Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

England 2014, Here we come!

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Some of you may have already seen some of these photos on Facebook, but many of you haven’t.  So in the interest of re-living a trip of a lifetime, here’s the first of many posts with our trip, inspiration, visual feasting and whatnot!  We left the house about noonish on Sunday, arrived at London Heathrow at 6:30 am (3:30 body clock) and kept going until just past supper time in London.  Going on adrenaline!

Some years ago I wrote a blogpost titled "This is not a minivan."  It is still not a minivan:  this is the view from the inside of the 9 passenger prop plane we take (Cape Air, love them!) to Boston, from which point we can get anywhere in the world.

Some years ago I wrote a blogpost titled “This is not a minivan.” It is still not a minivan: this is the view from the inside of the 9 passenger prop plane we take from Owl’s Head–about a half hour’s drive from home– (Cape Air, love them!) to Boston, from which point we can get anywhere in the world. That’s Eli up in the co-pilot seat.  One does not put feet on footpedals!  Seat assignments are by weight so that the plane is balanced.

Here’s an aerial view of Maine as we left midday:

The Maine coast just south of Owl's Head/Rockland as we headed East "across the pond."

The Maine coast just south of Owl’s Head/Rockland as we headed East “across the pond.”

Methinks Paul was a tad nervous watching us head off on our great adventure.  He didn't want to go to England, so he stayed home and minded the house and critters so that Eli and I could have fun.

Methinks Paul was a tad nervous watching us head off on our great adventure. He didn’t want to go to England, so he stayed home and minded the house and critters so that Eli and I could have fun.

First and foremost:  thank you to Paul and Eli.  Paul for minding the home front, Eli for actually WANTING to go on a trip with his old mom!  Joshua and Ashley, you’re next.  Edinburgh and points beyond, the Smiths are returning to the UK–probably not for a few years (gotta teach and earn enough money to save up and pay for another trip like this!), but we are coming back!

Compare the cabin and view above and below:

Very clearly, this is NOT Cape Air, but in fact the British Airways flight nonstop to London.  The cabin was warm, and tho I dozed an hour or two, Eli didn't on this overnight flight.

Very clearly, this is NOT Cape Air, but in fact the British Airways flight nonstop to London. The cabin was warm, and tho I dozed an hour or two, Eli didn’t on this overnight flight.

I LOVE the in-flight maps.  Here you can see the big picture, from Boston to London.  I was tickled to see Vigo, Spain.  I'd not heard of it before recently, but a classmate in the Sketchbook Skool has shared some of his drawings of Vigo.  Fun to see it on the map!

I LOVE the in-flight maps. Here you can see the big picture, from Boston to London. I was tickled to see Vigo, Spain. I’d not heard of it before recently, but a classmate in the Sketchbook Skool has shared some of his drawings of Vigo. Fun to see it on the map! Can I say again how much I love the internet?  How I have met people and learned so much?

As the plane ducked under the cloud cover we got a spectacular aerial view of London, with the Thames, South Bank on the Left, more of the mass of London on the right, The London Eye (the big ferris wheel), Parliament, Big Ben, the Tower, and so much more in clear view

As the plane ducked under the cloud cover at just past 6 am local time, we got a spectacular aerial view of London, with the Thames, South Bank on the Left, more of the mass of London on the right, The London Eye (the big ferris wheel), Parliament, Big Ben, the Tower, and so much more in clear view.

The fields and hedgerows of England on the approach to London.  A bit more countryside!

The fields and hedgerows of England on the approach to London. A bit more countryside! Let there be quilting!

Rather a difference, eh?  One of the things Eli most wanted to do was run at Olympic Park, in the stadium if possible.  Alas, it was under major re-construction, but he got to take a refreshing trot.  That’s him coming around the corner next to the pink sign post. The velodrome is in the background.  The skies would look like this pretty much every day:  blue with clouds, some of which would sprinkle on us momentarily but–with the exception of one day–no real soaking rains.

We got exceptionally lucky and were able to check in early.  So we ditched our bags and set out to see the sights.

We got exceptionally lucky and were able to check in early. So we ditched our bags and set out to see the sights, starting with Olympic Park.

This ended up being the only real running Eli got to do.  I don’t think he counted on Mom’s ability to go-go-go when on the road with things to do, people to meet and sights to see!

