This is one Mean Old Lady!

This is one Mean Old Lady!
Self-portrait: 'Quilter on Fire'

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Quilts for a Grand-Nephew

My baby brother (now 65) has become a grand-dad; that means my older sister and I are now great-aunts!  It is always a thrill when the Younger Generation produces the Next Generation.  As soon as I heard the happy news of great expectations, I inquired of nephew Ben and his lovely wife Amy whether any of her family were quilters (and planning a baby quilt.)  Nope!  So I got the go-ahead to make a quilt using blues!  

I sorted through my blue fabric stash until I had a nice combination; I did add a couple of fabrics during the Hot Springs quilt show, and I found a sailboat print (Moda Fabrics, from the 'Passport' design line.)  The design was in my head long before I started constructing.  This was my first time making 'Lady of the Lake' blocks, and of course it all took me longer than I had hoped....and the baby arrived one jump ahead of completion.  That was fine, though, as I could add his birthdate and stats to the quilt label!

One critique from my quilting circle:  "Elaine, NObody is going to use that quilt for a baby!  Just put a hanging sleeve on it!"
So I made the second quilt.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

September: Mississippi Gulf Coast

The DHubby and I decided to make a trek to an unexplored area--at least, we haven't visited it before.  In past years we enjoyed the Texas Gulf around Rockport--especially Goose Island--and Aransas Pass (Mustang Island.)  That's a couple of days away, though, and we are thinking ahead about April--for a 75th birthday celebration and gathering the whole family.  We wanted an area with many attractions and activities, preferably some place a little different.  After some research, we reserved a small apartment via HomeAway, located in Gulfport.  We focused our attention on Gulfport and points west, with special attention to fishing piers, beach access, and so forth.  
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, much infrastructure has been rebuilt (and an artificial reef created offshore from solid debris.)  The white-sand beaches have no surf, no shells, which somewhat explains why many tourists head for Alabama and Florida cities.  

The park pavilion is seen from the long breakwater and fishing pier.

Further east, Biloxi and Ocean Springs feature many more casinos and high-rise condominiums.  All of these communities lie along the Beach Boulevard and rail lines (with frequent trains) run parallel to the busy highway.  

Shore birds!

I was able to walk 2 miles down the beach--and could have kept going.  I had it all to myself on the weekday (except, alas, for the trash left behind by weekend revelers.  I collected what I could and slogged to a trash receptacle.  I also returned a number of hermit crabs to the shoreline and picked up some lost sand molds--free toys!

Don fished two different piers, and we enjoyed his white sea trout for two of our evening meals.  

We checked out the pier at Long Beach and then drove past Pass Christian and over the Bay St. Louis (not pronounced 'Looey!') Bridge to visit prospective rentals. 
Our favorite place turned out to be 'Old Town' Bay St. Louis--full of charming spots and entertaining decor.  (And yes, we did find a place that we decided to reserve.)  
Here are some of the spots we noted:

The 'discoverer' of Bay St. Louis was Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne--1699.  

 In front of a church stood this impressive live oak--trees that withstood Katrina's damaging winds and flooding with surprising success.  The fire hydrant was imaginatively painted with an angel.  


They're not kidding!  Delightful spot.  We bought Multigrain Sourdough (wonderful) and a giant cookie.  The BSL muffin we sampled was to die for....  

Also seen:

...and last but not least:
We'll be back!!!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Recent works

I have been blogging less and quilting more--not least because I need to complete many projects that have languished for too long.  A recent NQA show in Little Rock spurred me on; I entered three pieces--


This is 'Rooster and Plaids,' and I gave up about 50 squares from a quilt I had planned and worked on for more than a year....simply because I pinned the central medallion up on the wall right over the plaid blocks--and loved the look!  
This one is a take-off
on a Gauguin Tahitian landscape....made in response to a challenge ('landscape with a tree and a bird') and quite the learning experience to create.  Took me way longer than I had planned/hoped/expected.

This one might look a little nutty.  Each square was appliqued with a small heart shape over the course of, well, about 12 years of PTA meetings.  The fabrics were from clothes I made daughter Laura, a maternity dress, my first quilt, and God only knows where else.  They didn't 'belong' together, there was no master plan, and I was in despair of ever making them work together.....and then Sharyn Craig came to our guild in Little Rock and opened my eyes!  This setting is called 'Twist and Turn,' and it made the blocks dance and work together.  It's far from a perfect quilt, but it's priceless! 

None of these quilts garnered any recognition, but I hope that people enjoyed seeing them.

My criterion for a successful quilt is this:  does it make me smile? 

These do.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fame and Fortune Await....?

Good afternoon Elaine!
I'm writing an article for the Loudoun County Virginia Master Gardener newsletter about asparagus and would like to use a photograph you have on your blog in illustrating the article.  I've inserted the photo below so you can see which one I'd like to use, as an example of a healthy, weed-free asparagus bed in a home garden.
I would greatly appreciate it if you would give me permission to use the photograph. If you do, the credit line would read Photo courtesy of Elaine Walizer at
Thanks so much!

So, some gardeners in Virginia will be viewing my asparagus patch (post-cutting, when the sprouts were ferned out and manure had been applied.)  Of course I was happy to grant permission.  Isn't the Internet amazing?
This is a different photo--it's Spring, 2015...I had just weeded and set up the soaker hoses (which have been largely superfluous in our wet, wet weather.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

April Showers bring May Showers....

Our chilly wet Spring has continued.  I put my long-sleeved tops and sweaters away only to bring them back out for our trip to Fayetteville (the DHubby's 74th birthday) and subsequent weeks back home.  Every once in a while we have a dry, sunny day, but then another front moves through....  The yard couldn't be mowed for an entire month (March 31st to April 30th) and was quite jungle-like.  I began referring to one area as 'the water-meadow.'  I was wading out to cut asparagus daily.

