Wednesday, April 29, 2009

B'bye Pontiac

Interesting to read that GM plans to discontinue making the Pontiac brand. My very first car was a '65 Pontiac LeMans. It looked pretty much like this one. Red and pretty hot! When the guys whistled, it was for my car, not me.

Ray used to say he married me for my car.

It was a big car. I always think of Pontiacs as big cars and I never developed any kind of loyalty to the brand and never owned another one. Still, it seems like the end of an era. But it's probably time for things to change.

Me, I'm a Subaru girl these days.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bones and feathers

The Bones

The last time you saw my geometric piece (now called "squares and triangles" for want of a better name) here, I had made a bunch of beads and thingies, from Fimo, to sew on it. I took it all to the beach and starting sewing them on. Then one, and then another and another, of the Fimo pieces cracked and broke as I was sewing them. It was clear they were not going to work. The next day when we went into Tillamook (see previous post) I spotted a bead shop and we stopped to look around. It was quite a shop, with a little of this and a little of that and piles of unsorted stuff and clutter and disorganization to an extreme. Another customer, a wild-eyed elderly lady, greeted us with "who are you ladies??" Then she continued to engage us and the shop owner in a disjointed and bizarre conversation the whole time we were there. Definite small town experience! But I digress. My great find were a cache of very interesting bone beads, which had a very similar look as my Fimo beads, but were much less delicate. Good price, too.

Here is a closeup of the bone beads and the stitching I did.

And here is the finished piece.

The Feathers
I showed you the crow I made at the beach. Here is a better view of it. Notice the wings.

This was another experiment. A couple months ago I discovered Golden Digital Ground Medium and did some printing on fabric using it. I liked it. I drew a feathered wing in Illustrator, manipulated it a bit in Photoshop and printed it on white fabric. (Actually two of them) Then I painted over them with a teal blue transparent fabric paint. It worked pretty well for the wings, I think. Here is the drawing I used.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Remember the wonderful painting my son-in-law gave me for my birthday? It needed a frame, so I went out shopping for frames. Holy Moly! The kind of frame I wanted—a nice wide, dark wood frame with a linen liner—was going to cost me something like $200. It occurred to me to check out eBay. And I found the perfect frame. Perfect size, perfect style, perfect color. Perfect, I tell you! I was the only bidder and got it for a pittance. The shipping was actually more than the bid price and altogether, a fraction of what I had found locally. It arrived a couple days ago and I could not be more pleased. It is a beautiful frame and I think it makes the painting look just great.

With all that has happened to real estate and our retirement funds in recent months, I am reverting to a thriftier self from my younger days and it is quite satisfying. I love a bargain, especially when it is really just what you wanted and would have paid more for if you'd had to. This is one challenge of economic hardships that I feel prepared for.

The other day we saw a yard sale and stopped. We found this heavy iron plant stand that folds. We liked it and the price was right.

When I tried putting pots into the metal baskets I found that the one on the left was impossible to fit a pot into because of that bar across the top. "What a dumb design" I thought, until it occurred to me that you were probably meant to line the metal basket with moss and plant directly into that. I got a bag of moss yesterday and some small plants that will get bigger and got it planted. It looks good on the front porch and will be even better when the plants grow and the trailing petunias are trailing and blooming.

I'm shopping at Goodwill and watching for sales and even clipping a few coupons, though I haven't a lot of patience with that. Look at the nice mugs I found at the Dollar Store.

When we moved I got rid of all the motley advertising mugs and bought a bunch of these in these three colors. I love them.

Are you bargain shopping these days?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


For the past three years our group's beach getaways have been near the town of Tillamook. This works well for us as we have become quite addicted to the ice cream at the Tillamook cheese factory.Tillamook has a couple other things to recommend it.

The Latimer Quilt and Textile Center, just down the road from the cheese factory, is always worth a visit. You may remember that it was the location for the "Good to Be Green" show that Gerrie and June and I all had work in last spring. This year they had a nice show of work by several art quilters from the Willamette Valley. The old, converted schoolhouse is always a hive of activity and fun to poke around in.

There was a class going on in the classroom, but they said, "Come on in and look around!" We did.

Another room is filled with looms. I love the painted black and white checkerboard floors.

They have a lot of handmade stuff for sale. Most is very nicely made and reasonably priced. I was quite taken with this chef doll.

Wonderful face!

Beautiful tulips out front of the Center.

Right down the road the other direction from the big Cheese Factory is the much smaller Blue Heron French Cheese Company. We found it to be a great place for lunch. We had wonderful lunches there two days in a row—grilled turkey/brie/cranberry sauce sandwiches, salmon chowder, shrimp bisque, delectable salads. Mmm-mm-mm. Outside the shop/restaurant beautiful chickens wander about the grounds.

And this gorgeous fellow grazed just beyond the fence. I always think Tillamook looks a bit like Switzerland, with all its meadows and mountains and cows and sheep.

If you find yourself driving along the Oregon Coast this summer, Tillamook is a good stop. The Tillamook Cheese Factory (watch them make cheese and indulge in the ice cream), The Blue Heron French Cheese Company and the Latimer Textile and Quilt Center are within a couple miles of each other, right along Hwy. 101.

