5/25/2018

Name that feather!!!

When I first began walking in my forest I started collecting the interesting feathers I would find...I have a vase of them sitting on the fire place mantel.  Most were easy to identify but others took some sleuthing by us.

The other day I found this feather in the garden and a specific bird did not come to mind readily.  So I went to one of my favorite sites... Feather Atlas ..
 (  https://www.fws.gov/lab/featheratlas/   )  When you want to identify an unknown feather, you click on "Identify Feather." That  opens a tool allowing you to classify your feather by color, pattern, and other optional characters, and then run a search for feathers with similar characteristics.  It is amazing and we quickly knew our feather was from a juvenile mourning dove. 

We have a lot of wild turkeys in the forest and their feather patterns differ widely on various parts of their body and are so beautiful... But my favorite feather to find is from a red-shafted Northern Flicker which we have year round.














They are aptly named because their wing feathers do indeed have a red shaft.







When their wings are spread the red shaft make a great visual design.




And speaking of birds.....bald eagles nest in the trees near the lodge in Alaska.  I thoroughly enjoy watching them if I visit in the summer.  Especially seeing the young wobble about getting up enough courage for their first flight.  My daughter in law took this great shot just recently of one sitting on the post of their deck.. If you look very closely you can barely  see Mt Iliamna and Mt. Redoubt across the inlet..


5/23/2018

The garden soothes my soul

 

I love the yellows of early spring.  The doronicums have just finished and now the yellow iris are stealing the show.  It's hard to focus on any other color.  I have no annuals because of the water situation so I am dependent on drought-tolerant perennials which are like a parade of visitors coming by for just a short visit and then they are gone for another year.  For now the iris are fabulous..
Another yellow I am anxiously awaiting is this yellow species rose "Harrison" It is impossible to propagate by stem cutting and not easy to get going by a root division.  But once well established it will last for years and years and in the future someone will wonder who was the idiot that planted this so close to the porch.  One small rose has opened near the bottom and you can see it is loaded with buds.

I have coddled and fussed over this plant for several years but I think I have it well established now...  Sometimes called the "pioneer  rose" and  old homesteads may have collapsed with age and this rose would live on.

Once established it is common for them to reach this size


 
 
 

The next glamor girl and just opening is this pink oriental poppy.  If you look closely you can see that it also has enough buds to keep it showy for a couple weeks at least.  The flowers are about 8" across.


Out in the old greenhouse which has a floor of rocks these columbine flourish with no watering or care.  I've transplanted them to the garden with no luck and gathered the seed to plant with no luck. But without fail they give me this dazzling display each spring and the only catch is I have to walk clear out to the greenhouse to see it.

The pink one in the foreground is double and reminds me of fancy bloomers.








I have been busy spraying the weeds and hauling around a 2-gallon spray tank is hard on an old body so I converted a golf bag cart into a carrier for my spray tank.  Whenever I find one at the thrift store I buy them and have several I have converted to different uses in the garden.














And last but not least...remember the collage of rusty tools I gathered last summer to be "garden art"  Well it is shaping up nicely and I occasionally add another old tool to the lot.  Even the clematis "Bill Mackenzie" is growing like crazy and I will probably be sorry I planted  it there.....




 

5/18/2018

"The One!!!"

My son has a fishing lodge and used to travel and do sportsman's shows to promote his business.  On one such trip he met the lady of dreams and pursued her even as he traveled around the country.  In the spring he called and assured me he had met "The One".  She had quit her job and was driving cross country all the way to Alaska to join him and was stopping by to meet me on the way.

I adored her immediately and that was 1994...26 years ago and I still adore her.

Living so far apart I'm lucky to get to see her once or twice a year but this year has been special.  She came for a long visit in the winter and we had almost a week together at the wedding and she just flew out for Mother's Day for a few whirlwind days.

She treated us to dinner, helped me with many things that are hard for me and offered to drive me anywhere I needed to go and that was a lot... DH is great about driving me but it seems after all the doctor visits I hate to ask for extra trips for little things.  We caught up on all of that plus several white chocolate mochas along the way.

When she was here earlier she had gifted me to an introduction to yoga workshop and I have been going every week since and do it about four times a week at home.. So on this visit she was able to go to class with me twice and it was so much fun. Even though I still think of her as "the one" she does have a name...Vivian

Finally the last day she arranged a "spa" day for the two of us. We both received an elaborate facial  (my first ever) and I also received an "Upper Body Bliss" (a fancy name for an upper body massage.)  This photo was taken right after the blissful experience.   Do you think I enjoyed it???














