Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Mermaid Dreams

 Look! It's another finished quilt! I know, I can hardly believe it myself.  I told you I was back at my machine with a vengeance, right? That's a happy vengeance, in case you wondered.  (But I do have to say that sewing my way through the evening political shows is helping me keep my sanity in these dire political times.)  At any rate, I've been having fun pulling fabric out of my stash and stitching up some simple but fun patterns.

Quite a while back I fell in love with a fabric line by Heather Ross called "Mendocino" -- charming (but not too cutsie) mermaids and other sea life, in an unusual set of colors. I have a good friend who loves mermaids, and loves that seaglass aqua color, and this seemed perfect for her.  So, I bought a fabric bundle and then tucked it away for a bit while I puzzled over how to use the fabric to make the most of those wonderful patterns. 

It took me a while to find a pattern that would show off those large mermaids.  And then I stumbled onto a pattern called Ribbon Box Quilt by Cloud 9 Fabrics. It's a free download, even, and you can get it here.  The ribbons are about 6 inches wide, and I really liked how the pattern allowed me to use an assortment of rather odd colors together in a way that worked. (Btw, my photographs make the oranges look a bit darker than they really are, and the red is more pink, and that that dark ribbon is a magenta-ish burgundy that doesn't look quite as dark in real life. You can get a sense of the true colors on the Quilted Castle link above, but for the life of me I couldn't balance these colors on the photograph to look true to life.)

If you are inclined to make the pattern, I'll tell you this: the cutting took some concentration but wasn't hard. I gave each ribbon a number, and laid it out on my design wall following the pattern's diagram. Once I got it laid out, I just assembled each horizontal row and it went together beautifully.

I decided it quilt it with straight lines -- easy walking foot sewing. Look at all these cute little critters -- octopusses! (Octopi?) Seahorses! fishies! 

I actually took these photos before the binding was on, but I pieced together all of the pale aqua leftover fabrics and used those for the binding. It looks great -- an edge but not too visible an edge, if you know what I mean. 

I'm sending this off to my friend this week -- she's an internet-free sort of woman so I know she won't see it here before she gets it in person. But I'm happy to have this done and posted. I figure it'll be a good quilt for snuggling and dreaming of the seashore!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Silly Goose!

Do you find that you go through art phases? I sure do.  And since some time in February, I've been in a serious quilting phase. I have no idea what re-ignited the spark, but I have sure appreciated the feeling of eagerness to get back to the sewing machine. And I've managed to start and finish a bunch of quilts! That hasn't happened in a long time.

I made this quilt for a polka dot challenge at my April quilt retreat. I'm always drawn to dots and have an embarrassing assortment of dotted fabric in my stash. So when the challenge topic was announced, I knew it'd be a piece of cake.

You may recall that I have a thing for flying geese quilts and have made a number of them. (You can see three of them here!) When I stumbled across an online tutorial for a fun flying geese variation, I knew I had to make it.  So, I'm considering this #4 in my Flying Geese series. Doesn't that sound more impressive than saying I have a weird obsession with flying geese quilts and can't seem to stop making them?!

The tutorial is from Jenny at the Missouri Star Quilt Company and is called Flying Home.  (Boy, do I love her tutorial videos.) I loved how the background behind the geese is divided with different fabrics. And this is a jelly roll quilt -- actually quite fast and easy. I really had fun with this.

It took me a bit of drawing to figure out how to quilt the geese block in a continuous line, but I played around for a while drawing blocks on my Ipad and came up with something that worked.  Gosh, I guess I should pick a detail shot that shows you that most of the geese points actually are sharp.

Are you noticing all of the polka dots?!  And because a polka dot challenge quilt needs a polka dotted back, I chose this wonderful Kaffe Fassett dot for the back. It is definitely a happy dot and the colors were perfect. 

Because of my crazy obsession with flying geese quilts I am working on a flying geese series, I have been collecting flying geese quilt ideas in a Flying Geese Quilts Pinterest board. Who knows which will be next?!

Have you found yourself repeating certain blocks or themes so that you've developed a series (or obsession!) without even planning it?

