Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's not as if I'm not doing anything...

I've been working on Christmas ornaments and Christmas presents. I made 10 ornaments (these are just three examples) and four beaded eyeglass holders. (You know, the kind that hang around your neck and hold your glasses.) I love making these and if I have a good book on mp3 to listen to, time just flies by. The red and black one is for the daughter of a friend of mine--she's into red and black and while it sounded sort of strange to begin with, it looks sort of Victorian. (And odd or not, I aim to please.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Field of Diamonds In The Sky

Finally. I have to roll my eyes, even at myself. This page was *supposed* to be easy to do (in my imagination, anyway) and it took forever. I'm getting faster at beading, but I'm still slow. The page looks pretty amateurish, but it turned out more or less looking like my vision.

During the month of August my mother was in the care center of her assisted living facility and was so unhappy that I went to visit her each week. Occasionally I came back into the Palouse (the area of Eastern Washington where I live) after dark and while I was driving through the wheat fields at night the Johnny Cash song, "Field of Diamonds In the Sky" kept going through my mind.

Field of diamonds in the sky, like the night you pass me by.
I could touch you if I tried, fields of diamonds in the sky.
Am I just a star in some crown?
Or someone's life sun going down, down, down?

To live in the Palouse (with wheat fields and rolling hills going for miles, whichever way you look) you have to appreciate the area for what it is. I find it beautiful and dramatic.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Quilting Weekend 2007

Every year after the Spokane quilt show, my friends, Susan, Linda and I head from Spokane up to Hill's Resort on Priest Lake for a little weekend retreat. (Would you call it a retreat? Jammies, sweats, 4 star restaurant, reading, sleeping, beautiful lake, all the time to sew you could want--yup, that's a reatreat, alright.) I haven't laughed so much since we went last year. These two have a talent for transforming worrisome or annoying things into something we can laugh hysterically about. Two of the most fun people in the world. I can't say that Susan and I got a lot done, but Linda probably made twelve quilts in one weekend. (Ok, that's a slight exaggeration, but she got a lot done on the one quilt she was making.

(As you can see in the picture, we've got one Bernina person, one Husquavarna person and one Pfaff person.)

Linda cuts strips:

Susan and I were playing dueling cameras (but I'm faster on the button):

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Yes, please

You Are Sunrise

You enjoy living a slow, fulfilling life. You enjoy living every moment, no matter how ordinary.

You are a person of reflection and meditation. You start and end every day by looking inward.

Caring and giving, you enjoy making people happy. You're often cooking for friends or buying them gifts.

All in all, you know how to love life for what it is - not for how it should be.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Just keep movin' on...

Well, I'm not tickled with July's bead journal page, but I've decided I'm doing a swell job for someone with a full time job, a mother recovering from a stroke, a teenager and assorted other "diversions". (Let's call them "diversions". It makes it sound so much nicer.)

What I've realized is that I'm experimenting with bead embroidery with the mind of a quilter. I was going to bead more of this piece of hand-dyed fabric and then realized that I'd be heartbroken if nobody could see the pretty fabric. The flash washed out a lot of the color--it's really dark green, blending into a dark lapis blue. It reminded me so much of my week at the lake.

I know what I'm going to be doing for the August piece and since my mom will hopefully going back to her room in assisted living pretty soon, I'll hopefully have two whole weekend days each week to work.

By the way, the title of this post is from a song by Eric Bibb, a blues/folk artist I've just discovered. He's definitely worth a listen

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Doodling with thread

Since I'm doing a 5 hour car trip every Saturday to visit my mother in Walla Walla, I don't have a whole lot of time to play. I've been working on catching up with the Bead Journal Project when I have five minutes here or there, but I couldn't resist making a postcard tonight. I bought the most beautiful thread in primary colors and just felt like doodling. No great art, but a great deal of fun.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Finished June, in the middle of July and starting August

