Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you All!
My granddaughter, Claire, is the best gift of 2014! What a joy to be a grandmother!
In September 2008, the Shine Zamnal (New Way Life) NGO was able to purchase a permanent facility for the Mongolian Quilting Center. I headed a capital campaign in the USA, administered through my church (St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Bainbridge Island). We raised $83,000 which was enough to buy and redecorate the place. In 2009, I went to Mongolia to see the new Center and to celebrate. There is a shop, a classroom, small office and a tiny bathroom. It is an excellent location, just 10 minutes walk from the city center and easy for the women to reach using public transport. BD’s Mongolian BBQ is just across the street and is one of the best places to eat in town.
The picture on the left was taken in 2009 and shows the street. The playground has been upgraded and there are some new businesses that also occupy the street level spaces. The other picture was taken this summer (2014). They were able to expand slightly, pushing out at the front making more space in the office. As you enter the building there is a small porch and then you are inside the shop. I was excited to see the new counter and shelving built recently by Selenge Tserendash’s brother’s furniture company.
The Mongolian women are creating new products all the time and it was wonderful to see them so nicely displayed.
The classroom is through a doorway at the back of the shop. In the days leading up to our quilt show,the space was used for our preparations including pricing the products and packing up bundles of silk to sell. The Japanese ladies were a tremendous help with this and we all worked together in the chaos!
Recently, the Department of Social Welfare has been providing a more spacious classroom for use by the Quilting Center when they teach Government sponsored courses to unemployed women. This has helped tremendously as the Center classroom can only accommodate 8-10 students comfortably and these classes often have as many as 20 women. The office was also a hive of activity during our quilt show preparations.
On my recent teaching trip to the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Guild and the Midland Quilt Guild, I had the opportunity to explore in both areas. As luck would have it, my time with the first guild coincided with the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival and I was able to go on two birding field trips. This part of Texas is practically in Mexico and is an amazing place for birding. Several of the native species cannot be found anywhere else in the USA. I went to the Sabal Palm Sanctuary where there was a beautiful old plantation home and the largest remaining area of sabal palm forest in Texas.
I also visited Estero Llano State Park, Weslaco (pictured above), and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission. My camera can’t do justice to the beautiful birds but I couldn’t resist sharing a couple of shots. The Green Jays are so vibrant in color and the Common Pauraque so extraordinary in its camouflage.
The second part of my trip was teaching in Midland then a 250 mile drive south to Big Bend National Park. This is a very remote and magnificent place including three distinct habitats – the mountainous Chisos Basin, the Chihuahuan Desert and the Rio Grande River. On the southwest side of the park is the spectacular Santa Elena Canyon with 1,500 ft high cliffs through which the Rio Grande river flows. On the southeast side there are spectacular views of El Pico and the Sierra del Carmen mountain range which turns pink at sunset. Both have camp grounds near the river that are great places for birding.
I spent two nights in the Chisos Basin in a little cottage with stone flags on the floor. My hike up the Lost Mine Trail now ranks in my top 10 all time hikes. The views were absolutely breathtaking and I loved it.
Last month I had an excellent trip to TX to teach at the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Guild and the Midland Quilt Guild. The Rio Grande group has a huge influx of winter members who flee the northern climes for the warmth of TX. My Gateway to Mongolia class was oversubscribed so they asked me to teach it two days in a row to accommodate the extra students. The classes were prior to the guild meeting and several of the ladies finished the large center Olzii block in time for Show and Tell. It was wonderful to see a whole stage full!
We had a spacious church hall in Weslaco for the workshops. I love seeing all the different fabrics my students bring to class and the emerging variety of blocks. The block looks odd during the piecing, but as soon as the background setting triangles are added, it comes to life. There were some nice color transitions as shown with the green to turquoise example. The blue with red outer edges worked well because the value gradation was maintained. The pink and purple on the lime green background glowed. In the bottom left example only three fabrics instead of the usual five were used. There is just one fabric in place of the gradation of three which still produced a handsome looking block.