Thursday, January 14, 2021

AN UNUSUAL SURPRISE

A few months ago my children and I went on a cacti and succulent buying mission
to a grower in the Sunland-Tujunga area of the San Fernando Valley 
by the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.
An adventure just finding the place!
There was so much to choose from and this succulent was chosen by my daughter.
When she made the purchase it wasn't in bloom,
but this is what happened about a month after bringing it to her home.
The most remarkable flower I've ever seen on a plant.
We were all in shock over how very unusual it was.
It lasted a good week and then it disappeared.
It almost looked like it was made from a plastic material.  
I couldn't believe what I was seeing at first.
I thought 
"No way!"
But it was real.
Can't wait to see more of these in the future.
Her brother bought two other varieties and are growing a couple more from seedlings.
But so far no blooms on any of these.
But we are very patient people.
I believe these come in as many as 23 varieties.  

Monday, December 28, 2020

CONTINUED PROGRESS AND SOMETHING NEW

Not Not giving up is my mantra on this Night Shift Cowl by Andrea Mowry.
But I have to tell you I've messed up and ripped out more then any other piece I've ever made. 
I finally have reached section 6 (there are 7 all together),
and as you can see, 
the pattern moves way more into the bluish yarn.
I'm still so in love with it,
but it's not a project I can take anywhere with me to work on.
It just requires too much concentration and focus,
so Andrea recommends having another project going at the same time that is much easier
that you can switch on and off with.
So I'm trying out Free Your Fade by Andrea,
something else I've been wanting to do.
It also calls for 3 different skeins of yarn.  
I just happen to have some Worsted Malabrigo in my stash that works well together.
And oh my, 
it's fast and so much easier,
but still good brain WORK.
Have I frogged back on this one,
you betcha,
but not nearly as much
LOL
The rows of eyelets are a real ball buster for me,
and I can't talk or watch T.V. when I'm doing it.
It's like knitting lace,
Yuck!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

A TREE FOR MY MOTHER

When my mother,
 Rose Patricia, 
passed 13 years ago at the age of 92 after a 10 year battle with Alzheimer's,
I gathered her favorite Xmas ornaments that she treasured and several she had made, 
and started the tradition of decorating a separate tree for her at my husbands home
(I also decorate a larger tree at my home/studio with all my children's ornaments).

When I married Jimmy,
 he had a smallish, very lovely cashmere tree that he gave me for my mom.
But I've got to be honest here,
many of my mother's decorations that she loved or made were pink,
and as a child and teen growing up I hated those and that color!
And she always said to me.
"Debra Ann, 
when you grow up and have your own home,
 you can decorate your tree however you want,
and you'll be able to tell your kids too bad if they don't like it."
Well, 
fortunately,
 my kids never complained as they were growing up 
and loved helping me put up the tree and ornaments.  
Maybe because the tree was mostly all about them,
Ha ha!
Below is a picture of one of my mother's trees when I was growing up,
YUCK!
This one is from 1968 with myself and first pup Petite
(of course my mother would dye her "pink" at Easter time,
but that's a whole other story).
Let's see,
 I would have been 13 here I wearing one of my Square Dance dresses
 because it was the only red garment I had for Xmas.
Yes, we square danced in the 1960 and early 70's,
with my moms Square Dance Club.
I came to love it eventually.
 
But what is so funny is that as I've aged into my golden years,
yes,
I'm 64,
although until a few days ago I thought I was still 63.
😠😠
I find I'm very drawn to antique pinkish ornaments
 that I buy and add to my mother's tree in her memory.
These are the two I found and purchased for her this year.
She would have gotten a big kick out of my change of heart.
Funny how things come around. 
This sweet little cupcake is less then an 1" by an 1".

The acorn is from a friends private collection and was gifted to me this year.
Very old he told me and I love the decorative cap that it hangs from.
You don't see that anymore.
It's about an 1" by 2" long.

This next one I found last year in an antique store up by our cabin and it's one of my favorites.
Anything to do with home and hearth resonates with me.
Very tiny too,
about an 1 1/4" by 1 1/2".

Another favorite from several years back is this slow stitched piece made by Deliana Park,
ex-English teacher and dear friend at Whitney High.
During her free conference period she attended my Beginning 3-D course and learned to embroider.
I adore this tree design she came up with.
Another year she also took my Beginning 2-D class and learned to draw.
I always loved having the teachers at Whitney take my classes with the kids. 
And the students loved it too.
They got to know their teachers on an entirely different more personal and fun level.

