Sunday, September 20, 2015

Confessions of a cat lady...........

Well, I've tried writing a new piece, and then something takes me off on a tangent, so I think you'll just have to wait for more insightful pieces than this.

I have two cats.

If you don't like cats, then please, stop reading now and move on to the next blog. I'm rather dotty about cats and always have been. They have always been good company. As a child, we had a dog, and then my brother brought home a really sickly little kitten who we called Sugar. She had a bad dose of cat flu, but survived and lived a long and happy life. Then my parents got Cleo, a little black and white cat with a penchant for biting my nose.... why she chose mine I really don't know.

Then I left home and went catless for a few years until I met the husband and took on Charlie, not the friendliest cat and I can't say we bonded deeply, but I did miss her when she died.

I was working full time, and one of my staff said she was moving and had two cats who were going to be put down if there were no takers. Well that did it, and that very weekend saw the husband and I going to pick up Mr T and Duchess, both black cats. Mr T was a big cat, and when we met him he was dragging a Yorkshire Terrier, who had a hold of his back leg. I knew then he would be a lot of fun to have, and he was, climbed a tree, got stuck so had to be rescued by the husband, and threw his paws round his neck, first time he went out into his new garden, having kept him in for  a while, he immediately ran to the bottom of the garden, and when I went to rescue him, he ran straight through the small garden pond - without sinking.....

Duchess, on the other hand, lived up to her name by treating T, as he was affectionately known, with disdain, and expected to be treated according to her rank, but she was a sweetie. My garden and house became a visiting hub for the neighbours cats, and they could often be found in the garden. Mr T sadly left us to early and that broke my heart, and Duchess, for all her disdain, really missed him. By this time, Amber and Biscuit had moved into the area, and were constant visitors. Biscuit disappeared, but Amber visited constantly, we were never sure if she was trying to get away from the two little girls she lived with or if she really liked us, but she could often be found curled up on a bed during the day.

By this time, Duchess was getting old and crochety so was a little on the grumpy side, (she was coming up to 18)  but she would put up with Amber. In fact, I swear she handed over the care of the house and us to her one day as this doddery old cat walked out onto the back deck, walked up to Amber and had a long growly conversation with her, and then walked off. That week it was time for her to leave us, she was losing weight and was nearly unable to stand, so off to the vet we went.

Amber would visit every day, waiting outside every morning for the back door to be opened, and in she'd come. If the door wasn't opened in a timely fashion, she would jump halfway up to the window - it was a stable door with a small window in the top half - and peer through the window. I never fed her, she knew where to find her real home, but I enjoyed her company. Then they moved taking Amber with them, so I was catless again.

Then came the Big Move across to Canada.

After a couple of years, Bobbin arrived....via my neighbours. He had been found wandering outside the office where my neighbour worked, and taken in. A beautiful ginger and white cat. She took him home, and he promptly hid in some insulation and wouldn't come out until the children had gone to school, and only then to eat. Well, it didn't make him too popular, so I begged the husband to take him in, and within a few days he was carried over, and had a new home.

He was a very polite cat, never pushy and the first night he was here, he learnt how to do stairs, so we figured he came from an apartment. There were no reports of a missing cat, so we thought maybe he'd been abandoned. He had every luxury imaginable, and would burrow under the blankets every night and sleep. I used to worry that he would suffocate, but not a bit of it, he would snore away and in the morning there was the feeling that something was looking at me very intently..... at 6.30am. I tried so hard not to open one eye, as I knew all was lost if I did.

He was a beautiful cat as you can see, and then developed skin allergies, which resulted in him losing a lot of his fur, puffy eyes, and just generally very unhappy. He was an indoor cat and happy to be so, so off to the vet, and then referral to an animal dermatologist - I've never said I was sane - and she eventually got him sorted out and then his fur grew back and he started looking like the beautiful cat we had but then he got sick and there were tumours etc. He was kept in for observation at the vets, and would only come home if he ate something. 

Animals are a lot more intelligent that we give them credit for, as he did eat, so he came home. He walked in and ate a little more, and then lay on a bed. It was sad to see him lie there and the vet rang every day to see how he was. Bobbin knew he was dying, but wanted to be home. Sadly, we had to take him in to have him put down. As we arrived at the vet, with Bobbin wrapped gently and in my arms, I had another growly conversation, I swear it's their way of communicating that they love you and they want to tell you.

