Be Delighted

"Oh my my my my, what an eager little mind!"

Auntie Mame

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Liquid Blue

The last part of our recent trip to San Francisco was a day trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium. This was a particular request of mine, so Ian's girlfriend, Clio, offered her car to drive all four of us down there, about two hours south of San Francisco, to check out some beautiful aquatic creatures.

The town, itself, is also charming so we started out with lunch at a popular local restaurant on the boardwalk, a mini version of San Francisco's Pier 39.

The aquarium was packed. It was a Saturday so families with kids were everywhere. It often required a bit of patience to get to an exhibit, especially when it was feeding time for the penguins, so eventually we worked our way to the cepholopods.

This octopus was just chilling on the glass. Front side and back side.

Here's a quirky favorite of mine, the tiny and peculiar Cuttlefish. Apparently the smaller male cuttlefish can pretend to be a female fish in order to avoid being attacked by a larger one, but then will zoom right in and mate with the female right under the other male's nose, er, face tentacles. Pretty crafty.

Lots of schools of silvery fish being mesmerizing.


The ever cranky Moray Eel:

Of course, one of the most popular exhibits is the big sea otter tank. They can be seen at the lower level sweeping through the water, and at the top level, surfacing, or in the case of this fuzzy face, grabbing its' blankie and going behind a rock for a nap. They also live in the ocean just outside, along with seals, who are frequently seen sunning on the rocks.

My surprising favorite exhibit, though, was the jellyfish. Their gorgeous colours and wispy ethereal quality were both soothing and hypnotic to watch. Even shot with just my cell phone camera they looked dazzling, the most photogenic of all the sea life there.

Here's their official website:

They are also on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram, often posting cute photos of their ocean friends.

And of course you can buy local souvenirs like this:

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Van Gogh's Coffee

A couple of months ago my friend, Toni, informed me she had entered me in an art quilt challenge because she knew it was something I would do. And she was right. The challenge, by Cherrywood Fabrics ( was to create a 20" x 20" quilt inspired by the works and palette of Vincent Van Gogh. Each entrant received a package of dyed fabrics, three blues and one black, recalling the colours Vincent often painted in, and could then add two or three more colours from their same fabric line to complete the concept of their quilt. I'd like to say I mulled for days over what to create but quite honestly, this idea, probably fueled by caffeine, came to me pretty quickly.
 The work has now been completed and submitted and I will find out in late August whether I made the cut. Chosen quilts will win awards and also go on a national tour for a year, including the Houston International Quilt Festival. (Many competitive quilters admit their quilts have been to a lot more places than they have.)

I decided to document the whole process as I worked on it. Most people don't realize how painstakingly slow fiber arts can be, even on a small piece like this, but as someone who enjoys the process, it is one area that I actually have amazing patience in. And I am not known for my patience.

First I got some plain white sketching paper and drew a big coffee cup. I used a Sharpie marker to create bold outlines which would be used as pattern pieces on fabric to cut out the individual shapes that would form shadows and highlights.

I then cut the white fabric shape and fused it onto the black fabric, followed by fusing the blues on the white. I added some background yellow because Vincent loved using yellow in lavish ways. Also, warm colours were a nice contrast to all that blue and black.

Time for some swirls. Starry night is a go.

Then the stitching begins:

More stitching, more embroidery. Even sequins! I was going to add a spoon for a little diagonal drama but came up with a better idea.

More details. And actual paint. Homage to the master.

Finally, I needed a professional image shot so I called in the pro from Dover, Naomi Hill, for some hi res photos.

So wish me luck, and thanks,Vincent, for all the beauty!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Plenty to Wine About.

Our trip to San Francisco would not have been complete without heading north to wine country. When deciding on an AirB&B, I told Glenn that one of my favorite memories from the mid Nineties was when I had a sweet little week long gig as a camp counselor two summers in a row, at the Bishop's Ranch Episcopal Retreat Center near Healdsburg, about 90 minutes north of the bay area. My friend, Julie, an Episcopal priest, was the youth counselor, and this particular camp was a fine arts camp, with counselors in vocal music, instrumental music, art, drama, and dance (that would be me). It is a beautiful setting in a charming area so I thought we would search for a B&B around there. Glenn discovered the Pony Ranch, about seven miles outside of Healdsburg, a vineyard that grows Zinfandel grapes, so we booked three days, rented a car, and left the bustling urban scene of San Francisco for this:

We stayed in the guest house at the back of this humble residence, facing the vineyards. I know, right?

The air was soft and warm, filled with the scent of lemons, roses, sage, and lavender.

