Saturday, June 28, 2008

So hot

We have been so cold this spring we thought summer would never come. It came today. It's really hot. I didn't want to cook, so I made a big salad and Ray picked up pulled pork sandwiches from the barbeque stand down the highway. It's been there a few months and we pass this big old smoker sitting next to the highway on our way back and forth from the old to the new house. The sandwiches are huge and really good.

Emily, Cayo and Sofia came over and we sat out in the yard before dinner, with margueritas, and watched Sofia play in the sprinkler.

She has developed a fearlessness that is both a pleasure to behold and a little scary. You really have to keep an eye on her. She's pretty sure she can do most anything. I took a dozen pictures of her running through the water. This is the only one that is not a pink blur.

Our first strawberry crop of the season. We had strawberry shortcake for dessert. I baked the biscuity shortcake yesterday before it got so hot.

Bet you can guess who loves strawberry shortcake.

We've been watching this mother robin sitting on her nest on the top of one of the posts on our front porch. She seldom leaves the nest and doesn't seem to pay much attention to us coming and going.

We lowered the price on our house this week and have had a few more lookers. I think the robin is a talisman. She's our lucky robin and says, "this is a good place to build your nest and raise your family."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More house archaeology

Still discovering new things about our new house and its previous inhabitants. We made a grisly discovery in the attic. This severed head was found moldering under the rafters. I see evidence of a blow to the forehead. I suspect foul play.

Sorry about that. I hope that wasn't too disturbing.

A more pleasant discovery were a pair of old-fashioned rosebushes in the far back corner of the yard. They are loaded with the sweetest little coral-colored buds and delicate pink blossoms. I love these kind of roses—big blowsy bushes that fill up corners and soften fences.

Looking out between our house and the next door house I love the view of the big trees. I feel cooler just looking at them. You can ignore the view of the recycling bin and trash containers!

The summertime creek is clean and clear and pretty shallow. You can see that nice blue sky reflected in a corner of the picture. See, we do get nice weather in Oregon. I'm still looking for a frog in this creek. I hear them, but haven't yet seen one.

Another artifact found in the undergrowth. Maybe it contains a clue to the "murder".

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Maybe you had to be there

The High Fiber Diet group seems to be floundering. We have done a show at the Portland Japanese Garden every summer for many years. Last year they had nearly all new staff, including a new director. They moved our show to September and sales dropped considerably. This year they told us they were planning new kinds of uses for the pavilion, that would not include our show. So we are high and dry, with nothing on the horizon.

It's probably a blessing in disguise. We had become so dependent on that one show, that we have not seriously pursued other venues or shows for a long time. We were, honestly, in a Japanese Garden rut. Our meeting last month was poorly attended, but we talked a little about where we might go from here. We showed our new work. We chatted. It was, actually, quite an enjoyable meeting, with no deadlines looming. One of the members showed us some fabric teapots she had made. Goofy, for sure, but they kind of tickled everyone and we decided we would all make a fabric teapot in our own style and exhibit them at an upcoming meeting of Columbia Stitchery Guild, our sponsoring organization. I was pretty excited about figuring out how to make a fabric teapot. (non-functional, of course!)

The teapot idea was not met with enthusiasm by the members who had not been at the meeting. One told me, quite sourly, "I am not making a t-t-t-t-teapot!" Others just looked doubtful and said nothing. Gerrie wasn't very excited either. I may have talked her into it. She said, "Well, you think in 3-D, I don't!" I denied that, but maybe I do. She reminded me of my birds and my houses.

Anyway. I am making a teapot. I started with a little sketch.

Then I made a paper model. I always make patterns for things this way. I cut the paper and tape it loosely together to see if the shape is working. I can easily recut pieces that don't work and keep fiddling until it seems to be right. Then I can use the paper pieces for a pattern.

I actually decided my model was a little small, so I enlarged the pieces before I started cutting fabric.

Here are the parts I have been working on. I am never sure whether it will all fit together as planned. The design I made on the little sketch got changed. I think the leaves and bugs are a little more representative of what I do. Those are the sides and the handle.

So, I still think this a great idea and I can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with. If they do, that is. Maybe I'm the only one who hasn't come to her senses.

Monday, June 16, 2008

House archaeology

I started work on another room in the house today. I am working my way back toward the more private areas of the new house. This is the first room you encounter walking down the hall from the livingroom. It is, technically, a bedroom, but it will be our office.

