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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Still???

See the post about the orchid? That thing is STILL blooming. Not blooming new blossoms, although it increase almost double from the picture shown - no, the blossoms are still on the plant and still looking fresh & vibrant.

To be sure, a couple have withered & dropped but I have never had an orchid stay in bloom so long. It makes me happy every time I look at it.

Quotable quotes; in the category This Orchid Has Honored Its Pledge!

"If you want to live a long life, focus on making contributions."  Hans Selye

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Orchids

My in-laws sent me an orchid in a pot. I had grown several orchids over the years, most of which languished and died when the blooms faded. An orchid I found on a clearance shelf at the home improvement store somehow lasted for years and bloomed again and again. At length, it too perished.

A pair of orchids bought at the grocery store lasted awhile though have not yet bloomed since that first flush. One has since died, the other continues to put out new leaves but no flower stalk, as yet.

The new orchid appeared to be a disaster. Poorly packaged, poorly handled, the pot has lost most of its growing medium, the soggy orchid was naked without it and it looked like it was not long for this world.
I went to work, resurrecting a genuine orchid pot left from the one success, and replanted the orchid in some new medium (think bark & wood chips). I nestled it into the orchid pot, gave it a good soak,  set it in my kitchen window & prepared for it to meet its doom. To my pleasant surprise it bloomed!

I photographed it when there were but a few blooms but over the next week or so more buds bloomed until there were many. At least five or more. Weeks later, they are still beautiful and show no signs of fading.

I had wanted to try painting this orchid but was afraid to try. At last, one day last week, I opened the sketchbook, got out paints & water & set to work. Here is the result. Not as "artistic" as I might hope, but the real pleasure is that I actually made the attempt. I keep hearing I'll get better with practice. I'm trying to curb the urge to have instant perfection and steel myself to keep trying.
I'm still nervous about sharing my painting with others but I may post this to my facebook page and see what others think. In the meantime, you & I can enjoy it together.

Quotable quotes; in the category Well, I Didn't Feel Like Writing Today.

"Painting is just another way of keeping a diary."  Pablo Picasso

Monday, June 30, 2014

Joy June - Last Day!

Like Lemony Snickett, I suffered a series of unfortunate events recently. My joy is that I survived!

After having several trees removed from our property, well, the hot water heater leaked all over the basement. When we called and told them how old it was they were surprised it had lasted as long as it did. I don't think there is anything more stressful than listening to workmen pound, bang & clang in your basement, wondering what they are doing and hoping all is well. After a few hours we had hot water again and could shower & wash dishes. Joy.

I met a friend for lunch (joy), something we had been planning but which kept getting derailed by our schedules. I locked my keys in the car. YAURGH! Luckily, she called her mom, who lived nearby, who drove me to my house so I could pick up my extra set of keys . . . which I had misplaced and had to search for . . . but which I found. Joy.

I am knitting a pair of socks. I did not like how the pattern was emerging. I pulled out the needles & unraveled back to my "lifeline", a thread woven through the stitches at a strategic point so the knitting can be raveled if necessary and picked up without starting all over. Alas, I dropped a stitch, could NOT pick it up and decided to unravel the whole thing. Luckily I had not worked very far, and when I started over found a very weak spot in my yarn which pulled apart, and which might have caused a hole in the finished socks. I have knit almost back to where I was and avoided potential disaster in the process. Joy.

So in spite of some setbacks, I am able to find joy in things after all - perhaps the most joyous part of it!

Quotable quotes; in the category That's One Law I'd Like To Break!

"If anything can go wrong, it will."  Murphy's Law

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Joy June 24

Well, I did it again - got so busy I did not have time to post my joys. I'll reach back to the weekend and add what has happened since to bring me joy.

! While a little sad, it's also a joy that we finally had some trees removed. One was growing right up next to the house and could potentially harm the foundation, the chimney and the wall since it bumps the house on windy days. Three were apple trees I planted years ago. They were supposed to be dwarves but grew to over 10 feet tall, became crowded and never produced more than two apples that I recall. The rest were volunteer maples and an invasive Asian bittersweet that I planted without researching it first.

! I got many things planted this weekend, including a flat of flowers, some tomatoes, a cucumber, zucchini, and assorted herbs. While planting, a beautiful little cat came to visit me in the yard. I love cats and would have liked to adopt her but she was obviously someone's pet, so we reluctantly said goodbye.

! I did some decluttering in the house - a never ending goal - and got rid of some things that should have been gotten rid of years ago. Joy!

Quotable quotes; in the category You Can Have Joy If You Just Think About It!

