Friday, October 31, 2008

In and Under the Rainforest

Post number two about our recent trip to the California Academy of Sciences.
One of the major exhibit spaces is a four story, globe shaped rainforest. It was an amazing space, really well thought out, and rainforest warm and steamy inside.

Here's what it looks like from the outside:

I just loved all the curves and shapes and intersections of the various rooflines.
This is from the first floor looking up. The curving spiral walkway was apparently very hard to engineer as far as how much concrete to plan for. My dad was explaining the complex math calculations they had to make, good thing they have a bunch of scientists around to ask such things. Also in this picture is a vine reaching from some leafy plants down to a giant ant nest. The leafcutter ants were walking up and down the vine with their leaf pieces, and there was a acrylic window into the ant nest, wow, cool! I admire ants, don't you?
A wall of rainforest plants, all the shapes and sizes of pitcher plants are so intriguing, they look like they could various human body parts.
I almost put my hand down on this moth (or is a butterfly?). There were at least 10 different types flying around in the dome along with rainforest birds too. Zooming over your head, landing on peoples' shoulders and trying unsuccesfully to cling to the smooth railing. We wondered if the birds eat the butterflies like they do in the real rainforest?
My parents enjoy a sit down in the fish tunnel which takes you under the rainforest water feature. Some people just walked through without barely a look up! We sat for at least ten minutes, spellbound by the view. My folks recently went on a trip to the Amazon and said they were glad that this water wasn't as muddy as the real deal, otherwise we wouldn't have gotten to see all the fish.
Here's a great picture of Zach checking out all the action in the fish tunnel.
I just love this picture of my mom sitting in the fish tunnel.
It was fun to sit and look up to the sunlight coming through that living roof I wrote about the other day. The circular lights are the portholes on the domes up above. The contrast of this large dark shapes circulating overhead was kind of threatening, must be an ingrained human response. I believe this big guy was an armored catfish.

The red tailed catfish kept bumping into the armored catfish (or was it a gar as my dad said?). It was herding it like a sheepdog, very funny.

An albino gecko. It was fun to look through the glass case and get to see close up the structure of the paws that allow them to climb up walls. Pretty freaky eyes though!

Outside the rainforest now, here is the always unreal looking albino alligator. You can see the source of that interesting shadow over his tail in the next photo.

I'm so glad they re-used the original seahorse railing around the alligator/snapping turtle pit.
Isn't it just so classic? I have always loved the shape of seahorses, and am fascinated with how they move through the water. It is kind of strange in this futuristic, very modern design space to have this vintage brass railing. But I think it ties the history of this institution together really effectively.
The other dome/sphere in the building is a planetarium, which had a really great presentation, Fragile Planet narrated by Sigourney Weaver. It really put Earth into perspective on a universal scale, kind of mind blowing really. I have to say that I truly missed the old style star projector planetarium show, this just seemed like an Imax film. This is Zach and my Dad in the dimness.

And finally, I'll close this extravaganza out with a picture taken in the bathroom. Every stall has a quote about water. Which is a great thing to think about as you flush away another 8 gallons of perfectly drinkable water...

I wish I had taken some pictures of the Hall of Africa and the penguins (penguin cam!).

I think I was too shaken up by the man who came up behind us and yelled "It's A LIE!", as the boys and I were animatedly discussing the human origins exhibit. We three turned around and just rolled our eyes at him. Wonder if he asked for his money back??

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Up On The Roof

Last Friday, the boys had a day off from school so we took the opportunity to go up to San Francisco to check out the brand spanking new California Academy of Sciences. We've always loved going there, and it has been closed for a couple years for this new construction. They actually moved cross town, fish and all. But oh was it ever worth it. My parents bought the special grandparents membership so they could get the boys in with them (good because it is pricey!).
Oh my goodness, I took soooo many pictures, so I'm breaking it up into two posts.

This is a truly special building, inspiring innovations around every corner, architecture that soars. Not just your usual science museum or aquarium!

From their great website which has lots of details: "The Academy is now the largest public Platinum-rated building in the world, and also the world’s greenest museum. The Academy earned the platinum rating (highest rating possible) for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). This commitment to sustainability extends to all facets of the facility - from the bike racks and rechargeable vehicle stations outside the building to the radiant sub-floor heating inside the building to the energy-generating solar panels on top of the building!"
This is the upper part of the entrance windows, showing some of the lighting and special roof materials.This is the first roof you walk under as you enter, the black squares are mini solar panels. Wouldn't it make a great quilt design??? As you wait in line to buy your ticket, you can look across the park to the almost as new DeYoung Museum (which I haven't gone to yet). The sticking up bit is a staircase and observation platform.The roof of the building was gobsmacking amazing. I couldn't believe my eyes. I'd been reading about this for a while, so I thought I knew what to expect, "A Living Roof". But wow, just wow. The first thing I noticed was that there was a worker up on one of the domes! He appeared to be picking weeds maybe? He had a bag with him so that was our guess.
He really went all over the place. Those circle are windows that can open and close to let air in. The indisdinct stripe you can see to the right is a drainage channel with wire netting over it.

