Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My sweetie found a new TV show about surviving

Hello, everyone.

I walked into the living room this evening and found my sweetie watching something I'd never seen before. It's a survival show called, ahem, "Dude You are So Screwed" and it's about some fellow being dropped off in the middle of but-noplace and he has to find his way out with what he is dropped off with. The episode I wandered into the middle of, the man was in the middle of central Iceland someplace. He walked on glaciers, he found hot hydrothermal field springs, and so on and so forth. I found myself remembering the cold, remote-looking parts of the Route Napoleon. (Thank the Lord, though, we didn't walk across any glaciers. With our spring-for-Texas clothes and no fleece in the load at all!) I felt sympathy for him, straggling up hill and down and having trouble keeping his footing in the snow. I remembered the sliding slate rocks on the downhill side of the Cruz de Ferro and how hard it was to find a sure foot place there.

I'm sure a more experienced hiker reading this will be thinking about the sticks. But I found that, after we got past the first day, the sticks didn't help me much. They made me walk slower than I would otherwise. I'm sure that descending the Alto de Perdon would have gone faster without having to find a place for each stickfall along with each footfall.

But this show made me remember all of that. And my sweetie and I remembered together about it. (Who says you have to be staring at the screen just because the TV is on?)

But, on another subject, I have progress to report on the Red Quilt. I have pinned the quilt sandwich together. (Pinning these things is a Buns of Steel moment, as it always involves leaning over while on the knees on the floor. A lot.)
Fist conceptual work: I needed to make a new square or two! and toss out the mostly-white one.

A better assortment of squares. They don't jell yet, though. More work to be done!

The sequence chosen, the index tabs pinned on, and the rows sewn together. Als0, as yo can see, sashing had joined the project.

Oops! The first pieces of batting don't work right. Back to the boxes of stuff upstairs!

The quilt top, sashed and edged, but without the batting and backing in place.

Ready to pin together.
The backing is some yardage of a neat foxgloves type design, blue and yellow bloom stalks alternating in great crowds. And this time, I don't have to piece the backing. I used up almost all of the random pieces of batting on hand for this, and I needed 3/4 of my bag of quilter's safety pins to pin-baste the layers. Next time I go at it, I will take the sewing machine to the dining room--so there is room for the fabric to move--and quilt the layers together. Then I'll add the edging and it will be done.

There is not much progress on the beading, so I won't show pictures of that yet. Suffice to say that I had to locate instructions for how to increase the peyote rows! But by the time I finish this pendant with the Cross of Santiago, I'll have that trick down. For sure. This one is planned to go with a set of graduated red beads to make a necklace. I wear colors that go with red and white a lot, so I can use it a lot. Viva Santiago Apostol!

(Sorry about the lack of an upside down exclamation point there, but I don't know how or if it can be done in this format. Suggestions are welcome.)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I found Pinterest

Hello, everyone.

I found Pinterest. (I know, everyone else has already found it already. But it's new to me.) I started by searching on "beads" and was boggled by all the many, many bead things and patterns. Not much in the way of scallop shells, sadly, but many beautiful things.

Loads of scanned pages from pattern books, too--what's with that? Are they ancient books that are out of print and unavailable? I don't know.

I made a board for interesting projects to maybe try out. And then I discovered that it's not only crafty things that can be made into a board. So, of course! I made a board about Pilgrimage. I used the "show a map" thingie and began locating places on the map that I remembered from our Camino walk. Some of them--astonishingly small ones sometimes--have pictures already uploaded by other people. So I pinned those. Some of the places had no pictures uploaded at all. (I'm not sure I have any to add to the collection on some of them either. Believe it or nor, I didn't make a picture of every single thing we saw or place we stayed.) Ponferrada had several pictures uploaded, but none of the Templar castle or of the albergue. I uploaded my pic of the totem pole sculpture in the garden at the albergue there.

