Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Orange Poppy Quilt

     Last Wednesday morning in the midst of the snow and bitter cold, I suddenly felt the urge to create a bright, warm colorful quilt. A year or two ago, I had taken a photo of a sunlit orange poppy that I thought might make a good subject. I had already tucked away an assortment of orange batik fabrics into a file folder along with an 8x10 print of the poppy. I used the same method I have been using on my Venice piece and that I used on my first photo quilt of Manarola. I worked on it for five straight days; you might say I became obsessed with it. Here are some close-ups of the piece which measure 22 x17 inches.

I loved working on it from start to finish and am thrilled with how it turned out. It makes my heart sing.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Get Your Shovels Ready!!!

     Here is the bottom right corner of the landscape quilt that I am working on.  It was impossible to find fabric with tiny blue and white stripes, so I decided to create my own. I put Misty Fuse on the back of a piece of blue fabric and then rotary cut very, very narrow strips which I then fused on to the white base fabric. The shirt itself was six individual pieces, and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

I also have an idea of how I will deal with the faces which I may tackle next. After that, I'll "install" a few more doors and windows and the piece will be ready to be layered and quilted.
     As I am writing this, the snow has begun falling. It's expected that we will receive between six to twelve inches of light, fluffy snow coupled with very low temperatures. I'm glad the storm waited until today, so that we could celebrate my godchild's daughter's eighth birthday this past Sunday. All of my cousins and their adorable children were there for a One Direction themed cook out - eat in birthday party. Just last year the theme was Hello Kitty; my little cousins are  growing up way too fast!!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Shadow Man and Two Reviews

     Is it just me or doesn't this look like a profile of a man or at the very least a cartoon character? It should come as no surprise that I always have a camera of some sort handy. One day last week about 4:00 in the afternoon, the sun coming through the back door projected this image.  What created this illusion? It was a haphazard group of pamphlets and some mail in a holder on the kitchen table. I thought it was pretty cool!!!

     For months I've been looking for a good read. Finally, I picked up John Grisham's Sycamore Row. The main character is lawyer Jake Brigance introduced in Grisham's earlier novel, A Time to Kill. Is the book deep and profound? No, but it is a good story which held my interest and that was greatly appreciated. I stayed up way too late a couple of nights reading "just one more chapter." Another very fine Grisham novel is A Painted House which has nothing to do with the practice of the law. I highly recommend it as well.
     Last . . . Saving Mr. Banks. The film deals with the backstory of how Walt Disney tried to convince author P. L. Travers to allow him to make a movie of her beloved Mary Poppins books. It proved to be quite a challenge. The scenes of her childhood were exquisitely photographed, and everyone in the cast was wonderful. Definitely go see it. My rating: B+.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Update on Venetian Piece

     On Thursday and Friday, I spent quite a few hours on this section of the wallhanging. This gondolier is now pretty much completed except for his face. The details of his jacket will be stitched in later. As to the face, that's a problem I will deal with later. (Note to self: in the future select photos where the people are viewed from behind!!!) I had another perfectly fine Venice photo with a gondola and its passengers passing under a bridge viewed from behind which would have made an excellent subject, but I chose this one instead. Besides not having to deal with faces, the other photo would not have had all these skinny little railings. Still, challenging though it may be, I'm happy with what I have done so far. Next I need to work on the other side which features another gondolier waiting patiently in his gondola for business. Here's a photo from an earlier posting in case you haven't been following along.

I had been planned to spend a few hours on Saturday afternoon working on the piece before a group of friends and I were to take another friend for a celebratory birthday dinner. Unfortunately, she was still feeling a bit under the weather, so we'll take her out at a later date. Instead of working on this piece, in the afternoon I joined three friends on a fabric field trip to Acton. I had originally decided not to go, but it was such a grey, rainy dark day that at the last moment I changed my mind and went along. We visited Quilter's Way and a tiny shop a mile down the road from it, Daley by the Yard. The sum total of my purchases: a quarter yard of a shiny black interestingly patterned fabric to use for the gondola. That's all I bought. My friends, however, did an outstanding job of helping the economy. All that fabric shopping makes one hungry and since our original plans for dinner were cancelled, we stopped to eat at Bella Famiglia which was also just about a mile further down the road. The food was absolutely delicious. I was home in time to settle in and watch the Patriots beat the Colts in the big game.
      Last night I went to another friend's home for dinner. My friend and her husband had met a couple from Italy when they were on vacation in Hawaii. This couple was visiting Boston for a few days before heading on to New York, so she invited them to her home for dinner along with some other friends. Three of us meet regularly with another friend to practice "Italian conversation." It was challenging since the visiting couple did not speak much English. They were lovely, and between us all, we were able to keep a conversation going. Italian speakers and non Italian speakers all had un tempo meraviglioso, a wonderful time.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Favorite Photos from 2013

     Some of the members of the South Shore Camera Club to which I belong have been sharing some of their best photos taken during the past year. It's a great idea, and so this morning I spent some time reviewing my photos and selecting some of my very favorites to post here.

Roosting turkeys . . . 

Up close and personal . . . 

No collection of favorite photos would be complete without one of Emma.

