Thursday, December 20, 2012

is it real or is it memorex?

A mini trick I picked up years ago is to take a picture of a work in progress and see how it reads through the camera's eye.  Its amazing what you miss with the naked eye, but the same image seen through a lens brings into sharp focus where you are going wrong, and where you are dead on.  A little something held down with museum wax looks perfectly fine till you see in the picture that its levitating right off the shelf a good inch or so because it was not placed down least that's how it reads on film.  I never really thought about why you can spot these discrepancies on film and not with your own eye till I was typing this very blog post.  Its all about scale, as it always is with good miniatures.  The camera fools your eye into seeing the scene in the life sized scale that your eye is naturally attuned to.  Things that are not properly scaled stand out in sharp contrast to the properly scaled things surrounding them.  Our naked eye dismisses these discrepancies when viewing a miniature live but in a picture we are forced to reckon with them.  So for me, the earmark of a good miniature is that it could pass as full scale in a photograph.  What do you think?  Am I close?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

One Handsome Pud

Winslow is the first handsome dog I ever had.  I have had some very lovable dogs over the years, all adorable and quite appealing in their own way, but none would have ever been called handsome.  I could say its about the breeding...Winslow does have a pedigree, but that can't be it.  Milford was a pure bred Rat terrier too, and had all the traits known to the breed, but handsome was not a word  one would ever use to describe him.  Winslow just has that "it" factor that the others did not have in the looks department.  But as the old saying goes, God gives with one hand and takes with the other.  Winslow is an undeniably handsome dog, but bold he is not.  Today I had to "talk him down" from a nervous fit at seeing me holding a pair of brown socks.  He had not seen them before and the novelty of me holding something other than the white socks I usually wear was working his nerves.  I tell myself its because he is highly intelligent, more observant and aware of his surroundings than the average dog, but I don't really believe it. He is smart, that much is true but as for the rest of it?  the plain truth is that he is a candy ass.  Even so, I love him rotten. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Me and my dream man

     Some girls dream of meeting Prince Charming, or Johnny Depp, or Justin Bieber, but for me its all about Rik Pierce!  He has been my dream man for years now.  For those of you who do not know, Rik builds scale miniature constructions of the type that make me swoon.  No victorian dollhouses for Rik, he builds brick and stone  houses both large and small, full of detail and character.    I have been a fan for years and have been  cutting out clippings from the mini magazines and squirelling them away for both  inspiration and instruction, never thinking I would ever actually get to take one of his classes. 
    Finally this past  October my dream came true and  I got to spend a week in Lawrencevill Georgia attending a 5 day workshop with none other than my dream man himself!  It was a wonderful experience from beining to end.   I enjoyed Rik's company and his instruction and the other ladies in my class.  I cannot think of a single thing about that week that was not just as I hoped it would be.  It may not be a big deal to some people who because of geography or wealth can attend one of Rik's classes whenever they want, but for me it was.  I told all of this to Rik, and that I would never forget our week together in Lawrenceville, and he told me the same...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My little baby is all grown up


A post or so ago I mentioned the caterpillars that had invaded my parsley for the second year in a row. My friend Kit let me know that I had swallowtail butterfly caterpillars on my hands and that is what sparked the great caterpillar exploration of 2012.  I would check out the parsley plant every morning while I sipped my coffee.  One morning I noticed  another smaller type of caterpillar on the plant and I wondered what sort of butterfly it would make.  Naturally I googled it.  That is when the whole wonderful world of butterfly metamorphosis exposed itself to me.  I was stunned to learn that the little spiny black and gray caterpillars who looked nothing like the big beautiful fleshy green mutli- colored ones were actually the same species!  As it turns out the last metamorphosis in a butterfly's life is just the most spectacular in a series of metamorphoses.  Each little caterpillar molts five times into a new phase called an instar.  At the end of the fifth instar the caterpillar molts its skin for the last time revealing the chrysalis within that will harden to form a  shell that will protect the butterfly while it undergoes its final changes.  All of my caterpillars went off to parts unknown to finish their transformations save one.  This little bugger just took a short walk from the parsley plant to the day lily next door.  I spotted him there and watched him for the next several days waiting to see him emerge as a beautiful butterfly.  It happened yesterday morning.  When I came out with my coffee there was my little caterpillar, all grown up, freshly hatched and still drying his wings.   I was there when he took flight and I watched him catch an air current and sail away. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

