Sunday, August 31, 2008

Have you noticed?

How much Sarah Palin looks like Tina Fey?

But Tina's funny and Sarah—mmm, not so much.

Well, I'm not laughing.

P.S. It occurs to me that those of you not living in the US may not know who either of these women are.

Sarah Palin = Governor of Alaska, scarily conservative running mate of John McCain

Tina Fey = Brilliantly funny former writer for Saturday Night Live, now creator of, and star of, brilliantly funny "30 Rock" TV show.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Lost and found

Today, packing up my studio, I found this.

I was looking for it awhile back and could not find it. I tore the place apart looking for it. I found it today behind my cutting table, a large hefty affair that is pushed up against the wall. I'm glad it showed up. It's a small piece and probably slipped behind the table as I was pushing piles around. Easy to imagine how it happened. I'm surprised there was nothing else back there.

Last week Ray and Cayo moved the washer and dryer and Cayo found a ring that belongs to Emily back behind the washer. It has been there for a couple years at least. It is a pretty little silver ring with three stones in it, given to her by one of her Ecuadorean host Moms—a dear woman who died about two years ago. Emily was very happy to have the ring back.

They also found a dead mouse in the dryer vent, but nobody was very happy about that discovery.

I found these today, going through some boxes in my armoire.

Since it's an election year, I pinned them right onto my shirt and I'm still wearing them. They send a mixed message, don't they?

I wonder what other long lost or forgotten treasures we'll find. I hope I find the silver earring that I lost about 10 years ago. I still think it's somewhere in that house.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Plum tasty

Several years ago I made this quilt called "tea and plums" using a bowl of green plums, picked from the tree in our backyard for inspiration. The plums are ripe again and Ray brought home a couple of big bags of them. They are such a beautiful green with a dusty, blueish bloom, that shades into pink and purple. I don't know what the variety is—I think greengage plums are a bit more heart-shaped than these—but they are simply delicious and very sweet.

This will be our last harvest, since, with any luck at all, the house and the plum tree will belong to someone else next summer.

Besides eating them fresh from the tree, one of my favorite things to do with these plums is to make plum conserve. Easy and so tasty. It's like jam, but with more stuff. My Mom used to make grape conserve using our homegrown grapes, which she canned. I make my plum conserve using Mom's general instructions and I freeze mine.

The recipe is loose and flexible depending on the amount of fruit. I wash the fruit, cut in half and remove the stones and trim off any bad spots, then put into a large pot and simmer over low heat for several hours, stirring occasionally. When the fruit is reduced by about half I add several chopped oranges, including the peels and cook until the peel is tender and add sugar to taste. It takes a lot of sugar and we like it a little tart, you may like it sweeter. I start with about a cup and a half of sugar and then add additional half cups until it is sweet enough for me. Right at the end I throw in a cup or so of chopped nuts—either walnuts or pecans. I used pecans this time. Ladle into clean plastic containers with lids. Keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Freezes indefinitely. This is wonderful on hot biscuits or toast or yummy over vanilla ice cream.

I had 8 plastic containers and what I made filled all 8 exactly. I'm always amazed when that happens!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jimmy Carter

I love Jimmy Carter. It was so good to see him on the convention coverage tonight. Regardless of how history records his time as president, I have no doubt that he is the best former president we have ever had. His life of service and hard work are sure inspiring. He is 83 years old and still traveling the world and rolling up his sleeves to work, and talking with world leaders and ordinary citizens.

Yesterday I was shelving books at the new house. I have my Dad's 1946 yearbook from the Naval Academy.

Dad was not a regular midshipman, but was sent to Annapolis for his final year of college in the Naval officer training program during the war. It was something that I don't think has been done since then. He attended regular classes and graduated with the Annapolis graduating class. I'm not sure why he had the 1946 yearbook because he graduated in 1945 and he and my mother were married that same day at the Annapolis chapel. One of the students who was there at the same time as Dad was Jimmy Carter. Can you pick him out on the yearbook page below?

He's in the top row, fourth from the right. I asked Dad if he knew him. He said not really, but he had been in a class or two with him—both studied engineering. I asked if he seemed destined for greatness. Nope, Dad said, he just seemed like a real regular guy. That's how he seemed on TV tonight.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Today our High Fiber Diet group had a play day to explore the mysteries of soy wax batik. Gerrie ordered the wax and got us all organized ahead of time with our supply list and did a little demo at the beginning.

