Stitch (a.k.a. "Embroidery): That is the biggee. Improvisational, intuitive work draws me in more than large, over-planned, sketched, re-sketched and minutely-planned projects. I seem to be on a life-long search for tactile, highly textural methods of telling stories.
Other fiber art forms also get my wheels turning, such as: felting (particularly combining needle felting with traditional wet felting); dyeing and painting fabric and thread; small quilts (not my grandmother's style); and crochet scrumbling (the perfect art for those who forget to count). I used to weave, but treadling the heavy oak harnesses of this big high-castle loom is physically beyond me anymore.
Crochet: Actually, I am at my best when scrumbling (improvisational crochet), throwing out all the rules of crochet and making oddly-shaped things that turn into scarves or neckpieces or hats . . . and there is the occasional boring rectangle that passes for a traditional scarf.
The Garden: I really like stone in a garden and now have a sloping yard to take advantage of low walls and terraces. I slave at this until the weather grows too hot and humid for me to exist stroke-free out of doors. I (and later, "we") spent two years building retaining walls and raised flower beds, then hired someone to convert the two horrible mulched areas just beyond the original patio from muddy fens to flagstone patios. This extended the usable area of the "outdoor room" and made space for more planting. The third year became The Year Of The Big Planting, the beginnings of filling out the flower beds with perennials and shrubs. Whew! The fall of 2011 was The Great Bulb Planting. Now that the worst of the labor is over, we (hubby and I) are to the moving point-- any plant that has not been moved at least three times is not a permanently installed part of the garden. Yet. We also like to check that the perennials are doing well each spring and fill pots on the patio with veggies/herbs or flowers. Getting down and dirty gets harder as we age. Just getting down, forget the dirty part, is accomplishment enough.
Music: Playing the piano and organ have been my life, and occasionally I wish for an enormous pipe organ to perform the Bach preludes and fugues--and a lottery winning to finance the perpetual triangle associated with this: the organ, the special and large room for it, and the staggering upkeep. At one point in my life I composed and arranged choral and small orchestral musical pieces, mostly on commission, to fill some need of my husband's high school choral program or church choir or small ensemble, bell choir, children's choirs, men's groups . . . and am at my best when I am improvising on a Beatle's tune or old-fashioned hymns. I used to be very good with the Alto Recorder, of whose literature I am still enamored.
Writing: I have been a writer-in-training since I was ten years old. There are still bouts of writing where plot and character development simply take over and become my new reality. I wish I could write a short story, but there are so many interesting details to follow up in a character's life, and they're all important! So the stories go on and on until they aren't stories anymore . . . am I digressing here? Besides, it is so more interesting to live inside my head with these people and places than in my kitchen with the dirty dishes.
Photography: My world through the viewfinder of my camera is an on-going challenge. The best shots seem to call for bending and crouching at awkward angles, however, and hip and knee replacement surgeries have their own sets of restricted movements for life ever after. Which means I have to be very creative to get interesting angles now. Not phone cameras, but a more serious camera, with interesting lenses.
Food: My specialty is improvisational dishes (is there a theme going here?). Hubby is a meat-and-potatoes man, so he occasionally fends for himself while I eat (without guilt) salads overflowing with avocado, nuts, raw veggies and fruit, dried cranberries, grains . . . And vegetable soups with a full roster of vegetables simmered in bone stock and served up with Charles' man-bread (a niece named his cornbread this, in another millennia).
Painting: Pure wannabee. I've played with this all my life, even had classes scattered along the way, but it has never been a serious enough study for me to be even reasonably good. It more of a personal zen than an accomplishment. Reading about the techniques, however, is as exciting as reading a thrilling mystery book (hmmm . . . maybe that was a slight exaggeration). I love keeping studio journals, and this limited sketch/draw/paint ability is enough to get ideas in place for translating to another media.
Little Ones: I am a grandmother of two incredible Adorables. Bethy is an Easter-tide 2006 baby, Ethan an after-Christmas 2007 child. I must have raised a clever son to marry such a lovely English girl and have these delightful children for me to play with. . . Oh, and I can be a rather pleasant wife, when Charles behaves himself. Long stretches of this unusual behavior can be a strain, though.
Looking back over this page, the "I, I, I, me, me, me"-ness of it is a little embarrassing, though that very personal pronoun seems the only vehicle for giving you a peek into my world. So, please pass over the egotism and step into my life and studio. Make yourself comfortable. Have a cup of tea with me. Assam? Darjeeling? Earl Grey, surely . . . ?