There are walkways and railings and safety ropes to clip onto when they are working on the roof. Lots of maintenance to keep get it established. The plants went in back in February, so this winter will be the first full rainy season.
It was an absolutely beautiful clear day.
The rolling hillscape of the roof echoes the hills in and around San Francisco.
Here are some of the porthole windows open.

Zach and Grandma (my mom) hanging out on the railing.

Remember the second picture up above? This is how it looks from the top of the roof. And that white box down there? Yes, it is a beehive! There were tons of bees zooming around up there. The docent told us that they were hoping to have honey for sale in the future, cool.
You can see the bandshell down in the park just past the roof. It is being earthquake retrofitted, it is quite beautiful, so I'm glad they're fixing it up instead of just razing it or replacing it.
Alex was fascinated by all the different plants and the pipe fittings.

Finally, we noticed our shadows! From left to right, Alex, Zach, Me, Dad, Mom.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Finally, Some Grown-up Costumes

Every year or so I buy myself a new witch hat to wear around town on Halloween. This year I found this beauty at our drug store of all places. Isn't it divine?First of all I really dig the green olive color, and then there are all the great details, like the satin roses, the black feathers, the black veil complete with spiders, and the green net with olive teeny pompons. It's a millinery extravaganza! Here it is perched on my ceramic drum, which makes a great hat stand.
So far it has been free from cat attack although they have of course sniffed the feathers once or twice.

We're invited to a Halloween party (yippee!!), so I'm making a dress/costume to go with this fabulous hat. It may end up being something I can wear to non-costume parties, we'll see. I got some shiny olive green cotton sateen which looks like silk shantung, and dual color organza with some matching ribbon. I'm excited to get to make myself a costume for once, it has been many years! I bought some green hairspray, green fingernail polish and green skin glitter. Already have some green eye makeup and glow in the dark green lip gloss. So I guess I'm going as a poison green witch, better come up with a better back story than that, I'm sure I'll be asked.
Hopefully I got enough to make this (the shiny one on the left).
Or maybe this. The part I like best about this dress are the sleeves, but they're tie-on, which makes me think they'll not look very good on an actual person wearing them. So that's what I'm starting on today, the party is on Saturday night, hope I get it done in time!

For this party we're supposed to be our Dr.Jekyll/Mr. Hyde alter ego bad guys. Marc picked Snidely Whiplash. So I made him a black georgette/satin cape from this pattern (the upper right view, but in black with black satin lining). Just have to do a bit of handsewing and it is done. Then I have to find him a top hat somewhere, already got the fake Snidely mustache.

It will be fun to pretend to be baddies for just a little while.
The boys are almost out-growing the mom-make-me-a-costume stage (sniff, sniff), Alex is borrowing a gorilla costume from a friend, and Zach is planning to be an 80's nerd with some of his buddies. (some of whom are actually nerds, but *cool* nerds).
But I'm going to help out with the costumes for Alex's drama class production of Seussical to get my costume making fix for the year. They're re--re-using parts of former costumes, gotta love that recycling, so some of the work will involve dyeing, so stay tuned for news about that endeavour.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

PIQF 2008

I'll start out this annual PIQF post by showing you the few things I bought from the zillions of merchants this year:

Aieeeeeeeee, the Wicked Witch of the West! I just had to buy this panel of Wizard of Oz pics. I mainly bought it for this particular image, as the Glinda the Good Witch looks so strange and distorted.
But the Ruby Slippers look pretty good don't they?
And one Halloween related fat quarter purchased. Looks so 1970's doesn't it? Especially with that avocado green. I like this kind of graphic look though.
Lastly, I bought this grey/black/silver cording "kit" to make a necklace for my spooky haunted house pendant from Sacred Suzie.

For the first time in many years I had nothing showing at PIQF, just plain forgot to enter. Guess this really has been my year off from quilt exhibits. sigh. Hopefully that will be changing soon!

But I went with a friend last Sunday and we had a great time and enjoyed the quilt display very much, the vendors, eh, not so much.

I took the time to put up the 90 or so pictures I took at PIQF 2008, I added lots of comments and observations when I remembered why I had taken that particular photograph. I noticed that I took a lot of detail photos this time. There were a lot of cool embellishment ideas that I wanted to take note of and look at later.