She is using things like old potato mashers and a springy whisk to dip into hot soy wax and then press onto her fabric. The marks made by the wax will be a resist when the fabric is painted later. People brought all kinds of oddities to make marks on the fabric with the wax. Seemed like lots of us have nice wooden carvings that are actually used for batik in Indonesia, but when it came down to it, some of the unconventional things worked the best. I made some bent wire forms that worked pretty well for me.

Bonnie (white shirt) brought some blocks she had made many years ago for a batik class. The designs were cording (like clothesline) glued to a wooden block.

This is a long strip of fabric I was using to test different tools on. Later I used it to blot up excess paint when I was painting my "good" pieces. In the end it may be the nicest piece I made! That's it on the bottom right below.

The triangular piece on the left started as orange with a subtle woven pattern. I waxed it using a couple of my wire thingies and like how it turned out too. The two white pieces on the back of the bench have wax, but have not been painted yet. I think they will get some more wax too.

It was great to take a day to do something like this. We have a good group right now and I think everyone enjoyed the day. I went through a batik phase years ago, but I was using a combination of parafin and beeswax, which I painted with a brush onto the fabric, then dyed. It was a hot and messy process and I could never get all of the wax out of the fabric. The advantage of the soy wax is a lower melting point, which makes it easier to work with and it can be washed out of the fabric. I like the idea of the "stamping" of the wax as well. Lotsa fun!

I'll show you some of my finished fabrics and my wire mark makers one of these days.

There are more pictures on Gerrie's blog.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Don't worry about Gracie

My cat-loving friends have been concerned about how our old cat, Gracie, would manage the move from our old house to the new one. She's been here about 3 days now and seems to be doing fine.

She's old and crotchety, but she's a survivor.

Gracie comes from a disfunctional family situation, so she has learned to get along in the world. When we moved to Portland in 1993, our son Andy and his friend Jason were sharing an apartment in an old courtyard complex on Powell Blvd. here in Portland. Late one night they were awakened by the sounds of a woman screaming. Looking out their upstairs window they saw a couple in the courtyard, engaged in a physical struggle. The young man was beating and kicking his girlfriend. Andy called the police who soon arrived and hauled the guy away. The young woman came to their door to thank them and said she would be leaving to stay with her family for awhile and asked if they could keep her cat for a few days until she could make some arrangements, then she'd come and get her. The cat was quite pregnant and Andy and Jason never saw her owner again. The poor mother cat was so abused and malnourished that she died within days of giving birth to six kittens. Andy and Jason fed the kittens and found homes for three. We agreed to take Gracie and her brother, Oliver. Andy kept the last, pure black male that he named Prozac.

Oliver was sweet and mellow. Gracie was always touchy and crabby. Prozac's disposition was like Oliver and Andy adored him. A few years ago Oliver disappeared for a couple of days, then I found him dead on our doorstep one morning. I believe he got into something poisonous. I was home alone and buried him in the garden, weeping, while Gracie watched. After that Gracie slept on his grave. Prozac got cancer and had to be put to sleep. Andy was heartbroken.

And now it's just Grace. She spends most of her time outdoors. I am allergic to her, so we don't have much physical contact, but we talk every day. She loves Ray, who feeds her. She seems to be adjusting here. Spending a lot of time roaming the property and sleeping out in the grass. She's a little freaked out by the automatic garage door opener—we've never had one before—but I think she'll get used to it. She's figured out her cat door for getting in and out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The red teapot

I am hanging more things on the walls. I have been almost afraid to show you this one. Because I know how jealous you will be. It's yet another example of the amazing things that happen thanks to blogging and the internet.

So here's the story. See that cute red teapot? That was my teapot. But I never used it. When I made tea in a pot it was usually for a number of people so I used my bigger teapot. This one was put away in my china cupboard for years. A couple weeks ago I was packing and ran across it. I am in a clearing out mode and I thought, "I should give this to someone who'd enjoy it." Then I put it in a box with a lot of other things to pass along to someone else.

