Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy Hogmanay!

I grew up in a Scottish home in Cleveland, Ohio.  My father was Scottish and very proud of his heritage.  He was a Scottish Highland Dancer as a child, and played the drums in the Cleveland Kiltie Band (a pipe band) as an adult.  I was also a Scottish dancer as a child.  When Andrew and I became teenagers, we gave up American-style birthday cakes for clootie dumplings, a traditional Scottish boiled pudding wrapped in a cloth ("clootie").  We celebrated Robert Burns birthday and St. Andrews Day every year.  And we always had a party on New Years Eve, known in Scotland as Hogmanay.
Cleveland Kiltie Band in the 1970s. Dad is in the last row on the right
In Scotland, Hogmanay was traditionally a bigger party than Christmas.  After the Protestant Reformation, the Kirk of Scotland deemed Christmas to be a Catholic festival. It was virtually banned for nearly 400 years.  In fact, until 1958, Christmas was not an official holiday in Scotland.  Instead, Scots exchanged presents and feasted at New Years. These days Christmas is still considered  a day to go to church and visit family, and the big party still happens on Hogmanay.

If you want to celebrate a Scottish Hogmanay, you must clean your house on December 31.  This is called "Redding the House."  Also, all of your bills should be paid before midnight.  And then the party begins.  The new year is rung in with whisky (Scotch, of course), food, music and fireworks.

At midnight, you join people all over the world singing "Auld Lang Syne".  When you sing it this year, remember that it was written by Robert Burns, the Scottish National Poet.

On New Years Day, my father was always in demand as a "First Footer."  Scots believe that if the first person in your door on January 1 is a tall dark male, you will be ensured good luck in the new year. The First Footer should bring a small gift, usually whisky or shortbread, and should be offered a glass of whisky in return.  Dad had a few select families he would visit early on New Years Day.

On the other hand, if your first visitor is blond, you will be doomed to a year filled with trouble.  This belief is probably the result of the long history of invasions by the Vikings, when a blond at your door often offered you the sharp edge of a sword rather than shortbread.
Me with Mr. Callander, family friend (and piper)
This year, our Hogmanay celebration will be fairly low key.  My father-in-law, Brian and I will eat canap├ęs (in lieu of dinner), sip whisky, watch old movies and toast the New Year with champagne at midnight.

And we'll sing "Auld Lang Syne," of course.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 -- a Very Good Year!

I really hate to see the end of 2015.  It has been an amazing year for me, both personally and professionally.

It started on a high note, with "String Theory" on the cover of the SAQA Winter 2015 Journal:
In January, I had my first solo show at Elm Street Studio in Keller, Texas.  It was a fabulous event!
In February, I went to QuiltCon in Austin, Texas.  Not only did I get to see some good friends at the show, I was lucky enough to have two quilts on display:
Posing with Tuning Fork #12
But the best part was that I got to spend a week with my best friend, Kyra:
Sona and Kyra
Our next adventure was a trip to the British Virgin Islands.  First, Tortola:
And then a blissful week on the peaceful island of Anegada.  We had this beautiful beach all to ourselves:
Two nights after returning home from Anegada, I flew to Portland for the SAQA Fiberlandia conference. It was great to see old friends and to make some new ones.  Here is the Texas contingent:
Lynne, Teresa, me, Deborah
Back at home, it was time for the Dallas Quilt Celebration.  I was amazed to find that I had won 5 ribbons!
A New Riff
I had a second solo show in Carrollton in April:
Subdivisions #9 won first place in Focus: Fiber in Dallas:
In May, I went on a road trip to the Texas Quilt Museum in LaGrange, Texas, with some pals.  Of course we stopped for pie:
In front of Royers Pie Emporium in Round Top
The highlight of the year had to be the trip to Finland for "Quilt Visions: American Modern Quilt Art" in June.  Finland is beautiful!  We enjoyed seeing both Oulu and Helsinki. And it was such an honor to be part of the exhibit.  I made several good new friends, and the museum staff was wonderful.  Seeing my pieces hanging in the museum was really truly amazing:

I have been making an effort to enter pieces in art shows as well as art quilt or fiber shows.  Tuning Fork #20 was accepted into the Texas Artist's Coalition annual show:
On the way to Cape Cod for our annual visit with Brian's dad, we stopped in Rhode Island to see Jude, an artist we met in Oulu.
Jude and I in her studio.  I have serious studio envy.
And then, of course, we spent a wonderful week on Cape Cod:
Rock Harbor

At the annual Trinity Valley Quilt Guild show in September, I won 5 ribbons.

