Saturday, May 30, 2009

Knock, Knock . . .

who's there? A funny, little yellow bird.

For the past week or so, this little yellow bird has been knocking on our windows with his beak. We cannot figure out what he is doing. Some birds accidentally fly into our windows because of the reflections, sometimes. This little fellow, flies up and taps his beak on the window. He has done it on several different windows, so I don't think it has to do with reflections. I think there must be some invisible bugs we can't see, that maybe he is catching?

Walking to school one day we also saw him do the same thing to a truck that was parked on the street. He was flying around tapping on the windows. Very strange.

We also have a mommy Mourning Dove that made her nest in a tree outside our living room window. We check on her every day, as she has been laying and hatching her eggs. She picked a spot where we really don't have a good view from any angle because of the leaves, but a couple of mornings ago, we got a glimpse of the chicks. You had to look really hard and she was still covering up most of them. I hope we can see more as they grow. Look closely in the picture, she is in there.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


It is almost half way through the year. I have been thinking about my goals and if I'm about halfway there. You can see what was on my wall a week or two ago. I have some pieces completed, some still in the works.

It is almost time to transition to the summer schedule. Anna will be out of school next week and it will be harder to find time to work on my art (for some reason it is already hard enough as it is). Anna will have camps. I'm hoping to be doing some paid work at the museum the first two weeks after school, and maybe in July. We have a big trip planned. Anna will have a list of things she would like to do over the summer. It will go by quickly and I need to have some kind of plan of what I want to accomplish and how the heck I am going to do that.

I know the daylight hours will be longer, so maybe I will be working later in the evening on my pieces. Or maybe I will try not to have too many expectations and enjoy the summer with Anna.

Monday, May 25, 2009


. . . or Recovery. That is what they are saying about the gardens people are planting now. I think there are a lot more people planting their own food gardens this year because of the economy. We've been doing some work on that this weekend.

My small victory was finally getting these raspberry canes in the ground! I think I have had them in pots for a month. It was suppose to be a simple project. Buy canes and plant in ground.

But you know how those simple projects turn out sometimes. Where they are planted is by one of our retaining walls in back. When I told Frank where I wanted to put them, he said I should dig up the grass all along the entire retaining wall (about 53 feet). I was just planning on about 10 feet for the raspberries.

Then I thought it would be nice to have a raised bed. It didn't look like we had enough wood leftover from the deck re-do Frank did, so I said it might be nice to do dry stacked stones. So we waited until we could go to the stone place and find out that it was going to be much more money than we wanted to spend for a small bed.

As you can see, we went back to the wood idea. We don't have enough to finish the entire wall. I have dug up about 30 feet of it, but I think Frank might have to do the rest since it was his idea. But the raspberries are now in their permanent home (there are two more canes not pictured).

We also put in a couple new garden boxes out front, made from the leftover deck wood. I put mine on the "berm" as we get lots of sun there and we decided to take all the grass out there several years ago. This box is actually the old one but the new one just has a couple of sprouts right now.

Anna had a small victory today when she and Frank went fishing. She received a new pink fishing pole for her birthday. Since then, they have gone fishing several times, but have not caught anything. Today was her lucky day. They caught several fish, this being the biggest (the others thrown back).

When they came home, Anna came in and asked if I wanted to see her fish. Of course I did. I asked what she planned to do with it. She said she wanted to get a big tank and keep him. But she said Daddy wanted to eat it. I said if she wanted to keep him alive, then she should have thrown him back. We now have a very small fish fillet waiting in the refrigerator.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"You can have anything,. . .

but you can't have everything." I have always remembered this quote that was spoken by a relative. There are so many things implied in this statement. If you work hard enough, are passionate enough or save enough money, you can have anything. But if you want everything, you won't have enough money for everything. Or if you are focused on many different things, you might not get anywhere. Anyway, you get the point?

So, what does this have to do with art? There could be many interpretations. But for me, it means I have to focus on one thing. Ever since I was a child, I have loved art (and crafts). I enjoy taking classes and learning new techniques. Each new art or craft, I tend to embrace whole-heartedly (except for throwing ceramics on a wheel - that was too frustrating for me). Over the years I have been into fine art (of course), cross-stitch, scrap booking, rubber stamping, sewing, dyeing fabric, felting, needle punch, etc.