"That's it'" said the husband' "we are never having another cat!"

Lasted five years, then we took Leo.

Now, I have to say he's not the brightest bulb in the box, but he is completely adorable.

My friend picked him up and stuffed him in her knitting bag as a tiny kitten from a farm that she was visiting. It's ok, she knew the people whose farm it was, and there were plenty of barn cats running around. So Leo, as he was eventually named, comes home, and takes up residence with daughter no.2 who is at university. By this time, they already had two cats of their own, Pong and Ping, and daughter no.1 had a cat, Bliss, who is a real princess.

Leo goes off to uni with daughter no.2 and is an indoor cat. She comes home, and he then becomes an outdoor cat, as it is impossible to let two cats out and keep one in, and the children, nos.3, 4 and 5, were much younger too, so not really getting that he should be indoors.

She finishes uni, and I am then asked if he can board with me, as he causes havoc with Pong and Bliss. (Ping got run over, a hazard living in the country), so, he moves in, but is free to come and go, and visits next door on a regular basis, coming home to sleep. She then goes off to college and I am now told that I can have him for another year, if that's ok, as she can't take him with her to her digs.
My friend leans over and says that means he's here permanently. 

So begins a new chapter in his life. He is a sweetheart, and all that fur can be quite troublesome, especially now as the velcro burs are beginning to appear, and as he picks up anything that's going, it's quite a problem. He came in this morning trailing a twig, so I have to try and catch him and remove it, no mean feat when it gets twisted in his fur. So brushes every day are a welcome relief for him.

Living in the country, there are any number of cats wandering around. It's not unusual to see them wandering along the edge of the property as they are wandering off from some barn somewhere.

This past winter, Leo made a friend. I had seen a little black and white cat wandering around the garden, and eventually, it would start walking past the front of the house, and as the weather got colder, it took up residence next door, by the hot tub. He would then appear every morning at the back door waiting for Leo to go outside after his breakfast and they would trot off together.

The weather got colder, and I started to feed him once a day, so he would appear at 5 in the afternoon, ready to eat, and boy, could he eat. The snow got deeper, so it was a question of feeding him to survive as I wasn't sure what he was eating, and I think he was now living in our car port. Leo would go out and sit in the car port, he's not fond of walking in snow or rain and Patch, as I called him, would wander off for the day. One afternoon, there was a real blizzard, and all I could think about was this poor little cat being out somewhere in it. So I donned snow pants, coat, boots and hat, and went out calling him. I don't know if you have ever been out in heavy snow when everything is silent, it really is very beautiful, there was no traffic and not much wind although the snow was blowing, and I'm calling for Patch. I thought he was next door, up a tree, and several other places as I could hear him answer every time I called I just couldn't find him ,when all of a sudden, I saw this little cat struggling through thick snow and from completely the opposite direction.  I scooped him up, brushing the snow off the top of his head, and put him inside my coat and brought him in to warm up a little. The husband said he's not staying and I could have an outdoor cat and that was it, "no." 

The temperature hit -41C one night.

The husband said "We can't leave him out, he'll freeze to death."

So..... in he came.

Leo was thrilled. He chirruped when he saw him, and so Patch was put into a bathroom with litter tray, food and a hastily made bed. Never have I seen a cat so happy, he ate voraciously, snuggled in his bed and used the litter tray. The next morning, I fed them both as it was obvious to me, and also to the husband by this time, that he was not going to be thrown out into the cold again. Leo was beside himself with delight at having a friend in the house and was happy to show him the ropes. They both trotted outside after breakfast, and when Leo came back, Patch came too. They settled into a happy relationship of play fighting, chasing each other and enjoying each others company, although I have yet to see them curl up beside one another. Patch has never tried to take over, waiting to be offered  the high seat on the cat post, and Leo taught him to play with toys, as he had no idea what to do when a ball rolled towards him.

Patch was very much the hunter. As we have no clue as to his background, one can only imagine what you have to do to survive.  He ate anything and everything which I will not detail. And so it was that we settled into "family" life. 

So all was well with the world. Just before I left for England, Patch wasn't well, couldn't put my finger on it, but said to the husband, if he's not better by Monday, take him to the vet. The grand Pooh Bah of the quilt festival and I were going to the Festival of quilts in Birmingham, so we were dropped at the airport, had a good flight, when it eventually took off, delayed due to a bad storm, and landed in Heathrow. Logged on to the free wifi, as you do, to find an email form the husband saying he had spent the night at the emergency vet in London as Patch was very sick.

