Gail Garber Designs
gail@gailgarber.com
http://GailGarber.com/

Logo: Gail Garber Designs

Gail's Quilting Blog

Potpourri

Quilting in the Desert – After Hours

A lot of what happens at a quilt event like Quilting in the Desert, happens after class has ended.  At this event, it began to get exciting before I even arrived. I had been following the exploits of former student, Gale Wrigley as she drove west, leaving her home in Florida for four months of travel.  She ran into road blocks in Texas that slooooowed her down, and for a while she worried that she might not ever move beyond those  expansive borders.  So, I commented a time or two and we began a friendly repartee about her travels.  However, not for a minute did it occur to me that Gale was en route to Scottsdale to take my class!  What a treat!

The Two Gails - Gale Wrigley and Gail Garber

The Two Gals – Gale Wrigley and Gail Garber

It was just like the reunion of two longtime friends, a natural and comfortable fit!  So, we hung out together, walking across the street for lunch with her friend, Dolores Roseveare.  They had reserved a suite with a full kitchen.  And, they invited me to dinner along with fellow teacher, Louise Smith.

Cooking in the Kitchen

Cooking in the Kitchen

I showed up at the appointed time to find Dolores and Gale in the midst of dinner preparations, with wine already set out – both red and white, which we drank in plastic hotel room cups.

Dining a la Wrigley

Dining a la Wrigley

A lovely Greek feast with couscous, feta, olives and veggies, along with a tasty salad of beets and greens hit the spot.  But the best part was the companionship as we lounged on their tiny patio renewing our friendship and getting to know Dolores and Louisa.   The next afternoon we headed off to the Desert Botanical Garden to view the Chihuly exhibit, but there was much to see at the gardens in addition to the glass exhibit.

Perfect Saguaro

Perfect Saguaro

I’ve always been intrigued by the massive saguaro cacti which grow only in the Sonoran desert.  They grow slowly and must reach ~50 years of age before they even begin to sprout arm buds.  A saturated saguaro can hold up to 200 gallons of water!  But, what I didn’t know was that

Saguaro Skeleton

Saguaro Skeleton

when the cactus dies, it leaves behind a sturdy wooden skeleton, much like the trunk of a tree.  My first exposure to this aspect happened when I checking in at the Cottonwoods Resort . . .

Saguaro Art

Saguaro Art

where a fully varnished saguaro skeleton graced the lobby of the hotel. It was for sale too, for ~$4500.  However, as much fun as it was to see this masterpiece, I was not even tempted — it was taller than the ceilings in my modest home.

I hope to be able to return to Phoenix sometime soon so I can take my time and take in the full majesty of the Desert Botanical Gardens a celebration of all things Sonoran, including

Spiral Cactus

Spiral Cactus

and

Round Button Cactus

Round Button Cactus

In fact, I’ve never seen such an amazing display of the various cacti!  But my favorite remains, the giant saguaro.

Saguaro in Desert Garden

Saguaro in Desert Garden

Bye Phoenix.  Bye Gale.  ‘Til next time!

 

1 comment - Add your comment!

International Quilt Festival: Special Exhibits – Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative

Taking a short break from the competition quilts, I want to focus on the incredible work of one woman, Ami Simms, who started the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative back in 2006.  Ami began this journey after her mom, Beebe, developed the disease, and she struggled to find medications and treatments for this terrible disease.

Ami Simms, Founder of AAQI

Ami Simms, Founder of AAQI

Ami had this to say about AAQI, “When I created the AAQI back in 2006, I never expected it to become so successful! I also never imaged how much work it would take to keep it going. What began as one person’s response to sorrow and frustration has grown into a national charity embraced by a large portion of the quilting community. More than 13,000 quilts have been donated, turning sweat equity into over $973,000 for research as of the beginning of Quilt Festival. For many donors these quilts were healing works of art which helped them grieve as they stitched for the greater good. Hundreds of thousands of people have seen the AAQI’s two traveling quilt exhibits about Alzheimer’s. Through this artistry came the realization for many that they were not alone on this journey of heartbreak; others understood, perhaps for the first time, what a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s really means.”

