Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Furnace Man Arrives

Not a great deal of interesting material to report today.  This morning Furnace Man came to "scope out" our basement and figure out exactly what he was going to have to do and what he would need.  Turned out that D and I had to move some things that would be in the way of his work on the ducts (hadn't thought of that!), but it didn't take too long, and in doing that chore, we were able to get rid of some more stuff.  Now that's a pleasure!

He did bring the new furnace which is now sitting in our garage all shiny and new looking.  And that's a good thing because now at least one thing in the garage is pristine!  Tomorrow the work will begin on installing that furnace and doing some necessary repair/replacement on our existing structure.  We are hoping that the first thing Furnace Man does is remove the very large oil tank which he drained today.  Fortunately for us, Furnace Man can use the oil himself in his home workshop so instead of worrying about the cost to cart it away, we have a credit.  

What with a doctor's appointment this morning, readying the basement, and the usual daytime business, I didn't get any more sewing done on the quilt.  With ME helping with the top edge and my border issue (black - it's practical and won't be seen), I am going to get that going tomorrow after the piano is tuned which, I think, is the only other thing I have to take care of.   After the last border is sewed in place, I will have to make the final measurements so I can piece the backing.  Even though I bought extra-wide backing material, it isn't wide enough for today's king-sized mattresses.  If I remember correctly, I opted for a 15.5" drop and I won't have the 3" leeway on every side for my quilter if I don't add more fabric.

Un-retouched Sketch

What I can show you is the Vermont barn sketch that I worked on during my studio time yesterday.   I corrected the shadowy side of the barn, shed, and yard and did minimal work on the hills and field.  For a study rather than a polished painting, I think this will do.

Final Work
 My favorite part is still the birds on the roof.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Quilting News

Today I finished "Tea in the Bonsai Garden" - well, almost.  I was so excited when I sewed on the third border that I took it upstairs on the off chance that D would stay outside for a bit longer (he did) so I could snap a picture. Here it is as it is now (with no pillows on the bed):

This picture shows the quilt with the bottom border.  When I took the photo, I thought I had a better angle that showed at least part of the left side of the quilt, but obviously I didn't.  The borders are all done in the same manner but all have different blocks.  I wanted to give the impression that one was actually in a garden among the trees (the green and yellow ginkgo leaves).  The next photo shows the right hand side of the bed.

By now you probably realize what I forgot.  There is also a top edge to the quilt!  I may have overlooked it because I am torn about what fabric to use.  If I use the ginkgo leaf fabric, I may not have enough for the pillow shams which I really want to make with the ginkgo material as it will tie it all together.  But if I don't use that fabric, I'll have to finish the upper edge with the Kona jet black I used to border every block.  That might be all right because one won't really see it . . . .  Hmmmm.

Well, friends, what do you think?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Art in Vermont

Yesterday I mentioned how easily my sister-in-law and brother painted.  What I did not mention is the uniqueness of their gifts.  Esther has a loose style and a flair for using bright colors while my brother paints very deliberately with considerable control.  Hers is an emotional style and his is intellectual. but both of them produce lovely paintings.
I haven't developed much of style yet with this medium because I haven't used it enough to even become accustomed to it.  For that reason, I spent part of my "art time" reading a book on watercolor painting written by an artist whose work I admire.  After reading, I decided to try some of the techniques she uses.  Between the book and my brother I learned quite a bit, but one of the techniques requires multiple layers of paint each one applied after an earlier one has dried.  Therefor, I didn't complete those yet.

