Tag Archives: gardening

Tidying, recomposing: inside and out

studio-dolls-deemallonVacuumed the studio today, mostly because it is soooooooooo cool in the basement now and it is so hot and muggy everywhere else. Also, about two weeks ago I garbage-picked a sweet little chest of drawers and I have to make space for it (“bye bye” to two more milk crates! well, not bye bye, they’ll be re-purposed in the garage…)
applique-deemallonWhile cleaning up, I couldn’t resist pawing through one of my scrap boxes and composing a little foreground. I want to try an elephant a la Jude’s cats. Not the Nine Patch cats, but the free-form pieced/applique cats. This composition might be too busy for an elephant (or for anything you say!). We’ll see. It’s meant to be the cloth equivalent of doodling. Not to capture the line of a drawing as both Jude and Grace are talking about, but rather to stitch with the somewhat vacant, relaxed air that can accompany doodling: tacking down, turning edges under, or not. No big deal.
The side yard is getting some attention this summer — in a lazy kind of way. The loss of corner lot hemlocks to disease will expose that side of our house radically in the near term. So I am trying to build up some screening (without spending any money). The Rose of Sharon was an off shoot of an existing tree. I used to think of them as ‘junk trees’ but now love how prolific and fast-growing they are (funny how plants go in and out of our favor, isn’t it?) The sedum were split last summer. Hosta, astilbe, mini-iris came from crowded places elsewhere in the yard. The whole thing is a bit of a challenge for two reasons — one is that my neighbor’s plow guys shove snow here — I’ve lost two shrubs in the last two years on account of that (another reason not to spend money).
currants-deemallonThe other is the black walnut (the big trunk on the right) — some plants don’t take kindly to a toxin produced by its roots. I’ve learned that the hard way and now keep a list on my phone for easy access while at the garden center (oh what did we do before smartphones?!!)

One of these years (not this one) I will make good on the promise of those walnuts and dye fabric with them. Or eat them.

continuing, growing, editing, waiting and one finished thing




hanging, waiting


one finished thing, using clay beads I made in high school in my mother’s art room


considering – hat, hair okay, but new body needed


resurrecting and basting BEECHES phototransfer, printed years ago


dangling, blooming


offering green, green, and more green


resembling a monster


neatening, editing


getting slippers dirty


gazing up at dead branch overhead


smiling, waiting for prompts


texting, waiting for prompts


surviving unseasonably cold temps




How does your garden grow?

How lovely to fight solar glare at drop-off today!  It’s a real circus, drop-off is.  Students coming and going, lugging backpacks, strutting their uggs (girls), nearly losing their pants (boys), drivers pausing, then not pausing, inserting themselves, waiting, then not waiting, the U driveway, the crosswalks, the parking lots, left and right — it’s a big ole mess, and not the least bit so because many behind the wheel are brand new drivers (and teenagers, to boot).  So, when you add blinding sun, it is always a cause for caution and concern.

But, today I said, “Yippee”, because who can’t use a little sun at this point?!

Raking recently, I made an interesting find.  Not a soccer ball or hockey puck — though I find plenty of those.  In fact, I have long maintained that the thing I grow best are balls (GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER).  I refer, here, not to my male progeny, or my own lizard brain’s tendency toward aggression, but to the propensity for all manner of recreational balls to land in my perennial beds.  Baseballs and whiffle balls from my baseball-crazy neighbor, soccer balls from my boys and two kitty-corner neighbors, kick balls that crossed two fences from the schoolyard behind us, tennis balls from god-knows-where, and lacrosse balls, which can be blue, yellow, or white.

And, as trees have ‘drip zones’, I have long been aware that D.’s second-story window has a ‘launch zone’, in which I am STILL uncovering various objects like Playmobil pirates, Legos, and things so wrapped in duct tape I have no idea what they are.

But, imagine my surprise when I unearthed C.’s missing RETAINER in the beds by the driveway!!!  It has since been replaced (at a cost I won’t reveal because I don’t want to lose my breakfast), but nevertheless, it truly felt like the boys’-toy-garden-turned-treasure-trove and surely will go down in family lore, along with the story of K.’s father going through reams of garbage to find HIS lost retainer some 40 years ago.

Off to work we go


The jack hammering I was soooo grateful was over, is not (four doors down, audible even with all the windows closed)  So, off to work I go — to this site, where I will try not to slip as I dig and try not to send too many pots tumbling down to the road as I go.

I have filled several empty perennial pots with rocks already — confirming that old saying that the best thing we grow in New England is rock!  (well, alright, maybe it’s a saying that I made up — but it OUGHT to be an old saying).

In the back of this property, the garden I installed last year grew so well and so fast, that I am adding extra inches between these pots!

Faith in Simple Things

12" x 13"

12" x 13"

I have faith in simple things — the turning of the seasons, the growth that follows dormancy, that I will be fed.  The self talk that went:  ‘I have no faith and therefore I cannot finish a quilt on the topic’ was refreshingly updated and reframed as I worked on this piece.

fabric/paper collage photo-transferred onto fabric, collaged again

fabric/paper collage photo-transferred onto fabric, collaged again

Here is the doorway image that evokes passage & transformation, for me.  The lettuces tempted me to make a stupid visual pun about “lettuce pray”, but that did not quite materialize.  Instead, the lettuce leaves represent fresh bounty that is simple and wholesome and nourishing.


