Monday, January 30, 2012

It's who I am

Hello. I'm Terry and I'm an introvert.

I've always known this. I am, in fact, from a family of introverts, so it wasn't any surprise, but I secretly harbored a desire, at times, to be the life of the party. Still do. These days I am feeling much more comfortable with myself. The cover story for this week's Time magazine is about introverts and specifically the good things about being an introvert.

I do have a small quibble with the magazine, which is that they equate introversion to shyness on the cover illustration. It is not the same thing and that point is actually made quite clearly in the story inside. It is really quite a good article and I can certainly identify with most of the things it says about introverts. Coincidentally, there was also a story on NPR today about introverts. They interviewed Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. She says:
 "Many people believe that introversion is about being antisocial, and that's really a misperception. Because actually it's just that introverts are differently social. So they would prefer to have a glass of wine with a close friend as opposed to going to a loud party full of strangers.
"Now, shyness, on the other hand, is about a fear of negative social judgment. So you can be introverted without having that particular fear at all, and you can be shy but also be an extrovert."

I plan to read this book. I have been following the author's blog for awhile.

I am quite content to be an introvert, but I do tire of being described as "shy." I am not shy, nor am I antisocial or fearful or reclusive. My self esteem is fine. I have no problem giving a speech or asking for what I want or need, or expressing my opinion. I do, however, have a limited tolerance for crowds and noise and lots of frenetic activity. I have no interest in or talent for "small talk." That has been a social liability. I don't understand the need to fill space with meaningless talk.

If you don't know which you are, there is an informal quiz, from the book, to tell you if you are an introvert that is posted on the NPR site. I answered "yes" to every single question. The Time article says you are born one or the other, according to studies done on infants.

Extroverts have traditionally been valued and promoted in our society, so this attention to the other side feels like a small vindication to me. The Time article lists famous introverts and extroverts. Obama is an introvert. Gingrich is an extrovert. Which one would you rather have a good conversation with over a glass of wine?

Saturday, January 28, 2012


My Dad would have been 90 years old today. I try to imagine him at 90 and I can't. He died at 76 of  pancreatic cancer. Truly the most horrible disease.

One of my favorite photos.

We went to a great party today, celebrating my aunt's 90th birthday. Dad's sister-in-law. They were born a day apart. It was wonderful to see my cousins and hug my feisty, cheerful 90-year-old aunt and wish my dad was here to enjoy the day.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ginny got around

Some days I seem to encounter myself on other peoples' blogs. I tell you it is eery to read your own story coming from someone else's memory.

One of my favorite fabric artists is Sandy Donabed. I have "known " her for many years, though we've never actually met. She is, I think, exactly the same age as I and she lives in Florida and writes one of my favorite blogs. She is really funny, smart and interesting. On her blog today she told the story, which she has turned into an illustrated sketchbook, of how Ginny taught her to sew in 1952.

Well, ME TOO! That's my Ginny, above. She is about 8" tall and was the one thing every girl child wanted in 1952, and after adding up my birthday money I had enough to buy my own Ginny. My grandmother was visiting and she accompanied me to the store. Sadly, I did not have enough money to buy any of the many adorable outfits that were sold for the doll. Grandma said, "psssht, that's not a problem, we can make our own." That evening we sat on the front steps and hand-sewed a pleated skirt, blouse and matching tam. Grandma didn't fool around with beginner's stuff. During Grandma's visit we made several outfits for Ginny, including the dress above. It was made from scraps from matching dresses my mother had made for my sister and me. Ginny's dress is a simplified version. That was the beginning for me, just as it was for my friend, Sandy. From that moment on I was obsessed with sewing.

I fully expect to hear from someone else that Ginny also taught them to sew, probably in 1952. Spooky, isn't it?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Studio time

Last week Julie asked me some questions in a comment on one of my posts.
Do you miss working in your house? I notice the snow photos are either on the way or from the studio? Does taking that walk settle your mind or are you inspired? How has your work changed now that you have the studio? Do you have a different mindset?
 I love working outside my house—even though it is just across the front yard. I am beginning to develop a pattern of working and surprising to me, it is different from when I was working in the back bedroom. Working in the house I was constantly popping up to check email, or get a snack (this was not a good habit) or throw in some laundry. Now I find I try to get all the house stuff done first, then head out to the studio for some uninterrupted time. I don't have the computer out there, nor do I have a TV. I think it will stay that way.

