Monday, May 31, 2010


I know I've already whined about the weather, but here it is the last day of May and so far we have had double the normal rainfall for May. We are close to a record. If it continues to rain today we'll probably beat it. Yeah, it's good for the gardens—well, kind of. Flowers are blooming, everything is an incredible green, but a lot of it is looking pretty beaten down. Like these azaleas out front.
And the irises.
I think we are all feeling a little soggy and beaten down. Ray runs out to work in the garden between showers. I putter around the house. The fallen and broken trees gave Ray an excuse to rent a chainsaw, a manly tool he enjoys using. He combats the rainy day blues with good, productive work.
I took advantage of a brief, rainless window a couple days ago to go out and arrange some rocks along one of our new paths.

As Ray has been digging out front we've noticed how many round, smooth rocks he digs up. River rocks. It makes me wonder if our yard was underwater at one point. These rocks are far more smoothed than the ones in the bottom of the creek. We've been setting them aside and I am using them in the landscaping. The landscaping progresses. It will be a long term project. These log rounds were set aside before Ray started splitting the rest of the two trees cut earlier for firewood. They will be little tables or something for outside.

Some things really love the rain. The rhodies and clematis are drinking it up.

My favorite rain plant is the lady's mantle. The raindrops sit like gems on the leaves and the bright yellow-green flowers add a lot of pizzazz to the scene.

And, of course, the weeds are thriving.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper

I was sad to read that Dennis Hopper died today. He was in some of the most iconic movies of our times—Giant, Easy Rider, Blue Velvet—but my favorite was Hoosiers. His portrayal of the alcoholic father who found new meaning for his life was heartbreaking and heart warming. An unforgettable performance. 

Rest easy, Dennis.

Central Oregon

The STASH group went to Black Butte Ranch this week for our annual retreat. For quite a few years we have gone to the beach, but back when we first started "retreating" we went to Redmond, Oregon where my friend and one-time relative (she was once married to my cousin) Jeanine ran a fishing lodge on a bluff overlooking the Deschutes River. Jeanine is a trained chef and she fed us the most divine meals and the views from the great room and deck were spectacular. She and Dick, her husband, burned out on the lodging business and moved to The Dalles, so those wonderful retreats became a fond memory. While I enjoy the beach, I am, at heart, a mountain girl and thought it would be fun to head east again. The rest of the group was game and we easily located a house to rent at the Black Butte ranch resort.

We left the dark and stormy Willamette Valley hoping for better weather on the other side of the mountains.

At the top of the Santiam Pass we found snow. This area was burned in a huge forest fire several years ago, thus all the black trees. We arrived at the ranch in the late afternoon and found our little cottage in the woods.
Very pleasant and comfortable. Over the next two days we relaxed, did handwork, talked, laughed, read, ate, drank, savored the pine-scented air and filled our eyes with the beauty that surrounded us. On Thursday we drove into the little town of Sisters, visited the famous Stitchin' Post Quilt Shop, found ice cream and wandered the boardwalks of the kitschy, but certainly charming, wild west movie-set-like town.

The first evening we decided to walk the mile or so to the golf course restaurant. The weather was cloudy, but pleasant and it felt great to be outdoors. Gerrie took this picture of me taking pictures. Beth and Reva are up ahead.

I took pictures, but Gerrie took many more than I did, with her fancy new camera. She got some great photos that you can see on her Flickr site here.  Here are a few of my pictures.
It was a wonderful three days. I look forward to this time with my friends all year. I even got a little work done.
Hanging sleeves hand-sewn onto three quilts.

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's not a door knob!

There was nothing to indicate scale in my "object" photos from yesterday and several people were convinced my mystery object is a door knob. No, it absolutely isn't a door knob! It is flat on the bottom, with a carved starburst pattern and far too large and heavy to be used as a door knob. I believe it is nothing more than a paperweight, and perhaps, as Christine suggested, designed to sit in the sunlight and refract light into rainbows of color. I need to find a place to put it where it might get some direct sunlight. Most of our windows face north and south, which won't work very well, but I'll move it around.

