Thursday, June 21, 2018

Garden Photos

Another day doing multiple tasks (some of them almost necessary, some of them just because they occurred to me).  In the morning, I dashed outside to capture the raking light on the garden.  It wasn't really raking light as it was already around eight o'clock.  But even though the sun was higher, I didn't get the shots I wanted until later in the day.

Then there were the runs to bank and grocery store followed by making a macaroni salad, having lunch, and sewing until I made a rookie mistake.  The highlight of the day was the visit of my best friend who came bearing gifts, humor, and a delight change of pace.  That's the kind of friend every one needs and then like me cherishes.

After that, I went outside to try to capture some of the glory of a June garden no matter how much of a novice the gardener may be.

Cosmos
  

Foxglove


Glass ornament - reminiscent of a Pagoda

Horse ornament surrounded by flowers

Mini-Sunflowers
 I will have to remember for the furture that the mid-late afternoon is a good time for the photos. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mystery Flowers/Berries

D and I went to a reaffirmation of wedding vows  a couple of weeks ago, and it was a wonderful experience.  The couple are good friends from our bonsai club, and we've know them for years.  They were also on the bonsai trip to Asia last year.  It was a quite an experience.

Like everything else, the flowers on the tables at the reception were glorious, and we were lucky enough to win them.  The bouquet had many flowers but two intrigued me more than the others.  The two were of interest because in their own remarkable quiet way, they added a lot to the overall success of the bouquet.  

And I don't know what they are!  This is a photo that includes the two I don't know, and the next one is a closer view and one that shows how they quietly make all the difference.


Look at the textures!  See how the lower "flower" (I have no idea what else to call it) seems to hold two more flowers upright like arms raised in victory. Also the light green is chartreuse- unusual in bouquets. See how it adds a pow factor?



Then there are those green globe-like berries (again a search for a possible term). They are more quiet than the chartreuse flowers, but they do add an unusual texture for a bouquet.  They are foil for all the multi-textured leaves and multi-petaled flowers.

And I haven't even mentioned the serrated red leaves with waxy white, tiny berries!

It's so frustrating! I don't know what any of these plants are.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Cookware

Over the weekend after doing some research, we finally decided to replace our cookware.  We've had two sets of cookware over the course of our 49 years, and it was time.  The first set I brought to the marriage as something I had purchased while single, and we used it for oh, about 35+ years.  Then our daughter gave us another set which we gave rather hard use.  It had non-stick coating, but as I was still working, I confess I did put the pans in the dishwasher which wasn't good for that non-stick coating.

All that led up to our decision to purchase a new set.  D went to the computer, we decided on two possible sets, and discussed our strategy.  Since my hands are no longer reliably strong (oh, the vicissitudes of age and arthritis!), D insisted that we go and actually find the sets in a shop where I could pick them up and see if I could manage them.  

Of course, our top pick was not available in any of the shops we visited, but we did find a set we liked in Macy's.  It was on sale, but the sale would end when the weekend was over.  Still we decided to keep on looking.  Eventually, on our way home after not seeing what we had set out for, I admitted that I really like the Macy's set of Cusinart Onyx, and we decided to purchase it.

Fortunately, we were able to find it on line so we bought it.  The set was still on sale and also had a $50 deduction since it was Father's Day with no shipping charges!  The only issue was having to wait about two weeks for it to arrive.

When I opened our front door today and saw big boxes, I couldn't figure out what I could possibly have purchased.  Half a library shelf of books?  It was heavy enough.  I dragged the box inside and opened it.

This is what I found:


What a surprise to receive these pans early - happy birthday to me!

Monday, June 18, 2018

If It's Monday . . .

Another Monday morning spent doing the laundry made me really think about the task.  I try very hard to keep to the schedule of doing this chore on the first day of the week in the hopes that as it becomes habit, the automatic, non-thinking part of me will take over and do the task without getting  too grumpy.  For the past ten years since I retired (yes, it has been ten years though I  can't really believe it and have to check my math every time), the laundry has been done on Monday every week unless we are traveling.

Why all the discussion about such a mundane task?  Because today I realized that all this time and thought spent on talking myself out of hating a particular job was time wasted.  I've never hated (or even disliked) doing the laundry.  While the machines take half a day to do all the washing and drying, I spend very little time in the basement.  Even though I do put in time by hanging up a lot of the wet clothes so they dry by themselves, I don't mind it. And I never have.

All I can think is that I fell into a habit of thinking.  I accepted a generally held belief without questioning it.  

None of this is earth-shattering, but it is an important realization.  I think I may all too easily travel in the land of assumptions and accept the beliefs found there without thinking them through.  I have to learn to think for myself.

