Friday, May 31, 2013

Lucky find

Since I bought my new sewing machine I have been working on a way to have both my machines side by side so both are easily available and I can easily switch between them. I built an addition to my existing work table so that it extends around the corner of my studio sewing area. What I needed was a table of a lower height that the machine, itself, could sit on and snug up against the higher table. My other machine sits on a folding sewing table that my mother had. It is just the right height, but it is a relic of another age and such tables no longer seem to be available. I was pretty sure I was going to have to build something myself.

I ran out to buy paint for the bathroom today and on my way passed a thrift store I like.  I don't know why I decided to stop and see if they had anything that might work. To my utter amazement there was a little folding sewing table very similar to the one I already had. Perfect! Now the two machines sit in the corner at an angle to each other. My chair swivels around readily from one to the other. When I got them positioned I could see that there was a triangular hole where the table corners meet that was going to be a black hole that scissors and tools and thread would all readily drop right into.

So I made a little quilted tray that sits over the hole (with a piece of cardboard under it spanning the two tables) to hold my little scissors and tweezers and screw driver and seam ripper. I think it will solve the problem.

And then I sat down and quilted on the big piece. The new machine is a quilting MACHINE!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

What would it be like...

to sit in a chair and read a book? I know people who do that. Sit. For hours at a time, reading. I envy that, yet I can't seem to get myself into that chair. I read in bed before I go to sleep, or while I'm eating lunch or breakfast. If I have to wait for Ray somewhere I read. I have most books on my Kindle these days and I can read them on my phone as well, so I always have my book with me, but still it takes months, sometimes, to get through a long one. I have been working on The Woman in White for at least a month now. It is very good—I am just reading it very slowly. I think I am doing too many other things. I think I need to make time to sit and read.

The house is bathed in dust and the eery plastic hanging in the hallway has become part of the decor, but it doesn't keep the dust out of the rest of the house. The bathroom remodeling continues. No more ugly surprises. It is moving along smoothly. The old wall is out, the new wall is in. The sheetrocker finished up today. This weekend Ray and I will paint, then next week the floor goes in and the sinks and cabinets.

 I have not spent much time in the studio. I need to stay around the house to answer questions when the workmen have them. Besides, I need to be at my computer gathering and organizing the registrations and photos for the Open Studio tour. I am the registrar. The registered artists are to send me three photos of their work to be used on the web site, in the catalog and for publicity. There are clear instructions for what we need. Artists are terrible at this. Terrible. They do not name their photos as instructed. They do not send them in the correct size or resolution. This is all spelled out for them. They ignore the directions. They do not know how to attach a file to an email. It takes hours to rename and resize and resave all those photos. My patience grows thin, but there is a small reward when I open a photo of something exquisitely beautiful and I can almost forgive someone who makes something so gratifying for being a technology illiterate—almost. They really need to learn to do this if they want to be in shows or have their work published online.

Last week I presented the last Art Literacy lesson for the year at Sofia's school. It has been a good experience and I have learned a lot, especially about the limits of a Kindergartner's attention span and their vast range of competency with art materials and tools. Last week's lesson was on Louise Nevelson, who is really a favorite of mine. The art project was a wall sculpture made from wood pieces and found objects. The kids chose their objects, arranged them on a small piece of cardboard and glued them in place. I brought the pieces home and spray-painted them all silver.

They turned out great.

Here is a photo of one of Nevelson's sculptures:

The kids' work really captured the essence of the artist, I think.

So that is all part of why I am not getting much reading done. The days are full. So, now I shall turn off the computer and go off to bed and I may get in 15 minutes of The Woman in White before I am out.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It smells like 2 x 4s around here

Day 2 was not as productive and positive as day 1 on our bathroom project. This was the day when things got complicated. In every home improvement project there is one (or more) of those days. The electrician arrived to replace the circuit box with a more modern, safer box. As he started to pull the old one out he heard angry buzzing and a couple of bees flew out of the wall. Uh oh. Bees were not in his job description. A bee guy was called and he came and dispatched the nest. It was small. They were not honey bees. Meanwhile the plumber came to move plumbing and start installing the shower. Seems the shower I ordered to fit the space left by the removal of the tub is not deep enough to meet code requirements. The electrician and contractor huddled and came up with a plan. The dealer I ordered the shower from had a deeper one in stock that would work and cheerfully swapped it for the too shallow one. Then it seemed the lights we planned on might not work out, but wait, maybe they will. Yes, indeed, they will work after all.

