rocket tracking


Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thinking of New Year's Eves past

Tonight I have been thinking about different New Year's Eve celebrations I have attended. Usually, when I was a child, New Year's Eves were spent at home with my older brother and sister. Mom would make eggnogg (which I adored but had to be careful of because I was sensitive to eggs and milk) and we would sit up eating popcorn, cheese and crackers and wait for the ball to drop on TV.

Usually, even in my twenties, it was spent quietly, under similar circumstances. One of the most memorable occasions was in 1988, just after we had moved my husband's parents to their retirement home in Valrico. Carlos and I went down to spend part of the time with them, Christmas with my parents in Lillian, Alabama, then back to spend New Year's with his parents.

Little did I know, they had made reservations at the Tampa Cuban Club for all of us to have dinner and attend the New Year's Eve celebrations. I quaked in my shoes. All I had was a red silk blouse and a grey wool Pendleton suit of very simple lines. Now, when I had attended Carlos' parent's friends picnics in Connecticut and had been told it was casual, I had arrived in shorts only to find all the ladies in smart summer dresses and spiked heeled sandals. I could only imagine what New Years Eve at the Cuban club would be like.

His sisters and I went out to try to find something suitable for me to wear. Although I am the same height as these two, 5' 4", and at the time we all weighed about the same, about 120, they are long boned and long legged. I am long in the torso and short legged and have a smaller waist than they did. They would pull dresses that they would look good in with tiers of ruffles and lapped skirts, and I looked absolutely wretched...something like a Carmen Miranda gone bad. I swallowed deeply and finally bought a pair of rhinestone dangly earrings and decided what I had was just as good as anything that I was trying on...even though I knew I was going to be woefully under-dressed.

Sure enough, when we got there, many of the ladies wore long gowns. I remember one lady dressed in black and white taffetta. They were all glittering with sequins and rhinestones. My husband was in a sports jacket. His father was wearing a light colored jacket (he was still in New England mode and didn't have any darker colored jackets which were light enough for the warmth of a Tampa winter). I felt like a goose in a group of swans.

Some of the Cuban customs I was familiar with. New Year's Eve was toasted in with sparkling cider. The main course was roast pork. But, one custom I was not familiar with. At the stroke of midnight, all these elegant men and women grabbed the grapes and started gobbling them as fast as they could....seeds and all. I was aghast. Later, I found out that it was a custom to eat one grape for each stroke of the clock at midnight --per the Spanish custom and I believe that there was something about the seeds and number you could eat bringing prosperity.

Other memories of New Years include spending wonderful parties with my neighbors the Stankiewicz in Meriden where they would have friends over and we would play card games, Trivial Pursuit and other games until midnight.

Other times, we would go over to the Greniers and spend New Years with them. One memorable time I had to bring Carlos home early because he all of a sudden didn't feel well. He had spiked a high fever. The next night, I realized he was breathing strangely and I realized that somehow he had gotten pneumonia.

Tonight, Meg is spending New Years at a friends house. I am tidying up a few things and will go up and work on a quilt challenge for a bit before I go to bed. Like everyone else, I suppose, I'm thinking of goals for the coming year, and hoping for a more peaceful world and a year with more happiness and good things, and less pain and sorrow. Wishing you all the best in this world. Lisa

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Greening America, planting for the future

When I first moved here in June, 2005 there were 9 trees and foundation plantings across the front of overgrown yews. While off-loading the household goods from the semi, one of the guys made a comment about the plantings, to which I responded, "If you want them you can have them."

At that point, it became a point of honor for the guys to rip out the plantings with their tractor. Imagine the cab of a big rig chaining itself to the base of a yew which we had already dug out as best we could. I think the neighbors were getting just a little taste of what it meant to have me for a neighbor.

Right away, I took out three of the nine trees. I took out two Crimson King Norway maples--they were planted on the south end of the swimming pool (DUMB move, we had just lived with a mature norway maple on the south east side of our swimming pool in Connecticut and fishing out seeds and leaves from that thing was a major undertaking). I admit, I'm also prejudiced against Norways as they are not native and they seed themselves all over. The third tree I took out was a sickly redbud. I love redbuds, but this one was really ill. Not to worry...I'm still digging up seedlings and root stock from that same tree.

The following spring, my brother came to visit and he took out a silver maple which was planted smack in front of the doorway. Silver maples are great trees for swamps.....and native woods. They are not good trees to be in people's yards. They are quick growing and thus tend to be the developer's choice. Then, I hired a blue spruce to be taken down. It was a beautiful tree, but it wasn't in the right spot. People have a tendency to plant really cute baby trees and not to remember they get to be behomoths.

Now, you might think that I hate trees. On the contrary. I love trees. More people should plant trees. In fact, while I have taken down 5 trees, I have planted 32 trees and many understory trees/large shrubs. I'm fairly careful about siting the tree so that when it gets large, it will still be an asset to the property.

I also look for trees which have more than one season of interest. Here's a short list of what I have planted:

2 Parrotia persica --(common names: parrotia or Persian Ironwood) non-native but wonderful bark and fall foliage.

2 Asian Pears

Stewartia pseudocamelia This is a fantastic one, although it is a real water hog for about the first 5 years. It also has a delicate bark which can be easily girdled. I had one in Connecticut and loved it...the first one I planted here croaked because of our late season droughts. I replaced it with a pricier one...and I hope it makes it.

