Life Lately: November #2

I don’t know if it’s the colder weather, the shorter days, or maybe he’s missing Copper too, but Sherman’s been extra-interested in keeping me company lately. I’d even go so far as to say he is being sweet. (?!)

Sleeping cat

Voted! John registered, cast a provisional ballot, and the whole experience was very festive! We ran into neighbors and had a grand time.

Voting!

Back in May I took that day-long writing workshop through Gotham Writers in New York, and I’ve been keeping up with my scribbling. I thought it was time to get a little more serious and find some guidance, so I signed up for some one-on-one time via their mentorship program. I just had the first phone session with my teacher and I’m so excited.

Writing & editing

Okay… three years since we moved in and I just now had my first “party.” I haven’t wanted to invite anyone over because, well, there are still unpacked boxes in the living room (yikes) and books in stacks on the floor instead of on shelves, etc etc. But whatever! Fellow Magpie Consort members came over to help put the fall mailing together, and I put a smorgasbord of food together. 500 envelopes got stuffed in a jiffy. Our concert is coming up, so come hear us sing :-)

The Magpie Consort stuffing envelopes

Late autumn walks at Griggs Reservoir. The ice storm pretty much killed the autumn color, and our Japanese maple was only starting to turn red (I’m sad about that.) Whatever leaves were left on trees are now brown and blowing away, but the grass is still bright green. For some reason I stopped going on my daily walks last year and I miss them, so I’m starting back up.

Griggs Reservoir trees

Just before Thanksgiving John and his oldest daughter and I visited friends in New York for a very quick day and a half.

Manhattan skyline

I spent Thanksgiving week in Asheville, North Carolina, where my family has rented a house in the mountains every year since 2004. We stopped going when Dad couldn’t make the trip anymore, but after he and Mom died, my brother and I started up the tradition again. Hot tub with a view, hikes in the forest, weather of all kinds, and reading by the fireplace … I look forward to this trip all year.

Fairview Forest fog
Reading by the fireplace

John was only able to come for a couple days, but we managed to get in a few walks in the woods.

Footbridge across the creek

I hope you had a good holiday! Is it really time to get a Christmas tree??

It's March?

So it is!  Sorry I've been out of the loop.  A bit about what's been going on lately...

Glacier Ridge Metro Park

February brought some snowfalls I loved, and I finally got to do some cross-country skiing!  Unfortunately my boot came apart mid-trip, and I wound up up having to walk back. It's okay, I was out in the snow, which made me happy.

My cross-country skis
Glacier Ridge Metro Park

I sang again for St. Francis of Assisi's pasta dinner fundraiser, this time with guitar instead of piano (thanks, Colin!). I'm beginning to think I like singing with guitar better than piano.  A BIG thank you to everyone who came out that day, including my amazingly supportive neighbors!

My neighbors

I was so happy, the Pope got a big smooch.

The Pope gets a kiss

Early in the month, John officially became a Delta MD88 captain, and I tagged along on his first trip.

Captain John

I also had MY first flying lesson of 2018. I flew us to lunch at the Urbana airport.

Aeronca Champ

My tomato seeds came and now I can get them started. My favorite gardening author, Gayla Trail of You Grow Girl, offers her own garden's seeds for sale on Etsy, and I just love knowing my tomatoes literally got their start in HER garden.

Tomato seeds from You Grow Girl

I started some sewing projects. Since I freelance from home, it's easy to spend waaayyy too much time in my pajamas. Yes I could change into work outfits, but I like my pjs!  So I thought maybe if I sewed up some pajama-esque, work-y loungewear, maybe I would feel less slovenly yet still enjoy one of the huge perks of working from home.  I found this 60's linen print in the clearance section at JoAnne's and think it will make the perfect home-office twinset: cropped flared pants and a halter swing top.  Will model it for you when finished!

1960's linen print fabric

Yes it's still Christmas in our house.  Yes it's a real tree.  Yes it's crispier than crackers.  No we do not leave the lights on when we leave. But we love the lights so much and it still smells so wonderful. Until I move to a forest of pine trees, the tree stays up until... well... last year it was late April.  The year before it was June...

Christmas tree

Finished a few books and am starting All the Light We Cannot See. I didn't know if I'd like this one or not, because I sometimes have a tough time getting through stories set in other time periods, particularly war settings, but I just love this one so far. 

Books

I had my appendix taken out. It was my very first time staying in a hospital or having any kind of surgery, so I didn't know what to expect. Of all the hospital first-times one could experience, I'm glad it was an appendectomy and not something worse.  Still, it felt weird to sign the "you might not wake up again" waiver and say goodbye to someone I love. Needless to say, I was very happy to wake up. And tomato soup never tasted so good.

