Friday, September 29, 2017

Cold Morning: Is Summer Finished?

This image is from ArtPropelled:archive and is by Catherine-White in the Rock Of The Day series. I think she collects the rocks, makes the ceramic cups and paints.  Canvas under the rock and cup is her work.  I am In Love with it. One of my favorite painted cloths is very similar to this cloth.  It's why I "collected" the image.  To remind myself that I AM a Painter.

At Work.  A full sized artificial Christmas Tree is up in the Gift Shop--with lights.  90 days prior to Christmas.  Too Soon?  Yes.

I have my Fall and Winter shawl on this morning.  Still wearing a summer short sleeve shirt.  But it's cold.  Well, colder than usual.  There is sun.  So I am hopeful things will warm up.  Which reminds me--I was going to try and paint over the strange symbol the original owner of this shawl discharged on the back of the shawl.  It's misleading.  Not my symbol.  So, I think, if it warms up enough, I will try and paint some black over the symbol.  Make it not so noticeable.  I'm not sure what the fabric is. Whether its "real" or synthetic but I am going with natural as it is difficult to discharge synthetic, I think.  It's soft, light and very warm to wear in the Winter.  One of the things I would grab first in an emergency exit from the house.  It can "be" anything.  Bathing suit coverup to warm shawl.

I am having to decide:  Read my book.  Watch television.  I cannot do both anymore.  Due to the new prescription in my glasses.  If I read for an hour (which is what happened with Glass Houses) then watching the television screen was good.  If I read my "Scarred Woman" by Adler-Olsen--and I find it hard to put down--- the television images are blurry and hard to focus.  I timed how long the effect lasts--- 3 to 4 hours (after reading for 2 or more hours) and my vision was still no good for television watching.  I had been reading for several hours in the afternoon.  By morning the effects had worn off.  My eyes had recovered.  But I am wondering if permanent damage could occur?  I may revert to my older glasses.  The only thing about them was my super near vision was crap--couldn't thread a needle or read the tiny print on medicine bottles.  Now I can read super-super fine print.

I have boxes (2) of ripe tomatoes on the kitchen floor.  I MUST decide to "do something" with them or compost them.  Fruit flies and gnats.  Infesting the kitchen.  This was the year when my tomatoes were very slow (to never) really getting started.  And somehow people gave me tomatoes.  They had far too many.  My zucchini never really was productive.  Managed to only grow "just enough" to make pickles twice or three times.  No extra for zucchini patties or zucchini butter or ratatouille which in previous summer I made at least three big batches..  None for zucchini fried in a pan--I ate that every single day last summer on the elimination diet.

So--in the records of garden successes--2017 goes down as a "not so good" but--I wasn't that interested in eating produce this summer.  No cucumbers equaled no thin sliced cucumbers in sour cream dill sauce.  I ate VATS of that in previous summers. Zero this year.  In fact, I have no memories of anything  I ate this summer.  Besides grocery store brownies.

I think I will go directly to the boxes and select the best of them and make a nice pot of tomato soup for G.  With cheesy dumplings.  Ones I make in a coffee cup just like Gramma.  Stir up the batter and drop into boiling water---dumplings.  From the Austria-Hungarian Empire.

If I even had the vaguest remembrance of how it was made--I would put on a pot of the cabbage carrot veal and pork stew by grandmother made especially for me served over boiled yeast bread dumplings.  Oh, gramma.  Why didn't we write these recipes down?????????

So, okay--- fresh tomato soup with basil from the garden.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Latest Rendition Of The Little Art Quilt

As you can see, the mid-section now has been covered over with some of Deb Lacativa's DyeWorks cloth.  And after much auditioning of colors and fabrics another scrap of Deb's went over part of the mountain.  I wanted to keep my little Moon.  And the night sky.  And the cute little patchwork house.

The Lizard is also still there.  With a strange circle under his head.

I selected the large image size in case you all want to click to see details.  A lot of thread on this.  A lot of stitches.  I would do an hour or two at a time while watching television.  Instead of reading. I REALLY like the bottom third.  It works.  The color balance, fabric choices and stitches.  I'm VERY pleased with  that part of the work.

Now I am going to try and make another.  I found an older cloth in my stash--a gift from another Deborah-- and it had the makings of several really fantastic moons.  This other Deborah got me started with this blog, with painting fabrics and with a group of quilt artists doing a series of collaborative works.  I sort of played along.  It seems"right" that she is also providing me with Moons to work with in this series of little art pieces.  And it feels "collaborative" still.

