Monday, April 30, 2007

Annual Beach Retreat

I belong to a small group called STASH (some Thursday at somebody's house) sometimes, THE GRATEFUL THREAD sometimes and just THE GROUP most of the time. (It has taken us a long time to settle on a name.) We usually plan a retreat weekend in the late winter or early spring. This last weekend we went to Oceanside, Oregon and rented this house.

Last year when I blogged about getting ready to go to the beach with my quilting friends, Gerrie wrote in a comment:
"One of my fave activities, getting away with my quilting friends. Can I come next time?"

Well, what do you know? Since that comment over a year ago, Gerrie has moved to Portland, joined the group and yes, came to the retreat. Can you say, "life of the party"?

She spied the crab hat hanging in the hallway of the beach house and modeled it for us.

The house was very comfortable and had several nice quilts and other artwork hanging throughout. We especially loved the mosaiced glass window and the "Be nice . . ." sign over the back door.

The window seat was a favorite spot for handwork and enjoying the view outdoors. We could even see the ocean through a little opening in the trees.

Beth had expressed interest in making a house similar to one I made in January. So I brought some patterns I made for whomever wanted to try making one. Beth and I each worked on a little house. Mine are the orange parts on the right. Beth chose a great stone fabric for her little house.

We sewed, we laughed, we ate (very well), we shopped and had ice cream for lunch and visited the Latimer Quilt museum. We all posed for a group shot before we left on Sunday.

Left to right: Linda, Gale, Gerrie, Beth, Reva, Terry. We miss Terri who moved to Washington D.C. and Kathie who is now an editor for American Quilter, but are so pleased that Gerrie and Reva, also a newcomer from California, have joined us. I love this group.

You can read and see more pictures of our weekend at Gerrie's blog.


A Walk on the Beach

You never know what the weather will be like on the Oregon Coast, but we lucked into a beautiful weekend and enjoyed a couple of great walks on the beach.


I am finally mailing the Valentines and little quilt to people who won my Blog #300 celebration drawing. There are a couple of you who haven't emailed me a mailing address. I still have your Valentines and will send them if you send me your address.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Springtime at La Casa Grant

Our tulips have been fabulous this year, thanks to Ray's great gardening efforts. This clump of yellow and red beauties is new, as are those spiky little orange numbers. These are on the slope out front. I really love driving up our little lane and seeing the tulips all over the bank in the front. Cayo, my son-in-law, calls them "tulipans", the Spanish name. Years ago we bought a house from a Dutch woman, whose father was a bulb exporter. To our surprise and delight, the spring after we moved in, tulips sprang up all over the yard and garden—green tulips, purple tulips, double frilled tulips, black tulips. You can't have too many tulipans. Maybe that is my Dutch heritage speaking. My mother's maiden name was Van Valkinburg.

A robin has built a nest just outside our front door on one of the porch pillars. We have had nests there before, but usually they are abandoned before they get used. Our old decrepit cat, Gracie, sleeps in a chair on the porch for much of the day and I think, harmless as she is, she usually scares the birds away. This year, however, a feisty robin built a nest and she is ignoring Gracie.

I came home today to find Ms. Robin sitting on the nest. I ran to get my camera and took pictures through the front door window. When she became aware of me she popped up to guard her nest, but didn't fly away. I am only guessing that there are eggs in the nest. Isn't she a vigilant protectress? That grey cord is an electrical cord that runs up through the pillar. She just moved it aside for her nest building.

We're going to try to use the back door as much as possible in the coming weeks, so we won't disturb her. I pointed her out to Emily this afternoon when she came by and she said, "won't it be fun when Sofia is old enough that we can show her the birds?" Indeed.

Emily, by the way, is feeling stronger and better day by day. She drove for the first time today, since her surgery. She saw her Dr. today who told her she is healing well.


"Hope I die before I get old"

I love this. (with thanks to Sandy for the link)

Monday, April 23, 2007


Trader Joe's is one of my favorite places to shop. They have a lot of really delicious stuff. So it pains me to tell you this.

Tonight we had Trader Joe's "roasted garlic basil encrusted cod fillets," from the frozen food section. Sounds good, doesn't it? I love roasted garlic. I love basil. While cod is not my favorite fish, I have been known to enjoy it. This cod was vile. I may never be able to eat cod again. Or garlic. Or basil. Blechhhhhh

Consider yourselves warned.

