Wednesday, June 27, 2012

National Portrait Gallery - At Last!

Cell phones are such marvelous things today.  All the photographs I will be showing you from our trip were taken on my phone and uploaded to the computer (no trick, I just e-mailed these to myself).  Quite a bit of editing can also be done right on your phone, but I choose to edit my pictures on my computer.  I'm used to it, know what I want or need to do, and I can see it better! 

The two paintings I'm showing you today are in the National Portrait Gallery and may not be what you expected to see at all.  No presidents here (the presidential portrait I was most interested in had a photography ban - always ask at the information desk on the main floor what that particular museum's photography policy is - that way you won't be embarrassed by a looming guard bellowing, "No photography allowed!" in front of tour groups of middle schoolers and somber, well-dressed people talking in whispers).

Anyway, the first painting was a pleasure to finally see in "real life".  I've admired it for quite a while and you know I am not a "horsey" person.  I've always been amused that the painter did not chose the horses' "best side" (shades of a fabric strip I had with a similar view)!  Here we are presented with the hindquarters of these four footed animals; it's a view not usually featured.  So why do you think the artist deliberately chose to do that?  Think of most of the horse portraits and horses-in-paintings you know.  Horse portraits are usually just the horse - a valuable, beautiful racer or a proud, strong stallion.   Then there are those paintings of children with their ponies, military men waving swords on rearing stallions (wouldn't you rear if your rider was flapping a sword around?  I know, I know.  Horses are trained for warfare, but really . . . ?).  Bucolic scenes with horses in the fields and battle paintings with horses - well, horses in battle.  Does this painting fit any of those categories?  Who are the riders?  What exactly is the point of this painting? 

I like it because I admire the light and shadows.  The colors are strong, and if you know your color theory, look at which colors the artist chose to use and where.  I wish I had the talent to be able to paint this piece, and I love the point of the scene.  Oh, remember to click on the images so you can really see them and notice that I take a picture of the museum's exhibit card (otherwise I'd forget, you know I would).  You'll want to read those.   



This painting is by a favorite artist, but I had forgotten he had painted it and had never known the story behind it.  I was very happy to reacquaint myself with the former and learn the latter.  This painting is very Art Nouveau to me, and I love both the Art Deco and the earlier Art Nouveau styles that were so successful in the early 20th century (although, note the date this work was done).  This is the kind of painting which makes me think of possibilities for quilt and embroidery designs.  Although seemingly a simple design, there is more complexity here than I had noticed in the first quick glance.  Benton turned this into a metaphor by adding the two bent heads of wheat, the curved lines of the leaves, and then the abrupt break in that one stalk.  The plants are grouped into similar but not identical groups.  The cut rows in front are regimented but again, not identical.  Lots of lessons here!  Those little things make one really look at this painting not just glance and pass it by.

What I'm trying to show is how my museum visits have changed over the years.  First, I went with my mother and brother to every museum in shouting distance, and I did enjoy looking at the pretty pictures.  Then I was an art student looking at the exhibits with the serious eye of one who wanted to learn how-to (that person is still within me).  Now I not only wonder how-did-she/he?, I also look for things I can use: the little lessons in a large piece that can be translated into something entirely different, or bits and pieces of larger things (like buildings) that can be lifted and used in a different context all together. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 2 in D.C. - sort of

Today I was planning on telling you about my second day in Washington by showing you photographs from the National Portrait Gallery.  But I just discovered the photos I thought I had down-loaded didn't show up.  I must have forgotten some crucial button pressing or "click here" critical to completing the process.  All I have to show for my effort is a picture of David I took when I first got the phone. 

So, instead, I'll include another garden picture that I took today with my camera.

These aren't the same lilies I've shown you before; last year I was away when these bloomed.  The upper lily is closer to the actual color - a cream colored "white lily" in my white flower garden.  And here's a final picture of the "Snowball" hydrangea that's at the corner of the house.

Now you can see the difference between the colors.  This photo shows you why I love having a white flower garden; even on a cloudy day, the flowers seem to fill the yard with light. 

Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to show you some more of DC; I wouldn't want you getting tired of my garden!

Day 1 in D.C.

