Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Day After the Tour

I had no desire to be on the Champs Elysees for the final day of the Tour de France - way too many people - but my friends and I walked part of the route yesterday. The Arc de Triomphe. I can only imagine how gummed up traffic was with this roundabout, the Charles de Gaulle Etoille, closed off. Twelve roads intersect here, aiyee.

The Nike Store, obsessed with yellow. That's a King of the Mountains polka dotted jersey on the mannequin in the window.

I love this advertising image, the man is made up of french words:

And a close-up of his calf:

The "Espace Triomphe" tent, looking forlorn.

Cleopatra's Needle and grandstands at the Place de Concorde.

I just heard that Iban Mayo's A sample has tested positive for EPO. Geeze Louise, this has been an ugly tour.

On Sunday we went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I enjoyed it, but didn't think it was great. Have to say that Prisoner of Azkaban remains my favorite. We're still waiting for the book, but it's just as well that it's not here since we have company and I'd be far too just read.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Ships at the Louvre

I love these ships sailing right out of the Louvre building. I wanted a better picture than this but I was standing in a crosswalk and despite the fact that I had the green signal, a taxi started honking at me to move. Ah well. This is near the Porte des Lions I've shown in previous posts.

One of the figureheads is a busty woman:

The other is a goat:
I love how they've even got the rolling waves portrayed and the fish.

I've finally seen evidence of the Tour de France coming into town. On Thursday I saw a guy wearing Team CSC Crew clothes carrying a clipboard down near the Place de Concorde and yesterday all the barricades were up. Plus the grandstand set up for Bastille Day is still there. By the way, completely forgot to tell you that Bastille Day was utterly quiet here. We didn't go out to see the parade or fireworks and didn't hear them at all. Not even kids setting off firecrackers in the streets.

I've got friends visiting, so you may not see much from me for the next week. Not quite sure what we're going to be doing, although 70% chance of rain today and tomorrow is not enticing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


I'm trying to decide if Color Thready II is finished or not. Usually I don't quit putting in stitches until all of the background is covered. I don't want to do that here because I like the batiks showing through. I'm pinning it up on my board and looking at it for awhile. What do you guys think? Does it look complete? Any area bother you? By the way, it's all ripply now but when I give it a quick bath and then block it out it will be flat.

Decided to start on another thready project, something mindless to do while watching tv. The base is a horrible black calico print from the mid 1980's. I used it in my Masterpiece Quilt and it has already faded to brown. It's never being used in a quilt top again, tho it works fine for this or quilt backing. The initial size of the fabric was 6.25" x 6.75"

I started by couching yarn on it and now I'm doing running stitches with embroidery floss and rayon floss.

Definitely a bummer year for the Tour de France with all the doping problems. Miserable, although Discovery Channel now has two riders for a podium finish if they maintain their places.

I've got a friend coming into town for a week and another just for the weekend - I hope Paris isn't too crazy with people for the end of the Tour on Sunday. I've noticed that restaurants and shops in my area are already closing for their summer holidays. Just closing your store for 6 weeks - I find that hard to fathom. Nice lifestyle though.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Metro Art

One of the metro stations is being refurbished and all the huge posters they paste up have been scraped off. I could imagine these hanging on an art gallery wall:

This is a pic from Monmartre. This church is St-Jean l'Evangeliste. It's beautiful, but hard to photograph properly. According to my guidebook, the church was built in 1904 and was "one of the first concrete buildings in France; despite its sinuous Art Nouveau curves, the bricks had to be added later to soothe offended locals."

Did I tell ya'all that my husband and I finished rewatching season 5 of the Sopranos and are now finally into Season 6, part 1? Not only that, but my sweetie has even agreed to watch an episode or two a night instead of only one episode every Sunday which was the previous arrangement. Woohoo. Of course we're still going to have to wait however long for part 2 to finally make it onto DVD. sigh.

I'm way behind on chores, what with obsessively reading Harry Potter (finished Order of the Phoenix this morning) and watching the Tour de France. Not at the same time, mind you. I need to run to the market and buy fruit (the French raspberries, strawberries and nectarines are incredible) as well as basic foodstuffs and a new mop, pick up dry cleaning, get my phone charged with minutes, etc. All made more complicated since I don't know exactly what hours the various shops are closed. Almost everything except the supermarket are closed for 2 to 3 hrs sometime in the afternoon. I better get going.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Fabric in Marble

These are pics from a visit to the Louvre on 6 July. I was fascinated with how sculptors dealt with the drape and pattern of fabric in marble. I can't even imagine how technically complicated that would be. These are funerary monuments from the French Resaissance. First off is a work by Germain Pilon called the Tomb of Valentine Balbiani.

An unexpected self-portrait reflected in the description:
An unknown artist did these effigies of Catherine of Alencon and Pierre d'Evreux-Navarre. After seeing several dogs with the women in the tomb sculptures, I'm thinking that they are not beloved pets, but instead symbolize faithfulness. Especially since the man has two lions fighting there at his feet which would presumably mean courage. Just a guess on my part.