Franklinia alatamaha
This native was found by John Bartram but has been lost in the wild. It has fantastic leaf color while blooming in the fall with camelia like blooms.

Sweet Bay Magnolia
A large tree, and it will provide most of the shade for the house once it gets going. Lovely lemon scented flowers in June and July. Interesting seedpods. The white flower pictured is the one in my garden.

Beni schichihenge Japanese maple. I'm not convinced by this one yet... It likes a little more acid soil than I have and it sort of just looks sick rather than being a presence, but it is small.

Golden full-moon Japanese maple
. This one is very hard to find and is one of the trees I originally had planted in Connecticut. I dug it up and potted it, and brought it down in April, 2005 rather than leave it in Connecticut. Good thing I did too as it would have been cut down like almost all of the other trees I put in there.

2 Coral bark Japanese maples They're little. They also need lots of water to start.

Sourwood This is a native with lovely color and a small, unassuming pyramidal shape. My friend Martha has a lovely one in Connecticut. The one I planted here died back to the base the first year and put up a small secondary growth. I'm hoping I can convince it to grow in the soil likes acid, and mine is alkaline.

2 Styrax japonica--or japonicus (Japanese silver bells). These were seedlings of the Emerald pagoda I had in Connecticut.

Dwarf "Patio Peach" Bonfire. I'm a sucker for yellow, red or variegated varieties. This peach is small, has red leaves and edible peaches.

North Star dwarf cherry. Wonderful cherry producing great red sour cherries when a late frost doesn't get the blossoms.

Weeping Katsura
. This is a largish Japanese tree, and is one in the corner of the first picture. Slow growing. groan.

Cornus mas variegata
Variegated cornelian cherry. Dogwood relative, small yellow blossoms in spring.

4 Korean fir (Abies koreana) Great little tree...I have the "silberlock" variety and it is the bottom photograph. Cool plant which has PURPLE cones at a very young age. Also needs lots of water in the beginning until it gets established.

Shadbush or Service berry (Amelanchier)
Great little native with neat bark, lovely edible berries (if you can fend the birds off). Wonderful fall color.

Weeping Norway spruce. gulp. It's near my goldfish pond...what can I say?

2 red lace Japanese maples

2 limber pines (Pinus flexis Vanderwolf's pyramid) It looks like a white pine, but won't get to be 100 feet tall. :)

Trident maple (Acer buergeranum). This is a cool plant with exfoliating bark as well...but I could only get it on line. When it came it was about 4 feet tall. But a deer came and chomped it down so now it is 1 1/2 feet tall. Slow growing. Boohoo.

Seven son's tree (Heptacodium miconiodes... ok, this is more like a large shrub as it gets to be 15' tall. But it too has exfoliating bark and wonderfully scented flowers. The bracts are actually more interesting than the flowers.

Acer rubrum "Frank's red"

I put this in to replace a Bradford pear which was too close to the house and which blew down last year in a freak "dry huricane."

Quercus "crimson spire." This one I got on sale this year and put in a temporary spot waiting for the time when the other Bradford pear blows down.

There is precious little shade present. I will never see shade from these trees. I plant hoping that perhaps in the future someone will benefit from them. In a way, I'm doing my own little bit to cut down on global warming. I don't know if they will last. The magnolia, American silverbell, Japanese silverbell, Forest Pansy, Sweetgum tree and the sargent crab I planted in Connecticut have all been cut down. The only saving grace is that they cut down the danged Norway maple as well. I hope that the Stewartia is still there...but it probably isn't.

I'm sure you're tired of reading this....and I haven't even started in on the shrubs!

P.s. we have .77 acres in case you're wondering..or is it .68? My brain is stuffed up from my cold. Just shy of an acre at any rate.

A sad time

It has been subdued around here. I've been down with a severe respiratory bug. Then, on Sunday, my daughter came into my room teary eyed. The father of a friend of hers had just died. He had gone to the urgent medical care facility on the day after Thanksgiving and was transferred from there to a hospital in Dayton, and from there to the Cincinnati University hospital.

No one knew what was wrong. He had been exhibiting flu like symptoms and was dehydrated. Then, they diagnosed him with liver failure.

I know I was getting this through the filter of a 16 year old, but I am still stymied. Meg's friend is a senior this year. She won't have her father to watch her graduate and grow up. From now on, Thanksgiving and Christmas will have a bitter edge to it. I am also concerned as her mother is a teacher at a parochial school and he was an engineer at International Engine and Machine (I think that's what its called now...). Her older brother is still in college and I gasped thinking of all the expenses which will now have to be borne by a one income family.

This couple was unique and wonderful. My daughter loved them dearly. I didn't know him very well, I had only worked in the concession stand with him a couple of times. He and his wife, however, seemed to be very much in love, even though they had been married for 25 years.

