Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Every year I make Valentines to send to my friends and relatives. I don't send Christmas cards anymore, so this takes the place. Sometimes it is digital art, sometimes a block print or silk screen or some other kind of print. I decided that this year I would make a little piece of fabric art and scan and print for my valentines.

I think I was a little pushed for time and fresh out of original ideas when I attacked this chore like it was, well, a chore. Above you see the result. A clunker. That's what my Dad always called something that just didn't work no matter what you did to it.

This little piece is stiff and clumsy and uninspired. I could see that as I was working on it, but I just kept pushing it and hoping something was going to save it. I should know by now that uninspired work doesn't ever suddenly get good just because you will it to. That's why I decided to share this embarrassing little relic rather than simply stuff it into a corner somewhere. As I thought about it later I realized several things about doing art.

First, it just doesn't work to start with a ho-hum idea and then hope that your color choices and fabric choices and execution will make it shine. Nope, ho-hum is ho-hum. (and you squander your favorite fabrics on unworthy projects--like that red stripe--boo hoo!)

Second, this project started out with the focus on the final product and the process was unimportant. The result was that it really wasn't any fun to make at all. You can tell that, can't you? There is no fun in its gloomy little face.

Third, I actually tried to copy myself here, which is as bad as copying someone else. I made another heart several years ago that I really liked (you can see it here) and it seemed like maybe there was a formula there that I could just plug into to produce something quick. Doesn't work--different time, different place, different inspiration.

So, I'll just chalk this one up to a clunker--not my first, nor my last. And my valentine will be something else. Actually, I had this idea pop into my head and I made a little sketch. I have been working on it. If it turns out to be the perfect valentine image I'll share it. But I may not. I'm not sharing another clunker.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Is this any way to run a business?

About a year and a half ago Ray and I started a small business called "Into the Garden".

It all started, as many things do, with a series of events that seemed to all point in the same direction. We had our garden redesigned and when we added a fence around the service yard, I thought we needed something decorative on the fence. Just so happened that my brother, Steve, had just purchased an amazing machine for his business that cuts metal, and really all kinds of materials, with a jet of water. I asked him, "could you cut a big sun face from steel that will rust to go on my fence?" Indeed he could, so I designed the sun face and e-mailed the image to him. It turned out just as I had hoped and Steve reported that everyone that came into his shop and saw the sun loved it and he'd had some requests from people who wanted one.

About the same time, the company Ray had been working for was purchased and his job eliminated. While retirement was tempting, he wasn't quite ready to quit working altogether. Meanwhile I had designed a few more pieces of garden art and Steve was cutting different sizes and using some other materials.

We learned very soon that while the rusted metal pieces are very popular right now and appealing in many ways, rust is, after all, going to destroy the piece eventually. They also tend to disappear in the garden, the rust color blending right into the background. Steve cut a copper fish. It was beautiful, but copper is prohibitively expensive. He also cut several from stainless steel, which he polished. We really liked them. The stainless will never rust and has a soft luster that is very appealing.

We got excited about putting together a business and registered it with the state and became a legitimate business. Next we set up a web site and then we arranged to have a booth at the Boise Yard and Garden Show. We sold a lot of pieces in Boise, learned a lot, got some new ideas and went home eager to try another show or two.

Then..... Ray started getting work as a consultant. More work. Then more work. My work got busier and "Into the Garden" got moved to the back burner. There it sits. We have not been able to do any more garden shows and other marketing plans have languished for lack of time. But the web site is there and we have inventory. We still plan to make this our retirement business--if we ever retire from our current jobs. Despite the fact that we are not actively advertising or promoting this business, we do get orders from the web site and we fill them promptly.

Take a look. www.intothegarden.biz is the address. You might like something for your deck or garden. You might know someone else who would like it. Pass our web site address along.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Check out the orchids and butterflies on our Ecuador blog ...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Little booklet

Our little group that went to the beach last weekend existed for many years without a name. Finally at last year's retreat we decided we needed to get serious and after much discussion, and with the help of a couple bottles of wine, settled on "The Grateful Thread". We also liked S.T.A.S.H. ( Second Tuesday at Somebody's House) but agreed that non-quilters have a different association for the word "stash" which might lead to some embarrassment.

