Sunday, December 4, 2016

Preservng the Spirit of Christmas on December 4

 Bottling the tree.
 Tonight Santa and Mrs Claus arrived in our village, transported as usual on a vintage fire truck. Santa seems to be stifling a cough - there's an early case of 'flu running through town just now - or is he merely clearing his throat ready to respond to all those children with their whispered messages?
Upon the arrival of Santa our village Christmas Tree bursts into light.

Thus the spirit of Christmas is officially with us once again.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Preserving the Spirit of Christmas

Those who regularly read this blog know that I sometimes struggle with being able to speak in a way that is understood by those around me. We may speak the English language but there are many words that are used differently depending on where we are at the time we speak.
In my native New Zealand a couple of generations ago the kitchen enthusiast bottled fruit (and more) in times of plenty (I'm thinking of the delicious peaches) to be available in the months when fresh produce was much harder to come by. We called this kitchen art "preserving". Here in the USA, as I understand it, the same process is called canning.

Last year I set out on a very active blogging course in November, December and into the new year. For November I posted using the theme of Color Me November. For December it was the Trees of December. And in the opening months of 2016 I alternated with Winter White Wednesday and a specific color on the weekends until winter was officially declared "over".

Please humor me this year with a less ambitious plan. For the month of December I'm setting out to preserve the spirit of Christmas and will take liberal license to use the words "spirit"and "preserving" borrowing from the vernacular of the several countries I have lived in where English is the common language. In January? Who knows what it will be - why don't you offer up your suggestions.

Before I launch any further I want to include one last (??!) fall themed photo of my little white pumpkins. I had a lot of fun and creative moments with these this season.
Three little pumpkins preening.
Blurring the seasons.

I need to give credit to my friends Jill and Randy - when I went to their house a couple of weekends back they had paired a white pumpkin with a white poinsettia and I thought it was a brilliant combination. The variety of colors in poinsettias this year is amazing to me. You can expect to see more posts featuring these plants which are integral to the spirit of Christmas.

Oh, I forgot to add that the plan is to post every "even" date in December.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks

Today is Thanksgiving Day - a time when we can pause and think about what we are thankful for.
 Last Saturday I was thankful for the "flour flinging" that was going on in the kitchen when number 2 son was busy making pies to donate to the annual pie sale at our church. Pictured above is one of the two pumpkin pies cooked along with a pecan, a pineapple and an apple pie for a total of five pies.  He made the pies and I did the wrapping/presentation and then we drove over to church to deliver them. In the evening, once the kitchen had cooled down and been cleaned up I made cranberry, orange, coconut, pecan quick bread loaves and delivered them on Sunday morning as we arrived at church for the 10am service.
 On Saturday I was thankful for the timing of a phonecall from my neighbor. She wanted to alert me that her red maple tree was at peak of color and did I want to come take a photo? Thankfully I did go right on over and spend a half hour wandering round taking photographs because as I arrived back home a fierce wind sprang up that heralded the arrival of a cold front. Many leaves got blown off trees.
 Here is another shot of that red maple taken from the backside/interior of the tree looking out into the bright light. This one shows the brilliant color of the foliage really well.
 I am also hugely thankful for the efforts of number 1 son who has diligently raked, raked and raked some more, picked up the leaves and then dumped them in the big leaf pile out back.
 The oak leaves are a stunning brown this year.
 I'm also thankful that the new england aster plants did finally come into bloom. We had such a dry fall coming on the heels of a very hot summer and these plants had not come into flower when I thought they should.
 The nandina has good berries on it that the birds will be very thankful for in the winter.
 Nature has painted this nandina a very pretty shade. As I was out taking photos this morning I noticed a "leftover" from the painting crew who were here in August. The shrubs were much fuller then and I guess the painter did not realize he had dropped his brush.
 Wednesday of last week our small quilt group went to visit the Warrior Retreat at Bull Run. We have made and donated a number of quilts to this center to be given to the warriors who come for a retreat with up to 12 of their family members and friends. Opened last year this facility "provides our nation's recovering warriors with a cost-free respite opportunity away from the environment of their medical center. Our troops and their families are invited for a one-week "get-away" where everyone can relax, bond and enjoy quality time together." (words quoted directly from their promotional brochure). I was very impressed by what we saw and heard and thankful that we have groups like SOWW who are committed to demonstrating a tangible way that these servicemen and women can be helped in their recovery. Please go visit http://www.willingwarriors.org/ to find out more about this wonderful home away from home.
And I'm going to finish out as I began with another delicious pie (this one an apple pie) made for the pie sale.

Happy Thanksgiving to all - may you have the opportunity to share this day with family and friends and enjoy a delicious turkey dinner together. We will be giving thanks for the chance to gather round the table of a friendly neighbor and indulge in the yearly feast of roast turkey with all the trimmings.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow


 It seems as though I am stuck in a bout of the blues right now. Yesterday something I had hoped would be resolved instead remained active. I retired to my bedroom early, closed the door, indulged in a private pity party and turned out the light early. But this morning, y'know what? - the sun did come up...and the wind did not. Oh happy day! I have been watching the beauty of those red maple leaves react to the season for the last week and this morning the wind quit tossing them to the ground.
The dogwood tree is a beautiful shade of maroon.
The morning sun begins to light up the spirea bushes.
 And this one lower branch of the maple tree really lights up when the morning sun catches it.
 The potted pansies on the deck are patiently waiting and hoping that they will get planted into bigger pots to stay through the winter and on into spring.
 Out front a few rogue coneflowers defy the odds and send out their blooms.
 The chrysanthemums bought as a potted plant display for Studio Tour last year made it through a late replanting and have burst forth gloriously this fall.
 The red maple at the beginning of the week when there were also leaves still left on the black walnut tree.
 That same lower branch of the maple tree a couple of days earlier.
 Today I think the temperature may have almost reached 70 F and we needed to refill the water in the one remaining birdbath. These two robins hung out there for quite some time.
 Last week the crepe myrtle was at peak while the summer salvia and pelagonium in the foreground are looking a little frazzled.
 Another "can't resist" shot of the crepe myrtle.
 Last week, when it was so windy every day, I had to resort to cutting small branches from the maple and bringing them indoors to photograph.
Not only did the sun come up today...it also went down.