Hospital gown and tomato soup

I'm still on the mend from surgery, but everything's going well, and the sunny warm weather last week, while a bit disconcerting for all the obvious reasons, made me happy. I've been enjoying some sofa time too (with kitties), which feels like a luxury.

Cat on a couch

It's also given me some time to start Italian lessons on Duolingo...

Duolingo Italian

Anything new with you? Lemme know!  As always, thanks for reading... Cheers!

 

Photo-an-Hour: New York

I thought a day in New York would be the perfect opportunity for a photo-an-hour post.  Here goes...

claudia-retter-teacup.jpg

8:30am - Breakfast with Lynn at the Eveready Diner in Southeast.  She wasn't going to be able to come to the city with me, so we thought we'd at least start out with breakfast together before she dropped me off at the train station.

claudia-retter-chappaqua.jpg

9:30am - Hillary. Sigh...

American Flag, Grand Central Station

10:30am - Ahhh... Grand Central Station. Being here never gets old.

International Print Center New York

11:30am - On the train I looked up "print museum New York" just to see what would turn up. I had no idea I'd discover the International Print Center New York. Their current exhibit, Just Under 100, is the fifty-sixth presentation of its New Prints Program, a biannual, juried open call for prints that included 98 international artists. 

Framed prints

I loved seeing so many different printmaking techniques all displayed in one space.  It makes me look forward even more to getting started at the printmaking co-op once fall comes.

Louise Eastman, Jess Frost, Tara Geer, Katie Michel, Wendy Small, and Janis Stemmermann. Miss 2017. Letterpress. 20 5/8 x 16 1/2 in. Printed by Leslie Miller, published by Planthouse, NY. Edition: 15. Courtesy of Planthouse, NY. © 2017 the artists.

Louise Eastman, Jess Frost, Tara Geer, Katie Michel, Wendy Small, and Janis Stemmermann. Miss 2017. Letterpress. 20 5/8 x 16 1/2 in. Printed by Leslie Miller, published by Planthouse, NY. Edition: 15. Courtesy of Planthouse, NY. © 2017 the artists.

View from a Chelsea window

12:30pm - The view from the IPCNY elevator hallway.

Cape and dress, Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology

1:30pm - Thought I'd pop into the Fashion Institute of Technology's museum since it was just down the street a bit. Their current exhibit, Forces of Nature, focused on how nature and science has influenced fashion and even vice-versa. For example, beautiful bird feathers found their way onto hats and couture clothing in the late 19th and early 20th century, but demand for plumage rendered several species nearly extinct and ushered in protection laws which still exist today.

The cape (1920) and dress (1953) above were inspired by new concepts and technologies that brought the far reaches of space closer to ordinary citizens. 

A Typographical Romance, Typefaces from the 1920's

2:30pm - The Center for Book Arts.  I spent some time looking at exhibits & books and poking around their studios.  What a special place! One of their current exhibits, Animation & Printing, presents "a selection of short animated films from around the US and the world, each created using techniques common in the book arts such as letterpress printing from moveable type, wood type, pressure printing, lino and wood cut, etching, silkscreen as well as animation in watermarked paper." 

I loved seeing how artists were using printed material in digital ways.  Just because we create something in one medium doesn't mean we can't present it in more than one format!

Boxes of fonts

Boxes of fonts!  (drooling here...)

Emily Martin, Desdemona In Her Own Words

This was such a powerful piece.  Emily Martin's Desdemona In Her Own Words. While this photo only shows a single print from the folio, visit Emily's website to see the animation and learn more about the work.

Pasta at Eataly

3:30pm - Agnolotti at Eataly.  Heaven on a plate!

Cityscape in the Garment District. New York.

4:30pm - On my way to Mood Fabrics! 

Rolls of fabric at Mood Fabrics

I knew Mood would be overwhelming, and it was, but in a fun way.  I DID find the red silk velvet I was looking for to make my new "singing" dress (for jazz caroling during the holidays), and I took photos of other fabrics that caught my eye.  I'm a little more cautious now about what I buy when I'm excited in a fabric store (or a paper shop or a greenhouse or a...) I don't want to come home with TOO much. So now I'm going through my photos, narrowing down the choices. I'll either stop in quickly on my way back to Ohio or order online.

Trims at Mood Fabrics

5:30pm - I loved looking at all the trims.  I could have taken home every one of these, even if I don't necessarily have a use for any of them yet :-)

Just as I was paying for my velvet, the Project Runway designers & crew showed up. Too funny. I guess they're filming the next season!

