Saturday, May 31, 2008

Messages from the blog

Lately I am feeling downright mushy and throat lumpy about the folks who read my blog and respond to the things I write. Well, there was the whole Mexican bowl thing—unbelieveable gift. Then there were all the lovely things people wrote in response to my post about my Dad. They were all so kind and compassionate, but I have to say this one, reprinted below, really amazed and touched me. Anonymous, the NASA engineer, you made my day.

"As an engineer working for NASA, I can tell you that your dad had much to be proud of. He contributed a great deal to making a better life for all of us "potato eaters," and furthered the manufacturing and production capability of the US with his ingenuity. Being an engineer in the space program is frustrating and unfulfilling, and I'm sure that he didn't spend his life that way. You should be very proud of him."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

10 years

It was 10 years ago that my Dad died, too soon, of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer has to be the cruelest of diseases. He was 76, vital, working, enjoying life, looking great and looking forward. Wham, bam. He was diagnosed in January and gone in May. It hardly seems possible that it has been 10 years, because he has been with me every day of those ten years. My hero and my inspiration.

The picture was taken on his friend, Phil's sailboat. He loved to sail with his friends, Phil and Dick. They are all gone now. I hope they are sailing together—somewhere.

Dad was a mechanical engineer. At the end of the war (WWII) he and his brother bought a machine shop in Pocatello, Idaho. They were both engineers and they had an engineering business and the machine shop where they built the machines they designed. They did work for all kinds of businesses. I remember Dad doing a lot of work for the Coca Cola bottler in Pocatello. But being where they were—Idaho—"famous potatos"—and when—the '50s and '60s when the processed food industry boomed—most of their work came from the potato processing companies. My Dad was the French fry guy. If you've eaten a french fry from McDonald's or Burger King, or bought them frozen in the supermarket, these were all made by machines designed by my Dad. He invented the crinkle-cut french fry machine. (more surface for extra crunch) He also designed machines for frozen hash browns and all kinds of frozen foods. One time a group I belong to asked us to bring an item that was significant to our family history for a program. I took a potato. I figured it was potatoes that sent me to college, straightened my teeth and provided the good life I knew as a child. Dad enjoyed the creative challenge of his work, but he never thought it was that much—not like the engineers at NASA, for example. Wouldn't he have loved being involved in the space program?

He must have had faults. Too much inside his head? A little absent-minded? Not a great cook? But who could fault his modesty? His soft-spoken humility. His love for his family. His love of knowledge and learning and reading. His sense of humor. The sweetest, best Dad ever.

Every year he called on my birthday and he always said the same thing. "I can't believe you are __ years old. You were the most beautiful baby I have ever seen." For the past 10 years I have only been able to imagine that phone call.

When he was dying, we flew to Salt Lake City, then rented a car and drove to Pocatello. I called on the way and my sister-in-law said, "hurry, he is fading fast." When we arrived he seemed to know we were there. I sat and held his hand as he left us. For months I was in a fog of grief. One evening I saw a white-haired man wearing a plaid shirt just like one of my Dad's, crossing the street as I drove home from work. I cried all the way home.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another house update

Seems like it's about time to update the progress on the "new" house. We have been delighted to see what the rhododendrens and azaleas that are planted around the property look like in full bloom. Here's the current view out the front window in the livingroom.

If there were anything to sit on in the livingroom, I would love to sit and just gaze at this for a long time! Toward the back of this photo you can see three rhodies in bloom. The colors together are so beautiful, especially the dark purple contrasting with the pinky-red and lighter purple.

Speaking of the livingroom—I spent the other day cleaning it all up. We've had a tarp down for months and it was full of paint cans and ladders. I put all that away and spent some time cleaning the floor. I was pleased at how well the wood floor cleaned up. We were uncertain about whether it would need refinishing. I think not right away.

As you can see, there is still blue paint visible. Everything beyond that doorway is still blue. Everything this side of the doorway is not blue. Here's what we ended up painting the den/tv room.
I am loving the kitchen. It is so nice to be able to fix lunch at the house now. Late in the afternoon the sun beats in the west-facing greenhouse window, so I got a reed shade to hang on the outside. I love the way woven shades filter the sun and create a beautiful filtered light.

