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Archive for July, 2010


Clouds Over Home
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann

The sky over the house during the most recent storm changed rather quickly from this to heavy rain – so much so that the mudroom ceiling was leaking and covered part of the floor with water.

I have never seen it rain so hard in such a short time period as it did today. Combined with high winds, high temperature, high humidity, and a thunderstorm…we were anticipating having to go in the basement.

The girls got everything ready if we needed to downstairs – dog leashes, cat carriers, and their handy-dandy blankets filled with “treasures” and tied with jump ropes.

Luckily, we didn’t have to go in the basement. We just spent the evening mopping up water on the mudroom floor, shelves, and window ledges.

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Baby Wrens in Nest
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann

One of the nests in the backyard has 5 baby wrens in it. The girls are watching the birds as they grow.

We checked on them again on July 31st and they have full wings and their eyes are open.

Baby Wrens
Wrens on August 2nd – http://www.flickr.com/photos/picturesbyann/4868600550/

By August 4th, when we checked on them again, the nest was empty. All were grown and had flown from the nest.

Needless to say, the girls are thrilled. It’s been such a great homeschooling science lesson!

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This is the most recent journal quilt I made. It’s about 9″ x 12″, and is the 7th one in a series of quilts I’ve made this year (I started in January).

Some elements of the quilt that aren’t visible in a picture and/or are more subtle:

The Soft Texture of the Fabric: The white fabric is from a used bed sheet and the red backing and trim is from a dress that I got at a free clothing giveaway that didn’t fit properly.

Dragonfly on the Backing: The red fabric features a pink dragonfly on the back in the center. There are two lighter-printed (and still red) images of a dragonfly also on the back. This reminds me of all the dragonflies that we saw on our trip to La Crosse. Dragonflies also symbolize renewal, positive force, and the power of life in general. In addition, dragonflies frequently represent change. Since they live a short life, it knows it must live its life to the fullest with the short time it has – which is a good thing to keep in mind.

Sashiko Embroidery on the Candle: I did a simple running stitch horizontally for the entire height of the candle. The yellow flame has 31 little crosses on it. This represents the sashiko (a type of Japanese embroidery) quilt that I worked on a lot during July.

White-on-White Quilting: I did some free-motion quilting (very, very basic…nothing fancy) to secure the three layers together.

Below are the major activities of the month and how they are symbolized in the quilt:

4th of July: The girls rode horses in the parade and did very well. This was clearly a highlight of the year, and will be remembered for many years to come. The 4th of July is represented in the quilt by:

– The colors red (backing/border/dad’s hand), white (background), and blue (Olivia’s hand, blue candle with blue sashiko stitching, blue symbol for water [on the left hand side of the quilt], and the blue ink used for the word “believe.”

– There also is a purple star in the lower right hand corner of the quilt. The star has 4 lines (for the fourth of July).

Trip to Colorado: From July 6th-9th, I helped my dad take a trip from Minnesota to Colorado to see his younger brother who was suffering from diverticulitis. Both my uncle AND dad have Alzheimer’s Disease. Although it was a needed and much-appreciated visit for everyone involved, it also was extraordinarily physically exhausting and emotionally—draining.

It was incredibly difficult to see how much the disease has robbed my father of his mind over the past year since his diagnosis. Yet, despite these “behind-the-scenes” difficulties due to Alzheimer’s, my dad provided tremendous encouragement, support, and love to his brother.

Seeing his put his arm around his younger brother’s shoulder, give him a hug, or simply hold his hand were probably some of the most powerful images I have from that trip. One photo in particular that I took – a close-up of my uncle’s hand holding my dad’s hand – is one that I like the best. It shows how love can transcend obstacles (like Alzheimer’s Disease); and how powerful the sense of touch can be to healing and comfort.

Helping, caring for, loving, supporting – these are represented in the outlines of the hands on the quilt (the red handprint is my dad, the orange is my mom, green is me, blue is Olivia, and purple is Sophia).

4-H and the Chisago County Fair: Sophia and Olivia joined 4-H this year, and were able to exhibit projects at the Chisago County Fair. In the quilt, there are 4 green “H”s that represent the 4 “H”s in 4-H: head, heart, hands, and health.

Trip to La Crosse: On July 19th-20th, I took my mom, dad, Sophia, and Olivia to La Crosse (Wisconsin).

The trip is represented in several ways on the quilt:

-The blue candle in the center represents the votive chapel at the Shrine.

-The candle flame has little yellow crosses.

-Two wavy blue lines – represent the girls swimming, laughing, and having fun in the water.

-Two orange “U” shape lines – represent smiles and good memories from the trip.

-One red “V” shape – represents an eagle and our visit to the National Eagle Center.

Crafting for the Washington County Fair: Sophia, Olivia, and I have been busy crafting this month as we get ready to enter projects in the Washington County Fair. The outlines of our hands represent the handiwork that we are doing.