Gotham Writers Workshop

6:30pm - Gotham Writers Workshop. They've got a Friday night "write-in" where you're given a writing prompt (which you can use or ignore), take some time to write, and share your work with the group if you want.  Then there's wine & cheese & good cookies, and then you repeat the process. It was fun! I didn't write to the prompts, nor did I share what I wrote (and to me, 15 minutes of writing time -- even if it's twice -- isn't enough.) But that's okay.  I'm glad I went and I was able to talk with a couple staff members about their online classes.

View of building windows. Cityscape.

7:30pm - The view from Gotham's 14th floor window.

Times Square cityscape at night

8:30pm - Finished and walking back to the subway.  Needless to say, I slept on the train.  Goodbye for now, New York!

Life Lately... Where did February go?

What’s been going on? Is it really spring already? I have to say that, aside from not having any snow, I loved February and I'm still thinkin' about it. Good things happened! 

Claudia with her camera

I got out with my camera.  A little bit.  This is still a struggle as it’s just so easy to shoot with my phone all the time.  I have to make a conscious effort to bring the “real” camera along when I go somewhere.  I’m wondering if it’s that I don’t like lugging around extra stuff (I don’t even really carry a purse.)  That said, my little Fuji XT1 is the size of my old 35mm which I used to take with me everywhere, so it's not like it's heavy or takes up tons of space.  I keep pondering these things as I go out for my walks.

Purple twilight
Griggs Reservoir at sunset

I’ve been making an effort to get outside even when it’s cold, and it’s nice to have Griggs Reservoir right across the street. I love the moods of the water. One of my favorite images is of the ice forming again after one of the thaws we had.  I swear I could almost see it freezing right in front of me.

Ice patterns, frozen rive

My big February happiness by a longshot was singing jazz at the St. Francis pasta dinner.  Yes I bought an Elvis mic!  Yes I took a bunch of selfies with it.  

Claudia with pillbox had and Elvis mic

Yes I wore my pillbox hat and false eyelashes for the show.  (Thanks, Ardell!)

False eyelashes
Vintage dress and shawl

It went so well!  I was so nervous that I’d forget the words at some point but I didn’t. I loved working with Tony Hagood on piano, and the accordion really sounded so perfect with "Moon River" and "La Vie en Rose."  Thank you, John Marazita!

John Marazita, accordion

I suppose I have to think about what’s next with all of this. An open mic somewhere?  Not sure.  But I am proud of myself for preparing.  A year ago I just had a dream, but now I have some songs to make it happen. It was on the bucket list to sing "La Vie en Rose" in French, and I did it.

Accordion

News at home?  I ran for a seat on our condo board and got elected!  You’re lookin’ at The Landings’ new Vice President.  I love where we live.  This is the name tag I made and wore to the pre-election meet-and-greet.

Owl nametag

Last month I finished the photographs and writing I needed to do to make a new webpage for Flying Adventures.  This was no small thing and had been on my to-do list forever.  I had to figure out how I wanted to print and frame book pages and do some serious thinking about where I want to bring the project and what would make a venue want to host it.  There’s information about the whole project now, including how I can tie a reading & exhibition into educational programming and community outreach.  I am proud of myself for continuing on with this despite how loooong it feels like it's taking.

Sewing. I don’t get very far when Sherman decides to help. Right now I’m working with jersey fabric for the first time, trying to sew some long-sleeve tops.  Success mostly.  But as I try to make one that fits perfectly so that I can archive my pattern changes, I get all frustrated figuring out how to make those changes. I told a friend I threw my sewing machine into the dumpster and gave away my fabric stash because that's what I imagined myself doing. Sigh. I am learning valuable lessons about patience, practice, and how to work smarter: step AWAY from the sewing machine if it’s starting to drive me crazy. (Duh, right? But I’m so stubbornly persistent.) Coming back to it the next day after a break makes all the difference.

Cat on sewing table

Been reading.  It still goes in fits and starts though.  Sometimes I devour pages, and other days it’s more like an afterthought before I go to bed. In my stack right now:  The Colette Guide to Sewing With Knits, Grow Great Grub, Easy Growing (both by Gayla Trail, my favorite gardening author), A Beautiful Mess (fun one about daily-life photography), and On Green Dolphin Street, which I just started.  I just finished House of Sand and Fog, which I borrowed from my brother.  What a story.  You know it’s heading for disaster but you keep hoping something good will happen instead… ooof!  

books

Oh yeah, with all that warm (barefoot in February!!??) weather, I couldn’t help but catch the gardening bug, especially when the seed catalogs showed up in my mail slot. Does anyone remember the Scholastic books catalog in grade school?  When that thing showed up I pored over those pages, folding over corners and circling books in different color pens based on order of preference.  The seed catalogs remind me of that.  I am probably going to over-order.  I can’t help it.  But at a couple bucks a packet, it beats having a more expensive addiction, right?

Gardening catalogs

Sooo… cheers to longer days and spring!!  How have you been?