There was a time in my life these would have seemed to me like signs that we had embarked on a completely foolish, unworkable project, but I have now been through enough of them to know that this is how it goes when you start working on an old, funky, probably at least half amateur-built old house. You encounter the problems, and with the help of your expert team you come up with a solution. Hmmm. There might be a metaphor there for quilts, marriage, life...?  I told Ray that one of the advantages of being so darned old is that we have learned that nearly all problems have solutions.

Midday I left the house to go do my last Art Literacy gig for the year at Sofia's school. When I left there were bees buzzing in the walls and Ray was on the phone with George Morlan Plumbing the "water heater king" (—if you live in Portland I know you just sang that in your head). When I got home an hour and a half later, the bees were toast and the right shower enclosure was propped up on the studio porch. I spent the afternoon in the studio quilting on the big quilt. It, too, has had its challenges, but I like how it is coming along now.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 1 of the remodel

We were ready for the remodeling crew bright and early this morning. I went off to have my teeth cleaned before they arrived. When I got home an hour and a half later they were just about ready to start demo-ing the wall, having set up their tools in the garage, laying canvas drop cloths over all the carpet (gotta keep that bee-utiful pink carpet clean!) and taping up sheets of plastic to keep the construction dust out of the rest of the house. An hour later the wall, the tub, the toilet, the sink and the grody flooring were but a memory.

The office was swathed in plastic sheeting to protect all the stuff that had been pushed to the far side of the room.

The chair rail had been removed from the office wall that was being shortened, revealing a strip of blue and white wallpaper from an earlier era. No surprise. Every room in this house was blue when we bought it. But this room had a pink wallpaper, with a blue border when we got the house. I always love finding these hidden hints of what was here when previous owners lived here. In our old house, years ago, we restored a ceiling that had been lowered at some point to its original height. When the false ceiling came down we found a wide strip of lovely, very old wallpaper with big white camellias on it hidden above. Ray found a very old magazine pushed up between the rafters in the attic of that same house. 

We owned a house in Pocatello early in our marriage that had been designed and built by an architect friend of my father. I had actually been a teenaged babysitter for his children in that house years before. I ran into his wife after we bought the house and she told me that when the house was being built she put baby pictures of her children and a quilt, made by her mother, that she had brought from England, into the walls of the house. As far as I know they are still there. Imagine finding such things many years later. I hope for something like that every time we open up a wall in some house we are reconfiguring. Wallpaper and an old magazine are the most we've ever come across.

There were three guys here today. Steve, the contractor came and went, bringing supplies and taking things away. Two carpenters worked steadily and cheerfully through the day. Sergei was the friendly one. His companion was quieter, but moved quickly and with intention. Over all the years of construction projects we have overseen in houses we have owned, it has been my observation that carpenters enjoy their work. They are cheerful guys, for the most part. It must be satisfying to see such material evidence of their skill and industriousness.

By the end of this long day (they left about 7 tonight) the old wall was gone completely and the new wall framed in. Tomorrow the electrician comes.

The heat lamp is the only functional light fixture in the bathroom right now, and it turned the scene quite rosy. I can already see the difference that additional 18" will make. Sergei vacuumed before he left and left it all quite tidy. He will be here first thing tomorrow morning to put down the new sub floor.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The next home improvement project

If you've been reading this blog for awhile you know that we bought our house nearly five years ago and spent almost a year remodeling the kitchen and replacing windows and moving a few walls before we moved in. If you missed it you can see a bit of that process here. Then, a couple years later we built the studio and the greenhouse. Now, a couple more years later we are remodeling the main bathroom. This house will probably always be a work in progress.

The contractor and his crew are showing up this week to get started, so I thought I'd show you where we are starting. The bathroom is horrible. It has been ugly since we moved in, but things got really awful a few months back when the toilet flooded and soaked the gross pink carpet. I could rant for awhile about carpet in bathrooms, but I will just leave it for you to imagine stinky, soggy, ugly pink carpet in a bathroom. It had to go. Ray pulled it out and to our horror/amusement/disgust we found that under the carpet '70s style vinyl flooring covered half the floor and the other half was raw plywood. Nice. Not.