This is the neat sculpture in the garden. In the background you can see the mountains--still snow capped in some places--beneath the beautiful blue sky.
I might have posted this picture before, I don't remember.
They had a couple of pictures of Perejes--which was 1 paved street with maybe 12 houses all told!

An update on beading projects--I have tried a couple of times to make a usable pattern of the neat painting of the Risen Christ but, so far, no luck. I do have some more small things to work on, though, while trying to get a grid overlaid onto the painting image for a big project. There are still the yellow arrow, and the Cross of Santiago, and the blue and yellow scallop from the zero kilometer stone at Fisterra. They'll probably keep me busy for a while! The last one works out to a 2.4 inch wide square and might be something to make into a belt.
Perhaps a still life of olives and wine for a beaded picture? This was in Madrid. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Possible new bead project

Hello, everyone.

Since completing the scallop-shell purse ornament, I have been casting about for a new project to begin. The photo of the statue of St. James (Major) from one of the churches early-on during the pilgrimage appealed, but the colors just didn't work out. Not enough contrast inside the actual image, I think.
As you can see, the statue itself is a study in browns, with a little gold to accent it. It doesn't translate well to beads.
And I considered the photo of the waymarker at Leon that was so cute:
Absolutely adorable! But the thin lines just don't go well with beads.
So today I was reading the museum catalog for the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, one of the art museums we went through in Madrid, which has pictures of the art in the collection and comments about the artists and what is in the pictures. I found Bramantino's Risen Christ, which seems graphic enough to work out okay in beads. Assuming that the scan can be enlarged enough to get the job done, anyway.

There are large masses of color, and lots of contrast, and I think it will translate okay to beads. I hope. This is a really neat picture.
All I need to do now is to enlarge it enough so that the finest lines I want to keep are at least 1/10 of an inch across (about 1 bead's width) and then transfer it to the appropriate graph paper. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 20, 2014

It's been a while now, and I still miss the Camino every day

Hello, everyone.

My sweetie asked me if I'm willing to start doing hikes in our local area. We had gotten the book _60 Hikes within 60 Miles_ covering hikes in the San Antonio, Austin, Hill Country area and looked at it. Honestly, a lot of the hikes in this book are shorties--2 to 4 miles. After the Camino, these are just tastes of the thing. But I miss walking, and he misses walking, and we got to thinking, there have to be hikes in our local, Rio Grande Valley, area that we can take. Other than the ones we trained on, that is--Mission Hike and Bike, Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, and the walk from our home to the "duck park", around the park, and home again--that one's about 3 to 3.5 miles.

There is something about the walking. It seems almost unintellectual--but I think really it's more meditational. You walk, you are zoned out on finding the place for your next step. You stop for coffee (and potty) and then you keep going. And somewhere in that you begin to find a new equilibrium of trust, in God and in your spouse. And in the trail. It's not something that comes to you in your daily round of errands, chores, and going to meet people and do things. Even though, yes, chores can give a taste of the peace as well.

Somewhere along the Camino, after the field of pink poppy plants, my sweetie was taken by the shapes and the shades of the greens.
The walking seems to sort your attitudes out. Things that might have driven you nuts are just there, not even really present to you, because here is the next step you have to take. And later on, you realize that they weren't that important anyway.

Maybe this is the reason why the Pilgrimages were so big in the Middle Ages. And why they're returning to prominence again. We need the peace, and the space, and the time.

If you walk the Camino, take the batteries out of your cell phone. Don't be one of those people who is so busy placating their girlfriends (or fussy parents) on the cell phone while walking that they aren't even in the moment of the walk. How can God speak to you and draw you forward into a better you if you don't even notice His call?

And I do very much encourage you to walk the Camino.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

New developments on the framing and hanging

Hello, everyone.

