Friday, April 3, 2020

On My Walks

Another update on the little orange cat.  He hasn't been on the trail the last two days, but I left food just in case. I hope he Iives at the house behind the woods.
It is so refreshing to get outside to enjoy some fresh air. There was an unusual bug on my porch railing. I called Christy and she identified him as a Click Bug. If he gets on his back he clicks to help him turn over.What interesting pink and black spots he had, and big black eyes.

I love to notice how different the trunks of the crape myrtles are--from two or three very large ones to many small. This snowball bush is adding more flower clusters. The tight beginning green ones are as beautiful as the open white ones.







 Yesterday there was a couple having a picnic on a blanket on the grass, and as I got closer I saw they each had a canvas to paint on. It was pleasant to see them enjoying an old-fashioned day in the park, almost like they were in a painting!

After no makeup or earrings for a couple of weeks someone mentioned we need to wear earrings so the holes won't close up. Good idea and good reason to wear the Native American handmade sterling silver ones I bought on my trip to Arizona--the tag says: "Ancient Twig Deer. Many years ago a 4,000-year-old split-twig deer talisman was found in a nearly inaccessible cave in the Grand Canyon. These people lived in hard times and undoubtedly felt compelled to pray to their gods, by creating these kinds of figurines and hoping this would help them provide food for themselves and their families. Handmade by Jimmy Jensen"
I had a laugh at my cats last night. I went to the computer room and found both chairs occupied, with Tarbaby walking around looking unhappy. Then he jumped up on the table and protested loudly to me as if to say, "Where am I supposed to sit?" After we moved them off, he got in his favorite place--on my shoulder.


It is time for Eric to add blue and purple streaks to my hair and cut it. But with the quarantine in place since March 15, this will have to be one of those things to not worry about. I have a little blue left but it doesn't show in this picture. I wish my gray would turn as beautifully white as my mom's but it hasn't yet.
  I finished a small thread-painted flower and mounted it on a 12" gallery-wrapped canvas. I like this presentation. I am working on another similar one and plan to use the same type of mounting.





Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Choosing Beauty and Joy

Well, you'd think quarantining would cause lots of progress on projects, clean houses and flowerbeds, organized files, healthy meals cooked. But hearing of the growing number of victims of COVID-19 can overwhelm our senses and rob us of our ability to concentrate and carry on to get these things done.
The large group of people I observed from my front porch attending a graveside service last week (my house faces the side of a cemetery) caused a mixture of sadness, pity, and then anger that they would ignore all safety instructions and possibly cause harm to their loved ones and the rest of our city.
I must choose to focus on beauty and joy where I can find it. And it is really all around me. From my cats in the house to growing things in my yard to sights I see on my walk. Simple pleasures, like seeing a cat curling up in as tight a circle as possible make me smile. I anticipate my favorite crape myrtle along the walking trail. My tiny Swiss chard plants are looking better every day. 



I haven't finished the facing on the back of the large thread-painted flower yet, but have done a smaller one and mounted it on a 12" gallery wrapped canvas. I like this presentation and will do another like it. Can you see the 1" depth of the canvas in the second picture?


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Self-Quarantining

Self-quarantining can be a time to enjoy some quiet reflection and freedom from regular duties. It can also be lonely. I was very touched to find this sweet surprise near my back door.
   Even with plenty of time available, it is hard to concentrate or stay on task with the sadness of news of growing deaths and shortages of supplies for medical personnel. I have tried to get out for a walk in my neighborhood park every day for some exercise. I even find myself picking up trash to put in the nearby container and wondering how people can be so uncaring that they would litter! This styrofoam container had chicken in it, so I left it for this little cat who came up, hoping he didn't follow me home.

There is beauty all along the way. I love these crape myrtle trunks and roots.

   In my yard there is one lone red amaryllis. The iris that I have watched make green leaves for almost two years surprised me today with a beautiful bloom. There is another bud, so I am happy. The wisteria bush is blooming. I have a bumper crop of oregano, and the clover-looking oxalis tries to take over the space. I think of it as a weed until it rewards me with tiny pink flowers. I have one scrawny blueberry bush that looks more pitiful each year. But I love to see the little berries come on it. The mockingbirds probably get most of them, but that's okay.






   I have plenty of fabric and supplies to make masks for our local hospital. It's not much, but better than wringing my hands and doing nothing. There are dozens of patterns and lots of conflicting information about whether hospitals can use them because they are not official medical-grade, but my Forrest General Hospital nurse friend stressed the dire need and it makes me feel this is something positive I can do while I am in isolation. She says they add an extra layer of protection through the open slit. They also ask for ties instead of elastic (too tight/too loose, catches in hair, etc.). Fray-Check ends of ties or ribbons.