The sky in the piece above was a gift from Connie.  A selection of blue fat quarters that she had dyed. I just love the night sky it provided me with.  With a Little Help From My Friends. Thank you Connie.  And I should also thank Jude Hill and her Spirit Cloth blog.  Invisible Stitch etc.  I visit her blog often and scroll thru 10 or 12 entries.  Some with videos.  I learn so much.  The next piece will have a name as soon as it begins.  A name helps guide the design and the stitch.  This piece never had a name, so perhaps it never had a path to follow?  But it does have layers of Earth & Water under the house and mountain.

Glass Houses remained "dark" until the end.  And then there was a page or two of notes from the author.  Her husband had died while the book was being written.  Which explains the total lack of "joy" in this book.  Still good.  Just a different voice.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Garden Ending Kitchen Work

So it begins--or ends.  Today I am making the last batch of zucchini pickles for 2017.  I also have a half gallon of concord/mixed grape juice in the fridge which will become grape jelly.  This means wholesale cleaning/sanitizing of the kitchen today and the huge canning kettle of boiling water.

Mt friend Patty dropped off a brown paper grocery sack of grapes on Friday.  I picked each little grape off the stems and dropped them in the big soup kettle.  Added exactly one half cup water and set it to boil then simmer for 15 minutes.  Then strain thru the jelly bag.  then empty the jelly bag into the compost bucket.  so many SEEDS.  Chill the juice and today I'll strain it again for tartrate crystals that can damage kidney function.  Then add sugar and boil until it's jelly.

So--today is canning day.

Which means I need to put on my most messed up clothing.  And my vinyl apron so I can wipe myself off.

I worked on the Little Art Piece:   some of you will be upset when next you see it.  I covered most of the mid-section with other fabrics.  And now the top third looks wrong so I might cover it or --and this is more likely--cut it off.   This was just a "learning piece" in any event.  I was trying to get a feel for abstract work in dyed and painted fabric.  Non-representational but full of meaning. (???)

I have a large piece on the work table.  This little one is where I am making my mistakes.  Hopefully the larger piece will benefit.  So far the larger piece is three pieces of fabric and a painted moon but nothing sewn down and I need to figure out a design wall.  You REALLY HAVE to do the work vertical as that is how people will see it.  Working flat on a table top---not good. Putting the work on the floor and standing and looking down on it--not much better.

I hand basted two new seams in the Red Linen Circus Tent Swing Top.  Now I have to actually sew them.  Which means digging my way to the sewing machine and cleaning the inner parts of the machine and oiling everything.  Fun trying to get the bobbin case holder back together.  Bernina.  Three parts or maybe more--- I try and forget.  Trauma trying to get them back together and then, blind, into the bobbin thingy.  I am also thinking of making a few alterations to the huge baggy pockets--that bag out at the hip (just where I need extra "baggy-ness)---just short of sewing them SHUT.

Sewing machine and Canning.   Deluxe crappy day.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Little Art Piece--Right this Minute

I transferred this at original size for those Readers who wanted more detail.  This is how the work is going so far.  The lizard just below the mountain now has an eye.  The little house has become more enhanced.  Happier.  Lots of things are happening in the lower half now that I don't need a "beast" down there.

I am liking the lower third a great deal.  I am now wondering what to do to "balance" the center which seems to be "lifting" too much to the right and is "too pink".

Nothing I can't layer another color over and continue stitching.  Lots of thread work here.

Other women who work with fabric and thread can agree--as the work learn.  And what you learn is sometimes better and sometimes just learning.  Finally in the bottom third I am making progress.  Letting go, I think, of preconceived ideas of what the work "needs".

Now I need to make the top two thirds work with that lower third.   Beginner work.  More advanced work.  If this was a work on paper (of words) the delete button would be used.  On paper with a pencil--the eraser.  On canvas with paint--a layer that covers all.  In oil--the still moist paint scraped off.  In fabric---the scissors.  We'll see.

But I am 55% happy with this.  And will continue.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Roll With It, Baby

Today is the day the curser decides to be in the center rather than the left margin.

Today is the day I promised the dental tech that I would REALLY floss every day.

Today is the day I said NO to the four pack of delicious Brownies at the grocery store where I went to buy floss and a bag of local apples.  Not Brownies.

Today is the first day of my seventy first year on this planet known as Earth.

I always have big plans to live a better, happier life after my birthday.  Sometimes that feeling lasts a day or two.  And then something happens that throws it all off--like the margin thing right now.  I know how to fix it (I think) but what I tried so far hasn't made much of a dent.

I used my new art book (with real art paper--good for pencil and I think other art supplies) but I started with pencil and drew (in the book) a few things that were floating around on the desk and table on index cards.  I love white index cards.  4 by 6. Now I have a few ideas to work on and expand.  Nine patches, flowers, circles.  These are things I enjoy using in my work. Also a few insects or moths.  Why I don't know but I drew three variations.

