Sunday, October 19

Falling Leaves

I finished the top and I began to cogitate the quilt design. Something didn’t feel right. The ginkgo leaves looked like they were floating up. Leaves don’t float up. Plus, there was just a little too much “white” space at the top. Not over the moon with this.

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So I flipped it upside down.

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And I like it better; in person the leaves look like they are coming toward you. I can always change my mind again. The one yellow fabric is a little too bright, it grabs my attention too much. I can change it out, it is possible, but it involves careful surgery with a tiny scalpel to remove the teensy stitches without cutting into the fabric, then making a freezer paper template of the removed piece. Doable, but I think I will just paint it with tea to take the “scream” out of it.

I won’t start the quilting until late next week, we are babysitting our grandchild (age six). The kids are going off to Las Vegas for a solar energy conference.

This weekend we went to Whittier for Jim’s 50th reunion (college). The reunion dinner party was held in the courtyard at the president’s mansion (below). Very nice. The view was incredible, especially if you climbed up to that turret, which I did. In heels.

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We had a great time as always. The young people on campus were so nice. They always spoke to the alums and said things like “welcome back.” After the party we went to a nightclub [of sorts] and the DJ played some sets of music from the 60s in our honor. I had the foresight to bring comfy shoes for the after-party and I danced like a crazy woman. I loved it!

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There will be more pictures to share as people email them to us. I didn’t take my camera. Sometimes I just don’t want the hassle.

I ate some bread at the party. There were what looked like artisan rolls on the table, with pats of butter. I know “eating some bread” is not of vital importance, but in a way it is; I just ate a little of the top crust, and oh was it heavenly. I now know, for certain, having not had any bread (or any wheat) in six months, that it fires up your dopamine receptors—I was happy, happy. Another revelation was that two hours later my chest tightened up and I was wheezing. Of course I didn’t have any asthma meds with me because I’m done with those, so it was a little worrisome for a while, but it cleared up overnight.

I am so glad (thankful) that I finally know wheat’s effect. Even just a little bit will affect me. But sometimes it gets into things you wouldn’t expect—like the beef short ribs I had at Cedar Creek Inn. My body knows it’s there, even if *I* don’t.

On the home front:

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Landscaping…I should say the demolition of our lot…is progressing. They are digging many more trenches and taking away the real estate by the truckload. The ground is SO DENSE (this is a good thing—less settling) that they have to use a jackhammer. It’s like concrete. The neighbors must love us. That’s okay, it will be their turn very soon.

We got a hot tub! Woohoo! It’s a small one because there’s no space for anything larger, but it’s just for me anyway. I can’t wait—I love a hot tub and I miss it. The Jacuzzi in the desert was nearly impossible to get out of…I feared for my life sometimes…I could get in but I could not get out without help. Now if that doesn’t make you feel old… “Honeeeee, come get me….”

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Annnnd, we bought the barbecue. Bill the landscaper will build a “surround” for it. It’s also small, we don’t need a big one. Not to mention there ain’t much room back there.

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Here is one more picture. I honestly could not remember why I took this photo, but…

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This is the hill in front of our house. It’s what I see when I look out my studio window. I like the way they landscaped the hillsides…they planted patches of various things, like a patchwork quilt…it will be much prettier when it fills in and after the winter rains. You can see the coyote fence, this runs completely around our development…keeps the riffraff out in addition to the coyotes.

ANYway, the reason I took this photo in the first place is because every afternoon, just around sunset, ravens (crows) fly in a westerly direction from one side of the valley to over that hill you see beyond. I’m not talking 20 birds, I’m not talking 200 birds. I’m talking 2,000 black birds, flying overhead EVERY evening, like they are going home from work or something. It’s the strangest thing. Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, there are no crows in the picture. They all dropped to the ground to poke around for whatever just as I snapped the photo. But I’ll be ready for them next time.

Sunday, October 12

Around The World Blog Hop

Hi, and welcome! I was invited by Suze (Caracol Creations) to participate in the Around The World Blog Hop. Suze and I go way back to when a group of us did The Artist’s Way several years ago.

First, an apology. I was unable to coerce any artists to participate! I tried, but no one took the bait. Which is such a shame because I know so many uniquely talented artists in my blogosphere! I am truly sorry that you’ve reached a dead end of sorts, but I hope you enjoy visiting my site anyway. So let’s get started.

