Sunday, July 29, 2012


Dear Readers,

As I will be away for a brief time, I leave you these photographs to ponder.

Use this time to perfect your one-handed sewing technique.

Look closely at thing/s you usually look past and enjoy the view/s from your window.

Take time for yourself to enjoy the sights and fragrances of the flowers (close your eyes and imagine the heady scent of this stephanotis with at least 10 flowers so far this year with more to come!)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Liquid Assets on the Loose"

The quilt for my Florida dwelling great-nephew is finished!  Well, except for the backing, label, quilting, and binding - minor details, right?  It is too large to be able to put up on the rod in my family room so I had to flop it on the floor.  Please excuse the wrinkles, lumpy bumps caused by rug runners, and all other weirdnesses:


Quilting experts, please notice the correct orientation of the side borders (or what you can see of the side borders)!  Now, some close ups of the black border:

Left Side: love these angel fish!
Bottom center: note the porthole - the fabric is the source for the border fish.

Right side: More about that fish later.
Unfortunately the pictures of the top border did not come out very well, but you might be able to tell that the sea turtle and the fish are coming up from the inner border. I used the same technique on the bottom and was especially pleased with the green fish on the far right. When the black border was sewn on, all one could see of that fish was his eye, part of his back, and a bit of his tail. I fussy cut his missing parts (I didn't have a whole fish in any of the pieces I had left) and sewed them on. 

This wound up being fun to do so I added some clown fish to the body of the quilt. 
In the Body of the Quilt: the Clown Fish are on the Loose!
The title of the quilt, "Liquid Assets on the Loose", is a play on the title of the pattern ("Liquid Assets"), the title of the book (More Loose Change), and the fact that in my interpretation, the fish are on the loose.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A New Book Found at Quilt Camp

If you are like me, you have many books, patterns, and magazine in your personal Quilt Library.  It seem to me that no sooner do I sternly tell myself that I can't purchase another one, I do.  Strangely enough though, that was not an admonition I made to myself before last weekend's Quilt Camp.  Maybe I should have.

I didn't intend to come home with another book, and truth be told, I didn't. I came home with three (gasp!).  The number surprised me when I typed it just now; I hadn't counted them up until then.  One was for crazy quilting, one for classes I might possibly teach, and the third one?  Well, the third one sang to me and practically leaped off the rack into my hands.

For those of you who have been quilting longer than I, the author might be familiar from her previous book for Martingale.  Cheryl Wall wrote Country Comforts which I've never seen but may have to track down now.  If any of you have it, I'd love to hear your review of it and what you made from it.
Here's a picture of her second book that's in the stores now:

Oh, what a pleasure this book is!  I could happily make everyone of her designs.  The fact that she, too, loves plaids and stripes in lovely warm colors doesn't hurt.  If you don't, look at this book anyway.  You know I love batiks, these quilts would be gorgeous in those fabrics.  For those of you who are repro fans, they'll work here.  You want to do a baby quilt?  Just re-size and you'll be ready to go with sweet baby fabrics.  As with so many books, the author may have a particular fondness for a certain type of fabric, but if you use what you love - well, the finished project will sing to you.

Cheryl Wall has some words of wisdom in that vein that I'd like to share with you from this book:

 The few times I've tried "stretching myself" by using fabrics that typically would not be my preference, I found that making the quilt became tedious and not nearly so enjoyable.  If you love what you're working with, the process of creating is a lot more fun." (p 88)

She has a point and if it suits you, adopt it as your own.  I understand what she is saying, but I will continue to try new fabrics in different styles and colors so I continue to grow and discover things I do like after all (my pinwheel wall hanging, for example).  I figure that if I hate something after it's made, I will have learned a lesson, and some charity will be the richer by one quilt.  But it is important for me to remember that there are always differing opinions out there, and they all have merit and meaning to someone. 

All that is just to say that if you don't like "country" and plaids or stripes, check this book out anyway and imagine the pieces made in your choice of fabrics.

