Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's Eve

Three months of blogging and I don't know how I made it thru the other 59 years without you. You give me hope, laughter, suggestions, and even tears. What a gift. Can't thank my son enough--he first suggested a blog to me in the summer and thanks to Deborah who kept after me to start and once started encouraged me to continue. My son reads my blog and says he has "gotten to know me" and that means a lot to me.


To enjoy the ten foot by four foot dining room table that is being handbuilt by my husband. He brought all the parts down to the dining room this afternoon and has been gluing and clamping everything together. It looked too big up in the work room but looks perfect down here. I can imagine family dinners, parties, and even "work days" with everyone running a sewing machine and talking all at once. What a wonderful way to begin the new year.

To have the pear paintings matted and framed and hung on the wall for all to see. No more keeping things I've made in the artist portfolio, hidden in the closet. No more keeping the quilts I've made piled in the guest room--hang them or sell them in 2006.

To go to more movies by myself. The Hub likes action/martial arts/blow everything up movies. I like things like "Pride and Prejudice". I went by myself yesterday afternoon for the first time and had a splendid time. Loved the movie. Loved having it all to myself. Loved coming out of the theatre and seeing my town in a whole different light. I felt like I had crossed "over" somehow.

To enjoy my life as it is.

Happy New Year to everyone out there who reads me. Thank You!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Red Shoes

I found a Neiman Marcus catalog in the magazine exchange at the library and there was this lovely redhead and the lovely red shoes and I thought of our favorite redhead and her favorite shoes and I made a little "story" out of the images. All this could be yours Deb--just email me and the originals will speed your way by post office mail. (I think that's an oxymoron) The comic book style graphic is about 12 by 14 inches and is the cover for a detailed "comic"--pages of the redhead shopping for jeans (?). No wonder she's crying.

New Stuff

This is the newest of my floral quilts. It was looking pretty lame until I auditioned the blue and white polka dot on it. Now it's got some "BAM". If you minimize the image you'll get to see the whole thing. It's 48 inches square. I sewed my finger to one of the outside petals and am still a little machine shy.......

The Christmas Turnip in oil pastels. With dining table clutter artfully arranged for Deborah who finds the "extras" amusing. The turnip looks like a top--I was so busy working on roundness, that I lost the 3 dimensional turnipness of the turnip. Notice the baby Warhols--you can get this effect with your own baby--$100 to $600. Hard to pass up.

I dye painted the center fabric years ago and washed it out and stored the piece. I'm into avoidance of actual work lately so I cut and sewed some borders on and I actually am starting to like this piece. My friend Joan suggests naming the quilt to help move it along. This looks rather "Planetary" to me. Is it moving yet? The blue stuff to the left is the African quilt from another post. Still unbordered.

This little scrap of a "idea" is for my tiny art quilt group project. Layered again. Ten inches long and about five inches wide. Batting, scraps from a sandwich bag (applique project long gone), tulle and thread so far. It's supposed to have HEAVY stitching covering the entire surface. Not crazy quilt style but like crewel work. Ugh!

The pastel pear again with more darks this time and a few more treats for Deborah around the edges. I was watching Bobby Flay and he made Carmelized Onions, Apple Chutney, and layered it all in a Camenbert Cheese Quesadilla. I liked everything as separate items. All together it would probably make me sick. Cheese Mold with Onions and Apples doesn't do it for me.

I had one more picture but Blogger would only upload 5 items so I will post again in a minute with the last wonderful picture--just for Red Shoe Rambling. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Tidings of Great Joy

One: Christmas is Ovah!

Two: My husband gave me three apples and a turnip. Yep! That was a gift. See he was tired of the pear. He liked the paintings but he wanted me to "move on" so he trolled the veg aisle at the grocery and pickin's were slim so I got three apples and a slightly soft turnip--but with lovely lavender top and some cute little roots.

Three: My neighbor the ER doctor came over with a present--oh, pretty ribbon!--and FLU SHOTS!! Yes, he had alcohol wipes, needles, bottled vaccine and he stabbed me in the arm with flu stuff. When he said we were going to do "shots" I figured Tequila. I won't fall for that again.

Four: In prep for the annual holiday visit of our daughter, Hub and I cleaned the living room and kitchen areas. The floor, moved furniture, put on the slipcovers (red!- Target!), set furniture in a new diagonal look, dusted, moved lights, watered the fabulous Pointsettia I won at the garden store, bagged up all the paints, magazine pictures, journals, paste jars, pastel boxes, ribbons, spilled glitter etc. that cover my side of the the dining room table. All was wonderful. The daughter came, fired up my laptop and played a Scrabble game while Hub and I watched TV in the lovely living room. Criminal Intent. Mine or the TV show--you guess.

Five: My son called on Christmas Eve to say he was driving to Las Vegas for Christmas and was staying for a few days. He was going alone. Broke up with his girlfriend in the spring. They usually spent Christmas together. No wonder he wanted to go somewhere else--and for me--Vegas is as far into "somewhere else" as one can go without entering outer space. Made me sad since I was lucky enough to find the Hub on the first try and we get along so well--when we aren't yelling at each other.

Six: My 83 year old father promised not to chip ice from the end of his driveway this winter. He pulls a lawn chair, cart with his oxygen tank, and a chipping tool out to the end of the driveway--busy street--and proceeds to chip away at any ice build up. Passers by wonder where his family is and why they let him do this. "Let" has nothing to do with this!!! Anyway. He promised me he wouldn't do it in 2006. I also tried to get him to promise not to "ease" his way out of the sidestreet and into the busy street when driving his car. He's thinking about that one. If you can't pull out at a speed over 10 mph--you really shouldn't be merging into traffic. Enough said. See I'm a nice daughter--I don't want to inherit just yet.

Seven: I wish my husband would buy exactly what I ask him to buy--not the closest thing he can find that "isn't" what I asked for. Coming home with nothing is so much better than coming home with something I don't want. He just came home with two somethings that now have to be returned and I gave him PICTURES to take with. I wanted a specific electric staple gun so he bought me an electric staple gun. Thirty seven years of training and I still have not worked out the kinks. He likes to shop. This will always be a problem.

