Saturday, September 16, 2017

Another Kindness

All I did was comment positively on a blog post on Vintage Page Designs. I'm always interested in ideas for how to use up bits and pieces, be they fabric or paper or ribbon or whatever, and that is what this post was about. To my surprise, Ali Manning contacted me and offered to send me one of the little notebooks shown in her blog post. And it arrived this week, along with a a notecard of handmade paper, autumn leaves embedded therein.

How generous of Ali, and how inspirational for me to hold these two items in my hand, to study and to enjoy. Thank you Ali. You are not only talented but gracious and generous.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

A Sucker for Wispy Clouds

There was an eclipse back in August, and though I was theoretically within driving distance of a place with 100% totality, I was happy enough to stay at home and remember another eclipse experience back in the '70's. I was happier still when I learned that my area was still in the path of the eclipse at 90%. That seemed sufficient to me at this point in my life. I didn't buy eclipse glasses, I didn't make a pinhole viewer. There'd be plenty of pictures posted on line to view. I just wanted to sit outside on my deck and experience what else happens in an eclipse when you're not staring at the sun and jostling with crowds chattering and oohing and aahing. Yes, I am becoming quite the anti-social grumpy old lady.

It did not get as dark as I thought it would, but it was a very eerie sort of darkening that left me squinting and wondering what was wrong with my eyes until I realized the sun was nearing that 90% totality. Then at 90% it felt more like I had donned my sunglasses, and the air got chill. It is nothing like when the sun is obscured by a passing cloud. It does not get shady or shadowy, nor even dusky like when the sun sets. It just dims in a very unnatural way while errant rays still light up the surroundings.

I admit to feeling a little let down when I realized the moon's shadow was moving on. After all the hype in the run-up to this event, my experience, while interesting, was a little ho hum, nothing to write about, not much to even talk about, certainly no photos to share. The day continued rather uneventfully, me getting back to the ordinary things I do each day. Returning from my evening walk, sun having just gone behind the mountain, I chanced to look up at a sky now filled with wispy clouds. Now this is worth grabbing my camera for, I thought, and so I did. I took pictures from all angles, zoomed in and zoomed out. I turned a circle in my looking and snapping, and by the time I'd circled back to my first view, the clouds had changed, as they do, and I snapped some more. I stood outside for a long time watching the show, just white wispy clouds and me, not even any sunset colors tinging them, and thought, "This is every bit as good, maybe better, than watching that eclipse.

And I nearly forgot to share them with you.

Sandpoint with the dark purple rating - that's me

Seeing them again is a comfort on the second day of being socked in by smoke blowing in from major forest fires to the east. Yesterday my town's air quality was the worst in the country, and that's saying something where so many areas are dealing with the highest ratings of "hazardous" which is itself the top of the chart, kind of Defcon 1. I can't see the mountain across from me, which is probably 2 miles away. It looks like heavy fog or low clouds, but take one step outside and the breath you take is of acrid smoke. I could even smell the smoke inside the house yesterday when I got up, and that was with no windows or doors open, just what the winds were forcing through the cracks. With little wind today, I can see it lingering between the pines behind my development like mist. Although I know I am in no immediate danger from a fire, and as long as I stay inside, no immediate danger to my health, it still makes me uneasy to look out the window and see nothing has changed. And that we still have to wait another day until the change in weather patterns shifts the winds once more and clears some of this out.

My corner of the world. From

In reality though, the entire west is inundated with fires and the air quality in the states surrounding mine whose fires are responsible for most of my smoke is just as bad. A line from a certain song keeps playing in my head - any way the wind blows - because it really is true that we can get more smoke no matter which way the wind is coming from. This problem extends south into California as well. Looking at the map, one can see nowhere to go to escape it. Like the other areas of our country dealing with flooding and hurricanes, it's hard to know where safe shelter might be. So we hunker down where we are, unless told to evacuate, hope for the best, and wait for the weather to change.

And perhaps look at pictures of clouds from a clearer day, clouds which I no longer wonder how I could render in my fiber pieces. These ethereal ones cannot be properly captured there. These wispy clouds must always fly free.


Monday, September 04, 2017

While You Wait - Advice From An Artist

So little to share in the way of progress on the fat quarter quilt. As I think I've already mentioned, today's quilting looks identical to yesterday's since I am using this overall repeat pattern. But in my reading, I thought this sidebar to an article I ran across in The Artist Magazine (Dec 2016) about Katherine Chang Liu's workshops might be of interest to you, my readers. She is a painter, but as is so often the case, it does not matter what the medium; advice about creating art often transcends individual mediums, applying to all creative endeavors. I particularly took note of what she had to say about working in a series, since I myself am in the middle of trying to work in one, trying not to get stalled.

