Monday, May 18, 2009

Odds & Ends

How's it going gang? I uploaded my pics all out of order and Blogger isn't letting me move them around but that's ok. I'll make it work. This weekend I ventured out in the world at large. My how things have changed. Gas has gone up like 40¢ a gallon, it's like waking up in another world, ok not that bad but still. Saturday I went out with my big blue boot on, it was hot and annoying so Sunday I shoved a sneaker on my foot and called it good. The spousal unit and I went for a drive out the beach road between Pensacola and my hick town and we saw this:

So much nicer than the TV or my neighbor's house across the road. You know you think when you're laid up it might get all exciting like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window but it doesn't(at least I do because I have a pretty good imagination) but I know my neighbors and the one who might be nuts, well I can't see that house from mine.

My kids are right, we do live on the most boring street in the world, which we tell them, is why we moved here in the first place. So they could be wild and free and safe and also because the beach is like five minutes away and that's really why we moved here. The whole safety thing is just an added perk.

The picture above was taken at about 50 miles an hour flying by the beach. I love this stretch of road so much. It's Gulf Islands National Seashore I believe that's the official title, but there's no development accept for a few parking lots and one or two parks with picnic pavillions and bathrooms and I do not begrudge beachgoers parking or bathroom facilities. My heart sings that there are no condos or houses here. I'm a firm believer that the beach belongs to everyone and it's wrong for it to be privatized(is that a word) in any way.

In Topsy Turvy Gardening news up there you can see the beginnings of some Roma tomatoes. How cute are they? Can't wait for them redden right up and become tasty bruschetta or a tomato/basil/mozzarella sandwich.

We moved the Topsy Turveys to the back yard. We have a wooden swingset, this side used to be a single swing and it broke a few years ago. This area of the backyard gets lots of sun so we moved these bad boys back here. Yes, that's picket fencing laying there on the ground. My friend gave us their old fence and when the spousal unit was trying to dig postholes he kept running into pesky tree roots so we have to rent an auger to do the job. So right now the fencing is just laying in it's possible future home. The Brandwine tomato plant there on the right, I was watering it yesterday and noticed that the stem on one of the blossoms is broken. I don't know how it happened and wonder if maybe birds might have gotten at it or squirrels.
We are going to plant a Topsy Turvy zucchini plant and also a cucumber plant and I want to do a cantalope plant but the spousal unit has this bizzare plan of doing a Topsy Turvy corn plant. Yeah, he's a little bit crazy.
On the Craft Front:
One day last week I was assessing my WIP pile and what I still loved and what I no longer felt the love for and why and I pulled out my HAED Sampler Large. I had started it on a big ol' hunk of bland, vanilla, 25ct cream lugana. I have been checking different hand-dyed fabrics and decided that a new piece of fabric was just not in the budget. So I took a deep breath, pulled my unsweet tea out of the fridge, dumped out a little, took my morning's coffee and poured it in the tea pitcher and just crammed my ginormous cut of lugana, with a tiny bit of stitching on it in the pitcher. I let it soak for about two hours. Then I pulled it out, rinsed it off and decided that the tea/coffee bath was a vast improvement over the bland cream color but it needed a little something else, a finishing touch, so I hobbled over to the dye cabinet, ok it's a Fiesta Orange hutch in the kitchen and it's where I store my bottle or two of RIT dye but "Dye Cabinet" makes it sound like I have a clue what I'm doing. Anyway I pull out the handy dandy bottle of Tan RIT Dye and start splattering up my fabric and smooshing the fabric together. I let it sit out on a cookie sheet in the sink for an hour or so and then rinse it off, and move it to the patio table and let the afternoon sun bake it a bit. Below you can see a bit of my antiquing and I'm pretty stoked about the result. Sorry the picture isn't any better, I took one of the whole piece of fabric and it was blurred. I think my poor camera is on it's last leg.

