Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Just poppin' in to say "Hi! I'm still here! I'm sorry I haven't posted anything new in a gazillion years."

I have been working on some crafty things. Unfortunately (for you, the viewers), most everything I'm working on is for holiday gift giving, so I can't show any of it just yet. As soon as anything is unwrapped (assuming I finish any of the projects), I'll be sure to post a photo or two.

In the meantime I spent this evening watching television (I can justify this in the middle of the holiday rush by the fact that I'm still a bit under the weather with some stomach bug thingie) and making new dolls for my blogs. I had an autumn themed one up at Beach Treasure, so I made a new winter themed one. Then I realized I didn't have a doll for this blog, so I made one. I couldn't find any dolls holding knitting needles or paint brushes or anything crafty, so I put myself in front of a quilt background, and I'm wearing a sweater and scarf that, theoretically, if dolls could knit and if that doll were actually me, I could have knitted. (Huh?) And I gave myself, meaning, my doll, a haircut because I got one in real life. My bangs aren't quite that short, but that's pretty close. Of course in real life there's a bit of gray in there, although I'm thinking of doing a bit of red henna in it. That might be nice for the holidays, yes? It looks a lot better then the straggly mess it had become, providing I remember to comb it.

And now I'm off to bed with the fourth Harry Potter book. I've been trying to finish rereading this for months now and one thing or another has gotten in the way. I really want to finish it up finally so I can watch the DVD with the Yule Ball scene before Yule.

Stay warm and dry folks. Keep those sewing machines whirring, knitting needles clacking and swishing.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

You can go to Beach Treasure Holiday Photos #18 to find the post that corresponds with all these cow photos. I had a lot of fun trying to find different ways to take artsy photos of all these artsy cows. Here's a website to find out about the Cow Parade. And another website about Cow Parades in other sites.

Edinburgh is such a literary treasure, it's quite appropriate that the first cow we stumbled upon was a literary cow.

I think this cow was named "Summer". Here she is longing to join the other petals in the flower bed beyond. Please forgive the fuzziness of a lot of these photos. My new camera wasn't a big fan of low light settings and I couldn't tell that on the small camera screen. I didn't find out until I was back home viewing the photos on my computer.

Er, both William and this cow are giving me somewhat disturbing looks.

Here we have a cow on her way home from a trip to Edinburgh's free fine art museum. She looks like she was very inspired by the visit.

Here's a very modern art cow coming....

And another more pragmatic cow going.....

Where is she going? I don't know, but I'm sure she knows as she's obviously bringing a map.

Finished? Only for today. There are plenty of cow photos left for your viewing pleasure. I'll try to get moooooore cows uploaded tomoooooorrow.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Howdy folks - how is everyone doing? Working on all those homemade holiday gifts? Like I am?

HAHAHAHAA! That last little bit - "like I am" - that was really funny!

Nah, lately I'm not doing much creatively. I spent the first half of the month stuck in a circular angst - To nano or not to nano. Round and round and round. With occasional soirees to the keyboard with a bit of novel writing to try to keep up just in case I decided to choose to nano. ARGH! Grrrr! Gnashing of teeth. Wailing of spirit. There was a lot of staying up late (and by late I mean late for me, and late for me means practically dawn. Which of course led to a lot of sleeping at inappropriate hours of the day and night. Well, not night. But the day part.

Conversation with Sam yesterday when he called and woke me up at 11:30 am:

Sam: Hi.
Me: (trying to sound like I was already awake because he'd called yesterday at 12:30 pm and I'd admitted he'd woken me up and he'd lectured me about still being asleep in the middle of the day) Hi Sam.
Sam: Were you still asleep?
Me: (short pause) No.
Sam: Are you lying to me?
Me: (another short pause) Yes.
Sam: Why?
Me: Because I'm don't want another lecture on being asleep in the middle of the day.
Sam: So, now I've got to lecture you about lying instead!? Geeze woman! What am I going to do with you!?
Me: So, what do you want?....


Part of me wanted to write - holiday projects, cooking, cleaning, showering, laundry be damned! Another part of me was completely certain that if I didn't try to tackle a huge writing project at this particular point in time, I'd dive joyously into finishing all those projects I've somehow not managed to finish all year. And yet another part of me, perhaps the smartest part of me, figured that both the other voices were full of baloney and that no matter what I said I wanted to do, I'd probably end up doing things about the same as I always have, frittering away half of each day doing things like eating a bag of Smarties, watching Wheel of Fortune, cleaning up after the cats, fetching fast food for my teenager, and blogging (or other internet activities). Which is, basically, what I've been doing, although in theory I haven't made up my mind yet - that way I can't be said to be doing nothing because what I'm actually doing is PONDERING, which is an activity that is almost invisible to the naked eye.

I did go to an art showing the other night, Thursday to be exact, mainly by accident. I was cleaning up a pile of papers that had accumulated on the dining room table and came across an invitation to the showing at our local arts council. It said the showing was Thursday, Nov. 16, from 5-7 pm. And it just happened to be Thursday, Nov. 16, 5:15 pm.