As you can see, it is pink and the ubiquitous blue. The carpet is pink. Despite the powder roomish decor, it is really quite a nice room. There are those built-in shelves on the righthand wall. The small window, above, looks out to the backyard. If you turn around 180 degrees, there is a double glass door (open in the photo) that looks into the hallway where there is a window that looks out on the front garden.

I can really picture working in this very pleasant room, but I do not like the color scheme and I especially do not like the wallpaper.

Only once in my life, as a teenager, have I lived in a brand new house. In our married life we have always lived in old houses and I love the idea of old houses. I love the idea that generations have left their mark on a house. In our current house I have preserved small places, inside closets and inside cupboards, where there is old—very old, in fact—wallpaper or linoleum.

At some level I felt a kind of regret, today, as I removed the wallpaper in that room. I think someone thought this was a very pretty room. I have hung enough wallpaper, myself, to know the satisfaction of it. I have said that wallpaper equals instant gratification. When I removed the pink wallpaper I found a wall that had been painted an unthinkably drab battleship gray. I imagined some woman's delight that she had banished that drabness and replaced it with a delicate pink and such a feminine floral border. The chair rail was probably new at the same time and represented a thoughtful change. Someone put some thought and care into decorating this room. There were fancy curtains hanging on that fancy rod. I took them all down, too. I may leave the pink wallpaper inside the closet in her honor.

I wiped out most of that prettification in one afternoon's work. There is still a small panel of pink wallpaper there in the corner where all that internet equipment (now dead as a doornail) is still attached to the wall. If there are ghosts in the house, they probably aren't so happy tonight.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers and Daughters

We are spending Fathers' Day sitting around in our extremely clean house waiting for someone to come and buy it! It's another Open House day. I don't expect too many lookers today. It's so beautiful outside I am imagining that most folks are out enjoying the good weather. But I am baking chocolate chip cookies for the ones who do show up. It makes the house smell good and it's nice to offer a cookie, I think.

Emily, Cayo and Sofia came by to bring Ray a beautiful orchid and a card. I took pictures of the fathers with their daughters. Emily said (rolling her eyes only a little), "this is for your blog, isn't it? Helloooo blog readers!" She's onto me.

Sofia was clinging to her Dad, her favorite person most of the time, so it was easy to get a smile out of her. Everyday is Fathers' Day at their house.

Andy has to work today, but he spent several hours cleaning off the roof and rain gutters at the new house yesterday, which Ray deemed "an excellent Fathers' Day present."

Here's my brother, Steve, with his oldest daughter, Jessica. I took this photo in Victoria, in the rain, a couple weeks ago.Steve's a great Dad. (He had a good role model) He has three girls. I enjoy watching them interact. He joshes them and they roll their eyes and say, "Daaaaaaaad", but they giggle at his joke anyway and pretty soon come back at him with one of their own. He is especially proud of the education he has given them on the fine points of classic rock and roll, and bass players in particular. He really enjoys his girls.

Happy Fathers' Day to all the great fathers out there and especially to my favorite fathers—Ray and Cayo and Steve.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Printing on fabric

I usually use commercially printed fabrics that I manipulate for my quilts, but I have been interested in doing more printing of fabrics of my own design. I used to do linoleum block prints on paper, so that is a medium I have been interested in trying on fabrics. I carved a little block that was just straight lines and tried stamping with it, to add texture and dimension to an apple image. Then I mounted the apple on a background made up of two fabrics that I screen printed awhile back.

The border print is a commercial print. I think the fabrics all work together. I think this idea has potential.

Here's how I carve a block. I use a flexible printing plate material like this. I usually mount a piece of the plate material on a block of wood before I begin carving. I draw my design on the material with a black Sharpie marker, then using linoleum carving and wood carving tools, I carefully carve away the background. (The material can actually be cut to shape and then mounted on the block, but it is difficult to cut it into precise shapes and the partially carved away background gives the block stability.)

My little flourish was a doodle. I think I may have been inspired by "the swirly thing"—snort! (see previous post)

When the carving seems complete I try printing the block. I use fabric paint for printing. I squeeze out a little paint onto a small plexiglass sheet and roll it out thin with a soft rubber brayer. Then I roll the brayer carefully over the carved block, so the high parts of the carving pick up the paint. Then I can stamp it onto a piece of fabric with a bit of padding under it. (I'm using a piece of felt for padding)

There are invariably areas that were not carved deeply enough and pick up the paint. They show up clearly, so you can go back and carve them down.

Prints made after the block has been corrected. I think this might be usable in a variety of ways. I like the prints on top of commercial prints as well as on plain fabrics.

