Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yummy and tummy

The results of the Twelve by Twelve group's second challenge are appearing on the Twelve by Twelve blog starting today. The theme of this challenge was "chocolate" which was an excuse for me to remember our wonderful trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, the chocolate capitol of Mexico. Everyone interpreted the theme in such a unique and personal way. It is great to see what they have all done. Keep checking back until all 12 are posted. Very yummy!

And what is more yummy than a naked baby? I stopped by Emily's a couple days ago just in time to find Sofi getting her bath. I just happened to have my camera in the car.

Two new teeth today! That's 6 now.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Why I'm so scattered, I guess

I have so much to do to get ready to move, to get this house ready to sell, to get that house ready to live in and I dither and dally and wonder what to do next. So in the spirit of procrastination I took this test on the Vancouver Art Institute site:

Here's what I learned about myself:

Thank you for taking the Creativity Test. The results show your brain dominance as being:

Left Brain 32%
Right Brain 68%

You are more right-brained than left-brained. The right side of your brain controls the left side of your body. In addition to being known as right-brained, you are also known as a creative thinker who uses feeling and intuition to gather information. You retain this information through the use of images and patterns. You are able to visualize the "whole" picture first, and then work backwards to put the pieces together to create the "whole" picture. Your thought process can appear quite illogical and meandering. The problem-solving techniques that you use involve free association, which is often very innovative and creative. The routes taken to arrive at your conclusions are completely opposite to what a left-brained person would be accustomed. You probably find it easy to express yourself using art, dance, or music. Some occupations usually held by a right-brained person are forest ranger, athlete, beautician, actor/actress, craftsman, and artist.

It goes on. Only a few surprises. I could have been a forest ranger! I won't bore you with the details, but the questions that led to this result were things like, do I make lists? Nope. Do I follow verbal directions? Nope.

I need to get my

button gear

I found this at the bottom of a drawer I cleaned out yesterday. Someone gave it to me years ago. I tossed it in the drawer and forgot about it. Good joke! Get your button gear! You see the problem. My life (and drawers) are filled with similar detritus. This one just seemed especially ironic. I did take one bag of stuff to the trash and another to Goodwill yesterday. I only need to do that about 720 more times.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Blue Hour

The "blue hour" is that time between sundown and darkness when the sky turns the most incredible shades of purple-y blue. Sometimes here in Oregon the gray sky simply turns to black with no inbetween, but this past week of cold, clear air, has produced some late afternoon/early evening skies that take your breath away. This photo was taken from my front porch yesterday, just as the neighborhood lights were coming on.


No more Eddie Munster hair. Sofia got a hair trim today. Is this not the cutest little face?

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Last week at our High Fiber Diet meeting Karen Miller was quietly doing some kind of handwork involving a round plastic thingy and bobbins of some kind of cord or thread. Finally curiosity got the best of Gerrie and she said, "I want to know what Karen is doing over there!" Karen explained that she was making cord, using a Japanese method called Kumihimo. She passed around the disk and some of the cords she has made and I was very intrigued. When I got home I got on the internet and found a place where I could order a kit. It arrived this week and I have been working with it. As Karen said, it is really mindless work, but keeps your hands busy and produces some nice cording fairly quickly.

Here are the cords I have made:

The one on the left is made from cotton yarn that was included in the kit for practice. The one on the right was made with crochet thread—way too thin. The one in the middle is made with two colors of #5 perle cotton. It would be a nice weight for a necklace. I have been working with whatever I have around the house, but I want to go out and see what kind of thread/yarn/cord I can find to try out.

Why do I need another crafty pursuit? When I showed it to Ray he seemed a little perplexed. "Can't you, uh, buy cord?" Well, of course, but that's not the point. I used to always have some kind of handwork to do as I relaxed, but not so much anymore. For the last two evenings, after hard work and painting at the new house, I have collapsed in front of the TV and made cords while we watched a movie. And here's the amazing thing about keeping one's hands busy—I didn't fall asleep! I usually miss the middle of movies we watch on dvd because I see the beginning, fall asleep, then wake up for the last few minutes of the movie. It's an old fogey thing, and very annoying.

I explained all this to Ray and he said, "Good deal—and we can always use rope." Whatever.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Clear and Cold

I painted at the new house all afternoon today, then drove the 9 miles home as the sun went down. The sky was a delicate pink when I left and by the time I got home the sky had gone from pink to lavender to blue, blue velvet. All along the way I kept noticing the beautiful, stark tree silhouettes against the changing sky. And the moon—oh that moon!

