Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Year End

It's hard to realize another year--another decade--has gone by, and we are ready to see 2020. I remember when approaching the year 2000 seemed so important. Year ends make us think about listing accomplishments or goals or failures. My biggest accomplishment was reaching my 84th birthday the day after Christmas!
I have made several art quilts, participated in art shows and special exhibits (The Fabric of Mississippi Living at William Carey University), worked jigsaw puzzles, raised a few herbs and flowers, attended exercise classes, savored music both by listening and participating, and generally enjoyed my blessed life. I scrolled back over my blog posts and chuckled remembering many good times.

My three cats have kept me company and made me feel loved. I got to see a black swallowtail butterfly hatch. I even enjoyed rescuing a baby squirrel and a little abandoned puppy. Central  Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation took the squirrel to care for, and Southern Pines Animal Shelter is taking care of the puppy.

I have tried to generously contribute to causes that are important to me. It is vitally important that we care for our planet and each other.

If I had to summarize 2019, I would have to just say that I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I'm not sure what I expected this age to be like, but I feel certain it is better than my anticipation of it. I hope to continue making art. I hope to continue singing with The Meistersingers, to sing and worship with my University Baptist Church choir, to hear and enjoy music by USM orchestra friends. There are friends to be with, cats to snuggle, plants to tend, books to read, trips to take, more blue and purple streaks for Eric to put in my hair. I like the sound of 2020!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas

Music! Music! Music!
My favorite gift this year was hearing Lei and Xin (Zhaolei Xie and Xin Zhang) play for our University Baptist Church PrimeTime luncheon. Lei is our choir accompanist and Xin often joins him or plays the organ. We all were mesmerized, thinking there must be more than four hands playing to make this much sound. It was not all loud, but a concert showing skill and deep feeling. Lei often amazes us with his preludes and postludes, and we are blessed that he shares his talents with us.
 Our choral director, Taylor Hightower, led us in singing some carols. Taylor plans wonderful music worship experiences all year--another blessing!
 A string quartet added to our special music enjoyment last Sunday. Thanks to Alejandro Junco, Rodrigo Zafani, Flor Cozza, and Patricia Rezende, all USM orchestra students.

Another neat musical experience was hearing Jim Reyelt play classical guitar for another luncheon club meeting at the Purple Parrot.Jim is a doctoral student studying with Nick Ciraldo.
My quilt guild, Pine Belt Quilters, donated 170 children's quilts at our December meeting to several agencies, including a family who had recently been given keys to their Habitat for Humanity house.
I enjoyed a box of Harry & David Royal Riviera Pears. My family received fruit gifts when I was a teen-ager and I thought perhaps my memory of these pears was inflated and that I would be disappointed today. But no! They were just like I remembered them. Like no other treat!
Current cat news--Elizabeth seemed to enjoy a visit from three-year-old Charlotte Hightower. At least she was still and patient with the petting and ruffling of her fur.

Rahrah isn't content to curl up in my lap. She prefers to get higher and try to put her legs around my neck. It's difficult to photograph, but I tried.
Tarbaby sometimes acts like he has forgotten how high he can jump. When trying to get on a cabinet, he might do several "practice jumps," even looking at me and meowing pitifully as if asking for help. I have no idea what's going on with this.

A definite surprise for this kitten foster mama--on my way home at 6 p.m. from the Christmas Eve service, I saw a small black dog at a corner near my house. I backed up to see about it, and when I opened my car door and walked toward it, the little fellow walked right up to me. I could not leave him at this busy corner. He was happy to be picked up and put in my garage where he drank a whole bowl of water and then a bowl of cat food and looked up for more. He curled up on a fleecy blanket and spent the night and Christmas Day. He needs medical attention for a skin condition that makes him very uncomfortable. I posted a notice on the Mississippi Lost and Found site and will take care of him until the shelter opens Dec. 26. I will see if he is microchipped and hope the vet can help him and get him into foster care and find him a good home. He is lovable and sweet--tempting for me to keep--but my three cats are traumatized by the strange sounds and suspicious smells already, and this would not be fair for them. So I must be sensible. 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Kitties Win Best of Show in Art Show

Tonight was the Awards Reception for our 43rd Annual South Mississippi Art Association Show on 
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, at the Historic Hattiesburg Train Depot. It is a beautiful show with watercolor, oil, sculpture, mixed media, photography, and other. "Other" includes fiber art, and my "The Window Watchers" won a blue ribbon and Best of Show. Quite a thrill for those kitties and me! 
The Window Watchers, 23" x 30"

Ireland Street, 26" x 18"

Improv Zebras, 17" x 25"

Black Swallowtail Butterfly, 34" x 26"

Interleave Symphony, 34" x 31"
I have three pieces in the Clothesline area.
Color Blocks, 8" x 10" and Improv-Blue, 10" x 16"

