Another Hot Day

It's good to have air-conditioning. It's rarely hot enough to use it in this part of the world, and so there are many who go without. But, man...these hot days are unheard of in this part of the world. Our temperatures are similar to what they're experiencing in Phoenix, Arizona. I haven't been paying attention to what's causing this weather aberration, and so I inquired of my friend, The Google, just now. The Google knows everything. That's why I keep it around so that I can ask it questions all the time. It's a little like when Erik was a toddler and asked "Why...?" about a hundred million times per day. So here's what The Google had to say about the heat wave we're in:

The region's unprecedented heat wave is because of what meteorologists call a heat dome, when high-pressure circulation traps hot air to a particular area, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Okay...fair enough. When I checked the thermometer late in the day yesterday, this is what it said. Check the lower right corner: 107.2°F. Sheesh. 

And stop your whining, little girl, because it's going to be even hotter today. Today's forecast is for 115°F.! Absolutely unbelievable. We left Phoenix in 1978 to escape the heat. It's taken 43 years, but the heat seems to have found us.

Okay, so with such hot weather, I've been watering the flower pots daily. Today I really should get out and hoe weeds in the garden, but it's already in the high 80's outside. I think the weeds will get to live another day. Here's a photo I snapped of the garden while I was out yesterday. 

Things are growing, and there is enough to make it worthwhile, even if the seeds were sparse in their sprouting. You can see the bee garden in the distance. Some flowers have bloomed there now, but nothing I wouldn't expect to see in an expanse of weeds. I'm hoping for some more colorful wildflowers in the weeks to come.

The daylilies are blooming in profusion right now.

I like seeing them from this angle with the lavender in the foreground.

As I was watering around the front of the house, I noticed the wisteria is growing about a foot per day right now. It's close to reaching the wire on the upper fascia, and if I go out this morning, I expect it might already be there.

At its feet there is a whiskey barrel where I've planted the new-to-the-garden Black-Eyed Susans started along with the other seeds. I noticed a flower bud is forming now, and I can't wait for these to bloom.

When everything had received a good wetting-down, I went back inside and went to work finishing the 7th plate for Pieces of the Past. This was a small section, and so I had it finished in just a few days.

Here are all the blocks I have for this quilt so far.

With that one finished, I moved on to the "short" project on my embroidery dance card. As I've mentioned before, I have so many embroidery patterns to choose from, I can't make up my mind. And so I have two lists...one with long-term projects, and one with projects that can be finished in one go-round; thus, the "short" list. Each is numbered and I let Mr. Random make my selection for me. This time, Mr. Random selected this "Never Enough Cats" pattern, which was a gift from my quilting fairy godmother, Ila. Thank you, Ila. 

For now, I'll just be hand-stitching the verse in the middle, and then I'll put it on my list of quilt tops to finish for a later date.

And speaking of cats. When I made my way upstairs again, I found these two flat cats cooling their tummy furs on the cool wood floor. They really, really, really want to be outside, and they can't figure out why we don't fix the weather to make them more comfortable. Fur coats are no good in this kind of weather.

Okay, so finally, finally, finally I'm going to get a start on the Sonora Desert piece. I'm trying a new take on an old technique. Ann Shaw taught me this technique which was the brainchild of Ruth McDowell. If you're curious, you can follow along with the class I took from Ann a few years back. So far, I've made four quilts using this technique. I've taken Ann's class three times (slow-learner), and you can read about my very frustrating first day starting right here, and then just click "newer post" at the bottom to follow the technique through to the end of class. It's not a technique meant to be used on landscapes. It's really better suited to still life sorts of images. 

After thinking it over and working up my courage, I've decided I can make it work for this image of the Sonora Desert. I took this picture way back in 2007, which was before I even learned to quilt. It wasn't a great photo, and I've worked some with the colors to make it look more like what my eyes saw that day. We were standing in Saguaro National Park West, where there is a combination zoo and botanical garden, and we were looking south across the desert.

So I've printed my photo at 13 x 19 inches, and I've taped it to my cutting mat. Then I taped some vellum tracing paper over the top. After that, I drew a series of vertical lines. I tried matching certain areas of the layers of mountains so that peeks and valleys in the mountains would match up...sort of.

The next step was to then draw horizontal lines where I found color differences in the photograph. 

As I'm looking at this image, I'm thinking I might want to add another line close to the middle there.

That should be easy enough...after the fact. One more thing: the lines are drawn slightly offset intentionally. I don't know if this is true, but I've been told that Ruth McDowell didn't like matching up seams, and so she drew her lines offset and took the annoying matching-up business out of it.

When It was all finished, it looked like this:

The next step was to tape the whole thing to the window and then tape freezer paper over it, shiny side up. From there, I traced all the lines onto the shiny side of the freezer paper. For this, a fine-point Sharpie is the pen to use. It's the only ink that won't smear on the freezer paper. And this ends up being kind of like applique in that the freezer paper pieces will be ironed to the wrong side of the fabric, and so my final "pattern" will be a mirror image of the original photograph. When they are flipped over and added to the quilt, they will be facing the right direction. Confusing, I know. I always have to read my old blog posts to remind myself about this part of the process.