Eight: I didn't like my hair yesterday so with some not so sharp scissors, I cut the parts that were offending me, off. Geez, is Karri my hair cutter gonna be happy when she sees me or what???

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Little This, A Little That

After reading blogs yesterday--it really consumes the day if you let it--I had to shower, dress and grab my husband and make him drive me to the "Big City" and the Artist's Supply Warehouse to get oil pastels and more watercolor paper in block form. I had used up all my small blocks making Christmas paintings and doing the pear. I wanted to try the oil pastels on watercolor paper. After spending $40 to get 15 colors--you don't want to know how I selected those 15 when I really wanted all of them---I raced--to a restaurant for barbequed chicken nachos. Oh, they are delicious!!!

Now this (blogger picture shuffle) relates to Sonja's blog rant of yesterday on dog poop. Her friends mentioned that someday she would be standing at the end of her driveway with a pile of rocks next to her--yelling (ranting) at passersby and throwing rocks. I identified with this idea. I have always been more "Lucy" than any other Peanuts character. Bossy, argumentative, rude, and a general "know it all". I have good qualities but mostly I'm Lucy. So here, in honor of Sonja, is Lucy with her pile of rocks--ready to rant.

Now, while reading posts I came across someone's blog--did I write it down or bookmark?
--No. I always think I will remember these things. Anyway, there was a picture of Yes! and a description of how she applied this paste to cloth and when it dries she could watercolor on it and it looked like a watercolor--no repelling by the paste surface. And after drying she heat set the painting with an iron. More info later. So okay, I also bought this at the Artist's Supply and now I want to know whose blog I visited so I can find out how to proceed. Help!!!

Another picture of the same pear as above. I think it needs more darks as it looks flat to me. This is my first time using oil pastels of this creamy consistency. My previous set of 24 oil pastels still has the price tag on the box cover---48 cents. When did anything cost 48 cents? I now have 15 little pastels that cost $2.72 each compared to 2 cents each for the ones I know how to use. And the new ones are so greasy. So French. I think there was a mid-point set. Somewhere between expensive imported and domestic cheapo. The hunt is on.

I'm searching the blogs for more reports and reviews of last night's Project Runway. Good tv but lousy fashion if you ask me. Saltino should have gone but Daniel was so much easier--he had a target on him from the start. Where's Wendy when we need her????

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Wishes

I painted all ten of the Christmas cards I sent this year and this one was my favorite. So I took a picture of it--just for all of you reading this!

I also baked cookies. Jam Thumbprints from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook and some apricot oatmeal cookies from one of those small Martha Steward Food magazines. They turned out good and I made up gift bags for each of my ten (hey, a re-occurring number) co-workers and took them to work with me yesterday. Everyone was happy. The gift bags had cute penquins on them.

I had a doctor's appointment today to see what's going on with this running nose and cough I have had for 21 days now. But when the secretary called she mentioned that the doctor wasn't in today and I would be seeing the Physician's Assistant. I said "No, I won't be doing that". So no doctor's appointment today--maybe I'll go see Pride and Prejudice at the local, crappy movie theatre. I don't know why "arty" as in theatre also has to be "crappy" as in broken seats, musty decor and just general rundown looking. They charge the same price as the new, cushy seated theatre down the road. The big difference---old, dragged in from the curb couches in the front row. Only place to see Pride and Prejudice unless I want to drive 40 minutes and you all know I don't like to drive.

The Hub and I had an agreement--no presents. Now there is a growing pile of gifts in the hallway--with my name on them and there is no pile with his name on them because I stayed true to the agreement.

Still no Christmas tree. With the war and Bush and now Cheney and Rumsfeld on the news each and every night----I just don't feel happy or joyful about this holiday. How many young soldiers will die this Christmas? For what? How many Iraq nationals--giving peace and democracy a chance--will die training to be police or military? How much more of this will America stand for? Clinton unzipped his pants and he was impeached--Bush has gone so much further down the wrong path and no impeachment.

Didn't mean for this post to go in this direction. See what a cough and runny nose does to me. But I do wish you all a Merry Christmas---no PC Happy Holiday for me---and I will be cleaning my studio so I can begin the new year with a good work situation---some clean surfaces!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Bits and Pieces

Downloading more than one photo into blogger is always SUCH an adventure. It's sort of a "Shuffle Up and Deal With It" game. So, here we have the lightbulb angel. You can see the bulb, the fun foam wings, face and yarn hair. I painted the bulb first with craft acrylic paint and then dried it with the hairdryer. Decorated the bulb with marker pens. The foam wings got a coat of paint and some marker details also--if you have glitter pens--add that. Stickers don't stick all that well to the bulb. Then I got the hot glue gun going and stuck the wings to the bulb in sort of a wing shape (V), then glued the face on then added the bundle of curly yarn (I wrapped the yarn around my hand five times and then tied it with another length of yarn and then cut and trimmed the loops. All the wings, faces and hair got made before the bulbs got painted--assembly line work. the halo is a glitter pipecleaner cut in half and twisted into a loop.
After posting my first pear painting-and having already given that painting away to a friend--I decided to try and paint the pear a few more times before eating it for lunch. So these are Pear Two and Three. I kind of like them. And I didn't eat the pear. It's still sitting on it's model plate waiting for the next artistic moment to strike. It never seems to get any riper--very odd.

If you are wondering why I am making angels and painting pears instead of quilting--well, a picture is worth a thousand words. This is my sewing area AFTER a full afternoon of cleaning. There is literally no place clear of "stuff". Over to the left is a cart--seriously overloaded--of quilts finished and ready to be finished. The cart is going to collapse under it's own weight at any moment and close off the entry/exit to this room. When I go in there to "clean" i make piles and then try and figure out where to put the piles. Next to the overloaded cart is a stack of large plastic containers of fabric I no longer find charming. I usually dig into them when asked to "make something" for a donation--placemates for a Thanksgiving Basket or a baby quilt. the fabric is lovely--it just isn't dots in vibrant colors. My fabric of choice right now.