I thought to myself that he looked ruddy, like someone who had uncontrolled high-blood pressure. I wanted to ask his wife about it, but decided not to as it was none of my business and also I'm not a doctor...I don't have training and I can tend to be a know-it-all. I wonder though, if I should have mentioned it. While the above is very true about me, it is also true that I have an almost sixth sense about things like this and have diagnosed things correctly more than once.

I don't really know what to do for this family. I am going to offer to the mother to make her, and her daughter, a comfort/memory lap quilt out of his clothing when she is ready to think about that. That's about the best I can do. We aren't close, even though Meg is very close to her daughter.

One good thing is that I commented to my husband about it and said that I was concerned about the impact it would have on their finances. Being in the hospital for that long is sure to make a huge dent on the budget and with all the expenses of the senior year and lopping off the major income would be difficult. My husband's comment was that he hoped they had life insurance. I said "sure, but how much? How much do we have?" He looked it up and said $700,000. I looked at him an much would be left after paying funeral expenses, hospital bills, taxes etc.?

How much is it to replace a person? You can't. And my heart bleeds for this young woman.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Red Winged Blackbird composition

The Miami Valley Art Quilt Network is going to have another very small show at the Clark State Community College in Springfield. As if getting ready for Christmas wasn't enough, my entries for the show had to be in by December 21st.

Here's one of the pieces I put in. This is a red winged blackbird which I painted with acrylic paints on plain muslin. I intended to have the pieces be randomly sewn with the center being well....skewed or off center. This is an example of piecing by improvisation.

I would have liked to have had these more off square, but I think I'm just too symmetrical of a person to remember to do this more strongly. I was also trying to stay within a 14 x 18 or so size.

The circular pieces are wooden pendents which I glued on. I originally wanted to sew them on but I found that it was too difficult to sew them on after having quilted it. I think it needs something in the blank space at the top, but I don't know what. Suggestions are greatly appreciated.

I've always liked red winged blackbirds. In the spring, I remember being thrilled to hear them singing in the rushes on our farm. They particularly love to be in areas where there is marsh and tall grass. We had them in Connecticut too as our property backed up next to a field which was fallow for several years. At the east end of the field was a creek.

Unfortunately, they are not common in my yard here in Ohio, although one would think they would be a perfect match for my grasses and the creek at the back of our property.

Since this is the second night of Christmas...just think of this piece as a "colly bird" --which is what they think is the original form of the "Calling Birds" from the Twelve Days of Christmas. So, what's a colly bird? Colly means coal other words, black.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Lights

When I was a child, and gas was cheap, my parents would load the three of us kids into the station wagon (or the VW bug depending on the year) and go into town to drive around looking at lights on Christmas eve...usually before going to the 11:00 service.

Our street is sort of well known for having great Christmas lights....It isn't just one of us, it is almost the whole cul de sac. Here are a few of the houses... of course, I forgot to take a shot of my own! A week ago, one of my daughter's friends came over to work on an English paper and he was quite amazed at the amount of lights on the street.

Tonight is was kind of fun...people were driving slowly by to see the lights.

I hope you enjoy this small light display.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I'm cold. Winter is close by. Tuesday will be the Winter solstice. My thoughts are turning to winter sowing even as the hustle and bustle of Christmas and the various quilts I have to work on breathe down my neck.

There's always hope, and I am the eternal optimist. Poppies are the first things I sow in the winter.

I love poppies of all sorts. This one is an oriental poppy called "Manhattan" or is it "Patty's Plum?" No, I think Manhattan as Patty rotted when I bought her as a bare root. It's too cold to go out now and check...and since is past midnight, I'm not about to.

Winter sowing Papaver somniferum (opium poppies) is the only way I have ever had success with them. Once you get them, in most soils they will come back again from the self-sown seeds. It is such a majestic plant, although it is illegal to sell seedlings I think. I can never remember if it is the seed or the seedlings or the plant. This is one of those plants which has a great deal of mystique as it is handed from one gardener to another.

I think it is sort of silly for us to worry about such things. I highly doubt that any American is going to go to the trouble of growing them for the have to injure the seedhead while it is green. It then will exude a whitish sap which is collected. Far too much work I think for most Americans. We are more likely to save the seed to put on our bagels, breads and muffins than to go to all this trouble. If you notice the fringed one you can get a sense of the great variation which you get with this plant. They go from white to almost black and ever shade of red and lavendar in between.

This photo was taken in the dusk. I love how it glows. This is another oriental poppy called Victoria is a clear watermellon sort of pink, at least that's how the plant catalogues describe it. I think of it more as raspberry sherbet.

I am waiting for the seed catalogs to come. Hopefully, I'll be able to find the seed of Turken Louis, a favorite orange poppy I grew in Connecticut and can't find here. So many nurseries carried it in Connecticut that I didn't think to bring any down here and I haven't been able to find them locally.

In the meantime, near my router sits a plastic container full of seed I have harvested. Soon they will be put in milk jugs outside and they'll start the stratifying that they need in order to sprout. In the meantime, I'll dream of catalogs and the gorgeous flowers which are gathering their power as they sleep in the cold. Just like me.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


While much of the central and northern United States does look like this right now, here in south west Ohio it is drab and rainy. We've had a spell of cold, but snow here is usually dry and of short duration.

