Monday, October 1, 2018

Walking into October

A warm hellooooooooooo as we walk our way into October!


Well, September didn't turn out at all like I thought it would. What's that saying about best-laid plans? Yep, not at all the dreamy month I thought it would be. Hurricane Florence decided to stir things up a bit here in Wilmington, NC.

First, we are okay. We have tree, roof, fence and water damage, but nothing even close in comparison to what friends and neighbors are dealing with. We are grateful and blessed that Patty and Jim loaned us a generator and were only without power for five days. We were spared and now we are doing what we can to help others in need. A friend and many others lost everything.



Second, not that I have to explain, but we decided to stay for many reasons including an old, fragile Hannah bunny who might not make an eight hour drive. "What do you mean sit in the 'To-Go box' for eight hours listening to Sabrina kitty sing? I absolutely disapprove!"


"What do you mean ride in the "To-Go Box" for eight hours with that sneezing, shedding Hannah bunny? You know she scares me on a regular day! I'm staying right here in this basket of paper so be off with you!"



We have friends we could have stayed with, but most have pets of their own and everyone was in the path of flooding. In addition, the huge financial expense if we had to stay weeks in a hotel with a cat and bunny as we knew we wouldn't be able to get back from the highway flooding. Yes, those are fish on Highway 40 from Raleigh to Wilmington. Just imagine the smell.....



I lost income from five classes that had to be canceled and, as this isn't a hobby for me, but my full time job; well, you know how that goes. Finally, we have lived in Eastern, NC for 24 years. We have been through 10 major hurricanes, most of which have been Category 3 storms. Not to mention the countless tropical storms and Nor Easters. After seeing the storm downgraded to a Category 2 and knowing it would be probably be a Cat 1 by the time it got to us, we decided to stay.

All of that being said, we will NEVER stay again! The tornado that came down our street and right over our house was the scariest thing I have ever been through! It was traveling at 50 mph. Our ears popped and we heard the train sound right above us. It was here and gone just like that. Then the tornadoes all around us for the next four hours with our phones blasting emergency sirens, pushed me over the edge. Never, ever, again!

It took two days for it to stop raining enough so we could go outside. There were not many of us crazy people who stayed in the neighborhood. It was the eeriest feeling. The quiet, the sky, the devastation and the smell of rot and mold made me feel like I was in some sort of apocalypse movie.



This is a neighbor's house. The tree took off her back porch and the entire back side of her house. Doesn't it look like the tree is giving Florence the middle finger? hee,hee,hee. Gotta find humor somewhere.

This is another neighbor's house. Isn't it crazy to see the grass picked up like carpet? I'm 5' tall to give you some perspective.


Here's the other side of it. The plants and even the pot with plants is still attached!


The tornado ripped this tree up and threw it on the house four doors down from us. I love how they made a "happy frog vignette" on the stump.


The face of our neighborhood has truly changed. I have never seen so many trees down. Magnificent, very old Oaks, River Birches and Cypress trees all gone. You can see the size of this tree compared to the light post. 


There are piles and piles of trees and vegetation lining every single street. Some of them almost as high as the houses. The air smells of rot as I walk by them. It makes my heart so very sad.





This was a huge, gorgeous oak. Now it looks like it is saying, "Ouuuuuuuuuuuch!!!"



I collected a bunch of leaves and nuts that fell out of the trees. I think this is as close to Fall as I will get this year because


as of yesterday, the trees and plants are in shock! They lost almost all their leaves during the storm and now... they are budding and flowering!! Poor things don't know what to do!


Even my Hosta's have flowers! It will be interesting to see what changes this month brings.


People asked me if I continued to stitch my daily inches during the storm and in fact, I did. It actually helped calm my nerves. Slow stitching is therapeutic and you don't need electricity. ;)  I have stitched every single day for six months now. I'm going to start a club in January called "The Raspberry Rabbits - Slow Stitching Club." Stay tuned for more on that. It's going to be fun!


Here are a few of my favorite inchies from September.


Sabrina sits on my nightstand at 6:00 a.m. and meows to wake me up. No need for an alarm clock when you have a "Cat Clock." Sometimes I touch her head like a "snooze button." She stops for a second or two and then starts again. hee,hee,hee.


I love these itty bitty acorns. They are just so cute!!



