Monday, October 31, 2005

Goodbye Ms. Parks...

I could talk about Halloween or quilty goodness and things like that, but I think something else is more important to me today...

Directly next door to my job they are holding the memorial church service for civil rights icon Rosa Parks. She has had the honor of lying in state here at the Capitol--the first woman and only the 30th American to ever do so.

I am so lucky to be part of the first generation of African-Americans who never had to go to the back of the bus, drink from "Colored Only" fountains, or feel the everyday humiliations of segregation that I heard so much about from my grandparents. I can thank Ms. Parks and all of those before me who fought so hard for me to be able to be treated as an equal human being. These are actions that can not and should not be forgotten. Some say we still have a long way to go in terms of racism and prejudice and I agree, but thanks to a simple seamstress who was so tired on her way home that she helped spark an extraordinary movement, I have opportunities available to me that my grandparents were literally only able to dream about.

Thank you Ms. Parks...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Who Ya Gonna Call? Me.

me in uniform before an investigation at the John Brown House in MD

Ding!Ding! Ding! The prize goes out to Bellaquilter! (Her answer? "Here's my guess: You're the historian for the DC Metro Area Ghost Watchers and you will be speaking at the Decatur House Museum about Ghosts!")

Yup! Since it's Halloween-time and a busy time of year for me, I might as well go ahead and tell everyone else...

I am a ghosthunter.

That's right. A bonafide, out there at haunted places, things-that-go-bump-in-the-night chasing ghosthunter and have been for 6 years. I am considered a national expert on ghosts and hauntings and have been in major national and international newspapers and even the White House has interviewed me about their ghosts. I am the Historian for DCMAG--the great local group that I work with--which means that I research articles, deeds, and other historical info to determine the facts from fiction at a site. I've had a chance to visit some fantastic places, including haunted castles in Ireland, but I like the private home ones as well. As I'm a Sr. Agent, I also go on investigations too. It's fun and exciting and I enjoy helping our clients find out what's going on in their homes and how to cope with it. If you'd like to know more, you can go to my site at or read my blog at Ghosthunter L. Whew.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Twisting It Up, Turning Them Loose...

A clue (one every day!)...

...Ideas that is. Thank you for all of the suggestions. Those were some great ideas! I've definitely got a lot to think about.

I have a presentation at a museum a block from the White House tonight that I'm participating in--talking about my historian role in a group. What's the subject matter? Which museum? Who am I a historian for? A-ha!

You'll have to wait 4 days--yup, 4 days--to find out. I'll send out something special if a lucky visitor figures it out ahead of time! (DebR--you are not eligible because you know! LOL!)

Ooo-weeeeee-oo! Mystery! Excitement! Anticipation! All in one post!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Gears Are Turnin', Thinking BIG Thoughts

Well, here's the deal...

I feel pretty inspired right now and I truly believe within my heart of hearts that I can be a success in this world as a writer and quilter. I want a freelance existence that will also allow me to travel. I have no kids. I have no house. There's nothing that's keeping me here in D.C. I'm willing to start fresh. I love my hometown, I really truly do, but I can't afford to live here anymore. My husband is in agreement about that D.C. part.

What can I do that will allow me to travel, still make money and be the writer-quilter that I know I can be??? I need solid ideas before I can create a plan, lol.

I'm open to suggestions and all suggestions are welcome!!

Worth Every Reprimand

Well, today I got reprimanded at work. It's always something isn't it, but the reason that triggered it was well worth it.

On my lunch hour, I went to a "Grantmaking Basics for Creative Individuals" session at the Foundation Center here in Washington, DC. It is a fabulous resource and I learned a lot about the types of possibilities available to a writer-quilter like me. Whether you are a visual or performing artist, a writer or poet or a craftsperson, there are opportunities available to you. I felt so inspired sitting there among other creative types. It's like the vibe ratcheting upwards in a positive way. I got reprimanded because I ran 20 minutes over my lunch hour. I realize that between my creativity and my love of travel, there is no "typical" job that will ever be right for me and after seeing the world, I can never be content to be stuck in a windowless corner every workday ever again.

I've got to create my own destiny and future that I can control...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Potential Art Bundle Arrived!!

I am like a little kid when it comes to the mail. I grew up in the city where we didn't have them (just surly mailmen tossing it through the slot), so the mailbox is a real thrill for me to open everyday. I'm bad enough that my husband doesn't dare do it himself anymore, LOL.