Have fun dreaming!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lessons Learned At And As A Result of Quilt Camp

ME corrected the measurements of the blocks in the wonderful mini-wall hanging she made and I posted yesterday.  The blocks finish at 1.5"!

The quilt I worked on at Quilt Camp is from the book More Loose Change and is called "Liquid Assets".   I don't have a picture of it yet, but for those of you who are familiar with the book, you know it is pictured made with aqua and green and has portholes with fish fabrics showing.  That is pretty much the way I made it except for changing the color of the rim around the portholes and the borders. 

I had to have a discussion with the other camp attendees about the direction of focal elements in borders.  You see, if I had a directional fabric, I had always put the borders on so the figures were in the right way when seen hanging over the edge of the bed.  Hmm.  Okay, let's say my border fabric had horses galloping the surf.  My side borders would have had the hooves of the horses galloping on the floor if that side happened to drag on the bedroom floor.  Every other person would have the border running from the bottom to the top so if the quilt were hanging on a wall the heads of the horses on the left hand side would be up towards the ceiling and the hooves toward the floor (mine would be heads toward the center of the quilt and hooves on the west).  Once it was explained that the entire orientation of the quilt should be in one direction, I got it.  Peculiar, isn't it, that I never saw it that way before?   I always wanted to walk into a bedroom with the quilt's border looking logical from the floor up.  Oh well, that was just the beginning of the border issue.

My fabric for the borders of the Liquid Assets quilt, is directional - fish swimming in the ocean - so I had to change the way I intended to cut the fabric.  The sides would be cut from the length of the material and the top and bottom from the width. 

At the very end of the last day, I felt I had enough time left to both cut and sew on those borders.  Up I got and went to the cutting board.  No sooner I had lined up my fabric and made the first cut, than someone came over for a chat.  Now, did I politely say, "I'm in the midst of cutting.  Can we hold our thoughts until I'm through?  I'd really like to chat, but I'm afraid I'll make a mistake if I do."  No, I didn't.  Did I make a mistake?  Yes.  I cut all my fabric from the length.  I forgot that I had to cut the last two borders from the width. 

Did I mention the border fabric is at least three years old if not more?  It is.  Have I searched on line for more?  I have.  Did I find any?  No.  What can I do?

I'll tell you.  First, I won't piece the border from the 5.5" wide border strips I have (it did cross my mind).   ME gave me some of her Kona cotton, and I have two new strips of solid black fabric (the fish fabric is multi-colored fish on black) for the top and bottom of the quilt.  That could be horrid except . . . . Tonight I fussy cut fish and sea turtles from the incorrectly cut borders.  Tomorrow I will machine applique them on the top and bottom borders in such a way that it will be clear it has been done as a deliberate design element, and "Bob's your uncle."

I'll find a way to take a picture when it's finished to show you how it turns out.

What important lessons have I learned? 
  1. Never, ever talk while cutting.  I won't always have recourse to extra fabric!
  2. If I make a mistake, don't throw in the towel.  Let the creative spirit loose and find an alternative to the problem.  It could even be better than the original plan.
  3. Be very grateful for quilters willing to share their knowledge (the explanation of border orientation) and best friends willing to share Kona cotton!!!
  4. Oh, quilters will also dig up extra herbs for you (thanks for the tarragon, P.)!

Monday, July 23, 2012

More Campy and Related News

First of all, I re-read what I wrote yesterday in an attempt to forestall repetition today.  What I noticed was that at the end of that entry I talked about making a quilt for my "great nephew".  Well, I have to tell you that all my nephews and all my nieces are "great" as in wonderful.  What I should have written was that I am making a quilt for my great-nephew with two more behind the curtains for two great-nieces. 

