Thursday, June 11, 2015

On Graduation

Graduation has been the theme this week as we celebrated the graduation of two of my nieces from high school...


My oldest niece also graduated this past month receiving her Masters in Library Sciences from the University of Wisconsin.  Though we weren't able to travel to Madison, she was able to come home for her sister's graduation.  She's on the right in the picture below hanging with one of her girlhood friends from the neighborhood...



Of my father's ten grandchildren, that's four down and six more to go.

I've been trying hard to remember what I was feeling when I graduated from high school but I have no clue.

It's a shame we had to rent those white gowns and wear mortarboards that messed up our hair...



The ivory dress, fresh flower look is much more becoming.

I was hoping to have my own graduation from Japanese Embroidery in October.

Unfortunately, I lost a whole month of stitching time with my back problem.  My back is better and I'm heading off to Japanese Embroidery class today so I'm grateful for that.  Oh well, it's never too late if you start today.

Looks like my next target date for graduation will be Fall 2016, life permitting.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Paper Roses

Hello Blog, it's so good to be here again.

After a looong month, I'm finally back in the saddle and have resumed a normal schedule.  Never, ever, ever will I take my back for granted.  As of today, I can sit for longer periods of time and I'm trying to be conscious of taking breaks to stretch and walk.   I'm also back to yoga and swimming and it feels wonderful.  I feel for all those folks who have chronic back problems...now I'm a bit more understanding of what you go through.



Last week, my niece Ellie put on a recital at her school.  After years of performance in theater and in singing groups, she was selected as one of three high school Seniors for the Steward Senior Honors Performance Award.  As part of that award, the recipients prepare all year for a Senior performance recital which was held last week.

It was a bit of a big deal in our family as we've spent many years watching Ellie's performances so we wanted to make her something special to commemorate her big day.

Her middle name is Rose so we gathered together the cousins and set about making her a bouquet of paper roses to be given to her after her recital.



There were many tutorials online for paper flowers but we loved these coffee filter roses on Aunt Peaches blog.

I bought a bag of commercial size filters from the office supply store and used RIT dyes from the craft store in different shades of red, pink and yellow.



It was easy to vary the shade by diluting with water or by dipping the center of the filter in one color and the outside of the filter in another.

I put them in the dryer on air dry.  When they came out they were a wrinkly mess so we straightened them out and sorted them by color and intensity.



The easiest rose was made by cutting the filter into a spiral and then pleating the spiral strip along a piece of masking tape...




Once the strip was pleated, we rolled the pleats around a wire stem to make our roses...



This step took a bit of practice and each person's roses had their own personal flair...


Even Jack's.  In the past year, Jack has become increasingly fond of the color black.  After the girls left he asked if I had any black dye and set about making a black rose for Ellie's bouquet...


We also made a few coffee filter peonies...


And painted a sign...


By the night of the recital, we were all in attendance, flowers at the ready...



She was brilliant.



Of course I'm biased.  I've heard Ellie sing and perform for years but this was the first time that she had the freedom to create her own production.

From the selection of her songs, to the timing of her delivery, to the emotions that she was able to convey through her voice and body language...I was taken on a journey.  And I was very moved by what she had to say...where she had been, were she is now and where she'd like to go.  To me, it was all there...a deep and tender message from her heart...to everyone who heard her perform.  She was more than a singer and more than an actress.  She was an artist and it was beautiful to see.


Afterward, we waited in the lobby for her to come out, bouquet at the ready...



And signs held high...


While we waited, we had time to notice that four of us were wearing striped dresses...



The Star and her Stripes (too bad I didn't think of that picture until now!)

When she arrived, there were enough flowers for Ellie and the arms of her parents...



And we were happy to see that our paper roses held their own when placed near the real thing.

In fact, Ellie didn't even realize they were paper until someone told her.


An everlasting bouquet of roses made by her supporting cast of girl cousins...


and Jack who loves black.

Happy Monday everyone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

You Can Lead The Bird To The Berries But...

This weekend the cedar waxwings descended on my Yamazakura Cherry tree.
 

 To fill their bellies full of bitty ripe cherries...


Most of the time they are so busy, bobbing and weaving and picking and flitting, that it's all I can do to snap a few shots...



This year to my great surprise, I noticed a pair of waxwings perched on a branch and staying put.

Slowly I moved to where I could see what was going on and set my camera on continuous burst...



At first, I thought it was a loving couple but when I watched the back and forth that followed, I recognized the behavior immediately...



It was exactly the same behavior that I observe at my feeders in late Spring when new bird parents bring their fledglings to the gourmet smorgasbord that I set out for them.

The newly fledged birds sit there dumbly amongst all the seed and continue to chirp for their parents to bring their food even though the food is right in front of them.

And so that's what was happening here.  The fledgling is on the right and the Mama is on the left trying to teach the young adult how to forage and eat his own berry...


Time and again the adult passed the berry to the youngster...


And time and again the little one would try to get the berry centered in his beak...and not quite get it...



And not knowing what to do, he would pass the berry back...


And Mama would pass it back again.  

This time I thought for sure that the baby bird would get it.  I mean that berry is pretty well centered in his beak.   I think Mama was thinking the same thing...



But no.  It wasn't going to happen.  

Just when the kiddo decided to do the flip...the quick motion of tilting back the head and letting go of the berry so he could quickly gobble it up...it got off center...again...


And he passed it back again...


And she tried again...



And he aborted again.  

It reminded me of when I used to put cheerios on Jack's highchair and he would pick them up and try to feed me...and I would eat one...and pass one to him and he would shake his head no and laugh, with his lips pressed shut...and pass one back to me to eat...and so it went...



Except Mama wasn't eating this berry-o and this little guy wasn't getting the idea that he was supposed to.

It went on for minutes.  I have hundreds of pictures of this dance.

Until finally, he squished the berry in his beak and just like that, it was gone.  Down the hatch...



A little cheer erupted from my heart as I watched Mom fly off to pick another...



And Junior just sat there, waiting around...not even trying to pluck his own berry...


For the sake of that Mama bird, I hope I observed the first berry eating lesson of the day and not the tenth!

And we think human parents need patience.

[Note:  Last year's Cedar Waxwing post is here if you're interested.]

[Back update:  Thanks for all the back well wishes.  I'm still lying on my belly and typing this.  Can't sit for any length of time still but I am slowly getting better.  Here's hoping I'll be stitching by the end of the week.]

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