Thursday, March 31, 2011


Earlier in my blog I mentioned Venetia Stanley-Smith, a British woman who now lives near Kyoto and has a half hour TV show, which is one my all-time favorites, but which is only sporadically shown here on the ever dwindling PBS stations. 

Japan has been on my mind and I am sure on the minds of most other people.  In another PBS show recently about the people of Japan, it illustrated how disciplined, well organized and other-oriented many of the Japanese are and these qualities and characteristics will surely help them in rebuilding their country.  In contrast, sadly, to Haiti, where I fear things will never be much better...

I believe that when disasters like this happen, they in essence happen to all of us.  The earth is a living organism and her actions and reactions reverberate throughout and will reach us all in one way or another, and in a random manner.  Death, which can take us at any time  is something we all share as well.  I don't know about you, but I find great comfort in that.

From my experiences as a health care giver, I have come to conclude that many people "pick their own time to die" and often do so when they are alone, after the tearful visits of family and friends.  I have come to believe that death is a very personal adventure and the way we take the journey often reflects the way we journeyed through life.  My fear of dying disappeared over years of being privileged to observe my dying patients;  but I have not lost my fear of suffering.

The people of Japan have suffered and still are suffering.  Help if you can:

Venetia recently put a meditation on dying on her blog.  The link is in my "creative people" section on the left, and here:, and I hope she does not mind my reprinting Bishop Brent's wise and comforting lines (abbreviated version):

What is Dying?

A ship sails and I stand watching till she fades on the horizon
 and someone at my side says: 'She is gone'
Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all; 
she is just as large as when I saw her. 
The diminished size, the total loss of sight is in me, not in her, 
and just at the moment when someone at my side says 'She is gone', 
there are others who are watching her coming, 
and other voices take up a glad shout: 'There she comes!'

And this is dying.

~ Tranquility and Tolerance ~

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Paper Goods

Basically, I do know how to crochet, make up my own little patterns and stitches and create items.  But there's always room to learn more, and a few days ago I went to Michael's (I had a 25% off coupon - check out their site because they occasionally have these if you are on their mailing list)... where was I - Oh yes,  in the yarn section where they have a lot of books and patterns, I found this:

The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet by Margaret Hubert, who is part of Craftside, which I just discovered as well: Not only does it have a ton of different stitches, it also has lots of little projects (as you can see, I made some flowers, which I will incorporate in a vest later) and...  tada!  I finally found a stitch I had been looking for for at least 30 years; ever since I made two little jackets for the twins of my friend in Switzerland.  I lost the instructions long ago, and the name, and there it was in Margaret Hubert's book, on page 131: The STAR Stitch.  Whoohoo..  I must make something in that stitch again, soon.

Meanwhile, speaking of paper, I created a new TP hanger.  Our handy man, when retiling, forgot to install one so I made this from one of the many "raw materials" in our yard, and some leftover bangles from my belly dancing days... et voila...  hanging from the shower door always within reach:

~ Tranquility and Tolerance ~

Friday, March 25, 2011

Amazing Paper Miniatures

In the past I believe I have made mention of where edgy, original, contemporary ideas and designs of any kind (from kitchenware to architecture,  light installations, clothing, and art) are presented by people from all over the world.  You can subscribe to their daily newsletter and there has been many a moment when my mood has been lifted by the people and their ideas I have encountered there.  On days when I fear humanity is going completely so not in a positive direction, designboom has not failed to show me that there is still,  loads of creative and critical thinking and art and poetry in looking at how to make our world more interesting or different or better. 

Today, I found the Russian duo: Alexei Lyapunov and Lena Ehrlich who make very small, intricate and amazing paper cuttings.  I subscribe to Cloth Paper Scissors, and they too have wonderful ideas for projects but this floored me because of its minute precision and artful execution of tiny paper sculpture.  You feel these two have a great sense of humor as well.

To give you some perspective:  the two men on the left are playing chess.  Below, you can see how tiny the chessboard is.  Also note the floor, which gives the illusion of being made of shiny, reflective, parquet.  Wow!

So:  do yourself a favor and rush to the link below:

 check out the artists’ site as well:

and lose yourself for a little while  in their tiny but impressive world where (quoted from

“celebrity and historical figures find a second life in these paper miniatures by people too, the collaborative efforts of russian designers alexei lyapunov and lena ehrlich.
using a range of knives, scissors, tweezers, and other tools on wire and a combination of construction and specialty papers, the team creates not only miniature furniture and figures but also entire sets for the pieces. their 'star' series represents famous musicians, from michael jackson to queen to elton john; 'tsar peter and tsarevitch alexey' depicts the happier early days of the famous russian rulers” and their 'office' and 'factory' series recreate scenes from the everyday working world."

