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A Purple Weed-Chopper

Today was a lovely hot day with puffy white clouds floating across the sky, perfect for the rescheduled fly-in at the local municipal airport. We arrived around eleven in time to see some parachutists landing. Vintage cars lined the tar-mac and then there were the planes. Mostly smallish ones–two or three passenger ones at best—and then there were the ultra-lights or experimentals.

In the background is the Polyethylene plant–I used to work there as the occupational physician. I learned a lot about people and management and work processes there. The plant looks to have tripled in size since I was there and sometimes I wish I was still there.

A friend from those days, husband’s partner and son, and another friend from motorcycle days were there with two vintage cars. Husband thought he could have parked Tessie there as it was the only one in the parking lot. That would have been nice as there was a huge turn-out and we parked a good distance away on the side of Keith Road.

As we caught up chatting—the habit of pandemic seclusion a bit challenging to break—a truck drove up in front of us towing a what is lovingly referred to as a ‘weed-chopper’.

I thought it might be a glider with its wings furled around a center mast—the wings are made of rip-stock nylon identical to sails—and made by sail making companies. The man, his son and two grand-children carefully prepared the plane—-taking about an hour to fit all the pieces together. I was graciously allowed to sit in the pilot’s seat—-

It was a bit of a chore to climb through those struts with my back not bending very much.

I took more photos of some of the other ultra-lights, flying planes—and a lot of sky with clouds and no plane—and then what my engineer-minded husband and sons think of as rather odd—engine parts.

I do not know what this is or what it does. I have been accused of thinking like a surgeon at times–‘i.e. stop talking about the problem, let’s figure out a way to fix it’ but maybe with a bit of pruning, it could be part of an engineering bent.

I will do a bit more editing of the photos I took—and upload them into my Texas 2021 folder on Smugmug.

Five Buckets of Kelly Green

Five Buckets of Kelly Green. two buckets of Purple and Sky blue and a quart jar of Yellow

I was not particularly familiar with David Hockney’s work. I had read about his work with an ipad but had never viewed any of his paintings.

However, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston hosted a Hockney-Van Gogh exhibit and as I have a membership and given the seclusion of the past year or more, I was eager to see some art.

I usually park in the Herman Park Zoo parking lot, walk across the park enjoying the ducks and the turtles and the little train and the fountain in the middle of the pond and all the little children darting about. However, EVERYONE was at the zoo this morning—-the parking lot was FULL and dozens of cars drove around aimlessly hoping for a vacant spot. I ended up parking in a church lot with a bit of a hike to the museum.

Fortunately I was able to use my timed ticket although I was fifteen minutes late.

Hockney likes kelly green—buckets and buckets of the stuff; sometimes he contrasts it with a purple—both colors seem to come directly out of their buckets with no mixing.

Interspersed were some lovely small paintings of Van Gogh’s—he certainly delighted in color, mixing it on the canvas–and favoring a variety of greens, yellows and a turquoise-y blue. The only commonality I could see was that all the paintings reflected landscape—Hockney painted the same bit of road in many seasons and in many lights–but always with that dreadful kelly green.

There were some lovely charcoal drawings of wooded scenes and a series of watercolors–that seemed random landscapes–but perhaps that was the curator who placed them in such a fashion.

Of interest, though, one of Van Gogh’s drawings of a wooded scene was done in reed pen and ink over pencil with a wash over the top—interesting combination of media.

I did pick up a few postcards as reminders of the day—I have decided to not get catalogs–they are heavy to carry and I rarely look at them again–postcards are lightweight–easy on the wallet and reminiscent enough of the day.

The exhibit closes on June 27 and from what I could tell about ticket availability next Saturday the 19th is the last available day to view the exhibit. Next up is Monet to Matisse—one I’m sure to find more to my liking and aesthetics. However, it is always good to see art, analyze it for content and appeal, and see what I might use in my own work.

But it will not be huge doses of kelly green.

Working with a chisel tipped pencil

The Winslow Art Center weekly Art Chat offered most Thursdays has had several artists talking about the importance of doing a value study—and the cliche—color gets the credit but value does the work.

The artist showed several of his value studies of several landscapes–I don’t remember a still life–that might be easier. He used severral shades of gray markers and a fine Sharpie to do his initial setup before diving into paint.

I thought—I need to do that.

I bought the markers—and stared at tehm for a long time.

Last year in late January we took a long awaitied trip to Big Bend.

I gave those markers a try—not so easy.

I have also been watching Ian Roberts every Tuesday demostrate painting. He does a value study –or even several to try out his compostioin and values before starting to paint.

Of course, he makes it looks incredbily easy.

Our first lesson was how to sharpen our pencils to form a chisel point.

I’m not so good at that either.

In years past, I filled a sketchbook for each art class I took for my masters degree—but we were supposed to use a ball point pen—I got very used to that pen—hard to switch back to a pencil. But I gave it a try.

Here is one of our class homework assignments.