And this little beauty is a new purchase this year from one of my favorite art galleries in Tustin.
It's a hand blown Rutabaga,
again pink just seems to be calling me.
My mother must be pushing me into this "pinkish" zone.
I love that she's still with me and guiding me.
I especially miss her during the holidays.
Xmas is not the same without her handmade Italian cannoli's.
Only one relative has finally mastered her recipe.
Several have tried so I give a shout out to my cousin Linda Ann.
 
Merry Christmas to all of you and have a Wonderful New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

MY HERO

I know I've spoken of my son's mother-in-law Mary often in her fight against Cancer,
but realized I haven't shown you all her picture recently.
Well here she is at her home this Thanksgiving which also fell on her birthday.
Mary is in the middle of her 5th year round of Chemo.
Once again she is in the process of loosing her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows
and she won't wear a wig. 
She is extremely confident in who she is 
which is something I wish I could say for myself if the situation were reversed.

She hosted us this Thanksgiving and cooked the Bird.
She continues to teach her Yoga classes 
and has visited/traveled to see her 1st grandbaby in Dallas, Texas several times this year.
She averages between 11,000 and 12,000 steps a day,
and continues to be one of the most positive, dearest people I know.
She is truly remarkable and an inspiration to me, her family and friends.
And pretty much says FUCK Covid while still staying safe.
God I love her!

Monday, December 21, 2020

AN ARTFUL NEW FIND FROM FRANCE

After browsing Pinterest a couple of weeks ago I came across the Fiber Art of 
Berenice Mollet of Roujan France.
She had covered a lovely stone with a piece of eco-dyed and embroidered fabric.
It was love at first site!
So of course I searched the whirled until I found her and her shop,
and of course bought a few of her pieces to show the gals I'm currently teaching.
From left to right are an elongated notebook,
a rust printed trivet (she included as a bonus),
a medium sized notebook,
then underneath those a zippered pouch.
As you can see above her slow stitching is impeccable,
her designs delightful,
 and her sewing construction of her pieces so perfectly crafted.

What was really difficult was to choose an embroidered covered rock.
It was between an eco-dyed one that had a smaller baby stone attached,
but then I saw this indigo covered one above/below and felt very pulled to it as well.
So I thought about where I'd be displaying it and realized I wanted it in my indigo styled room
at my son's home that he and his wife are allowing me to decorate.
What I also loved about Berenice's blog site
 is she posts a lot of tutorials. 
She takes pix of how she builds her pieces during the classes she teaches throughout France.  
She is very generous with her creative processes.
I hope you get a chance to take a peek thru her site and shop.

Friday, December 4, 2020

SHOUT OUT TO SIDDHANT WATWANI

It's been almost 4 years since I've taught Siddhant in my classroom
when he was in the 7th & 8th grade,
but this dear young man continues to keep in touch and check on me in my retirement.
He is now a junior in high school,
16 years old with a fresh driver's license,
frightening!
Siddhant was a challenging 7th grader in my Art Wheel class,
right Siddhant?
He definitely gave me and his other teachers a run for our money.
As an 8th grader he started to mature a bit in my Beginning 2-D course.
But as all the teachers at Whitney know, 
because we are a 7th thru 12th grade jr/sr high;
 it is the summer between the 8th and 9th grade where real changes start taking place.
Very positive changes.  
The squirreliness disappears along with the attitudes and smart months,
and the 9th graders come in as gentle as lambs.
Well most of them anyways.
LOL
  
So Sid,
it's been refreshing to see you grow into the wonderful young man you've become.
Sid tells me he's looking into a possible 12 year college program
because he wants to specialize in either cancer research or cardiothoracic surgery.
Wow!
I can't even begin to tell you how very proud I am of you,
and I wish you the very best in following your dreams.

And know how much it means to me that you continue to check the blog from time to time
 and keep me in your thoughts.

And don't forget to tell the young men who eat lunch with you outside my old classroom
 to throw away their trash!
Ha ha!!!!
( private joke)

Thursday, November 26, 2020

SO VERY THANKFUL

During this crazy, 
difficult year,
 thank goodness we still have so many things to be thankful for.
A lovely home with beautiful gardens to surround us,
healthy successful children who have found their way,
four grands who are delightful and keep us smiling,
and yes our good health,
even though as we age we find our bodies slowly breaking down.
But we continue to work thru that by exercising and eating as clean as possible,
for us anyways.
Ha!

In the bigger picture,
I'm so thankful that my son-in-law Michael continues to fight against his brain cancer tumor.
He is almost done with his Chemo treatments and the tumor has shrunk a bit.
To look at him you would never know he is sick.

