Thursday, June 26, 2008

Harvest...


My first lavender harvest has taken place yesterday and today. The lavender is thick with blooms. It is one thing I can grow well here in the desert valley!

I had to compete with the bees to cut it this afternoon.

I wash it well, as I use it mostly for eating. Then I lay it out to dry a bit...

...and hang it in bunches in the studio to truly dry. There are good reasons for doing this in the studio: first, the pets don't go in there, so there is less pet hair there than in the rest of the house (prime shedding season right now), and also, lavender is a natural moth repellent. We don't really have a problem with wool eating moths, but I might as well take advantage of lavender's perks! In addition to being a natural insect repellent, the scent of lavender helps reduce pain. I use an eye pillow filled with lavender when I have a migraine, a fever, or even after surgeries, and it always feels cool to the touch and soothes with it's scent.

After the lavendar all dries, I can put the flower heads in zip-lock bags and shake them off into the bag. I only use the flowers for cooking. I make lavender shortbread (lots of recipes on the web, and I use an 'adapted' one - which means I am a creative cook who never truly follows a recipe as written.) I also love a lavender pound cake recipe that I found somewhere, and I am the biggest fan of my apricot lavender jam, which I'll have plenty of both main ingredients soon to make more of. It is so good on biscuits or even bagels! Mmmmmm... lavender!

Russian Bell ringing at Lowell House (YouTube)

Lowell House Bell Ringers (students) and Russian Monks (ringing the Mother Bell). What a cacaphony of joyful international sound!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A walk in the city...

Last week I was in Boston. While my son and his family did some family business (visiting a day-care), I walked from Harvard Square, where they live, to Porter Square to go to the Japanese grocery store and Paper Source. These are some of the photos I shot along the way.

I love the mix of old and new in Boston! Like the store windows, where one can see Elvis, a Madonna, and all manner of modish mannequins, all sharing the window with reflections of ancient buildings and busy streets. I also love peeking down the streets of lovely old homes, and wondering what would be behind doors that seem to go nowhere.

In the lower center middle is a picture of Lowell House, where my son is the chief resident dean, and he and his precious family live. The bell tower was surrounded by scaffolding this time, and we could watch the construction workers go up and down it from the dining table ("like monkeys", my 2-yr. old grand-daughter noted, which I though was a brilliant thing for her to associate). The ancient bells of the bell tower will be removed this Thursday, to be exchanged for new replicas, and the old ones will be returned to the St. Danilov Monastery in Moscow, Russia, from whence they came long, long ago. I am totally fascinated with the story of the bells, as my son and his wife have lived right below them for several years now. If you are curious, you can go here to find out more about them.

I leaned out the window of my bedroom while there, and took this photo of the back of the tower, where they were still building the scaffold. The largest bell weighs over 12 tons! I cannot imagine how it will be removed from the tower with the crane they intend to use, but I will be watching to see news coverage of it. My grandson and daughter just like all the construction work in their courtyard- very good entertainment for two-year-olds, but this grandma is thinking of investing in a couple of small hard hats!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hoard... (Illustration Friday)

This squirrel is from the lower border of the Fall tapestry, "The Gift." He is beginning the hoarding season. I've posted it for the Illustration Friday topic this week.

Good Girl!




My educational background is in behavioral psychology. While it's been a long time since I have 'worked in the field,' I try to remember that 'the field' really is everywhere, everyday. We have trained our dogs, with varying degrees of success, using praise as a reward. And I tried to remember that praise is a stronger motivator than punishment when my children were growing up. But I don't often remember to praise myself. Today I am feeling that I deserve a big "Good Girl!"

I am just home from being with my New England son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids, and got to see the Colorado son and grandkids for a short few hours on the way.

Sometimes I feel like I do very little of any real value with my life and my time, but I have raised two sons who are wonderful fathers, and who were smart enough to choose wives who are wonderful mothers. I know my husband was also a factor in this, as I see my little grandsons (both two years old) attempting to be like their daddies, and my sons had a terrific Daddy to imitate. A lot of work and time goes into raising children, and I often do not give myself credit for successfully accomplishing this great task. So, Good Girl! You should be proud of yourself! (And I confess that I really am.)

Oh, and a p.s.: I learned on returning home that my Fall tapestry, "The Gift", was awarded the American Tapestry Alliance Award for Excellence in Tapestry in the Living With Beauty exhibit in Manitou Springs. Again I say, Good Girl!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another hat!