Finally had an exciting day at the Tour de France. Team CSC certainly isn't doing as well as I had hoped, but what an amazing resurgence from The Discovery Team. I have to say that Leipheimer didn't inspire me much, but I can root for Contador. I know he's best young rider, but is this his first Tour de France? So great to see the Discos looking like the big blue train of old, taking control of the race and setting the pace. woohoo!
I'm off to read more Harry Potter. It's a good day for it since rain is pouring down.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fabric Stores in Monmartre

Looking for fabric in Paris? There are plenty in Montmartre. Get off the metro at the Anvers stop, walk towards the Sacre Couer Basilica and then west towards the Halle St-Pierre (where the naive art museum is - highly recommended) and you will come across many of them. I didn't take very many pics, sorry.

This is the silk that I bought at Tissus Moline at 1, Place Saint Pierre and at a shop a couple doors down. I really needed some lighter shades of blue and the bluish green (second from right) is absolutely gorgeous.
The silks, which were on sale, were less than the astronomically priced cottons (mixed up, crazy world but fortunate for me since I'm in a silk mood). Sales in France only occur in January and July and are called the Soldes.

The next two pics reminded me of Cairo: belly dancer scarves and costumes:

I'm still headachy from allergies and doing my best to not constantly whine about it. As a result I'm staying away from cutting fabric (which releases something up in the air that makes me nuts). I picked up a crusty that I'd abandoned a couple of years ago when I couldn't decide whether or not to expand the color selection to include orange? Habibi should actually be orange but I'd wimped out using it. I told you I used to be very strict about what colors I'd use in my artwork. I was battling myself with this piece.

Habibi's eyes are orange as well so yesterday I embroidered his eyes and cut out a new moon.

I'm thinking what's really not working is the bottom bit with the kitties. I went too dull with the colors. Maybe I should just work on the pyramid section to my satisfaction and then see. When I drew my cats' faces, the girls were probably about 6 months old. Lily had a very sharp, triangular foxy face and Pokey's was a diamond shape with puffy cheeks.

Long time readers may think this looks familiar. It's similar in design to my crusty Queen of the Nile and to my Purple Cat on the Nile embroidery. Since that embroidery was a gift, I had started remaking the purple cat for myself way back when and I may just dig that back out. Meanwhile I've started back to work on my Color Thready II.

I'm very slowly rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I don't remember much from this one or the next. Our copy of the latest book just went in the mail, so it will be interesting to see how long it takes to get here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Me and the Lamassu

My husband obliged and took a picture of me with this fabulous lamassu when we were at the Louvre on Sunday. The lamassu were (are?) Assyrian gate guardians, who frightened away the forces of chaos. Anyway, I am fabulously in love with these guys. Notice that they actually have five legs - the look like they're standing still from the front and walking from the side.

Karen asked to see my haircut. This is pretty much my usual style, I just get lazy (and fearful) sometimes and don't go back soon enough to get it cut. These are my new glasses as well. I got them just two days before we left Florida, which was pretty stupid. The correction isn't as strong as my last two pairs (which were overcorrected) and it was hard to adjust, but I've finally done it. You'll notice the frames are very practical and sturdy. I hated my last pair, with lenses and screws and nosepieces falling off. You can see my thyroidectomy scar in this pic too.

Enough about me. According to my guidebook: "These lamassu with gentle human faces, their proportions governed by mathematically calculated proportions, exude calm, serenity, and harmony."

I love the bull's ears they have - makes them look elfin.

I got some good pics of this guy too in the Assyrian room. This is an Apkallu Griffin, a 'wise man' or 'sage' sent by the god Ea to teach wisdom to humans, according to this British Museum site. He's holding a bucket and cone for purifying.

I don't know why I'm so fascinated with all of this, but I am. This interests me so much more than seeing the Impressionists. I wonder what that says about me.

I finished my additional quilting on Liberty Blooms. It's not that it looks all that much different, but I certainly notice the difference. Still haven't finished my two little quilts. Andi, those have regular old quilting fabric on the back. I use up stash I don't like well enough to put on the front.

Ms Jan, my camera is a Canon Digital Elph SD600. I absolutely love it - fantastic camera. I have never taken such wonderful pictures in my life. Remember the old days were you could only look through that tiny peephole? Stupid glasses got in the way and I was always cutting off people's heads. Now I have a big image to look at and what a difference that has made. We have an earlier model of the Elph and it's wonderful too. Highly recommended. And Picasa makes a huge difference as well - now I can crop out all the extraneous bits.

MamaSpark, we haven't had any more problems with Howler marking his territory. Fingers crossed it will stay that way. One big difference - I put in an extra litterbox, this one without a hood on it. (So now we have three litterboxes). Maybe he just hated going in that little box to pee, although that was what he used in Florida without a problem. I also got some Feliway spray and used that once. Whatever it is that did the trick, I'm happy.

In entertainment news, I watched the Battlestar Galactica miniseries over again. Definitely makes a difference without commercials and pausing when there are distractions. Liked it much better this time, but don't know that I've been converted to being a fan.