The map of the Camino de Santiago came in the mail. And today I got it out of the tube, laid it on the table under a whole lot of books and CD cases to flatten it and keep the cat from napping on it, and trawled the store room for a frame. We had one! It had a poster of "modern military aircraft" in it, but the child who had it hanging has moved out some time back and the poster was just sitting there, taking up the frame. So I took it out and put the map into the 2 foot by 3 foot frame. Added matboard in back of the map, and also used the cardboard the frame came with and the clips.

This isn't the best picture, and I need to get the hammer out and move one of the nails on the side frames, but here it is:
AD 1445 map of the Camino de Santiago. (Please ignore the flash reflection!)
Also today I made it rain! (Well, unless somebody washed their car, that is.) I hung the clothes out on the line, so of course it rained right after the clothes got dry. And I was not home! But arrived home from the store before it progressed beyond sprinkling, grabbed the clothes on the way into the house, and watched the rain quit falling.

I would have been fine with a good soaking after I took the clothes in, really. The garden is dry and I find that the patience to stand there drizzling a good soak onto each pepper and tomato and eggplant and bean and cucumber and the corn patch just isn't there.

But the pecan trees in back have fruited big time this year, and every time I go outside there are a bunch of nuts on the ground. Only a few of them have been invaded by ants. (I so dislike the ants coming out of the nut in my hand and biting me.)

On another note, I've got the birdies taking an afternoon "constitutional" almost every day, so Mr. Guinea isn't nearly as grumpy to the hens. Especially when I put their morning food out in three distinct, separated piles that each is thick enough to be opaque, so he isn't worried that Mrs. Guinea won't have enough to eat. And I include a scoop of kitty chow in with the layer feed, to increase the protein in their diets.

The other day he found a caterpillar on the ground while I was feeding them. She was happily pecking away at the bird food, and he was picking up the caterpillar and calling her. Over and over. Finally she decided she'd had enough of the Layer Feed and wandered over to see what he was all excited about. He's really devoted to her, but she acts like she goes to sleep wondering why it was her fate that her One True Love is such a jerk and won't let her be friends with the other birdies. Meanwhile, he's very protective of her and concerned that she gets all of any food she likes. And when she goes to lay an egg, he stands nearby and guards her.

If he hadn't killed a couple of cockerels, and wasn't so determined to run the hens off whenever he thinks the food pile is too thin, it would be completely sweet and romantic. Instead it's one of those mixed-bag things. I go from thinking what a sweet mate he is to needing to go into the pen and chase him around so he'll understand that the hens are under my protection. Meanwhile, the Barred Rock hen (Princess Stripey) can't decide if she can hang with the gray guineas or not. Sometime Mr. Guinea lets her, sometimes he chases her away. I guess he isn't sure if Princess Stripey is a guinea or a chicken!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Progress on the Red Quilt

Hello, everyone.

I have made progress on the Red Quilt. The squares are sewn to the sashing strips and connected into rows. Which are back in the "audition space" so I could stand on the piano bench and take a picture of the final layout.

Final layout of the red quilt, with the sashing.
There are still a lot of unchosen squares and strips around--can we say Stash Overload?--and so I'll probably make some more after this is finished.

On another note, my sweetie has declared that it's Beer Season. And his first batch of the year is the Pumpkin Beer recipe from Austin Home Brewers Supply.
Beer fermenting in the carboy, dressed to wow in its protective jacket.

Giving the clean bottles a sanitize cycle in the dishwasher
Capping the filled bottles
Ready to go to the beer fridge and mature until ready
My sweetie says that, since these black lids are the last solid color bag in the house, his next batch will have mixed colors of lids--he's pretty sure there are fifty-plus lids of mixed colors in the bag still.
He really enjoys making the beer. He spends a day mixing and cooking and putting it into the bucket for the first fermentation, then he transfers it to the carboy for the second fermentation, then he bottles and sets in the beer fridge--at carefully chosen temperatures!--to mature. The beer needs to be protected from light, he says, when it's in the glass carboy. That's why I made him a carboy jacket--to keep the light away from the developing brew.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Just little things

Hello, everyone.

