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Red-winged blackbirds in the marsh at Sea Rim State Park south of Port Arthur, Texas, along the Gulf of Mexico. Photo by Dana Jones©

When I teach color classes, I begin with an exercise that helps students get in touch with the color palette of their lives. For years, I couldn’t figure out why when I enter quilt shops, I’m drawn to orange, brown and gold fabrics — colors often associated with autumn but not my quilts. Then I did the exercise, which I adaptated from Joen Wolfrom’s book Visual Coloring. My happy place as a child was playing in a remnant of tall-grass prairie. I realized these colors resonant deep inside me. They call to my soul.

Upon arriving at Sea Rim State Park along Gulf of Mexico in southeast Texas yesterday, I was greeted by a color palette surprisingly akin to the prairie palette of my childhood. A red-winged blackbird flew by, and the memories flooded in. I had to smile.

Photo by Dana Jones©

I’m not much of a beach person but this beach is not so much a place to relax in the sun as it is a place to get to know the plants and animals that call this transition zone between sea and land home. Last night I watched a flock of ibis and a dizzying array of other shorebirds culling dinner from the nutrient soup of the marsh and pelicans capturing dinner with their signature belly flop into the sea.

Photo by Dana Jones©

While there were signs everywhere warning visitors not to crab near alligators, I’ve seen neither crabs nor alligators. It’s a bit chilly even in the sun for the alligators to be active. I’ve never crabbed — not the same as being crabby — so I’m not sure how you search out those critters. I remember the crabs on Caohagan Island scurrying out of sight so I’m guessing they’ve seen me.

Shorebirds. Photo by Dana Jones©

"Opossum" by Walter Anderson, 1903-1965, from The Little Room.

Discovering Artists Walter Anderson and Martha Kelly

As I walked the Sea Rim beach and marsh today, I thought about something I'd read at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, a few days ago. One section of the exhibition of Anderson’s work is organized by shape. The sign says Anderson believed there were two kinds of shapes: geometric, which are based on a set of rules, and organic, found in nature. The examples of each of these kinds of shapes were from the natural world. So today as I walked, I looked for examples of the geometry of living things, the patterns of life. And I looked for organic lines. I began to think that the geometry is often made with organic lines.

From left, "Wild Bells" by Walter Anderson was shown as an example of geometric shapes and "Magnolia Seed Pod" as an example of organic shapes.

Lots to think about as I contemplate Walter Anderson’s concept of shapes.

"Road to Oldfields" by Walter Anderson.

While at the museum, I met the work of Martha Kelly, who claims Anderson’s art among inspirations for her art. The exhibition of her work, “Hints of Gladness” features her block prints. Check out her work. If you're near Ocean Springs from now until August 28, I suggest you plan a visit to this museum.

"Pelican" by Martha Kelly.

"Home" by Martha Kelly.

My campsite at Sea Rim State Park.

Working My Way Home

I continue my drive home tomorrow. Destination: South Llano River State Park near Junction, Texas. I've stayed overnight at this park twice before. It's a nesting area for wild turkeys but I've yet to see one. Perhaps tomorrow I will.

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Peace by Piece Quilt Shop in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The Kessler family — mom Bell, daughter/sister Cathy, and son/brother Michael — own Peace by Piece, a quilt shop in Biloxi, Mississippi. They're proud to have purchased, remodeled and moved into new space in the last year. In addition to fabric, notions and all that you find at quilt shops, they also have a significant long-arm business. Bell was working on a Gammill with a 36-foot bed while Michael was quilting an overall pattern on a computerized Quilting Master IV by Lancaster County Quilting Creations.

It's a friendly shop. When I asked to take photos for my road trip blog, they offered to give me a tour of the full operation. They were working hard to complete multiple quilts for "snow birds" who are wrapping up their winter stays in the Gulf area.

Their specialities include Mardi Gras and seashore-inspired fabric.

Check out their website.

Cathy Kessler working on trimming a quilt in front of the shop logo she painted on a shop wall.

Michael Kessler works on a quilt.

The streets of Biloxi glittered today with piles of cast-off Mardi Gras beads.

Mardi Gras Clean Up

Biloxi city workers were out with rakes to clean the streets from Tuesday's Mardi Gras celebrations. There were long lines outside churches for Ash Wednesday services.

Guif Islands National Seashore, Davis Bayou area.

Gulf Islands National Seashore

It was a warm, sunny day with relatively low humidity on the Gulf Coast, perfect for hiking and searching for the woodpeckers in the trees but a bit chilly for the alligators to be out and about except at midday.

A Few Random Thoughts from the Day

Driving into Biloxi, one side of Highway 90 was lined with casinos. There were large homes on the other side, many with historic marker signs. I had to laugh as I passed signs for several of these homes with the final sign in the chain reading "Waffle House." It didn't indicate it was an historic site.

Later, I walked by a half dozen buildings — gift shops I think — in Ocean Springs, each with a sign saying "No Public Restrooms." If there is a municipal public restroom nearby, the signs didn't mention it. I had to wonder what kind of world doesn't allow folks to use bathrooms. I decided I will not patronize such businesses.

Coming Tomorrow:

Highlights of my visit to the Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs.

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Working drawings for a monochromatic quilt.

While at Tomoka State Park, I had a few hours to sit outside at my campsite's picnic table and sketch. I refined plans for a monochromatic quilt I plan to start stitching soon. More on it as it comes together but you can see I'm continuing to play with warping, grids and Ohio stars.

I left the Daytona Beach area today after a successful debut teaching and speaking for AQS (American Quilter's Society) and spending time with a dear friend. You would have thought we were middle schoolers having a sleep over talking into the wee hours. We enjoyed several good meals, and I got beat (only by a few points) at miniature golf. I forget how much I like miniature golf. Playing with a good friend was the best.

I arrived this evening at Gulf Islands National Seashore after navigating an unexpected detour into the park. I'm surprised I didn't get an email explaining the usual entrance is closed for construction. The phone number I was sent to call for the after-hours campground gate code was a disconnected number. I lucked out. A couple on a motorcycle who are camped a few sites down were right behind me, and they had the code. I had decided to wait at the gate in hopes someone would come along but had thought I might have to wait a while. Looking forward to seeing where I am in the mornin light. I'll likely post some photos tomorrow.

What Are You Reading?

I'd love to hear if you have a quilting or textile book to recommend. I'm finding Amy Butler Greenfield's book, A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire, quite interesting.

When driving, I often listen to books. It makes the time pass quickly. I usually listen to fiction as I need to read nonfiction with highlighter in hand. So far this trip, I've listened to I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez, The Postmistress of Paris by Meg Waite Clayton, and Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult. I'm part way through Kristin Hannah's The Four Winds. I'm open to fiction recommendations too.

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