Archive for the ‘Deborah’ Category

While son Geoff was here, he performed twice at Charlestown. Here’s the flyer I produced to promote his performances.

It says,

Geoff will demonstrate African, South American, and Caribbean rhythms and songs using traditional drums and the mbira (thumb piano). He will have you clapping, singing with him, and moving to the rhythms as he performs. Come and make music in a global song circle.

Everyone can do it.

On Thursday he performed at RGT, our assisted living facility where Ernie lives.

Here he’s playing the mbira and singing. More about the mbira later.

In the next two clips, he is playing the djembe, demonstrating what the instrument can do and showing off his skill with it.

One of the nursing assistants was dancing in the back of the room and Geoff encouraged her to come forward, for which she got a big round of applause.

Although I missed getting more video, here’s a shot of her being applauded.

What Geoff does is to encourage people to make music with him, to participate. This was too much for many of the assisted living residents, but some of them and all the staff present joined in. Here they’re singing

Kirinya          Kirinya, kirinya, ago kirinya

The next day, Friday, Geoff performed in our conference center. I had no idea how many people to expect. Although the flyer said that tickets were required, only about a dozen people had taken tickets. When I decided to cancel, the community resources director asked me to reconsider. She assured me that people show up; they just don’t like to commit themselves ahead of time. Sure enough, 45 people and maybe a few more were present.

Between drumming and singing, Geoff talked about the drums, the music, African and African diaspora history. Here’s he’s describing the mbira.

There was lively audience participation this time. Here we were singing

Solta Mandinga

Solta Mandinga Ay,     Solta Mandinga,

Solta Mandinga Ay Que Beleza,   Solta Mandinga accompanied by the conga.

Seated in the front row on the far right is grandson Matt, Michael’s son.

Making music was not our only way of having fun. On Thursday Geoff and I had dinner in the Refectory here with three resident friends, including Deb London, whose quilts you’ve seen. Phyl Lansing has traveled in India and Nepal and maintains connections there. Deb and Phil have lived in Japan. Geoff has traveled, studied, and spent time in all those places, so the conversation was lively.

On Friday we went to an Ethiopian restaurant with my two Nigerian friends, Ara and Yemi. They were the first Yoruba-speaking people Geoff has met, though he sings Yoruba songs. This conversation gave him a chance to learn about the intonations of the language. He wants to stay in touch with them.

On Saturday we went to son Pete’s house for a crab feast, and what a crab feast we had. The crabs were big and meaty.

Geoff with his dad, Skip.

And Geoff with his stepmother Cherie. You may remember them as the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts at their Halloween wedding.

Geoff had by far the biggest pile of crab shells when we cleaned up.

After the feast, the music continued. Grandson Noah played for us the repertoire he has prepared for his first recital.

He is being well-trained. I was impressed. But when he invited me to play the piano, I was embarrassed. I haven’t memorized anything yet and I really can’t play anything well enough except the hymns I play for the church service in the care center. I went to the keyboard and played chopsticks, which Noah promptly trumped by playing chopsticks with embellishment. More practice needed here.

I got something else I need, though. Between and around all the other activities, Geoff and I had lots of intimate conversation. Much needed here.

I left him at the airport at 6:00 this morning, thinking that there’s going to be another recovery “first” for me–a plane trip to Seattle


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On Tuesday I went to a neighbor’s apartment for a private showing of her quilts. Little did I know what was in store for me. Deborah showed us 14 quilts she had designed and made and some other needleart of hers. First up was one of her earliest quilts, a crib quilt for a granddaughter made 20 years ago. (Click on the images to enlarge.)


In this detail, you can see the heart-print fabric and ribbon included in this quilt.

Heart detail

Below is the label on the back of the well-worn quilt.

Next came her entry in the Hoffman challenge, an annual event in which people are invited to submit textile art using a particular Hoffman print fabric.

Here’s the print with which Deb worked. She described it as hideous.


But after she had cut it up and pieced it in her own design, it looked like this.


In this detail you can see the hand stitching she added for texture and to modify the colors.

Challenge detail

Here’s the label on the back of the challlenge quilt.

Label on challenge

Next she showed us the H quilt she had made for granddaughter Hannah, whose favorite color is green. Notice the interlocking “Hs”. This is a double-bed size quilt. I could not get far enough away to photograph the whole quilt.

H quilt

Then came this gorgeous full bed quilt made with neckties. When Deb’s sister’s husband died, he left a huge collection of neckties, which the widow wanted to use as a quilt. Never having made a quilt, she sought Deb’s advice but she simply couldn’t do it. Finally Deb, who had not wanted to take away this grief-work from her sister, delicately asked whether she would like Deb to make the quilt. Her sister said, “I thought you’d never ask!” To the 100+ neckties sent to Deb, she added some blue and blue star-printed material—all silk. And she found scores of poems about stars which she sent to her sister, who chose ones she most liked. Deb embroidered these poems as part of the border.


