Archive | January 2017

Isn’t she lovely…

cactus-daylight

I’ve been enjoying the winter cactus blooms.

About five are fully opened. Three more decent sized blooms are on their way. More than half a dozen are just beginning.

It’s wonderful to have a blooming plant in the house again.

On the creative front, there has been drawing practice:

I’m especially fond of the basket drawing. Practicing circles and shading…that’s something I enjoy, too. Things are a bit lopsided, but hopefully that will improve.

Weaving happened yesterday while watching Z: The beginning of everything on Amazon Prime, about Zelda Fitzgerald. I recall reading a biography about her some years ago.

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There has been some heart-felt stitching:

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I’ve a few ideas for backings, but honestly, not a lot of vision is coming through. Instead, I’m merely enjoying the process.

The word cloth grew by two new words…20170130_122235with a little embellishment to boot.

I thought about my grandmother while photographing the winter cactus. I’ve put the one I started from her plant upstairs. I’m hoping the warm days from the sun streaming in and the cool nights from minimum heating will inspire it to bloom. It wasn’t showing any signs of inspiration in my cold dark bathroom, so we’ll see what happens upstairs.

I snapped a couple photos of the blooming cactus, then noticed I had something of my grandmother’s in the shot: the ceramic graduated measuring cups that hung on her kitchen wall during my childhood.

I happened to be there when she passed away and when her belongings were divvied up amongst her children. None of the grands were allowed, which was fine with me. But some cousins were quite concerned I was around…what did I want? what was I trying to get? I think mainly they were all vying for her rocking chair, which was a big part of her daily life. She loved that thing and, if she was sitting, she was bound to be in it.

My mom asked if there was anything I wanted as a keepsake and, if so, she would try to get it.

I wanted these.

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Together with a blooming winter cactus, it is such a fitting reminder of Grandma. If the cactus from her plant blooms, I will place it here and photograph it again in memory of her.

Buggar wasn’t all that interested in the cactus. She kept wondering why I was poking her. (to get her to turn around, of course)

I think this one is my favorite…

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She waited to bloom…

I was so excited to get home and find this was just beginning…

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She waited until I got home to begin blooming! I’m so excited and have been watching the slow progress. She has more blooms on the way, some are just starting, so I’m hoping I get to enjoy this color for a while.

I’ve decided to call her a winter cactus, seeing how we have skipped the holiday part.

I was disappointed to find two buds had been knocked off while I was away. I suspect a fat cat was sunning herself on the kitchen table and her big bazoongus knocked them off. The girls know they are not allowed on the table, but if no one’s around to stop them then…

Before my trip I stopped in at the local thrift store where I have found some very nice fabrics, including the beautiful and soft blue tablecloth which has become my word cloth. I had just walked in when I noticed this on the floor.

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The lace trim is intricate and divine, the stitching quaint and colorful. I just love it. And, at 25 cents, I don’t mind if I do! I figure someone must have meant to buy it, but dropped it by accident.

Here are a few close-ups of the beautiful detail. The stitching is so fine.

In other news, progress on the word cloth has begun. I’m already feeling very fond of this project.

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I was treated to several sightings of bluebirds this month, including some in Texas, so bluebirds had to go on this cloth. I just love bluebirds.

Perhaps winter cactus will go there, too. She has played an important role this month. And I find I can relate to her, being a bit of a late bloomer myself.

I hope you are staying warm on this sunny, yet chilly, winter’s day.

 

Before I go…

I wanted to write one more post as I will be gone for the next 5 days or so.

I don’t have a lot to say. Just that it’s been a rough one. I managed to go for a brief walk, maybe 1 1/2 miles, doing laps in the backyard. I took the string I trailed behind me on yesterday’s walk, for the cats to chase. They love it. Matty followed for TWO AND A HALF MILES yesterday…I couldn’t believe it. She was SO focused.

Today she was tired. I noticed she wasn’t as peppy as yesterday, so I put the string up for a few laps, only to see she was still following me. Maybe looking for the string? I don’t know.

Olive kept me entertained hopping around. She is clueless when it comes to the string chasing game, but loves to jump and hide in a small clump of tall grass. Yesterday Matty was so intent on capturing the string, she held the end in her mouth and walked with it like that.

Weanie had fun popping up on the walking trail here and there, only to dart away and laugh when I got close enough to chase her. (Cats do laugh.)

Buggar chased intently for nearly one lap, but then went back to only occasional attempts.

They were all having a really good time, though, and their antics greatly improved my day.