It is getting more personal and lived in day by day. The loft is a mess. I need to get my storage plan pulled together, get rid of a ton of stuff and get organized up there. But the main floor, where I work, is good, pretty organized and warm and cozy. I play music—my iPod full of all my favorites, and sometimes I sing along, or I listen to NPR on the radio.

It is good to have art supplies organized and within reach.

All the postcards I have gathered from friends' and my own shows, from galleries and museums, from travels and just because, are going on the bathroom walls. I just found another bunch today.

Taking the walk, Julie, is usually, in this cold weather, more a dash, but I generally pause to inspect the creek as I pass over it and am lately enjoying the wonderful smell of a big pile of wood chips Ray had delivered out near the studio, for landscaping. I don't know what kind of wood, but it is wonderfully spicy and astringent. And now that I think about it, yes, it is a different mindset. Somehow I am able to leave a lot of mental baggage back in the house when I head out to the studio. I am often amazed how hours go by and I haven't even thought about what to fix for dinner, or whether I got a reply to an email sent earlier, or if we have enough milk for breakfast tomorrow.

I don't know if it has changed my work, but it allows me to work more efficiently. I can pin things to the design wall and step back far enough to get perspective. I don't feel quite so confined to small pieces.

Today I worked on my Twelve by Twelve piece that will be revealed on February 12. Here's a sneak peek.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Astoria and the Columbia River

On Saturday we drove up the beach to Astoria, a very historic and interesting little town. My friend Beth spent some of her growing up years there and graduated from Astoria High School. Astoria is the oldest permanent settlement west of the Rocky Mountains and is named for John Jacob Astor, the famous trader and first multimillionaire in the US. His interest in the area was fur trading. It was also the point at which the Lewis and Clark expedition finally encountered the Pacific Ocean. This is where the mighty Columbia river empties into the Pacific Ocean. Very historic, very significant. It is also possibly the rainiest, dreariest place I have ever been.

On a typically rainy, dreary day, we set out for the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, followed by an amazing lunch at Drina Daisy, the local Bosnian restaurant. The museum is terrific and features wonderful old photographs that tell the story of Astoria and the Columbia Bar—the treacherous crossing from the ocean to the river.

At one time Astoria was where nearly all the salmon sold in the United States was processed. Salmon canneries lined the river along the docks. Huge salmon, like the one in the photo above were regularly caught. With the damming of the Columbia, preventing the salmon from returning to their spawning grounds, the abundance of the fish and especially those of such incredible size has greatly diminished and the canneries are all gone now.

Colorful labels from canned salmon above. Professional salmon fishermen below.

Access from the Pacific Ocean to the port of Portland, upriver, was across the Columbia Bar at Astoria. It is a narrow passage with ever-shifting underwater shallows and sand. Ships are required to bring on board a "bar pilot" trained especially to direct the big ships through this treacherous area. It is a highly skilled and very dangerous occupation. This display shows the number of shipwrecks in the area from the early 1800's. Each red dot represents a wreck.

The Columbia River has huge ocean-going ships making the passage up the river, as well as excursion ships from early days to the present.

We loved the museum. It gives you such a sense of  the rich history of the area.

The river was gray and churning that day. The long, long bridge that spans the river, connecting Oregon and Washington state was visible through the mist and the sky briefly opened to expose a bit of blue late in the afternoon.

Turning our backs to the river, you see the trees and old houses perched along the bluff and at the top, the Astor column.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A little down time is a good thing

We went to the beach. It was rainy and stormy and wet and really quite wonderful. Felt so good to just skip town and not worry about anything. I thought this was what being retired would be like. It isn't usually, but it was for a couple of days.

Beth and Ed picked us up on Friday afternoon and we headed for their beach house. We watched the ocean boil and crash from the warmth of their cozy bungalow and settled in with a fire in the fireplace and a drink and munchies.

The ocean is out there.

We played cards and Mexican Train and Apples to Apples and ate and read and talked and laughed. I brought my sketchbook and curled up on the sofa and drew one of Beth's pretty chairs. The storm raged outside.

Ed said he had read that the first of the debris from the Japanese sunami was due to start hitting the Oregon coast this month. This morning we donned our rain gear and took a long walk along the beach.