What is it with me and mushrooms

I remember my first encounter with a mushroom, it was one of the white ones that crop up in lawns every now and then.  It fascinated me way back then when I was 4 maybe 5 years old.  First of all, it was astonishing to me how one day there was nothing but lawn and then overnight there was this thing that had clearly not been there the day before.  So there I stood thinking to my little self "What the What?, how did that get there and what on earth is it?"  I asked of course and was told it was a toad stool, and was highly poisonous and that I must not fool with one "DON'T EVEN TOUCH IT!"   I was no fool, I was not about to touch it, but poke it with a stick? Sure, why not and with my fertile imagination I had a field day with the name alone... A Toad Stool huh?  I had no trouble at all imagining a toad popping a squat on top of one and in fact hold out hope even to this day of actually catching a toad doing just that.  It was right about that time I saw Willy Wonka for the first time with the giant mushrooms that had cream for spots in the factory garden where the flowers were made of candy and there was a chocolate river... That certainly fed the fascination,  Then came along the caterpillar in Alice in Wonder land sitting on his mushroom cap, and all the shenanigans that followed when Alice actually ate pieces of said mushroom.  No wonder I was told to leave the things alone.   All of that, coupled with the fact that they are a bit of a rarity in the dryer climate I grew up in was enough to foster a life long fascination with them. 
    I saw real honest to goodness red mushrooms with white spots  in Germany and again here in SC at the Sesquicentennial State park and got to cook and eat Morels harvested by my friend in Nebraska, But it has been right here in my own back yard that I have had the most fun.   We have puff balls, big and small, little flimsy fairy looking mushrooms that are here and gone in a day, I have seen jelly looking things that grow in the shape and color of a translucent orange cup, and thick stemmed sturdy looking things that  stick around for days and days.  Spotting mushrooms is not unlike spotting sea glass.  You do enough of it and your eye learns what to look for.  Here I have discovered that a bulging spot in the underbrush today will very likely mean a mushroom tomorrow, especially after  a rainy spell.  So I go out every morning with the dog, he looks for squirrels and lizards and I look for bulging underbrush or that rare flash of color in  the leaf litter that means I need to head in and get the camera and snap a few pictures before I start poking it with a stick.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Making a Deposit in My Karmic Account

There is something about the idea of Karma that I like.  I like the notion that you can do something good or nice and that someday in some way it will come back to you.  Or at least offset the bad Karma that we are all too often willing to rack up.  As a Christian I do give pause to consider how it all fits into my own theology and I am ok with it, because be we Christian, Bhudist,  Muslim or whatever  I think there are certain inescapable truths that all faiths recognize because they are part and parcel of the universe we inhabit and that God created.  So call it Karma or the Golden Rule, or "do unto others..."There is merit in doing something good even if it's only in the pleasure of doing it.   Somehow I think there is more to it though and what goes around really does come around.
    While in Hawaii I picked sea glass whenever I could and learned a thing or two about it, like which colors are the most rare...I had a bunch of bits of stained glass in just the sorts of colors that you scarcely find in sea glass so I took them and ground the sharp edges off on my grinder and then tossed them into the surf at my favorite glass beach, near a rocky spot where no one would walk or swim.   One day one of those bits of red or orange glass etched by the waves and sand to a sugary frost will roll up with the incoming tide and somebody will go home with a rare treasure.
    Another deposit in my Karmic account is turning out to be an annual thing.  Last year I happend to look at my parsely plant that I had growing in a pot on the patio and noticed it was alive with catepillars!  I had not picked the parsely in ages so I figured somebody might as well have the benefit of it and left the catepillars to eat their fill.  They did, they ate it all clean down to the nubbins.  I thought it was gone for good, but no, it grew back even better than before after the catepillars moved on to fresh pastures.  Well, yesterday I looked at the very same parsley plant that I had wintered over in the house and there are no less than 11 catepillars on it.  So I am doing what I did last year and giving it over to them.  I consider it my own very literal butterfly garden.  In a few days the parsely will be gone, and so too the caterpillars, but my Karmic account will be topped up and before the summer is out, I will get to see a surfeit of butterflies, and all the parsley I could want.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Credential

