Tuesday, July 31, 2007

At the cabin

We are at the cabin. My parents designed the cabin and started building it in 1960. My Dad did most of the work himself, with friends helping. As kids we helped peel logs and pounded a few nails, but mostly we stayed out of the way as the big logs were swung into place. It is two hours from Pocatello, so we spent a lot of weekends, first working on the building, then years and years of family get-aways, thousands of great meals, countless card games and jigsaw puzzles and afternoon naps and hikes to pick berries. To say this is a special place does not begin to describe it. It is, in so many ways, our parents' legacy and where we most strongly feel their spirit.

Here's the view of the lake from the front porch.

Inside. The decor will never be featured in Architectural Digest, but it is comfortable and personal.

I made that quilt years ago as a sample for my shop. Its pine tree motif seemed to fit here. It has faded over the years.

The big project for this trip is to replace the roof. Very scary prospect. Here are my brother Steve, now the cabin's owner, and my guys, Ray and Andy, working on the scaffolding/platform they will work from. I'm a little nervous about this job. Keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Today we are at my brother's house in Pocatello, Idaho, where I grew up.

Do you know where Idaho is? A lot of people don't seem to. Idaho is not Iowa. Idaho is not Indiana. Idaho is not Ohio. Idaho is not in the Midwest. It is nowhere near Des Moines or Sioux City. Idaho is in the Northwest, right next door to Oregon and Washington. It is where the world's best potatos are grown. It is the state with more federal wilderness area than any other. It is the state of beautiful mountains and great skiing (Sun Valley!) and the wild and scenic Salmon River and the Craters of the Moon and the Snake River Canyon. There are a few crackpot white supremacists holed up near the Canadian border who have done their best to give all of Idaho a bad reputation, but pay no attention to them. Idaho is filled with a lot of good people, some of whom we are related to.

This is where we are headed. That is the Palisades Dam you see near the bottom of the photo and behind it the Palisades Reservoir on the Snake River. The river was dammed and the lake created in the 1950's to create irrigation water reserves for the farms downriver (potatoes, don't you know!). That was when my parents decided we needed a family project and leased forest land, overlooking the new lake, on which to build a cabin. The cabin is just to the right of the photo, just about where you see the first little finger of the lake poking out. The lake is deep and cold and beautiful and is 22 miles long, extending into Wyoming. Those mountains you see in the distance are in Wyoming. Just over the mountains, to the left, are the Tetons and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. To me, this is a very special and wonderful little corner of the world. I hope I can show you around the place in the next week.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Green quilt drawing

If you have been following the progress of my "Good to be Green" quilt, you will know that this is my final, full-sized drawing, from which I will work. This is probably the hardest part, finished.

If you look back at the previous versions you should be able to see some changes here. First, someone pointed out that she needed pockets, which led me to the conclusion that what she needed was really a pair of fairly traditional overalls. You can probably see that I actually cut out the area where the old drawing of her clothes was and taped in a new section with the details of her overalls. You can probably see that I also spent some time working on the lilies and the leaves and adding more flowers to the background. Now the fun part of choosing the fabrics and colors will begin.

I just wrote a message to the QuiltArt list responding to a post about the need to constantly hone our skills. I agreed and stated my opinion that it is so important for artists to learn to draw and to keep drawing. This sometimes gets me in trouble because a few of the people on that list seem to believe that art should spring from one's heart or soul, without the corrupting influences of any kind of practice or training! But I disagree. If you do representational work, as I do, drawing well is an important skill, but even for people doing abstract work, the practice of drawing is brain training for seeing and understanding visual relationships and pattern and balance and all those things that go into art. Drawing is hard work and it remains hard work even as you get better at it, at least it does for me. But it is certainly satisfying when you feel like you've captured something on paper, because you feel like you have gained an understanding of the thing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sofia spends the day

Emily taught a class today, so Sofi came to spend the day with us. She started the day with me and Beth and our daily walk on the Fanno Creek Trail.
Beth and Sofi as we are starting down the trail. For the first half she kicked her little feet and waved her hands and enjoyed the view, but that's hard work for a baby, so she slept on the return trip.

After the walk we went home and spent some time in the swing, then practiced rolling from back to front on a blanket on the floor, changed a diaper, then some quality time with Grandpa Ray. They enjoy walks in the garden followed by some time in the hammock. The last time Sofia stayed with us she was not very happy with her bottle—she much prefers her breast milk straight from the source. Emily bought a different brand of bottle and nipple, which seemed to be more acceptable today. Or maybe it was eating outdoors in the hammock that made the difference.

