Gypsy's Travels

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mother!

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Eighty-seven and growing,
Though it doesn't seem that long.
Wasn't childhood yesterday?
All my memories are so strong.

Eighty-seven and growing,
How I treasure each new year
And enjoy the days that come my way
While keeping memories dear.

Eighty-seven and growing,
Now I celebrate the years
The time I've shared along the way
Life's mingled joys and tears.
............ JTS 2009


Monday, March 30, 2009

Odd Shots on Monday - "Fast Food in Japan"

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More odd shots here.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

An Evening Out

DD-Kr told her son, D.A., she would take him to dinner since his brother would be gone for the evening. D.A. hurried off to get dressed and reappeared as a dapper young man.
"I appreciate your dressing up for our evening out," she told him.
Standing up to his full seven year-old height, he replied casually, "I know. I think of everything."
During dinner, DD steered the conversation to the celebration of "Texas Day" at D.A.'s school.
"What part of the day did you like best?" she asked.
"Having dinner with you," was his gallant reply.
'Well, what part of Texas Day Celebration was the best," she persisted.
She received a short reply, "Peach Cobbler!"

I think the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.....and it starts early!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

PhotoHunt - "Hands"

These are the hands of women in Japan, sitting on their bent legs, tying fabric for dyeing.
Kumo shibori
Kumo shibori is a pleated and bound resist. This technique involves pleating sections of the cloth very finely and evenly. Then the cloth is bound in very close sections. The result is a very specific spider-like design. This technique is very precise in order to produce this specific design.
This silk fabric is pulled up tightly on thread. The dots on the fabric to the right show where the stitches should go. The fabric on the left side has already been tied. The completed width of the tied fabric will be 4-6" until after it is dyed and released.

Muira Shibori
Muira Shibori is also known as looped binding. It involves taking a hooked needle and plucking sections of the cloth. Then a thread is looped around each section twice. The thread is not knotted; tension is the only thing that holds the sections in place. The resulting dyed cloth is a water-like design. Because no knot is used, muirea shibori is very easy to bind and unbind. Therefore, this technique is very often used.
This woman's fingers were flying so fast, it was hard to catch her action. She wrapped the moistened thread around the silk fabric and pulled it tight. It will tighten even more as it dries. She is in her 80's and has been doing this work since she was 7 years old.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - "Happy Birthday, Abs!"

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The last eight years have been exciting! I wonder what the next 8 hold in store?
[Click on photo for a closer view]

Monday, March 23, 2009

Odd Shot Monday - "Curiosity and the Cats"

Maneki Neko -- The Legend

This is the legend of the Maneki Neko: In the 17th century, there was a rundown and poverty-stricken temple in Tokyo. The temple's priest was very poor, but he shared what little food he had with his pet cat, Tama.

One day, a wealthy and important man was caught in a storm while hunting and he took refuge under a big tree near the temple. While he waited for the storm to pass, the man noticed a cat beckoning him to come inside the temple gate. This was so startling that he left the shelter of the tree to have a closer look at this unusual cat. At that moment, the tree was struck by lighting.

As a result, the wealthy man became friends with the poor priest, and the temple became prosperous. The priest and his cat never went hungry again.

When Tama died he was buried in the Goutokuji Temple's cat cemetery with respect and love, and the Maneki Neko was made in honor of him. A Maneki Neko in your place of business, your home or on your website is said to bring in good luck and visitors.

Maneki Neko is Japanese for "beckoning cat." The message he's holding says "Please come in. You are welcome!" and he is beckoning you with his paw . (In Japan, the gesture of beckoning is pretty much the reverse of the gesture used in the West.)

The Japanese Bobtail is a breed of cat with an unusual 'bobbed' tail more closely resembling the tail of a rabbit than that of an ordinary feline. The short tail is a cat body type genetic mutation caused by the expression of a recessive gene. Thus, so long as both parents are bobtails, all kittens born to a litter will have bobtails as well.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

PhotoHunt - "Yellow"

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These are last year's flowers, but the roadsides are filling up for this year. There appears to be a definite progression of color - Bluebonnets and the red of Indian paintbrush, followed by purple, then a long season of yellow.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Delayed Birthday Celebration

Have you noticed I am playing catch-up on my posts?

Ky's Birthday Celebration was rather anticlimactic after the drama of fracturing her arm, but she had a small celebration and was happy. A couple of candles in some ice cream and her big brother to help blow out the flame after a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday," was enough celebration for a two year old. The most important part of it all was being surrounded by family and love. Ky loved her new tea set and served all of us bottomless plates of chocolate cake and drinks. She managed the utensils quite well with her left, non-dominant, hand. Children are amazingly resilient. DD-Ki helped open the small trunk I had transported from Texas. (I can never fly because I must act as official courier for exchanges among the children.)
DDs-Kr & Ko had helped fill the trunk with dress-up clothes. The concept is a legacy from my sister who sewed for my daughters before she had children of her own.Some things are hard to do alone, especially with one hand out of commission, but Ky quickly learned to ask for help. Happy Birthday to our Princess-in-Training.....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Welcome Home, Gunner

After rushing home from a busy day at "UT Explore," the children donned their special outfits and we rushed off to Ft Hood to await their dad's arrival from his 3rd tour in Iraq.