Here is a quick and small piece that I did for my grandson:

It is painted on a blank postcard (made for watercolor) that is intended to be sent through the mail.  However, D liked it so much that he wants me to frame it and then give it to our grandson.  Sweet of him, but it really isn't worth that, but I will do is as it will please him and our young turtle enthusiast.
After seeing some of Est's work, I decided to try using both permanent ink and watercolors.  I had taken my favorite sketch book with me, and I used her technique on the Vermont barn I may use for a painting some day. Here's the ink part:

And here it is with the added paints.  It isn't finished yet - the front of the barn has to be darker a its on the shady side of the building, but I'm pleased with it so far. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Back Again

We are back from our week in Vermont!  The lake was as beautiful as always, and our weather was very good.  Some sketching and painting was accomplished about which I'll write more in a future entry, but I must say that both my brother and his wife are really good and can whip out watercolor work in a blink of an eye!  Swimming was especially fun this year as the lake was a bit warmer, and for the most part, calmer.  On our rambles, three of us managed to accumulate the usual combined total of hundreds of photos.  D spent hours combing the woods for both possible bonsai specimens (he is very careful about where and what he digs - no endangered species or private land) and kindling as we did have a few evenings in front of the fireplace.
Now that I'm back, I am full steam ahead on D's anniversary quilt (Tea in the Bonsai Garden) which I am trying to finish in time to hand it off this coming Sunday to Karen Gibbs for quilting.  The top is sewn together:
Here it is on our bed in a not very good photograph, but at least you can see some of the blocks you saw in isolation a month ago.  Right now it looks very busy to me, but that may be simply because it's new.  I hope.
Currently I am working on the borders which also have version of the blocks you see above.  It's taking a while because the border blocks all had to have the quarter inch black border sewn on all four sides as they are separated from each other.  Also, since half of those blocks are different sizes, the border for each of those has to be independently figured and cut.  Then they will be set in the actual border itself requiring more math.  Such fun! 
Anyway, it is wonderful to be home sewing, painting, writing, reading, chatting with friends, and generally back into our usual routine again feeling quite refreshed!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Time to Refresh the Muse

Tomorrow I take off for one week in Vermont.  This is the destination:

As you might be able to see, this photo is taken from the dock (probably early morning when the sun was fully up) giving the view from the lake to the house.  The chaise lounges and the chairs above give the lounging or seated person the glorious view of the mountains that I have drawn and painted over and over again.  My hope is to spend a great deal of time every day sketching and painting, some time in the lake with a bit of reading and hand sewing thrown in for good measure, and lots of talking.
That means you won't hear from me until Monday, July 29, 2013.  In the mean time, may this weather break to something more comfortable and refreshing for you, may you find your muse in unexpected moments, and may you enjoy every possible hour.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July Birds

This morning D asked me to take some pictures of the bird that has taken up residence in the new birdhouse in our front yard.  At first we thought it was a warbler as that word describes its song perfectly.  That little bird opens its mouth and out pours a liquid melody that shakes its whole body - such music!  However, after some research we discovered that it is a wren just not the Carolina wrens that have nested in our backyard in previous years and are more familiar with their characteristic up-tilted tails.
I managed to get some photographs, but they are not particularly good though possibly enough to help me track this little one down in our bird books.

The picture above shows the color more accurately than the one below in which the wren looks washed out.  I couldn't get too much closer because its quite skittish so I took these while standing inside the garage looking out.  It  knew I was there, though, and kept an eye on me.  If I tried to step forward, it flew off to a nearby bush, and I had to wait for it to come back. 

Some of you may have read of our attempts to keep the robins from nesting on our front porch this year as we are going to have the siding replaced.  We didn't want them to be scared off a clutch of eggs when the construction starts.  I didn't even buy any hanging plants to put out there as that has been one of its go-to places before.  When we noticed they were trying to build a nest over the front door light at the beginning of the season, we would go out on the porch and pull down any nesting material we found.  That had to be done four or five times a day!  Finally we were successful, and the birds found another place of their first nest.  We went off to Rochester for a while and came back to find - Voila, tenants!