Today I had a package from Deb Lacativa from her studio goodies giveaway. I told her I was thinking of greens, and emerald green in particular. I opened my package and an even cuter package was within! I untied it and the goodies kept coming! A pretty hand dyed fabric had a pleated pink square, a super-cool dyed crocheted piece, cool multicolored fabric and a nice piece of emerald green fabric inside! Thanks Deb! That really made my day!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Siblings...Gotta Love 'Em

I had a visit from my siblings today. My brother and sister somehow managed to take over my computer for a few hours, as we managed to bicker, tease, and joke with each other the entire time while uploading iPod songs, playing with my hermit crab, and checking the Net for cars. Not to mention a McDonald's run. The 3rd (and youngest) sibling called, who--upon hearing everyone's voices--declared that we were "jerks" for holding a "secret ninja get-together meeting" without calling her too, LOL.

It was really nice seeing them.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I'll Take It Back

Sigh. I said many bad things about the French as I hopped on my plane to London. I swore I'd never return. My excitement at seeing the Eiffel Tower from the air upon coming was replaced with relief that I was leaving. I'm not one of those "freedom fries-I-hate-the-French"-types because I don't, but they sure made it hard. It just felt so cold there and I'm not talking temperature. Here are my reasons I'm willing to give Paris another try:
  1. the nice pastry shop owner who gave me the yummy teeny tart above for free
  2. the pharmacist who helped me with medicine for my insect sting from hell
  3. the wonderful staff at Angelina's tea salon on the rue Rivoli (have the chocolat l'africain!)
  4. the guy I shared a laugh with on the Paris Metro when Chris fell asleep and started keeling over
  5. the fact that I wasn't staying in city center and we weren't quite sure what to do there
  6. and, it reminds me of home
Maybe in 2 years I'll go back...perhaps...I want to give it another go.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Thoughts on Quilting

with Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters) at the Tower of London. They were very nice.

Today was one of those days that kinda whizzed by--which was good. I've been thinking of quilt designs, trying to feel which one I want to do next. I think I'll do a small one. Ease myself back into quilting since it's been almost 2 months now.

People are pretty surprised when I say I'm a quilter. I don't know what they're expecting, but I get the feeling I'm not it, lol. Then I show them pics of my work and they totally get it and get why I do it and see it for the art that it is and that's good. Definitely. I often see other quilters' work and I am blown away by the sheer beauty or complexity of their work. How the simplest piece could be very intricate. There's always someone else's work who makes me catch my breath. Isn't it cool the things that creativity makes us do?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

La Tour Eiffel

J'aime la Tour Eiffel!

Sipping cocoa and eating a chocolate crepe at the base of the Eiffel Tower was like the fulfillment of a dream. I was once a kid in the hood, just dreaming of seeing fabulous places like Paris and London and I'd imagine being at the Eiffel Tower. I was a bookish child, always reading. Books were my escape and the contrasts to what awaited me outside my front door. I always saw myself as doing and seeing more than my environment and there I was--watching the sun go down and its lights coming on golden and beautiful. And when it started twinkling, I almost cried because it was so gorgeous, but I didn't want the guys to tease me. I don't know if they'll ever know how much it meant for me to be there.

An Itch to Scratch

me learning to dance sevillanas in Spain

I have an itch to write about my experiences right now. I get like that. I go through creative phases where different forms of it has to manifest. Sometimes I must draw and paint. Sometimes I must quilt or sometimes I must write. I am going into a writing phase now and I can just feel it inside...bubbling up, ready to be turned into words.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Quilt planning and plotting

stained glass dome at my hotel--the Palace Hotel in Madrid

I'm one of those planning types when it comes to my quilts. I like having it fully realized in my mind design-wise--at least the major components of it--by the time I start even considering fabrics. Right now, I'm not feeling a fabric "itch"--still too soon--but ideas are forming. I'm considering a small one for that PAQA South exhibit on Images and another nice one based on that small village (La Alberca) in Spain. I didn't have one lined up to do when I returned, which is cool because it means I feel really open idea-wise.


Oh, a great side effect of this trip that might seem so silly is that I'm dreaming. I moved from my downtown apt. about 2 years ago to a place more in the suburbs (ugh) and I stopped dreaming as much. I used to have these lucid, vivid dreams that gave me ideas for my stories and art and they kind of stopped, but while travelling and upon my return they have been back! This is a good thing!

Transition? Whatever.

Still waking up in the morning not knowing where I am, lol. Still dreaming I'm in Spain, London or Paris. It's just nuts and I'm not the only one. The guys are having the same problems. At least the jet lag's stopped.

