Reflections on Fall

Lake reflection

On my way out last week,  I noticed these spectacular fall reflections in the lake, clear as glass that morning. I pulled into the town beach parking area and walked around, looking at the small surrounding hills from different vantage points and noticing how the reflections of the clouds in the sky enhanced the fall colors in the trees. It created a true mirror image and I tried to capture the ephemeral feeling of the lake when it is calm. The water always changes, at different times of day, and throughout the cycle of seasons and weather patterns. 

Sherwood Island

Last weekend I was visiting my sister and I went to Sherwood Island State Park and walked the beach. It was chilly and I had forgotten my knitted hat, but I ignored the stiff offshore breeze and made my way across the sand. I picked up several small shells and added them to the shells I carry in my pocket, a little bit of the beach always with me. I also chose one round flat rock to bring home as a touchstone for the day. There is just something about the water and the beach that I am drawn to, like a magnet. It replenishes my weary spirit inside and brings me renewal. I may feel half broken when I approach the water, but I always come away healed and with my energy restored.

Button jar

Back at home, I decided to go on a foliage drive to Colchester, passing scenic ponds surrounded by colorful trees and several local farms along the way. There is a vintage shop in Colchester here filled with really cool  items in small booths filled by a variety of individual vendors. It is the kind of place you wander around slowly for an hour in amazement, looking at everything, and you eventually find something that you want to bring home. I found this jar of buttons and fell in love with it. I have a button collection, as well as my mother’s button collection acquired last year, but when I downsized from the house to my condo 3 years ago, I gave away many things, including half of my button collection. So this button jar represents a small effort to reclaim a piece of myself that was lost. Buttons are ordinary objects and that gives them a special appeal. The Raggedy Ann doll sitting on the chair came from this same vintage shop on a previous visit.

Leaves collage

On one of my recent walks I gathered fallen leaves and brought them home, unsure about what I was going to do with them. They sat out on the kitchen counter for a few days, and then I decided to trace a few of them onto scrapbook paper in my art to go bag and create a simple collage in my 5” x 8” Canson sketchbook. So I cut out the paper leaves and glued them down. I used Tombow markers to darken the colors in the leaf shapes. I added some jagged lines to the background with a Pigma Micron pen and then I colored the background with a NuPastel stick.

Swirly shapes

I drew some random curved shapes in my sketchbook, added small circles, and colored everything in a simple color scheme using my Tombow markers. I really like these markers because they are double ended with a point tip and a brush tip, they are water based so I don’t have an allergic reaction to them, they last a long while and don’t dry out, and they are reasonably priced.

Hearts on a string

This is a spontaneous heart and circle doodle in my sketchbook. I enjoy drawing things like this and coloring in the shapes with my Tombow markers using random bits of color. This sketch is reminiscent of the plastic party beads you can get at a party store or Mardi Gras celebration.

I am trying to be more spontaneous as a path leading into the things that nourish my heart and soul. I tend to be list driven and goal driven and that often gets in the way of being with myself and hearing what I truly need from the voice inside.  The small things in life are so important and they can go overlooked in that search to be doing important things that are not really important and not the essence of life.  I talked about my reflections on this here 2 years ago in a blog post called Contemplation and Renewal.

 

September Morning

Lake September new

September morning on the lake brings calm water with reflections of the surrounding hills shimmering across the lake. I like to walk along the lake in the morning after breakfast, sometimes walking for a mile, sometimes walking two miles. Alone with my thoughts and the barely perceptible sound of my steady footsteps, I work things out on these walks. Solutions to challenges form in my mind during contemplation and immersing myself in my surroundings, often  before I get back home. I treasure my walks and greet the occasional person who passes by on their own walk or run.

Christmas cactus repotted

My Christmas Cactus had been pot-bound since last summer and needed a new home. I went to Paul’s and Sandy’s Too Garden Center this month and found a lovely new pot and a small package of potting soil. Sometimes things need tending and in our hurried, busy, and distracted lives we neglect them… a house or garden plant, a noise in the car, a broken cup, a friendship, our heart, our feelings. It is too easy to say “I will get to that tomorrow” and before you know it, a small thing becomes something larger.

Condo August

This is the path to my front door and it feels like home whenever I come back from being out somewhere. It is a little magical for me to live here and I don’t know why. My condo is nestled in a complex that seems like a little village. When I walk down to the lake it feels special to be here, almost as if there is magic in the trees and in the air. It is hard to explain. It is almost as if I expect to cross paths with Harry Potter or Hermione. And of course it is magical for me to step inside my front door and see all my special handmade things everywhere.

Book Barn

The Book Barn in Niantic is a truly magical place and I went there Labor Day weekend. I am not sure how many buildings filled with books are there, but it is an amazing place for book lovers. There is a whole building dedicated to poetry. There are paths between the buildings with gardens and little waterfalls and there are plenty of places to sit and read or contemplate. I found From May Sarton’s Well, a wonderful selection of writings by May Sarton paired with photographs by Edith Royce Schade. What a treasure! And I found a lovely illustrated edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a Persian classic.

Collage strips study

I want to get back into art journaling again and have made some small beginnings along this path. This is a simple collage piece made from strips cut from a photograph in a magazine. I have a painted art journal spread in process down in the art studio and I am thinking about what to do next. For years I had a thriving art journaling practice and that has fallen by the wayside over the past couple of years. I am not sure what happened but I think it is because art journaling brings out your inner feelings and I was going through some difficult times and could not express myself. Everything is changing for me now and my world is opening up.