One of the trends that my friend Debbie and I noticed were the ornate golden frames around several quilts. Many quilters are either reproducing classic paintings or making their own and using frame-ish looking gold fabric to give the quilt the look of painting in a frame. There wasn't as much taupe this year (thank goodness) as last year, and there were a lot of leaf and tree related quilts.
The special exhibits they had were pretty cool, especially the one about international coins called Currency Exchange and the Slice of Southern California., all the same size about certain places in Southern California. Exhibits always look so good when all the quilts are the same size and shape. I was really bummed that my camera battery ran out before I got to the Rosalie Dace South Africa exhibit. Such cool work! The Los Hilos de la Vida exhibit was very moving and I was glad to get to see it in person after reading about it online.

I still do not and never will understand the New Quilts of Northern California exhibit however. My understanding of it was that they were to be unique, unusual, and innovative quilts recently made by Northern Californian quilters. Some years, the exhibit is mostly conforming to this idea and is quite special. Not this year though. My goodness, you couldn't tell it apart from the main PIQF exhibit with so many traditional block type quilts. Sure, there's a heaping helping of bitter in here as I've never been accepted to NQNC, but I figure I'll still keep trying and maybe someday it will make sense what the real criteria for choosing quilts for this exhibit really is.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween When Driving Around

Here's what my dashboard looks like. Pretty scream-a-riffic huh? If you give this lovely guy a squeeze he screeeeaaaams and his eyes light up red.. Seen every year around here is the most decorated van ever. I saw it at night driving down the road, and it was quite a sight!
I think it is fun to see people get so into Halloween and decorating cars and outside of houses. It is definitely a different thing than what goes on during the winter holidays, but still lots of fun.
A local cleaning company called Broomhilda's always has fun playing up the witch aspect of their business logo. I had never seen it out and about, so was excited to get a picture of it in action in the grocery store parking lot.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Even The Pets Get Into the Act & Blogiversary

Even the pets are getting into the Halloween spirit. This hat is sized for Zippy, but he thinks he is already a good enough decoration without a silly hat. Duh, black cats, Halloween, get it? OF course he is absolutely right. Zelda, on the other hand, doesn't mind at all, and is able to sleep through the whole ordeal. And hey, the purple hat matches her purple collar.
And hey!
Happy Blogiversary to me!
Today is the anniversary of my very first post way back when in 2004. I needed something to divert my attention from the nail-biter, very close election. Hey, four years later, I still find that I enjoy doing this, writing about what I'm doing, or thinking, or investigating, or believing, or creating. All of that blah,blah,blah about everything I have actually found to be worthwhile and helps me quite a bit to be able to go back in time and see what I was up to at a certain point in time. I can investigate myself, and see when I started talking about a certain type of quilt, or technique, or book, or whatever subject.
So, thanks for reading what I write, and commenting, and contributing, I really appreciate hearing from you!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Weird Bargain Fabrics

What do you think? Weirdest fabric ever? Or just weird?

This was on the sale remnant table at one of my LQS, Beverly's Fabrics. It is a lightweight polyester challis. The juxtaposition of the mundane yellow windowpane with the agressive hip hop dude graffiti is very jarring. (I say agressive because of his stance in having his fist pointing straight at me!)

Want me to make you a skirt out of this? I was giggling over it when the woman next to me (who happened to be the mean lunch lady from my boy's elementary school) started giggling too. We decided it was definitely hard to determine what kind of market this particular print was aimed at. But of course I had to at least take a picture of it. I wish I'd looked at the selvedge to see who the manufacturer is, so I could check out their other offerings. Don't you wonder what else they might have in this vein...Now I'm kind of wishing I'd bought some, think how much it would bug my kids if I tried to wear something hiphopish related, they'd never forgive me! (not really!)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vintage Halloween

These are old wax pumpkins that my grandmother used for place setting decorations. They have that old florist foam inside which has deteriorated and covered everything. Unfortunately they melted one year in our attic in our old uninsulated house. It looks like they are glued or taped to can lids that have been painted black. Pretty crafty huh? Guess that's how they did it back then. I'm not sure whether they are recoverable at this point, but I can't bear to throw them away. So I get them out every year and remember my grandma, and how much she loved to decorate for each holiday. I think maybe if I dipped them in warm water they'd be pliable enough to then reshape, but not this year. Let's call these the "before pictures", ok?

They have such charm and intensity and character. I love the look of these old things, they have so much more heft and realness than the crappy stuff you can buy today that is only made to last one year at the most.
These pumpkin picks are fibery paper, with chenille wire stems, and formerly velvet paper leaves. On the back it says: Made In Japan in faded printing.

The two cats on the right are plastic as well as the small pumpkin on the left. I'm guessing these picks are all from bakery cupcakes or cakes that grandma saved (hmmm, guess that's where I got that habit from huh?!).
And three very disreputable looking witches.

This guy was in the bag too, I think he may have come on a bakery cake, but I love his expression and his cigar chomping action.

Reminds me of a favorite character in the Sandman books, Mervyn Pumpkinhead.