Gorgeous Melbourne!

7 05 2019

I’m in Melbourne for a conference, and I deliberately came a day early to go see some things.

Melbourne certainly turned on some magical weather today! I put a rain jacket, scarf, and spare leggings in my handbag in anticipation of its reputed ‘four seasons in one day’, and all I experienced was gorgeous autumn sunshine, clear blue skies, and no wind. All the parks are stunningly green (so different from the still yellow/brown of where I am in Western Australia).

By 1pm, I’d already hit 10,000+ steps. First stop was a local cafe for breakfast, then down to the MCG and across the Barak Bridge, along the Yarra River to Federation Square, where I spent most of the next 3 hours. My main reason for going there was to see the Hans and Nora Heysen exhibition at the NGV at Federation Square (the one devoted to Australian art). And it certainly didn’t disappoint — there were hundreds of sketches, watercolours, oil paintings from both father and daughter, including all the really famous ones. And lots of info about them as people and as artists. They were from the Hahdorf area of South Australia where one branch of my family is from, and one of the paintings was of a farm owned by people with the surname the same as some of my ancestors — I wonder if they’re related?

After seeing the Heysens, I walked around the other exhibitions in the gallery (all free; only the Heysen exhibitions had an entry fee [$18]), including the exhibition of Year 12 art. Then I walked back to the hotel, picking up some basic food items at the IGA, and stopping off at Fitzroy Gardens.

I’m resting my weary feet right now, but if this weather holds, I may venture back to Fitzroy Gardens a little later just to let those ancient trees remind me of my place in the world.

The conference starts tomorrow, and so my opportunity to see more of Melbourne will be limited — it’s today and tomorrow morning (when I’m catching up with some friends), and that’s it. Everything else is conference related.

 

 





Kudos to American Airlines

2 04 2019

I must say that American Airlines has upped their game a LOT in the past few years. The new Flagship Lounges at the major airports (I’ve tried Chicago and now JFK) are wonderful, with good selections of food (not just stale cheese and crackers) and drinks, friendly staff, good showers, oodles of power outlets, good seating for working at a laptop (Qantas could learn something from this… too many of its lounges have very low [and round] tables which are fine for putting a cup of coffee on, but not conducive to working on a laptop without severe stress on your back).

And the flight I just took from Boston to JFK? Amazing! It was on an A321 (flight 1140), and even though I’d booked and paid for Economy, I was seated in Main Cabin Extra (I think that’s what it’s called), which was akin to a full international Business Class, with lie-flat seats, two each either side of the aisle. The First Class cabin was a real First Class, with single suites either side of the aisle. Because it was such a short flight (about 45 mins in the air) and bumpy, there was little service where I was seated—just a bottle of water. And being a noon flight and so short, I didn’t need to lie flat to try to sleep. I didn’t pay any extra for the seat either—just the normal Economy fare—but I think my status as Qantas Platinum (OneWorld Emerald) meant that I was able to choose the seat that I did for no extra charge. I had no idea it would be as good as it was.

This is streets ahead of what many of my previous experiences with American Airlines have been.





QV2018: Day 20: Houston Quilt Festival

13 11 2018

A very lazy day today. First task of the day was to pack my second suitcase.

Then I had brunch at Poitin with some Houston friends (I worked with Jason in Perth, some 10+ years ago; he and his wife Natalia have been living here for much of the intervening time). It was good to catch up with them again, and brunch was amazing, as were the two cocktails I had — yes, before noon!

This afternoon I wandered back to the exhibition and vendor mall — both were pretty quiet and the mania of the crowds on Thursday had gone. Memo to my future self: Unless there’s something specific you want to buy, wait until Sunday to check out the vendor area! I stopped in at the booth run by my friend Kim’s mom, and caught up with her for a while. Then as a group we convened near Michelle’s second prize entry, and she talked about how she and Sophie made it. Next stop were Helen’s two quilts, where Helen explained how she had made them.

For our last night, I had dinner with Michelle, Helen, Carol, and Lyn, and a ring-in Carol from New Zealand. And then it was all over.

Tomorrow some head off for other destinations, and I head off earlier than the others to IAH for my flight to DFW. Most of us are on the same DFW-SYD flight, though some will be in different classes and different parts of the plane. Once in Sydney (Wednesday), we lose the Tasmanians, the Canberran, and the Sydneysider, and I fly back to Perth on a later flight than those that remain.

And that’s it for another QuiltVenture. We don’t know yet if there’ll be another in two years’ time, and if so, where it will go. But travelling with a group of similar women and the friendships that ensue, can’t be underestimated. Many thanks to Michelle, especially, for being our fearless leader, and for organising yet another AMAZING trip. There’s an enormous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to make it all seem so easy, and Michelle is responsible for all that. Thank you, my friend.





