Monday, October 29, 2007

New Orleans cont. 2

On Saturday I again had transportation duty to the airport. We went out for a nice breakfast of French toast with brie and caramelized pecans...was it ever rich...This time, however, we had a little more time to explore some more. We went by cemetery in the Garden District. Then we headed off to Slidell to go on a swamp tour. That was a lot of fun and we saw quite a few small alligators, a couple of larger ones, a great blue heron, a great egret, and lots of other interesting things. The guide gave us lots of information about what happened to this area during Katrina but also a lot more information about the area itself. Dropped everyone off at the airport and then headed back to the St. Charles house, had some chicken and turned in to read.

Sunday morning I was on my own. I stayed in bed for a while and finished a book I had been reading, got myself up and out. today I decided I was heading to about three or four different cemeteries. I went to the Lafitte cemetery which is just outside of the French Quarter. This cemetery had more damage to it than any others I had seen. In this picture you can see that some of the marble slabs have come down. Evidently there was a lot of looting of the wrought iron here, as well as other ornamental things.

Here you can see that there has been some fill in where the door area broke open. Caskets were floating around.
You can see some of the aging process. Dirt accumulates and seeds settle in.

Here is the front of one of the tombs.
From there I went to more upscale homes for the dead. You can see row after row and each row backs on to another row with a small alley way between the two of them. This is a huge cemetery. I took lots and lots of pictures of angels which are all on my big camera and I didn't bring my card reader with me.
There is even a pyramid!
And here is the front door.
These things are huge!
After wandering around three cemeteries I headed back to the French Quarter and sat myself down at the Cafe LaMonde for about an hour. I just sat back, listened to the street musicians, took some pictures of people, and just enjoyed the ambiance.

This area is a feast of sensations. Visual, auditory, smells, whatever you want there is over stimulation of the senses. There is a constant hum of voices which sometimes break into raucous laughter but then subside to a gentle roar. But if you really focus, you can turn in just to the music. jazz, blues, it just blows your mind! When you walk down the street there is lots of different music coming out of the various bars and clubs around.

Finally I decided to take one of those mule driven tours in a wagon and really enjoyed seeing all around the French Quarter. Bourbon St. is not the place I want to be and I was glad we went through in the wagon. Lots of people drinking in the streets, many people drunk and lots of beer flowing.

Again, I took lots of pictures of shutters and balconies but they are on my big camera.
Had a great dinner of fried shrimp and then, stuffed to the gills, I headed back to my car and caught this view. On a power tower, there were tons of birds flitting around but I don't know what kind of birds they were.
This morning I am off to explore a different area. Just one more day, today, and then I am off toward home again.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

New Orleans Continued

Wednesday night we all went to St. Anna's Episcopal Church in the French Quarter. They have a community supper there followed by jazz and blues music with local musicians. St. Anna's mission is to serve the musicians of New Orleans. They have developed a very impressive service program there. They have an AIDS/HIV clinic, all sorts of social services and practical services and this special evening.

We donated our $5 for dinner and then the hat was passed to collect for the musicians. We listed to this group and then listened to David and Roselyn. I bought one of their CDs.

I hated to leave as it was really great but we were just too tired to stay up any later.

Thursday it was back to work again at 8 am at the warehouse and then back to the house where we are working. I spent Wed, Thurs, and part of Friday working on removing paint from the wrought iron on the front porch.
You can see some of the detail. By the time I finished on Friday most of the paint was all off the vertical rails and the decorative stuff all looked like this and was ready to paint. At least one side of the porch. Then paint on the upper part of the scroll work in the picture above still needs to be removed, as well as more paint on the screen door, front and back and the left side of the porch. But I left it much further along than when I arrived

Felice and Melissa taking a break from painting and touch ups.

This is Jonathan, our crew chief.
We had a big problem with the taping that was done on the dry wall. It rained and was so very humid on Monday when we started to paint, plus the fill in had not been done when we started to paint. So, after three days of painting, touch ups, repainting, it became apparent that the taping was pulling away from the wall. The intern whose specialty is dry wall and taping spent all of Friday ripping out the taping so that he can re do it. That was quite discouraging.

When we left Friday, the rooms were all painted (expect for the rework on the taping), tile was laid in a big chunk in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. What was left was laying the part pieces which all needed to be measured and cut. This meant that the sub floor was patched, and wonderboard was put down and then the mudding, etc.

Two of the bedrooms and hallway were sanded for the first time. This was hardwood flooring that was washed down and then sanded. It still needs to be sanded a couple of times before it is finished. One room had the felt put down and then almost completely had the veneer flooring put in.

