Monday, February 27, 2006

It's COLD outside!!!

I guess everyone in the Northeast and maybe the entire NORTH feels the cold today! Normally I don't mind it much, unless there's a wicked wind, which there is NOT today, but there was yesterday... But I've had a relapse of the bronchitis and I'm feeling the cold, feeling tired, gloomy and depressed. Just when I was feeling fine again, boom, I guess I over-did it. This is/was my first bout with bronchitis and I'm beginning to understand just how nasty it can be.

Our January and February journal quilts are due in Houston one way or another by March first. I emailed mine today and hope they make it through the crowds of other almost-last-minute folks and into the special exhibits email box. I'm not totally thrilled with either piece, but that's the way it goes sometimes. And sometimes others really LIKE what I'm not that pleased with, so who's to say what is what. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that's what!

My own email box is beginning to gather jpegs since I'm curating two shows at the moment. One is a special art quilt exhibit to be held at the State Quilt Guild of New Jersey's show in June by our wonderful little Eclectic Quilter's group. There are about a dozen of us in the group with varying ages, experiences, talents, and personalities - just as one would expect in a good group. We meet once a month taking turns hostessing. So far, I've escaped that duty - partly because I'm a relatively new member to the group, partly because I live farthest away from everyone else, partly because I live in a relatively small townhouse, and partly because I haven't volunteered. To say I dislike having company is a gross understatement - and it doesn't even matter WHO the guest are. Some day I really should overcome my phobia...

The other show I'm curating is really only a show proposal and it's for Fiber Revolutions at a national museum. I never knew how difficult it could be to get 35 artists to be linear enough to send in all their information in on time. And perhaps I underestimated my own abilities to keep all this stuff straight and in some sort of decent order for myself. Woe is me! O well. One day at a time and it will all be accomplished one way or another.

But all I want to do is play with my stuff... :(

Friday, February 24, 2006

I'm CREATING again!!!

It's been over three weeks since I've felt up to doing much of anything creative. That bronchitis really took a toll on me... but today I was up-and-at-'em once again, with the sewing machine humming and the computer/printer, too. I'm working on my 2006 Journal Quilts - so I can't share those. But I'm also in the midst of designing a quilt for the Fabri-Quilt booth in Chicago for Spring Quilt Market. The theme is "Victorian" which is both broad and limiting at the same time... The fabrics they sent are yummy, if you like traditional floral prints... Alas, most of them are way outside my comfort zone, but that is what pushes me to new creative heights! Or so I hope... For the record Fabri-Quilt fabrics ARE really yummy - they are SO soft, the colors are luscious, and they sew beautifully. They have, of course, a wide range of designs and patterns to choose from, and for each particular assignment, the artists are limited to what the company selects and sends us. So while I love their fabrics, I'm not particularly fond of the traditional patterns.

I've been playing around in my mind with various ways to create a 30 square inch, Victorian-themed art quilt and have decided to use my Grandfather's old photos to bring the Victorian theme to life. The quilt itself will, no doubt, be far from traditional. But the photos will bring tradition to life without any problem whatever - or so I hope!

Here are the fabrics I did NOT choose to use in my project. They're fine, but just not "me."

And here are the fabrics that I WILL be using... (click on the photo and you'll get a larger image.)

I've computer printed some of the photos directly on to the back side of two different printed fabrics. I think they came out OK - we can only hope they work well in the final piece! I may need to paint the pink ones a bit to tone it down a bit. Right now, that pink is awfully jarring...

Here are some of the photos printed on transfer sheets and ready to transfer to the back of several of the fabrics above - the 4 on the right hand side of the photo, actually. I'm more than hoping that the photos transfer well - but, of course, that's always a gamble as to how they turn out. And these are all rather large, making the transfer process (which needs to be done quickly) a bit of a challenge.

As you can see, there's a lot of "hope" in all of this, as in "I sure hope this works!" But at least I'm finally back in the studio having fun again. Hooray for that!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I'm Back!

I've had bronchitis for the past two weeks or so and am finally getting back some of my strength + joy de vivre! Deadlines have been creeping up so much of the past 24 hours was spent in finding photos, filling out appropriate forms, creating artist statements, writing out checks, blah, blah, blah, and getting things to the post office in hopes of meeting the deadlines. Such is life!