The ocean was wild and the tide was coming in. The beach was littered with all kinds of debris, but it was hard to tell if any of it had come from Japan. Lots of bottles and plastic bottle lids and other bits of brightly colored plastic amongst the bramble of driftwood and lumber. I saw some lengths of sodden bamboo and quite a few dead birds.

This sandal looked like it had been in the water for awhile. Could have come from Japan, I suppose, or maybe just left at that very beach and battered around in the tide. I'm not sure why I thought the stuff from Japan would be easy to recognize.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Pa, come quick—the bridge warshed out..."

I think rain was the last thing I mentioned at the end of yesterday's post. And rain it did.

All night and all through the morning. The creek got pretty full and floated our bridge off its perch at the bottom of those steps up to the pathway. Silly little bridge just sits there. It's not attached to anything. Someday we will maybe build a more stable bridge, but for now we will drag it back into place once the water recedes. Do you think Monet ever had these problems?

I think we need a taller bridge, like Monet's. And a prettier one.

I like this bridge, but somehow it looks a little flimsy. Like the whole side would fall over if you stopped to lean on the rail and look down into the water.

Love this rustic bridge.

There is always something to want, isn't there? Bridges— who'da guessed?

On a completely different note, I urge you to go to the Twelve by Twelve blog to see the beautiful article about us in the new Quilting Arts magazine.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow? No. Not really.

I have nothing arty to show you, so I talk about the weather. How boring. How mundane. Especially since the weather we are having is really not worth talking about. Our TV folks have been make a BIG DEAL about the snow that has been predicted. You have to understand that we don't get much snow here. Some years we get none at all. We like snow. Up to a point. It doesn't feel like we have earned our glorious spring unless we've had at least one good snow, but sometimes we don't get it. So when we hear it might happen we stalk the windows. We watch. We wait. We feed the birds, because if it snows they need to be fed.

No snow yet. No, wait! I see flakes! I see stuff on the ground!
Oh, but the sun is out. Now it's gone.

Now it's back!

Winter in Oregon! Yes!

Now it's gone. Rain. All this in 48 hours.

Nice while it lasted.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Though the body sleeps, the heart will never rest...

I would not trade the times I have lived in for any other despite everything we have seen. The privilege of being alive in the time of this true hero and seeing the magnificent movement he led take fire and change the world as we knew it is something that I hang onto.

"Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King and recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women..."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sewing machines

Old Singer treadle sewing machine head, found in the crawl space of an old mountain cabin. Bet it has stories to tell. It sits on the porch of my studio now. These old machines were so beautiful—the decorative painting and touches of gold acknowledge what treasures they were to the women who owned them.

I think I was about 10 when Mrs. Keating, the mother of my Mom's friend Lucille, gave me this treadle machine. She had seen the doll clothes I was hand sewing and thought I might like her old machine. It still works. I think it will always work. I made so many things on this machine. I entered my clothing creations, sewn on this machine in the Bannock County Fairs. I won ribbons. I once ran the needle right through my finger, including the fingernail. I won't even try to describe how much that hurt.

It is a beautiful thing. Thank you, Mrs. Keating.

Once I had mastered the treadle, my mother let me use her Montgomery Ward brand, electric machine. It was not nearly as reliable as the old treadle.

When I graduated from High School my parents bought me a brand new Singer sewing machine, which I completely wore out over many years of heavy use. I have owned other machines and still have several that I use. This is the one I work with most right now.

My collection of tiny sewing machines sit in a windowsill.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I continue to work on the invitational "Rituals" piece. It is a large piece for me, so it is slow going by my usual standards. This is a smallish section.

You may remember that a year or so ago I was working on a large piece for an invitational show and became so frustrated I vowed that I was not going to do that again. "That" being make a quilt in a prescribed size and theme that was going to make me frustrated and unhappy with the outcome. So why am I doing this? I thought about it and decided that I needed to open my mind a little and try larger work as long as I could think it through, come up with something meaningful to me that could be effective at a larger size. I am also trying to make work that is personal and meaningful to me. This all ties into my 2012 word, "intention."

A small story that I hope isn't too sad or morbid. I know of a woman, who is about my age, who was recently diagnosed with a terrible kind of cancer that will almost surely kill her within the next year, give or take and depending on her response to some experimental treatments. She has an online journal that I read periodically and I think about how I would react. She is brave, matter of fact and very, very honest. She is packing her life, right now, with all the things that matter to her—family time, walks in the woods, books, music and friends. I hope I could face such a fate with the same seeming calm and determination. Reading her journal and thinking about what she is doing with the time she has, made me realize that our life is defined by the things and the people and the causes we love. And that is what whatever work we do should be about.

