Wednesday, April 25, 2012

thinking in shadows

Watercolor painting is like thinking in shadows.


Do you remember learning to print?
Gripping the pencil and willing it to follow the dotted outline of some alphabet letter, some impossibly round letter?
I have done creative things with my hands all of my life.
It has stood me in good stead many a time, but there is no getting around a learning curve.
The curve I am navigating is Free Motion Quilting. and is like moving paper under a stationary pencil.
It takes time for the path from the hand to the brain to become second nature.
I've heard that a persons style of Free Motion Quilting is as distinct as handwriting.
If that is true, I am still in the printing stage with lovely slanted script a distant dream.
Learning is so exhilarating though isn't it.
The terror, the thrill, the sweat and the sense of accomplishment.
Like a child gripping a wrinkled page of wobbly abc's, I proudly hold out my tentative beginnings.

Monday, April 16, 2012


A jar of pussy willows for spring......

A little hatchling to celebrate new life.

worth the wait

What is your philosophy when it comes to projects on the go; irons in the fire.
My very wise sister, a fellow quilter, takes up her rotary cutter and produces one quilt at a time. She fears that a project left unfinished for a time may remain thus forever.
That future generations will haul boxes of her incomplete quilts off to the Good Will if she is not single minded in her focus.
Her reward for perseverance is getting to start all over; Sort of like planting a garden with one favourite crop.
I found myself admitting to her that I had at least a dozen unfinished projects in various states of completion; Some very green, barely sprouted ones, and some almost ripe and ready.
Since that conversation, I have leaned on my rake and admired a harvest of five. I have also added three more into the row and am shaking the envelope of seeds so to speak.
Creating always yields a harvest and its always worth the wait.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

the view

Quilting is definitely the  indoor equivalent to hiking.
Like spreading out a map and plotting a course, even so we quilters orient our inner compass and draft a plan.
We gather equipment and set off with a spring in our step.
This is almost always short lived and followed by hours of tough slogging.
The trail grows dim and difficult to follow.
There are switchbacks and windfalls.
It can seem like we have passed the same spot before and indeed we have.
I have picked out and resewn the same spot with the bewildered angst of a disoriented daytripper.
Ahhh, but the view.
It's worth the blisters and the sweat.


Isn't the english language ambiguous?
Delightfully ambiguous.
My quilt guild has a Hanging Committee.
Doesn't that sound ominous?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


The silence of the Lord is good for us.
It teaches us to hunker down and listen.
To learn to recognize His voice.
To distinguish it from our own inner voice,
from the voice of the world around us.
To hear the still, small Voice.
The silence teaches us to listen.


Sometimes my fight or flight response tries to get my attention.
I have found that peace wins over passion every time.
A winding detour is better than a hop off the cliff.
Patience is often the better part of valour.
I have found that flight is usually not an option.
Staying and enduring is such an anti-climax but it is its own reward.
Really caring comes at a personal cost.
Just the right price it seems.

but chewy

May I rave about raisins?
Not the little wrinkled brown ones that taste like demerara sugar.
I'm talking about the giant black ones.
My taste buds shriek," Sour, sour, no...wait..... sweet, sweet!"
And the flavour!
Everything that is wonderful about a grape, but chewy.

Monday, April 9, 2012

strangest feeling

I had the strangest feeling tonight.
It seemed that only the words of another, would express how I was feeling.
The words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

"There are moments in life, when the heart is so full of emotion
That if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like a pebble
Drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secret,
Spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered together."

The strange part is that almost exactly a year ago I must have felt the same way because I wrote down those very words and posted them April 2, 2011.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


The changing weather results in a changing wardrobe.
Parka days seem over.
Before heading out for a quick walk this morning, I reached back, back, back into the closet and grabbed a jacket I haven't worn for a while.
The air was nippy and I slid my hands down into the deep pockets.
"Look," I cried, "Drumheller."
And sure enough, there in the palm of my hand lay a cluster of brick coloured rock fragments. Little bits of Drumheller.

one fish, two fish....

