rocket tracking


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On My Way to Harvest

As I stated in an earlier has been very hectic. I am behind in blogging and I have a lot of things I want to share. 5 hours I'll be on my way to Montana ---first going to Seattle, WA where my sister and brother-in-law are going to pick me up, then we're heading out to drive to Cut Bank, Montana where I'll spend some time with my parents and hopefully help them out while my brother and everyone else is up to their eyeballs in harvest.

My brother Dave has over 15,000 acres in barley. All hands are on deck as they work on getting the crop in. He raises the high protein barley which is used in Fiber-one. Until this year, he was the only producer in the U.S., but Con-Agra got him to convince other Montana farmers to raise it as well.

I hope to be able to post some pictures when I'm out there...cameras are going and hopefully, I haven't forgotten anything.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Head is Spinning...

This is the swamp sunflower, a member of the helianthus family.... I'm not really sure which one this is as it was given to me in the Ohio Valley Plant swap just after I moved here. It could be Helianthus angustifolius....but I don't think so...this is the problem with using "common names" over the Latin (or Greek )'re never really sure what you're getting...despite the ribbing I get for speaking "that language."

While colorful, it is 6 feet tall (or more) blooming on multi-stems.....and it flops. I tied it up the first year, and the second...but this year I thought I'd put it outside the fence where it wasn't shaded by anything (as if in my garden anything gets any shade anyway). Wrong. It flops. Imagine a six foot, land-bound octopus. Oh....and did I mention? It runs. It seeds itself....its a mess. Pretty, but out of control. (see this article for more on the Helianthus angustifolia...which I think this is here

I am afraid it is going under the ax as I am not willing to put in the effort to control it....I have far too much to take care of to give in to my tenderness of heart for this plant....I must be strong....out it goes.

Tonight, it serves as a metaphor for my life. September is an usually busy month. Everyone and every organization I belong to decides that since the kids are back to school, we have to start up our yearly work. My husband's birthday was earlier this month and it was a significant birthday (read, I had to have a party). Cross Country running, my daughter's favorite activity, is in full swing with dinners every Thursday (I hosted 20 girls plus the coaches and their wives) for pasta on Sept. 3. I had an oncology appointment and my yearly physical to be included on my husband's insurance (a necessity, I assure you). I have to finish a quilt before Sept. 24. I was supposed to participate in another challenge which is due on Oct. 1. However, I'm going to Montana to visit with my parents and to help in harvest on Sept. 24 and coming back Oct. 6.

The tomatoes need canning. The peppers need freezing, the zucchini needs....whatever. The garden is overgrown with weeds and it is likely to frost while I'm gone. That means I have to bring in the alocassia, geraniums, papyrus and umbrella palm before I leave....or lose it. I had to clean the fish pond as it will likely be a cold task when I get back.

My neighbor decided today was the day to have the garage sale...and since I am drowning in things which need to be moved on...I buckled and did it.....only I had to get up extra early because they were giving the seasonal flu shots at my husbands workplace today and only today. 7:30 am I was at his workplace making available my right arm.

Last Wednesday I gave a lecture at the YWCA. My daughter was diagnosed with mononucleosis and needs extra care....and we've made a couple of trips to the doctors. Unfortunately, I am not sure if she's going to be able to run and she lives for cross country which makes life with daughter....ummm....stressfull.

At the last Art Quilt meeting, I agreed (sort of reluctantly) to share the responsibility for doing a program on resists for surface decoration on fabric (I'm doing vegetable resists) that has to be prepped.

I can't find my camera battery charger in the mess which is my studio. The other neighbor keeps on bringing me books to sell as she wants to get them out of her house... I have to follow up on some exhibition proposals...and I had to remember to do the ordinary stuff like pay bills, do the rudiments of cleaning house, feed the family, do the dishes...

I have GOT to learn to say NO before my head spins completely off or I am lifted up into the ether by the velocity of my you see a plump, brown-haired woman flying through the sky in your neck of the woods, you'll know it is me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Predators in the Garden: Part 2

Late summer seems to be the time that I begin to find lots of predators in my garden. While the most common is usually different sorts of spiders, I also get this one which I'm really happy to have...even if it isn't the best or prettiest looking.

This creature is an assassin bug. Which one, I'm not sure as it is fairly large. It isn't pretty, but it does a great job. I've found it in previous years chomping down on squash bugs.

I practically had to stand on my head to get this shot and it still isn't the greatest, but you can see that the hors d'ouevre for this one is a Japanese beetle which makes it very welcome in my garden indeed.