By the way, Reva, the aloe plant you gave me seems to be loving its new home there in the window.


My latest project has been the little bathroom off the utility room. This is the one that used to open to the dining room. It will be a real utility bathroom and I didn't want to spend a lot of money on it, but wanted it to be pretty. It had a good toilet, which we kept.

It needed storage, so we used one of the cabinets we took out of the kitchen and I built shelves next to the cabinet. I love how that worked out.

The sink that was there was an ugly little molded sink in an uglier little vanity. I banged my hipbone on the corner of the vanity everytime I came around the corner into the bathroom. It had to go. I found this cute little pedestal sink, gently used, on Craigslist.

I replaced the old "Hollywood" light bar with a new one from Lowe's and found the towel bars, glass shelf and toilet paper holder cheap at the new Homegoods store. The mirror was also inexpensive from a local department store. I reused the window shade that was in the bathroom. I plan, eventually, to paint a big flower on the wall that you can't see in any of these pictures. The floor is inexpensive adhesive backed tile in a stone pattern. I really like everything except the toilet paper holder. It is just a dumb design. It does not stick out far enough from the wall to allow the roll of paper to roll and it wiggles on the wall despite all efforts to tighten all the screws well. I'm disgusted with it and on the lookout for a better replacement.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Quilty, arty things move slowly these days. I finally got a real start on my "tree" challenge piece that our small STASH group is doing. You may remember that I was working with ideas back here.

This is the piece as it currently stands—fused only. I liked the hand-dyed fabric for the sky. I think it looks very stormy. My plan is to heavily quilt the background, so the tree comes forward a bit. It's not a large piece—about 12" x 14" I think.

I am particularly pleased with the drawing I did of the tree. It is a nice crisp graphic at a small size. I think I will make a small silkscreen. Not sure why, but I think it might be a nice little print to use for something else.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The thing

Judy asked what the thing was that she could see in this photo I posted last week. It appeared to be something growing beyond the patio. It's an optical illusion. It is actually something hanging just outside the window. Here's a better view of it.

It's a string of some kind of nuts or seed pods that make a wonderful hollow, "konk, konk" noise when you rattle them together. We brought it back from Mexico last year. Here's a closer look at the nuts, or whatever they are. (They seem to be completely hollow—nothing rattling around inside)

The sound is nice and I like the way they look and feel.

Ray is a drummer and loves all things percussive. He has a really great collection of percussion instruments from all over the place, (remember this find?) so this was something he just had to have. Here's a picture taken in Mexico. I think this is actually the shop in Tepozlan, where we got "the thing." That's Ray checking out the sound of that drum.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Check this out

The wonderfully generous Kelley Wilkinson who sent me the Talavera bowl (see post below) has a web site. I just spent a half an hour or more looking at every last page. Oh my. This is my idea of heaven. You must look at this. Better yet, let's get a group together and go visit!

Can you believe this?

This is a story of the power or the wonder of something. I want to say it is about the power of the internet, but it is something much more basic and human than that, simply facilitated by the internet. It is about human kindness, really.

You may remember back in February I wrote this post about my beautiful Talavera bowl that was broken. Many of you sympathized. Then I got an email from Kelley Wilkinson, someone I have never met, nor even know from blogging or email lists. She said, "I live in Dolores Hidalgo. I will send you another bowl." We corresponded. Her intent was to find one as close to the other as possible or even arrange to have one made to copy the old one. Time went by and I didn't hear from her. I assumed life had gotten in the way or that her initial generous impulse had come to its senses! But last week I got another email and she said she was sending the bowl. She said she had not been able to find one the same shape as the original, but hoped I would like the one she was sending. It arrived yesterday. That's it in the picture above.

The bowl is extraordinary. It is larger than the original—a little more than 12" in diameter. It is beautifully painted and a graceful shape. It will look fabulous in our new house, and it will be a constant reminder of just how generous and lovely people, even complete strangers, can be. What a gift. Thank you, Kelley.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy Birthday

To my beautiful daughter. This picture, taken on her wedding day in Ecuador, is one of my favorites.