Eli under the Olympic rings after his run.

Eli under the Olympic rings after his run.

Then we took our Oyster cards, re-loadable fare cards for the London Underground (Tube / subway) and light rail system.  WAY easier than the old day of buying paper tickets!  After a bit of lunch, we headed off to King’s Cross.

King's Cross Station, site of the somewhat-imaginary Platform 9 3/4 of Harry Potter/Hogwarts fame.

King’s Cross Station, site of the somewhat-imaginary Platform 9 3/4 of Harry Potter/Hogwarts fame.

The above is the old part of the station, but with the old funky platform signs swapped out for the modern ones that report what train is coming in at which platform and when.  Easier for travel, but not as much character.  The photo below is the VERY new part of the station.  Beautiful, but…sigh…. I miss some of the old stuff.

The new part of King's Cross station.  Both the Tube and rail lines come in here.  King's Cross is the departure points for points north, like York, Leeds, Edinburgh and the fictional Hogwarts.  Thank you to J.K. Rowling for giving such a wonderful world to all of us!

The new part of King’s Cross station. Both the Tube and rail lines come in here. King’s Cross is the departure points for points north, like York, Leeds, Edinburgh and the fictional Hogwarts. Thank you to J.K. Rowling for giving such a wonderful world to all of us!

I had read in my guide book that you could visit Platform 9 3/4 at the station, which is why we went.  WHAT a disappointment!  It was on a wall between two shops, not the actual platform.  Of course, given the queue, I can see why they couldn’t put it between platforms 9 and 10, but…. it was the back half of a luggage cart with old suitcase.

Platform 9 3/4 is under that white tube thingy, on the other side the crowd waiting to take pics.

Platform 9 3/4 is under that white tube thingy, on the other side the crowd waiting to take pics.

If you wanted to stand in line–on this day about an hour–you could wear a Gryffindor scarf and take your picture there.  Since Eli and I had been going for about 36 hours, that was SO not going to happen, but we snagged this photo instead.

Me, with some of the crowd behind me and the Platform sign barely visible.  Happy to be there anyway!

Me, with some of the crowd behind me and the Platform sign barely visible. Happy to be there anyway!

Our next stop that day, just about as we hit the wall from tiredness and collapsed, was the British Museum.   As we would discover about all of London in August, it was PACKED with tourists.  But I’ll save that for the next post because the reason was one of my major reasons for taking this trip.  And yes, it involves art and quilts!

 

 

Syncronicity and a new exhibit

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Today it is my turn on the Dinner@8 blog which is profiling the artists in this year’s juried invitational exhibit, Reflections.  Please do click on the link to read their interview with me!  Fittingly, it is also Eli’s first Cross Country practice (to his dismay at 7:30 am!) of the season.  Why?  Because my quilt this year is of Eli’s 2013 Cross Country season:

This year's Dinner@8 quilt:  Eli, Cross-Country 2013, (c) Sarah Ann Smith

This year’s Dinner@8 quilt: Eli, Cross-Country 2013, (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Four years ago, I created a portrait of Joshua for the Beneath the Surface exhibit also created by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison, the artists behind Dinner@8.

Joshua when he was 16, from four years ago.  (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Joshua when he was 16, from four years ago. (c) Sarah Ann Smith

This year it was Eli’s turn to have a portrait done at the same age. The theme this year was Reflections, and for once I didn’t want to do something literal.  I’ve always loved looking at children and seeing features from their parents in them, as well as getting to know them and seeing bits of personality that come from their families.  With Eli, he has brains (from both of us but I’ll take credit), athletic prowess (totally from his dad!), determination (stubbornness?  we’re both guilty on that one), the broad shoulders of my dad and brothers.  So Eli is running headlong into his future, a Reflection of his past and a hint of his future.

At long last, I’m happy to share with you some in progress photos, too. First I had to take reference photos (since I can’t remember all the angles!).  There were decisions to make:  head on?  from behind (since he’s usually at the front of the pack)?  sideways?  On the Camden Hills course or not?  Scale and composition….

Many decisions:  Close up of Eli (top left)?  Heading out of the frame (top right)?  Burning it up hill (middle left)?