1. What am I working on?

This. 1-IMG_1393

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Good question. It depends on if you’re talking about making a quilt or making art. Either way, I believe my work is fairly unique. My construction technique is an amalgam of methods I learned from Katie Pasquini-Masopust, Carol Bryer Fallert, and Ruth McDowell.

3. Why do I create what I do?

Now, that is really hard to answer! Why? I’ve been driven to make art my whole life. Why this? I love working with fabric, especially batiks, the wow factor is high, and I enjoy the technique even though it is lengthy and fiddly—it would go a lot faster if I fused but I don’t like the look. Besides, it’s the journey, not the destination. And I have many UFOs to prove it!

4. How does my creating process work?

Let’s assume we’re not talking about the process of actually making the quilt but the “thinking it up” part. I have an “inspiration box” that is full of clippings of various print media I’ve collected over the years. I also have an extensive collection of digital photographs from my travels that cry out to be translated to fabric. When it’s time to start a quilt I lock myself in my studio with my “visual aids” until I get a spark—and it could be culled from multiple sources—then I sleep on it and let The Universe help distill the idea.

Sometimes I dust my house or organize a cabinet, as a type of meditation. I have found that the sacred art of space clearing is invaluable for stimulating creativity. You don’t just sort your fabrics to get it done, you sort your fabrics to sort your fabrics. It’s called “mindfulness,” and it really works! And there is no shortage of dust or chaos around here, believe me! I have a huge pile of batiks that need to be folded, sorted, and put away right now.

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Thanks for inviting me, Suze. It was fun!

Tuesday, October 7

Hey Lady!

 

We thinks you gots some serious mole problems here! 1-IMG_1379

Har har. It’s just the landscapers. They’ve been doing this for three days. I keep thinking it’s a good thing we don’t have a dog.

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Speaking of dogs, the coyotes were yapping up a storm [again] last night and I was afraid they’d come in the back yard if the workers had left the gate open, but then I realized they’d probably fall in the trenches. That’s why we have such high, prison-like fences. We’re coyote-proof.

I have come to the conclusion why rabbits and rodents are so prolific. They’re low on the food chain. We also have hawks screeching and owls hooting, and they need to eat, too.

Well now, *this* was fiddly! I need to figure out a better way to do this. Anyway, after much sussing and swearing, I got the border sewn on. Lining it up was a bitch! 1-IMG_1381

These are the best two of four corners.

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The rest aren’t so good. You can see the bottom right corner in the photo below is like a half-inch off. Screw it!1-IMG_1384

Next to go down are the leaves. Actually the piecing goes pretty easy, it’s assembly-line stuff. But I did NOT say it wasn’t fiddly! It is. Plus, aligning the seams causes me grief. So I asked myself, Do I care? No. Good. 1-IMG_1385

My craft iron died on me (it too spent four years in the desert…the white plastic is now yellow) so I’m using the good one. I’ll have to get a new iron before I ruin this one…but I think I already did. I have some iron cleaner-stuff, it works pretty good. If it hasn’t dried up like everything else.

Saturday, October 4

Groundbreaking News

Literally! We broke ground today on our landscaping. Finally! The ground is clay, and hard like concrete, so they use a jackhammer to break it up. Even weeds won’t take root in this cement-stuff. What they are in doing in this picture is digging a trench. The trench will hold pipe for sprinklers, electric, and gas. For the barbecue. And the hot tub. Yeah!

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Inside, I have been shoulder to the grindstone on this project. I got the entire background pieced and placed. I have realized I neglected to draw the inner border line before I cut up the paper templates, so I am essentially working without a net with regards to where the edge should be. I’m not surprised I’d forget something important, because it has been a while since I did this technique.

Update: I fixed it. I think.

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Here’s a scene from our little party the other night. Everyone had a real nice time. Good fun. Happy people. Nice neighbors. IMG_1348

Our little community had a harvest festival and it was real sweet. They had a live band and free food (fire-grilled sweet potato slices with chipotle, and coconut shrimp with red pepper glaze). The kids got to decorate pumpkins and play toss games, and eat apple slices with caramel sauce. It was hotter’n blazes, but we all had a good time.

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Then we came back to the house and played games and watched USC lose to Arizona State. It was so nice to hang out with family and just be. Dinner was pork tenderloin with cranberry-onion glaze, acorn squash, and salad with walnuts, roasted beets, and goat cheese. We scarfed it all up.