Today I once again amused myself regarding the upcoming quilts for the great-nieces.  As soon as I found out that their parents would appreciate a quilt, I started planning and purchasing fabric.  Did I have a pattern in mind?  Of course not!  That would be sensible, and while I can be sensible, I'm not always.  Eventually, while looking through a magazine I had purchased, I found a quilt pattern that had enough design interest and that included a few blocks large enough to feature the focal fabrics I had chosen. 

The fabric was hung over a hanger and put in the basement, and the magazine went into a plastic grocery bag to place over the hanger's hook so it could be easily found.  At some time, I must have thought it wasn't a good idea to have the pattern inside an opaque bag because I moved it and put it into a clear plastic zipper storage bag.  When I was getting ready for Quilt Camp, I took down the collection of fabrics thinking I would check the pattern, decide what I needed, and take care of that while at the quilt shop.

I couldn't find the magazine even after hunting high and low.  So I found a substitute pattern (an easy one) and finished the fabric selections.  You know what happened today when I went to the basement to do laundry.  You're right.  I found the magazine.  Now my quandary is which pattern will I do?  The new one on which I based my fabric purchases? or the old one for which I may have to add yardage?

While you're thinking about that, here is ME's sweet little wall hanging I raved about yesterday.
I think the nine-patch blocks are 2" x 2".  Whew, that's small!  While it would still be a lovely quilt, just look at what ME's choice of striped fabric does for this quilt!  The color is super and it adds so much to the design.  I wish people weren't so scared of stripes; they're not that difficult if one is careful in the selection and attentive during the cutting and sewing.  How is that different from any other choices we make?

Brava, ME!

Quilt Camp

Yesterday Quilt Camp ended and many of us returned home as happy campers.  Last time I went I was hit by karma's Big Ugly Stick and nothing I did turned out as it should.  This time it was a different story.  As far as I could tell, no one had a difficult time.  There are no photos to show you as I neglected to ask permission (brain cells still falling out of my ears), but trust me, there were some gorgeous quilts being made and finished.  It is amazing to me how some people are able to accomplish so much!  One woman completed at least four quilts during the three days we were there!  Even some of the things she brought to work on were already started and well on their way to completion, that is still a remarkable feat.

ME created an absolutely darling Jo Morton "little" (I would have said "tiny" judging by the size of the blocks) from start to finish and almost completely from her stash.  I will ask her if I may publish that photo here tomorrow so you can see what a great job she did.  I'm not usually drawn to the small things, but I may have to try a version of this. 

Another woman made a queen sized log cabin in turquoise and magenta that is an absolute stunner!  The idea of those colors may make you wince, but if  you saw them together using batiks and many different values of those colors, WOW!.  The setting she chose was asymmetrical which combined with the striking colors and fabrics resulted in a more contemporary feel.

Another lady made a nine-patch king sized quilt of hundreds of tiny (half inch, I think) squares.  Her colors were brown and white.  While it could have been dull (though her workmanship would take your breath away), she used different fabrics for both colors.  As a result, the quilt knocks your socks off!

I could go on and on describing the quilts people made, and I may share more stories of them tomorrow, but I'll end by saying I worked on a very bright gift quilt for a great nephew that I'll show you soon.

Happy day to you all!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jean's Gift

Teaching gave me many gifts, the joy of seeing a student "get it", the laughter, the sense of making a tiny difference, and the pleasure of making life-long friends.  Today I had the pleasure of meeting with one of those very special friends to have lunch, bring each other up to date on absent pals, discuss the world situation (and, of course, solve all the problems!), laugh, and share notes on books we've read or should read.

Jean and I worked together for several years and for most of them we taught our subjects together whenever we thought our students would gain the most from doing that.  Her subject was Social Studies and mine English.  Four times a year we taught major units that lasted - usually - 4 to 6 weeks.  If holidays interrupted the flow, the time might be longer.  If the students were especially adept, the time could be shortened.  All that shared time spent in creating, planning, and implementing brought Jean and me close.  As a result, our monthly lunches are a treaure to me.

