Monday, June 24, 2013

Wanted: Gardener- must be able to tolerate long hours in the sun

It is hot and steamy outside today.  This is the third day in the row of what I call intolerable heat.  I was not made for summer.  Anything over 80 degrees is just too hot to be comfortable. (And yet, I also do not like air-conditioning as a rule since many places keep it too cold)   Plus I just melt if I am out in the sun for any length of time!  So it is quite ironic that I have such extensive gardens to tend.  It is way more than a lady of my age, with my knees and constitution can manage in truth. (My husband tried to warn me, but did I listen??)
So- since I mentioned it last week, I thought I'd give a garden tour this week.

The house is surrounded by gardens. This is the first garden I planted after we moved here. The Clematis refuses to use the trellis.
To the left of the steps is what I call the houseplant recovery area.  Sad looking plants go there for the summer.  If they look better in September they come back in.  If not, they make good compost.

 Continuing around, the foundation plantings are irises, holly hocks and lady's mantle.  The Hydrangea on the corner was supposed to be blue, but apparently I have the wrong soil for it.  Pink is pretty too.
   My front bed is all self-seeding annuals: California Poppies, Pink powder puff poppies (I don't know their real name), asters, snapdragons and "zebrina"
The Bridal veil Spirea have blossomed and been trimmed to a more reasonable size.

The Wisteria on the corner was loaded with blossoms this year! There is a magnolia just left of the corner- didn't realize I cut that off.  It has a ground cover planted around it. 
As soon as the pink blossoms are off the shrubs, they'll get trimmed back.  The self-seeders are taking over the walkway
 The walkway into the door we use. (right)
There are paving stones and pea gravel under all the artemesia.  I like this better.  To the right, there is baby's breath, dead nettles, blue ajuga and crane's bill in a battle for supremacy.  Notice there are also lots of pots both on the ground and on the porch.  The houseplants love being outside all summer.
The deck garden: Shasta Daisy, Bee balm, Blue asters, something I think is a hyssop, oh and those white things I can never remember the name of.  In the spring I have a ton of crocus here and some hyacinth.  Occasionally I get a morning glory to climb up to the porch.
 The only shady spot is behind the deck.  The tall one to the left is my poke weed.  Funny story about how it came to be there.  I'll have to tell it another time.  Also lilies, forget me not, lungwort, rock cress, and a tall yellow thing I dug from the side of the road.  (oh, in my search, it turns out the tuber is edible.  Who knew?  :-)

Since there is still a bit of work to be done around the garage, I haven't planted yet.  Soon there will be  (lilies, hollyhocks??) along this side.

 Small garden to camouflage the utilities. Snow mound spirea, black eyed susans, daisies, achillea and more of those tall yellow things.  Occasionally a morning glory grows up the wire trellis here, too.  If one grows I leave it, but I don't plant them.
 Behind the utilities is the power transformer.  I threw a wildflower seed packet in there and this is what still lives there.  I wish I could get the Sweet William to grow in other spots!  One year out back they were glorious. The next year, nothing.
 On each side of the driveway is a corner fence to mark what we call the front yard.  This one has more native soil so the Forsythia isn't doing well.  The Rudbeckia and Liatris love it here, though.  To the right is my hibiscus.  It gets lovely pink and white flowers!  On the front side of this is mostly wildflowers- lizard tails, pink evening primrose and some sunflowers.

On the other side we had to build the soil up.  This forsythia is too happy.  :-)
Most of the poppies are self seeding annuals, but there are a couple of the perennial kind in there.  I keep trying to get more hollyhocks to grow there.  The hydrangea here is the kind that gets the lacey flowers- mostly white that turn rusty red.
 On one side at the end of the driveway is this garden.  You used to be able to see three big rocks, but the lilies have assimilated them.  There is also a ton of grape hyacinth in here, some liatris, an occasional cosmos and a weed that cannot be killed.  (below) 

I couldn't describe it well enough to find it, but it bears some resemblance in growing habits to horsetail. It laughs at roundup.  I haven't tried the vinegar on it yet.