I asked hubby if he wanted to come with me but he was happily wrapped up in his quilt, on the couch, with his tea and Rosie. So off I went by myself. It was a nice showing - a bit of pottery, a few painters, some photographers - all artists that work in some capacity for our local community college. There was food. There was drink. There was live music. Pretty fancy schmancy (or would that be artsy fartsy) for lil' ol' Susanville.

All teasing aside, it was nice. I particularly liked one artist's paintings. Vibrant colors. Really captured the idea of "light". I chatted with folks, some I knew, some I didn't. It was both relaxing and inspiring. It made me feel like I wanted to come home and create. Or take a few art classes at the college. Did you know I am one class short of getting my art degree? Of course now it's been so long that all my acumulated college credit is completely worthless. Well, not worthless to me. But as far as the college is concerned, it might as well have been classes taken back in the Dark Ages. So, maybe I'm not terribly serious about the art classes part. But it did make me want to come home and create. Okay, OKAY! It made me want to come home and watch Ugly Betty and Supernatural and eat popcorn do a jigsaw puzzle and read some blogs and a little bit of Neil Gaiman and sleep in until almost noon and then create. (No. I did not create. If you want to know what I did the next day instead, read my other blog.)

One more thing before I go back to watching comedians on BBC - I stumbled upon this little art video on YouTube and thought it was kinda fun to watch.

Oh, one more thing! And this one redeems me. I am working on a new knitting project. I can't give out any details because it's gonna be a gift and I don't want to spoil the surprise, but hey, I am doing a little creative something. Whew.

Friday, November 10, 2006

More castle photos to go with Holiday Photos #16 over at Beach Treasure. One can never have enough photos of rocks and moss, eh?

They had recreationists performing the day we visited. I liked the new through the window of the old.

Old castle, the bay in the background. A tiny glimpse of a banner in the bottom lefthand corner.

The birds took advantage of every nook and cranny.

Back when the castle would have been in use, the large concentric rings you see in the sides of this tower would have been where the wooden floor/ceilings would have been.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I had the most amazingly rejuvenating, artsy day yesterday. I went to an art show, wandered botanical gardens, and had other lovely adventures. This was one of those posts that really couldn't decide which blog it belonged on, so to hear the whole tale, I'll send you over to Beach Treasure. Be sure to check out all the artist's links I've included.

The only part of the day I'll share here are a couple photos I took on my walk through the autumn colors. I wanted to upload more photos, but Blogger is being sluggish today, I'm getting really frustrated, and I don't want to lose the entire afternoon to watching that little uploading circle go round and round. So I guess these two will have to do, to pique your interest. Maybe I'll be able to upload a few more later.

As always, you can click on the photos. Unfortunately I've downsized them (why?), so they'll only appear a wee bit larger.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Another project finished!! This is my Train Hat. I bought the yarn and needles in Glastonbury, but no pattern. I figured I could "wing it." Throughout our trip, whenever we were on the train, I worked on it until I got to the point where I decided I should start decreasing round. I couldn't figure out how quickly I should decrease, so I tucked it into my backpack until I could find a pattern. Well, there it stayed until tonight when I searched the net, got the general idea, and round and round, smaller and smaller it got.

I hit another snag when I got to about 30 stitches and realized I couldn't finish it on the circular needles. First I tried using two sets of circular needles (in two different sizes I might add). That didn't work. Then I remembered I'd found a bunch of sets of open ended needles in different sizes in an antique store. I dug those out and tried to figure out how to use them. I'm sure you experienced knitters would have had a good laugh watching me try to reinvent the wheel. I kept ending up with all the stitches on two needles. I finally figured out you had to divide them up evenly onto three needles and always stitch on to the fourth needle. And then....

Tra-La-LA! A hat!

Here I am posing with Rosie and Buck, two of my knitting advisors. Yoda and Maisie, my feline helpers for the evening, thought there was far too much DOG energy, and refused to pose with "that other kind".

So tell me, do you? Huh? Huh? Do you like my hat!?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I finished it last night - my Samhain Scarf. Whew! For awhile there I wasn't finding time to work on it and thought it wouldn't be finished in time to wear it this year. Not that I can't keep wearing it after Halloween. It looks as much "tiger-ish" as it does "Halloween-ish". Didn't plan on that, but there you are.

Not the best photo of me, but I lost all my photographers after this take, so it was the best I could do today. Notice how jauntily I balance that piece of wood on my head while modeling the scarf?

I have this really cute orange and black polka dot ribbon with dangly bats and pumpkins and what not. I wanted to audition it for the ends of the scarf. I apparently put it, like many other items in my house, "someplace safe". Of course that means it's so safe, even I can't find it. Maybe it will turn up in the next few days, and it if looks nice and I sew it on, more photos to follow. In the meantime, I gotta throw on a jacket and my new scarf and go off to meet a friend for a late night Whine Fest and Dinner.

See ya later!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

No photos today, although I posted another image from the same church yard as the photos I posted here yesterday, over on Beach Treasure, if you'd like to see it.