What I realized a couple years ago, is that I can't really do all these things at the same time and make art. I kept thinking that someday all these things would meld together in my art. But they haven't yet. They also became a procrastination technique for art, as well. Yes, they are creative, which is why I like them. But I decided to cut back. I don't do cross stitch much anymore. Although I have one big piece I need to finish and I still have some patterns, but I am not making any conscious effort to do it. I'm years behind in my scrap booking and don't do rubber stamping much, unless I need it for an artwork. Simplification is good.

That is why when the knitting craze hit a few years ago, I decided I was not going to get into it. I do not need to collect yarns and have another distraction from art. But, . . .

Anna received a knitting kit as a gift some time ago. One night I came downstairs and found Frank trying to teach Anna how to knit by reading the booklet that came with it. He gets an A+ for effort, but since he didn't know what he was doing, it didn't work out so well. I said we need to get Grandma Peggy to show Anna how to do it.

One time while Peggy was visiting, I remembered to ask her to show us how to knit. Since Anna was at school most of the day, I said Peggy could show me and then I would try to teach Anna. I got it, but then did not practice after she left and, hence, forgot how to do it.

On her last visit, I decided to video tape her hands while she was knitting so if I forgot, I would have a reference. So once again, I tried to learn knitting. I also ordered a book (seen below) that SouleMama had listed on her blog. It said it was for "kids of all ages".

I have been practicing and have managed to show Anna how to knit and purl. She is excited by the book because it has a pattern for a cat washcloth in it. We have not gotten that far yet. But you can see my practice squares in the pictures below and Anna's practice square on the cat needles. So, I guess I have been distracted a bit from my focus.

And I would definitely recommend the book. It has good, illustrated directions and some nice, fun patterns. (Peggy, if you are reading this, it shows how to knit on like you do.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Series Comments and a New Work

Thanks to all who left a comment about my series. I enjoyed all the nice comments. I also like reading suggestions and constructive criticism as well. For example, someone said the series title didn't add anything to or tell the story of the pieces and she gave some suggestions. I did struggle with that and she has a point, so I will come up with something else. Right now I am thinking about Man's Hand on Land (I just like the rhyming of that).

Terry commented that there wasn't much contrast in the rural piece. That is something I can think about if I plan to do another piece in the series. Actually, the piece below kind of goes with the series although it is very different. This is titled Japanese Rock Garden 1. Same aerial view idea, but more specific and focused. I am currently working on a second one and went to the library to do some research and think I will be doing a series of these.

Friday, May 15, 2009

This Post is for the Birds and Clare

Tuesday morning, Anna and I were walking to school on our usual route. As we were walking through "the field" (the open reserve area near our home), we noticed a woodpecker. They are not usually in the field much. Then I saw another bird that looked like a flash of blue. I thought maybe it was just the morning light because we rarely see bluebirds around here. But no, it was a pretty little bluebird. There were robins and a magpie flew overhead (those are common).

Walking back from school, I saw a quail bird (very common in the field), a red-winged black bird (which can usually be found in the pond in another area, but not necessarily in the field), a yellow finch and a hummingbird. Lots of different birds in one area. Amazing.

An speaking of amazing, check out the artist who did this bird. Her name is Geninne and you can go to her etsy shop here.

On a sad note, Anna's dwarf hamster, Clare, died in her sleep on Wednesday night. It was a shock to Anna to wake up and find her lying still. She had seemed just fine the morning before. A dwarf hamster's life span is about two years old and I think Clare was about that old. She didn't seem to suffer. It's been a rough week for Anna.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fence Art: Part 2

After several schedule changes, I did the second half of the class art lesson yesterday. Since the weather did not cooperate last week by pelting the fence art with hail, rain and wind, I thought I would try using strips of tagboard. By weaving these in the fence, I thought they would stay better.

We had a windy day in which to work. Some of the students also wanted to use the squares, as well as the strips. Today I found several pieces of tagboard on the ground that was either blown off or pulled out. I do think the strips worked better and it was a bit easier for the students to weave.

After seven years of teaching art to Anna's class, this was my very last. At this point, I am happy about that.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Series

This is the series of pieces I have been working on, all together. They are suppose to go in this order, although I did not finish them in this order. The first piece, Wilderness Landscape, was actually the last piece I finished. The next in the series is Rural Landscape, Suburban Landscape and, lastly, Urban Landscape.

