Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Finished Project

New book! It's called "Spinal" and it is an accordion style cloth book made from digitally designed fabric with iron-on transfers, vintage lace and lots of hand stitching.

Dang, making your own binding ain't fun

Victorian paper doll images (transfers) that I found on google :)

Cells and buttons

I scanned in fabric, thread and a few images from JB's anatomy books

Cells and spines and a little layer of silk organza

Liberated from text!

Friday, November 19, 2010


One of the lovely fall days we had before it hit the 40's!

There are so many lovely bloggers out there and I wanted to share a couple posts that caught my eye in the last few weeks. First is Bluebirdbaby's post about toys. Yes, less is more, especially after a birthday. A big one: Happy Fifth Birthday Maia!

These next two show some pretty nifty art projects for kids:

I confess, I am totally obsessed with Bamboletta Dolls. Although they are very hard to get they are super fun to drool over. Love the hair. Maia got one during one of the custom orders they take a few time a year. This is Hazel:

I also have a weaving piece on display in this show - Woven Images. And the Milkweed Project is assembled and is pretty cool! Glad to be a part of it. That's all for now, enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's nearly November?

The new fall routine must have swallowed me up, whole. At least as well as blogging goes. It is true that my 8am classes pull me awake before the sun is shining and my new best friend is the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator. But the semester is half over; the kids have settled into their new routines of high school and kindergarten, and the chilly autumn wind has been blowing for a while now. Julian's soccer season has ended and Maia's 5th birthday is just around the corner.

I find myself in a new place now, concentrating more on school and less on home. John's work schedule has been adjusted and we now have family dinners together every night. I have been reading Julian's freshman english class books alongside him and we have been discussing plot and setting, themes and writing style. Maia is writing up a storm and beginning to recognize high frequency words.

We got a new roof, two weeks of hammering and nailing and now no more squirrels will winter in our attic anymore. And best of all, we adopted a new dog, a sweet, affectionate little 2 year old corgi mix named Kylee, who lounges on the couch and sleeps at the foot of our bed. The cooler weather has brought out her spunk and her timidness is beginning to leave her. She appears in Maia's drawings often with a big smile on her doggy face.

Pumpkins have been carved and costumes picked out. Soon the trick or treaters will swarm the front door and November will be upon us. We'll watch till the last leaves drift to the ground.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

a little crafting

Cotton skirt with lining I sewed using one of my favorite skirts as a pattern.

First attempt at knitting since a long time, the simplest stitch possible!

Salt, straw and watercolor painting, super fun with Maia.

A little apron/smock that I dyed and stitched on a pocket for Maia's painting explorations.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Overshot: Small Honeysuckle

These are a few samples of some of the weaving I did over the summer at the ABK Weaving Center . The warp is the dark green color and they are all variations of the star and diamond. The patterns were much more complicated than the ones I did last spring, but satisfying and good to keep the process fresh in my mind and hands.

Friday, August 06, 2010


The baby robins have flown the nest and the newborn bunnies grew at such a fast pace that they too have left their hole and are now hopping around the garden and munching on greens. The yard is quiet in their absence as is our house in the absence of our dog Stella. I have finally washed her last bowl of food and water dish and tucked them away neatly in the cabinet. Dog sounds echo around me; the creak of the stairs, and the jingle of dog collars outside the window. Tennis balls lay in the corner, food crumbs stay beneath the table until I sweep them into small piles. Little grey and white dog hairs appear on our clothes and in dusty corners. Her ashes are contained in a white box sitting on the shelf waiting for a burial ceremony that has yet to be dreamt up.

She died almost six weeks ago, shortly after Maia and I found her laying by the back door with her tongue hanging out and tremors shaking her little head. A seizure, perhaps a stoke. Perhaps a series of small strokes.

She had been moping a few days earlier, lazing around the house, not thrilled when I took her out, but I chalked it up to the boys being away. Once though, she refused to go out. I called the Vet and he said to call back the next day to figure out a time to come, if she was still the same. Well, she wasn't. She was fine, or so it appeared. She had recovered from whatever it was and was bounding down the block with Maia.

So we were completely shocked when we found her that day. I picked her up and wrapped her in towel thinking I could rush her to the animal hospital 3 blocks away. Maia was crying and scared and didn't want to sit in the back seat with her still jerking her head. I put Maia in the front seat, belted her in and put on our make-believe ambulance siren. When we got there, I discovered that the hospital has just closed. The receptionist was unlocking her bike and I darted over to her to ask where the closest animals hospital was that might be open in the evening. She gave a name and street, but my eyes glazed over as I though about Stella in the back seat. I thanked her and ran back to the car, not knowing what to do. I ended up driving back home and calling the Vet as I could see she had stopped seizing and was no longer moving.

