Thursday, January 29, 2015

Needlepoint for a Mouse

Trying to get more even stitches, I ventured out for a second piece of needle point work.  Cotton embroidery floss is what comes in most kits for about ten bucks, so I really could not complain about the quality of the fiber, but cotton floss is not near the quality that wool gives in stitching.  My continental stitches are beginning to show some improvement in tension.

Anyhoo, here is another 5" x 5" piece of needle point, again from a kit, but this time from for a low price.  Who can argue with a happy red ladybug wanting to be a mouse pad?

The computer mouse did not glide over the stitches so it was encased in plastic, which works much better.  Plastic is from a bag, recycled and repurposed for this use.  It was fun.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Shrinky Dinks for Earrings

Back in 2012 I worked with shrinky dinks laser print pages to make charms and earrings.  Those Downton Abby and Frieda Kahlo earrings are long gone, having been given away to family members in Texas and a new friend in Colorado who wrote of Kahlo in one of her poems.

After the writing retreat when our talented author Sandy Dorr expressed appreciation for Ursula Le Guin, it made sense to make her some earrings of an image of Le Guin, along with one of her quotes.

Steps for making shrinky dink earrings:
  • Find an image you like and tone down the colors (I used 30% on the gamma scale in Photoscape).
  • Select a second image (optional) for the back of the shrinky dink paper.
  • Select 10 per page of the image and print on a laser ink jet printer, using the special paper available at hobby stores
  • Cut off all white edges on the image.
  • Use a hole punch and punch a hole in the top of the image about 1/8 from the top.  Make sure you cut the hole twice the size of the cutter because both the image and the hole will shrink to about 1/4 of its original size.
  • Line a cookie sheet with foil and place the images on it.Bake in a preheated 275 degree oven for four minutes, until the image has both shrunken and flattered.
  • Either paint on varnish or polyurethane, several coats will do, allowing the objects to dry between coats of finish.
  • Remove from oven and cover with paper or foil and put a heavy book on it for 30 seconds.

  • Make earrings or knitting markers using beads and findings.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A New Venture

Over the past ten days, I have committed to try learn to write in a more conscious manner.  This new desire has been spurred on by meeting eight women who write in a manner that makes me think in different directions, expanding my spirit, exercising my mind in styles that I embrace.  I want to do that, too!  This new venture came about from participating in the women's writing retreat held in Redstone, Colorado last weekend, directed by Sandy Dorr.  Then I signed up for her writing class "Path to Writing," eight sessions extending through April.

Homework for the pathway to writing has consisted of reading and discussing other writers and their work.  So far, we have read from Ursala Le Guin, Jane Hirshfield, Sara Teasdale, Rebecca Lee, Claire Keegan, Jamaica Kincaid, Robert Pinsky, Sharon Doubaski and Ellen Bass.  Many more authors were discussed but I was so full of words and pages of writing that I cannot hold them all together in one hand right now.

If you are interested in my pathway to writing, hop on over to my new blog, Path of Writing.  Please comment and give constructive criticism.  I value your thoughts.

I leave you with this image and verse shared by Katie who also attended the women's writing retreat.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Needlepoint: A First

Sitting on the floor by my mother back in the early 50's, I remember her separating strands from a skein of dark grey wool yarn into single threads.  The single thread was then slipped through a large needle for her project.  It was a rose she stitched around, and I recall that I did not think it was very "pretty" in my child's eye, but neither was it ever questioned that it would not be beautiful simply because she needle pointed it.  The back was full of threads and tangles, and I have since learned that a true needlepoint artist does not leave a thread unattached on the back of a piece.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I started needle pointing my first piece, simple, small, but I knew I had to accomplish this task of a 5" x 5" piece to place on an address book.  Yes, while working on it, I was reminded of my mother doing this same type of needle art while living in that simple dry land farming ranch house all those years before. It also pulled me back to consciousness that I was also performing the same craft, now more than twice my mother's age when I was on that wooden floor at her feet.

Needle point has certainly changed over the years.  Mother performed one stitch, endlessly, the continental stitch.  Now my current book shows over 250 different stitches that can be used to create beautiful canvases.  If you are so inclined, go here to see some of my favorites that others have stitched.