Hope springs eternal.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day 2016

Today is November 11 - here in the USA it is known as Veterans Day whereby we recall the great service given by so many in the armed forces to ensure our liberty. In the UK it is known as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day in Canada in recognition of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the armistice was signed between Germany and the Allies calling World War I to an end.
 My still life was set up to honor my father-in-law Edward C. Emmer who served proudly as a pilot in the 101st Airborne Division as well as to recognize all the Anzacs in WWI.
 This afternoon I thought I would go see what else I could find to include in this post. Back in the springtime I had seen photos of this pedestrian bridge in nearby Lake Anne but I had never actually seen it myself. The trees on either end of the bridge are ornamental cherry trees which likely make for a prettier picture than this but the fall foliage is at peak in the background right now.
 This willow tree caught my eye and I thought the base of it looked like an old alligator about to slide into the water.
It was a windy day and there were several people out and about waiting for the wind to ease off so they could photograph the trees reflected in the lake water. The wind was not co-operating but I did find this little calm spot.
 My plan was to head back to our own village to our freedom memorial in time for a sunset view. The moon was out well before the sun left and looked good up there in the blue sky.
 Alas, it was not my day. Now, when I wanted a breeze to see the flags flying, the wind had calmed right down and the hoped for sunset was a bit of a fizzer.
To close I'm going to recycle this photo which I may have used last year. These two veterans are my Dad and my Grandpop and I am also remembering them today with gratitude for their service.

May we never forget, freedom isn't free.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Into November

Hooray, October is done. It has been w a y  too hectic. But when things were getting too ridiculously tense I would take a timeout with my camera. Want to see what I captured?

 Three little pumpkins in a row.
The first light frost of the season showed up on October 26. I didn't realize it was a potential until looking at the weather website at 11pm the night before. Yikes! I grabbed the flashlight and the colander (and the 6' 2" helper) and went outside to try and strip cherry tomatoes from the vines. The next morning I took them back outside to see how they looked in that first burst of freeze.
Once back inside and getting on with the day's activities I suddenly noticed the amazing billowing effect out on the deck caused by the hot air from the dryer vent meeting the chilly morning air.
This has not been a great overall season for the fall foliage colors (too hot for too long and then too windy) but if you look hard enough there are pockets of beauty to be found.
In a neighbor's garden I saw this fabulous autumnal display and had to rush back home for my camera.
The little pumpkins...again. Last year I found magnificent white ones but this year they were so-so. I was complaining to my technical assistant about how many I had had to pick through looking for ones without brown spots. He, despite not being a photographer, looked and me and said "just use the the spot removal tool". Well, duh. But I didn't succumb to that technique. Here they are, spots and all.
 There are still a few hardy black eyed susan's hanging on in the garden. They might look a little raggedy but the bees are enjoying them despite their appearance.
 We had some really strong winds some days and a big branch snapped off one of the maple trees and fell. I was able to harvest some leaves to photograph that I never would have been able to see as they were too high up in the tree.
 Here's the same branch. This one was taken the day I found it and I had to chuckle when I saw the photo because it has this really windblown and scared look to it!
 Generally speaking I am not fond of orange so this year I tried for a white Fall! This shot was taken as the sun was going down and gave a lovely light in the background trees.
Let's end as we began with three little pumpkins in a row.

You might also notice I decided it was time to learn how to use the watermark tool.

Perhaps orange isn't so bad after all. As I look at the collection I am posting an orangey-red turns up in just about every image.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Studio Tour 2016

It's time again for the Great Falls Studios 2016 Art Tour. You're invited to come along on this family-friendly self guided free wander through the back roads and byways of Great Falls to meet the artist members of Great Falls Studios. Join in the adventure beginning Friday, October 14 from 10am to 5pm and continuing on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th at the same hours.
 58 members have been busy creating lots of art and now we are ready to meet you, show you our artwork, and talk with you about what we create and what inspires us. In some studios you can watch a demonstration or even try creating something yourself gently guided by the resident artist.

You can go visit our website http://www.greatfallsstudios.com/studiotour
There you will find the map along with the list of artists and much more information. 

Look for me in a couple of places:

I will be at the Great Falls Public Library, dubbed Tour Headquarters for this event, in the large meeting room. Hanging on the walls and exhibited in the display case are sample artworks from many of the participating artists. 


In the center of the room you will find a small selection of my quilts, including "Uluru: Star of the Outback" shown above, along with a selection from my new media, photography. As a special preview for my blog readers, "Signs of the Season" is shown below.

Drive along Georgetown Pike just a short distance from the library to The Old Brogue, our renowned Irish pub (street address for your GPS is 760 Walker Road) and pop in for a coffee or lunch/dinner. In Katie's Coffee House (which becomes "the Snuggery" in the evenings) you can also see my exhibition "My New Zealand", which is on display there for the entire month of October.
"Agapanthus - A Summer Staple" shown above.

So far the crowd favorite at Katie's seems to be my canvas print "The Woolly Majority" 


I will have a smaller version, printed, framed and matted in the traditional style with me at the library.
It will be such a pleasure to see you this weekend so don't be shy, come meet me and let's chat.