I sat in the back seat with our little dog and cried. The Vet would come by the next day to pick her up. So we held a little dog wake that evening, with family coming by to say their last goodbyes. It was comforting to have her home while we could process what had happened so suddenly. And the next day Dr. Tom picked her up in a blanket and took her away.

Stella was a force of nature. Stella was a dominant dog. She didn't care for other dogs and would not back down if barked at, which made dog parks impossible and walks not so relaxing until she wore herself out. She was a herding dog, a blue heeler, and would nudge my ankle when she wanted to go out. She would run in circle 8's in the yard when she was really riled up. And she never really got the hang of giving up the ball in fetch.

But she was a real good people dog. She though she was, in fact, a person. She loved to socialize at parties and take advantage of someone's unattended food plate. She greeted everyone with a friendly licks and would force her muzzle into your hands. She'd lay her head on your lap until she got some good petting time in. She slept with Julian for many years until Maia was born and then she lay in the hall between the two sleeping kids.

We'll miss you Stella Luna! Even the licking and the shedding and the moping and whining. You were a good dog, Stella. And we loved you very much.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Four Directions

Julian stayed up for 30 hours at a checkpoint for the Riverwest 24 bike race on Friday night, I have buried my head in books for the last week and a half reading the Lisbeth Salander trilogy and John pushed aside the dining room table, dragged in the living room couch and we all watched "The Cat Returns" with the new movie projector. Oh, and Maia got to have rainbow sherbet for breakfast. Ah, the freedoms of summer.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Flooding, Again

This is the view from my front porch during the torrential downpour last Thursday evening. We had about 7 inches of rain in under 2 hours. The sewers were overwhelmed and many of the streets in my neighborhood ran like rivers. Around the city, sink holes opened up, foundations were crushed, and cars stalled in water up to their windshields. Thousands of basements flooded, many with sewage. Now piles of refuse are heaped outside of houses as the clean-up begins. Devastation is wide-spread - $28 million of damage and FEMA is apparently on its way.

Here is some footage of the flooding in my neighborhood:

We had about 6 inches of rain water in our basement and have finally dried out. We had water in with the dry clothes in the dryer and found our fans and dehumidifier floating in water. They have all dried out and amazingly still work. We threw out many items that were ruined and are still sweeping up the dirt and bleaching the floors.

It was chaos that night. I was driving in circles trying to go the 1 mile to pick up Maia at daycare - every direction I turned cars were stalled in waste deep water. And the rain just kept falling. After about 40 minutes of driving I finally found a possible thoroughfare, though it too was flooded. I watched nervously as 4 or 5 cars went around me and made it through the flooded intersection. I gritted my teeth and pushed the accelerator. From there it was mostly higher ground and I made it to the day care center about 15 minutes late. Meanwhile, Julian was at home by himself and the lights were flashing on and off and water was filling up the basement. I knew I wasn't going to make it back through those intersections again, so I followed my brother-in-law back to his house in more pouring rain. John made it home before me by walking two miles to our house, abandoning his car when he realized that he could not get any closer. It was totally surreal and it remains so today as the piles grow bigger and more widespread and neighbors share their hardships with each other.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Flash Flood

The rains came at about 8:30 last night. Thunder claps broke open the sky and the rainwater flooded down into the streets and up onto the lawns. The winds whipped at the blinds and window glass. Rain pelted against the house then calmed into a steady patter. Until 1:30 am when I woke to hear JB calling out in panic and desperation “the basement is flooding!”

“I watched it happen, the rain poured in the basement and kept rising. It wasn’t draining, just getting higher and higher.” I put on my rubber boots and waded through the dirty water to find and unstop the drain. I pulled a piece of plastic and a small rubber ball out and the drain opened with a strong swirl. We put buckets up against the wall to collect the water pouring from small spigots in the foundation. The four inches of water began to drain and JB picked up as much wood and tools as he could and propped them on overturned buckets and garbage cans. We were in the midst of renovating the basement…

I walked outside to check the sewers to make sure they weren’t blocked. The rain was still falling steadily. I stepped through water up to my mid calf to the corner watching it stream down the street until it picked up speed and swung around the corner in currents and into the sewer. I stood at the corner and leaned down to pull out branches and wads of leaves that had were stuck in the drain. The dizzying swirl of water as it rushed into the sewer made me lose my balance for a minute; there was no dry ground to keep me steady, everything was moving. Up the block I saw my neighbor raking the other 2 sewers out but water seemed to be standing still in the intersection as well as up the block where I dared not walk for fear it was deeper than my boots. A new body of water appeared between the curbs, a deep plush carpet of ripples and reflections. It crept up the curb and onto the grass and sidewalks. “The whole village is flooding” the officer told JB when he called the public works.