Today, we celebrated my birthday - belatedly, yes, but that doesn't matter. 
When Jean arrived, we sat in the living room and she handed me two beautifully wrapped gifts (among many other talents, Jean is able to make the appearance of a present a significant part of the gift).  The first gift was a lovely pin - blueberries on a small branch with leaves.  She knows I love pins, and this one coordinated so well with what I was wearing that I immediately put it on. 

The second gift?  Well, we frequently give each other books so it was no surprise to me that the second gift was clearly a book.  It was a picture book by one of our favorite authors, Patricia McKissack.  It is Stitchin' and Pullin' a Gee's Bend Quilt" illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera.  Let me quote from the front flap of the book cover:

Mother and daughter, grandmother and grandaughter, aunt and niece, friend and friend.  For a hundred years, the women of Gee's Bend have quilted together, sharing stories, trading recipes, singing hymns - all the while stitchin' and pullin' thread through cloth.

 Isn't that perfect?  But that's not what meant the most to me - not just that Jean gave me the gift of a book about quilting or about the Gee's Bend quilters.  It's what she said as she looked up at "Daisy Makes Do" hanging over the piano.  She told me that she gave me the book because it reminded her of that wall hanging and the story behind it. 

That was one of the best gifts I've ever been given.  Jean "gets it".

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Find Someone to Pat Your Back for You!

Why is it that the days that fill one with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction generally sound as dull as dishwater.  Take today, for example.  Right now, I have the feeling that it was a most successful day, and I am looking forward to sitting down with a book with the feeling that I've earned that period of relaxation.  But when - or if - you read the list of my accomplishments, you'll probably snort and think, "Do get over yourself, Noel.  Now you should see what I did today!"  And you'll quite likely be right.  But does that diminish the glow of self-satisfaction and self-righteousness I feel?  Not one whit.
So here's a list of my day.
  1. Get up before 7:30 A.M. (hey, I didn't get to sleep until well after 3:00 A.M.!) 
  2. Drive D. to doctor's appointment.
  3. Drive D. to the mall to catch a bus.
  4. Visit ATM.
  5. Visit a second bank.
  6. Grocery shop
  7. Unload and put away said groceries.
  8. Weed white flower garden, dig up and throw away red rose (the hybrid white rose was grafted on red rose root stock having little to recommend itself), tied up lilies - again - dispose of garden garbage.
  9. Take shower (surely you don't think I did #8 with clean clothes and/or body, did you?  In this morning's heat?)
  10. Do some research on the computer.
  11. Make and eat lunch while going through a bag full (and I mean full) of magazine pages collected over two years with an eye towards discarding as much as possible.
  12. Leave to pick up D at 3:00, but . . .
  13. Stop at library to return overdue magazine (don't seem to be able to remember that magazines lend for only 2 weeks instead of a book's 4 weeks) and have a serious conversation with Assistant Director over the importance of our free libraries (sure we pay a nominal amount per year in taxes, but what we get for that amount is HUGE! but don't get me started)
  14. Pick up D and drive home to
  15. Make garbanzo bean salad for dinner and
  16. Square up some blocks.
  17. Have dinner
  18. Clean up after meal
  19. Start writing blog entry.
That's my day, and looking at it, I can see that I did not solve any world crisis, bring joy to the hearts of shut-ins, or help pack food to send to the hungry.  However, it was a day filled with taking care of those little things, the minutiae of daily life, that if not done make us all cranky and snarly with each other.

So, yes, I do feel good, and the next time you have a day like this and smack yourself for not doing something "majorly important", STOP IT!  Instead, savor the feeling of making the highway of your life smoother - for everyone traveling with you.

Back-pats all around - preferably from another human!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back to the Studio

Monday was a very busy day doing housework including cleaning all the windows downstairs both inside and out (except for the high ones in the family room - that's for next week).  While I didn't do it all myself, it was tiring so I overslept this morning.  Fortunately, that didn't stop me from getting to my painting class - almost on time.

