Monday, February 25, 2008

Oh no

You probably know my fondness for Talavera pottery from Mexico. This dish sits on our kitchen counter and usually holds fruit. Ray went to move it yesterday, to clean the counter, and it fell into pieces in his hand. Probably had developed a crack that finally went. Oh man. Bummer.

It didn't cost much and you can see that the painting of the design is pretty crude, but it was a nice shape and very colorful. But most of all, when I look at this bowl I remember the day that I bought it 14 years ago.
We had traveled to Guanajuato, Mexico with the Ashland City Band, where the band played a concert and marched in the festival parade. Guanajuato is Ashland's sister city. We were treated like honored guests in beautiful Guanajuato. On one of our free days we got a bus and driver to take the group to nearby Dolores Hidalgo, the birthplace of the Mexican revolution. It is a small village out among the scrub and cactus in the high dessert, with a beautiful church at one side of the town square, where in 1810, Father Hidalgo delivered his famous "cry for freedom" and set the revolution in motion.
On our way to Dolores Hidalgo, the bus driver stopped at a small inn and a couple of charming fellows boarded the bus and passed around little sample cups of their membrillo and tequila with many jokes and songs. Then they mentioned they had a few bottles for sale at "a very good price." The group bought quite a few of their bottles and we continued on, in excellent spirits, singing all the Spanish songs we could think of. The bus driver seemed to be quite entertained.

Besides its historical significance, Dolores Hidalgo is famous for two other things—Talavera pottery and ice cream. Our first stop was the plaza and it's many, many ice cream stands. Choosing among all the flavors was not easy, but I still remember how creamy and delicious my coconut ice cream cone was. Next was our visit to the Talavera pottery factory. We wandered through the showroom and into the back where the pottery was made. On one wall was a small shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

On the opposite wall was the most amazing collection of naughty pinup photos I have ever seen.

On the floor, stacks of hand-painted Talavera tiles. I wonder if the tiles I am putting in my new kitchen came from this factory.

Before we left I looked through the showroom at every piece and picked out the one that spoke to me.

It has been a reminder of an outstanding day. After a wonderful meal at a restaurant across from the beautiful church, we boarded our bus and watched the sunset across the Mexican dessert.

Today I used some epoxy to glue the big pieces back together. I circled some spots where pieces are missing. They simply crumbled into dust when it broke. Maybe I can fill them with something. Maybe it can't be saved and I'll just have to remember it.

Or maybe I'll have to go back to Mexico and get another one. We could pick up another bottle of membrillo while we're there. And have ice cream. Hey, now we're talkin'! I think I feel better already.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Did you see the eclipse last night? We were out and about. Drove across the city, went to dinner and back home and kept seeing different stages. At one point the waiter in the restaurant said, "goin' out to check out the eclipse" and he slipped out a side door. We waited for a report, but didn't see him again.

This was taken during the last stage from the street in front of my house. We had thought there would be a cloud cover and it wouldn't be visible, but it was clear as a bell. Cool.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I am from a happy family. You knew that from yesterday's post. I know not everyone is and when I write about my parents and my childhood and my family I sometimes wonder if I sound a little smug. I hope not. I know I am lucky. Not entitled, just lucky.

I got an email from someone who reads my blog, with her own "I am from" poem. Her childhood wasn't so great. She said she would never publish it on her blog because her family reads it. She said, "I am from gamblers, cheaters and drunks." She said, "I would wonder about other people's stories all glowy and warm. Are they fooling themselves?"

I don't think I fool myself about my family, but I know full well that my "glowy, warm" childhood came, in part, from the not so warm childhood my mother lived. Mom could have said she, too, came from gamblers, cheats and drunks, though she had an extraordinary Grandmother and loving, but overworked mother. I know, and knew even as a child, that she was giving us the childhood she wished she had had. She was lucky that my Dad was nothing like her own father, and her children, were lucky too.

My emailer reminded me of my Mom when she said, "I do know that both my sons would write a story much more like yours than mine and I'm glad about that." My blog friend Dee's "I am from" post was another story of a good life built in spite of a painful childhood.