Wife, mother, teacher, sister, daughter. She is a gift to all of us.

Have a happy day and fun weekend celebrating your birthday!

PS. Happy birthdays to my nieces, Melissa and Jessica, as well. It's a big birthday in our family!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Art lovers

Yesterday Sofia, Cayo and I went over to Reed College to see the exhibit called Jess:To and From the Printed Page . It is the collage work of Jess Collins, known only as Jess, a beat artist of the '50s, from San Francisco.

Cayo saw the article about the show and wanted to see it. I enjoyed it immensely. I don't know if Sofia enjoyed the art, but she was happy to be out and about.

The information said that Jess lived in an apartment filled with files of images culled from old books and magazines, that he used in his work. The results are dreamlike and surreal. The exhibit contained many of his original "paste-ups" as well as the prints he had made from the originals.

Sofia and her Dad discuss the art

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


This is the time of year we start opening windows. Our old house doesn't have air conditioning—don't need it much here in Portland—so when the weather warms up we do a complicated ritual of opening and closing windows. In the cool mornings the windows all get closed to keep the hot air out and the cool air in. Late in the day we start watching the thermometer. When the temperature outside is lower than the temperature inside, we start opening windows. We hope for a nice breeze, which is often available. On really hot evenings if there is no breeze two fans at two windows, one to draw cool air in and the other to blow hot air out, is the formula.

I like old windows, especially the ones that open, with screens on the outside. This time of year the windows around our house seem a bit like picture frames, each capturing a small outdoor scene.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

And so on Saturday evening...

Four of us went out to dinner. June and I, both from Portland. Jane from Connecticut. Rayna from New Jersey.

Rayna, me, Jane, June

We had such a good time. Rayna and Jane were both here in Portland for Quilt Market and I got to meet Rayna a couple days ago for breakfast. Meeting Jane was another real treat for me. We have corresponded by email and blog comments for a long time. She is as bright and lovely and interesting as I knew she would be. (Small world sidenote: Jane's brother lives here. I looked at the map today to see where his house is—right up the road from our new house.) After we finished our dinner we got the good-natured waitress to take our picture, while the table full of rowdy guys behind her mugged and coached her on the picture-taking. Behind us you can see outside, the end of a beautiful Portland day and silhouetted trees and bridge across the river.

Rayna was heading home early today. Her husband developed a detached retina in her absence and I know she was worrying about him. I hope all goes well. I think Jane is heading home tomorrow. I remember what hard, exhausting work Quilt Market is. I'm so glad they were able to set aside a little time to share with June and me.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The new economics

My friend Carla sent me this photo the other day with the caption, "My piggy bank after I filled my gas tank this morning."

It seems like all everyone is talking about it is the price of gas. It's pretty depressing. We are driving back and forth from our old to our new house every day. We try to take one car, but sometimes that just doesn't work, some some days we are each driving both ways. I am filling my tank nearly weekly and this last fillup was the big one. $50. It finally took $50 to fill my tank with discounted Safeway gasoline. Man.... (shakes head slowly) what has this world come to?

A paradigm shift—that's what. Fifty bucks used to be significant. A really nice dinner out for two of you, for example. A generous gift, tucked into your birthday card. Now it's a tank of gas. I am wrapping my head around that idea and I find it has its uses. Yesterday I mentioned that I bought a nice pair of sandals. They are a good brand, marked down to $55. When I was deciding whether or not to buy them, the deciding factor was the price of gas. I said to myself, "that's only a little more than a tank of gas costs" and they seemed too good to pass up.

A tank of gas, plus change

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Good Things today

Started the day today by driving downtown and meeting Rayna Gilman for breakfast. Rayna and I have "known" each other for something like 15 years online, but met for the first time face to face today. She is here (from New Jersey) for the Quilt Market where she is promoting her first book. I can hardly wait to get my hands on a copy.

Don't we look like old pals? That's how it felt. We had a great breakfast at one of my favorite Portland breakfast spots, The Bijou Cafe. What a treat to finally meet the amazing Rayna!

