Saturday, July 26, 2008

I am in Love with Sailing!!!

I'm back from a week out of town taking a sailing class with my son James and our friend aspen. I have always loved the water and being near it or on it whether a river, lake or ocean. So spending several hours a day learning to sail and actually in a boat was bliss. And we all got our light wind certification out of it. We leave on vacation the end of the month so I probably won't get to schedule more sailing time until mid to late August which is disappointing but I'll survive by thinking of how great it will be to spend a whole day out on the lake.

Here's a couple of pictures of the small boats we learned to sail in. The model is called a Clancy and it was designed to be a boat someone could build in their garage over the winter then use to teach their child to sail. A great size to learn the basics in. These boats were built at an alternative school in Seattle and then donated to the organization that teaches the classes.

Here's a closeup view of the boats which are really only about 8 feet long.

The people in the class were all newbies, except for aspen, and I was pleased that we all focused on learning things well enough to be certified on Thursday. This meant we went out just as a group of friends on the instructors' boats on Friday. We spent time just sailing around, changing crew from boat to boat while out on the water (a fun but tricky experience) and had a glorious end to a wonderful week.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Setting up the studio cutting table

Kim L. on the quiltart list asked for suggestions/recommendations for a cutting table. For quilters, this is a big deal. We need a space to cut the fabric into little pieces, and then a space to sew all the little pieces together again in a different way. Also a space to iron the resulting fabric. And of course, a place to store the fabric that we're going to cut up someday. I'm a fan of Alton Brown (on the foodnetwork, if you're not familiar with him) so I thought I'd share a picture of my new multitasking solution for these things.

I have 3 wire basket holders (17" wide, 22" deep and 7 runners high which is about 30", I think). This makes a nice size desk surface on which I've put The Big Board ironing board. It's meant to be put on a regular ironing board but I found that a tad unstable and awkward for my left handedness. Not to mention I had to have a separate bit of floor space for it. I had a flash of brilliance and realized it fit perfectly on top of the wire basket ensemble so I moved it there. Then I noticed that my big cutting board could go on top of the wire baskets too, if I didn't mind a bit of overhang at the back. Since I rarely cut the full width of fabric, I generally don't need the full cutting surface so that worked too. So my cutting board can slide under the Big Board and I pull it out when it's needed. Then I realized I was just one step away from having a giant flippable board with a cutting surface on one side, and an ironing surface on the other. I've always liked the smaller version of that and used it when taking classes so I've asked my son James to cut some plywood for me and we'll be fixing that up after we finish our sailing class this next week. I have this setup at right angles to my sewing table so I just pivot and depending on what I'm doing I can iron, cut, fuse or try various layouts, all on the same work surface. So far, it's also had the excellent side benefit of forcing me to keep the surface cleared off so I can get other work done. Since I have a problem with not putting things away when I'm in a creative flow, this has been a benefit.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Solar power & relocalizing

I'm heading out of town tomorrow for a week of sailing, so I wanted to leave you all with a nice meaty link about solar power. I had left the newsletter from in my mailbox the last week of June, intending to blog about it then but of course, I forgot. READ IT HERE is working to be a central info and networking center for people working to build sustainability in their communities. This newsletter focuses on solar power, where we are with it, what needs to happen to make it grow, and there's even a link to a solar oven. I personally think we need to switch to decentralized solar, wind or wave power as those are completely renewable resources and decentralizing means we don't have companies like Enron deciding to manipulate prices by squeezing the production of energy. But that would be my hippy roots showing again...

Have a great week. I know I plan to!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

More about alternative energy & Germany

I've spent a lot of time sailing the last week, so I have a new appreciation of wind power. It was a nice coincidence to go to and find THIS ARTICLE reporting on a Wind Power Conference that just happened in Ontario. I found this paragraph in the article particularly encouraging:

Germany shattered the theory that renewable energy is a niche player by achieving a 14% share of renewables in its electricity market in 2007. Germany’s vision for renewable energy reinvigorated rural communities throughout the country through the creation of 249,000 jobs and generated $38.8 billion USD in associated economic activity in 2007 alone. After achieving its target 12.5% renewable share of total electricity three years early, the country revised its future targets to 27% renewables by 2020 and 45% renewables by 2030, according to its Federal Ministry for the Environment.

To read the article, go to this webpage.

I hope you're having some summer fun too...