After lunch Sofi and Grandpa each had a little nap in the hammock.

Before we knew it the day was gone and Mama was back to pick her up. Sofia and grandparents both survived her first full day with us.


Progress on the green thumb quilt

I printed my Illustrator sketch out at full size, tiling it onto a bunch of sheets, and taped it up on my glass door. Then I taped a full size sheet of paper over it and traced it lightly with pencil.

I know I am going to want to make some changes and refinements to the full size pattern. I keep the traced lines light enough that I can change them if I need to. When I have made the necessary changes I'll trace the whole thing again with a black permanent marker.

Monday, July 23, 2007

It's good to be green

That is the theme of a show being organized by Larkin Van Horn. She invited a group of us to each create a piece using that theme. The size is specific. It must measure 45" vertically by 18" wide. I am just getting started with mine and thought it might be interesting to document the steps here over the next couple of months. I e-mailed Larkin to see if she had any objections to my doing that and her reply was that it was OK, but she wasn't crazy about having finished pieces shown on the web because she plans to create a CD of all the images in the show that will be for sale. Proceeds will help defray shipping costs with any leftover funds going to Habitat for Humanity. So I probably won't show you the final finished product, just parts of the process. Maybe your interest will be piqued enough that you will want to visit the show or purchase the CD!

I have considered and rejected many ideas for this piece. Several years ago I made this quilt for a guild challenge. I decided to expand on the same idea and called the quilt "green thumb." Below is my preliminary sketch, done in Adobe Illustrator. I like using Illustrator for these kinds of sketches. I can try out different things, resize elements, and move parts around. For this piece I could draw a leaf and copy it multiple times, rotating it and resizing it to create groupings.

I will print this out, full-size on multiple pieces of paper that I will tape together. Then I will trace it onto a single sheet and make adjustments and changes there. Even though this looks like a finished idea, you can be sure that changes will be happening all through the process.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


On our trip to So. OR we also visited Ashland, where we lived from 1979-1993. Ashland is a great place to visit and was, in many ways, a great place to live. It is really where my kids grew up. They were 3 and 5 when we moved there and 16 and 18 when we left. It was where I worked first, at the world famous Shakespeare Festival and later opened my own quilt shop. I made wonderful friends in Ashland and I missed it terribly when we left. On the other hand, beautiful as it is, it has become tremendously overpriced and populated by rich retirees. Three of the 5 elementary schools have closed in recent years because there are simply fewer and fewer children. Young families cannot afford to live there.

Still, it is always fun to visit. I love the downtown with its charming plaza.

There are lots of great old buildings from several different eras. One of my favorites is the Varsity Theater, an old Art Deco style movie theater, which still shows first-run movies. They have divided the inside of the theater into several small theaters now.

One of the newer shops in town is a fabric store called "Fabric of Vision" just around the corner from where my shop was years ago. Here is the owner, Sandi.

I enjoyed visiting with her, and really like the choices she has made for her store. Of course I left with a small bag of goodies.
Another store that is a must-stop for fiber lovers is Web•sters. This store has been there for years and started out as a weaving supply shop. They now carry wearable art and the most beautiful yarns imaginable in addition. They also have the best jewelry I've seen anywhere.

My old Ashland neighbor, Muriel, has moved from Ashland down the road to Phoenix, OR, but she still owns a children's bookstore in Ashland. It is right on the plaza and is called "Treehouse Books".
She was frantically preparing for a late night party and the unveiling of the new Harry Potter book. Here's an article in the Ashland Daily Tidings about what she has planned.

Here she is huddled in a corner of the shop working on paperwork and orders—the exciting life of a shopkeeper.

It used to be when we returned to Ashland we would see lots of old friends and acquaintances on the street and in the shops. Not so much any more. Things change and the town changes each time we return. It no longer feels like we are "going home". It is just a nice place where we used to live.

Here are Steve and Brenda on the steps of the building where my shop was located from 1988 to 1993. The building is empty at the moment.

You can see how it used to look here.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


This post is a little sidetrack. There have been some questions on the QuiltArt list about the possibility of people "stealing" images from web sites and blogs and using them for nefarious and commercial purposes. One person pointed out that such low resolution images are not very useful for commercial purposes, so they were not worried. Another chimed in that it is quite easy to increase the resolution with "a good graphics program," therefore making such theft quite possible.

I was taught that while it is possible to increase the resolution of an image in Photoshop, it accomplishes little in terms of producing a usable high resolution image, because the program only guesses at what the missing detail would be. I was so indoctrinated in this belief that I have stood by it staunchly. I also hear that increasing the resolution in increments produces better results than simply increasing it in one step. I decided to do a little experiment and share it here.