Many decisions: Close up of Eli (top left)? Heading out of the frame (top right)? Burning it up hill (middle left)? Powering around the corner (middle right)?  at Festival of Champions, in a fast-moving pack (bottom left)?  Running away in a small crowd (bottom right)?  Right click to view larger.

I knew I wanted to have him running on the home course, which is why I took these photos:

The avenue into the woods, behind the softball field, at Camden Hills.  I knew I wanted this overall composition, but when I realized how small Eli's figure would be on the 24 x 60 h. required size, I knew I would have to adjust.  It just wouldn't have the right impact if his figure was maybe 12 inches tall out of 60!

The avenue into the woods, behind the softball field, at Camden Hills. I knew I wanted this overall composition, but when I realized how small Eli’s figure would be on the 24 x 60 h. required size, I knew I would have to adjust. It just wouldn’t have the right impact if his figure was maybe 12 inches tall out of 60!  Right click to view larger.

I decided to use a photo of Eli running from Festival of Champions, coming around a corner at about the same angle they run into the forest in the photos above.   So I first worked on creating Eli, then I designed a background similar to the photos above.  The path and trees were easy, but getting a middle-ground in the right scale for the ferns and whatnot at the edge of the path proved tricky without an actual photograph (by this time it was mid-winter and covered with snow, so couldn’t go take another look).

Then it was time to dye the fabric to match the photo of him in his Camden Hills uniform.  Thank heavens I’ve taken those Carol Soderlund classes–I got the right color the first time:

Dyeing the fabric and the results.  These fabrics I knew I would use for both my Eli quilt and the Amaryllis entry for Living Colour Textiles.

Dyeing the fabric and the results. These fabrics I knew I would use for both my Eli quilt and the Amaryllis entry for Living Colour Textiles.

The remainder of the fabric got used in this quilt:

Amaryllis by Sarah Ann Smith (C) 2014.  See the Living Colour Exhibit at http://livingcolourtextiles.com/

Amaryllis by Sarah Ann Smith (C) 2014. See the Living Colour Exhibit at http://livingcolourtextiles.com/

So now it is time to go dye fabric for another quilt!  Do surf over to the Dinner@8 blog to read their interview with me and the other artists in this year’s Reflections exhibit.

 

End of the School Year BUSY-ness

Friday, June 27th, 2014
The end of the year insanity began with States in Cross Country.  Here's Eli receiving the baton in the 4 x 800 m. relay

The end of the year insanity began with States in Cross Country. Here’s Eli receiving the baton in the 4 x 800 m. relay

Good thing my blog allows me to write posts then schedule them out into the future!   It has been insanely busy.  Here’s a smattering of the early June busy-ness!

The kid in mid-stride, airborne!   The team was happy to not finish last at States, as the fast runners were doing other races and not the relays.

The kid in mid-stride, airborne! The team was happy to not finish last at States, as the fast runners were doing other races and not the relays.

And Eli passing TWO other teams/kids in the final lap!

And Eli passing TWO other teams/kids in the final lap!

Then the Track and Field team end-of-season picnic and awards at a waterfront park in Rockport, Maine.

Eli with teammates Melissa K. and her sister Emily K.

Eli with teammates Melissa K. and her sister Emily K.

Then there's the garden.  I need to see if I can get the weed whacker working (ugh, I am NOT mechanical), but here I hacked out the dead rugosa rose stuff.  Fortunately, there are a lot of "runners" that are growing well.

Then there’s the garden. I need to see if I can get the weed whacker working (ugh, I am NOT mechanical), but here I hacked out the dead rugosa rose stuff. Fortunately, there are a lot of “runners” that are growing well.

And here's my hilarious helper, tethered to the pine tree so he can wander but not wander off!

And here’s my hilarious helper, tethered to the pine tree so he can wander but not wander off!

And my beloveds, Sven (the gnome)  and Phineas (the phlamingo):

Whimsy in your life is a good thing.  Thanks so much to Joshua and Ashley for the best mother's day gift EVER!  I keep moving the pair about.  TOTALLY LOVE THIS!

Whimsy in your life is a good thing. Thanks so much to Joshua and Ashley for the best mother’s day gift EVER! I keep moving the pair about. TOTALLY LOVE THIS!