'Scuse me now. I need to go gargle a bottle of something.


Last Saturday June and I went south to Eugene, Oregon for our first get together with a new critique group of Oregon fiber artists. It was really a wonderful day and we met some new people as well as seeing artists we knew from other times and places. The guest critic was Tina Rinaldi, who is the Program Manager for the University of Oregon's Arts & Administration Program, where she also teaches as adjunct faculty. Each of us was invited to bring two pieces and be prepared to talk about an "issue" that we were dealing with. I brought the these two pieces, The Weaver, and the new circle motif piece that I have been struggling with. Tina did not "critique" our work in the usual sense, and was very kind and positive in all her comments, but I found that she was remarkably insightful and had very interesting things to say. The issue I was presenting was my frustration in trying to move away from representational work into something abstract and my frustration that the piece I had hoped to be very graphic and flat simply fell flat and I was, by now grasping at straws, having stenciled little dots and even trying some beads on parts of it.

You can see the beads on the left portion of this detail. Considering my lack of enthusiasm for beaded quilts, this was truly a measure of my desperation! Tina did not say to get rid of the beads, but she did say she hoped I wouldn't "go nuts with the beads." Instead of really offering suggestions, she talked about the concepts of "flatness" and depth of field and pointed out the similarities between my two pieces as opposed to the differences. I agreed that I had made a very conscious decision with the weaver to keep the design fairly flat, with no real sense of depth. I left with a renewed interest in finishing what I was, by now, thinking of as the "layers" piece.

On Sunday I finished "Hidden layer." I removed the beads and worked on making the color more complex. The differences may not be very apparent from the photos, but to me it was the solution I needed. In my critique session the idea of working on the color did not come up, but new thoughts and ways of looking at the piece led me in that direction ultimately. I am more pleased with this piece than I thought I would ever be. Describing it to June on the way to Eugene in the car I called it "a piece of crap" which was how I was feeling about it!
You can probably see the color changes in this detail better than in the full quilt. This is the section where the beads were. I also added the tiny black lines at the edges of the hidden layer, which make a big difference in my opinion.

You can read more about the Critique session on June's blog.

P.S. I am still waiting for my new monitor. It was to be sent to replace the defective one that was still under warranty. I am not impressed by Viewsonic's customer service. Tracking shows that it arrived in Portland on Saturday, so it should show up here today. Meanwhile I am still not sure what these photos look like on your monitor. They look pretty bad on mine!
P.S. again: The new monitor came and I saw just how bad the photos really were, so I have replaced them. Now they look like they are supposed to.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Do something, even if it's wrong

A couple days ago I was sitting right where I am right now, at the computer. I looked up to see this squirrel standing just outside the window looking in, justing checking, I think, to see what I was up to. My camera was nearby, so I got a shot of him. He's been back a couple of times since.

What a crazy month we've had. I told my squirrel buddy that I wondered if life was ever going to settle down. Besides babies and medical emergencies we've been trying to buy and sell property (unsuccessfully thus far), entertain out of town guests, figure out where and how we are going to spend the rest of our lives and somehow this has involved driving and driving and driving. I am so tired of my car, which now knows the way to the hospital by heart. I thought I would never have to go back there again, but I ended up running up there yesterday to pick up the phone charger that Emily left in her room. I also turned a year older somewhere in there. Was it Easter just a week and a half ago? Was it only a month ago that Sofia was born? I am tired. Really tired, but relieved that (knock on wood) the pace seems to be slowing. Squirrel was sympathetic.

Several weeks ago I started cutting and fusing circles. I took the center strip and two pieces of red fabric to Gerrie's when the small group met at her house on my birthday. (I look as old as I felt in that picture) Then life got crazy again. I am finally getting back to that. I cut a stencil of tiny dots and earlier this week I stenciled little gray and gold dots on the piece.

Today I started quilting. I'm actually considering sewing some beads on it.