As some of you know, my own mom, Sylvia, was stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease and succumbed in November 2012 after and eight and a half year battle.  I have been active in the effort since the beginning.

Wednesday night, Preview Night at the show, the AAQI booth was hopping!

Priority Alzheimer's Booth 2013

Priority Alzheimer’s Booth 2013

And, by noon on Thursday, Ami and her cadre of dedicated AAQI volunteers topped their goal to raise $1,000,000!!!

“Together quilters have funded 17 research studies at universities and medical schools. More studies will be funded in early 2014. Because of the AAQI, scientists know a little bit more about Alzheimer’s than they did before. Hopefully this understanding will bring us all closer to a cure.”

Please check the link to the AAQI site to read more about Ami’s journey and that of all the others who have joined in the effort.  Way to go Ami and Co!

 

7 comments - Add your comment!

A Life Well Lived

It was a really rough week last week, one of those where just getting through every day is a chore.  None of the posts I intended to write every made it to the ‘publish’ stage either.  Normally, I only post about quilt-related material on this blog, but I also know that many of you, if not all of you, have heard stories of my beloved “Trouble”, the American Kestrel that lived with me for the past 19 and a half years.  She crossed over the Rainbow Bridge last week after a sudden and rapid decline that began as soon as I arrived home from a teaching trip to New Jersey.  I hope you will enjoy this post about my love affair with a very special bird.

The Christmas Kestrel

The Christmas Kestrel

In the spring of 2014, we will celebrate the 20th birthday of Hawks Aloft, the organization that I, and other founded in 1994.  It seems like yesterday; we were the new conservation organization in town, running on a shoe string budget thanks to our initial funders, Blue Sky Natural Beverage Company, the Frost Foundation, and our main benefactors Jerry and Sally Mayeux.  We had a fledgling education program, a full-time educator, and a part-time director – me. We also hoped that, someday, we would be paid to conduct research. But, with few documented research credentials, we began our program with the help of volunteers and organization founders, Jerry Hobart, Jim Place, and Chuck Brandt. That was the beginning of the Raptor Monitoring Surveys in the Rio Grande and Estancia valleys, conducted entirely by volunteers then, and still an all-volunteer effort – 20 years later.

We borrowed raptors from others for our education programs and set about acquiring the necessary permits. We extend a big thank you to Shirley and Jack Kendall, who helped us submit the paperwork, and build the first outdoor flight cages that would become home to the educational ambassadors that captivate children and adults alike.

Trouble at the Cabin

Trouble at the Cabin

Shirley called one day to tell me about a fledgling American Kestrel that had been found alongside a ditch in Albuquerque. The kestrel, a female, was placed with other young kestrels in a large flight cage at the Kendall Rehabilitation Facility in Corrales, where all would be provided with live mice so they could learn to hunt and hone their flight skills. But, this particular falcon had little interest in earning her meals. Instead, she begged loudly and plaintively whenever Shirley went out to feed the growing brood. It became obvious that this young female was a human imprint and would never be releasable.

Trouble Bathes, splashing water everywhere

Trouble Bathes, splashing water everywhere

She became our first official education bird, coming to live with me.  A friendly little chit of a bird, she and I bonded immediately,as only and imprinted raptor can, chirring sweetly when I offered her mice or mealworms. It wasn’t long; however, before I noticed broken feathers and fault bars (or weak spots) in the ones that remained. Soon, nearly all of her feathers were broken at the tissue level, leaving her unable to fly, and similarly incapable of being outdoors, exposed to the elements.  We named her Trouble, because her troubles were caused by a thoughtless human.

After the Bath - Drying off on Top of the Computer Monitor

After the Bath – Drying off on Top of the Computer Monitor

At age one, after a year of proper diet, she grew good, strong feathers and a matching attitude. She learned to fly inside my house!  Jack built her a 20’ long flight cage outside my kitchen window.  She spent her days out there, but every night around dusk, she returned to the window to be let in, flying through the house to the bathroom, where she put herself to bed on the bathroom door.