I shot this photo in my back yard last January. I love how the light rises in the east and the snow makes stark contrast with the darkness of the shrubs and stalks of the perennials I leave for winter interest. The frost on the remains of the Joe-pye weed glows and sparkles against the fence and shrubs.

I have been frustrated looking at what I think I should do to get ready for the holidays and resenting it and struggling just trying to get some of the regular parts together.

Yesterday, I decided that with putting the lights on the garlands on the staircase and the electric candles in the windows, I'd call it "done." We have a tree. We have stockings by the fireplace. We have the outside lighted and wreathed. There's a wreath on the chimney breast and a wreath on the area above the doorway to the kitchen.

What's missing? Lots. I posted on my facebook page that there would be no porcelain houses this year. My husband's cousin replied "OH NO! The world is going to stop spinning!" For people who knew me in Connecticut, I think that they would agree....and not in the sarcastic tone in which Louie said it. No houses, no Swedish angels. No Santas...(no, wait, I am going to grab the big ones and put them up because it takes no trouble). No huge plates of cookies. No loaves of bread (except the loaf of honey wheat I have presently baking to eat with the bean soup I made for dinner).

You see, in the beginning of the year I said I was going to is absolutely overdue and necessary. I'm struggling to take care of all the orchids and the house plants. The inside and the outside....and still do stuff I'm interested in. I said I was going to stop selling books...and yet, I haven't been able to do any of this.

Old habits are notoriously hard to break. I have, however, thrown out dying Phalaenopsis and gave away Christmas cactus. I recently dumped some African violets.... I'm trying to hoe out things and have made several trips to Goodwill and the Vietnam Vets are coming on the 21st.

And yet...there is still so much to weed out. I am a materialistic person. Not in the sense that most people are...I just love material culture. I enjoy things. I love things with history. I enjoy one of a kind things, beautiful things, things which have been given to me by people who mean a lot to me. I have things which remind me of growing up (paintings with sheep in them). Things which are interesting because of how they are engineered, or just because they are neat.

I think of George Carlin and his skit about "stuff." Part of me laughs. Part of me cringes. I also think that when you own a lot of stuff, it really owns you. So, I stumble along trying to sort it all out. Pass it on and move it out. It takes a long time. Going through papers. Sorting them out. Filing some, throwing out others. It is spiritually draining. Emotionally overwhelming.

I keep on thinking I will not do this to myself again. However, I know, deep on my heart of hearts, it will be very difficult not to.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On Being an American

You never know what you are going to see when you drive down the road. In September, I pulled up to a traffic light behind this truck. The tailgate lift (for a wheelchair) was boldly emblazoned with the American flag. The decal in the corner of the window is the Marine Corps emblem. Here in Ohio, the American flag is ubiquitous, including a mammoth sized one at a local car dealership.

I wondered about this, did the person who was driving the vehicle sustain injuries in the service which resulted in being wheelchair bound?

Sometimes being an American puzzles me. Just before I went to Montana in September, I undertook filling out "The American Community Survey." Sheesh. I don't know how I manage to get the long form from the Census, and now this. There was a lot of information, much of which I had to look up. Not only was there information on how much our house cost how much money we made, and how....but lots of other things too.

I also admit, I'm a procrastinator. Not that I like it. Usually I put off doing what I don't want to do, what I'm afraid of doing, and things which require a lot of thought. Now the American Community Survey is sort of like the Census, but it isn't. It is issued in years that the census is not taken and supposedly takes an average of 38 minutes to complete (that is assuming you have all the information at your fingertips...). Imagine my surprise when I received a second copy (after I had started the first) with big, bold red letters stating that if I didn't fill this out and return it, I was breaking the law. Oh Brother!

Some of the information sort of made me giggle. For instance, "Does this person speak a language other than English at home?" Hmm. Depends on how disgusted he gets with his daughter's conduct...and then it is a muttered Spanish swear word under his breath, and that's quite rare.

One question really gave me pause. "What is this person's ancestry or ethnic origin?" For my husband, that was easy. He was born in Havana, Cuba and his grandparents were from Spain. Easy peasy.

But what about me? Under this question is said "For example: Italian, Jamaican, African Am., Cambodian, Cape Verdean, Norwegian, Dominican, ...and so on." Hm. My mom is of Scottish, Irish, Croatian, Danish, and Welsh descent. My dad is half Swedish. The other half? grandmother, Blanche Mary Reed Broberg is descended from a long line of early settlers. Among her ancestors are English Puritans who came to Massachusetts (from thence to Connecticut and Rhode Island) in the 1630s as well as the Gunsaulis family who were Mennonites who came at least as early as 1698, if not earlier...some records put them in New York with the Dutch settlements. So what am I?

In my veins run the mixed blood of immigrants. The best that could be said of me is that I am Northern European....but then that denies the presence of Mary Majestik Ross, my great grandmother who was my great grandfather's Croatian housekeeper before he married her after his first wife died. Why do I have to be anything?

