Cross Stitch Patterns from Fine Art by Scarlet Quince
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Scarlet Quince Ramblings

Cross stitch ... art ... life

Confusion in the gourd family
Friday, June 20th, 2008

My gourd flowers turned out to be white, not yellow, and petals are separate instead of joined as I expected. For quite a while I kept wondering when I was ever going to see a flower — there would be buds in the afternoon but in the morning the flower was already shriveled up. I finally discovered that these gourds are blooming at night and the flowers don’t open until it’s fully dark.

Gourd flower around 10 AM

Here’s a picture taken at about 10 AM and the flower is looking pretty tired, although you can see that the flower is downy, which is neat! I tried to take some pictures of a fresh flower last night at 10 PM but I couldn’t see anything in the view finder at all so I got pictures of the top half of a flower, left half, etc. and mostly overexposed.

I looked up Cucurbita pepo and it turns out that practically everything falls into that species — zucchini, pumpkins, acorn squash, summer squash, spaghetti squash, etc. etc. but they all should have yellow flowers. I feel as if the botanists have not made a serious effort to differentiate these plants. It doesn’t seem right that squash with edible shells and squash with hard shells are the same species. I found the packet for the little warty ornamental gourds I’ve planted before but the top of the envelope is torn off so if it ever said what species they supposedly are that information is gone. But I believe what I actually have this year is Lagenaria siceria, which is a white-flowered bottle gourd blooming in the evenings. Fooey. I would have bought them anyway because they were the only gourd seeds I could find locally, but I was hoping for yellow flowers. And, need I say, flowers I didn’t have to use a flashlight to see.

Lesser goldfinch on my zexmenia
Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Yesterday as I was driving out I saw a small dark bird hovering over the xeriscape bed in the berm between the street and sidewalk. At first I thought it was a hummingbird, but it was too dark — we only have rubythroats here (as far as I know). I stopped to get a good look at it and it turned out to be a male lesser goldfinch picking seeds out of the gone-by zexmenia flowers (Wedelia hispida). Very cool! You can see a picture of the bird here. The closest I’ve seen them is 3 hours southwest, in the Uvalde area. I hope it will be a regular visitor to the zexmenia, although I’ve never heard of goldfinches eating anything but thistle seed. Maybe it will make do with zexmenia seeds until the thistles have bloomed and gone to seed.

We have planted the berm with various drought- and deer-tolerant plants. The zexmenia has nice flowers but it’s a weedy, woody kind of plant with rough-bristly leaves and stems (that’s what hispida means). The best thing is that the deer leave it strictly alone and can’t hurt it even when they go crashing clumsily through it. (They keep knocking pads off the prickly pear. Fortunately the pads root readily if you stick them in the ground but I’d rather have one large prickly pear than 10 small ones.)
Zexmenia flower

Something in black and white
Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

I still don’t know if I have succeeded in reaching the M. C. Escher people. I sent another fax asking them to email me about whether they got the first fax or not (and if I am reaching someone other than the Escher company, to email me anyway). So far, nothing. But in the mean time, I remembered this old thing, “All is Vanity” and thought it would be a good test for a black-and-white chart.
All is Vanity
I used to see it often at flea markets and antique shops. It’s a lady looking at herself in the mirror but the overall effect is of a skull. It must have been very popular at one time but I’m not sure whether people took it as a moral comment on vanity or if they thought it was funny.

The artist drew it in 1892 when he was 19, and went on to have a fine career as an illustrator but this is his most famous work. How sad to peak at 19, or for people to think you did!

I love gourds!
Monday, June 9th, 2008

This is the flower bed (mostly flowers!) that I’ve planted to be able to see from the kitchen window. It’s along the side fence so the objective is to have vines that will cover the fence and have flowers up where I can see them. My favorites are the gourds (the big leaves in the picture — it’s not a great picture but the best I can do). There are also quamoclits (like a small red morning glory but with fringed leaves), moonflowers (like a big white morning glory that blooms after dark), some cardinal creeper (Campsis radicans) that migrated in from the other side of the yard and probably won’t bloom, and there may be some Heavenly Blue morning glories. I had some there last year and only saw their backs — they want to face east apparently. I collected a lot of seeds but from the looks of things got few or no morning glories. But I love the gourds. They have bright yellow funnel-shaped flowers that open early in the morning and close by mid-morning, so if I snooze, I don’t see them. The flowers only open one day but I don’t know if that’s because they get pollinated or if they only open one day no matter what. I love the huge leaves and their strong smell. I love the way they know which way is up! They seem to grow slowly until they find something they can get a tendril on and then they really shoot up! The one at the far end was well over a foot above the top of the fence before I redirected its energies. The moonflowers, on the other hand, will climb the fence if they’re carefully trained onto it, but they don’t care about going up, they will dawdle all over the place. I love the way the gourd tendrils wrap around and around whatever they can latch onto — it’s serious overkill. It’s cool to get gourds (fruit) too although I don’t care as much about that. Last year I had the little warty ornamental kind. This year I’ve planted dipper gourds and birdhouse gourds. I don’t really need any dippers but it would be fun to get a birdhouse gourd, since the wrens are shunning the wren house (OK, the roof is coming loose but I have really tried to fix it).

