Thursday, January 18, 2018

Another Completion: Painting this Time

Great day for me today though it won't sound like it.  Remember, "completion" is my word for the year (thank you again, SiL A, for this great idea!) so here's why today was that kind of day.

Years ago, I painted a series of Southwest paintings in oil.  Eventually we decided to keep them unframed, and in that way, save a bit of money.  That meant that I would have to paint all sides of each painting.  It took a while because I dragged my feet on doing that painting; one doesn't get the kick of creating while doing that kind of work.  I would have to recreate the colors used near the edges in order to make the edge look like a continuation of the painting itself.  It's a chore that eats up "real" painting time.  

D has been asking me time and again to get that work done.  Today I counted the sides left to paint on those three paintings.  

Four sides.  That's all.  "Well, darn," I thought.  "I can get that done!"

And I did!

Then I allowed myself to work on the new watercolor painting (another winter scene) which is coming along nicely.  It's only the second day, but I'm liking it. 


All you can really make out at this point is the rock in the background and the pool of water in the foreground.  The rest will be pretty much snow and ice with small rocks here and there.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Birds in the Snow

Yesterday I posted a photo of the "Snow Days" quilt, and my friend said that was probably the reason we had snow today.  She may be right!

Anyway, I am writing this early today because we will be busy this evening.  A little while ago, camera around my neck, I headed out to dump the compost which is in the wooded section of our back yard.  I figured that I might have some luck getting bird photographs because I'd be less conspicuous back there than standing in the middle of the back yard.  Here are a few of the photos.

The first one is of the Hairy Woodpecker.  He is larger than the almost identical Downy who is smaller by three inches.  Since I have rarely see the two of them together so I could compare them, I look at their bills.  The Hairy has a longer one and that's about the only way I can distinguish between the two despite the significant size difference.


Of course, this is a Chickadee with a seed in its bill.


It surprises me how brownish-gray the Junco looks when seen relatively close up.


Junco and male Goldfinch sharing space on the feeder.


Until the Goldfinch takes off with head turned to the left (as seen in the photo) and wings on the downward beat.


The Tufted Titmouse seems to be leaning forward to get a better sense of what I am doing, doesn't he?


I might have been able to stay still long enough to entice some more birds into camera range, but my gloveless hands were uncomfortably cold, and I wimped out.




Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Quilt Completed!

Today the "Reunion Quilt" came off the bed and was replaced by "Snow Days".  I finished the binding this afternoon, and boy, did that feel good!  The fabric for this quilt was purchased 7 or 8 years ago, and when I found it in my stash, I still enjoyed its whimsical folk art.  That obviously didn't mean that I went right to work on it.

Here it is on our bed complete with coordinating pillow cases:


There is one problem with this set.  The pillow cases were made before we bought new pillows, and now even pillows are made larger.  Hence the pillow cases don't fit in length or width.  Sigh.

Another problem to solve.  Wish I had more of the coordinating fabric.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Basic Black Sweater vs the Sweater Stone

Several years ago I finally knit myself a "basic black" sweater that was really black.  Well, almost really black.  Maybe more charcoal gray.  But anyway, I bought the yarn because of that color and because of the texture of the yarn.  It was soooo soft!

And therein lay the rub.  The softness means that the garment doesn't hold a shape; it is lovely but in an amoeba-like way.  Soft and warm though it is, that yarn will not show up in my stash again.  Using the "Large" option was no help either.  What was I thinking?

Also, I should have known when the owner of the store suggested I buy a sweater stone.  A what?  Here's what the back of the box says, "A natural pumice like stone that . . . pull(s) and remove(s) those irritating pills and balls . . ."  As I said, I should have known.  Never has my closet been inhabited by a garment with such a collection of "pills and balls".

Here's the sweater now after Sweater Stone treatment (the puff ball on the right is the result of the treatment):


I rest my case.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hill-Stead

Finally I am feeling better and may be back to a normal diet tomorrow.  What ever bit me gave me a mild case so I'm not going to complain about it.  However, I will say that I hope everyone stays healthy; illness of any kind is not enjoyable.

I made mention of Hill-Stead, a wonderful museum in Connecticut where D and I spent a wonderful time.  Unfortunately, no photography is allowed once inside the home so all I can show you are photos I took outside, starting with information just inside the entrance which can explain the museum better than I can:



Here are a few photos from near the house (it was too cold to wander around):


These photos were taken as we walked from the entrance building

to the house proper.  I love the tight view of the countryside around the site and then the focused shot of that view.





















On the left is the walk from the entrance building; that beautiful stone wall - one of many, many throughout the site.  The photo of the house doesn't do it justice.  Which leads me to tell you that the entire house with all it's furnishings was designed by a woman - a very extraordinary woman - Theodate Pope Riddle.  Possibly more about her at a future date.
 
The site is beautiful - even on a frigid day, but house is a jewel.  In fact, of all the houses of the wealthy and privileged we have toured, this is the only one in which I wouldn't mind living - for a while!  It was "... a bequest. . . . as a museum and memorial to her parents, stipulating that everything must be kept intact. The art collection can never be moved, sold, or loaned for exhibition elsewhere."  It is that last sentence on which you should focus because there are artworks by masters in this museum that a visitor (meaning me, of course) has never seen before!  We're talking about Degas, Monet, Manet, Cassatt, Whistler and other fabulous Impressionists.  We were agog at the works we saw.

Another unusual aspect is that the rooms and their furnishings (wallpaper, rugs, furniture, etc) were designed and custom made to complement the art instead of either the other way around or simply hanging a painting where ever it fit.

Obviously, we plan to return to visit this place in more clement weather!


Friday, January 12, 2018

A Brief Stint as a Sports Writer

I'm back again.  After my last entry D and I went to see a UCONN women's basketball game.  Given their history, you won't be surprised to read that UCONN won.  What you will be surprised to read is that they played what our group thought was a very sloppy, uncharacteristically bad game.  SiL A. with whom we went to the game voiced her concerns first.  After only a minute or two, D & I agreed with her.  Their upperclasswomen who are among their first string players were missing shots and passes, making fouls, playing defense in a way viewers are not used to seeing, and a number of other out-of-character problems.  

All that said, the University of Central Florida team played amazing defense!  They were glued to their assigned UCONN players and during most of the first half, they kept UCONN from scoring with ease.  I do think they were hampered by their coach's (a former UAlbany coach) habit of whistling at her players which caused several on the team to stop in their tracks, turn to their coach, get her instructions, and then return to play.  They earned three shot-clock violations by the end of the game so I hope she can train them to make some good play decisions on their own.

However, despite my "oh-so-professional-assessment ", UCONN won by almost 40 points (80 - 44).

The next day we took D's sister's advice and went to visit a wonderful museum about which I will write more next time.

On our way home, I fell victim to a stomach ailment which is why I haven't written since we returned,




Monday, January 8, 2018

Slow Start on a Cold Day

Already off to a slow start but for a good and enjoyable reason.  Today instead of working on a current project (making needle "books" - those are very small fabric cases for holding needles), I went out to lunch with a teacher friend.  And I don't regret it one bit!
We went to an almost deserted shopping center (the cold weather is certainly keeping people at home!) where we went to our favorite restaurant. While the lunch was delicious, the conversation was even better.  

It meant that when I came home, I had to throw the laundry in and hustle up to my studio to try and get at least a little work done.  

Completion is still the word for the year, and those needle books will be finished!