Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

Bloom Where You Are, and Other Sayings

March 30, 2020


For the first time, I understand the connection between two sayings I’ve heard for years. The first is the advice to torture your darlings. The second is the adage, “Adversity doesn’t make character, it reveals it.” Watching the different ways people are responding to the pandemic was my aha moment for writing. If I don’t fully understand my characters and I drop them in the middle of a crisis, the scene is usually flat. I can’t reveal what I don’t know.

Even if I have a good sense of who my characters are, what they do in the conflict sometimes comes as a surprise. I’m starting to enjoy those experiences. Yes, there is the underlying terror that the story is spinning out of my control, but the joy of seeing my imaginary friends become real people is worth it.

You may have understood this connection for a long time, but it’s new to me. Or rather, this added layer of understanding is new to me. As is the added layer of understanding this pandemic has brought to another saying, “Bloom where you are.” I’ve seen so many small acts of kindness lately. I’ve been on the receiving end of some of them. It’s enough to keep me writing stories with happy endings.

Luck and wisdom!

What Is Supposed To Be

July 22, 2019

Today is Monday, so I am supposed to post a writing blog. I paused for a good five minutes after I wrote that line, and still nothing popped into my little brain. Instead, I’m posting a picture of my shrimp plant.

The shrimp plant is supposed to put out these lovely pinky-red bracts with white flowers that droop over and look like swimming shrimp when the breeze blows. I’ve got the bracts and the flowers, but danged little drooping. The bracts are shooting up like spear tips. That’s okay, but not what I was expecting; not what is supposed to be.

To which the universe replies, “Oh, adjust already!”

The plant is still lovely, and healthy, and I like it. What more do I really want? Well, to have more of my novel written, but that may not happen today. Today, I will appreciate my shrimp plant.

Luck and wisdom!

Crowd Sourcing Good Luck

June 19, 2019

A friend asked me to look after her plant while she is out of town, which is a real hoot as I have the blackest thumbs on either side of the Mississippi. She knows this, but either doesn’t believe me or wants to give the universe a chance to perform a miracle. I’m going with the second option, which is why I am going to ask any and all to send out cosmic hugs to this little creature.

Week 1 – still alive

Yes, I am trying to crowd source good luck, but not for me. I will take no credit whatsoever if the plant thrives. I am barely able to keep my own plants living. This one is hanging on out of sheer force of will.

The little plant that could

Don’t tell me about your never-fail plant food, or the wisdom of repotting. My mother and husband are fabulous plant whisperers, so perhaps that’s all one family gets. I won’t ask for a green thumb. All I’m asking is you hold a happy thought for the innocent plant entrusted to me.

Luck and wisdom!

Waiting for the Reveal

April 10, 2019

I am making progress with the PIPs (Projects in Piles), but nothing to photograph. Luckily, the front yard is in the process of blooming, which illustrates the way I feel about the last couple of weeks of work. I put borders on three UFOs (UnFinished Objects), and made backs for them. I suppose I could photograph the tops but I would prefer to wait until they are done. They’ll be donated when completed, but before I can get to the quilting I need to finish a few simple sewing projects. In the meantime, I will enjoy the message of the flowers – patience + perseverance = progress.

Luck and wisdom!

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!