Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

England beckons yet again: more in York

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

York was filled with inspiration wherever we went. Sunday was no exception:  fine needlework, illuminated artwork, inspiring architecture, Thomas the Tank, Harry Potter and best of all a day spent Anna W, a internet friend from a small group.  The day began with a visit to the York Minster, which is good because there was a good wind blowing–felt like early autumn not late summer.   Even though some parts of the Minster were off limits due to an issue with the security cameras not working we still had ample inspiration.

What a day, and it all began here, at the York Minster.  While in England, I learned that a "city" is a place with a cathedral, everything else is a town.  Makes total sense to me!

What a day, and it all began here, at the York Minster. While in England, I learned that a “city” is a place with a cathedral, everything else is a town. Makes total sense to me!

Since there are so many photos in this post, I think I’ll just comment below each photo:

On the way to the minster, we passed yet another pub with glorious flowerboxes and a wonderful sign.

On the way to the minster, we passed yet another pub with glorious flowerboxes and a wonderful sign.

Guy Fawkes day is a big celebration day in Britain,

Guy Fawkes day is a big celebration day in Britain, celebrated (according to Wikipedia) on November 5, where “his effigy is traditionally burned in a bonfire. ” You might also wonder where you’ve heard that name (if your not English that is):  That was the name of Dumbledore’s phoenix in the Harry Potter books.  Get it, the phoenix is reborn by going up in flames?

The inside of the big doors on the West face of the Minster and Eli, not so happy that I'm taking yet another  photo of him.  That's what moms do, kiddo!

The inside of the big doors on the West face of the Minster and Eli, not so happy that I’m taking yet another photo of him. That’s what moms do, kiddo!  Plus, those strap hinges are great inspiration for quilting designs.

Illuminated map and lettering--Val Webb, thought of you!

Illuminated map and lettering–Val Webb, thought of you and your fabulous Watercolor Lettering class.  This looks like gouache and gold leaf.

A close up

A close up–just STUNNING!  Love the artwork.  Notice on the left where it shows the chapel dedicated to the women of Britain who served during the wars.

Part of the stitchery on the altar cloth.  England has an incredible tradition of embroidery.

Part of the stitchery on the altar cloth. England has an incredible tradition of embroidery. Yes, that’s stitching, not paint!

And I "do" dragons, and loved this one.

And I “do” dragons, and loved this one. More design inspiration.

Just tilt your head sideways....

Just tilt your head sideways….an angel for Marie.  Have no idea why this flipped sideways!

Tapestry

Needlepoint kneeler and seat cushions in a chapel

Madonna and child

Madonna and child in cloth.  Art quilts eveywhere!

Up under the soaring roof are the ribs, the supports for the ceiling.  When part of one nave of the church was restored some years back, they had to make new bosses, the designs at the intersections.  Children were asked to enter designs in a competition, and this one of man walking on the moon was included.  Totally awesome way to restore yet include contemporary life, which is totally in keeping with how the churches were built and how they keep in touch with contemporary life.

Up under the soaring roof are the ribs, the supports for the ceiling. Glad my camera has a superzoom! When part of one nave of the church was restored some years back, they had to make new bosses, the designs at the intersections. Children were asked to enter designs in a competition, and this one of man walking on the moon was included. Totally awesome way to restore yet include contemporary life, which is totally in keeping with how the churches were built and how they keep in touch with contemporary life.

Antique storage chest for the Bishop's vestments, and more design inspiration in the hinges.   The capes/cloaks (don't know what they are called officially) fold into triangular wedges, then are stored in here.

Antique storage chest for the Bishop’s vestments, and more design inspiration in the hinges. The capes/cloaks (don’t know what they are called officially) fold into triangular wedges, then are stored in here.

Design inspiration in  a floor grate even!

Design inspiration in a floor grate even!

And I "do" bats as well.  Anything that eats mosquitoes is a friend of mine (yes, spiders also).  Loved this boss!  More design inspiration!

And I “do” bats as well. Anything that eats mosquitoes is a friend of mine (yes, spiders also). Loved this boss! More design inspiration!

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The massive stained glass window that faces east is being restored.  Bit by bit as the work is done, the actual panels are being displayed at floor level.