I like doing the laundry, and I like keeping to a schedule.  So there!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day!

What a beautiful day it has been!  Our weather has been perfect, the gardens are full of June flowers, and the neighborhood was humming with the sounds of children playing, dogs yipping gleefully, and adults calling everyone in for barbecue.  It was a wonderful day to celebrate all fathers, and I hope that you had as happy a time as we did.

Indeed, we found out on Friday that our daughter and grandson would be able to make a quick trip to our home to spend some time with us over the weekend.  So, of course, we quickly made menus, did a flying trip to the grocery store, and started on the happy task of preparing potato salad, vegetables, chicken, and, of course, chocolate chip cookies.  We keep a pretty standard menu because we want to be sure that we have food that everyone can enjoy.  As you can imagine, we've prepared these things lots of time so the preparation is easy.  The fact that we work well together and can share kitchen space with no problems is icing on the cake (if we had one!).

By supper time on Saturday, our family had arrived (late-sh because of grandson's soccer game) and we were all together at the table enjoying each other's company and catching up on the news.  After a trip to the local ice cream stand, we relaxed and let our guests decompress from a week at work and in school.  

Today we went our to a local diner for breakfast, relaxed at home, and instead of Uno played a game of Scrabble!  Grandson used to "help" me play Scrabble on the computer when he was a little boy, and my goodness, things have changed!  I was amazed at how good he was not only at coming up with words but also with the strategy involved.  The latter made me proud of his ability to multi-task (or would that be multi-think?).

After they left, D and I relaxed in the backyard reliving the weekend.  I also took time to snip some of our blooming roses.  We don't know exactly what these two types are other than one we found when we moved into this house.  It was in the field behind us where the old farmhouse had been (we also got our lilacs from that field).  I suppose we could call it the Farmhouse rose; the other one is simply an old moss rose (it's the paler rose on the right).


Basically, we had a weekend much like every other family celebrating Father's Day and isn't that just super!


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Today was a curious day in that I didn't really do anything worth while writing about. However, I did a few things.  For example, I spent quite a bit of time roaming around the yard randomly picking stray twigs that were blown off the trees.  We have oak trees in the front and a beech in the back.  Both kinds of trees drop branches whenever they feel like it or whenever some random thing - like a windy day - occurs in their vicinity.  Did you know it's hard to pick up twigs when both hands are full?  Full of twigs, of course.

Anyway, after that I came back inside and did a host of random things: cut wool strips for the moon in the rug I'm hooking, put my painting things away, and organized some of my quilting projects.  Actually, instead of "organizing" read tidying up things that were not put away properly after the last time I worked with them. 

Then I spent time researching the moon which is what took much of my late afternoon. The moon in the rug design is a simple round which in the pattern photo is a plain white.  I have chosen to make it a golden harvest moon, but I knew that wouldn't be enough.  Originally the idea of a man-in-the-moon face floated through my brain, but that would have been too cutesy and out of keeping with the more realistic shading I've been giving the rest of the rug. So instead of comic relief , I'll indicate the craters with darker gold. If it comes out as I hope it will be subtle but noticeable.

There were other things I did but nothing significant and nothing that would help me get further along with any of my projects.  Sometimes it's just more fun to do nothing!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Progress on Rug

Today the grass under the pile of pumpkins rug was - finally - finished.  The word finished is italicized because every evening I would work on it and be satisfied only to have second thoughts the next day.  

The rug as it looks now:


It may be difficult to figure out why I used all the colors I did or why I created patterns in the grass.  Here's my thinking.  Grass is not all one color.  I felt that with all the shading I did in the pumpkins and gourd a one color grass would make it look as though the vegetables were resting on a pool table.  Which would be weird.

Then - the patterns in the grass include the purpley-bluish grass under the pumpkins.  That's the deep shadow of the vegetables on grass.  As for the rest, I tried to depict how field grass might look - including the weeds on either side of the white pumpkin.

And why did it take so long to do?  As I said, what looked good to me at night just didn't measure up in daylight.  The color in one area or another was wrong; it had to be changed to be lighter or darker.  Or the shape of that part of grass would be just not pleasing.

But now it's done, and  . . . ta-dah!  I get to start on the crow after I cut the strips of wool!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Cathedral Window Quilt Block - with thanks to LF!

Today the Hand-piecing group met and had a very special lesson from one of our members on simple method to make the notoriously difficult "cathedral window" quilt block.  This block is especially beautiful, but our teacher showed how to create the block using a simple method.  It was simple enough so we all were able to make a double-sided cathedral window pincushion . . .or at least get the pincushion well on its way (most of us had one side completed before the end of class).

After supper, while watching some TV, I finished the project and stuffed it with wool pieces from my rug-hooking project.