I realized, finally, if I read three books at a time, I might as well bead three pieces at once. I finished the beading for June last month, but didn't finish the page until last week. I'm not happy with it, but what I see when I look at it is the chaos that has been our lives the last couple of weeks. Still, I am proud of my emotions so they might as well be dressed up for company...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Empty nest syndrome

Sorry it's a fuzzy image, but I was trying to keep out of the way of the adult quail while they were feeding. As you can see, while I was on vacation, the quail hatched and flew the proverbial coop! I haven't seen the babies yet, but my son saw them while I was in Walla Walla today and said that they were amazingly cute and they were being attended by three adults--one female and two male. Not sure why, but with that many kids, it's great to have a "manny", I'd imagine.

While I was on vacation my mother had a "mini-stroke", recovered mostly from that, but now she's in the care center of her retirement home. She's still pretty weak but I'm determined to start beading and sewing again this week. I'll go down and visit her one day next weekend, again, but I'm going to start making better use of my evenings. (It is hereby resolved.)

The lake was incredible. Beautiful, warm, calming as always. I'll post pictures of that and the amazing parasailing adventure when I have time to reduce the size of the pictures.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Not yet!

Well, the quail is still sitting on her nest, so I'm hoping that the eggs will hatch this week while I'm gone. The dogs and the cat won't bother her, and the house sitter knows not to disturb her, so my ideal situation is that they hatch this weekend and she has a good week to get them going before we come back and mess up her life. (Albeit unintentionally.)

I haven't done anything on my bead journal project in the last two weeks. My 85 year old mother was hospitalized in Walla Walla (2.5 hours away) for three days last week, so I'm behind on everything. I'm hoping that things will settle down after vacation.

And I'm armed for the lake (Priest Lake in the northern part of Idaho) with a host of lovely books. One as yet unpublished book I'm reading as an early reviewer on LibraryThing (, One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson, My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman, and Charms for the Easy Life by Kay Gibbons. I'm also going to take small bites of The Quantum Zoo because I've heard it's possible to understand *some* of quantum theory. (I'm sort of doubting it.)

And when I get back, I'm sure I'll be all rev'd again for sewing and beading. I am now, actually, but I need a little non-doing time. Have a good week!

Monday, July 9, 2007

The nest!

Here it is--our beautiful quail's nest. The mom was out for a bite to eat, I think. She's a very dutiful mom, though, and stays still on that nest no matter what.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Quail nest!!

I have a quail nest in my back yard! The mom hid her nest really well in a tangle of ivy right up close to the house. I didn't stop to count but it looks like she has close to a dozen eggs in there. Now the challenge is going to be to keep the cat and two dogs away from the eggs (which they haven't found so far, and she must've been there for a while) and the chicks once they're hatched. Our yard is fenced, so she won't be able to get them out until they can fly, but there are a lot of good hiding places under spruce trees and in my huge row of (ugly) junipers. She's right in an area I should be watering now that it's hot, but I'll give up any flowers to help her keep her babies safe. (I'm also going to tell my contractor not to put up the new gutters until they're all safe.)

If anybody has any experience with being a quail nursery or has tips for keeping the dogs (who use the backyard many times daily) away from them, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

BJP - Finishing June...slowly

Still working on my June page for the Bead Journal Project. What I can see while I'm working on it is that I'm getting too uptight about the whole thing. I need to loosen up and not be trying for the most perfect thing in the world. Easier said than done. (Of course, I'm not achieving perfection by a long shot, either.)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It was a great day to dye!

My friends, Susan and Linda, came over on Friday to dye fabric. This is something we do at least once a year and we all look forward to it for weeks. This year, we launched out and tried some different colors, but we had to keep some of the favorites in there. One of the things I just love is the mottled effect that you get when you use low immersion dyeing. A friend saw my dyed fabric one year and said she was so sorry that it had come out so badly because of the mottled look. I had to laugh because that's really my favorite thing--it adds interest to the colors and you get a lot of different looks. It's all play, really--put the fabric and dye in and see what comes out. It's like Christmas in June.

