"If you hear a voice within you say, 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." --Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This, That, and the Other

THIS has got to be one of the coolest flowers I've ever seen. It is just amazing.

I have no idea what it is, but while I was admiring it, a big fat bee came to feast upon it. He stayed quite a while and though he wasn't inclined to pose, I managed to sneak a shot while he wasn't looking!
THAT my neices' and nephews' birthdays sneak up on me is an understatement! My neice turned 6 on Wednesday. A few years ago I made her older sister a pillowcase and it was very well received, so I decided this year it was Maya's turn. Here is the pillowcase I made for her. I hope she likes it. I happened to flip the calendar to August only to realize that my nephew turns 5 next week ... so off to the fabric store I go for another novelty print - thank goodness these pillowcases go together fast!!

THE OTHER thing I want to share with you is that I am making a few small quilts. They will go to Fusions, the gallery in Pittsboro, next month for the September quilt sale. This is the first one that's finished. It's about 42x54.

Several years ago I exchanged two sizes of brown squares with my local bee. They were intended to go together into a certain pattern. Well, of course the stacks just sat in my closet! So I decided that it was time to use them up. I bought three new prints with brown and managed to make four throw quilts with my squares ... and I even have a few left over! This quilt was my first attempt at any real free motion quilting (other than very small pieces) on my new machine. It did a great job! Now I just have to learn how to make all those fancy patterns I see!

I can't believe it's almost August. Wow. It doesn't seem possible.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pile on the PINK

Do you remember the gorgeous doll, "Love Squared", which will be auctioned off to support the Komen Foundation? Well, through my friend Elizabeth's blog, I learned about the Think Pink Charm Swap, and I thought it sounded like fun. You make a dozen charms for the swap. You get 10 back and the other two are combined with charms from other artists and the jewelry will be auctioned off for the Komen Foundation. How could I resist?

Of course it will come as a HUGE surprise that I made bottlecap charms. Above is a photo of them all packaged up and ready to go. Below is a photo of some of the individual charms. I forgot to make one for myself, so I'll have to do that. It was fun to focus on pink and I tried to choose words that would be inspirational. I hope the recipients enjoy them. I can't wait to see the jewelry! I'll keep you posted on the auction as the time nears.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Closer to Home

While I'm in the mood to post photos ... we've had a truly gorgeous week here in North Carolina. The sky was blue and the weather, while hot and summery, was gorgeous. Usually I just hide inside in the summer. It is humid and hazy and basically ick. This week was exceptional.

We took a walk at a nearby lake the other day and here are some photos to prove that it was not just me enjoying the beautiful summer days...

There were actually 2 great blue herons at the lake. This was my favorite photo, although I wish I had paid more attention to the heron's reflection and not cut it off (and I didn't even notice the geese - I was just taking random shots).

I call this one "Three Bumps on a Log". I wonder why??
This little guy sat on his perch and posed for me. Well, maybe he just didn't feel like flying away. He was about 10 feet from me, out in the water, but he was SO small that I really had to zoom in to get a photo. So all you bird fans - what kind of bird is this? I suppose I could look it up.

And finally, this morning glory was just absolutely stunning. The vine had settled in a shady spot and I would have walked right by if not for a shaft of sunlight which landed directly inside this bloom and illuminated it as if there were a lightbulb in there. The picture doesn't even do it justice. It was beautiful.

Six Places At Once

Back to vacation photos. I hope you're not sick of them. My hand is starting to heal and I hope to have something creative to show you soon.

So, we stopped at Four Corners. This is where 4 states meet - Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. The land also happens to be on the Navajo (Native American) Reservation. Well all except the Colorado part - that's on the Ute Reservation. So at one time you can stand in 4 states and two Sovereign Nations, all at the same time. Pretty cool. I've been told this monument is in the middle of nowhere. This is no exaggeration. But it was pretty cool to stop and we had some yummy fry bread while we were there.

We headed to Mesa Verde, Colorado to see the cliff dwellings. These always looked miniature to me in photos - and even in my own photos, they look minature, but they are quite grand. The people who lived here were called Anastazi until recently. The word Anastazi means "Foreign Enemy" (or something similar) in Navajo language. I guess the people whose ancestors lived here didn't feel they were foreign or an enemy, so they are now referred to as Ancestral Puebloans. The inhabited this area for less than 100 years and no one is quite sure why they left. The most plausible reason I heard while we were there is that they left because the gods told them it was time to leave. Interestingly, they abandoned this site about the same time the Mayans abandoned their grand cities in Central America.

