Monday, February 22

Quote of the Week – February 22, 2010

In those days,
we finally chose
to walk like giants
& hold the world
in arms grown strong with love
& there may be many things we forget
in the days to come,
but this will not be one of them

-Brian Andreas

Friday, February 19

A walk in the park

Tucson Mountain Park, that is.

Today… a long morning hike: 3 hours. Minutes from home: 14. Cactus pokes: zero. 75 degrees of heaven.

A happy bunch o’ saguaros.

Look east, young man.

The first ocotillos opening their bright red-orange bloom “flags.”

Saguaro can look so small and innocent from a distance. In reality, they range in height from 15 to 50 feet.

Wednesday, February 17

90 Candles


Happy 90th Birthday to Les Plattner (Ken’s pop)!  May you have many more happy, healthy birthdays, surrounded by friends and family (and a pyromaniac son-in-law)!  Who knew that German chocolate cake could handle so many candles!

Tuesday, February 16

Au fil de l’Orb

Au fil de l’Orb (Over the Orb)
watercolor on paper, 4 x 6 inches
Copyright 2010, T. Claire O’Connor


La maison de nos chers amis de Jean-Noël et Martina (avec Ken, ci-dessous) à Roquebrun, France, surplombant la rivière Orb.

The home of our dear friends Jean-Noel and Martina (with Ken, below) in Roquebrun, France, overlooking the Orb River.


I joined a five-month Professional Art Practices group at The Drawing Studio in downtown Tucson.  My goal is to develop a body of work in fabric art and watercolor, with the intention of selling it.  And since we are moving to Roquebrun in two years, ultimately, my vision is to support myself as an artist IN FRANCE!  How’s THAT for moxie!?  Wheee!!!

Last month, I committed to the group – and more importantly, myself, to a 20-hour per-week studio practice.  This month, I further committed to create, each month, 5 small paintings, 5 mini-quilts (fused) and 5 small quilts (fused).  Since I am a true fledgling, and in all that delightful, tender fledgling-ness, need I say, this is BIG!

FLEDGLING = a young bird that has just grown the feathers needed to fly and is capable of surviving outside the nest.

So, Au fil de l’Orb is my first installment!

More to come!

Monday, February 15

Queen Mary 2, here we come, dawg and all!


Ken and I (meaning I) have pretty much decided we are not going to put Roxy and Kirby in the cargo hold of an airplane when we make our big move to France in 2012.

We have discovered that the only other tragic option (NOT!) is to sail on the Queen Mary 2 for an iconic transatlantic adventure of epic proportions!  Whee!!  This is going to be sooo amazing!  you can read about the Queen Mary 2 on Wikipedia. My friend Kathie says it’s immigration in reverse.  That feels about right to me.  I have an image of my ancestors coming to Ellis Island from Ireland and Poland, sailing past Lady Liberty.  Though, uh, I don’t think they sailed under the Verrazano Bridge since it is only about as old as I am.

We were quite surprised to learn that this is the ONLY transatlantic ocean liner that offers what they call a “Kennel Programme.

Check out the video below to see the posh accommodations our dear kidlets will be enjoying!  (They will be sharing a lower kennel.)  Too cute!

We won’t be able to bring them up to our cabin, but we can go visit them pretty much any time.  There is an indoor and outdoor area for the pets, complete with a 24/7 Kennel Master.


BustleLuckily, there are some relatively affordable cabins in steerage.  And the fare for the kids is actually comparable to flying them. Just kidding about the steerage part. 

Though I have learned that Cunard is the only cruise line out there that still adheres to the class system – at least when it comes to dining anyway.  The folks who have the fanciest, most expensive cabins can dine in certain onboard restaurants.  I think there are three tiers of restaurants.  Riff-raff allowed only in the “lowest” tier.  Too funny.

Either way, I can feel the purchase of a ruffled parasol and bustle coming on!

Modern steerage accommodations shown below:


And here’s a cool image I found comparing the relative size of the Queen Mary 2 with the Titanic and a few other things like a bus and an Airbus 380.  The Queen Mary 2 is the light gray silhouette in the background.


Here are the unsuspecting royal passengers in a quiet moment.  Need I say more?


Oh, to live in a world where these sweeties can travel with greater ease!  I think there is a HUGE untapped market here!  Surely, I cannot be alone in my doting-ness! 


Yet another bonus point for the French, as their public transit system frowns not on canine companions.  To wit, even the fancy-schmancy, lightning-fast – 170 mph -- TGV (bullet train) allows pets.  Yay France!


Quote of the Week – February 15, 2010

Space and time are modes in which we think, not conditions in which we live.

 -Albert Einstein

Wednesday, February 10

Massage anyone?

