the first stop on their way to much better locations. So be it. I just know that there are incredible native artists making unbelievable artwork.  Nothing wrong with a two day fair that is open to other artists. Maybe being the biggest doesn’t mean being the best.Ahh! People watching,  loved this outfit!

There were dancing and music as well. All in all, a worthwhile festival. I’m glad the Autry has this yearly event. Though for me, it was a one time visit.  That is ok, there is so much to do and see, I’ll find other events. I do have to say, when the Autry puts on an exhibit of Indian art, be it baskets, beading or weaving – they showcase exquisite work.

Leah