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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Life in the Big City

When you live in a big city like Chicago, you have a tendency (or at least I have a tendency) to become overwhelmed by all of the options to see and do, and you (or I) end up missing a lot of great events and exhibits. This weekend, I was determined to get to two different shows that are closing soon, Niki in the Garden at the Garfield Park Conservatory and the Dia de Los Muertos exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art.
Garfield Park Conservatory is a huge greenhouse and garden on the city's west side. A few years ago, they had a fabulous Chihuly exhibit that I loved so much I went twice. This summer, they featured Niki de Saint Phalle's mammoth sculptures both inside and outside. My favorite was a monumental skull. (I love whimsical Day of the Dead-style skulls, so much so that I have several knitting and project bags with skull motifs.)

So that you get a sense of scale, this is the 6'5" husband inside of it.

The attention to detail was incredible. Each area featured a different material, from stained glass to flat marbles to stones to mirrors.

It was amazing from every angle, including the inside, which was covered in mirror and had a built-in bench so that you could enjoy the reflective surfaces and the moon mosaic in the ceiling.
There were many other installations, including these cavorting women.

On Saturday, the Conservatory was also hosting Halloween events for families. There were games, activities, food, music, and "spooky" animals. SOAR was there with a Barn Owl and a Great Horned Owl. I was really taken by the intricacy of the markings.

There was also a bat lady.

She had two Argentinian Fruit Bats hanging from her shirt. That's Bruce with his wings spread and Stellaluna is behind him. They were very, very cute. Apparently, they enjoy having their heads and ears rubbed just as cats do. (I was told quite firmly by the husband not to get any fancy ideas about having any fruit bats as pets.)

In addition to the animals and sculptures, there were exotic, beautiful flowers and plants everywhere. This cactus flower struck me because of its resemblance to a starfish.

There are no pictures from the Day of the Dead exhibit. Photos of the ofrendas were prohibited, but there were some beautiful, moving tributes, including one dedicated to the 31 Chicago public schoolchildren that have been killed this year.

I am nearing the deadline to have my sweater finished for the big gala at work. It's not been a complicated or time consuming project, but I haven't had a lot of dedicated, concentrated time to work on it. The back, front, and sleeves are finished, the shoulder seams are bound, and it has been blocked. Now to sew up the sides, pick up and knit the neckline and armholes, and graft the handkerchief sleeves on. I've got until the 7th, so that shouldn't be a problem. I just hope that it looks good...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Kentuck 2007

While many of you were indulging your fiber passions at Rhinebeck, I was cavorting south of the Mason-Dixon. Rhinebeck coincides with the Kentuck Festival of the Arts, and though I pine to head Poughkeepsie-way, the third weekend in October is taken so long as my friend S.A. is executive director of the festival.

My friend Sandra and I have had many a good time on this annual trip. This time, we had more fun, laughed harder, and felt more "away" than any year for a few reasons. We made the wise decision to come back on Monday afternoon instead of rushing back on Sunday, so we were able to take our time and relax. S.A.'s partner Neil cooked gumbo and rosemary cornbread for us Saturday night (So. Good.) and we hung out at their place with them and a few of the festival artists. And this year, we brought along our friend Buggie. Since she had never been down before, it was great to introduce her to the things we love so much, including Archibald's Bar B Q, Golden Flake Sweet Heat Chips, and all of the other elements that make a trip to this festival such a great time for us. (Buggie quite enjoyed the experience, especially her first encounter with Moonshine.)

The Festival itself was quite wonderful, and the variety of artists was as impressive as ever. As an added bonus, the famed Gee's Bend Quilters were there.

As for acquisitions, I bought a Bethanne Hill painting (my third!), a face jug, some fun jewelry, an Alabama t-shirt and a make-your-own kit from Alabama Chanin, and a few other goodies. There was another Patsy Blake painting that I longed for (I bought this one last year), but I was exercising restraint.

The festival features fiber artists including a few weavers, silk painters, quilters, and a woman who does batik wall hangings. There was also a Fiber Guild tent where I sought out and received some useful advice about skein winders.

A good time was had, and so begins the countdown to next year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Stinkin' Tinkin'

Like for most of us, knitting is my outlet. It's the thing that is supposed to keep stress at bay. Hah! Last night, I came home late from work after a particularly trying evening meeting to find that my husband was still stuck at work which meant I wouldn't have any quality time with him before he left for a business trip at 5am this morning. (He's worked all or part of the last 5 weekends and has been putting in a lot of late nights, so I was looking forward to maybe an hour or two of face time. Not to be.) And, our Internet was out, so no Ravelry to fill the void. I was primed for a big, fat pity party. So, I put on my favorite flannel cowboy pajamas (the apparel equivalent of comfort food) and sat on the couch to work on my sock. It's a simple sock, just garter rib--a no-brainer, right?! I was so engrossed in my funk that I forgot the knit rows between the K2, P2 rows. Just plain forgot. When I realized it, I had to tink a bunch of rounds. Sure, I could have performed surgery with a crochet hook, turning Ps into Ks, but that would have taken just as long or longer. So, I got nowhere. Well, I did have those 20 or so minutes before I realized my mistake, so I guess those counted toward reducing my stress level, but the next 30 or so of undoing undid that. My evening was a Kinks song turned up to 11.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Quoth the Raven, "Never Mind"

Holy Humvees, people, what is with this weather?! 88 and sunny? We here in Chicago often get cheated out of spring--we go right from winter to summer--but if we lose fall, too, I am outta here. (I know, I know, it's warm everywhere, not just here.)

Halloween is a favorite holiday 'round these parts, and I can remember many a sad October 31 when I had to wear my winter coat over my costume. (I really, really hated that when I was of trick or treating age.) It doesn't appear that kids are going to have to worry about that this year unless things take a sudden turn.

I've done just a bit of Halloween decorating this year. Last October, due to a crazy, crazy time at work and in life, I couldn't see my way to put out any rats, bats, or even a single spider. I'm easing back into it this year. I have a wrought iron tree in the living room (it was my fiber-decorated Christmas tree this past December), and it is full of crows and ravens. There is a buzzard hanging out on an antique birdcage. Tippi Hedren would not even consider darkening my doorstep. The skulls, skeletons, and rats, however, will probably have to wait until next year.
Instead of finishing the last few inches of Garnet Wings, I pulled out a UFO sock and worked on it this weekend. Never mind that it is too freaking warm for socks. Never mind that--though I love to knit socks--I hardly ever wear socks, even in Chicago winters. (I have h0t feet. I mean that literally, not in the fet1sh-y kind of way. My mother says I have ugly t0es. ) Never mind that I have a plan to wear Garnet Wings in a few weeks. Never mind.

(I am still having paragraph spacing issues here in Bloggerland. Anyone else having the same experience?)