Observations on life & art and the inspirations I see around me

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Like most everyone in the world I have felt a rollercoaster of sadness, stress & confussion this last  week. The world mourns the senseless killings of 20 young children & 6 adults at their school in Connecticut on Dec. 14th. "This is NOT supposed to happen" & "We deserve better" I have heard people say. Still I wonder can we really change things to reduce the liklihood of this happening again. I pray that we can & I am committed to working toward that end.

I was sewing at midday on Friday when the tv came on of it's own accord & the horror hit me. I had to take it in in small bits. One of the themes I kept hearing was "community", small town USA. 

The work I was finishing was a group of small quilts for MY community, 7 wonderful women artist friends in north Texas. Before I left that area in June this group feted me with a fabulous birthday/going away party. Knowing my propensity to work with small bits they presented me with tokens of their friendship and support in the forms of bits & pieces for creating art & boxes for storage. I was overwhelmed. It took me until Dec. to create tokens of my gratitude.

As I sewed these pieces and then cut them apart into seperate unites I feel the connections that scissors can't cut.

Monday I traveled north to attend the Christmas DAFA meeting, potluck & auction & stay with Lu. I won a few goodies but the best was yet to come when the WONDERS gathered on Tues. for lunch and our annual gawking trip to the downtown Dallas Niemans store. I'm more of a country chic girl but it's always fun to check out the fashions & Flo entertained us with her pose in VERY high heels.  It was a great 2 days.

I came back with a super bad cough and it's no fun. I hope no one else gets it. I'm doctoring up for Christmas and then we travel back north to pick up our cabinets, counters, & doors. We'll also extend our celebration with Ashley & Frank. I wish everyone a beautiful & blessed Christmas and an abundantly creative New Year. I'll be back here in 2013.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


The weatherman says that it's about to get cooler. It's been near 80 the last few weeks and doesn't feel at all like "Christmas is coming".  Last night Karl & I walked around the Winter's Eve event in Wimberley & he wasn't the only guy in shorts.
I'm slower than usual getting into the Christmas spirit as there's not much room in the rv to decorate & that's if I could find stuff from storage. Today I decided to check out the lights I saw the other day in tool shed. If they work I'll string up a few. We saw Karlie today and some of her excitement rubbed off.
Before jumping to Christmas I wanted to share the Thanksgiving weekend adventure & what fall can look like in Texas. This is a very special place near Utopia (yes, a real Texas town). Our friend April lives and works out here and we are privileged to get to visit. This area never fails to nourish my heart & soul & inpires me beyond measure.

 Thanks to April for sharing her world. She is the kind of friend I would wish for everyone to have.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Change, Constant Change.....

December already, the beginning of the holiday season and almost the end of 2012. Turn, turn, turn; nothing is more constant than change so we have to remember to find joy in the moment. November was a whirlwind and not just swirling leaves. On the 3rd I got a break from construction duties to play with Jo, visiting from Dallas. We spent a lovely afternoon at Old Oaks Ranch, www.theoldoaksranch.com, in Wimberley, an alpaca ranch, sculpture garden, and yarn store.  Jo really enjoyed that last part; I enjoyed the day with a friend.  

 Along with changing leaves, I found time between house building assignments to change fabric with rust & vinegar. This is something I can set up fairly quickly. I want to do more patterns (sheets of steel "waste" from manufacturing). I look forward in using it in quilts in the future.
 My favorite change is watching Karlie grow. She has gotten really interested in sewing and I hope I can feed her curiosity & creativity for a long time to come. She & Mom & Dad are moving into a new house soon so I'm looking forward to helping her decorate her room & yard.
In the meantime we've got walls & insulation & the porch roof. Sheetrock starts tomorrow. 

 See those white spots on the cactus. At first we thought it was disease but research said it's Cochineal bugs. Ah ha - Another "between house projects" project. I'm collecting them and hope to use them to dye soon. More change to come.....

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Moving forward

Sorry I have been absent for too long. There were some health issues, a general funk, camera issues, and going in circles when I was moving.

I even forgot to celebrate my 4th "blogaversary" (October 5, 2008) but did just look back to remind myself of where I've been & where things are going. I keep repeating to myself "of mice & men" refering to the idea that plans are made to be changed. The house project is moving slowly. The porch should be done by next week & I promise to post when things look different enought to celebrate. 

Part of me is wishing I was in Houston but it just didn't work this year. During all the general crazies of Oct. I did have a great few days in Dallas/Ft Worth. I got in too-short visits with friends and  Ashley & I had a great time seeing & being inspired by the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum. It is beautiful and if you're in north Texas before the end of the year, check it out.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


To me September is as much New year as January. It's all those years of going to school; teaching school; and working with teachers I guess. Now that we are not tied to that schedule I love to get away in Sept. It didn't look like it was going to happen due to the house project but then we were blessed to have a the very generous sister & bil of a very special friend offer us their cabin in northern Colorado. Off we went and last week was a wonderful way to welcome fall and rest a bit for the changes to come on the house.  

