Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

My Seasonal Snoot

November 28, 2018

The seasons around here don’t exactly line up with the calendar, but we do have them. The closest we come is autumn, when our trees turn color (not always as vibrantly as the gingko this year, and only roughly between the fall equinox and winter solstice). The rest of the year once could be divided between the wet, the hot, and fire. Now fire season is all year long, which is a bummer. However, I can add another season to my personal calendar, and it’s all about my snoot.

A couple of years ago I was having the worst problem with a stuffy nose. I thought it was allergies, what with leaf detritus and pollen floating in the air. I took antihistamines, got no relief, so I went to the doctor and discovered that I’m not allergic to anything. My problem was the change in air temperature, and maybe barometric pressure. For some reason, my sinuses go into full guard dog mode when the weather changes, which made me miserable. Although the symptoms occurred during an allergy season, I made the classic mistake of assuming correlation meant causality. Sure enough, I was visiting another state in another season when a cold rain swept through and my snoot went wild.

The good news is I know the proper medicine to take if I need it. Also, I was given a gentle reminder of the value of re-examining one’s assumptions. Best of all, I can now enjoy our wacky autumn, when leaves fall but flowers still bloom.

Luck and wisdom!

Gambling With Beauty

June 11, 2018

My husband and I are not gamblers, except with plants. Going to the nursery is our version of hitting the casinos. We never spend more than we can afford to lose, because although we are gambling with beauty it’s still even money whether those plants will live or not.

Most of the time we’re willing to let the plants accept their fate, but this little orange critter was an exception. We both loved the leaves, and the way the orange petals glow. It wasn’t doing well where we first planted it, so my husband dug it up and put it in a pot. It did okay, but wasn’t thriving. My husband moved it next to the front door, gave it a new pot, and hoped for the best. The gamble paid off.

I realized that I can use this example for both my writing and my quilting. Sometimes I write a scene or a character that doesn’t fit the story, just as I sometimes make a block that doesn’t fit with the other units of the quilt. Instead of trying to force the odd one to conform, I’m going to save it. I can cut a scene or even an entire chapter and paste it to a file. I can put the orphan block in a bag or bin. Someday, I’ll find the right place for those bits, and watch them bloom.

The Garden

May 9, 2018

I puttered productively in the sewing room this week, but the results aren’t worth photographing. The garden is, however, thanks to my husband. He took up gardening a few years ago, which is why the plants live. He says he only buys plants that thrive on neglect, but don’t believe him. I know what a neglected garden looks like and this isn’t it.

The front garden has a lovely section devoted to iris and daffodils. This blue iris is one of my favorites.

He built a lot of small raised beds. The columbine is the only plant that survived the frost in this bed.

Here is a view of the back garden with Trevor the Gargoyle. Guess who whined until he bought her the statue?

In addition to gargoyles, I also like wind chimes. These chimes are hung in a place that doesn’t get all that much wind, but that’s okay too. I like the little tinkling sound, but the neighbors’ dogs don’t. Trust me, howls don’t harmonize with chimes.

Luck and wisdom!

Experiments with Landscape Fabric

February 21, 2018

A non-woven fabric to use in landscaping

And you thought I meant fabric with flowers and trees. No, this is actually some plastic-y non-woven material that bills itself as a plant and seed blanket. My husband bought it at our local Orchard Supply Hardware store, but for some reason I can only find an online link at Amazon. He gave me a leftover chunk and asked if I thought I could use it for a quilt.
Boy, could I.

I call this piece “Gut Feeling”

The material is nubbly, like an iron-on interfacing, so it grabs hold and won’t shift during sewing. I sprinkled sequins and seed beads over the background and quilted them in place. While the material is as transparent as a tulle or netting, it won’t allow the small beads to slip through the holes.

Secure sequins

It also shimmers, making it a good candidate for water effects.

Ocean

You can make reasonably clean cuts close to the stitching line.

I have no idea how long this material will hold up, nor what it will do to the cotton underneath it. That’s part of this experiment. Still and all, it’s fun to play with.

Luck and wisdom!

Toes In The Water

May 24, 2017

This week in the continuing saga of the collaborative quilt: we decided to use the “toes in the water” technique for the border. I finished the inner border, and we immediately stopped to think about what we want next.

