Now or Never…

If there is one thing I have figured out this past year, it is that there is NEVER going to be a better time to “fix” something.  As I unpack and try to put “all my pieces back together again”, I have begun to just “do it”: “fix it”…in spite of all the mess that STILL surrounds daily life around here (huge painting project underway…wandering around in the dark is not advised).

Case in point:  My armoire.  Previously in my studio, now in my kitchen, it has been re-purposed.  (Don’t ask, I don’t have a clue where I am going to put everything that used to be in it!)   It is now going to hold those awkward things that take up too much space in the kitchen cabinets (that I don’t have).  Sigh.  I once lived in a house in Texas that had so much cabinet space in the kitchen that I stored my Christmas ornaments there!!!  Always thought that when the Texan men finally got women to come, they wanted to be sure they stayed…hence, truly lovely bathtubs, and LOTS of kitchen cabinets.

Back to my story.  We managed to put the armoire back together.  (A challenge in itself.) Armoires were designed to be “portable”, so they come apart into (many) flat pieces with assorted hardware and keys… did I mention that it is French? and that we originally bought it in pieces?   When it was in my studio, the purple shelves (not original) seemed “arty”…in my kitchen, not so much.  After years of use, all were looking a bit ragged, as well.  New shelves were not an option.

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I guess I could have put them in place, hoping to get back to them at some point…but, I didn’t.

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Minor victories over the chaos feel SO good.

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A Truly Thoughtful Gift

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My son gives “good gifts”.  They may come wrapped in a used brown paper bag, stapled together at the top.  They may have been found by the side of the road.  They are without fail, special and chosen thoughtfully.  His most recent gift was beautifully wrapped, and probably too pricey beyond words.  It made me cry when I opened it…

I have coveted a Sophie Digard scarf FOREVER.  I love their detail, their colors, their craftsmanship.  I have sought them out in shops and I have pored over them online.  I have even tried crocheting my own version (some photos in past posts, “Inch by Inch” and “The Inherent Danger of Flat Surfaces…”).  Whenever I get to San Francisco, I try to stop in one particular store in Cow Hollow so that I can fondle (and admire) the latest Digard offerings and then, gently (and reluctantly) hand them back to the shopkeeper.

What makes them so special?  They are hand crocheted(!) by what must be a whole town full of women in Madagascar.  Generally made of merino wool, each lace-weight strand of yarn can be made up of sixty strands…all of different colors…yielding richly varied colorations and stunning detail.  IMG_5169Teeny tiny motifs, hundreds of colors, beautiful workmanship…truly beyond practicality, and, well into masterpiece.  Being casually handed such a gift as a “Thanks, Mom” at his rehearsal dinner will be one of those moments I will remember and cherish forever.  Like I say, it made me cry.  (But that won’t keep me from wearing it every chance I get!)

Unexpected, Crazy Fun

IMG_0025We had so much fun being just a little crazy last night.  On her way out the door yesterday, Kate mentioned that there was a field trip planned for today (trip on a boat, sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge), and by the way, if she decided to go (instead of staying behind in her office to catch up on work) she might need a hat for the “Crazy Hat Contest”.  It has been SO long since I got to help with a “school project”!  Thought I would see what might “inspire”…  I cruised the local JoAnn’s and had a lot of fun spending about ten bucks: grabbed the birdhouse on the way in the door and sort of went with that.   Added a bit of paint, some great red wire, a little orange polka-dotted pinwheel (25 cents!!), and a package of laser cut wooden buttons…every single thing was “on sale”!  (Also, bought a great little purple flower pot (99 cents), thinking it might make a cool base for the “hat”…but it got traded out pretty quickly for the black and white one in the photo  (It is actually a hat, imagine that…)   When she got home from work, I must have looked like I was having way too much fun, because it wasn’t long before we were both playing with the idea of a birdhouse hat…a bit of raiding in her closet and from her desk, and voila!

Given that she works with a bunch of engineers, the hat we came up with is decidedly low-tech…but, bet it makes you smile!

ps:  Update…Our hat won!  Prize to be announced…hmmmm

Wedding Paper…DONE!

And, not a moment too soon.  So, here is a quick look.

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Find your name.  Take the train to Capitola?

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There’s your table!

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Wedding Favors…to remember the day.  Tickets to GREAT times.

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Special wishes for the bride and groom…

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Don’t forget the cake…lots of cake.

 

Bird Songs?

