Thursday, September 29, 2011

Orange door

Red and orange paint is made from very transparent pigment. It takes a lot of coats to cover a white primed wood door. I know this, but I forget. It took three days and five coats of paint, but my door is finally a nice smooth, even color. It's funny how sometimes things you think will be simple are not and vice versa.

Multi-purpose bathroom. That's a little hot water heater under the sink. It works great.

I remembered I had this stained glass dragonfly packed away. There was no place to hang it when we moved. I think it is just right for a round window.

It's coming together slowly.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Oregon Trail

I couldn't remember if I showed any part of this quilt before. Turns out I did, way back in June.  I finally finished it today. Women of the Oregon Trail.

It is an entry for an Oregon-themed show. The women represent the native people who were already here when the Westward migration started; the generations of women who came, sometimes not entirely of their own free will with husbands and fathers; and a representative black woman. I learned that although slavery had already been outlawed in the Oregon Territory by the time the migration began, many emigrants brought slaves west with them and the law was pretty much ignored. After the Civil War freed slaves came west on the trail seeking land and new lives. My own great grandmother came from Missouri in a wagon on the Oregon Trail. She was eight years old when she arrived in Oregon with her parents. I grew up in Idaho within a few hundred yards of where the Oregon Trail came through the Portneuf Valley. It has long been a fascination of mine and I am especially drawn to the diaries written by women on the trail

It was an incredibly hard journey for women and children and many of the diaries became a tally of graves passed and deaths along the way. Many young women, some mere teenagers, were married only days before heading west with their new husbands, leaving home and family behind, most likely never to be seen again. Babies were born, many died and were left in graves along the trail. One of the most heartbreaking accounts was of a family, within sight of Oregon City, the end of the trail, who had to cross the Willamette River to arrive at their destination. After months of hardship, harsh weather and near starvation the end was in sight. In the river crossing, one of the wagons overturned in the current and one of the children was swept away and  never found. One has to wonder if it was worth it. Especially for the women.

The 2,000 mile trek was made by more than 400,000 men, women and children between the years of 1841 and 1869. Behind the women in my quilt is the traditional quilt pattern "along the Oregon Trail."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Come on inside

The studio is finished. We had our final walkthrough with the contractor this afternoon. Of course I have nothing moved in yet, so you are seeing it in its most pristine state. You will note that my mind was changed about how to finish the stairs. The contractor convinced me that the stairs were not  going to look good painted and I came around to that point of view after I looked at them more closely. So they are covered with the vinyl tile and have metal caps along the front edge. They are fine. Better than fine. They look good. I am happy and I love the railing the finish carpenter spend the last two days working on.

Come up the stairs. You have seen this view before, because I am so enamored of it!

Jeri and others have said I should have my sewing table in front of that window. I understand, but that is not going to happen. I do not want to be running up and down the stairs from sewing to fabric, sewing to ironing, sewing to designing, etc. Besides, there is another window directly below this one, with a lovely view of the creek.

This is where the sewing table will go.

Looking down from the loft to the main floor. There is a teeny bathroom down there in the corner.

Next on the agenda is to paint the front door—I told them I would paint it. I wanted to wait until the building was painted to decide what color to paint it. Then I guess the next step is to start junking the place up with all my stuff! Something in me wants to keep it as clean and light as it is right now.

I have appreciated all the comments and good wishes as I have posted the construction progress here. So many people have commented on how lucky I am to have this space. You are so right! I can hardly believe it myself. In the middle of a sleepless night several weeks ago I was suddenly filled with panic at the responsibility. "Now you'd better get to work and justify this!" I thought.

I'll try.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


What can I say. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

You can see the painters cleaning up and getting packed up here. I couldn't even wait for them to leave to take a picture. I love it. I love it. I love it. Once we get some planting done my hope is that it will blend right into the property. The colors were chosen for that purpose.

Here is how it looks from the front porch of our house.

I'm speechless.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

It rained again today

But that didn't keep Ray from work on the greenhouse.

He worked by himself today and got an amazing amount done. The glazing material is an interesting plastic material that is double-walled with hollow channels between the two walls. It looks very similar to sign material you might be familiar with, but much more durable and heavier weight stuff. It has a lovely frosty look and diffuses the light very softly. It feels cozy inside.

Working in the rain is pretty standard stuff around here. We learned long ago that in this part of Oregon if you wait for the rain to quit you will never get anything done.