I'm just popping in to say, uhm.... I'm sitting here knitting. Well, I was knitting before I went back to typing and posting. But at least that's something, to spend a little bit of time knitting today. I'm working on my orange and black Samhain scarf. I thought I'd have it whipped up in no time but I haven't had a lot of "hand time" in the last few weeks. Did I mention that I tried to knit at one of my son's football games a few weeks ago. It turned out that they lost - got stomped really - by a team who's school colors were.....

yep, you guessed it - orange and black. The coincidence did not go unnoticed. So maybe no more knitting at football games.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More holiday photos, these go along with the Holiday Photos #14 on Beach Treasure.

Looking up on the Conway Castle. Wouldn't want to try to scale those walls. Too, I was standing on a nicely paved, winding walkway that took me up the rocks. I'm assuming that in days of ol' one had to start out down at the beach.

This was a fence that surrounded a large park area we had to walk through to get to our B&B. I like the way the fence seems to stretch and warp.

Hmmmm, doesn't seem like this church gets much business anymore. At least not through the front doors.

I liked the symbolism of a time piece (this is a sundial) in the grave yard. Time flies? Time's up? Time waits for no man?

There was something sort of sad/sweet about how these gravestones seem to be simply leaned up against the churchyard wall, like they've been set there temporarily, maybe for a yard sale or something.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A little while ago I mentioned that I was hooked on these things on ebay called ACEO's - which stands for Art Cards/Editions and Orginals. Basically they're teeny tiny original art from everyone from professional artists to well intentioned and sometimes surprisingly talented (and sometimes not) unknowns.

It must be a fairly new phenomenon because I've been watching and bidding on them for just a few weeks now and in that time the prices have skyrocketed! I have to admit that I was torn between sharing this new discovery and keeping the news to myself because... well.... I didn't want to push the prices up even more.

But alas, they're already moving quickly out of my price range and I've now spent more then enough pretty pennies on them so I guess it's time to share the secret. I certainly want to encourage and support the artists that are making these wonderful miniatures. I'm gonna bid on one or two (or three, okay, maybe four) more and then content myself with getting them all framed and displayed in a little montage.

I stumbled upon them while looking for Halloween art and all the ones I purchased have a Halloween theme of some sort. If that's not a theme that appeals to you, then I'm sure there are ACEO's that are right up your alley. Maybe it's cats, or botanicals, or fairies.... let's say you like horses - in the eBay search box type "ACEO horse". When it pops up, click in the sidebar to narrow it to Self Representing Artists and then again to narrow it to Originals.

I think there are places other then eBay to find ACEO's but if there is, you better not tell me. I might be tempted to buy more of them. What I really hope to do now that I've managed to get myself some teeny tiny original art from other artists, is dabble in making some ACEO's myself. All I have to do, as I mentioned before, is get out my oil can and loosen up of my "rusty fingers." Hmmm, maybe I should get out a pen or pencil. It might be hard to practice with an oil can. Snerk.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I did art!

I joined an art deck swap, my first ever. The theme was Between the Worlds and you could do anything that reminded you of Halloween, Samhain, Day of the Dead, Carnival, Ghosts, Cemeteries, and so on. You could choose between numerous mediums, although I suspect most folks did collage of some type.

I tried and tossed several ideas before I finally settled on the one below. This isn't the first image I tried for the idea either, the first one was too complex for the size parameters, which was 3" x 5". I had to whittle it down to it's most basic symbolism, a good lesson for little ol' detail oriented me.

First I'll show you the image, which may or may not make sense to you without the description that follows (and was included on it's own 3"X 5" card). It'll depend on if you know the mythology I used. But see how far you get first just looking at the image, I'm curious if it's at all effective. It's not at all the type of image I expected myself to design. Sorry for the tiny image:

Confused? Well, here's what I wrote to explain my card:

My card came from the juxtaposition of two unrelated events - the recent deaths of three local youth on a single day and a stray comment about the River Styx. I Googled “River Styx” and discovered that in some myths the Underworld is thought to have many rivers within it’s borders. Two rivers in particular caught my attention - the Lethe, from which you drank to forget one’s past life, and the Mnemosyne, who’s waters you drank if you wished to retain your memories upon reincarnation. It occurred to me that a death forces difficult choices upon both the living and the dead, between the pain of remembering and the balm of forgetting. I went to sleep dwelling on the grief of the teenagers in our community and woke up the next morning with this urban punk image of the river mythology that is more more in keeping with their contemporary world.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Remember that art card I tried working on a few days ago, only to find out I was horribly out of practice? I guess there are a lot of things one needs to keep up on to keep good at - foreign languages, tennis, belly dancing, sketching.

I gave up the sketching idea, was gonna go back to a collage idea based on Dia de Los Muertos. I had a couple images set aside to use - oh, yeah, head slap, I lost them.

Yesterday I stumbled upon another idea and spent twenty minutes or so looking up background info on it, and then set it aside in favor of bed and book. (I finished Charlaine Harris' Dead as a Doornail - I love Sookie, she seems like such a real person.)

