Since I retired—due to heatlh reasons–I tried to find things to fill my calendar. I have been accustomed to daily consulting with my day planner—to keep me focused. When suddenly there are no work shifts scheduled, and I can do as ai please, it is more than a bit disconcerting.
One of the things I did was to take a short course in quilt photography.
I have been taking photos since I was twevle–with a brownie camera.
I document my life and my art with photogaphs. But was there a better way to do it?
I knew about focus and making sure everything was square. I knew about detail shots.
But then there is the ‘fashion’ photo–or the one that places the quilt dramatically or strategically somewhere’.
I decided to practice on a small piece. No need to crawl up ladders to hang things or fiddle with lighting when I can work with a small piece.
Here is the full shot.
It needs to be straightened a bit—but I do not have photshop on this computer yet—that is next year’s project,
Here are some detail shots.
and finally, a style shot.
I thought a long time about this one. I decided that since it was a self portrait or a wished for self portrait I would put in on a mirror along with some elegantly dressed dolls—Meg and Jo from Little Women.
I tried a lot of angles and position and decided on this one–as if I were still five or six and standing on tippy-toes to see myself in the mirror.
That mirror was my grandfather’s, the hat rack in the back was also in their front room. This is in my front hall-way with the antique switchplate. and my front door also reflected in the mirror.
Thanksgiving is past but we have leftovers in the refrigerator—-so no cooking or much thought about evening meals for several days.
Thanksgiving is always a time of excess—so much food, so many special treats, and cherished time with family.
My mother always made several pies–pumpkin, blueberry, apple. Olives were a special treat for us. And then there were the butter mints and Spanish peanuts served in a divided pressed glass dish—I have that dish and bring it out for special meals. My aunt made a cake–putting a cake made in an angel food cake pan on top of a regular cake—it was my grandparents’ birthday—no candles—but we all knew it was for them.
There was always the argument over who got the stuffing from inside the bird versus outside– and the long discussion about seating arrangements—several smaller people had to sit on the piano bench while chairs were brought from other rooms and put into use.
My husband’s family served up an elegant meal with my mother-in-law hand-washing the crystal chandelier. His father carved the turkey with great ceremony with elk horn knife and fork from Scotland; raw cranberry sauce made the day before was traditional. The molded lime green jello salad with cottage cheese and pineapple was stored on top of the car in the garage.
But that is all past—and now we are the older generation.
Thanksgiving day was really dreadful–rain, cold—and we opted to not drive in that weather. It is not unusual for us to alter the celebration of a holiday—my work usually involved working holidays.
We had made our pies and stored them in the oven–safe from Toby and Dora.
We had also been invited to youngest son’s in-laws—and thought we would deliver our pies and make new ones—–again we were deterred by rain—pouring rain of Tropical Storm Harvey/Imelda quality.
Rain, rain, rain!!!!! Cold and dreary!
Sunday was an absolute gorgeous day with sun and warm temperatures.
We made our way to middle son’s home where we got to spend time with grandsons.
If you think Oliver is a ham–the one on the far right–you are absolutely correct. Drama is his middle name but he is so adorable it is hard not to overlook some of his theatrics. Yes, that is a scrape on his face—he ran his motorcycle into a tree–thought it was a disaster until he realized it gave him some serious street cred at his school.
They were quite pleased to leave their homework assignments for fun with Grandpa.
Of course there was more than enough food, food to be packed into containers and brought home, pies to be split up.
We watched the final half of the soccer match between Germany and Spain–such cheering!!!
Driving home, husband decided to drive down I-45 instead of east on I-10. It took a bit for us (mostly me…as I have driven more in Houston) to figure out how to get back to I-10…the traffic designers did not think Houston would grow as it did–it is very congested and everyone drives 15 miles over the speed limit—with entries on the right and exits on the left. We made it back to I-10 and a welcome stop at Bucky’s SuperCharger.
Our dogs were thrilled to see us–checked us quite thoroughly to see if we had been unfaitherful to them and interacted with other dogs.
Each year The Quilt Show features a Block of the Month. It is an exclusive pattern available only to those of us who pay the annual subscription of $49. This is the third one I have worked on. thinking to give them as wedding quilts to my grandchildren—plenty of time–the oldest is not yet 12.
This year I chose a printed linen as the background fabric. It is wobbly and ravels easily, making it a significant challenge to work with. I opted to not do any of the pieced blocks, focusing just on the applqiue.