It has been difficult to get good lighting—we have had dreary rain for days–and now brilliant sun with huge shadows—

I am determined to figure out this value stuff—I think we will be figuring out how to do a value sutdy from a photograph—easier than from real life–=light is constant and I could cheat by dropping the values to 3 or 4 in photoshop.

Nope, not cheating—it is a tool to get me to where I want to be.

Three Patches with Laura

My church has a retail outlet shop offering a variety of donated items. Sometimes it is someone’s de-cluttering efforts, or unsold garage sale, or an estate cleanout.

Somehow a couple of bags of partiatlly completed quilt blocks were donated–and a friend of mine set them aside for me. I paid less than $5 for three plastic bags with quilt parts.

It is not the oddest thing I have bough there—-one offering included a lot of stuffed doll legs, a couple of arms–not heads or bodies. I really don’t remember what I did with them—but I got a lot of odd looks at the checkout counter—and even odder from my sons and hsuband.

For the past few years I have also dutifully filled out a UFO list for now two different groups; one has 12 items, the other has 6. The one with 6 items offers a chance at a prize drawing of more quilting stuff—I decided I would play along—but not put my name in the pot as I really do not want or need more stuff!

So No. 6 on my list is to work on this bag of quilt parts—a couple of completed blocks, some partials, and some cut out squares.

The squares are 2.25 inches square and are sewn with an 1/8 inch seam—a bit difficult to replicate. They are also sewn by hand with the tiniest of stitchs.

The construction is not how I would sew them.

I’ve been trying to find a gray that will be similar enough to work—or pehraps I should use a variety of whites. I’m not sure how many blocks I will be able to make with the parts I have—but it will certainly be an interesting project.

The fabrics are a mix of prints and stripes. I wish I knew who this person was—her sense of color and pattern and design is intriguiing.

Attached to the bag was a cutout from the newspaper with a photo of a corner of the quilt—it is a Laura Wheeler design. I haven’t been able to find a reference to it in any of my reference books.

Interestingly also, the designer/starter of this project calculated the number of blocks, pieces needed to complete a 72 by 90 quilt—a fairly common size in the early days of the quilting revival.

Don’t look for this to be finished in the next couple of days–I’m still studying about how I am going to insert those missing pieces on the partially fnished blocks—or maybe I should practice on the pieces–the four patches to develop my skill at an 1/8 inch seam—and no it wont’ be by hand–I’m far too impatient.

Chillihowie and I’m too Easy

Several years ago, I had back surgery (first of four so far) and was facing time ‘resting’ and not working. To keep me busy, one of my friends suggested I try the Bonnie Hunnter annual holiday mystery quilt.

Now, mysteries are my favorite knd of reading matter—and I like surprises. I like the randomness of following along and seeing what happens.

So once again, this Thanksgiving I embarked on her latest mystery. It was called Chillihowie after a small town near her current home. I’ve never been there—probably will never be there—but I followed along. She uses scraps–a large variety of scraps–and I’ve done that, gathering up bits and label them according to what I have substituted for her suggested colors.

It gets a bit confusing when she says take your ‘orange’ or ‘purple’ and do such and such with it.

Sometimes I have enough of one color, sometimes I need to use several pieces.

In past years, I bought a lot of fabric—if I liked –many yards. I had saved one featuring large poppies with that lemony green leaves—although poppy leaves are a dull grayish green. That fabric formed my fabric choices—and the amounts I had of each color determined what I would subistitute for Bonnie’s colors—hers were purple, orange, blue, green and large quantites of neutrals.

These are my blocks.with a neutrak planned for the sashing pinned on the side. I’m working on those now. Hopefully I can have the top pieced before the end of this month===and then to the quilting queue..only three ahead of it–and one on the frame.

A Window and a Pearl Button

I have been a member of Studio Art Quilt Association since nearly the beginning some thirty years since Yvonee Porcella was President and the original organizer. The organization has evolved and in some ways not to my liking. The last president and board seemed more focused on social issues than on art. I am planning on attending the next convention to see if I wish to continue membership.

In the meantime, though, there are fund-raisers. There is an annual 12 inch square piece set up as on-line auction. And then there is is the Sptolight held at the convention which features ‘largish postcard sized pieces.

These are fun to do, not very time-consuming and a place to explore something new and perhaps not in my usual style.

The peces are displayed in pre-cut mats—with an opening of 4.5 by 6.5; to make sure my design fits, I cut a window in this file folder and cleverly also labeled the window size on the folder.

I’ll take it’s formal photo later—when we have some sunshine again—it is too dark with drizzly rain outside to take good photos.

The background is a printed linen, the ‘ground’ is wool challis, and that is a pearl button flower—a button from my grandmother’s button collection. At one time, the Mississippi River was the source of shells that made pearl buttons. Since they were locally made and therfore relatiely inexpensive, she had quite a few.