This past winter has been wonderful for my roses.  They have been blooming as never before, and I had been worried about the lack of snow cover.  Here's a rose bouquet for you -

Abraham Darby rose - photo taken today

Of course, my blog today is about our first day in DC.  It was last Wednesday, and the temperature was about 100 degrees with high humidity and David had tickets to the Nationals baseball game.  We both love baseball, but it was hot!!! and I was afraid our seats would be in the sun.  I should have known better and had faith in my husband.

We did get out at the correct stop on the Metro but the wrong exit from the station.  That meant we had to walk father than necessary and I knew I would need a lot of water to get through the evening comfortably.  We had plenty of time so we didn't hurry.  David stopped at the Will Call booth to pick up our tickets and soon we were in the park.

Showing our tickets to an usher we started the walk up to our seats.  In this stadium, there are stairs, but there are also ramps which are much easier to walk up - especially in the heat.  Good design, I thought to myself.  It seemed to me we were going up a lot of ramps, though.  "Uh-oh," I thought, "we didn't get very good seats.  Looks like we're going to be quite high up - hope we can see!" 

Finally we arrived at the correct level and we walked by concessions looking for the right one for some supper.  I knew enough to bypass hot dogs, sausages, and pizza - too salty!  I'd wind up dying of thirst if I ate something like that.  So I chose chicken breast in a bun and a bottle of water for my meal.  D bought barbecued something or other and a beer.  We started to walk by section after section until we arrived at glass doors with an spiffily dressed usher standing guard.  I started to hang back and wait for D to see he'd made a mistake and turn around.  But, no, he showed our tickets to said usher and we were smiled into a "classier" section.  D found the right section and led us down to - hold on a moment - the front row????  No one in front of us????  Super view of the whole field and the scoreboard????  WOW!  D laughed and said, "Surprise!  I decided we only get to go around once and not very often to ballgames, so why not?"  They were by far the best seats I've ever had in a baseball stadium - the best by far! 

Once the game started and I began to keep score (boy, was I rusty - good thing I could see the scoreboard!) when a family with two young boys came into our row.  Oh my, I thought, there goes our private row.  But, as so often happens, the woman (Sue) noticed I was keeping score and we began to talk in between plays, of course.  Turns out that she and her family had lived in Chatham for a while but are now in Catskill.  Wait for it, it gets spookier.  Sue mentions that her husband is a furniture restorer.  Not just any furniture, but really fine antiques.  He worked on restoring the feet and legs of a New England highboy that later sold at Sotheby's for millions!  Well, now he and I started talking and he finally asked me what I did since I was so well informed.  Isn't that funny?  But do you think I could remember the title of Thatcher Freund's book?  No, of course not.

Anyway, it was a great game.  With their star pitcher right on the money for most of the night, the Nats beat the Tampa Rays 3 - 2.

And the heat didn't bother me at all. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mini-Entry about a Mini-Book

This will be short because we've just returned from D.C., and we're tired.  But there's so much to tell you about that I wanted to alert you that the rest of this week may be a travel-log with a few of the usual subjects thrown in for good measure.

First, I have to tell you about one of my birthday gifts from David's sister Nancy.  All the gifts from his sisters deserve mention but you'll understand why I singled this one  when you read the next sentence.  In my birthday box was a 4.5" x 3" composition book (you remember the black and white marble composition books?).  Here's a picture of it:

Front and Back Covers
Isn't it lovely?  I immediately popped in my purse to go to Washington with me.  Ah, you're thinking, "She wanted to use it to make notes, write a journal, or something like that."  Wrong!  This compostion book has blank pages.  Here's the first page:  The possible quilt block was inspired by the roof of the atrium where I ate my breakfast everyday.

Possible Quilt Block & Study in Perspective

The possible quilt block was inspired by the roof of the atrium where I ate my breakfast everyday.  I enjoyed that until I realized the next day that the corners (red and green) in the roof skylight weren't right-angle triangles.  They were isosceles triangles because the skylight raised to a point above the rest of the flat rooftop.  So I re-drew that later.

The bottom of this page is the view across the street from the National Portrait Gallery and is the building at the bottom of this pile of structures is the Spy Museum,  Too bad I didn't have the colored pencils when I drew this (I made no notes of building colors because I didn't realize I would buy myself some at the next museum). 