Shed a little light

Today is Martin Luther King day, which, it seems, has become mostly a day off from school and a day for politicians to make speeches. I always try to stop on MLK day and think for a moment of what his life and work have meant. It is a contemplation that is both heartening and disheartening. Without the Civil Rights Movement would Barack Obama be running for president with the real possibility of winning? This is only one indication of how far we have come and yet the disheartening part is that the ugliness of racism still exists in this country. The video above shows so many photos that bring back memories of those days, in the '60s, set to the wonderful James Taylor song, and at the end refers to the current day case of the Jena 6 and the despicable events that occurred in Jena, LA. I remember those early times so well and the stirring words of Dr. King and the triumphs and the tragedies that have all been dimmed with time.

Martin Luther King was a hero of my youth and he imagined for all of us a better world. My hope is that his work and his influence have not been forgotten. I fear that perhaps they have.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Same, back at you!

I am sitting here at the computer on this foggy morning and thinking about all the things I need to get caught up on. First on my list is to acknowledge the fellow bloggers that gave me a "You Make My Day!" award. They are Gerrie and Shirley. And I thank you both and send the sentiment back at you. The rules of the game are that I am supposed to name some number of blogs to pass the award along to. Honestly, I couldn't choose, so I just have to say that I have this nice list of blogs that make my day nearly every day. I will mention that my good friend, June, has been doing an artist's residency in Montana for the past two months and her blog has been a special joy to read in her absence. My friend, Carla, moved to the East Coast just over a year ago and her blog keeps her in my life. My daughter, busy as she is, started a blog to post pictures of baby Sofi, mostly for her far away inlaws and friends scattered across the world, but despite the fact that I get to see the real baby nearly every day I still love checking out her newest photos. And the amazing phenomenon of farflung bloggers with whom I have connected, but may have never met, is a daily miracle to me. These include Jane Ann and Kirsty and Suzy and Del and Dee and Kristin (who I actually just got to meet in person) and Deborah and Diane and, and, and... There are so many more and that's the problem with these list things. So I will just say that you all make my day and not burden anyone with the obligation to pass it on, though feel free to do so if you want.

So on to other unfinished chores. Laundry, dishes, housecleaning. Ach. You don't want to hear about this stuff.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

House update - January 16

This has been quite a week in the life of this house remodel. This is the week, that was certain to come along, when we are finding out what we didn't budget for. This is good news and bad news. Remember the blue refrigerator? Frugal persons that we are, we had hoped to find a way to use this perfectly fine, actually quite nice, refrigerator. It came with the house.

It was, oddly, metallic blue. I researched options and decided to spray paint it black using epoxy appliance paint. I removed the handles and carefully masked all the other silvery trim and started painting. It looked pretty good, except for the drips. Ick. The drips. Oh, and I didn't have enough paint to cover this monster. Back to Home Depot for another can, and what should I find, but a new product guaranteed to turn an ordinary appliance into a stainless steel appliance! Well, that would be good. If it worked. It was expensive, but I was a little strung out and desperate and was feeling that feeling of having little left to lose. I bought the stuff. But the next day, before I had the chance to sand off the drips and use the miracle stainless steel stuff, the cabinet installer informed us that the refrigerator was not going to fit under the over the fridge cabinet I chose. See that graceful curve at the top of the doors? Comes up just high enough to keep the cabinet door above from opening.

So I went out and bought a brand new refrigerator. It's a beauty. It's real stainless steel. It matches the other appliances. It fits in the hole and doesn't stick out into the room like the blue hulk. It dispenses sparkling ice and pure water and has a cute little basket just for grapes and slideout shelves and a shelf just for gallon containers. I'm sure it is worth every penny of its considerable cost (it cost more than our first new car) and will probably change our lives in unimagined ways. The blue/black hulk will live in the garage and be the extra refrigerator we've probably been needing. The miracle liquid stainless steel product will be returned to Home Depot and I'll never know if it actually works. Whew! Problem solved. Ka-ching! $$$

And here's the guy installing the cabinets. They are looking good. Of course Ray has had to make a couple trips to IKEA to exchange incorrect pieces, get additional pieces and pick up missing hinges, etc.

We have also had two other guys, Smith (yup, that's his first name) and Chip, installing windows. Things were sailing along there until Smith pulled out the front window in the livingroom and discovered that carpenter ants had been doing their thing all around the window. Here he is breaking the bad news to Ray.

Smith knew what to do, however. He got some stuff to kill the carpenter ants, pulled out the affected wood and replaced it with new lumber. Whew! Problem solved. Ka-ching! $$$

Then Chip discovered dry rot under the old aluminum slider when he started pulling it out. That necessitated removing the decking from the deck just outside the door in order to get to the damaged boards. They will all be replaced tomorrow. Chip said it wasn't really all that bad and they could fix it "easy". Whew! Problem solved. Ka-ching! $$$

Here's the window they installed in the hallway. No bugs, no rot. Whew.