Yes - we climbed that ladder. 32 feet, practically straight up. The dwellings are built into nooks in the sides of the cliffs. We had ladders and at times toe holds and rope chains to help us up and down. The people who lived here used the crevices in the rocks and wore hand and toe holds to help them climb up and down the cliff face. They farmed in the fertile soil of the top of the mesa. It is really quite amazing.

We hiked a lovely 1.5 miles (at this point the kids were pretty much done with hiking) to a really awesome wall of petroglyphs (which the kids were also pretty much done with, but hey, mom's got to be humored sometimes!) This is only a small portion of the wall. It was really awesome.
And of course, what is the dessert without cactus? Many were in bloom and their bright papery petals were just gorgeous. The flora and fauna of the southwestern US dessert is a whole post unto itself.

Thanks for stopping by!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Trees and Flowers and Books, Oh My!

At long last - here are the photos of the tree that got struck by lightening. It was difficult to photograph, but I did the best I could. So far I have only found two places where the lightening hit, but both are on the lower half of the tree, so I wonder if there might be a place higher up that is hidden by the leaves.
Above is the most visible gash. The bottom of it is about 10 feet off the ground, but it is about eye level to where I was sitting - and was maybe only 20 feet away from me/the house. It blew the strip of bark onto a smaller nearby tree and under the bay window I was sitting in.

The gash in this photo (above) is smaller but deeper. It is possibly where the lightening hit. It is about 5-10 feet above the other gash and to the left, right near a large branch that grew nearly vertically alongside the trunk of the tree. The leaves on that branch are starting to die now. The ends are drying out and a few clusters have fallen. I have no doubt this limb will need to be removed. The jury is still out on the rest of the tree. So far it looks like the damage may be limited to this branch.

Another round robin has found its way home, so I can reveal it to you now. For this one, the theme was "flowers - any color". The squares above and to the left were completed, but there was next to nothing visible in the 1/2" margins that connected to my square, so I didn't have much to go on. Still ... I think my square fit the bill. The bottlecap in the center says "blossom" (or maybe it says "bloom" - I honestly can't remember!). The group leader has set up a blog where we can post pics of the finished pieces and our thoughts about the process. You can check it out - and the finished piece that this square is a part of - at the Exquisite Corpse Textiles Blog. I hope to be adding my things there soon.

Finally, I've finished another book. Several years ago, our quilt guild issued a reader's challenge - interpret a child's book into a quilt, including title and author on the front - but all original artwork. The quilts were hung at our guild show and then donated to the local library system. I made a quilt based on Charlotte's Web by EB White. It was before the days of digital so I will have to try to dig up a photo to scan and show you - another day. My friend Jeanne of All Things Quilty also made a quilt based on the book The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. I had never read this book, but I never forgot that quilt either. Recently I happened upon a copy of the book and so I decided to read it (August's read???).
I really loved this book and I realize now why the story stayed with Jeanne. It is a wonderful book. It is about a 5th grade level book, so very easy to read and a great story for young people. I was surprised (hope it doesn't ruin it for you) to read in the afterward that the book is based on the life of a real person - although there are very few details of her life that are known, so most of the story is the author's fiction - and that this Island really exsists off the coast of California. It's fate (as of the printing of the edition I was reading, and I did not check when that was!) is unknown because it is being used by the US government as a (Navy?) testing range. Maybe I should do some research and see just what has become of this little island. If you need a quick read, pick this one up.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Question: How do you capture the splendor and immensity of the Grand Canyon in a photograph?

Answer: You don't. You can't.

It is simply an amazing place. I was especially struck by the number of foreign languages we could hear all around us at any given time. With the dollar so weak against the Euro, there must be a lot of people travelling to the US for their holidays. We especially heard a lot of French. We met a lovely German couple at our hotel. They were here celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. We were fortunate to be there while most US children were still in school. The crowds were very light, and the weather was beautiful.
We hiked about 1/3 of the way down into the Canyon. It took us a couple of hours. The trail was a mile long to that point, cutting back and forth along the edge of the Canyon. If you look closely (or click to enlarge) at the photo below, you can see the trail as we worked our way back up.

It is hard to believe that the Colorado River has created this place. As the chasm was cut, rain waters flowed over the edge and widened the canyon. It is huge, and spectacular, and someplace you should visit if you ever have the opportunity.