It would appear that he got home to find that he was having trouble breathing and couldn't stand upright without falling over, and his head tilted to one side. So he rushed him into London. I called home.

It would appear that they couldn't really say what was wrong as it could be any number of things such as viral meningitis, toxoplasmosis or something else, but blood work came back negative for anything major so the husband was sent home with capsules and strict instructions, he wasn't allowed outside, no rough housing with Leo, a quiet peaceful environment.

The husband then saw our own vet, and Patch was treated for Toxoplasmosis, and given a course of antibiotics for 28 days twice a day. You can imagine how popular I was, as I was away for 18 of those 28 days. So the neighbours helped through that time.

Leo was an absolute star. He realized that Patch wasn't well, and was very gentle with him, but the husband said he looked like a lost little boy outside as he was on his own and not with his best friend.
I call every day, and am glad to say that he improved greatly and I was then in charge of giving him his two pills a day, which, incidentally, had to be cut into four as they were too large to do in one hit, when I got home.

Once he finished, back to the vet. She said we will probably never know what caused it, but very likely he ate some animal which had the parasite and it then infected him, so although he is bright and very alert, his head is still tilted to one side, and he does have the occasional wobble and will now forever be an indoor cat. He has adapted well and makes no attempt to go out. We were not sure how his vision would be and if he took off after something, whether he could find his way home again. The house is filled with toys as we have to keep him active, and I keep a strict eye on his diet as he is not running around so much.

I love this photo, it looks as if Leo is laughing at a joke that Patch just told him!

Leo comes in often, and they play as if there was nothing wrong, but I notice that Patch's head is always slightly more tilted afterwards, which makes me think that he might be quite woozy.

So, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and play............

Sunday, July 26, 2015

best laid plans..........

So.... I have been working on the piece, and auditioned fabrics to use....

...and then discarded all but two of them. It's strange that you can work on something, hold the fabrics near, but when you start thinking about cutting them up and using them, they really are not going to work. I kept the fabric in the front which is sort of diamond patterned and the dyed blue velvet on top of it. They do stand out and are quite lush against the background.

So........'s where I am so far. I am appliquéing the pieces on, and will darken down the tea dyed cotton piece as it does look a little bright, although I have to say that it is a lot softer in reality. 

The squares are cushions and I have just put a piece of batting behind each one to give it a little more depth. My next task is to work out the base of the ottoman they are on before stitching them all down, at the moment, it is all looking a little flat, and I think I will have to do a little manipulation to make it work.

Stay tuned..........

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How does she do it.....?

I have just started a new piece, when it struck me that I never actually write about how I do it, and the process of working. Thought this might be a good time to start.

To me, it just happens and I never really give it much thought, if people ask how I did something, I have to think hard, as I really couldn't tell you, I just do it. I posted a photo of this piece of ice dyed fabric the other day. I love it a lot the colours just sang, even the husband was moved to open a window and yell out, "gorgeous colours!!"

I reclaimed a pillowcase that was no longer in use, but has a bit of a sateen feel to it, cut it up into two pieces and threw it into the pot after having soaked it in soda ash solution, covered with ice and sprinkled with dye. Hey Presto!! I cut one piece up to make a border as it hadn't dyed the same way as the other piece. So, a few days were spent thinking "now I've done that, what do I do next?" 

The thing is, its what the fabric told me to do, I even managed to keep a little back to use for binding - if I decide to go that way. Frankly, I feel hemmed (pardon the pun), in with binding, and like the work to flow over the edges so we will see.

The husband has been good enough to print off several acetates for me of my trip. So far, I have done a couple of pieces on Jaffa, but have to return as I found another one the other day I'd like to do, and I am starting on Jerusalem. Probably years of work there, I've done two pieces, and this would be the third.

This is the image I decided to work on.

As it looks on the acetate, the flare on the left is the reflection of the bulb. The colours always come out slightly differently, and it can be easier to see colours and shapes.

I started working on the border, my original plan was to do the right hand side showing the buildings and arched top on the border only and do something different in the middle, (what was a complete mystery to me,) but I'm sure something would come along.......

I painted the top border and then had this crazy idea, which I actually think works really nicely.