In October it was time for International Quilt Festival.  I had three quilts in the show, one in the "What's for Dinner?" exhibit, and one in the IQA silent auction:

I had gone down early to Houston to spend a couple of days with Maria Shell.  I was lucky enough to see her three times in 2015, which is remarkable since she lives in Alaska and I live in Texas.   I love to spend time with her!
Maria and I
I was in three more shows in the fall, Fiber Visions in Dallas, the Fiber Artists of San Antonio annual show in San Antonio and Fiber in Forney in Forney, Texas.  

And we had a great time in Colorado at Thanksgiving, and lived through the annual Christmas tree hike:

This Christmas, we've been lucky enough to have our family around us. 

All in all, a very good year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Kehinde Wiley at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth has an exhibit of work by Kehinde Wiley.  Fascinating stuff!  
Wiley features contemporary figures, usually in street dress, in classical poses.  It's an interesting juxtaposition.
The exhibit features work in stained glass, bronze and paint.  
If you are in Fort Worth, it's at the museum until January 10.  Great exhibit!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Tokyo in the Evening, Tokyo at Night

Hard to believe it's been that long, but I took this photo and this video exactly a year ago.

Our room in Tokyo was in the corner of the 18th floor of the Metropolitan Hotel near Ikebukuro Station.  One window looked Southeast toward Mount Fuji.  You can see Mount Fuji on the right horizon in this photo:
Brian was especially thrilled with the window that looked South.  We could see the lights of Shinjuku on the horizon, and, even more exciting to Brian, we could see the trains coming in and out of Ikebukuro Station.  You can see the trains in this short video:
I had a rather Japanese themed Christmas as far as gifts went this year.
I'm well into my new book.  It's called Japanese Contemporary Quilts and Quilters by Teresa Duryea Wong. Fascinating!

And last night we made a Japanese meal.  Delicious and beautiful!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

I hope...

...your Christmas was as wonderful as ours.  

Ours was filled with great family, good food....
...more presents that we probably deserved.  We've been good, but not THAT good...
...and time spent playing games and playing with our new Christmas gifts...
Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

It's Boxing Day!

Happy Boxing Day to you all!

According to Wikipedia, "Boxing Day is a holiday traditionally celebrated the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a "Christmas box", from their bosses or employers." It is also known as St. Stephen's Day, Wren's Day and, in parts of northern Europe, Second Christmas Day.  It is thought to have originated in Britain in the middle of the 19th century.

A little internet research informed me that it could be celebrated in the following ways:

1.  Do something for others.  NOTE:  You don't really have to wait for Boxing Day for this.

2.  Go outside.  Take a walk or play a game.  In Tenby, Wales, revelers take a plunge in the sea.  A very cold plunge.  You don't have to do the polar bear swim, though.  The main idea is to get active.

3.  Watch spectator sports.  English Premier League football (soccer to us Yanks) teams play on Boxing Day.  It's also a tradition to watch horse racing and cricket.  Here in the US we're in the middle of college football bowl season.  So you can spend the day on the couch, just like the Brits do.  NOTE:  Maybe you could take a walk first.

4.  Visit friends and family. 

5.  Shop.  It's the British version of "Black Friday."  Huge sales and big discounts abound.

6.  Eat leftovers.  Christmas dinner often reappears, sometimes in cold form, on Boxing Day.

Here in the Pregger household, I think we'll opt for #2: a walk around the neighborhood, #3: watch a bowl game or two, #4: well, the family is already here, and #6: leftovers will probably make an appearance.  I'm looking forward to it! 

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Ghost of Christmas Past

My first Christmas
My second Christmas.  Wish I still had the donkey.

Christmas 1964 or 65

Christmas 1966 or 67

Christmas 1979 -- Brian's and my first Christmas as a married couple
Christmas 1982 -- our first Christmas in Texas

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas in Tokyo

Brian and I spent Christmas 2014 in Japan.  I've written about it before (here, here and here), but I was looking at the pictures this morning and was once again amazed by the amount of Christmas decorations.  The Japanese seem to have embraced the idea of Santa, Christmas lights and Christmas trees.  I thought I'd share a few pictures today, some I posted earlier and some I had not shared.

Who could forget the Santa dancing in the square in front of Shinjuku Station?  I can't.

 Or the Christmas tree at the traditional ryokan in Hida-Furukawa:
 Snowmen were everywhere!

This Christmas tree was near Ikebukuro Station:
 Tokyo at night was beautifully lit.

 It was a wonderful time to be in Japan!

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