Breaking the Summer Stranglehold

DianaVanHise Kaffe Mini_1

The good news is that the first mini from my series of four mini-swaps arrived: a delectible circle of houses from Diana in Virginia for the Kaffe Fasset Mini Quilt Swap. [I’m sending out *this* one.] I immediately placed it on my kitchen table where I can see it every day, crowned by my new Zulu-inspired woven basket I picked up at Visions Quilt Museum.

DianaVanHise Kaffe Mini_display

Zulu Bowl

I think they are a perfect fit.

So why the post’s title?  “Summer Stranglehold” sounds so ominous, like spooky stuff is happening and it’s not even Halloween.  The spooky stuff is the ongoing I-Don’t-Feel-Like-Myself sort of body that I live in these days–it’s sort of mine and sort of not mine: maybe “not mine” because I want my old energy level back–a working brain would be helpful too.  I realize that at a certain age (or sometimes certain stages, like pregancy, or nursing a baby) the body is dragging you around and you are in service to it, rather than the other way around, which is not how I think it should be, in my perfect world.

But I also was struck by how tired I was of the quilty stuff I’d been doing when I made the bee block for my bee-mate and I how I needed to break out a bit to freshen things up.  The idea of Get The Stuff Done had taken priority over Enjoy Making the Stuff.  So it was time for a break. . . a Mental Health and Creative Brain Break  (which I even doubted I could do in my somewhat diminished condition).

So we drove to San Francisco to visit my brother.


I gave myself an assignment:  Notice.


Notice new flavors, new shapes, new landscapes.  Dig into the moment, and not let it go whizzing by, like the cool series of inverted triangles in the curved head of the oil pump, two pictures earlier, which can remind a quilter of this:

pickle dish beginnings

(from here)


It was time to break out a bit (thank you, National Park Service, for this apt metaphor).  So the second assignment I gave myself was to Notice Pattern.

SFO_7 SFO_7a SFO_7b

The three above photos are snaps taken at my brother’s house.  My sister-in-law is an amazing decorator.SFO_8 SFO_9b SFO_9SFO_9a

The above is a star and currents map from an exhibit about the Southern Sea inhabitants; all of the above other photos are from the Oakland Museum. (The quilt is from a collection gathered by Eli Leon.)  Then of course, I had to Notice Color, Notice Taste.

SFO_10 SFO_10a

Celebrating our 26th Anniversary at Chez Panisse Cafe in Berkeley, California.  A peak experience.


And to Notice Something Unusual.  Like street art.  Because we used to live there and have done everything on the Tourist Top Twenty lists, my sixteen-year-old niece suggested finding murals around San Francisco.  Above is Clarion Alley.  SFO_13Then we wandered down through the Mission Area of town, finding single murals, before happening onto “Meeting of Styles” where multiple street artists were in the process of painting their art on Lilac and Osage Streets, between 22nd and 24th Avenues.  The link takes you to an interesting video with prominent artists in the area.  I loved watching them hold their rough-drawn sketch with one hand and executing it with a spray can of paint in the other.  Maybe like cutting without a ruler in the improv quilting world?

improv by lucie summers

(from here)SFO_14SFO-14b SFO_14aSFO_LilacAlleySept2015

(The last two are the same painting–just a couple of days apart.  The second is from *here.*)

SFO_Fabric Stores

And the last assignment was to carry something home with me that would force me encourage me to keep noticing, such as fabrics from two fabric stores we visited.CarefulDangerous

My father has a saying, oft repeated: “The place that seems most dangerous is exactly where safety lies.”  It took me a minute, but I finally figured out what this piece of street art said.  In a creative world, perhaps breaking out of the summer stranglehold means being a bit dangerous, leaving careful behind.

9 thoughts on “Breaking the Summer Stranglehold

  1. Hi Elizabeth, your photos and the thread of your thought process so took me on your journey and I really appreciated it . Thank you so much !! Thank you for sharing your trip and Happy Anniversary! Warmest Regards. ChrisW.

  2. Elizabeth, it was such a treat to follow along with you this morning while enjoying my coffee. A change of scene always does a body good! Thought I knew where you were headed with the oil well picture, and I was right! Truly enjoyed all the photos! Fresh perspective, creative thoughts….. Happy Anniversary too!
    SewHappy, Kaye K.

  3. This blog post is deep. Somewhat beyond me. But then, I’m feeling healthy and strong, so I don’t have a point of reference. But I do appreciate all the items you noticed – the details, textures, patterns. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and some of those things weren’t especially beautiful to me. Subliminal messages in street art? They’re too subliminal for me. But your Kaffe piece speaks loud and clear, and so does the bowl that sits on it. I hope you feel yourself again soon. Could some of it be that you’re feeling “lost” because of not being in school this year? That takes some adjustment too, I’m sure. Retirement is definitely a different way to live.

  4. Not sure what to say, other than what I’ve toldyou before. You inspire me. I wish I couldn’t relate so well to your health and recovery issues, but hope that I can break out of my stuck places in many ways. Love your basket on the circle of houses quilt. Either the quilt is bigger or the basket smaller than I thought. But either way, nice. Enjoyed the guided tour of your trip to SF, and love the cookie directive — “take three.”

  5. As much as summer has had a stranglehold on you, you manage to get yourself Up and Out and to keep noticing and creating beautiful things. I’d say that’s something. That which has a hold on you is not strangling you. I love all the things you noticed here. You are pushing back! Keep it up. The bands will loosen over time.

  6. I hope the words from your commenters and the time away have gone some way in refreshing your outlook and renewing your spirit Elizabeth! Just remember what an inspiration you are to your blogging friends and to your family too, I expect! Be gentle with your self and continue to find wonder and blessings in every day.

  7. The woven basket goes perfectly with your new mini! I hope your other three swap receipts are just as gorgeous! I hope your trip away brought the renewal you were seeking. It is difficult when your mind and body are as “with it” as you would like. Give yourself time to heal Elizabeth. xoxoxo

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