Sunday, December 30, 2012

Another slide show

Yesterday I posted my review of 2012 slide show. I used Smilebox, which is a free online slideshow program. It is limited in what you can do with it unless you pay for their premium service, which I don't want to do. I don't make enough slide shows to make it worthwhile. My major frustrations with the Smilebox show were that 1) I could not speed it up—it spent too much time on each slide, in my opinion, 2) I could choose from only 3 musical selections, none of which really grabbed me, and 3) instead of actually imbedding the slide show in my blog, it took you to a page with their advertising along with my slide show.

I did a little research to see if there was something better and I discovered it. It was on my own computer all along. Windows Live Movie Maker. User friendly, lots of options and you can choose from any music you already have on your computer or a nice selection the program offers. I ended up staying up way too late last night playing with this, but I was so happy I figured it out!

For your viewing pleasure, a selection of nature photos I took in 2012:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It is coming together

I think when I finish this quilt I will post a progression of my Latin American cities themed work. I have had this idea rolling around for so long and made so many false starts, or disappointing work, but I am finally beginning to feel like I am approaching something that feels right.

I had a nice long afternoon to work today and added quite a few elements to the piece. Here is a bit of the cathedral I added today.

The cathedral is very important here. The thing about all these beautiful Latin American cities that I am so intrigued with is the contrast between the crumbling, but grand Spanish infrastructure and the much more humble, more modern buildings that combine elements of the grand Spanish architecture and the simple adobe, now concrete, structures of the native residents. The cultural, architectural, linguistic mark that Spain left on the new world is mind-boggling to this day.

I also added this little fountain. The plaza and fountain are also a ubiquitous Spanish feature, found in even the tiniest of villages, it seems.

I have more houses and buildings to make. I am getting eager to get all the pieces and parts put together.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Day after Christmas

I was going to write a blog entry last night and it was going to be about what a nice Christmas we had and what a great dinner we had and a funny little story, but I sat in front of my computer and I kept falling asleep. Right there, upright, in my chair, my eyes would close and then just as my head was about to snap to my chest I would wake up, start to type and next thing I knew my head was bobbing again. I gave up. I was so tired. This month has just about whipped me. I am ready for a new month and a new year. But we really did have a great Christmas. I hope you all did too.

I haven't posted much art work on the blog for awhile, but I have been poking along, continuing to make little houses. I was sticking them up on my design wall and thinking I would piece together a combination of light, neutral fabrics for a background, but they seemed a little dull. Then my friend Del sent me a photo of a beautiful bright yellow flower last week when I was feeling so droopy and it looked so fresh and cheerful that I suddenly decided yellow was what was missing, both from my wintertime life and from the little houses I was making. So I have spent spare moments this past week putting this ground together.

I think this will be good. Just seeing it on the wall makes me happy.

Here are a few of the houses pinned up for the effect.

So, here's my funny little story:  Remember these little santa elves I posted the other day?

Marco is insistent that they are "Grandpa and Grandma." I guess I'm the shorter one.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Escaped another prophesied End-of-the-World. If the world ever does end it will probably take us all by surprise. On Friday I took a little detour on my way to walk and drove up Cooper Mountain to see if the rest of the world looked to be intact. It did.

Misty, cold and December-ish. Just as it should be.

I am ready for Christmas. Well, I still need to go grocery shopping tomorrow, but that's just normal. Emily requested salmon for Christmas dinner and that sounds great to me. Both my kids were vegetarians for years, but they ate fish, so salmon was our Christmas dinner tradition for years. I've gotten away from it lately, but it sounds perfect. And easy. My hearing is returning little by little. We had some good friends for dinner on Thursday and I made pork tacos with homemade tortillas, a jicama/orange salad and black beans cooked in beer. The food was extra good, in my humble opinion, and we had margaritas and decadent dessert and lots of great conversation and laughter and at the end of the evening I discovered that my ears had cleared considerably during the evening. It was a winning combination apparently. I will remember that for future reference.

My friend Muriel sent these this week. I certainly don't need any more Christmas decorations, but I loved these guys the moment I set eyes on them. This is the kind of design that I wish my brain could conceive. The simplicity of a wooden dowel sawed at an angle. That angled cut and the resulting oval create a hat, a beard and a face in one clean plane. Genius really. A little tag on the bottom says they are from Sweden. I could have guessed that.

