Thursday, April 29, 2010

An uneventful week

I don't have much of interest to share for this post. Sorry to "all" my loyal readers. I won't bore you with details, but between work, teaching classes and an upset stomach, I haven't had much play time.

I have been forgetting to post this picture. This is on the wall in the bathroom of the quilt shop where I teach. I guess it was a panel to begin with. The talented girl who teaches thread painting, Kelly Maloy, did this as a gift for the shop owner. I'd like it on a shirt, wouldn't you?

I think I mentioned the "Silver Torch" cactus getting a bud. This is what it looked like a few days ago. It will grow to about two and a half inches long before the flower "opens". It's actually a very unspectacular bloom. My son asked me how big this plant will get. It is currently about 20 inches tall. I looked it up and there was a picture of one about 7 feet tall, but no bigger around than mine. The one on the garden shop website was tied to a post in their greenhouse. I forget how old they said it was. Mine is at least 20 years old!

I am grateful for:
The fact that we have had the last of the carpet installed, so no more moving furniture from room to room!
My very sweet son.
Having a job where I look forward to spending time with the co-workers.
Finally, a new episode of Grey's Anatomy tonight!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Being inspired!

Last Saturday after our Guild meeting, members of the museum quilt guild were able to enjoy a class with Janet Root, teaching "Liberated Quiltmaking", using Gwen Marston's methods. I was hesitant at first. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, thanks to my grandmother. So making blocks where you cut without a ruler and don't measure and it's ok if pieces don't match exactly was a bit outside of my comfort zone. When I read the book, I though it just looks like careless piecing to me.
But once I got started I had a blast!

This is what I accomplished in class.

And this is the collective work of the class at one point.

I couldn't wait to get back to it at home. But I wondered what I was going to do with my blocks. It was up to each student to find a layout she liked. I didn't see any reason I would want this as a wall hanging for myself, so I started pondering possible uses for them. AHA! I have been wanting a cover for the open shelves I keep in my "studio"/ guest room- both to cover the mess when company comes and to protect the fabric the rest of the time! So, I am making four panels (the wall side will get plain fabric) I dug through the orphan blocks I had to find some fillers and this is what I have so far.

This will be the top- like a runner.

This will be the front panel.

Each end panel will have a tree. (but not an antenna)

The shadows in these are the quilt pinned to the wall behind the layer of batting I was using as my design wall. (Sadly that is another UFO) The purple and teal in the last one is my door curtain, not part of the panel

Meanwhile, I've been walking a bit this week, in an effort to get rid of a little extra "cargo" I seem to be carrying these days. I always bring my camera with me, since one never knows what one may find! This is some kind of wild onions that grow everywhere. Aren't those curlicues wonderful???
The flower at the top is called "Trillium". I used to see red ones in my Gram's woods, but now all I see are the white ones. Nearby, in the same woods, was a nice patch of Dogtooth violets.

I am grateful for:
Time to spend in the garden, where I can finally say it looks like I'm gaining on the mess!
Friends who understand me, put up with me, support me - and time to play with them!
Time spent reading this last week. I finally finished "Under the Dome"!
(sounds like I had a lot of time on my hands, doesn't it?)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dark Brown Days

It hasn't been a good week for me. Nothing major. Just all the small stuff that guy told us not to sweat. (I say he got it backwards, by the way- Life is ALL about the small stuff!)
I am taking small victories where I can, though. I managed to get my blocks done for a flower block swap. I'm not actually in the swap, but a friend of mine had to drop out, so I made blocks in her stead. She will still get to play with the ones everyone else made- and hopefully that will cheer her up a bit.

I got the binding on the shop sample for one of my summer Scrap Therapy classes. This one is called "Fly Away". Remember the fabric I was painting with "shiva" paintstiks way back when? I used some of it in this project. I'm not really sure I think the paint adds that much to the overall beauty of the quilt. It's such a large block that almost any fabric would make a statement in those big patches. I was thinking the next one might even need a fabulous Kaffe Fassett print!

I also did another "Iron Quilter" project with my online friends. This time the theme was "Visions of Spring" You had to use earthy colors for a background and then add a picture of something yuou have seen- or wish to see- this spring. It had to include at least one "found object"- something that would otherwise have gone in the trash. My piece is called "Plastic bags Blow" and was based on the field across the street from a store parking lot I saw recently. It includes a real plastic shopping bag and some thread trash- the ends of yardage washed in the machine.