Have a double scoop of pecan praline crunch and cookie dough on a waffle cone for me!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Off to the beach

The STASH group went to the beach this week for our annual retreat. It was wonderful—so relaxing. Great company, beautiful place, good food and comfy beds. Who could ask for more? Gerrie already posted about the trip. She is so prompt. It has taken me a day to download pictures and get to it.

We keep trying out new places. Maybe someday we will find the right combination and we'll have a place to go back to year after year. This year's house was beautiful and the view was spectacular. Its only drawback was that it was advertised as wheelchair accessible, for our member who is disabled, but was, in fact, far from it. We made it work, but the stairs were quite challenging for her. Here's the house, seen from the beach.

It's the brown one right in the center of the photo, just above the salmon-y pink house.

There was a big table for us to work at right by the windows, with the everchanging view of the ocean and the three arches rocks.

One of the projects I worked on was another crow.

Sunset. Imagine us all sitting and enjoying this view with a glass of wine. There's a big pot of soup heating on the stove. Somehow I got back with no people pictures, just pictures of what we saw.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

OK, hold everything

Yesterday I showed you how I finally got a patina on my birdfeeder's copper roof. That was a by-product, actually, of experimenting with my washers. I layed them all out and sprayed them with the vinegar/salt mixture. The brass washers turned nearly black. Some of the copper washers turned blue-green. All of them changed and became, to me quite interesting. And suddenly they no longer belonged on the geometric piece at all. They brought to mind all kinds of other ideas.

So now I have put the washers aside for the moment and am back to the geometric piece. I have to say I was truly surprised by how many of you expressed a preference for the random placing of the washers on that piece. Really?? That did not work for me at all. Hmmm. I wasn't in love with the other arrangements either, but definitely not the random. What I am going for here is something very cool. Very minimal and ordered. Maybe a little bit Agnes Martin—well not that cool and ordered, but definitely not random.

Here's my latest idea.

Again, these are just laid in place. Some interesting stitching would hold it all together. I made all these bits from polymer clay. Here's a closeup.

So, if you liked the random placement of the washers, this probably isn't doing much for you, but I am persisting. Like I said before, it's an experiment. BTW, these photos are much more representative of the actual colors in this piece than the last ones I showed.

The STASH group is going to the beach for a couple of days. I am taking this along as well as another little project. I'm sure I will get some feedback from them. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that the Census Bureau doesn't decide I need to start work immediately within the next 3 days. I look forward to our beach retreat all year and I don't want to have to leave early.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Had to be outside today

What a gorgeous day we had here today. It was like summer with all the beauty of Spring. Took a tour around the yard today just to see what was up. We've had a pair of mallards in the creek and they were back today. When I went out the male was wandering around under the bushes.

Then he joined his mate in the water.

We went to a native plant sale on Saturday and Ray has been planting our purchases. One of my favorite is this bunchberry, which we hope will spread as a ground cover along the creek bank. I love the color and shape of the leaves.

My two trilliums are blooming. These are also natives and are my favorite spring wildflowers. I hope to have more of these along the creek as time goes by.

The rhododendrons are starting to bloom.

Here's Gracie checking out the paving stone project that Ray has been working on. This will be a little paved area off the front porch, from which a nice pathway will wind down toward the creek.

Can you see that one of the bricks has popped up right in front of the fish block. There is some kind of critter that has tunneled under there we think. A couple of the blocks and a bunch of the sand was pushed upward. I will stain the cast blocks when they are all in place. I think it is looking great, don't you?

There is a lot to be done all around the yard. This birdbath (for drunk birds?) was left by the previous owners. It has to go.

I finally worked out how to get the patina on my copper-roofed bird feeder. I have been hoping for several years now that it would appear naturally, but it needed some help. This is how it looked in February. When I asked here a couple people suggested I spray it with vinegar or muriatic acid. I tried the vinegar, but it did nothing. Last week I got on the internet and looked for info about producing a green patina on copper and found instructions for spraying it with vinegar and salt. Eureka! This is what happened after only two spritzings.

Now that's what I wanted.

Glorious day. We had Sofia running through the sprinkler late in the day and this season's first dinner on the deck.

I hope you had a great day, too.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hardware on the quilt

Like I said, I have been in a mood to follow up on some ideas I've had. Not saying they are necessarily good ideas. The little geometric piece I have been fooling with is nearly quilted and it occurred to me that it might be a candidate for some embellishment. Something simple and textural. I'm still not all the way to gobs of sparkly stuff sewn on my quilts.

This past week I have been driving 30 miles each day to training for a job. The training has been in the little town of Woodburn, south of Portland. One day when I went out to scout out some lunch I saw an old-fashioned Hardware store. I am inordinately fond of hardware stores, so I checked it out, thinking I'd take a look at brass washers for my little quilt. I found brass washers as well as copper ones, which seemed like a real find to me. And I must mention that this was a hardware store where all the nuts and bolts and screws and washers were in little drawers, not packaged up in plastic, so you could buy as many or as few of anything as you wanted. It also had the requisite skinny, wizened and quite grumpy old clerk. This place was the real deal.

