Friday, September 28, 2007

The Aunts

I remember hearing Garrison Keiller, on the News from Lake Wobegon, talking about coming to the time in his life when his aunts and uncles all seemed to be dying. He said he thought of them like sturdy old trees, always there, always dependable, pillars of the family, passing on, one by one.

Ray's aunt Bessie was never a tree, but a slender and frail tiny twig of a woman with a hilarious crackly voice and the devil in her eyes. Ray says she was always the most fun to visit, as a child, because of her secret stash of candy bars and comic books and her willingness to conspire with the boys in playing practical jokes on the other adults in the family. We visited her in a nursing home last spring. She sat on her bed with her birdlike little legs folded in the lotus position and cracked jokes about her age and infirmities. When an attendant came in to give her pills she flirted outrageously and as he left she whispered loudly behind her hand, "He loooooves me!" followed by her signature cackle. I believe she was 96. You couldn't not love her.

My aunt Virginia was definitely a tree—something tough and graceful like a madrone. She was a horsewoman and cut a striking figure in boots, jeans, hat and chunky silver and turquoise bracelets stacked up both arms. She could fix a horse or a child with her clear blue penetrating eyes, put on an exaggerated scowl, and they were putty in her hands. She had the best laugh ever, deep and throaty and totally infectious and found a lot to laugh about in life. The New Mexico sun baked those laugh lines and crinkles at the corners of her eyes into permanence and she had a little twitch at the corner of her mouth that implied that she might burst into laughter at any second. I always thought she was quite beautiful, even at 90.

They never knew each other—different sides of the family, different parts of the country—but each has left us, within days of each other, with lovely memories and thankfulness that they were part of our lives.

I am climbing out of the black hole that has been this last week. Thanks for all the kind messages.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I am about done in... recent events. Ray's darling Aunt Bessie died on Friday. My amazing Aunt Virginia died on Sunday. Emily's good friend's baby died, inexplicably, today at daycare. (The same daycare Sofia goes to. Thankfully, she was with me today.) Devastating.

I will be concentrating my energy and attention on my family for a few days. I'll be back soon.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Holy Moly. This is my 400th blog post. Seems like a good time to ponder the whole blogging thing. Some things I have been thinking about:

Obligation:: I keep reading blogs where the author says things like, "I'm so sorry I haven't blogged in awhile," or "I'm such a bad blogger..." as if they are letting someone down or shirking their responsibilities. Is someone complaining? If so, shame on the complainer. Blogs are personal diaries that the blogger graciously allows others to read. Bloggers owe the readers nothing, in my opinion. Until I start getting paid to write this blog I won't feel obligated to follow a regular schedule or produce words on demand and I'll never expect that of any other blogger. I'm happy when people read what I've written and I enjoy writing it. If it stops being enjoyable I'll probably stop doing it.

That said, there are
Things I wonder about:: Gerrie and I were discussing this while we worked at the Japanese Garden the other day. Why does anyone start a blog by saying something like, "well, I guess I will follow the crowd and start me a blog," then they invite everyone to come and look at their blog and then they never add another post, or post every 6 months at the most? Do they really want a blog or think it is something they "should" do to keep up? Obligation again?

I also wonder why people start anonymous blogs, where they use a cryptic pseudonym, post no pictures of themselves, refer to their family members as "boy," "girl," "man," etc. I'm not saying it's not OK to do this, but just something I don't understand and makes me wonder if they're in the witness protection program or hiding from the feds. Paranoid?

Comments:: I know approximately how many people look at this blog per day. Only a tiny percentage ever leave a comment. I think there are people who know me who are reading. I know you are there because sometimes you'll say something like, "did you ever finish your journal quilt" when I see you at a meeting. How'd you know about my journal quilt? Had to be the blog. One day a clerk in a quilt shop said to me, "How's your adorable granddaughter—Sofia, is it?" I was bewildered, sure I hadn't talked to this woman in over a year and wondered how she knew about my granddaughter. Had to be the blog. Most curious of all is when I can see that someone has found my blog by googling my name. Yes, I can see that! And I can usually also see what city you are in. Who are you? An old boyfriend? Someone I went to camp with? Someone I owe money to? Or maybe just someone looking for another Terry Grant. So I'm just saying, I'm glad you're out there and reading and it would please me no end if you'd leave a little "howdy" in the comments every once in awhile.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Race for the Cure, Portland

Emily, Beth, Sofia and I all joined in the Race for the Cure here in Portland this morning. What a great event. This is at least my 5th Race for the Cure. We do the 5K walk, which is the largest of the events. We met up with other teachers from the school where Emily teaches. The school principal, who was there to walk today, is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer, so her staff showed up to show support. I think everyone knows family or friends who have had this very common cancer and we all want a cure to be found, so it is great to be able to support an organization that has been so effective in funding research and moving treatment options forward.