But I must say, the plantings have been quite enthusiastic!  The irises were followed by the roses:

'Crepuscular' has dawn colors; 'New Dawn' is pale pink; and 'Little Pinkie' is a brighter pink.  

These amaryllis over-Winter in the garage and then begin coming back to life in February.  The darker red one had four blooms and the striped one just these two.

 The pomegranate never bears fruit, but the bright orange blooms are striking and attractive.  These probably did better before the live oak on the side of the house got so large.  The shade was deep, but improved when we had some limbs cut back.

The elderberries in the yard are all 'volunteers' sowed by the birds.  In Ohio they grew to about 6' at best; these are 9-12 feet tall.  Last year I did not cut off the heads and I had tons of berries, so I made jelly.  This year I will try to give them away or something...the flowers are so fragrant, and when they fall from the bloomheads it looks like tiny stars are scattered on the brick walkway.

During the 90's the DHubby and I made a couple of trips to upper NY state--a lovely area!--and at a barn sale in Brockton I admired a garden in the yard.  The little old lady gave me a spadeful of this plant--saying she did not know the name--and I kept it going all week until I could get home and plant it in our yard there in Ohio.  I've shared starts with neighbors all over, and I brought some with me to Arkansas.  I have it in several beds now, and I love that it has spread.  Every year the bright yellow is a joy to see.  

The big hosta has two bloom-stalks coming up; the mint (you can see it in the close-up above) is of course everywhere, and the violets are finished seeding.  Now it's just a matter of weeding the trumpet vines out and keeping my eye out for poison ivy...  

We have had *some* warm days, and a few dry ones, but the copious rain continues this week.  I begin to think we need an Ark!

Friday, April 10, 2015

SPRING at last!

After the Winter we had, we were hoping for a quick warm-up.  That didn't happen; in fact, we had the wettest March on record since someone began taking notes.  Temperatures stayed cool and slowed everything down.  Even the hummingbirds eschewed the usual arrival (although I plan to put out the feeder today.)

But, at last the first asparagus tip emerged in the bed, and now I am cutting twice a day...and the flowers are glorious!

 The redbuds were first the check in.  When we moved here, this tree was maybe 2' high.
The violets are also quick to come up.  Originally, this bed was filled with overgrown, diseased hybrid azaleas.  The only one that was spared is the one with its roots entangled in the crepe myrtle's.  The bed is heavily shaded, but irises and Missouri primrose, hostas, elephant ear, and some bulbs all thrive there.  The iris bed to the right of the walkway has a tiny redbud volunteer that I am keeping and a   Brave Little Dogwood (with a single flower.)  

Here it is!  

Lamium appeared (possibly via bird) in the bed, near the azalea.  It shyly flowers at the same time as the violets.  

Japanese irises are in bloom (and will bloom again in late Summer/early Fall.)  The vinca minor ground-cover has periwinkle-blue flowers.  Soon the live oaks will renew their leaves (which drop heavily in the Winter cold here) and the deep shade will explain why no grass would grow in the yard!

The pink azalea at the corner of the house (see the left side above) had never flowered in the very shady location.  In fact, I didn't realize it was there!  Then a serious ice storm eliminated one of the trunks of the live oak on that side of the yard.  More sunlight...and voila!  Flowers!  

The wisteria in the back yard--asparagus in foreground, Little Pinkie rose to the left--has a heavenly fragrance.  Big bumblebees are all over it.  This year I will cut it back heavily.  (It has already destroyed the little trellis I had put up.)  The trumpet vine is just beginning to green up; it won't put out its orange flowers until late Summer.  

Here is a close-up of the vinca...

...and the view across the street to my neighbor Betty's pretty landscaping.



Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Thursday's Child has far to go."

Most of you who visit this blog know that the DHubby and I have two children, both now in their early Thirties.  Laura, also known as PhysicsDaughter in some venues, has had a long road to travel insofar as her health and well-being.  She was nearly 3 days old when she crashed--an emergency quickly followed by her transfer to the NICU at Children's Hospital of Cincinnati, surgery for a serious heart defect, and a complete change in all our plans.   She has battled many chronic health problems and, after complications during her second heart surgery caused ischemic spinal cord damage, she has dealt with physical disability since the age of 7 months.  

We can't say it was easy, but it wasn't all gloom and doom, either.  Laura was precious--a fractious, difficult baby, but at the same time responsive, alert, and determined.  Joy was as much a part of our lives as medical issues and physical therapy were, I assure you. 

So--I'm an Old Softie, and sentimentality has led me to collect quite the battery of mementos and souvenirs.  I get them out and reflect, shed a few tears perhaps, and feel the happiness.

But now we need to downsize.  As with the April Easter Egg Tree, I've been substituting photographs preserved in the blog; memories no longer tangible, but just as much loved.
Here is one more:

Laura's spinal nerves were affected from the level of the aorta and all points south, with the right side suffering the most damage.  Physical therapy was augmented, eventually, by bracing.  Laura, extremely active and impressively stubborn, kept trying to stand and to walk.  These are the set of braces she had on when she succeeded in taking her first unassisted steps.  (They are switched; the one on your left is the right orthosis.)  She was about two years old.  

I told you I was mushy!  

When Laura was last here, she was waiting for new (considerably more modern) orthoses to be delivered.  I gave her these and suggested that the wonderful new orthotist might enjoy seeing them.  They were quite a hit.....and now join a little 'museum' collection of devices at the medical center.  They have a new home, but a permanent place in my heart.  

Rose 'Crepuscular'

Asparagus bed--post harvest

Lake Conway Mutti und Kinder