Now isn't this sweet. The angels are napping. Reminds me of a blog picture of a Birds Bi-annual Holiday Party. The stuffed toy birds were all falling over and looking quite tipsy--perhaps the angels went to the same party???

Now my afternoon is going to be taken up with COOKING. The only holiday event I haven't cancelled this year. No tree, still. No presents. I did send out 10 cards. I made them and got tired after 10 so that was it. Hard to decide who got one. I plan on making Date Nut Bread with walnuts. I'm the only one here that will eat it--so more for me. Then I'm going to make a pork roast with potato dumplings and sauerkraut--- nice peasant food on a cold icey day. I will also be making cookies. An apricot ( oh, no! no apricots) cookie from Martha Stewart and Jam Thumbprints from Barefoot Contessa ( oh no, need coconut!). Shopping is in my future.

Speaking of peasant food---the library is having a Russian Tea on Monday afternoon for 25 kids and I am supposed to be making the Russian Cookies. Tea Cakes and fried Twig Cookies. The Tea Cakes recipe looks ever so much like Mexican Wedding Cookies and also like Pecan Crescents. The Twig Cookies are very much like the fried Slovack cookies my grandmother made. The menu will be rounded out with Cabbage Salad, Rye Bread and Tea. ( we decided to skip the pickled herring salad). We have a Samovar (220volts which Carol is going to plug into a 110v recepticle) She says it works out okay but takes "forever" to heat the water. !!!!!!!!!!! This is going to be a VERY interesting library program. Monday, 3:45. Get there before the fire department hoses down all the cookies.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Winter Wednesday

This blurry picture is my Red Poppy quilt. It's on display at the library each December and looks a whole lot better there than in this picture. The quilt is hung in front of an inside window with light shining on it from behind. All the overlapped fabric cuts are shadows along the edges of the petal pieces--giving the quilt surface a very intricate and mysterious look.

A library patron and I were discussing this aspect of the quilt's appearance and wondering whether the quilt would always need to be lit from behind to look it's best. I had this quilt in a winter show and it was hung against a wall and just didn't do anything for anyone. What I like most about having this quilt in the library in December is the view fom outside on the sidewalk after dark (4 pm). The quilt "glows" and does justice to Georgia O'Keeffe my mentor in all things floral.

I just experienced a wave of blurred vision. I'm going to stay calm and not work myself into a brain tumor etc. just yet. It could just be low blood sugar or blood pressure or something atmospheric. I'll be like Scrooge and attribute it to something I ate.

I made 4 more lightbulb angels for the library staff. It was my holiday "do it yourself" ornament for the annual party which I missed because of a bad cold. So I had all the ingredients for the "do it yourself" so I did them myself. I made 12 and they got snapped right up yesterday at work. Even though my daughter- upon seeing all 12---called them "creepy". I hestitated to share them but what the heck--they were already made. The library peole loved them. (pictures tomorrow when the Hub returns from Chicago and downloads them) I needed a few more so made 4 more. Just a painted lightbulb (40 or 60 watt), fun foam wings hot glued on, a little fun foam face, some curly yarn hair and a pipecleaner halo.

The head reference librarian chose a yellow lightbulb angel and took it upstairs to her desk where it promptly "hooked up" with a yellow foam lightbulb she had gotten at a conference. They make a lovely couple. Perhaps some candelabra bulbs in their future???

I have been reading CrazyAunt Purl's blog---she sounds so "perfect" for my son in San Jose-- he needs a wild woman to lead him astray. I wonder if she would consider it?

Aunt Purl's description of "Jingle" was so perfect. Those "Christmas" people drive me mad. I don't even have a tree this year. I put out all my nutcrackers--a whole table full-- and bought a big pointsettia--that's it for the holiday cheer around here. I'm supposed to be calling and ordering the gifts my son and daughter picked from the Chef's catalog with Free Shipping today but it's 1:30 and I'm still in jammies and robe.

I may just take a nap. Or read a book. Or watch Law and Order. I could top stitch my Marigold while listening to the new Rolling Stones CD but that would mean pushing and shoving my way into the quilt room---what a PIG STYE it is in there---just to get to the sewing machine and then try and reattach the light which has fallen off the sewing table-- and I dream of a big room with a large table and nothing else in the room. Clean and empty. While reality is this small, dark ( hense the need for the light) crowded, clausterphobic PIG STYE that I call mine.

90 percent of the problem is my own fault. I can't just get rid of stuff. I have containers of fabric I will never use. Nice stuff--not the present ME, though. How do you get rid of fabric???
I think the nap is the best solution. It's what I'm dressed for anyway.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Strange Fruit

My tiny art quilt group (two plus me) had another group challenge using a project from the Summer 2005 Quilting Arts. Layered (again) with stitching. I used a grey and orangey rust dotted fabric to begin and then "printed" five circles onto the fabric using white paint and the bottom of a plastic pot/saucer. Then I added squares of cross stitch base and frayed the edges and tied them between the circles with embroidery floss. Then I did a running stitch around the white circle with white perle cotton and inside the circles with rust perle cotton. Next I stretched the yellow webbed bag from the Thanksgiving turkey over all and stitched it down as best I could--it kept wanting to draw back up on itself. Lastly I added the control/circuit panel from a tape cassette player and twirled the cut grey wires in and out of the turkey webbing. A good hot press with the steam iron and spray starch ( ON THE BACK!) and Bob's your uncle it was done.

I hope this is the last layered item we do for a while. I hope QA stops doing them also. Surface design can be lots more than loading stuff on the top like a huge stuffed baked potato with butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon, chili, more cheese--anyway you get the idea. You wouldn't have it for dinner every night.

The "Strange Fruit" of the title was an art piece I saw at a party yesterday. A fruit basket filled with altered plastic fruit. An apple studded with cherries. An orange with strawberries coming out of the sides. A peach embedded on the end of a banana. Now the insertion of the one fruit into another was done VERY nicely. You couldn't tell how it was done. There were lemons, limes, pears studded with purple plums etc . The hostess/owner of this art felt the "thing" was creepy. Environmental alarmist. Why she bought it is a question I would have liked to ask. Made me think of all the contour drawings being done this week. What fun to do one of these "Strange Fruits".