Sofia didn't really understand what it was all about, but she took the opportunity and had a nice nap through the entire walk. That's Emily below in the dark red sweater pushing the stroller.

Heading up toward Broadway at the beginning of the walk, it was hard to tell how many walkers there were. Those in pink hats and shirts are breast cancer survivors. Many people had pink sheets of paper pinned to their backs that said they were walking in memory of someone or in celebration of someone's survival. My Mom had breast cancer and survived for 13 years. It had a lasting effect on her health and probably contributed to her relatively early death. I didn't have a sign on my back with her name, but I certainly think about Mom whenever I participate in the RFTC. As we made our way up the incline toward the Broadway Bridge I looked back to see walkers as far as the eye could see. There were just as many ahead of us. I haven't heard a final count yet, but the number I heard this morning was 49,000 participants. Portland's is the second largest RFTC event in the US. (If you've been taking notes during my Portland tour blog entries, you will recognize "Big Pink," looking especially pink today, in the background)

It was a beautiful, crisp morning and very festive event, with cheerleaders all along the route, cheering us on, bands playing, people waving from rooftops and at the finish line a balloon arch and pink roses for all the breast cancer survivors finishing the walk.

The walk concluded at Waterfront Park where there were tents and tables set up with all kinds of freebies for the participants. The longest line was at the Macy's tent where they were giving away cute black and pink tote bags and pink underwear! We decided it wasn't worth the long wait in line, but scored granola bars, yogurt, bottled water, sun chips, cheese, bananas and cookies at other tents. Sofi woke up for the party and showed off her pink socks.

A good time was had by all, and a huge pile of money was raised for cancer research! It was a worthwhile Sunday.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

And the tour continues

Before we headed uptown we walked across to Waterfront Park, which runs along the river for about a mile. This land was once freeway. It is now the jewel of this city and the place where we gather for our most important celebrations, but daily it is filled with walkers, runners, sunners and downtown workers who bring their lunch for a peaceful few minutes near the river. Tomorrow morning, early, I am headed to Waterfront Park for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

We paused at Waterfront Park to remember Bill Naito, one of Portland's most beloved citizens. As a teenager, Naito and his family like all Japanese Americans living on the West Coast, were sent to an internment camp for the duration of WWII. When the war ended the family returned to their home in Portland and Bill Naito, by then a young man, built the family import business and invested his money in the beautiful old historic buildings we saw at the beginning of the tour. He saved these buildings, restored them and filled them with thriving businesses. He envisioned a city with a richly preserved history and a vigorous inner life and did his part to make it happen. One of his many projects was the beautiful waterfront memorial to the Japanese Americans who spent the war years in internment camps.

Those are the names of the internment camps engraved on the standing stone and those are Japanese Cherry trees planted along the river behind the memorial. When Naito died in 1997 his funeral was held here and he was mourned by all of Portland. For a man who became so wealthy and powerful, he was universally loved by the city to whom he gave so much.

After leaving the waterfront we caught the MAX light rail train to go uptown on our tour. Here, under the Burnside Bridge, the MAX lines run where the old Trolley lines ran in the 1800's.

While on the train, our guide, Rich, told us about the ultimately successful political fight to make riding the MAX free in the heart of the city—what is known as "fareless square". Less than 18% of MAX's budget is covered by fares. Most of it is subsidized by business taxes.

Our destination was Pioneer Courthouse Square, known as "Portland's Living Room." The ever enthusiastic Rich called it the "finest outdoor urban space in America." This beautiful place was once the site of a grand hotel, then of a nasty, treeless parking lot.

That's the Pioneer Courthouse, which gives the square its name there at the end of the bricks and to the left is the historic Meier and Frank Department Store building. M&F, to my sorrow, was purchased recently by Macy's and the store is currently closed and being renovated. M&F started in Portland and has a long history. There is a sweet story about the beginnings of the store and a darning needle that is well-known in these parts. M&F used to run this story in their ads and offer a free darning needle to the first 100 customers in the door on the day of the ad.