Our first night we went to a wine and cheese shop in Healdsburg, picked up the desired wine and cheese, plus a loaf of bread, and spent the evening sipping and eating while sitting outside on our little patio. A small slice of heaven.
This little guy came for a visit:

We met with friends, Jack and Lisa, at the Bishop's Ranch the second night and shared dinner. Happily the place looked just as I remembered it 20 years ago, with only a few small updates.


Healdsburg was a sleepy little town back in the Nineties. Now it's a trendy spot for dining and shopping, but still a nice, small town ambiance (no Walmart!)

Our favorite dining experience was at Bravas Tapas Bar, sitting on a friendly patio sampling interesting dishes, including calamari that doesn't taste anything like the rubbery fried stuff available locally,  and, of course, sipping wine.

I found a lovely little store that specialized in Japanese clothing and fabrics, called Yasuko where I treated myself to the scarf above, a tunic, and a scrap bag of fabrics to use for quilting.


Also included, was a day trip to Calistoga for massages and a soak in mineral waters at the Golden Haven Spa. Although, Calistoga spas are sort of basic and no frill, most of them looking like vintage motels from the Sixties, which is probably what they are. Alas, all the mud baths were booked so we didn't get to do this:

It was a short, sweet visit in the middle of our west coast trip and we managed a wine tasting next door to our vineyard abode, at Mazzocco winery, bringing home my favorite, a nice zinfandel with a hint of pepper, to be opened on our anniversary in August.


Another last look at the beautiful view, then back to San Francisco via Sausalito.

                                                                       Check it out.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

If You're Going to San Francisco.......

Yes we arrived in the Bay area during the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, but to me it was just the summer of lots of tourists and lots of traffic. When your son lives next to the Stockton Tunnel and you're sleeping in his bed next to a window cracked open for a breeze then you are very aware of urban living, including arguing couples, cars honking, lots of trams and buses, and loud music playing any and all times of day. The sign says Quiet Through Tunnel. Apparently people take that as a challenge.

Ian does live at the edge of Chinatown, though, so one intersection to cross and there we were.

                                    We met his girlfriend, Clio, and planned our events.

Each morning we would march through the tunnel towards Union Square, take a left, and head for La Boulangerie for coffee and a breakfast pastry.

We enjoyed both public art and art in museums. 

The newly remodeled SFMOMA.
Can you name these artists?

                                                             The view up to the catwalk.

 There was the DeYoung Museum at Golden Gate Park, directly across from the California Academy of Sciences.
Street signs comparing 50 years ago to today.

                                                         The rainforest at the CAS.
                                                       Claude, the albino alligator!

            Lots of walking up and down hills. Then back up. It always seemed uphill to Ian's place.

Oh look, a level street.

We took a bus down to the Embarcadero and Fisherman's Wharf, then a fun, vintage tram, and then we went by foot. It was packed with people everywhere so trying to do the tourist thing at Ghiradelli Square was out of the question. We headed for Pier 39. More tourists. No surprise.

                                                    Look at these lazy sea mammals.

This mammal was more attractive. 

We ate lunch at Scoma on Pier 47, and the tuna melt was to die for. Also the retro ambience with the Sinatra music in the background was just right.

The Embarcadero at night was also enjoyable. We ate at The Slanted Door inside the Ferry Building and enjoyed seeing the sun set over the Bay Bridge.

Another place we enjoyed was Top of the Mark for martinis, with a great all around view of the city. And yes, we had to walk uphill to get there.

There's the Golden Gate in the distance. We didn't actually cross it until we returned from a three day side trip to Healdsburg in the wine country. (next blog)

Our favorite meal was sushi at Hinata, a quiet and delicious experience with our expert chef and server, Gavin.

Our menu and entire meal. We ate ALL of this. So. Much. Fish.


                          Clio took me to her favorite yarn shop, Imagine Knit near Delores Park

  I could have spent all day there but Glenn and Ian were ready to move on and I had a coffee meet up with an old and dear friend, Julie Graham. I didn't get a photo op but my first visit in 1992 to San Francisco was to be matron of honor at her wedding. Here's a flashback to more hair and baggier jeans.

Ian and Clio were always fun to be around. He even booked us a Room Escape event, Escape From Alcatraz, where we were taken to a basement, put in a prison cell, and all handcuffed to the wall pipes with one hour to escape. Hint: we were winners! We're hoping he will bring her here for the big tour of Texas. Just not in summer. I was definitely enjoying the cool SF weather.

                                                      Until next time, San Francisco.

Oh, and in 1967 during the actual Summer of Love I was 17 , just graduated from high school, and living in Tallahassee, Florida. Groovy, baby.