When we moved to Portland in 1993 it was February and raining as we pulled our moving truck into the driveway of our dark and dreary rental house. It didn't stop raining for months. I consoled myself with the idea that we didn't have to live here forever. The first winter was the worst. Once we moved into our own house that had big windows and a more expansive feel we didn't feel quite so trapped in gloom when it rained, but I still had places, like Idaho and Ashland, where we had lived, and where the winters were cold, but often sunny and bright as a goal for the future. But slowly we became Portlanders, rain and all and I can't imagine living anywhere else now.

While other places tolerate rain, even welcome rain after long dry periods, in Portland the rain is a lifestyle. We embrace the gifts it provides in the form of gardens and flowers and a green that must be seen to be believed, that covers our hills and parks and riverbanks.

We dress for the rain. I find myself assessing shoe purchases in terms of how they might survive the rain and whether that cute cut-out design is going to result in wet socks. There is a reason the largest bookstore in the country is here in Portland. We read. We go to movies and plays and concerts. We meet in coffee shops, where there is a handy bucket for your wet umbrella as you come in the door. Do you know coffee tastes way better on a rainy day? Do you know a car radio (NPR, most likely) sounds just right accompanied by the swish of windshield wipers? Walks in the rain, providing you have good shoes and a waterproof jacket, can be lovely. The sound of rain on the roof at night, and a warm quilt, are the combination that provides the deepest, most restful sleep.

So the rain is back, and just like that summer is over. I could have waited a few more weeks. Summer seemed pretty short, but we could get a warm, dry break later in the fall. I washed the quilts, so they are ready for cool evenings and today I got out the crockpot.

My blog friend, Joanne, in Maine wrote that she cooked a pot roast today too. I wonder if it's raining there.

The rainy season

The rainy season has begun. It rained off and on all day today as Ray worked on the greenhouse. We are coming up against the weather. The contractor says the studio will be finished in the next two weeks. Most of the work that is left to do is inside, except for painting.

Ray has been trying to get the framework for the greenhouse painted so he could start putting the glazing on it. He painted between periods of rain today. I painted for awhile.

That gray-green color he is painting will be the main color for the entire building. Our son, Andy, came out to help in the afternoon. By the end of the day the frame was painted and the roof for the greenhouse was in place. Now the rest of the work can be finished much more easily even if it rains.

They have laid the sub-floor in the studio and plan to install the flooring this week. It will be commercial grade vinyl tiles in gray and white. Pretty much like this:

You have seen this floor a million times. I wanted tough, neutral, sweepable and those 12" tiles are handy for squaring up quilts. The folks at the floor place couldn't believe this is what I wanted. Not something more, ummm, modern? Nope. The painter was also dubious about painting the interior white white. Really, it's perfect. Exactly what I wanted.

The floor guy called about the stairs. He says those tiles don't work well on stairs. If they put them on the stairs they would need a metal cap on the front edges. Ugh. He suggested commercial carpet. Ugh. I don't like either of these ideas. I asked about that flexible vinyl stair covering you see in commercial buildings. Hideously expensive. I am thinking, at this point, that painting them is probably the best option. Simple. Cheap.

Railing for the stairway is also on this week's agenda. We are getting there. Almost before the rain started. Almost.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One day and then the next day

That is how fast the studio is changing this week! Here's how it looked yesterday.

And this is what it looks like today.

This is pre-primed siding and trim, so no, these are not the colors it will be. Interestingly, however, it looks like it was painted to match our house, which is yellow with white trim. But it will be the colors that eventually the house will be. Not yellow.

I had a photo on my phone of our new cat with our yellow house in the background. When I opened it up at a larger size I could see it was quite out of focus. So I have been playing with it in Photoshop. Can an out of focus shot be rehabilitated? Not really, but you can turn it into a faux Impressionist painting.

Thor, who is actually Andy's cat, has come to live with us. Andy had to move and his new place does not allow pets. Seems like we have gotten pets in just this same way before! Thor was, at first, very unhappy and unfriendly, but he is slowly adjusting to us. He is a very beautiful boy with a sleek, black coat. Did Monet have a cat? If so, he probably looked like Thor.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Progress report

Here is Ray working on the greenhouse part of the building. When we got the bid from the contractor we asked for his price if Ray were to do most of the work on the greenhouse. It saved some money, but I think Ray, who had done months of greenhouse research, really wanted to have a hand in building it. He has framed it and, today, drove to Salem to buy the polycarbonate glazing material that will cover this skeleton. In the upper triangle there in front you can see a greenhouse vent he installed. It is smart enough to open automatically when the interior of the greenhouse reaches a certain temperature, and then close when it needs to. There will be two glass doors as well.

Step inside the studio with me.

The sheet rock guys blew a fine texture onto the walls today. This is the main floor. The front door is just to the left. The little hidey hole under the stairs looks like a sewing machine storage hole to me.