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Camellia Stars

Well, I have surprised myself and finished TWO quilts in the last several weeks. It sure is good to have that "I need to feel fabric between my fingers!" feeling again, and so I've been sewing a bit every day. 

I showed you last time the star blocks I'd been sewing -- and by the beginning of the week, I had finished the quilt! I've called it Camellia Stars, because right now the camellias in my garden are in bloom with gorgeous pinks and so this quilt will remind me of them.  I mentioned last time the quilt is from a pattern called Shine and it was very fun and fast to make.

It took me a while to figure out where to photograph this quilt -- I don't have many big walls in the house that a) aren't blocked by furniture, and/or b) allow for a clear straight-on shot of a big quilt. But this morning it occurred to me that if I closed a blind in my living room, I could hang the quilt in front of the window and get a full shot there.  I had to move a few things around, but it worked -- and now I know where I can get, at least, a clear shot.

In fact, for now, I've hung the quilt in the living room because it just makes me happy to see it there.

On to the next project!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Quilt Mojo

Well, I am happy to report that my quilt mojo is back! It feels like ages since I've been in the mood to sew. It hasn't worried me much, really -- I know that my creative interests can wax and wane at times, and I've learned to just follow what excites me at the moment. So I've been playing with paper (making books and cards) and I've had some knitting projects going. But I wanted to make a quilt for a family member, and that pushed me to get back to the sewing machine.

This particular quilt was for my brother, and I wanted to make it entirely of flannel. After searching a bit, I found a collection of fabric by Maywood Studios, called "Woolies." The flannel looks like wool tweed and has a great assortment of jewel tone colors.

I found an appealing pattern, called Jubilee by Marlous Designs (thank you, Pinterest!) and away I went.

And look, here's what resulted:

It's very soft and will be the perfect snuggle and get well quilt. It's been delivered and hopefully is keeping my brother warm and cozy.

I was so inspired by actually finishing a quilt (starting and finishing in the same month, even!) that I started another.  This past weekend was wild and stormy here in Northern California. I didn't have pressing work, the house was clean, and Miss C was away for the weekend. So I set my sewing machine up on the kitchen table and gave myself a mini at-home quilt retreat.

I pulled out a fat quarter bundle I'd fallen in love with some time ago, in pinks and yellows --- happy, springy colors for a gray rainy weekend.  And I pulled a pattern out of my "make this someday" box -- "Shine" by A Quilting Life Designs:

I had  good old time making star blocks.

And by Monday afternoon, I had the whole top pieced and the backing sewn and ready to sandwich.
That was so satisfying that today, after making some good progress on a work project, I rewarded myself by pulling polka dotted fabric from my stash for a challenge coming due in April.

From delicate pastels to bright dots. It made me so happy to revisit some of these old fabrics, especially my Freddy Moran dots.  It feels very good to be playing with fabric again!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Starting Over

Yesterday I went out sketching with my wonderful local Urban Sketching group. I'd not sketched in months, for a host of reasons and really, no good reason. Work. New puppy. Holidays. Other creative distractions. So, in some ways, opening up my sketchbook and putting pencil to paper felt like starting all over again. I was a bit nervous. I was silently giving myself permission to make a total mess, to draw badly, and I was reminding myself that just DOING it was the goal of the day.

Because it was chilly out, two other lovely sketchers and I opted to go into a cafe to sketch there. So, I dove in with some quick pencil sketches.

And immediately I realized something. I chose to start with a person! How weird is that? I've been intimidated about drawing people forEVER.  And it struck me that an online class I took last February from the amazing Roz Stendahl (Drawing Live Subjects in Public) had actually moved me forward a good bit. I wasn't that bothered by the fact that people were moving around while I was trying to sketch them -- which was something that seriously freaked me out when I started trying to draw actual living things.

 So as I did a few more fast pencil sketches of the people in the cafe, I just let myself enjoy it. No, I didn't tackle any faces, but heck, when starting over, one starts gently.

