Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking out into the New Year

I will celebrate New Years Eve twice. The new year won't start on Jan 1st for me. My new year will happen on Feb 14th, according to the Tibetan calendar. This is when the Earth Ox year will end which is regarded as a year of obstacles for the ox-born ones by Tibetan tradition. I was born under the same sign, and this makes the 61st year of life a difficult year in general.

2010 will be the Iron Tiger year. It is double metal, because also the Tiger is seen as a metal animal.
Since I started observing Tibetan New Year, I had the feeling that nothing really changed on Jan 1st. So I abstained from making any promises or pledges. The feeling of a new quality to me is connected with an astronomic significance, with solstices, new moons or equinoxes. Year by year, I had the feeling that something had changed in February or the end of January, sometimes in March; maybe it was just my imagination, but the atmosphere is definitely different. From my young years, I remember the same dialogue repeated in December: "What are you gonna do on New Years Eve?" -- "Dunno. Get drunk, I guess."
Spring is a celebration without wine.

Nevertheless, we will open a bottle of champagne on New Years eve and celebrate with a guest. And I wish you all a very merry celebration and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dark but happy days

Leaving a place full of dirty snow (grey Christmas), we went past the harbour in the fog. Bound to the small town where my parents in law live. No ice on the road. A sleeping garden with finches and tits at the bird feeder.

My P-I-L liked the painting. It will be hanging near their dining table. I finished it in the meantime, added more details and colour and changed the front. Forgot to take a picture.

The light was sad! It was almost like night. Almost impossible to take photos.
J gave me a radio+MP3 player+cd player+cassette player. When we returned home on the evening of 1st Xmas day, we put it up in my room, so I can listen while painting or printing. I have so many old cassettes from the eighties: John Peel's music. I miss him still. He died way too early.
J enjoys to be sleeping late, and I have time to read the book I gave to J as one of my presents. It is about the Baroness Hilla Rebay who initiated the Guggenheim collection and made Guggenheim spend a lot of money on pictures by Kandinsky and Mondrian and other, but also on Bauer whose lack of fame today does him justice.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas is wonderful, it just happens at the wrong time

Sorry, it is me who happens at the wrong time. It is all my fault.
If any of you knows about horoscopes: The sun reaches my midheaven point at Christmas. Midheaven is the point of greatest activity concerning job, work, existence. Every year at Christmas I become extra creative and feel that I am close to something that I should grab ASAP. And bang, celebration starts, and I am kept off by shopping, going to P-I-L and loving all the people around me.
J and I had a look at my latest water color and pencil paintings. We picked out those that promise a development. Oh my god. All so different! Where will I go? J knows about styles in art, and he said a few helpful things. "Maybe you should try and integrate those styles... well... What are you trying to say? What is important for you?"
A message should not be expressed in a penetrant way, maybe I went too far with my latest picture. On the other hand, I like the watercolor+pencil technique. I don't want to discard any path, or I'd miss something.
The research has to go on. I'm satisfied with nothing. And this gives me some satisfaction and allows me to make a few hours break. J is pushing me to get a shower and move along. He is right.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Landing platform

Another watercolor/colorpencil painting was influenced by two YouTube videos, one about an observation from 2006, another from a recent mystery.
Painting such things, to me is a comfortable way to deal with them without straining my poor little brain halves too much, but to let my intuition work on it. Hope it is not too obscure for you.
Should such observations hint on higher powers to be protecting us and to let us know, I feel that it is not only us who take care of the planet -- no, maybe it takes higher forces to do a better job on this issue than we do.

Many cultures emphasize the turn of the light with celebrations around light. I wish you a very Merry Christmas, whatever way you celebrate, and a happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My recipe: Switch on low heat and forget

It has been snowing most of the morning, now it looks much like this (photo was taken earlier). This is where we live. We've been thinking of moving closer to J's company, but we are not likely to find such a snug place at the same price, green environment AND the short distance to the metro which is important for me since I don't drive (right, I'm a person without a driver's licence which is probably hard to believe, but I just never learnt to drive a car. I'm not a great cook either, I like to put all the stuff into one big pot, as you can see it here: Chicken joints, carots, broccoli, an interesting potatoe with a reddish peel, but yellow inside (eager to try it! Did not peel it, I am the laziest of cooks), onions, a sour apple, a little fresh ginger and white wine/hot water to extinguish. I added half a cube of vegetable extract with sea salt. This will be simmering for more than one hour. Dinner for at least two days. I believe in long-cooked food in winter. Vitamines? We need heat. My Tibetan doctor told me so.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, young mothers right after giving birth were served a chicken soup that had been simmering for 48 hours. Reminds of the "goldene joich" from jewish cooking, doesn't it?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weird light, cold nights

