Quilt Gallery

Monday, March 17, 2014

Moosely Mornings, Snowy Days

One Thursday evening last month we arrived in Jackson Hole in the midst of a snowstorm and I was more impressed than ever with the skills of pilots who fly large jets in and out of the Jackson Hole airport.  Situated within Grand Teton National Park at about 6,000 feet of elevation, surrounded by mountains (hence "Hole" in the name Jackson Hole), and having only one short runway, which, by the way, cannot be salted due to park regulations, the airport has more than its share of exhilarating landings, especially when the weather is bad.

Fortunately, Jackson Hole has plenty to entice the winter visitor to put up with potentially scary travel.  Abundant wildlife, magnificent scenery, and fabulous skiing combine to set Jackson Hole apart from other ski destinations.

So much of the valley is national park, national forest, or other protected land that it has an abundance of wildlife.  During our short stay we saw a variety of waterfowl as well as deer, elk - both inside and outside the National Elk Refuge - and moose.  In fact, we saw moose every morning of our stay, the most notable being a large bull browsing right outside the house in which we stayed.

Moose are incredibly well adapted to cold climates.  With seemingly leisurely strides, their long legs move them rapidly even in the deepest snow.  More remarkable is how they survive by eating the young parts of trees and shrubs.

Bull moose browsing on aspen branches

Cow moose on the lookout for tasty branches

Jackson Hole is, of course, well known for its scenery.  During this visit heavy snow obscured the big peaks of Grand Teton National Park and made us focus on the valley's more intimate scenes. 

Dinner time along Spring Gulch Road

Bar BC Ranch fence

I used the snowy day palette of pale blues and white with brown and green highlights to make another top to practice my long arm quilting skills.

Practice quilt, machine pieced and machine quilted

As a ski area Jackson Hole stands out for its extensive, varied, and steep terrain and for its snow.  We were fortunate to have from 6 to 18 inches of fresh snow each day that we skied.  Wow!  With almost non-stop snow the light was rather flat so we stayed mostly in the trees, which afforded better visibility and numerous beautiful lines through uncut powder. 

Along "Slalom," one of the few open runs we skied

I imitated the sinuous curves of ski tracks for some of the quilting.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Toy Joy, an Austin Treasure

Toy Joy is one of those places that immediately comes to mind when I hear the line "Keep Austin Weird."  It is a store filled with both toys and joy.  And sadly, it appears that it will be closing, or at least, no longer be under control of its present owners.

We made a pilgrimage there yesterday to show our support and to soak up it's wonderful atmosphere.  With South by Southwest underway and a Saturday article in Saturday's Austin American Statesman about its closing, the store was buzzing.

This is not your average toy store.  No Barbies, no Legos, really none of the things you find in the toy aisles of places like Target and Walmart.  Instead it is filled with an enormous, but lovingly selected, array of toys and oddities from around the world. The proprietors have wonderful senses of humor.  I especially enjoy the toy bin labels.

Many of the displays are quirky.

Others are sweet.

But they appeal to all audiences.

The decor is as much fun as the merchandise.  Originally a small army of these nuns adorned the outside of the building which formerly housed the store, but they were too tempting for thieves and so had to be  brought indoors.

I hope that this window display remains accurate.

No matter what happens, I  wish Lizzy and Trevor all the best.

Lizzy Newsome, Toy Joy proprietor

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sights from the Southern Hemisphere

If you just glanced at the photos in this post you might think I had made another excursion to parts well south of Austin.  In fact, I went north.

As I noted in my last post, we took a little trip to Boston.  While there we stopped in at the New England Aquarium, where we were greeted with two new-to-us species of penguins, little blues and Africans, along with one previously seen species, rockhoppers. It is always fun to watch penguin antics and these guys did not disappoint.

Little blue penguin

African penguins

Of course, the aquarium had many other things to see besides penguins.  I particularly liked the giant ocean tank and coral reef which forms the centerpiece of the main exhibit area.  A circular ramp takes you all the way around from bottom to top and is the next best thing to donning SCUBA gear and diving in.  Myrtle the green sea turtle, weighing in at an impressive 540 pounds, is the largest inhabitant.

Myrtle, the green sea turtle

The seals and sea lions, which are in a separate exhibit area outside, were great fun to watch too.  It took me a minute to realize that the little turtle this one had is a plastic toy!

I'll finish this post with a final scene from the southern hemisphere, my just completed quilted wall hanging inspired by a scene along the Antarctic Peninsula.  I began this piece during a class taught by Valori Wells at the Modern Quilt Guild's first QuiltCon here in Austin in February, 2013. It was a terrific class and I hope Valori will return for next year's show.

"Mysterious Antarctica," (cotton, machine pieced, hand quilted, 36" x 24")

I used the etched glass design on a ceiling light in Tulsa's Pythian Building for one section of the quilting.  You can see a photo of the ceiling light on my April 8, 2013, post.

Detail of back
I plan to hang the quilt along with a print of the original photograph.

Sunset along the Antarctic Peninsula