Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Flower Pictures

I thought it was time to do a little more enlarging and cropping art for you. Here is a section of one of the flower photos already posted. These are fennel seed pods and part of a petunia stem and flower bud.

The one below is more fennel with zinnias and leaves.

A closeup of zinnia leaves,
white zinnia petals in the
background, yellow and red
zinnias in the foreground with a bit
of petunia leaves peeping out.

A couple of zinnia closeups for your enjoyment. Sorry the deep pink one
is a little blurred.

Hope you've enjoyed looking at them.
The colors remind me of the Tropical Bird
roving that I was spinning a few weeks ago.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I found it! After looking for days for the orange and green singles yarn, I found it while I was looking for something else--of course.

These photos really don't do justice to the colors in this blend. The photo below is a little more accurate. It is really pretty. While I was spinning it, I frequently thought of the term "day glow" that was popular for fluorescent colors back in the day (was that the '70's?). I still use it, but my kids think I'm nuts whenever I refer to something like "day glow orange." I don't believe that the folks at the fiber shop had given the color blend a name, so maybe I'll just call this yarn "Day Glow."

I think I'd like to add a little more twist, so before I ply the other two balls, I might redo the two that I've already plied. It just seems that it could use a little more twist. I plied these two balls while I was sitting out in the twilight watching the rabbits in their play pens. The light was not great and what I saw in the light of day the next morning seemed a little loosely plied. I've found that when I knit with yarn with this amount of twist, it seems to split easier, which is very annoying. In the long run, the time it will take to add a little more twist will make up for the annoyance when I start knitting with it.

I thought I'd leave you with this photo of a medley from the herb garden. I keep a little jar on the table on the front porch and put in whatever strikes my fancy. Today we have a little basil, fennel, zinnias, petunias, and surprise lilies. Although my herb garden isn't what it once was because I do not put the time into it that I did a few years ago, the lovely and fragrant things that come out of it always give me a smile and a source for Nature's art.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I've added some Gadgets to the sidebar. Various "stuff of the day" sorts of things. There's the NASA Image of the Day (space photos--I like astronomy), Weather Station (featuring regional weather radar--I like to know when there's a weather thing on the way), Current Moon Phase (the astronomy thing, again), National Geographic Picture of the Day(great photography of nature, places, and people), Aztec Calendar (hey, I'm an archaeologist), Sacred Destinations of the Day (also appeals to my archaeologist side), and Art of the Day (for the artist in me). If the NASA photo does not load, you can click on the title of the photo and it will take you to the site where you can see a larger size of the same photo. Enjoy!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Of Herons and Other Things

It's about time I got back to the art thing. Remember--that which stimulates the senses or the mind by conveying ideas or emotions in a variety of ways? I especially like finding art in nature. Here is one of my favorite places. This is a view from Ditto Landing Marina of the Tennessee River at sunset. This is a lovely place. It is full of God-given natural art. I love to go there just to have a little peace from the cares of the day or to have a lovely setting for contemplation. I often head down to the river to knit or spin. Sometimes I even go fishing, where I use my worms from the homegrown worm farm that I started a few months ago.

One of the best things about being there is being able to enjoy the wildlife. Because I'm usually there during daylight hours when there are lots of people around, I don't often see much in the way of mammals such as raccoons, rabbits, skunks, deer and the like, but there is an abundance of birds, insects, and water critters such as fish, turtles, and snakes to enjoy. I especially like birdwatching. One of my favorites at this location is the Great Blue Heron. They are such majestic birds. I managed to catch this photo of one of my friends earlier in the summer. He seems to be standing guard as he patiently waits for the unsuspecting fish to swim by to be speared as his next snack.

I do wish I could show you a closeup of his feathers. They are lovely, especially the frill on his neck and wings. When the photos are enlarged and cropped, each makes a wonderful little work of art. These lovely birds are rather gawky in flight. They fly with their necks tucked into a tight S-shape and their long legs trail out behind them. Their call is somewhat less than melodious--a sort of raucous "Quark! Quark!" This is about as much of a closeup as I could get with my camera. These little, affordable digital cameras are fun and allow you to see instantly what you've captured instead of having to wait to get film developed, but I do miss using our nice SLR's with all the lenses. I really should dig those out and start using them again. I could have the photos put on CD's to minimize storage and for computer usage. Or maybe I'll save up to get a really nice, professional quality digital camera (yeah, in my dreams).