The Lake House with Keanu and Sandra was pretty mediocre. Since I had low expectations going in, that was okay. It gave me something to quilt to.

I went to Monmartre on Wednesday and visited the fabric stores. Now I'm miserable, headachy and allergical. Still haven't got my new allergy meds yet, which are coming in the mail from the states and were sent late due to various incompetencies. Anyway, I will post more about the fabric stores later. I can't keep my posts up with my life...

Fingers crossed I can get English audio for the Tour today. Couldn't yesterday, but I wasn't put out since it was just a flat stage.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hooplessly Devoted to You

Although I did learn to quilt in a frame, I was never very good at it, and I ditched the hoop shortly after attempting to use it. It felt so natural to me to quilt without any of that, but I've had a very hard time trying to explain it well. It's one of those things I just do without thinking.

I swear by quilting without a hoop. It's possible to get much smaller stitches this way.

The quilt sandwhich has to be well-basted, more so than quilting in a hoop. I layer the backing, batting and top, but don't stretch any of them. Since I'm rather lazy, I put pins in every three inches-ish to stabilize the piece and put even more in the area where I'll be starting. As I remove safety pins in the area I'm working on, I move them over to the place I'm going next.

There is no tension on the quilt sandwich as I'm working. I don't pull it taut or stretch it in any way.

I hold the quilt in my left hand between my thumb and palm. Not the middle of my palm - that would be uncomfortable -- but the area below my index finger (the finger closest to the thumb).

This is what it looks like from underneath.
And another (obviously more recent) shot, this time without my thumb peeking out.

My left hand doesn't do much during the quilting. Most of the fingers just help hold the sandwich up. The middle finger is important though. First it gets "stabbed" by the needle. The needle goes down and hits my finger which then acts to push that needle back up. (Not by the pointy bit of the needle, but the shaft very close to the point.)

On my right hand, I use a thimble on my middle finger to push the needle. My right thumb is crucial. As I rock my hand, my thumb works to first help the needle go down and and then come back up. For the down motion, my thumb is behind the point of the needle, helping to push the shaft down.

For coming back up, the thumb moves forward to help the needle back up. The middle left finger is pushing up on the shaft of the needle, the right thumb is pressing the quilt sandwich down and back against the tip of the needle to make the stitch.

I take several stitches onto the needle and then pull through.

I swear by my "Thergonomic Hand-Aids" - they really do work. I don't have nearly as much pain in my hands and wrists as I used to get. Just make sure you buy the kind that have a wide wrist band. I throw them in the wash with my usual laundry every week and into the dryer as well (even though the instructions say not to) because that helps get them tight again.

Anyone else who quilts without a hoop have anything to add? Any clarifications or helpful hints?

Please ask any questions you may have and I'll do my best to come up with an answer.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Kitties in Shadow

After my most recent ordeal with Pokey knocking my water all over the computer keyboard, I just had get some photos of her drinking out of my glass. I love the pics I can get when there is strong natural light AND a lot of shadow.

Pokey's latest trick is to drown her toys. First I found a wet ball of perle cotton laying on the floor. Since then I've discovered her pompoms and one of my socks floating in the cats' drinking bowl. (What does she care if that bowl is polluted - she doesn't like to drink out of it anyway.)
I've finished quilting the America With Flag little quilt and started quilting again on Liberty Blooms, which was just looking really pathetically bare to me. So more quilting it is. Have several quilts on the "to be bound" pile, but not much interest in taking care of them.

All that quilting took a toll on my right wrist and I had to take a break for a couple of days. I've been icing and anti-inflammatorying and all of that has helped too. Thankfully - I was a bit worried.
Had a wonderful day with my sweetheart yesterday. We had lunch at the food court of the Louvre (easy, fast, big variety, and they speak English) and took a quick trip in to see my beloved lamassu. You'll undoubtedly get pestered with more pictures of the same.
The Eurosport live audio on the internet (via Yahoo, the stinkers) fell apart for several days and I wasn't able to watch the Tour de France with any kind of enjoyment. Found another way yesterday to get the English-language commentary, so put the audio through the laptop on the coffee table and watched the action on tv. Wasn't synced up, but I was still a happy camper. It was going to be pretty ironic if moving to France was what led me to lose interest in the race.
Now that the Tour de France is in the mountains it's finally interesting. Time for Astana to dump Vinokourov as the lead GC contender and let Kloden do it - I think he has a much better chance. Discovery Channel looking weak and pathetic again this year. sigh.
Have I told ya'all that a Starbucks is going in on our street? Many blocks away, but our street nonetheless. Woohoo.

Another kitty in shadow, my beloved Lily:

Louvre Columns

As promised, pictures of columns at the Louvre.

A close-up of the bee detail:

The next two photos aren't of columns, but these ceiling arches have similar details and are in much better condition since they are sheltered from the weather.

A detail of the above column, twining snakes:

Hope these provide plenty of quilt design inspiration.