Category Archives: Creativity

30 days hath November

porch There were glorious days, warm ones and cold ones that had me scurrying about freshening bed linens and garden beds, planting bulbs and dealing with leaves and leaves and still more leaves! Oak leaves 12 inches long!

collages2

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore was only available as an audio book from my library. I debated and then reserved my space. When I saw it was 10 CDs, I wasn’t sure I would persist. But I did. her masterful storytelling kept me company as I dug and pulled and trimmed and planted a garden bed and then kept me company as I restored the edging of our old quilt with fresh binding. Then I listened to it all over again!

I began the quilt long years ago. When I started the class with Lois Smith, I was excited by the possibility of making – start to finish  a quilt for our bed. Under her kind, clear, tutelage, I learned so much about color, pattern drafting and machine quilting. But life, or a kind of death in the specter of fire, happened and rearranged our lives for a season. When it was over, nothing was quite the same and I chose not to work on this autumn themed quilt. I moved on and took several more classes with Lois and finished two more quilts. Sometime, I finished it off and hung it  in our family room in winter. Then I started using it, the weight and comfort just right. It was a shock to realize it is now a shabby beauty, warm and cozy.

quilt

Autumn color can be a long, slow, unfolding here. Tender plants first, some trees seeming to forget to change, high winds swirling leaves around steps and doors. Holly berries ripped from their stems. One has to look for the beauty in all the pain and dying of this month.

golden tree   ruby trees   trees   oak   yellow   lighting

And, of course, we went chasing the super moon. It doesn’t look all that exciting, but the chase was fun. One more to come on December 14.  November moon

squirrel Of course there are always squirrels running to and fro and sometimes hanging from their toes to eat the suet cakes.  Woodpeckers, Flickers, Titmice and Nuthatches are the usual diners. But one day, I happened to catch this Bluebird too!bluebird   Things are always a bit fuzzy through the screen and glass, but there is no mistaking the color of these beautiful birds.

One of the surprises of the garden cleanup were stalks of Hosta seeds hiding deep within a large plant. Hosta seed pods  I’ve done a little reading and I’m not sure I will try to grow plants from the seed, but the pods are quite interesting. Hosta seed pods

This season of apparent dying and seed planting has been brought home to me these past days in the sudden and untimely death of my niece-in-love. At the several services we attended, even her pastor, who knew her well, marveled at the packed church as people came to show their love and respect for this lovely, quiet woman. She sowed seeds of love and acceptance in everyone she met. I pray that those seeds will bear much fruit in the coming days and years as her family struggles with her death and the changes in the home and for her children who were being home schooled.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.

tree

“I”m trying as hard as I can.”

Those words were spoken quite a few years ago by my young niece at a tea party as she checked herself on her manners. Many days they seem appropriate for me to speak about my life and intentions.

The beginning of October, Pastor Di wrote her blogging plan for the month would be “31 days of Paying Attention.” While I cannot hope to imitate her writing in even a small way, I did think it would be an easy focus to get me back on track writing.  After all, I notice, I pay attention, I think about things. YOU notice that I have no posts for October. Somehow my paying attention became a serious introspection that required processing, sifting and interpreting.

ear;y morning

Even simple things like the early mornings and dark evenings that I love, became thought provoking. So, I’m finishing out the month with a few observations, a few attempts to notice, to pay attention.

  1.   candle light   Looking down into the clear glass jar, I see the illusion of light trapped by sold walls. One of the meanings of my name is light. It is easy for me to feel like light trapped. We are all meant to be light carriers. To shine. To brighten the darkness. And I wonder if I do.

day lily2.   One morning I stepped outside to cut a last bloom for the table, I glanced at the Elephant Ears with all the veins and shading of green glowing. Then I noticed the mist had settled like a dusting of silver.  elephant earSo beautiful and different from the large beads that usually form. I began to look through the garden and noticed other changes. Like the “skin” of the aged leaves no longer supported the droplets has they had.

leaf collage

3.   I confess: I much, much, prefer coffee to tea. But tea does have a small place in my life and cupboard. I like the thought of taking tea, but I don’t actually like tea. And I have tried many. Loose teas, tea bags. Fancy tea rooms, kitchen tables. Green, white, red, black, fermented…

I have lovely tea friends who gift me with tea cups and accessories, all of which makes tea time charming. And Dear Aunt Dolly, urged me to take the family spooner, so many years ago. spooner  It holds a small assortment of silvery spoons from family kitchens, long closed.  All at the ready for tea time.