Then, that also presents the problem of my daughter. She is half Cuban and half mutt. Her surname is Hispanic. She has a Cuban flag hanging in her bedroom. I have always worked hard to educate her as far as her father's family history goes (even so far as to make a traditional Cuban meal for Dia de los tres Reyes (three Kings Day or Epiphany on January 6), but somehow that seems to discredit my part of the family.

When people leave their country and come to a new one, quite often all that they are able to take with them is their language and their food traditions. While I can understand a lot of Spanish, I don't speak it (although I can make myself understood on occasion). At one point in my life, I was fairly fluent in French, even to the point of giving tours in French when I volunteered at the Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia. However, 30 years of not using it much and the close proximity of the Spanish language means I now sort of speak Sprench.

Traditional foods from my side of the family are sort of non-existent. On Christmas Eve, my mom used to serve Potato soup. I found out later it was because her family (the Scottish-Croatian side) used to eat Oyster stew....which was a no-go with my father. But that's just about it.

I often revel in the fact that Americans, because we ARE such a melting pot, eat just about anything, and combine things in surprising and delicious ways. Sometimes though, I wonder if there is a genetic component in the foods we gravitate to. My husband prefers rice over potatoes....and I prefer potatoes over rice (and I blame that on the Irish and Germanic bits).

So...I'm an American. Not a Swedish American (although I do make a mean Swedish own recipe please, not an inherited one), nor any other nationality...just plain old American. I realize that the Native Americans might have something to say about that, but I wonder if they make a centrifuge to separate out the various strands of DNA to send me back to which ever part of Europe the proportions (long lost in my history) might have originated.

And I did have a chuckle the other thoroughly American daughter, whose accent in Spanish class is deplorable gave me a rare compliment. On Monday, I went to Columbus, Ohio to have a quilt appraised. I brought along my neighbor for company and we stopped in at German Village. I love looking at the architecture there and am amazed at how many early buildings have managed to survive.

We stopped for lunch at Katzinger's Deli and I saw that they had latkes (potato pancakes). My daughter loves potato pancakes and since my husband was away again, I bought one for her for dinner. After she ate it, I asked her how it was. "Well...OK, " she said. "But yours are a thousand times better. Yours are lighter and more fluffy...and yummy." Wow. ....and I don't even follow a recipe! Must have been my Gunsaulis family genes cooking that one!

And for the record? Just call me American.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: .a hodge podge

Today I got an email from Vivien at Seven Pines asking me what had happened to me and saying she had missed reading my blog. What a sweet thing to do! And needed too, as right after Thanksgiving I read something on another blog I follow where someone had dropped her blog as she posted too frequently (once a day).

This gave me pause as perhaps my goal to do as much was perhaps overloading people. After all, do people really want to read my blatherings? Plus....coming back from Thanksgiving in Michigan meant that we were quickly trying to finish up winterizing outside and to put up Christmas decorations. Our street goes nuts and that will be fodder for another blog post, but not this one. Imagine the "Christmas with the Kranks" neighborhood and I think you'll get the idea.

My daughter and I started decorating the inside of the house last night....and it really looks like a bomb exploded in it. I'm also trying to thin some of the things out.

However, today she and I went to the mall to purchase my husband's Christmas present. While my intentions were to dive in and leave, my daughter had other ideas and she now has lots of new clothes, purchased on sale or on clearance. I snarled at her reminding her that Christmas was coming. Some of these things will be wrapped and put under the tree, but I keep on thinking about something that Ben Franklin once said (actually, I think it was BF as "Poor Richard"). Basically, it said that nothing was so costly as something which wasn't needed (a necessity). Trying to drive that concept into the head of a teenager who is in love with clothes is something I'm not able to accomplish.

So, I'm glad to report that all my Christmas presents are purchased. I still have to finish making a couple and I have two quick quilting projects to whip out.

After being "malled", we went to the opening of Fran LaSalle's quilt exhibit at Glen Helen Ecological Center in Yellow Springs, OH. I quilt with Fran and she is also a member of Miami Valley Art Quilt Network. She had a solo show there last year and was asked to show her pieces with a potter this year.

In all, Fran made 21 new pieces for the show and has 31 pieces on exhibition. One of her favorites is the first piece I showed you, a single leaf of a Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) which is also known as "five leaved ivy." This other one is a lovely little piece for the fall.

This last one is a sun print she did with Setacolor paints. All of the pieces are for sale, and even before the opening today, three of her pieces had sold.

Tomorrow, I am driving to Columbus to have the Great Blue Heron at Sunset appraised. The quilt was accepted into "Quilting Natural Florida II" and will be shipped down to Gainesville, Florida in mid-January for the Feb. 6 opening.

Since I had one quilt I had in a show go astray, I have decided that every quilt which is accepted into shows at a distance will be appraised. The cost of appraisal is $40 here for a certified appraiser. If had put in an insurance claim on a quilt which had not been appraised, I would only get the cost of materials. For a 25" x 36" quilt, this wouldn't even begin to touch the amount of work I had put into it. In addition, the more quilts I have in shows, the higher the value of my pieces...something which is not reflected in the "materials only" issue.