The house is looking so much more like a home.

This is very satisfing, hard work. When Miss Jackie comes in to look at the end of the day she gets a really big smile on her face.

It is important to understand that we are talking about 100,000 homes that were flooded. Of that, most need to be rebuilt or rehabilitated. Some have been demolished. I have learned alot about what happened and where it happened. We have all seen pictures of the lower 9th ward where houses floated away, cars ended up on houses, etc. This was one small area of the lower ninth where a barge was not properly tied up and slammed in to the levy which caused a very big area of the levy to give way and allowed water in inundate the area. This was a big flood that happened suddenly so many of the people did not make it. Many of those homes have been demolished as they can not be rehabilitated.

This is a picture from that area:

Next door to the house we are working on is another house that has been gutted. No one is living in a FEMA trailer there and we don't know what the people are going to do. The weeds are hight in the front yard. This is a picture of the mold that freely and happily grew under the plaster and insulation.
Most of the gutted houses are completely empty. This one still has headboards from a couple of beds and several other things that speak of the homeowner. It was very errie to go into this house and see some of the owner's belongings but it speaks of what it was like.
This is a box of kitchen things that has been packed up but was just left there.
This image is of our group from All Saints: from left to right, Felice, Robin, Fr. Rob, Melissa, Joan and me.

Friday morning I had transportation duty. I took Fr Rob, Robin and Joan down to the French Quarter for a little while as they were leaving in the afternoon. We had a great couple of hours soaking up the ambiance. This picture is looking through the wrought iron gate at the courtyard inside.

And one image of one of the buildings...I have taken quite a few.

What has become so apparent, that the things you read don't discuss that this is a place where whole neighborhoods have had major destruction. Not only the homes, but the streets are filled with potholes from being under water for so long, the businesses are no longer there, grocery stores are few and far between and just a few people are moving in to many of the neighborhoods. So many people need help.

It is not just the very poor, most of whom were sent to others areas and other states but the working people and the retired people. New Orleans has one of the highest home ownership ratios in the US. Many of the homes in the older areas have been passed down in the family and are owned outright.

The couple whose house we are working on were working folks. He was a longshoreman who came down with cancer and earlier this year he was in hospice but is now doing much better and is in remission. His partner, Miss Jackie worked all of her adult life in the administration field but now stays at home to take care of her partner. They had enough to live on since the house was paid for but not enough to start over or to rebuild. These are the people we are helping. they are living in a small FEMA trailer that is about the size of 1/4 of their house. Miss Jackie has been overwhelmed with all that has happened and has become seriously depressed. They have no where else to turn to for help.

The Episcopal Disaster Response program in Louisiana takes on these homes and helps these people. They are asked to pay back the costs for the house rehab if they receive any money from one of the Road Home programs but who knows when that will happen. The program is being run by two paid staff and a host of interns and lots of volunteers. Many come through for a week of work, some come back. They will provide housing at the church for those who need it. This program needs money for tools and building supplies so if you would like to donate, please contact them directly. All of the money donated to disaster response goes directly to that program.

Last night, Melissa, Felise and I went to the French Quarter for dinner at the Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro and then listened to Ellis Marsalis and his band which includes one of his sons. The jazz was absolutely divine.

We rolled on home very tired after a very busy week. This morning we went driving around the Garden District where we are staying and stopped at a cemetery and walked around for a little while. Then we headed off for a swamp tour. By the time we finished that, it was time to get them to the airport for their flight. I came back, read for a little while and then had a nap, ran out to get some chicken and then back to the room to read and do this. I have Sunday, Monday and part of Tuesday to explore before I head home.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Orleans

I can understand how and why people fall in love with New Orleans. It has got to be the friendliest place I have every been. If you need to get over on the freeway because you didn't know your exit was coming up and turn on your turning signal, somebody lets you in...never seen in California where the driver will rush right up to close the gap so you can't get in.

People say hi to each other.

People want to know why you are here and when you tell them you are here to work on houses, they express a great thankfulness.

This is a city that is broken, that is struggling to get back, that is depressed in most areas while in others everything appears normal.

People are missing from the neighborhoods because they have been sent elsewhere and they have nothing to come back to.

This is still a common sign on many houses.

FEMA trailers sit on lots with their houses which may or may not be under repair. New colors are springing up.
At the house where I have been working for the past three days we take potty breaks at the local But we usually buy something like a coke. This is the mural on the side of the building. Our Popeye's in California seems kind of drab.

This is a common sight on buildings that used to be small, neighborhood businesses.