All the weekend thru, we had temperatures of about 3° F/-16° C at night. During the day, they did not rise much, so we had about 19° F. This is unusual. I remember warm Xmas eves in the seventies, 63° F on Dec 24th, 1978.
Last night, it wasn't quite so cold, just 28, but the sky was so bright. Looks weird, doesn't it? This picture was taken at 4:38 in the morning, long before dawn. We don't have more than 3" snow, but a Siberian feeling.
J hates it, I can cope with it. Baltic blood? In my parents' old home, most of the winter temps stayed on the above level, and schools stayed closed when it was below -- 22° F/--30° C.
I'm convinced that a warm cap is the clue. In Germany, most people take pride in going out without a cap. I don't know the offspring of this peculiar custom. I brainwashed my husband into wearing a cap. His rate of sinusitis has decreased from 3 times a year on less than once since then.
Solstice! From tomorrow, the light is coming back and days start getting longer!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Distant Ancestors

The stars are matter...
We are matter...
But it doesn't matter.
(Don Van Vliet, also known as Captain Beefheart)

Colour pencil drawing, 19 x 21 cm (7 1/2 x 8 1/4") , with water color in parts, finished (ahem, is it?) last night when the urge to draw forced me to stay up until midnight. In spite of being tired. As my left hand still will not allow me to continue my quilting projects (as painfully experienced yesterday), I'll concentrate my creative ambition on drawing and painting until the problem will be gone. Hopefully.
Could it be rheumatism?
Can a woman with these musical preferences have rheumatism?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Short days, bright sun

It is cold. A frosty night is followed by a sunny day, but before the sun can melt the frozen path, it is on the way down again. We took a walk, eager to see the sun as long as it was there, and starting out after lunch meant we saw it touch the horizon just 2 hours later. There was this house near the lake, empty and with smashed window panes on the back side. Such a beautiful house. What a shame. People walking by stopped to debate ways to save it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Painting a very conventional picture

Yes, I did this one, WIP, a landscape where J and i like to take walks. The bristles of my brush yearn to wallow in vibrant colours. But my p-i-l don't have a sense for abstract art. And they won't see this before Xmas, they don't have internet access.
On the shelf beside the clock: Yes, it's my husband making a funny face.
No sign of daylight today, even at noon. It is raining unceasingly, and the creek is well-filled.
Not a sign of snow either, and I'm not eager to have any. My dh has to drive to work every day, and he is not really happy if he has to drive on icy streets.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Will I finish my projects before Xmas?

A tenosynovitis keeps me from sewing and quilting. I bandaged it myself. Looks crazy, but helps a bit to avoid wrong motion. Funny -- it's the left hand. Although I've been working with my right hand, I obviously twisted the left hand while holding the piece I'm working on. A consequence of obsessive quilting. Take care!

Monday, December 7, 2009

A weekend in our capitol

"Wedding" is a Berlin quarter, not what it means in English, but a good place for a party anyway. We were in Moabit, the jail place, not in Wedding. J's cousin H celebrated his birthday on Sunday. He invited us for brunch in a traditional looking Berlin pub. It is decorated with old advertisment panels all over.

After eating and drinking, we sat together, chatting; some of our friends had met again after 20 years. Some had brought their kids, too, and the host's wife H started doing origami for them. I took out my embroidery.

A walk around one of Berlin's flea markets followed. The weather was not too pleasant, but dry which made this walk fun! It is a high quality flea market, no rumble, and the traders know the value of their stuff. The times are over when you could make a bargain because the sellers did not know what they had found in the attics.
There were African masks -- no idea how authentic they are, I don't know about African antiques. And there were very good kilims and woven rugs from Turkey, vintage bethcloths in abundance and oriental jewelry. Statues in whimsical combination, I could not take pictures of all what I'd have liked to show you, because we had appointed to meet again after half an hour which was way too short for this market. I purchased an indonesian print cloth in yellow and ochre, sarong size, for 14 $.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Confessions of an addict