In 2005, my quilt "El Ritmo Flamenco" was supposed to come to me here in Ohio. When she was entered her into the Kaufman Quilt Quest contest, I had no idea I would be moving to Ohio. Of course as soon as I found I was moving and had an address and telephone number, I sent that information off. However, the Kaufman people had a computer failure and up-loaded from old information....and sent my quilt to my old address. Fortunately, I was on very good terms with the people who bought my house, but I did have to pay an additional $35 to have the quilt Fed-exed back to me. I have also heard of quilts stolen, lost in the mail, or the ill-fated quilt which got caught in a conveyor belt and was pretty heavily eaten.

Therefore, for the quilts which are special or are traveling quite some distance, I have them appraised. Because it makes a difference, I supply the appraiser with a resume of my work, and the dimensions, photographs and basics of the quilt prior to making the visit. While the appraiser will probably still re-measure and take his or her own photographs, it does make it go a bit more smoothly. So, off to bed before I won't hear the alarm to drive the 1 1/2 hours to Columbus tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thoughts on Pilgrims

Tomorrow, we like so many other Americans are going "Over the River and Through the Woods" to share Thanksgiving with friends. As much as I'm going to enjoy this, I'm going to regret not having leftover pumpkin pie, turkey and dressing. I'll probably make a pumpkin pie, and perhaps a turkey sometime later, but my husband always rolls his eyes when I do because I always boil the carcass for broth and he hates watching me do it.

My contribution this year, as it was the previous years we've visited these particular friends, is home made brown and serve rolls. I usually make them with about 30% whole wheat flour...sometimes I feel they taste like dog biscuits, but if you slather enough butter on it, anything will taste good.

While shooting these two photos, I kept on thinking about russet...obviously because of the wonderful reds in both of them... The little dots in the center of the euphorbia at left are water droplets.

When I think of the word russet...I almost always think of the Pilgrims. Ask any school child what colors the Pilgrims wore and they are likely to answer "black, brown and grey." In reality, the Pilgrims wore colors which were described as "sad colors." Sad colors didn't mean black, brown and grey, but were often used to refer to colors dyed with woad, most often shades of blue, often quite brilliant. just stepped into a history lesson. Because of my interest in textiles, one of my very short papers I did for Professor James Axtell of William and Mary was on Puritan clothing. Professor Axtell assigns his graduate students short research papers. We had to research the topic fully, but the papers could be no longer than three pages I think when finished, including references.

Research indicated that at the time, the Puritans (and therefore the Pilgrims) described themselves as wearing sad colors, which included russet, red, browns, blues and other colors. I can't remember at the moment if any of the descriptions referred to them wearing green and I can't remember at the moment where I placed this 28 year old paper.

Since most of these people were not from the upper echelons of English society, it is unlikely that they would wear clothing which would show dirt or wear readily. Textiles were expensive and clothing changes were few and far between. Aprons or smocks, were necessary to protect garments while doing dirty work (men generally wore smocks while working in the fields).

Most importantly, people were to "dress according to their station." Only the wealthy were allowed to wear lace, and only the upper ends of society (i.e. nobility) were to wear lace of gold. If a servant was found wearing lace, they could be whipped or fined...or both.

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays I really like because it doesn't matter what religion or country you come from. You can always find something to be thankful for, even it at times you really have to think about it. My neighbor recites things she is thankful for everyday before falling asleep. She says it relaxes her and puts her to sleep.

Great idea and one we all should practice.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On Fire

Today and yesterday have been whirlwinds. I'm approaching one of those times when I feel I'm almost out of control...kind of like this fire. My neighbor was burning the tomato vines and other dried, woody material from his garden, and I just had to snap this picture.

Yesterday, I made some yo-yo's and worked on some other small quilty projects. The yo-yos are for the stack and whack for my mom to use.

I had hoped to get into the sewing room today...and I did go in, but it was to pack up my Bernina to take to the shop as it isn't working right. Then it was a mad dash to take my daughter to meet with a photographer. She's trying to decide between two photographers to take her senior pictures. Both are very artistic and both have asked her to be "ambasadors" (read: sales rep in her school). If you could help, she and I would both appreciate it. Please leave a comment telling us which of these two photographers you like best. Ty or Jon. I'm not kidding...the more feedback the better as we both are on the fence...

Here are two more of the textured pieces Liz Schneiders did for our MVAQN texture workshop. These two pieces were made by poking the fabric through some hardware cloth, dampening it and drying it to maintain the shape. Pretty cool!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Texture

As I reported on an earlier blog (here), our little sub-group of the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network has been meeting and exploring different elements of design and techniques in art quilting.

Liz Schneiders led this workshop on texture. All of these pieces are hers and I think they are pretty cool. She did some experimentation with three dimensional pieces, this chartreuse pyramid I think is my favorite.

But this is pretty neat too.

This piece should probably be oriented in the opposite direction, but I thought it was pretty neat too. She used fleece and sewed it together, then cut it apart and resewed it.

Even the back of it has really neat texture.

Of course, whimsy is quite evident here in the frog with the yo-yo eyes. This inspired Lori Gravely to do a quite elegant piece which she posted on her blog here

In this piece, Liz simply wove strips of raw edged check through a piece of fabric she had cut slits into. Also quite effective.