Woke up this morning and apparently the new idea had wandered around in my head last night picking up details from a recent community tragedy (which you can read about on Beach Treasure if you want, it's very sad and I've had to talk about it enough today, so I don't want to again just now). Yes, it wandered around and this morning it popped out of my head in a little bubble of completion.

Of course I mean the idea was complete. The actual application of the idea was not. If only. With the deadline spurring me on, I started to gather the images and make some initial attempts at how I could put it all together.

Damn, I hate learning curves!!! (I hate shopping for clothes too, except for when I don't really need to shop, but that's another story.) Doing something the first few times, or in this case the first time, is toooooo harrrrrrd! (There should be an editing button that would allow one to automatically add a whining tone to a post. Since there's no whine button, I'm pretending that turning words orange is a reasonable whine fascimile.) It took me hours and hours to do what probably should have taken half that time.

After some more bed and book (a new one, Danse Macabre by Laurell Hamilton), and if I'm lucky, eight hours of sleep, I'm gonna go back to work with the intent of finishing it. I think the key to success is to stop worrying about "how good" it should be and put my focus on "how done" it needs to be instead. That and to try to enjoy the process instead of being concerned with the result. That's all probably typical, trite artistic advice, huh? If I'd ever read any artist's inspirational books I'd probably know, but I haven't, so I don't. Are you following me? No matter if you're not, I'm not. I'm being distracted by Julie Walters on Craig Ferguson. Her voice - I looked up at the television screen because her voice was familiar and realized - she's Mrs. Weasley!

Along with working on this art card, I've gotten completely sucked into the world of ebay ACEO's. Did you folks know about this!? Little jewels of art all lined up with artsy puppy eyes that say "Buy me! Take me home!" Does anyone know what ACEO even stands for? Maybe tomorrow I'll go in search of the answer and report back. But now my p.j.'s are calling. The gray flannel ones with the little silhouettes of flying witches all over it - Old Navy. And a floppy tee. And my quilts. And my chihuahua. Undoubtedly several cats. Oh yeah - until tomorrow....

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Daughter-in-law Lisa, aka Speedy Gonzales, went home, finished up the last blocks, and put the top all together!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I have an embarrassing confession. I'm rusty. I didn't know I was rusty. It was a surprising discovery. It shouldn't have been. One can't drop a skill for ohhhhh, a decade or so, and then expect to just pick right up where you dropped off. Though for some reason, I thought I could.

I'm in this ATC swap on an e-list. Hmmm, that's probably not quite right. I don't think it's exactly an ATC, it's more of a art card - 3" X 5". There's a theme, everyone makes original art of some sort, makes copies for everyone, and we all get a deck. The choice of medium is open - collage, computer art, textile, paint - whatever you're inspired to use.

Originally I had assumed I'd do some sort of computer collage thing since that's where the bulk of the participants were leaning. It's always safe to go with the flow, y'know. But as the deadline started looming closer I gave some serious thought to how I was gonna go about the whole computer collage idea. I couldn't use Photo Shop because I still haven't learned how. I could use Appleworks graphics but it's not like I have a lot of sophisticated tools in there.

I had some ideas for old fashioned collage work - you know - with paper, scissors, glue. I'd set aside some images I wanted to use but they were displaced recently. There's a whole story behind the loss of the images that involves an annoying spouse, but since I'm not currently annoyed at anyone, including a spouse of any kind, let's let that story lie untold. The important thing to note is that the images were not to be found and the deadline kept getting closer.

That's when I had this sort of "duh" moment. I could draw or paint my image. Why not!? I mean, I'm a woman of skills. Drawing skills. Painting skills. Numchuk skills. Oh wait, maybe not that last one. But art-eeeeestic skills, yeah baby.

So I pulled out some fancy schmancy paper. I looked for my oil pastels - they seem to have run off with the aforementioned paper images that had gone missing. I considered watercolors for a moment and decided to KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid. Colored pencils. That's the ticket. I settled down comfy on the couch, turned on the t.v., and picked up a pencil - a blue one - and.......


uhm, and........

realized I'd forgotten how to draw.

I suppose it didn't help that I didn't have any images to use as models. I not only thought I could just whip out a Picasso, I thought I could whip it out completely from my imagination.


Where's the oil can!?!?

I'm Rusty!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I'm finally getting some pics posted from my daughter-in-law Lisa's visit last week. We didn't have as much time as we'd planned, but we did get one full day of sewing in. Well, Lisa got a full day of sewing in. I got a day full of cleaning the sewing room, picking out a block pattern, and puttering about while she sewed.

Here's a baby quilt top she made and brought up to show me. It's pinned to the batting but not quilted yet. She made it with scrap material that had signifigance to her and Joe. I think it turned out rather cute.

She was orginally going to do the binding on her Halloween quilt while she was here - which I forgot to take a photograph of - dang. But I suggested she select some fabric for the binding, cut it out, and then leave that for when she was back at home so, instead, she could raid my stash and make something new, as she doesn't have a lot of disposable income for buying fabric. Below is what she picked out, as she'd decided she wanted to do the baby's room in Guns 'N Roses colors - black, white, and red. The first two photos are finished blocks and the third photo is finished blocks plus the other fabric combinations she picked out, cut, but didn't have time to finish. You have to click on that photo to enlarge it so you can see the prints on the smaller pieces.