These photos are details. There is more of this, but everytime I look at it I think I need to cut a bit off here or there. I am just not sure where I am going with this or if I will like anything about it when I'm finished, but it feels good to be working on something. My mother used to say, when it was unclear what needed to be done next, "do something, even if it's wrong." It's a pretty good philosophy. It's a start.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hump day

You know—Wednesday—middle of the work week. Once Wednesday is over, you're "over the hump." But now that I am mostly retired I'm no longer certain where the hump is, so maybe it's just "Wednesday" now. Hmm.
Now, about the Valentines drawing. I know you are all breathlessly awaiting the results, so now that you know the really important results (who got eliminated from American Idol tonight) you can check here for these results.
I will be sending Valentine cards to:
  • atet
  • suze
  • Joyce
  • lalheg
  • Lisa Flowers Ross

The winner of the little valentine quilt is Del.

Please email me with your snail mail address and real/full name and I will send these right out. Thanks to everyone for playing along with my little giveaway!


Well, phooey. I have Sofia's first bath pictures to post (omg, what is cuter than a naked baby?!), but all Blogger will do is give me that little box with the red x in it. I'll try again later.
Woohoo! It finally worked. How cute is this? Sofia had just lost her umbilical cord remnant when Emily was whisked off to the hospital, so she had to wait nearly a week for her first real tub bath. It started a little rocky and she complained bitterly, but, as you can see, by the time Em got to the back washing part she was with the program. Who doesn't love having their back washed?

She seemed pretty happy about the whole thing by the time we were finished.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

My friend Gerrie has tagged me for a "Thinking Blogger" award. This is an idea that was started here and involves nothing more than identifying 5 blogs that make you think, writing a blog entry about them and passing along to each of them the opportunity to tag another 5 and so on. (OK, OK, it's a meme, and normally I don't do memes, but...) So the blogosphere is currently being littered with these awards! However, that fact does not diminish my pleasure in being tagged and named by Gerrie as one of her favorite blogs. Hers is certainly one of my favorites, but I won't tag her since she has already been tagged.

Here are my choices:

Deborah's Journal
I enjoy Deborah's posts of the great things she does with her kids, as well as her artistic endeavors. She typifies a certain kind of young Mom, who is devoted to her family, but continues to nurture her own creativity. She has recently self-published a small book that she is selling, along with some of her artwork on a new web site. I admire her entrepeneurial spirit and her easy-going writing style.

Kristin LaFlamme
Like Deborah, Kristin is the mother of young children who is also nurturing a family life while keeping her own creative fires burning. Kristin's quilts are simply wonderful and I look forward to seeing each new creation, but equally enjoy the posts about their life, as a military family, in Germany.

Both Kristin and Deborah make me think of myself at their ages. I spent late nights working on art and sewing, after my children were in bed. I sold my artwork at art festivals and taught occasional classes, but worked really in isolation for the most part. What a difference the internet and blogs and online communities have made! I would have been in heaven, at that point in my life, to have the kind of connections the internet provides.

Sandy Donabed
Sandy is a quiltart pioneer and I have long admired her work. I love her blog because it does make me think and it makes me laugh and it makes me wish she was my best friend and we could shop for shoes together and have two glasses of wine with lunch at some chi-chi new restaurant in the art gallery district.

June Underwood
I need to give credit to June's husband, Jerry, as well. The two of them trade off days on the blog. And they never miss a day! I can count on going to their blog every single morning and finding something beautiful, or quirky or thought-provoking.

This is a new favorite. Two young women, one in Portland, Oregon, one in Portland, Maine, (which are 3191 miles apart, thus the name) post a photo each morning, which are posted side by side without comments. They are not only glimpses into very private lives and everyday images beautifully captured, the interplay between the two photos, taken independently without any effort to coordinate colors or subjects, becomes eerily coincidental or quirkily compatible in very unnexpected ways.

So, those are my picks. I could have added a dozen more easily.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Post number 300 —sharing the love

So, how is that for a cheesy title! This is my 300th post on this blog. It's not that I am so big on mileposts— numbers 100 and 200 both passed without any awareness on my part, but when I started to approach 300 it got kind of exciting. It would have been hard for me to imagine back at post #1 that I would ever get to 300. I wondered, at the time, if I would even sustain any interest in this blogging business beyond a month or two. In quiet, but profound ways, blogging has changed my life. When I started I saw it as a way to share my artwork. It has evolved into a way of sharing the beautiful things that touch and inspire me in my everyday life. In the beginning I thought I would keep my thoughts fairly impersonal and after all, who really cares about my personal life? Some bloggers, in fact, remain entirely anonymous, but that just doesn't feel right to me and personal things creep in. I hope I maintain a certain balance. Sometimes I feel a little embarrassed by how self-indulgent keeping a blog is and I know there are people in my life who think it is just wierd or the height of narcissism, but others of you get what I'm doing and accept it for what it is.