Friday, December 09, 2005

Wastebasket Treasures

It is snowing like crazy today in Maine. What a winter wonderland! I may even break down and buy a tree and decorate it. Today's photo art is all about what you have in your quilting wastebasket. If you piece--and I only do it under duress--then you have strips you have cut off the edge when evening off the cutting edge of the fabric. Or selvedge edges. I had a big wad of them in the basket and I was not quite ready to really work but wanted to DO something so I made these. I kind of sorted the wastebasket strips into color families to begin.

I cut 14 and a half inch squares out of fusible batting. I layed the batting on top of a square of backing fabric and then started laying the strips out on the batting surface. Some were placed north and south and then crossed with strips going east and west. Then thinner strips were layed on top of fatter strips and more strips etc. I also took stuff off all along the way if it didn't work with the "theme". When it's the way you like, carefully move the whole thing to the ironing board and press from the center out to fuse. There will be loose stuff not in contact with the fusible but the pressing (notice I said PRESS-not IRON) will hold it in place. I layered one with some tulle--my favorite all purpose tulle is the orangey red one. Goes with everything and doesn't dull the colors. No! it doesn't make everything red. It's a miracle what it does. Try it.

Then, because it's only 14 inches, I just started sewing the strips down with a straight stitch down the center of each strip. The tulle was held down with a few straight pins.

The one without tulle was spot glued with regular washable Crayola white glue. This is my glue of choice because I got it for 88 cents a bottle and anything that's okay for children isn't going to do anything bad to the fabric. And it washes out with water. And that is important because I am VERY MESSY and end up with glue all over my hands, shirt and pants and even in my hair (if I forget and brush my hair out of my face with a gluey hand). Wash it out of your clothes while still wet and you're okay. It peels off skin and other surfaces. I glue all my quilts. If you can't glue it; don't do it. Though fusing is a close second. The gluing doesn't change the "hand" of the fabric like fusible WU does.

These are nice "warm-up" excercises to do before you get down to real work or they are excellent excuses for an hour or so of work in the studio when that's all you have. I mean to try a smaller size and make a postcard just to see what happens. Everyone seems to have made a fabric postcard but me. Got to get with it!

Now it's time for my snowblower lesson. I like to shovel snow but the Hub believes in machinery----I am so NOT happy about the snowblower (noisey and stinky). Shoveling snow by hand, in the evening with the stars out above--well, that's a good winter Zen thing. I usually do a nice herringbone pattern down the drive. Good vibes until the street plow drops 4 feet of street snow at the end of the driveway. That's BAD. For the Zen and for the back. Therefore, I need to know how to operate the stinky snowblower. Let it snow.

Painting A Pear

I have tried several times to add these pictures in the correct order but blogger has decided it isn't going to happen that way. I like a nice, orderly story. Not all choppy. But I'm going to make the best of this and not try and download the pictures a fifth and sixth time with no improvement. So---let us begin. I decided to paint today. I haven't painted in several years even though I love the process and loose "time" when I paint. Has that ever happened to you? You get so involved in the work--time passes without you even being aware of it.

Anyway, I decided to paint. So I dug the paints out of the closet, got a dessert plate as palette, and choose colors to match my "model".

My model had once been selected to be my lunch. Today it was too pretty to eat. Red and ripe with golden overtones it begged to be painted. The photograph doesn't do the "model" justice--mainly because the photographer must have wiggled a bit as the picture was snapped. I hate when that happens.

The painting itself far exceeded my expectations. This is not the way I have painted before. It just "happened". I have to also admit to giving the small painting away as a gift--little knowing --until I saw this photo--that it was this nice. So round. So joyful. Do you think I should ask for it back?

I still have the "model" so it is possible to try and "do it again", but the next painting will be different in some small way-like a snowflake. I will be interested in finding out if this new way of painting is a certain thing. Do you think the quilting I have been doing since I stopped painting has somehow changed the intuitive nature of my technique? Is that how it happens? I was never taught how to paint--it's just something I have always known how to do. Not well. Not perfectly. Not prize winning quality. Nice, joyful and satisfying.

I have been reading Melanie's blog and she is searching for the "new" in her work. It also seems that she may be searching to add more depth of meaning to her work. Someone once told me that we change our view of our work every seven years. Sort of a "seven year itch" so to speak. We decide we like different colors, different styles, techniques, processes, etc. Sounds like we are shedding our skin as we grow into a more mature version of ourselves. Perhaps that is what I see in my "Pear". A more mature version of myself.

Monday, December 05, 2005

What A Day!

First of all- my web ring button was installed on the first try. Thank you Deborah! Then I find out my orchid is planning on sending out another flower stalk! I just gave it a nice soak in the sink, some new orchid potting stuff and some Miracle Grow as a reward. And my gingerbread house picture-above- transferred or uploaded on the first try.

More about the house. I started with a cheap dollhouse kit (used a 40% coupon) and after my husband cut all the pieces out of the sheets they came on--I'm too rough and would have broken them---I painted the windows, casements et all and then the house sides and front then glued the windows in and then put the house together. My daughter and I then started gluing on the "candy". I painted wooden heart shapes to look like lebkuchen cookies and rolled out gold Sculpty and cut out little gingerbread boys and baked and decorated them (on window sills), rolled red and white Sculpty to look like peppermint candies and cut pastel fun foam into shingles for the roof. My daughter found "gumdrop" garland at TJ Maxx and my husband found some "sugar-coated" garland in Pennsylvania at an ACE retailer. At the Skillin's open house I found the two big candy canes by the front door.

Why did I make it? Neither of my two children plan to have any children so I'm a grandmother with no grandchildren. Instead of denying myself the pleasure of making stuff---I just go ahead and make it and haul it over to the library and let those children enjoy it. Surprisingly, the adults love it just as much as the kids do. The only complaint I have heard--they wish it was REAL candy. That doesn't keep any of the children (big and little) from touching, pulling and otherwise trying to get candy off the house! I hope the hot glue holds tight.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Crazy Aunt Purl Tagged the Universe

I went to Aunt Purl's for the December Horroscope but I guess it's not ready yet, but Aunt Purl had a "tag" list that looked interesting so I decided to "tag" myself.