Improv quilt

I got the Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters for my birthday in July and went right to the advanced section near the end of the book as I was fascinated with the curves and arcs. I did not follow the rules and rotary cut with a ruler instead of freehand, as that suited my hands better. I don’t need any more stitches in my hand. I had so much fun with this, moving arcs around, adding to them, and I did some unsewing as the first arc I made looked too planned and not random. I got it all safety pinned down to white muslin and now I am hand appliqueing the arcs and inserting color bands in the gaps. This is a great book!

Scarf tiles purple

I have been quilting a lot this summer and I also like to knit. This tiling scarf will keep me warm this winter and it coordinates with the hat I made last winter.  I am not a great knitter and I make mistakes when I knit, but that’s OK. The enjoyment is in the doing. It’s not the end of the world if there’s a mistake in a handmade piece and it actually gives the piece character. If you don’t point out the mistake, chances are that no one will notice it. Life is like that too. We learn from our mistakes and we grow with them. A mistake can pave the way to great discoveries and lead us down a better path that we might not have otherwise taken.

Meandering and Finding my Way

lake wooden bridge

Now that I no longer  have to leave the house at 7:00 in the morning for the long commute to work, I am enjoying taking a two mile walk by the lake some mornings. I am meandering at my own pace, noticing the small things along the way, pausing to reflect or take photos, and greeting other walkers, runners, dog walkers and bikers in this active lake community.  During these walks I am finding my way in defining my new life and thinking about what I want to do with my creativity and my time. I am asking myself many questions… where do I want to go, what do I want to do, what are my goals, what do I want to learn, who do I want to spend time with, who do I want to connect with, what do I want to let go of, and what do I want to embrace?

impatiens raindrops morning walk

If I hadn’t gone out walking right after the rain stopped, and if I hadn’t been paying attention to my surroundings, I wouldn’t have seen the raindrops that had formed on this impatiens flower and had not yet dissipated in the emerging sunlight. It is important to let your thoughts meander and come full circle unfettered to gain clarity, but it is equally important to let go of your thought stream and immerse yourself in the present moment, the reality of what is physically present  to you. Too often your thoughts can take over instead of coexisting peacefully with your surroundings, and then you miss the moment. I try to practice my own form of  side by side awareness of what is inside me and what surrounds me, creating a flow back and forth between my inside and outside states of being. My thoughts become more mindful in this way and mindfulness becomes a part of my thoughts.

half moon circles quilt

Last weekend we had a 3 day heat wave in Connecticut and much of the northeast. With a heat index of around 110F,  I needed to stay indoors with the air conditioner running for the duration. It was kind of like a reverse blizzard except I didn’t have to shovel my car out afterwards. Fortunately, I had wanted to do something with curved shapes and had recently purchased the 4 inch Drunkard’s Path templates from John Flynn. This is an old traditional quilt block pattern that I was never interested in making, but when I realized the templates could be used to make half moons and circles, I was in. I had been to a presentation by Auntie’s Two at Colchester Mill Fabrics the week before and had purchased some light blue batik fabric for the background, so I was all set. I had so much fun putting this quilt top together and would like to teach this method at my quilt guild next year!

small tiling quilt basted

This is a small tiling quilt (12 inches x 13.5 inches and 275 pieces) that has been sitting in the UFO (UnFinished Object) pile for a long while. I had quite a few UFOs at the old house,  but I gave most of them away when I downsized to move here. This is a new UFO project that I discovered when I cleaned out the IKEA cube bookshelf in the sewing studio. I started free motion machine quilting it yesterday and I am kicking it up a notch with free motion quilting patterns from Angela Walter’s books. She does awesome longarm quilting but most of the ideas apply to a standard sewing machine as well. By the way, I went for longarm quilting training at the Wallingford Library Collaboratory, made a sample quilt with 10 inch squares to practice on, and now I need to book time for a longarm quilting session.

little Raggedy Ann

 

Little Raggedy Ann waited a long while for me to finish her, 2 years to be exact. I made the body, complete with “I Love You” embroidered on her heart, and then she sat there for a year, when I made her dress. A couple of weeks ago, I made her pantaloons and pinafore apron. I really don’ t enjoy the process of making dolls and have only made six or seven. I do love dolls  when they are finished. This doll has a story behind her. They all do.

When I was downsizing to move into this smaller space with no walkup attic, I gave away quite a few of my possessions and only kept what really meant something to me. There are only 2 things I regret giving away. There  was a little log cabin doll quilt and I have since made another one that is in the UFO pile and needs finishing. And there was a little Raggedy Ann doll that I had found at the Barn, a vintage shop in Hebron, while shopping with my friend Kate. I found the vintage pattern on Etsy and my friend Leonora gave me some vintage 70’s fabric. The trim on the apron and rick rack on the dress are from my mom’s sewing room. I am very fortunate to have my mom’s buttons and decorative trim and a lot of her fabric. My mom was an excellent seamstress and I learned to sew on her cabinet model Singer sewing machine when I was eleven years old.

52 words - spread layout

I am meandering a bit here and I hope you can see how one thing leads to another, and then another. There are many things that I want to do. It has only been one month. I have accomplished a lot. I have been hesitant to get into my writing practice and it will come in time. 52 Words is an e-book that I started 2 months ago and I have not worked on it since, so this is also in the UFO pile. I have an altered card deck that I made with 52 different one words, and I want to do a page of writing for each word. I love to write, I love to journal, and I am so grateful that I no longer have to do technical writing for an architecture/ engineering firm, as that was extremely boring and frustrating.