Monday, March 5, 2018

Status update ... what's new

Tons of projects in the works, some sewing, some knitting, some spinning, some orchids, some music ...

I've been practicing hand quilting to see if I want to forge ahead and hand quilt the wool applique that I did. My current impression: No. At least not the whole quilt. It's a slow process and I still haven't found the groove of it. My suspicion is it's something one needs to work at for years. So I will probably use the Singer treadle machine to do straight lines around each block, and perhaps do some free-motion quilting within the blocks. I purchased an embroidery foot for the machine, a silicon matt to cover the feed dogs and sewing area--the feed dogs on the 66 don't go down, so I have set the stitch length to 0 which stops them from moving, albeit they are still raised. But with the silicon matt over them, they don't interfere. I also purchased some special gloves that help grip the fabric. So far, free-motion on the treadle seems like a possibility... something that could actually be doable. There is no hurry; in the meantime I've got the top hanging in the studio room and it makes fab wall art.

This, which I'm currently sewing on my modern machine, will be an insulated casserole carrier:

I've had the pattern over a year and just got around to doing something with it yesterday. I'm making 2, the other one will be in these two fabrics:

Pretty, pretty!

I enjoyed hand stitching the wool applique quilt so much that I immediately started in on a new applique project. A bit smaller this time around; it will be a table scarf. In this picture the pieces are all laid out in place, a few pieces are stitched down. The stems will eventually be embroidered. Currently, they are just sketched in with chalk. Since I took the photo, I've made some progress on stitching. Again, no hurry. It's getting shuffled with the other projects.

Two more orchids blossomed this week! Well G-o-l-l-y-! The Lycaste which I bought last summer in bloom, put out a new bud and blossomed this week:

This flower does not last as long, as say, cattleya orchids, but it should be in bloom for at least a few weeks I think. One of my Phals also put out a new spike and is now opening it's blossoms. I love the deep color:

And, I was in the supermarket week before last and saw this Phalaenopsis amongst the others. It stood out to me immediately; I've read of these so-called peloric Phals and golly me, there was one waiting for me to pick it up! Peloric means it has a genetic mutation that, in this case, causes the upper petals to take on a shape similar to the lip. Normally, the top 2 petals are flat and wide open; on this one they, along with the lip, form a cup. How neat is that! Well! I couldn't leave it in the store, could I? No. It came home with me. :)

I'm noticing a definite color trend. Deep reds and reddish purples seem to be the couleur de jour.

Speaking of things following me home, I was in a local thrift store--one of my faves: Boomerang in downtown Plymouth last week and before I knew it, this was following me around. It ended up at my place as well:

It's an old Underwood No. 5 in working condition. Wow. I haven't spent much time at it yet, but the 5 minutes I spent testing out the 'action' immediately put all my modern digital electronics in perspective. I was amazed at the effect it had on my psyche, and it was, as I say, immediate. No plugging it in, no need for it to boot up, no need to hook up to the internet, no turning on the printer, no making sure the printer was on the wireless network, no hassle whatsoever! Feed it a sheet of paper, hit the keys and the end product is there. I love it! It feels good to be reminded that life needn't be so complicated. Having said that, I'm very grateful for the internet, what a resource! WoW!

Speaking of sewing, I made these little 'snap shut' purses a few weeks ago. I'm thinking of making more for our guild's sale table at this summer's Rumney Old Home Day. The closure is a clever bit... pieces of old carpenter's tape (the retractable, metal type). When enclosed a certain way, they cause the pouches to snap shut. Very clever indeed:

In other matters, we were spared the rather wicked storm that lashed out on the eastern seaboard last week. I woke up to about 4" of new snow the morning after and we had light, intermittent rain that day. Nothing like the high winds south of here. We did lose power, but only for about 40 minutes. Don't know why. A storm expected Wednesday night into Thursday this week, though, and it appears we will receive it.

Monday, February 19, 2018

My orchids ...

It's been a good winter for my orchids. I have been elated more than once to see blossoms on plants that either blasted their buds, or simply didn't produce any blooms, last year.

The sweet, sweet Phragmipedium ended up putting out two more blossoms following the one it was sporting when I purchased it last fall. All told, it was in bloom for at least 3 months after I brought it home.

I have 2 plants from the Cattleya Alliance and they both produced blooms this year. It takes forever for the buds to develop, grow, and mature. I mean forever. Really. I think it was 3 months--at least--from the time I first noticed a sheath developing on one, to when a blossom finally opened. The purple colored one has no id: I don't know what hybrid it is. It does not produce a sheath, the buds extend directly. It produced one, very pretty flower. The nice thing about these blooms is they also last a very long time. This one flower lasted almost 2 months:

The yellow/orange one produced 4 blossoms this year and I'm really chuffed about that because it did not produce any blossoms last year. These buds spent at least a month within a sheath (an envelope that looks at first like a new leaf forming, but sunlight shining through it reveals buds within; eventually the buds burst forth from the sheath.) and another month or two developing before opening up. This Cattleya just opened it's flowers last week; I expect to enjoy them through the whole month of March, no doubt.