Now, here is the "sharing the love" part. If you have been reading for awhile you might remember the image at the top of the page. It is a little quilt that I made to reproduce for my Valentines this year. It was the first piece I made this year. I still have about 5 of the Valentines left, as well as the original little quilt. To celebrate my 300th post I'd love to give them away to people who, for some mysterious reason, keep coming back and reading this blog. Leave me a comment, saying you'd like one of my Valentines. If there are more than 6 of you who respond in the next 48 hours, I will hold a random drawing to send 5 of the reproduced cards, and I will randomly choose one person to receive the actual quilt. Ray will supervise the drawing to make it all fair! It's my way of saying "thank you" for making me feel like I am part of the community of bloggers and friends who somehow find something worth reading and commenting on here.
P.S. Your comments about Emily's surgery and our scary hospital adventure were so supportive and kind, especially in light of the fact that most that commented have never even met us face to face. Thank you so much. She is home from the hospital and healing nicely. The baby is a tremendous blessing. As Emily told me this morning, "It is almost impossible to feel down with this little ray of sunshine around."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Life gets scary, just when you least expect it

Tuesday afternoon I was beginning to work on an art project when my phone rang. It was my daughter (mother of 3-week-old Sofia) gasping, "Mom—really bad pain in my stomach—can you come?"

Long story, shortened:

• dreadfully ill, very frightened daughter (Emily) in terrible pain
• very scared Mom (me)
• ambulance
• hours and hours and hours in the ER
• CAT scan
• perforated ulcer
• emergency surgery

Incredibly, the baby slept peacefully in my arms through all the drama. My husband was out of town, Emily's husband was at work, not answering his cell phone left in his backpack, out of hearing range. (I finally just left Emily in the ER and drove to his workplace and found him.) I will spare you the details, which, at this point are a jumbled and confusing bad dream in my head anyway, but tell you this story has a happy ending. Cayo or I have been spending nights at the hospital with Emily so she could have the baby with her and continue to nurse her. Emily is recovering, the baby is thriving, husbands/fathers all present and accounted for and doing their parts to keep things running smoothly.

Bad stuff happens in everyone's life, this I know. And while it is never welcome, it can certainly make you thankful. Thankful that Emily is not still in South America. Thankful that I was home when she called. Thankful for the EMTs with the ambulance, who were incredibly wonderful guys. Thankful for modern medicine and the smart and caring people who practice it. Thankful this didn't happen a month ago, before Sofia was born. Thankful, thankful for each other and for friends and for family. And for so much more.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

Don't you wish your Easter bonnet had bunny ears on it?

Interesting blog to take a look at

The day we visited the weavers in Teotitlan, on our trip to Mexico, we met a young couple from Seattle at the weaving studio. In fact they wanted to buy the same rug that Muriel ended up getting. Great folks, they offered us a ride back to Oaxaca and we took them out to dinner that evening. We had a great conversation and learned that Megan was a Doctor and David a photographer and teacher. They were headed in a meandering trip toward Chiapas where Megan was going to be volunteering in a hospital for several months. We have followed their progress on their blog since our return. Both are currently working at the hospital in Chiapas and Megan has been writing about the work and the patients she has seen so far. It is fascinating and written with great compassion. I so admire these two generous and talented young people and feel fortunate that we got to meet them. They are certainly doing their part to make the world a little better place.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Emily's quilt

I think I have been posting too many pictures of my grandbaby, so I thought, instead, I'd show you a quilt I made. (Try to ignore the baby and focus on the quilt, please.) This is one of very few traditional bed size quilts I ever made. I made it about 13 years ago for Emily to take with her to college. I have always loved the log cabin pattern and this one was made from fabrics that I sold in my quilt shop in Ashland. Emily used the quilt in college, at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, followed by a year teaching and working in Portland, then she packed it up, with all her other worldly belongings and drove it cross-country to graduate school at the School for International Training in Vermont. It was stored in our basement all the time she was in South America. She has had it on her bed here in Portland since she and Cayo moved here last summer. It has been well-used and I think, loved. It is a little faded, but all in all, has held up pretty well.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Easter eggs

When we went to Gerrie's yesterday we got to see her silk-dyed Easter eggs in person. They are even better in person and I was so intrigued I had to try it today. Since Ray no longer wears a tie to work every day he was happy to donate a few of his old silk ties to the cause.