I like the top as it is, but we had discussed the possibility of another border. We’ll let the quilt sit on the design board for a bit. In the meantime, I unearthed my quilt marking kit.

When I saw this kit, I was struck by my own lack of vision, and laziness. Lack of vision because all this kit contains is a marker, a paper towel, and a piece of plastic. You put the plastic over the quilt top and mark potential quilt lines. You erase the lines you don’t like with the paper towel and start again. “Self,” I said, “you could have thought of this.” The laziness part came when I bought the kit rather than going to the craft store and buying my own plastic. The “toes in the water” part will come when I actually use the plastic and marker to design a quilting pattern rather than sitting down at the machine and falling into my go-to quilt motifs.

Shameless self-promotion alert – one last “toes in the water” moment occurred this week. I was encouraged by Julaina Kleist-Corwin to consider video blogging. New-to-me technology is scary, so I thought I would start with a tiny snippet of video on Instagram. There was a big, beautiful bug flying around one of the plants in the back yard. Out I went with my cell phone, finger on the video icon. To my absolute amazement the clip was in focus and I posted it without tearing my hair out. I tried posting it here, but discovered that would require an upgrade. As far as I’m concerned, upgrade is the single most frightening word in the English language. So – and here’s the shameless self-promotion part – if you want to see a beautiful flying critter (I think it’s a bee of some sort, but I’m not going to swear to it) you’ll have to find me on Instagram (under Lani Longshore).

Luck and wisdom!

Social Media and the Solitary Quilter

April 26, 2017

Creating art is usually a solo journey. I am lucky enough to have collaborators for some of my fiber art and fiction, but most of my work is done alone. Social media is useful for promoting one’s work, but first you have to get something finished. I started this blog to help me move from solitary quilter in a quagmire of a studio to fiber artist with something to show for it. It was a daunting experiment.

I called this corner Fort Longshore

I’ve worked diligently, finished some things, but my studio still looks like this.

The foundation of a fort on my sewing table

The sad truth is, I have so many stacks of works-in-progess and ideas-that-deserve-more-attention and oh-isn’t-this-a-cute-fabric that my studio will probably always look like the aftermath of a warehouse explosion. However, I figure if one part of social media could make me a little more productive perhaps another part could help as well. Julain Kleist-Corwin, a good friend and wonderful writer, recommended Instagram, and now I’m on that. I believe you can find me as lanilongshore, but if you search under #artquiltsantafe you should find my posts.

My intention is to post once a day, and focus on what I’ve accomplished. Yeah, that was the plan. I’ve already put up many days of flowers blooming in our garden because I did bupkus in the sewing room.

There is always art in the garden

I’ve also posted art quilts I made a long time ago. This is one of them.

Called Window, because it reminds me of a window open to the stars

Blogging once a week helped me to get over my fear of messing up a project, because I wanted to have something to write about. I’m hoping that posting on Instagram once a day will keep me working on a project even when I’m out of ideas because a picture of something is better than a picture of nothing. Check in on my progress (or lack thereof) if you have a free moment.

Luck and wisdom!

Return of the Flowers

April 5, 2017

My husband became the gardener in the family when the drought descended. He started experimenting with what could grow in our dreadful soil with very little water. Turns out, bulbs do quite well. He ripped out the lawn and put a bulb garden in part of the yard. This is year two for that section, and the results are much more interesting than any of the results of my week in the sewing room.

Such a soothing shade of yellow

The front yard used to be almost entirely green – grass, trees, juniper bushes. Having some color is quite a treat. As luck would have it, the yellow iris started blooming just a day before the blue. Blue and yellow is such a calming color scheme in quilting that I was pleased beyond all proportion for these two flowers.

Wouldn’t this shade of blue be a fabulous accent in a soft yellow quilt?

The next blossoms will be from this little sprig. I can’t remember what it’s called, but I loved the way the buds looked this morning.

I have no idea what the flower looks like, but the buds are terrific

Here’s a new flower that we got for a planter box. We had all sorts of things in there last year, but it seems they weren’t quite up to the unusual cold snap we had this winter. They curled up their toes and died. With any luck, the new plants will be hardier.

There’s a quilt in this flower

This plant survived the garden redesign. It’s been growing outside my sewing room window since we moved into the house. Neither drought nor frost have caused it a moment of worry, so we decided to keep it.

