Sunday, September 28, 2008

Two cats in the yard

Gracie is thriving at the new house. She loves the yard. The pretty black and white cat belongs to someone in the neighborhood, but has been spending a lot of time in our yard. The two cats tolerate each other. When I looked out the front window earlier and saw the two of them sitting there I was reminded of one of our favorite songs. It is schmaltzy, but it has a history.

It was a beautiful day today. We went out to the garden center to buy arborvitae for the backyard. I post pictures of the front yard, which is vast and very pretty. I haven't really shown you much of the back. It backs up to a subdivision, though thankfully, none of the houses behind us have windows that look into our yard. But the view is unlovely straight out the back. We see the side of a house, with their garbage cans, utility meters and a little bicycle that doesn't seem to have moved all summer. There was a falling down fence that Ray hauled away. The fence posts remain.

The arborvitae will grow quickly and screen that view. Ray will make the yard wonderful. Here he is getting to it.

It's been a hard week hasn't it? What is happening with the economy is so scary. We haven't sold our old house. We don't have money to finish doing what we want to do here. Who knew? But if I have learned anything it's that nothing is permanent and things will improve. Meanwhile, we have a beautiful day, five fluffy arborvitae and two cats in the yard. Our house is a very, very, very fine house.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I don't know who this guy is . . .

But I sure do get what he's saying.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Steve's Studio and Stuff

My brother, Steve, knows I am planning to build a studio at our new house, so he invited us to take a look at his studio. His first piece of advice: "Trust me, you really need a bathroom in your studio. Really." He didn't include one. Here he is pointing at the door and the long trek up to the house.

Second recommendation: "You really need a coyote hide to hang on the wall."

I'm taking the recommendations under advisement.

Steve's studio is a music studio and a bicycle studio and a tool studio and has the space and potential for whatever his next passion turns out to be. He's in a band again and they practice here. Note that Ray made himself at home at the drums.

Bass guitars and amps line the walls and unicycles hang from the ceiling. (Steve rides and builds unicycles.) That's a photo of Steve playing bass in his younger days. He and Ray played in a band together years ago. They treated us to a little impromtu version of "Wipeout." Pitiful.

There's a lot of old stuff hanging around on the walls and on the shelves. The coyote hide you saw in that first picture was something my Dad killed and mounted. That's an Eisenhower campaign poster you see behind Ray's head in the photo above. And Lance Armstrong, of course.

Funny old postcard (I assume it's a comment on FDR), one of my Dad's business cards and the previously noted, cool '70s Steve photo.

Old stuff rescued from Dad's engineering office. The blue and grey "box" on the top right is an Altair computer, built, by Dad, from a kit in 1975. As interesting as the computer itself, is the manual that goes with it.

There is a note in the introduction saying if you have any problems with the software, feel free to call the authors Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Monte Davidoff, with a phone number given.

Ray decided to try calling the number to ask to speak to Bill Gates. When he actually got somebody's voice mail he panicked and hung up!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beyond the houses

Our Pocatello walk continued from the old neighborhood, called Indian Hills, across the highway and down toward the river and the Edson Fichter Nature Area.

After I was in Pocatello a couple years ago I posted pictures of this area here and here. It is a place I love to visit as it really reminds me of my childhood and the beauty of the country where I grew up. The Nature area was named for our family friend, Edson Fichter, a biologist, writer and artist. He was quite special and this beautiful place is a fitting tribute.

The trail winds through the valley, along the Portneuf River. At the end of the valley is the Portneuf Gap, the opening in the mountains where the river flows through. The Oregon Trail comes through the Gap and up this valley, as well as the Union Pacific rail tracks.

The dusty blue-grey Russian olive trees grow along the riverbank. I recently learned that they are an invasive, non-native species, but I still think they are beautiful.

The tangy, sharp smell of sagebrush is one of the best smells I know. I wish you could smell this photo!

This kid said he had caught a few trout that morning.

Those are the railroad tracks over below the lava cliffs. Eventually a train came through.

Growing up so near these tracks taught me to sleep through all kinds of train noises. Train whistles in the night make for great dreams.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pocatello houses

We made a quick trip to Pocatello for my cousin Billy's memorial service this weekend. It's a long drive, but good to get back from time to time, even for such a sad occasion. On Sunday we took a walk through our old neighborhood, where my brother still lives. this is the house my parents built when I was in Junior High and lived in for the rest of their lives.

After my parents died my uncle bought the house. Just a few years ago my cousin Billy and his wife, Lesley, bought it. Billy was an avid gardener and kept the yard looking beautiful. It is an odd feeling to go back to this house, as we often do, but the family connection and their loving care of the place warms my heart. Of course we don't know, nor does Lesley, if she will stay there.