When David and I walked the neighborhood surveying all the damage after the storm, something told me to look down. When I did, I found this little hatch-ling in the road! I picked it up and brought it over to the marsh and placed him down. He took right off into the water. It made me so happy to see this new life after so much devastation.



On the 21st of September, David and I celebrated 27 years of marriage. We both still say that we got lucky when we found each other. Life is good when you marry your best friend.



This month's full moon looked like a Winter moon with all the bare trees.


I see the moon and the moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me.


Of course, I had to stitch an inch about my poor, confused trees.




Finally, this last one is about me and my Grandmother. She loved animals, simple things and hugs. At the same time, she was strong and didn't take anyone's crap and could see through their lies. David and my close friends say I am just like her and that makes me so happy!

Feisty -  lively, determined, courageous


My grandmother was 22 in this photo. She was 88 when she told me about what happened to her when she was a young girl. All those years she kept a horrible, sad secret. I will never forget her story or her strength. She was an incredible woman. I love you always Mama and I know you keep an eye on me from Heaven.

To anyone reading this who may have suffered abuse, I believe you. It's got nothing to do with the exhausting, twisted, hateful politics and politicians of our time. It's got to do with standing up for women and people who have suffered and have been made to feel like they didn't matter. I've been taking a stand at varies times in my life since I was 12 years old and I always will. I will always believe. Like my grandmother, I can see right through someone's crap and lies. Feisty am I.


Halfway through this journey "Within an inch of my Life."


So as I walk, or hop, into October, I'm going to take a small look back.


I'm going to remember how the neighborhood and Bayfield Cottage looked before the storm


and I'm going to remember that light will always break through the darkness.


Change is in the air. Better days are ahead and 


Sometimes you just have to tell people to "Kiss your butt." hee,hee,hee.


See you back here next month if not before. Thanks so much for sharing my life and my adventures with me.

Light, love, hugs and friends always,
Michelle



Sunday, September 2, 2018

Hello September - The Most Wonderful Month of the Year!

Hello dear friend! Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit!

I hope this first day of September finds you well. I absolutely, positively LOVE September! Every year, this month feels like the "kickoff" to the season of festivities! Plus, it is the month that starts my most favorite season of all, Fall! In addition, September marks my 11th year writing this blog. Thank you for following along on all my adventures.

Let's catch up shall we?

There is something about our Carolina blue skies. This is an "unedited" view of Bayfield Cottage when I returned from my morning walk. What a beautiful way to start the day!


I love walking in the morning. It gives me energy for the day and is so meditative.


David and I went to see Captain and Eric at their new home. No, the crane is not sitting on my head. hee,hee,hee. It was really great to visit with her and her home is beautiful.


My favorite part of her home is the Sunroom. It overlooks the river and is incredibly peaceful. I would live in that room. David and Eric had a nice long visit out here.


I also had a visit from Steve and Val, who purchased my home in New Bern. One of these days Val and I will get a photo together! She purchased this fella, whom I have named Clarence, and like a sneaky bunny, left him in my yard. hee,hee,hee.


I have been working on organizing my studio. I'm trying to get rid of every bit of "press-board" furniture and replace it all with real wood. That dresser on the left was a $1200 Pottery Barn dresser I picked up for $100. It's solid wood. The top was a little messed up, but David painted it for me and it's perfect for my studio. I'm going to paint the walls and ceiling Aged White by Sherwin Williams to match the rest of the house. It's a calming, warm white and I love it. The room is too dark for me now, although in this photo, it doesn't look as dark as it really is.


The piece in the center is actually a kitchen island. It too is sold wood and is heavy as all get out!  I didn't want the cream distressed look and felt like it needed to be black to anchor and center the room.


Yep, that's better! I'll show you more of my studio after I get it painted.


Speaking of painting, David put another coat on the deck. We are some painting fools around here! Every single inch of this cottage needs painting. Makes me miss a new house and a brick house with vinyl trim. No maintenance!!!


We did manage to take a break and go boating with our fun friends, Patty and Jim. I call Patty, Barbie and I'm Skipper. hee,hee,hee. We docked the boat and had a lovely dinner together. Do you like my hat? My dear friend, Lydia gave it to me. I call it my "Bad-ass Bunny Hat." hee,hee,hee.


This is the view from the restaurant. That is the intracoastal waterway. The ocean is just beyond the green grass. You can see the whitecaps on the waves. Beautiful isn't it?