It felt good to think and write about where I came from and all the good memories life has given me, but reading my emailer's story, and Dee's, reminded me that where and what you came from is only the beginning of your story, or as Dee said, "it is more important where you land than where you take off from."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I am from

This little exercise comes from a poem by George Ella Lyons; by way of Fragments from Floyd, where there is a template; by way of Kirsty at Two Lime Leaves and others. Whew. A long way to get here, but a good exercise. I recommend it and would love to see what others come up with.

I am from The Saturday Evening Post, from Grapenuts and the Postwar Baby Boom.

I am from Maplewood Street, Elm trees, sagebrush, the Portneuf River, hot, dry summers and bitter cold winters.

I am from the desert, the mountains, the sky. I am from the sound of trains in the night.

I am from singing in the car and laughing til we peed our pants, from Grandpa Ern ("you be Frank and I'll be Ernest") and Shelton earlobes and Howard hair.

I am from handmade is better than store bought.
From "never tolerate intolerance" and "life is grand if you don't weaken."
I am from the little Methodist church and the Carnegie Library and the Woolworth and the Okay Market.

I'm from a homestead in Colorado, a farm in Montana, the foot of the mountains in Idaho, from baked potatoes and cheese enchiladas.

From Jimmy who saw Betty for the first time and said, "There's the girl I'm going to marry" and Betty who thought she "might die" if she didn't marry him; and black and white TV and a succession of Ford Station wagons.

I am from Dad's darkroom and family photos and silver dollars. From fresh trout and starry nights, the smell of woodsmoke and wool blankets; the love of books and babies and card games and road trips and a good story.

I am from love that was demonstrated daily but never talked about. I am from family.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Can this book be saved?

The other day I noticed this on my desk—little crumblies of something.

I discovered they were coming from the book sitting there. I pulled out the book several months ago to look up a photo of a house in Portland that someone on the QuiltArt list had used as a subject for a quilt and it has been on my desk since then.

This is the book.

I love this book. It was given to me as a thank you gift when I retired as Chair of the Ashland, Oregon Historic Commission. It is the history of architectural styles in Oregon and filled with great photos. Everyone on the Commission signed it and it is a great memory of a time in my life that I really enjoyed.

When I opened it up I could see that the glue binding has crumbled and the whole book is about to go to pieces. Oh dear. Does anyone know how to repair a book that is in this condition?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

First guests

Now that the kitchen is at least functional at the house I have been dying to have people see it, so since this month was my time to host our fiber art group, STASH (second Thursday at somebody's house), I decided to invite them to meet at the new house. I think they have been curious anyway.

I got coffee and tea things laid out. You can see that I have some paint touchup to do. I set a few of the backsplash tiles out, so they could see them.

I put out snacks (granola snacks from Costco and seed and current cookies from Trader Joe's) and found enough chairs for everyone. Then I waited for them to arrive. Gale arrived first, then Gerrie and Reva came in together.

We had a little tour of the place and then got down to business.

We were a smaller than usual group, with both Linda and Beth unable to come, but we had a good time. Our first guests in the new house. It's not really ready for entertaining, but I knew they wouldn't mind. They did say they hoped we'd have a sofa and a few other things next time we meet there. I hope so too!

Bee my Valentine

Every year for years I have made Valentines to send to friends and family. I do this instead of sending Christmas cards. I used to make woodblock prints, or silk-screen prints, but in recent years I have made a small piece of fabric art that I have photocopies made from. (here and here) This year time got away from me, so I recycled an image. I used the quilt I made for the Twelve by Twelve group's "dandelion" challenge.