Sometimes, how a bug looks is how people judge it. I showed my neighbor this one as I was so happy to have it. She told me a couple of days later that she killed one in her garden.

Aghast, I asked her why she had killed it. "It was ugly," she said. I'm afraid that's how people also react to bats, snakes, and possums as well.

Then there's the last predator in my garden. He's not ugly, he's pretty cute. . . and cuddly.

It's Lemmie. Lemmie got reprimanded from me last night as I was working picking up things in the garden. All summer, I've had House Wrens living at the back of my garden. They've raised at least two clutches, but I have no idea where their nest is. I think it is somewhere in the asparagus patch, but since I let it go to seed, I can't see or get into that area.

Last night, I heard quite a ruckus. Much more so than I usually hear from them when I'm back there. I saw Lemmie in the garden and ran over, only to see the back half of a wren sticking out of his mouth. I yelled at him and got him to drop the bird which fluttered into the weeds as I scooped Lem up and ran him back to the house.

I went back and couldn't find the wren, so I can only assume that it was OK, although severely shaken. I'm saddened as I haven't heard either of them in the last couple of days. I think that the pair went on to less scary locales.

You have to understand that I am a fairly responsible cat owner. I dislike it when the cats go outside and prefer that they stay indoors. The two old ladies, Aceituna (11) and Angel (10) will go out and sit in the sun and watch me as I work away....looking very amused by my activities as if to say "Silly human, why should you toil? Look! Sitting here and flicking one's tail is far preferable to what you're doing."

Lemmie, however, was a dumped cat. Someone abandoned him in the area last summer. He had been neutered and had his front claws removed. After trying to several weeks to find the owners, calling shelters, Vets, and putting an ad in the paper, I decided to keep him, especially as I was concerned about him being out at night with no claws. There are lots of dogs, coyotes and a fox family living in the neighborhood.

While I try to keep him inside, he obviously had been an outside cat for quite sometime once. He is very tricky and is a grey streak, often whizzing by you just as you've opened the door to come in. Then, the game is on....chasing him through the garden where he stays just out of reach.

Usually he catches things which are easier....grasshoppers (seeing him with a blade of grass the grasshopper was on sticking out each side of his mouth was amusing), voles and mice are what I had seen him with before. I had no idea he could catch a bird...particularly a healthy one. Live and learn...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Predators in my garden

September seems to bring the predators in my garden. I always welcome these... Several weeks ago, I began to see lots of the small, newly hatched praying mantis...mostly bright green.

Here is a large female hiding in my buddlea (butterfly bush). See how it has adapted it's color to look like a stick?

I was really surprised to see this one on one of my Autumn sedums. He has managed to get a pink cast. In real life, it was much more strongly pink, but still not as dark as the flower head...more of a grayish pink.

The praying mantis egg cases look sort of odd...brown light as air sort of affairs.

When I am cleaning up the garden, either for the winter or taking out the last of the grasses in the spring, I am always on the look out. I don't want to in inadvertently destroy one as they to very well at keeping down the insect populations.

I just wish they would develop a Japanese beetle only diet and forgo the butterflies!

Sunita recently showed some of her insect visitors on her blog, and even showed a praying mantis as well. Hers seems to be a bit smaller and has a thinner abdomen. Take a look here


When I was in second grade in Bronson, Michigan, I had a teacher who had us all memorize poetry.

We would first write out the poems, printing carefully (I always got poor grades on this one as I am left handed and I wrote straight across, smearing the soft lead marks with my hand). Then, we would work for a couple of days to memorize them.

One by one, we would go up to her desk...or the chalk board, I don't remember which, and recite the poem.

I think it probably helped us in speaking before our peers, as well as improving our memorization skills. At the very least, we all were exposed to some poetry.

Every year at this time, one of the poems comes to mind.... It is "September", by Helen Hunt Jackson.

"The goldenrod is yellow,
The corn is turning brown,

The trees in apple orchards,
With fruit are bending down. "

I think she would read us the remainder of the poem, but all we had to do is memorize the first least that's how I remember it.

The rest of the poem is here

Mrs. Zimmer was ancient...or so it seemed to me at the time. She wore glasses and was white haired. She was at least 72 because we were the last class she taught. Michigan had instituted a mandatory retirement age that year and 72 was the cut off. While she taught that year, she took what I am sure was a well deserved retirement.

She was strict and was old fashioned by even the standards of 1967. I often got into trouble for talking. No surprise to people who know me.

I think of all the students she must have taught. I wonder if any remember her, or the poetry as I do.