QV2018: Day 19: Houston Quilt Festival

11 11 2018

The only class I had today was in the afternoon, so I had a leisurely breakfast with Mary Beth and her husband. I first met Mary Beth at the first-ever Quilting Adventures workshop I went to in New Braunfels, Texas (2012). I’ve since met her at Festival. This was the first time I met her husband.

After breakfast, I wandered back over to the quilt exhibition to see a few more sections in detail, and to check out some of the vendor mall — it wasn’t so crazy busy today as it was on Thursday, thank goodness (for me as an attendee; perhaps not so much for the vendors). Then back to my room to pick up my class supplies and to call and catch up with Kim, the ex-owner of Quilting Adventures (now closed). Kim’s mom has a booth in the vendor mall, which I missed, so I’ll check that out tomorrow when I go say hi to her. My class was on Super Fast Binding and Piping with Melody Crust, and it was super fast — I was done in half the allocated time!

This evening we had our final group dinner at The Grove restaurant in Houston, and said goodbye to Miss Pat, the lovely Texan who joined this mad group of Aussies on this trip — she leaves early tomorrow morning.

Here are some more photos of quilts on display at Festival this year (for all the photos, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/albums/72157702513543445):

One of Jane Sassaman's quilts -- I did a whole day drawing workshop (Abstracting from Nature) with her

One of Jane Sassaman’s quilts — I did a whole day drawing workshop (Abstracting from Nature) with her





QV2018: Day 18: Houston Quilt Festival

10 11 2018

I had three classes today — morning (Floating Forest, with Rita Lynne), afternoon (Improv Color Blocks, with Cindy Griselda), and evening (Professional Quilt Edge Finished — The Envelope Edge, with Grace Errea). See https://rhondabracey.com/2018/11/11/qv2018-houston-classes/.

I met Sara, a friend of mine from Texas, for lunch, then had about 45 mins after lunch to look more closely at some of the quilts on exhibit, specifically the SAQA (Studio Art Quilters Association) exhibition and the quilts up for the silent auction.

Some of the most intricate quilting is coming out of Spain, and it's by men -- I'm pretty sure this is one of them

Some of the most intricate quilting is coming out of Spain, and it’s by men — I’m pretty sure this is one of them

 





QV2018: Day 17: Houston Quilt Festival

9 11 2018

I did two classes today — Luscious Landscapes (Peggy Martin) and Modern Simplicity (Jodi Robinson). See: https://rhondabracey.com/2018/11/11/qv2018-houston-classes/

After class, I met a friend from our first tour group in the bar, and others from the current group joined us. Some of us had a late dinner at a local restaurant (late because it’s almost impossible to get a table at any restaurant in the vicinity when Festival is on). Then it was time for bed. I have 3 classes tomorrow (morning, afternoon, and evening), so it will be a full day.





QV2018: Day 16: Houston Quilt Festival

8 11 2018

Today was my first day of classes at the Houston international Quilt Festival. I had an all-day drawing class (‘Abstracting from nature‘ with Jane Sassaman. I don’t think I’ve ever spent 4+ hours drawing in one day, and it was surprising how much better I got with that sort of practice!

After class, the Festival opened for 2 hours to delegates, before the general public could gain access to both the quilt exhibition and the vendor mall. As in previous years, my strategy is to start from the back, work the whole back section, then move to the front section — by then, the crowds have started to head back. It’s worked well before and so it did again tonight. My other strategy is to walk quickly, take photos of quilts that appeal to me, and get a sense of what I want to go back and revisit over the next few days. I’d walked the whole exhibition and taken some 150 photos in 90 minutes! And yes, my feet hurt — in previous years, my Fitbit has told me I do >15K steps in that 90 mins.

Once I’d finished with the exhibition (for now), I went to the vendor mall (still only delegates, so not HUGE crowds yet), and made a beeline for two booths that had two of the items on my five-item list. Then it was off to put my vendor mall strategy in play — start from the far end at the back, ignore any booths that have things that don’t interest me (e.g. beads, yarn), ignore any booths that have things I can’t take back to Australia on the plane (bulky goods, electrical goods, etc.), and only look (quickly) at those that might be of interest. However, I wasn’t able to put my strategy into play, because just as I got to the back corner of the vendor mall, an alarm went off with an announcement to evacuate the building. Somewhere in that announcement was something about fire/smoke (but not in a panicky way). By the time I got to the centre section of the mall, I could smell smoke, and a couple of the vendors said they’d smelt it for 10 mins (I presume they’d let the building security know). The smell dissipated the closer I got to the exit doors. It was still 20 mins before Festival opened to the public, so I hope the evacuation didn’t affect the organisers or the vendors for too long. I don’t know when it re-opened — I went back to my hotel room to process my photos and rest my feet!

Here are just a few of the ~150 photos I took tonight — you can see them all on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/albums/72157702513543445

This is Sophie Standing and my friend Michelle's 2nd prize winning quilt in the Animal category -- 'Roaming free'

This is Sophie Standing and my friend Michelle’s 2nd prize winning quilt in the Animal category — ‘Roaming free’