Eventually, food arrived, and I decided to move to another subject that is always fun and relaxing for me. I drew my breakfast -- quickly, because I wanted to eat it while it was hot. And as I scribbled wiggly lines for scrambled eggs, I was thinking about how often I've done painstaking, detailed drawings and agonized over color and shading, and then I end up liking the things I dashed off quickly better.

So, the result wasn't a brilliant food painting. but I can recognize the croissant and scrambled eggs and even the strip of bacon, and if all this does is remind me of a lovely breakfast with some fellow drawing enthusiasts on a frosty January morning, then the sketch has done its job. 

I had this same sort of experience again last week when I went back to singing with my local chorus after a 9-month hiatus. I was a bit apprehensive. I wasn't sure how it would feel. But immediately I was met with warm greetings and big hugs from chorus friends I've missed. Diving into the music (Gershwin! Kern! Berlin!) made me happy. And adding my voice to the group's felt familiar and comfortable. I found myself thinking about the very first time I'd gone, and how timid and uncertain I'd felt during that whole first season. I don't think anyone around me even heard my voice, I was singing so quietly and carefully. This week, I realized that I was singing confidently. I felt comfortable with my own voice.  What a realization!

Thinking about these experiences has gotten me reflecting on the experience of starting over. I'm starting anew in various areas of my life right now. Some days it's quite disconcerting. But I'm realizing that each time I start again, I start in a new place -- and one that's further ahead than where I was when I started last time.

So my backyard garden? It's kind of a disaster right now. It needs some serious energy to clear out the old dead stuff, tidy up, and plant some new things.  But there are plants that are thriving, if wildly overgrown. There is an established framework. So, starting to get that back in order won't be like starting to plant when it was a bare expanse of dirt. I'm starting again, but not starting with nothing.  Same with the exercise and nutrition issues. I lost some weight last year following a rather strict eating regime. And then I slid back into some habits, gained some weight back. But starting over means I'm still ahead of where I was last time -- both in pounds and in knowledge. I know what has worked and what didn't.  

January always feels like a natural start for new things, new perspectives, new goals. Sometimes I think, "oh, tried starting this thing last year" or "I set that goal last year and look at how far I haven't come."  But today I'm thinking that part of starting is understanding where we are, and how often where we are right now reflects growth from where we were before. 

Any thoughts, friends? Are you starting again at something right now?


Sunday, January 08, 2017

My Best Books of 2016

I should start with a disclaimer. I spent a lot of 2016 reading pure escapist, fluff fiction. I didn't want to think deep thoughts. I didn't want to read about other people's tragedies. I wanted happy endings and light adventures and cozy mysteries.  So my list might look a little different from the year end lists you may see elsewhere.  At any rate, here are a few of my favorites:

I've loved very one of the Dublin Murder Squad novels by Tana French, and The Trespasser was among my favorites for the year. Each of the books in the series is different -- and you don't need to read them in any order. This newest mystery had the same characteristics of the others, though: a rich plot with unexpected twists and turns, an engaging narrator, and rich characterizations. If you're in the mood for an engrossing mystery, this (and any of the others) won't fail you.

Jodi Picoult is another reliably good writer. Her books start with a subject matter that is currently topical, and they explore the theme from the perspectives of everyone involved. Lone Wolf  addresses issues around life and family: what does being on life support mean? What is brain dead? And how does a family member go about deciding to withdraw life support? These hard issues arise in the context of a family where the father is a renowned wolf expert who has left his family to live among wolves, so questions of what is family, what is each member's role, how do family members take care of each other are all in play, too. It's a rich story with unusual themes. Picoult handles them well, as always.

I love it when I pick up a book found in some random place and it turns out to be wonderful. This was my experience with Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor. The book is the first in a series about St. Mary's, a site for historical research in England which just happens to involve a bit of time travel so historians can go back in time to observe key events. This first book follows a new recruit, Max, as she learns that ins and outs of St. Mary's, pops between 11th Century London, the first world war, dinosaur viewing in the Cretaceous Period, and the Alexandrian library. Finding this was such a delightful surprise. The writing is strong, the characters entertaining, the whole novel is smart and funny and full of unexpected wry humor. I've already read the second in the series, Symphony of Echoes, and I loved that too.