Every year I make a little booklet for each member that lists the dates and locations of our meetings and the names, addresses, phone and e-mail of each of the members. I got a PageMaker template for these clever little folded booklets years ago from the Adobe web site. It isn't there any more, but you can find the instructions on how to fold the booklet from a single sheet of paper here. Scroll down the page to the booklet called "Half cut book". That's the one.

It's a tiny little booklet that fits handily in your purse or even your wallet -- 2 3/4" x 4 1/4". It is all printed on a single sheet of letter-sized paper. I created a Publisher template to share. If you want a copy, e-mail me and I will send you one.

This is what it looks like before you fold it into booklet form.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Beach, sewing, coffee and friends

This is the view from Kathie's deck in Cannon Beach. It was rainy much of the weekend, but out in the distance you can see the Pacific Ocean and Haystack Rock. We were cozy inside and set up our projects in the community room.

Gale was working on a heron which was coming together nicely.

This is a very unflattering picture of Terri, but you can see the beautiful piece she was working on.

I put together two small tops. The first one was a crow and books. The second was a teapot and oranges.

We listened to music, talked, soaked in the hot tub and stitched. We ate well--cooking some meals in and eating some out. We took a break and went to the Quilt Shop and downtown and stopped for coffee at a little espresso shop with the most beautiful bathroom we have ever seen!

We played Pictionary after dinner and cracked each other up with our drawings. We saw a quilt exhibit at the History Center and were offered a show there several months from now. Wow. That was pretty exciting and we are going to do it.

Here we are: Terri, Linda, Kathie, Gale, and in front, me and Beth.

I can't say enough good things about being part of a group like this. We support each other, we encourage each other and our once or twice yearly retreats give us all a chance to work together in an environment where we can get input and suggestions from one another. We all come home inspired and recharged.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Going to the beach

So, you think going to the beach in January in Oregon doesn't sound like a lot of fun? Well, you'd be wrong if that's what you think. My small art quilt group tries to head out of town for a weekend every winter. This year we are going to the beach. One of our members has a condo in Cannon Beach. Six of us will stay at her condo and the guest rooms at the complex and use the community room to sew. We will sew, read, walk into the pretty little town of Cannon Beach, shop, maybe take a walk on the beach, eat out, eat in, play Pictionary, drink wine, laugh--probably a lot, and enjoy each other's company.

We have been a group for nearly 10 years. We have seen each other through good times and bad. I feel very lucky to have found these women.

The pile of stuff you see in the picture, accumulating in my upstairs hallway, is stuff to take to the beach--and that's just the sewing supplies. There are also my clothes and the food I'm taking--I'm in charge of lunch on Saturday. You would think we were going for a month. Nope, just two days. I'll be back on Sunday with pictures--if I remember to take any.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A bit of color for a dreary day

The art quilt group I belong to is putting together a CD of images to submit to venues for possible shows. I needed to decide on a couple of images to go on the CD.

I made this quilt about a year ago, but it has just been hanging around. I'm still not sure I really like it. I have never shown it or submitted it for anything, but I decided to photograph it today for the CD. I think one of the things that made it look good to me today was the color. It has been raining steadily here for weeks and it is gray and dreary and dark. During a break in the rain, I took the quilt outside and hung it on the side of the house--my usual spot for photographing quilts--and it just seemed to glow in contrast to the grey surroundings.

So after I got it photo'ed I had to come up with a name for it. This is so hard for me. I almost never have a name in mind as I am working on a piece. This one has some altered photographs of Ecuador worked into it. It also reminds me of the way the stones at the Inca ruins fit together, so I called it "Inca Stones". Now that it's done I think that's kind of a dumb name, but I still can't think of anything better.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The heart will never rest...

Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
and recognize that there are ties between us,
all men and women living on the Earth.
Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood,
that we are bound together
in our desire to see the world become a place
in which our children can grow free and strong.
We are bound together
by the task that stands before us
and the road that lies ahead.
We are bound and we are bound.
There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest
-James Taylor

Sunday, January 15, 2006

This is pretty funny

I came upon this web site that will render a web site, or even just text, into dialects, such as "redneck", "Cockney", "moron". Just for fun I had it render my blog in "Cockney" dialect. Here is the result: http://rinkworks.com/dialect/dialectp.cgi?dialect=cockney&url=http%3A%2F%2Fandsewitgoes.blogspot.com

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Check out the latest entries on our family's Ecuador blog. Today's entry is about making chocolate--yum!

Unexpected gift

Dreary morning here. It was still raining and I was worrying about more water in our basement as I walked down to the end of our block where our mailbox is to get the mail. My neighbor, Mary Ellen, came out of her house, with a book in her hand, and said, "I was hoping I'd see you. I was going through some things and found this and thought you might like it." Mary Ellen and her husband, Jeff lived in Japan for a time and the book was obviously something she had brought back. It is all in Japanese, except for an introduction that is written in English. It seems to be the quilts of a Japanese quilter named Reiko Yamaguchi. The book was copyrighted in 1990. It has page after page of color photos of beautiful quilts made from beautiful Japanese fabrics. I am really enchanted with this book. Unlike a lot of the recent Japanese quilts that are winning all the prizes at the big quilt shows lately, these quilts seem simpler, more elegant and much more Japanese in aesthetic. The fabrics are just lovely.

I was curious about Reiko Yamaguchi, so I googled her. First of all I found that there is a Japanese porn star with a huge web presence who is also named Reiko Yamaguchi--yikes! But I also found one web page about the quiltmaker. Her studio is in an old sake brewery and she uses old traditional Japanese fabrics.

What a nice surprise on a dreary, rainy day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Long plane trips have really become uncomfortable for me. The lack of leg room is claustrophobic and it seems like the seats have become shallower (probably so it doesn't look like the leg room is so tight) and the edge of the seat hits the back of my legs just right to press on a nerve or something. Anyway, I get the twitching heebie-jeebies before very long. The only effective escape I have been able to figure out is a really good book, so I stock up when I am flying any distance.

On our recent trip to Ecuador I read three books that I liked a lot.

The first was "I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith. This is something of a modern classic, but I had never read it. It was written in 1948 and has the feel of that era--gentle and a little whimsical. It is written as the diary of 17-year-old Cassandra, who wants to be a writer. Her family lives in a ruined castle in England and is interesting and unconventional to say the least. I think I would have adored this book when I was about 12 and I actually liked it quite a lot now.

Next I read "Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World" by Tracy Kidder. I have liked other non-fiction by Tracy Kidder, especially "House". He has a great ability to make ordinary people and events fascinating, with plain-spoken writing that focuses on the odd detail and the little things that define an individual. The story of Paul Farmer and his medical work, in Haiti mostly, and his successful efforts in treating drug-resistant strains of TB, under the most adverse conditions, is inspiring and humbling. The character studies of Farmer and his associates and his patients, and the life story of Dr. Farmer himself are as involving and riveting as any work of fiction. This is a VERY good book.

"The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini got me through the flight home, which included a long delay in the Miami airport and two babies that cried almost non-stop between Dallas and Portland. It is a story that takes place in Afghanistan and while it is about Afghanistan and the Taliban, it is first and foremost a really good story, well-told. It is about two boys, growing up together in Afghanistan--one the son of a wealthy businessman and one the son of their servant. Without going into detail, a shocking event changes the course of both lives and becomes a story of guilt and atonement. I found this book hard to put down. It is one of those kind of stories. While the plot depends on a couple of rather unlikely coincidences, it is, on the whole, so well told that I was able to suspend disbelief. When the plane landed, I was still engrossed in the book and finally made myself close it up and stow it in my backpack. As I was getting ready to get off the plane a young man across the aisle leaned over and said, "what do you think of that book, you're reading?" I told him I was really liking it, so far. He said, "I couldn't put it down. It's the best book I've read in a long time." It was pretty good, all right. Really good.

