Tuesday, January 31, 2012

More on NICoE

The National Intrepid Center of Excellence is a most amazing state-of-the-art place. It is truly foremost in the therapies offered. People work there because they love it. Many have taken a huge cut in pay to be there. How nice to know that there are still people who have a commitment far exceeding the desire for more money.

This virtual reality 'machine' is one of only 7 in the world, 5 being in the US. It is pretty cool and I wish you could see it in action. The screen comes around far enough that the patient cannot see past it with peripheral vision. If the 'path' rises then the platform tilts accordingly. The speed can be varied on the treadmill that is in the center of the platform. Things presented in the scenario are tailor made to fit the individual therapy. It could be birds, loud noises, math equations, you name it. The ultimate goal is to have the person be able to again integrate into the daily world here at 'home'.

Virtual reality

I was also thrilled to see art and music therapy. Many art programs are cut in educational crunches but here they get the importance of art and music! The art therapist was available and happily answered my questions and let me take photos, definitely two ways straight into my heart!! The patients are encouraged to forget 'product' and to deal with feelings and emotions. Here are a few examples along with the room where they work....

Painted mask


Another collage

Bark mask

Art and music room

More of the art and music room

Notice the light diffused about the room. The interior wall has windows letting more natural light enter along with plenty of track lighting to keep everything bright but not harsh. Also, have you noticed there are no patients around? On Fridays they go off to help train working dogs which is also therapy for those participating. Tours are largely given only during these times so that patients are never made to feel like guinea pigs on display for the public. Further evidence of this well thought out program.

I'm still figuring out how to place photos. It would be great if I could drag them around but this program doesn't work that way. I'm pretty sure any program that was more flexible would be a lot harder to learn so I'll stick with what I've got and hope for the best!


Monday, January 30, 2012

SG's Conference

I've been gone the last few days to the DC area with Bob for the Navy Surgeon General's (SG) Conference. The SG's wife, Tammy, sponsored a conference for the spouses of Navy Medical leadership. Although spouses are not in uniform they do fill a role when the active duty member is in leadership. It's not required but most spouses happily step up to do the job. What is required varies from place to place depending on what the immediate needs happen to be. It can be lots of work but also loads of fun and very fulfilling.

An outstanding part of the spouse's conference was a visit to the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE). This center is a gift from the American people by way of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and is a place to heal the invisible wounds of war. They are doing tons of work on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A great deal of thought and planning was put into the design and function of the building beginning with consideration for ambient lighting. There are tons of windows even in interior rooms, so they remain bright but do not glare. The resulting structure is beautiful in form and in function.

Rooms are not square and walls are not flat. Each space flows smoothly into the next. It is all very inviting and uplifting. I didn't want to leave!

NICoE Entry

Workout machines faced a nice view instead of a TV screen or a wall. Color comes largely from outside with nothing inside clashing or jarring.

Exercise area

Overhead windows had screening across them to cut glare but still allow a great deal of filtered light to enter the area even on a gray winter day.

Filtered light overhead

Tomorrow there'll be more about NICoE! For now I'm going to relax and enjoy being home! 8^)


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hawaiian Art

It's hard to believe that I took these photos FIVE years ago! Time just keeps slipping by. I was on an outing with our spouse's group and this just happened to be nearby. I'm so happy I didn't miss it. I'll start with a wood bowl. I think it might be carved from palm wood because of the long lines in the wood. The artist did a fabulous job of shaping and finishing the bowl. Imagine getting that out of a palm tree!

Now for a different medium. I love the shapes found in this piece. Sculpture is three dimensional and should look appealing from all sides. It's sad when sculptures are pushed up against a wall as they can no longer be fully taken in from every angle. I wish you could walk all around this one!

Oooohhhh, I've saved the best for last! Why is it the best you ask? Well, because it brings you back to weaving and basketry! Sorry, I could not resist. This piece has tapa cloth on the top which is made by islanders pounding bark into paper thinness. The lower part is woven of inflorescence which is the branch of a palm on which small flowers grow. I'm not sure about the rust color weavers. They are either dyed reed or some sort of covered wire. I can't tell here and I can't remember. I love that color though! Isn't it cool how someone can pick up just about anything and make something out of it?!

This walk down memory lane makes me want to sign up for an art class! Sigh.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Not A Basket!

I decided to give you a break from baskets today. Yeah....I thought you might be glad to see something else for a while! It rained one day during the conference and even though I really don't like gray days I did not complain. We need the moisture in the very worst way and it was more of a misty rain so we didn't even need umbrellas. All good things. I was on my way to fetch something from my room and I stopped and checked out this cactus. It looked interesting with the water dripping down. I really was wishing I had the time to change lenses and get closer but this was it at the spur of the moment.....

Totally an accident but the blue car up there in the first photo is mine. You can never plan such things! The sculptural quality of prickly pear always attracts my attention. God is quite an artist!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fun Basket Miscellany

Fun handle design
Weaver's spray bottle

Teeny basket-HARD to make!