Where Food Comes From

Where Food Comes From

By then, she also had decided that we were an ‘item’, and I was a precious resource to be guarded at all times. Over the years, Trouble took out her wrath on our hapless educators and unwary visitors to my home, waiting silently on a high perch until their backs were turned, whereupon she launched the stealth attack, whacking them on the back of the head. Trouble charmed school children with her striking beauty, her unfortunate situation caused by humans, and her larger-than-life personality.  She was, indeed, a legend among all who knew her.

Guarding the Mouse from me!  The Mouse I had Just Handed to Her.

Guarding the Mouse from me! The Mouse I had Just Handed to Her.

Although I knew that eventually the time would come to say good-bye, the little kestrel princess seemed to defy death time and time again. She escaped twice but was successfully recaptured both times after several anxiety filled days. We retired her at age fifteen, about three times the normal life expectancy for any American Kestrel. Still, she continued to thrive, coming indoors at night and hunting for mealworms in their plastic tub.  One night last week, she came to the window as she always did, and I dutifully delivered the mealworm tub, but she refused to eat. It was then that I noticed her ragged appearance and brought her indoors.  After a rapid decline, she crossed over the rainbow bridge the next morning.

Trouble, the Kestrel Princess

Trouble, the Kestrel Princess

Trouble won’t be with us for our 20th Anniversary celebrations next spring, but will live on in our memories – one remarkable falcon – the kestrel princess!

Thank you for bearing with me on this painful post. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 comments - Add your comment!

Thimbleweeds to the Rescue

Lynn in her classroom in Berekuso, Ghana

Lynn in her classroom in Berekuso, Ghana

It seemed like such an easy thing to do!  After all, school was just starting in Albuquerque and every store in the world had school supplies on sale.  I was scheduled to give a lecture for my very local quilt guild, Thimbleweeds.  It had been started by my good buddy, Donna Barnitz, some 20+ years ago.

Donna with her Birthday Quilt, made by her Thimbleweed Friends

Donna with her Birthday Quilt, made by her Thimbleweed Friends

Donna is so full of energy and enthusiasm!  Her favorite sentence begins with, “I think we should . . . ”  And so it goes.  For 22+ years we have been friends and she has greatly enriched my life.  So, when she asked if I would do a lecture for Thimbleweeds, I was proud to say, “Of course” even though I am well aware that, as an arm of the City of Rio Rancho, their group has no funds to pay for visiting speakers.  Instead, Donna asked if there was something else that they might do to show their thanks.   Immediately, if not sooner, I asked for school supplies for Lynn’s school in Berekuso.  Donna spread the word and by the time I showed up to speak the supplies were mounting on the table in the back of the room.

School Supplies

School Supplies

And, they just kept on coming!

Thimbleweeds Donation of School Supplies

Thimbleweeds Donation of School Supplies

In the days and weeks following that meeting, members kept on dropping off school supplies at my home.  Some of my Hawks Aloft friends also contributed to the cache.  In the end, I shipped some 12 or so boxes of supplies to Lynn who will now have some tools to help her African students learn.

Lynn will be collecting supplies until early November when she will ship a container of materials to Ghana for her use when she arrives.  I am proud to be a part of this effort.  And, I am even prouder of my Thimbleweed friends who are so generous!

Please contact me if you would like to contribute to the effort.  I can send you contact information to contribute directly to Lynn.

 

 

 

Add your comment!

A Little Help for My Friends, Lynn and Skip

August Folk Dance Camp 2013

August Folk Dance Camp 2013

Shortly after I returned from New Zealand, I was on the road again.  This time my destination was less than 100 miles away, to Socorro, NM where I attended an annual Southwest International Folk Dance Camp!  We stay in the dorms at NM Tech, and dance our little toes into the floor!  It is so much fun and I get to reconnect with friends I see only once a year!  Such was the case this year too!