This market is on our way to the job site and we get a big kick out of it each time we drive by...we still wonder how many spiders it takes to satisfy some one's hunger.
And, since I gave you an unreal look at my rector, Fr. Rob, I have decided to make it up to him buy showing you how hard he really works.
In the neighborhood where we are working there are homes like this that have been gutted but nothing further has happened. It's sad and I sit on the porch at the house we are working on and try to envision the neighborhood before Katrina, where people sat on the front step, the kids played in the streets, the neighbors knew each other and all the adults knew all of the children.
Not far away are a group of housing projects. These are going to be torn down. They are still trying to decide what they are going to do to replace them but two years later this is what they look like...

It doesn't look like it was a real cheerful place before Katrina and of course now looks really bad.I came across this building along with several others but I don't know what they were before Katrina. The blue tarps hanging down seem so forlorn.

On Monday there were 20 of us working in one house...too many people in one place. We painted and did some priming and then spent another day touching up. Then filling in gouges, and more touchups. I have spent a lot of time painting, and then yesterday I was filling in holes etc.

Today I spent the entire day working with an electric drill with a wire brush attachment working on the scroll work paint of the wrought iron work on the front porch. Other people were scrapping off the paint on the rails, all so it can be repainted.

We have spent two nights at a great barbeque restaraunt but tonight we headed in to the French Quarter and went to St. Anna's Episcopal church for a service and then community dinner and music. St. Anna's mission is to the musicians. There was a man with a wonderful voice singing acapello during the service and then we made a $5 contribution for dinner and then put money in the hat for the musicians where played during the evening. Great music...from jazz to blues and just awesome stuff! I could have stayed there longer but we had to go because we have to be at the warehouse tomorrow at 8am for our job assignments.

This is a trip that I am really enjoying. The woman of the house where we have been working cooked us a spaghetti lunch yesterday which was so much better than our little sandwiches with two small pieces of ham and one piece of American cheese. We appreciated it very much! It was a wonderful way for her to say thank you to us. But many of us have expressed our gratitude that we were able to come down to do this. There are so many emotions going through my head...a lot to be sorted out. But not tonight.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Just the past week....

My Dad and I had a great Sunday afternoon at my cousin's house visiting with family. It meant so much to him to be there.

Sunday we didn't have to be at the airport until after 3:30 so after we checked out we went to the Norfolk Botanical Garden. This place is great....would be even greater in the spring when all of the azaleas are blooming...they have a huge number of them. But the gardens is set up in different areas with different emphasis...a wonderful children's garden and exploration are. We walked down to the Japanese garden and I took this picture at the pond.In another part of the garden there were zinnias blooming but I am sharing my favorite color!
Then on the tram ride around to the butterfly garden...they grow plants to provide for a wide range of butterflies and moths from caterpillar to butterfly stage. They were flying all around and presented quite a challenge to get pictures of because they don't sit around much.

In the tropical garden hothouse the following plants can provide a lot of inspiration.

On Friday, two days before, Dad and I went to the Naval Station where he used to be based when he was stationed in Norfolk. I took him down to the piers to take a look at the ships. He walked along, looking, while I sat in the car and kept up with him because I knew he couldn't make the walk back.

This picture brings tears to my eyes because I know it is probably the last time he will be out to look at U.S. Naval ships which were the love of his life...after my mother. He commented about how much bigger they are and was just amazed to see them. It was a powerful visit.

Dad and I got to the airport and sat around for a long time and then found out our plane would not be arriving until the time we were actually supposed to depart. Finally it got there and we all got on our little plane which held 50 people. Then we sat, and sat some more. The pilot was wonderful as he constantly gave us updates as to the cause of the delay. Houston, which was the next stop of our trip, had a huge weather system there and flight control was holding up everyone due to the weather. We waited on board for another 45 minutes with frequent updates and then finally they let us off the plane for a while. I went ahead and made arrangements for us to get a different flight out of Houston to Oakland but it would not leave until the next morning which meant we would spend the night at the Houston airport.

Well, we finally got off and got to Houston. I checked in to see if, by any chance, our original flight had been delayed that much but it hadn't and was long gone. However, there was an opening for two on another flight going in to San Francisco instead of Oakland fifteen minutes later so we hopped the tram and then the train and then the tram again to get to the gate on time. Finally got into San Francisco where my poor husband picked us up at 3 am. Of course our baggage didn't make it so it took half an hour to fill out the paperwork. Got my dad home and then finally into my own bed at 4am.

Well,that killed Tuesday...I just don't recover from that very easily any more...

Was very busy all week trying to keep up with commitments. Saturday I taught a wonderful workshop in San Rafael to a guild. It was an introduction to surface design and I didn't give them any time to think but had them just working and working. What fun!