I was telling an acquaintance about Lisa's plans for the baby's room and looking concerned she asked me if I was okay with my daughter-in-law designing a baby room, my grandchild's room, in black, red and white! Well, of course! Clearly the woman who asked the question doesn't know me very well, eh? Now I do have concerns about the idea of a baby needing their own room, all alone, sniff, sniff, but I figure they'll figure that one out quick enough. The need for a good night's sleep is a very fast teacher.

Here's the sum total of my efforts for the day. I know, what an accomplishment -Not! I also made a couple half square triangle blocks out of the Halloween fabric, they didn't get in the photo for some reason. I decided I didn't like the pattern, so I switched to a bigger block. What you do see is some 8"X 3" strips for a Halloween print rail fence in black, purple, and orange. To the right are the squares and hourglass blocks for two Ohio Star blocks for a bed quilt I want to make in scrappy greens, blues, and whites/creams.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I was gonna upload some pics of the sewing Lisa and I did the other day, but got sidetracked and didn't get around to it yet. Hubby is home on his weekend and we spent part of the day running errands. I was busy finishing up some tasks at home because the weather turned stormy (in a nice way, the windy, air smells clean before the rain sort of way) and so I had to get some things I'd put outside under cover. Then it was time to go to my writer's group. (I haven't made it to a meeting since April and wouldncha know it but I was the only one to show up. Well, me and the woman who hosts it at her house.) Anyhoo, didn't get the photos uploaded.

I did, however, finally go buy a membership for our local county arts council. I've lived in the community for over a decade. I regularly go to their events. And yet for some reason I never joined. I always felt I should, but just felt a bit hesitant to make the jump - I have no idea why. In fact for several years now I've actually meant to join, as I knew that the group lost a lot of their public funding, but still I somehow kept forgetting. I'm very pleased with myself for finally managing to get down to their office/gallery and writing a check. I was surprised at how inexpensive it was - and now I feel sort of foolish for having waited for so long.

I was rewarded for my efforts by a wonderful discovery - a rock garden in the garden of the arts council building. I've gone in and out of that building almost a dozen times over several years and yet somehow I'd never noticed the rock garden. And by a rock garden, I mean a garden made of rocks. Obviously someone's personal collection. Beautiful large agates, jade, crystals, fossils, geodes, and many, many unique stones that I don't know the specific names. I sat down on the sidewalk, the better to view them (old eyes - sigh) and crawled from spot to spot as I spied new treasures.

I was so excited I went back to her desk and asked the secretary if she knew who had gathered the collection. I wanted to know so I could ask where they had found some of the more interesting pieces - maybe I could find some new rock hunting locations that are nearby. She didn't know. In fact, she asked "What rock garden?" and followed me back outside. We spent some more time passing stones back and forth and then placed them carefully back where we found them.

Hmmmm, I think I'll finish up this post and see if I can google "rock hunting" for my local area. Anyone else love rocks as much as I do?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My daughter-in-law arrived on Monday for a far too short visit, but we've been making the most of the time we have together. I spent Monday night organizing the studio (after using it as dumping ground for the last month while working on the rest of the house), while Lisa worked on selecting and cutting out a binding for the Halloween quilt she made with the very first quilt blocks we worked on together (and her very first blocks ever!)

I've been focusing on decluttering tasks for weeks, planning on switching gears during Lisa's visit, and spend it all enjoying each other and being as crafty and creative as we wanted. Tuesday we sewed all day, except for a nice break for lunch out. I also took a break to make us all some dinner and to watch a favorite show (Eureka) and a show premiere (Men in Trees - I'll definitely watch more episodes - very "Northern Exposure"), although I had a light bulb of an idea during the second show and grabbed some knitting needles and a great "Halloween" skein I recently bought, starting on a new scarf for myself.

Despite my best efforts, Lisa got far more accomplished then I did. Of course, she didn't have the distractions of her regular day-to-day routines, but still, she's much more focused then I am. I had a hard time committing to a project and then got all waily waily about picking out a pattern.

I finally selected a modified rail fence pattern from an older quilting magazine that I thought would work nicely with my Halloween prints. I wanted to use all pumpkin fabrics, sort of a "pumpkins on a fence" idea. I cut out the pieces for a few blocks, sewing up the half square triangle bits, and set them together to see how they looked. Didn't like it. The pattern didn't really show up well. I decided to add another color and do it in a traditional rail fence instead. Cut out a few more pieces, auditioned the new pieces together, and Lisa and I agreed it was a big improvement.

But after cutting out a few more prints, I got restless and decided I'd rather work on the green and blue Ohio Stars I've wanted to make for a bed quilt for our bedroom. I managed to get the pieces cut out for two blocks and a few of the triangle pieces sewn together. So, allllllllll day and I don't actually have a single block completed yet. Sheesh.

