My Voting Pledge

A YouTube video went viral last week; a four-year-old girl crying that she was tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Rominey. Cute, funny, but it also made my heart ache just a bit. So here’s my voting pledge.

My Voting Pledge

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Sewing Again

I started sewing when I was in fourth grade. My first project was a blue and white gingham apron with a pocket. I sewed my own wedding dress, continued with curtains for the house and clothes for our kids…until they gained “brand awareness” in their early elementary years. And then…aside from some work on hand-pieced quilt, I pretty much ran out of time for any sewing.

Earlier this summer, I happened to wander into a local quilt shop just as the fabrics came out for the Minnesota Quilt Shop Hop. I was inspired to try my hand at quilting again, and that brings us to today’s posting. My first project to get back into the swing is a Halloween table runner. The pattern, purchased at one of the participating quilt shop hop stores, uses paper foundation piecing technique for the squares. I still have more work to do on the borders (and the photo isn’t great), but I’m pleased with the progress so far.

Pieced top of Halloween table runner

Once the top is completed, I plan to machine quilt in some type of spider-web design. On the colorful squares, I’ll use black thread, but the border will be quilted with some glow-in-the-dark thread that I picked up a couple of years back. The only thing I’d change is making sure the values of the fabric I used on the outside edges would stand out from the black background.

Painting Again, Seventeen Years Later

We’ve been home from vacation for over a week now, but I had one last bit of vacation to experience: to complete a small painting for the Community Mosaic Project for The Hardy Gallery. We visited The Hardy on our first morning in Ephraim, Door County, Wisconsin. (The Hardy is housed in the graffiti building I talked about in an earlier post.) The exhibit in the gallery was their juried show. One of the docents asked if I had seen a particular pastel painting. I told it was one of my favorites, and pointed out the artist’s choice of an unusual color that was the perfect finishing element. She exclaimed, “You’re an artist!” I replied that I wasn’t, but I had simply studied art…a long time ago. She told me about the Community Mosaic Project and it took only a tiny amount of arm-twisting to convince me to participate. The 6×6 inch canvas was free, and I simply had to complete a form where I provided my info and a promise to pay for the supplies if I didn’t contribute a project.

What to paint? At the start of our vacation, while Gregg was at his conference, I had purchased a sketch book and some graphite pencils before heading to the Green Bay Botanical Garden. Because I arrived in the heat of the day, I spent the first hour sketching part of an arbor that was viewable from their cafe. That sketch became the model for my mosaic painting.

Starting sketch

Canvas (left) and sketch (right) from Green Bay Botanical Garden

Because it has been seventeen years (17!) since I graduated from my graphic design program, I assumed I would have to buy all new acrylic paints. I hoped that the brushes would still be around, though, so I headed to my workroom and dug out the large plastic bucket I used to store my painting supplies. I was incredibly happy (think $$$) to discover that everything was not only in in the bucket, but still usable – gesso, medium, paints, and brushes! So I began.

Community Mosaic Project - Blocking Colors

The mosaic painting, after some color blocking.

It felt really awkward at first. All my brushes are long-handled – really not the right length for working on such a small canvas at the kitchen table. I also have mild carpal tunnel syndrome. The combination of using the wrong type of brushes and my occasional fingertip numbness meant that my brush seemed to jump out of my hand a few times! But who doesn’t need just a touch of cadmium blue on their kitchen table, hmm? 🙂

Mosaic painting, starting details

Starting to add details

At this point, I had to stop painting and take care of some other things. But before I cleaned up, I took a few moments to enjoy what was on my palette. I always like looking at a used painter’s palette – even when it’s not mine and even (or especially?) the blends that didn’t make it into the painting!

The Palette

Playing with pretty colors without worrying about composition or proportion!

As I later continued to work on my little painting project, I lost some of the awkwardness. I remembered the beauty of working with acrylic paints is that they dry quickly; I also experienced the trial of working with acrylic paints that dry so quickly! Yes, the one item missing from my paint bucket was the paint retarder.

In the end, I’m pleased with the painting. Someone will acquire it in a “blind buy” at The Hardy Gallery. When that person gets their first glimpse, I hope it makes them smile for a moment or two, and that in spite of its faults the painting will convey the utter joy I experienced in picking up my brushes after seventeen years!

Mimi's Arbor

The finished painting.

Here’s the Artist’s Statement I sent with my painting:

This small acrylics painting was inspired by a graphite sketch I did while visiting Green Bay Botanical Garden. A few days later I visited The Hardy Gallery and learned about the Community Mosaic Project.

I questioned whether I was part of the Hardy “community” – after all, I live over 5 hours away and learned of the Hardy only 2 weeks ago!

As I worked on this painting, I realized “community” isn’t so much about physical location as it is about helping out with whatever means you have – especially when you have already received from that community.

So thank you, my Hardy community – for encouraging me to pick up my paintbrushes after abandoning them 17 years ago! Here is my gift to you. I hope that in spite of my limited skills, my little painting conveys the joy I experienced while painting it.

I do wish I could see the gallery when all the 6×6 canvases are hung as a single mosaic!