I visited the Portrait Gallery last Thursday when the heat had cooled to the mid-nineties (don't even ask about the humidity!).  When I arrived after walking four or five blocks from the Metro, I walked up the steps and pulled the doors open to be greeted by darkness and blessedly cool air.  And a guard who looked at me and said, "We don't open until 11:30" (it was only 10:45).  Out I went and spied (museum across the street was rubbing off on me) a granite bench under a tree.  It was still hot but at least it was shady!  Realizing that I hadn't brought a book with me, I pulled out my new mini-composition book and distracted myself by adding the study you see above.  It worked, too; I forgot how hot it was!
Thank you, Nancy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Off to Washington, D.C.

Another day with no work on the pinwheels project, but I don't feel disappointed.  It was a busy day getting ready for a trip to Washington, D.C. so the only sewing I did was making an emergency cover/bag for my new Kindle Fire.  Now that was fun! 

Tomorrow we take the train to D.C. and I'll have my Kindle with book 2 of the Hunger Games, the landscape to enjoy, and my knitting to keep me busy.  This is the first year we haven't flown down so I am looking forward to this new adventure.  D will be busy in meetings all day, and I will see if I can find new ways to get lost as I try to find obscure museums.

Of course, the weather will be brutally hot (my oh-not-so-favorite-weather), but I do hope to find the Botanical Garden on a day that is maybe only in the 80's.  Ha!  Last year after killing my feet while getting lost trying to find the Textile Museum, I learned to take an air-conditioned tour bus when the temperature hits the 100+ mark. 

So I'll go where the temperature allows me.  Next Monday, I'll tell you about it.  Have a cool week!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday's Chores

Today I didn't have a chance to do any sewing, but I feel good about what I did do.  It was laundry day and that segued, finally, into cleaning out my closet (a twice yearly task that should have been completed in late April - early May).  Once I had that completed, I decided to take on my half of the closet in the computer room.  I couldn't even remember what I had in it so obviously this hadn't been done for quite some time.  I found some lovely things which I will have cleaned and then hang up after making an inventory (memory has become iffy enough that it helps to keep a list, by closet or by storage bin, of what is which closet or bin).  What I had forgotten were some of my old work suits - lovely things that I no longer need.  Unfortunately, one of them is my favorite black suit, but I'll never be that size again.  Oh well, I will have some new and glorious felted wool soon - some things just won't be sent to the Salvation Army!

I also took care of some odds and ends in the kitchen after putting away the mountain of dishes from yesterday's baking (strawberry shortcakes for Father's Day and scones for my father-in-law).  I mixed up some pancake batter so D could take some homemade pancakes down to his father and glazed the scones also for sharing with Dad.  Then there were hard-cooked eggs to watch over as they cooked.  Those are for our trip to D.C. (neither of us enjoys spending money on ho-hum meals so we carry our own goodies for breakfast and lunch).  The house received a quick picking up so it could be cleaned and that was almost everything.  Now that I look at it it doesn't seem like so much, but, trust me, making numerous trips carrying the winter clothing down the stairs and some summer clothing and the clean laundry up the stairs made it seem like a lot!

My day was topped off by taking out four rows of knitting.  I had puzzled over it yesterday trying to figure out what on earth I had done and decide on how to deal with it.  When I went to bed, I had myself convinced that I could make subtle changes on my current row and recover.  Today I knew I couldn't do that.  The pattern has numerous cables, and the error was smack dab in the middle of the cable plumb in the center of the back.  So it was a get-real-Noel-you'll-never-be-able-to-stand-it moment this evening and I took out the necessary rows.  Fortunately, it took only four rows before I could pick up the stitches and eliminate the error.
Immortality Iris - a favorite flower worthy of a repeat

So, it was a good day doing mundane chores that needed doing. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Quilts Have Their Own Ideas

This is the story of a little quilt, just a wall hanging, actually.  It was supposed to be a miniature - possibly a sweet little table mat.  The person making it thought she should try to expand her horizons and chose fabrics in subdued colors such as are all the rage.  She had found some suitable grays with subtle prints and thought she could build a miniature quilt around those fat quarters.  Off she went with her friend and in Glens Falls, she found several more fat quarters.  They, too, had colors that minded their manners and played nicely with others so she bought those fat quarters, also. 