Waiting for Spring to Sprung

This part of Texas is not designed for cold weather. Our houses let heat out–a plus for our summers of 100-degree weather but not so great when we have below freezing temps. Christmas week was chilly; the tops of our spring bulbs all frosted, our Meyer’s Lemon tree–third one we’ve replanted since the big freeze two years ago dropped its leaves. The gardenia and rosemary are brown sticks.

But looks at these joyful jonquils! One year they had budded out and the blooms were covered with ice—that ice melted and we had these gorgious blooms.

The redibud is not quite so dramatic—just the flowers—but see that honeybee up on the top? Those of us who keep bees—or rather have beehives on our property are always anxious to see if our hives survived the winter—-and here is one little bee going about her business.

We have more drizzly and chilly days ahead—I want to plant lettuce and more radishes and it is time for peas to go in too.

I am lucky that here in this part of Texas, I can garden year round—and not just look at seed catalogs and dream.

A Presidential Challenge

I am old enough to remember JFK’s stirring speech asking what ‘I’ could do for my country. It has been repeated and maybe should be a daily thing.

However, I responded to the Calcasies Cut-ups Quilt Guild presidential challenge with this quilt.

There were several steps along the way. Each step offered a selection of two or more options and of course the fabric choices were mine.

It began with the cetner and each step involved another round. I did not quite understand the next to the last round—those bowties are supposed to be just cornerstones—but after I had made enough for over half of the round, I continued.

By the time I finished all those bow-ties I was weary of the whole project and opted for a plain final border.

It is now quilted and will be next up for binding.

First Day Hike

Several state parks post a number of ‘first day’ activities. Usually, they are ranger guided hikes through the park. This year I noted a “First Day Paddle’.

That sounded fun.

So we called and inquired.

All the rain of the past few days have raised the rivers/sloughs/bayous to early flood stage—so it was a no go.

We studied the sky after church—there were a lot of dark clouds; it looked like imminent rain. But we gathered up the dogs and found our way to Cat-Tail Marsh. Quite a few other people were there as well—all wanting to be outside after so many days cooped up with rain and cold weather.

We could hear the coots amidst the reeds. No doubt there were other varieties but the only ones we could see were the egrets—and they were at a considerable distance from the walking path.

They don’t seem to pose for photos.

It is a New Year

After retiring, time seems to take on a new dimension. There is no work scheduled, perhaps a few doctor appontments here and there, some vehicle maintenance, vet visits for the dogs, and the days tend to run into each other.

The pandemic was part of that—with few places to go and our world limited to on-line forums and our yard/house.

Our recent cold spell necessitating hibernation in our upstairs as the warmest part of the house has added to that timeless feeling.

Still I am very goal oriented and task dedicated.

This New Year, my first full year of real retirement is one for exploration and adventure. While I may be limited in some of the activities requiring physical endurance, my mind is still quite functional…although some of those daily jumbles make my brain scramble.

Some people choose a word as a focus for their year; others write resolutions that fill the gyms the first two weeks of January.

I haven’t figured it out yet.

My father had an old German/Czech proverb—-whatever you spend New Year’s Day doing, that will be what you do the rest of the year.

Procrastination at its worst

Sometimes I am very orgnaized and task oriented.

I cut the pieces for this quilt out in early January with the idea of focusing on one project to completion.

It got set aside.

Then I could not remember exactly how it went together as I had decided on a variation but did not write or draw anything about it—so I was left to guess.

This was supposed to be an interlocking puzzle block.

But as you can see, there might be a few pieces here and there but more that are not.

Oh, well. It was quilted and I bound it. I sew the binding on by machine but then hand-sew it to the backing. It keeps my hands busy while watching evening Netflix.

Procrastinating Again

I have the very bad habit of taking a lot of photos sometimes labeling them and their file folder, but then never ‘putting them away’ so to speak.

It means my SD cards are a jumble of files and sometimes I run out of space. I’ve made a concerted effort to prune those files—but dealing with them on a daily or somewhat daily basis would certainly be better.

That procrastination occurs in my artwork as well. Maybe it is because I am not quite sure what the next step will be and the project needs to percolate or stew or something for some time.

Here is a photo of two pieces I quilted sometime this last summer. The one on the right is destined to be a NICU coverlet—they cover the bassinets at night to provide some semblance of night and day for the premies. ICU’s do the same thing–but it is just turniing down the lights—-it seems our brains and bodies need to know it is night/rest/sleep time to function properly in the daylight hours.

The one on the right is an art piece I made while learning how to do inserted circles. In reality, I already knew how to do it–but it was fun to have a class and see other people in the on-line class but not have to think very hard.

The NICU cover–a fabric book panel, is already bound and ready for delivery.

The one I call Pennies featured an embroidery my mother did during World War II; the large red circles are meant to represent pennies. I wanted to put an image of a penny on them–but stumped as to how to do it. I may have figure out a way—but in the meantime I will procrastinate by hand-sewing down the binding.

Procrastination is indeed a sport requiring practice.