Tuesday, June 30, 2009


It was a different type of vacation last week, we were in Florida again - really for the first "normal" visit since Dad died. Our other visits since February have been saturated with family holidays and there has been much diversion. This time it was just us and mom at the house. When we got there on Friday night we saw immediately that mom wasn't feeling well and by Sunday AM I had her at the Doctors for a bad bronchitis (she has a tendency towards pneumonia - yikes!). Treated that for a few days and then she came down with a UTI - and had to go back to the Dr. again on Thursday. I stayed close to home as I was worried about her, she really wasn't herself and did alot of sleeping. By Saturday AM, she was feeling better and much more like herself! So we went bike riding.

We went to one of our favorite bike parks which has miles of trails and some are rather complex and challenging. After completing our usual "easy" trails, we decided to do one that is a bit more challenging. I really did well - peddling along a narrow winding trail - and I finally realized that I was having fun. Just at that moment a small dip appeared in the trail and BOOOM - this is what happened.

I went end over end, face first into the dirt (actually my chest hit first which is one advantage of being well endowed) and I had dirt even up my nose! I was covered with sandy dirt and was basically trapped with my legs twisted around my bike. Thankfully a loud yell brought DH back to my side and he freed me, washed me off, and put me back on the bike. I was sore for a few days afterward and have some impressive black and blue marks.

I went onto quieter pleasures.

There is a quilt shop in Sarasota that is small but nice, and in the back there are little old Amish ladies hand quilting around a big quilting frame. They do quilts for people around the country, and their work is wonderful. I could sit and watch them for hours, and feel the quiet entering my soul. I went to that store to buy some thread for some slipcovers I was making for MIL (another story), but ended up with a ton of fabric and a quilt top! Here is the story. I want to make a quilt for a nephew out in California but was stumped on the pattern. Should I do baseball theme, or other sports or just color? Nothing has been speaking to me. But when I walked into this store, I saw fabric based on that sculptor "Wyman" ( I don't know if that is how you spell his name and can't find a link to a site that shows his work...since I can't spell his name!)
who does dramatic sea scenes in bronze. I know that my brother loves his work and here was all this fabric with scenes from the ocean. I was going to buy a kit that they had for the pattern and then got the bright idea of buying the sample quilt (85" x 85") - pieced by those same Amish ladies. And yup, they sold it to me for a very decent price and all I have to do it get backing fabric, and complete the quilting. I hope my nephew likes it, but even if he doesn't I know my brother will - and it might even turn into a wall hanging.

The piecing work is wonderful and while it's a bit busy for me - I would have added some plain squares, I think the California crowd will love it. (I hope).

So...that's some highlights from the week. It was a relaxing week but we didn't do our usual recharging of our batteries which we really needed. DH stayed at his mom's house, and I stayed at mine :( . This actually worked out well, DH wasn't exposed to mom's cold and I got to relax by mom's pool - but still...

Monday, June 29, 2009

We're BAACCK....

too much sun and heat. No exercise to speak of (except bike riding). Ate too much. could have stayed another week....

more posting soon.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Six Word Saturday with pictures

More organized or just hidden away?

As I clean - especially when working off nervous energy, I have to ask myself if I am organizing smartly, or am I just trying to hide things from myself so that I feel like I am in control. This time I tried to work with a purpose, so as not to have to redo anything. Most items were put into the appropriate place, excess is going to goodwill and I do feel a bit more organized.

Here is the before picture of my basement art shelves. Accessible but overwhelming to look at.
DH made me a top for the shelves (you can't see it but before it was just old cardboard boxes and some masonite sheets) It fit perfectly and we painted it to match the walls.

Here is the after picture. I got this fabric on sale for $2.00/yard when Hancock was going out of business - and I bought 8 yards and knew I'd find a use for it. It took me all of about 1 hour to make these curtains, they are velcro'd onto the plastic shelving.
Once we get the ceiling covered it will be even better. The open ceiling is prone to collecting dust - which makes me sneeze and then I snore in bed. One of my problems is that I feel obliged to recycle all the left over bits and pieces that I have in the house. My preference would have been to get totally new shelving - nice clean white with glass doors. But that cost money so I did with the plastic garage style shelving - which is functional but ugly. Everything behind the curtains is functional, nothing inspirational at all, so I'm not shortcutting the creative process. Last but not least is the pile going to Goodwill! The dog pillow is not going - love that bulldog and it took me years to finish it. But computer bags and regular bags and some crafty supplies - all OUT of this house.

I am working on another mirror frame - it's a bit more deliberate than the first one, but coming along nicely.
The sides are painted and will be decorated with dots/stripes. When it's done we'll decide which one to keep and which one to give away.