Finally, an opportunity presented itself for the quilter to begin work on her miniature quilt with the quiet fabrics.  Out came the fat quarters, the rulers, the rotary cutter and before you could say, "Bob's your uncle!" the pieces were cut and ready to put together.  Soon six 4.5" pinwheels were completed, and the quilter took them to the design wall.  As she put the blocks up on the wall, she thought she could hear some whispering, but she convinced herself she was mistaken.  Her quiet little blocks couldn't be muttering; they were too well behaved for that.

Backing away from the wall to see better, the quilter looked at her blocks on the design wall.  The fabrics were beginning to lift their skirts away from the block next to them.  The muttering became louder and phrases like "church mouse", "thinks she's too good for us", and "her mother darned socks" began to be heard.  Then the whining started, and it was even worse!

Clapping her hands over her ears, the quilter cried out, "I don't like it.  I simply do not like it!"

One little block whispered to the block next to her, "I told you she'd fold like cheap polyester."

Well, the quilter decided she'd put an end the the budding insurrection and stalked off to find some stronger fabrics, material with more selvedge-backbone.  No more shy and retiring types for her table mat, no ma'am.

Her sewing machine became even busier.  Block after block came off the sewing table.  Piles began to form.  Now between every pale and subtle pinwheel was a bolder, brasher block with broad shoulders, firm chin, and flashing eye.  There were no more mutterings, no more whispering behind the quilter's back. 

Now gone is the notion of a modest wee table mat with 16 blocks.  Now there are enough blocks for a proper wall hanging instead.  Sixty blocks rather than sixteen, that'll show them.  Subtlety has been vanquished.  The quilter is in control!

Or is she?  Was it her idea to add brighter, more assertive colors, or did the quiet sisters put the notion in her head?  Who changed the final product from a table mat that would be under a flashy bowl of flowers or fruit to a self-confident, "look at me" wall hanging?  Was it the quilter, or was is those self-effacing fabrics?  I don't know; I'm just telling the story. 

But if I were you, I be careful around those seemingly serene neutrals!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Today D went down to visit his dad by himself to give me a little time to do some sewing.  My plan was to work on making some of the pineapple blocks that we learned how to do yesterday, but I happened to see a UFO on the table looking at me reproachfully.  Remember the ghastly time I had with my projects during the last Quilt Camp?  I finally had some luck when I made a purse and then went on to a miniature project I had had in mind for some time.  The purse was completed, but I didn't have time to finish the miniature,  After that our crazy schedule set in, and there was no more sewing until class yesterday (which is why D left me home - craziness sets in again, soon).  On top of that there is a quilt I have started as a gift that needs attention before the pineapple one.

Deciding to put first started first (what an unusual plan - well, it is sometimes, for me), I pulled out the miniature project which consists of 4" whirligigs (the correct name will come to me sooner or later).  Looking at them delighted me because I know exactly how I will set them . . . delighted me until I saw -

Now to me, there are two correct ways to make this block, but this isn't one of them.  Look at the striped fabric in the upper left.  Now compare it to the other striped pieces.  Oops, is right!  Now I love stripes and use them often; they do such wonderful things for a quilt whether they are straight, wonky, or diagonal.  BUT I had forgotten what happens to stripes when you cut a square and then sub-cut it into two triangles.  All seven of the blocks with this fabric had to be unsewn and then re-sewed.  And so did the seven with a different stripe (those might have been okay because the stripe is so subtle, but I knew it was there). 

Here is another one of the blocks, but this one is, to me, one of the two correct ways to make the block - pinwheel, that's its name! - Look at the stripes and see if you can tell what they do that has a positive effect.

You're right.  Alternating the stripes in this manner makes the pinwheel seem to move.  I really like this effect.  So often we look for fabric that adds a sense of motion and here, by alternating stripes, we can make a pinwheel turn without wind!   But by this time, the stripes were making me dizzy so I went for the stodgy approach,

(Sorry about the color in this one; I took it just now in artificial light.)  Fourteen blocks later, all of my stripes are prim and proper, and I'm much happier.  Now I can finish the other 6 sets of seven blocks.  Odd number?  Yes, I'm hoping to be happy with 8 sets of five blocks. 