My first finished piece from a simple kit provided by Dimensions. This was the kit picture.

The koi piece was worked and then attached to an address book, embellished with findings, gold cording and magnetic poetry words.  All objects were adhered to the address book with a hot glue gun and only a few fingers were burned in the process.

It was fun to sew this little piece and now I am starting a more ambitious project, a Klimt painting, The Serpent, on canvas 15" x 20", that will be sewn onto the front of a shoulder bag when completed.

SEG de Paris Needlepoint - Medium Needlepoint Canvases - Le Serpent (d'apres Klimt) Canvas

Have you tried needle pointing?  Where do you find your materials?  What is your inspiration?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Our Dog Mercy

She has a need to be alone. It is her primal nature, for she was bred in the north, Calgary, where the cold wind blows. She was meant to stay in solitude for hours in small spaces and to keep quiet, the perfect condominium animal, bred over twenty generations for solitude and minimal barking. Keeping still and silent is necessary for some animals, the owl, the snake, the wolf. Now it is in her genetic makeup as well.

In her essence: a she-wolf. She observes, focuses, and is a watchful waiter when human food is being consumed. Patient, patiently watching and waiting until that last bite, knowing it is saved for her,  is gratefully taken with intense poise into her gentle mouth. It is almost a kiss she gives when taking her small treat. Her mustache is smoothed down with a light human touch, and she is told she is loved.

This is her day: a short walk led by the man of the house, a bit of play time, kibble and water, and then sleep. For sleep consumes the majority of her day. Snuggling down into the pillows on the bed, uncovering the bolster if necessary in order to reach her master's down pillow, her favorite, she takes time to make her day nest. Here she will stay for hours, only nature's call for elimination of fluid urging her out of this nest that only she inhabits. The others in the house, her sister animal friend and the humans, do not inhabit this space of hers called the peoples' bedroom. Those others stay in their own dens doing whatever it is they do during the daytime hours...reading, knitting, cooking, talking. But here, on this bed and on the once forbidden pillow, she stays.

Occasionally, when dreaming, a slight whimper will come from deep within her throat. It is not unlikely that she yelps. Perhaps a play date with her sister dog is in her dreams, or maybe it is one of those pesky UPS men ringing the doorbell and making her jump to attention, shaking her from that sleepy lethargy. Whatever the cause, those yips and slight low growls sometimes can be heard from farther rooms when she is deep in slumber. Her distant presence is made known.

Now the night comes. The people in the house retire to this, her place, at night. At first she welcomes them, and snuggles down, this time at the foot of the bed, into the old down comforter throw that is kept just for her, although the feathers are slowing disengaging from the seams, and little white fluffs can be found on the bedspread beneath her silky throne. With the lights off, now surrounded by these human masters of her universe, she again settles and sleeps.

After two or three hours of this nighttime darkness, she awakens and feels the presence of the humans and realizes she is, indeed, not alone. She jumps from her downy nest on to the wooden floor, her toenails making a soft, padded sound. She yips, awakening her masters. They interpret the yipping noise to mean that she wants out to pee, and the one called Gene cooperates, reaching for his flashlight at the headboard of the bed, pulling himself up and out of slumber, releasing her out into the cold night air. Upon command, she performs her duty, and both the human and she return into the room.

Circling round just the right number of times, she replaces herself on the nest. She again sleeps. But I often wonder if what this canine really craves is to be alone, again, on the bed she calls her own. Sometimes, when the owners correctly interpret throaty call, her name is sternly called out in the darkness to return to bed. Reluctantly, she comes back to her rumpled place at my feet. Perhaps she woke to realize she has others in her space. Her primal need was again calling her to solitude.  All she really craved was to be alone.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Redstone, Colorado in Winter

There was yoga (Susan, our esteemed teacher practitioner)

At the ice skating rink, skates ready for fun

 Chrome Hubcap Sculpture in front of Redstone Inn (by O. Louis Wille, obituary here)

A few of the group

Friday, January 9, 2015

Initial Writing Exercise

Directives given in first assignment:

Think of an object
What is its shape?  What is its texture? What color is it?  What does the object evoke in you?
Write about this object.  Timed for thirty minutes maximum.