We all waited in a large tent that boasted a myriad of things to keep everyone entertained until the big moment. The music was loud and exuberant. While the children ate and played, we watched a blow-up movie screen which showed the arrival of the big bird bringing the troops home.
Flags were flapping merrily in the brisk breeze as we waited impatiently for the buses to discharge their occupants. The troops stood in formation for a brief prayer of thanksgiving , then broke out after being dismissed.
It was almost impossible to find one person in the sea of camoflauge, but ABW saw Gunner first and hailed him from across the field. There were lots of hugs exchanged before Gunner hoisted his 200 pound duffle and hustled to the car.Now it is time for the yellow ribbon in my yard to come down.

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Wordy Wednesday - "Explore UT" 2009

I accidentally discovered the University of Texas' (UT) "Explore UT Day" about 4 years ago. It was a great discovery, but I was not alone. There were thousands of kids attending! School districts bus students in from all the small surrounding towns. I even saw buses from Grand Prairie, near Dallas, some 3 hours away. It is an event that is well worth all the effort.
There are several entry points on campus where "passports" are handed out, and maps and information are freely available from students who volunteer for this day. I don't know why; maybe they are given extra credit. Whatever the motivation, the students are great ambassadors for the school and for attending college. Participants, and workers, have a wonderful time. We found a neat turtle photo-op on the way to picking up our "Passports". I would guess it was contributed by some artistic student(s).
The activities do not start until 11:00 AM, so by the time we arrived the children were hollering "Hungry." We headed to one of the dorm cafeterias where, for about $5.00 per person (except 2 year-old Junior who was free) we could eat until everyone was full. The noise level was incredible because all those children, who were cooped up on the bus for several hours, were hungry too.
Fortified with "dorm food," and only a little soiled with mustard, ketchup, grease, and the remnants of two glasses of spilled liquid, we headed out to explore UT.
The UT campus is HUGE, so it was a challenge to keep watch over the 3 hearts without a stroller for Junior. Thank goodness Em is becoming a responsible young lady. We only lost Junior one a crowd.... I never did find out where he was. I just looked down at one point and he was standing close to my leg, looking at me with a big grin on his face. Whew! I did not know how I would have explained the loss to his doting parents.
Different disciplines provide activities related to their field of study at "UT Explore." One year the children had an opportunity to hold a giant Madagascar cockroach, examine the inner workings of a pig's lung by blowing air into it with a hand pump, and grind corn the Native American way. Their favorite activity was getting a "wound." We followed the "wounded" children back towards the source the first year, but it was closed when we arrived. The next year, they wanted to go there first. They proudly wore their "wounds" all day. This year, there was no wound area. Big disappointment, but we found plenty of other things.
A delightful young man from the Chemistry(?) Department was supervising the making of a substance that resembled "Silly Putty." A small amount of Borax, dissolved in water, was stirred into Elmer's glue, which had been colored with food coloring. The resultant mixture was like Silly Putty or, depending on the amount of liquid, like "Slime."

The craft area was not my favorite place for the children to hang out, but it was inevitable. Em seems to be outgrowing this area. Junior and Abs made crowns....
.....and brains......

...eruptions......and seed-starting pots.
We could have stayed longer and seen more, but we had to get home and get ready for their Dad's Homecoming.....
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday.....An early photo from a fun trip. I revisited some of the places we have gone.
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

PhotoHunt - "Four"

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"Four" - No doubt about it!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - "Fishy"

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Unwanted Birthday Surprise

I left for St Louis after church on Sunday, but not as early as I had planned. I had been awake since 3 AM and seriously considered waiting another day to start my trip. I finally decided I could make it quite a way before I had to stop for the night, so I took off. The whole day had been a series of small misadventures and I figured arriving the next day would work just as well.

I watched my speed judiciously but I could travel 75 mph on the Indian Nation Turnpike so I made pretty good time. Finally gave into extreme drowsiness in Ardmore, OK, and stopped for the night. The sign read Comfort Inn, not my favorite place, but I only needed a clean bed and bath, In reality, it was a Comfort Inn undergoing rehab to become a Roadway Inn. It was pretty grim, but I reasoned that the looks were a result of the work in progress and I was too tired to look any further. The advertised price was "only for cash" they told me. Anyway, it filled the bill for a clean and comfortable room, and I slept well.

I slept so well that I did not leave as early as I had hoped. Really wanted to get to STL for the 5 PM dinner hour for Ky's BD.
I don't know what they did with the caffeine in the coffee at the motel, but it wasn't working. I stopped at a Missouri information center, got some REAL caffienated coffee, then hit the road to makee up time. I called DD-Ki to let her know my progress and she said to change my plans. She was sitting with Ky in the STL Children's Hospital. Ky had fallen on the playground Sunday and seemed to be O.K. until her observant mom got more and more worried.

