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Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Sparkling Clean Engine

I never understood the fascination with whatever is under the hood in a vehicle.

I do know how to check the oil and refill the windshield washer fluid bucket (basket? jar?.

Many years ago, I was working in Kenya, staying with my brother-in-law when a call came from another missionary regarding her car. She had decided to wash her engine and now it would not start. He went to do something and we both thought about the need for washing car engines.

But at the Silsbee cruise last weekend I saw spotless engine compartments, gleaming components, and extensive cleaning of windshields, tires, bumpers. A few were parked under trees for the shade–and I wondered about the tree droppings.

It was a gorgeous day and I took more than a few photos of engine parts and hoods.

But I am still not planning on washing the engine under the hood of my F250 diesel.

Here are a few more photos from the day for those of you who enjoy vehicle parts.

and the guy in the yellow shirt in the walker/seated is Henry Ford talking with another exhibitor.

Mud Glorious Mud

If you don’t live near a beach or a lake but cannot resist the feeling of squishing toes in water, then you make a mud hole.

And you put in it lots of implements—sieves, shovels, slotted spoons, toy trucks, mutant crabs, and a lot of imagination.

Unfortunately I did not have spare clothes with me or I would have joined in. The project at hand was making an island in the middle of the ‘lake’ for the mutant crab to rest on.

Two brothers and a cousin entertained themselves–after chasing turkeys and a picnic lunch with grandparents, parents, and assorted great uncles and great aunts (one was me!).

Alas, I had to confine myself to grownup type activities and so I took advantage of the sunflowers on the edge of the garden. They are such curious and interesting plants—reminding me of the wind turbines and appearing to be human like in their stance and steady facing of the sun.

Afternoon Delighted to be at this stage

Many people make New Year’s Resolutions; some choose a word, some list projects to be completed. I’ve done all three at times. In December of 2019 I decided I would make the 2020 Block of the Month hosted by The Quilt Show. Once that promise was made to myself, I felt obligated!

Much to my chagrin it featured double nine-patches and a lot of applique with teeny tiny pieces. But I did it!

And now it is on the quilting frame; after spending some time agonizing over the proper way to quilt it. I am not expert at custom quilting and somehow a pantograph–all-over row pattern didn’t seem right.

After a lot of thinking–and procrastination, I loaded it up; and began. I used straight lines for the borders, cross-hatching for the nine patches, and stippling for the applique blocks.

I’m about half way though.

My back is not happy standing and so I bought a very nice office chair to rest on while I do the stippling and cross-hatching—this is not exactly a sit-down machine—but it seems to work okay for me.

Isn’t that back pretty? The quilt shop in Warren posted it on one of their ‘new fabric just in’ and I had to have it. I think it is perfect for the

Curves and Lines

This past week’s assignment was to use curves with some straight lines.

I really struggled to find a design I liked. It was much easier to draw three curves and then use one of those as the basis for my work.

However, in sorting through my photos I discovered some images of pampas grass as seen through a wire fence separating the patio from the rather steep hillside in San Antonio.

And then there were these walls.

Running Away

There is an old aphorism that you can’t hide from your troubles; they will follow you.

While that seems to be true, there is the thought that seeing and being somewhere else gives a fresh perspective to those tag-along problems.

In early May I had back surgery No. 4, a long-awaited surgery that seemed to have doubtful improvement. It required a much longer and more difficult procedure than anticipated and the recovery has been long and difficult. In some ways, it seems no better than before and now I must deal with the denial of payment for the additional procedures deemed necessary at the time.

However, that is neither here nor there.

The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays—a day of celebration and family gatherings. I had missed the past few–illnees and then of course, Covid–the year of Lent that lasted forever!. But this year I was determined. We drove up on Friday July 1st and arrived on the following day. We had in tow our two border collie dogs—there was no room for them at the pet resort.

Remarkably they were extremely well behaved even in the hotel where they did not notify us that there were other people in ‘our house’.

The week was spent clearing out the berry patch that had been over-run by a grape vine that has never produced.

I bent, twisted, picked up, ran the wheelbarrow to a brush pile.

My back did not like the trip there and back–but the activity of clearing out that brush was better than any of the physical therapy sessions.

And just for fun—here is a photo of one of the delights of the week.

bluebird nest along the fence line of two oat fields

I’ll be sorting through all my photos and posting some exerpts over the next few days. In the meantime, has anyone seen my keys?