Don't know if I'll be back here before Christmas, but I will have a post on the Sketchbook Challenge blog on Monday. I'll be here, cooking, wrapping and humming Christmas carols along with the radio. I trust you are doing pretty much the same.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Only a week to go

That realization hit me today and gave me a little jolt of panic for a minute or two, but I took a deep breath and remembered my"sweet and simple" plan for this Christmas. It will be OK. I have lost most of this month to medical stuff and most recently an ear infection that has left me exhausted and lethargic and almost totally deaf—temporarily, I hope. It is terribly frustrating, but in some ways a relief from all the noise and so much talk, talk, talk.  Two shooting tragedies in a week and everyone is analyzing and preaching and pontificating. What I think we all need right now is more quiet. I know how much I have cried in the past week and I'm sure each of you has too. We don't need to know how everyone on Facebook feels,  how they think we should feel, or what they think oughta' be done. We all know. We all feel it.

Ray has done most of the decorating, and it is properly festive around here, no thanks to me. Can you tell this is a fake tree? I can't believe it. We bought a fake tree after all the many lovely trips to the mountains and to the tree farms and yes, occasionally to the Boy Scout lot at Albertson's parking lot, in order to have an honest-to-god Oregon Christmas tree, redolent of that sappy, spicy, nothing-quite-like-it piney, fir-y, balsam-y perfume. We put up with the dropped needles and the impossible messy stand and all that for years, but the final decision to go fake, was how allergic we both seem to be to the real trees and it seems to get worse year by year. It's a good fake tree. It sounded grossly expensive until we did the math and figured, what with the price of real trees, this baby would pay for itself in a few years. I cut some branches from a real tree to decorate the mantel and add a little tree smell. We'll see how much of that our sinuses will tolerate.

I looked out our back window today and noticed something puzzling. Ray recently cut a tree against our back fence and now we see more of what is beyond that fence. It looked like one of our neighbors has decorated a little tree in their backyard for the holidays.

They have hung many orange ornaments. No, wait. Can that really be? Why orange? Why in the backyard? OK, I had to figure this out, so I dug out the big binoculars. I had an unsettling mental image of myself, standing at the back window, spying on my neighbors! I believe they are persimmons—not the neighbors—the orange ornaments. You don't see many persimmon trees in these parts, so it was about the last thing that would have sprung to my mind. Persimmons. Aren't they pretty? I'm glad I know what they are and I don't have to wonder if the neighbors just have an odd idea about tree decorating.

The limit of my camera zoom. My view through the binoculars was better.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Only music...nothing I can say

Celebrating the season—sort of

It has been a tough couple of weeks here. Besides my day at the hospital last week, I have hardly left the house. I was recovering from my procedure and then went straight into the head cold from hell. I haven't been out for a walk or had coffee with a friend. I've shuffled around the house in sweats and slippers, coughing and blowing and mouth-breathing. I missed the wonderful Columbia FiberArts meeting yesterday, but by last night I was feeling pretty decent.

Today was the day of our annual STASH holiday lunch. We choose a different fancy restaurant every year—Portland has some wonderful restaurants—and exchange silly little gifts and treat ourselves to a decadent lunch. It is always great and I would hate to miss it. I pulled myself together and went, and had a wonderful time. This year we went to Andina, a Peruvian restaurant that is beautiful and the food is incredible.

Caipirinhas and sangria and quinoa salad and sopas and causas and tortillas de papas and scallops and desserts and stories and laughter and sweet gifts and 8 women trying to sort out a big bill. We had a good time.

These are the little gifts I made and gave.
Nothing says "happy cold season!" like a kleenex cozy for your purse.

After lunch we took ourselves around the corner for a little browse through the coolest store in the world.

Then I hit the wall and my head began to pound and my feet began to falter and I took myself home, happy, full of good cheer and good food, but wiped out. I didn't make it to the other Christmas party I wanted to go to tonight. Darn.

That's my last whine of 2012. I promise—unless the world ends, as the Mayan calendar predicts, on December 21. That would really tick me off.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


It's a magical date if you are into numbers! When the Twelve by Twelve group planned our current challenge about a year ago, it occurred to us that it would be coming to an end in December, 2012 and it seemed fated that it should coincide with the 12.12.12 date. So, do go see what we have ended this challenge with. The theme is "Sweet" and it is both sweet and a little sad to see it come to a close—at least for now. Stay tuned. There may yet be more to the Twelve by Twelve story.

This is my offering for "sweet."  The Sugar Bowl. Read about it, and all the others over on the Twelve by Twelve blog.

The contributors to the Sketchbook Project blog also wanted to mark the unusual date and posted collections of twelve creative inspirations there.  In addition to the twelve scissors I posted on the Sketchbook Challenge blog, I posted some other "twelve" collections on Facebook throughout the day.

Twelve Old Scissors

Twelve watercolor crayons, one of my favorite art supplies

Twelve of my favorite color spools of thread

Twelve of my colorful shirting fabrics

My daughter posted that her Middle School class (she is a Spanish Immersion teacher) chanted "Doce, doce, doce..." twelve times at 12:12 today. How did you commemorate 12.12.12?