My ritual is making and sending valentines each year. It is not about valentines. It is about friendship and the delicate threads of connection. I make valentines, write letters and as I cut and paste and write and address envelopes I think about each person and what they mean to me. It is my heart I am sending and reconfirms the connection whether it is old and fragile, new and tentative or strong and tested. My piece has many hearts on it. At one point I thought I would stitch words into the background that referenced the messages that accompany the hearts, but decided instead to add the black stitching as a kind of representation of the complexity of small things that connect us to our friends—quirky, irregular, but in its entirety a kind of network of memory.

If my quilts become a series of "what I love" this one will be friends. I love my friends.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Let's take a walk

My friend Beth and I just finished our 8th year of walking together on the Fanno Creek Trail. And we are now into our 9th year. We have been friends for a long time and after I quit my 9-5 job we were talking about how we both felt out of shape and lazy and decided we'd try walking together a couple times a week. We soon decided a couple of times a week wasn't going to do much for us, so we each took a deep breath and committed to five days a week.

Seen on this morning's walk—we see something new and beautiful every day

We had no idea we would still be walking together 8 years later. As Beth tells it, we agreed to walk for as long as we had something to talk about. We are still talking and walking and show no signs of running out of conversation. We get our hearts pumping, we watch the seasons change, we have seen bald eagles and hawks and regularly see herons and egrets and wild geese as we trace our familiar route. We have shared a lot, sometimes cried together, but mostly we laugh! For the past year my old friend Paula has joined us and added to the hilarity and good company. We end our walk at Starbucks. I don't even want to think about how much coffee we have drunk together. Several years ago when our Starbucks bought new tables and chairs we figured we had paid for them.

Along the way we have had some adventures, including our guerrilla art protest. We have met some interesting people and a lot of dogs, and have some funny stories to tell. Did I tell you about the time Beth stepped in dog poop and tracked it all over the paved trail? The sun baked her footprints into the pavement and they were visible for weeks, much to her chagrin. Disgusting? Yes, but I have to admit it tickled my juvenile sense of humor and the sight of those memorialized footprints never failed to crack me up.

Our husbands have joined our walks a few times, but generally it is just the "girls." The first time Ray joined us, curious about my enthusiasm for these morning walks, he said, "now I understand. It is more than a walk. It is kind of a religious experience!" I don't know what it is exactly, that keeps us walking, but I do know that when you have friends to walk with and a beautiful place to explore, life is pretty good.

Monday, January 02, 2012


For the past couple of years I have chosen a word to inspire me rather than making resolutions. This year's word is "intention" and while it could inspire me to live with intention and work with intention, it is more along the lines of a reminder.

I find I sometimes lose track of what my intention for my artwork is. I need to remind myself to think about what the work is about—its intention—as I prepare, and then keep that intention in my mind as I work.

Is my intention to make the work a prescribed size by whatever means? Is it to use a particular fabric that I have fallen in love with? Is it to use a nifty new technique? Is it to slavishly and literally express a theme that was invented for a particular show? Is it to duplicate exactly a mental picture I have of how the finished work should look? None of these things are ever my intention when I start a piece, but these or other equally superficial concerns often distract me from my intention.

To tell a story. To express a feeling or a mood or an idea. To make a statement. These are some of my intentions. The rest is just logistics, housekeeping. And that one about duplicating my mental picture—that's where I have taken intention too far sometimes and made it too visually specific. Discovery and serendipity can certainly serve my intentions.

So I hang my word on the wall to remind me. It joins two previous words. "Thrive" helped me avoid stress and embrace a year of intense deadlines and obligation. "Appreciate" helped me savor the rewards of the previous year's work. I hope "Intention" will help me move forward and maintain focus.

Do you have a word?

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Looking back, looking forward

2011 was a great year and a hard year, a happy year and one of great sadness. Kind of like most years I guess. It was the year of the Twelve by Twelve book and our exhibit at the International Quilt Festival and the realization of my long-awaited studio. Those are the things I will remember. The sad and hard parts will fade with time and a New Year is always a good time to start putting such stuff behind us.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
This slideshow design personalized with Smilebox

Onward, with hopes for better times for all of us and health and happiness in abundance.