Ten Random Things You Might Not Know About Me

1. Almost everything because I don't know any of you
2. Dental Phobia
3. Can bake a pie but not a cake
4. Can make almost anything but clothes
5. Married a man I met on Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
6. Organize 40,000 books each summer for library book sale
7. No sense of direction
8. Add water to coffee so it's more like tea
9. Wear slippers almost all the time
10.Sewed my finger to a quilt

Nine Places I Have Visited

1. Cleveland
2. Russia
3. Germany
4. France
5. Austria
6. Hungary
7. Greece
8. Sweden
9. Denmark

Eight Ways to Win My Heart

1. Remember something I've told you
2. Presents
3. Invite me places
4. Flowers
5. Give me a pile of old magazines to rip up
6. Let me teach you something I love
7. Ice Cream
8. Be happy to see me

Seven Things I Want to Do Before I Die

1. Drive on the highway
2. Travel around the US with Kay and take pictures of BIG things. Like the giant Peach or big ball of string.
3. Visit Australia
4. Get a quilt into Quilt National
5. Learn to speak French
6. Paint--I've been putting it off forever
7. Not worry about money

Six things I'm Afraid Of

1. Driving on the highway
2. High places-especially looking over the edge
3. The food processor--call me crazy!
4. The Dentist
5. Getting Lost- no sense of direction
6. Having a blog no one reads

Five Things I Don't Like

1. People who eat lots of garlic and then come to the library to talk to me
2. Dead things
3. Jerry Springer
4. George W. Bush-I change the channel if he shows up
5. The first month of winter coat season--all the moth ball smells

Four Ways to Turn Me Off

1. Crowd me
2. Garlic breath
3. Be mean
4. Don't listen when I'm trying to be helpful

Three Things I Do Everyday

1. Make my oatmeal in the microwave and then walk off and forget it
2. Watch "That's Clever" and find that it isn't really clever
3. Wait for the mailman--someday he'll bring me something swell

Two Things That Make Me Happy

1. My husband (he'll never believe I said this)
2. Working in my fabric/mess/studio

One Thing On MY Mind Right Now

1. Is it lunch time?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Did You Miss Me??

Remember that Mercury Retrograde thing? Well, my hard drive fried itself while I was reading a blog--a few days after the last post. The Hub has been trying to "fix" it but finally the day after Thanksgiving we drove down to the closest repair center and left the laptop there for a look/see.

Today we got it back and they got $259. Now to restore files. I lost all my email addresses, files etc. The only thing the tech guy could extract were some blog photos. For "several Hundred" dollars--a company can attempt to retrieve the rest. I said there was nothing that valuable. I guess people lose all their baby or wedding pictures. If I had pictures of quilts that had been sold I would want them back. I know the new owners and they will be happy to let me make photos of the quilts--this time on a real camera--no digital.

Tomorrow I will take a digital photo for all of you---of the gingerbread house we made for the library. The wood doll house kit was very cheap and it took awhile longer to cut the pieces out and sand and paint them before we could even start putting the parts together. Then it wasn't looking all that "cute". My daughter helped me do the finish work on Thanksgiving while we cooked dinner. Paint-stir-glue-chop-mix- paint. Multi-tasking. And both the dinner and the house turned out fantastic. I hope you will agree. We had several glue gun burns while attaching all the tiny pieces of faux candy to the walls and foam shingles to the roof. It all came together when I glued and sprinkled "twinkle" all over everything--looks like sugar.

Now that my library project is done I can get back to my fabric! My "Y" quilt and the orange and electric blue marigold I was topstitching when I sewed my left index finger to the quilt. I can hardly wait for Wednesday.

Monday, November 14, 2005

If It can go Wrong--It Will

What a lovely horoscope for the next few weeks. Mercury in retrograde yet again. Why don't they get that fixed? Right now I am sitting next to the in the wall refrigerator which is now in the walkway. Leaking from the ice maker yet again. The floor behind the fridge is being dehumidified as we speak. Wood soaks up a lot of water.

I am also sick--maybe, possibly, probably. It could be a cold or it could be irritated lungs from smoke. We finally got a burn permit and burned the huge pile of branches, wood and rotten logs. First we made lots of noise to get all the critters out. Then we tried to set it on fire several times before being successful. It burned very nicely and then smoldered all night and we added to the pile on Sunday for an additional "burn". Then on to the leaves.

I shredded a huge pile of maple leaves from my daughter's house and composted them in the veg garden beds. Maple leaves are terrific for compost. Over the winter they decompose and turn into lovely brown dirt. Then we raked up the oak leaves from our yard. I haven't shredded them yet. Oak leaves are tough as leather and full of tannin. They take years to decompose. I burned out the motor on my last shredder on oak leaves. And the pine needles never seem to decompose. Plus they are slippery to walk on--can easily fall on one's ass out on the lawn. Always when cars are passing by.

It's mid November and balmy as any spring day outside and I have daffodil bulbs to plant and tulips. My last chance and I better grab it. Can I get away with gardening in my pajamas?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Remembering the Holidays and Friends.

We received email from friends in Germany in the past week. We had been corresponding with an annual letter at Christmas for many years but Marianne finally got us into email. Why did we wait so long?

I dream of Germany when we get to the winter holidays. First the annual company Thanksgiving dinner. There were 70 of us, American and non- Americans with family. The American wives would congregate in the kitchen warming up the 4 or 5 turkeys we had roasted at home and making vats of gravy. We had to wait for the bus from the international school to bring the american children home from school--no holiday in Germany. Then we ate. And boy, did we! My husband held the record for refills--4. He was born on Thanksgiving Day just in time for dinner so he is a natural. There were some traditional dishes that did not translate well to the European taste--pumpkin pie will forever be "baby poop pie".