My son's in-laws,
Mary and Nick,
 are now both struggling with different kinds of cancers.
Mary is in her 5th year,
 and her 5th round of treatments.
Her 5th time to loose all her hair,
she is the bravest person I know and again,
never complains.
She inspires me daily with her strength and will to live.
And we just found out recently that her husband Nick has a rare form of bone cancer. 
Luckily it was found early and is treatable by replacing his blood twice a week.
No pills yet, 
and no chemo or radiation.
He is the picture of health and well-being.
We will be together today to eat, drink and be merry for another year round the table.


Today I find myself giggling over this most recent find in the potato bag.
I'm in charge of the mashed potatoes,
which are not "clean" at all.
Full of butter, sour cream, whipping cream, cream cheese with a hint of garlic and rosemary.
They are my specialty and are asked for on this day of giving.
So I could not bare to cut up this wonderful discovery for the boiling pot.
I will take it with me to share and make everyone else laugh with me.
I cannot tell you what my husband said about it,
but I'm sure you can imagine.
LOL 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!

Monday, November 23, 2020

SOME PROGRESS

Couldn't decide which photo I liked better so I just put them both  up.
There are 7 Sections to get thru and I'm 3/4 thru number 4.
The leaves down the hill here have finally started to turn and they are stunning.
The ones in the photo above are Ornamental Pear 
and I've been Eco-Dyeing with them this and last week.
After our rain over 2 weeks ago I noticed that their leaves left a print on the sidewalk
so up they were scooped for the dye bucket.
So far the chocolate brown and yummy turquoise yarns have not been paired together.
Really looking forward to that coming up in Section 5.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

A SNEAK PEEK

Discovering super star knitter Andrea Mowry has been delightful.
I found her on Knit Stars about 2-3 years ago now 
and have been drooling over her patterns ever since.
But alas,
they look so difficult,
so I've been stalling for quite some time before getting started on one of her smaller projects.
Recently I got brave enough to attempt her Shift Cowl,
and it really is excruciatingly challenging for me.
Not because the stitches are difficult,
it's basically Stockinette and Slip Stitches, 
but because I constantly loose track of where I'm at in the pattern.
Plus I'm carrying two different color yarns at all times. 
It actually took me 4 tries just to get started and that's even after I watched her tutorial-
several times.
Ha!
But it's totally worth it.
I look forward to the challenge all day long.
I know I've mentioned this before but I won't allow myself anything fun (craftsy) 
until after all my work is done and house is cleaned up.
I know I'm weird that way.
Wondering if anyone else does the same thing?
I can't seem to allow myself to play unless everything's in it's place.

So what I've found,
 that is working somewhat for me,
 is a journal to tell myself where I've left off for the night,
to help check off rows,
to help me keep track of how many rows to rip off and put back on 
because I see a mistake several rows below.
The list is endless of all the mistakes I've made in this piece.
Pretty frustrating at times.
I'm also trying to watch and listen to my Netflix shows while I knit,
and I need Closed Captioning 
because I won't go get a hearing aide that was recommended 2 years ago.
But that's another story.
So I can't look up,
 and if I do I goof up.
I have never had to pay such close attention to something that usually is so relaxing
 and comes so easily to me.
But I love it,
I know it's good for my tired old brain.
Speaking of that,
have any of you tried Prevagen?
It's supposed to help with short term memory.  
And if so, 
have you noticed a difference?

YARNS
In case you are wondering,
 the yarns are by Malabrigo and they are Sock Weight/Fingering.
I adore knitting with them and the extended color shifts.
Super soft and yummy plus a fabulous color selection.
Andrea actually uses Spincycle Yarns in a thinner weight.
Gorgeous to look at on the Internet.
Ordered and tried them but for me they were stiff to the touch and hard to knit with,
plus almost double the price.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Monday, November 9, 2020

INTRODUCING THE NEWEST GRANDPUP, OOPS, I MEAN GRANDKITTY

This is our newest little one, 
a rescue that my son found under his home.
Abandoned by it's mother at two weeks,
sick, dehydrated and blinded by gook in his eyes;
 my son and his wife brought him into their home,
took him to the vet, 
bottle feed and helped him go potty.
(I had photos of all this except I lost my phone recently and lost all my contacts and pictures :(
My daughter and I drove out to meet him at 4 weeks here...
and we both fell instantly in love.