Rayna headed off for the Convention Center and I wandered into the Nordstrom Rack before heading back out to the suburbs. As I told Rayna, the Rack is a crap shoot, but I won today—found a great pair of Clark sandals that I can walk in. (I am sparing you a photo of my feet.)

I finished up some painting in the small bathroom at the house, then went outside, to enjoy the wonderful weather. Today it was in the '80s—our first really warm day this year. It was green and cool by the creek.

Ray is planning to plant native plants near the creek and bought a couple of trilliums, at my request.

I was tired of working at the house, so I called my son-in-law and asked him if he'd like to come and help Ray hang a cabinet and intall a toilet. In exchange I went and took care of Sofia. Win-win. Sofi was dressed for summer weather and looked awfully cute in her shorts and summery top. Oh, those knees and elbows! We had a good time out in the yard until I insisted that she couldn't eat the pinecones. That didn't sit well.

She didn't stay mad for long and accepted a baby cookie as a peace offering. When I asked her if she wanted a cookie, she went straight to the cupboard where they are kept and pointed up at the door. I think she's pretty smart. Good survival skills. I always think it's good to know where the cookies are.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

And so it goes . . .

I have to admit I am a big fan of American Idol. Tonight the adorable David Archuleta sang this bittersweet Billy Joel song. (You can hear Billy Joel's version here) I think he did a beautiful job with the song, though I am probably rooting a little harder for the other David than for David A.

And So it Goes. You may suppose that the name of my blog, And Sew it Goes, was chosen mainly because of the corny "sew/so" pun, but I go back a ways with that phrase.

I am a fan of Linda Ellerbee, the journalist, who ended her newscasts, always, with the phrase, "And so it goes." Her writing and delivery were so eloquent, so beautifully expressed. For me she brought compassion and humanity to the news in a way that no one else ever has. She has gone on to produce childrens' news programming and having survived breast cancer, has become a speaker and activist for breast cancer research and treatment. Her autobiography was titled "And So it Goes." She is one of my heros.

Many years ago (1993, to be exact) I found my way onto the internet and discovered the Quiltnet listserve, which was my first exposure to what has become the amazing online community of quilters and artists. At that time the internet and listservs seemed very impersonal since there were no ways of posting photos easily at that time and no one had web sites or blogs. There were several Terrys/Teris/Terries on Quiltnet and I wanted a way of distinguishing myself in my posts, so I started using "And Sew it Goes . . ." as a signature line. It seemed a natural choice when I named my blog.

For me it means we are all in the river of life—where we started doesn't really matter, where we are going is too far ahead to see. We are in the stream—and so it goes . . .

Monday, May 12, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

House Tales

I can always tell what's nagging at my subconscious by what I dream. Last night I dreamed about the house that we are trying to sell. I dreamed that we had a buyer, who turned out to be none other than Deborah Boschert, of Deborah's Journal and a fellow 12 x 12 er. I was thrilled that someone I actually knew was going to buy my house! I was walking through the house with her and suddenly Deborah noticed a door that I had never noticed before. How strange. She opened the door and there was a room—quite large, with several nice windows and sun pouring in on a charming old linoleum floor. The floor was a very old style, but in such good condition that I knew that no one else had noticed that room was there for a very long time.

(It looked something like this)

Deborah said, "Oh, this must have been your studio—what a wonderful space!" I had to admit that I had not even been aware of the room and had worked all these years in the tiny bedroom next to it. I felt so foolish and was suddenly filled with regret that I had squandered such an excellent resource and now I was leaving it behind for someone else to enjoy. When I woke up it took me a couple of minutes to realize that I had not actually sold the house or found the hidden room.

You can never go home again . . . or can you?

This tale was not a dream. It really happened.

Last week I had a voicemail message from a woman who wanted information about the house. I called her back and she told me she had been driving around looking at houses and had seen that our house was for sale. She said she lived in our house in the '80s and loved the house. When I told her the price, she said it was out of her price range, but to call her if we decided to lower the price.

I had actually met her once years ago, when a package, addressed to her family, was delivered to our house. Rather than return it to sender, I looked them up in the phone book and called them. She and her husband and children all came to pick up the package, eager to see their old house again. We walked through the house then and she and her husband pointed out changes and the improvements they had made during their residence in the house.