Although she is absolutely gorgeous and is stunning when she is elegantly dressed, my favorite picture of her is in hip waders and a cowboy hat. We made enough memories the last few days to last me a good long while.

4/20/2018

I had a vision

It eventually had to happen...but finally this door is talking to me.  It is in the older part of the house and has to be 70-80 years old.  It would have replaced years ago but it is a non-standard size and now I've grown to love it.  It is too narrow and every time we need to replace an appliance in the laundry room this door has to be removed and it is a struggle to get anything through it even then!

I've had numerous ideas for it... the foremost has been a pastoral scene in each panel with sheep.... similar to the buffet in the main room (see below).... but it is in a dark corner and you are right on it when you approach it.  It needed something more dramatic and whimsical...

Finally yesterday I went to put a load of clothes in the dryer The door actually spoke out loud to me and the vision appeared.  It will have to wait until June when the garden is done but it will happen... When the door speaks, what is a person supposed to do after all.... 38 years late...

About 30 years ago one of my mother's men friends, Bruce Brown, had this old buffet in his garage and used it to store paint and solvents on and in it.  I lamented loud and often about what a terrible thing to do to  a fine piece of furniture.  When he passed away his son showed up at the farm with the buffet and said his father's last wish was to challenge me to salvage the buffet.  Well the finish was beyond restoring  so I painted it and added the pastoral scene and probably to Bruce's delight it has had a new life indeed... with new knobs and a little paint - challenge met!!!

4/18/2018

Sorta like Stonehenge

We live on a high prairie and my bedroom window faces directly east..  There is a magic time when all heaven and earth are aliened that when the sun comes up over the mountains it shines directly in the window and across the room to the dresser mirror which reflects it back to illuminate the room in this lovely glow.... magic!!

All work on spider bag has stopped while I'm finishing a large special order.

4/11/2018

The eyes are definitely looking up!!!

On Monday I did get a start on the eyes and though they still need a couple fine tuning tricks I will share, I'm happy with the beginning,,, I want to get all four cats transferred so I can take them with me when we go out of town in a couple weeks...

As you can see I've started outlining and highlighting with a very dark grey that if I had to name I'd call "pavement"





 

Flora Bernstein posted this wonderful photo which perfectly portrayed how greys  reflected light and  helped define the details on a black cat... and what a handsome cat it is.









So I pulled blacks and greys from my threads... Not only getting a difference in shades but textures using different weights of perle cottons and DMC.  I have even pulled blue/black and a green/ black.  Both of these actually look black until they are placed next to a black.




I will be using greys on the ears , nose and other spots to define features on my cat also... This is a good project for me as doing fur is not precise at all and will all blend if in the right general direction.  I determine that the same way I do bird feathers and will point it out later.. Basically a hard project for someone with limited vision to mess up...

But no stitching today as the sun is shining and it's about fifty degrees...warm enough to grab a shovel and head outdoors.

4/07/2018

Transferring the cat image to black felt.

Transferring the image of the cat to the black felt is the first thing needed to be done.  I add fusible tricot to the back of the felt.  It keeps the felt from stretching and is light enough to mark on with a permanent marker.  I have a tutorial below my header but often when I use the technique I will review as it is SO cool.  I also used this method to transfer a VERY ornate peacock tail... http://olderrose.blogspot.com/search/label/cut-away%20transfer

Once I have my felt backed with tricot and I have made a reverse image I am ready to start...  I cut around the entire image and place it on the tricot and trace around it.

 Then I cut the ears off and place the image back in place and mark where I cut the ears away.


The eyes are the keys to everything and I not only want them correctly on the face but focused in the right direction.   So I start by cutting out just the pupils and replacing the imaging and marking where I have cut.

Once the pupils are marked I cut out the entire eye and repeat the process.


Next is the nose and the same process

Finally I want a general position of the mouth and chin so I keep cutting away and tracing.
The last step on the back is to do a running basting stitch along the main lines.  I used a medium gray thread... not too visible on this side but.....












when I turn it over all my lines show up on the black felt and I am ready to stitch.  I always start with the eyes whether it is a painting or stitching.  If I get the eyes right everything falls into place.  If the eyes aren't right I need to start over.

Those of you who have followed the blog know my DH insists he NEVER eats chicken...but if the truth were to be known, he eats chicken all the time.   I just call it "turkey."  Forty-two years and he has never caught on..

But tonight I served him chicken and actually told him it was chicken...but it was a Hungarian recipe.  Well his grandmother immigrated from Hungary and according to him she was the world's best cook... I made a Hungarian Chicken Paprikash and told him I'm pretty sure it is the same as the recipe that his Aunt Alice had that was his grandmother's...   Sounded plausible to him, he ate it and loved it.  And it was pretty darn good. The Hungarian name was Csirkepaprik√°




4/05/2018

I feel a major tutorial coming on...