I wondered if they would be too dark and somber looking for Easter-y eggs. Nope.

Isn't it interesting how differently the colors transferred? Some of Gerrie's were much brighter than mine, but I think she started with brighter silks in some cases. Or maybe it was because I had only a little bit of white vinegar to add to the water—not quite what the instructions called for. Or maybe because I boiled them in a stainless steel pan. I don't have a glass or enamel pan, either of which was specified in the instructions. BTW, I'm not repeating the instructions for doing this. If you want to know how the full instructions are on Martha Stewart's web site.

I found these two eggs especially interesting. The silk used for the top one obviously had some stitching left and the thread imprinted the unravelling lockstitch pattern very clearly. The bottom one, I think, had a stray piece of thread enclosed in the silk wrap, which also printed very clearly. It seems the threads were dyed with very potent dyes. The eggs look shiny because I rubbed a little vegetable oil on them.


I am nearing two milestones on my blog. This is post # 295. I am also approaching 50,000 visitors to the blog, although that is an artificial number, since it started counting when I added the site meter. I had already had several thousand visits at that time, but like the odometer on the car, it will still be exciting to see all those zeroes roll by! Seems like I should celebrate the near concurrance of 50,000 visits and 300 posts somehow. I will have to think about it. Suggestions?

I'm still waiting for my new monitor. I hope these photos don't look as dark on your screens as they are on mine.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Another birthday—do they get closer together each year?

My old friend Carla surprised me with a nice birthday message on her blog today. It was such a sweet message from a dear person, although I am not sure I can quite forgive her for the 30 year old picture of me that she posted!

This was not nearly as traumatic a birthday as last year—I was trying hard to be cool, but, gulp, 60 was a shock to the system. It is a glorious spring day today and I started the day with my usual walk with Beth, then we went to Gerrie's for a meeting of our small quilt group, STASH, followed by lunch and sinful desserts at Papa Haydn. It was so beautiful we sat outdoors and drank in the good company, great food and incredible April-ness of the day. What a gift these women are in my life!

Then I got a visit from my daughter and granddaughter who brought me a card and gorgeous, deliciously fragrant Easter lily. Sofia, however, had just eaten and had fallen into a slack-jawed, rag-doll milk coma and could not manage to open her eyes long enough to have her picture taken.

And finally, here is a shot of my birthday present from Ray.

I had been admiring the red shoes that Lesley Riley kept showing in her blog photos of her trip to New Zealand and finally emailed her and asked if they were comfortable and what the brand was. She emailed back and raved about them. Then last weekend when Muriel was here, we walked into a new little shoe shop in my neighborhood and there they were, as if it had been meant to be—but SO expensive. When I expressed my longing for these wonderful shoes, Ray jumped on that and declared that they would be my birthday present. He loves it when he doesn't have to go out and search for something.

Another birthday down and on to the next year. It has been a good one.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Life goes on

We have been in a fog for the last two weeks, entirely focused on our daughter and her labor and delivery and our sweet, sweet granddaughter. We are gradually rejoining the real world, but a shift of major proportions has occurred and life, as we knew it, will not be the same. We are, once again, a family of three generations. We all take a step forward into new roles and we expand the circle of our family lovingly around Sofia and life goes on, even better than before.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Yesterday I started cutting out polka dots.

The polka dots have been rolling around the back of my mind for the past week. Just as I was dozing off at night, there they'd be. A departure from my usual visions and hallucinations. Here's what I have at the end of the day today. There will be more. Check back.

I am blogging with a handicap tonight and I apologize if these pictures are not so good. My monitor conked out this morning. It has been threatening, but today was the day. It is still under warranty, but I had to send it back and they will send me a new one. Tonight I am using my old monitor, which is blurry and dark. Bad conditons for preparing photos. I feel like I am viewing them through tinted glasses that are the wrong prescription.