About three years ago, I had the opportunity to work briefly with Richard T. Bryant (, a professional photographer who used to be the photographer at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. It was a wonderful experience. I have to tell you I drooled over the photographic equipment and dreamed of one day being able to have cameras like those. Although we were working on an industrial plant site located on Redstone Arsenal, Richard would take time to look at the wildlife of the area. One day as he looked through a telephoto lens, he spied a clutch of eggs at the base of a tower near the creek. We went to investigate. They turned out to be turtle eggs. Unfortunately, they had been partially eaten by some critter--maybe a coyote, a skunk, or a raccoon. Another time, a snake swam leisurely along in the creek near the buildings we were photographing. "Look! Look at that snake!" he exclaimed and we both ran as quietly as we could to the creek to get a closer look at what he thought was a banded water snake. We saw water snakes several times. On our lunch break, we often checked around for whatever animals we might happen upon or sat at a picnic table under the trees and did a little birdwatching or even enjoyed sharing the space with most of the insects that called the place home.

Now, back to my friend, Great Blue. He will stand motionlessly for minutes at a time while he fishes for his meals. When one location doesn't look too productive, as any good fisher will, he quietly moves along, walking in slow motion, then takes up his stance once again. There will be no movement at all, then suddenly he will strike out with his long neck and come up with a shiny fish wriggling on the point of his bill. I have not yet been close enough or quick enough to see any of them get the fish into their beaks, but they manage to somehow get the fish down their throats. Eventually, hoping for a better fishing location, he will extend his huge wings and magically lift off, flying across the river with ease.

Hmm. I think a trip down to Ditto is in order.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Mysterious Disappearing Yarn

Well, I have managed to lose some yarn. The orange and green medley that I was working on for Tour de Fleece has disappeared! Of course, it is probably one of those situations where I put it in the car to cart it somewhere to show it to everyone, then had to put it away in a hurry when I got home. I cannot figure out where I managed to stash those balls. The bigger question is why is it not with the rest of my spinning? I got one ball plied and I'd really like to finish it. It was looking really good.

My house eats things. Stuff disappears all the time. Usually, the only way that I can find something that I am urgently looking for is to just forget about it and it will turn up when I am desperately looking for something else that I have misplaced. It is probably stashed in one of my numerous yarn tote bags that I have just overlooked, but I think I have looked in every bag, nook and cranny around here.

Where's my yarn?!?!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Great Hero Cat, Pants, and His Sidekick, Twinkie

The other night we decided to do a dietary no-no and have a late snack while we watched TV after supper (I grew up in the South where the evening meal is usually "supper," while the mid-day meal is either "dinner" or "lunch" depending on what it is and the context in which it is eaten--maybe a good topic for a future blog--hmm). We weren't too naughty with our snacking, though; we chose watermelon that we'd put off cutting for so long that we were afraid it was not going to be good to eat at this point.

I have several feline family members who cannot contain their curiosity, especially when we sit down to eat at locations other than the dining table. If you have prepared yourself a tasty snack and sit on the sofa to watch TV, rest assured that you will soon be joined by at least one of the furballs hoping to get a little tidbit from you. One of them, Pushkin (the black and white one in the sidebar photo), will just swipe her paw across your plate and snag something if you don't watch it. We use various cat deterrents such at the spray bottle filled with water set on stream rather than spray; a few pennies in a can shaken vigorously; and the most convenient, but perhaps the most likely to make you hyperventilate, blowing short puffs of air directly into the cat's face (note: don't do this with a mouthful of food). Well, the watermelon slices were just more than the cats could ignore, so they began hanging around hoping for a nibble or trying to snag a bite. Finally, I got up and went into the living room, but I was followed by Pascal, the brown tabby whose nickname is "Jungle Pants," aka "Pants" (another story; he's sparring with Twinkie in the side photo), who took a seat on the sofa beside me. I noticed that little Twinkie (love that photo of her looking out the window at the top of my blog) was not nosing around trying to mooch a bite off of any of us. Eventually, I began to wonder where she was. I realized that I had not seen her in quite some time and worried that she might have managed to get outside. Pascal was sitting beside me on the sofa, keeping an eye on my watermelon. I went back into the den and asked if anyone had seen Twink lately. Hmm. They all thought that she was making herself unusually scarce. It was odd that she had not come into the kitchen while I was clattering around getting the watermelon ready to serve. The sounds of food preparation always draw the cats out of their hidey holes and straight to the kitchen. Pushkin and Pascal had come to help, but not Twinkie.