I'm thinking of calling the series, A-scapes. They are meant to be an Aerial view and they are also Abstract. I welcome any other suggestions for the series title.

Hopefully, you can see the progression in the pieces from organic, free flowing shapes to more geometric shapes and straight lines; man's influence on nature. The snowflake-like hand stitches, which represent trees, change throughout the series as well. In Urban landscape, there is only one tree left. Another progression is from mostly hand-dyed fabric to more commercial fabrics with geometric patterns.

Please let me know your thoughts and impressions about this series.

Wilderness Landscape

Rural Landscape

Suburban Landscape

Urban Landscape

Friday, May 8, 2009

Wilderness Landscape

Yesterday and today I finally had some time to work on my artwork. I managed to finish this piece. It is called Wilderness Landscape. Once again, I cannot decide which way I like it best. What do you think?

This picture above is so you can see the detail of the hand stitching. This weekend, I will put pictures of the series together, so you can see them all.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Projects Done!

I finally finished cutting the million little squares and punching the holes in them. Today was the art project day. It is also suppose to be the rainiest day this week. As the constant drizzle of rain continued this morning, I was getting quite worried we would be working out in the rain (I had no back-up plan). However, as the time came, the rain cleared.

Below are pictures of the kids doing their art installations. Each square was put on a paperclip (I bought a 1000 paperclips) and wrapped individually around the wires on the fence. I had no idea how this project was going to turn out. It could have been a complete disaster or a good experience for the kids. I think it was the latter. They had to work together in groups to complete each design.

This is only the first half of the class. Next week, I will have to take them all down so that the second half of the class can do it, too. I hope it does not rain too much to ruin the tag board squares. I also hope the other kids won't take them down or re-arrange them. I asked the principal to make an announcement about it. Hopefully, . . . .

I also finished Anna's costume today. Yippee!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Two Done

I managed to finish the two auction quilts this weekend. They are now hanging up at school for a preview. It's hard to tell from the pictures but the quilting is stitch in the ditch around the sashing and I free motion outlined the major components of each block. Pretty simple, but also complete!

I've also made more headway on cutting squares for my art lesson. I just need to finish punching holes in them. I also made it to the grocery store. We bought Anna a new bike (and sold the old one on Craigslist). We also made fresh pasta for dinner.

First you make some dough, divide it into sections and then flatten it out with a pasta machine.

Then you use another attachment to slice it into strips.

Hang on rack to dry or cook right away.

There is still a costume to make. I have found a skirt pattern online that I will attempt to lengthen and hope I have enough fabric for it. I'm not sure about the shirt just yet. They had high collars and puffy sleeves in the 1800's. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Panic attack

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. I have the two auction quilts to finish by next Friday. Although they would really like me to have it done by Monday to hang at the school for a week before the auction. Yesterday, I managed to sandwich both of them and started the quilting on both. Still a long way to go.

The fourth through sixth graders are putting on a musical at school on May 15. We are told that everyone has to have a costume. I remember Anna saying she wanted to be on the stage crew. So I asked her yesterday if she was. She said yes. I said, "Yea! I don't have to make you a costume." She said she still had to have one as she will be working where the audience can see her. Oh. . .

Of course, it is set in the 1800's. I'm sure I can just whip up a costume from the 1800's in no time . . . not! Anna said it didn't have to be homemade, we could go to the thrift store. I doubt there will be loads of 1800's costumes at the thrift store. They will be checking next Friday to make sure everyone has their costume. No pressure.

I am also trying to get my last art lesson ready for next week. It requires cutting up millions of small squares and punching holes in them. Why do I do this to myself? I did manage to punch holes while watching Anna's double header volleyball games last night (pictures below), but there is still so much to do. That doesn't include the plants that are waiting to be planted and the other yard work to be done. Sometimes the weekends are busier than the week.

I haven't worked on my art this week and that makes me less happy as well. I think the mental aspects of knowing what needs to be done has been draining my energy this week.

I'm constantly searching for that balance of things and have yet to find it. While I was at the museum, I was talking to a co-worker about all the ideas/projects/etc. that I have that will never get done. She said she thought I got quite a bit done. Well, not as much as I would like. Now that I have vented, there's work to be done!

Serve's up!

Huddle up!