In between the time the purple Cattleya and the orange Cattleya blossomed, my Dendrochilum Cobbianum blossomed. It was very exciting to witness the development of the inflorescences, each one eventually home to a multitude of minute blossoms. It has the scent of mowed hay! Ever so elegant:

I am ever so grateful for all this beauty.

Last Saturday I went down to Nashua, NH for the NH Orchid Society's annual orchid show. It was splendid! Oh my word, the profusion of flowers! I had little choice but to limit my purchases because of my current limited space to accommodate more plants. (But if things go as planned, I'll have more room in the not too distant future. :) ) I bought one species Phalaenopsis (Phalaenopsis Violacea) and a Cattleya Aurantiaca. Can't wait to see them in bloom.

Here are a few pictures from the orchid show:

There's also some very nice video footage of the show here (I did not take the video):

Thursday, February 15, 2018

And again ...

I have no words. I leave this spoken word poet to do the expressing ... (it contains a smidge of cuss words).

"The Wrong Side of History"

Monday, January 29, 2018

Another gem ...

This quotation crossed my path earlier this month. Definitely shareworthy.

Mastery lives quietly atop a mountain of mistakes. ~ Eric Greitens

A good one.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Catching up... Again!

Well golly! Last time I wrote here, we were just heading into the holiday season for 2017. Can you believe it? I hope everyone had beautiful holidays and wishing you all a wonderful New Year.

I made some resolutions right after Christmas, for the New Year. I'm leery of making resolutions because... well, you know. How many actually get accomplished? I am pleased to say that I have achieved one of my resolutions already! Yes! Yippee!

The wool applique quilt that I started last summer is now done... the top is done--I'll get to the quilting in a second. I had set all quilting aside late last summer; the autumn came so quickly when it arrived and one thing after the other kept me from piecing or applique. I hand stitched all the applique. I am more than pleased with how the top came out.

Now it needs to be quilted. I brought it to the local quilt shop last week to have a chat about possibilities. The consensus is that I should hand quilt it. !!! Come again? "Hand quilt it." Well, so be it. I currently have some layers of cotton and batting on a hoop and I'm practicing hand quilting in preparation for--what seems will be an enormous task--the quilt. Quite a bit of sputtering going on, some favorite curse words. It's tricky! It is definitely a knack to learn. I know I can do it, I've met harder challenges before, it seems to me. If my fingers can survive all the stabs they are getting while I learn, the coverlet may well get finished. All in all, I'm pretty excited about the prospect of quilting this piece by hand.

The other resolution I made was to finish the "Celtic Solstice" quilt, and that will be coming downstairs this week. I do all my piecing on the dining room table. I don't think it will take too long to finish, it is more than 3/4 done already.

Music has been exhilarating. We performed Handel's Messiah again in December. I played another Salon a few weeks ago. And most exciting for me is I'm learning the Debussy Preludes, Book 1. Oh, I love these pieces. I played number 2, "Voiles" for the Salon. I recorded it the following morning here at my place. Unfortunately, my piano is extremely out of tune at the moment, but if you can put up with that, here's the recording:

I'll be posting again real soon. I will try extra hard not to let this place lapse so long in between posts!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Catch up ...

It's been a bit too long since I wrote here! Truth is, the autumn was extraordinarily busy. I had so many loose ends in the garden to attend to--finally got the beds dug and transplants made. But let's admit it: Fall flew in like mad, then ushered winter weather in overnight. I have yet to get all my garden furniture indoors, and the roses have still to be protected. There is plastic to put in the entry room windows, the cellar to be cleared so the outdoors decor can fit. How in the world did it end up Thanksgiving already!?

Salons and concerts have come and gone since I last pecked these keys here. I played Debussy's "Clair de Lune" for a Salon in VT earlier this month on the night of the full moon. It was not recorded, so I decided to record it at home the following morning. My piano was a bit out of tune (as was I!). I am on a Debussy kick at the moment, working now on his Nocturne and the Ballade. "Clair de Lune":

Our orchestral concert was last Sunday and I think it went well. Beethoven's 7th Symphony is such a great piece of music!

I'm just starting the prelude to Bach's 3 cello suite and I'm very excited about that. Much work ahead of me there. Cello choir class has ended for the semester--already! But we'll be getting together again to rehearse some Christmas music for the Music Center's open house in early December. Rehearsals start next week for Handel's Messiah which I love so much. It's sheer joy to participate in this event.

Working on a knitted scarf, and teaching my neighbors how to weave a rug in Krokbragd style:

We wound enough warp to make her a 6' rug and another 6' rug for myself. It's going to take a lot of yarn, much more than I planned, but the result is absolutely fantastic. Such a thick, comfortable weave.

The birds are well, the outdoors is getting tucked in--slowly, the music is coming along. I've much to be grateful for on this Thanksgiving day. I spent the day at my neighbors and we played "pictionary", a game I'd never played before. What fun!

Hoping you who are reading his had a wonderful, bountiful Thanksgiving.

'Tis now the season.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Las Vegas ...

Profound sadness. Grief. I'd be remiss if I didn't post something.