I grew up in a tea drinking family. Teabags were common and easily discarded in trash or compost. And a great annoyance if by chance one burst open or one slipped from a dish and left a stain. Recently, I became aware that people were paying attention to those insignificant tea bags! They were looking closely at the construction and the dyed fiber of them. They were noticing even how the drying stains could be art! Hmm, I had to see for myself, so I began drinking tea, or at least boiling water and soaking tea bags.  tea bags Different teas, herbs, spices – it was intriguing. While they dried, I watched tea bag artists on YouTube! Then, I hunted up my stamping supplies and tried my hand at a simple project.card making

And I made a note card. One.  note card  I wrote a note and sent it off to an artist. Have you looked at a tea bag lately?

4.   A pathetic photograph of the charming Woolly Bear – Woolly Bear  Those fuzzy, wuzzy fall caterpillars, thought to predict winter weather. A friend mentioned that he had seen one. It made me realize that I had not seen one in a while. Pyrrharctia Isabella (Isabella Tiger Moth). A little research and I am amazed! These woolly creatures emerge in the fall and look for a dark and sheltered place to hang out over winter — FROZEN! True! They freeze solid and survive because they are designed with cryoprotectant in the tissues! I love knowing this! And yes, this deserves lots of !!!!! I’m on the look-out for Woolly Bears now.

autumn

5.   A post on Instagram asked for our earliest memories of Trick or Treat. The flashback was immediate. I was perhaps 6, maybe 7. Dad had walked my younger sister and I down the street, we visited some neighbors and collected our loot in those scary looking paper mache pumpkins of those days.  I loved dressing up in costume and for some reason, I think I was dressed as a gypsy in a fancy skirt and bolero.  Even with street lights, it was very dark as there were still some leaves on the trees.  We walked as far as the Rosenburger’s home almost at the end of our long block. It was very large and on a very large lot, bigger than any other on the street. The Rosenburger’s  were very elderly and I hope they enjoyed our childish visit.

As we turned from the door to walk down the steps, well, that was when it happened.

I became aware, alert, enthralled, if you will, with the darkness, the windy darkness and the swirling, rustling dry leaves. I hear some folk don’t like to hear the wind, do you?  On that night, so very long ago, in the mystery of wind, it became my friend.

There was strong wind the other day, so I stepped outside. The dry leaves swirled around my feet, whispering. And the wind wrapped itself around me like a shawl and I was 6 again.

leaves and needles

 

 

 

International Tatting Day (updated)

Tatting: Lace made by hand with fine thread and a small shuttle. I believe this piece came from the hands of my Grandmother Anna. I remember as a very small child standing by the side of her rocking chair as thread became beauty. It was a magical thing and I have never forgotten her beautiful hands with their long slender fingers, her wide gold wedding band and the tatted lace.  I think this might be where my love of thread began.

Anna's things The earrings were hers, always worn. The silver, a piece of hers as well. Small tokens can bring memories to life.

Update:  link to a past post with a photo of Anna and beloved August

I found a tatting shuttle in an antique store. It has a bit of thread attached.tatting

Making Connections

For me, one of the wonderful things about this time of internet communication is meeting people around the world. I want to mention two lovely Australian ladies whose blogs share creativity and kindness so generously.