I know, Mary Ellen, Karen, and Mardi, it's another of my quilts on steroids.  Well, it was supposed to be a miniature!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pineapple Class

Wow, if you like pineapple quilts and are tired of the paper-pieced approach or the tedium of cutting and piecing the traditional way, this method (Karin Helladay's* book Sew Simple Pineapple) is for you!  Despite cutting one of my fabric selections the wrong size and having to purchase new fabric and cut that correctly, having a lunch break, indulging in a bit of chatter, as well as the usual sewing and pressing, all of us in the class made two pineapple blocks.  We made different versions from the book, but all came out beautifully.  It's always fun to see how different fabrics and different color selections make such unique quilts from the same pattern.  Here are my two blocks:

Now I can hardly wait to complete at least two more so I will be able to see the full picture.  Until then, I will withhold judgment, but I welcome your take on these two alone.  Then we'll see how or if our view changes.

*I need to check on the spelling of the designer's name, but I think I have this one of her books correctly cited.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Preparing for Class

No, this isn't about writing lesson plans as the title may indicate; it's about making sure I'm ready to take a new quilt class tomorrow.  This one is a five-hour class at Joyful Quilts, and I decided to take it for several reasons.  First, as always, no matter how many classes one takes, one can always learn something new.  Second, this one is being taught by a master of the art/craft of quilting so you know I'll learn a lot!  Third, while pineapple quilts are not high on my favorites list, I've seen several settings that I really do like.  Fourth, Mary Ellen is going to take the class, also, and it's always more fun if you attend with a friend.  Fifth, why not?

Initially, I planned to use leftovers from another quilt-in-the-making and augment them with fabric from my stash.  BUT . . . ah well, the siren song of temptation wafted in my ear.  When D and I were on our way to his college reunion, he asked me if I wanted to stop at Tiger Lily (quilt shop in Utica).  Dear man, he knew the answer, but he offered the option anyway.  While browsing in that shop (where I intended to march directly to a specific group of fabrics to add to another quilt-in-the-making), the batiks snaked out an arm and grabbed me.  And, you know, I think that bolt of fabric just flung itself off the shelf into my arms!  It immediately became my new favorite and is going to be the star of my pineapple wall-hanging-that-has-become-a-double-bed-summer-quilt for our guest room.  Ta-dah: On the left is a good look at a large area of the fabric with a closer shot on the right.

I purchased both a red and a plum batik to go with this lovely fabric knowing I had some greens and blues at home to help out.  Besides, I didn't have the book with me, and didn't know how much of what I needed.  Well, I have added some from my stash, but I did need to add some whites (my stash is lamentably short on those) and some darks for my red, blue, and green batiks.  Here's the array.

Since I took this photo, I did change out the mid-range and dark greens as well as the lightest blue.  This is one of the great things about taking a photograph and then looking at it on a large computer screen (large compared to the screen on your digital camera).  It seems to add an "edit" function in your brain by allowing you to see with a "critical lens" (to borrow a phrase from English Lit class).  I know the white in the front seems very bright (and I have some "creams" to throw in occasionally for depth so it doesn't look like a painted wall), but remember, this will be a summer quilt so I want the batiks to really sparkle.  White will make that happen.  

Now I can hardly wait to get some blocks made and show them to you.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Readying a Quilt for VQF

After discovering that "Music of the Night", the quilt I'm sending to the Vermont Quilt Festival, has to be there by this coming Saturday instead of June 24th, as I somehow had convinced myself, I got to work today.  The second sleeve (for the bottom of the quilt) had already been made, thanks heavens, so all I had to do was sew it on.  That went reasonably quickly, and as I was sewing, I decided I'd let VQF cover up my label since they're the ones who want it covered.  That saves me a little more time.

Now I'm adding more crystals to the sky.  D clearly isn't too sure about that, but I felt it needed more.  However, now that I've heard that doubt in his voice, I've started to second guess myself.  Do the added crystals assist the story?  Yes, they add more glamor and beauty to the magical sky, and the beauty of the night is key to the story.  Do the crystals have a design purpose?  Yes, by adding crystals of different sizes and colors they give added added interest to the ones already there.  The new smaller ones will also add a sense of depth by appearing father away.  Will the additional crystals be too much embellishment?  No, I understand this quilt is not a crazy quilt where there is no such thing as too much.  My intention is to be a smidge over the top, again in keeping with story and design, but not to detract from the human figures who are pretty much glamor-free.