I came upon this piece today and I think it's worth sharing. For my part--as a start, anyway--I've written my US Senators urging them to propose or support legislation to ban "bump stocks" which are used to convert a semi-automatic gun into an automatic one, making it effectively a machine gun. And also to ban silencers, and to keep the conversation on gun control going. I have been a supporter of the individual right to bear arms for some time, but there are limits. We have limits on free speech, even, for the greater good. I hope everyone will contemplate, meditate, pray, and take some action. This is a very sad and sorry state of affairs for our country.

It's Time for the End to our Prayers

Rev. Dr. James Howell
Myers Park United Methodist Church

"The human mind can’t process all this news. We feel dazed. A knot in the stomach. A kind of dark cloud has settled over the country. Orlando. Alton Sterling. Dallas. Philando Castile. Who’s next? and Where?
I wish I had a nickel for every time somebody has said about these horrors, “Our thoughts and prayers go out…” I’m a pastor; obviously I’m an advocate of praying. But I’ve tried to get inside God’s head and heart, and I wonder what God makes of our “thoughts and prayers.” God is grieving, to be sure. But I wonder if God wonders what we are looking for.
Back in Bible times, the people were praying during national calamities. God’s response? “These people draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Isaiah 29:13). The people gathered for special worship services and sang hymns – prompting God to say “I hate your festivals and take no delight in your assemblies. Take away from me the noise of your songs” (Amos 5:20). And why? If God didn’t want songs and prayers what did God want? The very next verse in Amos explains it all: “But let justice roll down like waters, righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
I can’t know how God feels about our “thoughts and prayers.” But I am positive God would be far more pleased if we would open our eyes, lift up our heads, get up off our knees, and go and do something. How pointless is it to continue to shudder over the news, and then ask God for comfort, when we aren’t doing anything to alter the conditions under which these killings continue to happen?
Why do these things happen? It’s no one thing. It’s a lot of things. But we get derailed, because somebody somewhere always has some vested interest in one of the things, so each one gets shot down (literally) and nothing changes. It is the whole toxic mess of woes that bedevils us. No one I know is optimistic things will change. But somewhere inside each of us, and in our collective national psyche, aren’t we “prisoners of hope” (Zechariah 9:12)? And what is hope anyhow? Not a naïve assumption things will just perk up tomorrow, or the more naïve assumption that our prayers will cause God to do a little razzle-dazzle magic and fix things for us. St. Augustine said that “Hope has two beautiful daughters. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see to it that they don’t remain the way they are.”
We prisoners of hope have to end our prayers, or find what the end of our prayers ought to be, which is deciding with great courage to do something. Something is profoundly wrong with regard to race in America. We can toss blame back and forth. But when will we engage in the long labor of listening, building trust, and insisting on equal treatment before the law? Something is terribly wrong about guns. Oh, the rights people leap forward and warn us society would crumble without even more guns! But what we’re doing now most clearly isn’t working.
Something is flat out crazy about the entertainment industry and our addiction to it. We are appalled by violence in the streets – but we clearly have a taste for it, since we flock in to movies and stare dumbly at TV shows where the shooting is constant.
Something is insanely wicked about government. Gridlock is too nice a term for what we’re saddled with. Laws and policies need changing, but one side is hell-bent on destroying any good idea the other side might happen to have. Something is embarrassingly woeful about our political process. We vote for the loudest, most shrill people who feed our fears and prejudices. Isn’t it conceivable that we might say Amen after our prayers and seek out leaders who are wise and good, who appeal to the best in us?
Something is out of kilter economically. Equal opportunity is a vain notion. White privilege is real, although whites can’t see it. Society is arranged for the benefit of white people. If you’re white and want to rise up and stomp on me for saying this, fine – but our denial of white privilege isn’t getting anybody anywhere. What if, for a change, we actually listened to people who aren’t white and gave them at least a little benefit of the doubt? And something is way out of sync with our education system. Educational equity is a pipe dream right now. We have settled for unequal education, and then we are surprised by the long-term results.
Something is killing us from the inside – and that is fear. Terrorists around the world try to induce fear. But we are clustering around fear ourselves quite well without their help. News media and pundits and politicians and just everybody fan the flames of fear. And there is a lot to be afraid of. But is it possible to stand up to our fears, to expose them and find ways to build a world that knows higher pursuits than security? Can we figure out that more and more force never resolves fear but only raises the stakes?
I could go on and on. Something is really wrong in America. Everything I have named is real. Each one is something that mortifies God. Pray if you wish – but God wants us to find the end to our praying and do something. With each one, something really can be done, and in a decade or two we really could have a safer society that would be more pleasing to the God we pray to for help. We can turn off any TV show where a gun is fired. We can resource our schools more equitably. We can elect different people. We could pass some gun law, any gun law, if only to make a statement. We could connect with people who are different instead of judging them. We could enthusiastically support our police and rebuild trust with them – but only if we also are willing to hold the small minority of them who exceed their authority accountable.
We can be different. We can be the people God uses to be the answer to our own prayers. That is, if we come to the end of our prayers, and do courageous things. The other night I heard Carrie Newcomer sing the most timely song I’ve ever heard: “If not now, tell me when?”"