The object #2

This object is not only quite a beautiful thing, but it is a mystery, and I love a mystery! What would you call this? A crystal paperweight? A cut glass paperweight? It measures about 3.5" in diameter, is about 2.5" tall and is quite heavy. It appears to be hand-cut. The facets are not perfect and vary a bit in shape and size. I have searched the internet and can't find anything quite like it.

The mystery, you ask? The mystery is how and when and why it ended up in the bottom of the creek that runs through our property. That is where Ray found it last summer, along with a tall, square bottle. And no, this is not part of the bottle. I'm quite sure of that. It was very dirty and I cleaned it up as best I could. You can probably see that it still has a little creek residue firmly attached in spots. The bottle is much worse. How long was it in the creek? Why was it in the creek? I doubt we will ever know answers to those questions. I can't believe it was tossed away as something worthless or no longer wanted. To me it is magical and feels like such a gift.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sometimes it's the small things

That keep you going. Bring sunshine to yet another rainy day. Help you to count your blessings.

It is still raining here. Unbelievable. But, as I tell people who ask me, "how do you stand all the rain?" you put on your rain clothes and go for a walk and do your best to live your life. And for the record, this amount of rain is unusual even for Portland. I know people in other parts of the country think it rains here all the time, but really it doesn't. Really. May is usually exceptionally beautiful. We just got a run of bad weather this year. But there, above, is my sunshine for a cloudy day. My granddaughter spends a lot of time here with me, while her parents work. She goes to daycare two days a week and hangs out with her buddies, but on the other days we hang out. She cooks for me. This is a sausage, one of her specialties.

She offers me a taste of her ice cream.

This is joke ice cream. There's a little button to push on the back of the cone which makes the "ice cream" ball fly out on the end of the string you can see there. "Want a little taste of my ice cream, Grandma?" Then I get it—in the face. It is very hilarious. Every time.

I am tired at the end of the day. Keeping up with a three-year -old is not for sissies. But I am so lucky. And I think she is too. I never got to spend this kind of time with any of my grandparents. Three years have sped by and soon she will be six and then twelve and , and, and ...

Tomorrow I am heading to Central Oregon with the STASH group for a couple of days. We were hoping to escape the coastal rain, but the forecast over there is for rain. Oh well. We will have fun regardless of the weather. I have wine. I have snacks. I have handwork to take—sleeves for three quilts. Now just add friends and the recipe for a great time is complete. I'll have pictures when I get home.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The doldrums

I don't know exactly what "doldrums" are, but I'm thinking it's what you have when it has been raining for freaking ever!  Did the sun ever shine here? Nope, not that I can remember. Will anything good ever happen again? Doubt it. Sorry. Still there? I know, I'm boring even myself. It is just that

We've been staying inside mostly. So much to do outside, but it's too wet. Yesterday we went to a movie and for a couple hours I was transported away from this soggy landscape. We saw Babies. Oh yes, you must see it. It will make you smile, then chuckle, then laugh out loud and go "awwww" and fall in love about 4 times, and in my case, remind me what joy we are in for in a few months. It did a little job on those doldrums for me.

Rainy days are also good days to do the things you've been thinking about but hadn't gotten to. Remember when I was rhapsodizing about the color orange? I thought I needed an orange shirt. Well, I had an orange shirt, but such a wimpy, lunch meat-ish orange that it hardly counted.  In fact I had decided, good solid shirt that it was, that the color just looked wretched on me. See?

So I dyed it. I have a big bag of little tins of dye that I sold in my shop about 18 years ago, so I wasn't sure they still had any oomph left in them. Not to worry. Here is my "new" orange shirt.

I love it now! Dyeing clothing is always tricky. It must be a natural fiber (this is 100% cotton) and sometimes weird splotchy things happen, but it came out perfectly even. The thread didn't take the dye as much as the shirt itself, but it looks fine. This color might be an antidote to the doldrums.