I love to come down in the early evening after the workers leave to see what they have done during the day. After all the hammering and sawing it seems so quiet and the evening light gives it a softness that feels clean and welcoming.

I am so in love with this loft room. It is so much more than I expected. I can envision that corner where the round window is as the place where I will put my old rocking chair and my books. Maybe a small sofa in front of the window?

Looking down from the loft. The bathroom is there in the upper right. Tomorrow they are supposed to start the siding on the outside. People keep asking when it will be finished. Our answer is always, "It will be finished when it is finished." The workers are making steady progress and we are in no hurry. Well, technically, in no hurry. But I confess I am ready for it to be done.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today is my friends, Beth and Ed's wedding anniversary. It is also the wedding anniversary of my friends Jeri and Ron. Happy anniversary to two wonderful couples and good people!

Today is the 6 year anniversary of the first posting on this blog. Thank you, thank you to all of you have made it a conversation, not just my own odd thoughts and musings.

I nearly forgot these anniversaries. 

What I didn't forget—was not allowed to forget— was that ten years ago I awoke to the news of a plane hitting one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York. You all know the rest of that story. As I got ready to go to work I watched the drama unfold on TV in disbelief. As the second tower fell I was thinking of the trip we had taken as a family, ten years before, to New York and Washington D.C. and the beautiful day we spent going to the observation deck at the top of the World Trade Center. The view was clear and surreal from that height. Breathtaking. My kids wanted T shirts, so we stepped into the gift shop near the observation deck and I spotted a pretty enamel and cloisonne bracelet that appealed to me. I bought it and popped it onto my wrist and thought, "every time I wear this I will remember this beautiful day." And now I was seeing devastation and empty sky, save for dust and smoke, where we had stood 10 years before. I grabbed the bracelet out of my jewelry box as I ran out the door to head off to work and I wore it every day for the next week, constantly touching and twisting it on my wrist as I watched the horrors on TV.  One day I took it off and put it away where it has remained for ten years. I never wore it again.

Even after ten years it is hard to think about that day and even harder to add up all the consequences and all the bitterness and ugliness and paranoia that began with that evil act. I am unwilling to participate in the "celebration" of this anniversary and am avoiding the TV specials and the rehashing of that terrible day. Someone told me we need reminders so we will never forget what happened. I don't need a reminder. I won't forget. Will you?

Friday, September 09, 2011

Roof crosses

This summer my son-in-law went to Ecuador to visit his family for three weeks. When he asked if I wanted him to bring me something I knew immediately what I wanted.

In many Latin American countries many homes have crosses on the roof. It is partly a kind of spiritual protection for the house, partly a blessing for the house and mostly, I think, tradition. In Cuenca, the city where Carlos comes from they have a very distinctive style of cross, cut from metal. On one of our trips there a number of years ago I bought some very small ones that hang in my kitchen. As I wrote then, each is unique, though there are a variety of common motifs. I was interested to find that one buys these, not in an art venue in Cuenca, but in the housewares market. A household staple, as it were. The ones Carlos brought to me this time are very similar, with birds that I like very much. The larger one is about 18" tall, the smaller one about 9".

My thought was that since Carlos designed the studio we are building, I would love to have one of the Cuenca crosses on the roof. Now I am having second thoughts. Displaying a cross on the top might be misleading in several ways. First of all, it could be mistaken for a chapel of some kind. Secondly it might be taken as a symbol of my religious piety, which could not be further from my intention. From a practical standpoint I also think it would be a very bad idea to drive the spike on the bottom into the roof!

Symbols are powerful. I realize that. I really just want to connect my beautiful little building to Carlos' heritage with a piece of folk art from his city. One that pleases me mostly for its tradition and charming form and not so much as a religious symbol. This may seem like sacrilege to some of you. I'm sorry if it does. One or both crosses will find a home somewhere in the studio and if they bring protection and blessings on it I will take all the blessings I can get.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

STASH day at my house

Our STASH (Second Thursday at Somebody's House) group met at my house today. We were short two of our members. Suzy is in California taking care of her grandson and Gerrie was having cataract surgery this morning. Sometimes when members have conflicts we try to reschedule, but that always seems to make matters worse, so I left the day as planned. Still, we missed both of them.

We have really gotten out of the habit of doing much at our meetings besides a bit of show and tell, a lot of chatting and eating. I decided we needed a little artistic stimulation. A couple years ago we carved stamps at one of our meetings. I asked everyone to bring them as well as fabric, fabric paints and supplies for printing. I set up our deck table with a big sheet of glass for rolling paint out on, padded surfaces, paper towels and water. We spent a very pleasant hour or so visiting and printing.