"Oh joy! Rapture! I got a brain!" The Scarecrow from MGM's The Wizard Of Oz.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Joy June 18

My biggest joy is the weather. It is been and will be hot and humid all week - the kind of weather I hate the most - but today it finally rained & stormed which means the garden got a good watering & weeds will be easy to pull. And it cooled off a bit.

Also, I tried my hand at painting a stormy sky. Not quite what I'd aimed for but I'm pleased that I made the effort.
This is a view of a brick wall & ivy covered building across the street from my office. The sky got dark & angry so fast I couldn't keep up!

Quotable quotes; in the category Now That Sounds Like Fun!

"Remember to play after every storm."  Mattie Stepanek, American poet

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Joy June 17

I've been too busy to post so I'll have to make up for it.

What has given me joy recently? This past weekend I finished a few knitting projects - golf club covers for my brother-in-law,
 a wool tea cozy for my sister,
 a baby blanket for a niece who is expecting her first child,
and a scrapbook page incorporating valentines from The Man the past couple years (sorry, no picture of that one).

It's fun & feels good to "get things done". I also called a tree service, which I should have done years ago.  There is a volunteer elm tree growing inches from the house & threatening to knock down the chimney. Sadly, it has to go. The joy part is the quote came in well below what I was expecting and we're ready to go with that project.
Finally, a picture I painted & posted at my facebook page received many complimentary comments and an offer to buy! Since it was painted in a  journal & had writing on it, I did a second one and the friend has confirmed she wants to buy it.  Does this make me a professional artist? Or just a commissioned one?

I guess that's enough joy to make up for lost time!

Quotable quotes; in the category Anybody Wanna Share?

"To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with."  Mark Twain

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Joy June 11

Several weeks ago I made a sourdough starter. I posted about it on my other blog, "It's My Food Blog", but today I wanted to post about my sourdough related joy!

I had read that sourdough starter takes quite some time to become truly "sour" & flavorful. That may be. I usually feed my starter mid week and then try to use some on the weekend, either for a loaf of bread or a pizza crust.

This week, when I fed the starter, it smelled truly sour for the first time - wine-y & yeasty. Yesterday I prepared the dough for a pizza crust, to be made and eaten tonight for supper. The starter was even more sour, foamy & "just right".

So today is a double-joy. The joy of my starter, which has not died and continues to age & mature, and a homemade pizza for supper tonight (one of our favorite suppers).

What's bringing you joy today?

Quotable quotes; in the category Go Ahead!  What Have You Got To Lose?

"Pizza makes me think that anything is possible."  Henry Rollins


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Joy June 10

I did something very unusual for me today - something that, while it scared me, also brought me joy. I posted a picture of the watercolor I did this weekend to my facebook page.
Understand there are many artists in my extended family - sister, brother, mom, and my sister in law's sister & brother, and numerous friends - all extremely talented. Painting with watercolor is something I have always wanted to do and something I just don't seem to "get". Posting this was, for me, a very brave act.

I have been reading and watching tutorials online trying to decipher some of the mysteries of painting with watercolors.  Not sure I have it yet but I have been paying attention.  This is pretty much the first effort that came close to what I have been trying to do.  It's encouraging and makes me want to try again.

Quotable quotes; in the category I Guess I Still Have Quite A Ways To Go.

"The good watercolors take a lifetime - plus half an hour."  Toni Onley

Monday, June 9, 2014

Joy June 9

My main joy is I painted this weekend - made a few note cards & gift tags, made a painting journal and then painted in it - a scene of my garage & garden in the back yard. Unfortunately, the picture I took of it would not attach to an email so I'll have to try again if I want to share it.

High on the joy list - the poppies & roses are blooming in the yard and the weather has been great (in my opinion - some people think it's too cold). Cool & breezy and night time rain. Couldn't be better.

Watching Little Girl prance from window to window to view the outdoors has brought me lots of joy - both because I know how much she loves this and because she's so fun to watch!

Quotable quotes; in the category What Could Be Better? Or Simpler?

"Simple pleasures are best." Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Joy June 5

Today's joy is a list to tide over until I can get back online.

!  Whomever planted the little marigolds & flowers under the tree outside my office has planted them under every tree in our block and the trees around the corner! How sweet! Joy whenever I pass them!

!  At home, my spider wort is blooming - deep purple in the  sunny backyard and paler lilac in the shady front yard.
!  The weather is cool & breezy - my absolute favorite - and with all the windows in the house open, Little Girl gets to view the great outdoors from every vantage point - she's fun to watch.

!  I have "painting time" scheduled for this weekend and vow to open the paintbox and just go, no matter what happens.

!  The robin that kept me awake from 2 to 4 a.m. this morning was finally silenced by the cardinal, who was quiet himself once his work was done.