Came home, threw some clothes into the washer, went to a party for a couple of hours and then home to finish washing and to pack. Got up at 5am on Sunday and headed to the airport on my way to New Orleans.

Met up with my group and got our rental car and headed to the guest house where we are staying in the garden district. Went out for a great dinner.

This morning got us all over to the Episcopal Disaster Response program where we were given a brief orientation and then went out to work on the house we were assigned to. I have so much to say about this but will do so tomorrow or the next day as I want some pictures to go with it. The house is being rebuilt and today we were painting the ceilings and finishing the priming and then doing the walls. It was raining and with 22 people inside this house, with lights on so we could see, and all the heat and humidity, I found myself sweating so much I just didn't have to pee...however, I was getting some heat exhaustion so they sent me out to sit in the car with the air conditioner going.

While I am sitting out there my good friend Robin misses a step off the ladder so we took her to the hospital. How many people does it take to get Robin to the hospital? to drive, the priest who navigates and the sister who frets....she ended up with some neck and lower back soft tissue injuries and was given meds to help her out and we finally got her home at 6 pm.

Meanwhile, while in the waiting room while she was in the exam room, we had a hard time passing the time so here is a picture of my rector whiling away his time...

Well, tomorrow is another day of touch up painting and then Wednesday we go to work gutting a house that had been rebuilt and then caught fire so it will be a real mess....Meanwhile we are eating very well...had an expensive, very good dinner Sunday night and tonight went to the VooDoo Bar-b-que which we will be going back...a great dinner for under $10...our kind of meal.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My thoughts on being an art quilter and more

I spent the day doing some wandering around by myself yesterday as dad was off on a tour of a ship and a museum with all the other guys. I felt he was pretty safe and would be well taken care of by the guys who are happy he came. Then sat at the computer and did a bunch of other work.

But, I posted the following on the ArtQuilt list which has had a number of people complaining about those outstanding quilters/artists who win a lot of prizes. Also a lot of complaints about quilting perfection being expected at quilt shows. So, I wrote the following:

I have been following the discussions about mitered
corners, work hanging straight, if someone should be
able to compete again when they have won a big prize,
etc with a lot of interest.

As long as people continue to enter true art quilts in
regular quilt shows, they will be judged at quilts.

The Mancuso shows do not delineate between art quilts
and "innovative" quilts. Art quilts are put in to the
same category as quilts that start out with some areas
of traditional quilting and then make changes to make
them more creative.

My feeling is that "art" quilts are completely
originial, based on the artist's conception of what
they want to say.

When I show my art quilts in art shows, there is no
request for an artist statement or any justification
for what I did. The work must stand on its own.

Many times art has something deep to say but may not
be readily available to the viewer. Sometimes there is
nothing to say other than to share the beauty of what
has been created.

The work must stand on its own artistic merits,
regardless of the medium used.

The skill used with the specific medium is all part of
the creativity of the piece and is part of the judging
of the art. What you say about it, isn't.

There are shows specifically designed to showcase art
quilts. The work is judged as art the the criteria do
not generally include mitered corners, full binding,
straight edges unless they are supposed to be. There
is far more room for how pieces are finished, quilted,
batted it at all, and generally put together but they
must stand as art.

When art quilt work is shown in art shows the judges
do not look at the back, do not judge based on
quilting criteria, but on the basis of the work being

There will always be those who reap most of the
rewards. In the art world, they generally move on to
showing in galleries, doing commissions, etc. This is
probably because art shows do not have the money for
prizes that our big quilt shows do. Art shows do not
have vendors which help to pay for the show and help
provide prize money.

Quilters who win major awards certainly deserve every
bit of recognition and award money. Unfortunately,art
quilts have not reached the point where the artist can
then move on to a more profitable venue such as

I am suggesting that you consider carefully where you
submit your art for judging. Understand that the
biggest winner quilters are usually going for the most
money. A major prize winner in one big show will make
the circuit of all the big shows to garner as much
recognition and money as possible. Once it has made
the circuit, the piece gets retired from the show

If you want greater chances of getting juried in to an
art quilt show, enter art quilt shows. But be aware,
those that receive the acceptance letters are those
whose work is standing out above the others. And,
sometimes that seems like the same people. But, also
understand that those same people get their share of
rejection notices also.

I finally got juried in to Houston for the first time
this year, after receiving several rejections. I am
still waiting to get juried in to Visions and Quilt
National as they are major recognition venues. But I
have my rejection collection from both of those but
will continue to keep trying...and improving my work
so that my chances will improve.