What I hope you will notice is what I missed this morning and didn't see until I uploaded the bird pictures from today.  Do you see what is hanging down on the left side of the light?  I never realized robins were such great opportunists.  First, they waited until our backs were metaphorically turned, swooped in to snag a "their" light fixture, and then they snaffled some poor snake's shed skin!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chinese Street Scene #2

Today I went back to my studio class and was delighted to be there.  I hadn't been able to do anything since last time which isn't good.  It takes constant practice to get better - in anything.  Ah well. 
You may remember the first "Chinese Street Scene" (6" x 9") which is right here:
I was quite pleased with it because it was my first non-landscape watercolor.   BUT it was a rainy day when I took the picture (through a car window covered with water droplets), and this first try looks more like after the rain than during it.  So I thought I'd try again, and my instructor suggested I tone down the colors to suggest at least a dull day.
Below is what I had at the end of today's class, and I decided that I wanted to finish it.  First, I should tell you that this one is a different size (9 x 11½") which altered the proportions.  Second, I didn't paint all of this today; I did some work in a previous class.  Third, the horrid green you side on either side is Frog Tape used to hold the paper on the board so it doesn't buckle when water is used (the tape in the first one is painter's blue tape - I switched). 

The change in the colors makes a striking difference, don't you think?  Here's a secret.  Even if I'd had the time in class to complete this painting, I wouldn't have.  This will make ME smile.  I needed to find a picture of a motorcycle!

In the afternoon, I tried sewing because D wasn't around, and I really want to finish what I am now calling the "Tea in the Bonsai Garden" quilt, but he came home too quickly.  Knowing that he'd be in and out of the house and wanting to talk, I chose the wiser path and turned off the sewing machine.   After finding a picture of a motorcycle, I went back to painting.  You'll see that the motorcycle is still rather lacking in detail, but that's the way I want it.  Indeed, I think I'll make the spokes less distinct; one wouldn't see them like this if it were moving.

I have to make a decision about the rain now.  In class I picked up some ideas about how I might go about making this more obviously a rainy day, but it will take experimenting on scrap paper.  I don't want to try something and totally ruin what I do have.
They're very different, aren't they?  What do you think about the two?  Is there one you like better than the other?  Why?

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Bin Day"

Still no photographs, but there is a good reason for that today as you will see as you read on.
Today was Bin Day.  After debating the cost of getting a Pod (very expensive and damaging to yard or driveway) to move things into during our up coming construction, moving the bins ourselves in our own car, or having someone else do it for us, D hired a man with a truck to move our packed and (mostly) labeled bins to a lock up facility.  All those bins as well as some other things that we needed our of the way are now safe and secure at a storage place.  What a relief! 
After all that, our basement is much neater, but still not pretty enough to photograph.  However, we have the relief of  knowing that the furnace people can come in, move out the old furnace and oil tank, and install a new natural gas furnace in a new location without worrying about them falling over piled bins.  If we need to move anything for them, we can do that easily as there is now plenty of space.
Do we still have work to do down there?  Yes, of course,  Moving the bins was easy.  Now we have to tackle the shelves where we keep things that we use relatively often.  We are determined to continue to de-clutter by donating or throwing away as much as possible, and that gets harder as you go from being ruthless with things you haven't seen in over a year to things that tug at heart strings or are part of traditions.  But we will do it though it may take longer as we don't have the goad of needing to have it done for workmen or for any other time crunch.
Once that is done, I have to find someone or some company that will come in and do a thorough job of cleaning everything: floors, walls, ceiling, I mean everything.  All of those surfaces are unfinished so it take specialized equipment that I don't have and wouldn't use even if I did have it.  There is too much dust, hair from pets, and even possible mold to be stirred up for either of us to do that kind of cleaning.
But that's in the future.  Right now we are very happy with the results of our work and our decisions.  D goes downstairs every so often to walk around and admire the spacious, tidy look of the basement even though I don't find it camera-worthy! 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Missed Opportunity