The very next day I was reading Melody Johnson's blog. Melody, if you don't know, is an amazing, clever quilt artist, but she has recently gone back to painting and she is pretty amazing at that as well. But, anyway, I was reading her blog and she said she'd been out shopping for things for her "still-life collection"—things to paint. And I knew that if ever anyone would appreciate that cute little red teapot, Melody would. So I sent it to her and she painted it and sent me the painting! How great is that?

Even more amazingly, back when I was first married I had a set of dishes with yellow cups exactly like the one in the painting and not too many years back I had a whole set of those blue dishes, exactly like the little plate in the picture. But all that aside, I just love the painting and the lemons and the pear and that dreamy, pinkish background and how I can almost taste that clear, hot tea, and the way it looks on my terra cotta wall.

I told you you'd be jealous.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

So much stuff

To move.

I know. This is the longest friggin' move in the history of moving. If you're tired of reading about it, imagine how tired I am of living it. But it goes on. And on. Half of what I own is in one house. Half, or more, is still at the other house. I am moving things as I need them. I still haven't moved the studio, which is daunting, but may actually be easier than it looks since everything, pretty much, is already in containers.

There may be a bright side to moving across town this way. When we've moved before, especially from one town to another, getting everything packed to go at once was brutal. Then seeing all my worldly possessions piled up and loaded onto a huge truck always gave me a terrible feeling of being burdoned by all this stuff! I was always reminded of moving from Pocatello to Boise after college with everything I owned in the trunk of my car. What a sense of freedom that I didn't even appreciate at the time. At least this way I am carrying what I can in my car on each trip and I don't ever have to see the whole mess piled up in one big pile!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dinner guest

I've always hated peas. Sofia loves them. She takes such delight in carefully picking up a single pea and popping it into her mouth that I just may have to give peas another chance.* She makes them look good. Then some days she wants nothing to do with them. Maybe she has some of my genes after all.

Napkin skills coming right along.

* "all we are saaaaying, is give peas a chance..." thanks Reva!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Do you feel like this too?

I have a lump in my throat. Our little Elizabeth is getting married! I've known her since she was a baby. I've watched her grow up.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

House Blessing

Little by little I am hanging things on the walls at our new house. This is a woven wheat "house blessing" that my mother made. I hung it so that you see it just as you come in the front door. Mom was an artist and craftsperson all her life and late in life discovered the craft of wheat weaving. She made so many beautiful things and they seem so perfectly crafted. This may have lost a couple heads of wheat in moves, but it was perfect when she finished it. This is the third of our houses that this piece has "blessed".

Moving little by little. Making the old house more "saleable" by doing all the things we should have done years ago! Settling in at the new house. It is 100 degrees here today and I am sipping ice water as I putter. My sewing studio remains at the old house. Maybe this weekend we can start moving it out here.

Can you tell how tired I am? But blessed. Good to remember that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More about the Seattle trip

When our group goes to APNQ there is always a good discussion on the train on our way home, about which were our favorite quilts. I took pictures of some that I liked and in the past I probably would have posted them here, but there is a lot of sensitivity these days about posting photos of artwork without permission of the artist and as I have thought about it, it makes sense to me. My very favorite piece was part of a special exhibit of South African quilts, curated by Rosalie Dace and it was her piece titled Night Flight that was, for me, the most exciting piece I saw at the show. Fortunately I can send you to see it on a web site. Scroll down to Night Flight and you can click to enlarge it. Trust me, it was even more beautiful in the flesh. Another piece in that exhibit by Jeannette Gilks, called Blood and Fire was an amazing piece about the 9-11 attacks and war and religion. I'm sorry it does not show too well on the web site. It was both powerful in its message and a work of complex beauty.

As I mentioned yesterday, I am always a little surprised when I see one of my quilts hanging in a big show like APNQ. I guess I should be used to it by now, but I have learned that the quilts I make don't look that good in those kinds of shows. Still, it's a honor to have a piece accepted, so don't think I am complaining. But it is interesting to compare venues. Here is my quilt in the APNQ show last weekend:

Here it is hanging in the "It's Good to be Green" show, for which it was made.

