Thursday, June 29, 2006

Well, it's done and that's a good thing

The Japanese Iris quilt is finished and ready for the Japanese Garden Show. I think I solved a couple of problems and made it work better than it started out, but if you want to know what I really think—I think it is kind of boring. And I think I know why.

I have made these kind of quilts for the Japanese Garden Show every year and they have sold well. That is why I made this one. I had no burning desire to make another flower quilt. I'm not going to do that again. I have been having too much fun with crows and beetles and little landscapes to go back to pretty, pretty flowers. And the colors are, for me, really, really boring. I'm not a blue and green kind of person when you get down to it. And it's kind of stiff—the design. I hope I sell it. I don't want to look at it anymore. Am I whining? I'm sorry.

There actually is one part of this quilt that I really do like. It's the center of this flower. It could be one of my little 5" square pieces. I just like the way that orange-y color works with that purple-y color.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Ta Daaaaaa!

The razor wire has been removed from the gate and fence.

All that remained of our protest were these small artifacts on the ground near the fence. After I took the picture I disposed of them—don't want to be responsible for littering, after all.

Two good things came of this.

  1. The razor wire was removed and the trail restored to it's previous peace and harmony.
  2. I finally learned the correct spelling of the word "razor".

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Calling off the dogs

So to speak—not that any of you are dogs! I got an e-mail from Mr. Manley on Wednesday, just as I was ready to leave town. He said he has requested that the Supervisor remove the razor wire asap. I just got home, so haven't been back to see if it is gone yet.

Thanks so much for your e-mails. I think it made the difference.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

You can join the fun!

If you have been following the artful protest (here and here and here and here) my friend, Beth, and I have launched against the Portland Golf Club, you will know that they left us a message a couple days ago. (That's the clubhouse above—nice, eh?)

Today we left a message on the fence inviting other walkers on the path to e-mail the general manager of the Golf Club with their comments and suggestions regarding the razor wire.

Now I am inviting YOU to send an e-mail as well. Tell them that you saw pictures of their ugly razor wire on the internet. (doesn't that sound like something they don't want to hear?) Then tell them whatever you want to tell them. Do you think e-mails from all over the world will get their attention? I dunno. It's worth a try.

Let me know if you send an e-mail—I'm interested in knowing how many they get.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

It's our reward

And God said,

"Let me download a bunch of this extra rain
on your corner of the world and I will
come up with something nice to compensate. . . "

Aside from a few berries that went directly from the bush into my mouth, this is my first "picking" of berries from the garden. Really, is there anything more divine? The bushes are loaded, so this is the first of what looks like an excellent crop.

Last week my friend Beth served our art quilt group a raspberry pie, made from berries from her garden. You may have read Gerrie's raves about the pie the next morning. It had a layer of cream cheese on the bottom and whipped cream on the top and luscious, glazed berries in the middle. Oh—My—Goodness! She has promised me the recipe so I am freezing raspberries to make a pie when my daughter and son-in-law arrive next month.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

You can read about the nice day I had last Thursday on June's blog. These outings with Gerrie and June are such a good break. So nice to spend time with smart, interesting people. And as June put it, "gaze and graze".

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Midnight Intruder

Just as I was going to sleep last night I heard a loud thump downstairs somewhere. It woke me right up. Ray is out of town, so I was alone in the house. I crept down the hall in the dark and listened at the top of the stairs and heard a few more thumps. I crept further down the stairs and could hear someone moving around below me, so I determined the sound was coming from the basement. I stopped at the door to the basement and listened, pretty sure by now that it was an animal and not a human, but far bigger than our cat, Gracie. Just then I heard a metallic crash and something bouncing down the stairs to the basement. I banged hard on the door several times and heard something scurrying frantically, then I slowly opened the door and flipped on the light just in time to see a raccoon's tail exiting through the basement cat door. It had managed to knock down a large tin that we keep dry catfood in on a shelf at the top of the stairs. It bounced all the way down, then the top popped off as it hit the concrete floor and scattered dry catfood across the floor. I closed the cat door and left the mess to be cleaned up this morning.