And if you are looking for a little inspiration for your own creative endeavor, you might like as much as I do this excerpt of a review of her work that Katherine has posted on her website. It's encouraging to hear the value of slowing down, especially for someone like me who feels other artists speedily producing art all around her while her own pace is almost plodding by comparison.

"In Liu's work what is especially fascinating are the details that lead to reflections of the "unfinished" state of things. 

The West is obsessed with time. How would our perception and goals change if we were to be defined by our pace? You can say that Katherine Chang Liu's work encourages us to pace life, to return to introspection, examine the past, and in general, to slow down."

Sunday, September 03, 2017

A Lost Week

Seriously, I was having trouble getting my head around the fact that it was Saturday and I'd not once sat at the machine the entire week. I tried in vain to reconstruct the days, Monday through Friday, that on the calendar were free, save one, of commitments. On Sunday, there was optimism that this was the week where I could put in consistent hours to finish quilting the area between the borders of the fat quarter quilt. I'd still have borders to quilt as I moved into September, not meeting my desire to have this top totally done and on my bed before summer ended. What happened day after day that took away my quilting time? I really was having a difficult time remembering as I tried to reconstruct each of those "free" days. It certainly wasn't spent on other creative or arty things.

It's still as hot as summer, forecasted to remain so for the next few weeks so I can still dream of finishing my quilt "this summer". But, as I whined in my previous post about turning the calendar to September feeling like the end of freedom, I'm feeling the pressure of returning to my art quilts, knowing that before long, another exhibit deadline will loom with nothing ready to go. I don't want to have to pull this quilt out of the machine and set it aside again, not now while I have the settings on the machine perfect and a rhythm for quilting this design established. So I'm putting in extra hours this weekend to see if I can't reach my goal. The rows are going faster than in the beginning, although I've had to stop now and then to mark in guide lines. I'd counted the number of rows left to see if I really could finish that quilting last week at my current pace, and it was doable. I didn't mind the doubled time yesterday, and hope I can make even more progress yet today. 

At the end of each session as I extricate myself from the machine and can view the quilt piled behind it, there is the pleasure of seeing the texture building on the back of the quilt. We love the fronts with their intricate patchwork patterns or beautiful applique set off by lines of quilt stitches, but then don't we always want to see the quilt from the back?

Friday, September 01, 2017


No matter how long it's been since I've been out of school, or no longer working at one, I can't shake that sense of "it's over" sadness when September rolls around. There will still be many warm and lovely days for outdoor activities as we move closer to a change of seasons, and my avid reading of whatever I want (as opposed to assigned books) will continue. Lovely blooms like on the spread of my pocket calendar will still grace the gardens for a bit longer. But I can never shake that sense of loss when the calendar flips to September. Playtime's over, vacation used up, time to get back to work, to schedules and deadlines.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Birthday Cruise

Friday was my birthday, which included a long chat on the phone with one of my brothers and the arrival on my doorstep of this.

Aren't they beautiful? And the card said "Enjoy your special day. You deserve it." And so I did.

A cold front had moved through the previous day dropping our temps into the high 70's and clearing out the most recent influx of smoke. I double checked the air quality ratings, then made my reservation for this Sunset Dessert & Eagle Watching Cruise by Lake Pend Oreille Cruises. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect evening for being on the lake.

Here's our boat, The Shawnodese, docked at City Beach. I've been on it before for a different cruise starting on another part of the lake and later in the year, and have always wanted to try one of the other cruises. Birthday bucks in hand, I made it happen.

While we waited to board, we watched a boat and a jet ski being taken out of the water next to us, and people enjoying the beach just beyond, in spite of the fact that it had gotten a bit overcast and cool.

There were less than 20 of us taking this cruise, a collection of long-time residents of the area, newly relocated, and a few bonafide tourists. This is a popular thing to treat your visitors to and at least one group was that. Any excuse to get out on the lake if you don't own a boat of your own. You might be able to spot the railroad bridge that crosses the lake next to what we call "the long bridge" for vehicles, the dark line in the center of the photo.

We settle in and are soon pulling away towards the other side of the lake, taking in the view of this end of city beach.

And turning our gaze more or less eastward down the lake. Lake Pend Oreille is huge and deep, and we will be cruising in the northern part of it before it angles to the south.