Isn't it amazing how much more presence it has in this second picture? Gerrie's quilt, also made for the GTBG exhibit suffered a similar fate at APNQ. It has really made me think about what kind of pieces are best submitted to what shows. I think, for example, I will definitely shoot for a size with enough width that my quilt will not have to share a panel with another quilt! (My quilt was not doing the little cow quilt next to it any favors either.) I actually think both Gerrie's and my quilt would have looked better hung together on a single panel since they are the same size and orientation and have compatible colors.

I think every time I have gone to APNQ I come away with a whole new idea of some way I want to change the way I work. Probably this is the biggest value in seeing a lot of other people's work. And it is not any single piece that ever makes me want to emulate it, it is just a feeling I begin to get about how I could improve what I do as I am bombarded with visual stimuli. I came away, this time, with a yen for bolder pattern and color to work with. With that in mind I did a little shopping in the merchant mall and brought these fabrics home.

Now I just need to get my life, house, possessions and stash moved and under control, so I can indulge in a little of my new inspiration.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Seattle Weekend

Last night after I got home from Seattle I looked at the photos I took and found an incomplete story picture-wise. I missed taking pictures of things that were important and then my batteries died and I didn't have new ones to replace them. If you want to see pictures that tell the story go to Gerrie's blog.

We went, of course, for the APNQ Show, which happens every two years. Gerrie and I each had a quilt accepted to the show this year. I love that this show even exists. It filled a void in the northwest when it was created and it has grown to be a large, prestigious show. I have had my frustrations with it and we had some frustrations this time around as well, but I have to agree with the people who have been reporting that it was the best show yet this year. The best part, for me, however, is just the train trip to Seattle with my friends.

After we arrived Friday evening we made our way down to the Seattle waterfront and had my favorite Seattle dinner of Alder smoked halibut and chips and a cold glass of beer.

Gerrie is patiently waiting for everyone to join her

This sidewalk eatery hasn't changed in the 30 or so years I have been coming to it. Best fish I've ever eaten. We sat at the picnic tables, with a roll of paper towels for napkins and watched the seagulls and what appeared to be a wedding party boarding a small cruise ship right next to the pier. Later we walked down the pier and watched the sunset over Elliott Bay.

The next morning we found the Convention Center where the show was and located Gerrie's quilt,

and my quilt.

I am always struck by how small my work, which seems plenty big to me, looks when it hangs in a show like this. These shows really showcase large and bedsize quilts. The smaller ones tend to look a little random and motley. Gerrie's seemed especially dwarfed by the larger one next to it. I would wish for a more sensitive eye when they hang the art quilts.

We found my sister-in-law, Jamie Grant and her business partner, Sue Ann at their booth and made plans to meet them for dinner. (Why didn't I take a picture of them and their colorful booth?!) Jamie did not tell us that her amazing Delft Tiles quilt had won a third prize in the hand applique division.

Amazing, no?

About the time we were starting to want lunch, my sister Becky arrived at the show and we all headed across the street to the Cheesecake Factory.

Becky and me

Here's my lunch. Someone pointed out that my salad matched my hair!

More about the Seattle weekend tomorrow—

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Family Creative Workshop

In the process of moving and going through things I am discovering a lot of things I forgot I had. I just came across my set of the Time-Life series of books called The Family Creative Workshop series.

These really are the greatest books. I started my subscription back in the '70s when I had very small children. The books, 24 in total, including an index, came one every couple of months for several years. The subjects were alphabetical, so the first one that came along was Acrylics to Batik. Each subject was covered by an individual author who was an expert at that technique. And each chapter was wonderfully illustrated and photographed. Some now look like such a typical time capsule view of the seventies.

uh huh

And some are timeless.

I still think these fabric faces (volume 1, "applique")

by Margaret Cusack are fabulous!
When I got my very first book I was instantly hooked on learning the art of batik. Soon my basement was full of dye buckets and I had dripping, waxed fabrics hanging from a makeshift clothesline. I made many batiks and eventually taught classes at the Art Center in Pocatello, Idaho.

At that time in my life I was home with small children. I didn't really know other people who were doing these things, but every couple of months a new book would arrive and I would dig into it. I learned to crochet. I made homemade rootbeer. I constructed a playhouse for my children. I learned to do needlepoint and all kinds of embroidery and silk screening and so much more.

When I started writing this I googled the book series and found Purly Victorious had written a long, long post about these same books. I'm not the only one with fond memories and gratitude for this wonderful series.