Pioneer Courthouse Square is always busy and a beautiful place to pause in the heart of the city. Rich said he picked up his son downtown a few weeks ago and there was a band playing late in the square with lots of people watching and dancing, and as they drove by, enjoying the sights and sounds, a raccoon casually strolled across Broadway in front of Nordstrom's, stopping traffic in both directions.

Six months

Today Sofia is six months old. Such a short amount of time, really, for such a change in our lives. I love this child more than I can express. Who knew?

A tour of the city

Boy, it has been a busy week. I thought retirement was supposed to be relaxing. Trouble is I'm not entirely retired. I worked all day today at a client's. It's a company that makes big commercial kitchen fans. Their customers include Disneyland, cruise ships, colleges and universities, the Navy and lots of restaurants. I do the design and layout for their manuals and brochures. It's not the most glamorous graphic design work there is, but it is oddly challenging and the people, mostly nerdy engineer types, are really nice. They call me when they need me. They are about my only clients at this point.

Yesterday I was retired and got to do something fun. A group I belong to took a tour of downtown Portland, something I have never done in the 14 years I have lived here.
Here we are with our guide, Rich, a transplanted New York architect, who is very enthusiastic about Portland. He called Portland "the last best hope for urban America." According to him Portland, the 25th largest metropolitan area in the United States, has the most vital downtown, best public services, least crime, best green spaces, best public transportation, great architecture, etc, etc.

We started our tour, on the cobblestones where Portland started, near the Willamette River. We're at the Skidmore Fountain, named for one of the founding fathers—the one who won the coin toss and got to name the city "Portland." (It would have been called "Boston" if he'd lost—seriously.)

Correction: It was near the Skidmore Fountain site that Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove tossed the coin to name the city. Pettygrove won and the city was named Portland. Got my facts tangled up! And, for Wanda, that happened in 1843.

We saw a lot of the old buildings, and remnants of old buildings from the city's beginnings. Many of the buildings in this part of town have cast iron facades.
Are you bored yet? Not me—I just love this stuff! Here's a building that is being restored and will be used by the University of Oregon for their school of architecture programs in Portland.

And the view from across the street.

Isn't that going to be fabulous? The colors make me very happy.

I was the only person on the tour with a camera and I took about 40 pictures. And I'm going to show you every, single, one! Just kidding, but I am just getting started. This was the beginning of the tour. Next we go uptown, but I'll save that for another day. Here's the view from Old Town, looking uptown. I like the juxtaposition of the old buildings and the view of the US Bank Tower, Portland's tallest building. It is affectionately called "big pink."

I love Portland. I was kind of sad, thinking that when we move we won't be able to say we're from Portland anymore, but Rich, our guide, put my mind at rest. He asked if we all lived in Portland. One of the group said she was from Tigard, a suburb of Portland. Rich said, "Hey, that's Portland! The suburbs—Tigard, Wilsonville, Beaverton—nobody ever heard of them. Anybody asks ya—you're from Portland, Oregon, Baby!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

September song

When we crossed Fanno Creek this morning we saw these wood ducks swimming by. The ducks have been gone from the creek all summer. It was crisp and chilly on the trail. Sometimes September here is like a continuation of summer, but our summer seemed short and cooler than usual and now fall is truly here. It may get warmer again, but Ray turned the furnace on today and I dug out my fleece vest before I left the house this morning. I found a dollar in the pocket.

Our critique group met today at June's studio. Last month all I had to show was the big drawing of Farmer Girl. This month it was Farmer Girl again. I pinned the parts that are coming together to the drawing and warned them they would probably be seeing FG again next month. Too much going on in real life to get a lot of art done. FG needs to be done soon, however.

My vintage sewing stuff sold on eBay today. Not for much. But I am moving things out of here. Less to move when the time comes. I spent yesterday going through my closet with ruthless resolve. Today I took 3 big black garbage bags of clothing, one big bag of shoes and a little bag of handbags to Goodwill. Then I celebrated by buying a pair of purple jeans.

The chit-chatty element on the QuiltArt list has been hashing over the very important topic of what kind of clothes an artist should wear, and asking "do your clothes look like your quilts?" Another inane discussion. In the longrun I get a lot of good stuff from the QA list, but many days I just delete in disgust. It did cross my mind today, however, that purple jeans would fit the bill for artist's attire, according some of the criteria I've been reading. They're really not outrageous enough, though. They are a nice sedate deep, dark purple.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Japanese Garden day

Yesterday, Sunday, was the "meet the artists" reception for the Japanese Garden Show. They don't like anyone taking pictures in the Pavilion, but I got one quick one showing part of the show.