Birds and I have never had a great relationship.  I have noticed that a lot of mixed media art has a bird in it…As a matter of fact, I have heard that this is one sure way to “improve” a piece of work…to “just put a bird on it”!   I DO like feathers.  A lot.  Have a great collection of wonderful vintage ones, mostly scavenged from ladies’ hats.  My mom still has a stunning one totally covered with beautifully patterned green feathers.  I wonder when she last wore that one to church…hmmm….

Years and years ago, while John was in grad school, I taught art (and lots of other things) in a middle school.  To say we were living the struggling student life, is a kind way to describe our life style.  Thus, to save gas (a whole 29 cents a gallon) and money, I biked the couple of miles to school.  (My students had a great time making “alterations” to my bike…but that is another story.)  Along the route, there was one tree that had an angry bird.  Every time I rode by, it would swoop, chatter, dive-bomb…and, worse…

That said, our new spot is a bird haven.  Our trees are home to at least ten different kinds of birds…probably more.  Not sure why.  Maybe because we are at the very top of the hill?   It seems each tree has its own bird family: cardinals, robins, martins, swallowtails, sparrows, flickers, doves…In the early morning (reeeeally early…about 4:30 this time of year), they begin to “sing”.  ALL of them.  It is a cacophony of bird NOISE.  They “sing” all day long.  It has become the background music to our life here on the hill.

A few years ago, my sister gave me a bird house made by a vendor at the Elephants Trunk.  I never wanted to put it outside in New York, because I was certain that more than likely its inhabitants would be mice, rather than birds.  So the house sat in the basement for years.  It got scooped up in our move and was rather unceremoniously plopped on the wall outside the kitchen window.  It was winter.  One day in the spring, I saw a bird go in!  How did it fit in that small hole?  And, then another flew in…(re-called that dive-bombing bird)…As we continued to watch throughout the spring, we saw the two of them, flying in and out all day long.  They could hit that little hole, swooping in from hundreds of feet in the air…swoosh, right into the hole. (Entertainment is cheap in the country.)   In and out, all day…STILL!  And then, a week ago, we discovered why…

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Junior apparently has a big appetite!

Not Exactly Twiddling My Thumbs…

IMG_5062In spite of the fact that so far, no work has come out of either of my new studios, there IS some “work” getting done and news to tell.  I have had some work and articles published in two magazines in the last few weeks.  The summer issue of Pages, published by Interweave Press has my stenciled journal in it…they actually extended the original four pages to six and I was very happy with the way that it turned out.  (I got a bit nervous about the whole thing when the editor started referring to it as the “peek-through journal”…sounded a bit racy, and not what I had in mind at all.  But, the article looks great! (Photos, page by page are in the entry “Can You Hear It?”, posted July 23, 2013)  And, somewhat serendipitously, my “kimono” (photos, “Finished…Maybe”, February 26, 2013), part of a gallery exhibit at the City Quilter in New York City last year, caught the eye of a visiting editor of the German magazine Patchwork Professional…and there it is on page 37 of the 01/2014 issue!  In German… sure hope it says good things!

IMG_5071My son is getting married soon and I have been tapped to do the “paper stuff”.  I designed their guest book…and, am very pleased with the way it turned out.  I started with a rather large wire-bound book of watercolor paper (Cachet), randomly stenciled pages with  alcohol-inks, and cropped and pasted down photos to tell their story.  It helped that I had lots of interesting photos to choose from: I never realized just how much they have travelled!  It will take a brave person to be the first to write in it…but, after that, I am hoping that the photos jog memories of shared good times…and that the messages written in by their guests reflect that.IMG_5070

Using similar techniques and colors (purple, by special request), I am also devising place cards, table ID’s and dinner favors.  All is taking place in an old logging camp up in the mountains above Santa Cruz, ceremony in a redwood cathedral grove (stunning), party in the barn…guests to arrive by steam engine…hence, the cabinet cards, train schedules, and tickets…(those are still UFOs…but, working on them…)IMG_5073 IMG_5074 IMG_5078

I complained enough to my daughter about the brown curtains in her living room, that she finally just told me to “just make some”…working on that…WHITE and lovely.IMG_5086 IMG_5104

And, I guess the post script to this entry is that I have never given up on finishing the mystery knit-along I started with my daughter in December.  I feel like the very last runner crossing the finish line, long, LONG (months and months) after everyone else.  AND, the very sad thing is that it isn’t because I haven’t been working on it.  I have…almost EVERY DAY…obviously, ripping out far more than I knit in!…but I finally conquered Clue 4 (thank you, lifeline), and am more than half through Clue 5!  Then, DONE!  I have learned a lot in the process, and am truly glad I stuck with it…IMG_5082No studio?  No problem…in this house, any flat surface can (and does) serve!!!!