There were other issues with finishing this little quilt.  As a puruser of all kinds of craft magazines and blogs, I am disdainful of certain words that have been used to death.  For a long time, I couldn’t bring myself to join the legions of crafters who insert one of THOSE words (e.g., BELIEVE, DREAM, INSPIRE) (the cynic asks, ‘how about VOMIT, DOUBT, CRUSHED HOPE’?!!).  But, here is mine.

Also, after transferring a fabric/paper collage back onto fabric, quilting it, embellishing it with onion nets and fabric chips, I ‘ruined’ it with sharpie.  One of the challenges was how to cover up enough of the sharpie without losing all the previous detailing.


This figure sowing seedlings, cut from a weird, upcycled (and giant) blouse, is an answer of sorts to the Journal Quilt I made where the harvesting figure on some decorator toile turned into the Grim Reaper.  It took me a long time to ‘correct’ the way the bar of white from the blouse upset the design of the quilt… a little aqua sheer (also an upcycled item from a thrift store) helped.  You can just see some of the yellow onion netting peeking out from under.


Also resonating with an earlier quilt (in this case, the Journal Quilt “Worm Moon”), the lower edge depicts swirls and fertile-looking circles, all busily preparing the soil for the growth that is to come.  In this case, the frayed silk edges, the raw-edged applique, and rough zig-zag stitching go a long way to reference a ‘messy’, seemingly chaotic, but productive environment (SOIL!).

Gratitude List #4

5" x 7", mixed media collage

5" x 7", mixed media collage

I am grateful for:
sedum buds braving the cold, wire rakes, raking, SPRING
friends that tolerate my blurts, foodie friends, friends that have an opinion,
spray paint
boxes from Costco, warmer temperatures, sun at 6:00 p.m. driving down Huntington,
teenage boys, spray paint, male energy,
the smell of dirt, the loss of time and eyeglasses as I garden,
friends with more money than me, friends with less, opinions about it all
The Hungry Mother in Cambridge,
money to buy a dinner out, getting lost, being okay with getting lost,
committees of women doing stuff for their kids, women who don’t, email, facebook, and flickr,
crocus braving the cold, snowdrops, the changes that happen in just one day,
birthdays coming, boxes to spray paint, the move back
to the basement, the stuff in the basement, the stuff in the garage, the
stuff in the trunk, the stuff in the attic, the study, the living room,
the moving of stuff, renewal, warmer temperatures allowing it all,
SPRING, cookies, socks,
fresh greens with a sherry vinaigrette,
the thought of travel,
the thought of Bernie Madoff going to prison today,
the judicial system, TV, grilled squid, boiled peanuts,
being the Slow Mother, the Hungry Mother, the Angry Mother,

Gratitude List #2


Chinese New Year, collage, 2.5" x 2.5"

I am grateful for:

another snow day, a long walk with Jack in the quiet and snow,
the patterns that strewn salt makes on fresh-fallen snow,
a fixed furnace and the funds to pay for it, a fixed bath valve,
and the thought of a hot bath later, Trader Joe’s Summer Curry Sauce
(dinner in a jar), dinners in front of the TV, messes that can be cleaned up,
dreams, boiling water for coffee, C.’s new haircut and the memory of his very first
haircut at age 4, food in the fridge, food in general, plans for lunch with friends,
emails from friends, phone calls from friends, dinner invites from friends,
winter robins eating holly berries near the side stoop,
Graph II finally done (7th grade science), and
the first tug toward gardening (which during the early parts of the winter,
I never expect to feel again).

I am also grateful for the little piece shown above.  It is about 2.5″ square and excites me because of the newness of the direction.  It is two photo-shopped digital images of cabbages, sandwiched together with a zigzag stitch, with a Chinese flash card in between.  The back cabbages were printed onto cotton fed through my inkjet printer and the top cabbages were printed onto a sheet of transparency fed through my printer.  The cabbages were photographed at Angino Farm, Newton’s CSA.  (The yellow border is not a part of the collage).

I also love this two and half inch square because it came together by way of some of the best parts of the creative process, and they are:

  • Scavenging/collecting
  • Resurrection
  • Serendipity.

The gathering of things is a big part of what artists do.  It is part-shopping, part scavenging, part receiving of gifts. I have no idea who gave me the Chinese flashcards and I have nearly given them away a half dozen times because they lived next to the Pledge and rags in the front closet, instead of somewhere more accessible and logical like with my rubber stamps and decorative papers.

The piece (by its mere existence) speaks to redemption (it is just some scraps stitched together, I know!).  It was cut off an earlier failed attempt at something along these lines.  Often the attempts to make something work are marked by struggle and frustration, and ultimately you may produce something semi-worthwhile, or even very worthwhile, but the process is heavy.  Perhaps too much about the desire to makegood on a failure… too much about the refusal to let something go, instead of the upswing of invention.  But when a snippet becomes a pleasing visual treat just by being in the right place at the right time, one can celebrate.  It doesn’t happen that often.

Lastly, whenever and wherever serendipity pokes its playful head, it is worth taking note.  In this case, the flipping calendar with Chinese words on the side found its way into this collage a few days before Chinese New Year (today!!) and on the day I wrote my check for this year’s farm share.  Can I parse any particular meaning from this? Not really. Not this time. But that doesn’t make it any less delightful.

The collage does seem to resonate with my friend J., who is alive and well, blessedly, although probably not up to making the several dozen dumplings she usually makes this time of year.  Perhaps this little collage should make its way to her house as a New Year greeting!!  Happy New Year J, M & M and adopted Chinese daughters everywhere!!!