Lynn St. Pierre

Lynn St. Pierre

Lynn was showing off these handmade dolls that she was selling as a fundraiser for a project to raise funds for women in an rural community in Berekuso, Ghana, West Africa.  Last spring, Lynn taught at the primary school in the village, while her husband, Skip Ellis, taught at Ashesi University,  in Accra, Ghana.  Lynn’s school, in a small village, was constructed of cinder blocks with small or no windows (for security).  There, the children sit at rickety desks on chairs full of splinters and rusty nails.  The teacher has a book and blackboard or concrete wall to write on (if she has chalk) and the students have no books or any educational materials at all.

Lynn teaches her students

Lynn teaches her students

The educational system there is based on the U.K. model that the Ghanaian government continued after they became independent in 1956.  Unfortunately, caning was common when Lynn first worked at the school (the practice of corporeal punishment using a long stick 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter to beat the children if they give a wrong answer, are late, their parents have not paid their fees, or they misbehave).  After witnessing a caning of the entire first grade class, she spoke at length with the head master and was invited to do  in-service trainings for all the teachers, kindergarten through 8th grade.  The teachers learned respectful discipline and classroom management as well as engaging the children in active learning via a Waldorf curriculum.

Orphanage in Kpando, Ghana

Orphanage in Kpando, Ghana

At the end of the semester – the teachers chose Adinkra symbols, virtues from their culture, with stamps carved into calabash gourds and ink derived from native tree bark. Each teacher choose the symbols they wanted emulated in their classroom, and stamped them onto woven kente cloth (made in their village of Berekuso).  We then hung the fabric on their canes and placed them in the classrooms, transforming the cane into a meaningful piece of art and a reminder to use better ways of teaching and disciplining the children.

Like many African countries, a large percentage of the children are orphans, or are raised by their grandparents.  Nearly all of the parents of these children have died of AIDS which remains rampant in Africa.  Lynn and Skip are returning to Ghana to teach again in December 2013.  Skip will return to the university and Lynn will again teach at the  school in Berekuso. When I learned that they were taking up a collection to gather school supplies for the children in these schools, I just knew that I had to help!

Stay tuned . . .

 

 

 

1 comment - Add your comment!

Last Few Days in Paradise – On the Coromandel

View from the Manson's Beach House

View from the Manson’s Beach House

My final days in New Zealand were spent with Kerry and Marion Manson at their beach house at Cook’s Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.  They were meant strictly for relaxing, something that I rarely get to do.

Lonely Bay

Lonely Bay

The first morning, the three of us set off for a walk to the Manson’s favorite haunts.  First stop was Lonely Bay where the Pohutukawa trees towered over the small beach.

Marion and the Pohutakawa tree

Marion and the Pohutukawa tree

I asked Marion to pose beside the behemoth tree for perspective.  Pohutukawa trees ring the coastline in warmer parts of New Zealand, clinging to every rock and crevice.  They bloom bright red flowers right at Christmastime and are called the New Zealand Christmas tree.

Lonely Beach

Lonely Beach

The beach at Lonely Bay is covered with shells.  It’s where Marion has collected the extensive shell collection displayed at both her beach home and her Hamilton home.

Shakespeare Cliff

Shakespeare Cliff

After a stroll to marvel at the geology of Lonely Bay, we headed for Shakespeare Cliff, where . .  .

200 Steps

200 Steps

we got to enjoy a Step Workout!  It’s about 200 steps, cut into the rock cliffside, to the top.  But,

View from Shakespeare Cliff

View from Shakespeare Cliff

the view was incomparable.  I could see our footsteps on the beach and I wondered if I could zoom in close enough with my Canon XS 40 to capture them.

Footsteps on the Beach

Footsteps on the Beach

And, this was just the prelude to my final, magical day in Paradise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add your comment!

Taupo – Around Town

Looking onto Lake Taupo Artw

Looking onto Lake Taupo Art

It doesn’t take long to discover that Taupo boasts a burgeoning art community, well supported in their local community.  Although I was did not capture the specifics of this sculpture that looks out onto Lake Taupo, its majesty sets the tone for art in the downtown area.

