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Quilt Retreat at The Main House at Creations in Kerrville, TX

Tonight I find myself in a wondrous ~10,000 square foot, quilter’s dream palace.  It’s called The Main House at Creations, in Kerrville, TX.

The Main House in Kerrville

The Main House in Kerrville

Tomorrow morning, I get to sew in the most amazing classroom ever, stitching the binding on a queen-sized quilt in spacious splendor while I await the arrival of my students for the next 3.5 days.

Creations

Creations

Furthermore, The Main House is right across the parking lot from Creations, one of the best quilting shops ever!

The Main House Studio

The Main House Studio

Check out the classroom- studio! Each student has – not just 1/2 table shared with a tablemate, but three entire tables to themselves, and a fabulous comfy chair to boot!  I cannot wait to teach in this classroom.  But wait, there’s more wonderment.

Dining Room

Dining Room

A spacious dining room sits to one side of the main floor, and during organized retreats, all food is provided.  The coolest thing ever is that you and your friends can rent this spacious retreat house for your own retreat.  What could be better!

Upstairs Lounge

Upstairs Lounge

Upstairs, there’s a nifty little lounge, where I sit now, typing this post!

Wall decorations

Owners, Julie Milam and Kathy Thompson, have gathered some classic pieces to add to the decor, and created a comfortable and colorful feel to each room.

Poppy Room

Poppy Room

The Main House sleeps 24 people in 6 guest rooms and 9 bathrooms!  Each room is decorated with a different theme, and all rooms are named after Texas cities.

Cowgirl

Cowgirl

Julie told me that she and Kathy fell in love with this painting, and it became the centerpiece of one of the bedrooms.

Cowboy Boots

Cowboy Boots

Bench and quilt

Bench and quilt

One of the rooms is decorated in Tres Chic in pastel colors.

Pastel Room

Pastel Room

Although tonight I am the only guest, I can imagine the fun that will begin tomorrow!  Next time you and your friends are looking for a retreat facility, be sure to put The Main House on the top of your list!  One group travels all the way from Alaska to spend a winter week here, stitching away in the Texas sunshine.

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Meet Veronica Puskas, Ontario Quilter

I meet the  most interesting people in class.   Such was the case when I was teaching at Quilt Canada in St. Catharine’s, Ontario.  Veronica Puskas was my assistant in class and what an assistant she was!   We hit it off immediately and, although I often lack a helper in class, Veronica soon became indispensable.  During breaks in the day, I learned more about this remarkable woman.

Pillars of Strength by Veronica Puskas

Pillars of Strength by Veronica Puskas

A former resident of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories who grew up in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region,Veronica won the award for Excellence in Work by a first-time exhibitor award at Quilt Canada’s national juried show.   I saw her amazing quilt in the exhibit and she later send me a photo.  Veronica has this to say of  “Pillars of Strength”,  I designed it from a 1950 photograph of my Mom and Gramma, taken near Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.  It shows the difference in Inuit traditional clothing between a married woman and a teen-ager.  Notice the flaps.   After fusing the applique to the quilt top, I did some thread painting on it as well.” CBC North and Nunavut News published an article about Veronica and her quilt, rich in the cultural heritage of her family.

Although I have only been home from Quilt Canada for about a month, Veronica has completed a quilt that she had started earlier but wasn’t satisfied with.  It also has strong cultural significance, “Brian’s Kite.”

Brian's Kite, by Veronica Puskas

Brian’s Kite, by Veronica Puskas

She says, “It is in abstract form but my inspiration of the flying geese and mountains came from your quilts.  I took photos of Brian kite-skiing on Great Slave Lake 3 years back.  I incorporated my Inuk-ness (if there is such a word) – strip of sealskin, an orphaned ivory/steel ulu earring, stylized Inukshuk, and machine quilted an igloo.”

Brian's Kite - Detail View

Brian’s Kite – Detail View

The detail image above shows the sealskin trim, the ulu, and the Inukshuk.  An Inukshuk is a stone landmark or cairn built by humans, used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples that travel the Arctic region of North America. These structures are found from Alaska to Greenland.

Inukshuk from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Inukshuk from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Above is a small Inukshuk that I purchased when I was teaching in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, several years ago.  I fell in love with the remote sub-Arctic landscape, beginning to understand the challenges of traversing the mostly featureless landscape.

Sub-Arctic landscape of Northwest Territories

Sub-Arctic landscape of Northwest Territories

I was told that one should look through the openings of in the Inukshuk to see the next cairn in the trail.  It left me with wonderful memories of a beautiful land and my new friend, Veronia Puskas.

 

 

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O Canada – After Hours in Perth

Some of my best friends are people I meet in quilting class.  One of the best parts  of being a traveling quilt teacher is the new life experiences that I discover.  Such was the exact case when I visited Ruth Oblinski in Perth, Ontario.  She and I met about 4 years ago at the AQS Lancaster show.  We hit it off right away.  Ruth made it possible for me to travel to Perth, where I stayed with her and her husband, Terry, at their lovely home in the country.

Ruth and me

Ruth and me

The unexpected treat of this visit was discovering the Classic Car world.  Terry is passionate about classic cars and is one handy man! 

Terrys Shop

 

He and Ruth were high school sweethearts and he had already been bitten by the old car bug.  His first car was a 1938 Plymouth that he bought for $60.  It’s the one that he and Ruth drove during their dating days.  He later sold the car, and then bought it back in 2009 for the princely sum of $2,000.  It was a junk heap by 2009.  So, he started restoration by hand, lovingly working each inch of the car.

1938 Plymouth

1938 Plymouth

He was about to set off to his car club meeting and invited me to ride along.  What a ride that was!