I will say that the bathroom is functional. Nothing is rotten or unsanitary, but nevertheless it is disgusting. Here is a better look at the wallpaper. I could not hate this wallpaper more.

After some serious sweaty work, I am happy to report that this wallpaper is no more. Part of getting ready for the workmen, was removing the wallpaper. It is gone.

The new bathroom will be bigger, with a new shower, toilet, two new sinks, a new floor, storage cabinet and a new window. Not luxurious or fancy, but oh, my it will be such a welcome change! The "bigger" component will be accomplished by moving the wall on the right 18" further to the right. This will make my office 18" less wide, which is fine, but it means everything has had to be moved out of the office for demolition and reconstruction of the wall. Here is my office just before my desk was dismantled and moved out. There's that pink carpet again. Unfortunately its removal is not yet in the plans. Another project for another day.

So there is major disruption happening around here, but it's all for a good cause. And you know I'll be posting photos.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Kick off Your Heels!

 Here is something fun, for a good cause.

Art Shoes! I made these for the "Kick Off Your Heels" fundraiser. The goal is to raise $5,000 for The Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California - because they not only treat women, but also educate and do major research for this disease with women. Did you know that more women die from cardiovascular disease each year than from all cancers combined? I didn't know that. Now I do.

Ironically, the week this challenge was announced my heart was "going nuts"—beating wildly, erratically and skipping beats. It terrified me, since I have never had any heart problem of any kind. A battery of tests showed that my problem was not dangerous and can be easily controlled with medication, but it was a wake-up call to pay attention to my health and my heart. So I am stepping out with my heart on my heels, exercising and eating healthy. 

My entry is called "I'm wearing my heart on my heels." Go to the Kick Off Your Heels web site to see all the shoes that will be auctioned online, starting tomorrow! The artists have really "stepped up" to this challenge! You will see that mine are conservative, compared with some of the entries.

Here are a couple more views of my shoes:

By the way, these are actually wearable and size 5.5.

The Kick off Your Heels fundraiser begins tomorrow morning and shoes are sold on a first come first serve basis!
Shoes can be purchased for $300 on  May 20 and 21,2013 beginning at 8:00 a.m. EST
Shoes can be purchased for $200 on May 22 and 23,2013 beginning at 8:00 a.m. EST
Shoes can be purchased for $100 on May 24 and 25,201
3 beginning at 8:00 a.m. EST

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Quilt Show

What an interesting morning I had!  The production crew from the Alex Anderson/Ricky Tims web TV show, The Quilt Show, was here taping in my studio for about 4 hours. There was a big surprise element, as well. While I knew the crew would be here, I did not know that Alex Anderson would show up as a surprise. I think I was expected to scream or jump up and down, but I was so confused that I think I just looked a little stunned! Ray was on hand, with his phone/camera and caught a little of the surprise.

Alex coming in the front door

Me, stunned.

This all started last October when Shelley Heesacker, the producer of the Quilt Show, came to my Open Studio. Shelley also works for Oprah and Dr. Phil and just happens to live near here in Forest Grove, Oregon. We talked about doing a segment for the Quilt Show and Shelley left her card and said she would be in touch. I didn't hear from her again until last week. The Quilt Market is in Portland this weekend. It is the big national Trade Show for the quilting industry and an opportunity for Shelley and her crew to tape some of the big name quilters who are in town for the show, and some of us local quilters as long as they were on a roll. So Shelley contacted me. Since Alex was also in town for the market, they decided to have her make a surprise visit to the studio. They might make this a regular feature—"ambushing" a quilter in his/her studio—in the future. While she was here she taped a little promo for the show, which I captured on my phone. Click the arrow to play.

We taped a tour of the studio. We talked about my series of shirting quilts and I showed some older work. We talked about the Twelve by Twelve project and book. We talked about my blog. I talked about myself and how I got to be an art quilter and what I want to do next and blah, blah, blah! It was a lot and will probably end up as a 10 minute, or less, segment on the show. The crew were terrific and Shelley is super impressive—so organized and interested in everything and obviously very professional in her work. Alex is just as she seems on TV—very energetic and vivacious and very warm and friendly. Smart and pretty too. I was really fascinated by the entire process and ceased being incredibly nervous about 3 minutes into it.

Me and Shelley.

