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Ta Da! Destination: Baum’s Oz

Getting this artwork to smile for its formal portrait was not easy. With the projection of a possible tropical storm–fingers crossed for only a storm, not a hurricane, all of us anxiously watched the live radar and the weather reports and tried hard not to remember the onslaught of heavy rains from Harvey and Imelda. While I grew up preparing for a blizzard in the Midwest, and we always knew to run to the basement for a tornado…it was easy to tell when that might happen–the temperatures plummeted and the sky became black and the wind howled. Enough of that though. Time to move on to the artwork.

Several pieces were presented at the meeting and the entire thing was captured on facebook live. It was an odd meeting with people scattered throughout the room with chairs separated into small groups. References to the movie were evident in most of the pieces. I wanted to create interest in reading the book.

I used bias tape to form the tornado; it was surprising how little fabric was required; the largest piece was about 10 inches square. In the Emerald City, everyone was required to wear green tinted glasses and so i put a pair in for each character. I decided Dorothy would wear cats-eye glasses and used fabric from my grandmother’s stash. The tin man would have slightly dented shiny (satin) lenses–a fabric from my mother’s stash of remnants from choir robes. I put in Toto, the wild forest and two smiling monkeys. And I used some small pieced Kansas Dugout block hand-pieced from bits and pieces of my mother’s, grandmother’s and my stash.

I quilted it twice in a swirling pattern to suggest the tornado slinging things out. All those circles were intended to be Munchkins but after some reflection, I thought they might look like dozens of Humpty-Dumpty’s and left it as it is.

It was a fun piece to make and I am looking forward to the next challenge.

Here are two details

do you see Toto?
Dorothy’s slippers were silver in the book but they did not show up on the black and white version of the movie and so they were changed to ruby. I added the red bow to tie the movie and the book together.

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.

A Man and His Dog

My Dad always enjoyed the company of dogs, tolerated cats if they were good mousers, hated chickens unless they were in pieces on the dinner table. My mother was not so fond of large dogs and in their later years, they had a Lhasa Apsa.

Our first dog in this house was Babette She was originally the neighbor’s dog but with three little boys coaxing her to come play with them, the neighbor finally gave up keeping her in his yard and gave her to us. Babette was a poodle mix, loyal, and empathetic to the max. She always seemed to know who needed some extra attention.

We spent some years without a dog; but then acquired two rescue puppies after our home was burglarized and vandalized by some neighbors.

Toby, the tall one and always up for an adventure is part Border Collie and we think Lab. Dora is Australian Shepherd/Border Collie and knows her duty is to keep tabs on my husband. This includes bathroom door guarding, waiting at the door for him to return from wherever he has gone. The first time he left without her, she panicked; racing from window to window and shrieking. Now in her more mature years, she knows he will be back.

They have become accustomed to daily trips to the local dog park—and as a treat one day we took them to Cat-Tail Marsh. We walked along the dikes and then returned home–everyone was tired and ready for a nice long drink of water.

The marsh is part of the sewage treatment of the city and while that doesn’t sound very nice, it is actually a wonderfully diverse ecosystem with lots of birds and the occasional alligator.

Today I ventured out to the dog park. Toby and Dora were beyond excited over the prospect and were extremely well behaved, waiting for me to put their leashes on before we arrived and letting me take them off when we returned. We didn’t stay long as another dog arrived about fifteen minutes afterward—but I feel accomplished…..and got a nice doggy kiss of appreciation on the way home.

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.