When Advent begins, I remember and dream of Christmas Markets. I traveled to Vienna, Salzberg, Munich, Rotenburg am Taub, Frankfurt am Main for the markets but evey little town set up booths at Christmas. I remember the lights and most of all the smells. Roasting chestnuts, frying potato pancakes, roasted wursts, lebkucken and of course the smell of pine trees. The booths held decorated cookies, ornaments, angels, nutcrackers--those colorful soldiers whose jaws just happen to crack nuts.

Every year on Christmas eve, the members of a church in our town would march by in the dark holding candles and torches. They would pass the house where we lived and go down the path into the woods. On one of our last Christmas Eves in Germany I announced I was going to follow them to see where they were going. My husband came with me-the children said no. We walked down the path and into the woods finding the group in a circle in a clearing in the woods. They began singing "Silent Night" and tears come to my eyes just typing this. I had learned to sing Silent Night in German in first grade and that is the way I always think of it--in German. And here I was in this clearing and it was so silent and cold with the moon shining down on us. And their voices were so beautiful. It was magic. Christmas magic on Christmas Eve.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

More Shopping and Picture Upload Adventures

Now this lovely lady was found at TJ Maxx and I got the manager to mark her down because she has only one leg. I wanted her as a gift for my neighbor who has an "Angel Party" every December to thank all the women who have been guardian angels to her in the previous 12 months. I usually qualify because I pick up her newspapers and walk her dog once or twice. This year I gave her produce from my garden and we raked and removed her leaves from the lawn--we wanted them to compost the garden. See it's easy to be someone's angel.

Anyway, I then got to thinking that the construction of this doll was not all that complicated. So I may make my neighbor a new doll instead of just making the doll a second leg. And I'll get to use some of my vast stock of tulles and netting for the lovely floaty skirt. I can also think wonderful thoughts while making the doll so my neighbor gets the benefit of those good thoughts.

Again we have no pictures here but pictures in the preview. Blogging is certainly an adventure. These are "embellishments" I purchased. Stamps, glow in the dark plastic flies, beaded coasters (I was thinking a 9 patch with the coasters in 8 of the patches). I also got some "words" to add to an altar quilt if I ever get up the nerve to make one.

Shopping Report

If I had been drinking more--this would seem okay to me. I have a bunch of scribbly words instead of pictures but in the preview--there are pictures. Let's see what happens. If it's awful, then we'll delete.

The first photo is of a "self portrait" I was making. I don't look like this but it was fun to make so I kept adding to the face and then added borders and it looks sort of African to me and I've always wanted to make an African style quilt.

The second photo is of the small collection of African fabrics I bought while in New Hampster on Thursday. I tried to select fabrics with my trademark "dots" and with turquoise and orange in the mix.

I plan to add asymetrical borders to the portrait using the fabrics I purchased and some American commercial fabrics that have an "African" feel to them. I'm hoping to not overwhelm the portrait with borders. The face is quite charming by itself.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Wasting Away In Margaritaville

VIRGO (August 23 - Sept. 22)
A Virgo friend of mine recently complained that last month's horror-scope was rather unappealing. I decided to make it up to you this month by reading your House of Whimsy, a little-known astrological hideout of mirth. First, you will begin making plans to travel. Next, you will realize that the mantra of this decade is "I don't know." Explore your fickle side by being picky in a possible romantic situation mid-month and don't hesitate to do some serious pre-holiday shopping. Finally, Truths are harder to see right now, but they are worth seeking out. See? That wasn't so bad.

I complained. I also had a bad haircut that I was recovering from all month so I was "testy". I did do a lot of shopping in the past two days with photos of the loot to follow in the next post. I posted yesterday and the title and corrected time showed up but no text. And it was so witty and hilarious. I can say that because it's "disappeared".

A friend and I traveled to New Hampster for the "Quilter's Gathering" and on the way we had a flat tire and waited endlessly for AAA to rescue us. I had the camera. Did I take photos of the two cute guys (with cute wives) who stopped to ask if we were okay and the even cuter State Policeman? No, I did not. And it would have been so "journally" to have done so. I must visualize and add the mantra "take the picture" to my meditation.

So next post--later today--with pictures. Can't wait to see what order they jumble themselves into---iphoto has a serious rebellious streak.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Why of the "Y" Quilt

Everyone wants to know why I made this quilt. So here in words and pictures is the "why" of the "Y" quilt. The "Y" quilt finished. I can't quite get the hang of the photo upload. I must be doing the exact opposite of the way I should be doing it. But we are going to do it backward because this is the fourth or fifth time I have loaded this set of photos and I am "done" with all the waiting.

To begin this epic: While walking out to the mailbox for the daily mail, I looked down at the sidewalk and noticed this stick. It was shaped like a "Y". I don't usually notice these things but I am trying to get in touch with my intuitive side so---I noticed the stick, walked past it, thought about it and turned around and picked it up. Later that same day I was cleaning my desk (aka what used to be the dining room table) and came across a picture from a children's book. All covered in Y's. I placed the stick on the picture and had one of those weird "oh my" moments.
This is the picture from the children's book. I KNOW this would have been a much better presentation in order. See all the Y's and the creation thing going on?
I drew this picture so I could visualize the mechanics of the the picture book image and then I thought about how I was going to create this out of fabric. I do like the black and white drawing quite a lot. This may just be the start of several adventures in Y quilts.

There was a fourth picture--of the little stick. It was here when I began typing and now it's disappeared. Maybe when I publish it will appear again somewhere in the text. The sweet mystery of life.

So anyway I selected fabrics for the circles and layed them out and cut away the fabric layers so I would have clear colors and not have shadows from the underneath fabrics. Then I added the "V" shaped zigzags to the circles by cutting shapes or applying shapes--gluing everything down with Crayola school glue. Then I added paint to the center circle. Once I started painting I also added color to the outside circle. Then I started quilting the surface to hold the pieces in place. I plan to add embroidered Y shapes to the whole surface like the drawing.

