Elephants are grey and tree trunks are brown

One of my favorite albums growing up was by Harry Chapin.  I think it was a Live album.  Recently, my DH and I got a greatest hits type album.  I was a little disappointed that one of my favorites wasn’t even on it (30,000 Pounds of Bananas).  I did discover some new-to-me songs of his and one of them has been running around in my brain a lot lately.

It’s called Flowers are Red.  Like most of Chapin’s songs, it is a story.   The most effective way for you to understand is to actually read the lyrics:

Lyrics to Harry Chapin’s Flowers Are Red (orig. released on Living Room Suite, 1978)[1]

(“Rant, rant, rant, rant, rant, rant” – It’s an education beat.)

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said, “What you doin’ young man?”
“I’m paintin’ flowers,” he said
She said, “It’s not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There’s a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You’ve got to show concern for everyone else
For you’re not the only one”

And she said,
“Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen”

But the little boy said,
“There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one”

Well the teacher said, “You’re sassy
There’s ways that things should be
And you’ll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me,” And she said,

“Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen”

But the little boy said,
“There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one”

The teacher put him in a corner
She said, “It’s for your own good”
And you won’t come out ‘til you get it right
And are responding like you should”
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher
And this is what he said… and he said,

“Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen”

Well, time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found
The teacher there was smiling
She said, “Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let’s use every one”

But that little boy painted flowers
In neat rows of green and red
And when the teacher asked him why
This is what he said… and he said,

“Flowers are red, green leaves’r green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen.”

But there still must be a way to have our children say,

“There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one”


[1] Lyrics ©1996-2002 Harry Chapin, taken from www.harrychapin.com; album information
from www.allmusic.com.

Are you still with me?  It’s a beautiful song to listen to.  Chapin is masterful at using instrumentation and his voice to add to the story.  When he is the little boy, he changes his voice, sweet and wonderful at the beginning, sad and depressed at the end.

Which all brings me to my subject line.  Elephants are grey, right?  Nope, not today.  Today, my elephant is blue with red polka dots.  (This is day 5 of my decorated business cards).

day5 Elephants are grey and tree trunks are brown

And tree trunks are brown, right? 

I’ve been thinking about my first 12x12x12 and the tree I’m trying to depict.  I had decided to use threadpainting, and yesterday I stood contemplating my thread colors.  The first thing I discovered is that most of my browns are actually tans, and weren’t dark enough for what I wanted.  It also occurred to me that I was thinking "brown" like the color of a brown Crayola crayon.

dsc00740 Elephants are grey and tree trunks are brown

Well, that’s a very nice brown, but really — how many trees are that actual color?  My dogs thought I was nuts running around the yard taking pictures of trees (and it was kind of cold, so it was kind of crazy…)  But look!  These tree trunks don’t look brown to me — they are more grey and silvery and green and can you see the lines of red running through them?  Wow.  Now that I look at them more closely, they actually make me think of elephants, but maybe that’s just because I have elephants on the brain at the moment.

collage Elephants are grey and tree trunks are brown

My tree is supposed to be more stylized than realistic, but already I feel like even in stylizing it, I’m going to do a better job today than I would have even a week ago when I still thought that tree trunks were brown.

Last night I did play with some threadpainting on the longarm.   And even though I did use a few of my browns, I threw in some olive green, and the color is not so bad.    I have some technical issues to deal with as far as what I ended up with.  I used a water soluble stabilizer, so the tree trunk is just thread.  I didn’t catch the edges well enough, so it’s falling apart around the edges, but I know what do to differently next time.  Plus, I think I have an idea as to how I can still use what I made last night.

Well, I have now well-exhausted my morning computer time, so I’d better go get something useful done.  I did manage to finish a customer quilt yesterday, and need to go get some more done.  If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me on my journey of discovery.  I’m having so much fun and can’t wait until I have my next epiphany!

C is for…..

You may have noticed a slight obsession with the alphabet here on my blog.  It’s a little bit like I’m back in kindergarten learning my ABCs.  My decision to try to use the alphabet to guide what I’m blogging about and working on was born out of my need to find something to help me focus.    I love words and have found that I enjoy trying to use lettering in my quilts and in the other stuff I’m playing with.  There’s lots of possibilities in the alphabet, and I think it can lead me in a bunch of interesting directions.