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton was another excellent book that surprised me. I'd read a previous novel by Lupton (Sister, which was very good) so I gave this a try. And what an intriguing, unusual story.  The novel follows Yasmine and her deaf daughter Ruby as they travel through Alaska to find out what happened to their husband/father. It's a very original psychological thriller that uses darkness and silence and snow and uncertainty so effectively. I especially loved the sections of the novel narrated by Ruby, reflecting on her own silence, using sign language, and what family means to her. I happened to read this during a very hot stretch in the summer, and reading about blinding, deadly arctic chill truly transported me.

Well, there you have it. No life changing, deep novels, but some truly enjoyable books anyway. If you have any wonderful novels to share, please post them in my comments -- I'm always eager to find new books. And if you'd like to see what else I read (good, bad and mediocre) and follow what I'm reading, you can check out my Goodreads book list.

Happy reading! It's a wild, rainstorm day here in Northern California -- perfect weather for curling up with a good book. So that's what I'm going to do right now.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy 2017, friends! I hope this January 1 finds you healthy and happy and ready for the adventure of a new year. I know that I'm glad to see 2016 end for a variety of reasons, and I'm moving into 2017 with enthusiasm and some new clarity and a bunch of goals for the coming year.

But first, some reflections on the last year:

Highlights from 2016

1.     We added a new member to our family:  Starlie, a sweet English Cream Golden Retriever.  She's added several highlights to this list: going with Miss C to choose her from 2 litters of 19 puppies; going again a few weeks later to bring tiny 8 week old Starlie home; and, of course, all of the amusement and joy and entertainment that Starlie has brought to our lives since.

2.     Miss C and I took a wonderful road trip this past summer, up through Oregon into Washington, to ultimately spend 10 days on Whidbey Island. Miss C isn't the most eager of travelers but she was game for our trip and we had a very good time. We spent time with some good friends, we spent a fair amount of down-time just enjoying our little rental cottage and the water and the beach, and we ate a lot of great seafood. (Whidbey Island is the home of Penn Cove mussels.)

3.     A big highlight of that trip (among many) was the fact that our very dear and longtime friend Abby happened to be in Seattle visiting from her Maine home.  She hopped the ferry and we had a very nice visit with her.  Abby and Miss C were babies in the same orphanage in China, and are the closest thing to sisters they will each have. We have so many memories of a lot of fun times when we lived in New Hampshire and saw Abby and her family often. It was amazing and wonderful to see both young women together, now that they are into their 20s, and to see what smart, beautiful women they have become.

4.     Last March I took an impromptu trip to Southern California where I met up with a friend from college and we spent several jam-packed days in Disneyland.  I now know that the best way to handle the long lines at Disneyland is to go to the park with someone you can talk endlessly with -- because we had so much to catch up on and talked constantly, the time in line flew by. As fun as Disneyland was, it was nothing compared to the pleasure of spending time with a dear friend. Plus, I sketched while I was there. Disneyland is definitely a great sketching place.

5.     My sister and I found ourselves newly immersed in a new papercrafting adventure, and we started hanging out together (in person or via Facetime) to make cards and stamp and die cut and just have fun playing with paper. It has been so fun to have a new enthusiasm emerge -- and to make something with almost instant gratification. And sharing it with my sister has been a blast.

6.     In June, I took a crafty workshop taught by Jane LaFazio. The class was fun, and the classmates were lovely women, including several good friends. I knew I'd have fun. But what I didn't expect was the instant and close connection I felt with a friend I'd only known online.  She came to Northern California from Canada, traveling with a longtime close friend of hers. And within minutes I swear I felt like I'd known them forever.  We had so much fun in the workshop, and then afterwards they came and stayed with me for a few days. We did some local touring (wine tasting of course) and had a gorgeous, truly fantastic day together in San Francisco. It was a wonderful reminder that we never know what friendships and life-changing relationships are just around the corner. I'm planning to travel to Canada to visit them this year, so stay tuned for that adventure!

7.     The summer also brought another visit with far-flung but very dear friends Helen and Dennis from the UK. We had a lovely visit and as always it went too fast. I think it's my turn to go to England next. (Here they are while I was trying to explain Pokemon Go to them.) 