So this is a stash, spread out on a bed. How will I be able to justify this on judgement day? I know what to say: This material is no longer produced in Europe. Crewel embroidery is dead on the continent. I had to salvage what I need.
I bought these boxes at about 0.35 $ per skein online. I bought larger stashes for almost no money, because the embroiderers gave up using it or passed away. I sort them out, collect them in groups of reds, greens, blues. I separate bundles. Just got a parcel with wonderful new and used wool skeins. Danish wool. Love it!
And I tell you: never make bundles by tying them together with rubber strings. Never ever. The leftovers after 10 or 20 years are just icky.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I don't have a wall to put up my quilting project. It is all lap work, so to say. But I'll have to arrange the strips before I sew them together. The sunshine brings out the quilting nicely, so I took this picture. I'm not all that pleased with the bright sun, because together with the full moon, it makes my head kind of dizzy. Too much energy, I guess. I found the right material for the inner line. It is the right top turquoise fabric.
I'm still thinking if I should do a wool batting with the lovely material I got from Judy; or should I just give it a backing, as the dark parts are wool fabric anyway? My husband loves warmth. But can the quilt be washed with a wool batting? Do you have a quilt like this, and do you have it dry cleaned?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What the full moon does

It's full moon! And I've been fighting with my German blog. My identities got entangled, and I don't know how. Sometimes I'm suspicious about the hidden connections that we create when signing in into this and that network. I just joint one in order to communicate with my friends. I was musing about networks, and don't they all use the knowledge of our emotional side, the desire to be among the others and not to be excluded, but to be part of it instead? Each of us is 12 years old deep inside, I guess. The inventers of internet communities are very clever to use this emotion and the feeling of being alone in an ocean of websites, unless we start fighting this loneliness by making friends in cyberspace. Is it because you lack human companionship in every day life? In my case, it is a bit like this. My relationship with my husband is very harmonious and full of love. But during the days when he's gone to work, I need you, my distant friends. It doesn't matter if you have 10 or 1000 contacts; the quality counts.
And so, I overcame my suspicion against networks and joint http://handembroidery.ning.com today.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New concept on the bauhaus quilt

Do presents necessarily have to be surprises? We decided against that.
My husband knows what he will get for Xmas or hopefully during the winter season. My initial intention was to do the pieced pattern all over. But this will be too puzzling. Some solids should calm the pattern down, and my husband would like a dark fabric to make a kind of frame, together with a turquoise line. I'm perfectly sure that I won't be able to do such a straight line as photoshop did. Now I'll have to find a fabric that goes with the bright stuff I've done already. But I haven't got much left, just a small scrap.
Jude sent me fabrics, among them the center piece of this detail. It is a velvet which fits perfectly into the concept.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

E-Mail from Siberia

A few days ago, I received a mail from a gentleman in Siberia. He told me that he had the same name as my ancestors in Estonia, and his family came from Estonia, too. Now, there are obviously relatives of mine who speak Russian and English.
He sent me a photo of his greatgrandfather J. He and my greatgrandfather V must have been brothers. Their second name is very rare, and there is only one family of this name in Russia.
Two of these brothers, V and A, had a forge in the Wall Street (ha!) in Tallinn, Estonia. Their mother Anna (picture) must be the ancestor we have in common. She lived from 1833 until 1903. Her family probably came from Lithuania. She was née Filipov.
If it is true that our ancestors J and V were brothers, then Evgenij is my nephew of which degree? 4th?
This shows how closely related mankind really is, doesn't it?

How far do your most distant relatives live?

And this is how far I got with my bauhaus quilt in the meantime.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Thanksgiving is an American holiday. We have a "harvest thanksgiving" in the churches. But as every day has reasons for gratitude in some way, why not join the feeling of gratitude which spreads from the blogs of you, my friends. And without a deeper analysis of the American feast, I take the oportunity to express my thank to my late parents, whom I saw in a dream last night, and who knows if they saw me, too. And I want to thank my husband for his constant love, protection and generosity and a sense of humor that it takes to handle me.I know that some of you will say, excuse me, this gratitude is for the Lord. Right, but as a Buddhist, I don't have a personal idea of God.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Animal prints

After working on a website for a furniture shop, I fortunately could go back to my animal print project at last. Recently I finished another print I gave away already and forgot to take a picture. Now this one will be on the way soon to an artist who inspires me infinitely.
The idea of animal prints in a square keeps haunting me after finishing the Chickenshack quilt. I'm working on a theme, this is something I never did when I was younger. It had to be perfect right away, or I would discard it. But this is not the way to accomplish something, when trying to become an artist.
I called this animal print project the Pazyryk project because the tiger is part of the treasures found in the kurgan of Pazyryk. It was carved into the cascet of the nobleman in this grave, but I never found another picture of it. Chris, thank you for sending me a reproduction.
Two more print cloths are in my Etsy shop; you may have seen them and will find them changed. I painted the background of both of them.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Abstracts in the kitchen