I started a new collage - here is the base. Layers of old newspaper, then stamped dress pattern fabric with items placed on top. I'm hoping for inspiration on this one, will be adding color and texture and hopefully it will look good.

Have a good week everyone. We should be off on vacation with the Moms - I may have a chance to post or not - we'll see how it all goes!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cleaning and getting ready for vacation

We are going away for a week, to see the moms - and between working hard this week, and getting-ready-to-leave- stress and just regular life-stress - I started to feel disconnected and slightly nervous.

So, I started cleaning and rearranging. When I first noticed this pattern in my behavior, I thought it was destructive - in that I put things away and shove artwork into drawers, and hide my yarns. What I've learned this year is that cleaning and arranging is my way of trying to take control in a world that often feels so out of control. So I try to channel it into a more constructive manner, tackling things that I've put off for a long time, or making something that I've wanted to do for awhile, or finding/making a new place to put yarns and craft items.

Alot of this nervousness and anxiety has to do with Bella husbands death. I don't know Bella well, just a bit from IF. But it doesn't matter, she seemed like a nice lady, and her art is good, - she seemed to have a happy life. What is so scary is how a happy, even keeled life can change in an instant with the death or illness of a loved one. I know it happens every day, in war and in peace. I know that life appears to be unfair and shocking and frightening at the same time that it is wonderful and lovely and a gift from the gods.

But what I worry about is the randomness of it all, and the question of how to live your life as a human with wonderfully high and woefully low emotions - enjoying everything that you have - yet allowing your human-ness to exist. Should you count your blessing every minute? Do you go thru the day being a complete saint (not me) and never letting anything petty get you down? or do you worry about the toilet paper being on the roll backwards and yell upstairs like a fool when the seat is left up again. How does the saint and the sinner co-exist?

In terms of resolutions to be a better person, I made a vow a long time ago to give DH a good bye kiss every morning, even on those mornings that I wish I hadn't made that vow. That small gesture seems to tide me over for the day, whether I'm angry as hell for some reason, or goofy in love, or just having a normal human day. It's a small "thank you" to who-or what ever for the blessings that I have. Then I tromp off to work and get annoyed at the slow traffic, or pissy about some imagined slight - or whatever. How petty it all seems!

I certainly don't know the answer. My heart breaks for Bella and for other friends who have had similar losses and pains.

But my house is cleaner, somewhat organized - and I feel a bit calmer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Animal Wednesday - the disadvantages of bad eyesight, and the advantage of being able to Laugh at yourself

My first trip ever to California was around 1984. I went out there with my bestest friend Grace, (who is still my bestest friend and the mother of my darlingest nephews). We went out for work, and were excited to be traveling together and getting to work and play at the same time. Coincidentally my brother had just moved to San Fran area for his residency so we had a chance to play with him also.

Anyway...Grace and I took our rental car and started driving down the coast - freezing our butts off cause of course we new englanders thought it was summer and California and warm and sunny. Yeah right...

Now remember, before I start this story just remember that I had a smallish lab type black dog at home, with sleek hair and a cute face. Parker was his name

So we came to this lovely beach which I don't remember the name of but could still drive you there in a minute. We walked along the beach enjoying the sand and surf and saw the sign that said "RIPTIDE - DON'T SWIM HERE (you east-coast idiots it implied).

Just at that moment, I saw a dog in the water, struggling for it's life in the HUGE waves that were crashing onto the beach. I grabbed Grace and yelled (in my best NYC accent) "There's a DAWG in the water!!!" implying that we had to rescue it! Grace held onto me and didn't let me jump into the water, pointing out that there was a RIPTIDE!!! Then the dogs head disappeared...only to bob up a few minutes later in another spot. When I finally dug out my glasses and got them on I saw....

These babies are now known as "california dogs" in our families.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Better to give than receive?

A good, dear friend's mom is turning 80 next week and I wanted to make her something for her birthday. We came up with a mirror which I was going to decoupage with scenes from their summer lakehouse.

I started out that way, but it just didn't work! So I started painting on the black background, and this mirror frame emerged. I'm not sure if her mom would like it and I'm kind of hoping NOT - because DH loves it. So I have another old mirror that I am going to try to decoupage and make into the item that we originally wanted.

I feel a tiny bit guilty but not too bad. Each would get their present, and if DH likes something that I make I want to keep it.