You see, God has his own way of doing things. I sincerely believe that is why everything "seemed" to be working against my keeping the schedule I had set for myself. As it was, the extra time it had taken me to accomplish my trip, ensured that I arrived at the hospital just in time to talk to the doctor and see the X-ray of Ky's arm before he applied a cast. He was so sweet. He explained everything and answered all my questions. All the nurses were extremely competent and interacted with Ky very well, even as she kept telling them "No thank, you. I don't want that."
Ky had to be sedated for the fracture reduction and placement of the cast. After the IV was removed, she held up her little arm,now bearing a neon pink, cast and pled with them "Please take this one off."
Ky is home and doing well. Children just take all these things in stride and she is just calmly moving into doing everything with her left hand.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Ky! We'll finally open your presents today.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ky

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Happy 2nd Birthday !

Saturday, March 7, 2009

PhotoHunt - "Space"

Pedestrian Mall at the train station in Kyoto, Japan.....

...with escalators all the way to the top.
We felt like we were headed to outer space.
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Friday, March 6, 2009

Tokyo Quilt Show 2009 - "Lunchtime"

I am skipping around in my travels a little bit. Some things have to settle a little before I can write about them and sometimes I just need to get all the facts together before I post.
Today, I am again posting about the Tokyo Quilt Show. After you have been in a place for a while, what seemed strange in the beginning gradually becomes quite commonplace. I find it is always best to take pictures of everything on arrival, while it is still fresh and new. Susan did an excellent job of preparing us for each new adventure and the Quilt Show was no exception.
Ordinarily, I would have found it quite odd to picnic in the bleachers, but that is just what people do. They bring small boxes from home, carefully wrapped in furoshiki; go out of the facility, eat and return; or they buy box lunches at the site.
These girls offered several types of Japanese box lunches, and later carried them into the bleachers for sale, much as we would hotdogs, popcorn, or peanuts.

Everyone sat in the stadium seats and finding a seat was a serious task. We were fortunate to find two women with a baby , who moved some of their things from the chairs beside them so we could sit down.
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The arena cleared out later in the day as mamasans returned to their homes and families.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

From the Memory Box - "Kitemaking"

I remember Dad teaching DS and me to make a kite. He had everything laid out on the table and explained with engineering precision how to put it together. We used dowels, newspaper, tape, string and fabric scraps (I got to pick the tail ties) for the tail. I can't remember if it actually flew, it must have or I would probably remember that. Maybe DS will remember. It must not have flown too well or I think I'd remember that too. I just remember that everything fit together perfectly, even on all sides and precise - what you'd expect from an engineer!

For some reason DH was really into kitemaking. He was always getting different rods, wood pieces, newspaper, tissue paper, string, and all the accoutrements together. Sometimes he would even make the kite. I don't recall that any of them ever flew very well, but it was the process that appealed to him. He also loved showing the children how he could fashion these wonders of the skies and they never ceased to react with joy and amazement.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - "Sign"

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Quilts from the La Grange Quilt Show February 2009

On a break from our writing at the writing retreat, six of us visited the 12th Colorado Valley Quilt Guild Show in La Grange, Texas. The theme was "Crazy About Quilting" and showcased Crazy Quilts from the collection of Karey Bresenham. Karey is the founder and President of Quilts, Inc., and the beginning force behind the Houston International Quilt Festival held in Houston every year. The quilts are grouped by categories.: Artisan - does not quilt or use quilting knowledge for monetary gain. Master - former Artisan that has won at least 3 ribbons but does not quilt for monetary gain. Professional - quilts for profit, sells work, teaches classes, publishes patterns, and/or conducts programs.
"October Leaves" an artisan pieced quilt by Doris W. Zumwalt of Halletsvilles, Texas; quilted by Pat Hildreth; pattern by Ruth Powers. It is based on a 9-patch technique and required careful template-making and workmanship.
"Golden Circle" a Colorado Valley Quilt Guild Raffle Quilt. Quiltmakers: Kim Stuart, JoAnn Hill, Gerline Kieschnick, Giddings, Texas. It is a machine pieced, machine quilted, original pattern.

"I had a dream - a beautiful quilt in lights radiating to shades of gold, then finally with corners of color, The final touch...the shirred border. This quilt was mentally planned for months before the cutting process."

The photo does not do it justice

"John's UFO" a machine pieced, machine quilted quilt by a professional was made from old quilt magazine pattern.

"I had been working on this quilt for my brother since 2001. I was doing pretty good on the piecing but life got in the way of the original 796 star points so it became a UFO (unfinished object). I picked it back up and quilted the blocks separately last year and assembled them this year."

These are just 3 of the quilts...more later....

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