For the record, tiny little baskets are much, much more difficult to make than a big basket. Only someone who has tried to make a teeny basket can truly appreciate the itty bitty ones!

Sharing a passion is just the coolest thing. I didn't realize how very much that means to me until the middle of this conference. It's been WAY too long since I got to do this. I do miss my basket guild in VA. Wherever we land I'll have to make sure to find or establish a monthly meeting.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

More Baskets.....be patient!

Stewart does a really nice job weaving. I met him at the Folklife Festival in San Antonio when we first moved here. He went for the bright colors this time.

Pam's backpack basket is woven of yellow cedar that she harvested and prepared herself in Alaska. This lady has a LOT of energy. Along with teaching basketry all over the world she also is a horse rider. Go Pam!

I really want to try this basket. It uses a method called tie twining. I bought a kit and will try it at home on my own. That way no one will know what the basket is supposed to look like so anything I do will be fine!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Random Basket Shots....not the athletic kind!

The lady on the right sat next to me in this class. Would you believe she has a daughter who is in her late 40s??! And she does NOT color her hair. I was totally amazed. Nice lady too....married to a retired Navy Chief!

A triangular basket, now that is different. Once the rim is attached it will straighten up nicely. It would be a good basket for an unused corner in your house.....

Two of my unfinished baskets. The little one has a lid so I have to be careful to end up with the right size opening AND it has to be round. If it gets too hard for me I can always lose the lid! 8^) The bigger basket is pretty neat. It's totally new for me, using two handles. The X-ing on the handles is really sharp looking. When the handles are finished I can apply the rim and then there will be light pieces inserted to make a pattern on the sides of the basket.

I know some of you are itching to make a basket. Just do it!!!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Basket in a Day

My Friday class started at 8 AM and lasted until 5 PM with a break for lunch. It's pretty intense trying to finish a basket in the allotted time. If it were just any old basket, no problem, but we were trying to make our basket to particular parameters. Much more difficult! This basket pattern is called Emma after the designer's granddaughter. You have to name it something, so why not after family members? Whatever.

Here is the beginning of the basket:

Base and spokes

Here you see the round base with holes drilled and the reed already cut into proper lengths for the spokes. For flat reed the base would have a groove all the way around but with round reed this is a lot easier. One spoke is placed in each hole and then the twining begins. Here's the base with spokes being inserted one by one:

Spokes in the base

 Twining is done with 2 or more weavers. There is a twist between each spoke which locks the spoke into position. You could glue it but it is not needed. No glue in my basket! Here's the basket with spokes inserted and twining done:

Begin with twining

After a few rows of twining we added another spoke on each side of the original spokes giving us 3 reeds to weave around. The new spokes are just inserted down into the twining. Now there are even MORE pieces getting all tangled up during the weaving process!

After the spokes are locked in the weaving starts for the first section of the basket. Now we are trying to bring the shape of the basket up rather than out. The spokes definitely want to go OUT. It's a battle and the basket maker has to take charge and decide what the shape will be. After the weaving we added another row of twining with much larger round reed. It gives a nice definition to the shape and pattern:

More twining

Now we are ready to shape the basket even more with more weaving. This time we are doing a twill weave for a little variety. Twill weave is done by going over and under more than one spoke. It gives a completely different look than basic over one, under one weaving. Here we did over 2, under 2:

Twill weaving added

As you can see, when the basket shape is pulled in the tangle of all the spokes gets to be a real challenge. It's tough getting that reed to come in smoothly! Here are some of my fellow basket makers working away:

Weavers at work

Finally we added one last bit of twining at the top. After the first row the extra spokes were cut off so the ends could be hidden in the twining. This reduces bulk when finishing the rim. After the twining is done this basket is finished with a woven rim. This is a nice change from the usual cut-and-tuck rim that is done. What do you think? My basket doesn't look too bad but it's clear that the teacher is a master basket weaver. Her basket is much smoother in shape and a lot more symmetrical! I've got a ways to go to get to her level of expertise. That's why she's the pro and I'm paying for the class! 8^)

Candace Katz

Candace was actually a lot happier than she looks here. She just hates having her photo taken. I'm glad she indulged me. Candace partners in basketry with her friend, Debbie Hurd. You can see their patterns and such at http://www.basestoweave.com.

And that is how my Emma basket got made. I'll keep the pattern but I don't know if I'll make it again. It has FIVE different sizes of round reed. Reed is sold in half-pounds or pounds. If I bought all the reed then I'd have lots of leftovers and I might have to make several baskets. It's a slippery slope!


Monday, January 23, 2012

T Bar M Resort and Conference Center

The basket weaving conference I recently attended was held at the T Bar M Resort and Conference Center in New Braunfels, TX. ( http://www.tbarm.com/ ). I think 'resort' is a bit of a stretch but it is a very nice place and I would recommend it as a destination. Best of all for me, it's only 30 minutes from our house! I'm not crazy about long drives so it was a big plus in my mind.