In this close-up of a corner of the quilt, you can recognize the tie silks.

The design is Deb’s.

Necktie close up

Here’s one of the poems:

Star quotes

Each time the word “star” appeared, Deb highlighted it with metallic thread.

After that we saw another large bed quilt made in celebration of her grandson’s high school graduation. Like my own sons, he’s been sailing all his life. Because I had my camera on the wrong setting, I failed to get a picture of most of the quilt, but I can show you the central motif—an historically accurate representation of a sailing ship, worked after much research.

Sailing ship

All the details of masts, sails, and rigging are correct. There were waves below and a starry sky above.

On the back of the quilt  Deb had created two little sailboats to carry her words.


Sail label

Here she credits the source of her image.


Also on the back of the quilt is a message in semaphore.


Each character was pieced.

Pieced semaphor

One of Deb’s sons had a leaky fireplace—in winter it leaked heat out and in summer the heat leaked in. He asked Deb if she could create a quilt to use as a fire-screen. Here’s the summer fireplace quilt:

Summer fireplace

and here’s the winter fireplace quilt:

Copy of Winter fireplace

Since the edge of the fireplace is iron, Deb put magnets on the backs of the quilts. They hug the fireplace smoothly.

Here’s a detail of the fire, made with satiny shiny and metallic fabrics.

Fireplace detail

For the son who had no use for a quilt, Deb made this little pillow. She printed a photograph of his children on fabric, then used tiny straight stitches to outline some of their features, creating the illusion of three dimensions, In fact, the baby’s nose is actually dimensional.

Photo pillow_edited-1

Another pillow was made from a paper collage Deb created and photographed or scanned into her computer, then printed on fabric and stitched to outline.

Here’s the paper collage:

Collage paper

Here’s the pillow:

Collage pillow

After Hannah’s mother died a few years ago, she asked her grandmother to make a quilt in her memory. Hannah had very definite  specifications. She wanted the quilt to be exclusively red, black, and white. She had some concepts she wanted represented on one side and on the other side she wanted images of memories she treasured of her mother.

Deb rendered the concepts symbolically as a stylized flower.

In memory of mother

On the other side of the quilt she created four images. This  one is of Hannah’s mother dancing in the kitchen with Hannah in her arms. Deb’s finger is pointing to the tiaras worn by mother and daughter.


In this close-up you may be able to see the joyful expression on Hannah’s face and her mother’s high-heeled shoe she is wearing.

Dancing close up

Another memory of playing with her mother, wearing the tiaras again.

Close up

Beneath are shoes, which both of them especially liked.


This image was based on a photograph of mother and daughter on a beach.


Hannah’s mother loved polar bears, so Hannah wanted one on the quilt. Deb added the cub, much to Hannah’s delight. The bears are a light-weight velvety velour, as best Deb and I can describe the fabric.

Polar bears

Four years after his wife’s death, Deb’s son asked her to create a quilt using his wife’s clothing, which he still possessed. He delivered several bags full of clothing for Deb to work with. She made this wall-hanging quilt:

DIL memorial

The fabrics are embellished with buttons from the clothing, with other ornamentation from the clothing such as lace, with charms and pins of special meaning, and with beads and Swarovski crystals. Some details follow.

Detail 1Detail 2Detail 3

This shoe pin was one of several that Deb and her DIL exchanged with each other.


The image on the other side of the quilt was cut from the DIL’s t-shirt. A nurse, she admired midwives and this image celebrates midwifery. Although Deb didn’t intentionally do this, the concentric hearts design reflects back to the heart crib quilt at the beginning of this show.

DIL memorial back

Deb makes things other than quilts. For her bat mitzvah Hannah asked her grandmother to make her a prayer shawl, a talles. As with the memorial quilt, Hannah knew what she wanted on her talles—the Biblical story of Miriam, Moses’ sister, who saved his life. On one end of the shawl, Deb created the scene of Miriam placing the infant Moses in an ark among the bullrushes where the Egyptian princess bathed. The bullrushes are silk ribbons.

Talles 2

On the other end of the talles she created the scene of Miriam and other women singing, dancing, and rejoicing after the princess took Moses to be brought  up in the palace.


A close-up of Miriam and another woman with the infant Moses in the bullrushes:

Talles detail

Over the mid-section of the shawl, Deb placed branches with buds on one side and full blossoms on the other. The bat mitzvah signifies that a girl has become a woman in the eyes of her community. Here are some buds:

Talles detail 2

Silk ribbon embroidery, I think.

And here is Hannah wearing her talles. Note the opened blossoms on her right.

Hannah in her talles

That’s not all. Following is a shot of Deb’s husband, Dr. Phil London, wearing a shirt pieced by Deb.

Dr. Phil London

And the artist herself, wearing a mob-cap made by her sister while her hair grows out following chemotherapy.


After the show, we enjoyed refreshments and good conversation.


What a delightful afternoon!

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