Quotable quotes; in the category Who Knew Beautiful Could Be So Much Fun?

"Earth laughs in flowers."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Joy June 4

I have two joys to post - although both happened yesterday, I'm still happy about them today.

Yesterday I saw one of my neighbors outside my office.  I thought it was the tea lady next door but it must have been the flower lady farther down the street.

When I left work I found "someone" had planted a marigold and another little flowering plant at the base of the tree outside my office door.  From my desk I can see them if I move a little to the right. It cheers me to see them.

And when I got home yesterday Mr. & Mrs. Robin were in the neighbor's front yard making a chipping noise which could only mean they were calling to Junior, telling him it was time to fly and they would watch out for him.  Although baby was not visible I sure could hear him, clearly saying "I don't wanna!"

I love it when the parents teach the kids to fly. And I'm sure the kids feel joy, too, when they finally take off.

Quotable quotes; in the category It's Not Enough To Know It, You Have To Use It!

"Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings."  Salvador Dali

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June Days of Joy

Inspired by another blog I am accepting the challenge to post daily joys.  Of course, I won't make it every day as I have limited access to the internet - but I'll make a real effort to post a joy each day that I am able.

To make up for my late start, I'll post something that happened a couple days ago - the in-laws sent me a potted orchid.  I was leery about its health and fully expected the several buds on it to drop off, as had happened with past experiments.
Imagine my surprise when it bloomed this past weekend!  The two lovely blooms in the picture - and a third opened yesterday.

If I manage to keep this one alive (I had one, bought on a clearance rack, that bloomed again and again for several years, and another that is still alive but has not bloomed since the first time) it will be an extra joy!

Quotable quotes; in the category You'll Feel Better Tomorrow.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."  Psalm 30:5

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Doin' Revisited

Another item I have made recently is this little pouch.  I think it's supposed to resemble a strawberry and it certainly does!  It's one of those things I fell in love with at first sight and could not wait to make.  While making the first one (the red & dark green) I decided I had to have a second one.
I knew I had a ball of bright pink yarn and a neon lime green that would make a good top - I searched all my knitting bags for the pink yarn but could not find it. Alas, a week or so later I was clearing things off the coffee table and there it was! Mom was right, clean your room!
I like both these bags and can't tell if I favor one over the other.  I don't want either one to feel left out so I won't play favorites.  They're both darling.
If you would like to knit these little pouches follow this link which will take you to the original pattern. Enjoy!

Quotable quotes; in the category You're Not Getting Older, You're Getting Better . . . At Knitting!

"As I get older, I just prefer to knit."  Tracy Ullman

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What 'Ya Doin'?

I recently posted a travelling interview & discussed what & why I craft.  I'm posting today about a few recently completed projects.

A couple years ago I knitted a blanket for a niece who was getting married.  The yarn was chocolate brown (did I mention niece adores chocolate?) and ultra soft.  So soft that when I tossed the finished blanket on the floor to photograph it, in the time it took me to pick up my camera, the cat had bounded onto the center of the blanket WITH a toy and was all set to play on it.  I felt guilty for shooing her off but couldn't have her getting cat hair on the new blanket.  I probably needn't have bothered as niece has several cats of her own and is crazy about them all.

About a year later, the niece's sister asked if I would knit her a headband/ear warmer.  I agreed and found a pattern similar to the design she liked, and used the leftover brown yarn.  As I worked on the ear warmer I kept the yarn next to me on the sofa.  The cat decided I had obviously put it there just for her and each time it was unprotected, jumped up next to me on the couch, kneaded the yarn into a mess of spaghetti and curled up on it for a nap.  She did this even if the yarn was in a protective plastic bag.  She loves the crinkle of a plastic bag . . .

Headband finished, I presented it to niece and wondered what to do with the little bit of soft brown yarn remaining.  I decided a cushion for the cat's favorite bed was in order. 
I used to get gift baskets delivered to our department at work.  After sharing all the goodies the basket either languished in a closet or was tossed in the trash.  Since I planned the annual golf outing, I decided to keep the baskets and fill them with donated items for our door prizes & drawings.  But when I left that job nobody was interested in the remaining basket so I brought it home rather than contribute it to landfill.  It spent some time on an ottoman waiting for a home until the cat found it and claimed it as her own.  I rescued the shredded paper for another use and filled her "bed" with wadded up plastic bags, stuffed into a small cover.  She loved it.

I decided a soft brown cover would be more comfy than her existing accommodations and set out to knit one from the remaining brown yarn.  Alas, I ran out before it was big enough.  I substituted some similar brown yarn (it was on the bottom so the color change did not show nor would the less soft texture be an issue.