This one is coral pink--a new color for us this year, chosen by Susan. On parts of the fabric (not shown here) it's even more of a peach color. Gorgeous.

This one is Chinese Red. I think both Susan and I got this color. (We buy all our dyes from Dharma Trading.) It's very rich, very exciting, and outside my normal comfort zone. We realized during the day that we had all chosen some dyes that were a real shift for us.

Ooooo, and my favorite--lapis. I buy this dye every year. I've actually started using some of it in pieces, but it's hard for me to cut into something so beautiful. I figure that when I have 50 yards of it in my stash, I'll feel secure enough to actually start using it comfortably.

This last picture sort of shows you the variation in the shades you can get with just the difference of one tablespoon of dye solution.

We had so much fun, and it was so satisfying that we've resolved that we're going to have another dyeing day in September if we can. (Because too much fabric is never enough.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Bead journal project (E is for Emotional)

Last month I signed up for the Bead Journal Project--a group where each member will make a beaded journal page every month for a year. Luckily, the rules are flexible enough to allow people involved in textiles to make a fabric page and add beaded embellishment.

For the month of June, my page is going to be an embellished E--for Emotional. My current boss doesn't care for the fact that I express my emotions and nearly came undone when I cried in his presence one day, and once when I became upset at the prospect of asking people in our unit to do something that clearly violated state ethics laws. Now, the guys at work get angry and frustrated and argue and express it all, but it's evidently not ok for a woman to do the same thing. When I found out that he classified me as "emotional", I decided to take a lesson from Hester Prynne and look at it as something to highlight rather than hide. The letter is taken from a collection of Victorian alphabets and will be embellished with beads until it's obvious that it's meant to stand out and be noticed. Enough of apologizing for having emotions and trying to hide them in order to look like "one of the guys". There! Ha! So in the following weeks I'll be working on the embellishment.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Oooh-oh, I'm quirky alright...

I found this on Denise's blog and curiousity got the best of me. It absolutely cracked me up, especially the picture. (I think his name is Scooter, don't you, Sue?)

Your Quirk Factor: 70%

You're so quirky, it's hard for you to tell the difference between quirky and normal.

No doubt about it, there's little about you that's "normal" or "average."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

And sometimes you just have to make bowls...

I've done the Timtex bowls, but I like the ones made from canvas better. They have a much nicer feel. The question is, though, why do I feel compelled to give them away after I've made them. I've made many and never kept one.

When I got home today, I saw that my tree peony had decided to bloom. There must be 20-30 blossoms on it. It's a nice thing to come home to.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What in the world was I *thinking*??

I think I made this Lover's Knot quilt in the mid-80's. Maybe late 80's. (Maybe someone recognizes the tulip fabric on the black background. It was really popular at...some time.) I look at this now and marvel at what a hideous thing I produced. Maybe color tastes have seasons but this is just tooooo ugly. Off to Goodwill with this one.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Mother's Day Countdown Image Files

For those of you who aren't familiar with Lisa Vollrath (a very talented multi-media artist), her websites are definitely worth a look for inspiration. She currently has a countdown to mother's day, offering free printable images. Cool stuff, Maynard:

Friday, April 20, 2007

The "tucks" quilt made it through the Mother's Weekend quilt show here at WSU, and came home to my cube. The close up is pretty, but I like the view from a distance.

The other exciting thing today was that Nellie, Scott's new baby (and the newest addition to the WSU Library's Systems unit) came to visit. The rest of us wanted to hold the baby, but Drew pretty much hogged all the baby holding time. (Just kidding, Drew. :) )

(Doesn't it look like Drew's saying, "I don't know nuthin' 'bout holdin' babies!") Nellie is *so* cute, and so alert.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Quilt progress and Evan's arms

It's almost finished--just the binding left to do. (And those are my baby's arms. Nevermind that my baby is 6 feet tall.)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Barb vs the Pullman Post Office: A Cautionary Tale

