A happy childhood is never out of reach according to Tom Robbins. I have never read one of his novels; but this quip has been oft repeated.
One of the things I never did was fingerpaint. Maybe it was deemed too messy or too frivolous or too expensive. We did not have art until fourth grade and the messiest project was the one where we colored a piece of paper with our crayons, then painted it with black paint and scratched out a drawing as we removed some of the black paint.
Recently I thought I might try something new—making books. One of the projects was making paste paper. This is adult finger-painting.
The steps are simple. Start with paper–a fairly heavy paper. Wet it on both sides. Spread some paste (I used pre-mixed wall-paper paste) colored with acrylic paint( I bought a six pack of acrylic paint from Dick Blick for about $6 several years ago), then manipulate the paste/paint into designs.
I used a cut-up foam brush; the bottom of a thread cone; some sort of rubber grid from the grouting section of Home Depot and a scrubbie. The paper was ‘pastel’ paper.
I hung it to dry on my makeshift clothesline.
Now I have a nice selection to use as book-covers or maybe even the pages of a hand-made book.
It has been fun learning a new craft–the terms, the forms, the artists. And a challenge to use what I have. I have no idea why I had pastel paper; I don’t recall ever working with pastels—but experimenting and learning new things is a happy childhood.
Here are closer-ups of the papers;
Thursday I had a doctor’s appointment in Houston. I normally schedule these to include a trip to the art museum to see the latest exhibits and to check in on my favorites—Matisse’s bronze backs in the Cullen sculpture garden and the European impression wing; I’ve stopped by the Menil on occasion too–but the Menil is closed and the MFA is open by appointment. Not knowing how long a doctor’s appointment will last, I contented myself with a walk through Herman Park.
While it is not as large as Central Park in New York City, it is not small either. There is a golf course, a zoo, a small railroad, bikes for rent and many long trails and pathways for walkers and runners. The bird population is plentiful ranging from ducks and geese to pigeons and I’m sure others–but those were the ones I saw begging on the pathways. It reminded me of student days in Madison where no-one dared sit near the path–they would be covered with birds seeking bread.
This tree near the ticket booth for the zoo has always fascinated me. Although it is full size, to me it looks like a bonsai tree—something a few of my medical school classmates and I tried during student days—not money involved in raising one from a tiny sapling dug from the side of the road somewhere and destined for mowing. My bonsaid morphed into miniature roses when I did my residency—but they stayed behind when we moved to Texas.
It was warm—no–HOT—and this fountain looked deliciously appealing. Two paddleboats circled around it, the passengers laughing as they encountered the spray. Had I been more appropriately dressed and with a companion blessed with a good pair of calves, I would have joined in.
I suppose I could be considered a Southerner by now. I’ve lived in Texas since 1984 and 8 years in Georgia before that.
I grew up on a farm where cooking was done in huge amounts to feed threshing crews; plentiful and high calorie. Dainty salads were something in the magazines with the fanciest salads being jello molds for holiday meals.
The South has some very different ideas about cooking. In Georgia, sausage biscuits and fried okra were an instant acceptance but grits mixed into scrambled eggs doused with ketchup was not. Then there was the annual discussion beginning two weeks prior to the holiday event about the barbecue—chicken or pork, pulled or chopped, hash, and potato salad–always served with a slice of that white bread that clings to the roof of your mouth. Those in the know bought each part of their barbecue meal at separate places. Red Velvet Cake was the favored dessert and took several bottles of red food coloring.
Now in Texas there are different views about cooking with Cajun and Tex-Mex thrown in. Some places have a strong German/Czech/Polish influence with kolaches. One of the cooks at one of the hospitals gave me a lesson in how to cook okra and tomatoes—I could make an entire meal on this.
While many of us are spending more time in the kitchen, I decided I would try fried green tomatoes. It was time-consuming but not hard. We paired it with a broiled fish filet and a bowl of fresh strawberries drizzled with some of our honey. Regrettably it was the last of my tomatoes—weather far too hot for them to continue to produce—maybe I’ll get some fall tomatoes to try this again
Finding a good way to take photos of quilts and other fiber artwork is challenging. I have set up a small photo studio in my shop for formal photos of pieces hopefully destined for shows and exhibitions. Some are far too large and I’ve set up an alternative on the side of the shed with a black drape and poles—a big project to hang the quilt and then photo as it seems a bit of wind always starts the minute I climb up on a ladder to take the formal photo.
And then there are the pieces I do more for fun and maybe as a gift. I’d like a record of them but doesn’t need to be fancy; doesn’t need to document stitching–just an overall photo.
