"I started photographing my domestic world and writing not just about what I had made,
but why I made it, examining the thoughts that accompany creativity and the act of making."
Jane Brocket from The Gentle Art of Domesticity p. 189 UK edition

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Five on Friday: **Star Struck**

No, I have not been visiting Hollywood, or Broadway, or any entertainment spots and thus bumped into any entertainment giants.  Nor have I been hired by anyone to type this, but I want to tell you five things about a good book I just finished reading as I join with thanks to Amy at her Love Made My Home Blog for her Five on Friday Link Up.

When my dad was in his early teens in the 1920's he bought a ticket to the moon from a comic book. As an adult he was a keen observer of the Space Race to get a man to walk on the moon and his interest fueled mine.  My mom encouraged my interest in the stars as well when she made a Martian costume [including springy antennas] for me for Halloween when I was in second grade. Little did I know that my younger cousin living far from my home in Missouri was developing an even keener interest in astronomy.  From the time he was eight years old, my cousin, David Bradstreet, in Brockton, Massachusetts, was peering through telescopes studying the stars.

According to his book "Star Struck: Seeing the Creator in the Wonders of Our Cosmos" book cover, David "is an award-winning professor, author, and astronomy "rock star" who has been teaching students about the heavens since 1976 at Eastern University, where he serves as professor and chair of the Astronomy and Physics department and as director of the David H. Bradstreet Observatory and Julia Fowler Planetarium."

"Dave earned an MS and a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Pennsylvania and has worked with NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the International Astronomical Union.  He authored the Binary Maker 3.0 software program that helps astronomical researchers calculate the orbits of binary stars."

In his book, communicating as a Christian in a complex scientific field of study, David, succeeds in sharing the history of astronomy in an engaging way with the assistance of writer Steve Rabey. From scientists accused of heresy to contemporary examples of science fiction lore, including Mr. Spock and E.T., David thoughtfully reflects how science has not threatened his faith in Christ, but rather enhanced his appreciation of God through God's amazing creation.

David especially finds binary stars incredibly beautiful.  He wrote, " A distant relative of mine praised pairs centuries ago in her most famous poem.  Anne Bradstreet was born in England in 1612 and sailed to America on a ship with fellow Puritans.  By the time she died at age sixty, she was being hailed as one of the New World's top poets, and her "To My Dear and Loving Husband" was one of her most popular poems."

"I sometimes think of her opening line when I'm studying a pair of close binaries: "If ever two were one, then surely we."

As I read David's latest book and how he recorded the struggles of scientists in the past to explore greater understanding of the world only to find their lives threatened by those afraid of their theories, I felt encouraged to look at the big picture of life the authors presented.  Conflict and cruelty happen, but sometimes apology and forgiveness happen afterward; and in the midst of this cycle of exploration, rejection and acceptance, the beauty of the Creator in His creation can still draw one to feel love and appreciation as one observes as the Psalmist,
          How clearly the sky reveals God's glory!
              How plainly it shows what He has done!
          Each day announces it to the following day;
              each night repeats it to the next.
          No speech or words are used;
              no sound is heard.
          Yet their message goes out to all the world
              and is heard to the ends of the earth.   Psalm 19:1-4 GNT

Are you star struck?

Gracie xx

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Five on Friday: Autumn is Falling !

What season in your life are you welcoming?  Here near the base of Mount Hood near Portland, Oregon, I am celebrating the official arrival of Autumn!  With thanks to Amy at Love Made My Home, I am joining in  her Five on Friday link and I hope you will enjoy visiting some of the others who are doing the same.  Just click on Love Made My Home on the right sidebar or click on Amy's name to connect with others' posts; and here are my five for the week.

A tree by our front pond is the first around us to don orange-red-yellow leaves and all of a sudden there are enough dried leaves on the ground my older granddaughters went outside today to try to rake up a pile of leaves to jump in.

I brought out an autumnal tablecloth and some Fall decorations I have used for several years.  I knit one pumpkin and crocheted several others and a gourd.  The big yellow Maple leaf on the right of the basket I brought in from outside today.  My youngest son, Tim, has been successfully salmon fishing.  Tonight he made salmon cakes for us and we sat at the table to enjoy eating them.