I noticed dark clouds in the south and at the end of my walk it sprinkled a bit, all the encouragement I needed to head back inside. I had just sat down on the couch when I caught sight of the neighbor’s house.

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A pink sunset was shining on it, shining through something to it. Pink on blue.

More photos from the back.

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The cats…and the sunset…were the highlights of my day.

I haven’t gotten any stitching done. I might bundle up the word cloth and take it with me. I already have a few words jotted down from the month. Scissors, the cloth, thread, a gel pen to write on the fabric, that’s all I’ll need.

Tomorrow I will drive 7+ hours to Texas by myself. I hope I feel better tomorrow than I did today. It’s a long drive.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend.

I fear the Christmas cactus, for which I have been waiting so impatiently, will be blooming without me.

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Ode to beauty pink…

Before I get things started, I just wanted to say…

Hi.

Welcome to our home.

Have a snake.

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It was the original unfortunate garter snake Olive was playing with the other day. It’s flatter and more dehydrated since the first time I saw it, but it was evidently stashed away for safekeeping. I wonder if she thought I might like to play with it for a while, because she deposited it here, twice. I swept it to the edge of the porch one night – not wanting to throw it away because I know how much she enjoys playing with it – only to look down the next morning and see it right side up and placed so it looked like it was moving towards my foot. Achk! It’s days like these I am grateful I don’t have a cat door…who knows what she might bring in.

Matty, aka “Bratty”, was up to her own shenanigans. We came home from the city yesterday to find she’d done this. I suspect it happened in her efforts to reach the fish, who live farther up above this plant.

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Always fun to clean these up.

I really can’t complain. They are very good girls, super sweet, and other than a few mishaps are a joy to have with us.

On the pink front, I was thinking about dying more, how it seems to unify things and bring other colors together. I had a baggie of pink embroidery floss I was given some time ago, a garish pink I didn’t care for. I’ve given a lot of it away in swaps over the years. This morning I picked out a few skeins from the box. These threads, as you can see, are quite old.

5 cents! How about that? There were some other pinks in that family of threads. Some of them are currently getting the tea treatment. I might follow Jude’s clue and just tea dye them and not rinse them out. I left the wrappers on just for grins, to see what would happen to them.

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I hope they are enjoying the earl gray leftovers, brewed in my new tea pot, which I already LOVE.

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I had some funny money to spend with Amazon, a Christmas gift card, and my box of goodies arrived yesterday. Besides the tea things, I got some new Fiskar products: snippers, a scissor sharpener and an angle protractor for drawing class.

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I’m iffy about the snippers. They are sized super small and don’t fit well in my hand. Still, I will use them. They are super sharp. The sharpener was helpful. It did improve an old pair of Fiskars, worked on my Mundials (which are STILL quite fabulous after 20 years of never being sharpened), and slightly improved a pair of cheapie scissors.

After becoming a little disappointed that the ends weren’t sharpening well, H informed me that’s a trouble spot for scissors. He said it used to be his job – at some point in school – to sharpen all the scissors, so he would know. The scissors that sharpen up the best are the old style all metal silver ones with the black handles. You can use those forever, he said. My mom has a pair of all silver Fiskars, I think. I remember the day she got them. When I cut a thread with them she lost it. But then, she was always losing her cool.

I’ve started a new project. I wanted something I could just pick up and stitch on, without having to spend time thinking about composition or styling, and this beautiful tablecloth I found at the local thrift store came to mind. It seems the perfect host for a word cloth.

I’m currently basting it with this thread, which is a favorite to do basic sewing with. I’m on my second spool of it.

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It’s super strong (made for jeans) and has such a fabulous sheen to it. Oh, look at that: Coats.

I was originally thinking of using the striped blue and white tablecloth for the backing, but instead switched gears and am stitching it to a large piece of a green organic cotton sheet I’d worn out and started cutting up for smaller backing fabric. So far, the two pieces are coming together beautifully using Jude’s glue stitch.

By the way, each of those tablecloths cost me $1 a piece at the local thrift store. There are so many antique linens that show up there and are such a treasure. I always stop by that part of the store on a visit and usually come home with something great. This blue one is SO soft and has such a nice feel to it. It was obviously used and has some stains, but I don’t care. I’ll cover them up.

I’m currently searching for a nice piece of lace, tatting or crochet to stitch in the center, just to get things started and have something to work around. I have a lot of nice trinkets like this that might find a home here. I thought about stitching 2017 in the middle, but I want this to be about the months and the things that happen in them, rather than a focus on the year. I might save stitching the year to the very end.