On the other hand, Lisa selected a pattern, picked out the fabrics (given free rein in my stash - I told her that was real proof of my love and affection for her), ironed, cut, and sewed together almost all the blocks she needs for the quilt she's planning on making from them. I have mentioned before how she's Speedy Gonzales of the quilt world, haven't I?

I forgot to take any photos of our efforts. If I can remember to take some today before she packs up and goes on her way, I'll post them for you all to see. Wait until you see how cute her blocks turned out.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I wanted to share a photo from our trip to New York City this spring to acknowledge the anniversary of 9-11. Something appropriately significant and yet arty. I had a few photos I actually took at Ground Zero, but this photo seemed to best fit my mood this year. This is William looking out the windows of the Great Hall on Ellis Island, towards the Manhattan skyline. I could share my reasons why this particular photo felt right but I've decided it's best to leave you to experience it in your own way.

Except for this - At the last minute, impulsively, I decided I needed to add a poem. I walked over to my newly organized shelf of poetry books, picked a book at random and opened it up. This is what I read, and clearly I needed to search no further.


the silence

of nature


the power within.

the power


the path is whatever passes-no

end in itself.

the end is,



not saving.


the proof

the proof of the power within.

- Gary Snyder, from his collection Turtle Island

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Time for some more holiday photos - these go along with the ones I posted today on Beach Treasure. They were all taken while in Caernarfon, on the northwest coast of Wales. The larger pics of the castle are all at Beach Treasure, these are, of course, the more artsy ones of details while exploring inside the castle walls. I really couldn't get enough of the rough stones, moss, clinging birds and vines, and play of light. If I lived nearby of course I'd want to go back to capture things during different types of weather and times of day. These are all clickable, if you want to see them in a larger format.

The photo above is sort of Escher-like. Depending on which way you look at the photo, am I climbing up or climbing down? In fact, I was climbing up and this is a picture of the underside of the staircase.

This next photo is the result of not holding the camera still, but I liked how it turned out ghostly looking.

This statue, which clearly must be Justice, although she's lost her scales, wasn't in the castle, but across the street from it atop another building. I got a kick out of it. It must be very embarrassing, trying to look regal, with a seagull sitting on top of your hat.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

First, some real sewing news. Nothing spectacular, but I did drag myself out of piles of dusty books and, at the last moment, went off to the studio to whip up a few flannel receiving blankets for my new grandbaby. I sewed late into the night, complete with a change of sewing machine and a Walmart run for the correct color thread. I didn't take a photo of them finished but I have a picture of some of the flannel I used here and another picture of more of the flannel here.

The baby shower for my DIL is Sunday in Redding. William, Rosie and I are headed over there this afternoon to visit and do some errands, spending the night with son Sam, and then attending the shower. I'd originally hoped to have the baby's "Grammy Quilt" all done for the shower, but that just didn't happen. It would have been nice to be able to show it off at the party, but, oh well. ("Oh well." That's my new saying. Very handy, useful as a response in many different kinds of situations, many different inflections.) I'll have the quilt done by the time the baby is born. And if not.... oh well! Let's not point out that poor Garret grandson is still waiting for his quilt to be finished. (I think the proper response here would be "Oh, dear!") But hey, I had a hard enough time finishing the receiving blankets yesterday, what with forgetting about the opening night of football activities for William, and a new episode of both Monk and Psych to lure me onto the couch.

I'm not worried about DIL Lisa seeing this post, because she and her mom flew up this weekend from southern California for the shower. She's probably somewhere over the Central Valley as I type this, sans her bottled water, liquid base make up, or yogurt snack. Hehe.

Moving on, here's a few more holiday photos, to go with the tourist pics I put up today on Beach Treasure.

Still up the wall in Conwy, Wales. Here is part of the wall viewed from a higher section. I liked the view through the wild trees. So much of the island we visited was domesticated.

I mentioned that part of the fun of walking high up on the town wall was being able to look down in people's courtyards and gardens.

I never tired of the way the stone walls aged, making homes for plants and birds, lizards and undoubtedly even a chipmunk or two. Do they have chipmunks in England?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Holiday photos to match the ones I put up on Beach Treasure today. As you may recall, I already shared a photo of some boats, taken while standing on the top of the city wall. The rest of these photos are also taken from atop this my-knees-were-shaking ruins of a structure.

Another view of boats from a window slit.

Here's another nice harbor view.

This was from inside one of the many turret corners. Originally these would have been roofed structures, rooms several stories tall. The walls and ceilings, made from wood, are all gone now, but the remaining circular stone towers are beautiful. It's really hard to capture the feel of them in a snapshot since you don't get that "surround sound" feel. I took a lot of pictures of the hardy plants that grew from any nook or cranny that would shelter a bit of soil.

This tower was the worse for wear. The only thing holding it together were the walls pressing it in from either side.

I loved the chimney pots found on buildings all over England and on top of this wall we got a bird's eye view of them. I'm not sure what their numerous uses were, or are - are they still in use or just remnants from the time when all the homes were heated with fireplaces? Regardless, I found them wonderfully whimsical. This crow (or rook?) obligingly perched, adding just the right touch to this photo.