If you look at the image, you will see what this is, and I rather like the slightly quirky futuristic look of it. I had almost totally painted the last piece I did and wanted to move away from that so now the fun starts! I have laid down a couple of pieces onto the main body after having sketched the area I wanted free hand to make it larger.

So, this is it so far. I will try and remember to take more photos as I go along, but this is also a good exercise for me as I'm really having to think rather than just do it and say "...and I made this piece...."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Just to tease you.....

So, as I said, not much work to show, so how about this? Photos which have inspired the pieces so far

Hopelessly out of order but never mind. This is the photo I used of the Kotel

 A street in Jaffa

Back to Jerusalem and an unknown grave


Well, that proved disappointing!! I thought I had more to offer, but it is what it is. So for your delight and delectation, I offer two photos and I will try and post others. I just like to keep some of the work a surprise, once I've entered it for shows, that's a different matter, I'll plaster it every where.

This is a small piece, Colour Vie on cotton/silk fabric, of the Kotel, (Western Wall to us), showing the Dome on the Rock

This was one of the first pieces I started when I got back from Israel. It includes a piece of Bedouin embroidery which is just beautiful.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Did you miss me.....?

It's been a while. 

To be honest, I felt drained when I'd finished writing about my trip, and I needed the break.

Festival was also coming up, and we were busy doing trunk shows and getting the interest going. I would love to say that it is easy and that we really don't need to do it, but it is absolutely imperative that we do. I cannot imagine not doing this now, and really enjoy it although it would be nice to have a break. Now, having said that, I will step back in 2017 but for that year only. 

2018 is going to be......... Well, I'm not telling, but it is exciting and I am going to focus entirely on that. Latvia is under control and Elina and I have really enjoyed our correspondence, in fact I will be seeing her in a couple of weeks as Cathy and I will be going to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham,UK.  She is a delight, and I look forward to spending some time with her, I will be taking a workshop with Elina that she will be teaching at Festival next year which I am looking forward to. It's more traditional with a bit of a twist, so if you happen to be at a trunk show, I will bring it so you can see my sorry effort. 

Festival went well, and ever since then I have been in my studio and working hard. I am so pleased with what I've done so far, I would post photos, but I am hoping to enter them into shows and don't really want them plastered all over the Internet. I'll see if there might be one that won't make the grade, and post that. 

I thought I'd do quilts of my trip in order, so far I've done Jaffa but need to go back, as I have other pieces to do, and started Jerusalem, of which there will be several, and I am enthused. I am also going to be working on a piece for a SAQA exhibit which is also exciting, but I don't have the right fabric yet, I want something that will look a little ghostly and overlay a piece of handyed fabric. I think I thought I had some silk organza but only have black and I need white. 

It's been a joy to shut myself away although I am having trouble leaving the house as I feel a little unsure when I do leave and want to stay home. Once I'm out I'm ok. 

Well, I didn't want you to forget me and this is just a quick post. I will try and write more regularly and certainly tell any entertaining tales of our trip to Birmingham, of which there will be many!!!

Monday, January 12, 2015

almost there.....

I was going back to Jerusalem again today but to a different area.  It really is the most fascinating of cities and I really enjoyed seeing so many different sides to it.

I had stayed at Shoshi's the previous night, and was going to be going off with Linda today. Again, we had never met, but became friends on Facebook, and we seemed to hit it off so I was looking forward to meeting her.

Shoshi dropped me off at Airport City where Linda was waiting for us, and we made plans to meet that night for dinner. I climb into Linda's car, and I think we talked the entire way there as if we had known each other for ever. We had a wonderful journey entering Jerusalem through the Jerusalem Forest, a great contrast between the pines and the white stone. We were going to Ein Kerem.

This was the Russian Orthodox church with gold domes

Ein Kerem is known as the Artist's Quarter as there are many artists who live and work in that area, but it is also better known perhaps as the birthplace of St John the Baptist. And it was to the Church of John the Baptist that we were heading.

It was in a house on this site that John the Baptist was born to Elizabeth. We walked up a small alley lined with shops and entered the courtyard of the church which was an oasis of calm. Before we went into the church itself, we studied the walls outside which had a prayer in every language, Hebrew, English, Arabic, Thai, Latin, South Korean, the Baltic languages, you name it and it was on the wall in tile. It was a very beautiful prayer and looked lovely in so many different languages, there were several tour groups so Linda and I went into the church, it was very quiet and there was a monk silently praying in one of the pews. The church is decorated in blue and white tiles and is very lovely. Some people came in behind us talking loudly and were quickly shushed - not that they took any notice.