While the tea soaks into the pink threads, there is one other beauty pink for which I am anxiously waiting.

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Stormageddon…Icemageddon…whatever…

People in my neck of the woods have gotten super riled up over the last couple of storms. It has bordered on the hysterical at times, with people lining up to buy generators and groceries and some claiming online that the storms would cause many deaths.

Me and H? We drove 45 minutes north yesterday to go out to eat at our favorite new Mexican restaurant.

But that’s us. We are generally nose-thumbers. When you’ve covered the news as long as we have, you recognize hyperbole when you see it.

The storms here were wet and somewhat icy. But anyone with the ability to read a thermometer or simply look up how cold it was going to get at night would have realized it wouldn’t be that bad. A low around freezing isn’t going to cause that much harm. Of course, there were those who didn’t have sense enough not to get out and drive late at night during the worst of it. Now, that is foolish.

I got outdoors before our trip to town and snapped a few photos.

Most of it melted throughout the day because of all the rain. It’s nice to get some rain in January. December and January are typically our drought season.

In other news…I’m trying not to think too much about the big event this week. It’s my goal to stay in non-reaction, also known as zero point. When you react to something you enter someone else’s game and can get stuck in time, recreating the same event over and over (per Aboriginal Lore.) These are not events I necessarily want to relive.

In an earlier post I mentioned laughing at the ridiculousness of the current political system, more out of disbelief rather than any enjoyment of the situation. I have to say I find Alec Baldwin and SNL’s take on things good stress relief. The first 20 seconds are golden – no pun intended – and certainly sum up my thoughts. Laughter is the best medicine. Maybe it will help get some of us through this.

H and I stopped into a Goodwill store last week on a whim. I think I already shared the photo of the decorative box I found. It is now filled with my DMC floss, mostly solids, which I had kept in plastic baggies separated by color. Now they are still arranged by color clumps, but I think I already prefer being able to see them in one place all together.

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It is one more step towards organizing my supplies in general – and the couch pile in particular.

My other fab find at Goodwill was this:

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A suede leather Hobo bag by Eddie Bauer. Barely used. In fact, the only way I could tell it had been used at all was I found a few crumbs and a couple of cat hairs at the bottom. The leather is pristine, the stitching superb, the lining a fabulous heavy beige 100% cotton. I used it last night to hold the ipad, phone, cards, tea thermos and water to take with us on a late night story H was covering. I was thrilled to use it. A great find for $7. I found only one other online, a brown one, used and stained with paint, for $25. The seller said this bag originally retailed for $80.

My second drawing class is tomorrow. I am looking forward to it. I experienced an especially peaceful moment during my first class when everyone was given an assignment (we drew a coffee can, funnel and sphere) and the whole room fell silent, except for the gentle skritching of pencils on paper. It was blissful. Here are a couple of my efforts this week.

The hurricane lamp I’ve had for over 20 years. Please someone tell me they recognize the item on the right. H had to hold the sketch pad in his hand before he could tell what it was. He then confessed he is unable to see those trick 3D pictures where you lightly cross your eyes and the image pops out at you. I’m not sure if I knew that about him.

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As you can see, I’m mostly ready for my next class. I have some work to show and bought supplies. I found the bag on clearance for 85 cents – regularly $4! It had a long thread hanging from the stitching near the zipper…nothing a snip of the scissors couldn’t fix! I also snagged a couple of very nice sketching journals for $2.15 each, regularly $10 a piece (one is slightly pictured under the thread box.)

On the cat front, everybody has cabin fever. I try to get them to spend as much time outside as possible, but it’s cold and a tough go. Four cats is a lot to have in the house at once, and it gets overwhelming at times, even though I have the luxury of space here and can put the little girls upstairs for the night. The hissing and histrionics of the big girls gets tiresome. They were quite happy last winter when it was just the two of them.

I looked out just now to see Chick. I hadn’t seen him in two days. He was quarantined in his little shed for 3 because he had fat foot, swollen due to some sort of injury. He must have had some roaming to do. Earlier I saw Olive run by with another garter snake in her mouth. Where on earth is she finding them??? And this little face at the window cracks me up every time.

My ordinary day…

I saw a (derogatory) meme on FB the other day.

It was basically poking fun at people who sit around all day taking pictures of themselves doing normal things that everyone else does, but posting the photos on FB as if they are something original. Not that I’m a super FB fan or anything, but I always find it funny that some people who think FB is a total waste of time would take valuable time out of their day and lower themselves by commenting on something that is so beneath them. Ironic, don’t you think?