Here are two sets that sat facing each other on back to back buildings. They reminded me of chess pieces. Here are the Yellow King's rooks and bishops.

And here are the White King's pieces. Anyone for a game of Wizard's Chess?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I decided instead of throwing more photos at you today, to create an art meme. When you're done reading about art in my head, feel free to tell us about art in your head on your blog. Are you an art snob? An artist or more of an art collector? Do you buy art that sings to you or matches or furniture? One medium or anything and everything is potential art material?

Art from Inside My Head

Favorite painters:

I have a lot of them. O'Keefe, Chegall, Gauguin, Van Gogh, pretty much all the Impressionists. I'm not much on Old Masters but now that I've had the opportunity to see a variety of it up close, Da Vinci is in a class of his own - I could pick his work out from all the others at a glance. It's all about his faces. Less historically renown, but I also really like Robert Duncan's country scenes and Brian Froud's fantastical fairies.

Favorite textile artists:

I love Pamela Allen's work. It always evokes an emotional response from me, makes me want to laugh or cry or hug someone. Well, except her fish. They just make me hungry. And although she's not famous or nuthin', Deb's work is always creative and fun.

Favorite any other artists:

I don't really know any names. Or more likely, I'll think of them later today after I published this. Oh! I love the whimsical world of Kipling West.

Favorite mediums:

watercolor, acrylics, textiles, photography, collage and oooooh, I'm having one of those sticky brain days - what do you call it when it's like a collage but you use 3-d items. How embarrassing. Someone please tell me so I can go "Duh!"

Favorite art styles:

Impressionism, Surrealism, Expressionism. Realism in more contemporary artists. I'm not big on abstract paintings, yet I really like abstract work in textiles. Most modern art - I'm kinda 50/50 on it.

Mediums you have personally worked in:

textiles, oils, acrylics, watercolor, pencil, ink, charcoal (like, from the woodstove!), charcoals, plaster of paris, wire, plants, mud, DNA (my babies were all beautiful works of art)

If you were given the opportunity to change all the artwork in your home for new, would you?

Nah, I get attached to pieces. But it would be tempting.

Have you ever won a prize or award for your work?


Have you ever sold your art work?


Have you ever given away your art work?


Favorite colors:

I can't pick a favorite color for working with since it would depend on what I was making. In general, red and green always sing to me. Blues can be either calming or depressing, depending on the context. I like orange. I didn't like purple much at all until the last six years or so.

Warm or cool:

There's no doubt I'm first drawn to warm colors. Although...... I particularly like blue/green combinations.

Bright or subdued:

Bright, zany, wild. Pastels - pretty much blech. I like earth tones though, both the pale washed out colors of the desert or beach, and the deep colors of... well, earth, soil, deep woods. In fact I was just chewing on this fact. I'm redecorating my house and I have to make the bright zany artist and the earth tone primitive in me co-habitate happily.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Oh, EVERYWHERE! Other artists - although then I worry about it being a "copy". Other artists obviously influence one another, and yet you want your work to be unique. Nature inspires me. Light. I'm somewhat influenced by emotional experiences, but I think visuals trigger my art more. Emotional experiences, I'm more likely to express myself with in writing.

What are you currently working on?

Hmmm, ah, well, uhm, you see, hmmmm..... my house. But I have a purple challenge fabric piece halfway done. And another challenge is beyond the planning stage - it's ready for me to start cutting and laying the pieces together. Uhm, that's it. Sigh.

What do you want to work on next?

After my museum hopping this spring, I'm wanting to paint again after letting that fall away twenty years ago. I also want to do some collage and.... whatever the word is - 3-d work. I bought a collection of fabrics last year to use creating somewhat abstract beach scenes. And I want to start making dolls again. I love making dolls. I don't know why I don't make that more of a priority.

If you could own one famous work of art, what would it be?

It would probably have to be an O'Keefe. One of her flowers. Or Van Gogh's Starry Night. Or let's go completely wild here, how about the the Winged Victory of Samothrace. I could put her out in the garden. Hehehe. Well, she's kinda big. How 'bout a sculpture of The Three Muses.

Would you want to make your living as an artist, or prefer to keep money out of the creative process?

I'd be thrilled to make my living as an artist. Doubt I'm that dedicated, but if someone wanted to throw gobs of money at me, sure, why not. I wouldn't do it if it meant changing my art to become commercially profitable though.

What kind of atmosphere do you create best in?
Music is better then television. Unless it's mindless television. Soothing music is better then loud music. Loud music is better for cleaning, And it depends on what part of the creative process I'm in. I've not very good at working around other people, so classes and workshops, while creatively inspiring, don't allow me the privacy I need to do the actual work. I can work around crowds though - for instance, in a park or a cafe, then people become background noise.

Do you use/control your muse or does your muse use/control you?

My muse is definitely the one calling the shots.

Well, I can't think of any other questions. If you can think of anything I forgot to include, please add it. And let me know if you answer it on your blog, so I can come read it. Now I better get going. I need to get painting this afternoon. Very creative. I'm painting a wall.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I spent the entire weekend immersed in beauty and art. Well, not the entire weekend. But it was more then enough.