Art shows do not provide you with the judging
comments. You are juried in, the judge makes the award
decisions of which there may be just a few such as
first place and several awards of merit and may not be
broken down my medium used. They all compete against
each other...the representational work and the
abstract, the watercolors, oils and mixed media and
the awards are based on the best art presented at the

Quilt show rules are different. If you are going to
enter quilt shows, be prepared to have your work
judged as a quilt and not art.

Flashy techniques do not make it in the art world. If
you feel you are not getting into art quilt shows,
maybe it is time for you to take some art classes and
learn the fine art of composition, design, color, etc
in order to improve your textile work. Once you have
those skills firmly embedded in your process you will
find your work improving drastically and consequently
your chances of getting in with be improved.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Little of This and a Little of That

The last time I left you I spoke about doing this collage but I did not have a picture. Here it is....done on a gallery wrapped 6 x 6 canvas. I love the layers I achieved with this. I am really beginning to get ideas for doing this with fabric...all I need to do is to stay home long enough to do it!

Then last week I walked out the front door and saw these beautiful clouds...just for inspiration.

Wednesday I left home with my father for an all day trip to Norfolk, VA. Getting through the maze of security now adays is pretty hard but even harder when you are trying to get your low vision father who won't wear his hearing aids through the process, especially since he hasn't done this for years. And then changing planes in Atlanta and finally arrived in Norfolk where it was in the 70's at 11 pm and the humidity was pretty thick and I had to turn on the air conditioner in the car which caused water to form on the outside of the windshield from condensation so I had to use the wipers so I could see roads that I had no idea of where they were going...and navigate freeways and streets that have a very different way of doing things than we do in California.

But we got to the hotel and this morning woke up too late for the free breakfast. My dad's sister lives in Chesapeake and there is a ship's reunion here so this brought my father out here and I came to help get him here and around the area.

After talking with lots of talking and sharing stories in the hospitality room, we took off to go find the house we had lived in Norfolk when I was 13 years old. We lived there for 18 months between two tours of duty in Japan.

One of the guys at the reunion loaned us his gps and I am now hooked on that as a way to find your way to someplace you have no idea of how to get to. Since my dad can't read the map nor can he see much outside the car I couldn't navigate strange freeways and get there without this help...guess now I will have to get one for my husband... When we lived in this house ( a very long time ago) this porch was not enclosed and we would sit out here on Sundays in the afternoon and the barbecue was here so my dad could cook.

This shows the house with the front door and the back laundry room which opened onto a small concrete patio. When I got my very first dog, this is the house she lived in.
And here is my dad standing at the front of the house. This is the man who weighed 115 pounds in August, 2006 and had given up on life.

After looking at the house, we called my aunt and made arrangements to go over and see her. It was incredibly touching to see the two of them together, my dad at 84 and my aunt at 91 and still very much the older sister. She just kept looking at him and was so happy to see him. We will be getting together with her and her son and daughter on Sunday. What a family reunion.
I have been doing some work on fabric but I can't share it with anyone...sorry about that.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Dyeing washouts and Collages

Well, I washed out my dyed fabric and it was all a bust. I am not sure just went could be several things from too cold to batch (we had winter overnight after I dyed the fabric), the dye could be old or who knows what else. Now I will redye and see what happens. My waxed fabrics came out with some residual dye but not what I had intended but the wax is out for now so I will have to do another layer of wax and then redye...But I have also been working on my collages...I really enjoy this process and am working toward doing the same thing in fabric although with various papers, gel and paint along with images I am able to get some great textures.

This piece is called "Yellow House" I love this one a lot!
And this is "Ruth"

And then "Sisters"
"The Screen Door" makes you work to find the hidden image
And "Thoughtful":
And you really going to have to work hard to find the image in "Lost":
And "Moth" with no hidden images to find!:
and little "Amy":
And finally "Claire":
I spend a lot of time looking for photographs which I then scan. I have a lot of family images that I am going to start digging out and scanning those. I have photos from the mid 1800's all the way to current with a lot of snapshots from the forties and fifties which I want to use in other ways.

This is also shipping week! Two pieces go off to PIQF, one piece to FAVA for their second round of jurying and one piece off to Quilts=Art=Quilts and I will have a piece in the juried show at Houston and also my journal piece in that exhibit. I am finally getting myself back into gear and entering the shows I need to do.

Next week I take off for five days in Virginia to take my dad back for a ship's reunion and to see his sister (my aunt) which will be nice. He is going on a tour which I have opted out of and I look forward to scrounging around taking pictures, etc.

Oh well, now I have to do my studying for EFM tonight. And get out a bunch of emails and respond to a couple of nice emails...never a dull moment...