Friday, 20 April 2007

hello from toronto

nine days into our trip already! The flight, although a good one, was VERY LONG! got up at 3.45am in Melbourne and went to bed at 8pm in Los Angeles - 33 hours later. Flew Cathay Pacific and they treat you very well. Didn't see anything of LA except the airport and the hotel. From there we flew to Chicago with American Airlines. Our flight was delayed 2 hours because the plane had a flat nose cone tire. I suppose if anything was to go wrong with the plane you're about to fly on, it's better when it's still on the ground! All passengers had been seated for over an hour when we were told that the first 20 rows of passengers had to get off. There was too much weight in the front of the plane and they couldn't get the jack under it. So we all trooped off, stood around for a while so they could jack the plane up and change the tire, then we all trooped back on. After we finally left the flight was fairly uneventful.

Arriving at Chicago airport and getting luggage etc was fairly quick. We got a taxi from the airport to the hotel and THAT was interesting. Our driver was a little 'disturbed' and definitely in full 'mutter mode' about everything. We stopped at an intersection as there was a red light, and the lights wouldn't change to green. Starting off quietly, his "son of a b*tch" got louder and louder until he was shouting, at which point he jumped out of the taxi in the middle of the street leaving his door wide open, and started pounding on the pedestrian crossing button (or whatever you call it). Got back in the taxi, but the lights still didn't change so he went through the red light with more S.O.B.'s . He then missed the turnoff to the hotel and had to do a U turn in the middle of a four lane road. But we finally made it in one piece.

The International Quilt Festival was an anti climax after the taxi ride. No, not really. It was fantastic. There were 475 vendors there and I left a donation at quite a few. Bought too much stuff to carry around, so we posted it home. Many traditional quilt stalls, many arty ones, plus beads, jewellery, books, sewing machines, longarms, embellishments and lots of other stuff that I can't remember. We took heaps of photos of quilts, but some parts of the quilt show were "no photography". Definitely worth going to, even if I didn't find the dvd's I wanted. Thousands of people but organisation for entry to the show was excellent. It was quicker to get into than the shows in Tassie. I hired a 'pope-mobile' (also known as an electric scooter) to get around. I wouldn't have been able to walk around for three days so it was worth every cent. Met up with a few people I knew from the Quiltart list, which was great. So many people there but they were extremely friendly and polite.

We had a free day in Chicago on Monday so took a taxi to Navy Pier. This was developed in the 1920's as a family entertainment and amusement area. It was taken over during the second world war by the Navy, the returned to its original purpose after the war. It has a ferris wheel and carousel and various family-type restaurants like Macca's and Dunkin' Donuts plus asian, seafood etc. It also has a Museum of Stained Glass Windows, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Grand Ballroom, 6 storey IMAX theatre, 3D Maze,Crystal Gardens, huge convention centre and heps of boats offering rides on Lake Michigan. Lots of renovating being done in preparation for the summer season and many of the boats being painted etc. We went up on the 150ft ferris wheel to get a view of the city and lake. Also took a half hour cruise on the lake, which was interesting but the wind was FREEZING! Still managed to get sunburnt though.

We left Chicago on tuesday to fly to Toronto. Chicago airport experience was interesting. We lined up to have our luggage weighed and boarding passes issued. We then took our luggage to another queue so our checked luggage could go through xray. Then we lined up in another queue so our cabin baggage could be scanned and we could go through the metal detectors. Then, lucky us, we got selected for secondary screening! So we waited in another area so they could pat us down and open the cabin baggage looking for contraband or whatever. As you know, we look bit suspicious! They weren't very thorough as they didn't even open the bag that my betaferon syringes were in.

Toronto airport was a nightmare, and that's being kind. There were quite a few planes in at the same time and passengers from each of them had asked for wheelchair assistance (including me). They'd run out of wheelchairs and people to push them. Airport staff had to push them so at one stage there were 25 people in wheelchairs lined up waiting for processing through immigration. It took an hour and a half from when we got off the plane until we got through immigration. The rest of the process only took about 30 minutes.

Today we went to the Textile Museum of Canada. It was a fair walk from the hotel so we decided to take the subway. The subway was easy to work out. Sure saved a lot of time walking, or a lot of money of taxi fares. There was a special exhibition of embroidery from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It was amazing how much work went into even tiny children's clothing. Bright colours, beads, sequins, shisha mirrors - beautiful work. There was also a mini exhibition of clothing made of fish skin! It was made by a woman from north eastern China. I've heard of fish leather before but had never seen it. There was also a gift shop there, and I left a little money with them too.

Tomorrow we are going down to Niagara Falls to have a look. Then Saturday we are on the Trans Canada train for 3 days to Edmonton. More after that...

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Exciting times!

First: The Tasmanian Quilting Guild's annual exhibition was held in Hobart over the last 4 days. On Tuesday morning I got a call from the president of the exhibition committee to tell me I had won a prize for one of my quilts. She wouldn't tell me over the phone which prize I had won so I had to wait until I could get down to Hobart on Wednesday. I won first prize in the Art,Professional category. I was stunned! Originally I wasn't going to enter the quilt, and then I entered it in another category. The organisers rang me when they got my entry form and asked if they could move it to the art category. I still don't really see it as a prize winning quilt, but I suppose you never know what is going to appeal to the judges on the day, do you? The quilt is Citrus Swirl pictured in the post from March 13.

Second: We leave on our holiday in 9 days! We fly to Melbourne on April 10, then on to Los Angeles on April 11. The flight leaves at 7.30am so we have to be at the airport at 5.30am. That means that I'll have to get up at about...umm..4.30 if I want to have time for a shower? That's gonna hurt! We have one night in Los Angeles then it's on to Chicago for the Interantional Quilt Festival. Yay! I am SO looking forward to that. Might meet up with some people off the Quiltart list which would be great. After that we have 5 or 6 days in Toronto then catch the Trans Canada train to Edmonton, then down to Vancouver for a week or so before picking up a guided tour. That will take us up around the Rockies then back to Vancouver before joining a cruise up to Alaska. We'll be away 6 weeks altogether.

Third: While we're away the building fairies are going to visit my studio and build all the cupboards, bookshelves and computer/sewing station. When I get back I'll just have put all the fabric, books and other stuff out of the forty or so assorted plastic tubs and boxes into their new home. Just doing that will be fun, I think. I'm adding some photos of the studio as it is now. Behind all the plastic tubs is a bar where Murray has put some of his assorted 'alcoholic beverages'. I don't drink alcohol and Murray rarely does, so some of the bottles have been around for a few years now. One day they will get used - don't know whether it will be to drink or to cook with ha ha. Also added the view out of one set of the glass sliding doors.

I've also added a photo of Trev the wondercat making a fuss of Alison, the daughter of one of my closest friends. He's a very sociable beastie, will say hello to anyone. If you come to visit, be prepared to leave with cat fur attached.