 On the other side of the driveway is the aptly named "guy-wire garden". Currently it has assorted spring bulbs, blue asters, irises and cone-flowers.  I tried to get perennial or wild (below) morning glories to climb it, but failed.  The daisies are volunteers.

They grow about five feet away from the guywire garden.- climbing the cat tails.  Figures.  

 And just a foot or so from where I stood to get the morning glory picture is everyone's favorite- poison ivy.  At my house it's not IF you get poison ivy, but when and how often.  You learn to look carefully when you walk around!
 Last on the tour is the big U shaped perennial bed in the back yard.
 Each side is about 30 feet long.  It's about 6 feet wide all around.  I wanted it to look like a park, and maybe someday it will.  The four bushy things are crab apples.  The deer ate them back the first year we planted them, so they got bushy instead of tree like. 

 In this garden I have: Yellow loosestrife, Lupines, Lady's mantle, a weird kind of oregano, assorted ground covers, wildflowers including daisies and phlox, Two sand cherry bushes, day lilies, columbine, rudbeckia and cone-flowers. (We lease our field to a farmer. This year it is soybeans.)

 To give you a frame of reference.  This is the center in the photo above.  The pedestal sink got a big crack in it, so I put it in the garden.  The deer ate the hens and chicks.  So I settled for Sedums  (they could show more flowers on this site, in my opinion) and cactus we dug in Wyoming.  (Let them eat that!)
They do keep my burning bush trimmed nicely for me.  :-)

Among the highlights of this garden is this "tiki" Lucas carved for me.  His mouth is a hole that was already in the log when he found it.  It reminds me of one of the monoliths on Easter Island.

 My Grampa used to tell me that if I sat quietly at dusk, I could see the fairies dancing under the toadstools.  Oh, the hours I spent waiting....

Every project needs a supervisor!  She follows me around and "helps" when she can.  

Lucas also arranged for this boulder to be placed in the back yard next to the poplar tree I had just planted.  I put some surplus irises, rudbeckia, lady's mantle and lilies around it, but I don't really tend this spot as you can tell.

Of course there are spots in the gardens that look as if I don't tend THEM, either.  (sadly)

So that's where I spend my sewing time in the summer.  It's a lot of work, and not a lot of reward other than that I get to be outside. I'd love my garden to look like this, but I have to accept my limitations.   I do love my flowers, and growing things; and I love watching the wildlife.  A "few" weeds shouldn't bother me, then. Right?

I guess the whole post is "green" in a way.  But for my environmental sermon this week I am choosing the fact that some people are not allowed to hang their laundry outside.  Ok, they probably know the rules when they move into a planned community type neighborhood.  But what is the point of that rule?  Does it somehow negate the beauty of your McMansion to be environmentally responsible- or to have your sheets smell like fresh air?  It's just one more way the mindset of America needs to be changed.

I am grateful for:
Air conditioning in the bedroom at night. 
Food I can cook on the grill.
A shady spot to lay in the hammock.
I actually got to sew yesterday.
The other cat ladies at the shelter who put up with my millions of questions.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I needed some playtime!

 My inner six year old threw a lot of tantrums last week because there were too many "have-to's".  So I was happy that on Saturday at the Museum quilt Guild meeting, we got to play in a workshop with Marija Vujcic. She showed us her"Cheater bargello" technique, which many of us fell in love with last December when she first came to guild.
This piece serves as her class sample.  It is around 30 x 40.  The applique is optional on the project.

The hard part for some of us was finding a nice gradation or "ombre" fabric to use.  My BFF Mary solved that problem by dyeing her own fabric.  (none of us thought to take a picture of it before she cut it) After this was taken she added some yellow accent strips near the center.  Now it really glows!

I used a piece of fabric I bought from "Sew Batik" at the GVQC show a few weeks ago.  I was afraid there wasn't enough of a color change to make it interesting, but am well pleased with this.  (sorry this was taken before I cut the rest of the strips open)  When I got home I found a lovely batik in my stash to use as an accent.  I have a plan for some applique.  I just need the time to try it out.