Yesterday I found another stick formation---an acorn top next to a straight stick and a V shaped stick---looked like oK to me. A message? Or do I need to spend more time looking UP and less looking DOWN? Everyone I have told about this latest "stick" thing just starts laughing. I may have to make an "oK" quilt next.

AuntPurl's horoscope said my month would be full of "I just don't know". Last month no shopping and this month not knowing---- but I can shop. And she suggests a vacation.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Pictures We have Pictures!

Remember a while back I mentioned doing a project with two other quilters. We were going to use Quilting Arts magazine articles to encourage one or more of us out of our comfort zones. I have to admit to reading the magazine, loving the pictures and never doing any of the suggested projects--so this was going to be more than interesting for me.

At first, I balked at using the stamp on the layered scrap fabrics but the stamping does unify the surface. Other methods for unification could be appliques of the same shape over the surface.

After stamping and layering with net or tulle we were supposed to outline the stamping with
machine stitching and then cut away the layers of tulle over the stampings. I cut some of them away and left others.

Yesterday I was a guest at an ArtQuilts "work party". Everyone brought their "stuff" and proceeded to work on projects. Almost everyone had brought along some show and tell items. I brought this layered/stamped work in progress. The other quilters were interested in the surface design and perhaps a few of them will try it out at home.

One quilter brought painted WU (wonder under) that she had painted with acrylics, air dried for 24 hours (how do other people WAIT that long?) and then carefully pressed the painted side to a piece of white cotton fabric. As the wet paint dries the backing paper on the WU wrinkles and gives the whole piece a very impressionist look. Great for little landscapes. So I am going to give that technique a "go".

There were also wonderful books to browse through and one of them will be on my list for Santa. Contemporary Quilts: Design; Surface; Stitch by Sandra Meech. I'm also hoping someone buys Quilt National 2005 for me. I've seen advertisements for Art Quilts: A Celebration. 400 Stunning contemporary designs. Any reviews on that?

One other highlight of yesterday's quilter's work day. I sewed my left index finger to my quilt. Well, I ran the sewing machine needle into my finger and then jerked back---tearing the skin and bleeding alot. I had to lay on the floor. Low blood pressure. It was lay down or fall down. Everyone was well prepared for "emergency" situations. A pillow for my head, emergency kit with antibiotics, bandages etc. My finger hurts but my heart feels very well cared for indeed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

...But not for me.

Well, we tried everything to get just one blurry picture into post number 2. Now my laptop is running with the speed of cold taffy. It took around 2 minutes to go from the dashboard to posting. And I'm on highspeed cable with wireless. Go figure. Therefore the title of this posting---this works for everyone--but not for me.

The process of loading pictures isn't that difficult. It's merely the fact that each cue to upload causes Safari to crash.

The weather here in the Northeast continues to move swiftly to COLD: WET: DARK. The Dark Times. So to celebrate I have decided to stay in my pajamas all day and to watch Law and Order reruns while making things in my quilt room. Let's hope the Fed Ex man doesn't need me to sign anything at 4 pm today. Maybe I should brush my hair??? ( insert picture of my hair here if I could)

I found a stick (insert picture of stick here if I could) in the shape of the letter Y on my trip to the mailbox last week. Then on the weekend while trying to clean things up in the dining room (aka: craft area) I found a neat picture I had photocopied from a children's book (insert picture) with y's all over it. Coincidence? Synchronicity? Who cares. I'm going to make something and then sew my letter Y branch on it. And continue to scout for other branches in the shape of letters of the alphabet lying around in my yard. Just what letters of the alphabet could be created by branches? V. Maybe a T. I. K if the tree was really trying.

I've had lunch- - roasted butternut squash soup with buttered crackers and hot tea with a side of Celebrity Poker, so I guess it's time to move on down the hall to the workroom and get going with "making something". Later!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Wednesday's Child is full of Wonder

I have always disagreed with that old nursery rhyme--that Wednesday is full of woe; Thursday has far to go etc. I think who ever wrote that was just trying to please someone born on Saturday or Sunday. Fair of face or full of grace. The remainder of the days just got what ever was easy to rhyme. So I'm full of wonder. Usually I'm full of something else but my son reads this.

I have not been having the best of months this October. It's been raining and I have been doing "household" work rather than quilty work and I'm getting pretty aggravated. I took pictures and had hoped to insert them into previous posts but the Hub had other things to do and forgot he was to help me and now he's gone to New York for the rest of the week. A kind comment on my second post has me headed it the right direction but I need help the first time. I wore red to work today to give myself a "cheerful" appearance and it worked! Isn't color nifty.

Two art quilters and I have formed a tiny group and we are having a round robin of "projects" to try (to get us to try new things) and then share what we though of the process. The first was from QA Fall 2005--creating fabric from scraps. I used what was in the wastebasket and balked at the --"use stamps all over the surface". I have one stamp. Not wanting to let the group down on the first project--I went ahead and stamped. It did make the surface uniform--uniformly stamped. Now I have to quilt. Almost all the QA techniques involve layers of tulle, organza, stamps, burning, foil and beads. Why is that???? Now some of the things I have made this way turned out looking very interesting but I wonder--does a 12 inch square translate successfully to a 40 in square? Let me know.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Apple Gleaning on a Rainy Sunday

Well, as a Master Gardener, I am supposed to do 20 hours of community service to educate, enable or otherwise share the knowledge gained in my classes with my community. Not that I have all that much knowledge to share. Today we (three master gardener graduates) were to join more volunteers and slog on over to a picked apple orchard and climb trees and get those orphan apples left by the pickers. Left because they were too high up in the tree for professional apple pickers.The purpose of this exercise is to collect apples for the local food pantries.

It's been raining in the Northeast as you may have noticed on your local weather report. Rain makes the ground muddy. Ladders placed on muddy ground sink. So we sunk a few ladders and called it a day.

Then we went to a nice Italian restaurant for the apple picking wrap up. It took forever for us to decide what to eat-who was sharing what with whom---who is allergic to what etc. We had Antipasto (shared), Minestrone (for one), Insalata (for two), Pasta (for one). We discussed book clubs. Two of the MG's are members of the same bookclub and reported that only 3 of the 10 members had read the book selection; that very little book discussion was actual done--but the dinner served was very nice.