Don't you just love it when pieces from various passions come together in one project!



Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Mother's Peonies

We've had a few really good days, but mostly we've had cool, rainy weather.  That was perfect for me (unfortunately, for the mosquitoes, too) because it made planting easy.  I had over 70 plants to put in, so even rainy weather made for planting time.

Since the weather has been in "off" mode, I don't have many photographs.  But then again, there aren't many flowers in the back garden, yet.




So, I'll share with you a photo of the peonies my mother (1907 - 1997) gave us.  Since I put in her dates, you can imagine how old the plants are.  Not surprisingly, you'll also know I treasure these plants.  What makes me especially happy is that with the absence of the Harry Lauder's Walking Stick which not only grew without being pruned and crowded the peony plants, these lovely flowers are much healthier.  

Not to be overlooked, in that photo you will also see the ginko tree that D just potted.   Doesn't it look healthy with all those leaves?  It will probably be awhile before D can work on it ; since it is so newly put in a new pot, he may let it grow without any pruning.  I think it makes a wonderful companion for mother's peonies just as it is!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Gardening - Still!

It was another day in the garden, and before you think I'm complaining, I'm not.  Even in the rain, I love working in the dirt.  What's not to like in planting what will become beautiful flowers?  Even in the rain.  Actually that makes the temperature cooler, and the breeze keeps the mosquitoes away.  It was a win win!

But before I get too excited, I need to show you what the garden looked like earlier this month:





You can tell it was early because the lilacs are out, and while there is a lot of green, there aren't many blooms at this point.  Except the hanging pot on the arbor.  

Tomorrow, if the weather is better, I might be able to show more current photos.



Monday, June 4, 2018

More on Hooking

Rug hooking has become my favorite night time activity.  After dinner when the dishes are done and food put away, I sit down in the family room, pull my rug hooking stand over and get started.  While I haven't figured out which one of the following is what makes this activity so enjoyable, you could pick only one of the these possibilities and be a very happy person:


  1. it's easy to do
  2. you can make the design your own (or make a design of your own)
  3. you can use any colors you want
  4. if you make a mistake or don't like something you did, it's super easy to fix
  5. once you have the hang of it (about one day to feel confident), it's goes quickly
  6. if you've chosen what your design wisely, you'll love the finished product
Here's what I've done so far:


Can't wait to get to the crow, but I think I'll tackle the grass below the white pumpkin next - where the weeds are.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Autumn's Perch - Rug Hooking

Last week I posted a peculiar look at my latest obsession - rug hooking.  I have resisted the Siren call for quite a while, but thanks to the kindness and persistence of a friend, I decided to give it a try.  My studio certainly has some wool lying around, I reasoned, so why not put it to another use (other than merely doing the usual "wool work" (sewing a pattern - like a wool bird - on fabric).  This new hobby is simply pulling wool strips through sturdy fabric (similar to burlap though not as rough).  As with anything, there are tricks to how one achieves a desired look, and that is the sort of thing I need to learn.

Once again, here is "Autumn Perch" (the name of the pattern will become apparent once all elements are hooked) the first photo of what I did during my lesson:


And here is what I accomplished during the week:


In this photo, you can see how the fabric is stretched over nails.  That may look dangerous, but it really isn't.  Those nails aren't sharply pointed like the ones used for pounding into wood, but they are small enough and numerous enough to hold the fabric taut.  They are all around the top of my hooking frame.  You can also see the lines in the pattern that indicate certain basic lines that one can hook in a darker color to show the indentations in a pumpkin.  I chose to change colors often so my version would have more depth, but that isn't necessary.  Some people, like my teacher, prefer a more primitive look which is achieved by far less shading.

Anyway, I am really enjoying not only seeing the pattern emerge but the hooking, also. 










Thursday, May 17, 2018

Another Art Form - Rug Hooking

For some reason the photo of my latest "Rocks" exercise in paint refuses to be uploaded from my phone. Next I will try using my regular camera and attempt to upload the photo from that.  However, it did give me a smile thinking that maybe the rocks were simply to heavy for an ether transfer.

On to my latest enthusiasm - rug hooking.  What you see below is not a spider.  It is the beginnings of a pumpkin;  the greenish stem is at the upper right hand quarter of the pumpkin shape.  The lines of differing browns mark the shadow indentations between the curves of the pumpkin.  It will be interesting to track the appearance of the design.


However, since I am new at rug hooking, it will take a while before there is any appreciable progress - especially since tomorrow I will start a three-day Quilt Weekend.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Rock Day

Geology was not a subject I studied in college, and I figure that may be one reason I've had such a struggle painting rocks.  Of course, I hadn't expected the difficulty because "Zero Degrees" featured some a rather sizable formation.  Just as a reminder:


On the other hand, today's painting was about a totally different sort of rock - which I should have realized.  Not that it made things any easier, but maybe I wouldn't have felt so stupid.