What do you think? Should I let DH have it if the mom would like it?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Artwork

I just took an online class in "Digital Grounds Image Printing" (or some such name) which teaches you to use this product from Golden which makes non-porous surfaces printable. You can print on aluminum foil or any other non-porous surface that will go thru your printer. What I've done here is to make a 'skin' of gel medium, and after it dried, coat it with this material and print on it from my ink-jet printer. For some reason, my printer is printing everything greenish but you get the message. Transfers and transparencies of your own images. I've only printed on this 'skin' but will print more when I have the printer fixed. I have other skins waiting to be tested as well as some fabrics and ribbon. I love transfers but hated the peeling of paper and the inconsistency. Plus, hard to do on an ink-jet printer. This set up is alot of work and I'll let you know if it's worth it!

Yesterday I had the "you're over 50 now and have to have this procedure" done. You know what I'm talking about! Clear liquids for a day. Yucky drink at night. Camera - action!!! All clear????

Anyway, at night I was fairly relaxed having finally eaten a delicious dinner so just sat in the kitchen in front of the TV and doodled. This "Falling Squares" came out as did the face and the black and white doodles. All ATC size and ready for trading.

I also belong to an ATC trading group on Monday ArtDay ATC's. We've been illustrating the alphabet for a few years but are doing it differently than the ABC-ATC group. This group picks a word for the letter and we get interpretations of that word. The S word is STAR so I came up with these three. I send in three ATC's and get three back, it works well and is a great system.
I know alot of bloggers do a grateful Thursday or 13 Thursday - I don't especially do that but this Thursday I am thankful that I had a clear medical test, am thankful that I have the wherewithal to get the test done, thankful for my food and shelter, thankful for my art supplies and all the fun I have with them and am thankful for all of you.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Animal Wednesday - a Massachusetts River Alligator

I went kayaking on Sunday and had a tough paddle up river. Tired out, I finally turned around and floated back downstream. Imagine my surprise when I turned a corner and found this very strange Alligator in the middle of the river. My first thought was "there are no alligators up here - is this guy lost?"
As I got closer I could see he was a friendly little fellow - and quite placid. He didn't react at all in fear...just stayed sunning himself with his head above the water.

I contacted the "Office of New and Strange Animals" who informed me that I had just seen the elusive wood-headed Massachusetts Alligator, a shy quiet vegetarian alligator. I was amazed to have seen this reptile; and will look for him again on this river. Rumor has it that they frequent the same spot over and over; only moving in times of high water...drought or big storms.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

ATC trades...and more

First - some non-ABC trades - the first from Lisa - who was sweet enough to send me this ATC when I left her a sob story about my love affair with lady slippers... and some photo's of lady slippers that I saw on the cape recently. Thanks Lisa, I love it, wonderful picture.

Kate sent me a lotus picture, she thinks it looks like a sea urchin - but I love it either way. Along with a wonderful card - thanks again Kate.
Teri sent me this gorgeous blue spotted frog - isn't he unique? He's just gorgeous in person.

From Lynn - an alligator from (not from the ABC grouping) and one of her wonderful photo cards. Lynn - a treasure! I love them both.

For the ATC trade -

Apple Blossom from Marianne - in her gorgeous style.

The fluffiest cutest bear from Lynn for B - let me tell you - he is adorable and that Lynn is pretty creative!
From our moving friend, Lolo who did me a FISH!!!! Hurray!!! Isn't he amazing?

I received this sunflower card also from Miss Lolo as she saw a comment on Lynn's blog that I liked sunflowers. So she sent me this blank card, which I think is so beautiful and typical Lolo-thoughtfulness.

I do love sunflowers - so cheery and useful. I am also the proud so-to-be owner of Lynn's wonderful Sunflower quilt piece. I saw it on her blog and BOOM - I just had to have it...

More to come later in the week - right now it's time for the Lily-white feather bed ball.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Six Word Saturday

Dill Flowers, a weed, first toms

...and the evening garden

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Work in process

Book cover for "Girlfriends". Staying with the house theme...more work to be done but fun!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Animal Wednesday and a new quilt

My brother and his family went to Peru in April, and the pictures they bring back from their trips are always awesome. Lots of animal pictures, nature as well as great picture of ruins this time. I think this first animal is a Tapir

Some type of horny toad - isn't he cool with those ridges on his back?
Looks like a Peruvian squirrel to me - rather slick and well fed looking isn't he?
The kids feeding either alpaca or llama - I'm not sure which.
And a lovely alpaca face (or llama?)

I haven't made a quilt in a long time and realized how much I missed it. So I broke open the sewing machine and worked on a quilt that I had pieced together for my cousin's daughter, and finished it in a few days. Amanda is a very modern girl, college student, artistic and when I asked her what type of quilt she'd like I expected her to say something Bold and Modern. Nope, she wanted feminine and flowery and girly. So that's what I did. Roses on the backing, lots of flowers and pinks and greens on the front. I hope she loves it.

Happy Animal Wednesday - go hug a pug!