Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mid-winter conference in Dallas

On Friday morning, January 20th, I flew into Dallas to attend the mid-winter conference of the American Library Association.  I'd been there once before -- for ALA mid-winter a few years ago -- and really didn't find it to be a place where I wanted to return.  My clearest memory of that visit was walking around, looking for somewhere to eat dinner, but finding myself alone, at dusk, in the middle of a sea of empty parking lots.  Not an inviting place or a pleasant memory.  However, wherever ALA meets, I go.

The meeting was in the Convention Center, where there was a difficult-to-miss sign marking the escalators to the main floor, where the exhibit hall was located.

On the way to the Center on Saturday morning, from the shuttle bus window, I noticed a large red Christmas ball on the sidewalk.  Large as in "probably over 4 feet in diameter".   Looking around more carefully, I spied this sculpture outside what I know now is City Hall.

There were, in fact, several Christmas balls within about a block of the main sculpture, whimsically suggesting to me that they had rolled away from the main pile.  Just across the street from the Convention Center was a multi-part sculpture of a cattle drive in Frontier Park.

Nighttime view from the window of my 9th floor hotel room was similar to this.  In addition, I could see the moving neon of the Omni hotel.   Full disclosure: except for the ALA logo, these photos are from the Internet. The battery in my camera died and I hadn't brought my recharger. 

As an exhibitor, I spend the bulk of most conference days in the exhibit hall where I have to dress professionally -- unusual for me, as I can wear jeans and t-shirts to work throughout the year.   A few years ago, I bought a basic black shirt-dress which serves me well on these occasions, but somewhere along the line, I lost the fabric belt.  Consequently, I was delighted with the gift from my friend, Nancy, of a belt made from William Morris fabric, with purple flowers no less!  This conference was the inaugural appearance of the belt, but I'm sure it will be seen many more times!

When I travel, I take the opportunity to eat at a variey of places, as I generally avoid chain restaurants.   On most trips, my colleague and I have dinner together one evening.  Last summer we had perhaps the ultimate dining experience at the Commander's Palace in New Orleans.  We considered looking for another high-rated restaurant, but decided to do something completely different.  He'd come in early on Friday to visit an art museum in Fort Worth, and had lunch at Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q in Arlington.  So we went back.  Total contrast from the usual conference fare: long picnic-style tables, covered in red and white checked oilcloth with big containers of sauce on the table: Rudy's "regular" and "sissy" sauce.  I had chicken, falling off the bone, with sissy sauce, a side order of delicious cole slaw, a "long-neck" bottle of hard iced tea, and we split a piece of mystery pie that turned out to be buttermilk.

At  the other end of the spectrum, the other memorable meal I had was at the Y.O. Steakhouse.  As you might guess, steakhouses are easy to find in Dallas.  Though I seldom eat red meat, I chose this one which was a short walk from my hotel, as it advertised seafood as well as steak.  They also serve game -- not that I was interested.   The waiter recited the dinner specials and I almost ordered the salmon.  But the final item on the list was ostrich steak!   An ostrich is a bird, so it's not red meat, right?  Hmmmm...  why not?!
The meat, served as two filets about two inches thick and the same in diameter, had the look and texture of beef, though slightly chewy.  Served with a pomegrante glaze, the flavor was difficult to describe, though it was mild and delicious. 

The exhibit hall closed mid-afternoon on Monday and I was ready to head home.  Arrived around midnight and Sassy and Smidgen met me at the door, as usual.  They were as delighted to see me as I was to see them.  Dropped my suitcase on the couch and went upstairs to crawl in bed.  The next morning I opened it to retrieve something before I went to work.  Later that day...

Perhaps they're telling me they want to go along next time.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Not much, I'm afraid.   Finished the curtain for the downstairs powder room (invisible to all but the most observant casualty).  The wallpaper has a ocean/fish motif in blue and purple on white, resembling sponging, so I added a curtain from a leftover piece of whimsical fish on pink.

During our last not-really-a-Quilt-Day group sew-in, I finished the blocks for this bright-scraps-and-white log cabin, for which most of the blocks came from an exchange.  The top is together now and I hope to put borders on during the UDLC Quilt Day in about a week.

Off on a trip for work for a few days. Not much to do in the evenings in Dallas, so I plan to spend serious quality time catching up on my reading.  When I get home, now that both daughters are safely ensconced in their respective abodes for this semester, I should have some more time to sew!   Looking forward to it!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A 2012 mystery [quilt]

Looks like my friend Pat beat me to posting about the mystery quilt we're doing together.  As she explained in her post, it came about because she gave me a subscription to a magazine and my first issue contained this 3-part mystery. 

Nice addition is/was the fabric choices of several magazine staffers. I also like that alternatives are given for two sizes.  Pat is making the larger version; I've chosen to do the smaller (72" x 72" so it's still practical). 

I have never done a mystery quilt (though I once agonized fifteen ways about fabric choices when I thought I was going to attend a mystery quilt retreat).  Also one of my goals is to try to be less anal-retentive controlling and to stretch outside my comfort zone.  So, I suggested to her that we do this together.   Pat's post outlines the instructions for fabric choices and shows her bright, cheery choices.  Here are mine:

While I do love paisleys, the one I chose (far left) is in not-my-usual colors.  The aqua is in my "normal" pallette, so the aqua & brown "tiles" (far right) are also predictable, but I'm not a brown person at ALL, nor do I tend toward sage-y greens.  Since those two are (based on yardage) the most prominent colors, I'm stepping out of my usual blue/purple/aqua or "bright color" boxes.   I've cut and have almost finished sewing the first units:

Looking forward to the next installment in the upcoming issue! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Progress report: month 18 (December 2011)

December 31, 2011 marked the completion of first full calendar year of Day Zero, as well as over half of the days -- 542 to be exact. And for the first time, I completed all my priorities, as posted in the previous month!

70. Make 3rd curtain for D#2's room
75. Cut scrap fabric into usable pieces
78. (part 2) Make 1 quilt top from scraps (finished binding "Bricks and Stepping Stones" which was the first quilt I ever made completely from scraps and stash)

7,26,28. Kept up-to-date.
33. Went to gym (mostly) 3 times a week.
48. Watched 5 (new) "movies":
      Six feet under (TV: season 2)
      Freaks & geeks (TV: season 1 and only)
      The King's speech (wonderful!!)
      The Squid and the whale
      The Illusionist
and rewatched two holiday favorites (not counted):
      Love, actually
(99 movies in 2011; 142 since beginning of Day Zero)
49. Read 4 books: (56/60, 36/30, 17/10)
      Wench (Dolen Perkins-Valdez)
      Let the great world spin (Colum McCann)
      Miss Peregrine's home for peculiar children (Ransom Riggs)
      Schooled (Anisha Lakhani)
84. Extra contributions to Philabundance and Habitat for Humanity
99. Updated blog post with progress (18 out of 18)
101. 3 blog posts:
      Thanksgiving gratitude
      Visit to DC
Extra quilts to recipients:
      late graduation gift (friend of D#2)
      baby quilt (former vicar)
      added borders to finish top (CFAC "Traditions" charms)

Priorities for January:
6/9. Back to basement and books
12. Small things around house (almost done!)
96. Learn to load music on my MP3 player (started in December)