And another angel for Marie Z. from said window.

And another angel for Marie Z. from said window.

And if you wonder why they call it a great window, this explains it.  The window is the size of a **tennis court**!!!!

And if you wonder why they call it a great window, this explains it. The window is the size of a **tennis court**!!!!

By then we were pretty much churched out, and decided to walk a portion of the medieval walls of the old city of York.  Anna led the way.  I was petrified.  I am not afraid of heights as much as I am of falling (and wait until you see my brave pics from the top of St. Paul's in London at the end of the trip).  This may have required more nerve, tho, as there were no railings on the left.  In the US there would have been cement barricades defacing the walk (to keep the litigious and the lawyers at bay).

By then we were pretty much churched out, and decided to walk a portion of the medieval walls of the old city of York. Anna led the way. I was petrified. I am not afraid of heights as much as I am of falling (and wait until you see my brave pics from the top of St. Paul’s in London at the end of the trip). This may have required more nerve, tho, as there were no railings on the left. In the US there would have been cement barricades defacing the walk (to keep the litigious and the lawyers at bay).  We didn’t do the whole thing due to time and, frankly, my nerves!

And lovely rooftops on the walk--would make a great quilt!

And lovely rooftops on the walk–would make a great quilt!

We had a lovely lunch and tea, and Eli kindly took this photo of me with Anna.   The sweater she is wearing is one she made and is FAB.  As you can see, though, the wind had abated and it started to warm up a little.

We had a lovely lunch and tea, and Eli kindly took this photo of me with Anna. The sweater she is wearing is one she made and is FAB. As you can see, though, the wind had abated and it started to warm up a little.

We walked Anna back to the train station (she lives about an hour away from York and came all the way to meet us!)

We walked Anna back to the train station (she lives about an hour away from York and came all the way to meet us!).  Next to the station is the Railway Museum, so had to take a selfie with Thomas the Tank since Joshua and I read those books and watched the videos.   Saving the books for some future decade and grandkids!

We were lucky--the "Hogwarts Express" engine was on the sidings at the museum--it is still a working engine so sometimes is out working!

We were lucky–the “Hogwarts Express” engine was on the sidings at the museum–it is still a working engine so sometimes is out working!

The actual Platform 9 3/4 sign from the Harry Potter museums is here, not at King's Cross Station, so I'm pretending to push my cart.  Thanks again to Eli for being my photographer!

The actual Platform 9 3/4 sign from the Harry Potter museums is here, not at King’s Cross Station, so I’m pretending to push my cart. Thanks again to Eli for being my photographer!

This was too cool not to photograph, also in the Railway Museum.

This was too cool not to photograph, also in the Railway Museum.  I think it came fro a station somewhere, but can’t read my photo of the signage.

And some of the engines.  That green one with the bump looks JUST like Percy, my favorite engine from the Thomas the Tank books.  Percy is such a sweet personality, always trying hard even if the task seems beyond his abilities--he always tries, and does so cheerfully.   Methinks I need another visit to York to include more time as this was just about a half hour quick visit!

And some of the engines. That green one with the bump looks JUST like Percy, my favorite engine from the Thomas the Tank books. Percy is such a sweet personality, always trying hard even if the task seems beyond his abilities–he always tries, and does so cheerfully. Methinks I need another visit to York to include more time as this was just about a half hour quick visit!

So that’s Sunday in York.  Monday will take us to–DREAM–the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.   Think Thomas the Tank steam engines, Hogsmeade (Harry Potter), and the moors from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.   Stay tuned!

Re-Entry!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

As usual, re-entry to home life after Houston is a whirlwind, as you might gather by the absence of posts here!  Joshua’s birthday is always just a few days after my return, so usually the suitcases aren’t emptied and put away before I’m shopping for birthday dinner and so on.  Life was complicated by the snowstorm which cancelled my flight from Boston, causing me to drive home in the snow in the dark in a rental car.   At least they cancelled flights early, so I got home not much later than I would have had I waited in  Boston for my connecting flight.  In the next few posts I’ll share International Quilt Market and Festival, but first, a little bit of home.  Since US Thanksgiving is in two days, and since there is nothing I am more thankful for than my family and home, let’s start here.