You wouldn't expect me to work in black and white and to follow the footprints of Jackson Pollock, would you? Well, anything can happen. I did this on Saturday late afternoon which must have been at the time when this great lesson on abstract art took place. I wonder if you can find out what media and canvas I was using. It was fun! For the first time -- and this is my hint for you to find out -- I really liked this job.
The winner of this contest will receive an animal print, made from my lino cuts, of about 10x10" size.
We had guests last night, to celebrate J's birthday. He was 44 on Thursday. His best friend J and his wife V came round. I made puff pastry, one kind with a sheep cheese-tomato-filling, the other with crabmeat, sprouts, mushrooms, carot, a little bit of roasted sesame oil for a teriyaki flavour, and a little bit of kiwi fruit. Didn't have the time to take pictures.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


A new job is waiting for me, one that is very valuable to me and I feel honoured to do it. The district parliament of a part of Hamburg commemorates the victims of the 3rd Reich every year on January 27, and I am to do the picture show for the background of the reading. What will be read by some members of parliament are documents about the lives of a few citizens of Hamburg who were deported or in another way victims of their political conviction, their confession, their roots. You may have heard about the "Stolpersteine", small brass panels with the name and life data of these citizens, applied on the pavement in front of the houses where they lived.
There is some controversy about them. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Discovering America

One year ago, I opened a new blog and tried blogging in English. It took me some courage, because my English has never been trained or even tried in an English speaking country. My foot has never touched the soil of Great Britain nor the USA or Australia, the country where -- as the family epics were sung to me -- my grandfather's brother fled from a woman who followed him, and they got married. I was an avid follower of my father's reports from America where he travelled around for 3 months in 1955 when I was six. His lantern slide show was my television, my first English words were "new" and "whooosh", the sound coming from a just opened can -- on adverts in "Ladies' Home Journal". This is where I got aquainted with Munro Leaf's "Watchbird" stories and pondered over his "Never-put-backer".
My relationship towards the USA changed in the years of adolescence, but I won't dwel on that. At a mature age of 57 I took up a craft I had learnt from my grandmother: Needlepoint. For 30 years, I had a box of brightly colored crewel wool in the attic, and to my amazement, the moths had eaten only a tiny bit of it. And there was an unfinished baby blocks embroidery with a special woven stitch. I finished it, and more projects followed. I showed my embroidery to blog readers in Germany for about half a year and had two followers.

The internet is a blessing. It showed me that the kind of craft I was looking for does exist, I wanted to expose my modest work to the judgement of embroiderers and quilters who did things I admire. On November 17, 2008, I opened my blog towards the west.

Congratulations to all of you who have been following me and who read it now! Without your advice and encouragement, my attempts to start quilting and cloth-printing wouldn't have got very far. Thank you so much, Ladies! I wish you a happy new blogging year in good health and success.

Monday, November 16, 2009

No Jazz?

So this was Louisiana. This is the name of a suburban restaurant in northern Hamburg. Yummy chicken with chilis, fries, 3-4 grams of cole slaw, a lot more meat than I can eat. "Cajun" said the menu. I wonder if it really was. J helped me with the last chick stick. We were invited by my friend M. She owns a travel agency. I had designed an advert for the screen in the background, and this food was my salary.
The wall was covered with large photos of Southern scenes and Jazz musicians. But the background music was no Jazz! I asked the waitress, and she said, the guests don't want to hear it. (Well, who am I?)
People don't seem to like it much over here. Only old people like me do. I'm listening tho Thelonious Monk, as I'm posting.

All those pictures on the wall, and no Jazz... Far from Cajun music.
Anyway, it was a nice evening out. We had a long talk with M and her husband. But I will recommend her to cancel the advertising contract. Nobody looked at the screen.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vibrant surprise

Yesterday, a wonderful letter reached me with a procyon-dyed cloth and variegated bamboo thread. And a card was attached saying that Els from the Netherlands wasn't able to write comments because I excluded anonymous commenters (what was I thinking?). I fixed that right away. Thank you, Els!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to connect the strips

Deborah, you asked how I would connect the strips, and I wasn't sure how to do that either. I tried bendig the edge of one and fix it with pins, then apply a seam stitch which doesn't go through all layers. This seems to be the answer: pure korak technique. It is not difficult to work, and it looks satisfying. My husband said, "they ask how you'll do it, because they want to find out if this German chick knows a way, probably she doesn't, chucklechuckle". He's quite sarcastic sometimes! That Bauhaus lover. But the truth is: My quilting friends in the USA and elsewhere gave me so many valuable and helpful hints, photos and encouragement. Without you, I wouldn't have started successful quilting at all. And success -- okay, let's remain modest, my abilities are what you can expect if someone starts quilting at almost 60. I'm not aiming at any contest. Having a nice piece under which it is possible to sleep as well -- that's my idea of success.