It’s the theme for my 12x12x12 projects (12×12 is the size, the third 12 means I’m doing it monthly…).  It’s the theme for a lot of my posts, and it’s even the theme or starting point for the daily business cards I’m decorating (I had fun with today’s — you can click on the album "365Art" over in the column on the right.  I didn’t even realize when I was working on it that the medium I chose was a "d" word — digital!)

This will be my third post in which I list words that all start with a certain letter (I’m up to "C" this time).  I originally saw this idea on Red Shoe Ramblings earlier in the year.  I think she got it from somewhere else, but I can’t remember where now.

I hope you enjoy reading these and learning a little about me.  I’m trying to limit the number of words I actually use.  I could go on and on and….well, you get the idea….

cisfor 1 C is for.....

Chocolate –  Do I need to say more?  Well, I will — just to say that I’m not really that crazy about really expensive chocolate — Hershey Kisses and M&Ms do just fine for me.

Cookies — Peanut Butter Blossoms are my favorite.  I got a mix at Sam’s Club this year, and while they are OK, I do have to admit that they really aren’t as good as scratch cookies.  In general, I prefer my cookies to be crunchy, not soft, I do not like raisins in my cookies, and Oatmeal Chocolate Chips cookies are my second favorite.

College — Iowa State University — where I met my husband!  I have a degree in Computer Science, and even though the  positions I held before staying home where in the computer field, I never really used my actual degree (which was more programming, my career experience was in networking and desktop support).

Comic strips — I don’t get a newspaper, but each day I enjoy reading Dilbert and Unshelved.

Cross-stitch — what I used to do before I started quilting.  As with quilts, I seemed to be attracted to the large, complicated projects, of which I have many unfinished.  I also have a lot of finished projects, too.

Cocker Spaniel — Katie, my darling puppy,

is a Cocker.  During her most recent haircut (on Christmas Eve, no less…) my poor, suffering DH commented that he thought we had decided that after our first cocker, we would never get another one that grew so much hair.  It’s not my fault I fell in love with her picture on the Internet, is it?

Cousins — I have 2 Iowa cousins, and 3 New Jersey cousins.  The 2 Iowa cousins are both expecting their first babies– to be born within about a month of each other.  I have kind of lost touch with my New Jersey cousins.  I’ll have to try to remedy that.  My boys also have 5 cousins, but that number will probably grow in the future.  They are very lucky to live less than a block away from 2 of those cousins.

Connecticut — I was born in Iowa, but consider Connecticut my "home state."  I went to school from 3rd grade through high school in Ledyard, CT.  I love Iowa, but I do miss New England.  I’m sure it has changed a lot from what I remember.  One of the things I miss is the architecture.  Another is being close to water.  We are little land-locked here…

Character — My favorite Disney character right now is Tinkerbell.  I like her attitude.

Computer — I sure spend a lot of time on mine.  It runs my business, it helps with my quilting and artwork, and it keeps me connected with the world.  The people I consider my closest friends were met online, and we keep in touch via the computer.  It’s the best way for me to keep in touch with my family, and it provides me with lots of information and entertainment.  The boys know that if they ask a question I can’t answer — I’ll go find the answer on the computer.  It is a frustrating tool at times, and right now I’m having some trouble with my laptop.  Over the last week or 2 it has powered itself off for no apparent reason multiple times.  One day last week, I think it powered off half a dozen times.  And now today, it’s been running all day (and I’ve been using it all day) with absolutely no problems.

Color — Red is my favorite.  Followed by blue.  And green.  I used to say my favorite was purple, but recently came to the conclusion that while I still like it, red really wins.  I like my colors clear, not muddy.  I look best wearing bright colors.  I’m pretty pale, so pastels wash me out, something I didn’t realize for a long time.

Cones — of thread!  I have a lot, but I’m pretty sure my collection is a pittance compared to some others.  I’m soon to be the proud owner of the entire 288 colors of the Arc poly thread line (1000M, and I guess those are technically spools, not cones…).  I don’t even want to think about how many cones I’ve used up in 5 years of longarm quilting.  A lot. 