8. Thanks to Starlie, I'm walking a lot, and both of us are enjoying it enormously. We head out into the neighborhood once or twice every day, and as a result I've met neighbors (and neighbor dogs) I'd not known before. It's good exercise, it's more social than I expected, and it's also a great time for reflecting. At first I took my phone and/or camera, but I've come to realize that I enjoy myself more and can focus on Starlie's training better if I just stay present on the walk. Puppy lesson #327: be in the moment!

9.     2016 was not a big sewing year.  But one very satisfying thing for me was completing a selvedge quilt I'd been working on for years -- literally years. I'd collected selvedges from my own fabric for ages, and friends started giving me theirs, too. Over a few years, I'd intermittently sew selvedge strips to a foundation to just make selvedge fabric -- which was oddly satisfying in itself.  But getting this quilt finished felt so great! It hangs in the upstairs hall and makes me happy every time I see it.

10.     It has been a terribly (with emphasis on the terrible) challenging year for my family as we have watched my brother cope with an aggressive colon cancer. Lots of hospital visits, lots of phone calls, lots of prayers -- but so much love and faith and hope, too. I can report that at the end of 2016, it is truly a highlight that he is doing well, looking more like himself than he has in a long time, and he's weathering the chemo process fairly well, all things considered. He's not done, but he's doing well, and that's excellent.

11.     Clarity. I won't go into specifics, and it's really not necessary. A friend once told me that clarity would come, that it just would, on its own. And she was right. I have had some challenges this year that have had more to do with my own attitudes and difficulty letting go of some illusions I've held -- clung to, really -- for too long. I've been reminded that it's hard to move forward when you're holding on to the past. Thanks to long talks with good friends, a lot of reading and contemplating and journalling, and a bit of just facing up to hard truths, I feel like I arrived at the end of 2016 with a new sense that the past is truly past.  I have finally, finally, FINALLY put some heavy baggage down and I'm leaving it in 2016.

So, onto 2017 with a light heart and clear vision!

How about you? What was the highlight or highlights of your year? If you've blogged about it, link in a comment. Or let me know in a comment. I'd love to know.  

Monday, December 19, 2016

Here you go, Jane Ann!

Jane Ann asked to see my holiday mantle. (Thanks!) I assume she meant the living room one -- and yep, it's similar this year. Every December I break out my collection of mercury glass candle sticks -- there is something so festive and pretty about them to me.  This year, the turquoise and silver brush trees are a new addition. More sparkle! I seem to be drawn to glitter this year. Go figure.

Here's more of a context shot. I love how the living room is so sunny in the morning, and I often sit there to have my morning coffee and read the paper.

And in case you're wondering, the family room has a fireplace and mantle too.  Usually my "White Christmas" dolls are up but they are resting this year. Some years I put a small tree in the family room as Miss C and I hang out in this room most evenings, but this year I only had one tree in me.  So, the funny tall trees are on the mantle to loom over the little holiday village ad provide a festive twinkle to the room.

Various guys from my snowperson collection are on the top of the bookshelf. I know it's kind of odd for a California home to have so much snow theming in the holiday decorations, but I do miss living in New Hampshire. I'm always dreaming of a White Christmas!

Happy holidays, friends -- whether sunny, snowy, or something in between.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Long Time, No Blog

I knew I'd been rather quiet here. But it startled me to log in and see it's been July since I posted. Yikes!  The reasons? Some good, some not so good. A new puppy -- very good! Some family health crises which were distracting, to say the least, and not so good. Lots of work -- also good. Lots of introspection, both good and not so good.

But I have decided that I miss blogging and I'm finally in a mental/emotional place where blogging doesn't feel like I'm forcing myself to sound artificially cheery or interesting. So, 2017 will represent the start of many new things, and among those will be a return to regular blogging. Maybe I'll even go crazy and give the blog a new look.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd share  some of the reflections rolling around in my head over the last months.


