Sunday, December 30, 2012

Holiday Cheer, 2

Wanting a blog "greeting card" like last year (here), but on a sketchbook page, I revisited the rabbit, and with a pile of fancy fabrics and snippets, I enjoyed myself. Good way to finish the old and begin the new. 

And May You Have a Very Happy New Year ! ! !

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Cheer, 1

This pomegranate branch looks appropriate for the season with its reds and greens. This is just one small branch of my pomegranate tree quilt, which sits on my sewing table in segments. Can't even call them blocks. Hand stitching will be added to the background eventually. Ten more branches to go.   

And may you have a Bear-y Happy Holiday Season with your loved ones!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Further Confusion

Here we go again. Surprising things can be found in the garden, surprising because they are quite out of season. For example, baby pears
and apples.
And the roses have something say.
Admittedly, I have been craving pink, so this rose pleases me so much in a very green landscape.
Consequently, the roses made it into my sketchbook this week. I sketched with a white colored pencil then machine sewed the design.
Then I pinned fabrics and sewed them down. I added a tile background to the right, very murky.
The dark fabrics add such drama but proved difficult to photograph. 
For a few of the leaves, I found a piece of green lacy cotton in my stash. 
For an exciting Saturday evening, I machine stitched the words free hand for the first time. What an adrenalin rush! The snippets of pink fell into place. 
Now this page has the gaiety of a party, yet the message is sobering. 
[More process photos over at MulticoloredSnippetsJust scroll back.]

And wildflowers have begun blooming. 
Fortunately temperatures have dropped and I had to get out my wool coat. 
Maybe things will get back to normal.
Gently, gently, documenting the decline. 

IMPORTANT UPDATE about Picasa (see previous post for background info): Picasa has just increased size allowances for photos. They went from around 1 G. to 5 G. I had managed to get my photos sized down to take up 40% of the space and then suddenly I had only 9% used up. Wow!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mount Everest.

Blogging may be considered an extreme sport. After struggling, climbing up, scrambling over rocky spots, huffing and puffing, and investing more time than I really wanted, I now feel like I have conquered Mount Everest, that is, the Mount Everest of blogging. If your worldly knowledge includes how to resize photos for your blog or you don't have a blog, then, skip to the News Update.
         This all began when seven blogging friends received messages that they could no longer upload photos to their blogs because they had used up the space. Does this seem sneeky to anybody? Lure you in, then grab you by the throat? Admittedly, a blog is free (at first), however, most of us have learned our way around blogland by trial and error and have missed the fine print that explains space limits, if it exists. 
         Therefore, I would like to explain how I dealt with this problem in case any readers need help or are just at the beginning of blogging and have no idea. You also might want to visit Carole Reid's discussion on the subject as well. Her solution was to eliminate the first 200 posts because she had put them into a book. Other bloggers pay a small fee for more space. I haven't gotten the message yet and I like the status quo, however I found that I had used up 98% of my space, so I decided to take action. My résumé of the situation follows:

The first thing they don't tell you: you need to resize photos before uploading them to your blog. Already, I had set my digital camera (Canon powershot) on a lower number of pixels ("M3" for those who have this type of camera,) to 1600x1200  pixels. However, pixel size can be further reduced without affecting the image (as far as I can tell). A photo may be reduced from around 700K (or more) to around 150K--a rather substantial reduction.

Question 1: How do you resize? Much scratching of head, here, and fiddling around. I have a Mac, so I concluded that the easiest way for me to resize is to send a photo from iPhoto (click on "Share" in the top bar) to my email. It automatically asks how I want the photo resized--I usually choose "medium". 
            Then I go over to my email, and save the photo to my Desktop. I immediately put "resized" in the title of the photo so I don't confuse myself. Then I can upload it to my blog. And if there is an easier way, please feel free to leave a comment. I would be curious, because this does create a couple of extra steps.

The second thing they don't tell you: you need to get into Picasa and delete your original photo. Surprise to me, Blogger automatically sets up a Picasa album for your blog. If you don't delete the heavy photo from there, then it's still weighing down your blog, even if you removed the photo from your blog. In addition, I discovered a quantity of photos that I had uploaded and then hadn't used.

UPDATE: Debbie at Stitchin' Therapy kindly pointed me in the right direction and has just posted about the Picasa web albums. She advised: 
"Don't delete them from the albums and loose them from your blog. It takes a bit of time, but you can resize them in the album. When you call up the web album, select a photo---you can see the pixels size on the right hand side of the page--- click on action. Select to edit on line in Creative Kit. It will load your photo and you can resize to 800 pixels and replace it in your album. I have reduced my usage by 50% this way." 
Yes! This works, I tried it. So resize directly on the Picasa Web Album. When you resize in Picasa, it's automatically done in the blog too--I double checked. Thanks, Debbie!

Question 2: How do you find the Picasa web album for your blog? More scratching of head and fiddling around. I would be embarrassed to say how long it took me to figure this out. I have a Picasa application on my computer, however, I couldn't figure out how to get to the web albums. Easiest thing: Do a google search for "Picasa Web Albums" and click the "Sign in". If you don't have a Picasa account, you'll have to figure that one out and probably just create an account. Once I finally found my Picasa "home" with the blog albums, I bookmarked it so I wouldn't lose it.