This house, just a block away, was the house Ray and I owned 30 years ago. It looks pretty seedy. Sad. It was such a cute house. I loved this house a lot.

I don't think it has been painted since we lived there. And it looks like one of the house numbers was replaced with homemade replacement. And the yard—sigh. I wish we hadn't walked by.

Here's something you see in Idaho. Giant butterflies on the sides of houses. This one is a couple doors down from our old house.

Some of the butterflies are even bigger than this one. Some houses have a couple. Never cared much for the look, myself. Do they do this in other places? SE Idaho is the only place I've ever seen them.

Here's another butterfly, just around the corner from my brother's house. This one isn't as tacky as the big painted wood ones.

I had just taken this photo and the door to this house opened up and a woman stepped out and called out, "Terry, is that you?!" Busted. Turned out to be someone I went to college with. That was embarrassing. I wonder if she reads my blog. Uh, hi Betty!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


On my Dad's side of the family I am the oldest of 13 cousins. This picture is of 8 of us. It was taken more than 50 years ago. This is a picture of people who grew up and became teachers and accountants and artists and scientists and parents and grandparents.

I'm the big one in the middle of the back row. That's my sister Becky in the bottom left hand corner. My brother hadn't been born yet. The distressed little boy is my cousin Billy. I don't know why he looked so unhappy here. Maybe it was being the only boy among all those little girls. Generally he looked a lot more lighthearted than this, despite being the only boy with 5 sisters. His sisters all adored him, though, so I think he had it pretty good.

I look at this picture tonight and I feel old and I feel sad. Billy died this morning. Sweet, smart, clever, amusing guy. He beat cancer once. This time it beat him.

So the cousins will gather again to say goodbye to one of our own. I hate this.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Stuff I like

Isn't it really the little things, sometimes, that make you happy on a day to day basis? In the spirit of Martha's "good things" and Oprah's "favorite things", I thought I'd share a few of the things I am disproportionately pleased with these days.

I've always been a sponge person. I know, they say they are germy and nasty, but nothing cleans up a sink or countertop like a sponge and I maintain that if you treat them right they are more hygienic than any old soppy rag hanging over the faucett. The thing is, though, that they are ugly. The cellulose ones that work the best have always come in assorted yucky colors. Emily discovered Trader Joe's sponges first and after using them at her house I am a convert.

This is how you buy them—in a package of twelve little compressed things that look like crackers. You soak it in water and it looks like this:

They are wonderfully absorbant, just the right size and a nice sponge-ish color that is not offensive. They are quite cheap (I don't remember the exact price) and since you have that compact package of twelve right there in the drawer, it's not a big deal to toss it when it gets mungy or someone fails to rinse it well and squeeze it out and it gets stinky. (who would do that?) Every time I go to Trader Joe's I am tempted to buy another package. I never want to run out of these.

I have tall cupboards with top shelves that I can't quite reach. In my old house I had a stepstool that I used, but it was a pain. For one thing it was a finger pincher when you folded that step down and back up, and secondly it took up a lot of space. Look what I found a couple weeks ago.

This very inexpensive little guy folds completely flat, opens easily and holds up to 300 lbs. (no comments, please) It is exactly the right height and it stores under the lazy susan in the pots and pans cabinet. Handy!

My next find was also thanks to Emily. (how did she get so smart?) The other day I mentioned to her that I was going to buy a new Swiffer and she got very excited and ran to show me her new "better than a Swiffer" purchase.

It's called an OMop and is, indeed, superior. The handle is ergonomically curved with the oval grip. The business end is a little bigger and is grippy like velcro. In addition to the fibery covers that pick up all the disgusting hair and fluff from the corners, it comes with a microfiber pad for wet mopping that sticks by means of the grippy stuff and then peels off to be tossed into the washing machine and reused endlessly. Got it at Target. A little more expensive than the Swiffer, but oh, so worth it!

This next item actually was kind of expensive, but I love it, despite it's intended drudgery. This is my new ironing board.

I had no space in my new utility room for my ancient, rusting harvest gold ironing board. So I went looking for a folding ironing board that mounts on the wall. Sounds like something we've all seen, but not so easy to find. I found it here. There is a Rockler store here and they did not stock these, but were happy to order it for me and didn't charge me shipping. (this baby is heavy!)

When you fold it down, you can swivel it around to wherever it's handy for ironing. You can't believe how solid and sturdy this thing is. Gerrie liked mine and got one for her new walk-in closet.