While I don't intend to make a career of it, I enjoy making fabric postcards and sending them to friends I can count on to ooooh and aaaah over them. I made a lovely Easter one (see preceding blog entry) for my mother who lives in a retirement home about two and a half hours away. I took it into the Pullman branch of the US Post Office in a carefree manner, having sent over thirty of them before this one. Each time I have to explain that yes, they're legal and yes, I've done it before...only I've never sent one with Evil Otis (name changed to protect someone from something). Evil Otis looked at the card with his customary arrogant sneer (his postal duties tend to depend on what he feels like doing that day) and said, "You can't mail this. It's not paper. It's not a post card." I explain that it meets the USPS regulations and is mailable. He rolled my eyes at me, at which point I explained that Nice Paul (his real name) and Sweet Janet have done over thirty of them before with no problem. He maintained that I couldn't send it through the mail, so rather than argue with him (when I'm seething) I took the card and left. I went out to the car, took a couple of deep breaths, and, after a lifetime of working in a bureaucracy realized that I just had to go higher up the food chain. I went back in, asked to speak to the post master (Pullman is a very small town) who, strangely enough, couldn't be found. (If I had to contend with an annoyed peri-menopausal woman, I probably would've hid, too.) They did, however, find the supervisor and she took my card away for the next ten minutes trying to find an answer.

What she did was consult Sweet Janet (who pointed out that it fit their "test slot") and then called Spokane for the "real" answer. She came back and said that Spokane had said that I could mail it at the first class rate and that I should stick it in an envelope. "Well, that sort of defeats the purpose of making a post card, doesn't it?" I asked. She maintained that it shouldn't go through machinery like that (note: no beads, sequins, anything sticking up--it's perfectly flat). I said, "Well, I need to have them hand canceled." Noooooo, no way. "The post master doesn't let us hand cancel things". Well, except the 30 or so I've sent so far, I pointed out. "Well, I *suppose* that some people do it from time to time, but we're not supposed to." I admit it, I gave up. I went home and it sort of gnawed at me.

Now, this was at the beginning of a lovely week off from work. I'd had two days off before that and my brain's alpha waves had been nice and smooth up to that point. But...once again, all of those years working for the state had taught me a lot so I went to the USPS site, got the definition for a postcard and my card met all the criteria. I called the supervisor again. She conceded that I didn't need the envelope, but that they still wouldn't hand cancel it. She suggested I call the guy in Spokane that she'd talked to. Nice guy--very reasonable. But first of all, be aware that when you go to the USPS site and look up regulations for a postcard (which is a challenge in itself--it isn't the most user-friendly site out there) that there are *other* regulations on the site, different from the ones you can find--but you have to know the section of the postal code that covers your issue in order to look it up. Indeed, according to this guy, a postcard has to be made of paper. Fine, whatever--I really didn't care about the fact that I'd have to put a 39 cent stamp on it. But, in regard to hand canceling--it's up to the local postmaster. They can, at their whim, say no. Which mine does.

My friend, Susan, pointed out that all sorts of things get sent through the mail. She cited coconuts sent from Hawaii, but I've also seen things sent in plastic pop bottles. What it comes down to is that if I participate in another postcard swap, I'm going to have to take them to Moscow or Spokane to be canceled and mailed. (Actually, Susan offered to take them to Garfield to be mailed, too, bless her heart.)

I've been interested in Buddhism for years now, and am especially fond of the writings of Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun living in the US. She always advises people to meditate while breathing in negativity and breathing out compassion. So...I'll give it a try. I'll breathe in jerky postal workers and breathe out compassion. I'll try.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Easter Egg Postcard

I took a couple of hours last night and this morning to make an Easter Egg postcard for my mom.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Painting myself into a corner

Sometimes, in order to get something done, I paint myself into a figurative corner. In this case, I decided that I'd volunteer to have a quilt up for the mother's weekend quilt show here at WSU in April in order to get this wall hanging finished. When it's done, the tucks (which have different shades of blue in a gradation on the bottom of the tucks as well) will go one way and another to make another design against the background.