Yes, I decided that I'd go back.  Even though my eyes get in the way of doing fine work, I don't do very "fine" work with a palette knife!  Broad strokes are more the order of the day.  Besides, I wanted to spend some time with my old friends the acrylic paints.  Since we have a quick trip to New Hampshire in the planning stages and our usual trip to Vermont, I'd like to take the acrylics rather than the oils because the former dry quickly.  Hauling canvases with wet oil paint is not fun! 

Anyway, I really loved being back in the studio, so it didn't much matter what I did or how it looks.  Actually, I forgot to take a photograph of the painting so I've including my picture of a monarda aka "bee balm" with a falling petal for some color today.  It isn't the subject of today's painting, however.

Yesterday as I was cleaning the windows on the side of the house, I was inspired to stop (well, I was cleaning - never my favorite activity!) and take a picture what I could see outside the window - a tree with a wonderfully textured bark, deep green, shiny smooth rhododendron leaves, daylilies seen through a fork in the tree trunk, rough wooden fence behind the flowers, and a neighbor's house putting it all in context.  Lovely. 

Today I roughed out the scene with bold, bright splashes of color and got some valuable lessons in acrylic vs. oil paints and the differences in the way colors appear when each paint type dries.  More work is called for, that's for sure.

Before I start the second day's work on the painting, I'll try to remember to take a photo.  It was glorious painting again - sketching keeps one looking and practicing, but painting, oh my, what fun!

Can one write a PS to a Blog entry?        added at 11:10 P. M.
We had just gotten ready to call it a night when David went down to check the hose (we have occasionally forgotten to turn it off after watering the bonsai).  Suddenly I heard him coming in quickly and crossing to the foot of the stairs.  "Put on your bathrobe and come out back," he called up.  Fortunately, I had the foresight to shove my feet in my slippers also before I ran down to follow him out the back door.  As I rounded the corner of the house, I could just see his outline and made my way over to him.  As I did, I caught a flash in the sky. 

"Heat lightning," I thought to myself.  And then there was another and another and another.  Amazed, I turned to D and asked, "Are these the northern lights?"   Aurora Borealis or lightning?  We may never know, but we certainly had fun thinking it might be the fabled nothern lights!  To cap it off with something we knew we were really seeing, we saw, for the first time in years, lightning bugs vying with the light show for attention of any nearby female lightning bugs.
What a night! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

And this is Life, too!

Mary Ellen sent me her usual up-beat lovely response to yesterday's entry, but she did say that she couldn't really see the bowl as it was still in the box (we never took it out).  So here's Bonnie Belt's (the artist) site: .  Just wait until you see her work; I love it.  Today I
e-mailed her and asked for her catalog since her work isn't carried anywhere in NY.  Well, we can dream, can't we?

Now for a nice thing that has happened again this year.  Last year we had robins nesting in a hanging fuchsia plant on our front porch.  It happened to be in a direct line with the window in the room where I sew.  As I would stand at the ironing board, I had a great view, and last year because of the contest, I was ironing every day and every day brought new experiences watching the chicks develop. 

This year we never got around to planting or even buying already planted flowers.  We were always off gadding about somewhere.  But - that did not deter the robins.  This year they changed their nesting site, and we can't see them from the windows.  We don't know if the first sitting was completely successful even though we saw beaks poking up over the top of the nest.  They may have taken off when we were away.  We're careful to disturb them as little as we can and have asked friends to call first so we can open the garage door and let them in through the kitchen. 

Now we are on the second sitting (sounds a bit like a restaurant, doesn't it?). We hope all will be well these youngsters.  Here's a parent standing guard while I snapped some pictures from the lawn. 