 This is our boy now at 10 weeks.
Still deciding on a name, 
for now called little Tuna.
He has also been raised by a Grandfather Rocky,
an Uncle Dinkers and Step Mommy Little Farter.
So this will now be their 4th cat,
unless he gets adopted by us or perhaps one of their friends.
It was so very hard not to bring him home with me this weekend.
But our pup Sophie would be devastated and her nose so out of joint.
Soph has been an only child for nine years now and rules the roost in our home.
Ha!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

PUMPKIN LOVE - part two

Displaying my son and daughter-in-law's homegrown pumpkins at the cabin...
and putting up all the harvest decorations throughout home and yard.
That's huge love for me.

Putting out artist/illustrator Patience Brewster's mini 3-d designs come to life,
along with fiber artist Barbara Nelson's stuffed whimsical creations
on a Halloween tree design by Patience is always something I look forward to.
Barbara is still going strong at 87 although this was the first year
the Artistic License Art Show wasn't put on due to Covid where her work is featured.
I've collected one of her whimsical creatures almost every year since I was in my 30's.

Creating pumpkin designs with my new fiber students and and long time dear friends,
was so enjoyable this year.
Aileen Perry,
Whitney High's Biology teacher,
 along with her sister Suzanne Campbell,
Whitney High's Principal's secretary and I have been spending the last 5 months together,
meeting up once a week at my home studio for chatting and creating.
And yes there is mask wearing and social distancing going on!
HA!!
This is satisfying my need to teach as well as keeping me abreast with all the goings on
 at my beloved school that I continue to miss so very much.
Aileen gifted me with the lovely ochre pumpkin in the middle
and inspired me to design my own pumpkins for gifting and display.
Now the gals want to learn to quilt,
so I'm teaching them to eco-dye first to learn about all the dyes that can be extracted from plants.
This will them a rich array of color on cottons and linens to design their quilt with.
Then they will learn to hand stitch and embroider
doing a little preliminary on felt before constructing a mini quilt.
It's up to them where we go after that.
Possibly basketmaking, weaving , felting, bookmaking;
it's all so much fun for me.

It was Aileen's idea to try and make a child's mobile using a few of the characters from Harry Potter.
She has become an avid knitter in only a few months.
Above is the Sorting Hat I demoed for her
(a fairly challenging pattern).
We've also completed the snake and hedgehog and are working on the lion right now.
I'm not a big Harry Potter fan so I used my Sorting Hat as a Halloween display.

Another big love for me during this time of year is collecting and pressing fall leaves.
I just found these from last years collection when I was looking thru a big Coffee Table book.
Amazing how they haven't lost their color in a years time.
Now what to do with them?
Hummm?

This is also the time for us here in Southern Ca. to take down our dried out summer gardens.
This weekend I helped my son remove all his dried up pumpkin and squash vines
and tah dah, 
we can see his backyard again.
I think I might have mentioned a couple of posts back
that when he and his wife moved into their home,
they gutted their backyard.
We amended it with bucket loads of steer and chicken manure,
so the sunflowers they grew were pretty ginormous...
LOL...
as you can see here.
I got to take one of these beauties home with me yesterday,
 and I'll scatter the seeds next spring at the cabin.
Well, maybe not all of them.  
I'll give a lot to our always hungry Blue Jays.

Friday, October 9, 2020

PUMPKIN LOVE - part one

I love the changing of the seasons from summer to fall,
it's my absolute favorite time of year.
And I notice it as soon as I don't feel that intense summer sun's blistering heat on my shoulders
while I'm watering up at the cabin.
For me it's such a big sigh of relief.
And this year was no exception,
we had some major heat waves here in the California Southland 
along with all the crazy fires. 

This year my son Zach and his gorgeous bride are in their new home in the valley.
They gutted their grass in the backyard and planted a veggie garden.
Because we had amended the soil with lots of goodies like chicken and steer manure,
the plants took on a life of their own as you can plainly see all around them.
It was like veggies on steroids.
Ha ha
And the kids have a fairly large size yard
 because that's how they used to space houses in the 1950's and 60's
in the San Fernando Valley.
The pumpkin vines grew from one side all the way to the other side of the backyard.  
I had pix to share but 2 weeks ago I lost my phone and all my pictures and contacts.
So sadly I'm starting over again.
And no,
I didn't know I could save them to my cloud.
I just automatically thought they were up there.
I still have so much to learn.
😕

But the great news is I don't need to go out and buy pumpkins this year.  
My son is my pumpkin patch.
Their largest one is in the photo above with them and it's still growing.
I'm thinking the County Fair.
This next one above is my personal favorite.
It puts a big smile on everyone's face.
The kids let my daughter Dani and myself take home as many as we wanted.

I'm placing them around my front door here at my husband's home 
amongst all my Cacti, Succulents and Xmas Lilies,
and then around my Home Studio door below.

