Friday, April 25, 2008


The Machine Quilting Exhibition in Manchester, NH was once again "awesome". I went down with 3 friends, spending a night on the way at the cottage. The pile of snow on the driveway was still about 6' high and the ice was still on the lake.

We made it in good time the next day to take courses in the afternoon. I registered for classes with Cathy Franks, Linda Taylor, Deloa Jones and Dawn Cavanagh. Except for the first they were all very inspiring classes and I have once again come home with my head spinning with ideas.

We also went to the fashion show - again very talented ladies, and the banquet where Karen McTavish was awarded Teacher of the Year. The guest speaker, Amy Simms, had us in stitches.

The exhibit was a great display of talent. A visual feast. And I met up with a friend from my quilt group from England, Isabel Hall, who runs a quilting business there, and a new friend, with whom I had only corresponded - Joan Hug-Valeriote who is a textile artist.
Now to get to work and play!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Journal Quilts

The British Quilt Guild has challenged it's members to make journal quilts and this project is being run by Hilary Gooding, a member of the Tri-This group which also has me and Rosie Francis in it. Rosie and I decided that we would follow along and make the quilts too. The specs differ from other JQ's in that the size is to be 12"x12". A friend of mine here in Montreal was also interested so Pamela Chasen has joined the group. At the moment we have no plans to exhibit other than Hilary who will show hers with the CQBG.

So here are mine for the year so far:

January fields

Barn with yellow roof

Cambodian calm

More Taiwan

There are a few more things I should add about Taiwan. And some pictures.

Taiwan is a great place to visit. The people are friendly, and we never once worried about pickpockets, getting mugged - nothing. It's clean, has the best subway system we've ever seen, great scenery and public parks. And lots of great places to eat. Here is some scenery along the east coast - it beats the Pacific Hwy in California by a long shot.

and because I forgot - here is a taste of what I saw up in Taipei 101.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Last day in Taiwan

We took the train north to Ruifang where we then caught the Pingxi branch rail line. This line stops at a number of places and you can hop on and off as you wish. Our first stop was Shifen and we walked through the village to the park with the waterfall. To get there we crossed two suspension bridges and then arrived at the "Niagara of Taiwan" as it is advertised. Very impressive.

We didn't have time for any other of the stops but went directly to the end of the line at Jingtong. It was a cute little village but most cafes seemed to be closed. We watched a bride and groom on the tracks getting their wedding photos done. This usually happens well before the marriage and pictures are on display at the wedding. I don't think the tracks are a usual background though!
Our last dinner was at the hot pot restaurant and more live shrimp and whole squid. The pots are set into the table and each person has a temperature dial to control the simmer of the broth. On the side are all sorts of condiments from soy sauce, to hot peppers. Lots of vegetables arrive for each order no matter what meat or seafood tray you've selected.
I won't write about the 40 hours it took us to get back!!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tour around Taiwan

We left the hotel with Cooper, our driver, and his van. He had spent some time in Texas hence the name. Heading south we drove on excellent highways, many of which were elevated for miles over the valleys. After a local fancy lunch at an educational farm (more like a resort) we went to the Kanshuin Paper Factory where hand made paper is produced. If we had had more time we could have made our own and embellished it. We then stopped at the brand new Chung Tai Chan Temple which has been built by Buddhists and is to be a world site of learning for Buddhism. Opulent, gigantic and expensive are a few words that come to mind.

Next stop was the much older Wen Wu temple overlooking Sun Moon lake. Again the weather didn't help the view. We stayed at the Hotel del Lago on the banks of the lake.

On the drive to Kaohshing we visited the WuChan temple which had collapsed during the 1999 earthquake and looked remarkably intact except that the roof was almost on the ground. Nearby were a few old train engines and a market. Then on to the old Dutch fort which is now the Chikan Tower temple.
Next were the Spring and Autumn pavillions - these twin towers are on the edge of a lake and one enters in the dragon and out the tiger- to do it in reverse would be very bad luck.