We are scouting along this side of the lake for eagles that have been nesting in the same place for years. Along the way, we get views of some of the pricey homes clinging to the steep terrain. We also notice how dry much of the vegetation is. We've had only one brief bit of rain since the end of June and the forests are tinder dry.

Success! The first area where eagles are known to roost produces and we get a fairly good view of an eagle perched and no doubt watching us. I took my good camera with a fairly good zoom but didn't expect to be able to capture a good picture. To be honest, with the pitching of the boat and the distance to the eagle, I am amazed this shot is this good. Not much detail of the eagle itself so you'll have to trust me that the white blog in the middle really is one.

There was one passenger who brought a camera with a super long zoom lens - maybe 24 inches long, and he did get some incredible close-ups. I did wonder how he managed as he wasn't using any kind of tripod. He must have managed to brace himself against something, and no doubt had much experience shooting with this lens. Yes, a bit of envy at his results. I got more of the body of the bird in this shot but still pretty pathetic next to his. Not to worry, plenty to view besides eagles.

Yes, this really is where I live, and even after eleven years I find the need to pinch myself at times to be sure I'm not dreaming.

Among the different styles of homes along the lake is this oddity. Apparently a master stone mason has been building this replica castle himself. Here's a little bit about it: And even more info plus close-up pics of interior and exterior, plus the selling price. Yes, it's for sale!

We mere mortals can only dream and gaze across the lake through the haze at the interesting knobs of a variety of peaks to the north. Oh, and enjoy our desserts. I opted for a root beer float, something I remember vividly from my childhood summers.

This is one of many tiny islands on the lake and there's an eagle's nest there too. But as we circled the island, it was too much in shadow and too far away for us to capture. The resident eagle did fly in and roost on a snag but it was not a good opportunity for a photo op. Sometimes you just need to forget about capturing for later and enjoy the view.

Another even smaller island next to it. By now the overcast of earlier was clearing out and the lowering sun lighting things up.

By the time the sun was in "sunset" mode, there were no clouds near it to provide that promised sunset.

And the clouds elsewhere in the sky, while interesting, were not colorful.

And then it happened, looking east not west, we got our sunset colors.

Other boats on the lake were heading back to port as the evening turned dusky.

And so did we. What a pleasant couple of hours.

 Good night moon. It's been a lovely day.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Signs and Other Oddities

The last time I'd been to the library, I noticed a change in one of the display cases in the foyer. Upon closer inspection, I discovered it was a grouping of things left behind in the building or the parking lot. I was wishing I had a camera with me mostly because of one particularly amusing item, and so when I returned this week, my camera came along too.

There are eyeglasses and sunglasses. I get leaving behind sunglasses, but what are these people doing without their readers? Can they pick up replacements so cheaply that they can't be bothered to track down where they left these?

There are baseball caps (though no "Make America Great Again" ones) and since my last visit, a bright red plastic fireman's hat.

Lots of water bottles, a jacket, backpack and bicycle helmet. How do you NOT go back and look when you get out to your bicycle and realize you have no helmet to don?

And how do you not notice your child is missing a sparkly shoe when you walk out the door with her?

Many items were found abandoned in the children's section. Surely someone is missing these two. And really, how rad a dad must the dad be that was given that baseball cap that now awaits claiming?

I have to wonder if that book with the beautifully and artfully fold pages was not left for the librarians to enjoy. Thank goodness it was not done to one of the library's books in circulation.

But this was the item that amused me the most, a package of catnip, organic of course. People in this area are really into natural and organic things. But why would you have a package of catnip with you that ultimately gets left behind here? A staff member cleared that up for me. Apparently, a patron had been using it as a bookmark and forgot to remove it before returning the book. Wonders never cease...

I applaud the clever librarians who, tired of the growing number of items in their lost and found bin, put together this display.

As I turned to enter the library proper, I discovered more clever signs. The library has just begun an expansion project, so exciting to know how well-used and important it is to the community that they just have to have more space, and because of careful planning, they can afford to do it without a great ask of money.

But as with any remodeling project, it will cause a bit of disarray, as pointed out by this sign on the entrance door. Be sure to read the fine print on this and the following signs.

Well, of course they will help. They always do!

And my favorite, perched above the "new arrivals" display. Someone had a lot of fun with this.

As I wandered through the downstairs, I arrived at the place where a wall has come down and construction has started on the other side. This will take awhile, but it will be so lovely once it is finished. Can hardly wait!

Clever signs did not end inside the library. Someone has been having fun with a couple of stop signs nearby. Never have a camera with me when I've passed these before, but this day I rectified that.