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Wizard of Oz

My local quilt guild has chosen Frank Baum’s book as the inspiration for this year’s book quilt. Held in even years, this is the third book. The first time, people could choose their favorite book. the last one was Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The first requirement was to read the book–and not rely upon any movie or cartoon version.

There were many scenes to choose from, but I chose the chapter describing being caught under the ice of the Antartic and all the wonderful colors refracted by the blocks of ice.

This year’s selection of the Wizard of Oz was much more challenging. The movie version is very different from the book and while most people focus on the movie imagery, the challenge was to find something in the book to trigger a read of the book.

I started with the idea that Kansas is somewhat flat with golden wheat fields and blue skies. I thought a fisheye version of the fields would be a good starting point and of course, Kansas along with the Midwest have tornadoes during thunderstorms. I also had some hand-pieced blocks called Kansas Dugout. Here is my beginning:

that seemed a bit tame and not proportioned correctly. So I inserted the blocks at the side and bottom.

I thought that was better but then I found some more of those Kansas Dugout blocks.

So now I had a base and it was time to decorate.

Tomorrow I’ll show you the finished piece after it has been presented at the quilt guild

Birds and More Birds

This was a set of embroidered state birds that had wandered around Texas and Arkansas and Louisiana and finally came to rest in my sewing room. A traveling workshop quilt teacher had bought them at an estate sale somewhere and after some time offered them for sale at various guilds.

No-one wanted them—as there were just 47 blocks. They were nicely embroidered but missing three states–and no-, not Alaska or Hawaii. Now, I don’t remember which states were missing but I bought a children’s coloring book to find line drawings of the missing three states. I added an eagle or two as well.

Then I had to figure out a setting for them. They were hexagonal blocks and not all exactly the same size. It took some doing but the top was completed, the quilting in a feather pattern, and the binding applied.

Instead of sewing on a sleeve and taking a formal portrait, I hung it up on a makeshift clothesline on the front porch.

It was interesting to see what birds each state chose. Robins and mockingbirds were popular choices but my favorite was Rhode Island’s Chicken.

Okra in Bloom

Okra tends to be that vegetable people who do not know how to prepare it properly think of as slimy and nasty.

The first time I had okra was in Augusta Georgia and it was fried—-like a lot of southern food; coated in cornmeal and deep-fried. Along with sausage biscuits before they became a national phenomenon, an instant gustatory delight.

In Texas, I had okra and tomatoes–a variation of stewed tomatoes which is a German staple. And then we threw a few pods sliced onto a pizza—and sometimes slice up one or two into a green salad. The pods grow quickly and in the right weather, pods may need collecting twice a day. I hand-slice them as sometimes they become woody.

I’ve also pickled them and have four jars with the pods marinating in spices and vinegar.

What is most remarkable about okra is its beautiful flower. I didn’t know much about okra until I planted it in my raised garden several years ago. I recognized the similarity to hollyhocks; and then when I read further—to cotton.

Waiting

Friday was the 19th year since our world changed. While I had no-one directly impacted by those events, I watched with millions of others world-wide–stunned. I was at work in Liberty Texas Emergency Room; one of the nurses ran out to the waiting room television to report on events as they happened. Patients continued to arrive at intervals and we worked but with part of our minds going over the events and the other glad for the distraction of a tangible work.

This year our world changed again–with something we did not anticipate but instead of the cohesion expressed in those first few days and weeks, there is divisiveness and vitriol—anger the expression of fear. We want a return to ‘normal’—whatever that was before—and before those Towers fell.

Each morning and each day rolls into the next while we are waiting for that return. The most exciting part of the day is ‘what shall we have for supper tonight?” and who is going to cook it? Grocery shopping trips are limited to once a week at most, more often every ten days with husband doing majority. I have been working ‘some’ but not enough to justify all the expenditures of CME, licensing and so forth.

Toby and Dora form the majority of our physical social world with the rare phone call from a son…and of course there is the internet–increasingly unpleasant as the election draws near and people fume at the uncertainty and change we now face.

However, September is also back to school month. For me, that always mean a fresh start, new beginnings, new notebooks and pencils and a new dress and something intellectually new to conquer. Even though my school years are past and my sons no longer need new notebooks or gym shoes, I still enjoy the excitement. And this year of uncertainty, it seems even more important to focus on what I can do, looking ahead instead of behind.

This fall I have taken on the dual task of improving my speaking Spanish and Photoshop Elements 20. And it now seems to also include learning this new Block Editor in WordPress.

Yesterday was a trial run of the Block Editor and Photoshop Elements.

Here is another photo for your viewing pleasure. Unlike yesterday’s image, it s not trimmed and bound. I don’t have a destination or purpose for it—it is a good size for covering a lap while watching Netflix or Prime or even one of those DVD’s stuffed in the cabinet under the television.

Any takers? (after being binding is applied)

Finishing Up

Destined for Boys Haven, I finished the binding on this one last week. That is a large fish on this side and the back is football field. It joins two others waiting for times to return to ‘normal’.

Powering up after Hurricane Laura

jetsam-mAccording to the National Weather Service, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Marco was responsible for the last minute wobble in Laura’s path to deviate into Louisiana instead of here in Beaumont Texas. Just east of us in Orange County and I’m told they had significant damage. We were on the ‘clean’ side of the hurricane and outside of a lot of small twigs and a carpet of crepe myrtle leaves on our lawn escaped most of the damage.

fern20jetsam-mHowever, our power went out and some neighborhoods will not have power until sometime this next week. Our internet which is quixotic in the best of times is even less reliable.

live20oak20cluster-mFriends and family have called to see if we are okay….now that we are in the ‘feeble three legged cane’ age group—although neither of us possesses such a thing. Running a generator to power our refrigerator, a box fan and our freezer took some doing including dismantling my pantry shelves to get at the plug for the refrigerator—why don’t appliance people put an accessory plug somewhere near the front of the machine?

pink20vine-mWe have power now and we are trying to clear up some of the trash left behind. I took a few photos around the neighborhood—while I could focus on the things that have destroyed or the boarded up buildings, there are plenty of those photos taken by others.

purple20flower-mIt is hard to get back to ‘normal’ whatever that is in these days. I decided I would clean out my sewing machine desk drawers—what a wealth of useless stuff I found! Instruction manuals for a DVD player long consigned to the trash as non-functional, several packages of rotary cutter blades–like most I use mine until they cut like I am chewing on the fabric instead of cutting it cleanly.

down20the20street-mYesterday I brought back an unused cart from the shop to see if I could put the bits and pieces of fabric—too big and good to toss—seems I am related to my grandmother who lived through the Depression and World War II rationing. Today I might do some sorting and see if I can use that new saw I bought to cut up some of the larger limbs so I can haul them to the side for big trash pickup day.

Tomorrow is a new day—we have tonight’s meal planned—pizza from the freezer.

 

You are Never Too Old

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. paste20paper20lineup-m

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;paste20papter202-mpaste20paper201-m

A Bonsai Tree and a Fountain

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.

img_4260-mThis 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.

img_4262-mIt 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.

 

Southern Cooking by a Yankee at Heart

my20supper-mI 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

.glens20supper-m

 

 

Trying Something New

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.

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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.

sequoia20sampler-m

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.love20ring-m