Dumaflaches, thingamajigs and whatchamacallits

Words are endlessly fascinating—translating from other languages into English or from English to other languages can be a source of amusement or frustration. Reading directions for electronic devices created in the Far East and translated literally into English does not help those of us who tend to follow directions sequentially.

However, I am here to report that I am NOT following the directions sequentially on this project.

For the past several years, the QuiltShow has sponsored a Block of the Month. The pattern is released a month at a time; you (I) am supposed to complete each month’s assignment and be ready for the next month. Usually there is a lovely fabric kit available but since I have more fabric than I will ever use, I pick out an array from what I have.

Since I began this project in Month 5, not Month 1 like I was supposed to; I had a lot of catching up to do.

I am gaining ground on the project.

There are two roads in this quilt, an inner road and an outer road; the inner road is now complete; the outer is partially sewn and ready for me to assemble into arcs.

However, this is a paper-pieced project. I hate paper-piecing. I piece the required houses, and strips of roads, and then use the freezer paper template to cut the resulting pieces into appropriate sizes. I am also working with a quarter of the quilt—NOT the entire quilt. I am not fond of putting things into circles when I can put them into an arc and then sew some long straight seams.

For those of you who are not quilters—I do other things—but when it is raining and there is 2 or more inches of standing water in the lawn, I could read—but that doesn’t make for a very interesting post.

Anyone know the origin of dumaflache? Does it sound like words in another language? The others can be separated into words—but dumaflache??? French? Welch? Swedish? German?

After the Floods

Living on the Gulf coast means hurricanes and tropical storms. Preparing for hurricanes is much like preparing for a blizzard in the Midwest,…stock up on nonperishable items, make sure you have all your medications and are prepared to stay in your home for at least a week without any outside resources …..or leaving with same to parts unknown.

We have evacuated twice—once with two vehicles–I had three little boys and a cat along with a few snacks and a few extra clothes; once to position myself for work with husband in a small hospital. It was nerve wracking to see the same videos posted by the national networks, the newspapers working on printing human interest stories instead of information.

Then came Rita, Humberto, and Ike—the loss of many of our wonderful old live oak trees and the slow recovery efforts despite hordes of swamp mosquitoes requiring the Air Force to spray and so many helicopters flying overhead.

And then the flooding with the torrential rains from tropical storm Harvey and now Imelda, Laura, and the two Greek storms. Although Harvey was in the fall of 2017, people are still not back in their homes, money for recovery is slowly trickling in—-and the same houses that some people just repaired have flooded again. Blue tarped roofs are everywhere and with the pandemic and its isolation, recovery has been difficult.

The local grocery store took on a foot of water, a car dealership the same or more. One business had the air conditioner fall through the flat roof–destroying everything inside.

This week has brought cool weather and rain—thunder and lightening. Toby hides under the knee hole of my desk, needs to be on a leash to go outside for her bathroom break, and we have been asked to reduce our energy usage due to power shortages. After our February freeze and our ‘rolling blackouts’ that lasted for hours here but days elsewhere, we were all more than a bit apprehensive.

While ‘climate change’ is a popular media topic subject to scare tactics, hurricane season is approaching. I begin to stock up in May—cases/gallons of bottled water, canned goods requiring little preparation other than reheating on the gas cook-top and a fresh cannister of ground coffee—-if there is coffee in the morning—life is good.

Self Portrait

This piece was completed as part of a challenge for our small group. My hair was quite short then having it cut for a donation for cancer patient wigs. That baby is now in school and my hair is quite long.

self20protrait20with20great20neice20ella-m

The original was taken by my husband as I sat on the floor of my nephew’s home and held Ella–his daughter—Eli her twin being sound asleep

I have never liked having my photograph taken and while self-portraits are something artists do—is it because they need a model and the one that is readily available is themselves?

I thought it might be interesting to make a self portrait that was not traditional. As I thought about it, I decided that everything around us reflected who we were as people—the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the books we read, the color of our living room, the holidays we celebrate.

I have now completed all the components and am thinking of how I want to display them—as words and books are perhaps as important as visual and auditory experiences, I think it needs to be a book—not a memoir.

Here are two ‘pages’— perhaps you can guess what they represent.

Obviously these are in the working stage—but the first one is my name and the second one is my birthday.