At this time of year it seems I have an extra challenge trying to discourage spiders from weaving luxurious webs inside.  I have been wielding various dusters in battle.  Today I used some orange oil on the sea chest and rearranged some yarn and dishcloths, and acorns and Oak leaves on the chest after raising a cloud of dust while dusting.

This afternoon by my favorite chair I fixed some Pumpkin Spice tea and enjoyed it while recovering from inhaling the cloud of dust I had raised.   While sitting in my favorite chair this past week I tried my hand at making an arrangement of acorns and painting a watercolor painting of them.  Then just from my imagination I tried to make a painting of a bunch of radishes. I still have not got the hang of making shadows in proper places, but I am having fun trying.

It is definitely getting darker earlier these days, and I have been enjoying my little electric fire in the fireplace again.  The other evening I even was inspired to find my Ruby shawl and crochet some more on it.  Do you think I will finish it this Fall?  I know it is risky, but I hope you will cheer me on to to complete it before another Autumn falls!


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Five on Friday: Late Summer Delights

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!  Overall we have been having perfect late summer days since I last posted.  I am cherishing the sunshine knowing that soon our days will be more gray and rainy and I might need you to remind me how delightful I told you the days are now.

With thanks to Amy for hostessing, I am joining in with Amy on Five On Friday, I have five late summer activities to show you some photos of and type to you about. 

One: Canning Apple Butter
While I have not dunked canning jars in and out of boiling water, I have helped a little with trimming fruit before we preserved it.  One day we gathered two of our Crock Pots into my room and we made some Apple Butter using a recipe from our Betty Crocker Cookbook.  Our Apple Butter has no fat in it at all, but is made with apples, water, sugar and spices that lushly perfumed the air in our home.  Mmmmmmm~~~

Two: Tea for Ten
Attending a tea held at my friend Carol's backyard was delightful!  I truly wish you could have attended with me.  There were ten of us there. Through the many years they have lived in their modest home, Carol and her husband have arranged in their yard, plants and seating areas that welcome and embrace you.

 Three: Four Courses, Three Teas
Carol served us four courses: Sorbet, Scones, Salad and Sandwiches, then Cookies, Tarts, and Fudge. The three flavors of tea were Lavender Tulsi Tea, Chai Spice Black Tea, and Raspberry Earl Black Tea. While I did not try everything, what I had was delicious, and we all enjoyed our time together.  I learned that Carol had made the vases out of pickle jars and covered the jars with river rocks...organic and lovely.

Four: Artistic Garden Planning
Carol and her husband are self taught gardeners.  Through the years they visited garden centers in each season of the year.  They picked plants in each season that pleased them so that throughout the year their garden has colorful highlights hugged by various textures of green.  Carol is a self taught artist as well, and particularly enjoyed making garden mosaics on stepping stones, birdhouses, benches and water fountains.  She also imprinted a very large leaf on a piece of concrete and tucked it under some bushes which is a delight for one's eyes to spy.

Five: Across the Columbia River in Washington State
It has been a great blessing for me to ride across the Columbia with my dear friend, Teresa.  We love stopping at various parks to enjoy the view. Yesterday it was pleasantly windy, and we enjoyed watching the kitesurfers sailing on the water and in the air.

Rain is supposedly headed our way in the next few days which will make the plants happy, and me too, because I do like the rain even if I do eventually fuss about prolonged periods of gray skies.

Whatever your weather may be, what is bringing you delight...or challenge?