By now the other two humans had spread themselves more comfortably on the den sofa, so I returned to the living room where Pascal was still waiting patiently for a little bit of whatever that thing was on my plate. He looked at me. I looked at him. He looked at my plate. I said, "Oh, no, you don't," then added, "Where's Twinkie? Do you know where she is?" He looked longingly at the watermelon and at me, then got up and trotted off to the dining room where I have way too much sewing stuff, jumped up onto the work table, made his way through a stack of fabric, and began to lick something. Twinkie's head popped up. She had been snoozing peacefully on some unbleached muslin and was missing out on the possibility of getting a little watermelon. Pascal came back, took his place beside me on the sofa, and looked at me as if to say, "I found her! Now give me that watermelon." Twink stretched and came over to sit in front of me on the floor, hoping to beg something from that plate I was holding.

I just thought that was the neatest thing that has happened around here in a while--well, in at least two or three days, anyway. I was amazed. Pascal knew who and what I was talking about and he'd gone to find Twinkie when I asked him if he knew where she was. I rushed into the den to share the news with the other family members who were equally impressed with Pascal's intelligence. It reminded me of those old Lassie and Rin Tin Tin episodes where the quadrupedal star of the show was sent off to find help and always managed to come back with just the right person and save the day. I can see it now:

Pants and I are stranded in the wilderness with a huge plate of watermelon, much more than we can manage between the two of us, and my foot has become wedged under a large boulder. Huge flies are threatening to attack the watermelon at any moment. We need help immediately. Pants purrs and trills at me, nudging me with his head. There is nothing I can do; my foot is stuck. What will we do? The watermelon might be lost to the flies! I tell him to go get help. "Pants! Pants! Quick! Find Twinkie! Go get Twinkie! Hurry! Run, Pants, Run! Find Twinkie!" I lie back on the ground, exhausted from swatting flies. I close my eyes, swatting with my last bit of effort, and hope for a miracle. The flies circle ever closer. Suddenly, I hear a meow. Pants has returned, followed by Twinkie! I am amazed and relieved. The watermelon is safe! As I shift my position to greet the felines, I feel my foot give a little beneath the rock. Lo and behold! I can wiggle my foot out from under it. Even better, it isn't even injured. We all rejoice and eat the watermelon, then hike back across the yard to the house. I tell everyone how Pants found Twinkie for me and saved the watermelon and me. We have a big parade for them with confetti, floats, marching bands, speeches, CNN, the whole nine yards.

Ah, life with cats!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Catching Up and Preventing Boredom

Well, I just cannot seem to get my act together lately. I am almost as behind in my blog entries as I am in my spinning. I hoped that participating in the Tour de Fleece would help me to get caught up. However, life has generally managed to keep me from doing very much of both in the past few weeks. I did accomplish one of my Tour goals: I got all the Tropical Bird spun, plied, and skeined. Now it is just waiting for me to mail it to my friend, Rosanne. Perhaps I will get a photo of it posted soon. I got some of my orange and green medley yarn plied, but did not manage to get it all plied. I'm still working toward finishing that. Finally, I got quite behind on the aqua--just a little here and a little there, but it is a handspindle project and quite portable, so I keep it in the car and work on it whenever I have occasion to have to wait for very long: in doctors' offices, standing in line to pay for the car tags, waiting for someone I'm picking up to get to the car, and so on.

One thing I love about handspindle spinning is that you can take it almost anywhere. I've even spindled while standing in line at Six Flags and Universal Studios. I guess some folks think I'm a little weird, but I'm not standing there idly passing the time and wishing the line would move on like they are. Last year when we went through the security check at Six Flags, the guard's comment after looking into my backpack containing a pair of knitting needles, yarn, a drop spindle, fiber, and a paperback novel was, "Gee lady, you must be planning on being bored!" My reply was, "Actually, I'm planning on not being bored. I do this while I stand in line to ride Superman, Batman, and the Georgia Scorcher. The time passes much more quickly. It also gives me something to do while I sit and rest or just wait for the rest of the group to show up." I got a rather strange look from him. Oh, well.