   The thread-painted flower has its facing applied and is ready for the hand sewing on the back. This is not a bad task--just impossible with a cat on my lap. I have to catch them asleep for any sewing in the recliner.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

And Then Everything Changed

I've been home from my Arizona/Grand Canyon trip for a week today. It was a wonderful experience that I enjoyed with son Mark and wife Melody. We flew to Phoenix and drove to Flagstaff, Sedona, and Grand Canyon from March 10-15, coming home to self-quarantine for control of COVID-19. (Self-quarantine to a quilter is not as hard as it is to other people.)
   Yes, we took a helicopter ride to see the canyon from several vantage points. This was my first flight, and I highly recommend the helicopter ride for the best experience. Words cannot describe the sense of wonder that we were overcome with at the sights of this wonder of nature. Smiles, tears, and prayers!

  Melody and I were sitting in the front seats beside the pilot. We could even see below our feet.
 
 

 Only one of the spectacular views. This one reminds me of a caladium leaf, one of my favorites.
At a lookout post there was a relief map of the canyon. 

On the last morning at our Airbnb Hidden Hollow in Flagstaff, we woke up to a beautiful snowfall. My room was on the third floor, up in the trees, so the view was quite spectacular.

   We took all precautions for washing hands and wiping surfaces during the trip, but the Phoenix and Dallas airports were "business as usual." As the news worsened, we knew we could have been exposed unknowingly, so we were glad to self-quarantine when we got home. 
   My kitties were glad to have me home. They looked rather pitiful as I was leaving.

   I've been taking walks in my neighborhood every day for exercise. The temperature has been between 50 and 80 with one day of rain, which really beat down my azalea blooms. Other bushes will bloom for us to enjoy, though.
    Linda and I finished a Quilt of Valor top I had started several months ago. A Pine Belt Quilter member will quilt it on their longarm machine.   

  I put the facing on a large free-motion quilted flower and worked on a smaller one. Quilting was a great stress reliever during the week.

 
 

   There is a desperate need for medical supplies, and quilters and sewers all over the US are pitching in to help. We cannot make surgery-grade N95 masks but these fabric ones can help . In light of the horror of the situation, it is helpful to think we are doing something--anything--to ease the burden. Our doctors, nurses, technicians, EMTs, first responders are putting their lives at risk. We are ever grateful and humbled at the dedication and service they provide.




Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Early March Quilting

     Here's a little catch-up on quilting in the first few days of March. Linda and I made two baby quilts for gifts. She did the piecing and I quilted and bound them. I quilted a large puzzle meander on one of them and loopy e's and ell's on the other. The fabrics are the same on both but pattern a little different. My favorite binding is a serpentine stitch from the front, which also shows on the back. There was plenty of kitty help on these.

    I call these little pieces Color Blocks; the quilting is done with feed dogs engaged (rather than free-motion quilting). Elizabeth watched closely until it became boring.



Tarbaby trusts me not to cut his feet as he walks on my cutting table.

This large printed flower has free-motion quilting added to enhance the colors.

A group of us are working on new cut-away felt banners for our church (University Baptist Church, Hattiesburg). These Tree of Life design banners will be hung on either side of the baptistry during Ordinary Time. They are approximately 44" x 98". The designs are by Fashions by Sarah.



Saturday, February 29, 2020

Finishing Up February

What a busy month! I needed an extra day (29th). We had cold, we had rain, we had temps in the 30s, and temps in the high 60s. My yard is still soggy and has lots of dead limbs and twigs from some winds. These huge old trees constantly self-prune and drop dead branches. The azaleas have had enough warm weather to make them start to bloom, so we're hoping they don't get nipped by a late freeze.

     I've enjoyed some OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) classes, like an art class with my favorite watercolor artist Dana Stratton, a class about the trends and what is happening in Christian churches today with Brett Harris (my co-pastor), a talk by Carol Durham about working in an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. Then we are beginning work on some new church liturgical banners.
     Our second Meistersingers concert was last Sunday afternoon--Winter in Blue--some beautiful music by a Norwegian composer and pianist, Ola Gjeilo. The first concert was last October, called Spirituals in Blue. The third one this season will be Mass in Blue--a requiem mass with a jazz flavor--as part of Festival South in June. The words of the traditional mass are there, but the music is exciting and surprisingly fun to sing. Rehearsals will be challenging but rewarding.
     In our Southern Fiber Arts group we exchange small (8" x 10") art quilts. Jackie Watkins made one for me inspired by the cover of the Spirituals in Blue concert. I made her piece using real leaves under organza, embellished with silk embroidery stitches.
I am holding the quilt Jackie made for me; she is holding the one I made for her

Cover for concert
My art quilt for Julia Graber
Art Quilt Karen Arzamendi made for me
  In bits of spare time I like to work on a jigsaw puzzle on the dining table. The table is long enough that there is plenty of room for meals on one end with the puzzle on the other end. The current puzzle may be far beyond my ability to finish. It's a beautiful scene of Mount Fuji and cherry blossoms. The colors are strong and clear, but more than one piece will fit and look right but I often have to undo sections when I find an error. This is somewhat like picking out stitches or doing what I call the frog stitch (rip it rip it rip it).



Elizabeth modeling the ruffle collar I made for Christy's Stella

Rahrah watching out window

Tarbaby wanting my attention