Out There, Still

Posted February 6th, 2015 by Ellen and filed in Exhibitions, Family, For Sale, My collections, My Work, Personal, Teaching, Travels

My drafts folder is full of out-of-date, half-written blog posts.  The last 13 months have been busy, busy, busy with kitchen remodeling and home repairs.  What began as a 90-day project (which went seamlessly) turned into us realizing what others have known:  You make one room in your house really nice, and everything else looks like kaka.  We ended up painting most of our lower level’s rooms,  up the stairway and  the upper hallway.  Roofs of our house and garage were replaced, garage doors rebuilt, and many minor repairs completed.  Two days before Christmas, just as we thought things were settling, our furnace died.  After two weeks without heat, a new, energy efficient natural gas unit was in place.  The main AC unit is also new, as the refrigerant for the old one is no longer made.   We are, in a word, exhausted.  But we love our new kitchen and are happy to have so many overdue items taken care of.

After 33 years of travel teaching, I retired at the end of the year.  I’ll miss that part of my life, but want to concentrate on my own work and ideas.  I also want to spend more time with our two adorable grandchildren!  They are already 2 and 3, and I don’t want to miss a moment of it.

Lev Ira Rotate2Our grandbabies in their Grammy Jammies!

I have big plans for this year which include downsizing my “collections” and getting super organized, writing decent blog posts, making more quilts and most importantly, spending more time with friends.

Wishing all of you a belated happy Groundhog Day and an even later Happy New Year!


A Long Absence

Posted November 12th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Family, My Work, Personal, Teaching, Travels

Windows, Side Light

When I began blogging in 2007,  I wrote almost daily.  I was excited to have a forum in which to share my life through thought and photography.  A lot has happened since then.  Not only am I busier than ever, I’m not at all the same person I was seven years ago.

Great joy has come to me, through the birth of two adorable grandchildren.  Leven and Ira, 3 and 2, are my heart, the center of everything I do.  Friends who were grandparents had said, “Just wait.  There is no way to tell you how wonderful it is.”   How very true were those words.  Blessings be!

I view things differenetly now, with an entirely new perspective.  Things which seemed important to me in the past now seem trivial.  My greatest  treasures are my family and friends.  They’ve all been lifelines.

“If I ‘d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself,”  attributed to Eubie Blake and others.  Aging brings wisdom, but also health issues.  I’ve now  outlived my father; my older sister has outlived both our parents as well as her late husband.  We all have the usual aches and pains.  I have a host of issues, most of which I don’t even think about.  The exception is macular degeneration, which threatens central vision.  But after almost three years of treatment, I can still see quite well.  I am so thankful for my wonderful retina specialist, Rick Weidman, and the researchers who developed the miracle drug Eylea.  I’m counting on being able to watch my grandbabies grow up!

I’m sewing once more, following a sabbatical in which I underwent three hand surgeries.  Finishing Ira’s quilt is my top priority.  After 33 years of travel teaching, I’ve decided to retire at the end of the year.  I want to work on my own projects now.  And of course spend a lot more time with the grandbabies.

Thanks to those who still check my blog occasionally for “something new” and not giving up when you see the page is unchanged.  Watch this space!

xo  Ellen.

Amish Art

Posted August 31st, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Birds, Family, Garden, My collections, Travels

Bird House, Det.

Bird House, Gourd

This beautiful, hand-painted gourd birdhouse was a gift from my baby sister, Patty Cramer.  It was purchased in Pennsylvania Amish Country (in the oddly named Intercourse, Blue Ball and Climax area).  We think it’s perfect in our new kitchen.  Patty has excellent taste, and has sent us several bluebird themed items over the years.  Don’t you just love the pretty  gourd shape with it’s jaunty stem and perky handle?

Thank you, Patty!

Summer Getaway

Posted August 27th, 2013 by Ellen and filed in Family, Garden, My Photography, The steel Wheels, Travels

You can see why the mountains are called The Blue Ridge

Delicious Basil Rolls from Thai Basil in Black Mountain

Scenes around The White Horse

Jasmine Lamar and Roy Wiseman shelled a whole mess of shelly beans, well known to southern cooks.

Roy Wiseman is a descendent of one of the oldest families on the mountain, for which Wiseman’s View is named.  The view, which  overlooks the Linville Gorge, is said to be the best location for viewing the Brown Mountain lights.

Shelly (or shellie) beans.

Roy Wiseman shares photographs from the early 1970s of some of the best known musicians, such as the Arthur Smith Band, Roy Acuff and Lula Mae Wiseman.

To one born in the beautiful state of North Carolina, there are many things which tug at the heart. For my husband, the Blue Ridge Mountains top the list, followed closely by a love of bluegrass music.   I have come to love the mountains too, having lived here for most of my adult life.  We spent two days in that beloved place recently.

We drove up early Friday,  then spent the day visiting the new Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor’s Center, the fabulous Folk Art Center (a must see) and browsing galleries and shops in Black Mountain.  We met up with our long-time friend Ann at Thai Basil, where the cuisine is divine!   It was then time for the highlight of our trip, a concert by The Steel Wheels http://www.thesteelwheels.com/fr_home.cfm which was sold out at  The  White Horse Tavern.  The Stray Birds http://thestraybirds.com/fr_home.cfm opened, to the delight of many.  The Steel Wheels performed with such energy that I was exhausted at the end of the incredinle show!

Saturday was spent on the parkway.  The weather was crisp and clear and warmed up nicely in the afternoon.  One of DH’s favorite, Crabtree Meadows, was closed due to the sequester. Be sure to check on whether it’s reopened prior to planning a visit.  We then drove to The Orchard at Altapass.  http://www.altapassorchard.org/ I’d heard about it for years, and was finally seeing it for myself.  The area is indeed surrouded by orchards.  One can find tons of merchandise, from local pottery, jams and jellies, ice cream, fudge, books about NC and more.  DH told me, “You MUST get some of the fudge.  It’s wonderful.”  I bought a bit of chocolate with walnuts, but somehow got home without it.  I may have set it down somewhere, as my hands were full with a gift I’d purchased, my camera and the ever present overflowing tote bag.  Someone must have known I did NOT need to eat fudge.

There is a large covered area out side the main area where one can purchase food.  We chose NC BBQ with slaw for our lunch.  Yum!  We struck up a nice conversation with Jasmine Lamar and Roy Wiseman, who were just finishing shelling a bean called shelly beans.  The pods are very long, yielding variegated beans in cream, pinks and purples.  I’d meant to ask for the empty pods, thinking they might make a nice natural dye for fabric.

Half of the red Orchard building is devoted to a stage where live bluegrass music was being played that day.  Most of the audience was there to dance, specifically to clog, on a plywood floor sprinkled with cornmeal.  Clogging looked like so much fun – and a real cardio workout.  I’ve always wanted to learn to tap dance, and studied the somewhat similar moves of the cloggers.  I’ll try to upload a video I shot to youtube soon.

Our trip was brief but lovely.  We hope to go “up the mountain” again when the leaves turn.

On the Road Again

Posted April 18th, 2013 by Ellen and filed in My Work, News, Quilt Events, Teaching, Travels, Uncategorized

“His Eye is on the Sparrow”

Hand-dyed and hand-painted fabrics by the artist with a bit of upcycled cloth.

I’ll be giving my “Journey of a Quiltmaker” lecture tonight to the Foothills Quilters Guild in Shelby, NC.  Saturday we’ll have a day full of fun creating whimsical villages in my “Gimme Shelter” workshop.  Hope to see you there!

Photo credit:  Suzie Guerrant   mattandsuzie.com