As you can see I hadn't stitched too much and since I wasn't loving the fabric I was either going to dye it and love it or start over anyway. I'm pretty sure now I can keep on stitching and be happy with the piece. Unlike most HAED this piece has a lot of fabric showing and it was screaming for a handdyed fabric which I knew from the very beginning but I'm hardheaded and cheap and wanted to use what I had already in the stash. This is what the finished piece will look like:
A lot of my stitching friends ask why I like stitching HAED when I could just buy the artwork and stitch something else and well, I have to say, I have always enjoyed stitching art. I tend to want to stitch things I like to think I would have the imagination to paint if I were an artist. I also find stitching these huge pieces comforting. I am not pressured to finish them like some other projects. You know when you sit down with needle and thread and think to yourself, "I'll finish this during this stitching session" and then you don't? That is such a frustrating feeling, especially since my finishes are few and far between. The HAED projects take that pressure out of the stitching. I am just stitching for the sake of stitching, no urgency to finish, no possibility of finishing, just little Xs on fabric and hopefully with each stitching session the picture comes a little more to life.
My stitching time lately has been devoted to The Primitive Needle's Salem Remembered. I think I might just finish it this week. See there I go, setting a goal I might not be able to keep. I'm in the process of kitting up Cape Cod Girl's and ABC Hornbook and if you check Lisa's blog, Witch Stitches The Primitive Needle , you can see her Mystic Sampler which will also get bumped up to the top of my "To Be Stitched Immediately" pile. I have Ichabod Seabury to start when I finish Salem Remembered. He's stitched on PTP( Swamp linen. I love that color.
The fascination with tombstones, well I've always had one. When I was a kid, every Sunday before Mother's Day the whole family would make a trip to Woodville cemetery for Decoration. That's when you clean all the dead flowers and weeds off the graves so that it's all pretty for Mother's Day when people come to put fresh flowers out. We would spend all day there and people would bring folding tables, card tables and food and we'd picnic right there among the tombstones talking about those that had gone on to the great unknown and hear their stories and where they fit in the family tree. It was never a time of sadness for me, I only personally knew one person buried in that cemetary and he passed away when I was four or five, my great grandfather, Papa Sparks. I remember him vividly. My Mamaw and Great Aunt Lila would take care of him and I would run up to him and kiss his hand and Mamaw would make us tea cakes that we would eat hot from the oven with butter and cold glasses of milk. Yes, technically a tea cake was a sugar cookie, not quite as sweet but sweeter and more cookie like than a biscuit but big and softer than a true cookie. Papa liked his hot, dripping in butter and to this day I like them that way too. We would play and hide and seek among the tombstones, because this is one of those great old country cemetaries with real tombstones, above ground, not hidden away flush with the grass. I think about these weekends this time every year and how my mamaw was so worried that after she and her sisters were gone no one would go up there and tend her mother and father's graves. If I get home sometime this summer I plan to make a trip up there and make sure the graves are taken care of, I owe Mamaw that much.
The tombstone love, well I found it in novel form, thanks to a tip from my friend Siobhan. I've read two of Sarah Stewart Taylor's novels over the last week and enjoyed them both.
I've been trying to listen to Cormac McCarthy's The Road on CD and OMFG it's the most depressing book in the world. Of course I want to know if the Man and the Boy make it down the road to warmer temperatures but this post nuclear bomb world is a horrible place and I'm not finding much to love about it and the Man happens to be a man of few words and I keep worrying something really bad is going to happen to the Boy. I've stopped at the third CD and am not sure I can go on. I think I'm going to go with The Historian this week. I've read the book and enjoy the story, it remains one of my all time favorite books.
OK while doing our long drive this Sunday morning, I had to take a picture of the cheesy beach ball water tower on Pensacola Beach. I love Pensacola Beach. It is a constant reminder of happy family vacations, sunburns, seafood, staying in little beach cottages, called "motor inns" back in the day. I miss those. High rise Comfort Inns are just not as homey as those sweet cinderblock beach cottages, and yes, even back in the day they were dumps but I loved them and was broken hearted when they bulldozed them in the name of progress. Another thing I love about Pensacola Beach is the neon Swordfish sign that directs people to the beaches:
There was a time not too long ago when some uppity folks bought their million dollar homes on Penscacola Beach and wanted the swordfish gone, it was tacky they said. What they didn't understand was that locals have a very warm place in their hearts for that tacky swordfish. It represents Pensacola Beach, that it's not an uptight place to vacation, but a nice, comfortable, fun place to spend your time. I'm so glad the swordfish still stands and was repaired after the last hurricane. When I see that ginormous swordfish, my heart swells with love for this beach town. I remember driving across Three Mile bridge with my uncle's feet hanging out the back window while he slept and I slept across dashboard above the backseat and would occaisionally roll off on top of him. I remember almost drowning not once but twice in one day. Once in the Gulf when I was on a raft floating out to sea, my Mamaw swore I was a dot on the horizon, and my uncle who had just had an appendectomy had to swim out to save me, and then going down the slide in the pool in the deep end and not having a clue how to swim. I remember being sunburned and eating fried oysters in the coldest oyster bar in the world. Good times.

Forgot to mention for all you crocheters or those needing inspiration, I always need inspiration where my color choices are concerned, check out this blog:
I'm already planning my football knitting and crocheting. Can't really cross stitch at the football field so I'm going to save my crochet projects for practices. I can't stop looking at her pictures. I want to make tons of things using her palette.


MyLifesAStitch said...

Thanks for posting about "aging" your fabric! I want to try but am nervous. The tip about the RIT dye is a good one as well! Re: "The Road" I read that and was deeply disturbed and unsettled by it for at least a week. Really. If I had been listening on audiobook, I doubt I would have finished it. Very good piece of writing, but wow... I can only take reading books like that a couple times a year. I will say, however, it is definitely a book you should finish. Glad your recovery is coming along!

Tanya said...

I liked seeing your beachfront pictures and reading about your cementery memories and staying in motor inns. Thanks for the link to the French blog on the previous post. I find it facinating. You are much braver than I am on dyeing fabric.

Nicole said...

I know what you mean about an empty beach. I lived a couple of blocks from the beach in Florida, but you wouldn't know it because you could see it with all the condos and hotels in the way. Drove me nuts! Great job on the dyeing! I just bought a bunch of cheap linen on ebay - I'm going to dye some up and put it on my etsy shop - I may even keep some for me. The three pieces I did sell were hard to let go - I think they're just a pretty as something you can buy in the store! :)

Mary said...

Oh - Thank you, thank you!

The Pensacola Beach photos just make me happy! I fell in love with the place when two of my kids attended UWF - I WILL retire there some day.

I have a small cross stitch piece of the swordfish - it's a great reminder to me of a wonderful place.

I especially love the National Seashore photos - such a special place. Do you ever go to the fort at the end of the island (Unable to remember the name of the fort right now - sorry)?

I'll look at these pictures anytime I need a seashore fix (common need here in Minnesota) - thank you!