Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where Little Cable Cars Climb Halfway to the Stars

I'm off for a weekend in San Francisco. This photo is courtesy of the very talented FogBay. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Della Robbia

A couple of weeks ago, we were invited to dinner at Karen Dunn and Dan Rusanowsky’s house. I always look for excuses to play with flowers so I asked if I could bring flowers. I called my very talented friend, Tracy Lou, who also loves flowers. Tracy and I met in the beginning floristry class at College of San Mateo. I have only taken three classes there; Tracy has taken many more and is a far better florist than I am. She also has a great sense of style.

The usual scenario is that I get a big idea in my head, I call Tracy to brainstorm, and then I go to the San Francisco Flower Mart for materials. I love working with Tracy because we have so much in common. We are both software developers, though I retired from the profession ten years ago, and we both have at least one Chinese parent. We crack up whenever we use computer terms to describe an idea, and we love quoting our talented teacher, Wendy Pine. Tracy is the one who reigns in my ideas and makes sure we get to completion. I always love the results when I work with Tracy.

This was the first time to Karen and Dan’s house but I knew that they loved Italy and that they travel there often. I decided we needed to make a Della Robbia arrangement in a footed container. Della Robbia is the fancy Italian term for arrangements made with fruit. We have never made an arrangement like this before but I am pleased with the results.

Karen set a gorgeous table and I think the flowers blended in very well:

The evening was filled with stimulating conversation , great food and wine, and new friendships. Thank you Karen and Dan, you were fantastic hosts! And thank you, Tracy, you’re the best!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tina Turner

Last night a group of us went to the Tina Turner 50th Anniversary Concert at the HP Pavillion in San Jose. Even though some of our teenage sons wished us fun at our “fossil concert” and drove home the point by making fun of the 7:30 start time, we all had a rollicking good time.

Tina put on an amazing show. The show pulled every imaginable glitzy trick in the book. She had great musicians in her band and four sexy dancers, each a fraction of her age, who could duplicate every Tina Turner signature dance move with Tina’s signature attitude. I was very impressed how she can still belt out all the songs in tune and at full power at age 68. She used the two female singers wisely, allowing them to complete songs she kick started while she went back stage to change costumes and, I’m sure, to catch her breath. We went to a concert at the Mountain Winery a few weeks ago where the star was in denial about having lost most of the upper range of his voice. It was agonizing to hear him reach for notes that never materialized. We all would have been grateful had he allowed the back up singers to fill in the gaps. But I digress.

Tina's performance did not disappoint. She sang all the big, big hits like “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”, “Simply the Best”, “Mad Max” performed in full costume, and “Let’s Stay Together”. She gave every song her all while dancing, shimmying and strutting in five-inch stilettos. I also enjoyed a ballad version of The Beatles’ “Help!” and “Addicted to Love” performed in front of a large screen duplicate of the famed all-female band of Robert Palmer’s video. The "Proud Mary" finale was spectacular! I'm still new at this blogging business so I haven't figured out how to include videos in stream yet, so I'll just have to give you this link instead.

The other star of the show was the stage. It had the ability to morph into what seemed like endless combinations of stairs, hydraulic lifts, pyrotechnics, and scaffolding. Just when we thought we saw it all, she kept a surprise for us at the encore. Tina sang from a cherry-picker-style bucket that was at the end of a long arm that emerged from the stage and swung over the audience.

The biggest negative of the evening was the venue. HP Pavilion may be a great location for ice hockey, but the acoustics were deplorable. I vowed that I will never go to a concert there again unless I believe it is the last chance to see a great performer. The second, more unplugged set was more forgiving of the bad acoustics and therefore more enjoyable.

I just got an e-mail from Mor Mor Kris who wrote about last night’s performance:

“What a fun and most interesting concert last night. I can't wait 'till I am 68 to start climbing on slippery metal catwalks with 5 inch heels, dancing like I was 20 and just belting out soul 'till the cows come home! Amazing! (I want fire, too). So fun!”

Hear, hear! Thank you, Dakota Angel, for arranging a great evening!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Even More Pacific International Quilt Festival XVII

"Valley View", by Pamela Druhen, USA
One last post of the quilt fest in Santa Clara. I found the winter scene above particularly striking.

I’m bowled over at how the snow is embroidered just so on each branch. With the fabric is all crumpled up under the arm of the sewing machine, it’s not like you can step back and examine your work like an oil painter could. I have never quilted, but I have sewn my share of garments during my teenage years. My guess is that your choices would be to:
A. Cut the thread, pull out the fabric, examine your work, then re-insert the fabric under the presser foot and start up again. Unlikely choice.

B. Straighten out the fabric as much as possible and then stand on a ladder to see the big picture. Equally unlikely choice.

C. Go blindly without examination. Impossible.

D. Use witchcraft. That’s it!
"Valley View", by Pamela Druhen, USA

You never know where a quilter’s gets her inspiration. This is Hurricane Katrina:

I laughed when I saw this quilt. I include this because I worked for a major credit card firm for thirteen years.

The Pacific International Quilt Festival also features quilts from all over world. This one got the top prize for Japan. It’s difficult to see on this photo but he gold fabric is matte metallic -- quite arresting, not overdone. The quilt is an interesting fusion of cultures: an American-style quilt with Celtic knots in a Japanese palette.

"Celtic Fantasy", Diane Abram, United Kingdom

One may wonder how all the elaborate machine-quilting is accomplished. These long-arm quilting machines are mechanical wonders. They are not exactly little tools you would tuck away in your crafting armoire. My sister and I have exhibited at book conventions and we high-five each other when we’ve finished schlepping all the books from the car to the booth. I can’t imagine putting together a booth like this. How big is their truck, how do they get all this equipment across the convention floor?

Wait, I may have just solved the mystery of the snow scene quilt. Do you suppose the quilter used one of these machines?

Any supplies you might possibly need to complete your quilts can be purchased here. Every shade of thread (check out the quilts hanging at the back of the booth): .


The competition is fierce in some booths:

Patterns. I love the long-suffering look on the husband’s face:


Vintage items are very popular, click to view the messages on these kitchen towels:

With 800 quilts and 300 merchants, this was just the tip of the ice berg. I hope you enjoyed coming along to the show with me!

Flickr slideshow here.
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