Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Round Lake Tree Textures

I wasn't going to do it - take pictures of bark while walking around the lake on my birthday. Lord knows I have enough reference pictures of such, especially of the Ponderosa Pine which normally captures my attention. And then I saw this - looking all in the world to me as if the texture had been dabbed on with a paintbrush (click on pic for larger view).

Then there was this magnificent "painted" texture - could not resist these sinuous lines.

Here's a close-up of the same tree - almost like thick tresses.

And a different texturing near the base. The horizontal striations puzzle me.

This is a close-up of the base of that big old tree with so many branches. It too has the horizontal striations over the vertical texturing.

Drawn to the charring on this one.

The rest of the shots are all from this tree with the interesting "feet".

All these different textures from this one side.

And yet, when I walked around to view the other side, it was as plain as could be. Imagine that!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Walk Around Round Lake

Yesterday was my birthday, and I hadn't planned anything special. After all, I feel like I've been partying all month what with treating myself to three of the eight Festival at Sandpoint concerts, shopping at the Arts & Crafts Fair and the Gem-Bead show, and spending Friday with my art group making the rounds of the Artist's Studio Tour. Fun fun fun all month long! Maybe I'd just stay home and have some fun fun fun in the studio. Oh, but the weather was too nice and I've been wanting for too long to check out the hiking trail at the aptly named Round Lake about ten miles south of where I live.

There are many small lakes in this part of Idaho, leftovers from a colder time when ice sheets and glaciers and ice age floods carved out the topography. This one just happens to be part of a state park and so has camping and picnicking facilities, a beach for swimming and a dock for fishing off of, a place to put in small watercraft and a trail system that circles the 58-acre lake - 2 to 3 miles around depending upon which routes you take. I took the Trapper's trail.

This trail follows mostly just above the shoreline and periodically has signage telling about the wildlife and ecosystem you may observe. Not being an early riser, I was hiking at mid-day so most of the wildlife was keeping to itself.

Much of the trail winds "under canopies of western white pine, Engelmann spruce, grand fir, lodgepole pine, black cottonwood, paper birch, red alder, and Rock Mountain maple." It's the end of summer, a dryness to the air, not much in the way of wildflowers, everything looking a bit spent.

Even the lilypads looked spent in spite of residing in the water.

And yet here on the side of this tree, bright green moss.

Not far from it, a reminder of forest fires that have passed through this area that can get so tinder dry.

And evidence of the recent winds from thunderstorms that took down so many trees in our area.

Round lake empties into a small stream that flows into the next lake along. I have a real fondness for the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Northwest, the smooth round rocks they flow over, all shades of my favorite neutral color.

Soon the trail crosses the creek via this bridge and switchbacks up the hillside. The trees seem less dense on this side of the lake, and there are tons of windfalls.

I always think trees grow straight up but often those that no longer have bark reveal a slight twist to the growth. Woodpeckers, no doubt, have been busy making those holes.

The trees are so straight and tall through here, and as I said, everything with a sense of dryness and age, that I was startled to realize I'd come upon some young trees, looking fresh and new. These weren't much taller than I am.

Couldn't resist a backlit shot.

Plenty to look at on the ground as well. Roots across the trail that looked like snakes.

Lots and lots of exposed roots in some places.

And this root popping up a burl-like round protrusion in the middle of the trail. I've not seen anything quite like that before.

At the half-way point, I found a bench to rest upon and have a bit of lunch while I watched these boys float by.

They weren't the only ones enjoying the water. I saw other boats and at least one paddle board.

The terrain was a bit different along the second half of the trail - getting steeper. 

I spotted both red-orange and almost turquoise blue berries on ground cover, but not many.

Couldn't miss this rotting birch next to the trail.

And then realized there was a virtual birch graveyard running up the hillside.

One stretch went over a rock outcropping - granite mostly.

And when I looked up the hillside, I saw this very large rock, no doubt carried there by the ancient ice sheet.

As I neared the east side of the lake I came upon a very large tree, still alive but the branches of it's lower half bare and looking dead. So many branches, such a tangle! Taking in its girth and age, it had a presence that was almost spooky. Maybe I've seen too many Tolkien movies...

Soon I was crossing a creek again, this one feeding into the lake. One of the amazing things about northern Idaho is that its mountains can either hold tightly together in narrow canyons or open out to surround farmland. This view shows just such farmland that abuts the state park.

I was nearly back to where I'd started, but decided to walk the short loop called the swamp tromp. There I found another bench by the water where I could rest and sketch. This old snag intrigued me with its half-on half-off bark.

And the last bit of intrigue before reaching the car - these two different species of trees uniting.

I really enjoyed my time in the woods, something I did constantly growing up in this area but do not do often enough anymore. I stopped off at the library on the way home to replenish my reading supply and spent the rest of the afternoon on my back deck enjoying a different kind of solitude, birthday cake and iced coffee.

And to top off the day, here's my birthday dinner ready to pop into the oven - crab & creamcheese-stuffed salmon fillet. What a great day! 


Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Giant Waffle...

...and I'm not talking food here. I tried, I really did, to include pops of chartreuse into the half-inch strips between the wider ones but I couldn't do it. I suspect I needed a slightly darker value of the brighter ones I had, while the more muted ones just darkened the quilt more - something I was trying to get away from. So as much as I did not want to introduce more "pink" into the quilt, my gut had said all along that a nice strong dark fuchsia was what it needed.