That's the light beside our front door, and yes, it really is a mess.  We will have our work cut out for us when they depart.  But in the meantime, we'll just enjoy this slice of avian life.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

That's Life

Thanks to all of you who sent anniversary wishes our way.  We had a very relaxing day with a lovely meal here at home.  Typically, we don't make much of a fuss over our anniversary (unless it ends in a 5 or a 0).  That started when we celebrated our first one.  David was still working on his doctorate, I was still a stewardess, and we didn't have much money (who did?).  We decided that if we gave each other gifts, they should be something we needed for our home and that dining out was too expensive for something that had little lasting value.  Now I smile at our practicality and wonder if I really was hoping he'd wow me with some romantic gesture.  My definition of a romantic gesture has changed considerably, by the way.  Then I probably thought a piece of jewelry or an exotic trip would make my heart throb; now - well, read on to see what I bought for him this year and what I now think is romantic.

You have borne with me as I took you on a frequently interrupted journey through all the museums I have visited recently.  I mentioned the Renwick*  and showed you the nested baskets.  What I didn't tell you is that I visited the museum shop (if you don't know this already, museum shops are the very best in shopping experiences!).  While there, I saw a piece of pottery that stopped me dead in my tracks.  I knew I had to buy it for D's anniversary present.  It has a gorgeous bluish-green-charcoal exterior, a gold interior, and a tree that springs into the air from the rim,  Sound odd?  Ah, but remember D's hobby?  Remember how much more active he has been this year in pursuing his hobby?  I was so excited that I babbled to the salesman as he packed the bowl for shipping about D and his interest in bonsai (and it's a good thing I did).  The tree is a perfect depiction of the "Windswept" form in classic bonsai.  Oh my, was I excited!  I knew D's heart would sing when he opened the package.

Our anniversary arrived, I handed him his gift after our dinner (it was hard to wait all day), and I almost had to sit on my hands to keep from helping him with the package.  He is s-l-ohhh-w and deliberate when opening gifts!  Finally the top was open, most of the packing material was removed, and - you know what happened, don't you - He said, "It's broken!" 

 My heart plummeted. 

Here it is still strapped into its box with some packing material still visible.  The topmost leaf snapped off (see the white part on the top branch? the white under the strap is left-over packing foam) and is lying unseen in the bottom of the bowl itself.  Sigh.  All will be well.  The salesman remembered me (all I had to say was why I had purchased this particular bowl - babbling can have its benefits), they have one bowl left (no guarantee about color), and will exchange.  It will take time, but . . .

You see, today my idea of a romantic gesture is when you know your partner well enough to know what she/he will receive with heartfelt personal pleasure. 

* this is copied from the Renwick Gallery's site:
The Renwick Gallery, a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, features one of the finest collections of American craft in the United States. Its collections, exhibition program and publications highlight the best craft objects and decorative arts from the 19th century to the present. One-of-a-kind pieces created from clay, fiber, glass, metal, and wood from American Art's permanent collection of contemporary craft are displayed on a rotating basis in the second-floor galleries. Popular works include Larry Fuente's Game Fish and Wendell Castle's Ghost Clock.


Thursday, July 12, 2012


Today is our anniversary so I spent the time I would ordinarily take to write an entry enjoying my husband's company.

Talk about time well spent!

Be careful in these hot days to come, drink lots of water, and tell your special person how much she or he is loved.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Saratoga Memories

Saratoga is a wonderful place to take visitors.  There is so much to do that everyone can find something she or he can enjoy.  Alice and Nancy had done their homework and knew exactly where they wanted to go: lunch, peruse the shops on Broadway, Canfield Casino, the Carousel, and ice cream.  Who could argue with those choices?

We ate at Circus and then wandered and found a knitting shop so I could replace the cable stitch holder I left at Dad's on Saturday.  Nancy was very patient and sat in a convenient (and I hope comfortable) chair while Alice and I sorted through a basket of free patterns (yup, free!).  We each found many and were able to direct each other to patterns fitting the other's tastes (she makes scarves, mittens, hats, and baby things while I stick to sweaters and socks for the most part).