The upholstery

The upholstery

With extreme attention to detail, including hand made embroidered seat backs and door panels, riding shotgun was a blast.  What surprised me the most was the power of the engine – while I had expected putt-putt- sputter, it roared ahead with remarkable spunk, leaving the stoplight ahead of even the newest cars.

Plymouth by Terry

Plymouth by Terry

It was my first car club meeting so I was surprised to see a parking lot full of new and classic cars, all lovingly cared for by their owners.  Terry’s garage held another surprise that I would not get to see until the next morning.

1931 Model A  - Work in Progress

1931 Model A – Work in Progress

Jacked up in the back of the garage was Terry’s newest old passion, another classic that he had bought for $2,000.  It also was in poor shape where it is coming to life in Terry’s garage.

Seats not done yet

Seats not done yet

The detail with which Terry restores his classics is obvious.  Here, I got to see the condition of the interior before he began work.

Model A Engine

Model A Engine

This Model A, however, already had a powerful engine, rebuilt by Terry from a junkyard engine from a newer vehicle.

Model A Front View

Model A Front View

I would love to see this classic once Terry finished working his magic on the newest member of his auto family.

Who would have thought that a quilting trip to Perth would introduce me to the world of Classic Cars!  What a trip!

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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!

 

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Art in Phoenix – Chihuly at the Desert Botanical Gardens

Chihuly Boat

Chihuly Boat

In Scottsdale this week teaching for Quilting in the Desert, one of my first tasks after checking into my hotel room was to check out art exhibits.  Chihuly was emblazoned on the cover of more than one travel mags stacked in my room.  So, it made perfect sense that my second task was finding a way to see the exhibit at the Desert Botanical Gardens.  The goal became a reality yesterday afternoon, when my friend Gale Wrigley said she’d be happy to drive.  In the end, we were a party of five, driven by fellow teacher, Sue Rasmussen.  Oh, my!  What an experience!  Any comments that I might make could not possibly do his artwork justice, so I present them without comment below.  All photographs were taken by me.

About Chihuly

About Chihuly

Chihuly and Saguaro

Chihuly and Saguaro

Chihuly 9

 

 

Chihuly 7

Chihuly 8

Chihuly 2

Chihuly 5

Chihuly 4

Chihuly 6

Chihuly 10

Simply amazing!  Our visit spanned the twilight hour so we were fortunate to view the exhibit during the last light or day as well as after dark!  The exhibit runs through May at the Desert Botanical Gardens.  If you are in Phoenix, be sure to make time to take in this incredible exhibit.

Stay tuned for Chihuly At Night, and also tales from Quilt Classes in the Desert!

 

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Adios New Zealand!

Good-bye my Friends

Looking toward Auckland

Thanks to everyone who made this trip so memorable!  It was so hard to say good-bye!  I can’t wait to return!

 

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Cathedral Cove

After a quick lunch, Marion and I headed back out, destination Cathedral Cove, one of the most photographed natural geographic sites in New Zealand.

Viewing the Cove Below

Viewing the Cove Below

Although it was a winter day, many people were present on the viewing platform and trails heading down to the iconic cove below.

Ancient Pohutukawa

Ancient Pohutukawa

This huge pohutukawa tree greeted us as we stepped onto the beach.

Looking Through the Keyhole

Looking Through the Keyhole

Massive doesn’t begin to adequately describe the wonder that awaits at the bottom of the trail.

Cathedral Tower

Cathedral Tower

The natural rock formations formed by the sea boggle the mind.

Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove

But it’s the scale of the landscape that creates the majesty that is Cathedral Cove!  It is so well worth the hike!  As we climbed back to the top of the cliff,

Sunset at Cathedral Cove

Sunset at Cathedral Cove

the sun was setting on this magical place.

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On the Coromandel – Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach - Return to the Sea

Hot Water Beach – Return to the Sea

Marion and Kerry took me to Hot Water Beach on my first New Zealand trip, in 1997. My memories of that day have remained foremost in my thoughts and I longed for a return visit.  So, when Kerry and his mates set off for afternoon fishing, Marion and I headed south a few miles.  So named because of the hot springs located right on the beach, each day of the year, humans are drawn to this place.

Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach

They arrive in synchronicity with the departing tide, and they begin digging.  Digging what will become the soak pools.  There, they relax in the soothing waters until the sea returns to reclaim it’s rightful place as master of the coast.  If you stand on the beach sand and squish your feet down into the sand, depending on where you stand, it can be so hot that you must move on.  When the tide returns, it is then that the humans begin their frantic, and sometimes hilarious quest to defeat the inevitable, building their sand walls higher and higher in the hopes of soaking a little longer.  Inevitably, with each incoming tide, humans lose the battle.  I think it’s an extraordinary place, and . . .

New Zealand Dotterel

New Zealand Dotterel

so do the birds.  Above is a New Zealand Dotterel who calls Hot Water Beach home. The New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu is an endangered species found only in this country. It was once widespread and common but there are only about 1700 birds left. This serious decline in numbers is due to a combination of habitat loss, predation by introduced mammals and disturbance during breeding.

Protect the Nesting Birds

Protect the Nesting Birds

The Department of Conservation, fences off nesting areas and their observers protect them for the dotterel and other endangered species like the Fairy Tern. Pied Oystercatchers, the most abundant wading birds in New Zealand, also benefit from the protected beaches.

Pied Oystercatcher

Pied Oystercatcher

We found a couple of these little fellows too, foraging on the beach for macro-invertebrates hiding beneath the sand.  There’s room for everyone on New Zealand’s beaches.

 

 

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