Like I said, good news and bad news. Once I absorbed the initial sticker shock, I am pretty happy about the new refrigerator. Frugal only goes so far. The ant damage and dry rot were a bummer, but are confined to only those two small areas (that's good news, right?) and Smith and Chip seem to be pretty competent and are all about getting it done right. Said Chip, "we'll get that new door sealed right and you won't have that problem again!" He's an upbeat lad, and that, alone, is worth something.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Chocolate and Sofia

The deadline for the next Twelve by Twelve challenge (see the link in the sidebar) is coming right up. The theme this time around is "chocolate". This called for a lot of research—good thing the holidays provided plenty of tasting opportunities. I am working away on my piece and it is coming together nicely, in my opinion. Here is a piece of fabric I silk-screened especially to use in the chocolate challenge.

I'm not going to explain yet how this relates to chocolate, but I will show you the inspiration for this design.

Stay tuned.


Sofia came to visit today. It was nice to have her here to myself this afternoon. When her other grandmother was here, I tried to let her stock up on Sofi hugs and kisses and memories to take back to Ecuador, so I tried to stay out of the way. We miss Abuela Chela, but I have to say I am happy to have my grandbaby to myself again!

Since you last saw her she has learned to read.

Yeah, really. She's reading—

in Spanish.

Well, she thinks she's reading, anyway.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Answering questions

A few days ago Jane Ann asked, "Do you ever dither about your decisions? You seem very sure of what you want ..." This was in regard to our remodeling project. I've been thinking about her question. The short answer is "sometimes." The long answer involves a little history. The fact of the matter is that I don't dither much. I do know pretty much what I want. I have spent much of my working life helping other people make design decisions—choosing colors, choosing materials and settling on a theme or concept based on finding out what they are comfortable with, how they want to feel with their decisions and bottom line, what their budget is. My first career was in interior design. My last in graphic design. Inbetween I owned a fabric store.

For me the nitty gritty, planning, coordinating and pulling things together of interior design was really fun. It was something of a shock to discover that most of my clients did not find it fun, but instead really stressful. I found that many, many people become so anxious about making decisions about colors and furnishings that they become paralyzed with indecisiveness. They have the belief that there is only ONE perfect solution to the problem they are trying to solve and an imperfect solution will mean only that they will never be happy with their choice. And, geez, people get whiny and demanding and obnoxious about stupid, insignificant details. What nonsense. I'm not patient with that. There are, as they say, a lot of ways to skin a cat. Pleasant surroundings and a beautiful environment are worthy goals and, I believe, enrich our lives, but they are only a superficial part of what makes us whole and happy. And creating a personal space should be fun, in my opinion, so I learned a long time ago not to stress about decisions, by keeping it in perspective and not allowing things to be too precious. I think I was a pretty good interior designer, but I couldn't deal with the people.

What I learned that I could apply to my own surroundings was:
  • to observe daily what I like and what makes me feel good, then it's easy to choose what to add to my life.
  • travel has been a passion for us, and the things that remind us of our travels make us happy.
  • things that belonged to our families and people we love hold meaning and value to us and are nice to live with
  • things are only new and perfect for a day, so I've learned to love things that are old and imperfect.
  • the art, and other flotsam,that we accumulate seems to lead us right to a lot of the other choices.

I try to have fun with design and decorating and I try to keep it personal and I love, love, love a bargain and I am delighted when I can come up with something kind of clever and crafty that solves a problem.


On another note, entirely, Del asked me about my comment that I have been painting my little fabric birds with acrylic medium.

" How do you apply acrylic medium? Brush? Spray? Doesn't it soak in?"

I apply it, undiluted, with a brush to the completed bird. Because it is undiluted and pretty thick, it doesn't soak very far into the bird. It penetrates the fabric, but nothing more. When it is painted on it is white-ish, milky. When it dries it is clear and hardly changes the appearance of the fabric, though it does make it noticeably stiffer. I used gloss medium because it was what I had on hand. One coat doesn't make it noticeably glossy. I think a second coat would sit on the surface and probably make it more shiny, which I don't think I would like. When I buy more medium I think I will buy matte medium instead and see if there is a difference.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Progress on both homefronts

One of the things we need to do soon is to paint the stairwell in our current house. It is one of those areas that is so hard to paint that it has been neglected. I got a good start by dismantling my collection of sewing stuff that has been on shelves on the landing. For awhile it was fun collecting old sewing notions and tools, then they got to be hard to deal with—well dusty. And who likes to dust a bazillion little things? Not me. I've decided to sell the majority on eBay. I've divided them into two lots. I could probably make more money if I sold some of them separately, but frankly I just want them gone.