And last, and probably least, I ran into K-Mart today to get some trash can liners and spotted this nice waste basket. It is perfect to use in our office for paper recycling. I love that it is shiny and black and a sleek, simple design. It has hand holes for carrying it, full of paper and catalogs, out to dump into the recycling bin. It will hold a lot. And it was cheap.

My needs are simple. I don't need fancy cars or expensive jewelry. Just give me nicely designed stuff for helping me get through the day.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fabric teapots

Remember when I told you about High Fiber Diet's teapot challenge? The resulting teapots were revealed this week at the Columbia Stitchery Guild's quarterly meeting.

There weren't very many, but I think the members really enjoyed them.

Here is Gerrie's. Isn't it wild and crazy? I love it. Sorry I cut off its spout in the photo.

I really liked Karen Miller's teapot too. It is a reproduction of an antique Japanese teapot her grandfather brought from Japan. She said it was a family treasure. Her indigo dyed and Katazome stenciled fabrics seemed perfect for teapots.

She sent me this photo of her creation along with the original and gave me permission to post it here.

Here's a closeup of my teapot.

This was really a lot of fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Today is the anniversary of the day that I started writing this blog three years ago. I wonder if there is any significance to the fact that I chose September 11, 2005 to start this. It was the 4th anniversary of what we now call "nine-eleven," and I think that date will always be a day of remembrance for all of us. Perhaps at some level I use that date as a starting point, an anniversary of shocking change and taking stock and nothing ever being the same as it was before and a new awareness of the fragility and preciousness of life. The end of one thing and the beginning of something different. Moving forward.
A lot has changed in my life in these past three years. I am grateful that this record exists. Thanks for coming along on the trip.
P.S. A couple of people have asked how I made the photo collage in the big 3. In Illustrator I made the big 3 and turned it into a graphic, then placed the photos behind it. Then I applied the "clipping mask" effect to trim away the parts of the photos not within the outline of the 3. If you are not an Illustrator user this will make no sense to you!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Finished projects

Doesn't it feel good to finish a project? I have had several going at the same time and finished two of them this week. (Actually three, if you count getting the quilt hung.)

This morning Reva brought me a big bag of corks and I got right to work and finished up my wine cork board this afternoon.

They are hard to discern in this picture, but Judy sent me two lime green corks and a nice blue one. Great little jolts of color! So, thanks to my friends, this project is now complete, and as you can see already has a few things pinned to it.

The other project was a bigger one. I decided I wanted to paint a big flower on the wall in the small bathroom. I used a photo I had taken of lilies in our yard last year for reference and drew my giant lily in Illustrator. I enlarged it and printed it out on my printer—lots of sheets that needed to be taped together. Taping them on the window helped me see through each paper to properly line it up with the others.

Once it was up on the window I traced over it with a dark marker and made a few edits to the drawing while I was at it.

Then I transferred the image to the bathroom wall.

I wanted a very flat, graphic painting, so I started by outlining the drawing with taupe paint, then started filling in one color at a time.

Here's the finished mural, seen as you come in the door.

The bathroom is pretty small so it was hard to get a full-on shot, but here's the view from the john!

P.S. A couple of people have asked how I transferred the drawing to the wall. When it was taped to the window I flipped it over and went over the lines on the back side, with a soft pencil. Then when I taped it to the wall I traced over the lines, transferring a small amount of the pencil graphite to the wall—just barely enough to see.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Up on the wall

So, it's one thing to say you're just going to hang a big old quilt up high on a wall—it's another thing to figure out the logistics and then actually do it. Usually I hang quilts by using a piece of lattice molding that goes through a sleeve on the back. The lattice has holes drilled in each end that slip over screws that have been put into the wall. For a quilt this large, I decided the lattice needed at least 3 points of support so I split the sleeve in the back and drilled a 3rd hole in the center. Then, how to measure and get those screws waaaaay up there on the wall in all the right places? We decided we needed a second piece of wood that already had the carefully placed screws in it that would then be attached to the wall for the quilt to hang on.

Here's Ray up on his tall ladder measuring and leveling the mounting board. After some head scratching and high level mathmatics we figured out that finding the center of the board, and the center of the wall, then matching the two up was much easier than measuring from each side of a sloping wall! Duh.

We rolled the quilt from the bottom to make it easier to handle and up the ladder Ray went once again.

The hanging rod holes slipped easily onto the protruding screws. Slick.

Ray carefully unrolled the quilt as he came down the ladder. It looked great, but then we noticed that the unpainted board showed at each end of the quilt, so Ray went back up the ladder, handed the quilt down and painted the ends of the board.

He's still smiling!

Finished! I love it.