These stamps/blocks are a little harder to carve than the soft carving material, but they will hold a crisper line and are more durable, especially for designs with thin lines and lots of small parts.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Is it over yet?

Maybe it's just me, but I think we've been going through a bad stretch design-wise in our culture. I'm not sure where it came from, but for the last several years we've been in this kind of bad deja vu of the worst of the '70s combined with something that is just sort of pseudo vintage-esque. I don't get it.

The first thing I started noticing was "the swirly thing." A kind of stylized vine showing up everywhere.

You've seen it, right? Not so bad at first, until it took over the world.

And then the owls. Back in the '60s I used to collect owls. Then people started giving them to me—lots and lots of them. I confess I got so tired of looking at them that I may not be impartial about these. These look just like the ones from my collection that I liked the least. Cheap. Cartoony. Except these are "new".

And, the best of all—owl with swirly thing
Could it be that the owls opened the door to other forest creatures, begetting the ubiquitous "silhouetted deer" motif?

(Okay, I like this chair, except for the triteness of the deer on the pillow.)
Leading, inevitably, to the silhouetted deer with swirly thing. That faux woodgrain background is another trendy motif. Ugh.

Then there is this kind of stuff, which is—what? Ironic?

There was actually some pretty great design going on in the '70s, but this isn't it.
added note: I should really let you know that I find all this stuff on a couple of design blogs, like this one and this one. They are fun to look at even if I find the majority of current design either "been there, done that" '70s style or really overly cute. The cuteness quotient seems to be increasing. Ack.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bobby Kennedy

Yesterday I kept thinking about Robert Kennedy, the younger brother of President John Kennedy. I was remembering having seen him speak in the spring of 1968 and how the date of his death must be coming up soon. It wasn't until last night that I saw something on the internet mentioning that yesterday was the 40th anniversary of his death, the result of being shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Las Angeles, after winning the California primary.

He came and spoke at Idaho State University, where I was a senior, that spring. I remember how very tired he looked as he took the stage, but when he began to speak he was electric. He talked about the war we were so deeply mired in and how much our country needed the voices and the energy of people just like us—young and impassioned about bringing an end to the war and to segregation and violence and bigotry. It seemed possible when he said it.

His was the last in a list of assassinations that took place over several years time, starting with John Kennedy and including Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Medgar Evers and then Bobby Kennedy. He was always referred to as "Bobby." In my memory it was a very dark time after his death. It seemed that hope and optimism had truly died. Richard Nixon was elected in the fall.

A year later I found myself attending a convention at the Ambassador Hotel. Standing in the very ballroom where the shooting took place. The hotel was lovely. The grounds were lush and exotic. I learned that F. Scott Fitzgerald had lived, for a period, in one of the hotel's bungalows. I wonder, though, if the hotel ever recovered from the aura of sadness that I felt there in 1969. It was demolished in 2006.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Looking up

While we were waiting for the train to Seattle earlier this week I was admiring the interior of the Portland Amtrak Station. I looked up and noticed for the first time, the beautiful ceiling, especially the pattern of cast and painted plaster flowers. I zoomed in on one for a closer look.

Later, as we walked around Victoria, I reminded myself to keep looking up. You miss a lot when you keep your eyes on the ground.

Like the Canadian flag, flying from a stately tower.

Or a brightly painted Victorian cornice on an old building.

Angels in the coffee shop.

And sometimes mythic figures looking back at you.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Water, water, water

I've been away for a few days and haven't had the chance to direct you all over to the 12 x 12 blog to see the new reveal of the "Water" theme pieces. Here's mine:

They are all quite wonderful as usual. What a great group. I feel so lucky to be a part of it.

We took a great little trip this week, with my brother, sister-in-law and niece. Lots of water involved in it. We took the train to Seattle, spent a night there, then took the Victoria Clipper boat to Victoria BC. We arrived in Victoria Harbour in the rain, but that does nothing to diminish its beauty. Here are Ray and my brother, Steve walking from the boat with the beautiful Empress Hotel in the background.

I love the Legislature building, above, with the totem pole out in front.

Here's one of the reasons we went to Victoria.

We saw Crosby, Stills and Nash at the Royal Theatre. Yes, we are fogies. Yes, we love our old music! It was a great concert and filled my head with music and memories and gratitude to have lived in the times that I have lived in and seen what I have seen. Isn't it amazing how music does that?

And here's another piece of news that filled my heart with joy. Front page of the national newspaper yesterday morning.

At the concert Graham Nash said, "It's a great day today. America turned in a new direction today!" The Canadians clapped politely, and I cheered—politely, of course. I was in Canada, after all!