Sunday, August 28, 2016

Quilting... sort of

 This blog is about living the creative life. 

So this post is quilt related.
Grief is my normal right now. I do not feel like creating. It's been one long month since we said goodbye to our poodle son Cole. I have stitched on my hexie quilt during our long car trip but cannot get inspired to put myself into fiber art at the moment however I thought I might show you some purchases.

If I'm buying something, that's a sign that I hope to regain my creativity, right?? Sometime?

The above kit, and I SELDOM purchase kits, was bought on sale at Keepsake Quilting about two weeks after Cole left. It made me think of him so on impulse I got it. It comes with everything needed except your machine, even backing and binding, for $27. I've not done a bargello, so... it might be a way back in.
I went into the studio this week, that's an improvement.

I folded this washed fabric. When I went through the old purchases I kept thinking, "wow! I love this! And THIS TOO!"
Duh! I bought them all, but forgot about them lol.

On our recent three day trip to MA I got these treats at Tumbleweeds Quilt shop on Cape Cod

A studios magazine for $1.50
mary englebreit fabric and bathtub girls fabric for $4 bucks a yard
lumiere paint on sale for about $3
and the minnie mouse buttons

They all made me happy.

The bathtub girls made me want to make something for a few friends.
I grew up in Florida with Disney World, and Minnie was always a favorite so they were too stinkin' cute to leave behind. What can I put them on??

Mostly I'm writing a lot. And reading. This book was sent to me to review, which I will soon as well as give away a copy. You'll want it, the story is great! I read and write while listening to this...
our gurgling fountain
when I'm not walking miles in these
I have written quilts/art posts. I have written dog posts/stories.
I have friends here who share the whole creative life experience with me, quilts, dogs, travel etc.
Right now I am finding my way through the feelings.
I feel things deeply, which made me a good counselor, a good actress, a writer, an artist, and friend I hope.
I'll find my way eventually but will keep reaching out with travel and writing for a bit.

Gotta be real.  I appreciate every comment and word of encouragement you give me.
The love you've sent is balm to my heart.

I laughed the other day... remembering one of Cole's antics. He was a good boy.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Plimoth Plantation

I wish I could enlarge this more but it goes into my side bar... feel free to click on any images to enlarge them. This is Plimoth Plantation, a re-created living history museum to show us what the original settlement might have been like. Read more HERE

 I asked why this was here not in the original location a few miles away?? Well, the town grew from this, and as it grew people tore down original structures to make way for "progress" and new homes, and it grew continuously since they landed into the modern town of Plymouth!

The Pilgrims came from England and the Netherlands on two ships (Mayflower and Speedwell) in search of religious freedom. The two groups did not even agree on how to worship yet they along with the Native American tribes nearby, managed to live in relative harmony for a time.
The re-enactors were awesome. I learned so much about the time period and how people survived the elements. The native interpreters are actual tribes people of the general area. The curved structure in the background would have mats covering it woven from nearby grasses as this was a summer home.

This artisan was making porcupine hair head dresses. He said feathers would be earned and rare.

His people have been making these for a long time, him since age 6.
The concoction would be held on by pulling their long hair through an opening in the headdress.
I was fascinated with the colors, and did not take pictures of pottery, skins, mats, etc. 

They also had more permanent structures and villages inland. They found peace and trading with the Europeans who built quick dirt floor structures to get them through the winters.
Even in times of survival, the wealth was obvious when seeing the different dwellings. This one had more furniture. All had open hearths. All had many people sleeping in one space on the floors. Wall to wall people. I asked this young woman about that, and she said, men and women slept on blankets. Some men would stumble over them each night, stepping on them! It was quite hot this day, and they were all in buttoned up clothing and the women in stays.
 Every item had to be brought over with them. Additional items were sent by ship later, but not always what they needed or requested. They expected more food and supplies but got more people to house and feed!!

They had one structure to have meetings, services, and canon that could shoot for miles against ships.

Imagine, seeking a new place to settle, across an ocean with no protection or back up services, with approximately 200 people in your entire group.
Men and women alike, working to pay back their new start, sending what resources they could back to the investors hoping to earn land in the future.

I asked if they mostly got along... well... people being what they are, no.

Each had a garden to tend, and there were chickens, cows, and a few animals also brought over that roamed around the settlement.
 They had no doctors, but some people had a knowledge of healing.
One man pretended to be a minister, but was a crook!   People!
I imagined the lives these women gave up in cities of Europe, to cope with the ravages of this new world.
Their beliefs must have been mighty strong and they must have been mighty tormented in Europe to leave on this adventure.

Friday, August 26, 2016

And then there's Provincetown....more cape cod kookiness

While on Cape Cod we drove to the end  Provincetown.
Isn't that a lovely picture?? Imagine living here and seeing this daily.