Today was my daughter Emily's birthday, which also happens to be the birthday of two of my nieces. One of them was born on exactly the same day as Emily. So it is a big day in our family. I went back to see what I had written on the blog a year ago and that made me smile. 

So I guess I'm getting through the doldrums, but I wish the rain would stop for awhile.

I looked it up. See #3.


[dohl-druhmz, dol-, dawl-]
–noun(used with a plural verb)
1.a state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art: August is a time of doldrums for many enterprises.
2.the doldrums, 
    a.a belt of calms and light baffling winds north of the equator between the northern
    and southern trade winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 
    b.the weather prevailing in this area.
3.a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The object

I am inspired by beautiful things. Especially objects  that were made by hand. Art, craft, whatever you want to call it. Every so often I have posted something here on the blog that is such a thing. It occurred to me that I might make this a regular (or irregular) feature. Since I don't operate well on designated days for designated tasks, especially now that nobody is paying me to be that mentally organized, I can't guarantee that I will stick to a strict schedule, but I am thinking I may set Fridays aside to post a photo of something that I just love looking at. It might be something that belongs to me, or something I see somewhere else.

For my first object I chose my grandmother's turquoise bracelet.  I suppose it is more than 100 years old by now. Navajo or Hopi. Grandma Clarice was a magpie for sure. She loved jewelry. She loved clothes and shoes and handbags. She especially loved anything red and/or sparkly. She always said she had Gypsy blood. I have several things that belonged to her, including the name she always wished she had—Teresa. She always said her dream was to own a fancy women's clothing store and she would call it "Teresa's." She never did have that store. She worked most of her life in an insurance office, but she dreamed. And she always looked like a million bucks. The bracelet is my favorite piece of jewelry. It is just so beautifully designed and made. Its weight on my wrist is a presence.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A little ahead of myself

I have been hurrying to finish a small quilt that I thought was due on June 1. Turns out it isn't due until July !! Nice feeling to be that far ahead of schedule. This is the piece I just finished for the SAQA auction.

I took this picture last Spring when our STASH group went to the beach and based my design on it.

Interestingly, several weeks ago I was reading blogs and came to fellow 12 Diane Perin Hock's photo of the black and white rooster she had just finished. I was so surprised to see it because I had the plan in my mind for my own black and white rooster, using black and white print fabrics. I think I have mentioned before that Diane and I seem to often be working on a similar wavelength! I quickly closed her blog and vowed not to look at her piece again until after I finished my own rooster. I didn't want to be influenced by choices she had made for her rooster. Now that I go back to see hers I don't think they are that similar, but I love hers! Just goes to show that there are only so many ideas in the universe, but two people can interpret the idea in two different ways.

More about that tree

So, I know you are probably not interested in hearing more about the tree fall of yesterday, but I am still trying to figure this all out, so bear with me. Further inspection of the situation revealed that it did not happen as I described, so you can ignore that graphic explanation I posted yesterday. There are actually two very large tree sections laying across the creek—the one next to the bridge and another a bit further down the creek, which, on its way down, badly damaged a small tree on the other side of the creek. Where did that one come from? Well, I found a photo I took the day the trees were trimmed in February (top photo)and I took another photo today. I see that there were about three big limbs left on the bad tree. The only one I was remembering was the large, bottommost one with the crazy elbow. It hung out there a long way. Now all that is left is the elbow and a little bit more. The next branch up is still there. The branch coming out of the top in the top picture is now gone and is presumably the guy that fell first, hitting the lower branch and breaking it off, then the two broken branches fell into the other trees and did the damage there. Funnily, I now notice that the tree I thought was totally dead has all kinds of new growth, a lot coming out on the "dead" broken elbow branch. OK, enough about the tree. I'm headed for my sewing room.