I'm turning over a new leaf and clearing things out of my life. But I decided I can't yet give up my old scissor collection. Notice I didn't call them "vintage" or "antique", though a few qualify. Most are just old scissors and I love the way they look hanging on a wall. They will probably go in my studio once it gets built. I counted 53 pairs when I took them down.

Shelves are gone. Nail holes are filled. The wall is ready to paint.

Things are happening at the new place too.

Ray is assembling the kitchen cabinets in the livingroom. We got the cabinets at IKEA. I think I am going to love them. They are highly rated by Consumer Guide and very economical. As you can see the insides are laminated particle board, but the doors and drawer fronts are solid oak. After Ray assembles them the IKEA contractor will install them.

And this was the really exciting development today. The tile layers got started.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Fly away little birds

I gave two of my birds to Gerrie and Kristin when we got together on Friday. Birds need to fly. I've made a couple more. Here is what I have now.

Three of these little birds will go to blog friends. Remember the "pay it forward" deal? Last July I agreed to make handmade gifts for the first three people who agreed to do likewise and pay it forward. Time to pay up. The first three people to accept the challenge were Delta, Dee and Alice. Email me your mailing addresses and a wee bird will soon be winging your way.

I have been having a lot of fun making these birds. They seem to develop their own personalities as I go along. I have a pattern that I made and each is made from the same pattern, but still they look different. A couple of them have come out with heads cocked to the side. Don't know how that happened, but it gives them a quizzical look. One is a bit cross-eyed. Another will balance only in a semi-squatting position. The wings are all at slightly different angles. When I group them, as above, they really remind me of real birds, with their differences. Good mothers do not have favorites, but I confess I am partial to this one.

It was only as I was sewing him closed after stuffing that I realized that the fabric I used on his underside has little birds printed on it. These are all old fabrics that I have had in my stash for a long time. Maybe that's why he appeals to me. He's the squatter. Ray says he looks like he's getting ready to poop. I think, with his wings raised, he is just flexing and about to take wing. I think this bird will stay here and live in my new house.

I don't think I mentioned that when I finish these birds I am painting them with clear acrylic medium. I have a wonderful stuffed fabric chicken that my friend Muriel gave me. After sitting on a shelf for several years I noticed that it had gotten dull and impregnated with dust. I washed it and then painted it with clear medium and it is now easy to "dust" (when I get around to it) by just shaking it out the back door. It seems to have brightened the colors up too. I think the acrylic also glues all my stitching in place, so the wings are less likely to fall off!

I appreciate the interest in a pattern for the birds. I'm thinking about it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

House update - January 4

Things are progressing at the house. Last week the sheetrocking was finished and the rooms are beginning to take shape in my mind.
This is a reminder of what the diningroom and den area looked like before we started. This is looking from the livingroom. The kitchen is off the left side of the photo.

In progress:This is what it looks like now. Little wall segment on the left will shield the view of the kitchen countertops and dirty dishes. The door to the bathroom is gone. You can see its sheetrock ghost. Light has been relocated to the center of the room. The hardwood floor remains in the livingroom, hidden under the blue tarp, but it and the vinyl flooring have been removed from the diningroom and kitchen and will be replaced with ceramic tile, which gets laid this week.

Swiveling around toward the right is the extended wall between the den and diningroom.

And here is the little nook, next to the front door and facing the coat closet. There will be a small bench seat with storage in that space. We purchased the "bench" last week. I think it is quite clever repurposing of a castoff item, but I'm not showing it to you just yet.

Blog friends in the real world

I have been reading Kristin LaFlamme's blog for a couple of years now. We have exchanged artwork, but had never met face to face until today. Kristin lives in Germany, but has been visiting family in the US Northwest for the holidays. She's also a blog friend of Gerrie's, who I met through her blog and then she moved to Portland and she's my real-life in-person friend now. Following all that? Anyhoo—she and Gerrie set up a play-in-Gerrie's-studio date, for today, and invited me to come for lunch. Gerrie's daughter, Stephanie, was there also with her two darling children who seemed to be having a blast with Kristin's two darling children.

Kristin has been making a series of quilts with "roots" images and she wanted to have Gerrie help her make some thermofax screens for silkscreening. Above she is creating a root design by dropping India ink on a sheet of paper then blowing it around, using a straw to direct the air.

Gerrie made the screen with her magic machine and Kristin printed several test pieces.

Here's one of her finished prints. Cool, eh? I can hardly wait to see what she does with it.

What a nice day!