The bush is a massive thing, but the flowers are quite delicate

We’ve no idea what it is called, but it grows and blooms, and that’s good enough.

Luck and wisdom!

Golden California

December 14, 2016

California is called the Golden State for the 1849 Gold Rush, the golden hills, the gold in Hollywood and Silicon Valley . . . and now for gingko gold. Our one tree puts out enough leaves to turn our front yard into a natural Klimt painting (and you know there’s a quilt in that!).

Lani Longshore gingko variegated

We live in an area that gets white, frozen water snow maybe once a decade. The golden snow comes every year.

Lani Longshore gingko leaves on rock

By happy coincidence, the tree lost its leaves just as an iris bloomed, so we got a double gold effect.

Lani Longshore gingko leaves and iris

Nature being what it is, there’s no way of knowing how the yard will look next year. I remember once our back yard looked as if it had been festooned with white lace, but the next year the blooming schedules didn’t work out as well. Time to be in the moment for the moment and enjoy my golden state.

Lani Longshore gingko leaves and orange

Luck and wisdom!

Managing Days Like These

September 28, 2016

I’m not sure whether my guardian angels are asleep, the household gods are otherwise occupied, or the pixies under the stairs are bored, but for some reason things have been going wrong. Not wrong in the “ohmygod the sky is falling” sense, just “well, that’s something I’d prefer not dealing with at the moment.” For instance, I was making what I thought was great progress on a quilt top when I discovered I hadn’t measured correctly. The good news is I have more fabric for the original project, because the bad news is no amount of reverse engineering will make the units fit. Oh, and now I have a new project (and I’m not certain if that is good news or bad).

Perhaps I can start my architectural series with this mistake

Perhaps I can start my architectural series with this mistake

The other thing that went wrong is really my own fault. I’ve been doing beading on the couch. This is my “set-up.”

Perhaps I should write a book about the lazy woman's guide to beading

Perhaps I should write a book about the lazy woman’s guide to beading

You can see immediately that this is neither a smart nor safe way to keep beads. As often happens, the top came off one of the tubes. The truly amazing news is that the spill was localized, and I rescued at least 99% of the little darlings.

So, what does one do on Days Like These? After I finished pouting, I remembered the mantra of a former boss: “If there are no dead bodies to hide, the problem can be managed.” That’s when I decided to take some time to enjoy the garden.

A lily in the sun

A lily in the sun

This is part of our lily collection. They sit in their beds and bloom their little hearts out.

Beautiful and bizarre, yes?

Beautiful and bizarre, yes?

This is a new plant. We bought it because of the flower, and the vine has rewarded us for our choice.

Just keep growing

Just keep growing

The morning glory is a tough little plant. It simply grows over any obstacles. If I am clever, I will take a lesson from the morning glory, and manage Days Like These by growing, not pouting. Wish me –

Luck and wisdom!

The Apple Tree and Sergeant Brice

September 14, 2016

We decided to cut down the apple tree this year. Processing fruit was becoming a burden and my husband has different plans for the back yard, so it had to go. It deserved better, but there it is. That got me thinking about people who deserved better, which led me to Lee Miller, an actor who never quite got his place in the sun (although he was in the movie by that name).

The remains of the tree

The remains of the tree

Lee Miller was in a boatload of movies, mostly uncredited. He also played Sergeant Brice on Perry Mason. He did receive credit for that, but his name was mostly last on the list. Even if it did move up a notch, it was generally behind such vital characters as “policeman #3” or “attendant.” It just doesn’t seem fair. Like my apple tree, Miller produced good work.

Part of the produce, dried and ready to eat

Part of the produce, dried and ready to eat

There are lots of Lee Millers in the world. I know many art quilters and writers who probably won’t get the recognition they deserve. Shameless self-promotion alert: my friend Ann Anastasio and I have published two delightful sci fi novels (Death By Chenille and When Chenille Is Not Enough) that would make excellent SyFy original movies, but have they come calling? Of course not. They’ll probably ignore our next one, too (The Chenille Ultimatum, coming soon).

But that is the way of life. To mangle Gilbert and Sullivan, there are many “wretched, meritorious B” folks out there. So, for all those who labor on, creating and producing and generally making life worth living – good on you, mate.

Luck and wisdom!