Kerryanne English blogs at Shabby Art Boutique. This month she has started her 6th year of Simply Christmas entries. In the first post she introduced her beautiful 2015 Christmas Planner – free to download, which I was happy to do. In the next post, she wrote her thoughts on planning. Christmas Planner   I’ve been a planner, but somehow in the last couple of years, I forgot how essential this ingredient is for relaxed celebration. I find that planning – anticipating – can really add so much joy.

I used to keep wonderful records of menus and cookie baking marathons and gifting. I’m starting again to keep this record of joy sharing. Kerryanne is posting ideas for gifts and décor as well as continuing her Friday link-up parties full of inspiration.

Then, I would like to introduce Jennifer Reynolds – Jenny of ELEFANTZ. Jenny is always so generous in sharing her lovely talent in stitchery. She has also been gathering creative ideas for gift giving from other bloggers and kindly sharing the links.

While embroidery is an old and mostly abandoned interest of mine, I was inspired by her holiday table runner last year to create one of my own with fabrics available here.

design   And, I almost forgot – food – you will find tempting recipes at both sites! Have a look?

October Sheltering

Our bluebird friends are visiting their old nest box again. Other birds are invisible to me as they chatter and investigate trees for holes and shrubs for cozy places for winter nights.

The squirrels are frantic, running here and there with acorns and black walnuts from across the street, burying them, then futilely patting leaves on top.

The deer are dressed for hunting season in deep, drab coats. They wander the yard aimlessly having eaten all the apples and pears they could reach or their squirrel friends tossed down to them.

Overhead the geese fly and chat about moving south or staying in place.

I imagine that you, dear reader, are adding cozy touches to your home and securing it against the winter to come. I’ve dressed the beds in layers of blankets and comforters, added afghans and quilts and pillows to couches and chairs and made a number of batches of applesauce – my wintry comfort food! This week I also pulled out my old potpourri crock pot to warm up the house with cozy scent.

2015-10-22 Spices, apple peels and core, water and time = delicious scent.

A scent I didn’t know I missed came to me the other evening as I opened the door – wood smoke. Someone had a fire going in their home. Now I miss the scent of burning leaves and wood from old fashioned barrels and pits and stoves as I venture out in the cool of the day. Our long ago neighbor cooked and heated her home with wood.  I remember there was always a curl of smoke from the chimney and the scent of hearth on the air.

One of my long term projects is finally finished and adding a cozy touch in the guest room and a smile to my face whenever I look in.  yo-yos   My years long project of scrappy yo-yos is finally sewn together! It was my birthday gift to myself to complete it. I remember when I was very young that we had a yo-yo coverlet.  The fun of it and the weaving in and out of little fingers stayed hidden in memory until I saw this style had a revival of sorts. Mine is only bed warmer or foot cozy size although my sister pointed out that I can always add to it!  560 little circles gathered and stitched together. yo-yos  I rather enjoy the repetitive hand sewing as a winter activity. The nostalgia of it drew me to the book shelf and my favorite childhood story book. story book   It is certainly the worse for wear having entertained quite a few children since I received it as a gift and lived for a while in a dark attic before coming back to me. I don’t have many things from my childhood so I am delighted to have this book. The illustrations are wonderful.

Take a peek.    story book   Yes, the naughty Gingerbread Boy. There are many classic stories in it but my all time favorite is a mysterious, creative and delicious adventure which is probably totally responsible for my need to always have butter on my pancakes. I loved this little family!   IMG_6869

 

 

 

Country gold

Heavy weighted fog pressed down, but along the roads and parking lots, there were golden bells proclaiming spring! I captured these if full ring outside the library. forsythia

Inside, I captured Melissa Michael’s new book and Karen Kingsbury’s too. At home Jeff Goins new book had arrived!

book stack A bounty of riches waits on my table, urging me on through my work sessions, teasing me with promise of inspiration, fresh insights and ponderings.