Applique is not my forte—but I decided to try machine applique with turned edges.
This is the center.
You can also see the rest of my messy work area.
There were more blocks on the right and left side; those are done–a few more berries to add to one of them. After looking at this for several days, I decided I did not like those top and bottom middle blocks, replaced them with the printed linen. I’m contemplating adding some applique to those blocks.
The border is on. and I’m pleased with what I see.
I don’t have a large enough space to show the entire top until after I have quilted it. That will be a challenge as custom quilting is not my forte either. The intended grand-daughter is just 5 so no rush!
Tomorrow the 2023 Block of the Month will be revealed; I’ve seen a tiny image of it and a few detail photos but I’m eager to see it.
My grandmother had day lilies along side her house in ‘town’. She also had a huge hydrangea bush near the driveway, ground cherries under a mulberry tree in the back yard and a huge garden, the front half being a standard vegetable garden for the table and the back a huge cucumber patch. Elderberries were on the fence row separating her house from the neighbor’s.
Those day lilies were always so pretty…so different from what my mother grew on the farm. Mom’s favorite flowering shrub was a peony—pronounced ‘piney’.
When we were a young married couple—with not much money, we were given a book by Euell Gibbons–a master at foraging from the wilds.
We discovered day lily buds could be lightly steamed as a vegetable. Later we learned they could be pickled and made an excellent accompaniment to fish.
My dear husband planted these spider lilies along the garage on the farm. When I toured the St. Feriole gardens, I was amazed at the spectrum of day lily color.
I harvested buds and pickled them—those spots made for a deep cranberry red juice.
aren’t they pretty?
That background of the rusting sheet metal on the side of the garage is perfect. Husband wanted to change it out—but I insisted it stay—just for these perfect photo shots.
Now that we are very much empty nesters, we can do some spur of the moment kind of things. With only two of us, it doesn’t take long to pack a picnic lunch, drive to Houston for a scheduled doctor visit and sit an enjoy that lunch in Herman Park.
We had thought we might like to go to the zoo—but it required pre-paid tickets—with no place to buy them on-site.
So we sat and watched this young squirrel enjoy his treat of our leftover crumbs. He did not dare come too close, watched us closely and would run up a nearby tree after he had grabbed his treat.
the grackle did not want to be left out—chex mix seemed to be a favorite
And here he is—trying to keep an eye on all the squirrels heading our way.
And no we did not feel guilty about feeding the squirrel–they dug into the trash cans with leftovers from other park guests,….we offered water in the top of a bottle–declined by both the grackle and the squirrels.
Chicory grows abundantly along the roadways of Wisconsin—and probably most of the other Midwest states. It is a lovely blue flower atop a feathery plant but it closes up every night and opens up again the next morning. If you pick a handful of these flowers thinking to decorate your kitchen table, you are disappointed as they close up almost as soon as you pick them. Dandelions have a much longer staying power.
Bluebonnets here in Texas are pretty—and i was aghast when I saw longhorns in the middle of a huge lovely field of them munching away. When I looked at the foliage more carefully, I saw that they are resemble alfalfa—and certainly edible.
Some years ago, I think my mother planted some grape vines in the garden, thinking she would be able to harvest them for her jelly making. And instead of going to the woods to pick blackberries—that was always one of the tasks for me and my siblings, she planted raspberries near the farm house.
They were not well tended.
Wild grapes are also in abundance but produce very little in terms of usable fruit—I think the birds enjoyed them—and widely distributed them around the farm buildings.
So each year I weed the patch.
The first year was huge ragweed–and so dense, a brown thrasher had made her nest there. I weeded around her; left her nest until the fall when I weeded the remaining section.
I’ve put down chaff from the grainery in an attempt to combat weeds–but I think I planted nettles as the following years there were a lot of nettles—much harder to pull than ragweed—although some of the ragweed reaches ‘tree’ stature and trunk thickness.
I’ve cut back those grape vines to the ground–as that is how they are supposed to be cultivated—but no fruit!
So it was time to deal with those grapevines.
Here is what it looked like when I arrived in Late July.
After considerable work–and surprisingly no gnats this year—I’ve worn a bee veil when the the gnats are bad—but this year there was enough of a breeze to keep them away.
So here is what it looks like after weeding. I put done sheet rock to discourage weeds and pile corn fodder on top—fifteen wheel barrow loads.
I was very pleased to see so many raspberry canes; they bear the second year. My first weeding the end of May had only three canes on the periphery—I was thrilled to see this many throughout the patch.