How is it that someone who enjoys taking photographs and also likes to showcase the work of others manages to forget to have her proper camera with her when such an opportunity arises?  And forgets even to whip out the less "proper" but still acceptable cell phone to take photos?
Today was such a day in class at Log Cabin.  E joined us for the first time with her lovely hand-quilting project.  It is a piece that features her English paper-piecing as well as her quilting.  Would have made a  lovely photo.  SMcG was there with two projects.  She was cutting out letters to use on a project that she didn't have with her (S, please bring it - or a picture at any rate for us to see next time, okay?).  Then she picked up her hand piecing - another photo opportunity missed.  ME is nearing the end of the Churn Dash Sampler that was this year's project for those who wished to take it on in this class/club.  She's using lovely pastels but is second guessing her original choice of background.  I think that if she does as she is thinking and adds a quarter-inch border around each block, she will be able to used that background after all.  It will be very pretty, but you'll have to wait until I take a picture to appreciate it!  Now P doesn't get very much time to work on her Sampler outside of class, but I think she is coming along quite well given that she can work on it only once a month when we meet.  Naturally I think she's made great choices of fabrics as we seem to choose the same ones for out projects over and over!  That would have been fun - taking a picture of both hers and mine.  Some identical fabrics but in different combinations.

See what I've made you miss? 
Oh well, here's a consolation photo that I may have shown you before. These are some flowers in my garden from when I first planted them.  They are Argyranthemum (or more commonly Marguerite Daisies). 

On that cheerful note, I wish you a happy, dry, and cool Monday!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Photographic Hindsight

Scrolling through photos I've taken over the years, I am struck once again at how often we return to the same or similar views or things.  People who take photographs for the love of immortalizing family have one viewpoint and those who take photographs for the love of the camera's eye have another.  And of course, it is possible to love both. 
Anyway, the photos I was looking at showed numerous barns (some from an expedition with Est that focused on these buildings), the lake we love so much, and one other subject-type best described as whimsy.  Here are a very few to illustrate what I mean about my joys:

This picture of a barn fits two categories: barns and whimsy.  The barn isn't beautiful, but I love the weathered barn siding and the scruffy look of the attached shed.  Well-tended grass and then the weeds at the corners of these "out buildings" are another particular pleasure for me.  Then there's the whimsy; the For Rent sign made it appear that it was the barn that was for rent instead of the farmhouse that is out of the camera's line of sight. (Sorry about the color mishap here - technology running on its own view of how things should be.)
Now this barn isn't terrifically unusual or of noteworthy beauty either, but it is a solid, working barn that is in use every day.  It is a functional building.  What delighted me were the carefully tended shrubs in front of this barn and the whetstone in the foreground.  It is a good reference photograph for some time in the future when I might wish to put such a building in a painting. 

Reference photography could be called another category now that I think of it.  Heaven knows I take enough picture "just in case"!
Finally, another bit of whimsy which includes immortalizing family and my love affair with barns.  This is the "hindsight" part of this entry.  I have discovered that I really enjoy taking pictures of people taking pictures.  Especially if it is a family member who is an especially fine photographer and water colorist.  It's sort of a, "What is she seeing that I missed?  Should I move to where she is?  Maybe this view will turn up in a painting of hers and I can show her the moment she recorded this scene."  Since both of us tend to take numerous shots of the same subject from different perspectives, I'll never know if she took one from my vantage point because I did, or whether I've merely picked up her artist's eye in this one.  Whichever it might be, it's a shot I love.

This picture of a barn fits two categories: barns and whimsy.  The barn isn't beautiful, but I love the weathered barn siding and the scruffy look of the attached shed.  Well-tended grass and then the weeds at the corners of these "out buildings" are another particular pleasure for me.  Then there's the whimsy; the For Rent sign made it appear that it was the barn that was for rent instead of the farmhouse that is out of the camera's line of sight.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

From Basement to Kitchen

Yes, I did spend more time in the basement this morning, and if I'd been able to spend the entire day, I might have finished everything I wanted to do down there.  But another task called to me with a very insistent voice.

The phone.