How's that for an eclectic reading list? Anybody have any other recommendations? I have another flight coming up in a few weeks.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

More about "that" red

I replaced the picture of the shawl in the last entry. It now looks more like the real color. When I read Mary's comment about "flamingo feathers" I knew just how horribly off it was. Becky's and Elle's comparisons to chili powder and cayenne pepper were spot on. I am assuming that the commenting "Becky" is my sister, Becky, and I am so happy you responded positively--one of those yummy scarves was purchased with you in mind. Once I can stop looking at and caressing them, I will send yours off to you and hope you will love it.

I am still swamped with catch up work, having been gone for two plus weeks, but with that red color haunting me, I took a few minutes last night to pull some fabrics and fiddle with them.

I think this is going to become something. I don't know what yet.

The other thing I have been doing is setting up a blog about our Ecuador trip. Everyone in the family is contributing and it will go on for awhile--lots of memories and lots of pictures. If you despise seeing pictures and hearing stories of other peoples' vacations feel free to pass. If you are interested in seeing what we did and what we saw, go to: http://www.noqinecuador.blogspot.com/ We will try to keep it interesting. You can also see pictures of my beautiful children and son-in-law as well as my handsome husband.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Oh, that color

I have talked about the color red. It has always been my favorite color. There is a particular shade of red that just seems to be my favorite, favorite right now. As I was unpacking my purchases made in Ecuador this time I realized that this color was just inserting itself into everything I seem to be attracted to. I bought these scarves to give as gifts (maybe saving at least one for myself) in similar but not identical color schemes.

Then I found this chenille shawl and couldn't resist the color. (Replaced that bad picture--this is more like it. Not at all like flamingo feathers, Mary!)

Next came a hand-woven tablecloth, that is probably going to become a shower curtain.

This spicy, warm, orange-y, paprika-y red keeps speaking to me. I keep looking at those scarves and thinking I need to do some small color studies based on those colors. It will be a miracle if I can get into my fabric this week, but I see this color when I close my eyes and I have been dreaming about it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Goodbye to the old year

I am home from Ecuador. I had thought I might be able to keep up the blog from there, but slow, and hard-to-find, internet connections made it more frustrating than it was worth. There is so much to talk about and we took so many pictures that I think we will set up a separate blog about our trip.

We ended one year and started another on another continent, in another hemisphere. I like the way they do it in Ecuador.

On New Year's Eve each family gathers and they have made or bought an "ano viejo" which is a life-size doll that represents the old year. Some are made of paper mache, some are created by stuffing old clothes with sawdust. Paper mache masks, many of political figures, are sold to finish off the dolls. On New Years Eve day we saw them all over Cuenca, where we were visiting my son-in-law's family. Taxis had dolls tied onto their roofs, stores had them displayed on the sidewalks, homes displayed them in doorways or on balconies.

At the Molina home the figure was a dapper fellow, made of paper mache, with the face of a popular singer, who I think they had heard perhaps a little too much of in the past year. Many of the figures we saw around town had the face of Lucio Gutierrez, the past president of Ecuador that was forced out of office and sent packing earlier last year.

Just before midnight, we carried him out into the street where he was lighted on fire.

As the "old year" burned, fireworks were going off, loud music playing and folks were drinking, dancing and celebrating up and down the streets. At one point several children came running by carrying suitcases. The tradition says that if you wish to travel in the coming year, you pack a suitcase and run around the block with it as the New Year arrives. As the "old year" burns away, you can be sure to leave all that it represents behind by jumping over the burning "body".

And so you start the new year fresh, having destroyed the memory all the bad things that happened in the old year. I don't imagine that little bonfires up and down the streets and neighborhoods of American cities would be tolerated, but I have to tell you it was pretty cathartic.

P.S. Before I left I created my Christmas greeting and saved it as a draft to be published at just the right time. What I didn't realize is that when I published it, it would not appear at the top of the page, but in the order below, that it was first written, so you probably didn't see it. Sarah did see it and commented on the photo. My Dad took the photo of me on my first Christmas. I love the picture. I still have the doll.