Oh, and I really am staring at the walls at work. Just a gray boring corner. I heard that's bad for feng shui and it traps energy and creates clutter. I can truly believe it. I just wanted to be outside in the sun and walking around so badly that I almost cried at one point. Add to that a cold from hell that had me laid out all weekend and I think it's safe to say my transition to my normal life isn't going too smoothly.

Happy Birthday Starr! My little goddaughter turned 6 today! Yay!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Some Pics from Europe 1

I thought everyone would enjoy seeing a few pics from Europe! From top to bottom: me on the London Eye, at the Eiffel Tower, walking the streets of Madrid w/my husband, and at Piccadilly Circus in London.

Cough Cough Hack Hack

OK, I am officially sick. I've got a cold or the allergies from hell or something. Either way, I feel like crap. I actually left my quilt guild meeting early because I felt so bad. One of the members was giving a lecture on advanced paper piecing and I'm sorry I missed it. You never know what you can use from someone else's techniques or advice, you know? I've been dozing off and on since then, half-watching movies like "Vanity Fair" and "Confessions of a Teen Drama Queen" and eating spaghetti. Yum.

Yawn...I'm going to bed.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Jet Lag Sucks & Illo Showcase

Uggghhh...I am feeling like crap. I'm 5 hours ahead body clock-wise so it's 5:30 am to me.

I am a member of the Illustrators Club of DC/MD/VA and tonight was our Illustrator's Showcase at the National Geographic Society's headquarters. I do illustration work under the name "Wawa Moore" as I am published in the adult fiction market and don't want a confusion.

It was pretty cool. There were about 60 illustrators there and each had a table to themselves to set up materials. Art directors and buyers would circulate among us checking out our work. I was so nervous as it was my first one and looking around at the other tables, a lot of the others had fancy setups and displays and I felt so plain and silly and small compared to them. I went outside and called my husband with a minor anxiety attack. He told me not to worry, that it's my talent that counts and I appreciated that. As soon as I sat back down one came over and told me how much they liked my work. All night long ( and it does pay to actually be at your table--they tend to stop more), AD's told me how much they liked my work. I was very tickled as I'm new to this. I hope something comes out of it and I'm glad I participated.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Albercan Designs

While at the Englishtown program, we stayed in a small village called La Alberca. It is a beautiful medieval town, filled with narrow winding streets and charming homes. Although Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together peacefully as neighbors there, it became a site of the Spanish Inquisition, many doorways are marked to let them know it was a Christian home. The fluid designs are particular to the region and were passed down from mother to daughter. Lions and birds representing the male and female, birds for husband and wife, trees of life representing marriage, the designs usually symmetrical. I bought a handmade and painted tile with the "la mujer enamorada" bird design.

Hell is...Other Americans

I just had to mention this... As a Black American traveler, you are rare. You just don't see others like you and your looks, dress and accent make you really stand out. Having heard reports of racial slurs against footballers in Spain and England and Paris' hostility towards African immigrants, we braced ourselves for the possibility of some type of incident.

Instead, I found the Europeans that we encountered to be friendly and open towards us. Almost no big deal. All four of us are tall, very funny, the life of a moment and the guys were usually dressed comfortably in casual clothing or jeans and nice shirts. I personally fit in style-wise in all 3 cities and got mistaken for a native in all three. In Spain, we were stared at once through a window and an older Spanish gentleman stopped to politely ask my husband where he was from, but no problems. It was usually the older generation and we understood.

You know, I've traveled over 8000 miles plus total this trip, and I'm very saddened, disappointed and angered that the only time we encountered true ignorance was from another American in our program who said, "Oh, you all look alike..." and other things to us. You just don't say that. You just don't...

I just had to share as that was the only small blight on my entire wonderful trip.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Back in the States...Darn...

Well, I'm back home in the States again. It's crazy to think that just this morning I was riding on the Tube and now I'm back at my home computer tiktak-ing away. I had a very very comfortable flight back and the guys are always good for great conversation. I somehow always manage to spill liquids on myself in the plane and go the bathroom 5000 times. It's so sad.

What will I miss the most about Europe besides my new friends? The casual sense of life meaning more than work. Even in the busiest city (London), we were never rushed while eating or drinking. People seem to know how to live life more--especially in Spain. Everyday I yearn for that type of daily life and I don't know how to reconcile it with my reality. One of the guys wondered how things will be different to, and for, us when we return. If anything, I think it has seriously altered my perspective by making me realize that I really do have so much to offer the world, why am I shortchanging myself?

You just don't come home from a trip like this unaffected...