We had ordered raspberries and during the morning I answered the phone to hear a cheerful voice telling me that the "Raspberries are in!"  That finished the basement activities for the day because raspberries wait for no one.  When they're ripe, you do what needs to be done immediately.  So we pulled out our aprons and jam-making materials and went to work. 
I won't tug on your patience by going through all the steps you probably know involved in jam-making, and if you don't, you won't miss anything because of the omission.  Making jam isn't difficult or terribly time consuming especially if you work as a team.  D and I have our assigned tasks and among his is the job of putting on the jar tops as you can see below (he also is in charge of mashing the fruit through the sieve that looks like a witch's hat - very messy and tiring on hand muscles).  I'm in charge of the cooking part as well as getting jam from pot to jar with a minimum of gooey mess.

Below you can see the old pink Kellogg glass measuring cup I use to pour the jam into the jars.  I have several of these measuring cups, and I really love them.  See the three spouts on it?  Very handy!  Also, the glass is much thinner than the Pyrex ones, and I think the Kellogg's version pours better - fewer drips.  Though to look at the state the cup in the picture is in, you'd be excused if you wondered about the drips!  All I can say is I fill the cup by immersing it in the cook pot to fill it with jam.  Hence its appearance.

We were able to make two batches and get 8 1/2 pints of jam (one of the jars didn't make it into the photo above) and still have 2 full half pints of berries left.  A great day, indeed!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

An Idea for Storing Fabrics

Today is usually the day I natter on about my studio class and what I did or did not do.  However, with the schedule we have from now until the beginning of construction, I needed to stay home and work on my clutter in the basement (please read yesterday's comments for some interesting geographical and linguistic notes). 
I don't intend to go on about it, but headway is being made.  Fabrics are being boxed into clear storage bins and most have labels stuck inside so I can tell what is in them.  Here's a new twist on that for me.  As I put fabric for a particular project in a bin, I mentally made note of the quilt pattern I intended to use the fabric for.  That then gets written on the label - or would have until I noticed the name of the pattern.  It was something like Sweetly Summer Pastels (actually I just made that up, but the name was syrupy like that and not me at all).  So instead of writing that on my bit of paper, I took the time to gather the magazine in which the pattern appeared as well as patterns for other projects going in other bins, ran upstairs, and made 2 copies of each pattern.  When in the basement again, I put one picture inside the end of the bin and one inside one of the sides.  Now I can see the label with the photo and know exactly what the quilt is and where the fabrics are.  Usually the name is enough, but for those times when it isn't, now I'll be able to find it without having to rummage through the bin. 
And how many years have I been using those stackable, clear storage bins?  Never mind.  It's taken a long time (almost as long as it took to use the clear ones), but at least I thought of it eventually. 
While I'm on the subject, why don't the makers of bins develop an envelope type of attachment for the inside of their bins that would hold labels/ photographs/lists facing out so people like me could easily slip paper in them?  Yes, the bin is clear, but once things are in there, it isn't easy to see each particular thing.  Makers of sheets and curtains have lovely interior pockets for their labels in their snap-shut plastic packaging (don't you love those plastic packages?  I keep them and use them until they fall apart - which usually doesn't happen quickly). 
How do you manage your storage?  Winter sweaters?  Things for summer vacations, camping gear, snow goggles, Christmas ornaments?  Do you label?  How?

