Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Diva Challenge 212: Fanz

This week's challenge came at an opportune moment because I had been working on Ben Kwok's toucan in my art journal and didn't have any ideas on what to put in the bottom space. Fanz! Of course! Why didn't I think of that!

I've really been enjoying the new drawing journals that I found at Michael's. 8.5" x 5.5". Smooth paper; very little if any tooth. Only 40 sheets and flat-no spiral or glue. I've been shrinking down Ben's templates and putting them in there along with some of my favorite quotes. Unfortunately, that's all I want to do since I started the journal last week and chores etc. have gone by the wayside. So be it. 

I am going to the library tonight to hear a talk by Susan Holding on her new book The Little French Bakery cookbook. Susan and I worked together for three years at a local medical clinic. She was an RN. She decided to follow her passion and went to France to learn to make a pastry-atrician? I'm eager to see her again and hear about her journey. Some days I find it impossible to imagine taking that kind of a leap of faith and some days...I can totally see it! 

I finished the book Into The Heart of The Dark Wood by Billy Coffey last night. That sucker kept me up for three nights! First the heart palpitations reading it, and then the dark dreams following. It was my kind of book! Growing up in the wild woods of Maine gave me the ability to 'see' this book in vivid detail. It's a 'realistically scary' book...a 'what if' book. It reminded me of  Stephen King's The Dome in that way.  What would happen if you were just a couple of kids and were lost in the the winter. Awesome read! I highly recommend it. 

That's all the news today from rainy Wisconsin. I'm gonna have to get out there and make some sunshine!

Monday, April 06, 2015

Cha-Cha-Cha Changes

Spring is the time of renewal and change. The winter snow changes to melting puddles (trust me, People Of The Northeast, it will happen!) and the bare trees give way to buds and leaves. All of the changes around me have me in a good, but reflective, mood this spring about changes in my own life. This little guy was my WIP last week. He 'bout sums it all up.

It was a relatively quiet weekend. I went to Knit Night with  Elizabeth, Jen and Colin on Friday night. The other Knit Chicks were attending Seder dinner for Passover.  The music was pretty good. I got a lot done on the socks I'm working on. We had fun chatting and throwing sarcasm, and pithy observations around; none of which I'm allowed to repeat, 'cause, you know, what happens at Knit Night stays at Knit Night. 

Saturday, I was in a clean-y mood, which rarely happens, so I took the opportunity to neaten up the basement, wash a couple of windows and organize my sock yarn. I dug out my umbrella swift and winder and wound enough skeins into cakes to get me through the rest of the year. It's one of those tasks that I hate to get started,  but once I do, I kind of like it. Cooper kind of liked it too until he figured out that those strings were attached to a rotating beast that was going faster than a helicopter blade and could take both of his ears clean off, then he feigned disinterest and wandered off to knock things off the shelves that I had just neatened. 

I did get out a bit and go to lunch with Friend-Mary. We went to Outback (YUM) and caught up a bit since we haven't seen each other for ages. Afterward I went to the Agrace thrift store, run by our local hospice. I hadn't been in since it had moved locations and I found a CD, lovely plate and purse that I like. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking. The breeze was cold but with a jacket it was perfect for walking through the field and woods.  I didn't see my hawk.  I usually do.  In fact, the last time I saw her, she had a bright-orange, ornamental koi from someone's backyard in her talons. Now there's something you don't see every day!

I had a nice e-chat in the evening with my sister, Dina, and then toddled off with my book. I didn't stay up to watch the Badgers play Kentucky, but I knew when they won at around 10:10 because a collective cheer went up for miles around. I wasn't asleep yet and had my window cracked. It made me smile. I wish them all the luck against Duke tonight!

Sunday was Easter and I had no plans so I decided it was a 'rest day' and devoted it to The History Channel, good books and knitting.  My street was pretty busy with folks coming and going so Ben and I went out several times to visit neighbors, and I went for a two hour hike up through the fields again, but other than that, we were couch veggies all day....and night as it turns out, since PBS has had the brilliance to put Call The Midwife, Mr. Selfridge and Wolf Hall back-to-back-to-back! (Contented sigh...) 