Today is the day I have to decide how to go forward with the Circus Tent Swing Shirt I purchased in May from South Street Linen.  Yes, I looked like a wide red linen circus tent in it.  I can possibly lay it out, inside out, and do some basting to see if I can limit the width in some way.  Alter it. Super expensive and I can't see how I would EVER wear it out of the house again.  
Made me look wider than I am tall.
G says it didn't look like that in the store where I tried it on.


I have now watched three full football games.  
No, I don't know what is going on with that, either. It's a safer alternative to watching the news?

Still reading Louise Penny's Glass Houses.  Dark.  Very dark.   Depressing. 
I have to stop every few chapters and do something cheerful.  Pet the dog.  Walk to the Garden.
Almost not wanting to continue.  The plot isn't that interesting.  And the characters I like so much and who seem to have such a good time together.  Not so much in this book.  Everyone is just Off. 
Even descriptions of the two rescued puppies is sinister.  Is the little one even a dog? 
Anyone else read it? Care to comment?

I'm going to make myself some lunch.  Read my book.  Check the mailbox for mail. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Seventy One

It seems old.  And Then it doesn't.  Happens Monday.

I have been "contemplative" the past few days.  Reviewing what has happened and was has not.  What could be and what will never be.  Past mistakes.  Lost opportunities.  Victories.  Lucky Breaks.
The Good The Bad And The As Yet To Be.

And that's okay with me.

The Mature Adults got to go home early today at work.  I was ready to be done.  I had been on my feet all day, talking for two hours while I taught a class on dividing perennials. My voice got thready which is new. We had a BOGO sale on perennials.  Boss said we did good.  Had me order more from the Mother Ship. People in the class mentioned a "great sense of humor" on the Rate The Teacher form.

That's about it for this post.  I am tired.  Have the new L. Penny book--Glass House.  Just finished the newest Longmire book--Western Star (ended with a cliffhanger--hope I don't have to wait a full year.....)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Sunflowers & Seeds For The Birds

The One sunflower seed that germinated in my garden this year made three or four (still waiting) big flower heads full of seeds.  A few, I hope, to save for next year's sunflower.  But all the rest are "for the birds".  They flutter around and hang from the flowers.  Picking and eating the fresh seeds.

I have brown paper bags (sacks, some call them) filled with cut tops of drying plants.  Seed saving. Dill seeds.  Pink Zinnia seeds.  Calendula seeds (so oddly shaped).  A few onions have put up seed heads as well but still green.  Have to wait till the heads are nearly dry and brown.

My Herb Garden (remember when I wrote about making separate bed squares for each?  Well, they did very well.  The Lavender plants even flowered--all season.  On the porch I have the annual herbs. Verbena.  Ornamental oregano.  Lavender that will only live thru the Winter in a house.

I also have my years old Bay Laurel and Rosemary.  My rosemary got pruned by the tall fig tree that fell over in the Wind and cracked a big tall center branch out.  So not tall and stately anymore.  Now wide and flat.

Tomatoes keep coming.  From the plants at work that haven't sold as yet.  From my own plants--slowly turning colors other than green.  And from friends dropping off "Extra" tomatoes.  Two bags a few days ago.  Delightful.  I am also fermenting seeds from the most delicious tomatoes to then wash and dry and save and plant.  The fermenting (with a bit of water and the seed pulp) helps to release the seeds from the gluey pulp.  Once they release, I rinse, strain and then let them dry on paper toweling.  Once dry--they go into a labeled envelope.  Paper.  So they stay dry.

This summer, I am going to just drop the seed pulp into the garden bed.  Every year a few end of the season tomatoes get left in the garden and little plants start coming up.  They usually grow into nice sturdy plants.  Or I will start them in milk jugs in February.  Outdoors.

I went to the Art Collaboration meeting on Monday.  There were four of us and the talk was lively. I worked on the little art piece.  Add more and more stitch.

The incentive for this work was Jude Hill of Spirit Cloth. going back and listening to her videos.... a key part in the work--in the very beginning--a name.  I have only called it the little art cloth.  The name doesn't give me any "story" to work with.  Which may be why no one really takes much notice of the cloth.  It isn't interesting.  Has nothing to tell them.

I wonder if it's too late?  "The Cloth With No Name or Story"  Now that sounds sad.

I'm at the point where I need to decide to make a Beast or Not.  Today.  If I don't decide then it will be  "The Cloth With No Name, No Story and No Beast".