Change #1 was certainly the cabin. It provided a bit more moving around space than the rv which I really enjoyed, even baking banana nut bread one day. We walked a good bit and enjoyed the varied views of meadows and mountains in the neighborhood and then drove various routes around Grand Lake & across Trailridge, the highway across Rocky Mountain National Park, to Estes Park. I "highly" recommend this as a vacation destination. 

The wildlife was a big entertainment except for my mistake of putting garbage out early and the bears getting into it (we didn't see them but the neighbor saw the signs). We did see moose, elk, deer, fox, eagles, hawks, mermots, and chipmunks. These creatures provideda good bit of our entertainment. 

Change #2 was the weather. It was 104 here the week before and Karl was exhausted from working in the heat. I spent most of that week inside recovering from respiratory gunk which, sadly, Karl now has. I loved being outside last week. The high temps were 60's & 70's and lows in the 20's & 30's. We even got to see snow on the mountains the last day and it has cooled off in Texas a bit too. I'm inspired to get out more here now.

A beautiful sunset and rainbow welcomed us back to Texas on Sunday and we got home yesterday. Karl jumped right into work on the house while I waited for the internet installer and got settled in to rv living again. I hope whatever changes come your way are good ones and you enjoy a lovely fall.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Georgia on My MInd

I've been under the weather with bronchitis this week but before the memories fade I want to share my recent adventure. I'd been feeling the need to get away from the Texas heat and a general sense of unrest. New Mexico is always a favorite destination for me.
I suggested a trip to Kathy and she jumped onboard my idea. We have been friends since we were 10 and given her health scare last year we decided to fly away for a fun time of laughing, learning, eating, shopping, sighing at the beauty all around and luxurating in the hot springs of Ojo Caliente. That last was the highlight/new discovery for me and a definite "return to" spot for future trips. 
Our first destination after we got our car at the airport was Madrid but we spotted this great fence even before there. I want to do something like this at the new house. The neighborhood is picky about structures (including fences) so I'll do it as a screen and call it ART. I'll welcome all help in collecting the bottles. 
This path outside a shop in Madrid made me smile as it reminded me to be open to the surprises of life. Kathy is an amazingly friendly lady so we met other friendly people with recommendations for great food, new vistas & adventures, and much more.
We started day 2 at Georgia O'Keeffe's house (no pictures allowed) in Abuquiu and then drove up to Ghost Ranch. Seeing the places Georgia loved was wonderful insight into her & her art. She was an Amazing woman.
In the afternoon we luxuriated at Ojo Caliente. I'd been wanting to go there for years and it's definitely on my return visit list. Wonderfully relaxing & healing & Very reasonable at $18.00 a day. There is a little B&B within walking distance where we want to book for next year.
I love  doors & gates. They keep you out and let you in and make you wonder what comes next. 
I hope what comes into each of our lives is beauty, love, friendship and humility to always marvel at our many blessings.  

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Long Way

This was one of "THOSE" weeks. It wasn't any one person, thing, or event that caused distress and was really more inside than out. Not sleeping well & crazy dreams added to it. There was PANIC & "What the Hell have I done" moments. Do you ever have those?
Thankfully, this morning I had some quiet time to regroup and take some deep breaths. Life is better. Company will be here shortly. I went to the local store (more expensive) rather than make the 16 mile drive to HEB saving time if not money. I picked up a movie (comedy) for this evening and then took a "wrong turn". This was the view when I turned around.
If it looks like the road "falls off" it really does (22% grade it said). I thought it was a good image for my life. I thought of 2 songs, "Taking the Long Way" by the Dixie Chicks and "Taking the Long Way Home" by Steven Curtis Chapman".  We do NOT know what even tomorrow holds so be sure to enjoy the scenery today & be with people you care about. Wishing you love.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What I Know for Sure