And I admit, I was also being influenced by this fabric which will go on the back...

So I cut and arranged and pieced and measured cut and pieced some more, knowing that there were dozens of ways I could have done this. But for Pete's sake - it's a quilt for a baby and it's pretty ridiculous that I've been feeling so defeated by it. This designing on the fly definitely took it's own turn, this is so far from where I thought I would go with it. I can see where and why I got off, mostly due to the limitations of the two fabrics I started with, and my weakness for adding colors I think are contrasting but in fact tend to read too much the same and darker than I think they will. You'd think I'd learn...

I left it alone yesterday, as one must when one gets to this point of not liking something one started off so enthusiastic about. Today I was pleased to view it as not as offensive as I remembered, and sewed it down off the design wall. I know I've shown you this before, but this is my favorite method for assuring perfect 1/4" seams, a must when working with such narrow strips. That's a partial pad of small sticky notes pushed up against the side of the presser foot, a piece of masking tape as extra insurance that it stays in place. No guessing if you're keeping the edge of the seam allowance perfectly along the edge of the foot, especially at the end where you can't hold on to it anymore. Just feed it in to run against that pad. 

I'll give the top a good press tomorrow and get it layered up for quilting - stitch in the ditch and maybe something else. It will be fine, just not exactly how I thought it would be.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

In Need Of An Intervention...

I'm sure I spent all my impending birthday bucks at the Arts and Crafts Fair last weekend, yet Sunday found me heading over to a nearby hotel where Bend Beads/Shiva Endeavors from Bend, Oregon had their gem-beads & mineral show set up. I'd happen upon this traveling husband and wife team two years ago on my way home from Minnesota when I stayed overnight at the same hotel where they were displaying their wares. I'd purchased some larger-than-I-usually-use picture jasper beads and a hank of small and irregular smoky quartz beads. I was tempted to get more but had been gone from home so long that I was totally out of touch with what I could use. They were headed for my home town the next month so I planned an assessment in preparation for a shopping spree. Unfortunately for me, they canceled that show. Since then they've gotten as close as a few hours drive but I knew they'd eventually make it back here. I'm nothing if not patient.

For the daughter of a miner, their display of raw minerals as taken from the ground, many sparkling, many oddly shaped and interestingly colored, was a delight to behold. It brought memories of my dad bringing home small bits of pyrite, quartz crystals and galena-encrusted rocks, some of which I still have. For the now grown woman who dabbles in textile embellishing, their array of polished gem-beads was also a delight to behold...full of landmines sure to wreck my finances! I went with a plan, which always helps, but spent more money than planned. Oh, but I brought home such beautiful things. I was hoping to find some smaller beads in either blue, ivory and/or pinkish tones but most of his beads are quite large, more appropriate for the chunky jewelry that seems to be in vogue.These green and coral unakite beads were about the only small thing he had, measuring about 1/4" and I'm pretty sure I'll have a use for them. I should mention that there's a bit of guilt buying more beads since I've not used the ones I bought from them 2 years ago. Yeah, that kind of guilt has seldom stopped an avid quilter or beader, has it?

My other goal was to purchase a few cabochons. I blame this on my friend and beading mentor Mary Stori. I've been watching her add cabochons to her quilts for awhile now (see her latest here and more if you scroll down to ones in private collections on her Gallery Shop page here), even own one such quilt of hers (Her Light Shines On), and have her instructions for how to do it. Even have a couple of inherited cabachons on hand for the trial run. But no - I have not tried it yet, and my lopsided logic thinks that if I collect more, my chances are better of doing it. They didn't have a huge selection of what I had in mind but two did catch my eye including the one above.  Who doesn't love agates? And this was by far the most interesting one in the case - about 1-3/4 by 1-1/4 inches. (I also got to see the big piece of agate that these cabochons were sliced from). I'm guessing you know what the appeal is, how I'm seeing quilting lines in there. It also reminds me of of parts of a quilt I pieced rather than appliqued as a challenge to myself (Night & Noon on the Planet Hoffman). It doesn't hurt that it comes from not too far away in the state next door.

I always go for the unusual shapes and this triangular piece of Eudialyte bisected off-center into dark red and grey sections stole my heart. Hmmm - no wonder. According to the information sheet they sent home with me (below), it apparently is the stone of the heart! It's about one inch from base to tip. I also considered an oval one of these, but when I flipped them over to check the price, saw that I could only justify (barely) one. It may not make it on a textile piece. The more I look at it, the more I think I want to have it made into a pendant to wear. I've noticed when looking at the close-up of the picture the letter "A" in quite beautiful script near the bottom tip (upside down in this orientation but right side up if made into a pendant). That's my middle initial! We shall see which wins out.

I really enjoy talking to this couple - he an American from Oregon, she a native of Pakistan. He chooses and collects what he puts out on display much in the same way I collect fabric and embellishments. He likes oddities and interesting pieces, pretty much knows where everything came from, who he bought it from, in many cases its history. He was even able to show me some mineral stones taken from the mine my dad worked in. And like me, he loves hearing stories about the areas he travels to, learning their histories and how they might relate to his passion. He told me he also finds it fascinating to hear how his customers think they will be using what they purchase, how the same sort of item will be chosen with such different ends in mind. He was very interested in my plans for the cabochons and commented that perhaps he should carry more small beads. I wish I had more money to support both his and my obsession! And I really need to complete something with his gem-stones to show him the next time he hits town.