rayna gillman's blog         improv quilts & an improv life

It has to get better, right? We hope so, anyway. My friend in England has already had her first dose of the vaccine! My beloved New Jersey is already vaccinating people. I don't know about you, but here in Palm Beach County, where they are supposed to be vaccinating the "elderly", the hotline is down and nobody can get through to make an appointment. Typical Florida incompetence. Now I hear they are THINKING ABOUT sending out mobile units for people 65 and up (previously 75 and up). There are more than 17,000 seniors in the community where I live. 'Nuff said.

Moving On...

This past week I have taken a break from the studio to do other things. My live-in cleaning person hates to clean and is really bad at it, but she's all I have. She is grouchy but the upside is that she works for free.

This week, despite her horrible allergy to dust which left her sneezing, itching, and taking antihistamines while she worked, she vacuumed, dusted the widow sills and the furniture, and rewarded herself by escaping to the outlet mall to buy a few things to wear when she is not cleaning. As soon as this pandemic is over I plan to fire her and hire somebody good.

In the meantime, I have been mostly at home, cooking and baking: making soup, and trying out interesting recipes from the NYT Cooking app and the many Indian cooking websites and blogs. My little curry trees are thriving and I always have enough curry leaves for the South Indian dishes I make. I can't explain why these plants make me so happy, but they do.The little one is already having a baby (not visible in this photo).

I'm out of bread so I've resuscitated my sourdough starter and am waiting for it to bubble enough for me to use it. It's moving right along but needs a couple more feedings, so maybe tomorrow. I love semolina bread and I have several recipes, so I may try a different one later today.

The rubber band is where it started this morning after I removed ½ cup and added back the same amount of flour and water I had removed. See?? It's growing.

3 days later...update

The bread turned out ok but not fabulous, although it makes great toast. Think I will back to the original semolina bread recipe and keep sourdough bread as a separate thing.

Yesterday in the studio was a disaster. Screen mirroring not working on my phone or iPad -- apparent interference from a neighbor's AppleTV. And then my tripod, which I have had for 20 years, broke in a key area. I will try and glue the broken parts together with super glue but if that doesn't work I will have to replace the tripod. Sigh...never a dull moment at Studio78.

a few more days later...after the terrorism/attempted coup on our democracy

As many of you did, I watched the horror at the Capitol live on CNN - as it was happening. I have been glued to my iPad and CNN for days. No need for me to comment.

In the meantime, I'm still working on trying to get screen sharing to work in my studio. Impossible, since there is interference in that building. So, videos of the demos should work.

Tomorrow i plan to work at home.

Also, during this week, my beautiful curry plants dropped dead -- no doubt in response to the turmoil in our country. I am trying not to be heartbroken on all counts - but I have repotted the plants and unlike the lives lost in D.C., they may revive in time.

On another note, I was going through photos on my laptop and found (with much hilarity) this picture of me from 2005. Thought I'd share it with you, along with a more current photo.


Stay safe, stay well, stay creative. I love you all. Let me know how you are doing in this crazy time.

xo Rayna

Both, but it's more like an 90/10 split. It has been a long couple of months. The 90% was spent in my studio working mostly alone, taping (and re-taping and re-taping and re-taping) videos and getting my materials ready for online classes. The other 10% was recovery time, such as it was. It has been a long couple of months.

The happy part was seeing both of my daughters, who came separately to visit me. Jessica came for my birthday week. We spent evenings together but she spent most days on the phone working from home in a series of nonstop meetings. We also had fun cooking together.

On my actual birthday we ventured out to have a lovely dinner outside and distanced from other people. It was the first time I'd been out for a meal since February or even earlier. What a treat and what a special birthday week!

Then Hilary came for Thanksgiving week! I was able to spend more time during the day with her because, although she also worked from home, her job is more flexible and she spent time loafing at the pool. I hadn't seen any of my kids or grands in a year, so this was a treat. Hilary and I had a very lovely lunch at an elegant rooftop restaurant - also very distanced from anybody else, so it was fine. (my one dress did double duty in November). Another happy week for me!

But all was not sunshine and roses: a very close family member spent all of November and almost half of December in the hospital with Covid-19, much of it on a ventilator when he was admitted. Scary because early on it looked very bad - and even with daily updates, it was extremely worrisome for the whole family. But he was lucky: he had the best doctors looking after him and he was able to come home in mid-December. Still coughing like crazy and it will be a long time until he is back to full health. But we are all thankful.

Ok, you are caught up - and so am I. Have done no creative work for myself and haven't had time to even bake bread lately. I have a quilt ¾ quilted that has been lying around for many moons. Here's a smidge of the quilted part. I simply don't have time, so it will wait.

Then there is this one, made from rectangles leftover from when I was writing my book. Still not done. Don't ask! These columns have been on the wall in various permutations for a year. No rush, right?

And finally - a glimpse of some blocks made with my No Pattern Paper Piecing method, which I will probably teach at some point online. Do you recognize the black/white/green scraps in the blocks below? Yep, I have a lot of leftovers from that book. Isn't it wonderful how new work springs from leftover scraps and bits of blocks that didn't get used? My favorite way to start something new.

Meantime, I have to get back to work and accomplish something in the next week or two.

My target date for teaching is sometime early in 2021 but that depends on a number of variables that are out of my hands. It will happen.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay creative and leave me a comment so I'll know you haven't completely given up on me. And I wish you a Happy New Year as things get better in 2021

love and big virtual hugs,


I don't play poker but I have been very busy for the last couple of weeks making phone calls to get out the VOTE in FLORIDA, which is a key swing state in this (and every) election. I am not saying which party I am volunteering my time for, but after today's craziness I had two martinis! People are certainly interesting.

Lots of hang-ups, a 98 year old woman who couldn't hear me, a man who voted in Texas (he's a snowbird here), a woman who won't vote because she says she can't get a babysitter (really? Take you kid to the dropbox with you). And a man who is not voting because he is leaving the results up to God. (I guess he can't make a decision). Never a dull moment.

I am recovering with a strong cup of masala tea with ginger, cardamom, cinnamon stick, and black pepper. YUM. I expect to be up late tonight.

Been editing demo videos because my iPad refuses to screen share with Zoom - but we'll be fine. Because of the holidays, I expect to be ready to go in January. Will keep you posted.

Things are looking up. I'm excited that my daughters are each coming to visit me (not at the same time). Jessica (left) arrives on Saturday for a week (she is my birthday gift) and Hilary (right, obviously) is coming for a week at Thanksgiving. Oh, joy! I haven't seen them for a year. I hope they have good weather while they are here - it is cold in New Jersey.

And Phil is coming back to Florida on Sunday, so Jessica, Phil, and I will spend election night all biting our nails together.

So - what have you been doing to keep yourself sane for the last 7 or 8 months? Reading? Baking? Gourmet cooking? Therapy sewing? Binge-watching series on Amazon Prime (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) or Netflix ( I binge-watched Mad Men, which I had never seen because I don't watch tv.). Whatever you are doing, I hope you have voted and I hope you are staying safe.


 all text & images ©rayna gillman 2019