Thursday, August 6, 2009

Interconnected Artists

The second issue of Illo magazine finally arrived! I am pretty jazzed. I learned something really interesting - James Gurney, the Dinotopia guy, was college roomates with the infamous Thomas Kincade, "Painter of Light." Even better, they worked together painting backgrounds for a Frank Frazetta-produced animated film. Frazetta is basically the guy who invented fantasy art as we know it, with muscly men, volumptuous ladies, and raging monsters, all naked or nearly so. To top it off, the film was directed by Ralph Bakshi, known to me as the guy who also directed an animated version of The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings. I have fond childhood memories of watching this, which I've been informed by my brother I am completely incorrect to have, so I'm thinking I'd rather not see it again so I can continue to enjoy the memories.

The film in question was called Fire and Ice, and it sounds terrible.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Voice Range

I'm partial to Mozart's operas, though I have very little music theory or history foundation to speak of. A few days ago I was idly pondering how far apart the standard voice ranges are - for instance, tenor and mezzo-soprano. Wikipedia to the rescue! There is a lovely chart comparing not only human voice ranges, but also a number of instruments. The answer to my query - they overlap by about one and a half octaves.

In the same article, I was amused to see the note about highest and lowest notes in standard singing repertoire - both are in Mozart operas! The highest is in both arias sung by the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberfl├Âte, and the lowest is sung by Osmin in Die Entf├╝hrung aus dem Serail. So, not only Mozart operas, but specifically German Mozart operas.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Amazing Life

For my bedtime reading lately, I've been reading On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change, a collection of essays on architecture that my dad gave to me a while back. I've always had an interest in architecture - I even wanted to be an architect when I was a kid. I like to look at random buildings and imagine what it would be like to repurpose them, usually as houses. What if you converted that strip mall to apartments? Or that office building? These essays, by Ada Louise Huxtable, are mostly reviews of buildings (such as museums & corporate headquarters). I wish there were more pictures to go with what she's describing, but it's still fascinating to read critiques of structures. One of the architects who comes up frequently is Mies van der Rohe, who is basically the guy who came up with what we consider now to be the default corporate skyscraper - a giant glass-covered rectangular prism. One of the articles happened to mention that he lived from 1886 until 1969. What an incredible time to live - can you imagine if your living memory covered from a time before cars & planes and only a rudimentary electrical infrastructure, up to the development of computers and the landing on the moon? (Not to mention all the world-changing global conflicts in that span) We study all those things in history and know the dates, but it's still pretty incredible to think that they all really did happen in close enough sequence for someone to have lived through them all.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Birthday Crafts

I got another craft book for my birthday this year (some months back): Patchwork Puzzle Balls by Jinny Beyer. I love Jinny Beyer's style - she does cleaner, more modern takes on traditional styles with an emphasis on color gradients. Her quilts use so many different fabrics that it's a little exhausting to think of. These balls are neat, because I always thought geometry was fun, and these are just geometic solids, stuffed tight until they become spheres. The trouble with projects like these, that are so easy to work up, is...what do you do with them? I'm not the type of person who likes having "decor" touches, like bowls of decorative things out just to look nice. I was thinking it would be fun to stuff these with beans or rice instead and use them as beanbags. One of my favorite toys as a kid was a set of beanbags my mom made out of fabric scraps - all kinds of calico and fun early-80's prints. Even so, I suppose I would have to take up juggling to get any use of out such a thing now. Hmm, maybe I could sew little bells in and give them to my mom as toys for her cats...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tried out Spoonflower

I finally tried out Spoonflower. I made a design out of some abstract square knots.
Fabric from Spoonflower!
So much fun! The mind reels at the possibilities. I want to come up with custom prints for every sewing project I do from now on.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Things I Didn't Know About Silk

Found this neat video about silk via True Up. The video is in Japanese, but you can get the gist anyway.

I didn't know that silk dupioni fabric actually comes from a different kind of silk, not just a different spinning technique - traditionally, it comes from cocoons with two caterpillars inside instead of just one.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Salads for Summer

A big salad with tons of toppings is a nice cool dinner for hot evenings. Mr. Mongie and I like to do it salad-bar style, so we can each have different toppings. Here are some of our toppings from one of those nights. I thought the variety of colors was great.
Colorful salad toppings

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Urban Renewal

The herbs we were growing have gone kaput, so we have started growing tomatoes instead. I had a bit of trouble with them at first - they came up sickly and looked like they were going to wither away. Fortunately they survived, and the first tomatoes are ripening up now!

Here is how they looked two weeks ago, compared to a quarter:
Tiny tomatoes

And here is the same one now:
Tomatoes growing

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Update on birds

I forgot to write any more about our birds. They have long since grown up and flown away, leaving only an empty nest and a scattering of crap on the landing. I could probably turn this into a metaphor for human children, but considering how many boxes of stuff I have left in my parents' attic, it would cause a bit too much guilty queasiness.

The babies were much quieter than I expected. Each time we walked by - morning, lunchtime, and after work - they were silent. Whenever I looked in, they just sat there, usually sleeping. This pic is from a month ago:
Baby birds

Can you see two fuzzy little heads, and a third obscured? About two weeks after that, I spotted them perching out on the plants and the railing, looking essentially fully fledged. That weekend we overheard our neighbor saying they had flown away.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day!

Cherry Pie for the 4th of July
This was our dessert two years ago. The literal take. :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gettin' Busy With the Birds and the Bees - Minus the Bees

Today, there is another egg in the nest!
One more egg in nest
I wonder what kind of bird it is - it's pretty small and brown, which is about all I can say about it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bird's Nest

A bird has set up shop in our neighbor's potted plant, right outside our front door:
Nest in the plant outside our front door
How cute is that? Here is a photo from our front door, demonstrating how close it is:
Plant containing nest, viewed from front door
Kind of a funny place for a nest - it gets traffic all during the day from us and our neighbors, has a porchlight shining on it all night, and seems like it would be exposed to racoons & whatnot. Well, I hope they do well!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Assortment of New Fabric

Got some fabric in the mail!
New fabric
I only have concrete plans for the blue floral in the upper right - a blue & white quilt. The cotton pattern is a really great print, the frogs and farm animals were too cute to resist, and the yellow fabric is funny - it has little laundry care symbols on it!