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Theory about Stuff

First of all, last night we lost power for a few hours.  It was right at the critical point in a TV show that was on (fortunately, I wasn't paying any attention anyway) and lasted through the time I would have been writing last night's entry.  Too bad.  You missed another D.C. entry.  But you're probably as tired of that subject as I find myself today.
Today I want to discuss my new theory.  So sit up and pay attention because this is deep.  Literally.  Are you ready?  Here it is:
Hot air rises; stuff sinks.
How do I know this?  I've been cleaning out our basement.  Have I told you about our asparagus bed? We don't have one because, as I pointed out to D, "There's no point in starting one because we're bound to leave here in three years."  That is when the first asparagus would have been ready for harvesting. Ha! We have lived in this house for over 30 years, and the stuff in our basement is the stuff of legends.   As is the asparagus.
Back to the real subject at hand.  We are not hoarders.  But we are definitely middle-class, Baby-Boomer consumers.  And our basement reflects this.  Initially, we would put things downstairs neatly in boxes  for temporary storage or until we found a use for it or until someone thought they might just wear whatever again.  Then we would turn out the lights, close the door, and forget about it.  Having forgotten about it, we would sometimes buy things again.  For example, by the time I sorted through our Christmas ornaments a couple of years ago, we probably had enough glass ornaments for four trees.  To be fair, most of the time that was because one of us thought a new color would be very pretty so out we trooped to buy whatever color tickled us that year.  Now most of that is gone after a frenzy one early December.
Actually, to be fair, D and I are both collectors, and for a time, I collected with the thought that in retirement I would sell in a multi-dealer type of shop.  Now that I am retired I am too busy to do that, and even if I weren't I wouldn't want to.  Even in a cooperative shop, I'd have to work too often trying to sell things that people aren't interested in today.  Now I collect fabric and I have no intention of setting up shop (although I could).  Any way, our neat arrangement of boxes got way out of hand, and it isn't neat anymore and not everything is in boxes.  Plastic bags have been used, also. 
After spending today in the cellar, sorting, bagging, and tagging, I know my theory of stuff is correct.  Fortunately D and I agree that we are ready to get rid of stuff, to de-clutter, to clear out much of what we've held on to for far too long.  We also know that this is just the first pass.  There will be more forays into the basement. 
But for now, we have decided to combat the Theory of Stuff until we have created a neat basement with fewer items laying abandoned and forgotten. We will not allow our stuff to sink to that level of dejection! 
Plus, it really isn't a lot of fun, but seeing order where once was chaos is.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

More Museum Updates

The second day in DC I went to the Phillips Collection, a small museum that was new to me.  I went for that reason and because they had an exhibit of Georges Braque, the founding father of Cubism early in the 20th century.  I have to admit this was one of those self-righteous I-going-to-learn-something-not-because-I-like-it trips.  Cubism left me cold and Braque even colder.  I learned a lot.  I liked it a lot.  Braque's paintings are very special.  I'll say no more (other than if you ever get a chance to see an exhibit on this artist, don't pass it by) because it was a special exhibit of works primarily loaned by other institutions.  That means no photography allowed.
Instead I'll show you one of the prizes of the Phillips Collection.  When I think of Renoir, I think of voluptuous women, frequently nude, usually plump, in pastel colors, and very pretty, pretty.  Not to my taste on the whole.  But just take a look at this painting!  Isn't it fabulous?  One can feel the happy, relaxed nature of this party and hear the laughter and chatter - the hum of people having a good time. 
And the composition?  Wow!  Grouping things in threes is a favorite trick as it results in something that is very pleasing to the eye.  Just look at what Renoir has done!  How many groups of three can you find?  Allow yourself to group people or things into different groups of three, but try to keep count.  Each one of those groups could be an individual painting all by itself. 
Then notice that as busy as this painting is, Renoir managed to leave an empty space, a rest area.  What do you think this painting would look like if that rest area were not there - if there were more people there?  Do you see any other unusual things about this painting?  Think about them.  Why are they like that or why are those things/people there?

This makes a pleasing still life all by itself.
Here is a view through a window at the museum (which used to be the home of Phillips - oil heir).  Isn't it a pretty design?
And finally, the following photograph is especially for SMcG.  This extremely large spider is the work of a woman and I knew I had to take this picture home with me to share.  It isn't pretty, but you won't forget it!

As I was uploading these photos, I neglected to upload the attribution for this work so I'll try to remember to include it in a future entry.  Sorry, SMcG!