I also think of the changes she saw. When she began teaching, married women couldn't teach. Once a woman got married she had to leave her post as she was to turn her attention to her family. The thinking was also that she no longer had to support herself, and that another person more deserving (read a single woman or a man who needed to support a family) needed to take her place.

How the world has changed. I don't remember my daughter ever memorizing poetry. I know she has read very little.

Certainly, she doesn't look at the landscape and see the goldenrod in my garden (yes, I'm behind on the weeding, no matter how pretty it is), or the Asian pears which are now ripe and think of the poetry.

To her, September means something different. It is being back to school, running cross country, and remembering 9/11/2001. September, and our lives, will never be the same.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Maddening Moment of the Day

In May, I changed from Time Warner Cable to Direct-TV. Time-Warner had been a nightmare. I am sort of embarrassed as when we lived in Connecticut, we didn't have cable or satellite TV. We just used regular analog with rabbit ears on top of the TV if we needed them.

When we moved to OH, we found that the reception was much poorer. So...we spoiled ourselves and got the television service. I've regretted it a lot ever since as my daughter and my husband have turned into TV zombies.

When we changed over, I looked at all of the "Packages" and decided to go with a more expensive package because it included the "Versus" channel which carries bicycle racing. The Tour de France is one sports event that all three of us watch, and my husband watches racing whenever he can. He's been following the various European tours....Once a road-racer, always a roadie I guess.

I signed up for the service in May. Today, he went to watch the Spanish event which is going on now...only to see a sign up saying that Direct TV has dropped the channel because Versus was making outrageous demands (their terms, not mine).

Well heck. I'm paying more just to get that ONE channel. I really don't care about the rest. It is early in the contract, and I doubt I can drop it down. It sort of grinds my socks because they can alter the terms of the contract (their description said it included that channel), but I can't.

Of course, that's pretty much what cable does anyway...or satellite, or whatever. The concept that they are in competition is absurd (except that the only competition for cable is Direct-TV or Dishnetwork). They pretty much tell you what they are going to do. If you don't want all the premium channels....well, guess what, you have to pay for all 6 in order to get the one you want. Oh...and by the way, the rates go up. A lot. And quite often the sales people (their customer service reps) will tell you anything just to get you to sign up.

I won't even go into the details of the problems with Time-Warner Cable....I'd put you to sleep...oh, wait, it's 11:17pm eastern....maybe you WANT to be put to sleep....

Still, I think that these companies are the pits. They have the ability to do what they please and the customer (the stooge?) has to toe the line.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

On Medieval Influences: Observing the Hours and Pat Hardie's work

Not too long ago, I fulfilled a promise to a friend of mine to go to the Cloisters. What a wonderful place with gorgeous gardens and superb medieval art. The Cloisters was constructed of bits and pieces of five different French cloisters, with other elements from other religious houses put in. It stands upper Manhattan in the Fort Tryon area. You can find information and some of the pieces here:

The Cloisters

I have always been inspired by medieval art, or at least since I was in 4th or 5th grade. While there, I took many pictures of the building, the grounds and the artifacts adding them to my collection of images from which to draw inspiration for quilts.

I stupidly didn't shoot the label for this piece at left, which I usually to do identify the pieces. However, I love the image of Jesus as the sun..

Not too long ago, Pat Hardie posted some pieces she had done to the Quilt art message board . I was very happy to look at her pieces as they are quite wonderful. Pat is a member of the Merrickville Artist's Group which is located in Merrickville, Ontario, Canada, just outside of Ottawa. Like many of us, she engages in several different artistic endeavors including fiber, photography and ceramics.

Most of her recent work has been associated with making pieces for her son's wedding. I really had to giggle as she experienced what one of my friends is currently experiencing. As the "children" prepare for their wedding, they keep on coming up with new things that "mom" can make for them. One of the pieces is a box in which to contain wedding cards.

I was really taken with Pat's Wedding House which you can see here on her portfolio. I fond of it for a couple of reasons. I'm not sure if she realized it, but the Wedding House's form is a common one used for medieval reliquaries which housed bones and artifacts associated with saints. Here are a few which take the same shape of Pat's piece reliquaries .

While reliquaries often take the "house" form, thought to be derived from the shape of early churches (also known as "casket form" which may be more to the point), they don't have to. Here are three reliquaries from unknown female saints at the Cloisters:

The round pendants or brooches on the first two are actually little windows so you can see the bit of bone from the saint.

Another one which is at the Cloisters is this one which is in the shape of the Saint's arm. Here, it is raised in benediction.

In the spring, I had been working on a reliquary to go with a rendition of the Magnificat. Like so many of my pieces, this is sitting on the UFO pile (or maybe it is a in progress) until I can solve some of the construction problems. Pat's is really interesting because she made it so that it can be "unzipped" and flatten to be hung on the wall.

