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Earth In All Its Glory

A popular set of prompts is earth, wind, water, and fire. Earth is our foundation and the other three impact our lives. Primal Forces: Earth is the first part of a series of three exhibits planned by SAQA sometime soon—hard to tell exactly when due to moving target dates vis a vis Covid 19.

I decided to make something rather fun as my entry. While I am not a native Texan, I am proud to claim Texas as my home and enjoy all the fun and quirky things about it. There is a huge quilting tradition in Texas along with the international quilt Festival held annually in Houston. Then there’s the space industry and all the busyness and excitement of launches and interaction with astronauts.

While this piece will probably not make it into the final exhibit, it may bring a smile or two to the faces of the jurors and hopefully anyone reading this blog.

Texas is the Center of My Universe

And then, with my tendency to use every little bit, I took a handful of strips left from another project—my grandmother who lived through the Great Depression imbued this in me—and created this piece. The strips were laid down in order on top of a piece of corduroy–my favorite supporting fabric, and then stitched and stitched and stitches until all the pieces were flat. It looked too bare and so I added the oak tree and parts of oak leaves.

Oak leaves are the last leaf to crumble away into the earth. Maple, elm, hickory, ash, willow–all dissolve into the earth within weeks, but the oak leaves remain for months. They are sturdy enough to serve as small plates holding water–and sliding against each other when you attempt to stopyour bicycle at a stoplight in late December in Wisconsin—I had a small scrape on my knee from that incident and the bike got a bit dented but still functional.

Earth’s Promise 30TX20W

It was an Experiment

Last weekend, I thought I would try a new approach to the art group I started several years ago. We have not been meeting due to the pandemic and we all missed our time together. Our agenda included a brief lecture about art and an artist…I think it is important to know art terms and place ourselves in art history….then an assignment due at the next meeting, discussion and critique of the previous assignment, then works in progress–we then usually adjourned for lunch at a nearby restaurant for more chatter.

My thought/idea was to do the lecture part as a facebook live video and follow it with a zoom show and tell. Managing all the parts of a live video was more than I wanted to take on–and so it was going to be a video only with no audience participation.

Here is what I have learned.

It is very difficult to speak to a little blue light as though it is a real person.

I have not done mirrors in over ten years, so monitoring the image I could see on my laptop screen was not something I am accustomed to doing.

I speak fairly slowly; a hold-over from the days in which I had to dictate hospital summaries and the transcriptionists complained bitterly I spoke too fast and my accent was weird.

My husband viewed my video and said very kindly, it was informative.

Like I said, it was an experiment and I will do better next time.

For those who are interested; the topic was Anni Albers with a quote from Egbert Oldendag. Anni was married to Josef Albers who is known for his treatise on color, Anni worked on weaving–one of the only three artforms available to her at the Bauhaus, Oldendag was a Canadian painter.

The assignment is to choose an artist’s work as a starting point in both color and composition for our next piece….a self-portrait that is not representational.

One of my favorite pieces of sculptures in the sculpture garden in Houston was Giacometti’s. I called him Matchstick Man and he stood at the entrance to greet all the visitors. He has since been moved indoors and I have only seen him once standing at the foot of the stairs. Here is the link to some of his work at the Tate.

I find his work to be both intense and spare, an interesting and challenging dichotomy.

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.


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.