Are you rationalizing, Noel?  Probably.

If any of you go to VQF, take a look at my quilt and let me know what you think.  Anyone who can take and send me a photo of the quilt hanging there, I'd love to see it as I won't be able to attend. 

A New (to us), Old (early 1900's) Find

Four or five years ago in late fall, Mardi Niles offered another of her several, highly successful paper-piecing classes; this one was to be the Mariner's Compass pattern which I've always loved.  Since I had taken my first paper-piecing class with her and had a successful experience that resulted in My Mother's Spools (see Monday, March 5, 2012 entry), I knew I had to take this one, too.

The Christmas season was coming quickly and the shop had lots of wonderful Christmas fabrics.  I chose reds and greens, all of which was shot with metallic gold, from which to make the Mariner's Compasses.  White was the background of choice for the reverse applique around the compasses and red velveteen was to be the sashing with black and gold squares for the cornerstones.  Since I couldn't find what I wanted for the setting of the M.C. blocks, I went to Jo Ann's (who knew? I certainly didn't!) for just the right taffeta tartan, and I was blissful when I found it.  Then I had my moment of absolute clarity and for the borders I chose a fabric with antique Christmas postcards on it that I had fallen in love with but originally didn't know what to do with it.  Does this all sound peculiar?  Trust me, it turned out just as I wanted it, and we've hung it every season since.

One other thing I decided to do.  As I looked at that postcard fabric, I thought to myself that maybe, just maybe, those were genuine vintage postcards.  The search began.  Eventually, I found all but one.  Deciding that that one might not be a representation of a real card, I decided to have the ones I had found framed.  I did ask the framer to add one duplicate card to "hold" the place for the postcard I hadn't been able to find (after he said he would make it possible to add to the collection).  I've tried off and on throughout the years to locate the missing card - all to no avail.  Friends and family have helped me search.  No luck.

Until this past week.  There it was - on eBay - and moderately priced!  My timing was right; at this time of year not many people are interested in Christmas collections.  I won the postcard for a very modest price, and it arrived just before our trip to the Rochester area last weekend.

As soon as I have the time, it will go to the framer and join the others. Then at Christmas the wall hanging and the postcards can be displayed together as I had intended. Now isn't that the sort of thing that makes you feel good?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Promises, Promises

Here I am again finding myself thinking of all the things I want to share with you but haven't yet found the time to do so.  Latest quilting project, photos, a new painting, today's trip to New York are among the things that I want to write about today.  Then I have to go back and catch up on previous promises.  But not tonight.

Up early to go to New York and home late with another up early day tomorrow means, "Go to bed, Noel!"

Sweet dreams.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Trees, Again

Before I share more about trees in this entry, I must clear up a misunderstanding from yesterday's posting.  I did not draw those wonderful cartoons (wasn't the one of the delivery of the refrigerator great?).  Usually I credit my source but I was in a hurry yesterday and forgot; the two cartoons came from a search on Google's Images for clip art. 

I told you I'd get back to you about the weekend trip to David's Alma Mater, Hamilton College, in Clinton, New York (near Utica).  Since it was an "All Alumni Bicentennial Reunion" there were far more activities than usual for a "mere" reunion.  What I want to share with you today is the tour we took called the "Legacy of Trees" with the Arboretum Director. 

When David and I were dating, we would walk around the campus, and the only trees I really remember are a larch and a ginkgo - both because D pointed them out to me.  Both intrigued me - first because D clearly was fascinated with them: the larch because it is a deciduous evergreen (there's an oxymoron for you!)  and the ginkgo because it is such an ancient tree.  I think the larch he pointed out way back then is gone now, but the ginkgo is still there (remember, we were dating almost 50 years ago).  I don't have a photo of it from those days, but here it is now.

Ginkgo Tree - between 120 - 140 years old

Not the prettiest of trees, I know (although its leaves look very lacy from a distance), but remember, it is an ancient species.  Hamilton College now has 11 different varieties of ginkgo on the campus.