Here is our sweet little massage space at Casa Encantada!  If you live in Tucson, I invite you to consider scheduling an appointment!  It’s a yummy space: very warm, happy colors, good smells, soft surroundings. 

I had a professional massage practice for 16 years –- from 1990 to 2006, in Corvallis, Oregon and then in Flemington, New Jersey -– and I love the chance to do a few massages here and there.  I have several clients a month and would love to add 1 or 2 more. 

Think about treating yourself and give me a holler when you’re ready!  (520) 444-1847 or

Monday, February 8

QAWM: Expanding my options


Well, I consciously broke the cardinal rule of the Quilt-Along-With-Melody quilt challenge, which was to use only fabrics from one’s own stash.  I have decided that Melody would understand, given my paltry beginner’s-size stash.  To wit, here is my ENTIRE stash shown below, 98% of which are fat quarters.


So I took myself over to the 25%-off 6th anniversary sale at Bella Quiltworks on Friday and supplemented with the four fabrics above – 3 solids (blue, yellow and pink) plus an orange-yellow stripe. Then in an effort to quiet things down a bit, I proceeded to rip many seams and replace 14 centers.  It feels a bit better. 

Then I went to sleep and dreamed that I ripped MORE seams and removed all the large black strips.  I admire quilters who work so magnificently with black.  This is my first quilt using black – and lately I’ve been feeling it will be my last for a while, LOL!

I’ve gotten some great feedback from Melody, Wanda Hanson, Sheila from Scotland, Gail Baar, Lesley and Marlene.  I plan to make up a few more blocks using the quieter solids, perhaps incorporating them into the existing blacks, perhaps subtracting a lot of black. All along, my big intention is to make this feel art-quilty, so I will be abandoning this traditional setting but here are the doctored blocks:


Quote of the Week – February 8, 2010

The way I go is
marriage to this place
grace beyond chance
love's braided dance
covering the world.

-Wendell Berry

Friday, February 5

QAWM: Cast your votes

Here are 3 setting options for the Quilt-Along-With-Melody quilt.  Which do you like best?  Lettuce decide…  ;-)  I am also open to any suggestions!

DSC_0034 Setting 1: Small squares centered in blocks

DSC_0036Setting 2: Small squares on outsides of blocks

 DSC_0038 Setting 3: stacked/stair stepped

Thursday, February 4

QAWM: Day 4 -- Moving along


Day 4 of Quilting-Along-With-Melody.  These blocks are approximately 10 inches square.  They are not sewn together – I plan to let them percolate for a while and I’m sure I’ll play around with a few other settings first, with and without sashing.

Wednesday, February 3

QAWM: Oh dear, too…


These blocks looks much nicer individually than they do all together.  Ugh.  Teetering on feeling not-so-hopeful about the outcome of Quilt-Along-with-Melody, LOL!  And I did not even bother to photograph the first two setting attempts because they were so bordering on awful.  One setting actually struck me as garish.  Imagine!  Now I am thinking it would have been entertaining for you to see them after all, haha!


How does Wanda Hanson of Exuberant Color pull it off? By “it”, I mean fearlessly combining wild prints with fabulous outcomes. I am sure it is practice/experience, a really good design eye, AND a monster stash of amazing fabrics – and being willing to fall flat.  I present my case for falling flat – at least temporarily!


Time to let these puppies percolate for a few days.  No answers are coming at the moment.  I want to eat some chocolate. Though, when I cut into the big blocks to make them into four smaller blocks, I felt I wanted to keep them at the half-block stage, so maybe I will sew them back up and try setting them again as rectangles. And last night I dreamt of adding curves somehow.  I also have some more blocks to make with some coordinating fabrics, so that will change everythin’ too…  hmmm…. 

Monday, February 1

Quilting-Along-with-Melody this month…

DSC_0014My fabric stash, above

One of my creative heroines, Melody Johnson, has issued a fun quilting challenge on her blog for February…  she’s calling it QAWM – or Quilt-Along-With-Melody.  The idea is to make a big dent in our commercially-printed-fabric stashes. 

Melody is famous for using (her own gorgeous!) hand-dyed fabrics for her quilts.  Fabric dyeing is something I fantasize about evolving into over the next year or so as well.  Given that, there is a growing tendency to overlook the stash of brilliant commercial fabrics within easy reach:


…so this challenge is designed to remedy that!  Part of the deal is to post our progress and Melody will share participants’ reports on her own blog.


I plan to start with this mix of greens since I have been hankering for green lately!


Quote of the Week – February 1, 2010

The knowledge I'm interested in is not something you buy and then have and can be comfortable with. The knowledge I'm interested in keeps opening wider and wider, making me smaller and more amazed, until I see I cannot have it all -- and then delight in that as a freedom.

-Heather McHugh