It took me a long time to get back to sleep.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Regarding yesterday's trivia question—Anonymous correctly identified Bela Fleck as "an awesome banjo player". "Awesome" is a good word for him. It is banjo playing like you've never heard—jazz banjo—which, I know, sounds like a particularly heinous oxymoron, but it is, in fact, awesome.

Fathers Day — the picture

My son loves this picture of my Dad taken with my kids when they were teenagers. (Love that hat!) He thought it belonged with the Father's Day entry. I agree.

Trivia question: Anybody remember Bela Fleck and the Flecktones? (Andy's T shirt reminded me) Do you know what unusual instrument he plays? If no one gets the right answer, I'll tell you tomorrow. He was quite popular at our house for several years.

Fathers Day

Of course I think about my father as Father's Day approaches, but really, I think about him a lot regardless of the day. To be fair, after writing so much about my mother on mother's day, I should post a picture to show you how handsome he was (and he was!) and tell you how smart and clever he was (and he was certainly that) and tell you how very much I miss him (every day), but given the sadness we are feeling right now with the loss of another parent, I don't think I can bear to write yet another entry that will result in my sitting here and weeping all over my keyboard. So, for father's day, just a nice little story about my Dad.

Once when I was in grade school I came home with a straight-A report card. It was a very big deal for me and my parents were both properly congratulatory and full of praise, but for me that was not enough. I told them that my friend, DeeAnn's parents paid her a dollar for every A she got and offered an additional $5 bonus for straight-A s. That made a straight-A report card worth well over $10—a veritable fortune. My Dad pondered this and said he thought grades were their own reward, as evidence of hard work and accomplishment—things that had a value far beyond mere money—and he disliked the idea of attaching monetary value to them. But, he conceded, straight-A's might be something extra special, so he was willing to reward one dollar to any of his children who brought home a straight A report card. We collected our token dollars from time to time over the years and I came to appreciate his point of view.

After I had graduated from college and after I was married, I went back to college for a semester to get classes needed for a teaching certificate. When I saw my parents after the end of the term, I said to my Dad, "Hey, I got straight A s. I think you owe me a dollar!" I was joshing him a little. He seemed to think for a minute, then got a big grin and disappeared back into his bedroom for several minutes. He returned, with this coin from his hidden stash, which he, delightedly, placed in my hand. It is an 1897 U.S. silver dollar. It is really quite beautiful and certainly worth much more than a dollar. To me it's priceless, and, in retrospect, I realize it had nothing to do with my grades and everything to do with how much pleasure he took in that spontaneous opportunity to do something surprising and generous for someone he loved.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Iris has landed

Seems like ages ago I promised to show you how I solved the problem of the floating irises. Then life intervened and I have not had a chance to get back to the irises until yesterday. For the past two days I have been finding a little time here and a little time there to quilt it.

But, back to the floating irises— When I tried some solutions in Photoshop, the one I liked best was the idea of adding some "dirt" around the bases of the stems. When I started working on the actual piece, I added even more than I had added in the digital image. I think it grounds them. They have finally landed and float no more. You may notice that I added a couple more leaves to soften the strong diagonal a little and push into the border strips.

I just finished the quilting and will block it and square it up and add a back. Then I will probably do a little more quilting to anchor it to the back. I like the way the quilting on the back looks—almost like a line drawing. But that will soon be covered, never to be seen again.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Response

Yesterday, when we walked the trail, I was surprised to see that after a week my little banner was still hanging on the razer wire. We added more of the "good neighbor" quote tags.

Today the quotes were gone, but my banner had been turned around and this message written on the back:

"To Whom it May Concern,
Our intent is not to offend but to protect our effort to maintain the natural beauty of our environment. Our goal is to not only enhance the beauty of our environment but to protect it from those wishing to harm it. We welcome open communication and input from you to assist us in this endeavor. Please leave us a contact number.

Portland Golf Club"

I guess that puts the ball back into our court. We are thinking about what our response should be. I do not see myself leaving my phone number taped to the fence! We are not walking for a few days because Beth will be out of town, so we have a few days to ponder it. How do you respond to an "intent . . . not to offend" that offends, nevertheless? And, how is it that razer wire furthers a "goal to . . . enhance the beauty of our environment"?