I also took this one of Gerrie, who is showing her work at the Garden for the first time this year. I think she has already sold about 4 pieces. She was pretty excited. That is her small piece with the red moon. I just love that piece.

It was a drizzly day, but the garden is really beautiful in any kind of weather. I took the picture of the leaves so Ray can try to identify the beautiful tree they came from. Looking at this picture I am thinking it is a marijuana tree!

When we got home we were a little chilled. The weather has definitely turned fall-ish here. I made a pot of soup for dinner—my Weight Watcher influenced take on minestrone. I think it was the best soup I've ever made. And I've made some pretty good soup in my day . . .

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Here's a little peek

I have felt almost superstitious about showing any pictures of the house before everything is final. We have not closed yet, but everything looks good, so I thought I'd share just a little peek. Here is the view of the house from the wooded front section of the yard looking across the creek.

This next one is taken from the same spot, turning 180 degrees and looking toward the road. That's Ray and our realtor.

Can you picture a little studio right there in that clearing? I can.

Here is one immediate challenge—the kitchen.

Tidy and functional enough, but the color scheme is turquoise and purple. Gulp. And yes, those are turquoise valances with big purple buttons on them. Purple pleated shades pull down from inside them. And, of course, matching blotchy purple wallpaper. (I am imagining my sister looking at this—she has a horror of all things purple! Hi Beck.)

What appears to be a stainless steel refrig is actually pale metallic blue. I have never seen a refrigerator like it. The table and chairs belong to the sellers, as do the bananas, so they will go. I'm not much of a "blue" person, especially combined with purple and especially in the kitchen. This has to go. I am thinking warm wood cabinets, terra cotta tile, new appliances, new countertops—something earthy and substantial. And, look—the unvented stove is in front of the greenhouse window. I think the sink belongs there, don't you?

Friday, September 14, 2007

September garden

This afternoon I noticed this view out the dining room window.

Ray is doing some spruce up painting on the front porch and put the porch furniture out in the yard. I loved the way the rocker looked sitting out in the sideyard with the bird feeder and houses. I was reminded how pretty that old rocker is when I saw it in a new environment. Maybe that's why I am getting excited about moving—seeing everything in a new environment.
We are pretty far into the process of buying the house in Beaverton (which, it turns out is not actually in Beaverton, but a bit beyond the city limits in rural Washington county.) It is all but a done deal. So we are getting our sweet old house ready to sell.

There are so many nice things about this house, where we have spent the past 14 years, that I will miss, not least of which is the garden. We had a landscape designer, Mitzi Van Sant, help us redesign it several years ago, (if you look at "projects" on her web site you will see our garden listed as "Grant") and Ray has just taken her design and improved upon it day by day and month by month. There are a lot of personal touches in our yard.

This is Ray's bell. He has wanted one of these for a long time and we finally bought this one at the Garden Show where we sold our garden art last spring. It is made from an oxygen tank and makes the most soulful sound—a low and resonant "mmmmmmuuuuuunnnnggggg". This will, of course, go to the new house.
This is one of the fish blocks I made for the patio. These will stay with the house and it pleases me a little that these blocks, which I worked pretty hard on, will remain as my contribution to this great old house. Of course the new owners may trash them, but I don't want to know about that. And I still have the mold, so if the new house has a place that cries out for fish blocks I will haul out the concrete and the mold.

It is beginning to sink in that we will really be moving. It really is very exciting, despite all the work that is ahead of us. I think of a house as another creative project and I am really looking forward to digging into the remodeling. And just look what Ray is doing:

He's potting up plants and starts to move to the new house. He feels about gardening like I do about cabinets and paint colors. Isn't this going to be fun??!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

We meet at last

I have "known" Larkin van Horn for years—at least 12, I think—but I've never actually met her until today. Larkin lives on Whidby Island in Washington state. Larkin is a member of the QuiltArt listserve that I have belonged to for a long time. I think she was even on the QuiltNet list before that. She is curating the "Good to be Green" invitational show that I'm participating in. I've seen her work, read her words so much that I do feel like I know her. Such is this cyber age! Amazing, isn't it?