This is what I did with some of the fabrics that I decorated with the Shiva paint sticks and the rubbing templates. I don't really need more coasters, but I wanted to see what they'd look like after free-motion quilting. It may be that the guys at work get coasters next Christmas even though they'll look at me and go, "Huh." (They're a bunch of nerds, but they're my bunch of nerds.)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Come to the edge

“Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.” Guillaume Apollinaire

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Happy Birthday to Meeeeee.

Today is my birthday. (Ok, I share it with many different people, but I thought of having my birthday today first.) I decided to take the day off to play to celebrate. It's *beautiful* outside, so later today I'm going to go out and start cleaning out my flower beds and trimming back the roses.

Sunday I started playing with my Shiva paintsticks. It'll still be another few days before I can heat set them, but I love the results so far. (Once again, they look better in person.) I found that they look nicer on darker fabrics, but I haven't done anything yet that I haven't absolutely loved.

Monday, March 5, 2007

You Are A Weeping Willow Tree

You are a dreamer, and you're into almost any kind of escapism.

Restless and capricious, you love to travel to exotic places.

You are easily influenced by others, as long as they don't pressure you.

You tend to suffer in love until you find that one loyal, steadfast partner.

An empathetic friend, you love to make others smile and laugh.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Dreaming of spring

A dear friend sent me the most beautiful picture of delphiniums and I couldn't resist the urge to arrange them into a postcard to put in my cubicle at work. It's going to be a while before we have flowers blooming (except for the crocuses along my driveway) but pictures sometimes give me hope.

What I can't figure out is why you can see the tracks of the printer in the flowers on this image but not on the card itself. I'm going to have to do more experimentation with photographing what I've made.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Finishing What I Start

Look! I *can* finish something. One of the few things I do really well in life is making beaded Christmas ornaments. I've been making them for friends for several years now, but I've started making a special batch for Evan so that when he has a home of his own, he'll have a set. He already has one of the first I made, but this is the latest addition to his collection.

My son's friend, Jimmy, had his Bar Mitzvah roughly three years ago. I started this wall hanging for him six months in advance. Have I quilted it yet? No, I have not. I'm working on finishing the basting so that I can get it done before he graduates from high school. (Self-deprecation intended.) It's titled, "Jimmy's Elegant Universe" because he was really into string theory at the time. The label on the back will have a picture of the two of them together when they were little.

I'm spending the day at home today, trying to get a few errands done, and have a chance to sew. It's hard to stop worrying about what's going on at work, though--a problem that my friend, Susan, calls "pathetic". (Wait, maybe she said that *I'm* pathetic...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

You Are a Mac

You are creative, stylish, and super trendy.

You demand the best - even if it costs an arm and a leg.

And more postcards

Isn't it amazing how difficult it is to get this new version of Blogger to put the images where you want them? Grrrrrr.

At the moment I'm trying to finish a blouse that I started for myself, and then finish an abstract wall-hanging I have in progress. My resolution this year is to finish what I start. (That'll be the day.)
So much for good intentions. I've been doing stuff, but not posting it to the blog. Here are some more of the postcards I made for the swap. The metallics don't photograph well--I think I need to adjust my flash, but I'll figure that out another time. The swap is almost over--I finished mine before Christmas but a few people aren't done yet. There's been talk on the blog about going another round together, but I think I'll pass. Most of the women in the swap tend to be much more traditional than I am. (There are several other women, though, who tended to do less conventional work.) The traditionalists seemed to not know what to make of the ones that weren't conventional quilt patterns. My friend, Sue, has been urging me to make some to sell at a local artistan's shop, but I'm not sure if it would be worth it.

It's been a busy time--Evan just finished up two weeks worth of performances of the two one-act plays he's been in. The performances went pretty well with the exception of the one night that the lighting program was corrupted (tsk tsk tsk--it was a Mac computer...) and a dead Evan had to pick up his stuff and walk off the stage with the lights up. It was fun, but it's a relief for everybody that it's over, I think.