Here are some of my stamps.

I started with a commercial batik fabric that seemed a little boring to me.

I used three different stamps on it.

I' not sure this is an improvement to the original, but it was fun to experiment and one thing I definitely discovered is that my dragonfly stamp needs to be carved a bit deeper to get crisper edges and details.

I served lunch on the deck and after lunch we had a quick tour of the studio construction progress. They hung doors this morning and are finishing up the drywall. The next time my turn to host the group rolls around we will probably be meeting in the studio. That's an exciting thought!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Today was "back to school" day around here and probably the hottest day we have yet had here this summer. It has been an odd summer, starting late and never really hitting its stride. Everyone is complaining about how far behind their gardens are and wondering if their tomatoes will ever ripen. The end of a short summer came far too quickly for most.  For me today meant that my daughter and son-in-law are back to their classroom duties and my grandchildren are mine for two days a week.

The energy changed around here today for sure. The toys came out. I had to make sure I had kid-friendly food on hand, especially snacks, and I had to be ready for a one-year old who is now mobile and curious and not too discriminating about what goes into his mouth. Whew. I am tired tonight, but I feel lucky to have this kind of involvement in their lives.

Years ago when I owned a quilt shop someone sent me not one, but two of the little wooden school bus toys in the photo above. They were samples, trying to entice me into stocking a whole line of these wooden toys. I didn't buy them, but I loved the little buses. I put one into my basket of toys and books that I kept in my shop for the children of customers to entertain themselves with. One little boy who came in often with his mom really loved the school bus and when I closed my shop I gave it to him to keep. The other I kept because I liked it and I rediscovered it when we moved. My grandson pushed it around the kitchen all day today. He seems to like it as much as I do.

After lunch and naps, we played outside in the backyard, enjoying the shady part of the yard. I wondered how long the warm weather would last and thought about how hot my daughter's classroom probably was today. Ironic that most of the city's kids spent the warmest day of the summer  in classrooms.

It was a pretty good day all in all. Marco took a header off the only step in our house and bonked his head, but cried only briefly. Sofia and I finished the Ramona book we started reading before school finished last spring. We found a tiny, tiny frog posed prettily on a hydrangea.

The nice thing about hot September days is that once the sun goes down it cools off, and the mornings are chilled and dewy nearly until the sun hits the the quarter mark in the sky. Fall may be in the air, but summer's pleasures are not done yet.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Sunday update and giveaway winner

First things first. The winner of the Twelve by Twelve book, chosen randomly from the comments is Jenny from British Columbia. As soon as I get her address I will send the book. I hope you enjoy it, Jenny! Thanks to everyone who commented. I wish I had a book for each of you, but I don't. You may need to buy it!

The Studio is moving right along. The sewer and water lines were put in this week and that big pile of dirt got moved back against the foundation.
I was happy to see that happen. You can see that there are bales of straw meant to protect the creek, but there was always a worry that if we got a good rain the straw would not be enough to keep dirt from washing into the creek. One of our provisions for obtaining permission to build near the creek was that we do no damage to the creek. That is also our priority, so that big old pile of dirt was a little bit of a threat.  We have also agreed (happily) to mitigate the impact of the building by restoring the native vegetation to the area around the building.

The work on the inside was significant as well. I met with the electrician to decide on lighting and electrical needs. This is a big deal and he was helpful. I think I will be happy with what we decided on, though it was different from my initial thoughts. Once the electrical was finished they were ready to start dry walling.

Here is the loft in progress.

It is supposed to get hot here today and for the rest of the week. Ray and Carlos, our son-in-law, are taking advantage of a pleasantly cool morning and working on the greenhouse.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

It's 12 x 12 Day!

Today marks the end of the second round of Twelve by Twelve challenges with the reveal of our final
Colorplay challenge—orange! It is the color I got to choose. Orange is such a happy color, though I do think a little goes a long way. Inspired by our garden, here is my piece, Orange Lilies. Check our blog today for all the Orange pieces.

Now that this second round of challenges is over, the Twelves are discussing what might happen next. For one thing all quilts from both challenges, 288 in all, will be featured in a special exhibit at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, November 3-6. We are thrilled! We had hoped to all be in attendance, but several of the group are not going to be able to make the trip. I am very excited to be going to Houston and looking forward to meeting more of my Twelve "sisters." Some time after Houston we will be announcing what our next project will be. We are taking a little break until then, but do not worry—we will be doing something!

To celebrate this milestone I am giving away another copy of our book, Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge. Leave a comment if you'd like to be put into a drawing for the book. I will take comments through September 3. On September 4 I will announce the winner.