I’ve looked at photos of quilts draped over fences and porch railings. I didn’t have those but I did have two hooks on the front porch originally used to hang flower pots; I got some clothesline, strung it up, got out the plastic clothespins from surface design days and tried this method out.
I probably should re-organize the items on the porch to be a bit more photogenic and maybe take the time to climb into the bed of my truck for a straight shot—but in general, these photos are good enough for what I want.
The first one is one I made from a pattern under the tutelage of Alex Anderson of the Quilt Show. It is the first time I have made something quite like this–it was surprisingly fun.
And this one is one I started while I was at home with my oldest son. It is all hand-pieced and needle-turned applique. I blanket-stitched around each bird; did straight line quilting, turning it sideways for more straight-line quilting. It took me quite some time to finish it but I”m pleased.
Years ago Sunday shopping was not particularly prevalent and so one of the big box stores allowed an autocross course to be set up in their parking lot. This was in Augusta Georgia. It was a timed event with each person mostly competing against themselves but also in a class of vehicles matched for horsepower and maneuverabilty.
In this weird time, finding things to do that don’t involve vacuuming or cleaning closets but somewhat social is a challenge. Two friends do autocross and the event was in Lake Charles about an hour and a half away.
We set off in Tessie. Tessie zooms up to be within a certain timed distance behind other vehicles–this can be more than a tad disconcerting as you aren’t quite sure it is going to stop accelerating. However, sitting in a nice cool air conditioned car while watching the autocross was quite nice.
There was a wide range of vehicles ranging from something that looked like a skateboard with an engine mounted to a truck with a spoiler in the bed. Unlike motorcycle events where a localized radio announcer described the events and the racers, this was just visual.
Still, it was a nice interlude in a series of days that seem to run endlessly together.
Last week a police officer was killed while on duty. The patrol car was hit head-on by a teenage driver going the wrong way without headlights at night. She was pronounced dead at the scene; her partner required surgery; the driver of the other vehicle hospitalized for several days. She and her husband of ten months had been in the process of acquiring a cat. She was just 23.
Her funeral was Saturday.
The funeral procession marking the route of the hearse from the mortuary–just two blocks away from my home and through Calder and up Dowlen to a large church was lined by people and flags and yellow ribbons and signs.
Wrecker trucks with huge flags, ambulances, fire trucks, motorcycles along with police vehicles from far and near made for an impressive display. I stood in the shadow of a BlueBell van truck (gratefully as it was incredibly hot already at just 9 AM).
There was silence as the long procession passed by.
Sheena was just doing her job. She put on her uniform and went to work. Just like thousands of others of us who may face danger in their work. My days of working in the ER are past; but I continue to have the highest respect for those officers who put on a hot and cumbersome bullet-proof vest, load up on all their equipment and deal with some of the most unpleasant people you would ever hope to never meet.
The motto of Wisconsin is ‘Forward’. I had not thought about it in some time as I now live in Texas but my oldest son reminded me when he remarked on the destruction of the statue and that of an abolitionist in the state capitol by individuals purporting to bring attention to race relations. I had thought people in Wisconsin were educated and practical.
Wisconsin was pioneered by immigrants from Germany, Poland, and Czechoslavakia–Bohemia as my dad described it. Small towns boasted a biermeister and a casameister–beer and cheese maker–the recipes and skills a family heritage. They had to be tough people to dig holes in the sides of hills to live in during those brutal winter months.
I always thought of Forward as being future thinking, not dwelling on the past, not dwelling on adversity but rising above it—something my parents and grandparents exampled along with others in the community. I have been fortunate to find a segment of Texas with a group of people similarly minded. I remember how furious a 92 year old woman was when I told her I could not just give her a shot for her broken hip so she could finish spading up her garden that morning—she had slipped on some grass wet with dew.
So today I will get up and go do stuff. I have a garden to tend, a kitchen to clean, some business and personal correspondence to complete and then I will work on some art. Work and responsibilities always come before pleasure–just like vegetables come before dessert.
**the photo above is in a gallery labeled Utah trip but is a view of the Mississippi across the river from Wyalusing. When I stop at this viewing spot, I know I am nearly home.
It has been awhile since I last posted here—and it hasn’t been for lack of time. Maybe it is because time hangs heavy these days and the idea I should be doing ‘something important’ is so overwhelming I spend countless hours trolling the internet hoping for inspiration. Instead I find anger which is just fear dressed in another color—anger at being asked to wear a mask to protect others, and anger by those who think mask wearing is an infringement on their ‘rights’. And then there are those who post funny/ wry commentary and some who post just ‘regular’ stuff like picnics with families, garden produce and so forth.