*´¯`•.¸.• *

“I believe in the imagination. What I cannot see is infinitely more important than what I can see.”
~Duane Michals, Real Dreams

There’s one part of the quilt not yet addressed – the word “Believe.” This is hand-stamped on a piece of fabric from a bed sheet. It was sent to me through a swap on Swap-Bot. The sender had tied a handmade booklet with this fabric that was stamped repeatedly with “Believe.”

During July, the word “believe” seemed to be a recurring theme:

I believe in the power that horses have in helping children who have sensory integration dysfunction, speech delays, and physical delays/disabilities. It’s amazing what therapeutic horseback riding has done to help Sophia and Olivia over the past 4-5 years that they have been a part of the riding programs (this is Sophia’s 4th year and Olivia’s 5th year riding).

I believe in the power of love and compassion – particularly as shown through my dad and uncle as they support one another in their journey through Alzheimer’s Disease; and my parents as they support one another as they both struggle with different aging issues.

I saw my parents’ strong religious faith and the meaning it has for them – belief in something greater than this world that they cannot see, but trust is there – as we journeyed to The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I believe in the power the arts and creativity have to help me work through grief issues and other difficulties in my life. The arts (and crafts) give me an ability to create beauty or find hope amidst sadness – it’s a way to create items that can be passed along to my daughters (some they receive now and others they’ll receive when they are older).

The author, Sarah Ban Breathnach, said, “Dare yourself to believe in your creativity, wherever it may lead you. Trust that where it leads, is exactly where you’re supposed to be. Your authentic self knows where you’re headed. Don’t wrestle with Spirit, collaborate with it.”

I saw Sophia and Olivia believe in themselves and talk with confidence about what they had learned with the 4-H judges at the Chisago County Fair.

And, I have to believe that the emotional difficulties and struggles I am experiencing right now – especially as they relate to caregiving and loneliness – will lead to a greater good. I don’t know what…but hopefully it will make some positive difference in the world at some point.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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At The Shrine of Guadalupe, there is a beautiful Votive Candle Chapel. These are some of the many candles in the largest candle rack in the United States. The rack contains 576 votive candles; and measures 14 feet high and 12 feet wide on each of its four sides.

My parents, Sophia, Olivia, a friend of the family (Maureen), and I visited the Shrine. For me, this was one of the prettiest places at the Shrine. I could only imagine how beautiful the chapel is in the dark when many of the candles are lit and glowing.

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Following a Buggy
Originally uploaded by
Pictures by Ann

Sophia, Olivia, my parents, and I visited La Crosse on July 19-20th to see The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On the way, we stopped in Cashton, Wisconsin, at the cheese factory as well as several Amish homes.

As we approached the cheese factory, we followed a horse and buggy. It went a bit ahead and pulled into the waiting shed to the right of the picture. In the shed, there were several buggies and horses waiting while the drivers were working or shopping.

Following a horse and buggy at such a slow pace gave us all time to enjoy the countryside and the various farms we were passing. We visited several farms where we purchased hand-sewn and crafted items, baked goods, and fresh produce. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

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Angel the Eagle
Originally uploaded by
Pictures by Ann

Angel is one of the eagles at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota. The birds here have been rescued and rehabilitated. The goal is to release them into the wild.

However, there are some that can’t fly up or out a certain distance which means that they would be unable to get food in the wild. Without food, they wouldn’t survive.

So, at the Eagle Center they are used for educational purposes and cared for (they have time inside and outside each day).

Some interesting facts we learned about eagles:

– An eagle can see a rabbit up to 3 miles away.
– All adult eagles have white heads and tails, which they get in their fourth or fifth years. The brown or speckled eagles are birds that have not yet reached adulthood.
– Eagles will sit on the edge of the nest and expel waste 5 feet away.
– Females have larger wingspans than males and weigh approximately 30% more.
– Eagles weigh between 8-14 pounds with a body length of 30” to 43”. (Just a quick side note: Olivia is 44″ tall.)
– Most nests are about four feet wide and three feet’ or more deep.
– Eagles spend about 92% of their winter days just sitting

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H is for Horse ATC
Originally uploaded by
Pictures by Ann

This is an artist trading card (ATC) that I made for the alphabet book that I gave to Olivia last year for her birthday. It is made from wool felt (front and back) and hand-embroidered. It is the standard size (2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″).

The alphabet book was made for Olivia as she was learning the alphabet. The thought was to give her a tangible way to learn the alphabet and words that begin with each letter while exposing her to a variety of artwork that she could touch. It’s important that children have art that they can touch and interact with…something that many museums don’t allow. ATCs give children this opportunity.

In some cases, she has to think what the connection is between the artwork and the letter (e.g., “U is for udder,” “I is for iris folding), while others are obvious, like this ATC (“H is for horse”).

There are 52 cards total in the book (26 made by me; 26 made by other artists/craftspeople throughout the world). Within the book, there are a variety of methods used with the ATCs: collage; embroidery; iris folding; coloring and rubbings with Prismacolor color pencils; needlefelting; origami; weaving, and beadwork.

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