Next, I'm excited to share that my darling student, Brandee Howser, completed her quilt for her new baby. In a previous post, I explained that she wanted to learn to make a quilt and brought me a sketch on paper. I designed it from her sketch and taught her everything from start to finish. I'm so proud of her and I think the quilt turned out beautifully!


Just in time too as Greyson James Howser arrived 10 days early!


My "Within and Inch of my Life" project continues to grow. It measures about 26" in diameter now. I love stitching these every day. As a designer, it's very freeing to simply stitch without thought to instructions. For those friends new to my blog, I started this project on March 27, which was my 50th birthday. Each day I am stitching a 1" hexie representing something that stood out to me from the day before. I'm adding the inchies in a clockwise rotation to represent the passage of time. I'm using various shades of green, Valdani size 12 perle cotton. Green is my favorite color and I like the simplicity as it matches my design aesthetic. The entire piece is stitched by hand.

I will be offering kits and ideas soon for those who may also want to challenge themselves. Stay tuned!


Here are a few of my favorite inchies from August.

First, this is Dixie Duck. She lives down the street from me. She is adorable and puts her head down for me to pet her. I get so excited when I see her!




Next, the dragonflies came to say hello in the Spring and now they stopped to say goodbye. Their wings looking ragged from the sun and all their Summer adventures.




As one enters Wilmington, from the North on Hwy 17, this magnificent, very old, Live Oak tree greets them. I have loved this tree from my very first visit to Wilmington 15 years ago. I named it Gandalf the Great. My fellow Lord of the Rings fans will know who that is. ;)




School has started for all the kiddos here. I was amazed that the parents in our neighborhood stood at the bus stop with the teenagers! They took photos, gave hugs and cheered when they got on the bus! Hilarious! This neighborhood loves a celebration.

This is me 45 years ago on my first day of school. I'm wearing a Raggedy Ann and Andy dress. I'm still that spunky kid on the inside and I still have bangs. hee,hee,hee.




This last inch is about a TED talk by Shonda Rhimes on "My Year of Saying Yes." In it, she talks about "The Hum." It really resonated with me as I too have been there, done that and continue to struggle with keeping "The Hum."


Here's a link to the talk if you want to listen/watch it. CLICK HERE. 

Speaking of "The Hum," here is a new Folk Art Fusion design I'm working on. This is how it looks before stitching and embellishing.


Here's how it looks after. 


I was approached, for a second time, by a large publishing company to write a book for them. You see, I'm the only one who does this technique of "reverse wool applique" and unlike most wool applique, my style isn't "Primitive."

While I am totally flattered, I turned them down once again. It would be a year and half worth of hard work, all my ideas, my designs and well, me.... my heart and soul. A piece of me goes into everything I create. That's what artists do and while someone else may decide to do something like this, it wouldn't be me and wouldn't be my look, my thoughts, my ideas, my style. It would simply be a copy, an imitation of me. I see so many designers out there making things that look so very close to someone else that you think it is them. It's one thing to be inspired by someone. It's another thing to make something your own.

If I wrote the book for them, I would do all of that work for hardly any amount of pay. We're taking pennies. Who works for pennies? Why aren't creative people paid what they are worth? Why does everyone think ideas are free? I want and deserve to be paid for what I design. Every creative person deserves that because without artists, the world would be sooooooooo boring and ugly. Think about the music you listen to, the clothes you wear, the house you live in, the decor you purchase, the car you drive, the cookware you use and yes, the textile project you make. Guess what? ARTISTS made them for you to enjoy!

Besides, I already did the book thing and I published it myself and it's still for sale HERE.




 I have been on National TV for this technique


I've been featured on Podcasts.

Featured in gallery walks.


Taught students all over the country.



 and... For the second year in a row, I'm a teacher of this technique at the largest quilt festival in the world.





Jules and I were chatting the other day and we both realized that we don't celebrate things enough. We've been the "Yeah, I did that. It was fun. Time to move on type of people." But, taking the time to look back, I realized that I have done a lot of things and have accomplished so much all by myself. I'm really proud of all that I have shared with others and inspired in others. I have enjoyed that "Hum" and at the same time, I know it's changing and another rabbit hole awaits. "It's better to burn out than to fade away." - Tom Petty

Sometimes one just needs to sit in a sunbeam and ponder the next adventure.



Have a beautiful September and celebrate something your proud of. Something that was "spot on." hee,hee,hee.


Hugs and friends always,
Michelle