Finally, I have a credential.  I just found out a few weeks ago that I was awarded artisan status within the IGMA  It is something that I have been actively working on for over two years and among my mini friends it brings some serious street cred.  To my non mini friends it ilicits a polite smile and a vague look of confusion..."IGM...what?" they say,  "IGMA, its the International Guild of Miniature Artisans and to be awarded my artisan certificate is a really big deal!"  Of course how big a deal can it be if you have to tell people its a big It's a big deal in the mini world, a small deal in the real world, but that seems oddly fitting since its a miniature guild.  Still it is a big deal to me, and that is enough because that's  the whole reason I did it in the first place; to prove to myself that I could.  I did not do any deep soul searching before taking it on, I just wanted the challenge.  If I had bothered to think about it I might have discovered what Steve had to point out to me.  He did it inadvertanly recently while talking to someone.  I can't recall the specifics of the conversation but he pointed out that I had been a stay at home Mom and homemaker for the past 20 plus years, and now that our one and only has left the nest I was finally free to work on my own achievments.  I liked that very much for lots of reasons.  Primarily it seems to give me Steve's blessing to continue what I have been doing since Zach left and that is crank out quilts both big and small.  Secondly it dulls the edges of the self loathing that is the unique pervue of the stay at home Mom " What do you do?"  "Nothing...I am a Stay at home Mom" I know Its the most important job in the world, or so they say.  It sure does not pay like the most important job in the world, in cash or prestige...still I know it is important...yet it does have a whiff of underachiever about it that is hard to shake.  I have tried to get up wind of it by tentatively laying claim to the title "artist" but that always seemed like a sham to me, but now that I have my Artisan certificate, and a few blue ribbons under my belt, I will say it loud and say it proud I AM AN ARTIST!

My IGMA Submissions
 Please to enjoy
FYI "Please to enjoy" is some Engrish I picked up somewhere and it has become a permanent part of my vocabulary

Provencal boutis

The squares in the grid are one inch

Prim Four Patch

Crazy Quilt

English paper pieced quilt with Pud

English Paper Pieced quilt Sans Pud

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I have a silver bangle bracelet that Steve gave me while living in Hawaii, it says Kuuipo which is Hawaiian for sweet heart. Its a placeholder bracelet for the gold one with a Hawaiian transaltion of the meaning of my name that I am holding out for. The sound needs no translation since the consonants and vowels in Kellie are frequently usued in Hawaiin. It might be better spelled as Kele, but the sound is almost identical. So rather than just converting the spelling of my name, I asked my friend Naomi a Hawaiian language proffesor to help translate the meaning of my gaelic name to Hawaiin. It means Battle maiden, or fearless woman in Irish, so how does that translate in Hawaiin? Kawahinewiwo'ole is how. It means the woman with the brave face. I like it, it rolls easily from the tongue and sounds pleasant to the ear and it reminds me of another favorite from Hawaii, Braddah Iz...Isreal Kamakawiwo'ole...I think its time to put his cd in my car stereo, the weather is warm and the time is right to sing about the white sandy beaches of Hawaii....oh and about the quilt block...its a maile and pikake lei, just the sort of thing you might where to get married in. I miss the smell of the pikake blossoms, but have found that the hawthorns of South Cackalacka smell just as good!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

quite possibly my favorite of the Aloha Album blocks

I thought when I did it, that the Mokes would be my favorite quilt block, because I dreamed it up and because that was our favorite beach the three years we were on O'ahu. But now that I have finished the Aloha block, my favor falls on it and for many reasons too. First, I love all the color! Second I love the symbolism. Each floral motif represents the different islands in the State, but more than that, they remind me of special things. Each one attached to a different memory of our time in Hawaii. While choosing the fabrics for this block I refered to a book on Lei that I got while living there and I was reminded of how amazing the floral arts are in Hawaii. I love the way people in Hawaii look for reasons to give one another lei, and the pagentry of the Hula Halaus and Pa'u riders decked out in all their floral finery. I love how they festoon party halls with palms and ginger, the extravagance of it all an everyday thing for them, but for me a child of the desert southwest, it was a sight to behold, and one I love going back to in my memory. so this block brings all that back to mind for me. To look at this block I am reminded of all the lei I wore while there, the smell of flowers in the air, the wind showing me the silvery backs of the kukui tree leaves on the mountain sides. The brilliant red of the Ohia blossoms against a bright blue sky on the big island, and ilima growing alongside a hiking trail on O'ahu...yep, this block is officially my favorite.