The other thing which I was taken with on this piece is that she used images from Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc du Berry. Click on the link and you can see many of the images from the original.

Les Tres Riches Heures is a "Book of Hours." These were medieval devotional books done for the very wealthy. They were illuminated manuscripts which often portrayed everyday life as they were not sacred texts (as in portions of the bible), but meant to cause the owner to reflect and observe the religious hours.

While several book of hours exist, either in complete form or in divided pages, probably Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc du Berry and another commissioned by the Duc du Berry, Les Belles Heures are probably the best known.

During the medieval period, many settlements were snuggled up against the walls of a religious house, or within the walls of a nobleman's fortifications which usually had a chapel or church associated with it. While for the most part, the common man's life was agriculturally based and therefore had no need of knowing the hours of the day but was more of a seasonally driven life.

There were no clocks for the common man. The religious houses did employ a variety of time-keeping devices largely to observe the hours of prayer. The day was divided up into matins (night prayers, sometimes referred to as vigils or nocturns); Lauds (the dawn prayer); Prime (early morning, or 6:00 am); Terce or the third hour (9 am); sext (the sixth hour or 12:00 noon); none (the 9th hour or 3:00 pm) vespers, or evening prayer (at dusk, or when the lamps would be lighted); and compline or the night prayer (just before retiring). These hours were rung by the church bells to let the faithful know and to call those within close distance to the church to come for the office (and of course the Religious).

If they were not able to attend the prayer service, they would observe a prayer in the field or where ever they were, taking a few moments from a busy day to give thanks, or whatever their thoughts may be.

I think that this practice is a great one, and one I'd like to practice. Just taking a few moments to center ones self and have quiet in a life most often beset with ideas, thoughts, business, requirements, and duties. I doubt I would ever have the strength to actually observe these, but still I think we could all benefit from this type of observation...whatever religion or spiritual beliefs (or not) you might have.

So, take a look at Pat's work and give just a little breath of thanks for the day.

And thank you for reading!

For more on Books of Hours:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Making the cut or not

I have an unusual opportunity to share some of the quilts which were submitted to the Aullwood show, but were not chosen. I am friends with two quilters, Chris Landis and Fran LaSalle who are very talented quilters.

Both of them submitted works for consideration. Fran had her Forest Fantasy accepted, but two other of her pieces did not make it in.

Chris submitted this one. At the time we took the photograph, it wasn't quite finished...the binding had to be finished. Chris was trying something different. While this piece is made of three separate panels, the birch branches cross over into the other frame and are finished on both side as the reach across the opening.

This caused Chris to do some real head scratching in order to figure out how to do this. She also struggled over what color to make the binding. My instinct was to knife edge or face them so there wouldn't be the bar between them, but your eye would go across. Chris wanted to use the darker color (we were trying to figure out then whether to use black or a dark brown) in order to frame it and play up the fact that there was an edge there. Personal preference.

Here you can see the Cardinal she did in this detail shot. His beak is really wonderful and I love the work she did on the branches. The background was snippets of fabrics which were then trapped under tulle in order to make a forest floor. Her work is quite innovative. It's hard to believe that Chris has only been a member of the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network for just a year.

Chris lives in New Lebanon, Ohio and does professional long arm quilting. She has been quilting for quite a while and does a lot of her own patterns, but also enjoys doing traditional pieces.

Fran LaSalle is also a member of the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network...and I should also say that both Fran and Chris belong to the Miami Valley Quilters Guild in addition to other guilds (I just happen to be in both of these groups with them). Fran has a background in biology and plant science.

She likes to do applique and much of her work is done by hand. This particular piece is called Resting Parrot. It also was submitted but not chosen.

This last one Fran did especially for the Aullwood show, but it wasn't accepted either...perhaps there were too many crows, blackbirds and ravens submitted! I find this to be a humorous piece. It's called Corn Watchers.

All three of these pieces have merit. Perhaps when you look at them you might think they should have gotten in with the rest of the pieces I have shown you.

The Aullwood show is quite small. Space restrictions make them limit the number of pieces which are selected. In addition, the Director of Aullwood, who is also a quilter, and the guest Judge make the decisions.

Selecting pieces is always subjective. The judges (or in this case judge) have criteria that they are looking for. Sometimes it is just down to personal choice.

Therefore, if you don't make it into one show, try again someplace else. Sometimes you won't make it in one year but you'll try the same piece another year and get in.