I have followed Melissa and Jeff on their blogs for a number of years. And while I don’t read much fiction, I do enjoy Karen Kingsbury. Her new series, Angels Walking, is compelling. This is book two. Now for some long quiet evenings!

jonquil

During the longest, coldest winter, I sorted through my sewing and crafting things like a squirrel in semi-hibernation turning over her cache of nuts and acorns looking for choice specimens to savor.  While at first it was almost a sad endeavor, I now feel the freshness in it. Encouraged by the writing of Bonnie Grey, Cheri Gregory and Kathy Lipp, I came to see that my stash had actually become a hindrance to creativity and productivity.

Cheri had a great post that helped me. Projects get interrupted in my life and when I go back to them, sometimes I couldn’t figure out where I has stopped and what I should do next. My notes, if any, where like a code I couldn’t crack. And so I would set them aside, again. Procrastination. Frustration.

After reading her post, I went through my supplies and created a small collection of future projects and wrote out my plan for each in as much detail as I could. If I didn’t have a plan, I chose not to keep it. I freed myself of leftovers from past quilting projects and other crafts this way too. And the good news? I have actually been sewing again! I’m finishing things, and fluffing the guest room. Projects seem fresh and exciting. And more good news – I’ve found a place to gift the overflow, investing in the creative lives of young women. This makes me smile, big!

The plans?  Itemized and amplified to included any other needed items; typed, saved, printed! No little scraps of paper written in mysterious code!

goldfinch

A Simple Gift

snow day    The words of the old Shaker song go round in my head. Finding myself in “the place just right” seems hard some days – like the other day when I realized that the inkjet cartridge had leaked black all over lovely wood and then I picked up the wrong can of paint and though I thought it looked a bit dark – it was wet… I went on painting. And then I had to paint again. <sigh> I know, in the grand scheme of life, not so big a deal but it is the little things some days that seem to overflow the cup. What do you do with those days? When the wind blows hard and there are even waves in the birdbath.

IMG_4512

In 1985, it was really big deal to have our beloved Nana diagnosed with dementia. We tried keeping her at home with helpers, but the disease took her away in giant steps. Too soon, for her safety and well being, it became a necessity to place her in a care facility. It was a time of busy grief.

Christmas was coming. I had so much on my mind that day I drove the beltway – from where and to where – I no longer remember. But on that drive, the thought came to me that we could give her an album quilt for Christmas. Only one problem. I had no idea what an album quilt really was but I thought of blocks, large ones, that would tell a story, the story of her life.

I went to a small quilt shop with my idea and the staff was so helpful with the project from beginning to end; even supplying fabric from personal stashes when I cut the border fabric wrong and there was not enough to finish.

I sent fabric and the plan out to family and everyone worked on squares that said something about her life. Everyone worked quickly, taking comfort in being able to do something, anything, to bring some comfort to her, and ourselves. Soon, all the blocks were back and it was time to make the quilt.

I had never made a quilt before…

Sewing the blocks and borders together was the easy part. Then came backing and batting and I recall taping it to my kitchen floor as the only place to stretch it out and layer it. Finally it was pined together and ready to quilt.

I had never made a quilt before…

I called my friend Lucy. She was a Southern girl with a country background. Did she know how to quilt? “Quilting should enhance your design, don’t do too much.” What did that mean?! I stitched some, and then some more. Then came the binding – and somehow – it was done – by Christmas.Nana's quiltThe quilt became a great gift to us as we felt we could wrap her in our love. Nana used the quilt for 4 1/2 years. At first the staff thought it a nuisance, then it changed their view of this wonderful woman. It gave her an identity, a life; it became a conversation point. It reminded them that she was loved and cared about.

There is nothing fancy about the quilt but it is now a family treasure, faded, worn and soft.

And today? That gift to Nana, opened a space for me. For when the wind blows hard, the ink spills, the paint goes on wrong… there is a calm that comes with fingering fabrics, hearing the whirl of the machine.

                   quilt     quilt

We woke to snow today, rather like a celebration to remember Nana on her birthday, with love.

Loretta    1906 – 1990

Nana