 Here's a Japanese Umbrella Pine (the photos don't do these trees justice - it was rainy and very cold!).  The close up shows its needles that are very soft and silky feeling; it gets its name from the way the needles fan out all around the branch like the spokes of an umbrella.

Japanese Umbrella Pine

This one is one of many, many different oaks on campus.  Its size is amazing even though it is not the largest oak; I couldn't get far enough away to get the furthest extent of its branches.

I hope you can see all the small trees (relatively speaking) that are in some of these photos.  When David was going to school here, there were few trees among the buildings or in the large open spaces.  The arborist has been at Hamilton for about 35 years, and he has made it his mission to plant trees that will thrive in this climate, soil, and conditions.  I've shown you some of his successes.  He showed us some of his failures - trees that are struggling and probably aren't going to make it.  He spoke about the need to plant a great variety because if one plants only one kind of tree (the Lombardy poplars that lined the streets in the 1869's live only about 50 years) and it doesn't thrive . . . well, you understand.  The emerald ash borer-beetle, "Dutch" elm disease, chestnut blight, dogwoods, sugar maples - all of these trees are being or have been seriously compromised so he's planting many varieties of as many as possible to help bring them back (Chinese elms but no ash trees right now, for example).  I won't go on any more, but it was a great, though all too brief, tour.

I'll leave you with one last photo; this one is a Korean dogwood.

Be kind to a tree today!


Monday, June 4, 2012

The Story of the Loaner

Finally!  Everything is out of the two small refrigerators and into the loaner from the appliance store.  Since I had a few questions from readers today about the loaner, I'll explain.


Last Thursday we were in the final stages of preparing to leave for David's college reunion when the phone rang.  Since D was mowing the lawn, I answered the call from the appliance store.  After identifying himself, the salesperson said that he had some news about the delivery of our new refrigerator (due Monday - today).  Thinking that meant it would arrive sooner and going through the list of friends who might be bribed into helping out, I cheerfully asked when the delivery would be.

"Well, actually," the voice said, "it hasn't been made yet."

Confused, I responded, "What hasn't been made yet?"

"Your refrigerator."

"What do you mean, 'it hasn't been made yet'?"

He sighed and said, "There's been such a high volume of business, the manifacturer is behind in production.  The earliest we can get your refrigerator delivered is June 22nd."

"JUNE 22nd?????!!!!" I shrieked.

"Yes. We'll get a loaner to you on Monday, of course."

By this time, I was speechless and beyond being polite, so I did something I rarely do.  "Wait a minute," I said. "You're going to have to speak to my husband." 

Out I marched, phone in hand to where D was mowing neat rows.  Waving the phone at him, I got his attention.  He made an impatient gesture as though to say, "I can't take a call!  I'm mowing here!!!"   I waggled the phone again.  Exasperated he stalked over and took the handset.  I retreated.  Shortly afterward he slammed into the kitchen and hung the phone up.  Turning to me, he said, "The [unprintable] thing hasn't been [unprintable] made yet!  *#^xx!!*&##!! and *#^$xx!! again " and out he went.

I went back into the family to finish whatever I had been doing in there and therefor could see David as he marched over to the lawnmower and gave the starter cord a vicious yank.  Of course, it didn't start.  So, taking a deep breath, he reached down and gave it an even greater yank.  Naturally, not only did the lawnmower not start, but the cord also parted company with the mower and dangled limply in D's hand.

At that point I thought it judicious to hide. 

David was able to borrow a mower from a neighbor, finished the lawn, showered, and was soon ready to leave for our weekend trip.  We carefully avoided any mention of the above occurrences.

And that's the story behind the loaner which was delivered today.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Home Again!

David and I have returned from a wonderful long weekend at his college reunion.  Not only was it a significant reunion for him, it was also the bicentennial of the founding of the college.  I plan to write more about both in a later blog.

Right now, I'm very tired (strange beds in a room with no heat and later hours than we are accustomed to) and have tomorrow to look forward to.  It's nothing awful, but the delivery of the loaner refrigerator will require some hard work to finish getting every thing ready for it.

I hope you are surviving this cold and rainy weather!  Think sunny thoughts!