Need any firewood?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shaking up the afternoon

Rain was pouring down outside and Sofia and I were playing inside. Ray was getting ready to leave and looking out the window at the rain. Suddenly he jumped backward and shouted "Holy Sh*t!"  A huge section of a tree had come crashing down before his eyes, into our front yard.

Here is what the view from our front door looked like a couple weeks ago.

This is what it looks like today.

We have a big old dead tree on the other side of the creek. It is the one to the right of the big tree in the middle of the picture. Several months ago when we had several trees removed and others cleaned up, we had them look at the dead tree. Because of its size they suggested that they remove a lot of the dead limbs, but leave the tree. I was a little surprised that they left one very large limb that poked out at an odd angle. The explanation was that it was stable and would have been very dangerous to try to remove. Well, most of that limb came down today and as it fell it whacked a smaller tree, breaking off the entire top, which then came crashing across the creek. The big old dead limb landed, crossing the creek and narrowly missing the bridge. Here's a more graphic explanation. Click to enlarge.

Under the fallen tree top is my mosaic patio, which appears to be undamaged. You can see a bit of it through the branches here.

Here's the culprit—the dead branch laying across the creek. See how close it came to taking out the bridge?!
It's kind of a mess out there, but all things considered, not much damage.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Glass Floats again

 I was a little bit surprised after I posted the pictures of my glass float quilt to read in comments how many people have never heard of or seen these beautiful objects. In the photo above are the two floats that I have. I put my ring in the photo for size comparison. The larger of the two is one my parents had in our bathroom for years. The smaller one is the one I found on the Oregon coast as a child. It has a little water inside, which has always made it all the more interesting to me.

My friend, Ginny, has a house at the beach and emailed me last week to tell me that there was an article in the Cannon Beach Gazette about people recently finding some floats, which have become very, very rare on the coast. She thought it was so coincidental that I had chosen that theme for one of my Oregon pieces and suddenly they were turning up again. It seems there are places in the Pacific where debris gets trapped in a circular wave pattern where it remains for years and years. Only occasionally a strong storm will disrupt the pattern and set some of the stuff free to float on the tides. Apparently this happened this winter and some of it, including a number of floats is washing up on the Oregon beaches again. I was unable to find the Cannon Beach Gazette article online, but found a similar story from the Beach Connection:

 "They haven't really been seen in decades – at least in any great numbers. But now they've returned for a little while, dotting Oregon beaches to the delight of many.

Glass Japanese floats were a common sight on Oregon's beaches throughout most of the 20th century, and there’s still bunches of them decorating various beach houses along the coast – especially visible in Rockaway Beach.  Prior to World War II, they almost covered Oregon beaches. But by the 70’s or 80’s, they largely disappeared, as Japan stopped making them for their fishermen and the currents had fewer of them to toss up onto these shores.

They can still be found if you know how and when to look, but they are nowhere near common. In recent weeks, they have all of a sudden returned in larger numbers..."
You can read the rest of the story here.

They really are quite magical. And, in case you missed it, here is my quilted piece.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What is that thing?

I have nothing fabric-y to show today. It has been a day for being outside. After so much rain (really a lot, even for Oregon) this spring, the sun finally seriously came out today. On days like today Oregonians like to point at the sky and exclaim "what is that thing?!" Ha ha. It's an old joke, but it always feels good to have the opportunity to drag it out, because it means the sun is shining after a long dark, cold, wet spell.

So I am falling back to the old blog standbye—pictures of flowers. I know. It's pretty boring and everyone is doing it, but humor me. I can't resist at least one. Purple-pink rhododendron that makes me want to put one between my teeth and dance a wild flamenco. Instead I just walked around and admired our new gravel pathway that goes from the front porch, around the big tree and to the bridge over the creek.  I've been waiting all winter for that gravel to arrive and it finally did this week.
Then I drug all the wooden outdoor furniture out to the driveway and sanded the rough spots and gave it all a coat of protective stain. What a difference! It went from dried out, faded gray to looking almost new again. Today gives me faith that summer is really coming. I want to be ready.