Friday, September 2, 2016

Five on Friday: Watercolor Art Gallery

While I admire the art work of many artists, I somehow am especially interested in painting with watercolor paints, but have only fiddled around mostly on my own.  Saturday, I had the joy of attending a watercolor workshop taught by Carolynn Wagler.  First she had us experiment with four different kinds of color washes (upper page on the right). Then we started out with three free hand paintings on the lower right just trying to follow her example of forming cone flowers, northern lights over a house with trees and the moonlight gleaming on water.  The last four paintings she had us use graphite paper to copy a sketch and then tried to help us see how we could shade the objects with different tones to add depth of detail.
This is Carolynn's painting of Buttercup, a local cow.  Note the shadow of the daisy on Buttercup's nose.  She showed us how to create the daisy and the shadow of the daisy, but painting Buttercup was our last painting of the day...our grand opus...and I was so tired from concentrating all day, I did not try to paint the daisy or the daisy's shadow.  I was just happy to paint something that looked a little like Buttercup!
By Tuesday, I had recovered from all my concentrating on Saturday, and I looked up a photo of a colorful Bantam Rooster on Google images.  Using a pencil I sketched out the general shape of the rooster and then began applying watercolors.
My three oldest granddaughters wandered in while I was painting and I invited them to join in the fun!  We had a great time, but they took their work off to show their folks before I got a photo of their finished products.
While my Mr. Bantam is not as brilliant and glossy as his photograph, I did have a grand time painting him and am eager to practice and learn to become more skilled.

Are you practicing some skill that brings you joy?

Thanks Amy, for hosting Five on Friday and giving us the opportunity to share with each other in this format.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Summer's Height

 The first Saturday in August, our family friend, Grantie, invited us to picnic with her at her favorite nearby Oregon state park, Wildwood near the base of Mt. Hood outside Portland.
 Under a huge  green canopy of leaves we stayed cool at Wildwood and wandered out in the sunshine when we wanted to warm up playing catch or soccer or just strolling about.
 Our little wildflower patch at home is featuring sunny golden flowers now.
 Our Sweet Pea vines are producing more seed pods than flowers now, and the Sun Gold cherry tomato plant [on the right] is giving us some sweet tomatoes.
 The preemie baby blanket I have been single crocheting with Deborah Norville Serenity  medium weight acrylic Baby yarn this summer is complete. I made an edging on the ends with Knit Picks gray acrylic yarn, 3 single crochet stitches in one stitch, slip stitch in the next stitch, repeat.
In the two years the ladies at our church have been making blankets they have made over 250 blankets.  It is a fun challenge to find patterns that are tight enough not to catch on the equipment needed to care for the NICU babies.  This is a photo of some of the last fifty blankets the ladies made.  The different colors and stitches inspire me!
 After "discovering" a nearby Japanese garden this past Spring I decided to try to visit the garden in each season and note the difference in colors of the plants.  These photos show more highlights of golden yellow at the height of Summer.
 There are touches of orangey reds here and there, too.

 And I love the different shapes and shadows I saw, too.

 Going out the Main Street Park from the Japanese Garden there is a sunny bank of Black Eyed Susans that I admired.
 At the height of Summer Mt. Hood often looks hazy, but I am thankful the haze is due more to heat than wildfires this year.
 From where I stopped to photograph Mt. Hood on 302nd Street, I saw this little tree sporting pretty Fall colors...a little ahead of schedule.
 One day recently I came home to discover a wonderful package from my dear blogging friend, Pat.  She spends part of the year living at her home in Turkey; and, thinking of photos of my tea table I sometimes show you, she decided to send me a set of Turkish Tea glasses with golden spoons to stir one's tea. She sent me two kinds of fruit teas, Pomegranate and Apple both of which are delicious.  She also sent the cobalt blue round glass piece that is hanging from my tea jar.  On the other side of it there is a teardrop shaped white shape on the blue with a little black round circle in the center.  When I Google imaged the piece I confirmed it is called by some the Eye of God. It reminded me of the blessing in Psalm 32:8, "I will instruct you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Thanks again Pat for your lovely gifts to me.
 Then a few days ago I came home and discovered another package from my blogging friend who lives in Kuwait, Tammy.  She sent me a pretty moon with palms notecard, a crocheted white coaster and a bookmark from Bethlehem. Thanks again for your lovely gifts, Tammy.
Through the messages I have received I felt that love has traveled around the world to me even though I have not traveled far from home. Then this past Wednesday Teresa and I were thrilled to spot the transport of others who we hope are lovingly traveling around our part of the world on the Columbia River in the American Queen Steamboat.
 We also saw the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler we have enjoyed riding on and would love for you to be able to float in as well if you have not done so.
 When Teresa and I looked down at our feet where we were standing to take photos of the boats we had fun admiring the acorns that had fallen.
The mighty oak above us is releasing acorns at the height of Summer...seeds for growth in the seasons to come...

What is a highlight of the season of year you are in?

Gracie xx