But my favorite place is among my daughter Dani's eclectic mix of pumpkins from Trader Joes.
The really bright orange ones were grown by the kids.
And of course I love the pix even more because of the two best grand pups in the world!

Friday, September 25, 2020

REMEMBER 2016


Dearest Blogger Friends,
It's been so long since I posted that the whole format of Blogger has changed 
so that I'm trying to adjust to the new look as I write to you.  
This is a great stretch for my brain.  

Thank goodness I'm not teaching anymore,
not quite sure how all the public school art teachers are coping with lack of supplies and money,
plus just learning all the new technology.
I know me and I would have been FREAKING OUT!

I guess I've been in kind of a funk for the past few months,
trying to pull myself away from social media.
These are such upsetting and frustrating times plus I'm starting to feel very manipulated by the media.
So I find myself backing away from it and retreating into other venues:
reading, gardening, movies, knitting and working out.
Soothing activities.
Also still trying to loose weight but that's a whole other story,
an unsuccessful story.
But hey,
I'm got some great biceps going on.  
Ha ha

So anyways,
I'm super thankful for Liz Ackert (blogger friend I'm Going to Texas) 
and her checking up on me and my lack of presence here on the web.
Her reaching out feels so good amidst these crazy times.
Thank you Liz.

Now onto her quilt above.
I just revisited her post about this piece.
Firstly,
I'm so saddened to hear about her eye struggles.
She is awaiting Cataract Surgery in one eye,
and has floaters in her other "good eye".

Losing my sight has been my # 2 fear right after my #1,
Alzheimer's.
So Liz,
 my prayers are with you.

Since she is having troubles seeing to stitch,
she has found that she has enough sight to finish off her Remember 2016 quilt.
She sent me this photo above because she included us,
my art students and I,
represented as artisun,
in her piece.
When I saw that it made my heart so happy,
so thrilled in fact that I had to go back on the whirled wide web and find her post about it.

Thank you Liz for helping me find my way back to my blogging buddies.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

FRAMED & DELIVERED

After several weeks of deliberation about whether to gift this piece to my husband
who expressed his love of it,
or to give it to my son and his wife as a very tardy wedding gift,
my son won out.
Getting it to them was another matter
and barely fit in my car,
 but only with the top down.
It is at least 4 ft by 4 1/2 feet.
So needless to say it was a long, slow and careful journey as the wind whipped it to and fro 
against my seat back as I made that long trek to his home in the valley.
But I'm so glad I gave it to them for they ohhed and ahhed over it, 
and have already decided to hang it on a prominent wall in their front room.
Plus it was a wonderful surprise for them both
and completely unexpected.
My heart is happy.

I have since finished another smaller one which I really like as well, 
and am going to show my newly formed knit group how to wet block with it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

OH NO!

Our raccoon family up at the cabin have been into mischief lately
as the babies are growing and turning into challenging teenagers.

This year we have two raccoon families.
One mother with 2 babies who seems to be managing them pretty well,
doing a lot of tree climbing and begging at our screen door at night.
Mommy #1 showing one of the little ones how to climb our tree outside kitchen window

And then a second mom with 4 underfoot.
Her young ones are at an age where they aren't wanting to listen and follow her anymore
and I feel for her.
No matter how much she scolds them they are constantly disobeying her,
and she is forever rounding them up and trying to corral them
with not much luck.
Second mom scolding her babies to come down out of tree

They've been tipping over pots, 
moving my well placed border logs to look for grub to eat,
digging in planters, 
and eating the Blue Jay's eggs and knocking down their nests.
I know,
all typical things raccoons do I have learned.
So every morning I have new surprises in the yard to deal with.
She finally gets them down so she can come down herself

The nest (top pix) belongs to my favorite Blue Jay family.
 The mother returns each year to make her nest under our front porch eaves
on a wooden platform that the owner before us nailed into place just for her. 
But the teenage raccoons found it before the eggs hatched,
made a delicious dinner of them and knocked down the nest for me to find on the ground. 
Needless to say I was very sad for the Jays.
Mommy #1 at our screen door at about 11:00 p.m.
not afraid of me

I don't know about all of you but I have loved bird's and their nests forever.
And this one is a beauty filled and woven with so many ingredients from our mountain community.
Look closely and you will see dried up thins of mud, 
dried wildflowers (I believe they are Fever Fews),
a piece of plastic string,
bites of cloth strips I put out every year for them along with dryer lint,
pieces of paper and lots of different sized twigs.
It is such a masterpiece of ingenuity.
I've got it displayed on our porch railing for Jim's grands to see.
Still waiting patiently for some grands of my own 
ha ha!