Maybe the same thing, or something similar, could be said about blogs. I take a lot of very ordinary photos of my ordinary life and post them here. I do so because I feel like someone out there might find my ordinary days interesting. After all, we’re not really all doing the same exact thing or living the same exact way. So, here are some snaps of my very dull, unoriginal, ordinary life…

Like the coconut banana bread I just made…yum…

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And the new flower buds on the Christmas cactus that I am super stoked about…

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And a picture of me and Weanie cuddling the other day…

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Super boring, eh?

Among other ordinary things…today is the first day I have felt free of the flu! I think the 11 hours of sleep probably helped! And all the vitamin C I took yesterday…2,000 mg every 50 minutes for 6 or 8 doses. Aspirin therapy the previous 2 days helped tremendously, especially for that kind of virus that can just drag on. Although, I have used it to nip a cold in the bud, too. Yesterday I was feeling better, but had ZERO energy. Today I was able to wash dishes and straighten up the kitchen a bit (it had been driving me nuts!), make banana bread, as mentioned, take some photos, do some computer work, etc… I feel like I’m getting my life back!

The thing is, I like reading about other people’s ordinary lives and seeing photos of their ordinary days. It’s the main reason I stay on FB. The way some people live and what they experience is so totally different than any of my days, so I like peeking into their lives. This morning when I finally woke up, I made tea then got back in bed to catch up on a few of my favorite blogs. Very normal things were happening on them, but at the same time very fascinating things. I enjoyed my blog reading enormously.

On the stitching front, H thinks this is funny…

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It’s my couch pile. It’s full of sewing and crocheting and all sorts of things. It tends to grow like a mountain and I haven’t bothered cleaning it off in a while. However, I did clean out two very nice sewing baskets I was mainly using for jewelry and plan to use them to get my sewing things organized. It’s a challenge because I’m skipping from one project to the next a lot of times and I use different materials. Having everything in one or two places probably isn’t going to happen. But, I’m going to try my best to have some sort of organization going on.

Here’s progress on Bluebirds. And stitching on a new piece.

Bluebirds looks less busy through the camera lens, but I know I’m overthinking it and this piece was meant to be about not overthinking. I’m trying to think about finish work. I did add the top and bottom borders, I’m just not sure whether to leave them plain or add something. I was really liking the squares, but it feels too busy.

And one more photo from my very ordinary life…the little fireplace we brought down from the upstairs room and put in my bedroom. It is keeping me toasty warm at night, and I am loving it.

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The clarity of fever…

I knew there was a reason I didn’t want to go out in public New Year’s Day.

Flu.

It’s been 3 years since I had it, so I missed the warning signs. The deep dull ear ache, the abnormal craving for sugar, the lethargy. I could have prevented it if I’d been more on my game. Between that and my sore thumb, it hasn’t made a great start for the new year. Today I’m officially tired of my symptoms, so I’ve resorted to aspirin therapy.

I’ve used aspirin therapy quite successfully in the past for what I believed to be swine flu, which is basically a wasting disease, one of those maladies that keeps dragging on and on. You keep re-infecting yourself because the virus that causes it lives in mucus. You swallow the mucus and it re-enters your body through your stomach. Anyway, I’m tired of the symptoms so it’s time to deal with it a little more seriously.

On the second night of my malady, I had a powerful headache (which is really just dehydration.) But the pounding was awful and lasted probably 4 hours. During those four painful hours, I dreamt. I dreamt about patches and deciding which patch worked better. With each pound, I put one patch on top of the other. Pound. This patch. Pound. No, this patch… The patches were both the same. Shades of brown with the edges stitched in black thread.

I also saw her.

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She was also in browns, but I saw her, and she made sense to me. The next day, I drew her…and then I stitched her.

The cloth first began without her and vision for her there only came later. I wanted something simple to stitch, not too intricate…for the thumb is still very tender. I wanted something basic, something that flowed, without me worrying what should go here or there, what this or that should mean. Perhaps I finally let go. In any case, this happened.

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I am loving the freeness of it, I am loving her there. I feel like she belongs. More than that, I feel like she is a very big part of me, of who I am.

Prairie Girl.

The piece says so much about where I live, the looming sun in our wide skies, the Heartland, the green and brown of the earth. Maybe the red dirt is more akin to Oklahoma, but I put it there first, so I’m going with it. But the prairie doesn’t begin and end in Kansas, it is far-reaching. It stretches a long way, with a lot of territory to be explored.

Perhaps that fever brought some clarity. Maybe I’m finally getting somewhere.

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