Cones — of ice cream!  I prefer cake cones.  Never have liked sugar cones.  Not sure why.

I think that’s probably enough for tonight.  Did you notice my little photo collage up there?  Me and Adobe Photoshop Elements are trying to make friends.  I have a lot to learn yet, but I’m having fun!

Joe, The Author

theauthor Joe, The Author

You can’t really read the text, but I wanted to make sure to include the picture that Joe drew of himself.  Take note of his white shirt and red tie (I talked about the tie and have a photo here).

My DH and I are probably the only ones that think this is funny, but I just had to share what Joe said about himself.  The book is one that he wrote in school — it’s about 5 pages long and is a story he made up about Christmas.  It’s pretty cute.  But the About the Author page is priceless:

Joe Earley (age 7 1/2) plays Basketball, and Baseball.  He likes cracking jokes, playing game cube, fighting his brother, pulling pranks, and watching movies.

(punctuation and capitalization are as Joe wrote it).

I’ll probably have more to post later about some other stuff, but I couldn’t wait to share this one.

edited to add:  the scribbles you can see on the top of his head are actually supposed to be his hair.  the line drawing and the text were done in pencil, making it a little hard to see when scanned…..

WIP Wednesday #3

dsc00681 1 WIP Wednesday #3 

First on the docket is my Longarm Round Robin project.  This is something that is being organized over at Longarmchat.com.  We were split into groups of about 5 people, each of us are making a top.  I will be loading it up on my longarm, doing the stitch in the ditch between the rows and then sending it to the next person in my group.  She’ll quilt some of the rows, then send it on.  Eventually it’ll come back to me with quilting from each of the other 4 members of my group and I’ll finish it up.  I think that most people are actually doing medallion style quilts, but I decided to rebel and went with a row-by-row layout.  The pieced blocks are rescued from an abandoned project.  Over the last week I’ve put those together in a row, found other fabrics to use for the different rows, made the checkerboard and designed the appliqué.  The flowers and leaves are fused, and most of the machine blanket stitch still needs to be done.  I also have navy blue stars to fuse in the center of each flower, which makes them all much cuter.  And looking at the photo makes me think that the wide applique row with the vine needs some more leaves or something.  I still have some time, but don’t want to be late!

I’m debating about the layout.  I’m thinking about going asymmetrical as shown here — a wide strip of the flower print on the left and just the narrow red on the other 3 sides.

dsc00685 WIP Wednesday #3
This photo is a teaser — I decided to show you a tiny bit of my Have a Heart quilt.  Figuring out how to finish it as been on my mind this week.  The quilting was actually done before Christmas, but I couched the sparkly yarn yesterday.  It still needs a sleeve, a label, and I’m not done embellishing yet.  The clock is ticking!

An Open Letter to my Stuff

Dear Stuff:

All right everybody.  Listen up.  I’m talking to all of you — fabric, thread, buttons, beads, paints, inks, colored pencils, stickers, paper, ephemera, scraps, trims — this is your only warning.  This is your year.  All of you — I’m not kidding.  It’s time you were used and used well, so get ready.

No more hiding in my drawers and on shelves and in plastic bins.  I’m not saving any of you for "good" anymore, OK?  I’m not afraid to use you, just because I might not be able to get more.  that’s just silly-talking, and I’m over it now.

Consider the colored pencils:
croppedpencils An Open Letter to my Stuff

They thought they were pretty safe, but look at how much shorter some of them are than their neighbors.

Yes, buttons, it was hard to use 200+ red buttons on one project, but you know what?  I can get more!  I could probably get 1000s of red buttons without even breaking a sweat if I wanted to.  It didn’t take much effort to order 6 pounds of various colors yesterday, and they really didn’t cost that much.  So quit thinking you are sacred and safe and prepare to be USED!

I’m probably going to find other things to use and use up, too.    There’s a whole world of STUFF out there that I want to try.

I’m sure I’ll make some mistakes, and create some things that don’t need to see the light of day, but that’s OK.  Some of the things I do create with you WILL be good.  And don’t you think it will be more fun to part of something exciting, rather than just sitting in dark drawers not being used?  Isn’t that what you were made for???

Watch out world, here comes Suzanne and her STUFF!