Sunday, December 09, 2012

And it's on to Christmas!

Thanks for all the nice messages about my health scare. Yes, I admit it did scare me and make me very grateful for a lot of things and it was a great relief that it turned out OK. And now I am on to other things. Christmas, for one.

I don't go as "all out" as a lot of folks with Christmas decorating and stuff. As I said a few days ago, "sweet and simple" is usually my goal, but it is fun to pull out the old decorations and remember Christmases past. Never did like those coordinated designer Christmas trees. Ours is always the old collection of ornaments gathered over the years. I always put my collection of terra cotta ornaments on the fireplace mantel. There is nothing particularly special about them, except that they are all unglazed terra cotta, which I've always liked.

Back in the '80s I was working as the manager/buyer for the gift shop at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival and used to go to the big gift shows in San Francisco every year. One year at the end of the show all the vendors were selling their samples and I was taken with some inexpensive little terra cotta ornaments and I bought them.

We hung them on our tree that year. Then I saw some at a local store and I bought those and soon I was looking for those terra cotta figures. They were never very popular and it was always by chance that I would find them, but pretty soon I had a fairly good collection and they moved from the tree to the mantel. And no, they don't match. They are all sizes and subjects and even different shades of terra cotta. Then I didn't see them again. I haven't found another in many years.

I thought I was finished with collecting them. Then, several years ago in a wonderful gallery of Latin American art, which sadly no longer exists, I found this terra cotta angel from Guatamala. I had to have her.
My last and best Christmas terra cotta.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Who is Teresa?

Teresa is my grown-up. Teresa has insurance and a driver's license and a college diploma and a bank account. Terry, on the other hand, has none of those things, but she has friends and a family and generally enjoys life to the fullest, because Teresa takes care of business for her.

Most of the time I am Terry, but yesterday I was Teresa, as evidenced by the name on my hospital bracelet. I spent the better part of the day having, and recovering from, an angiogram, which if you aren't familiar, is a kind of ghoulish and creepy medical procedure. All things considered, it actually wasn't that bad. The anticipation was far worse than the actual procedure. And, the good news is that it established that I am fine.

Things started getting weird about a week and a half ago, when, while sitting and drinking coffee and reading the Sunday paper one morning, I noticed that I could sort of feel/hear my heart beating and it was not a normal heart beating kind of rhythm. By the end of the day I was worried enough to go to the ER, where they reassured me it was probably benign pvcs, but I should see my doctor. My doctor echoed the "probably benign" message, but thought I should see a cardiologist. The cardiologist did a stress test, which I apparently flunked (crazy, wild spiky design on the monitor) and thought I should have an angiogram. So yesterday was the day. Teresa checked in and it was done. None of the bad things like blocked arteries or valve problems, etc. were found. Apparently my heart has just decided to go for a more syncopated, more dance-able rhythm. At least that's what Terry likes to think. Don't worry, I am fine, except for a bruised and tender spot on my thigh.

I didn't sleep too well last night and one of the things I thought about was how everyone at the hospital called me "Teresa" all day because, of course, that is my official name and it appears on all my official ID. Not once did I say, "oh, call me Terry" though that is what I am always called. As a child I was Terry at home and Teresa at school. Perhaps I slip into Teresa mode in situations, like yesterday, when it allows me to separate myself a bit from things that are too serious to contemplate. Teresa handles all that.

But I don't need to contemplate serious things. It's all good. My heart has settled on a catchy one-two-cha,cha,cha kind of cadence for the moment—actually medication is making it less dance-y day by day. Getting old is scary sometimes, but it could be a lot worse...

Love, Terry

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Fall into Winter

This is such a sweet/melancholy transitional time of year. One day warm, sunny, beautiful fall weather; the next day deep, dark wintery gloom. December always—always takes me by surprise. It still feels like summer is just barely past us and shazam! it will officially be winter in just a couple of weeks. How does that happen and why don't I ever figure it out?

We have had some breaks from the rain the past few days and it has made our walks real gifts. The colors have deepened, but the richness of fall is still there. Yesterday we walked along the pond, that was more a mud flat during the summer. It is full and swarming with wild birds. It has been a couple years since we have seen an egret, but we rounded a corner and there he was.

We continued and Beth popped her umbrella open, startling a nearby, but hidden, great blue heron, who shot into the sky squawking and flapping, and then soared, regally over the wetland.

Today we explored the other end of the pond where it had overreached its normal shoreline and was lapping onto the abandoned tennis courts. Ducks and Canada geese swam lazily among the tall grasses and cattails.