How would you respond to a sincere golf club?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Playing catch-up

So—a week ago I filled you in on the status of the razer wire protest art. Tuesday morning our husbands joined us for our walk to see what we had done at the fence. When we got there we found that Beth's little banner was gone, as well as the tags with the "good neighbor" quotes I had put up the day before. The ribbons were still there. We checked the trash barrel, stirring it up with a stick and while we did not find Beth's banner or the quotes, I found my original banner clear at the bottom! So it went back up for the third time. (boy, I hate that picture. Does my neck really look like that?)

We continued on our walk and it was out on the trail that we got the call telling us about Ray's Mom. We hurried home, packed ourselves up and hit the road for Boise, Idaho. I haven't been back to the walking trail since. We are planning to walk tomorrow. I am pretty certain my banner will be gone again, but I am taking more quotes to hang up and probably some more ribbon. I can print those quote tags as fast as "they" (whoever they are) can take them down! Teri asked if she, or anyone else, could send contributions to the protest—meaning art to hang up, I assume. Absolutely! E-mail me privately and I will give you an address to send to.

And that iris quilt—I haven't had a chance to work on it, but I'm hoping to get back to it soon. And when I do I will post the "floating iris problem" solution that I came up with.

Thanks for all the nice messages. I was touched by the response to my post about Bertha.

And one last thing—"The Weaver" and "Judith's Garden" were both juried into the APNQ Show in Seattle in August. That news made a truly crumby week just a tiny bit better.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Life Well Lived

She grew up singing and joking in a closeknit family of 7 siblings, among them some of the naturally funniest people I've ever known. She was pretty and smart, with piercing brown eyes and a ready smile. Her first husband, who must have been a fine person for her to have chosen him, was killed in France in WWII, leaving her a widow before she was thirty. After the war ended she met Larry Grant, who had spent the war years as a prisoner of war in Japan. In each other they found their second chances. They married and raised three boys.

When I married her son Ray, she welcomed me as the daughter she'd never had.

Larry died suddenly and for the second time she found herself a widow at a relatively young age. It was a terrible blow, but even in her grief she found grit and determination, and she emerged as an independent woman, learning to drive for the first time, taking college classes, volunteering and traveling the world. She doted on her grandchildren and she loved us all without condition and without judgement.

Last week the staff at the facility where she lived said she seemed more quiet and withdrawn than usual, even a little angry at times. Her Alzheimers sometimes triggered frustration and uncharacteristic anger. But on Tuesday morning she had a good breakfast and went for her weekly appointment with the hairdresser, a ritual in which she took great pleasure. As her hair was being washed she gasped a couple times then went limp and, just that quickly, she was gone. If you believe in Karma, it was the swift, peaceful death she had earned with a good and happy life that overcame tragedy and loss. She would have been 93 next week.

As we cleared out her apartment this week I could almost hear her singing in her sweet, warbly old lady's voice. Her sons remember her singing along with the radio as she did housework and dishes. She sang silly songs for her grandchildren. Several months ago we were driving her to visit her sister and she was watching the crows fluttering along the roadside. Out of her foggy memory, a song emerged, in its entirety, and she sang out joyfully,

"Pack up all my cares and woe,
Here I go,
Singing low,
Bye, bye blackbird.
Where somebody waits for me,
Sugar's sweet
So is she,
Bye, bye blackbird
No one here can love or understand me
Oh what hard luck stories they all hand me
Make my bed and light the light
I'll arrive late tonight
Blackbird, bye bye"

I'll miss her. My one-of-a-kind mother-in-law, Bertha Grant.

Monday, June 05, 2006

More street art

Beth and I are not the only ones who are "takin' it to the street." The kids in our neighborhood have made the street their canvas.

We live on a dead-end section of street with only 8 houses. The street was paved only a couple of years ago and gets very little traffic—mainly the folks who live on the street. The kids down the street started chalking hopscotch courts on the newly paved street nearly as soon as it was paved. They have progressed from there to big cartoon characters, funny sayings and recently a very impressive map of the US with all the states named. Yesterday we discovered that they have branched out into poetry. The poem:
Illinois Street
Welcome to Illinois Street
We hope its bounds your needs they meet.
Much history has been made here
Upon the place where you appear.
The fireworks shot up so high
That we did think they touched the sky.
And it has snowed and it has rained—
And what do you think that we have gained?
We are a very cozy street
We hope its bounds your needs do meet.

