Have yourself a merry little Christmas, make the Yuletide gay.
~Ralph Blane~

Friday, March 9, 2012

Gourd Workshop....with a bag lunch.

Yesterday I spent all day at a gourd workshop. This was done for our gourd group by a woman named Miriam Joy Sagen from Prescott, Arizona. She is a gourd artist that has perfected a technique using melted Crayola crayons and Ouikwood, an epoxy putty that comes in a stick.
I should have taken more photos but this is the best I could do considering I only had two hands...and they were busy learnin' and workin'.
We worked on a gourd, or (some of us) the bottom of one. We learned how to sponge color on a surface properly and transfer a pattern to the gourd surface. Then I learned, for the first time, how to pull color with a paint brush. I would guess it's a watercolor technique.
I have NEVER learned to paint with acrylics. I just throw the paint on my art work and hope for the best...or use little tiny dots to outline and decorate my work. Yesterday I learned that there are ways, using water, to spread and soften your colors with a slanted, flat tip brush. Who knew?
I had many an awkward moment with this brush. But I did it and I learned something,
Then we started using the Quikwood. I love this stuff. I had used it before on my gourd puppet faces. Doing the tree with this wood putty was really fun.
The pattern was just a guide. We were able to "branch out" any way we wanted to.
Quikwood is this fast-curing wood epoxy putty that you can use for a million things like rebuilding stripped screw holes and repairing furniture and molding.etc. It comes in a tube. You have to cut pieces of it and blend the two parts of it so it will harden. After you knead it, you have about 15 to 25 minutes to use it. Within an hour it is hard as a rock. Then you can sand and paint it.
We learned how to make leaves with melted Crayolas. This was a learning curve for me too. You have to melt the crayons in a small low temperature melting pot and use a special wax tool to drip the wax onto the gourd. The trick is how you do this and how you spread the wax. This took time. I found that I improved as I got the knack. I had to pick off many of the little "leaves" because I messed up. That was one nice thing about the crayons. If you made a mistake you just used a utility knife and pop off the crayon. It dries fast. The crayon comes right off,  so you can redo it. The flowers near the trunk are just longer versions of the leaf.
The flowers are just dots of colored crayon too. You just don't spread the dot.
I love the face. One of the ladies in our club brought this face mold, so I used the Quikwood and made a face in the trunk of the tree. We continued to make rocks and paint them with acrylics and used that sponging technique to make them look like rocks. I erased the lines from the pattern transfer and then did some refining on the rocks and leaves.
This is the finished gourd. I need to spray it with a clear protective coat of varnish and put a hanger on the back. What do you think? It was very satisfying to learn all of this and complete a piece of art.

Here are some other versions of  "the tree".


Miriam showed us some other techniques,
We ate cheesecake and Chocolate, pecan, orange cake. After all, we had to keep our energy level up.
A good time was had by all. Mariam Joy's class was $40. It was worth it. She is an excellent artist and a very good teacher.
She showed us some of her work, and some :"Easter eggs" in a basket.
These are little gourds that she decorated, all done with the crayon technique. Pretty aren't they?

We had a great time and this has inspired me to work with Quikwood again. It's amazing stuff.

Tomorrow I will show you how NOT to do Nuno felting, It will be about making a lemon into lemonade and blowing a whole afternoon of felting.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chicken With Attitude

We ate a turkey last night for dinner. So I made some stock from the neck, liver, etc... you know... the "giblets".

Made some mashed potatoes, a little "box stuffing" and some veggies.
This kind of dinner should require company. It's a lot of work, but the Prospector had this frozen turkey and wanted to eat it. We called our neighbor to come for dinner but he couldn't make it... so we had a big turkey dinner all by ourselves. We will have Turkey for quite a few nights and more. Soup maybe... sandwiches... etc. We will not waste any of it.
Yesterday the wind blew, the rain came and it was cold... really cold. Today the sun shines again.
The Prospector is still hurting from his encounter with a tree branch and a retaining wall so I'm on duty for much of the farm feeding.

This morning I considered having CHICKEN for dinner tonight instead of turkey.
I walked up to the chicken house.

 Gave them the potato peels and some old tomatoes.  I noticed that two of the hens were missing. I change the outside water and went into the hen house to look for the hens. The first thing I saw was one of the big hens in one of the small nests.
All squished in there like she thought she was a banty. She never gets up in these small boxes.
The big community nest only had one hen inside of it.
ONE HEN... It wasn't like the big box was crowded or anything.
The hen stuffed into the little box might have been having a bad day, so maybe she decided to do her thing in the little box... alone. We all have days like this.
I understood. But I wanted a picture.
I ran for the camera (of course) and came back in to take her portrait. I would have named it HEN IN DENIAL or something.
That's when all hell broke loose.
She obviously didn't want her picture taken while she was laying an egg.
She turned and started making a god awful noise.
And then she stuck her head out of the box and..."Whoa, chicken mama, back away from the human."