I'm afraid I don't have a lot to talk about today. We took all three dogs to the vet (at the same time!) The dogs survived the experience. They rode very sedately in the back seat on the way home, without sticking their noses out the window or jumping around. (Wow!)

I've been looking around for another peyote idea to bead, but nothing really strikes me just now.

I did do some more work on the Red Quilt. (So named from its dominant color.) The Red Quilt is a baby sized quilt, with 4 squared across and 5 down. I'm adding sashing in a navy solid, with little white-print cornerstones. The last picture I have of the Red Quilt was during the auditioning phase:
One of the auditions of squares for the Red Quilt
I think some of the squares may have moved around a bit since then. I did add navy blue sashing--which is being attached to the squares now--and I'll also put navy blue for a border next to the squares. Probably that will be it, except for the binding. Usually in this size of quilt I use satin blanket binding. (When I was a baby I liked satin a lot. Still do, in fact!)

But that's really all I have to talk about today. Maybe tomorrow I'll show y'all pictures of Beer Making Season.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bead project finished

Hello, everyone.

Today I finished the beaded shell project.

Y'all probably remember the last picture of it:
Peyote stitch shell project, at end of weaving stage
You can see that the shell seems to be placed too far down in the blue background. I decided to add a fringe to balance the colors. Looking online led me to this article about beaded fringe that seemed to be the right kind of a thing. Using a pad of graph paper, and basing the structure off of the fringe in that article, I counted the number of strands at the bottom edge, separating the "up" beads from the"down" beads, and drew a pattern for the strands.

Each tiny square of the paper was one bead, marked B for blue, W for white, R for blush ("reddish"), F for fringe, etc. It seemed hard to read, so a line of light orange at the color changes was added before beginning. The hanging crosses are an inspiration from the miniature  wall tapestries we saw in Istanbul souvenir shops. Many of them were icons and had a collection of crosses and eye beads hanging from the bottom.
The pattern for the fringe, with the completed bead thingie.
Happily, the fringe pattern uses up more of the Delicas that are in the basic shape, plus some enameled crosses, perles, hearts, and Delica fringe-beads that are in the stash.

After finishing the fringe, I held the project up in front of a mirror and discovered that this is just way too big to make a necklace out of. I supposed that if I'd been thinking of it and drawn it differently, it could have been a bracelet. Maybe the next one will be! But this isn't a bracelet either. So...I laid it on my purse and had a look at the proportions. It fits!
Completed purse ornament.
I used some more of my favorite thread, Fireline, to attach it to the purse with a pair of 6mm blue glass catseye beads for the transition at the top.
Fireline 6 lb test line and Rappala line cutter. You cannot use normal scissors to cut this stuff! You will ruin the edge on your blades. Go to the sporting goods section and get fishing-line cutters instead. Mine are from Wal-Mart.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday fish dinner

Hello, everyone.

You may remember my gushing over the St. John's Day sardines in Fisterra.

We came home determined not to let the wonderful new foods fade from our memory. You will recall the post about making Pulpo.

Today we had sardines. Our grocery store, HEB, has been stocking little bags of frozen, fat sardines. They're not quite as fat and wonderful as the St. John's Day sardines--but the nice man at the fishing museum in Fisterra told us that the sardines start out very fat at St. John's Day and get, well, leaner and drier as the season progresses. I presume that all the frozen sardines we see were caught in the middle of the prime sardine season.

We eat the sardines with fresh baguette bread--that being basically equivalent to the barra breads we were buying in Spain.
The recipe for preparing the sardines, from my end, is really simple: thaw bag of sardines. Hand over to Sweetie. (He grills them over charcoal.) Serve with slices of baguette, sea salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and a nice white wine. No extras required. Fight off the pets who are crawling into your lap trying to get some!

The sardines (these were fresh, not frozen, but still...) we ate in Fisterra. With bread chunks and a nice albarino wine. 

