Tuesday, 29 December 2015

...In which I see the world, or a small part anyway!

Hello dear readers, 

this year has been a year of changes, both small and large and constant. If there is one constant in life it is change!
One thing was that I squirrelled my long service leave money and wages and booked that trip, the one I always said I would do.
I booked a trip to Barcelona, Paris and London...epic for us. 
To travel anywhere from Australia is epic as we natives know, Europe is at least 15 hours away, actually Dubai is 15 hours away then its another 5 or 7 hours to your final stop. 

We made it without too many problems....except the car we booked to take us to the airport didn't turn up so it was a bit stressful ringing for a taxi to get us cross town on time. Again in Australia it takes hours to get through security checks, we are required to be at the airport at least 3 hours before the flight....we did alright even with the hiccough because I always leave plenty of time for just these types of events happening.....but not the way you want to start a long journey that has been planned for 12 months!!!!

We ( husband and daughter...son didn't want to travel so he minded the dogs) snoozed quite well and landed in Barcelona, all starry eyed and looking forward to what lay ahead.

Barcelona didn't disappoint, the people are lovely and geared to tourism. Everyone spoke English and the food was wonderful, fresh tasty and exquisite decor.

I was in Barcelona for one thing only that being the works of Gaudi.
We had three days to get around the sights, and I wish we had booked more. Gaudi and his architecture is a big draw card but there is so much more...
I have taken hundreds of photos and spent days editing and cropping and tweaking so be prepared to be bombarded.

Its alright but I will have to trickle them through, there is too much to digest and Gaudi deserves to be really observed closely and thoughtfully. The man still blows me away with his artistry, vision and singlemindedness. He never married and seriously I don't think he would have ever had time for a relationship, his work was his life and what a body of work it is. 

 My first glimpse of Guell Parc. A complete jewel, the sun was glistening off all the mosaic surfaces and shining brightly. This made getting the correct colour very tricky as my camera and me could not quite cope with the right exposure and I did have grumbles of "can we move on now" from my companions.

 This is my beautiful daughter standing in a grotto, notice the angle of the pillars, all done in stone work. Each pillar was a work of art intended to look natural.
 See the variations?

 A detail of the seating around the parks open space, all unique. The gargoyles allow water to be dispelled from the seats and spilled onto planting below.

A classic shot of the passage in the grotto....almost like an ocean wave.

 Hand made gates.....this guy did not like straight lines or mass produced items. Everything had an artists touch.

 In this shot I managed to place the famous church (that is still to be completed).....The Sagrada Familia in the background....it is where the cranes are in the distance.
The tiled roof is of a gatehouse building at the parks entrance.

 This is a fluke shot.......see the person framed in the window? Never could have actually achieved this if I had planned it!!!

 Iguana at the entrance.


 Yes!!!! The classic shot...done and done!!
All the roof is mosaic tiles, the detail is mind blowing, not a single straight surface. The tower at the back in blue and white has an undulating twisting construction. His workers must have all been artisans to produce such beauty. 
This was constructed in 1900 folks...even today a building like this would be considered modern! 
I know I bang on about this but he was so ahead of the pack, where did we lose the courage to create beauty like this? 
Why are our buildings so straight, and bland? (she sobs quietly...)
I know the answer is economic but we need artistry in our lives and this Park brings money to Barcelona and joy to all who visit.

 Detail of mosaic on ceiling...would love to try this at home, like in the shower perhaps?

Just as we were leaving the sun illuminated the face of the washer woman....one of the pillars in the grotto. Did I mention each one was unique?


 Did not attempt these stairs!

Well I hope this didn't bore you. I downloaded 110 photos so I have been kind and edited the better ones. 
Stay tuned this was only the first morning of the first day............

Friday, 23 October 2015

Hello again!!!

Hello there, 
that was indeed a longer absence than I anticipated. I have been well, and a lot has happened since I was last here in Blogland. 
I have retired from work, well semi retired, maybe, maybe not.

One of my children has flown the nest. maybe, maybe not...it has been almost a year....and my husband took a generous redundancy and has definitely retired!! And that was only a month ago.