So, where's my art for the day? Well, my creative tallent was spent working in the garden, planting the last (thank goodness) of the tulips, daffodils and Camas lilies as well as going through some of my fabric and quilting arts magazines. I also thought I was pretty creative in the patterns in which I vacuumed my rug.

Tomorrow will be a more productive day I hope. At least it will be part of the day when I'm meeting with the MVAQN group of stitchers at Appalachian Quilts.

While I was working in the garden and thinking about the Art Every Day, I was thinking about a conversation I heard when I was 16. I was working on a piece of pottery at the Battle Creek Art Center and the two instructors, who were young women probably about 25 at most, we talking about a third woman. The third woman was somewhat older and she set aside a portion of her day every day to paint. She structured it so it was the same time every day. The two instructors I was hearing as I worked decried this and said that she wasn't REALLY and artist because she worked at the same time every day, not when the muse moved her or for as long as the muse moved her.

I have remember this all these years. At the time, I thought that they were wrong. Today, I know that they were horribly wrong. As other responsibilities come our way, whether children, a job, or whatever, sometimes we have to set aside a certain time and hold it sacrosanct...this is our time for creativity. Sometimes we can sneak it in other times as well, but at least we have this one sacred time. I suppose that the two instructors thought that it became too much like work...but I think that the third woman was very wise. While I usually shoot photos every day, and am creative (or at least try to be ) in the food I prepare and certainly my gardening is very creative (if you ever want to talk color and texture in gardens, then I'm your gal). However, sometimes the time I am able to spend in my sewing room or with my paints is short indeed.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The BIG GAME: OSU vs. U of M

When I first moved to Ohio, I couldn't figure out what the inflatable figure I saw in front of so many houses in the fall. After asking around, someone said "OH! That's Brutus Buckeye!"

Who? Brutus Buckeye is the mascot for the Ohio State Football program. Ohio's state tree is the Buckeye (Aesculus glabra) and there's a lot of history and legend about the Buckeye. You can read all about the tree and the stories and how that came to be here. Of course, it sort of amuses me that someone who moved here from Connecticut (the Nutmeg State) wound up being in the Buckeye State...but I digress (no surprise here, I know!).

To say that Ohio is heavily into football is a major understatement. Everywhere you see people wearing Ohio State University clothes. Houses have OSU emblems on their mailboxes, flags and even driveways.

However, I was a bit amazed when I went to the local grocery store and saw this.

A silver Volkswagon bug decked out as a helmet of an OSU player. The white stickers are a method for rewarding players on game day, ONLY if they win. The number of stickers indicates how valuable the player is. This program started in 1968 and has continued every year. For more on this phenomina, check out this. Riddell is the manufacturer of the helmets.

The side emblem on the car is Ohio State University's "block O", a highly controlled licensed emblem.

I thought that the owner must be REALLY into OSU....when I walked into the grocery store, I had no problem identifying its owner from among all the shoppers. Here he is. OSU visor, sweatshirt, and OSU lounge pants..... I have to note, this wasn't even a game day, but a Tuesday!

Ohio State has a long standing rivalry with the University of Michigan. As you can tell from my moniker, I'm originally from Michigan, but football doesn't stand for much in my family. I still have to quickly respond that I turned down a scholarship to U of M lest I be considered an enemy of the state...

Today is THE BIG GAME. It's one of the longest standing rivalries in college football. People are all decked out in their Buckeye paraphanalia. Even to wearing necklaces made out of drilled horse chestnuts and plastic pony beads in grey, red and white.

When we first moved here, my daughter and I were amazed. We were the local Meijer's store (something like a Target) and you could hear people shout "O-H" on one side of the store, and it was answered through out the store with "I-O". If you shout this anywhere in the world, and have it completed by someone else, you know you've found a Buckeye. In addition, you can do the arm movements....something like the Village People doing "Y.M.C.A", only a heck of a lot easier....

For this Michigander...errr Michigoose, it is an oddity as growing up in Michigan, I never saw this much furor over the team. In fact, it's not a good time to have a car with Michigan plates anywhere near Columbus..... Go figure.

Now, I have to sign off so I can call my friends Martha and Bob who both graduated from U of M...just to say "Go Bucks!" and....beware the nut...which one, I'm not sure.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another Quilt , another two day art post!

Yesterday I finally finished (except for the binding) my Entry for the Fast Friday Fabric can look on that blog to see my struggles with making it....The topic for this challenge was animals....I had several ideas, which I'm also going to pursue, but I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out which of my many ideas I was going to do. I ended up trying to do a picture of moonlight reflecting on a goldfish pond. I was inspired by a Chinese watercolor painting I saw a while ago.

I used layers of tulle, Angelina fibers and the sheet form of Angelina, along with the hairy yarn...I can't remember what it is called as I don't knit! I have a couple of other small projects to finish. While quilting it, I discovered that my machine is acting up. I'm going to have to take it in to be cleaned and gone over...I'm not looking forward to it as I know that the shop is going to have it for at least a month and I am not thrilled with the going price for cleaning around here.

The goldfish were my post for yesterday. Here's my post for today...hens and chickens.....

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday and Monday...still playing catch-up!