Figure 1. This is the image I started with, scanned, full size at 72 ppi.

Figure 2. This is the same image reduced to 30 ppi. Really terrible isn't it? You can see the individual pixels at this resolution.
Figure 3. This is the 30 ppi image, increased back to 72 ppi in one step. It smoothes out the pixelation through the process of interpolation, but much of the detail has been lost—for example none of the stitching which you could see in the original has been restored and it's all pretty fuzzy.

Figure 4. This is the 30 ppi image restored to 72 ppi in 4 steps, about 10 ppi per step. I can't really see any difference between this one and the last.

So my conclusion is that what I was taught stands. I don't think increasing resolution by any method (at least in Photoshop) produces a high quality image. And I continue to be unconcerned about the possibility that someone will steal my quilts to print posters and coffee mugs.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Southern Oregon

You may have noticed I've been gone for a few days. We took a trip to Southern Oregon—a pilgrimage of sorts. We didn't go for the berries, though they were ripe and beautiful and we couldn't resist a few baskets purchased, on the honor system, from a roadside stand.We went, as we have every summer for more than twenty years, to the historic little gold mining town of Jacksonville.

We went, specifically, to a beautiful, green hillside overlooking the little town. To the grounds of the Britt Music Festival to see and hear K.D. Lang and Lyle Lovett. Many years ago when we lived in nearby Ashland, we started going to a Britt concert every summer with our neighbor Muriel and her then husband. We moved, they split up, Muriel moved, but we continued to meet Muriel every summer for a concert. This year my brother Steve and his wife Brenda joined us. The line starts to form late in the afternoon for the evening concert. You need to be in line, outside the gates, early to get a good spot on the lawn for your blanket.

Brenda, Steve, Muriel and Ray pass the time in line by perusing the program for the evening's performances.

Once inside the grounds you stake out your territory with blankets and/or tarp. These are our nifty new "pod" chairs. They offer a little back support. The Britt rules say your butt may not rest more than 4" above the ground in the blanket section of the lawn.

Before the concert starts you can purchase food or other refreshments like a nice bottle of good, local wine.

Soon the hillside is filled with people, the sun begins to set and the lights come on in the big redwood band shell. Close your eyes and imagine the smell of pine and fresh grass, a cool breeze at the end of a hot and muggy day. The crowd settles in and the magic begins as the lights come up on a stage filled with musicians, and then the music pours like rich caramel syrup across the hillsides and every time I think, "there is nowhere on earth I would rather be at this moment" regardless of whether I am listening to Roberta Flack or Judy Collins, or Dave Brubeck or, like tonight, K. D. Lang singing this glorious version of this glorious song. Perfect.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Summertime distractions

Are you finding time, this summer, to lay in the hammock, relax in an air-conditioned theater, read a good book, veg in front of the TV? I hope so.
Here are a few of the entertainments I've been enjoying:


Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
By far the best book I've read all year. Oskar Schell, 9 years old, made me laugh, broke my heart and ultimately gave me hope. Learn more here.

Broken for You
I really enjoyed the quirky characters and the relationships. The plot is a little far-fetched, but makes you wish it really could happen. More here.

OK, I haven't been sitting in air-conditioned theaters. We've been getting movies from Netflix and sweating through them. Here are a couple of my favorites.
Stranger than Fiction
Yes, it's Will Ferrall, but it's not what you think. This is a good movie—really good, in my opinion. I'm not the only one who thought so.

If you are one of those people who just won't watch a movie with subtitles—well you miss out on a lot of good movies. Princesas is from Spain. It is a story about the friendship between two prostitutes, each very different from the other. Sad and beautiful.
All I can say is thank goodness for HBO.
Big Love
I can't get enough of this bizarre, messed up polygamous family.

I know I'm not the demographic for this show, but I find these bad boys pretty entertaining, and most entertaining of all is Jeremy Piven.
Flight of the Conchords
This is probably one of those shows that you either love or hate. It is deeply weird and the music is so bad it is almost good. It makes me laugh.

I'm watching "John From Cinncinnati" too, but don't know if I can stick with it. It is really weird!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

In my own backyard

I am designing a piece for an invitational show of fiber art with the theme "It's good to be green". The curator says interpret this any way you want. My plan is to include a lot of foliage and flowers in my piece, so I went out looking for inspiration this morning. I didn't have to look very far.

And here's the gardener. Picking blueberries.