And I will have to start all over again with a new that has something to say.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Painting Fabric

Some fabric artists dye fabric.  I never tried--but since I paint in most mediums and use acrylics I have had experience with paint patterned clothing (accidentally) and know first hand, that once dry--it is forever.

And that's the whole point of fabric dye.  Forever.

I have a little painting station made up of foam core board covered in a heavy duty plastic garbage bag.  Period.  And a six pan mixing container made of plastic that may have cost 99 cents.  My paints are the 4 for $1 on sale acrylics from JoAnn's.  I tried the good stuff from the art store--same results.
I try not to use paint thick.  I mix it with a great deal of water and then just paint the color on the dry or damp fabric (this time I used wet and won't be doing that again).  I paint.  Paint some more.  Splatter some colors on the fabric, on myself, on the kitchen floor.

I really, really like splatter but really, really do not like the clean up after.

This piece, up top, looks great here, different in person.  It's still not completely dry but I figured you all were wondering about that little art I was working on and wanted to see some progress.  To distract you for not having done any stitching........ did it work?  I had gone to Goodwill on Friday. And it was a very good day.  Lots of 50% blue tags on linen pants (mostly the small sizes).  In such cute colors.  A few shirts. A very large white linen swing skirt heading off to Deb's dye deck next Spring.

So, I watched the hurricane news and used my scissors and seam ripper to take all the pants apart.  I like to paint flat single thickness.  Some of those pants were really WELL sewn.  Some had double seams.  Zippers.  Etc.  The shirts.  Well, usually the shirts are well worn and softer than any pants I have ever gotten at nicer to take apart. Except for cuffs and button thing down the front.  Oh and the collar and that section along the shoulders.  All double thickness and extra tight stitching.  Endless. Seam. Ripping.

Anyway--back to painting.  After the painted surface is completely DRY (really!!!) then I iron or  press the cloth.  With Steam.  Ironing makes all the difference to painted cloth. Irongin before it's completely dry means cleaning the sole plate on the iron or buying a new iron.

I have been using painted cloth in my art quilts for over 15 years now and I look forward to stitching even a small bit into a piece I am working on--- like the little art piece.  And I didn't have anything that was "right" so I had to make something.

I painted more things but this one was nearly dry and more true color wise.

I am also reading.  Sara Blaedel.  A Scandinavian mystery (thriller) author.  I am reading book two now and read books one and three over the weekend.  I also have checked out books 4, 5, 6 to read in the next two weeks.  About a day and a half per book.  Well, that was with hurricane coverage and seam ripping.  So they could go faster.  Or slower if I can start stitching on the little art piece again.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Little Art # 3 and #4--Possibilities

So- I finally went up into the attic to see if I had more than the 6 inch square of the black with pink and gold flecks.  I had gotten thru almost all the boxes and shelving and was starting to feel like that fabric was just...gone.  I was shoving things back into that last container and as I shoved--the flecked fabric I was searching for--sort of popped up--like Kleenex in a box.

Anyway, I was so relieved.  I had almost a full yard.  It has always been my practice to buy yard cuts. It's the "need to have "enough" mentality I learned from my father and his mother who suffered in the Great Depression--they had nothing.  So--spent the remaining time on Earth making sure they always had more than enough.  Which leads to an amazing amount of empty jars, bottles, fabric and balls of string.  In my father's case--jars and jars of nails, screws and various metal things.

So--always buy a yard.

Up top the pictures are in the wrong order.  The bottom one is #3 where I added the newly found print to the bottom to make the piece a rectangle.  It also gives me more room to expand 'the story".  and then you have #4 which works off the Beasts in Jude Hill's work.  Now, yes, this is a copy of one of Jude's Beasts.  And it is NOT going to be the beast I use if I use a beast.  I just wanted to quickly see if a beast worked here.  And I think it does.  Mine might become a wolf howling at the moon.

So--comments are encouraged.  Sort of like the critique done at a workshop.

I had liked the beast on the square but it covered up most of the thread work and G protested.  The beast was closer to the moon and the house.  Protective.  I may still limit the expanse of the new fabric at the bottom and then be able to move the beast upward.

I read Jude Hill's Spirit Cloth blog everyday--digging into the archives for hours at a time.  And I LOVE the things she makes and the invisible stitch and the glue stitch and the "fake" appliqué method.  I use them all but my work can never look like hers.  I don't have baskets of old threadbare cloth.  I have "new" cloth.

So....often I am loving the method but not happy with the result due to my fabrics.  Colors. Etc.......
But I need to work with what I have.  Sometimes turning the fabric over and using what we would call "the wrong side".