There is nothing more important, really. And I count among my family some folks not related by blood but connected by love and experience and the absolutely certainty with which I can count on them for support. I'm so lucky to have parents and siblings and a dear aunt and wonderful cousins to connect me to who I've always been and wonderful lifetime memories. Over the last years as my marriage dissolved it has been odd to discover that people I thought were family turn out to be temporary. I know it happens all of the time, and maybe it's less common when in-law family members do stay connected. I've been surprised to see people choose sides even when they don't need to. Ah, well. Clarity isn't always comfortable, but it does make things, well, more clear. I am reminded more than ever these days that it's important to appreciate the family we have.


I am so lucky to have many amazing, wonderful, delightful friends. We all have casual friends, acquaintance-friends, friends of circumstance who may recede as circumstances change. I have been amazed and sometimes surprised at how, just when I needed it, friends came forward to throw me lifelines exactly when I needed one. I have a new, and maybe wiser and more realistic, view on friendship now. Not every friendship is meant to last forever. Relationships evolve. I think I'm seeing the relationships in my life more clearly now, and I treasure my friends all the more.  You know who you are.  Thank you, with all of my heart.


My daughter will turn 21 in 2017. It simply astonishes me. She's become a lovely young woman, with so much wit and humor and creativity. She has a fine-tuned sensitivity to authenticity in people which is remarkable. She's still finding her way, and it may not be at the pace of her age-wise contemporaries, but she's making remarkable strides. My mom role has changed a lot, but I'm appreciating the truth of that old wisdom about how a mom doesn't stop worrying about or mothering her kids.


Speaking of mothering, that thing about having a puppy being like having a child? I knew the truth of that in superficial ways, of course, but having added Starlie to the family in August I've been astonished how true that maxim is on a lot of levels. I have spent more time sitting on the floor in the last 4 months than I have in the last 15 years -- since Miss C was a toddler, really. I had forgotten how laugh-out-loud entertaining puppies can be. I can see the faint outline of the lovely adult dog Starlie will be some day, but I am delighting who she is every single day. Seeing a creature grow this fast reminds me (just like mothering a toddler) how things change so fast, and how important it is to appreciate the moment.


I have had such a weird waning of creativity. Perhaps I should say that really, it's been a shift. I've not had the interest in making original art quilts. When I sew, I want to handle pretty printed fabrics and sew them into simple patterns. (Thank you, Pinterest!) I have been playing a lot with paper and books and rubber stamping, which has also been a funny return to past enthusiasms that seems like another echo of who I used to be.  The room that was once dedicated to fiber art how now become a crowded jumble of fabric, sewing machines, paper, watercolor supplies, die cutting tools, book binding materials, card making supplies, and more.  (And more and more and more.)  I may deserve a record for how many craft supplies I can fit into a 10x12 room.  I look at all of this as another lesson on evolution, on interests waxing and waning but creativity always stays. It just shoots off in different directions some times.


A name is a funny thing piece of personal identity. I remember when I got married, I was so excited to take my husband's name, to share a name and give that to our child and create our own new family.  But, with divorce and resulting events, I've not felt like that name fit any longer. I've been in a phase where Diane Hock doesn't fit, and I don't feel a part of the Hock family any longer. Diane Perin is someone I was 25+ years ago, and it felt weird to try to be "her" again. I was talking recently with a friend I've known since high school, and we were musing about how, when we were younger and approaching marriage, we discussed the pros and cons of changing our names.  My friend opted to keep her maiden name for professional purposes and took her husband's name for personal purposes.  I opted to adopt my husband's name for a lot of reasons, but having the same name as our children was key.  So we were laughing at how, 25 years later, our choices have turned out.  I'm dealing with the hassle of changing my name back, and having to sort out so many different places where that has to happen. I'm okay with not having the same name as my daughter now that she's a young adult (but was surprised and sort of amused when she asked me if she had to change her name too, or if she COULD change her name if she wanted to. I told her that she didn't have to, it wouldn't change automatically because of divorce, and if she wanted to change her name she could do that, there was a process. So far she's keeping hers.) My friend complained that her option has turned out to be a pain, too -- she never remembers what name she is where, and said she feels like she must look like a crazy person at the pharmacy, say -- "Don't have me under that name? Try this different one" as if she's not sure of her own name. I think I'm finally feeling like I'm getting to know the new, older, wiser Diane Perin.  Somehow that core person got lost along the way, and it is good to find her again.  So, please note -- name change, email address change, same person at the core but growing. Always growing.