Once the pattern is traced, I take it down and turn it over. I can see my traced lines, and now I've added hash marks in different colors. Those will help me match the pieces up as I sew them together. The yellow highlighter marker marks the edges of the piece.

When that was finished, I cut the pattern apart on the vertical lines and pinned it to a sheet of poster board. Now, I'll start sewing it together, moving section by section from left to right...or right to left if you're of that persuasion. There are no rules here.

I've cut out a few steps from the way Ann Shaw taught me. Ann would have had me take the finished pattern to have it copied, and then she would have had me color it. She also would have had me label all the pieces, but that isn't really necessary in this case. Instead of coloring it, I've just taped it to my cutting mat as before, and I'll use that as my visual guide while I'm choosing fabrics.

Contrast it with, say, this pattern from a previous project...

and you can see that doing a still life is much more complicated. Today I'll start adding fabrics. This may not work at all, but it'll be colorful, if nothing else. Fingers crossed.

So it was hard to tear myself away from my project, as it will be today too. But I absolutely had to do some housework, and it was nearing dinner time. For dinner last night, I tried another new recipe from our diet. These are Beef Tostadas with Quick Pickled Onions. It was pretty tasty. We liked the crunchiness of the tostada shells, and it was an easy dinner to make. I had a partial head of iceberg lettuce in my vegetable drawer, and so I shredded that and added it to the toastadas. It seemed like it needed a vegetable beyond onions and cilantro. If you're not a fan of cilantro, you could easily substitute chopped green onion.

The side salad on the left was an Avocado and Tomato Salad. And that was a nice side dish too. Both were easy enough to make when we're traveling, and it was a good dinner for a hot day. Only one burner required on the stove-top.

Okay, so today, I'll need to water the flower pots again, but then I'm just going to stay inside. It'll be a good day to hang in the basement and start sewing together the Sonora Desert landscape. I'm itching to get at those fabrics from Bali. 


Barbara said...

To a person who expects every desert to be barren sand dunes, the Sonoran must come as a surprise. Not only are there no dunes, there's no sand. At least not the sort of sand you find at the beach. The ground does have a sandy color to it, or gray, but your feet won't sink in. It's hard, as if it's been tamped. And pebbly. And glinting with--what else--mica. — Jerry Spinelli

Cathy Smith said...

I'm in Tucson, which is usually a few degrees "cooler" than Phoenix. My Fluff is a Maine Coon mix and sports a pretty good fur coat. This weekend she had her second session of the summer with the clippers. She seems to understand the entire process is for her benefit. She willingly lets me clip off fur from head to toe to underbelly. Plus, she has also figured out the best places around the house to catch the air flow from the a/c! Even though I've lived here for 27 years the heat still throws me for a loop. Keep cool!

Julierose said...

Man that is some hot weather you are experiencing...definitely indoor/AC
days . We are hot too--but nothing like that!!
Your Sonoma Desert looks to be quite challenging. I saw Ruth McDowell's quilts in person at the VT Quilt Festival many years ago. They are amazing...!! Looking forward to seeing how your piece turns out....you use such interesting and creative methods!!
Hugs stay cool Julierose

Jenny said...

Your dinner looks tasty. Good luck with your mountain art piece, it seems much too co plicated for me to cope with. But I k ow you have some gorgeous fabrics to work with. As for repeating a class, I had to go to my sock knitting class twice till I could get it clear in my head! While you are sweltering in extra high temps, here in New Zealand there is a polar blast from Antartica coming our way, ferries between the two islands stopped, as are aircraft, high seas and snow to low areas forecast. Just as well we are not away camping but nice and cozy tucked up at home.

Darlene of Creative Latitude said...

Your temps surpass what we are experiencing on Whidbey Island, WA as we are "only" 105". I think your temps are as hot, if not hotter than Phoenix right now. For us, we are hearing tomorrow should start cooling down with temps dropping back into the 70's/low 80s. Ahh. Scary, that I heard the human body can't live when temps reach 126!!!! BTW - No air conditioner here.

Christine said...

Congratulations on your temps making the BBC World News!!!
I do so feel for you, anything above 20°C and I'm flattened! Houses here in England are only fitted out for cool temperate temps so no A/C.....
Loving the new quilt

Pam said...

Could you describe your technique for using crayons to color your plates? Maybe you have a prior post you could link me to?
Your mountain landscape is very interesting.

piecefulwendy said...

I'm catching up on posts again. I think your Sonora Dessert quilt is going to be quite the project, but will really turn out great. Now that you mention it, I think I have a Ruth McDowell book! I need to check that out.

Kate said...

I hope you get a break from the heat soon. That is miserable weather. You got a good start on the Sonora Desert quilt. It's going to be fun to watch that one come together.