Then on the final day of school, after Eli’s last exam, we attended a memorial service for one of his Cross Country teammates, Forest P., who died a week ago from a brain tumor at the age of 18.  His parents got him a tutor, though, and he was able to graduate along with his class (though of course he was way too ill to attend the ceremony, he died just a few days after).   His father wanted the teammates to come do his practice run route near their home where the reception after was held.  When Forest and a friend would come in (usually within 10 feet of each other), everyone would shout “Run, Forest, run!”  so we did.  Sigh.  So impossibly sad:

Members of the team including the coach head out to run for Forest

Members of the team including the coach head out to run for Forest–kids are to the right of the lady in the rose suit

And Friday night was the delayed Wrestling potluck and awards.  Eli received a new award, the Chris Remsen award named after a legendary Camden high school athlete.  Given the description, I'd call it an all-around best award: best athlete, scholar and teammate.

And Friday night was the delayed Wrestling potluck and awards. Eli received a new award, the Chris Remsen award named after a legendary Camden high school athlete. Given the description, I’d call it an all-around best award: best athlete, scholar and teammate. [We postponed the dinner/awards because asst. coach True's house burned down two nights before the original date.  Luckily though they lost their dog, they and infant son are fine.]

And the team:

the 2013-14 Camden Hills Regional High School Wrestling team, champions yet again

the 2013-14 Camden Hills Regional High School Wrestling team, champions yet again

Let the summer begin…it looks to be as busy for Eli and me as this past week!

At long last, a place for Eli’s medals!

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Taking a brief break from the NYC fun, I thought I’d share some shelves I made for Eli to hang his MANY sports medals.  Eli clearly did not inherit his athletic prowess from me, but he s ure works hard to use all that he has to its best, and it shows.   He had so many medals from Tae Kwon Do, Soccer, Cross Country, Wrestling, and Track and Field, that his lamp started to fall over (He had them draped around the shade.) So we came up with a plan to make shelves similar to what I put in our kitchen here and in the boys’ bedrooms in Camden:  brackets from the big-box store plus pine planks.  To hang the medals, though, I added cup hooks and dowels cut to length:

The shelves installed

The shelves installed; they look rather like a shadow, but there are dowels underneath hanging from cup hoods.  Hubby opened up the “C” shape so the dowels can be more easily removed for adding more medals. 

Supervised by the master of the house:

Pigwidgeon supervising installation

Pigwidgeon supervising installation.  He approves.  He’d approve more if he could have some more kibble.

With medals hung, sorted by sport and year.  The wrestling pins need their own display--that's the next project.  And we think Eli is going to put his deceased running and wrestling shoes up on the shelf!

With medals hung, sorted by sport and year. The wrestling pins need their own display–that’s the next project. And we think Eli is going to put his deceased running and wrestling shoes up on the shelf!

As J.K.Rowling so aptly wrote, “Mischief managed!”

 

 

Coming Home

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Some things never change, and some change slowly, beautifully, unfolding one petal at a time.

Dog walkies must happen.  If we simply let him out to run about, this little knucklehead would be galivanting around the countryside and get lost.  So we take turns tethering ourself to the beloved  pug waiting for him to do his business.  Ahem.

Dog walkies must happen. If we simply let him out to run about, this little knucklehead would be gallivanting around the countryside and get lost. So we take turns tethering ourselves to the beloved pug waiting for him to do his business. Ahem. And Smiling at all the smiles he evokes when people see him, including us!

Spring is ssssslllllloooooowwwwwwllllllyyyyyy  arriving in Maine, yes, this late, but it is coming!

The buds on my favorite cherry tree are still tight, but I love them dripping on a sodden day.

The buds on my favorite cherry tree are still tight, but I love them dripping on a sodden day.

And that gnarled, twisted old apple tree that I love so much.  So thankful that despite losing half a dozen trees and the tops of another 30 around our yard, this tree survived last winter's monster ice storm intact.

And that gnarled, twisted old apple tree that I love so much. So thankful that despite losing half a dozen trees and the tops of another 30 around our yard, this tree survived last winter’s monster ice storm intact.

One apple tree is a bit further into bloom...wouldn't this be a spectacular quilt?

One apple tree is a bit further into bloom…wouldn’t this be a spectacular quilt?