Tomorrow is the 4th of July so I plan to take a break until next Sunday evening.  Enjoy your day with a celebration of liberty ala John Adams - parades, picnics, and fireworks!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

See Yesterday

If you check yesterday's posting, you will see the photographs with some commentary that I just added.  The pictures finally came through, and I felt it would make more sense to edit Monday's entry rather than have you switch back and forth. 
Remember that to see the photographs more clearly (except for some fuzzy placards!), click on the photos for a larger version.
Enjoy as I did!

A Museum and a Garden Continued - WITH Photographs!

By the time I am ready to post this entry, I hope my photographs have uploaded.  Otherwise, it will make for dull reading, and you will have to remember to check back tomorrow to look at the photos.
My first full day in D.C. I had planned to go to two museums: the National Museum of Natural History (to which I had never been) and the Renwick (again).  Well, D thought he might have time to join me so instead I went to the National Arboretum end of the mall right on top of the Museum of the American Indian (in which I had been very disappointed on my only visit there two or three years ago).  From there I called D and found out that he would not have time after all.  So, since it was hot (not beastly, but humid hot), I decided to cool off in the American Indian museum and see what I thought of it this time.
As so often happens, a second visit did improve my opinion.  I went to see a special exhibit figuring that might be more interesting than the permanent ones that had left me unimpressed.  "Oh dear," I thought, "the special exhibit is Central American Ceramics."  I wandered in the first room and started on the fringe.  One can always learn something and one can frequently find inspiration are two of my personal mantras.  So I metaphorically smacked myself, straightened my spine, and moved into the exhibit.
It was stunning.  Simply amazing.  Riveting.  (Photos to come - some time!)

This marble vessel is the type of "ceramics" I expected to see a lot of - white marble or marble-like, straight sided, and squared off handles.

Instead, the following items are the kinds of things I saw.

The designs on this plate above and the precision of their execution are amazing.  The plate is completely decorated.  Note how the crocodile depiction is deliberately asymmetrical.

This piece above and the next one below really captured my fancy.  I think of our own depiction of Halloween spirits.

The vessel below is an especially fine piece, I think.  It has marvelous painted designs as well as the three dimensional additions (influenced by a tree that has thorny bumps like this vessel).

 One of the things this museum does is show you the ancient (in this case) ceramics and then include modern pieces by native people that clearly show the influence of their cultural heritage.  The designs are not copies of earlier work, but the viewer is encouraged to see how a contemporary artist has used his or her "bred in the bone" artistic heritage to extend that earlier artistic vision and alter it to suit the artist and today's aesthetic.  It was interesting to me to hear what a few visitors had to say about the newer works once they "got" why it was there.

Unfortunately, the placard with information about this piece did not upload (my error, I'm sure), but this is the modern piece made in 2012 (I think) and influenced by other ancient ceramics with repetitive geometric designs equally dramatic.
Then I had lunch (in my experience, this is one of the best museums for food in DC) which was a wild rice and watercress salad with a smidgen of  a taste of a hearts of palm and pineapple salad and wandered some more.  This time I found an exhibit of contemporary - well, doll making for lack of a better description.  For those of you who enjoy embellishing your work with beads, embroidery, or thread, oh my, just wait for the photos.  These were no ordinary dolls.  I may have to search for the correct term.  If you appreciate outstanding hand work, please check back to see the pictures!

See below for the site to see more (and better) photographs of this wonderful exhibit.  This is only one of several dolls - all hand made (even the animals) and hand embellished.  They are works of art and worth some study.
I finally left to get to the Natural History Museum which had two exhibits I wanted to see.  On my way there, I wandered through the Sculpture Garden where I saw wonderful specimens of larches (aka tamarack) and lindens.  There's a great pool with jets of water all around where one can sit and simply relax.  And there's sculpture.  Whimsical, delightful sculpture.  I have pictures, I promise. 
Tomorrow's entry will, I sincerely hope, have many, many photos.  Until then . . .

Here is the address for the National Museum of the American Indian.

Once there, you will see the above doll in the box "Grand Procession: Dolls from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection.  Click on the text under the photo and you will enter a magical world.