Sometimes I swear that my computer has gremlins in it....Yesterday, Photoshop was refusing to open...telling me that I needed to un-install and re-install as there was a licensing bugaboo....right. So...yesterday didn't get posted.

Yesterday and today was very busy. I had the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network, a meeting with a potential photographer for my daughter's senior pictures (and I'm still struggling with that one), and getting ready for the Vietnam Vet's pick up of things I wanted to donate (read: clear out).

I needed more voltage than what was going through these boxes I fear.

Or maybe I'm just a cracked pot.

Today, I was bopping around in Tipp City, Ohio, a cute town just south of me. Tipp City is really Tippecanoe, of the Battle of Tippecanoe and "Tippecanoe and Tyler too!" campaign slogan. The battle didn't take place here, it was named for it though.

It was one of Ohio's Canal towns, and is home to Spring Hill Gardens, and Tipp of the Town tomato canning...Trophy Nut and a number of other small, light industry.

The best part of it is downtown's filled with small antique and specialty shops. The Hotel Gallery is in an early 19th century hotel and is home to a variety of artist studios and arts and crafts. This is actually a little enclosure between a florist shop and the back side of the Hotel Gallery.

A willow tree hanging on to it's last leaves.

These two will definitely find their way into a quilt somehow...Gem City Ice Cream...yum! The Gem City is Dayton.

This is another oddity which will find its way into a quilt... It is the fruit of the Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) also known as the "hedge apple."

They are sort of attractive, but not least no one eats them. The poor lady who lives around the corner from me fights her Osage oranges every year. Her large tree dumps lots of them on her yard...They are about the size of a grapefruit.

While I'm not about to plant one, I am fascinated by their color and texture.....definitely the mark of a quilter I suppose!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Art Thursday, Friday and Saturday, OH MY!

While I practiced the discipline of art for Thursday, Friday and Saturday....I didn't have a chance to post it until today, so you're going to get a lot in one fell swoop.

Thursdays are one of my quilting days. I meet with friends, we bring in lunch pieces to share and quilt and talk for about four hours. So, I spent the day working on my Fast Friday Fabric Challenge which isn't being too fast as I'm over thinking it and trying to get it right. NOT what it is supposed to be, but oh well...

When I came home, I planted 30 more tulips and 10 more daffodils. After I finished that, I started taking some photographs in the garden. Since we changed over to daylight savings time, sundown is about 5:30. Since it was about 5:00, it was dusk. Here are two shots of a miniature spirea I have. One is with flash, the other is with available light. I think it is interesting how the flash made the bronzes and yellows come out more, while the natural light gave us more blue and purple tones.

Friday was also a hurry up day....I had lots of errands to run and I also had an evening meeting. So, here are my garden shots for Friday. Photography isn't the only thing I did, however, as I also painted some Tyvek so I could melt it to make some "rocks" for a small quilt I'm working on.

At left is an Icelandic poppy which is still putting out blossoms.

This is a geranium, I can't remember right off the top of my head which it is, as I have several.

I'm not sure which shot I like better. Votes will be happily taken.

Today, I spent the day at Hartzell Propeller in Piqua, Ohio. Hartzell graciously allows us to meet there when I sign up the room for the day. The local Troy Quilt Guild has two of these sponsored "stitch ins" per year, one in the fall and one in the spring.

One of the things I did was look at this piece and try to figure out whether I should finish it or not. This is in answer to the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network's challenge "Triangles." It was an idea I had to do a series on crop circles, this being number one.

The only problem is, every time I look at this, I think nuclear hazard.... I was going to use pearle cotton on this and stitch around and in the triangles. Originally I thought I'd do it in golds and greens to represent the flattened and standing crops. Then, when I kept on looking at my nuclear issues, I thought perhaps I would stitch over the tops in purple, turquoise and red-orange. However, I'm not convinced that this would look good. In addition, I haven't been able to get the pearle cotton in purple locally.

So...this is where I could use your help...should I ditch it or try to do something with it? Or am I just being too critical?

I was also trying to do another thing with triangles I had an idea for, but I wasn't achieving what I was thinking about. I began to wonder if the problem is that I am just too much a representational sort of person and when I tried to do something else, it doesn't work. I don't know.

I also came to the conclusion that perhaps not all things should be finished.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Art Every Day: First on the 11th I actually took this shot on October 23.....however, it does represent something I've been thinking about doing for a while...a series of art quilts based on details. I love the green and gold of the Siberian Iris as it is going dormant, along with the interesting shaped seed pods. While I was running errands and creating art, what I should have been doing is cutting down the iris and planting bulbs...

What did I do art-wise today? Well, I tried to do some sketches of my cat a la Franz Marc. I love his work. I love the brilliant colors which tend to be on the warm side. I love how he breaks the shapes of the animals down to their most basic and gives a voluptuous curve on most. I, however, am not yet able to get the elements broken down like he does.....I'm trying, but perhaps I am too much the realist.

After doing those sketches, I went back to work on my Fast Friday Fabric Challenge....I'm really struggling with this one as I am having difficulty getting it to do what I want it to do. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish that tomorrow and then start on chocolate.... and plant at least 10 more tulip bulbs and 10 more daffodils.