Oh dear. It's been a discouraging, dire time. I never thought I'd genuinely fear for our democracy, our institutions, and our constitutional rights.  But that's what I'm feeling now. Enough said.


I love Christmas. It's not just the lights, and the decorations, and the music. It's the reminder that despite all of the craziness around us, it's good to have a season to pause, celebrate family and friends and spirituality. Holidays don't have to be crazy with shopping and noise and fuss.  We can choose to create quiet times with loved ones, sharing fun and remembering what the season is about. It's a season of comfort and joy, and I find myself humming "all is calm, all is bright" to myself often.  May yours be happy, peaceful ones, where ever you are.

So I will be back in 2017. I am not sad to see 2016 end, but am looking forward to all the wonder that lies ahead.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Wishing I were there

Well, I am back from vacation.  I confess that I am struggling a bit with the post-vacation return to reality.  Laundry? Housecleaning? Bill paying? Meal planning? Who cares. I want to sit and read and paint and poke around on my ipad, in that lovely vacation mode of having nothing more pressing to do than wonder what relaxing thing to do next. 

So I am prolonging (and reliving) the excursion by scanning my sketches and uploading my photos and telling you all about it.

For this adventure, Miss C and I packed up the car and headed north, with Whidbey Island, Washington as our ultimate destination. It's two days' worth of driving from here, so we had planned stops in Oregon on the way up and back which proved fun as we were able to connect up with Miss C's aunt and cousin on the way which was very fun. C's 9 year old cousin has fallen in love with horses so we had a breakfast filled with horse photos and talk. It was fun to see them connect on a new level around a common passion.

 I'd rented a charming cottage outside of Coupeville for the week, and it turned out to be perfect. The shot above is the view from the whole back of the house -- so I'd seen this from the outside deck and the living room and dining room and master bedroom.  I loved getting up in the morning, making coffee, and settling inside or out (depending on weather) to gaze at the water and look across at Camano Island.

 There was a lot of wildlife in the yard.  Each morning and evening I'd find bunnies hopping around the garden. This mom and baby pair did a lot of playful chasing which was fun to watch.

How fun to be greeted by bunnies every morning!

I did a lot of exploring and sketching and painting. I was struck by how inspired I was to draw and paint -- perhaps because of that relaxed vacation feeling of having no chores at the back of my mind to make me feel like I should be doing those instead, also from wanting to capture new experiences and places, I guess.

I have the practice of painting the place where I'm staying as a way of recording that memory, and I had fun doing this of the house we were in.  Something about drawing a plan of the interior is very fun and satisfying to me. Maybe I should have been an architect.

I had to take a stab at painting the view of the cove, of course.

On one drizzly day, I spent some time painting some of the flora from the garden. There was a huge holly bush in the yard, with a few red berries peeking out from the mostly green ones.  I guess there are early bloomers in every crowd.

I did a bit of out-and-about sketching, too. In the town of Langley, there's a bronze statue of a boy and his dog, and I had a pleasant bit of time sitting in the sunshine sketching and painting it.

I also spent some time at the Useless Bay Coffee Company in Langley, which I love for its great food, coffee, and beautiful patio.  I started painting a view of the doorway near my table, then as I sketched I started talking with a couple who've lived on the island for 30 years. It diverted my attention and the result was sort of a muddy mess, but still, it was fun and I'll remember that nice conversation when I see this in my sketchbook. Every time I've been out in public sketching on Whidbey Island, I've gotten into interesting conversations with people and have discovered that there are a lot of artists who are eager to come over and introduce themselves.

The quiet times were interspersed with wonderful visits with friends, delicious meals out (oh, those Penn Cove mussels!) and even a delightful visit from a dear and special friend from Maine who happened to be in the Seattle area over the holiday weekend. So we packed in a lot of fun for a 10 day trip.