Reminded me of an investment club I belonged to. We discussed very little in the way of investments but enjoyed the tours of other's homes and the lovely luncheons served. This was during the years I was an ex-pat living in Germany. The ladies in my investment group were from several different countries and social strata. Sophisticated and Not. Always good fun. Think Dharma and her mother-in-law. I really don't know who had a better time. I never showed up late. Catty of me, I know, but it was so educational in a warped sort of way. The most memorable luncheon was at "Pinky's". Pinky was entertaining all of us in the living room with some investment news as we all watched (behind her) Pinky's big cat walk around all the dishes on the luncheon table in the dining room and lick a number of them. Now that was an interesting situation!

I returned home to "Putting the Garden to Bed" duty. Pulling up plants, spreading lime and gypsum and dragging the pulled up plants to the wet boggy bottom of Lake Gary-- really a wetland area south and west of the garden. Sea level. When it rains the sea level of Lake Gary rises and if it rains enough meets up with Lake Ruth to the West and Lake Peggy in the North and then we are surrounded by knee deep water. Ducks land and swim around. Deer watch them from our back lawn where they eat acorns and fertilize the grass. The back lawn is a high point in the yard--the septic tank lies beneath.

I was born and raised in a big city. With public transportation. This country stuff with all the wildlife is QUITE a change for me.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

How I found my way here via PIQF.

A long time ago (it seems) my son (just out of college and only 22) got a job out in California and I started going out and visiting him once a year. We went out in February of each of the first few years just to get away from Maine. Winter lasts so long here. That worked out okay and we visited Golden Gate Park, Japanese Garden and a few of the art museums. Then I discovered the Pacific International and, well, winter wasn't so bad---we could visit in October.

The first October was unbelieveable. The quilts had colors. New England quilts were brown, navy, burgundy and green. The quilts at the show were orange, yellow, turquoise and the green--well the green was lime. And the quilts weren't made to go on beds. They were "ART". I was in heaven. I shopped and bought a whole suitcase of colorful fabrics. I took pictures--rolls and rolls of pictures. I was just positive that when I returned home like Marco Polo, the members of my quilt group would be thrilled to see these wonders.

Was I ever WRONG.

They looked at the pictures. But they weren't interested. They looked at the fabric and said it hurt their eyes. Was it me? Was I wrong about all of this being fabulous? So the fabric went into the fabric closet next to the browns, dark blue, burgundy and hunter green and I continued to make traditional stuff. But I always looked at my bright colors and hoped I would someday use them.

The next October I signed up for classes in California. Bought more fabric and took more pictures. And I started making things with this new fabric. And I showed it at "Show and Tell". Now we always clap when someone shows something at our quilt meeting. Even if we don't like it. So when I showed my first bright quilt I expected to hear something--but my quilt was met with silence. I was hurt--for awhile and then I just said who cares?

I made more "Loud Things" (their term) and noticed a few fellow members asking me about the fabric and the wonders of the outside world. They wanted to know why the fabric wasn't for sale in our part of Maine. I wondered about that too.

I continued to travel to California every October until September 11th. We didn't go that year or the next. By that time, I had a closet full of bright colors and was ready to move the New England Darks into sterlite containers. Our chapter had sponsored the state quilt show and I had broken with tradition and asked for a corner of the show for a display of chicken quilts. My own was a rooster in drag. Hand appliqued because I didn't know any other way to do it (2000) and in orange and turquoise. I was out of the closet and not going back. I was the room monitor for David Walker all weekend.

In 2001, I met Susan Carlson and made a fish and a butterfly with glue and scissors and in November my husband bought me a Bernina. I stopped bringing anything to show and tell. I started going to the World Textile and Quilt shows in North Carolina and taking classes. Melody Johnson taught me to fuse. In Maine, I dye painted with Hollis Chatelain and we became friends. On my next visit to North Carolina my husband and I had dinner with Hollis and her family and I got to tour her studio and see how "it's done". I had not yet found my style. There was no instant recognition that a quilt was my work. I was still trying every style on to see what fit. What felt right. And then I saw Melody Johnson's working in series class.

I tried it. Forced myself to work in a series. A limited palette. Limited content. And by the third piece I had found myself and others had found me. All the pieces sold quickly and you'll never guess who bought them. My quilt group members.
I continue to work with only a limited palette of fabric--only dots. With a sprinkle of stripes for borders mostly. Georgia O'Keefe's "One Hundred Flowers" keeps me focused on the big picture. Pun intended.

I returned to California in October of 2004 and it was as wonderful as ever. And I felt right at home. I took few pictures as I already "knew" the lessons most quilts could teach. But as usual, there were some that caused me to stop and----you know what I mean. Pamela Allen, Jan Clark, Betsy Lacy, Debra Danka, Keiko Ohno to name a few. For reasons more personal than quilt related I did not go to California this October. In a blog, Crazy for Fiber, I read what this quilter had to report from the PIQF in 2005 and looked at her pictures. Now I wish I had gone. Next year.

I know pictures would help. Visual aids are always important to a presentation--usually the best part. I have a digital camera and a liberal arts education--I should be able to figure the posting of pictures out. It's just cut and paste. Right???

Friday, October 14, 2005

The first time for everything

Boy, oh boy! Everyone said this would be EASY! And after we found out the Mac needed to be in Safari mode we finally found the START button and it was easy.

I remembered to write down what I entered in all the boxes this time--I always think "Oh I won't forget that" and when I need the info-it's gone. Like when you put something in a "safe place"---a place so safe you never see that particular item again. I have a long list of items that I have in "safe" places and on the occasion of finding one of them, the first thing I say to myself is "why did I put it here?" And then I put the item in an even better safe place.

Scored some cool stamps at the post office yesterday---"let's Dance". I like the Merengue best and will save those stamps for special mail. So if you get one--do the happy dance. If not, consider that I may have run out of stamps before I got to you. I'd include a picture and violate trademark rules etc. but I don't know how to do pictures yet. Just getting started has worn me out.