We spent quite a time looking here and then we left and started to explore the town. We walked a little further up the hill and came across a lovely gallery, they had an exhibition of some beautiful work and again we spent some time looking at it all. I was almost very tempted to buy a piece, but had to think about my luggage, but there was a small piece........... oh well, I didn't get it but never mind.

Linda has a huge interest in art and artists, so I enjoyed being with her and discussing the subject. I am sure she will be horrified to see I included this photo of her but it is more for the sculpture she is looking at. The town is very old, and it was lovely to wander the backstreets and see some lovely houses tucked away, and a Boutique hotel.

We also visited a lovely Monastery or Convent where you could actually stay on retreat. The church there was very modern and there was a group who were going to hold a service so we stayed and joined it for a little while. The gardens were very beautiful and we spent some time looking around them and the surrounding countryside. We then thought we should have lunch and found a lovely restaurant, and although it was very sunny, it was quite chilly in the shade as there was quite a breeze. We were going to walk up to the Russian church after lunch, but they were re-laying the roadway to it, and it would have been a bit of a sticky walk. 

I think it will wait for the next trip as will a tour of all the artists studios. We decided that we would head back to Linda's apartment in Modi'in, and rest until we met up with Shoshi. It was a lovely relaxed day.

We went to a lovely Kosher restaurant, Caffit, and had a lovely meal, a selection of small dishes with Bulgarian bread. It was a very busy place and lots of families came in to eat. I looked across the room and saw a young Jewish family who were having a meal, father, mother and a little girl. The father had a bohemian look in the way he was dressed but had very long ringlets.... and an Uzi slung over his shoulder. I am guessing he was from a settlement on the West Bank.

All to soon, it was time to leave and say goodbye to Linda and head back to Shoshi's so that I could do my packing. Needless to say, I ended up sending a parcel home to myself as I was overweight and it's a $100 surcharge on Air Canada, so although I hadn't bought much, I had a lot of paper in the form of leaflets, catalogues and a book, although not huge, on the Israel Museum, oh and yes, I also had ten catalogues, again not huge on Linda Bar-On's show but it all adds up.

It was a late night, but finally it was done. The next morning Shoshi drove me to the airport and came through Security with me, this is just one check before you even get to the check-in desk, then once you get through that, your luggage is checked. If they see something odd, you are then sent to a line and have to wait to have your luggage searched. I waited patiently and then was called forward, put my suitcase on the table, and opened it for yet another lovely young man. He was looking at a screen and knew exactly where to go inside my case to pull out what had caused them to send me into this line, so, out came a jar of olive oil and a jar of olives and my Ahava body wash and lotion. 

I am pleased to say that once I could say who gave me the olives and oil I was allowed to repack them in my luggage and pass on to check in. I would have been disappointed to have had those confiscated as they were very much enjoyed, the olives went quickly once I got home as the husband loves them, and I am eking out the oil. I also got to put my body care back too.

I checked in with out any trouble and actually got a window seat, so Shoshi and I went off and had a coffee. Once she left me, I went through security at the departure entrance and made my way to Duty Free. I was looking for one particular store, Michal Negrin. I found it, as it happened to be on the way to my gate, and I had a little time to look around, again, I was shopping for a gift and found a beautiful belt which has been very much appreciated. I went to my gate and it wasn't too long before we were boarding. I made myself comfy and settled in for the 12 hour flight home, making a mental note that I would upgrade - no, not business, but there is a level in between - for a little more room on the next journey, I don't mind on a transatlantic, but a long haul like that needs a little more comfort.

The flight was delayed as there was a problem with the luggage hatch, indeed there was as I was seated in that area, the problem was they were still loading it. Oh well, I would get home when I got there, it looked as if the flight would be delayed by over an hour.

All of a sudden, it was all systems go and we found ourselves pushing back from the gate and then heading out to the runway. I looked out of the window, it's always my favourite part of the flight and listened to the roar of the engines and then the lift as we left the ground, I grabbed my camera as we flew over Tel Aviv.

That's when the tears started to flow.

I cannot stress what a wonderful experience this was. As I sit here finishing this, I am teary all over again. 