Today is the 4th of the month of June,
So school will be over soon.
Birthdays coming all around
We'll party the house to the ground.
The sun is very hot in June
And school will be over soon.

It is great to live on a "cozy street" that inspires poetry.

Are you tired of this topic yet?

Here's today's update on the razer wire protest art caper.

My little banner was gone today. I was prepared for that. And, no, it wasn't in the trash barrel this time. Beth had made a little banner. Hers has an angel on it with the words, "If I had the wings of an angel, over these prison walls I would fly." I had also come prepared with some bright ribbons and some little fluttery tags, printed with quotes, such as "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors" by Robert Frost and other quotes about good neighbors and ugliness in the world.

We are trying to do this without the regular walkers or neighbors knowing who is responsible, so we got a few bits up then had to hurry off when we heard dogwalkers coming. We added the rest on our return trip. Nothing like a little civil disobediance to make two old broads, in sensible shoes, feel feisty and rebellious!

Here is my co-conspirator with her handiwork.

We met the dachshund ladies along the trail and they were talking about the display on the razer wire and were happy to see it. We didn't confess our role, but were gratified to know that someone had noticed.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


I'm back, and Blogger is letting me post pictures again. I decided I wanted a background for the iris that would be simple—a strip of fabric with a narrower strip of a different fabric down each side. I want the suggestion of an Asian scroll.

I really thought I would like something quite dark for the side pieces so that was what I was thinking. The red hand-dye was certainly dramatic, and it brought to mind van Gogh's irises, but ultimately I felt it was too much and I wanted something more serene. I was surprised that the dark panels were not working for me either and I ended up trying out the two green fabrics together and that is what I settled on.

Once I got the irises fused to the background I realized that they were floating, not growing. They needed to be grounded somehow.

This is where I love Photoshop. I can take a picture of a work in progress, put it into Photoshop and try different things without committing them to fabric.

Maybe the irises needed some little dark lines that would indicate the ground they are growing out of. They could be fused, using the same dark brown the irises are fused to,

but first I can just draw them in my photo.

Ummmm—no. That's not going to do it.

Maybe I need to get in there with my pastel pencils and put some shadow and color into the background to suggest ground.

Yes! I think this is going to work. But this is still just Photoshop magic.

Tomorrow I will show you how it works out on the real thing.

Japanese Iris for the Japanese Garden

I am getting things ready for the Japanese Garden show that happens in July. It has been a great venue for selling work, so I like to have a good variety of work ready, in a variety of sizes. This is when I start to think of my work in commercial terms, though I would never want to get to a point of just churning out what sells just because it does. Still, as I prepare for this show I am inevitably influenced by what has sold in the past.

I have tried to have at least one good sized piece with a flower theme. These have included a hydrangea, a foxglove, and an iris. Each of these has sold. This year I am doing a Japanese Iris, using my usual fusing technique. I start with a full-sized drawing and my assortment of fabrics. I started with the blossoms, which I fused. Before going any further I added detail and color to the blossoms to assure myself that they were actually going to look like flowers before proceeding. Then I started tracing and cutting and fusing the leaves, using several shades of solid green fabrics. The fabric I am fusing to looks black in these photos, but is, in fact, a mottled dark brown. Sometimes the pieces don't fit exactly as they did in the drawing, so I trim and adjust. With this piece I decided the leaves looked a little sparse once I had fused them all in place so I added a few more. The drawing is a guide, but not one I adhere slavishly to.

After I finished the bunch of irises, I tried them out on some different backgrounds.

Hmmmph. Blogger seems not to want to allow me to post the pictures of the different backgrounds. I will come back and try later.

Friday, June 02, 2006


This morning I found that my little piece of "protest" art had disappeared from the fence, but of course the offending razer wire was still there, ugly as ever. Since we walk "out" on the trail and then back again, we pass the site twice. On our way back it occurred to me to look in the trash barrel a few yards down the trail. There was my little banner!—neatly rolled and stashed in among the Starbucks cups and fast food wrappers. I fished it out, tied up the broken cord, and put it back on the fence. I'm sure its days are numbered.