And my sweetie was very proud of having caught me in a picture with the sign "pirata."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Eggs, eggs...Christmas!

Hello, everyone.

The picture of one of the decorated eggs reminded me--I think I have pictures of more eggs.

You see, I used to have pet ducks. And more chickens. Plus I had elementary aged kids in the house. So once in a while we'd have Christmas in July--decoration making.

The kids would paint eggshells, I'd paint eggshells. And I also used a Dremel--my sweetie's Dremel at first!--to cut an opening in the eggshell to use it for a scenic egg. My grandmother's friend used to make those, and hers were beautiful. Mrs. Beckley, I think her name was. She sent me an eggshell once, when I was young. I still have it. It's a scenic egg with an angel inside it. Pearls around the opening, too.

Here are a couple of eggshell pictures.

At the lower right, three eggshells with scenic decorations attached to make an ornament, with a tassel. There is bead netting around the edges of the shells.

Mom gave me some ostrich eggshells. One had a crack--the cut gave me this partial shell for a scene. I put a Nativity in it, perched on top of brown satin. This one is heavy, I have to find a fat branch to hang it from!
I thought I had pictures of the eggshell ornaments with paintings of blossoms and suchlike, but apparently I didn't get that. Yet.

Christmas is coming. (Bwah ha ha ha!) I'll try and remember to take pictures of the eggshells then. Who knows, maybe I'll have time to blow out some guinea eggs and decorate them!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A surprise in the henhouse

Hello, everyone.

As I think y'all might remember, we have a few pet birds. Just now, "a few" means 3 hens and a pair of guinea fowl. (Mr. Guinea and Mrs. Guinea, who live alongside Ms. Silver, Ms. Red, and Princess Stripey.) Today, as we have been for the last several days, I let them out about 6 pm for a walk.

The walks in the evening let them get away from each other for a little while, let them eat bugs and seeds in the yard, and let them not notice me getting into the henhouse for the eggs.

When I opened the "people door" and went inside the henhouse, I found the usual two green eggs
Ameraucana egg. (Tastes just like the brown and white ones!) For size, the tiles are 4 inches square.
and an unexpected three guinea eggs. Mrs. Guinea must have been hiding them under the straw, because yesterday my sweetie looked for eggs and didn't see any of the small, brown, speckled looking guinea eggs.

You have to be cautious about collecting the guinea eggs. The hen is very attached to them. And her mate is very attached to her happiness! A few days ago, after collecting eggs, I was sitting outside watching the birds at their activities when the guineas went back over to the pen. Mrs. Guinea went first, calling "Good luck! Good luck!" as she went. Mr. Guinea trailed after and made little screeches. She went inside the house and looked for her egg (now collected) and came out hollering her head off. "BUCK WHEAT!" (There are multiple ways to write down the call. She had definitely gone from concerned to screaming upset.) Mr. Guinea, hearing his lady yelling that "it's GONE!!!!" commenced to giving out his alarm call, too. It was all very traumatic for them.

But if I allowed her to collect a clutch and set, her mate would make the three hens' lives a living hell. He already chases them around when he thinks there isn't enough food for his lady, or that she's wanting peace and quiet to lay an egg. Imagine what he'd be like if she was setting all the time on a clutch of eggs? It would be simply impossible. And so I collect her egg every time she lays one, just like I do with the hens.

I have boiled the guinea eggs, and after you get the shell to open up and peel it off, they make perfect deviled eggs. If weighed to get the amounts to match up, they are fine for baking with, too. And they make good fried eggs, though there is about half the amount of goodness in a guinea egg compared to a large chicken egg.

Another thing you can do with eggs--after you blow out the goodness inside the shell!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Just a few thoughts

Hello, everyone.

I will have an update on the shell beading project soon--have scanned the interwebs and discovered ways to do fringe. Also, expanding on the fringe for the Autumn Leaf amulet pouch on a web site (slips my memory just now) I have sketched a design for the fringe at the bottom of this square pendant with a scallop shell. Bonus points: I can use some of the blue enameled crosses that I have lying around in my (large) bead stash.