.....it's SUMMER in Texas and that means HOT. The rains that we had earlier in July are a faint memory and the grass is turning brown and everything else is wilting. It's not as bad as last year & I will hope for an early & cool fall. There are a few brave blooms that make me smile. The first one I spied in Austin and is new to me. The plant looks a bit like a lily. Would love to know what it is and if deer would leave it alone.
I KNOW Progress is slow but is being made on the house.  The picture below isn't very exciting but this is where we are today. Those piles of rock on the left will go inside the forms, hopefully tomorrow. The house will set farther back from the BIG trees than I'd hoped due to the slope from the front left corner to the back right. The porch will be 10' instead of 12' and wood rather than concrete to hopefully save trees on the front left. I KNOW trees are important. 
I KNOW I am missing art, making it, seeing it, talking about it. This transition is harder than I'd expected.  This small piece for the Studio group challenge is all I've accomplished in the last few weeks along with some fabric beads. Doesn't feel like much.
I know it feels strange to me not to have anyone left in the generation before me. Does that make me a "Matriarch"? I don't feel like one. We said goodbye Friday to my last aunt. Aunt Nathalee was my father's sister and they were very much alike: frugal, lively, inventive, hard headed, fun loving, & generous.  She was the Queen of garage sales and recycled before it was cool. She was quite a style maven into her 90's and I have no doubt that had she lived in New York she would have made it to Advanced Style. I am proud that some time my "Ashley-ness" shows & I smile to see the attitude carried forward with Karlie. 


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mixed Week

Our work on the property has slowed a bit of late due to rain and an issue with our HOA which is now hopefully behind us. We can NOT complain about the rain after last year & I feel for folks in the midwest who are suffering with draught this year. The lakes in Central Texas are still very low and every bit helps. The whole area got a good soaking last night and again this evening with more forecasted for tomorrow. I do hope it clears some Ashley & Frank's visit next weekend.

We had a family get together while one niece and her family were here from Brazil. Karlie got to meet her youngest cousin, Mary Louise, and they hit it off very well. Today we saw other cousins from Houston. The area we've moved to is a popular vacation destination so I imagine we'll see family & friends from all around. 

On Wed. Karl needed to go to Comfort for water filter parts & advise. I tagged along and while he talked with the water guy I found a lovely nursery with friendly & knowledgeable staff. What landscaping we do must be draught tolerant & deer resistent.  This is a new to me plant. It's a low running version of Vitex, some time called Texas Lilac or Lavender that gets great clusters of purple blooms.
The hummingbirds love just about any thing with red flowers so I'll have to get some of this.
There were more butterflies on this aster than I'd ever seen on one plant. Add it to the list. I didn't get pictures of all the agave but those are a must have.
 From Comfort we headed toward Fredericksburg with a stop at Marburger Orchard. Karl went to HS with Gary in Houston and saw on Facebook that he had been in the hill country for 30 years. He has a beautiful spot and great produce. We got peaches that were at the stand and picked a few blackberries. Next year we'll go earlier in the season & earlier in the morning (both for cooler temps).

One of the highlights of the week was setting up my "studio". I even repaired a shirt and sewed one small piece for a challenge. Maybe with the rain, I'll get more sewing time this week. Once the house actually gets started and we're on the property I hope to get into a routine that includes art making.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy July 4th....

Indepence Day. Are you celebrating? Are you thinking about it as a birthday of our country or just a day to relax by the pool and cook bar-b-que? This isn't much art related but it is where my head is today.

Tomorrow will mark the one month anniversary of our "independence" from home ownership. We are lucky as we have had a choice in the matter. ItWe had 25 years in one house and 13 in another before that (and a few years of rent in between). We have been blessed with security and while we worked hard, so do many others who haven't been so lucky. And then there's the whole topic of health care. As "they" have said this week, "the battle isn't over". It's a worry I have for my children and grandchild. How will they get ahead? How will they reach their dreams? Will they have to leave the country to reach "the American Dream"?

RV living is interesting & we've adjusted pretty well, mostly because we're gone working on the property every day & out of the small space. I'm doing laundry at the laundromatt for the first time in years & years. I will say the one in Wimberley is WAY nicer than those from earlier days. In the afternoon there's an interesting cross section of the community minus the "elite".

If you've been around to hear my rants or seen my facebook postings lately it's pretty clear where I stand. I've had some deep feelings of despair regarding the state of governance & policy in the good old USA for a while now.  I want to be hopeful and optimistic but some days it's hard. My faith in people to think and act with intelligence, integrity & honor has grown slim. It's not just about the economy but on many issues that I feel we're headed in a wrong direction. I've reached an age where I don't mind being pretty "in your face" about it all.  Helen is one of my heroines & I still miss Molly Ivins & I'm hoping more of us will stand up & fight for what is right.

This is the face of Optimism I saw today. This is the face that gives me hope and makes me work for a better future for her and all our children and grandchildren. She learned pretty quickly that 2 waves got more candy and beads. Maybe the lesson for us is to make more noise & get more attention.  I HOPE so.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Balancing Act

Today was a crazy mix of hits & misses but we balanced it out with a bit of fun time with our favorite ballerina. Tomorrow it's back to work. Hope everyone is staying cool. Praying for the fire victims in Colorado.