Wednesday, October 1

It’s October! Already?

Progress report: I did end up removing the sky blues, and I also removed the purples from the blue side of the spectrum and replaced them with more russets and maroons. I took this picture so I could see them side by side (before and after) and I liked this better—I think it’s warmer. It’s going to hang in our living room (if I like it) and we don’t have any blue in there. Whatsoever. Nada.

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So here’s where I am today. This only looks complicated. It’s not. Each piece is numbered and has an arrow pointing north so I can tell which way is up, and there are many hash-marks to assist in alignment. That paper I’m laying the pieces on is sticky so I can iron everything down before I sew it together. Meanwhile pins hold things in place. The towel acts as an ironing pad and pincushion.

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I sewed some of the pieces together at the bottom, my method has always been to piece the whole background and then attach the border in strips—you can see a border strip on the design wall. Well, getting those suckers to line up perfectly is a real booger. This time I’m going to attach a border piece to each edge piece. I think it will be better. We’ll see.

In other news, we’re having a party! Just a little one, but it’s our first party in the new house. We’re excited.
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We invited some neighbors over for some of J’s good vintage wines. We got to talking at last week’s happy hour about “what are we saving it for?” The milestone birthdays and anniversaries have all passed, there will be no more weddings—I don’t think—and there will be no more grandchildren. Those events call for champagne anyway. Many of these wines are ten years old and J is worried they may have gone bad (that would be tragic). Like I said, what are we waiting for?

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We’re only serving cheese, nuts, and dark chocolate, all things that pair well with red wine. Nothing fancy, just laughter and fun times—like a happy hour. Maybe we’ll all go out to dinner afterward. Who knows?

This is such an easy do! Simple, simple! I think we’ll do this with more neighbors in the future. So we can drink more of J’s wine. And to make room for more, right?

Tuesday, September 30

The Casting Couch

 

Couch—get it? I held auditions yesterday. These guys made the cut:1-IMG_1334

The close-up. Interesting to see them all laid out in a photo..Now I’m thinking maybe tans and beiges for the backgrounds instead of grays and blues. I’d kind of like to have some citrine yellows instead of the ochre-y ones but I am NOT buying any more fabric! 1-IMG_1336

So what am I making.1-IMG_1339

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I struggled and struggled because I wanted to do something cubism, a style I love, but I couldn’t break through the invisible barrier. My sister Mike told me to cut the crap and I did. As soon as I found some photos of leaves (in this case, ginkgo), my creativity came back. Well, I do have a lot of the right fabrics.

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This is going on outside my window today. It is loud. I have the windows closed and this noise is rattling the fillings out of my teeth. These guys are not wearing earplugs.

It’s always a construction zone around here on weekdays. Gets old. We wake up every morning to the beep beep beep of trucks backing up, and hammering, and now jackhammers. It’s like living in New York City.

Saturday, September 27

Getting Fit and Healthy

We took a walk today. Yeah, I know I know, you’d rather read about the quilting. Later.

It was a beautiful morning, and we got out for a walk before it turned hot. I wanted to take some pictures from the hill in the front of our house. That’s our house with the little awning and the dirty SUV (“Bud”) in the driveway. 1-IMG_1322

There are many trails all around our development. We’re working up to the longer ones. This one goes up, up, up. 1-IMG_1324

Going uphill really gets your heart pumping quickly in addition to giving you a great bird’s eye view. 1-IMG_1326
The trail continues up, even steeper still, but we had climbed high enough for today and we still had to walk our little section of the neighborhood to see what our neighbors were doing landscape-wise. And we were getting hungry for breakfast.

Okay, that’s the fit part. How about the health part? Oh, I thought you’d never ask. Here’s a short bit of wisdom for today:

Sugar.

Whether it’s from a lollipop or a slice of cinnamon-raisin bread, we all know that sugar is not the healthiest of ingredients, especially when it is consumed in excess or comes from refined forms such as high-fructose corn syrup. We also know that sugar is partly to blame for challenges with our waistlines, appetites, blood sugar control, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. The data confirming the relationship between high carbohydrate (sugar) consumption and diabetes is clear. And the data that supports the relationship between diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease is profound. Diabetes is a powerful risk factor for simple cognitive decline, dementia, accelerated aging, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
(from Grain Brain, Dr. David Perlmutter)

Thank you for reading. Be healthy. And take your Vitamin D!