She was our guest speaker at today's Columbia Stitchery Guild quarterly meeting and she was excellent. Her forte is beading on fabric. She's written books about this and had a great slide show for us that included both hers and others quilts. After we exhanged a hug and our pleasure at finally meeting face to face, she said, jokingly, to me, "am I ever going to get you to put a bead on a quilt?" I am famously not interested in adding beads to my work, though after an online conversation about this I did accept a challenge to make a beaded/embellished piece. I shared the results here. But something Larkin said in her talk today got me thinking. She said she considered anything with a hole in it to be a bead. Then I remembered this quilt:

I made this about 6 years ago for a challenge for our STASH group. It is called "Rockin' and Rollin'" and those metallic circles you see are all brass washers. I think those qualify as beads under Larkin's definition. I told her I'd send her a photo of it. I guess I am a "beader" after all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Yes, it is that anniversary. The very sad anniversary of that day we will never forget. And today it is that same kind of beautiful September day that makes you feel alive and happy and as if nothing bad could ever happen, with that same clear, blue sky. Just like it was 6 years ago. It still seems so unreal. That day. That day that has shadowed every day since.


It is also the anniversary, today, of this blog. I have been writing this for 2 years now. Can I say that this blog has changed my life? It has. It has brought me friends and opportunities I could not have imagined. It has allowed me to see my own life in a new light and to be present and aware in ways I would not have imagined.
Thanks to all of you who visit and read and especially to those of you who take the time to comment. You can't imagine how much I love reading those comments. They are what make this blog a conversation and not just a self-indulgent monologue.
I'm sending out sad thoughts and happy today. From my house to yours.
Love, Terry

Monday, September 10, 2007

Too much stuff

I have spoken of this before. I need to clear things out. For so many reasons. When we move I want to move only what I really want or need. William Morris said:
“Have nothing in your house
that you do not know to be useful,
or believe to be beautiful”
And, of course, the "beautiful" part is open to interpretation and changes as the years go by.
Once upon a time I was enamored of old sewing things. I liked what they represented—women who had used these things. Women who took pleasure in the same kind of work I enjoy. Their tools and leftovers inspired me and held a kind of beauty. But, like so many things, I have forgotten to see them when I pass their shelf and they are now dusty and unloved, so I intend to pass them along. Find these beauties and more on ebay. (I dusted them before I took the pictures)

Click on the photo to go to the auction.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Moving to Beaver Town

You may have seen this, frankly, pathetic comment left by my friend June, on yesterday's post.

"The kid's cute and I can understand why you might want to move closer to her -- but shoot, I'm cute too and if you move to Beaverton, I'll never get to see you. I'll probably patronize you and torment you with teasers about the Museum and galleries and FOOD, and then you'll get mad and give up any contact altogether -- yeesh, all that, just for an adorable granddaughter. Where's your sense of values? [add a couple of snorts in here somewhere]. "

I simply cannot let this pass without my own comment.
Dear June, you are indeed cute—adorable even. When I have moved to Beaverton and joined the Suburban Ladies of Beaverton Society, it is true that I may have no further need to associate with you, but keeping an open mind is what I'm all about and I think I will still have room in my life for you.
It is not so hard, really, to find Beaverton. They have roads that now connect Portland and Beaverton.

There is also the MAX light rail system that goes from Portland all the way to Hillsboro, with several stops in Beaverton. That is really the way to go.

Once you get off the train in Beaverton, it is a mere 5 mile hike (uphill) to our house. You will love it. You will pass Nike World Headquarters along the way as you hike up Murray Blvd. as well as the only K Mart in the Portland Metro area. I suppose if you stopped whining I could even pick you up at the station. I think the clean country air will be good for your lungs and help to alleviate your inner city pallor as well.

As for me, I have heard that many people from Beaverton do actually travel to SE Portland—mostly to collect the rent. ( rimshot!) Even though I have no rent to collect I expect I will still be able to find my way. Yes, I will miss some of the amenities of "the city", but there is in fact FOOD in Beaverton. Beavers are actually very tasty. And while there are no museums, the library frequently hosts very high quality, musuem quality exhibits. In fact there is currently a fascinating exhibit of German harmonicas there, so there really is no lack of cultural stimulation.

I hope I have put your mind at rest and you have been reassured that I have not forsaken you in favor of the precious Sofia.

Your faithful friend, Terry