But today I went on an outing and I now understand why so many quilt artists create quilts with fish, coral, and all sorts of things underwater. My visit to the Jenkins Aquarium in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ was a total escape from routine living. I never go to the shore during the "in" season since I hate crowds and am allergic to the sun. But going to the shore in the "off" season is delightful, although sometimes rather intemperate... Today was cloudy but there was little wind, so walking the boardwalk was good, refreshing, and envigorating.

As to the Aquarium, despite having to navigate around several busloads of elementary school kids, piles of strollers, and lots of squeals of delight, I was able to immerse myself in a facsimile of the south seas and it was marvelous. The colors, of course, are the first thing to strike a person as they see all those almost neon colored fish swimming around with gay abandon (or trapped frenzy, depending upon one's take on the situation). The next thing to capture my attention was the coral - my goodness, but what marvelous textures abound underwater! Snorkeling must be one great adventure after another...

This tank was lit with a 'black light.'

For the best viewing, click on each photo and you'll have an enlarged image - all the better to see. Enjoy! I certainly did.

Monday, February 13, 2006

February Snow Storm

Since I'm still stuck home sick with this years' version of the flu/cold, my daily pleasures have come from window gazing. Hope you enjoy the views!

Below is a true gymnast working hard to extract seeds from our now perchless feeder. A snow storm will bring out all sorts of ingenuity in the resident wildlife!

Another gymnast working hard for his lunch!

Tonight's sunset...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Birdwatching, Recovery and Coon Stories...

When I'm sick, a sure sign of recovery is when I'm back to watching the daily antics of my feathered friends. After 5 days in bed with this years' version of the flu, I'm finding solace in my buddies once again. Hope you enjoy them half as much as I do!
Here's a Chickadee and Titmouse on the suet/log feeder just outside my kitchen window. The white line down the middle is the window sashing - sorry about that!

And a White Throated Sparrow on the tray feeder attached to my deck railing.

My big buddy, Rose-Breasted Woodpecker, amply displaying his namesake as he surveys my deck from the rail.

And my little Downy buddy just outside the kitchen window - he's actually getting so I can stand right by the window (unmoving, of course) and gaze directly into his eye. He knows I'm there, but stays unless there's an abrupt movement. He's really quite a cute little guy, even up this close! Or maybe especially up this close...

But the real antics have been occuring at night on our deck when the friendly neighborhood racoon comes around for her and her family's share of the bird seed. I have one of those marvelous squirrel deterrent feeders that's supposed to swish anything too heavy right off the perch.
Here's a photo of said feeder taken awhile ago - still in perfect condition and serving two winter Goldfinch and one Nuthatch quite nicely.

Anyway, the spinning perch idea may work with squirrels, but it definitely does NOT work to deter racoons. Two nights ago, Momma Coon came around and simply knocked the feeder pole and all down to the deck floor with a nice resounding crash. Mind you, the support pole extends out of a standard patio umbrella stand - which she also managed to topple... The top of the feeder spilled open to allow some seeds for the hungry varmits and the bottom perch totally disengaged from the unit. Now humans can do that, but coons aren's supposed to do that... So yesterday, wrapped tightly in my flannel nightie with a wool scarf around my neck, I braved the cold weather to upright the stand, fix the feeder as best I could, and await another coon encounter.

At 12:35am, coon mama and company returned for an easy snack - this time, they were unable to topple my stand. I had tied it to the deck railing... which probably will only last a couple of nights, but it lasted last night. So Coon tried to mount the perch, and lo and behold, said perch simply disengaged, due to the rough treatment from the previous night! So several coons were scolding one another loudly as they waddled away from the easy food source last night. Turns out it wasn't such an easy food source after all.

This morning, the birds were only slightly confounded by the lacking of the perch - most had no trouble adapting themselves to clinging at the food ports and selecting their favorite seeds. Of course, Momma Cardinal can't manage that trick, but she's not supposed to sit on such feeders anyway, according to the books. Tell HER that, however, and you have a different story. But for now, she'll just have to settle with eating the fallen seeds like her mate, poor thing.

We'll see what happens tonight, however. The perch is gone. The pole secured - as well as a sick old lady can secure a pole when she really is too sick to care. And, one rarely wins when it comes to encounters with the coon population. They're bold, clever, dexterous, wiley, cunning, curious, funny and even a tad cute. Messy, too, of course. Noisy and nosey, when the occassion warrant it, as well. And the babies are totally adorable... which is something else altogether.