All work, however, should be of the highest quality when you enter shows. To me, hanging straight, whether an art quilt or not, should be important, unless, of course, in the case of the art quilt is isn't MEANT to hang straight.

Give yourself plenty of time to get it done. Don't rush yourself. Make sure it fits the theme as well as the criteria (in other words, don't ignore the rules).

Now, if only I could pay attention to my own advice!

Ginny Eckley Redux

Ginny Eckley kindly sent me these images when she read that I was snarling about the quality of my images.

I've decided that part of my fascination with this piece is because of the luminous quality of the pillars, and that largely this is from the slight yellow cast in part of the pillars.

The variation in the background color and Ginny's quilting designs also adds shadow to this which gives definition. It still is a little dark, I'm thinking that this is just one of those quilts which doesn't want to co-operate with photography.

This isn't one of Ginny's pictures, it's one of mine, but again, there's a hint of warmth in the sky color and I think that the ironwork is particularly fine.

Here are Ginny's images of her carmine birds.

The quilting and threadwork here are wonderful.

I didn't think much about it, and I was embarassed to realize that Ginny is the author of Quilted Sea Tapestries. It's long out of print (it came out in 1995) but it is still available used on Amazon.

I've always enjoyed that book, but her present style is so different than what she was showing in the book that I didn't realize that she was one and the same. I also wasn't aware of the book until last year when I bought a copy as part of a quilting book lot.

It's no wonder that Ginny's website is


Hope you don't mind a little repeat...although a little better I hope!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Traditional in the Background and Aullwood's judging

These last two are interesting because they use traditional piecing in the background of the quilts. At left is Nancy Linz' Wings.

Nancy wrote this as her artist statement:

The majestic eagle returns after a successful hunting trip. Waterfront development threatens the habitat of eagles and eagles won't nest near these developments. The hardfought battle to bring our national bird back from the brink of extinction may face set backs in the years to come as humans and eagles compete for the same real estate."

This next piece is in one of my favorite color combinations. I think I have done at least three pieces using black, white and red. Here, the judge of the show, Diane Dover of Beavercreek, Ohio shares her Red Day with us.

Diane does mostly works based on natural themes, particularly birds.

I had to laugh as some people have thought that my blog is solely on Aullwood. Well, I admit, lately it seems like it HAS only been on Aullwood. I wanted to include most of the works because the Aullwood show is a small show, and I know that when my quilts go "abroad" so to speak, I would love to know how they look and with what other pieces they were hanging.
While many of the quilters who show at Aullwood are local, many more aren't. In addition, I think that these quilts bear looking at for a variety of reasons, not to mention that some of them are just too darn spectacular to hide under a bushel basket....if they still make such things.

Plus, I think it is interesting to see which quilts were selected for awards, and which quilts were selected to be shown. Not all the quilts entered were chosen. what were your favorites? What would you have chosen for Best of Show, Theme Interpretation (if you've forgotten, it was "Winged Messengers"), Innovation, Craftsmanship (OK, you can't really do that one as the pictures I took either weren't good enough or not close enough for you to really judge this one), and then viewer's choice?

Are you ready? Here's the list of winners:

Best of Show: Walter and Emma by Janis Jagodzinski

Theme interpretation: Operation Migration by Marlene Gustafson and
City Birds IV by Ginny Eckley

Innovation: Morning Hunt in the Everglades Melani Kane Brewer and
Paradise by Janis Jagodzinski

Craftsmanship: Home Landing by Nancy E. Kimpel

Viewer's choice: Home Landing by Nancy E. Kimpel

So, please comment on what were your favorites and why? If you can.

A little bit traditional

These last quilts are more traditionally oriented than others we've seen. Here, Verena Levine shares a scene from her childhood in Switzerland where she watched and fed swans.

Verena now lives in Washington, DC. I like the one "diving" swan at the top of her quilt which is swooping down into the body of the quilt.

This one is called Floating on Air Currents and is by Constance Norton of Fairfax, Virginia.
Her piece is made of hand-dyed cotton embellished with thread painting and is machine pieced and quilted.

Her piece is meant to be symbolic of the air currents which allowed broad winged raptors to stay aloft and conserve energy. Here in my back yard you often see Coopers, red-tailed and broad-winged hawks along with Turkey vultures riding along. If I'm lucky, I'll see an American kestrel.

Here's a detail so you can see these down-like bits which float over the colored squares.

She also did this one entitled Flamingo Rickrack because it reminded her of the rickrack her mother used to sew on her garments.

Constance had one other quilt in the Aullwood show which she called Fabulous Flamingos which was also made with commercial fabrics. Unfortunately, I failed to get a photo of that one.

Haste certainly does make waste!