I got one sock done (Kitchner grafted and ends woven) and the other is down to just the toe. I'll post a pic soon. They are socks for giants. .5 mil. larger  needles than I usually use, thicker weight yarn, and no ribbing makes them hugantic! I almost frogged them but decided that I would finish them since I had them both 3/4 done. I'll hang on to them. They'll fit someone, somewhere, sometime. 

At any rate, that's all the boring news there is to print at this point. I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Diva Challenge and WZAC Meeting

Business first. This week's Diva Challenge was to use the tangle 'FLUX' in a tile. I've been working on the quote and main design in my doodle book for a couple of days now so I added FLUX to it. It's the plant like bits nestled in the border curves.
I don't use FLUX much so it was nice to get acquainted with it.  Maria's version of the pattern is on the top border and Rick's is in the lower border.

Saturday was our Wisconsin Zentangle Artists' Coalition meeting out in Waunakee. I love this group SO MUCH! I wish the meeting was more than quarterly! It was nice to meet up with my doodle buddies again and see what everyone is working on and to learn new techniques. As an added bonus, the president, Katie, brought along a couple of special guests; two lovely, young women from the Latter Day Saints church who are here in Wisconsin on their mission. One of the girls is the daughter of Jimmy Osmond, Donnie and Marie's little brother. They were  both super sweet and enthused about tangling. I'm sure it's a great outlet for the stress and loneliness of being away from their families for a year!

The ladies at my table were all working on something called Smash Books which is a hybrid version of a Zentangling journal and scrapbooking. It was beautiful, BEAUTIFUL work and makes me want to investigate color more!

On the way home, I stopped at Mendota Park in Middleton for a stroll. It was a beautiful sunny day but the wind coming off the still-ice-covered lake cut my walk a little short. I wasn't dressed for it. But it was gorgeous! Scott and I used to go to that park quite often when his grandmother lived in the assisted living place just up the road. 

 You can see the ice is gone from the shore but is still pretty solid in the middle. 

 I just love water diamonds. I have a small video clip we took at Rockland Breakwater a couple of summers ago of beautiful diamonds on the ocean waves that I watch now and again just to make myself heart-wrenchingly homesick!

I woke up Sunday to a layer of ice and a cold rainy day, so Ben, Cooper and I spent the it doing chores and then  reading, knitting and watching National Geographic. It was nice to kick back and just chill. We got the dishes done and chores all tied up before the new seasons of  'Call The Midwife' and 'Mr. Selfridge' on PBS began at 7:00 PM.-perfect ending to a perfect weekend. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Diva Challenge and Mother Nature's Dirty Tricks!

This week's Diva Challenge # 210 was to use a spiral as a string.  I had an idea, but it all blended in together until I added the shading.  It's better but it's still not like it was in my head but it was fun to play with anyway.  I always put my first try up so here it is.

I know that my friends and family are all totally buried on the East Coast and I really don't have any grounds to complain, but that's never stopped me 

All our snow was gone. We even had a couple of days in the 70°s! Spent Sunday at the park, rejoicing in the open water...

Hunting for fossils...

 Walking by the river...

Communing with the chittering muskrats...

Walking a new path in the spring woods....

That had fun bridges over the melted snow and mud.

My crocuses bloomed on Sunday afternoon!

Then Monday morning I woke to this!

We were supposed to get 1-3 inches...we got 10-12 inches instead!  Darn you and your nasty surprises, Mother Nature.   There's only one thing to say in a situation like that.....

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Look Before You Leap. Think Before You Speak.

I generally operate under the rule that if I don't think before I open my mouth, I get to be as surprised as everyone else at what the mind monkeys fling out of it. On the best of days it's pretty harmless, but occasionally this approach backfires and I want to throw myself off the roof.  Today is one of those days.

We had a breakfast this morning with colleagues from around the world. France, UK, China, Italy, Japan, Germany, Brazil  and Spain were all represented. And Switzerland as evidenced by the very, handsome, new, guy seated next to me. Those of you that know me know that, generally speaking...I'm generally speaking. It's not always fluid or sensible, but I can keep up my end of the conversation- word count wise at least- and I can help you with your end too if you need it. But around the International folks, I tend to be a bit shy, reserved and even more socially awkward than usual.