One of the other ladies in the class used a fabulous Kaffe Fassett (or Brandon Mably?) print  as her accent fabric. 

Then there's this one ( below) which started with a very subtle grey gradation. Marija allowed us to delve into her stash for fabrics, and the yellow print adds just the right amount of zing to this.

I know I can't wait to see what everyone does with theirs.  No one left this class feeling bad about their project.  It was just plain fun!  And Marija is delightful!  :-)

Yesterday Mary Lee came over to play with the kittens.  She got a lot of enjoyment out of them climbing all over me.  These two have decided my hair is their favorite toy!
 They are coming all too quickly to the time when they will leave me to find their furr-ever homes.  But I got to enjoy them (and spoil them) for a while!

My friend Kathi keeps showing up with fantastic projects she creates using  I Haven't been bitten by the bug to make anything into a quilt yet, but I did have fun playing with some images. This one is my favorite so far.  I need to figure out that clone thing a bit better, though.  And having seen what Elaine did with the "liquefy" function on her piece, I think I'd like to try that.  If only photoshop came with a kid to sit next to me and say this button does that.  (I tried it once and found it to be highly UN-intuitive.)

Remember my vow to not use roundup in the garden this year?  I have stuck with it, but the edges of my gardens are filling right back in.  I saw a recipe for a weed killer made with vinegar and was going to try it, but lost the recipe.  In my search I found this home test.  I realize I will have to reapply, but it must still be better than trying to pull all the weeds.  Maybe next week I will post pictures of all the gardens so anyone who looks ( I always assume someone is actually reading my blog) can appreciate what I'm up against.
By the way, in my searches, most people do NOT recommend adding salt to this recipe. 

I am grateful for:
Mary found a house and will not have to live in a box.
Lucas is now a homeowner- something he has been working toward for a long time!
My hubby is still willing to put up with me.
Having a good time in spite of the quality of the "entertainment" provided.
All the rain has made weeding easier this year. (which is good because it also makes them grow :-)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Works in progress

I had a mini "vacation" this weekend since my hubby was out of town.  I know how awful that sounds. It never means I wish him gone.  It just means my days are longer when he isn't here ( in more ways than one) since I don't have to cook or follow any schedule he prefers.
So, in addition to some quality time in the garden- when it wasn't raining- I got to spend some "play" time in the sewing room!

One project that has been taking a lot of my time this year is the next raffle quilt.  Last time I did bright colors and adapted a simple pattern I found in a magazine. 
This time, I ended up redrafting the pattern for a block of the month quilt I created for friends over 10 years ago! (pictured to the left)

 I am doing "something completely different" this time.

The members of the raffle quilt committee decided we didn't want a square quilt, which is where the "fun" began!
So, here is the new "pattern". (I just laugh every time someone asks me if they can see the pattern, or if there is a picture I can show them)
 I've regretted agreeing to do this again at a couple of points, I admit.  But this project has allowed me to do something I have wanted to do for several years now- work in a neutral/ taupe palette.

I wanted to audition the design for the corner blocks, so I pinned what I have to a sheet I pinned to the curtains.  The flowers in the corner are construction paper- used for design purposes- the real ones will match the center block!It still doesn't look like much, but I am excited to see it all put together!

In some of my sewing time, I assembled the George Siciliano blocks I finished at retreat in February.
But then I got stuck again.  
I have been thinking of doing a wonky thing with them using some of the colors in the gradation I bought which were not used in the blocks.

Not sure I like it turned at an angle like that, though.

Maybe with a border?  I had fabrics I had picked out along the way to use in this project.

The shiny one and the yellow were originally meant to go in the center of the four block quilt- laid out the way the pattern shows it. (the sparkle for the pink and the yellow, well- for the yellow)
The other fabric was the one I used to choose my gradations for the project, so I always thought it would be a border.

So- wonky, then a border?

The "black" in the blocks and then the ribbon border?

Or maybe the darkest green (very tiny pieces in the center of each block) and then the ribbons???