Saturday was our local Art in the Garden Tour. I know they have these in other communities, but if you aren't familiar with the concept, a group (in this case it's our local county art council and the Monticola Club, I think), gets 6-8 people to offer their gardens, hopefully unique or special in some way, for people to tour, like a home tour. Then they set up different artisans in each of the gardens, as well as different food stations. To take the tour you buy a ticket and they give you a map so you can spend the day going from garden to garden.

In our small community, it's not only a chance to see lots of art and flowers, but also a chance to see "that house on the hill I've always wondered about" and an opportunity to bump into lots of friends and social acquaintances. Also, a lot of my mom's friends and acquainances. She moved away from town two years ago and I still get asked "How's your mom!?" at least a half dozen times at activities like this.

This year's gardens, the theme seemed to be - amazing water features. One rambling garden had 4-5 different water features - waterfalls, ponds, fountains, scattered across an acre of different garden "rooms". I think that one was my favorite.

Another home, you had to climb up a very steep mountain driveway. Honestly, I thought the beauty wasn't worth the fact that they were living directly in the forest - lots of atmosphere but no defensible space against the inevitable forest fires we have in this part of the country. Their gardens were every child's fantasy playground. The family that lived there though, all the children were grown and the grounds were designed with grandchildren in mind. Wouldn't you love to have enough money to be able to indulge your grown families! My favorite part of that garden however, was a little surprise encounter with a ribbon snake in their vegetable garden.

Yet another home had one gigantic pond with waterfalls, "streams" and landscaping all around it. The rest of the yard was nothing more then sweeping green lawns. I guess that's all you really need however, when the lawns toe up to a completely wild valley and sweeping mountain peaks devoid of any other buildings. I overheard the owner explaining to another guest "this is why we bought this place" as she swept her arm across the view.

Yesterday I went up to Chester, a pretty mountain town nestled on the northern edge of Lake Almanor. It's one of those towns where the population more then doubles in the summer, when wealthy city folks come up to their second homes, settling into a smaller, closed-up-for-the-winter, locals only mentality when the snows fall. It was bursting at the seams with people yesterday however, as it was their annual Art in the Pines art and craft show, and the local guild's biannual quilt show.

I was very proud of myself, I didn't bring home a single piece of art or kitschy knick knack. I did spend a long time chatting about a lot of beautiful art with the artisans, but I explained that I couldn't buy anything as I didn't have "a single surface, horizontal or vertical, left in my house to display anything". It was surprising how many people rolled their eyes and laughed, admitting to the same problem. I also explained that I was "in the process of redefining my space". I didn't know I was going to use that term, it just sort of popped out and I realized that was exactly what I was doing. I could also say I'm "reclaiming my space", as that touches more on the feel of almost having to battle for every square inch. But as I keep going, it's feeling less like a war and more like an art project in and of itself, so redefining works. It certainly sounds better then "I'm getting rid of all my crap."

That doesn't mean, however, I came home from the fair package free. Alas, I was rather indulgent. But I ended up only purchasing practical things that I had already had on a mental list to find and use. Only, instead of finding ordinary versions of them, I found wonderful artsy versions! I bought myself some kitchen glasses and a cup. I posted photos over at Beach Treasure. Go, see. They're wonderful. At least I think so. I have a rather.... odd..... sense of humor. I also bought some raspberry vinegar and a jar of jalapeno/olive relish. Yum. Last but not least, I bought a hanging hammock chair for the back yard and another swinging hammock that I don't have a spot for right now but the price was right so I'll save it for some future spot.

The quilt show was very nice. Not a lot of vendors, which was fine, it's not like I need any more fabric. I bought a half yard of a hand dyed and three FQ's. There were over two hundred quilts. Mostly traditional quilts, although they were nicely done and a few of them were really lovely colors or were special in some small way. There were a generous sprinkling of wall hangings and art quilts. I took photos but, dang, my camera just does not do well in low light conditions. Here's a few of my favorites, blurred or not:

Probably my favorite - it was made for a challenge, I didn't catch the challenge theme. The quilter used gross grain ribbon for the top straps of the flip flops. Don't they look 3-D, as if they're gonna just fall off the quilt at you!?

This was stunning. It looked like stained glass. Here's another close up of it below:

This was a simple four patch with sashing and posts, but I really loved it. The sashing, as you can see in the close up below, gave it a wonderful whimsical mood.

Because this art quilt has black sashing and binding, and is hung against a black background, it's hard to see that it's not rectangular in shape. I want to do something like this. But with a different theme. My "sea" themed fabrics? My halloween fabrics? Even my fabrics similar to the ones used in this quilt. Hmmmm, the mind is a-churnin'.

The card on this one (my one criticism of the show, the cards were displayed very haphazardly, sometimes almost completely covering some of the smaller quilts!) said it was inspired by a banner used in a scene from the Lord of the Rings movie. Pretty, yes.

I walked up to this one and said to myself "Hey, that looks like Heceta Lighthouse!" Reading the description card, yep, that's what it is. One of my favorite spots on the Oregon coast.