So I'm sitting with the French and Mr. Switzerland. We're talking about how we try, whenever possible, to support the Branches by matching up scientists from the US that speak the native language of the country in which the Branch office is located. Mr. S. asked me who supported his branch and I told him. (She happened to be out of the office today.) He asked if she spoke, French, German, Swedish, etc. I said that no, in this case, there wasn't a direct match. He looked so adorably disappointed that I enthusiastically followed it up with...

'But I can support your Branch! I speak Swiss.......(wait for it)...CHOCOLATE!'


Sigh. As if my fluency in Swiss chocolate wasn't evident upon sight.

He looked at me like I had a screw loose. [He wasn't wrong. I just like to delay the moment when new people realize that a little longer than within the first 20 minutes. ]  I'm not sure why he didn't think that was funny, the mind monkeys were swinging from the chandeliers and  laughing their collective monkeybutts off. Some of my more reasonable personalities were running around with butterfly nets trying to catch the monkeys before they threw any other little nuggets of joy out of my open mouth. There was pandemonium in my head as opposed to the deafening silence at our table.

Finally he graced me with a small smile and nodded breaking the horrifying tension and the conversation started up again. By that time the monkeys had been duct taped and I was able to keep their thoughts to myself for the rest of the meal. So thank you Mr. S. for saving the day! (He gets extra points if he scores me some chocolate!)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Diva's St. Patrick's Day Challenge

I was a little bummed that I wouldn't have time to do the Diva's Challenge this week, but when I looked this morning [I'm like a little kid at Christmas every Monday morning; pulling the paper off  to see what the challenge/gift will be for this week! Whether I can do the challenge that week or not, it's always exciting to see what it is!]  and I saw that it was a St. Patrick's Day challenge, I realized that I already DID the challenge last Saturday after my Celtic Zentangle class! We learned all kinds of Celtic-y patterns in class and then Katie, Zentangle teacher extraordinaire, sent us home with 'extra credit' which was the instructions on how to do the knot below. I came right home and tried it out. I even put it on a real tile!  I suppose it's cheating a wee bit, but I'm submitting it anyway. Can I help it if I'm psychic? Or perhaps a time traveler? At any rate, I hope no leprechauns get me for this submission!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!! 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Doodle Collage Update

I was fortunate to have several bits of time to work on my doodle collage this weekend. Several folks have asked for progress updates so here they are:


Full moon tree...still working on smaller branches and twigs.  Also filled in Celtic chain with brown pattern

Butterfly.  Need to go over the whole thing again. Rice paper doesn't take the color well.


Nautilus shell and fossils. Will look a lot better with shading. I have a feeling this piece will take as long to shade as it did to doodle!  That's it for this weekend!

Spring on the Farm

I worked a shift on the farm this morning. I hadn't been over for about a month or so, so it was good to catch up with the fur and feather babies again. I didn't take many photos, I was too busy and my hands were full. After everyone was fed and cleaned, I set up a beauty parlor services for the donkeys and goats. The sheep were quite put out that they weren't included but I can get a curry comb through their winter wools so I gently did their noses to appease them.  Frances' eyes rolled back in his head he liked that so much! I spent about an hour and a half getting everyone done. It would have been shorter, but Diane, Opal and Frosty (goats) would get back in line and try to convince me that they hadn't been done yet so they could have another go....more than once.

But here are a couple I took:
This is Billie and Nillie-both of them loved beauty parlor. Today was Nillie's birthday so she got a little extra attention!

This is handsome Blaine.  He is such a snuggle bug.

And he has gorgeous blue eyes and a winning smile.

There are three new turkey girls. They are so friendly and curious. I sat in their stall for quite some time while they investigated my shoelaces and pant legs and got snuggles and scritches.

They are shameless food beggars-even the goat's mineral lick wasn't safe!

Miss WinniePig was so clean when she went out! She had a ball rooting around in the spring mud.   I went over to visit her and put my face down to talk to her. Big mistake. She did a reverse snort and blew mud and piggy snot rockets all over me! I picked stuff out of my hair until I got in the shower. LOL! Piggy love! Kinda yucky but I'll take it.

Everyone was pretty happy that the long winter is finally over. Everyone was feeling frisky. Lilly, the blind mini pig even went outside to sit in the sun for a few minutes. I'm so glad I had a chance to see everyone again.