The tagline is a terrible pun, but it reminded me of the valentines I used to give and recieve as a child. I could hardly wait for Valentine's Day. Even though I always loved making things, I wasn't the kid who made her own Valentine's back then. Oh, no. I could hardly wait to buy my box of Valentines and see what hilarious lines the clever Valentine fairies had come up with that year. I carefully punched out each valentine from the background card they came on and addressed one to each member of my class at Jefferson Elementary School. I was very careful to choose Valentines for the boys in my class that made no references to love, kissing or anything that could be construed as a sign of affection. The jokier the better. If there was an animal portrayed, especially a pig, those were the ones the boys got. It was not cool to give gushy Valentines to boys. Valentines were deposited in our specially decorated shoeboxes prior to the inclass Valentine Party (sugar fest). I kept all my valentines for years. Wish I still had them. They just don't make them like they used to.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


It was a beautiful day here today. The sun shown and it was warm, with a real hint of spring in the air. After a couple of intense weeks it was nice to slow down today and cruise. We went out to the Community Center to watch Emily and Sofia's Mom and baby swim class. Babies in the water! Almost too cute to bear.

Here are my girls:

How cute are those babeeeeez!? Couldn't you just eat those little toes?

This was a great test for my camera's super zoom feature. The viewing area was at the opposite side of the building from the pool where the babies were. I could actually see Emily and Sofia better through the viewfinder of my camera than with the naked eye from where we were sitting.

I went into the dressing room to help Emily get Sofi dried off and dressed after the class. Swimming class is a soporific for babies. The dressing room was full of very relaxed, glazed, noodle-y babies. I'm sure they all fell asleep in their carseats on the way home.

After baby swimming we went over to the new house to work on details in the kitchen. It is almost functional. It's the little stuff that kills you. The plumber got the faucet installed, the refrigerator hooked up, the range hooked up. The instant hot water thingie turned out to be the killer. The connection through the countertop and sink was not long enough, so we had to drive across the city to pick up an extender. This required a little jiggering, but it all came together. Then Ray found that the pipe for the water connection is not quite long enough. A trip to Home Depot will remedy that. It's just a lot of gettin' there.

Here are the new refrigerator, lookin' very suave and pumping out icecubes clunk, clunk, and the new range. How about those IKEA cabinets? Don't they look swell? I love the insides, which work so smoothly and have dampers that make them close gently—no slams, no smashed fingers. All that really remains to be done is the backsplash.

This is the little entry "nook". This is the bench I have been working on. Do you see what it was?

It was an over-the-refrigerator cabinet. Solid oak, purchased at the Portland Rebuilding Center for $15. We cut a piece of plywood for the seat, which I upholstered. We can store boots and stuff inside. Eventually I will add some pillows and artwork for the walls. I have some neat handwoven pillow covers from Ecuador that I think will be great on the bench. The light fixture is another DIY project. It was a metal wall sconce made to hold a candle. I found a little electric light fixture to fit inside for $3. I said there would not be a smidgeon of blue in this house when I finished with it, but I lied. This dark teal blue seemed like a great foil for all the warm, earthy terra cotta-y colors in the living, dining and kitchen.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Don't faint

I'm making a quilt. A real quilt—pieced and everything. Here's a preview.

My favorite grandchild is having a birthday in less than two months. When she was born I didn't make her a quilt because I didn't know her very well yet and wasn't sure what she'd like. Actually her Mom told me that these days babies do not sleep with any kind of covering until they are at least a year old, so I thought I'd get to know her a little bit and then make her a quilt for her first birthday.

The other nice thing about waiting is that I now know what her room is like and what will look good in it. She has a very cool room. Her Dad wanted her to know a little about his home country of Ecuador, high in the Andes, so he painted sky and mountains all the way around her room. Then he has been painting native animals of Ecuador—parrots and jaguars and monkeys. Sofi is partial to the monkeys. I picked the colors for her quilt because I thought they would complement the rest of the room. This is a little bit different pallette for me to work with and I like it. The colors are pastelish, but not candy-colored and just a little earthy. I have some special quilty surprises in mind. Now all I need is time to get it finished before the big #1 birthday.