What we didn't know was  a parade was just finishing, clogging the streets with floats and people. People in costume and people in their unusual daily attire. The parade/festival is "Carnival" and the theme was "back to the 80's"
We arrived just after the parade was over. The one main street was so crowded of people milling around we were stuck til a man in a big pink dress and even bigger blond wig directed people out of our way.
He stuck his head in the car and said, " I like what you've done with your float..."
We found a place to leave our "float" and joined the throngs milling around the streets, to get a feel for the place.
It's wacky.
We went in a couple stores...
and looked at some very cool and unusual beach houses...
We were told the blue plaque means this house was floated over to this location from the sandbar location. I liked the half door... in MD if you did that bugs would come in, eat all the people and carry the house off. There's a puppet guarding this half door. We saw another house with a ships masthead attached. Another with a naked statue covered in carnivale beads. Lots of dogs. Lots of costumes. Lots of colorful characters...
These four went as four "Disasters of the 80's".
The first one is Mount St. Helens eruption. The next is the Valdez oil spill. The next is Chernobyl radiation leak. The last one...
 the tylenol poisoning.

We also saw these colorful characters
and looked at this for a long time
to kind of cleanse our psyche of all the craziness.

I was sorry not to see Cher or Hillary or Andy Cohen. The traffic was hideous trying to leave the Cape later that night but we made it back to the hotel so we could go to Plymouth the next day and see something historical.

We were only there three days but it was a big change and reminded us there is not only a big country out there to experience, but a big world. No need to get locked into a rut here... gotta keep our options open.

A change was what we needed. Cape Cod, Plymouth, then Newport Rhode Island.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Finding the Muse #12 Beatuful vistas and colorful stores

Oh, the clear blue skies over the salt marshes on Cape Cod MA. This is a view from the window of the Bird Barn Gallery. I fell in love with this tiny art venue that used to house birds. In fact, I felt I'd been here before... and had lived a life here near this place, so strong was my feeling of homecoming.
 There is a quality of light, and a gentleness of visual beauty here. In the olden days, barges were dragged along the shallow waterways to gather salt, Today kayaks are seen trying to navigate the many streams, but it was the birds that caught my attention.
Inside the gallery I found a young mother and her daughter. The building felt like a magical cottage, with tiny multipaned windows, open to the breeze, sound of birds and dragonflies, binoculars available to use, and my mind quieted immediately. Nothing mattered but the quality of light, the gently swaying grasses, the clean smells, the expanse of nature.
The muse lives here too. I have not felt like creating fiber art, but on this day in this place I found myself longing for my paints. My watercolors would capture the blues and greens. The light... light captures the imagination of many artists. It felt good to feel like creating again. Something deep inside stirred and wanted to see color flowing on paper. I imagined seeing threads creating grasses in delicate colors against a hand dye.
The approx. 4 year old girl was playing inside the building and my inner 4 year old longed to take up a teacup and play grown-up with her. Of course, being adult is no day at the beach sometimes and loss that comes with being alive and loving takes some gloss off play. Still.... I could remember how magical this place would have felt to young me, because she is still in there, and responded.
That part of me who loves whimsy responded to the fish swimming through the air... the stacked flowers and birds in the yard
If I felt like quilt making, I might love to do a primitive, whimsical stack like this. Maybe one day soon I can face the studio. Like I mentioned before, I create from a place of joy, and right now my spirit feels like a skinned knee. I am happy to be responding to beauty again.

Sometimes it takes a bit to open your eyes, and your heart to beauty after a loss.
The muse in the form of beauty is there, waiting for us.
For now, I want to paint, and to write. I Felt something. I want to return to this place of calm and healing.

On this day, we tried to see as much of an overview of Cape Cod as possible, so we drove the length of it stopping at only a few places, vowing to return for a leisurely exploration. The area has small old (really old, like 1600 era) towns for me to look at architecture. It has natural vistas, stores, restaurants.

As an aside, we stopped in Barnstable for a quilt store, (a TERRIFIC Tumbleweeds by name)and lunch. While strolling to the outdoor cafe, I spied a sign that said Remote Sensing. Hmmm that's my husband's engineering specialty.... and he said, "hey...that's the business name of one of my UMass associates"

Sure enough, it was his friend's company here on Cape Cod instead of in Amherst! How exciting to run into Jim unexpectedly. When he worked alongside Jim, Drew was finishing his masters degree and we were about to wed so it's been at least 22+ years since they talked! Small world.

If we had not been ambling along, stopping where our fancy took us, we would have missed this moment.

I wrote a short fiction story about the young mother and the Bird Barn. The muse is still by me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cape Cod Poodles and labs

I took so many fun pictures on our little trip, I might just do 4 or 5 posts to share them! 