Getting up the driveway the night before I took this picture was entertaining.  Our plow guy had to use his backhoe there was so much snow, and IT got stuck due to soft / not frozen earth and deep, wet snow.  I left my car at the bottom of the drive and walked the last quarter mile uphill to the house.  But it sure is glorious when the sun comes out!

Getting up the driveway the night before I took this picture was entertaining. Our plow guy had to use his backhoe there was so much snow, and IT got stuck due to soft / not frozen earth and deep, wet snow. I left my car at the bottom of the drive and walked the last quarter mile uphill to the house. But it sure is glorious when the sun comes out!

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Aren’t those colors fantastic?

Guess we should have taken the settee and rockers in a bit earlier.  They are now stashed in the garage!

The snowy front porch.

The snowy front porch.

Then, pumpkin pie.  The shopping list for Joshua’s birthday always begins with fixings for his birthday pie, which is what he has wanted since he was about 10.  We’ve kept the “year” / age candles as the boys grew, and keep re-using them.  Joshua is now starting his third decade—how can he be 21????????

Thanks to Eli for getting the shot--mama delivers the pie.  Yes, Joshua shared LOL, but we did send them home with the nearly half-a-pie leftovers, which I expect were gone by breakfast the following morning.

Thanks to Eli for getting the shot–mama delivers the pie. Yes, Joshua shared LOL, but we did send them home with the nearly half-a-pie leftovers, which I expect were gone by breakfast the following morning.  Notice he’s wearing the sweater Eli and I bought him in England?

Then I was sneak-attack with the camera.  None of them were thrilled, but what the heck.  I’m Mama, and I want pictures!

Ashley, Joshua being our goofball, and Paul on the sofa.

Ashley, Joshua being our goofball, and Paul on the sofa.

Eli, muttering because he knows I'm taking a picture, but I love this one!

Eli, muttering because he knows I’m taking a picture, but I love this one!

And the next day, three fourths of the feline contingent:

L to R:  Tyger, Hannah Chan and Zeus.

L to R: Tyger, Hannah Chan and Zeus.

I’ll have a new post tomorrow starting with International Quilt Market.

 

Daffodils and tulips, oh my!

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Well… the garden sure doesn’t LOOK like it has had work done.  As a matter of fact, it looks like we’ve done nothing.  But there are 86 tulip bulbs and 300 daffodil bulbs in the ground!

Planting daffodil bulbs on our "meadow" (i.e. a place we don't mow).  I told Eli, Paul, Joshua and Ashley they looked like a road crew:  standing around looking at a hole, holding tools, one maybe working....

Planting daffodil bulbs on our “meadow” (i.e. a place we don’t mow). I told Eli, Paul, Joshua and Ashley they looked like a road crew: standing around looking at a hole, holding tools, one maybe working….

On Saturday I started in on planting the tulip bulbs near the house.  All the bulbs in fact are fragrant.  I picked Angelique, Tacoma and another variety that is a pale yellow peony style (12 of each) and in landscape (ie smaller, less expensive) 50 (!!!) Orange Princess, this incredible orange with pink and green stripes.  I figure I can get some help deterring the deer from walking Widgeon nearby.  Ahem.

That comment galvanized them (Laughing here!)--they were a huge help.  With my arthritis in my wrists and hands it would have taken me forever rather than 90 minutes to plant 260 bulbs!  THANK YOU family dears!

That comment galvanized them (Laughing here!)–they were a huge help. With my arthritis in my wrists and hands it would have taken me forever rather than 90 minutes to plant 260 bulbs! THANK YOU family dears!

Then Joshua and Ashley came over and we had a belated b-day celebration for me (we had to wait for the bulbs to arrive) and planted daffodil bulbs.  Joshua, Paul and Eli dug about 17 holes; Ashley and I planted.   Then, Joshua fixed an awesome mac and cheese with about six kinds of cheese, oven-roasted grape tomatoes, fresh basil, bacon….can you say heavenly?  Finally, I had fixed sticky toffee pudding, which is this delectable English cake-like dessert with sauce, served with vanilla ice cream.  SLURP.  A lovely family day.

