Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

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!

It Needs Light

June 1, 2016

Despite having the blackest thumbs on either side of the Mississippi, I have committed myself to growing an orchid. The plant was a gift, so I’m motivated enough to research it. By research I mean I went to Alden Lane Nursery and asked Sue the orchid guru what to do. She said the variety I own thrives on neglect. Then she said something that I knew I could adapt to all my creative endeavors. “It needs light.”

This bit of wisdom applies to my stacks in the sewing room. They need to be turned over once in a while so the bits on the bottom come to light.

My orchid, trimmed and basking in shaded light

My orchid, trimmed and basking in shaded light

She also said if I paid attention, the plant would tell me when it needs water. As long as the roots are green, they’re hydrated.

Still green, still growing

Still green, still growing

That definitely fits with my fiber art and writing projects. The fabric and my characters often refuse to talk to me, but they will send out clues now and again. When I pay attention, I know what they want and the project goes smoothly.

I discovered other lessons I could transfer from the garden to my work. This is harder than you might think, as my husband is the gardener in the family (see above if you’ve forgotten why plants dread my approach). Still, he has created a garden that reveals surprises at different angles.

The lily bed

The lily bed

Here are massed lilies. I am especially fond of this view because I’m the clutterbug in the family. Yet here for all to see is the value of letting things run riot, creating their own beauty.

The shrimp plant

The shrimp plant

We bought this shrimp plant because I thought it was cute. It had one itty-bitty flower when we brought it home, and look at it now. Thus we see the value of planning for the best despite evidence to the contrary.

Trevor the garden gargoyle

Trevor the garden gargoyle

Here is my last lesson from the garden – find yourself a patron saint. Trevor the gargoyle doesn’t actually solve my artistic problems, but I laugh whenever I see him and sometimes that’s enough. When it isn’t, I’m taking a cue from my orchid and finding myself some light.

Luck and wisdom!

The Front Garden – A Progress Report

April 13, 2016

We’ve essentially completed the front garden. Of course, when I say “we” I mean my husband because I have the blackest thumbs on either side of the Mississippi (at least that’s the excuse I give for not gardening). The grass is gone, the weeds are as gone as weeds ever are, and some of the plants are flowering.

The center section iris plot

The center section iris plot

Our son commented on how the spiky weeds actually looked like they belonged below the great log wall, so we bought some spiky lilies to put there.

The great log wall and spiky stuff

The great log wall and spiky stuff

The leucadendron from the back garden gave up the ghost. We replaced it with another one called golden tulip, or some such thing. It advertises beautiful yellow flowers with brown cone-like centers.

The leucadendron is on the right

The leucadendron is on the right

The plants for the charging station boxes are doing well, too.

Lani Longshore planting box

All in all, this is the prettiest our yard has looked since the drought started. With any luck from the gardening pixies, it will continue to be pretty if the drought continues. If so, there may be a quilt in here.

A shrimp plant for inspiration

A shrimp plant for inspiration

Luck and wisdom!

The Charging Station, Fluffy, and Me

March 30, 2016

We recovered enough to finish a project. My husband’s new car is a Chevy Volt (which I named Fluffy), and he wanted to build a charging station for it, surrounded by brick planter boxes.

The charging station and flanking planter boxes

The charging station and flanking planter boxes

I offered to help, assuming I would be bringing him tools, bricks, and ice water. Turns out he was feeling healthy enough to teach me about masonry. I became the crew chief in charge of vertical joints. Despite the fact that I can’t frost a cake for love or money, I did manage to learn how to keep the mortar where it belonged.

My work

My work

The charging station got its final inspection today, and we passed. The inspector thought the electrical plan was very good, and was quite complimentary on my husband’s carpentry. He didn’t mention the planter boxes, but I am proud of my vertical joints all the same.

Next step, buying plants

Next step, buying plants

Thanks to all of you who sent out good thoughts for my recovery. As long as the tree pollen is high, I’ll still be sniffling, but at least I am starting back on my projects.

Luck and wisdom!

Halloween in Tree and Flower

October 28, 2015

The decorating gods are smiling for me this year. While shopping for something else I found a Halloween tree that is the perfect size for the dining room table.

A bit of wife, and a couple of tiny bats - brilliant!

A bit of wire, and a couple of tiny bats – brilliant!

Also, I decided I didn’t have to sacrifice a squash for Halloween when I found this great polka dot pumpkin.

Shiny dots and glitter - what more could I want?

Shiny dots and glitter – what more could I want?

Even the bushes are cooperating, as our orange begonia is blooming.

Lani Longshore begonia

Technically, this was sold as a peach-colored begonia but I’m calling it orange until the end of the month.

I have a gargoyle named Trevor who lives in the backyard. Next year I may festoon him with colored lights.

Lani Longshore Trevor the gargoyle

Luck and wisdom – and happy Halloween!

An Avalanche of Creativity

September 2, 2015

That’s what a friend called my sewing room – an avalanche of creativity. I told her I was going to steal that line, and now I have. She’s absolutely right, there are many avalanches-in-progress in that room.

No loud noises, or it will start a slide

No loud noises, or it will start a slide

Sometimes the creative destruction seeps out to other rooms.

Handwork hanging by a thread

Handwork hanging by a thread

Then there are the projects that are approaching critical mass but haven’t tipped over yet.

I added a new ribbon around the vase last week

I added a new ribbon around the vase last week

Still, that’s the way nature works – spilling out all over the place.

Life reaching out

Life reaching out

Luck and wisdom!