P.S. Emily—this is all you get to see until the unwrapping.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Kumihimo again

So I've been picking up my kumihimo disk every time I sit down to watch TV or a movie and these are the cords I've made. It is mindless and foolproof and it really does keep me awake through a movie—usually. We tried to watch No End in Sight the other night and even the Kumihimo couldn't keep me awake through that one. (I am interested in how and why we got into Iraq and how we've screwed everything up, but after what seemed like hours and hours of monotone talking heads, and a nap or two, we decided there was no end to this movie in sight and gave up on it.) Mostly, however, the weaving keeps me going. You can click on the picture and get a closer look at my lovely cords. I have experimented with embroidery floss, metallic embroidery floss (I love that one), nylon crochet stuff, perle cotton and silk floss that was too thin and slippery, so it's not there.

Now I am wondering what to do with the cords. Ray, who is always so helpful, had an idea.

Soap on a rope.

I don't think so.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Shaking the blues

It has been a hard week. Harder than most. I haven't mentioned it on this blog, but interestingly last night, in an email, a friend asked how I was and said, "I just don't trust every cheerful thing you put on your blog . . ." Hmmm. Perceptive.

Nearly two weeks ago a cousin, who lives in another town, suffered a cerebral hemmorhage. He was flown to Portland, to the medical school hospital and remained in a coma until he died Sunday morning.

We were never close. We grew up hundreds of miles apart and I was 8 years older. I remember him as a sweet little boy we saw when we visited our grandparents in the same town where he lived. As adults we lived, for several years, in the same town, but apart from some shared holiday dinners and a family reunion, our paths did not cross much. I had little in common with him or his wife. If I'm honest I'll admit that I thought they were odd.

And suddenly he was dying in a strange city and I was the only family, apart from his wife, that was nearby. He had no siblings, no children. I talked daily with his wife and I emailed the cousins to report on his condition. While I was writing about the "blue hour," he was in his own transition between daylight and darkness and though I didn't say so, that was what was on my mind.

When the Drs said there was no hope of recovery and his wife should let his family know, I was the only one here to tell him goodbye. I did my best. Whether he heard or not, I told him his family was with him. I told him about the sweet little boy I remembered and how much his parents loved him. I talked about Grandma and Grandpa and our other cousins—common ground we did share. It wasn't so much, but it was what I could do. He died the next morning and I was the person his wife called to come. I sat by his side with her for hours while the hospital arranged for organ donations. She was alone and devastated, so I brought her home with me. Her grief filled my house. When she left today a bit of it remained, lurking in the corners.

Something about all this has pitched me into a dark place. To know that I was really never part of his life until he was dying seems terribly sad. My sister has twice written, "family is family" as we've gone along this past couple of weeks, and I guess that is what it was all about. I was the family that was here and representing the ones who weren't here became my job. It's over, but I'm having a hard time shaking it.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

This is how I watch the SuperBowl

I'm at the computer, reading blogs, posting pictures, checking e-mail. Ray is watching the SuperBowl. Everytime a cute or clever commercial is shown he rewinds, calls me and I step in to watch it. I'm not sure who the teams playing are, but I'm enjoying those million buck commercials.

Shaquille O'Neal as a jockey! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. That was a good one!

House update - February 3

The last time I updated the house project the front window looked like this:

That was the carpenter ant discovery day. Today it looks like this:

Now we're makin' progress!
Here's the new fridge, waiting for the electrician to come and finish the outlet it will plug into. Beautiful, eh? And that's the diningroom wall color. And in the foreground, the livingroom wall color. You will notice that neither is blue.

The most exciting development of the past week was the installation of the countertops. They are "moss" Corian.

I need to see if the electrician can move the outlets up a smidge. There will be two rows of the Talavera tile for the backsplash and I'd prefer not to have the outlets cut into the tile. The countertops ended up a bit higher than anticipated. I love the black granite sink. Here's the garden window view out the back.

Someday, when Ray has done his gardening magic on the yard, this view will be really gorgeous. Right now it shows the irony of our location. The view out the front is "little house in the big woods." The view out the back is total Beaver-town subdivision. But at least no one's big window or deck overlooks our backyard.