Last Night in Europe

The big ol' Eurotrip is coming to a close tomorrow. Here's my roundup. We have:

1. Partied with the Spaniards, been snubbed by the French and roamed the downtown streets with the English.
2. Eaten the best ham in Spain carved straight off the leg, drank hot cocoa like melted chocolate bars in Paris and eaten Cornish pasties in London.
3. Taken the Metros in Madrid and Paris and the Tube here in London. D.C.'s is the best hands down.
4. Posed with Beefeaters at the Tower of London, had a standard bearer give us a good morning during the changing of the guard, seen a fight in Madrid and almost got hockspit on in Paris
5. Fallen asleep at the drop of a dime almost everywhere
6. Walked, ran, climbed and gone up so many stairs that we cringe at the sight of them now
7. Been stung by a wasp (me), injured an ankle on a cobblestone (Chris), taken a chunk out of a finger (me again)
8. Figured out that Madrid is our favorite city and we miss our Spanish friends very much
9. That all of those famous places and sights you see on TV and in pictures are just as impressive for real.
10. Had a wonderful time...

This has been one of the most incredible experiences in my life.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Cheers, Y'all from London!!!

Still in London.

Today I went on the London Eye. OK. I'm terrified of heights. I mean, really terrified of heights and I'm up in the air in this thing. Deep breath. Deep breath. It was a beautiful view and something I just had to do just to experience it and I'm glad I did, but souvenir photo should be called "I Survived the London Eye."

It's been really incredible here walking by Westminster Abbey w/hot cocoa and looking up and seeing Big Ben. The lights and sounds and smells of Piccadilly Circus and Leincester Square and the theater district. Oh man, Cornish pasties are so yummy! We've been going around town on the double decker tour bus for transportation (actual guide commentary: "And over here is Green Park...because's GREEN.") It's so expensive here though. That part isn't cool, but the energy and vibe here is a lot of fun. I'm loving London.

I can't believe I'm in the last leg of this fantastic trip. I've had some incredible experiences and every day I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. How in the world will I be able to go back to "regular" life and my office space in a little corner facing the damn walls after this????

Friday, October 07, 2005

London's Shaping Up Already...

I'd like to consider myself pretty open when it comes to travel, just enjoying the moment, taking in the sights, going with the flow, but Paris challenged all of my easygoing traits and the guys' too. We have all never wanted to get the heck out of somewhere so much as we did Paris, which really surprised us. Sure there were some OK people, but that wasn't the norm. We expected to have all those "the French suck" stereotypes dispelled and we have fun everywhere, but Paris...God, I'm so glad to be gone from there and I can't say any of us are too keen to return.
Paris was a beautiful place with beautiful buildings and sites, but damn, the people were so cold compared to Spain and now, London. I'm writing from an internet cafe at Piccadilly Circus. We're just really getting settled in here as we switched to a more in town hotel (the Sheraton Park Lane) and it's still weird for us to be hearing English nonstop, as it's been 2 weeks now since the last time we did. Off the break, we're finding the English to be friendly and funny as hell. I think there's something about them that really appeals to us. I'll keep ya posted.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Welcome to France

I didn't fall off the face of the Earth, but I did get stung by a wasp, lose my voice for 4 days and really hurt a finger. It's all wonderful though! LOL! We ended Madrid with a blast by doing a la movida--bar hop. 8 of us--the guys and 4 friends from the program--roamed downtown Madrid with throngs of Madrilenos just out. It was wild. We even saw a fight. A woman got bumped by this dude and clipped by a car. She and her friend went after dude and fought him even popping him with a pipe. KLONK! All ages just going from place to place enjoying themselves drinking drinks, eating bocadillo sandwiches, drinking café, wonderful. Madrid is a city that is as much about the vibrancy of its people as it is the city itself. I love Madrid.

Paris however, has been nice, but a more frustrating experience. I'm writing this from an internet cafe on the Champs Elysees. There's a strike going on with the Metro, but we've been riding it anyway. Just delayed trains. We got to sit at the base of the Eiffel Tower eating crepes and drinking hot chocolate and voila, lol, it started sparkling all over. It was amazing. Nothing quite prepares you for the size and beauty of it. It really is spectacular. We also lucked up on the Arc de Triomphe just as a military honor ceremony took place and we were front row. The Arc's really impressive. Today we went to Notre Dame. Smaller than we thought, but pretty. Came THIS close to fighting a French dude when he almost hockspit on us after I ignored him, the A-hole. The people here are so much colder than the Spaniards and dang they like to stare all in your face. Headed over to the Louvre--on the only day it's closed. Ended up this great, popular place called Angelina's and had a baba au rhum with so much rum I was heady. Not to mention the best hot chocolate EVER.

Tomorrow...back to the Louvre and maybe over to Montmartre and Sacre Coeur.