I have no excuse for not doing ‘stuff’; I am filled with an immense feeling of abandonment— my family is far away and busy with other family members. While husband is attentive and caring and the dogs are definitely loving—and mischievous at times, I have little motivation to DO something, anything. Each day is the same as the day before with the only challenge is ‘what to make for supper’ and ‘who is cooking’.
About ten years ago I nearly died from systemic disseminated histoplasmosis—a fungal infection that had a mortality rate of about 95% at the time—and I’m sure it would have been a higher rate if a massive does of steroids initially had been included. Each day while I was in the step-down unit was much the same as the previous with the only point of interest, the evening meal—such as it was. I am made of tough stuff—my sparring partners in karate…mostly young men…would stand back and say–you look soft but underneath you are as tough as nails…and I think that is probably true.
I recovered from that illness although I am left with reminders, reminders I need to be very careful regarding corona virus. I had to alter my work, my hobbies, and my life for the new way of life I now have.
I put one foot in front of another; tried hard although it is so tempting to not look back with regret of past abilities but to concentrate on moving forward.
I like to include photos with my posts–not everyone likes to read essays. During this time, I managed to finish the project my mother left for me—quilting all the tops for her grand-children. They have all now been delivered. In addition, I have been cleaning out her quilting supplies and put together this little lap quilt from triangles my dad cut out for her and the pieced flowers. I sent this to my sister=in=law who is undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer–the cancer my mother dealt with for 13 years—its’ mortality rate was 95% in 2 years===so I am indeed made of tough stuff.
The middle of March seems a century ago—when we all started this lockdown business and the daily review of headlines featuring Covid-19. Like some/many I thought it was a time to get a lot of things done without the distraction of ‘going’ and I set some rather ambitious goals…like a clean dusted house—fat chance with two busy dogs in and out all day long.
House is still dusty in spots but I’ve accomplished a few things. Garden has produced an abundance of funky looking cucumbers, I’ve tried some ambitious meals, and then there was that huge stack of quilt tops including my mother’s stack of tops intended for her grand-children.
I finished up a box of her left-over blocks—and then discovered my grandmother’s left-overs—but I can look at these three stacks….
Here are a few of the quilts I will be sorting by type into those vinyl blanket storage cases–it is not all of them.
And here is the stack awaiting binding with more at home.
And here is the stack to be quilted—yes, just two of them…a 45 by 60 in the plastic box and another larger one under that red fabric destined to be its binding.
I thought about showing my stack of empty boxes—I’m clearing out partially completed projects– but then I’d have to do a bit or a lot of dusting again.
Although life seems to be in slow motion these days as we read the daily counts of positive tests and wonder when or if we can all get back to ‘normal’, I’ve been busy.
Last week, we took advantage of a somewhat clear day–meaning overcast with the occasional gratefully received raindrop or two to take a walk in the local state park. Village Creek is about fifth-teen miles away—and then there was honey to process and work—and ……
So back to the quilt.
It is now on the frame and about half quilted. I’ll finish it up today and then it will join the huge stack of quilts waiting for binding.
Here is the left side of the quilt all completed. You will see it better in the shot I took of it on the frame.
In keeping with the idea of using what I have—I do have enough money to buy new and there is the fun of opening a package delivered by our wonderful UPS driver Mike or our postcarrier—I’ve heard her name but have forgotten it—a wonderfully conscientious always smiling….but this fabric was some of my mother’s from her quilt shop days—it was definitely not something I would choose but with a nice strip of a few of the left-over strips and small bits, it makes for a nice back. I always make the label after I have finished the quilt top—then it is done.
This quilt is 80 by 90—a good size. I’ll try to get a full on photo after it is bound—but I am struggling to find a way to photo those quilts not destined to hang on walls—and therefore without sleeves for easy presentation and photography in my makeshift photo studio.
I like to put the backing on first, let it rest overnight under tension, drape the batting and the top to let them hang freely to relax some of the wrinkles, and then fold up the top and the batting over it to prevent fading—there is a large window facing south with a lot of sun streaming through–thus the lighting on all my photos of quilts in the frame.
I was very pleased with myself to have emptied out that box of disparate parts until I was cleaning/tidying–i.e. procrastinating by moving things from one place to another in my sewing room until I discovered a boot box filled with blocks—I think they may have been my grandmother’s—-so another quilt in the making—-but I’ll work on some other projects first.