Then we had to find a new parking spot and were lucky to hit pay dirt right across the street from the Saratoga Springs Historical Museum in Canfield Casino.  This is a historical museum unlike any others I've visited.  There are the usual "history of the town" photos and items (the history of the town is quite interesting), the anticipated history of the Casino complete with gambling memorabilia and furniture, and then a most unexpected history of a single Saratoga family.  Talk about soap opera!  This drama is housed on the third floor, and I don't want to go into the details (no way could I remember all of the convoluted relationships, comings and goings, let alone the sins/crimes/mental-emotional issues with which this family was fraught.  Suffice it to say, it's worth the time, and you won't believe it until you see and hear all about it.  We had quite a time there.

After all that "sturm und drang"* on the third floor of the Casino, well, we needed a little frivolity:

Next time I'll choose the horse in front of them as my own special steed, but this photograph isn't as bad as I thought it might be.  The Carousel had just started when I called to Alice and Nancy to turn around.  Cell phones are terrific, aren't they?

It was Nancy's work on her cell phone that helped us find our final stop of the day, an ice cream stand where we all had root beer floats.  We were thirsty and hot, and oh, it tasted soooooo good!

Saratoga in the summer may be hot and a little crowded (but we were there before racing season really started), but well worth the time.

*German, literally, storm and stress, from Sturm und Drang (1776), drama by Friedrich von Klinger †1831 German novelist and dramatist
First Known Use: 1845

citation from:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

End of a Great Visit

Today was the last day of Nancy and Alice's visit.  Nancy left first, and unfortunately, we thought she was getting up at 6:00 a.m. so D made sure to arise then - only to see her car drive off!  She meant she was leaving at 6:00 a.m.  When our brains weren't clouded with sleep, we knew we should have realized that.  Good intentions out the window.

At least we were both up and aware when Alice took off.  That made both of us feel a little better.  However, there's always a letdown at the end of a visit no matter how smoothly the departures go. 

And, of course, I forgot to upload a great photo taken during their trip so I'll have to do that tomorrow.  I think it's a good one, but as it's on my phone (even though it has a pretty good sized screen), I can't be sure until I see it on the "big screen" of my computer.

After the sisters left, we both did some chores and then decided to relax.  D worked on his bonsai, and I returned to the pinwheel quilt.  It took a bit of fancy (read "unusual") measuring, but I managed and the borders are on.  The wall hanging is now officially ready for quilting.  Here it is, and I hope you recognize it:

The photo was taken in artificial light so the colors appear brighter than they really are, but at least you can see what I've done. 

What do you think about the border treatment?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Life is Good

These nesting baskets from the Renwick Museum make
think of fans.

Fans, screens for open windows and doors, refrigeration, ice makers, amd air-conditioning all these marvels of our modern era have made a good life for people like me who would prefer cooler weather. Last night I opened our windows, shut them this morning, turned on the ceiling fans when the temperature went up, and even turned on the air conditioning to cool the house down in the late afternoon. We were working on getting the house clean and tidy for David's sisters who arrive tomorrow, and we became uncomfortably warm as we hustled about the house.  Then, just before dinner, we began to move furniture so our new refrigerator can be delivered tomorrow - at last.  By Friday we should have ice (the loaner refrigerator came with no ice trays and I wasn't about to purchase any) to offer our guests.   

Life, for us, is good.  I appreciate it all the more as I watch the news and see the devastation so much of our country is experiencing because of the fires, storms, and unrelenting heat.  This fourth of July isn't a happy one for many.  Being aware of how it could be makes me all the more happy with the pleasures we have.

Since D's sisters will be here, you probably won't hear anything from me for the next six to seven days.  May your lives be filled with happiness.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Source of Inspiration

This posting is a reminder to myself to keep these inspirations in mind if I ever find myself without a border, or a filler for in-between pictorial elements, or just for and all over design.  You've seen some of the pure design elements in my photos from the National Portrait Gallery and from Montreal so hold on to your hats for design ideas from the Corcoran.