At the left are some volunteer tomatoes that reseeded from plants I had there last year. Unfortunately I wasn’t paying attention when I bought them and they are cherry tomatoes. I didn’t get many tomatoes from them last year because they sprawled out in the grass, didn’t get enough sun, and basically rotted on the ground. But the volunteers are standing bolt upright. They’re helped by the quamoclits which have climbed them, then latched onto the fence and continued on up, so the tomatoes can’t fall over no matter how much they want to.

All these things really should be in bloom now but they’re just getting started because I planted them late. I’m trying to lose my ingrained northern mentality that late May is planting time and I did get this stuff going in March but it still could have been earlier.

Hope for M. C. Escher
Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I just got an email from someone at the M. C. Escher Company in the Netherlands! He had just received an email I sent about licensing Escher’s work on April 11 — 7 weeks ago! That was the latest of a series of emails I’ve been sending to various email addresses since May 17 of last year. I’ve also tried faxing but their fax machine never answers. Of course there’s always the mail and I would probably have tried that as a last resort but I presumed I was just getting the cold shoulder. It’s not unusual for one email to get lost — but 6 or 7? I often tell people that when we have to license art, it’s a time-consuming process. This is an example.

But now there is a real person at the other end and maybe we’ll be able to offer some Escher charts before too long, if we can agree on terms. Keep your fingers crossed!

I shouldn’t reproduce any Eschers here without license but there is a nice gallery on the official website.  Look on the left near the bottom for “Picture Gallery”.

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

Winter - Alphonse MuchaI’m currently working on a chart of Winter, the last of Alphonse Mucha’s four seasons from 1896. (He did at least one other set of seasons.) Aside from not being very rectangular, the original I’m working from is in pretty good shape, so it’s going well.  I’m not sure, but it looks as if Mucha usually drew his borders freehand.  I can make it rectangular but sometimes I wish Mucha had used a ruler.

Mucha is best known for his Art Nouveau pieces, and recently someone wrote saying that I must have made a mistake on Heraldic Chivalry, which is nothing like the Art Nouveau pieces, and it must be by some other artist. It certainly is completely different but it really is by Mucha. Even more different are his Slavic pieces, such as  Jaroslava or The Apotheosis of the History of the Slavs, which is part of a series of 20 (20!) paintings known as the Slav Epic.  These are very serious works, or at least self-important, and I thought perhaps they were his real interest, labored over in spare moments while the Art Nouveau ads paid the bills. It turns out that he went along for years, happily dashing off beautiful women in swirling gowns, without any feeling that he was underachieving. Then he visited his home in 1900 and had some kind of epiphany. He decided he was fed up with Art Nouveau and would dedicate himself henceforward to glorifying the Slavic people. If you are a student of human nature, you won’t be surprised to hear that the Czechs didn’t appreciate this. They resented the fact that he had gone abroad to make his fame and fortune and basically regarded him as a fink.

Good day to stay indoors
Sunday, June 1st, 2008

I was just outside to fill up the birdbath, feed the pond fish, etc. and it is incredibly hot. Nevertheless I need to go back out and do a little digging — I have some plants in pots to transplant and the bed where they are going needs to be bigger. But I’m going to wait until the sun is not actually shining right on me — it’s hot enough without that.

Instead, I’m hiding indoors doing a little tinkering on the web site. Bird of God - Joanna BoyceI just added this beautiful little angel to the gallery.  I got the picture in email a few days ago.  Somehow I always drag my feet on gallery updates — I don’t know why, and I’m trying to do better.  This is easily the most elaborate framing job I’ve ever seen – there are 3 mats and 2 frames.  Updating the gallery reminded me that I need to finish reorganizing the images on the site — there are really too many to be in one directory.  I’ve already moved the gallery images to their own place (and missed updating one of the gallery pages, now fixed).

I also realized that I need to update the printable order form to reflect the new postal rates — but more importantly, now that I understand that the postage is going to go up EVERY MAY FOREVER I need an easier way to do this (translation: time for a software project).  It’s really pretty tricky to come up with postage estimates based only on the price of the charts.  The idea is to have the estimate cover the actual postage, at least most of the time, without gypping people who use that order form.  Don’t you hate it when you order something that costs $5 and they charge you $12 for shipping when the actual postage is only $2?  Yeah, I know, they have to buy a box and they have to pay someone to put your thing into the box, but still.  That’s one of the things I like about having my own business — I am not stuck implementing someone else’s loathsome corporate policies. :)

One other point as long as I’m blathering about the web site — I am not sure the RSS stuff for this blog works.  Probably not.  I’ve put Michael in charge of figuring out what needs to be done to make it work and then telling me the absolute minimum so that I can implement it.  All I know is, I have an iGoogle page and it has a bunch of stuff on it and sometimes the stuff changes and it has something to do with RSS.  If you detect a bad attitude here, you’re right.  Some things are fun to learn about and some aren’t and I’m betting this falls into the second category.  I could be wrong.

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