Our rain barrels are a sort of outdoor aquarium; pocket sized ponds.
They came with the house and it didn't take us long to think of gold fish.
My dad loved 'all creatures great and small' and having two water filled rain barrels was just too much of an invitation to ignore.
Off to the pet store we dashed and returned bearing gold fish; feeder fish actually. We saved them from a grizzly death at the jaws of who knows what exotic pet.
They pay their way by exterminating mosquito larvae and have grown very large and fat and sassy.
My father faithfully fed them and it was like watching the orca show at the aquarium. Up they zoomed, out of the depths like torpedoes when they saw a hand hover.
My grandchildren love to peer into the dark, wavering depths of the barrels and count them.
My favourite is white with a large orange patch on its back.
A few days ago, one fish disappeared.
Its companion, down deep in the shadowy bottom of the barrel. seemed reluctant to surface.
It looks so lonely in the barrel all by itself.
But should we move it?
The other barrel has three fish already.
Four seems a bit cramped don't you think?
Which of the three would we displace?
Would we be separating friends?
We did catch the lone fish in a dipper and tentatively tried a move but it swam sideways and looked like it was clutching its heart.  It is already suffering from post traumatic stress and survivor guilt. We hated to finish it off with a move. You know how that registers on the Richter scale of life stressors.
So life goes on.
Makes me think of Dr. Seuss and his One Fish, Two Fish.
Only in our case it was Two Fish, One Fish.
Hope it doesn't become None Fish.

Monday, April 2, 2012


As I pushed the shopping cart down the long, long aisle, I was suddenly aware of a sadness, a heaviness stealing over my soul like frosty air swirling in through an open window.
It has always amazed me that feelings can surface out of the blue.
I had no idea what strong emotion was there, just below the surface and why being in a grocery store would trigger it.
And then, like watching a figure appear out of the mist, I suddenly knew, and in that exact moment, tears sprang to my eyes and my hand flew to my mouth.
Then I understood and somehow, just the knowing comforted.


Seagulls drift inland which is why I found myself revelling in their shrill cry as they wheeled in circles over the parking lot today.
The air was crisp,
the breeze fresh,
the call of the gulls on the wind,

a slice of sea and sky

A slice of sea and sky.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

family resemblance

I have mixed feelings.
It's wonderful to see a project take shape but the anticipation, the planning and dreaming are really my favourite part. Almost more than the finished item.
Still, it does feel grand to take the final stitch, shake out the working wrinkles and show and tell to whoever is handy.
Ta da!
Here it is at last.
A quilt conceived several years ago has finally arrived and I don't consider it over due at all.
It had a long gestation period.
There is a family resemblance that you may notice instantly.
It has an older sibling, that arrived last fall.
My daughters now have quilts made in the fine tradition begun by my mother;
A 'quilt as you go' Log Cabin.
Her numerous efforts are kissing cousins of my daughters quilts.
The family resemblance is striking.
The queen size quilt on the left was made by my mother.
The centre quilt is a lap quilt made by myself under my mother's watchful tutelage.
The quilt on the right is my oldest daughters lap quilt, a sibling of the quilt above.

sweet signs of spring

Lupine are up in the garden. Each leaf perpetually holds a glistening drop of rain water like a jewel.
The copper leaves of the spirea have unfurled and glow warmly; a burnished bush.
Buds swell on daffodil and tulip, a promise of color to come.
Burgundy shoots of bleeding heart and peony rise from the ground like sword points.
Purple primula, apple green helleborus, pink bergenia;
The sweet, sweet signs of spring.

dressed for winter

McDougall Cottage put out its annual call.
I answered.
The theme for 2012 was Plaids at Play.
We were given a swatch of Olympic plaid fabric from the 2010 Winter Games to incorporate,
and in case that wasn't enough to narrow our focus, fashion was mentioned.
I decided that my quilt needed to feature children playing, and that it would be winter.
So far so good.
I turned the Olympic fabric swatch into a tiny quilt; a once prized souvenir of the Games that has found its way onto the back of a toboggan. Have you ever noticed the tendency those sorts of highly priced collectibles have of gravitating towards the toy box or car trunk?
In a nod to fashion, I dressed my children in plaid snowsuits, the trees in snow, the animals in winter white, the snowman in style and called it Dressed For Winter.
Vintage long john buttons were used for embellishment on the pieced border.
The following is a portion of the discription that was submitted with the quilt:

Appliqued children flit about, as bright as winter birds.
Trees are cloaked in snowy shawls, animals change their coats of brown and grey for white and children play outdoors dressed in scarlet and blue, green and gold: zippered and buttoned and laced
My grandchildren’s favourite toys, dinosaurs and a doll have been included in the outdoor fun.
The little dog can’t believe his eyes.

My Wee Quilt will be viewed by strangers far, far away in Cambridge, Ontario.
It will return to me like a homing pigeon in September....