~ Tranquility and Tolerance ~

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March Marches On!

Hard to believe it is almost April.  The first quarter of the year is almost gone, and it literally flew by.  We have been very busy since we had the electrical "innards" of the house redone late in January.  A lot of stuff had to be moved around which gave us a chance to sort some things out and throw and give away a bunch of items we had not looked at in ages.   The Vietnam Vets in our area are quick and efficient in picking up discards.

There is still a lot more work to be done; a lot more stuff to be sorted.   We discovered many old photo albums, which are great for re-purposing, although a lot of those will have to be trashed  because we are both an "only child" and have no  family or children.  No family problems either.  What we hear from friends and their families often sounds like we aren't missing much. 

Recently,  I ordered about 14 back issues of "Cloth Paper Scissors" which has been  keeping me up nights reading and thinking about all kinds of projects I want to do.  I love this magazine and their news letters and savor the creativity and the artists and original and fun ideas they feature.  There is a lot of inspiration in those pages. Check them out, and also their umbrella company: Interweave

I saw a picture of a helix  or wave like scarf,  a while ago, I believe in Knitting Daily,  one of the other newsletters to which I  subscribe,  I liked the way it curled at the edges but I do not like big knitting projects.   A while back I was crocheting something which caused  a helix effect, and I decided to crochet a "wave like" scarf similar in shape as the picture below.

I managed to finish it in two nights,  along with a small scarf for the daughter of a girl friend.  The weather is perfect for indoor activities right now.  It has been raining in sheets and one day we had a record  6.34 inches!    Not the type of weather I like to go out in, even though I have those great Tretorn rubber boots.  They are grey and have a lovely soft lambswool lining,  Great for jumping in puddles!  And they keep your feet dry and comfortable.  No wonder I have been making so many scarves this winter: for Southern California is has been unseasonably chilly and wet!

The picture of the helix or wave scarf on the left is from Interweave.
On the right is the little scarf I made for Sasha:  it is open weave double crochet in every other stitch (like the one I made in "how do I do that", in off white, and then I made "ribbons" of one row double crochet in that "hairy" yarn, and wove them through the holes with at the ends two tassles.

The pictures of my helix scarf are unfortunately not too clear.  It was made with less than one skein of old Red Heart black acrylic yarn and a huge, M13 0.9mm,  crochet hook.  So the project went fast.  I crocheted very loosely.  Started with 150 loose chain stitches.  First row: double crochet in each stitch,  Second row:  chain 2,  in fourth hole or opening below the 4th stitch from start:  4 dc in same opening, skip next 2 stitches but  "chain 2; again 4 dc in third opening, skip next two, chain 2, 4 dc next opening " repeat between " and " until the end.  Third Row: Do the same on the other side of the First Row, chain 2 , opposite of 4 dc of Second Row make 4 dc in the same opening,  skip 2  chain 2, the 4 double crochets,  again made in the same hole or opening as Second Row - mirror image until the end.  Fourth row:  4 chain stitches then "4 double crochet in space between 2 and 2 dc of Third Row, ch2, 4 dc in space below the  CHAIN TWO, of the Third Row,  chain 2" repeat until end.  Fifth Row, do the same, in mirror image on the other side. 

As you add the last two rows, the work starts to become a curling helix.  You could probably add another 2 rows too it if you are using thinner yarn or like a bigger scarf.  With the big crochet hook it goes very fast.

Above I wove some pearls through the openings. You could weave ribbons or different color threads as well.   And remember too:  after the first row of dc  to ONLY crochet in openings below or between the stitches, not in the actual loop or opening IN any stitch.  On the other hand, there is no rule against doing that.  It will make it probably a bit looser.

~ Tranquility and Tolerance ~

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bracelets and Malas

I have been in the bead baskets again and made a bunch of bracelets and malas.  The malas were made with simple wooden triangular beads, and not finished.  I like them to "weather" as they are used by my hands.

I just learned how to knit or crochet with beads.  For the life of me I could never figure out how to do that, until I saw that you put all the beads on the yarn FIRST and push them aside until you need them.  Duh!