Now every spring when I look out on our hill and see the bulbs, I will remember this day.  Of course, the bulbs are on about 1/9 of the meadow, so I’m thinking we may need to make this an annual event for several years.  I’ve always dreamed of having an entire field of daffs–how happy can a garden get, to be filled with daffodils?

Eli brought Widgeon out, so I decided to get down on the ground and take a photo from pug's-eye-level of him and the view.  Except he immediate galumphed over to me....

Eli brought Widgeon out, so I decided to get down on the ground and take a photo from pug’s-eye-level of him and the view. Except he immediately galumphed over to me….

and this is the shot I ended up with!

A happy, wild-eyed pug ready to smooch his mama (that would be me)

A happy, wild-eyed pug ready to smooch his mama (that would be me)

Then today I planted the last of the daffodil bulbs, 25 for near the deck/entry, and transplanted a peony.  We tried to kill a baptisia plant near the peony  so that we could SEE the peony and deal with the VW-Beetle-sized baptisia shrub and failed spectacularly, so I’ve decided if you can’t conquer it, move the peony!

Widgeon looking regal and dignified.  Well, he thinks so.  Then we all crack up because he is so funny!

Widgeon looking regal and dignified. Well, he thinks so. Then we all crack up because he is so funny! Can you say LOVE THE PUG!

Now to enjoy the winter blizzards and blinding beauty of snow, then endure mud season, and finally wait for spring to spring and see how the bulbs look and smell.  Joshua and Ashley will be receiving a fragrant bouquet (provided they bloom!).  And I can tell you if those Orange Princess tulips are as glorious as they looked in the photo, there WILL be dyeing of fabric and a quilt of ginormous tulips!  I promise I’ll share garden photos in spring!

Dog walkies and Autumn rains

Saturday, October 25th, 2014
When I go on longer dog walkies, we go to the end of the driveway, turn left and head either to this duck pond (no ducks at this moment) or to the corner where the blueberry field is.

When I go on longer dog walkies, we go to the end of the driveway, turn left and head either to this duck pond (no ducks at this moment) or to the corner where the blueberry field is.

Just a quick post to share yesterday afternoon’s dog walkies.  I think many of you on the other end of my ether live in cities, and don’t know how many of you get to hear things like this little video, so thought I’d share the glorious sound of life in Maine when it is soggy.  Here’s the little video, followed by a couple more photos.  I think I need image stabilization in my phone…not as crisp as I’d like in terms of photos.  There is a culvert under the road which you can see in the lower right.  When I pan to the left and zoom, you can see the blueberry barrens at the end of this part of the road (at the corner).

IMG 0032 2 from Sarah Ann Smith on Vimeo.

I head to Houston well before dawn–as a matter of fact I may be taking off as the sun rises!  Will try to Facebook from Houston, and have several posts scheduled to publish while I’m away.  Have fun everyone, and hope to see some of you at International Quilt Festival Houston 2014, the 40th anniversary.

 

My usual view on dog walkies....good thing I love the curled tail!

My usual view on dog walkies….good thing I love the curled tail!

More of the duck pond

More of the duck pond.  Right click for larger view.

Two of Us: published again in Inspired by the Beatles

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Looking back on it, this has been an exceptionally good year for getting published!   It has also been a bit of a challenge as I’ve had to keep three quilts and one watercolor unpublished for an extended time while jurying of exhibits was done or waiting for books to be published.  The first of the quilts was the one of Eli running during Cross Country season, which I wrote about here.   This is the second:  Two of Us,

Two of Us, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014.  Part of the Inspired by the Beatles challenge and an anniversary gift for my husband of 33+ years.

Two of Us, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014. Part of the Inspired by the Beatles challenge and an anniversary gift for my husband of 33+ years.  Of course, as soon as I gave it to him (late) I then told him he had to give it back for two years because it was going in an exhibit and book!

part of the art quilt challenge organized by Donna Marcinkowski DeSoto.  The recently released book is Inspired by the Beatles:  An Art Quilt Challenge.   You can read more about the challenge here and order the book or read more about it here.  Even better, if you are lucky enough to be going to International Quilt Festival in Houston this year, selected works from the exhibit will be on display there, including mine!