It's frustrating.  For some reason I cannot upload the photograph of today's work.  I'll have to ask you to be patient (or instead I should counsel myself to be patient!).  It will be shown at some point.

I hope!



Monday, May 14, 2018

Bringing The Blog Up-to-Date

No entries posted for a bit, and that's because we've been so busy doing ordinary things.  At this time of year (especially with such a late spring), we're up to our necks with things like spreading mulch, mowing lawns, trimming overgrown shrubs, and laying down fertilizer to name just a few chores. Of course, probably everyone I know is doing the same things.

When not working outside or just enjoying our patio after working outside, I had time to spend in my studio.  There's nothing to show because I just worked on cutting pieces for a quilt.  The pattern was in the QuiltMania magazine several years ago.  It's a slight variation on a spool design, and I fell in love with it.  When I came across the fabrics I had selected for the quilt while going through my bins, I fell in love all over again.  Unfortunately, the published quilt is a wall-hanging that is too large for our walls, and there are yards of fabric.  So guess what I'm going to make . . . a king-size quilt! 

But first things first, tomorrow I will be helping to spread the last of our mulch on the big backyard garden - or spreading the mulch as far as it will go.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Singing the Blues: Violet-wise

While D was on a conference call this afternoon, I decided to go out and pick some of the solid blue-violet violets in the lawn (doesn't that, "violet violets" look odd!) since the variegated ones I picked yesterday were so pretty.

Once I was out there in the sunshine, I started wandering through the garden area to see what was coming up.  Even though it's only been one day since I last checked, at this time of year flowers can shoot up quickly.  While things did look taller and there appeared to be more buds on the early spring flowering plants, there wasn't a great deal to pick.

So I wandered over to the patch of lawn that the violets have co-opted and started picking those that weren't fully open yet.  Amazing how many one can pick and how pitifully small such a bouquet can look in one's hand!

Noting that, I drifted around to the front yard to see what else I could find that might add volume to my bouquet.  Four grape hyacinths had been over-looking by bulb-eating critters so I took them.  Then I checked out the bed of lily-of-the-valley and found the flower stalks were up, but the buds were tight and tiny.  Didn't matter.  The texture would add a nice touch so I cut some. 

Next I realized I didn't have any greenery except the violet leaves and it might be a good idea to add a different shape.  Lily-of-the-valley leaves wouldn't do as they would overpower the little flowers in my hand.  I turned my attention to the white-flower berm and found some really lovely leaves on the anenomes and their flower stalks arch beautifully and end in a visible, slightly hairy bud.  More texture.


All very pretty .

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Violets in the Lawn

Today, before supper, we went outside and sat for a while just enjoying the lovely weather.  Everything is popping; the leaves on trees, flowering shrubs, and even the grass.  At one point, I got up and started to wander through the garden to see how the plants are growing.  Unfortunately, I discovered that the chipmunks are coming back vigorously, the moles are tunneling happily, and the violets are . . . 

Wait.  

Violets?  We don't have violets!  The occasional dandelions, yes, but violets?  No, surely not.

Well, guess what.  The are burgeoning neighborhoods of violets in our lawn.  Where on earth do they come from?

But they are pretty.


These were found in the garden and are blue and white.  All the ones I found in the lawn ate pure blue.  Interesting.  

But still they will be dug up.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

One Chore Leads to Another

Today there was no work done on either sewing or painting projects, but I didn't mind.  It was a day to finish a left-over chore that weather delayed.  By now I would normally have changed over my wardrobe from winter to spring.  But with the weather as cold as it has been, I kept putting it off as I didn't relish the idea of waltzing around in a sleeveless blouse!

Anyway, three weeks late is better than not at all since the weather is finally warming up.  

As usual, doing a chore like this one opened my eyes to something else that needed doing.  First, a quick description of what "changing out my wardrobe" means in terms of the work involved.  Yes, there were bins with summer tops and socks and things of that sort.  But there were also the many items hung on hangars that had to be carried from the basement to my closet on the second floor.  Since I can't carry too many at one time, I had to make many trips.

All those trips meant I had lots of time to check out the clothes in the basement.  It also made me realize that many of the clothes in the basement haven't been part of any seasonal switch in wardrobe and have been hanging in the same place for years.  The items are primarily jackets that I wore to work and haven't needed to wear since then.  It was hard to part with my pretty things, but now I realize it's just silly to hang on to them any longer.