I'll be away for a few days. I hope to return with great photos of the APNQ Show in Seattle!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Fighting a feeling

We are giving up trying to sell this house ourselves. It is something we wanted to try and we knew that, at some point we'd engage a realtor if we didn't have a quick sale. We interviewed realtors. It was depressing. They all want us to lower the price, put a new roof on the house, redo the kitchen (not happening), change light fixtures, etc. etc. etc. It is looking like the money we were counting on for further remodeling the new house is dissolving before our eyes. Poof. Gone in the blink of a crappy housing market. So "bummed out" is the feeling I am fighting. I am venting here to get it out of my system.

Shit happens. So on to other things and repeating this mantra, "It's only money. It's only money." Not cancer, not heart disease, not homelessness, not an airplane falling out of the sky and killing 3 small children on vacation in a beach house and the two people in the plane—man, that one is the one that really makes me ashamed to complain about anything.

So onward and upward. I'm chugging water so I can go give blood. The Red Cross called to say they are short of my type. I am getting ready to go to Seattle on the train with my super buddies on Friday. We are going to the APNQ quilt show, where one of my quilts and one of Gerrie's will be on display. We will eat and walk and laugh inappropriately and probably say some snarky things about some of the quilts and we'll marvel at others and I hope we'll meet some other bloggers and internet acquaintences as we did two years ago.

And have I mentioned that I love my new house? It is so comfortable and the yard smells like Girl Scout camp and the kitchen is a joy to cook in. If we have to live with pig pink carpeting in the bedrooms a bit longer than we planned, oh well.

P.S. Did I ever show you the cool blogsite I created to try to sell the house? It has gotten a lot of good comments. Take a look before it's history :

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Coffee and paint

I headed in to the old house today to do some packing, cleaning, paint touch up, etc. and stopped by the Starbucks drive-through for a latte to power me through my chores. When I got up to the window the barista said, "Guess what! The guy in the car ahead of you paid for your drink." I was so amazed and delighted it seemed only right to make someone else's day, so I paid for the guy in the car behind me. I kinda hoped it would continue. It was a double whammy—made me feel good that someone bought my drink and made me feel extra good to pass it on. I drove away with my latte thinking this was a portent of a good day to come.

Then, a bit later, still basking in the glow of that pay-it-forward moment, I somehow managed to flip my paint-laden paintbrush right out of my hand into the air, where it did a somersault and landed on my sleeve, bounced down my pant leg, splattered my shoe and went splat onto the wood floor.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Making ourselves at home

We have been moving. Tonight my computer is up and running in the office at the new house and I am able to blog and upload pictures once again. We are moving a room at a time and it is a little odd not really knowing what is at the old house and what is here. Yesterday we discovered we didn't have a can opener here. Now we do.

The little den, off the dining room is pretty settled.

Nothing on the walls yet, but it feels like home and is a place where we can be comfortable and watch TV or read. The dining room is pretty well done too. As you can see I even have our old family high chair ready for Sofia, who actually joined us for dinner last night and sat in the high chair.

The living room furniture is still at the old house. The living room here looks like this:

I can hardly believe, after all these months, we are finally moving in. I feel like I have made the change in my heart and my mind. I'm finished with the old house. I just wish it would sell. sigh.

My cork board project has stalled. I am out of corks. It required more corks than I anticipated. Reva said she would give me a bunch she's been saving. That should add a touch of class. I think she and Jerry drink better wine than we do!

My little chair project is finished and received the Sofia seal of approval. She came in the other day and spotted the chair and got very excited. She ran right over, patted the cushion a couple times and climbed right up into the chair where she sat, looking very pleased with herself.

Little by little. Bit by bit.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Bad Timing

Today was the day the 12 x 12 group was set to reveal our new work. This round's theme is "illumination", but it seems we have had our lights turned out. Our blog has been locked by Blogger's spam-seeking robots. We are unable to post anything to the blog until they respond to our request to review the site and unlock it.

Meanwhile, you can still see the blog and leave comments. We just can't post. We're hoping it will be available again quite soon and our new work will go up when it is. What a bummer! We have all struggled with this theme and the anticipation of seeing the results has been high.

Update! The blog has been unlocked and the "Illumination" pieces posted. I think they are spectacular! Go and take a look.