JB stayed up mopping the water towards the drain while I crept into bed next to Maia. In the morning, no trace of standing water could be found, not even a small slashing puddle. The drains cleared and the rainwater drained into sewers and basements and well soaked grounds. Out on the lawn was the only evidence of flooding; detritus in the form of tee-shirts, flip flops, bottles and plastic bags left by the rushing water and a well defined line of sticks and mulch and tree branches midway between the house and the sidewalk. Now the fans and dehumidifier are humming away in the basement as it begins to dry out. Only small puddles are left now right at the base of the foundation. Rugs and towels are dripping on the laundry line outside under a cool, overcast sky

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cape Town!

Photos from the their trip can be viewed here.

The boys are safely in Cape Town after a 20 plus hour trip and have been to their first two matches (England vs. Algeria and Portugal vs. North Korea which got seriously rained on). The weather is a warm 70 degrees and they have their 12 days planned out well. They see one more match (Cameroon vs. Netherlands). They traveled to Robben Island to do the Walk to Freedom following the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and toured the Cape of Good Hope and the wildlife preserves where the Black Footed Penguins and Chacma Baboons live. They also plan to see Table Mountain and do a historical tour of Cape town.

They have been planning this trip since last October. Julian got his first passport around his birthday last August.

Julian enjoyed playing the board game Ten Days in Africa in the winter months before his trip and Maia and I have been kicking the soccer ball around, drawing the shape of Africa and pasting zebra stickers inside. We have been reading some books about Southern Africa as well including:

Somewhere in Africa by Ingrid Mennen and Niki Daly

Abiyoyo - Pete Seeger

Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams

Count Your Way Through South Africa by James Haskins

A South African Night by Rachel Isadora

Soccer World - South Africa by Ethan Zohn

We are counting down the days until they return so we can hear about their adventures, see their photos and have them back home where we miss them so!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Locust Street Festival - Beer Run

A 1.8 mile run/walk with 4 beer stops. Only in Milwaukee??

Go ladies!

A Milwaukee County inmate escapee

Miller making her appearance

Plunger dude

After a few sips from the plunger

Onlookers spray runners with hoses/sprinklers

Miller's competition

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rain and Shine

We have had some pretty heavy downpours and lots of light rain in the last week or two. This means raincoats, rubber boots and umbrellas during dog walks and soccer games. But the trees, bushes, flowers and plants are verdant with thickening foliage and beautiful blooms.

So, when the sun shines, it is warm and lovely; beguiling the body out of doors. My senses are sweetened by color and scent. Each day new blooms emerge, the poppies and peonies make way for the roses and lilies. Raspberry buds are firm and green; the cilantro is beginning to seed. Bunnies lounge in the grass after nibbling on lilies and chard and the huge-bellied robin is building her nest under the eves of the garage. The days begin early and end late as we conduct more and more activities outside: picnics and bike rides, soccer practice and walks through the park. It is enough just to be outside. It is enough.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

8th Grade Graduate

Julian will be graduating from 8th grade in a few days and I've made a point to get some decent shots of him. Decent meaning no hand up in front of his face, no tongue sticking out and no sour faces. I had to get him in action, at a concert or lined up for baseball team photos. And now I see how much he looks like me, with his hair grown long and his closed-mouth smile, though he has a few inches on me already.

We have spent time chatting in the car on the way to games or walking home from school events - the best ways to get him talking. I am continually surprised at his calmness and confidence, even when he strikes out or bombs an assignment. He is stepping through childhood and into young adulthood and he can oscillate between these worlds quite quickly. He may need help finding his shin guards or keys but he doesn't need help with his opinions.

A hint of rebellion is settling in too - the idea that he should do exactly what he wants regardless of his parents' or teachers' direct instructions. Luckily, a measure of reason is available to him when he chooses, though that hasn't prevented lengthy conversations about his responsibilities and the consequences that come with not taking them seriously. Surely we have a long road ahead of us as he enters High School.

Nonetheless, he is excited about summer break, camping, leisurely days and a long awaited trip to Cape Town for the World Cup with dad next week!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Little miss ballerina

Maia began ballet last fall and continued through the winter. She started out a bit shy and uncertain, but came to love her teacher, Miss Emily, and the other children as well. This last semester just ended and sadly she was in the middle of the "flu" during her final recital and had to miss it. By the end of the second semester she was galloping, leaping and dancing around the house, dressed in the tutu Grandma made, arms raised high, practicing ballet.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May Days in Pictures

Starting to feel better after four days of something like the flu

Gathered flowers (and some weeds) from the garden

Maia's still life painting of our flower arrangement

Hanging laundry on the line out in the warm sun

Jumping Maia, fully recovered and then some!

Baseball season is in full swing, too bad they got slaughtered by a terrific fast pitcher on the other team

A little work in the basement which will soon be a rec room!