I'm going to go through those jackets and get them ready for donating in the fall.  While it may sound weird, it has taken me a long time to be able to let go of something I connect with a job I loved, but I'm finally ready now.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Last Night's Show

Yesterday D and I went to see "The King and I" at one of our local theaters, and it turned this year's theater experience around. Let me explain.

First of all, I had an ulterior motive for buying season tickets this year.  By doing so, we are guaranteed tickets for "Hamilton" next year.  Not very noble, right?  Okay, to make it even worse I am not a big fan of musicals of an earlier era - like "South Pacific" or "Sound of Music".  So I was skeptical about many of the shows we were to see this year.

Unfortunately, my skepticism was partly right.  While I didn't detest the shows we saw, I didn't love them either.  To be really fair, my dislike was partly because they amplify the sound so much it is brutally painful, and oddly enough, one can't hear the words (odd, isn't it? - when the sound is too loud, one can't discern what the separate elements are).   Because of that I had been seriously thinking about dropping this activity in the future (after next years tickets which have already been purchased).

Okay, but . . .  Last night's performance was not amplified!  Nor did it need to be.  It was also true to the original - or least quite close (I had only seen the movie version).  What surprised me and what I didn't remember is the part in the last act where the members of the palace re-enacted Uncle Tom's Cabin for the visiting English ambassador.  I may not have remembered that part because it may not have been memorable or because my memory is faulty!

Last night's re-telling of the American classic was perfect!  For example, the position of the dancers' feet and hands could have come from sculpture or other art work of Siam (aka Thailand).  And it was really well done.

Basically, I had a good time last night and will have a more positive outlook

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Another Wallhanging

While I was gathering fabrics for the border of the crewel embroidery wall-hanging mentioned in an earlier entry, I came across still another unfinished wall-hanging.  This one was only about five years old - or maybe a bit older.  Who knows?

I had planned to work on cutting the borders for the crewel piece, but since there were still a few fabrics to select for that one and since the border for the newly discovered piece needed only a one fabric, simple border, I chose to do that one.

Today's wall-hanging consists of hand-pieced blocks set in a background that is machine sewn.  It may sound odd, but while I enjoy hand sewing intricate pieces (as in the blocks), straight seams make for dull sewing.

Here is the wall-hanging with all its borders completed.


The binding was also made today, and it has an appointment to be quilted in June.  So it's well on it's way even though it has no name.  Do you have any ideas?


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Crewel Quilt Underway

Yes, the title of this entry is intended as a play on words.  

Since I am still working on making hay from a sow's ear (hay = finished work and sow's ear = discoveries in my stash), you shouldn't be surprised to discover that today I found some crewel work I did - oh, some 40+ years ago.


The design was intended as a decorative pillow cover, but I never wanted to do that thinking the embroidery wouldn't last long if used that way.  So the piece just languished in various drawers and bins.  Today I thought, "Bingo, make this into a wall hanging!"  So I started pulling out fabrics I thought would work with the yarn colors. 

Here's what I found, and take special note of the striped fabric at the left because that was a real find.


I also had a trouble finding the right white - one that would at least coordinate with the odd white on which the crewel was stitched.  I had almost given up and was beginning to look for a color rather than a white, when my eye fell on a ridged white home decorator fabric recently released from a bin.


And here is what I did with the two today.

 Now I need to look for a medium and dark blue-purple fabrics.  It seems that I have yards of red-purples but none with the blue tone that will coordinate with the crewel wool.  And I'd like to find the darker of the two blues, also.  Fortunately, only a little of each of those colors will be needed; fat quarters will do.

Of course, it would help if I knew exactly what block design to add as the border.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Lesson Learned

Today I learned a very important thing, and it has to do with exercise.

When the weather became really cold and the streets were frequently glazed with ice, D and I decided to stop our daily walk.  That may have been in early November, but I'm not sure.  Then early in January we started talking about the need for exercise (doesn't that always happen at that time of year?) and began to look at our options.  After a scheduled visit complete with a tour guide, we settled on the YMCA.  But before we started working out, we requested a session with a workout guru.  All of that took longer than we expected, and it wasn't until February that we began visiting the Y regularly.

So you'd think that by now I'd have a pretty good handle on what I can and can't (or shouldn't) do.  Not so.

Today's important lesson?  Do not walk for half an hour on the treadmill after doing half an hour on the weight machines for the legs.  By five o'clock, my legs felt like worn out rubber bands!

Silly woman .. . 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sorting through Bins

Bins, bins, and bins.  Light bins and heavy bins.  Bins with tight-fitting lids and ones with broken lids.  Bins of all sizes and colors.  More bins than I ever thought I'd have . . . and those bins were all full!

Or at least they were.  