Typical of many Texas places it was done up in a country/western theme. There were lots of touches to achieve this end. Here's one of the chandeliers in the conference center. What do you think?

I had forgotten how gorgeous the berries are on yaupon holly. These grew in front of our house in College Station, TX. The cedar waxwings would eat them and then sit all wobbly on the branches. They looked more than a little drunk and it made them easy pickings for the cats.

Yaupon holly

Lastly, there was this item out in the grass. I'm pretty sure it's an old horse-drawn plow. Can you imagine how you'd look after a day of driving horses up and down the field plowing fresh rows?! Wow, things have really changed. I'm sure the horses are glad for the change as well!

Old plow

So, you can see I took photos of more than just baskets and basket weavers! Enjoy!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Texas Basket Weavers Association Conference

TBWA 2012

What have I been doing lately? WEAVING BASKETS and meeting LOTS of new friends who also weave baskets. It all started Thursday afternoon. I didn't have a Sunday class so I finished on Saturday at about 9:30 PM. It was really great to be immersed in something I love and have everyone around me doing the same. Would you believe that this group got organized, had multiple photos taken with three different cameras in under 5 minutes and then got right back to weaving?!! It's true!

We elected officers......

TBWA Officers 2012-13

We ate together.....

We made baskets together....

Best of all, we made friends......

I'm exhausted, my neck hurts, my hands are raw and tender but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact the next meeting of TBWA will be in January of 2013 in Mesquite, TX. Come join in! Information will be available here:  http://texasbasketweavers.com/


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Quadrangle Revisited

Visiting the Quadrangle never grows old for me. I love the animals and the atmosphere that is created within the walls of the surrounding buildings. I still don't get the reason for the fake bird in the middle of the pond. Who needs fake with all these other nice birds all around? I don't know if the deer ever come to the pond. I've never seen them near it.

Quadrangle-Fort Sam Houston, TX

Only certain things are allowed to be fed to the animals. Carrots are one of the allowed foods. I can't remember all the 'no' list but I do know popcorn is one of them. No idea why not. But the birds even love the carrots. I would never have thought of giving carrots to geese, ducks and peacocks!

Goose Gobbles Carrot 

If you make it to Fort Sam Houston I hope you visit the Quadrangle. It's worth the trip!

Super Saturday!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cool Necklace

One of our fellow churchgoers, Steve, recently went on a walking tour of the Holy Land. He shared photos upon his return. It looks like an awesome tour except for the walking part! But what I want to share is the gift he brought back to his wife, Kim. This man did a fabulous job choosing this gift for his wife, at least in my opinion. It's this really unique necklace. Check it out....

Isn't it beautiful? Kim then showed me how it can be changed into a completely different necklace! Here's the altered pendant.....

I think that is just so cool. I love when I come across such unique things. I'd love to talk to the person who came up with this idea! #whydidn'tIthinkofthat

If you know of such unique things please share!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More about METC

This is a nice time, after yesterday, to include a pic of RDML Kiser (Rear Admiral, lower half), aka my husband, Bob. Here he is standing by the sign that was finally posted by Trailer A, the temporary headquarters of METC.

Commandant of METC
He's a great guy, a great boss, dad and husband and he's pretty cute, too! 8^)

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Great News!

Chief Lambing is in the Air Force and was the first person to enter Trailer A to work at Medical and Education Training Campus (METC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_F9ZTZp3w4 ) arriving a couple of months before RDML Kiser (Bob). He is the most senior of all the enlisted personnel working at METC and has done great work. METC is established now and many of the 'founders' will be moving on to new assignments. Chief Lambing found out that he is going to be the new USAF SG/CMEF Translation: He will be the top enlisted medic for the entire Air Force and he will be working with the Air Force Surgeon General in Washington, DC. Way to go Kevin!!!! We are SO proud of you!

Here's Kevin as I know him best......

Kevin Lambing
We are fortunate to work with some really great people here at Fort Sam Houston.

Blessings today,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Busy Tuesday....

...busy for me anyway. I had a luncheon to attend where I won a 'complementary fitness consultation and workout'. The world is conspiring to make me get some exercise! Later a haircut with my friend Michele which always turns into a visit way beyond styling my hair. Then when I got home there were boxes on the porch. Now I have this.....

Eee Pad

Not an I-pad but the Eee Pad Transformer. It's a whole new learning curve for me. Words with Friends is in there SOME where. I just have to find it. This may take a while.

Meanwhile here is a fun picture for the day. I may have sent this one before but I'm not sure. See....if I had been blogging all along I could look back and see! Ha! 8^)

Bathroom View
This was our bathroom in Portsmouth, VA. I loved the reflection of the rug in the knob. If you look closely I am there in the knob three times. Nifty!

Good night all,