Up until now, you have heard what is basically, my travelogue. But, what did I think of Israel, it's people and the many places I visited? I really should give you my five cents worth.

It is an incredibly complex country, it is so vital and alive, I don't think I have ever been anywhere where the people themselves live life to the full, the hustle and bustle of the cities, the noise, the colours, so much colour, they really know how to live for the moment,  Watching the young doing their National Service, carrying their guns, boarding buses either going home or going to base, buying lunch, when Niza, Eti  and I went to brunch, we took a back road which passed a large base, parents parked on the sides of the roads waiting to collect their children as it was Shabbat.

Arabs and Jews living side by side and working together, as Bella told me, when we visited Salman and Hassan in Buq'ata, they had both worked in the quarry for her husband and held them in very high regard, its why they are such good friends. Walking through many different parts of Jerusalem and seeing so many different facets to that amazing city - and I have barely scratched the surface of it-but I have seen more than a normal tourist would do. 

All the different Jews, Hassidic, Lithuanian,  Habbad, so much to learn there, all the different nuances in a very complex city.  Arabs selling Christian artifacts, they have to make a living.

The warmth of the people, Jewish or Arab, and their gratitude that you made the effort to go, staying in their homes, trying to help and being told to sit!

Driving through the West Bank, trying to understand the borders, going to the mall, theatre or cinema and having your bag searched and passing through security. Seeing children on a kibbutz school with an armed guard while they play. I heard about Israel and Palestine, I am not going to repeat it as there were many private conversations except to say the gist of all of them is that they all want peace, things don't have to be this way. 

Will I go back? Try and stop me, it is too important to make it just one trip, all the people I met, the new friends I made, how could I not want to go? I have too much to learn.............

I hope I haven't bored you with this tale, I enjoyed writing it, it is a trip that will remain with me forever. I have tried to write every day, but it is still so clear in my mind, I took over two thousand photographs - the husband has sat through every one of them - and they are a wonderful record of a wonderful trip.

Until the next time............

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Um....... are you sure this is where we should be.......?

I am pretty near the end of my trip now, (thank goodness I hear you say.....)

We are home late, and I am leaving Yemima the next morning as I am going to be spending the day with Clara and then going back to Shoshi. You may remember that at the very start of this trip, I met Linda Bar-On and she had told us that she was going be having an exhibition in Be'ersheva on the 18th November and I was delighted as I would still be there to see it.

Clara called to say she was almost with us, and Yemima and I went down to meet her, me clutching my little bag, and we then loaded it into the back of Clara's car. As I cam out of the door she said as it looked as if I as making aliyah! Well, maybe I should......... and after saying my goodbyes to Yemima,  we left.

Clara told me that as we were heading for Be'ersheva, she wanted to take me to a museum on the way down. We were heading south again and the countryside was desert with some greenery. We were heading to the Joe Alon Centre. This houses the museum of Bedouin Culture.

Joe was a very interesting man, he was sent to England at the outbreak of WWII and when he returned to Czechoslovakia, he found his parents had been victims of the Holocaust. He enlisted into the Israeli airforce while in Czechoslovakia and progressed from there. He was Air Attache in Washington DC, and was murdered a month before he was due to end his term of office in 1973.

There is a display in the foyer of the museum showing his ribbons.

We moved outside and there was a Bedouin tent set up. As you can see they are not particularly small. The Bedouin life is a nomadic one, and they would move around the desert. There are several Bedouin tribes in the Sinai and the Negev.

The tents are very interesting as they are made of goat hair which repels water so is completely waterproof. The area in the photograph would be for entertaining. The other side of the striped fabric would be where the women baked and cooked and brought up the children and is known as the "Shigg". There was a lady baking bread which was typical of their culture and she invited us to break some off and eat, it was lovely, still hot and was flat and thin unlike Pita bread which is small and puffy.

We then moved into the Museum where there was a short film which explained the lifestyle, if a stranger arrived, he would be entertained in the main part of the tent and the women would provide food and make sure that he was welcomed, but the men would be the ones to entertain. The museum was well laid out and we had a lovely time looking at all the weavings, jewellery and other items there.

Bedouin beading and weaving

Blankets and wall hangings

Bridal attire

The camels have beautiful saddle covers

It was time for us to leave and head towards Be'ersheva. We were meeting a couple of Clara's friends, Nina and Ziva for lunch, they had been part of the committee choosing the quilts to come to Canada, and are both members of the guild in Be'ersheva.