Daylight savings time this weekend.  I think it is silly.  When will man learn to not fool with Mother Nature?

Also got a new supply of PEACE prayer flags from my favorite place: the Dharma Shop where you can find wonderful, unique and handmade imports from Tibet and Nepal at very reasonable prices and in support of the Tibetan refugees and artisans.  They have a blogspot too.  Support them if you can.

~ Tranquility and Tolerance ~

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A little Yarn

Sometimes, when I see a single ball of yarn that looks pretty laying about in a bin at Big Lots or other discount store, often I buy it without having any idea what I will do with it.  And somehow, eventually, this yarn will find its own purpose it seems,  and becomes the  finished project it had, as a promise, within itself.

Over the weekend I used some of it and made two little bags.  They both are knitted (only pearl stitch).  The pink one has a row of leftover men's shirt buttons on either side sewn on.   The green one was embellished with double crochet rows of a contrasting ribbon yarn on top of the knitting,  picking up the stitches below, every second row.

Came out pretty good I thought.  They were both lined with muslin.  The pink one will keep our cell phones in one place while we are in.  The green one is going to be a present.

Today it was gorgeous outside.  Warm, with a bit of a breeze off the ocean, bit of silt in the air.  Spring is here!  We took a little trip to Home Depot.  We are thinking of buying a shed for the back yard, which can house a lot of the antique tools we inherited from Chet, and will give me a place to have a little bench for metal working and soldering I am planning to do in the future.  Some of these sheds look like little guest houses: very cute, with a window and skylight.  Looking forward to getting that installed.
~ Tranquility and Tolerance ~

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Beach Beasts

Recently I stumbled across these interesting kinetic sculptures and thought I would share them.  It is the work of the Dutch artist Theo Jansen.  The structures are made of PVC pipe and perambulate independently with a bit of help from the wind.  Amazingly unique and also otherworldly.

To see them walk, click on the link below:

For more information on Theo Jansen:

~ Tranquility and Tolerance ~

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ready for my close-up?

I like to take photographs or "borrow" them,  and then alter them through Photobucket.  Today was a beautiful day: it was warmer than it had been in weeks,  the sun was bright and everything smelled fresh after the recent rain.  I decided to have a "me-day", leaving my darling boffin hubby home with his scribbling,  well provided for with yogurt and berries and hot tea.  I took the Prius and zoofed off.

First I had my hair cut by my favorite hair dresser.  I learned that she will have  hip replacement surgery soon and we arranged for her to call if she needed anything at all.   We like to do things for each other on the "pay it forward" plan.  Then I drove to Jo-Ann's and spent more than an hour going through the rows and rows of beautiful fabrics, yarn, and whatnot thingamadoodles.  Bought stuff for my stash, yarn on sale,  Mod Podge for an old nightstand I want to decoupage, and some beautiful craft books, which I will come back to later.

Then I went to Trader Joe's and bought a cart load of yummy things.  Even remembered to bring my own shopping bags, and had fun with the check out clerk, helping him pack things up and discussing the state of the world.  Trader Joe's has very interesting  and well informed people at the cash registers!

Then home just in time to feed hungry hubby lovely Sushi and Asian chicken salad!  Since we met late in life, we love to do most things together, and Trader Joe's is one of his favorite stores, but more than an hour in Jo-Ann's would have make him awfully cranky.  And  I like it best when I go alone and can take my time.

So for today, just a few of my photos.

Below is a multi manipulated image based on CARNOVSKY's RBG Wallpaper.  The colors were already breathtaking so that made it very easy to work with.   I feel the end result looks a bit like someone's derri√®re but I definitely was not aiming for that.

Below on the left is a photo of myself, painstakingly pixelated in with colors, to make it a kind of mask.  I added earrings and a necklace and other embellishments.  This took a long time but was well worth the effort.  On the right is the socalled "warhol effect" - same picture, four times, different colors.

Then there I am at about age 5 in 1949... It was an old black and white photo, badly damaged but I managed to put some roses on my cheek.  I look spacey.... signs of things to come...

And the day lillies in our yard on the right. This photo had a lot of shade background and practically came out like that, I just darkened the background a little.

This last one I call "Gaia" or Mother Earth. It started out with a photo my friend Randy took of a beautiful white orchid but went through many changes. The one at the top with the "warhol effect" is a result of it as well.

I like what eventually shows up in these manipulations and the fact that you can hardly ever duplicate it.

~ Tranquility and Tolerance ~