Thursday, June 26, 2014

In My Garden This Week - June 26, 2014

     Isn't this hibiscus gorgeous! I love the color and the ruffled petals. 

There's nothing better than relaxing here with a good book and a tall glass of lemonade or ice coffee. I try not to think about how much work there is still to do in my gardens; instead I just enjoy the view.

I bought this daylily last fall, and this is my first time seeing it in bloom. It's a "Happy Ever Appster Daylily" called "Rosy Returns' and it is supposed to be long blooming. It sure is pretty!

 Another perennial favorite are blanket flowers. These bright, cheerful flowers are constant bloomers from spring to fall. These little beauties come in various shades of oranges, yellows, and reddish tones and make great cut flowers.

Along the side of my garage, I have blanket flowers, rose campions and stella d'oro daylilies.

Rose campions grow anywhere. I love their tenacity and determination! (Two qualities I greatly admire.) To illustrate, I just popped out to take this shot of the rose campions growing in the crack
 between the patio and the base of the deck.

[Photography note: The above photo was a quick grabshot taken with my iPhone. The other images were taken were taken a few days ago with my Nikon D60 and Tamron 90macro.}

Monday, June 23, 2014

Paint Nite Masterpieces

   My friend Marilyn and I attended a Paint Nite event in Stoneham last night where we created these magnificent sunflower paintings, true works of art. They might have been even a tad more impressive if the other thirty-six people in attendance hadn't recreated basically the exact same thing. It was somewhat like Captain Bob and his Magic Window. Let me explain that reference for those not from the New England area. Captain Bob was a gentle, wonderful artist and TV personality who would show children how to draw various subjects early every Saturday morning. I loved his program which ran for decades. Children would follow along and sketch whatever he was presenting, usually something from nature though I do recall once sketching a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. I'm not sure my piece truly resembled our 16th president, but the memory of it has stayed with me.
    Back to last night . . . it was just about the same step by step process following the directions and strokes of the instructor. Everyone seemed to be having a great time, and many people said they have attended a number of times. It really was fun, and I have just the right spot to hang this in my kitchen. Yes, I'm going to hang this bright and cheerful piece up; I'm all about bright and cheerful!!! If you're looking for an activity to do with friends, give it a try.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Falmouth Friday with Ospreys

     Friday was an absolutely gorgeous day, so I called a friend and off we headed to Falmouth on Cape Cod. I wanted to check out some of the osprey nesting platforms, and I wasn't disappointed. Be sure to click on the photos to see larger versions. This couple is having a staring contest. "It's your turn to get the fish." "No, I went last time; it's your turn." I wasn't able to see any babies, but eventually one adult did fly off.

     Falmouth has quite a few nesting platforms and an apparently healthy number of osprey.  I caught this osprey returning home with a fish to another nesting platform.

I did see some babies on another nesting platform. Maybe next week I'll return with my bike and try to capture a better photo of this little family whose platform is near the Shining Star Bike Trail.

Later, we had lunch at the Flying Bridge which always makes me feel as if I am on vacation..

I know composition guidelines indicate you should never place your subject smack in the middle of the image, but that's exactly what I intentionally did in this photo of Nobska Light. I like it and I think that it works!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

In My Garden This Week

     I don't believe that I have ever had a foxglove in my garden before, but when I saw this beautiful plant at the garden center I couldn't resist. 
     I've been putting in many, many hours in my large garden; I'm determined to get it under control this summer. Yesterday afternoon I reclaimed an area about 5 by 5 feet area and planted blue salvia, red blanket flowers, shasta daisies, and some tall, pale yellow marigolds. After I mulch this section, I'll post a photo.

On Sunday after church, I finally got around to painting some items with rustoleum. This sweet little chair was once part of a breakfast set. It had become badly rusted after a few summers outside, but with a little bit of paint it's as good as new and cute as a button.  I've been planning to do this for well over a year. 

My friend Donna and I had purchased two wrought iron planters at a craft fair some years back, and they had both become worn and rusty. Once when I stopped by Donna's house, I took hers and said I would paint them both. I had the very best of intentions. It's a good thing she was so patient, but now at least, they are done. The front of my house is shady, so I have planted mine with impatients.

While I was at it, I also painted this little rusty schnauzer garden sign and yesterday picked up the little red collar for two dollars at Job Lot. Does this sign remind you of anyone? 

No gardening today as the temperature and humidity are on the rise. Cooler temps are forecast for later this week. Hope all is beautiful in your corner of the world.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Photo Art Quilts in Process

     Yesterday was the last day of the class I have been teaching at Heart in Hands in South Weymouth, MA, and the pieces created by the ladies in the class are amazing! Here's Janet proudly displaying her son and grandson fishing. She had originally planned to work on a flower subject, but I am so happy that she chose this favorite photo instead. Janet told us she left a house full of guests for a few hours because she didn't want to miss our class!  Her piece is fused, layered, and ready to be stitched. 

     I love how she slipped tiny pieces of black fabric under very thin white material to create the shadows on the back of the shirt. Absolutely brilliant!

     I tried to conceal my very real concern when Katie walked into the class on the first day carrying a large matted and framed photo of her little boy. The guidelines had dictated bringing an 8x10 photo. Katie explained that she knew the directions had also stipulated that the process being taught was not suitable for portraits, but she wanted to give it a try anyway. "Okay," I responded truly doubtful about how things would turn out. As you can see, I needn't have worried. Of course, it helps when your little guy is this cute! [The store's lights make the flesh tones appear a bit off, but they are much more natural looking in person.]

     Pat used my rose photos as her subject. She plans to do more shading on the edges of the petals.

     Clare cleverly enhanced her petals with thread painting and will add beading in the center.

Nancy is painstakingly working on getting the shading just right on her tulips.