Door County, Evening 2 The Fish Boil

We went to the fish boil at White Gull Inn in Fish Creek. It was good, but like many things preceded by so much hype, the meal failed to live up to our expectations. First, we assembled outside on the patio to watch the cooking. The potatoes were already in the boiling water when we arrived. About 10 minutes later, the white fish was added. When the fish had cooked, the chef threw a bunch of kerosene on the fire.

Fish Boil at White Gull Inn, Fish Creek, WI

The rapid increase in temperature makes the water boil over, causing the fish oil that has floated to the top overflow the cooking barrel. The two cooking baskets are pulled out of the barrel and brought into the restaurant. The meal was served buffet-style, which made us feel a bit rushed. In the end, the dinner was good. The melted butter that was served with the fish helped offset the hassle of having to take the bones out of the fish. Dessert was also included – homemade cherry pie that was sweet but still let some of the tartness come through.

So we can check fish boil off our bucket list.

Door County, Day 2

What a busy day! We started with breakfast in our room, featuring the B&B’s homemade cherry granola, warm coffee cake, and a plate of fresh fruit. After cleaning up and getting dressed, we decided on a quick drive around Ephraim to get our bearings. Eight hours and lots of miles later, we are back at our B&B.

We visited several gift, decor, and gardening shops. But the places we enjoyed the most were pottery shops and art galleries. The first gallery we visited was the Hardy Gallery. It is housed in a historic building at the public marina. A sign on the building says that it is tradition for people to write their names on the building where their boat is docked. So, given a few rules, anyone can write on the building.

Hardy Gallery, Ephraim, WI

The gallery had just finished hanging a juried show. I wish I could have taken photos – there were some truly outstanding pieces on display. I especially liked an oil pastel of a waterfall. While there, a woman approached me and asked if I wanted to participate in their mosaic project. At first, I thought she wanted me to do an actual mosaic, the kind you make out of tile or stone or glass. But she explained that you simply take one of their 6″ x 6″ stretched canvases and do any type of art on it. They display each small artwork, photograph it, and publish it in a book. All part of a fundraiser for the Hardy Gallery. So I agreed. It has to be sent to them in about 10 days – so I’m sure it will be fodder for more postings! I’m excited to have an art-related project (with a deadline to be sure I get it done!)

Amongst the stops at gift shops and such, we also stopped at two pottery galleries. Our purchases are safely wrapped and in the back of the car, so I’ll post more about those visits after I get back home in Minneapolis. For now, I’ll just say it’s nice to have time to talk to the potters and hear their stories about what drew them to their art.

Before heading back to our suite at the B&B, we stopped at Bailey’s Harbor on the Lake Michigan side of Door County. We finally had a chance to walk out on the beach. I picked up some small shells and claws from some type of small blue crab. At the city marina, Gregg also took some time to snap photos of the gulls. I love this one, the way the bird is backlit.

Gull at Bailey's Harbor, WI

So now I have about a half hour to relax before we head out for a Door County tradition – the fish boil! I’m sure Gregg will have his camera at the ready, so I hope to post more later this evening.

Door County, Day 1

(Written June 12, posted on June 13)

Gregg was at a conference for work earlier this week in De Pere, WI, near Green Bay. Tuesday, after the conference ended, we headed up to Door County for a couple of days. We found Eagle Harbor Inn quite easily. Cindy was the person at the front desk and she was so helpful in explaining things – spotty cell coverage, what was available on grounds, etc. She helped us make reservations at the White Gull Inn for tomorrow evening’s fish boil. She was a waitress there for many years, and her tips were to ask them to remove the bones and ask for tail sections of the fish.

That evening, we had dinner at Alexander’s. The food & service was outstanding – the waiter put our napkins on our laps – a first for me! We started with crusty french bread and butter. We chose King Crab cakes for an appetizer – the texture was so light and tender, served on a bed of spring greens with a mango sauce, the crab cake topped with hollandaise sauce. Truly the best crab cakes I have ever had! For my entree, I had perfectly-prepared filet mignon with mushrooms. Gregg chose one of the specials, halibut with an olive tapenade and melon sauce.

Back to the B&B to catch an episode of my favorite show on Discovery Channel, The Deadliest Catch. That little break gave us a chance to let our dinner settle before heading out again. First, a picture of a colorful sunset over Green Bay.

Sunset over Green Bay in Ephraim, WI

Then off to an attraction we had noticed while driving to Alexander’s…The Drive In theater! We watched Men In Black III, but passed on the second movie of the double feature, Battleship.

Will Smith, MIB III, on drive-in screen in Ephraim, WI

Our room at Eagle Harbor Inn is nice – it doesn’t have the overly fussy decor typical of many Victorian style B&Bs. We have a 1BR Queen Suite. It has a small kitchen area, gas fireplace, whirlpool, and full bathroom with shower.

My, How Time Flies

I’ve always intended to get back to this blog and was a bit surprised to see that I had last posted over two years ago! Why is it that time seems to go faster the older we get?

Clock

On my last birthday, I turned 56. I’m entering that stage of life where I am starting to look back to judge whether I’ve had a meaningful life. And I find that in the press of daily life, it’s hard to remember everything I’ve done in the last two years, much less the previous 54! So I’ve decided to use a blog to capture what I’m doing in my daily life, what things sustain me, give me joy and meaning (or not).