Heartland by Brett Taylor, 2011

Heartland by Brett Taylor, 2011

During the course of my meanderings, I found many of the sculptures highlighted in the “Walk the Sculptures of Taupo” brochure.  Much of the art has been funded by the Taupo Sculpture Trust that began in 2008, by a small group of art lovers who decided the time was right to add some dynamic shape and culture to the Lake Taupo Region.  The Trust is now registered as a New Zealand Charitable Trust.

In the above piece, Heartland, the red heart of North Island is set under a matai structure with bronze strap as a tribute to the early New Zealand settlers.

Birds and Stone of Te Arawa by Graham Cooper, 1993

Birds and Stone of Te Arawa by Graham Cooper, 1993

This Sculpture symbolizes the gifts of bird and stones of the Te Arawa voyagers.  The Tuwharetoa people left birds and stones on the shore of Lake Taupo to protect and guide all followers.

This sculpture, created from stainless steel and glass, represents a long wave length surface that travels long distances across a body of water.  It embodies a light hearted sense of fun as well as an environmental message.

 

Taupo-nui-a-Tia, the Great Cloak of Tia, by Lynden Over, 2009

Taupo-nui-a-Tia, the Great Cloak of Tia, by Lynden Over, 2009

My friends, Melissa and Diane, posed in front of this piece which is the first sculpture commissioned by the Taupo Sculpture Trust.  It is set on the plinth of local volcanic rhyolite rock and symbolizes the two sides of the legendary cloak.  The glass feather depict the lake, sky, river, and volcanic Earth.

Sitting in the Donut

Sitting in the Donut

In addition to the art listed in the brochure, we also found other art, scattered throughout the downtown area.  My friend Marion Manson snapped this photo right outside the Replete, the cafe where we ate lunch!  And, a delicious lunch it was too.

Koru in the Shoestore

Koru in the Shoe Store

Even the flooring was artistic, as evidenced by this stone Koru that was the flooring in the local sport shoe shop.  Art is everywhere in Taupo!  Check it out next time you visit.

 

 

 

Add your comment!

Lava Glass Cafe

Lava Glass

Lava Glass

The next stop on our tour was Lava Glass, where we enjoyed a hearty lunch in the cafe, complete with a hand-blown glass chandelier.

Hand-blown Glass Chandelier

Hand-blown Glass Chandelier

After lunch, we were treated to a glass blowing, and equally mind-blowing, demonstration of the art by the resident glass artist,  whose name I did not get.  My sincere apologies for that oversight.  

Glass:  The First Step

Glass: The First Step

The first step was to gather some glass from the oven and then further heat it in a hotter oven.

Glass:  Getting Started

Glass: Getting Started

Then, the rolling began, back and forth to begin the shaping.

Glass:  Making the Round

Glass: Making the Round

The process of heating and rolling continued, along with some puffs of air, blown by the man with the strong lungs to expand the glass bubble.

Glass:  Making the Opening

Glass: Making the Opening

After the outside shape was satisfactory, he began working on the mouth of the vase.

Glass:  Shaping the Mouth of the Vessel

Glass: Shaping the Mouth of the Vessel

Finally, and with a delicate touch, the glassblower shapes the mouth of the vessel.

Glass:  Testing the Stopper

Glass: Testing the Stopper

Nearly done now, he tests the pre-made stopper to see if it will fit into the vessel.  It might be suitable for perfume or just a beautiful accent piece in your home.

Glass:  The Final Step

Glass: The Final Step

Perfection!  The final step is to separate the glass from the glass-blowing rod.  Carefully!  In just seconds, the new glass vessel was free and then placed into a curing oven where its temperature would be gradually decreased over the course of 24-48 hours.  If this step were skipped, the glass would cool too quickly and the vessel would shatter.  Some of the larger pieces rest in the cooling ovens for weeks before they are removed.  Now, I have a better understanding of just how difficult it is to make hand-blown glass as well as the prices for these incredible works of art.

Glass for Sale

The Final Artwork

 

 

 

 

 

2 comments - Add your comment!

Page 1 of 3123