A couple days after I talked to her, she called me again. She said she was close to closing a deal on the house she was selling and had decided she would like to see our house after all. She came over and we walked through the house together. She and her husband are divorcing. Her children are grown and she is looking for a house for herself. She said she had been very happy living in this house. She seemed to like the small changes we have made and enjoyed seeing, once again, the changes they had made to the house. She told me about the old linoleum that they had removed from the livingroom and diningroom and was glad to see that we had put in oak floors. (I have to think this discussion was the source of the linoleum floor in my dream!) She was especially pleased to see that the old lilac (see previous post) was still there, despite the damage to it and it is blooming right now.

She said she had other houses to look at and thanked me. A couple days later she sent a realtor friend to see the house. We may hear from her again, we may not, but what an interesing twist to our house-selling saga. I have always felt this house has good vibrations and has been well-loved by its former residents.

Deborah, you're not planning to move to Portland, are you??

If any one out there is planning a move to Portland, you can see more of the house here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Because it's spring

We've had such a crummy spring so far, that now that it finally seems to be here I just can't get enough. I really think springs in Portland tend to be spectacular by any standard I know of. Lilac time is brief but thrilling. Our old house has several old lilacs. This one is my favorite—a most unusual intense, grape-y color and equally intense perfume.

I think this is a very old lilac. The tree was as tall as our roofline when we moved in, which is quite tall, but it was badly damaged in an icestorm a number of years ago. We thought we might lose it, but it has recovered. I hope we can take a start of this lilac to our new house

This is a more standard kind of lilac, but fragrant and beautiful as well.

We've been curious to see what would bloom at the new house. The first bloomer is this large rhododendren near the creek. You can see Ray's makeshift planting station set up under the tree.

Closer view.

And a slightly different rhodie just starting to bloom near the house.

I just can't resist taking flower pictures.

And because she's so sweet

Sofi sleeps with her new quilt.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mysteries of the Universe

I still don't quite understand how this works, but if you paint a piece of fabric with fabric paint, then lay a leaf or bit of foliage on top of it and put it in the sun to dry, when it is dry and you remove the foliage, its ghostly image remains. I use Setacolor paints, but it is my understanding that most any kind of paint will work the same way. You'll want to try this if you haven't, I think. I don't think I really want a scientific explanation. I'm happy to just file it away under "mysteries of the universe." Like gravity and magnets and carbonation, scientific explanations do nothing to enhance the mystery and magic.

I thought I might add this to the "water" themed piece, but it doesn't really fit in. Still, making it was a nice diversion this morning and I will pin it up on the bulletin board and maybe one of these days I will find a nice use for it. When I ironed it, it smelled like cedar.

I visited my friend at the hospital today. She is so much better, but still so weak. She was a little crabby today, which seemed like a good sign.

Friday, May 02, 2008

How fragile we are

Yesterday Dee wrote about friends and gratitude in a lovely post. It happened to be a day when I was feeling particularly grateful and vulnerable and pondering the fragility of life.

My friend of more than 50 years is very ill. We were little girls, in the fourth grade when we met. Friends come and go through life, but some friends stay and she is one—a dear and funny and generous friend. Out of nowhere, quite literally, a deadly virus, then a complication almost more evil than the virus. She is a survivor and the greatest danger is past, but what she has endured is unthinkable and it goes on.

I once heard a scientist talking about viruses and he said his theory was that human life exists on earth to serve as hosts for viruses. That viruses are at the top of the food chain, as it were—the ultimate life form. Having lost friends to the AIDS virus, I have seen the power of an invisible enemy. My friend has been fighting a different virus, but it has been a battle for sure.

Again I am grateful for modern medicine. I am grateful to be able to have time with my friend. I am grateful for sunshine and the beautiful spring flowers in my garden. And mixed into that feeling of gratitude is the recognition of how little control we really have and how fragile we are.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Have you seen this?

I had to pass this on. I may have missed my calling—Cat Tailor. The English translations are almost as good as the photos.