Monday, February 13, 2012


I always knew about Diamondhead the way I always knew about the Empire State building. Its so imbedded into our American story that I can't remember a time when I did not know what it was, and like seeing the empire state building for the first time and recognizing it instantly, I recognized Diamondhead the moment I laid eyes on it from Waikiki Beach. There is a weird thrill when you see a place you know but have never been to. It happend in New York, Paris, London, and especially in Hawaii. Living on an island you get to know the lay of the land pretty well. The landmarks become very familiar and your eye automatically searches for them when you are in their proximity. Diamondhead is the big Kahuna of landmarks. The local people don't give directions by saying east, west, north and south, they say Diamondhead, Ewa, Mauka and Makai. It really makes sense once you get the hang of it. I even managed to hike up Diamondhead a few times while we were there and I am glad I did the views were worth the climb.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Life with the Wachters

When Zach came for his last visit we had enough time and good enough weather to make the trip to New Jersey for the weekend. It was important to Steve because he wants Zach to know all of his family, not just the New Mexico half. Zach had only met his Jersey cousins 4 times before this last visit and the first two times he was really too young for it to be meaningful. So this trip back changed all that because it meant Zach would finally be old enough to get to know his cousins and uncles in a way that he never had before. He new his aunts well enough because they both came to Germany and Hawaii, but his uncles were another matter. He made up for lost time on this trip hanging out in the Man cave with them and taking his share of "Chop busting" that comes with daring to join the uncles as they sit around with beers and cigars. He learned what it was like to be in a house filled to capacity and be related to every soul in there, and I hope he experienced the sureal weirdness of feeling perfectly at home in a room full of strangers that are your blood kin.
As for me, I got to finally participate in a Wachter Christmas traditon that I have longed for over the years, to be in on Bonnie's Christmas party goofy hat shenanigans. Now all I have to do is make it to an Angel Sunday and my life will be complete!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

me and my pud

Don't ask me to explain why I call Winslow Pud, maybe its an almagamation of Puppy and Buddy...or not. Who knows, he just seemed like a Pud to me, so thats what I call him as often as not. I took the picture with the photobooth app on our computer about a month and a half ago. He has gotten slightly bigger but other than that, nothing else has changed. In fact he sleeps curled in my lap even as I type this. He loves laps. He also loves heat. When there is a sunbeam to sleep in he'll find it. Here lately he has discovered the joys of tunneling into a load of laundry fresh from the dryer. So much so that when he hears the dryer running he hangs out near by so as not to miss his opportunity. At night when I tuck him in, I throw the towels that he sleeps with in the dryer for a quick spin to warm them up. He is very good to go to his crate when we tell him its bedtime, but last night he did not go straight to his crate...he went to the dryer instead...What a pud!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hey Ho, Lets go!

My son Zach and I share a lot of things in common, one of which is a love for Punk music. I like to take credit for planting that seed...I remember well the year I got Green Day's Nimrod album from Steve for Christmas and played it in our little black Ford Contour as I drove me and Zach hither and yon amongst the Nebraska cornfields. We spent a lot of time trolling the antique malls. We had hardly any money so we spent far more time looking than buying, but we both enjoy the hunt as much as the score, so we usually left happy whether we spent anything or not. So when Zach came for his visit these past few weeks one of the activities that featured prominently was antiquing. We hopped in the mini, plugged in a Ramones CD that Zach made me for my birthday and went in search of some mid century modern treasures for Zach to feather his nest. So with the Ramones thumping in the background we hit on the idea to take a family photo reminiscent of an iconic Ramones album. I think it turned out really well and we ought to try it again the next time Zach is here. Maybe that time we will do our version of a Green Day album!