I'm making slow progress in the gardens. Yesterday I worked on cleaning out around my cactus. These came from Wyoming and, although they look pretty sad right now, they will blossom soon and are one of my favorites! Weeding around them is a challenge, though. I found a wonderful tool at the sporting goods store. This is for pulling the hooks out of large fish!

While I was working, I was able to watch these Tree Swallows swoop and soar. Then they'd sit on this house for a while and chatter at eachother- or me, I wasn't sure! They are one of my favorite seasonal birds. Watching them chase bugs on a summer evening is just fascinating!

I am also enjoying the indoor "gardens". Most of my flower seeds have sprouted, so I am envisioning loads of blossoms very soon- well, by July anyway. And the cactus in the house are getting in on the season sending out blossoms with merry abandon. I'm not sure the species of this one. The "Silver Torch" is just beginning to bud. That one is an odd blossom, so I'll get a couple of pictures to share.

I am grateful for:
Friends who will get silly with me!
A patient husband, who really does try to understand my moods.
Chocolate and wine!
I have a job, and it is really not a bad one when I am honest with myself.
Fresh air, sunshine and time to read on the porch.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The most wonderful time of the year!!!

Spring is my absolute favorite season- and I am ecstatically happy to say it has arrived here in Western NY!!! Yesterday evening we had a bit of a thunderstorm that had ended by bedtime. We opened the windows a bit to let in the fresh air and I was able to drift off to sleep to the sound of the peepers singing in the little pond across the street. (let the sound play for a minute and you'll hear the chorus)

Bunny has decided he likes spring, too. He spent his first day digging around looking for green food, which has since appeared in profusion. He seemed to enjoy a crunchy leaf, though.

I spent most of last weekend out in the gardens around my house. I have beds all around the house, out by the utility pole, at the fences bordering the front yard, and a huge perennial bed. It's way more than i can actually do myself. I am not actually a gardener, to be honest. I'm a "plunker". I plunk things in the ground and hope they live. If they don't, I try something else next time. My basic gardening philosophy is to plant invasive perennials and self seeding annuals and let them battle it out. My favorite gardens are the ones that meander along, with seemingly random assortments of flowers looking slightly overgrown, like they haven't been tended in a while. Sadly, mine truly looks untended most of the time. But it gives me an opportunity to be outside on glorious spring days.
While pulling weeds and cutting down last year's stalks, I can listen to the birds singing and watch them building their nests in the boxes we have out around the yard. The bluebirds are holding their own against the swallows this year, I am happy to say. I tried to get a good picture of the male guarding the house as the female took nesting materials inside, but he stayed hidden behind a tree branch. The swallows are aggressive little birds. When ever I am working near the house they have moved into, the dive bomb my head, chittering loudly as they pass. It takes some getting used to not to duck and cover every time. But they are not really trying to hit me. They do manage to chase the cat off every time, though!
The goldfinches are turning yellow. Up until a few years ago, I thought how odd it was that they seem to change overnight. Since I put this feeder so close to the house, I have been able to observe the transformation. The poor things actually look kind of diseased while they are in transition.

I also spent a bit of time in our newly renovated screen porch. It had been studs and bare wood until last fall, when I said maybe next year, we should put in a ceiling fan. Next thing I knew, all my "toys" were packed away and the drywall was up! (I had resisted this, since the little cubbies in the studs seemed so perfectly rustic and suited to a room I used mostly as a potting shed.) Hubby was good to me, and built me a shelf all around the top of the room for all my pots and decorations, so I got them all back out and arranged on the shelf. It feels like it's "mine" now. No room in my house is complete without lotsa of things to look at. I wondered about that for a while, since I abhor clutter. But my Grandmother's house- where I spent a lot of my childhood- had knick-knacks everywhere, too.

And last on this lengthy post, is the quilt I layered the other day. I hope to get the machine quilting done this weekend, but haven't really decided how to quilt it. I was thinking of something viney with flowers in the white spaces, but my friend MaryLee says feathers. Suggestions????

I am grateful for:
The beautiful sunrise this morning
Daffodils and forsythia brightening up the yard
Polite truck drivers, who yield to those of us who can get up a hill in less than a week
Laughing with my son
Almond Croissants from Wegmans