Green Man on the Shed Door

He lives on in the cold January exterior.  His face is a yard wide, painted on rough cedar planking in acrylics of burnt sienna, thalo green, color of lemons and limes interwoven in the giant leaves of his face.  Stark black outlines his wreath of greenery making up his features.  Green Man's wide mouth, though worn down and made more faint by five harsh summer sunbeams and the like number of winters and cold rains coming down on his weathered cheeks, is nonetheless visible in a malevolent moue. His brows are painted veins of leaves twined between foliage.

Frozen boards below him are stiff with winter chill and the skiff of ice on the shed entranceway gives warning of careful entry into his kingdom of plastic chairs and worn pots.  He guards entrance to the lawnmower, now stiff from disuse, with his silent stare.  Guardian of the tool shed, he is a symbol of earth, of all things green and growing.  He is a mystical creature, a keen observer of creatures moving in the garden, animals gambling on the lawn.  In day, his countenance is obvious, but at night, he keeps close count of stealthy foxes and raccoons, always on the lookout for night creatures of mice skittering through tall buffalo grass.

The Green Man smiles, at least his painted-on moue perhaps grimaces at some unknown secret not yet revealed.  Maybe he is contemplating his future of soon-to-be warm days when perhaps yet even more undiscovered observations will occur under his benevolent, hooded eyes.

Is that smile on his face?  Or maybe it is I who sees a generous future harvest of wild flowers, showy zinnias, blue iris, herbs, all welcoming a much anticipated spring, and his face is reflecting my wishful gardening thoughts.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Writers Weekend Coming Up

Tomorrow and over the weekend fifteen women will be attending a writing workshop in the mountain of Colorado at the Redstone Inn, a quaint hotel originally built as a boarding house for coal and marble miners at the turn of the nineteenth century. I am delighted to be included in this group of women.

One of our readings in preparation of the workshop, in case you might want to take a further look at an author with whom you might be unfamiliar, is entitled The Tiger in the Grass by Harriet Doerr.   Born in 1910, Doerr began writing at the age of 67 and made a splash of a debut with her novel Stones of Ibarra at the age of 74.

excerpted from The Tiger in the Grass:

Updating information from the workshop next week.,,

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Heralding our 25 Years of Marriage

A quarter of a century we have been married.

Gene and I have seen several family and friends' marriages occur over these years.  A few births in the family have happened, several pets acquired, and we have helped more than a few people through their last months on earth.  My husband and I have traveled a bit together, I was away in North Carolina for a graduate degree, and we both have since retired from our economic careers.  We have been through sickness and health. There has been a small lifetime of tragedies and triumphs through the years.

So I made a movie for Gene as an anniversary present.  (Journey supplies the lyrics and music.)

Through the Years
A faded wedding photograph.
You and me in our first dance.
Our eyes are closed.
We're lost in one sweet embrace.

Since those days the world has changed.
But our love remains the same.
God knows we've had our share of saving grace.

And I'm proud of all the blessings you have given me.
The mountains we have climbed to get this far.
We've learned to take the laughter with the tears.
After all these years.

You make it feel brand new.
After the fires that we walked through.
Against the odds we never lost our faith.

In a house we made our home.
Where our children all have grown
Precious moments time cannot erase.

Make a living up and down the gypsy highways.
The seasons that we had to share apart.
Somehow in my heart I always keep you near.
After all these years.

After all these years.
You stood by me the days and nights that I was gone.
After all these years.
You sacrificed, believed in me, and you stood strong.
Cause with our love there's nothing left to fear.
After all these years.

After all these years.
You stood by me the days and nights that I was gone.
After all these years.
You sacrificed, believed in me, and you stood strong.
Cause with our love there's nothing left to fear.
After all these years.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

There is Just No Explaining

There is Just No Explaining 2014

Dave Berry says it all here.  I laughed out loud.  Go the the link if you want to be amused or bemused at the state of our union.

Justin Bieber?  The White House having security not as tight as a Dunkin' Donuts'? a state dinner for French President Fran├žois “Le Muffin de Stud” Hollande, who arrives at the White House driving a red scooter with two women riding on the back and three more chasing on foot?  And those are just the highlights of the first eight weeks in 2014.

Really, just read it.  The cartoons are great.

credit for illustration goes to Charlie Powell seen here