I stuffed the cushion into the new cover and placed it lovingly in the basket . . . and waited.  Kitty was not interested in sleeping just yet.
But a few days later she discovered the newly soft cushion and has hardly left the bed since except for meal time and play time.  A job well done.

Quotable quotes; in the category Waste Not Want Not!

"Time spent with cats is never wasted."  Sigmund Freud

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Travelling Interview

A post at this blog (one of my favorites) issued an open invitation to participate in this interview.  I find this blog particularly inspiring so I decided to accept the invitation and conduct my interview.  Here goes.

1:  What am I working on?  I'm actually working on several things at once, which is my usual modus operandi.  I'm knitting a baby blanket for a niece who is expecting her first baby, I'm knitting socks for myself (2 pair) and little pouches that may become gifts or maybe not, it depends.  I'm working on a crocheted tote bag that is quite slow going but I hope to finish soon.  And I'm working on Artist Trading Cards and Altered Rolodex Cards for a swap group I belong to.

2:  How does my work differ from others of its genre?  I really don't know.  Every artist develops their own particular style.  Given the same instructions and materials, each person will create something uniquely their own.  That's why you can always tell a Beatles song or a Bob Marley song - not just the sound of the voice, the the structure and style of the music.  That's why a Renoir is different from a Monet.
In my paper collage I tend to use plainer materials and fewer techniques, where others might use ribbons, buttons, papers, cards, ink stamps and die cuts, I might limit my choices to a background paper, a few cut out images, a little paint or ink, and leave it at that.

My knitting may differ from others in that I tend to read the instructions then pretty much ignore them.  Not exactly, but rather than try to achieve a certain stitch count to achieve an exact copy of the original, I'll work with whatever gauge I get naturally then modify the pattern to fit what I am doing.  In this way I avoid a lot of frustration.  As a famous knitter once said, you are the boss of your knitting.  I like feeling that I am in control and that I am creating something unique even though I'm using a recommended pattern yarn and needle.
3:  Why do I create what I do?  Well, why not?  I knit because I know how and because I like it. There is something about the plain old knit stitch that just fascinates me.  I like its texture, the way it drapes, the feel of the growing project in my lap as I knit.  I guess I create because I can!
Same with the Artist Trading Cards.  When I first found out about them I was blown away.  And although I loved the work of others and hoped to emulate it, I soon found I preferred my own style.  I create these things because I always have.   I have a good friend with whom I used to exchange Christmas gifts each year - always something small & simple, always something handmade.  It's so gratifying to give a gift knowing it came from the heart and to give it to someone who recognizes that and appreciates it.

4:  How does my creative process work?  This one makes me laugh!  I remember a scene in the old "Will & Grace" TV show.  Grace was an interior designer who hired a young intern who quickly proved to be more interested in vodka and clothes than in design - but at the beginning of the episode she said "I'd love to get a sense of what your process is."  Some years later my sister, who really IS an artist, was visiting.  I was making a gift card for someone and asked her to give me a few minutes.  She said to go ahead, she would watch me to observe my process. I laughed out loud.  I didn't view myself as an artist and didn't realize I had a process.  But I guess I do.
It's pretty haphazard.  Based on artist sister's advice I now take a little more time in laying out my collage, moving things around and paying attention to things like negative & positive space, color, spacing, layout etc.  I have also started to implement some of the techniques she has told me about but I'm still a little timid as I still have trouble thinking of myself as an artist.  But my brother (also a very talented artist/painter) says anyone who makes anything is an artist whether it's a loaf of bread, a painting, a building or a sculpture.  I try to believe them.

In knitting it's a little easier, more straight forward.  I start the pattern.  If I don't like it I might start over a few times using a different needle size or stitch pattern.   If I still don't like it I might eventually rip it out and start on something different.
Don't ask me about painting.  I haven't mentioned it yet because it's still a mystery and a struggle to me.  But I still try.  I mix paint, wet my brush and force myself to get something down on paper.  I usually give up pretty quickly but the desire to paint is so strong I keep the paints & brushes near so I can try again.

I haven't mentioned writing.  I write whenever I think of something.  I completed a novel several years ago but it has not been published.  I also wrote a picture book story and just sent it to a publisher a week ago.  We'll see if they respond. What's my process?  Write when I remember to I guess.

Wow!  Even if nobody reads this blog post I feel it was a good exercise.  It got me to think about myself in a way I maybe haven't before.  If you did read, please leave a comment and let me know what you thought - and like my inspiration I invite you to conduct your own interview!

Quotable quotes; in the category Who Am I To Argue With An Expert?

"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.