I was so exhausted after leaving my job that I could not even think about sitting at the computer, I didn't want to do anything that felt work related, I was burnt out. It took me three months to stop thinking about my previous responsibilities. When you run a one woman office and you have been fully responsible for everything for 12 years or so, it takes a while to feel that you finally can take the burden off your shoulders and breath.
I never knew that life could be so free. 

I have been reading blogs and following Instagram, I have been soaking in the creativity that is out there but letting it wash over me, taking instead of giving, allowing others to speak and just listening and nodding. Now I feel that I have a little to say again.

This is a very special gift that I made for my "boss". 
For the last 12 years of my working life my "boss" happened to be a priest, a lovely scholarly man who had been a wise and caring person in my life. 

Being Catholic I referred to him as "Father" (the correct formal title) he wasn't fussed about this formality and often said I could just call him by his christian name. He never wore a priest's collar and if you passed him in the street you would not see him as a man of religion, however his gentle calm nature and well chosen wise words did mark him as someone who deserved the title of Father.

I had not been bought up in a religious household, my parents being very anti religion, but I married into a family that was, and being closer to my married family I chose to open my mind and learn.

I can now see and say how lucky I was to learn so much from my previous job and my "boss". I learnt how judgements rebound and land back on your shoulders. I learnt that we are all just trying to make sense of this life and we all suffer as humans. I learnt that all faiths stem from the same desire to learn and relate. I learnt that mankind has and will continue to twist and corrupt anything in order to gain power over others. I learnt not to blame religion for the wrongs but use faith to overcome, I met so many wonderful genuine old and wise people through my work. They were human too, some loved a bit of gossip, some were strict rule followers, protocol being very important, some were mean, so many more generous but they all tried in their human way to come together in the church and celebrate life.

And that was the short version of what I am trying to convey in this quilt. I was madly trying to think of what design would be suitable for such a person. I was at one of the many Quilt Fairs that I attend and was flicking through Material Obsession's latest book by Kathy Doughty "Adding Layers"......and laaaaaaaa.(cue heavenly choir music) there IT WAS. The most PERFECT design for what I could make.

I tweaked it a little...as I thought red velvet would make the most perfect heart centre. I tracked down the Madonna fabric online, and I went into quilt shops asking for "shepherdy" fabric....you know like the robes we put together for Christmas pageants. I was so vague in my description, I knew what I wanted just could not describe it well. However some quilt shops know their stock very well and I found the fabric for the spokes that spoke to me of "shepherds".

I then thought that like sun rays through clouds..( we refer to them as Jesus rays) the spokes should be varied in length. The background in the original design was patterned and I was going to go down that path but then on the design wall the solid red just spoke to me of regal majestic tones, so I went with that. 
Appliqueing the heart was tricky and I hand quilted with perle cotton, and machine quilted rays coming out from the  heart centre to accentuate the spokes.

I was very pleased to have found what I thought was the perfect quilt for a priest. He was extremely impressed and I had to explain that it really was not as intricate as he thought.....but I did let him know it does take some time to throw together such a thing. 

The pictures were hastily taken on a very sunny day as I had a short time to finish and present the quilt before I left. So quality of photos are not the best.

Its been lovely to get back on the blog.


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Feeling a bit cranky pants....

I will warn you now if you don't want to hear my cranky attitude then look away.  I have been having a C.C.M....a crap craft moment...and I am just cranky with it! 
In the spirit of keeping "it real" (whatever "it" is) I am going to share the moments when I loose it a little...(whatever "it" is) 

I am usually a stoic woman, to those whom I don't know that well. You know when people ask "How are you?" the polite reply..."Yeah, good thanks"......I mean we ask but do we really want to know? Do we want to stay and listen to the everyday aches and pains and ups and downs or do we then reply..."How are things with you?"......and really don't want to know, just being polite!