The finished pages/book won’t be complete for awhile—so please do not be holding your breath. I work slowly but think about the project while I am dealing with other tasks. When I figure out how I am going to put this together, I will post photos–and it might be a video—if our internet cooperates.

Serious Series Work

What did you do last summer? Always a good essay for back to school and I still think of summer as time off and September as the start of the working year–even though it has been a few years since I have been in school. And now we can add—what have you done during the pandemic to stay creatively active and to survive the isolation?

After the initial random restlessness of figuring out what I could/should be doing combined with a canceled long anticipated surgery to repair my back, I hung around the internet scanning for something interesting. Besides the new challenge of figuring out what we would have for supper and what series we would watch on Netflix, I decided I would clean up my photo site, revamp my website, and learn more about blogging. I wanted to do a series of ‘something’ but could not really settle on anything. In the past, I had put together a series of farm buildings–barn, milk-house, grainery, corn crib, farm-house, windmill—and that was absorbing–and fun.

My blog is still what it is. And my website is still not up-dated. I’ve done half of the lessons in WordPress and worked on re-organizing my photos—i have a lot—so many!  I’ve tried setting up schedules for the mundane in my life–cleaning the kitchen, workouts at the gym, art time–and so forth but it quickly falls to the wayside as someone calls me and asks me to work somewhere or it is raining that day and I can’t mow or it isn’t raining and so a good day to mow. And then there was the endless search for vaccinations coupled with the challenges of weather–floods, winds, and our big freeze a couple of months ago.

But all of that is not particularly news-worthy or interesting–other than as a historical notation.

I have always kept a file of images that appeal to me–color, shapes, lines, repetition–and now they mostly live on my photo site–but privately held as they are not meant to be good photos–but inspirational. My first series was farm buildings based on my photographs—finding an old fashioned corn-crib meant driving around rural Wisconsin and stopping at a farm, chatting with the farmer who gave permission for photography. While  I’ve worked on some pieces that I would consider sequential—a study of color or design and composition exercises, the next real series was the Stations of the Cross.

 

After completing a big project, there is always a sense of restlessness—wondering what should come next–a time of being not focused but aimless…..until the next challenge or inspiration occurs.

While I am waiting for that to happen, I can sort through more photos–do I really need ten photos of azaleas? I can sort through my sketchbooks, put bindings on quilts, and if really desperate–clean the kitchen and do the laundry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

farm buildings

Mom’s UFO’s

There may be one or two quilters who can claim no UFO’s. I certainly have my share—and I’m not divulging exactly how many that is—I will admit to working on shrinking that stack–they seem to glare at me with accusing eyes demanding to know when I will get to them.

Some of the quilt group I have belonged to have issued UFO completion challenges. We have traded UFO’s–I think that is fun—but I’m not volunteering to take on more. Some require a commitment at the beginning of each year writing down the names of the projects, some involve a random selection by drawing a number each month. Most require visible proof of completion–and that is always fun to see the line-up of the finished projects and the dates started.

Starting a new project is always exciting and fun—but then there are those accusing piles of bags and boxes—not to mention boxes of scraps demanding attention.

Most of us have found extra time on our hands–with no visiting or trips to museums, movies, restaurants, family gatherings, or even the grocery store or doctor’s office. I’ve worked on a couple of new projects but also worked on finishing up—including some of my mother’s unfinished pieces.

One thing I tried was quilting two pieces at one time. I am limited by the size of my frame; I can comfortably quilt a 72 inch wide piece…but using the wide backing fabric means i have about a hundred inches of length to work with—so that means several small pieces will fit.

I finished Mom’s little quilt top—it was a variation of a New York beauty and then worked on something I made featuring baskets and a variety of blocks combining it with some batik fabric I made with some tjaps from Thailand–and then a very old UFO of mine along with another new piece. They are quilted but not bound—good evening television projects.

Mom’s New York Beauty Variation
working on two at a time with one pantograph and the other custom
my birdhouse quilt meant to suggest looking out my kitchen window on a snowy wintery day
I think this is probably my oldest UFO dating from my life in Georgia
tthis is the basket quilt

If this last one makes you feel a bit dizzy–I rotated it in WordPress—usually I upload from my Smugmug account where I can manipulate the photos with greater ease–but to avoid neck strain on all of you I turned it. The plainish blue squares are from a length of fabric I batiked—and yes I like to use a lot of color in the quilting thread–it is a dark variegated blue/purple thread.