For several months I have been going through my collection of bins in which I have stored fabric.  There is absolutely no way I can use all the fabric I have purchased.  So why buy it?  Fabric makers keep creating more fabric with which to entice us (by "we "and "us", I mean quilters in general who are like me and are stash owners), and we are weak.  We fall in love with the colors , the patterns, and the hand (the feel) of the fabrics so - we buy.

We have the best of intentions.  Our plans (and dreams) consist of gorgeous quilts for our beds, the beds of our loved ones and our friends, or quilts to donate to worthy causes.  We plan smaller quilts with which to decorate our walls, tables, and other furniture.  The quilts we choose to make may be reproductions and look like something from decades ago, contemporary or modern quilts that are clearly channeling whatever is the current style, or they may "art quilts" that are meant simply to be beautiful, soothing, or provocative like any art.

So we plan and dream and buy . . . until the day we realize we have too darn much.  We may ignore it as I did for many months.  Then somewhere along the line I had to accept the truth, and I had to face the bins.

So far, I think I have winnowed maybe 25-33% of my stash.  I have been sewing my through some unfinished projects and new projects made only with fabrics in my stash.  I have tried with some success to limit my purchases of more fabric unless it is necessary to complete a project.

And the bins?  Well, now what will I do with all those bins?  Shouldn't they be filled?  Poor little empty bins . . .

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Then and Now - Grandfather and Grandson

Last weekend we had a grand time during the weekend visit of our daughter and grandson.  They have begun to come down every 4 - 6 weeks for a brief weekend visit.  By coming here, they are eliminating intrusions from their very busy lives on the visit.  It is easier for us to say to our friends, "Daughter and grandson are visiting so we won't be available" than it is for each of them to tell their many, many friends the same thing.  Also, since we are retired, we can more easily push necessary chores off to another time than our daughter can, and our grandson's friends don't have the free time to meet and have fun during the week and want to get together during their weekends.

Anyway, when they do come to visit us, there are certain things that have become ritualized - the playing of Uno, for example.  That game has been a part of our lives since our daughter was small, and our grandson has gladly joined in since he was quite young.  There are other rituals and expectations, of course.  The bonding time, the excursions, and the meals.

One thing that I love is seeing the bond between our grandson and his grandfather.  They simply have a great time together no matter what they are doing - even if is chores that need to be done.  Just take a look a these two photographs. In the first, our grandson isn't even three, yet, but he is happily collecting garden trash - weeds or leaves - to help his grandfather.


And here they are again during this visit over ten years later - working together to take care of the business of keeping the grounds neat or getting ready for a new season or simply being company and being outside.



While they are having a good time together, our daughter and I are also bonding over doing dishes or folding laundry or merely sitting at the kitchen table chatting about whatever is on our minds.

Our grandson and I have our own special times baking, picking up inside the house, and just chatting.  Unfortunately, there are no records of that since I am the only photographer.  However, we do have mental photo albums.

D and I realize that we are very lucky.  As our grandson gets older, these visits may not happen as frequently.  Truth is, as he gets older, he may not want to hang out with his grandparents at all.  It's a rite of passage for him to want to be with people his own age. 

It doesn't matter because we have these days to remember and more to look forward to as he continues to mature.  And so will he.  

Monday, April 23, 2018

Recent Paintings

Since February (my last regular entry), two paintings were completed.  I think I posted both of them on Facebook so please forgive me if you've seen them already.

Nearby there is a train trestle that I have frequently photographed and want to paint it very much.  I haven't done it yet because to me, it says "oils, not watercolor".  Anyway, I really wanted to catch the scene in winter and in the early morning sunlight.  However, I hadn't taken into account the fact that the world tilts on its axis and the sun is not in the same place in winter.  But I took pictures none the less but not of the trestle.  There was a wonderful pool of ice and rocks covered with snow.

Zero Degrees:




When we visited family in San Diego some years ago, we would walk on the beach, and naturally, I took photos.  One day the weather was gray and cool with rain threatening, and I took a photo of a man fishing from the beach.  Something about the limited palette (few colors) and the subject spoke to me even though I like bright colors and have never fished in my life. 

Checking the Line:


I am working on a new painting, but it is a trial so you may have to wait a while.



Sunday, April 22, 2018

Back Again

Finally!  A while ago I ran into problems with my computer that resulting in my inability to open my mail or write this blog.  You can imagine both my dismay and my frustration as I spent days trying to figure out what I had done so I could un-do it and hours trying to get into my blog and mail.  Nothing worked so I finally made an appointment with Geek Squad.  It took a while, but he was finally able to get me in to both by "taking a different road".  My usual way still seems blocked, but this will do as far as I'm concerned.