But there are those people in your life that will just listen, not try and fix you but accept that TODAY you are cranky...for whatever reason, real or imagined. My husband (bless him and I mean that sincerely) has learned that I will have days where I am not always pleasant and he still loves me. We all have those days when all the plans and anticipation of a long running project just don't come to fruition and out comes Mrs Cranky

 Take this little sucker......stitch after stitch I plowed on, I was making me a handbag and I really wanted to wear it ASAP.
I blocked that baby, waited days to see her dry and could not wait to stitch her up.
Well THAT didn't work well at all.....sure she looks straight there but meet her twisted sister

 Note the angle of the handles in relation to the bag side.
 And heres another torturous angle. I sewed her up and she wanted to twist the night away in her own direction. I tried everything to make her follow the right path but NOOOOOO! so I muttered and cursed and was ready to put her 

1. in the time out drawer
2. in the bin
3. send her to a professional straightener
4. forget the whole thing

Her partners in crime.....what a hot mess!
Instead I then uttered the "F" word......FOCUS....(why what did you think I was going to say?)
I breathed a deep breathe and said to myself, "self "I said  "pull yourself together, you going to let a little itty bitty piece of stitching bring you down?" "Yes!" I snivelled, "she is being mean to me"
And not just her. Look at this!

 There were tension issues with this one, a bit of stuff was ripped out. Hey that sorta felt better....still back to the beginning and try again.....back on track ....feeling betterer.

Piping issues. undo and retry again. Patience poppet. 

Fiddling and playing and don't care what happens here, not a lot of time or money invested. The shoulders are dropping 
 Oh YEAH...the cure to all cranky days.

 And because I don't want you to leave feeling cranky I will pop in these calming sunset images. The beauty of nature. 
Thank you so much for staying to chat even when its not all sweetness and light here. But that what life is all about.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Hello There........Remember me?

Its a new year, its a new day.....
I think there was a song with those lyrics out there somewhere.....over the rainbow...way up high......
Yes I am being a tres bit silly but that I feel is my natural state, it balances the other side of me that can be very dour and serious. 

Well 2015 hey, here we are it seems. My son was watching "Back to the Future" and mentioned that in the 1980's...way back...they programmed 2015 into the delorean ...DeLorane, time car thingy and we were all in flying cars and really futuristic groovy. The more things change the more things stay the same. 
I have been around, but Instagram has ensnared me with its groovyness and I have been hanging out there a lot. There is a quick and easy way to snap and load a photo, whack on a filter and get some instant feedback.....whats not to love! But I still hung around with my blog favourites also, it freed me up so I could pour my craft into witty and pithy comments and I have been making some lovely connections. Thus I feel I can balance the two media platforms..(oh listen to me you would think I knew what I was talking about) and share some perhaps more considered musings, as opposed to the "look at me, look at me" action in that other arena.

 I bought a cutting machine recently. I was in a mad state of mind as I has recently firmed up my semi retirement date.....oh joy of joys. I am leaving a job of 12 years to have a well earned break, travel and then try to work out what direction life takes me.
Anyway I felt that with said cutting machine (that I could afford now but not later) I would be able to whizz up many quick quilts to perhaps sell or just make to save my sanity.....I mean what to do when work no longer fills your mind. And before you all roll your eyes, I know exactly how days are filled! I fell for that trap when I first had a child, I mean I was going to have SO MUCH FREE TIME, I could bake bread, make biscuits, spin wool, weave cloth and sew a wardrobe, I mean I said to myself what does one do with a small child at home ALL DAY.  Lesson well and truly learned.

Cutting machine bought and tested, yet to go into full production but has proved useful so far.

 So I will continue on the flower theme. These are from my garden, they are simple sweet roses.

 The plate something I picked up at an op shop (thrift store) and also loved its sweet simple art. In fact I have a thing for plates as I see them as art. I have a wall full of plates displayed but cannot resist buying more. One day I may live in a house lined with plates.

 So then I started trying to capture the full beauty of the rose. I am always drawn to the macro world in photography

Its a challenge to get the light and composition just right.

 A more complex and no less stunning rose

Would you believe these two roses come from the same plant? It starts off as a simple flower and then develops a ruffled overblown bloom.
Another plate and another flower.

This is from my gone to seed parsley plant. I cannot seem to stop the flowers forming in the heat of summer so I have just let it go for now.

 They are quite delicate as you draw closer. Hmm are they ants in there?
 Yes, they are ants!  I have a great macro lens and I am not afraid to use it. And for Christmas I received a tripod so now I can hold a steady shot.
 Not a flower, not a rose but who said succulents didn't have a charm all of their own. Not me.

Its been nice to catch up......and if you want to catch me on Instagram...I am susanc269. 
Till we meet again......dont know where.....dont know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny daaaaaaaayyyyy