Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Afternoon Off From the Daily Grind

Mother Nature appears to be apologizing this week for the way our summer went. Too beautiful of a day, too perfect the temperature not to spend time out in it. I made plans to drive down to Round Lake State Park and walk the trail to the bridge crossing the little creek that is the outflow of the lake. I've been feeling a great need to sit by a babbling brook as it were, and I knew this was just the spot.

Plenty of other things I could and even should have been doing instead, and I couldn't help but feel I was flipping off the world in general as I headed down the trail. Screw responsible behavior, screw all the crises demanding our attention every time we turn on the tv or computer. I need to sit in the stillness of the woods by a creek that would soothingly talk to me.

I didn't take a camera but I did take a sketchbook, thinking I'd want to sketch that bridge. But once there, the bridge held no interest. Instead, I sat on the trail marker on the other side of the bridge where I could hear the water as it made its way through shallow areas on the right and a bit of damming from some branches on the left. In between, the water moved slowly and smoothly enough to create the most perfect reflections of the trees and ferns, a breeze occasionally causing the slightest of ripples. It was shady but not too cool, and I listened to that water, gazed rapt into those reflections for some time. I then wandered off the trail up and down the creek for short distances before feeling I'd soaked up enough of what I needed and headed back to the car.

And once there, I really wasn't ready to head home yet. Instead, I took a seat in one of the picnic shelters and sketched in pencil one of two docks where people were enjoying a little fishing while soaking up the sun. What a lovely afternoon... 


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.