     Susan had been busy traveling, but she stopped in for a few minutes to show us her progress and to see what everyone else has accomplished so far. Here is the start of her French village scene. 

      Angela's sunflowers came from a photo taken by her daughter. Here it is all pinned and layered. She will add beads as seeds in the center and has some other embellishing ideas.

     Ellen wasn't able to join us today, but her photo art quilt will show her daughters as little girls with red berets crossing a stone bridge in Paris.

     At the introductory session, I told the ladies four things:

     1. We are going to have fun and absolutely, positively, no stress.
     2. The process is not difficult, but it will take time. . . lots and lots of time.
     3. You will never look at a piece of fabric in the same way again.
     4. WARNING!!! This process is highly addictive. You'll never look through your photos or  camera lens without thinking . . . H'mmm, this just might make a great art quilt!!! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Pemaquid Beauty

     My friend Laurel is in a class that I am currently teaching at Heart in Hands in South Weymouth, MA. I've been showing how to turn an original photo into an art quilt. Laurel will not be able to attend tomorrow's third and final class, but that is no problem as we often get together on Friday afternoons to quilt as we did today. She has finished all of the fusing, and today began the stitching. I love how she used angelina fiber to create a shimmer around the beacon light. I will be bringing her piece to class tomorrow to show the other ladies her progress, and hopefully, they will allow me to post photos of their pieces here on my blog as well.
     I'm not sure, but I'm thinking Laurel just might end up with an A+ in this class!!!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Quilts and Color at the MFA

     A group of us went to see the "Quilts and Color - The Pilgrim / Roy Collection" at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston today and had a wonderful time hanging out there.

     Many of the quilts dated back to the 1850s. If you go, be sure to rent the audio unit as one of the collectors, Gerald Roy, explains how and why he and his partner had acquired some of the pieces for their collection of antique quilts, and the curator provides insight into significant aspects of the quilts and put them into historical perspective.
     I'm not sure whether I should post photos of the quilts, so I'll show you some artwork from lunch instead.

This little plated canvas was as tasty as it appears. Did we have dessert? Another masterpiece . . . 

Touring the quilt exhibit and lunch took a few hours, so I didn't get to stroll through the Impressionists or explore a room filled with early photographs or view the soon to be ending Caravaggio exhibit, but I know I will return in July to see the 30 year retrospective of artist Jamie Wyeth's work.

     Yesterday, I offered a couple of reading suggestions. When I finished posting, I picked up a book that I had forgotten that I had purchased, Orphan Train,  a novel by Christina Baker Kline. The evening was still warm at 11:00 p.m. when I headed to the sunporch to read just a "few" pages before turning in for the night. Two and a half hours later, I forced myself to shut the book and head to bed. For those who may not have heard of the orphan trains, let me give you some background. Between 1850 and 1930, the orphan trains arranged by the Children's Aid Society of New York transported over 200, 000 orphaned, abandoned, homeless children from the crowded cities of the Northeast to the less crowed  Midwest. The train would make stops along the way where the children would be presented for possible adoption. For some children, it was the beginning of a safe, new, wonderful life. For others, the reality was far more harsh as some families took children only as a means to obtain free labor. That's the context for part of the story. The other part involves a troubled, modern teenager who has faced a similar life of hardship and abandonment. I won't say more about it then it is a fairly good read which I finished tonight. Consider giving it a try.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Summer Reading Suggestions

     Before I get to the reading suggestions, let me explain about these photos.  Today was hot, hot, hot, but I was determined to do some gardening. After Mass and a quick stop at the market, I made a stop at the gardening center to pick up a "few" things. My easily broken rule is to purchase only what I can plant that same day. Well . . . I got more than a bit carried away. Fortunately, a friend stopped by and while she sat in the shade and kept me company, I planted, weeded, and planted some more. I kept taking breaks as the heat was getting to me. At one point, I just stretched out flat on the grass on my back waiting for a cool breeze to revive me. When I glanced to my left the top image caught my eye. I thought that the angle was pretty cool, so I went for my camera. Next I moved to take a close-up of the back corner of the garden from the same flat on my back angle.  I love this image! I think you will be seeing more photos taken from this angle from now on. Click on the photo to see it in a larger format if you would like. (Photography note: I was using my new 70-300 lens at probably somewhere between 250 and 300 to compress the background.)

So, in case you are wondering, how much I accomplished this afternoon here is the rundown. I added more impatients around the light post in the front yard, put together two more hanging pots (I have them all around my yard), planted a red blanket flower, two day lilies, another blue salvia, a foxglove, potted up three sweet 100s cherry tomatoes for the patio, cleaned the solar water fountain, and moved some other plants around to different spots in the garden. Whew!!! Did I finish planting all that I bought today? No, I still have three tomato plants left. After a little over five hours in the garden, I yelled, "Uncle!" I just couldn't do even three little plants more. I threw in the trowel so to speak!!!
     So back to the summer reading suggestions . . . if you didn't know it, I was an eighth grade English teacher for thirty-four wonderful years, so making summer reading suggestions is in my blood. First, if you haven't met Patrick Taylor's Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, please read An Irish County Doctor. I guarantee the good people of the village of Ballybucklebo and the antics of Dr. O'Reilly will make you smile and perhaps even laugh out loud. 

     Another terrific read is Empty Mansions, The Mysterious Life of Hugette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. It is a compelling story and even more so because it is true. It may appear to start slow, but stay with it as this amazing story unfolds. It's not light, beach reading, but I promise you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Blooming in My Garden This Week - 6/3/14

    We're expecting heavy rains on Thursday so I picked up my camera before doing some gardening this morning. Emma kept me company while remaining ever vigilant in case a squirrel might suddenly appear.