Problem: Be careful. If you delete photos from the Picasa web album, then you lose them from your blog. So you need to have them backed up someplace, such as on iPhoto or in a separate folder on your computer. I'm resizing slowly, post by post, so that I don't do something irreversible that I'll regret. I also back up to a Lacie external hard drive.

Whew! Now you understand why I feel triumphant. If you should have any enlightening information on this subject, please add a comment.

IMPORTANT UPDATE about Picasa: Picasa has just increased size allowances for photos. They went from around 1 G. to 5 G. I had managed to get my photos sized down to take up 40% of the space and then suddenly I had only 9% used up. Wow!

News Update: No feelings of triumph here. It isn't a rocky road for Tunisia anymore, as I suggested a year ago (here). The chaotic situation of last December grows worse and now we stare up at a Tunisian Mount Everest with a long, weary trek ahead and the possibility of falling into a ravine at every twist of the path. The government goes from scandal to scandal and government administrations remain paralyzed--nobody dares to do anything. The government, that is, the ruling religious party, controls the Ministry of Justice, and abuses are flagrant and far too frequent. The foul habits of a dictatorial regime die slowly.
          On December 4th, during preparations for the annual celebration of the 1952 assassination of Farhat Hachad (an internationally known Union leader who helped negotiate the fusion of the American AFL and CIO), fighting broke out when Union (UGTT) members were attacked by extreme right militiamen. The son of Farhat Hachad received information about the militia's plans the evening before. Despite the fact that the authorities had been alerted to the possibility of conflict by Mr. Hachad the previous evening, and despite the desperate phone calls of UGTT members under attack, the police arrived two hours after the violence began. They are located less than a kilometer away--traffic must have been very heavy...The foul habits of a dictatorial regime die slowly.         
          It would appear that the militia wanted to physically oust Union directors and replace them with those faithful to the ruling party. Fortunately, they failed, however, the ruling party continues to defend the militia while all other parties are calling for its dissolution. Since the 4th, the Union has called for grève générale (general strikes, meaning everything closes) in four cities. The Union called for a grève générale for all of Tunisia including Tunis, the capital, for December 13th after the president of the ruling party made statements showing he approved of the December 4th violence. The ruling party, which lost its legitimacy as of October 23rd when its one-year mandate ended, does not appear to want to negotiate or back off. At Friday religious services in Sfax (3 hours from Tunis), an extreme right imam called for civil war--and the congregation cheered. What???? I argue that Islam is a religion of moderation and that all this has nothing to do with religion, but with economic and political factors. A disadvantaged group grabs power because they want a piece of the tasty pie. Why wasn't that imam arrested for something like treason or sedition? One can feel palpable violence in the air. The foul habits of a dictatorial regime die slowly.
          In the meantime, Egypt is also on the brink of civil war, which affects Tunisia indirectly as the problems are similar. Tunisians and Egyptians watch each other's leaders and opposition closely. Morsi, the Egyptian president elected for 5 years (unfortunately for Egyptians) and also belonging to a ruling religious party, has grabbed all power including the judiciary branch, which he incapacitated recently by his own proclamation. Courageously, Egyptians took to the streets and have been demonstrating by the tens of thousands for several weeks in many cities. Protesting crowds surround the presidential palace although Morsi ran away. From a distance, he announced that he stands by his actions. Another incompetent idiot who doesn't know how to negotiate and doesn't care about the well-being of his country. As many Egyptians and Tunisians have said, "You can't do anything you want just because we voted for you." The foul habits of a dictatorial regime die slowly.
          Unfortunately, after the Libyan mess, extreme groups can acquire all kinds of weapons in both Egypt and Tunisia, while responsible citizens search for solutions through peaceful negotiations and political processes that include free and untainted elections. When the end justifies the means, then "Might is Right" takes the upper hand. Now who wouldn't predict a gloomy outcome?
Indeed, Mount Everest looms in front of us 
because the foul habits of a dictatorial regime die slowly.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Stitching the Land

A lot of ink has been spilled about mega-storm Sandy, so I’ll follow suit and spill just a little more. The terrible blast of nature’s anger, for which we are at least indirectly responsible as individuals and directly responsible as humanity, left a swath of destruction requiring gigantic repairs and clean-up. Mending. And so my thoughts turn to mending the land, stitching the land for my Wings Cloth.

This stitching creates the bird’s eye view that we see from an airplane. Mountains, fields, forests, roads, rivers.

The brown bands are made of tea-dyed scraps of white cotton machine-pieced together. 
They have become the frame for the Wings Cloth.

This is a work in progress. If you are wondering what will go in the middle...I'm wondering, too. For the moment, I'm simply stitching the land and contemplating what the future may hold for our exhausted planet.

And yet, nature's sense of humor seems indomitable. While taking a walk, I met a lemon who sported a tomahawk, oops, I mean, mohawk haircut.