Back home, Ray pointed out some brilliantly colored orange peel fungi growing behind the studio. I have never seen these before. The color is amazing.

Ray put up some Christmas lights on the house and greenhouse, and decorated a tree near the road.

Nice to see later, as I headed back from the studio to the house. This is my commute.

I guess Christmas is really coming.  Seems like I post this song every year. It must be that time again.

I hope we can ease into it and enjoy the season and not get sucked into the stress-y stuff. I'm really talking myself into simple and sweet. How about you?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Tuesday, Tuesday...

So I almost posted a video of the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" but I knew I could not keep this song/day theme going. Best to let go of it and instead post another of my moving photos. This is our creek, quite full and fast-flowing with all the rain we are getting.

I just realized that the water is flowing in the wrong direction! What can I say? I haven't quite mastered the app. One of its drawbacks is that you can't go back and edit it after you've saved the gif. But you get the idea. Lots of water. Update: Deb fixed my gif and sent it to me. Thank you! I need to find out how she did it.

It was a good studio day. I picked fabrics for some little Christmas gifts I am planning to make. Everything from my stash. Most of these are fat quarters I buy because they are so pretty, then I don't know what to do with them. That third from the left is a great fabric that doesn't show up well in the photo. It is a Japanese fabric with fish.

Then I made a couple more little buildings and an agave and a potted plant. I am putting them up on my design wall as I finish them and thinking about how I might put them together. It is beginning to look like something.

I will leave you with another of my experiments. I am having a good time with this app! Creepy, huh?

Monday, December 03, 2012

Monday, Monday—so good to me...

Popped into my head just now, as I typed the word "Monday". How I used to love the Mamas and the Papas. Still do love that music, but the shine dimmed when Cass died of either a ham sandwich or an overdose or a heart attack, and the later stories about John were just disgusting. Can you still love the music after all that? Maybe.  

So this is a weird way to start out! Enjoy the song and let's move on.

Sweet Marco spent the day today and was a perfect child—sweet, funny and adorable. With a two-year-old you never know quite who is walking in the door, but I'll take today's version any time.

I spent a little studio time today preparing samples for the art lesson I am giving at Sofia's school this week. I am part of a volunteer art literacy program in the Beaverton schools. The lessons are all set up and include a slide show about a famous artist, followed by an art project. I have no input into the curriculum, but I am enjoying it. The lesson this time around is about Paul Cezanne. The art project uses pieces of colored tissue paper to create a still life. The tissue paper is applied to the paper with liquid starch and is supposed to approximate the effect of how Cezanne applied paint in sort of blocky bits that create the illusion of form and structure. It is not such a stretch, and more fun than I expected.

I hunted high and low for liquid starch and finally found it at a grocery store near us. The clerk asked me what it was. In my old art teaching days it was a staple of the art classroom. I remember sticking colored tissue paper to all the school windows with it to decorate for the holidays. Also great for paper mache and a medium for powdered tempera paint. And, of course, you can mix it with Elmer's glue to make slime, which is amazing (though useless) stuff.

My presentation will be to Sofia's Kindergarten class, so I have to keep remembering to make it simple, but honestly I think these Kinders are way smarter and more creative than I was at the same age. I can't wait to see what they do. They may all end up collaged with tissue paper from head to toe.

While I was waiting for the artwork to dry I made another little house and a little sun to join yesterday's buildings on my design wall.

In my efforts to loosen up, am I just being sloppy? I'm pretty sure the quilt police would not give them high marks!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

The end of another week

It has rained so hard this week that it was wonderful to wake up to sunshine and chirpy birds this morning. This was the view out my front window.

I keep finding new apps for my phone and the one I used for this little animated gif is called cinemagram. The cool thing about it, that you may not be able to ascertain from this, is that you take a short video and then you can manipulate it so that the background stays still and you designate a small part of it to animate. That is why you see no wobble in this video, just the little bird and feeder moving. I am looking forward to playing with it more.

December has arrived. Wasn't it just summer? We went out and did a little Christmas shopping today. Amazing how much money you can spend in a very short time!

Got into the studio for awhile this afternoon and spent most of my time cleaning up the huge mess that has accumulated over the past few weeks. I have set my large quilt aside that I have been working on. It is not what I want. I will get back to it eventually, probably, but it was getting me down. I am still trying to loosen it all up and get a more spontaneous feel in the buildings. A friend reminded me of some of the smaller pieces I have done that have a nice light looseness. It is so hard to translate that into bigger work. But I decided I needed to see how that felt again and made three little pieces today. I am wondering how I can work with these little pieces to put them together into something bigger. I think, maybe, it can be done.

Well, it is raining again, but I'm ready for a new week.  How about you?