Work yesterday was okay.  I got to go home early and was thrilled.  so, I can read the "writing on the wall" as they say.  Short-timer's attitude.  But the lunchroom had jelly donut holes and ice cream in the freezer.  And a big sunflower plant pulled out of the dumpster.  The birds are enjoying it.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

My Little Art Work Continued

I added a little house, some flowers and re-arranged the bottom half.  Lots and lots of thread.  My friend (who stopped by unexpectedly and thought everyone here would be asleep) said it looked like a desert scene.   That was before her cup of coffee.  I surprised her and myself by being awake and dressed before 8am.

I think there will be "more" at the bottom edge to make a rectangle instead of a square.  Though squares are nice.

the more I work on this--and stitch and stitch--well, it is becoming more what I had hoped but still just a "learning" piece.  I have a lot to learn about this way of stitching.  I may need to go back and re-read Jude Hill's Spirit Cloth series.  And the "What-iffing" portions.  I really wanted a moon. That was my starting point.  Then something for the moon to sit on.  Then stars.

These pieces are supposed to tell a story or share a memory.  This one is just about me wanting to make a picture with a moon.

That little circle on the house is only pinned on--I don't like it now that I am looking at it--so it will be coming off.  Perhaps a few more flowers.  I always like circles in what is likely the Earth.  Seeds. For plants, ideas etc.   So it goes.  Really--I am hitting publish and going into the kitchen to remove that circle dot.

Monday, September 04, 2017

What A Big Mirror For That Small Bathroom

This is what the mirror/glass guy said as he left the house.  After installing the self same mirror.

Well, today I was helping G measure for the shower curtain rod (tile guy said it would be a "waste of money" to put in a glass  door) and the large mirror is directly across from the tub in which I was standing.  I think I may have gained 80 pounds since the renovation began.  Or--more horrible, this is what I have always looked like.

I am letting this sink in.  Most of my clothes fit.  So, that is why it was such a shock to see myself in the mirror.  But...... once seen, hard to un-see.

This is a little something I am working on--this picture was taken after breakfast and it's now dinner time.  So... lots has happened. And most of what happened was better than what is here.  A new picture tomorrow.

Trying to watch less news--it is having a terrible effect on G.  Making him moody and depressed.  So, less news here.  I do watch when he is not around.  Do have the Sinner to watch when I have time alone.  Three books to read--I haven't started any yet.

Against every grain of common sense.....I went in to work on Saturday when an SOS call came.  Three call outs and they had only three employees left to run the store.  Now I am on the schedule.  One weekday and Saturday (9 hours).  It was okay.  I fell right into the rhythm of the place (10 years experience).  Tomorrow I visit a friend's new house and garden.  To help with a design.  Then Wednesday work at work from 8 to 3.  Then Saturday.  G just shook his head and said "I guess you aren't ready".  I may ask for a real check instead of direct deposit.  And then have cash to spend on frivolous things.  It's only 15 hours a week.  Hardly a fortune.  Hardly anything at all.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

When A Plum Is Not A Stanley

A friend who originated in Virginia, came to bring me more Super Snow White tomatoes and seeds so I could grown my own next year--she saw my plums being prepped for another batch of preserves.

Damson. She recognized it immediately.

I went in search of ID on a fruit tree website.  There was Stanley.  His fruit not looking anything like what I had picked.  Then I searched for Damson and there was my fruit, my pit and my resulting preserves--described as if they had spooned my preserves and tasted them in my kitchen.

I may call the tree Stanley but it's not the tree's name. Not what I purchased. It's not a Prune Plum.  It's a Damson Plum--the very best plum for preserves.  Perhaps the only plum for preserves. Turning a rich magenta when boiled down with 4 cups of sugar.  Thick.  Flavorful.  Like nothing else.

And I have such a tree.  I have these plums. Here in Maine. And I have 10 half pint jars in the store cupboard.  To enjoy at my leisure.  I feel like the Queen of Plums.

Some sort of magical thing must have happened in all the years (8 or 10) I have waited for Stanley to make fruit.  Set fruit.  I have no idea.  Perhaps his label was misplaced?  Exchanged?  I wonder if all the other Stanley's I had to choose from were also Damson? Or just this one?

Anyway--however it happened I am so thrilled to be growing a Damson Plum here in Maine, in my garden.  I am looking forward to many, many years of plum harvests and pots of magenta jewel like preserves.  Enough, I hope to give as gifts.  Someday.

I am reminded of a post on Orangette where a Reader in another state sent a large carton of Damson Plums to the blog's author so she could make preserves.  At the time I wondered why this Plum was so special.  Years ago, and finally........I get it.  Got it.

The Queen Of Plums.  And that's what I will be calling my tree from now on.