I could, of course, have included any number of photos taken on our club's trip to the Amalfi Coast and Rome, but they were already posted in my September series about our trip. The final photo from 2013 that I'm posting here was taken on Mother's Day in Beverly, MA. My littlest cousins, their moms, and I had taken a walk to the beach where we discovered this message in the sand. Who wrote it? I'll never know, but I loved it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Audience of One

      Very early this morning I was  awakened by a loud cracking noise. The wind was really blowing, and I figured it might have been a tree limb hitting something. That proved to be the case; a limb from the maple tree had crashed onto the deck. That was the start of another bitterly cold day with the temperature stuck at eleven degrees. The meteorologists are blaming it on the "polar vortex." Doesn't that sound cool? (No pun intended) Anyway, every state except Hawaii has been experiencing freezing temperature, so we're all shivering together.    

     I have been taking flute lessons for a number of years, and I do try to practice every day. When I play, I'm  usually perched on a high stool. This evening I glanced down as I was playing and noticed that I had an audience. Pulling out my iPhone, I snapped this photo. Emma . . . a music lover? Well, if you look a bit closer, you'll notice one of her new toys at the ready right beside her. She was patiently waiting for me to finish practicing. Usually she curls up for a nap when I take out my flute, but from time to time I do have an audience of one.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Adventures with Emma - MUD

     Here's a photo of Emma taken just the other day when she was looking oh so precious and sweet. Below is a photo taken this morning with Emma looking bedraggled and muddy. Let me tell you what happened.

     Friday we had the big snowstorm, Saturday the temperature was a frigid four degrees early in the morning, Sunday it rose into the thirties, and this morning it was a downright balmy fifty degrees. Amazingly, much of our snow evaporated over night and the warm temps led to some soggy parts of the lawn. I take Emma out on a leash first thing in the morning, but my hair was wet from the shower, and I decided to let her go out by herself for a few minutes knowing she would come back in quickly for breakfast. First BIG mistake! Second BIG mistake . . . not realizing that the strip running along the fence where she likes to chase squirrels was one long, wide tract of mud! Too late, she was off like a flash! I tried calling her back, but she was in high gear dashing across the yard barking her head off at the obnoxious squirrels. I swear they sit on the limb above the fence just waiting to torment her. It wasn't pretty. . . I called and called and called, but she totally ignored me as she was too busy racing about enjoying herself after having been on a leash for the past few days. This went on for some time. Eventually I grabbed a tangerine, went outside, and held it up. That did it; she decided to come back in. (I know this is not a good way to train a dog, but she loves a small tangerine slice when I'm eating breakfast, and I wasn't above using this ploy to get her to come inside.)
     Okay, now I had her in the kitchen, and perhaps the photo doesn't show it but Emma's legs were wet and covered with mud. My towels turned brown quickly from the muck.  A bath was needed. I do have two big tubs in the basement, but I thought the bathtub upstairs would be best as it would be much warmer there than the unheated basement. With a warm bath started, I ran downstairs, scooped up Emma, and headed upstairs. Into the tub she went and I grabbed what I thought was the shampoo. Within minutes the water was positively filthy. It was only later when I began drying her off that I realized I had used "fruit fusion" conditioner instead of shampoo! It didn't matter and at least one or two layers of dirt were removed.
      Later tonight the warm temps will drop down into the freezing zone again, and I for one won't complain one bit when the ground is frozen once again.  Emma is on my lap as I am posting this, and I must say she smells really lovely and her fur is fluffy and shiny. :-)

Friday, January 3, 2014

And Snow It Goes . . .

     The snow began falling yesterday morning and continued throughout the night and into the morning. The TV reported that my town got nineteen inches, but some towns on the North Shore received two feet of snow. There was so much blowing and drifting that it would be difficult to get an accurate measurement, but this photo of my picnic table and benches gives some indication of how much we received.

I'll have to get out tomorrow with the snow rake to remove some of the deep snow on the garage roof as we are expecting rain on Sunday. That much weight could cause problems.

     The blowing snow did create lovely patterns in the backyard.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Stock Up! Don't Forget the Milk! A Storm Is Coming!!! A Storm is Coming!!!

     The photo above shows a section of the top half of the art quilt that I have been working on. Stacey at Heart in Hands in South Weymouth had asked me to speak to her group about how I take one of my photos and turn it into an art quilt. I had spoken to an evening group at this quilt shop back in October. In my Oct. 15th blog post I described the process that I use and posted step by step photos. It was my intention back then to work faithfully on the piece doing a little bit each day. That didn't happen. I got busy quilting other things for Christmas. That's why I'm glad I was asked to speak today. It motivated me to add trim to the balcony, put in some more windows, and start on one of the gondoliers.
     Actually, with the stormy weather forecast I was certain my talk would be postponed. The snow wasn't too bad early this morning, so I did present at the quilt shop. It has been snowing steadily ever since with predictions of twelve to fifteen inches in my area! The bulk of the heavy snow will come overnight guaranteeing kids a day off from school tomorrow. The snow has been accompanied with bitter cold. Just a while ago I called my friend Donna G. to see if she would like me to bring Emma to her house to keep her company for the next few days. It was a totally sincere, kind, generous offer on my part, but Donna just laughed. I think she thought that I just wanted to get out of taking Emma out during the storm. Imagine that!