Help me out here!!! (thanks)

I also went to see "After Earth" this weekend.  Fair, not good.  It was a simple plot and a bit predictable.  But the music by James Newton Howard- one of my favorite composers- is really good.  I've been listening to it on spotify.

Interesting the movie began with humans having to abandon Earth after we destroyed it.  Sorry, folks, the same short-sighted people who think it's ok to genetically modify our food; who see no reason to put money into "green" technology; who think pumping chemicals into the ground water for a short term supply of natural gas is a safe process,  have also gutted the space program.  Unless Richard Branson or Red Bull want to help us, we are stuck here.

I am grateful for:
Knowing when to ask for help- and getting the help I need!
Sitting on the porch and reading at wine o'clock
I finally feel better!
Macaroni and cheese.
The relief of waking up from an unpleasant dream and realizing it WAS a dream.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Genesee Valley Quilt Show- Magical Threads indeed!

This is sort of a catch up, or bonus?, post this week

On May 31 and June 1, I spent the days at the Genesee Valley Quilt Club's biennial show.  This time it was titled Magical Threads - Inspired Stitches.

I met my friend Elaine first thing on Friday.  She had just been handed the ribbon she won for her piece, "Then...the Crocus".  So I went with her to pin it to the quilt.

Vickie Coykendall: Quilt poetry

The first day we went specifically for the purpose of admiring what the very talented members of this group created!

Also by Vickie Coykendall.  I missed the name.  Awesome quilting!

Diamond delight by Sue Donovan

There were a couple made from this same pattern.  I loved the 3-D effect on this one best.
Far View 13 by Mary Rankin

This one used a single piece of hand dyed fabric as the basis for the awesome design!  This picture doesn't come close to allowing you to appreciate this piece!

Imagine #4 In My Mother's Garden, by Caren Betlinski

Look how this one glows!  I took a class with Caren and can follow her techniques,but am still in awe of her talent with thread painting!

My friend Lori also won a ribbon for her very first art quilt!!!
It's called "Negative Growth"

One of Marcia DeCamp's "Jet Trails" series.  I just loved the colors!

Uh-Oh, by Caren Betlinski

This piece, also by Caren Betlinski, was part of the RAFA "Nature Behind Bars" challenge.  Isn't it adorable?  :-)

Nature's Bared Behind, by Sarah Terry

The tail on this one moved when someone got close to it. It scared one lady near us when it happened.

My Kool Kaleidoscope by Marilyn Guenther

Doing one of these is on my quilting "bucket list"

Saved by the Braid by Judith Edwards- Awesome colors!!!

Sumac Leaf by Beverly Kondolf

Sunset on Cayuga by Mandy Applebee

The "ghost" flowers were created with amazing thread work!

A view of the show from the second floor

There were SO many great quilts in this show and I'd love to share them all here, but it has taken me days to get this done- and I still don't think a couple of the names are correct.  Hopefully the GVQC will be posting pictures soon.  If they do, I'll come back and add the link!

This quilt was hanging in the Hmong vendor's booth

On Saturday I met up with a couple of the girls from the internet quilting group I have been a member of for many years.  They were here with a group from another guild near Oneonta. 
 Isn't it lucky there was a gorgeous quilt in colors we matched to have our picture made in front of?

Also on Saturday I spent a great deal of time supporting my fellow guild members, Elaine and Kathi  at the Iron Quilter competition.  They get the them at 10 am and have until 2:30 to create a finished quilt!

We brought signs for their work tables (Someone took pictures of them, but I haven't seen them yet) and came by every chance we got to admire their work and cheer them on!

Poor Elaine was very nervous about the whole event, but she went right to work on her piece and it looked like she had some fun doing it!

Elaine's finished piece

Kathi's finished piece

Kathi won this event in 2011, and was one of the three finalists this time- taking second place!

This is the winning piece.  The zipper closes, exemplifying the theme "A disappearing Act"!

You can see more pictures and read more about the event here.

I am grateful for:
Improvement in the kittens' health
Much cooler nights
My son learned persistence (nagging) from his mom- and it paid off
Hubby going on a road trip over the weekend so maybe I can sew
A patient and undemanding boss