...but not necessarily the one I needed today. I've mentioned before how many different hats it takes to be an artist. Today and yesterday, I have been writing a grant proposal for an exhibit I'm helping organize. I believe it is very important for artists to 'give back' to organizations that support us, because in the real world of art (is there such a thing?), art organizations and exhibits are mostly run by volunteer effort. So, if I want tapestry exhibits to exist for me to show my work in, I occasionally have to give of my time to make sure they survive. Perhaps the whole world would work better if it all ran the way the art world runs... Like for instance, if you want to keep eating good food, you must spend some time working on a farm. Or, if you want a new pair of shoes, you must volunteer to work as a cobbler for a day. Well, I can't order the whole world, but I can do my little part in the world I'm in, which is the world of fiber art.

So.... as I said, I have been grant writing, although I am not a grant writer, and I don't have a grant writer's hat. Fortunately, I DO have a committee full of great editors, as I often need editing! But if you read this blog, you already know that.

So, what is this hat, if not a grant writing hat? This is a 'going-to-play-with-grandchildren' hat! I have new grandchildren I need to meet, and old ones (though not so old, at 4 and 2) that I need to play a bit with, too! On Friday, I'll be going to see Son 1, and on the way home, I'll see Son 2. They each have a Thing One and a Thing Two for me to play with, and we will play, play, play all day! I am packing the paints and the paper, the color books and the story books, the sing-along-songs in my head and on CD, and oh I shall not forget the Grandma-cam. Photos will fill the Grandma-cam!

Grants will be dumped from my brain, and Goodnight Moon will take their place. Little bodies will be measured and growth will be estimated for the Christmas sweaters I must knit (twice as many this year... so I must get to it.) It will be oh, so hard to pry this hat off my head! But then I will come back to my studio and put on another of my artist's hats, and get back to the real (or is it surreal) world of being an artist.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

When Roses Speak...


When the Roses Speak, I Pay Attention
“As long as we are able to
be extravagant we will be
hugely and damply
extravagant. Then we will drop
foil by foil to the ground. This
is our unalterable task, and we do it
joyfully.”

And they went on. “Listen,
the heart-shackles are not, as you think,
death, illness, pain,
unrequited hope, not loneliness, but
lassitude, rue, vainglory, fear, anxiety,
selfishness.”

Their fragrance all the while rising
from their blind bodies, making me
spin with joy.

Mary Oliver

I guess I should learn from the roses, who do not question what their 'unalterable task' is. It seems that mine is to weave tapestries, though, for the life of me, I do not know why! I just know that no matter what happens in my life, I am driven back to the loom... to heal, to order the chaos, to fulfill the creative urge.... to do what I seem to be here to do. What an odd 'purpose'! But I have been weaving... not an exciting piece, but a restorative peace. I wove an inch yesterday, and am creeping up on an inch today. If I keep this up, I'll have something to show that might make more sense before too long!

Friday, June 6, 2008

She had forgotten that she could fly...

The Illustration Friday topic is 'forgotten.' This is a page from one of my collage journals. Yes, it is me. Yes..... but that's another story, and a long one.

I could also say, "she had forgotten that she could weave!' But, after a long rainy afternoon nap after my house-guests left yesterday, I awoke with the need to put order back into my dis-orderly life, and for me, that means sitting at the loom and weaving. So I am back to the loom this morning, and oh my, how lovely it feels that my fingers remember how to pass the weft through the warp! Not quite like flying, but then, as I said, that is another tale for another time...

p.s. I almost forgot!... I highly recommend that you listen to J.K. Rowling's Harvard commencement address, which is available in 3 parts here. It is quite inspiring.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Better every day...


Thank you ALL for your good wishes! I am feeling better each day now. My peonies wave all of yours' their final hurrah, as they are about finished with their blooming. The roses are taking over, and my columbines are still going strong - which is late for them, too. The weeds in the strawberry patch are celebrating my neglect, 'tho my father-in-law, who has been visiting from Kansas, has given them some attention, and has been bringing in huge bowls full of strawberries every day. It might be time for another of my little cup paintings! That would be a good way to get back into the studio and 'warm-up' creatively!


(The tapestry segment above is the border of my "Croquet Coquette" tapestry, which is one of the Heritage Series pieces. My garden also includes morning glories, like the ones around the croquet mallet in the tapestry, but my morning glories are being dilatory this year. But then, the whole garden has been behind schedule, so why should they be prompt?)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Everyday...


I do not have a song to sing to you, a poem to bless you with, and certainly no sensible words to share. I am in 'survival mode', still recuperating from hepatitis (oh, curse you, hepatitis!), but my roses are blooming, so the world is doing well without my input. It is lovely to know the roses and peonies will bloom without my fussing over them! Hope you are all blooming, too. I am a bit wilted, but believe I will bloom again before the summer is over. I think I will let the roses and peonies fuss over ME for a bit!