I am tired from yard work so I will close this for today, but I will pick this up again tomorrow with some updates and some news.

For those who have asked what was going on with this blog, thank you!  Knowing people read and care about this helps keep me going.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Another Attempt

After reading the entry on the first peony painting, two of my most faithful readers wrote to tell me that they liked the painting and to ask what all the fuss (in my mind) was about.  Bless them for always finding the good in things!  

I have spent some time on three separate days on this subject.  Day one was during class, and days two and three were at home.  As is often the case, the first day's work was too pale to photograph.  Day two may have been dark enough, but I just didn't get to it.  

Today, after painting, I was feeling that sense of "darn, blew it again".  I've been trying to get the "bowl" look of a peony, and I don't think I've got it yet.  So I walked away and still didn't pull out my camera.  But writing this entry has made me decide that I need to make a record of what I've done so far.  If it turns out to be the wrong way to go about capturing this flower, I should keep a record of it so I won't repeat the mistake.  If it's all right but something else goes wrong, I need to be able to replicate it.  So here it is:


 One thing that I just did was look at two other peony photos taken from the same bouquet.  The first one is a pink peony that definitely has a bowl shape with petals clustered around the middle.


The second one is the same flower I'm painting (you can just make out the pinkish-blush on the outer petals and a few petal tips).  It's taken from a different view; if you scroll back an entry or two, you can see the photo I am using.  This bloom is probably a bit older than the true pink flower (above).  Notice how the petals at the bottom of the flower are drooping down?  You can see the rounded clustering of petals at the top of the flower, but that effect is lost at the bottom where the petals are giving in to gravity.  

By the way, I am deliberately overemphasizing the blush on the white peony in my painting. 


 We'll hear what Teacher says tomorrow.




Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Being right can be great, but sometimes it really isn't.  That's the way I felt today today in painting when Sharon agreed with my assessment of the peony painting shown in last night's entry.  I thought it was overworked and beyond repair, but when she agreed with me, I have to admit I sighed.  She did tell me what I might try (believing, I think, that I had to try and discover for myself that the painting was doomed). 

I did what she suggested, and as she thought, it didn't work.  I had to admit to my self that she was right; the painting was a good lesson but not worth much more.

My feelings were initially that I shouldn't have begun the painting as I had: tracing the photo on paper, painting each petal, each section, separately - almost like a paint-by-number piece, and going dark far too soon (almost impossible to retreat back to pale colors once the darks are in place), and basically not using a loose, watercolor approach.

While all that was basically true, what I came to realize that I almost had to paint as I did to understand how the peony was constructed.  Here is the photo:


and the original painting (keep in mind that I do like bold colors, and deliberately chose the deep reds and purples to add drama):

 

By painting almost petal by petal, I feel that maybe now I can paint in loose water-color style, using the water as the medium, not the paint. The flower doesn't work - check the photo again.  The typical bowl shape isn't there.  The flower isn't cupped; it looks flat and wide as though all the petal were limp and had opened wide.  

There are other problems,of course, but there are a couple of decent things, too.  The background is very water color-ish, and the leaf mid-way up on the right is fine.

Not much to crow about, is there!

However, that did not deter me from taking what I learned by painting the above and starting over without the tracing and with using a looser approach.  Right now the new attempt is too pale to show up well in a photo, but in a couple of days (I hope), I may have something a bit better to show.  Even if I don't, learning took place (as D, the educator, would say).




Monday, February 19, 2018

New Subject - Flowers

Last Tuesday, I started a new painting with a subject I haven't tackled before - flowers. There have been flowers in some of my landscapes, but until now I haven't focused specifically on them.  One of my photographs has been whispering my name so I decided to risk failure and try it.  Since Tuesday I have spent time almost everyday working on it.  My reaction as I worked has gone from "it might have promise (last Tuesday in class), to "it's okay", to "oh no, it's horrible", and now it's back to "well, maybe it's not a total failure".



Peonies aren't easy.  I'll let you know what my teacher thinks.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

February List - Finally!

Last week I managed (finally!) to write out my list for the month of February. Already I am concerned about getting everything on it finished.  It isn't because it is unusually long or difficult; it's because I find myself distracted. 

First I'll just post the list.  Then I'll explain what's going on with each item, and by doing that, I may figure out what the difficulties are.  If I can do that, I may be able to alleviate my concerns.

  1. Special Project 
  2. Put away Christmas decorations - Done!!!
  3. Make quilt binding
  4. Sew on quilt binding
  5. Work on Farmer's Wife
  6. Start Kim Diehl project

Okay, already I see one issue.  These are only the sewing projects, and my painting has also been taking time.  Fortunately, I've gotten to a point where I can slow down on my current project so that should no longer be a problem.