She was not a happy hen.
I actually took this photo from half way across the hen house and cropped it.
I wasn't about to get close to her. She was, as the old saying goes, "mad as a wet hen".
(Now I know what that expression means.)
She came at me like a hen with PMS. and was making a high pitched, nasty sound.
I just wanted a picture of her in that little box... but you would have thought I wanted her for dinner. As I was backing away from her, I looked over and saw Squeakie.

 She was watching all of this. I think she was placing bets on the outcome.... or, she was too afraid to leave.
Napoleon, the rooster, and the other hens were not getting anywhere near the doorway but they were listening to the commotion.
I backed out of the hen house and left.
As I walked down to the driveway, Annibel greeted me.
She had that wise, "Well, what's going on" look. The cat expression that says,
 "Did you kill one for me? I like the little ones best."

We walked back to the house.
I'm trying to be more chicken friendly around here but....
That chicken better lay an egg today.
She is a marked hen.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Wind-words

The weather changed drastically overnight. We have had beautiful sunny warm weather for days and today it's cold, rainy and very windy.
The goats don't like bad weather... especially wind. They get strange and  move around a lot.  I went out front to take some pictures of the storm moving through our river valley. It's always a beautiful thing to experience, a gift for our mild winter... rain for the spring wildflowers....
And I thought about the folks in West Liberty, KY again. I said another silent prayer for the people of that town .
 The clouds that I see are dark, filled with rain and moving fast. I want them to let loose of their moisture. There is no fear of these clouds. They are life giving.
But in a town in Kentucky, the same size as ours, gone in the rubble of a Tornado, they fear clouds and wait for the ones they call "bad"...and the sirens.

Then, my thoughts were interrupted... I heard the goats making this yelling and crying sound.
I ran back into the house and out the back door.
"What's wrong?" I asked, as I went to the fence.
Yes, I always talk to my animals.
They were both standing in the doorway looking at me.
There was Brownie, my one horned darling. Giving me a half grin and looking like he had not a care in the world.
"Brownie. What was all that noise about. I thought you were being attacked."
He just looked at me and continued to munch on his mouth full of hay.
"Well?", I asked.
He just grinned.
"Murphy! Come over here, please."
"Hi, Farmlady."
"What's going on out here? It sounded like you were being attacked."
"No, we are fine. But we don't like this wind."
"Does it scare you?... It does, doesn't it? "
" Well, we don't understand why we can't see the wind. There is this sound  that comes and everything moves... the trees, the leaves and everything goes from one place to another. Why is this, Farmlady?"
" Wind is very complicated Murph'. It's about air pressure and things that happen way up in the sky. But, it won't hurt you. You are safe here in your house. I promise."
" I still don't like it."
"You know what? There is a really huge wind called a Tornado. We don't have them here but in the Midwest and in the East and South East they have wind that comes out of the sky and circles down with such force that it damages houses, people and animals. We don't have storms like that here. We are very lucky."
"Are you sure, Farmlady?"
"Yes Murph', I'm sure."
He came up to the fence... and we touched noses.
"It's really OK." I whispered.
He went back into the goathouse.
Brownie came out and looked at me.
The backdoor screen slammed shut in the wind. It startled Brownie.
He panicked and turned around to look as the wind picked up. The sky was clearing and the sun was shinning but the wind was blowing hard.
Brownie turned and looked at me again.
"Maybe the sky is falling, Farmlady."
"No, Brownie. The sky fell in Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois a few days ago. It's not going to fall here. It's just a strong wind."
"Well, I don't like it." and he walked back into the goathouse with Murphy.
I heard voices coming from the goats inside their house. I think I heard Murphy say something like,
"Dwi ddim yn hoffi gwynt."
Then I heard Brownie say, "I don't like the wind either, Murph' " 
They will probably stay in their house all day today.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fears that become Reality

I want to say a prayer. I'm learning that this is an ongoing habit that helps me maintain an understanding of the things that I don't understand.
This prayer is for all of the folks that live in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, and anywhere that these Tornadoes are touching down bringing death and destruction to the lives of people in the Midwest and the East.
I pray for the little two year old that lost her whole family and was found in an Indiana field.
I pray for the 65 year old woman who was still saying her hail Marys as she was being interviewed.
For the emergency responders who are trying so hard to find people.
For the people who carry their animals and are picking through the ruins of their houses to find small pieces of their lives.
 I pray for a stunned town that is trying to face all the cameras and news people, standing in front of their homes that aren't there anymore, with what seems like bravery beyond reason.
This is such a tragic thing.
\A blogging friend has writing a post that I would like to share with you.
Please go to:
http://workingtheearth.blogspot.com/2012/03/question-ing.html

Something is different about these storms.
Prayers are in order....
It's one thing we can do... whether anyone is listening or not.