This is a very fine example of acroteria (information below is from ), and I thought how lovely they would look (in modified form, of course) as a border on that special quilt.  I am sorry to say that I did not get the documentation for the painting that is seen directly behind this architectural delight (which, by the way, was part of a very imposing staircase in the Corcoran Gallery, and yes, I did say "staircase").  I thought I had, but it's not on my camera.  No failure with technology; it lay solely with the operator of said camera. 
Acroterion (Acroterium)ac row TAIR ee onPlural: Acroteria

1- Blocks or flat pedestals resting on the apex and on the lowest ends of the pediment to support statues or carved ornaments.
2- The term is sometimes applied to the carved ornament itself, which resembled a stylized palmette.
Greek: "acroterion" - the summit or extremity
Found in classical Greek and Roman architecture and derivatives


In English and American 18th-century furniture, the acroteria refers to the end blocks of the pedimented top of a secretary or bookcase, or the central block in a broken pediment which might hold an urn, vase, finial, or other ornament.

This is a plaster adornment in the center of a dome also in the Corcoran from which clearly something (huge chandelier?) could be suspended.    What caught my eye was the radiating design of shield with an intersecting spoke and leaf (heart).  Each succeeding shield gets larger and ends with a double ring pierced by the final shields spoke.  Note that the innermost ring is wider than the next two, and the outer is the widest of all.  The center circle with leaves is a softer, more organic shape than the more stylized shields.  Anyone for a center medallion challenge?
Now this painting is here first for purposes of quilt design and second because I really admire the graphic simplicity of the work (documentation provided).  Three colors and then that unexpected, tiny splash of pink/red tongue.  This is a triadic color scheme (colors that are an equal distance apart on the color wheel) blue, yellow, red.  They aren't complementary because they are a color away from their complement (blue and orange are complements with yellow one step away, yellow and violet are complements with blue a next door neighbor, and red's complement is green).  The point is how well it works. and it isn't the expected combination.   So take the color wheel, draw an equilateral triangle and try a table mat using those colors you landed on to see how you like it.
I've mentioned before how much I love quilts with houses, but I never thought of  "row houses" embellished with words and symbols.  It's too bad I chopped off the peaks of these buildings, but oh, my, don't you love the appearance of wood slats?  This is a very simple form that can be embellished with just about anything that is important to the designer.  Quite effective.  Again, as with the painting above, note the colors used.
And finally, just for fun . . . if I ever think I have too much time on my hands and want to try an intricate pattern, how's this?  Another plaster ceiling piece from one of the upstairs rooms at the Corcoran.  Rumor has it that they might be moving from that building which would be a crying shame (I haven't shown you all of my photos from there - haven't even scratched the surface), but at least I have a few memories and some inspiration for those days when nothing comes to mind.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Montreal Botanical Gardens

Here are some photographs from our trip to Montreal this past weekend. David's bonsai club undertook the trip, and we car pooled to Canada's lovely city and lovelier botanical gardens to view their collection of bonsai. This was the second time we went, and the second time it was dreadfully hot. I really think we should start looking at trips for the fall instead of the summer! 

For some reason, the pictures posted in the reverse order, and I don't seem to be able to fix it.  But I guess it doesn't really matter.  Enjoy!
We had a great time and I heartily recommend a trip to Montreal and their Botanical Gardens - but not necessarily during the height of summer heat!
Rooftops seen from our room in the hotel.  Don't you love the juxtoposition of old and new?
One of my favorites photos from the weekend.
Another pattern - can you find its source in another photo?
Oh, here are some bonsai displayed in the Japanese Garden.
Wonderful pattern.
Not blueberries although they look good enough to eat.  These are "Oregon Holly" (Mahonia).
The flowers were there and so was the hat; I just put the two together.
The bonsai work area (I think this would make a terrific painting).
My favorite begonia - "Escargot".
Beautiful planted pots abound.
We had a great time and I heartily recommend a trip to Montreal and their Botanical Gardens - but not necessarily during the height of summer heat!