Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nature makes you healthier, who knew? (hint: ecopsychologists)

Today's email brought a link to an interesting article about studies done showing that patients in a hospital with a view of trees got out a day faster, used less pain medication, and complained less than patients recovering from the same surgery who had a view of a brick wall. My initial reaction is, well, duh! but a lot of psychology consists of these types of studies verifying scientifically what seems obvious about people. Even better, it's now a branch of psychology with its own journal.

Teaser quote: But if exposure to nature is beneficial, what happens when we withdraw from it? That's one of the defining questions for ecopsychology -- an emerging branch of psychology rooted in the idea that mental health requires, in addition to strong bonds with fellow humans, a connection with nature and an understanding of our place in the ecosystem we are a part of.

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wine, women and quilting; Part II

Here are the promised pictures of some of the work I did while at the quilting retreat in Langley. I missed getting them up yesterday due to spending the day taking the cat to the vet. (Small digression: Cat seems better even though the vet can't figure out which mild stomach problem is causing his vomiting without several hundred dollars more in tests. I figure since he stops vomiting when we give him soft food, that's what we'll do. ) Mostly I got part way on several pieces. The only finished thing I did was a copy of my favorite shirt, and sorry, no photo of it for now.

The first piece (about 18 x 24") started as a class exercise in a class taught by Esterita Austin. I learned a lot about highlights and shadows, and using paint to make the appliqued pieces look more 3D. That would be the rocks and the tree. On retreat, I added the heron, and did some texturing using rubbing plates & stamps with the fabric dye crayons I like. I wanted to get more a visual difference between the water and sky parts of the piece. I'm going to add some more emphasis on the heron (not to mention legs), so the level of detail on the rocks isn't so different, and some further elements in the sky. Then, I'll decide on the quilting. I like how it's shaping up.

Next, I decided that I liked Gaia's Dancer so much that I wanted to work further with that fabric and theme. This piece is the result - I have more to do in adding foreground creatures. In one of my online groups, we're going to be doing an exhibit with a theme of The Spirit of Nature and I'm going to try out some ideas I have for that on this piece. This is also about 16 x 24 in size. For an idea of relative sizes, the earth globe is about 3.5 inches in diameter.

Then I did some smaller pieces - these are 6 x 9, or about that.

A couple of darker background Tiny Dancers, where I experimented with using stencils as rubbing plates. I think the dragon in the one pn the left worked well.

And 2 with a lighter background. I like the way the dancers are almost transparent, letting the pattern of the background fabric show through somewhat. I like the composition on the right more.

And then last, a piece using some leftover fused fabric from a purse that I made. I grew to love armadillos when I was living in Austin, so I had to buy the armadillo fabric when I saw it. I didn't want to let any of them languish in the dark, so here a few are in a small piece.

I'm heading off for a reunion weekend and the Indy 500 race, leaving tomorrow. I'll be working further with all of these after I get back. I hope you also have a good holiday weekend!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wine, women, and quilting; Part I

I went on a quilt retreat with 7 women from the Northlake Unitarian Church Seamsters Union (and yes, we have a shop steward...) at the Quilting by the Sea shop/retreat the first weekend in May. I got a lot done, had a great time talking, and sipping some delicious wine with our potluck dinner on Saturday with lots of laughter. I also got in some fabulous walks along the beach before everyone else got up. Yes, I'm the one who wakes at 5:30 no matter what. Since I really like having the time for a bird walk while on Whidbey Island, it all works out fine. (Except for the latte places not opening until 7:30 so not even Langley is perfect.) Here's some pictures I took Sunday morning.

The morning started overcast, but it was obvious the sun was trying to break through the clouds. The first shot is this wonderful heron on the beach, backlit by the clouded sun.

I kept walking toward him, snapping as I went, trying to get the right composition and distance. When I got too close, he took off, flew over the water to a spot behind me on the beach. I am completely satisfied with the picture I got of him in flight - it is uncropped, just the way I shot it. Since my camera has a noticeably lag time between my pushing the button and the picture being taken, this was a big accomplishment for me in using my camera well.

And lastly, I got more pictures of him on an area of the beach where other birds were getting their breakfast.

Lots of inspiration in these shots, and the rest I took. I look forward to using the flying one in particular.

Tomorrow, or Tuesday, I'll have shots of the things I worked on at the retreat.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Infrastructure for relocalizing food supply

I went out of town the first weekend of the month for a quilt retreat in Langley on Whidbey island, then had to catch up on everything that piled up around the house during the 3 days I was gone, then I spent a few days catching up on a book series I love (Okay, I'll admit it; I adore the Troubleshooters series by Suzanne Brockmann) and then I got the flu. I promise pictures from the quilt retreat Real Soon Now.

However, today's email from Sightline brought this newstory about Montana food production, and how localization supporters and the state are working together to make locally grown food available year round. Before the advent of agribiz, this was the norm. I'm glad to see it's returning, but geez, Montana being the leader? Who woulda thought...

Read the full story here.