I am in the passenger seat. Ray is driving and we are out at the dry end of the Columbia River Gorge. Soon we will head up that hill that takes us from the river and out into the desert that comprises the greater part of Oregon, but I am thinking of it as the beginning of the rest of America. Hour three of a 37-day journey. But more about that later.
Last week the international Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) met for their national conference in Portland. It was a great opportunity to connect in a bigger way with my professional organization. I met lots of formerly virtual friends, altogether new friends and reconnected with old friends. We heard some good (and not so good) talks and panels and study sessions, hung out, ate, drank, played and absorbed generally good stuff all the way around. It is a good organization. Conference photos are almost hilariously boring, but here are a few anyway.
Backs of heads and PowerPoint
Backs of heads and PowerPoint, but look—that's me on the screen! (Really good presentation by Sue Reno. I was a happy contributor...)
Finally got to meet Lisa Flowers Ross, whose blog and art I have enjoyed for years.
On the afternoon designated for exploring Portland, I had the pleasure of introducing these lovely women to some of Portland's best fabric stores. We locals appreciate their contributions to the Portland economy!
My small piece, "At the Market", donated for the silent auction, brought a great price, which pleases me immensely, both for the benefit to the organization, but mostly the relief that it did not sit, sadly unbidden upon. My worst silent auction nightmare—so embarrassing.
The people, people, people part of these affairs is exhausting, but also exhilarating and inspiring. Still, it was really nice to drive away on Sunday and go home to my family and our celebration of Ray's birthday. Then, after everyone left, I sat for awhile in the calm and quiet of home and it was the best moment.
And now, several days later, we are off to "look for America". Over the years we have travelled to cities and destinations across the country, but seldom by car, and especially east of the Rocky Mountains. I have a desire to see how it all connects on the ground—the inbetween parts—small town attractions, countryside, crops and weather. I have a secret desire to track down the biggest ball of string in America, but I expect the things we didn't even know to look for might be the most interesting.
And so it goes...