So I have been playing with ways to embellish this piece. Here, washers only.

These are not sewn on. I'm still moving things around. The washers don't seem like enough, so I got out a bag of wooden beads and used a few of them, combined with washers. (The color is not good in these photos—sorry)

How about randomness over geometry?

I'm still thinking about this. I think maybe I need to be more intentional with the embellishment. Maybe I will hate it, then I can pick them all off. I dunno.

Now about the job—
Retirement has been nice these last couple of years, but dang! the economy tanked and our retirement assets took a big hit. We need to work for awhile. I applied to work for the 2010 Census, took the test and got a call that they wanted to hire me. I spent last week in training and at the end of the week about 2/3 of the training class started working. The rest of us were told we are "in the pool" and to go home and wait to be called. So I am in wait mode. I hate wait mode. I want to know what is happening and when it is happening. But I am waiting. I think it will be an interesting job and pretty flexible. I will be doing "quality control" which means I will check a sample of the work done by the first round of enumerators who are now going around and verifying all the addresses. This is in preparation for the real count that will take place next year. Has someone from the Census come to your house yet? They haven't come to mine, as far as I know.

My Mom worked for the Census one year. It must have been 1980. She found it pretty interesting. The 2010 Census is the first one that will use gps technology and be done mostly on computing devices. That was part of my training last week. I sure hope I actually get to do this and am not stuck in wait mode indefinitely.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thinking about the Galapagos

Today I was driving home from my work training (yes, I have a job that I haven't mentioned—more on that another day) and listening to NPR. They were talking about the volcano that is erupting on Fernandina Island in the Galapagos. It got me thinking about our trip to the Galapagos in 2004. We visited Fernandina Island. I think that is where I took this picture of a marine iguana that lives only there. They are the only iguanas that live in the water, though they spend the nights on land.

Ray and I are not rich, at least not in the financial sense of the word, but we have given ourselves the luxury of as much travel as we have been able to swing over the years. I think it is the best thing you can do for yourself. I don't want to die having known only my own small corner of the world. We are not fancy travelers. We have no interest in resorts, or cruises or hanging out on beaches with other Americans. We prefer to experience other cultures insofar as American tourists can. We eat the local food and stay in local hotels and inns. Our trip to the Galapagos was not on a huge cruise ship (we saw them there) but on a small, 10 passenger boat with a local guide.

The Galapagos Islands, where Darwin got his ideas for his theories and his book On the Origin of the Species, is hard to describe because it is so unique in all the world. So unspoiled, so beautiful and so rich with life. It is awesome and humbling and in some way a mystical link to that ancient, authentic order of life and creation. It is as it should be, and being there made me more aware of what we all should be and how we all fit.

Tortoise at the Darwin Research Station.
They are trying to save these incredible creatures from extinction.

Famous blue-footed booby. They really are that blue.

After long, hot days of hiking over volcanic rock, we'd arrive back at the boat to white tablecloths and beautiful dinners on the deck as the sun went down. Note the bunch of bananas ripening on deck.

The Islands were created entirely by vocanic eruptions at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean near the equator. I can only imagine how thrilling it would be to see molten lava flowing into the sea. I wish I was there.

Of all the things that this economic crisis is depriving us of, I think I miss traveling the most. But I'm happy I have memories and photos.

Page from my sketchbook. Espanola Island in the Galapagos, April 7, 2004

Monday, April 13, 2009

What the bunny brought

New hat, new shades, jazzy little car, Elmo basket and big fuzzy duckling. (Thanks, Beth! She loves it)

And . . .

Peeps. Oh yeah.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009


Oregon is a beautiful place. Today I drove to Eugene, which is two hours south of Portland, to meet with the other two members of the committee that has been organizing the "Line Dance" Show that High Fiber Diet is having, starting next week.
Once out of Portland, the scenery is mostly farmland from here to Eugene and this time of year the variety of greens is breathtaking. I always think of the first time I made this drive. It was about this time of year, after we had moved from Idaho to Ashland, Oregon, which is at the south end of the Oregon section of I-5. We drove to Portland and the misty hills, beautiful barns and brilliant green were like another world to me, after Idaho's high desert sagebrush and bare hills. We passed meadows filled with sheep, just like the ones I saw today, grazing around the funny little hills that seem to pop up randomly.

I went home and started designing sheep.

I sold the pattern for quite a few years. When we moved last fall I recycled the last of the pattern sheets.

The fiber art jurying went pretty well. It was difficult, but my fellow jurors were great and we were pretty much in agreement. The group decided on a juried show and a committment to become a more polished and professional group. We took this to heart and eliminated pieces that fell short in our estimation, or simply did not work with the rest. But this is not easy, especially when you know the artists. Painful, really. It is hard to reject a piece when you know how much time and energy went into it. Or when you know what a leap it was for the maker to even enter the show. While I feel very good about the show we chose, I am feeling a little sad about the work we didn't choose.