The inspiration for this bag was a round robin piece I did years and years ago... This is my contribution on Janet's block I believe and I always wanted to do something with this idea for myself.  The spider buckle and bag are my opportunity and I decided to do it as a tutorial in the process... and it may extend over several days.. I need to make the decision about cat and buckle placement before I go any further with the flowers.

The first step in adding an animal to your piece (besides what animal you want) is to decide what part of that animal you want.... I wanted just a head of a cat because I wanted it to be more in scale with the flowers... 

But I could have easily chosen just tails or ears.  I always thought a fabric book of just animals tails, (or ears) peeking out of foliage would be a really fun project for a children's book...   I want this cat to be focused on  a spider.  The first thing I always do when starting this kind of project  is gather lots of pictures from the internet and print them in different sizes.  I cut them out like paper dolls and "audition" them around the piece.

 

I was wavering as to how many cats I wanted but have decided on one on the front of the bag.  It will be large and focused on the spider buckle which will hold the bag closed.










But on the back   I want more of the CQ to be the focal point and will have a smaller cat....maybe two or three...all black..


I intend to work these cats "off block" on either black felt or black fabric. 
 A perfect  opportunity to revisit how to do a cut-out transfer on the back of the fabric, how to have a black cat show up on black fabric, and a little refresher lesson on embroidering fur.

I have fussed moving the cat up and down, right and left, plus shifting the position of the buckle.  Once I have made this decision and go ahead with flowers and more webs, it would be hard to make a major move later.  Going through all these steps saves me from later wishing I had done it differently and I also have a record of how it looked best to me when I go to apply the cat later.  And I have to admit (once again) how much I love this buckle and how happy that I'm actually doing something special with it....





4/03/2018

Aaaaaaaaaaah April


Some memories are just so wonderful that just recalling them makes my whole day and April brings lambing to my mind...  I blogged about my sheep over and over as they were the most loving and gentle animals and brought me great joy.  Nothing was more exciting than to go out to the lambing pens on a chilly April morning and find a newly born lamb....except finding TWO new babies as in this pair of twins that my beautiful Topaz produced... The one on the left is taking her first wobbly steps but managed to find that nipple

For a couple weeks before Topaz was sooooooooo huge and miserable and just couldn't get comfortable standing or laying down.  She loved it when I massaged her swollen belly and would lay her head in my lap.  Here she is longingly looking a Ruby's lamb and wishing her ordeal was all over.

If you look very closely just at the back of the lamb you will notice a tuft of wool caught on the fence post.  The sheep would scratch against the posts and fences and leave little tufts of wool everywhere.  When we would clean  out the birdhouses in the fall   nests would be lined with these tufts of wool..

I can't believe that it has been eight years since I did this post.  This photo is on my desk right by my computer where I see it everyday,  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah April!!!!

4/01/2018

Be careful what you wish for.

It had been my goal this winter is get myself to a stress-free point with my creative activities... meaning no deadlines... and to be able to wander from project to project as the spirit moved me.. or not.. I thought it would be my ideal and it turns out it's not.

  I've pretty much achieved that goal and now not so sure that a few limits and deadlines might not  be a good thing.

There is so little structure to what and when I do it that sometimes I just take a nap instead. And I definitely have added many other things unintentionally and having trouble keeping on track with anything.

Maybe it just needs getting used to and I should give it a few more weeks and maybe not.  I have this tremendous urge to create a project list and some sort of timeline if I'm ever going to finish anything.


When we went to the coast for Morris's vacation I forgot my favorite little camera and my phone wouldn't charge so I wasn't able to take pictures as I went along and it's too late for some shots.  It will have to wait until I get going again on the ribbon flowers.  Definitely have many ideas and techniqes to share.. sorry have to be later.  I will add it to my new list.

I did a lot of experimenting with different sizes and weights of ribbons and also with width and spacing of basting stiches.
These are all I got done when we were gone and it doesn't look like much in the bowl...

But when I dump them out on the bag you can see that it is actually a good deal and it won't take that many more.

I am loving the colors and it is the "smoky" gold that is the color that will tame all others.  Before I go any further I am taking some out to the barn today and put them in the big press and hoping they will be like I envision..


DH is out of town for a few days so that means I will be keeping odd hours,   eating frozen turkey dinners for most meals and foie gras  for breakfast on toast.  Morris is moping under my desk and misses DH terribly. 

This time of day they would ordinarily  be reading the paper together.
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