Improv-Pink, 8" x 10"

Sunday, December 8, 2019

December Brings Advent

It really feels like Christmas is coming when my church begins to observe Advent with wreaths and a large tree covered in chrismons and the choir sings its program beneath the blue felt Advent banners. We made the banners in 2014 and they add such beauty to the sanctuary at University Baptist Church. To read about the patterns and making of the banners, see  http://marthaginn.blogspot.com/2014/12/advent-banners.html

At home my holiday decorating follows a minimalist style. I put the pumpkins and dried seeds away and brought out my Santa in his robe made from an old quilt that I bought several years ago from a quilting friend. The Meistersingers sold poinsettias as a fund raiser, and I'm glad I bought two pots of these lush traditional flowers to keep Santa company. He has a buddy in a velveteen robe that sits on the hearth (I don't use the fireplace). Then there is a lovely applique and quilted tree-shaped nativity scene in the hallway made by Ginny Freeman, a dear friend from my earliest quilting days.

My Christmas tree is a Norfolk Island Pine in a red bucket; I'm hoping the tree will enjoy the cool nights and mild days. It has several shiny red balls on it and sits on my front porch. (Pictured here on the back porch.

 I love little angel figurines and have some favorites in a curio cabinet in the living room. In the large China cabinet I have the Spirit of Bethlehem Boehm porcelain nativity set, which I keep lighted all year. In addition to Mary and Joseph and the Christ Child, there are kings, a camel, a donkey, a cow, several shepherds with sheep, and, of course, angels.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

November's End and Fall Leaves

Leaves everywhere! More on the ground than in the trees. But it's kind of a beautiful carpet. On Thanksgiving Day at my mom's house when the kitchen was too full of people helping, I used to take a walk and gather leaves to bring back to decorate the tables. I have enjoyed this display of artificial pumpkins this year, with dried seed pods around them. I treasure the cloth one with the wooden stem, made by Susan Carlson's mother, Oma, a reminder of my October 2017 class in Portland, ME.
The cutwork felt banners have been displayed at my church--University Baptist--this month as a beautiful fall reminder of our blessings.

This turkey cookie jar has been in my kitchen since my children were small. Its value is precious though not monetary.
 The pilgrim dolls didn't make it out of the cabinet shelf this year. They go way back, like the cookie jar.
These are real leaves, painted and framed, which I enjoy in my entryway all the time. I was helping Ruby Walker clean out her art studio many years ago and she was throwing these away and I asked if I could have them. She said, "They're dead leaves that my students have been painting, Martha." I said, yes, I know, but I want to paint them--literally paint them." They are on a fabric background.

I finished the Ireland Street piece; also quilted Improv Zebras, then made some fabric postcards. Cleaning up and sorting strips brings on postcard making. These are so much fun and make people happy to receive them.

 Another way I make people happy is getting my hair dyed with blue and purple streaks again! I hear every day "I love your hair!" One guy walked up to me asking, "Can I take your picture? I'm sending this to my wife." As he left I thought, "I should have asked him if he was saying "Hey, honey, this is a neat idea." OR "Hey, honey, I'd leave you if you did this." Anyway, it brought me and my friends chuckles. Tarbaby doesn't care what color my hair is, as long as he can drape himself on my shoulder.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

November Thankfulness--Music and Acorns

More November happenings--When it's cold outside, my studio becomes an even happier place. The Artful Log Cabin process is so much fun that it has become addictive. The Black Swallowtail piece is quilted and finished. It takes lots of cut strips in specific colors, which results in the impulse to cut strips from every piece of fabric I have on hand. I made a second quilt using a photo I took in Ireland as inspiration.

Black Swallowtail, finished, 34" x 27"

During the free-motion quilting process

Black satin for depth of color
Detail of quilting
Elizabeth insisted on helping

Jackie Watkins, me, Dianne McLendon showing our ALCs

Another Artful Log Cabin, Ireland Street, 26" x 18", ready for edge finishing

Ireland street photo used as inspiration
Fall leaves are on the ground everywhere. My yard is covered in sticks, leaves, and pine straw. But I found these interesting acorns in downtown Hattiesburg in front of Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center. A friend suggested the tree might be a water oak.
Huge acorns looking like chocolate truffles

 My dear friends Alejandro Junco and Marlene Gentile won first place in the USM Honors String Honors Chamber Recital last week. These talented students thrill us with their playing. Alejandro performed his Master's recital two days before, and I can't imagine the hours of practice this entailed. These honors chamber recitals are a gift to Hattiesburg. Thanks to all the professors and students who share their talents with us!
Alejandro Junco and Marlene Gentile 
I have also been working on a child's quilt with these colorful fabrics. Enlarge to see detail of the creatures and objects. Could a kid be expected to sleep under these wild things?