But first, we had time to go to Lakia. This is a town which has been built to house the Bedouin, so there are not to many that now travel around the desert. Our first stop was at the Desert Weaving to see the beautiful cushion covers, bags and rugs that are made there, they were lovely but my goodness, they were heavy. We were allowed to wander around to the back of the building and see the weaving area although the weaver was not in attendance. There were bales of undyed wool and you can see how rough and coarse it is.

There were also some beautifully embroidered dresses for sale and it was lovely to go through them and see the handwork. It was time to go and we were now heading off to the Desert Embroidery project. This was very interesting as it is a not for profit organization which provides employment for women. The embroidery was and still is a very important part of the Bedouin culture, it was essentially used to decorate dresses, but the colours of the threads have special significance as to the age of the woman and her marital status. 

As the women are now more settled and not contributing as much, the project aims to help them by providing them with an income for their work and she earns regardless of sales. Apparently they employ 160 women on the project. It is also important to keep the tradition alive. I had a wonderful time looking a all the beautiful work, and bought some to take home as gifts, and had been the lucky recipient of some as well. It is also helping women by providing education classes for literacy, a mobile library, and a kindergarten.

I think this is a wonderful project and should be supported so I give the website here

We left here and then had to find our way to Be'ersheva. I never thought I would see camels wandering freely in the middle of a town, so Clara stopped and let me out of the car so I could photograph these. I was trying not to be too conspicuous, but people were staring at me.

Clara put Be'ersheva into the gps and off we went. We headed down this road towards the mosque and the gps was talking to us, so we were stopping our conversation to listen to it. We got to the junction at the end of the road which was opposite the mosque and went smola (left). We followed the road when all of a sudden it totally disappeared and we found ourselves driving across the desert............

Well.. we just carried on. There was no road, maybe just a tire track to follow, but the gps was telling us to carry on, it was not easy, the "road" was rutted and at times it was difficult to see the track. Our trusty gps kept telling us to keep to the right hand track, (yes, but where is it?), and at one point told us to take the right hand fork. That was a tricky one as there was a left, a sort of right and a definite right which headed straight into a Bedouin village of tents,  one of the official unofficial villages as they call them. We stopped and took the sort of right. Now, there are not too many cars in these villages, and you see lots of people walking, but on this occasion we were the only car out there. We must have driven across the desert for about fifteen minutes when all of a sudden, we can see the main highway. We had been laughing so hard that tears were running down as we couldn't believe that the gps would take us on this route, but I guess it knew it was there. We popped on to the road and it wasn't too long before we were in Be'ersheva. 

We met up with Nina and Ziva and had a lovely lunch and then went back to  Nina's home where she had laid out a wonderful array of her quilts to show me

Her work is lovely and based much more on the traditional, it was joy to see it. 

 I couldn't resist posting this again as they were so delicious....

It wasn't long until we were all in the same car and heading off to the Negev University in Be'ersheva as this is where Linda's exhibition was going to be, but prior to that we were going to hear a presentation that she was going to be giving. We found our way to the building and passed lots of university students, both Arab and Jew.  We opened the door to the lecture room, which announced our arrival by creaking as loudly as possible and there was Linda giving her lecture with slides in Hebrew. We found a couple of chairs at the back and Clara told me what was being discussed. When the lecture ended, there were lots of questions and someone asked Linda if she had shown her work outside Israel ( this was all in Hebrew, but Clara told me afterwards), to which Linda answered and mentioned my name and Canada. You have never seen so many heads swivel in my direction, I just waved.

When it was over, we all made our way into another building of the university where Linda's exhibition had been hung. Oh my.......... her work is amazing and  I have to confess that I took photos- but then so was everybody else. It was wonderful to just wander through and see her beautiful work, and I turned a corner........ and there was the camel quilt, "Blind Date". I couldn't quite believe it, and have to admit that I did stand there and cry, it was just lovely to see it again. 

Linda very kindly posed with it for me, but I think it's a little fuzzy sorry, and also very kindly signed the catalogues for this show, I told her how honoured we were to have had her work in Canada and thanked her again, on her part she told me how impressed she had been with the way we had handled her work, we left firm friends. I also me up with Yemima and Chaim again as they were there and also Eynia, it was lovely to see them.

I was then given a nighttime tour of Be'ersheva and then we had to head home.......