We did a small tour on the Love River and then toured the night market which was teeming with people and food stands. We couldn't quite agree on which outdoor food we wanted to eat so opted at the end for the hotel. A little boring, but we have been eating "local" almost the whole trip!

On Saturday we stopped at a small park with a "river running uphill" and followed a small water course that really did look like it was flowing up. A nice park and a great illusion. The next stop was the 8 Arches Bridge. Again a beautiful park on the sea edge and so we crossed the bridge to the rocky island and wandered around - again in a light rain.
Another beautiful park was the Kenting National park at the very bottom of Taiwan. Lovely boardwalks along the edge of the ocean - and the only way to walk as it is all very rough lava.
Our last stop were the Bahsian caves which were inhabited a long time ago, but have now been turned into temples with cemented floors. In Taitung I finally got to hear "Fur Elise" which is played by the garbage trucks, throughout Taiwan it would seem. As people hear the trucks coming they run out with their garbage and stand along the road waiting for it.
Sunday was the last day of our tour and we went to the Taroko gorge. And finally had some sun. And it was spectacular. We only drove in part of the way, but walked a number of sections and were awed by the height and narrowness. I think the pictures say it all.

If you look carefully
you will see me in red.


Feb 26

Rob and I went to the Longsham Temple which had very detailed carvings of dragons on the roof. Again it was an overcast, slightly rainy day so not great for pictures. There were all sorts of lanterns as part of the festival, lots of mouse/rats as this is the beginning of the year of the rat. Even Winnie the Pooh was there in lantern form.

We wandered through a local market - it's amazing how many food stands are there, and interspersed with clothing stores. On our way back to the hotel we looked at the old North Gate of the city which is now situated within feet of an elevated highway.

A quick lunch at the Main Station again (the second level has just opened with about 50 restaurants so we haven't eaten at the same place twice) and then we went to the Natural History Museum. It's a lovely building beside the Botanical gardens and on each floor there is a sitting area (some serving tea and food) overlooking the lotus pond. We had a hotpot dinner in Rebecca's neighbourhood and her friends joined us. I ordered a tray of seafood and was surprised to see the live shrimp that I now had to cook! All delicious though.


Feb 24:

We've finally made it to Taipei and what a different city to Hanoi. Much more modern and civilized! Fewer bikes, more orderly traffic, superb underground system, and way less noise!

We sure had a hectic day with Rebecca yesterday. We went to the Sun Yat Sen memorial and watched the changing of the guard, saw the latern festival, went up Taipei 101 and saw the sights and the damper. And on display in the 4 corners was a textile/quilting exhibit with old and new work that was put on by the Taipei Mothers Art Association. So we were all happy!

We also went to the Jade market but it was so overwhelming that I didn't have a clue what to buy. Ended up buying a string of lapis lazuli beads which I'll get gussied up at home.

We've eaten at R's favourite dumpling restaurant, had Korean BBQ in the food court of 101 and I will have to walk more, faster, if I keep eating at this rate! I think we're almost the only non-Asians at the Cosmos hotel, and except for eggs and white bread for toast the whole rest of the buffet is Chinese or Japanese food. But the place is clean and friendly and well located for travelling around the city.

Feb 25

Rebecca still has classes for a few days so we were on our own for a bit. We went to the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial hall, now renamed the Democratic Memorial Hall. Amazing set of buildings to be built to honour one person. Since he's not so popular now, a kite exhibit was hung which prevented a good viewing of his statue. We enjoyed the exhibit on the lower level of folk art and carved jade. The Main train station is proving to be a very useful location- we met Rebecca there and had lunch, then caught the subway to go out to the Naional Palace Museum where we saw another exhibit of jade, this time very old work, and a lot of calligraphy. We toured around the Shillin Night Market - only Monday night and it was very busy - and a great place to get an ice cream cone!