And one more thing--
When my sweetie and I first felt the pull of the Camino de Santiago, we didn't know what it would be like. What it would involve. And the depth of the roots that is would grow into our souls. Every day I think about the Camino--what it was like. What I wish I'd done a bit differently. What I'd do now if we were doing it again. (Not quite the same as the previous.) What routes I'd like to walk if we are so blessed as to go again.

Not only do I miss the good foods we discovered in Spain--ham cones! Pulpo a gallega with pan! Gambon al ajillo with pan! etc. etc.--but I have begun to make my own baguette bread so we can eat some of the wonderful foods we ate one the Camino, and during the days at the end when we were exploring and waiting for the date of our return reservation home. (No, I'm not recreating the airport food from the 1 day flight series that turned into a 3 day flight series.)

And periodically, like a growing crystal that is discovered by a gem hunter, I find a new lesson that the Camino has taught me.

It's not only the urge to have shells everywhere. The urge to create jewelry of shells and Crosses of Santiago. The every-morning feeling that it's time to walk, even before the alarm goes off.

The Camino de Santiago takes root in a pilgrim. I'm still a pilgrim. I don't think I'll ever stop being a pilgrim. And that itself is probably one of the lessons of the Camino.

Just after the stairs at the entry to the city of Santiago, studying the map of the city. I never felt sorry for the bicycle pilgrims until tha tlast day, when I witnessed them toting their bikes down the stairs alongside us. But at the bottom, they got to ride again. We walked the couple-three miles from those stairs to the center of the city on our feet.
This was another of the approximately 2200 pictures we took on our pilgrimage trip. :-) Enjoy.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Update on the Camino themed bead project

Hello, everyone.

Today I think I'll update y'all on the progress on the bead project.

I think I had posted a couple of early-stage pictures of it--which will reappear in this post.

I wanted to design a scallop shell bead project, a woven picture really, using peyote stitch. And I had the free beading-design graph paper from Fire Mountain to use. So I sat down and used my pencil to make a sketch. Actually, three sketches, but two have not been started. The one I tackled first is the scallop shell.

The scallop shell is possibly the oldest symbol of the Camino de Santiago (Jakobsweg in German) (Way of St. James in English, at least before everybody started just using the Spanish name.)
The medieval pilgrims would travel to Santiago, and sometimes also another week to the coast, and they'd pick up a scallop shell as a souvenir. They'd proudly display their shell on the return trip.

These days, pilgrims get their shell when they start out, and then after they arrive, they use more modern, more convenient transportation to go home again. A few walk the reverse trip--we saw them. I had a lot of trouble understanding why they'd do it. But they'd pass us, going the other way, with their backpacks, probably not even one percent of the number going west to Santiago.

I don't remember if they still display a shell as they go the reverse direction.

At any rate, I was inspired to make a peyote-stitch shell.

The early stages:
This was just the, um, tag at the top of the shell.

At this point I'd begun the shaping of the body of the shell. (In the background, you can see the arrow and the Cross of Santiago on the graph paper sheet as well.)

Now the shape and the shadows of the channels begin to show up.

At this point, the shell is done. You can see that the angles of the channels don't quite match the angle of the beads as they lie. But it is still a scallop shell.

I plan to fold over the top part to make a tube, and then make it the centerpiece of a necklace.

Maybe I'll expand the concept next time, after making a Cross of Santiago, and place the Cross of Santiago on the center of the shell. That was a common way to place the two items in souvenirs that we saw in Santiago. It's the way my pin is made, too.

I still don't know what I'll do with the arrow after I figure out how to make that. Possibly I could hang it from the base of the shell? Or maybe just have it be a separate piece altogether.

For the curious, the beads used in this are Delicas, from Japan. They have very regular sizes and a really nice, big center hole that the needle can go through again and again.