The first one - well, I'm dragging my feet.

The second  on the list - well, that's finally done.

Third and fourth - haven't even started.  Since they don't take too much time, the problem is clearly just getting on with it.  It's really an easy task so I think it will be finished this month.

Number five?  Hoo-boy.  Now there's a huge project that will take more than one month to complete.   And if that weren't enough, it's difficult.  More than likely that's why so far I have merely moved it from one place to another.   However, it must also receive some attention even if it's only cutting the set-in triangles I need (far too many of them if you ask me!).

The sixth task has been cut out, and by doing that I realize that it will take several days of careful sewing.  Many, many tiny pieces that because they are so small will need special attention during stitching.  However, since this is a new project, I need to take care of numbers 1, 3, and 4 first before I go any farther on this.

Okay, I think I get it.  I'm really, really good at procrastination, but I'm also pretty good at self-discipline.

Some times.



Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Brief but Unspectacular Look

Painting class was both quite successful and equally enjoyable as always.  I am working on a subject that had bedeviled me before, and if I'd had enough intelligence I wouldn't have started it again.  However, I did, and it seems to be going well.

She said after the first day.

Notice there are no photos.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Today's Achievements - Uh hunh, Uh-hunh

Oh my, well, yes . . . uh-huh.  Today I did pretty nearly nothing.

Oh, wait a minute.  the laundry is done. 

And I actually went through my knitting tools, sorting and dividing until I had two zipper pouches of identical tools for my two knitting projects in their separate bags.  There is almost enough of the necessary and/or merely occasionally useful tools for a third project bag.  That third bag is currently slated for a dead-easy project that can go with me when my attention is distracted by family or friends - or both!

So if it's dead-easy, does it really need to have a fully-outfitted tool kit?

Then I watched two DVR'ed episodes of Victoria.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Merlin Photos

Finally, both my camera and me were ready this afternoon when a Merlin decided to hunt in our back yard.  Granted, the photos were taken through the window (never the best choice), but it was either that or try to get outside with camera without scaring off my quarry.  

He was hunting the small birds that come to our feeders (the downside of having them), and it was seeing him swoop down and miss that alerted me to his presence.  I saw him attempt to catch his prey two more times without a capture.  The fourth time, he flew after his prey into the evergreen trees in the back of our yard, and I wasn't able to see what happened.  In the past, I have twice seen Merlin drop like a bomb from above down to an unsuspecting bird on the ground.  That seems to be their preferred method of hunting.

Here he is:





Magnificent, isn't he!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

New Painting with Photo

It seems that my phone is overwhelmed with "stuff" (probably photos), and I can't figure out how to upload those photos to my computer (possibly because after several updates my computer is quite cranky).  What I did differently today was take a photo with my camera (as opposed to my phone).  That I can still upload without any problems.

Last week I shared the beginning of a new painting.  It is a study of winter and of a nearby site to which I return time and again.  The latest trip to take photos was not successful in the way I had hoped.  Instead of direct sunshine on a winter scene, I had to accept that at this time of year, the sun won't shine where I want it to.  Really? and just who does the sun think he is?  Harrumph!

Oh well, stamping my boots didn't get me anywhere so I took photos anyway.  It's a good thing I did because I wound up with a photo that I was impelled to paint.

Here is "Zero Degrees" in its finished form:


Using a limited palette, made this a dramatic scene.  Snow covered rocks, a pool of water frozen at the edges and lightly iced over to the center, and a frozen water fall with a snow-covered, iced pond in the background.

This is one with which I am currently satisfied.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Michelangelo's Drawings

If you're a Facebook follower, you may have seen this photograph already.  Last Friday D and I took the train to NYC.  He had a meeting to attend, and I had a date with my sister-in-law to view the exhibit of Michelangelo's drawings at the Metropolitan Museum.  It was a fabulous time!


The drawings were amazing; that was the first thing I noticed, of course.  Anatomy almost always perfectly represented.  I would have been thrilled to have drawn one of the less than perfect ones.  Heck, I would have thrilled to have drawn one of the apprentice's drawings.

My second impression was about the paper and how valuable it was.  Pieces or mere scraps of paper both sides crowded with legs, torso, backs, arms, or feet: right-side up legs with a sideways or upside down hand or hand-written notes.  Paper was valuable - not something to waste.  

I took photos (which were, surprisingly, permitted) of the pieces that were most striking for me, but for some reason they're not uploading.  Maybe tomorrow; I am sorry!



Thursday, January 18, 2018

Another Completion: Painting this Time

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

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

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

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

And I did!

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


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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Birds in the Snow

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

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

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


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


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


Junco and male Goldfinch sharing space on the feeder.


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


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


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