And so I decided it was time for those grapevines to go.
I sprayed them daily for five days. And finally they looked near gone.
My husband was not happy with this—but I will plant grapes elsewhere—and much further apart and in a place there they can flourish without compromising those raspberries.
The ragweed and burdock didn’t seem to mind the brush spray….drat!
In May of this year, I decided to ‘retire’ from a job that had increasingly become at odds with my health. Late nights and irregular hours made it impossible for me to plan health related appointments, meals, and participation in a few social events. Despite my efforts to recommend changes to a business that had been failing, holding onto ‘we’ve always’, and staff who were increasingly unable to do their jobs accurately and effectively, they chose not to change anything.
And so the end of May when a license renewal was due, I chose not to renew it. I wished them well, but time will tell whether their continued commitment to ‘we’ve always’ will be effective.
After spending a weekend at a medical school class reunion and some space in time and distance, I re-considered that renewal. It is hard to give up what I’ve worked so very hard for so many years.
And now I am volunteering my time at a local clinic seeing indigent patients a few days a week until they find a new provider.
But my back is not happy with all that time on a cement slab flooring and I spend nights awake with back pain. The health insurance company has denied every request for care not specifically identified and costing over $2…..yes, you read that correctly—$2! And even then wanting me to switch to something even less reliable for medications and cheaper for them.
So now it is time to change course again.
The answer regarding health insurance is clear, but what about my time?
How shall I spend my days with nothing in my day planner but doctor appointments? And those hopefully far and few between.
Our biggest decision during pandemic times was ‘what shall we have for supper’ and ‘who is cooking’. We’ve practiced that for nearly two years now, sometimes relying on a meal service to add variety.
Yardwork? There is always something to do outside in a year round growing climate.
Sorting through years of accumulations of paper and mementos?
Digging through that box as noted yesterday, I found a panel along with some four patches and some strips and lengths of fabric from my mother’s quilting days.
Somehow on social media, I had connected with one of my parent’s neighbor. She grew up next to my parents who treated her with the same dignity and interest as their own grandchildren. She had fetal alcohol syndrome and life was not easy for her.
One day, Mom needed some help in working on a particular quilt. She asked the girl–a teenager at the time to assist her. After some time, the quilt was finished and Mom gave it to the girl.
She treasured that quilt but lost in a house fire.
She is now married with children of her own.
I thought I might give her this quilt—made from Mom’s fabrics, panel, and some of her patchwork.
and the back
I hope she will like it; it will travel to Wisconsin on our next trip hopefully in a couple of weeks.
Remodeling the farm-house has been long term project. Two of my brothers have taken on finishing up the project. They have sheet-rocked the majority of the upstairs, painted the half bath, gotten the furnace up and running with ductwork in place. I wanted the house to be mine–not my parents or my grand-parents but mine.
We added two additions–a larger master bedroom and a larger bathroom with walk-in shower on one side and on the other a lovely breakfast room with clerestory windows. There is a huge wrap-around porch and an upstairs balcony. I knew about those features. But I was promised a surprise.
And here it is!
that wood beam is wood from the grainery. There will be a brass chandelier hanging instead of that light fixture.
the room with the two windows was my old bedroom, facing north and the windmill. It will become the library with shelves on two long walls.
The room with the sloping ceiling will become my sewing room with a smaller room on the other side as the computer room and half bath.
Blogging is a natural progression for someone who enjoys the written word and beautiful imagery. My photographs are hosted at sylviaweir.smugmug.com. I am slowly transitioning all my photographs to this site and will hopefully edit them to a manageable number. In the meantime, I have organized my blog photos by year and so you may wish to merely sample the blog photos
Feel free to contact me for any questions. My website here has not been fully populated but as I work on my smugmug site, I will update these pages.
My work begins with a word, a thought, an idea, or a bit of a poem. I search through my library of images mostly on Smugmug or sometimes I go out and photograph new images. A pieced quilt pattern is sometimes chosen, sometimes I use a piece of fabric I have altered in the past. The imagery is added on using hand applique and then thread is used to add details.
Each piece is meant to draw the viewer inward providing them with ample opportunities to add their own story to the piece. If the piece evokes the emotion or thought I wished conveyed, then I consider the piece successful.
Sometimes I play 'what if' with fabric and paint and imagery. These might be considered equivalent to scale work in music--something I always enjoyed.