Donna asked participants to choose a Beatles song title, then make a quilt with that same title, inspired by the song perhaps, but careful NOT to use any copyrighted lyrics, images, etc.   I had been wanting to make a quilt like this for Paul as an anniversary gift for a couple years–he is notoriously hard to get gifts as he always says he doesn’t want anything.  I wanted a scrapbook feel to this quilt, similar in some ways to the kimono quilt (you can see it here) that is pictured in one of the photos on the bottom right which I gave to Mother for her 80th birthday.

Detail of Two of Us, by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2014.

Detail of Two of Us, by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2014.  These photos include the only two grandparents who were alive for  the boys to know, Paul’s dad and my mom.

I went through our photo albums and boxes of photos, picking pictures of us from the time we met until just recently.  Beginning in the top left corner, you can see photos of Bissau, in the west African nation of Guinea-Bissau, where I met Paul.  A bit of our wedding invitation, a wedding photo, our home on Capitol Hill in DC, from Canada, Bolivia, Machu Picchu, Gabon and our first generation of cats run across the top.  Moving clockwise down the right you can see our home in Arlington, Virginia (I still love this architecture more than any other home we’ve had), me preggers with Joshua, with the boys when they were little, pregnant with Eli, in the hospital when Eli was just a day old then the first ferry ride home, to our home on San Juan island in the bottom right corner.

Moving right to left on the bottom, pictures of the boys when little and life at home.  And up the left side, the boys as they grew,  moving to Maine, Joshua with his beloved guitar (and boy is he GOOD) and Eli, honor student and exceptional athlete.  Can I just say, Life is GOOD!

Here's to book, a 176 page hard-bound whopper.  Each quilt gets its own page (some get two), with a fun and extensive commentary written by Donna from our replies to her questionnaire that tell about our lives, inspiration and methods.  Click on the links in the first paragraph to learn more.

Here’s to book, a 176 page hard-bound whopper. Each quilt gets its own page (some get two), with a fun and extensive commentary written by Donna from our replies to her questionnaire that tell about our lives, inspiration and methods. Click on the links in the first paragraph to learn more.

The quilt is made with fused collage.  For the house, Paul, the pug and me, I sketched us on white cloth with colored pencils.  I hate to admit but since I made this over a year ago, I don’t recall for use WHICH pencils I used–either Prismacolor or Inktense.  I have since learned that some of the Inktense colors are not colorfast, so I HOPE it was prismacolor!  Total finished size, as required for all quilts in this exhibit, is 24×24 inches.

This is a typical two-page spread.  The book is organized alphabetically by title.

This is a typical two-page spread. The book is organized alphabetically by title.

And a shot of "my" page!  Artwork (c) Sarah Ann Smith.

And a shot of “my” page! Artwork (c) Sarah Ann Smith.

And since we are quilters, I must show you the back.  I did the threadwork at the top stage and did simple outlining around the photos.  But it is the letter and photo I want you to notice:

Paul and me on our wedding day outside the church, and a photocopy of the very first letter Paul ever wrote me.  Yes, we wrote snail mail.

Paul and me on our wedding day outside the church, and a photocopy of the very first letter Paul ever wrote me. Yes, we wrote snail mail.

You see, Paul was working in West Africa and I was in grad school at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy near Boston when we met.  The letter is hilariously “State Department-ish.”  Paul was acting Ambassador (Charge d’Affairs, ad interim) for the first time, so for his first letter to me, he wrote to thank the American (me)  for her part in improving morale at post, in particular that of the admin officer (that would be Paul).  Then he added a note saying this would probably be suitably framed in something tacky and hung in the bathroom.  I vowed upon receipt to do just that–in his first apartment when he was back in the US.  Little did I know that in less than 10 months, his first apartment would be OUR condo as newlyweds.  The original letter still hangs in a tacky metal frame from the drug store (which is sorta falling apart, appropriately), over the toilet in our bathroom.  The signature on the letter has faded to near invisibility.

So that’s the “Two of Us.”  Plus kids, cats, pug, and assorted stuff from all over the world.