In this picture, we are windblown and hot from a summer's day on Cape Cod. The land behind us is the very tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown and the very place the Mayflower stopped to let the Pilgrims on land after their long voyage. They went on to Plymouth before settling their new digs. 

A couple days after our visit, Cher hosted a fund raiser for Hillary here. A Cher and Hillary siting would have made a great story!
 I have other pictures of the town, plus some absolutely lovely pics of Cape Cod seashore for later. As well as stories about our adventure. 

At the above moment, we stood for a long time looking at the beach scene in front of us, and watching walkers in the sunset...
 These women obviously walk this beach often as the two dogs were friends and explored the beach together. A lab and a poodle. 
I had a lab and a poodle who loved labs.  (They never got to meet)

I watched them all the way down the beach and back. Darting amid boats beached at low tide, checking out critters together, running ahead, looking back at their people, then coming back to touch their peeps' legs with wet noses. 
Little bit there had a bandage on his tiny poodle foot. 
 I saw this in town, and it made me laugh. It's a town full of happy dogs and people busy being unique and free. Humor is encouraged here. 

I saw this in a garden of statues next to an art gallery.
It is an Apache Blessing, and it says:
May the sun bring you new energy by day
May the moon softly restore you by night
May the rain wash away your worries
May the breezes blow new strength into your being
May you walk gently through the world and know it's beauty all the days of your life

More to come... LeeAnna

another Cape post here

Monday, August 22, 2016

It's the little things in life....

We just returned from a short car trip to the Boston area.
The above picture is indicative of one of a million small kindnesses my husband shows daily. Thank you my darling. 
This morning, as we step around suitcases, and bags to get to the kitchen and restart our daily lives, Drew got up first, made coffee, poured milk from the heavy new container into the pretty pitcher for me.

 He made coffee, went out to wash the residual poison mosquito spray (my neighbors think we need to poison the atmosphere every three weeks for 6 months a year) from our porch, and took some forms to the bank for me, all to allow me a gentler re-entry into our silent house.

It's the daily, small gestures that make up love.

On our trip we spent a day in lovely, artistic, gentle Cape Cod where I was brought to tears by the landscape. I found myself wanting to move in for a week, with my paints and notebooks.

We spent the next day immersed in American history, visiting Plymouth to see where Pilgrims made a home in an unknown land. Thanksgiving will have new meaning for me this year. We also saw the birth place of one of my favorite presidents, John  Adams. I love that he chose a strong wife, and listened to her.

The final day of our trip was spent in Newport RI, admiring architecture of America's "castles" or the "cottages" / mansions of that yachting town. We were so smitten, we bought a membership ticket so that we would return at the holidays. It's like investing in future beauty.

I had one major meltdown the final evening.
I hoped for a break from pain but it does follow you wherever you go doesn't it? One can have a diversion and that is a good balance for loss. The last day, we walked in Newport, where we went with Cole as a yearling. I think that coupled with our upcoming return to real life, sent me into tears again.

I also wonder on introspection, is my regret and second guessing at our final timing to let Cole go, a way to hold onto him.
 In a strange way.
The keening, the regret of not feeding him more, wondering if we could have done something, anything to keep him safe and comfortable...

It is the final acceptance of a sad situation...we can't always protect and keep those we love. We are human. Life has cycles. There is a limit to what we have control over. All the tears in the world won't push off the inevitable loss. I wonder how life will change once I come to acceptance, one of the stages in grief.

No matter what the loss is, a parent, a flooded out house (poor quiltswissy in Baton Rouge) or a 14 year old poodle-son, the stages of grief are the same.

I thank you all for walking the walk with me as I continue to blog about living the creative life. This is my real life, and I plan to share it here.
I have many pictures to show you involving creativity from our exploration of the Northeast. I hope you stay with me on this journey of life. love, LeeAnna

Friday, August 19, 2016

Summer squares

I decided on a border for my little Summer quilt. All squares finish at 1.5 inches.
I was going to show you lots of choices for the border, but this is done now. It's layered with backing and batting and ready to quilt.

I don't know if you see it but it's a tree, with grass and sky.The blue will be binding.

I finished it before Cole left but have not sewn on it since.

 I sew from the joy in my heart.
Whether it's abstract, or whimsical, realistic, or a bed quilt. It's the same with my paintings, drawings, and all hand made items.  I have not had joy lately, and haven't been able to sew.

I trust in the process, and the drive to create. I know it will return. When it does, I will quilt this lovely piece.

Just for interest, I went through about 20 border possibilities before returning to this one. I knew I wanted to do the squares but my husband said it distracted from the center.

 I ended up ripping out the placement along the borders, mixing in different colors and then I quite liked it.

Sometimes you have to let go of a choice and look at a problem with new vision.