Shelley couldn't tell me when this will be shown. They do a lot of taping, then start sorting it out into individual shows. It will probably be next year before it is on. I will know in advance, however, and will post the information when I know.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was good. It isn't my favorite holiday. It is a little contrived and some of the sentiment is pretty forced, but it was a good day here in my world.

I think the best thing about Mother's Day is that little people really get into it and really seem to love an opportunity to express their sweet, pure love for their mothers, and their grandmothers too. In our family we have never made a big deal about Mothers Day or Fathers Day. We know how we feel about each other. This morning we went to breakfast with my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. I got cards and a beautiful potted lily. The cards were the best. My granddaughter, who has recently learned to read and write, loves having the ability to express herself in writing, in her own words. She wrote on my handmade card, "for all the time youve bin aliv, here is a speshle secret. I love you. Happy Mothers Day to Terry from Sofia."  The sweetness of that—what can I say? My son and daughter both posted pictures on Facebook and wished me a happy Mothers Day. That was plenty.

Here are my girls—daughter Emily and granddaughter, Sofia, at breakfast this morning. I didn't take a picture of my guys this morning, but I have a son, Andy and grandson, Marco as well. Here they are are several weeks ago.

Marco adores his Uncle Andy, who makes silly faces for him.

While Mothers Day is a day to be thankful for these special-to-me people, I also remember my own mother, who I miss dearly, and I know it is a day that isn't so great for everyone. I can't help but think of those whose mothers weren't so loving, and those who are not mothers, by choice or fortune, and saddest of all, those mothers who have lost their children. This day must be an agony for them. I have friends in all these categories, and I know they are left out of the rosy Mothers Day schmalzy-ness, despite their nurturing, motherly spirits.

To be a mother is everything and nothing. Everything, in the way it changes you. Someone said being a mother (a parent) is like having your heart walking around outside your body. I have never heard anything that more accurately describes the sense of vulnerability and helplessness and connectedness of being a parent. Forever after, you are connected, for better or worse, to your child, feeling every hurt and every joy they experience. And, in a more prosaic way, parenthood is nothing—the inevitable biological imperative. It is what humans do and the way the species continues, not much different from worms and birds and fish and monkeys. But, as a human mother I can't help but think about the profound meanings and consequences and rewards and liabilities of motherhood.

Whether a mother or not, I hope you had a good day today, and I hope you have people to love, who love you in return. That's all that really counts.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Phone photos

Maybe you have seen the Apple ad that says that the iPhone is the most used camera in the world. That really struck me and I believe it. I love to take photos and I have a nice camera that I like and use a lot, but having that iPhone camera in my pocket nearly all the time has changed the way I think about taking photos. Today my niece sent me a phone photo of her year-old baby taking his first step. Amazing. Today my daughter smashed her finger in the heavy old window of her classroom. She sent me a phone photo of her cleaned up, nicely bandaged finger from the E.R. A picture is worth a thousand words.

When I see something I want to remember or share later with Ray, or someone else, I snap a photo. My week, below, in phone photos.

 Baby geese;

a bunny;

the first wild rose of the season;

an interesting mushroom.

Do you shop with your phone camera? I do.

A sewing machine I was considering. I bought a different one, but this one was a contender and here's all the information, including model # and price.

Toilet for our upcoming bathroom remodel. This was the winner and all the info was right here.

Nice metal table. The tag with the dimensions and price information is another photo. Unfortunately this is not going to work where I thought it might. Nice to know before I bought it and had to return it.

Me, right now.

I mean, right now...

And, so it goes...

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Blog to check and my new sewing machine

If you aren't reading Lisa Flowers Ross's blog you are missing a lot! I discovered Lisa several years ago and love her blog. She lives in Boise, Idaho (I lived there once—many years ago. That's where I found Ray) and writes about her textile work, her work at the Boise Art Museum (one of the best little art museums you will ever see), her views of one of my favorite cities and her lovely family. Her occasional photos of walks and bike rides through the sagebrush covered foothills makes me quite nostalgic for Idaho.  (Despite its dodgy reputation, Idaho is a miraculously beautiful place.)  Lisa is thoughtful and interesting and I love her work. Look at this one.

Lucky me. I am now the proud owner of this piece. This past week she has been writing about printmaking classes she is taking. Good stuff.

Here on the home front I have been worrying about my sewing machine. It's getting a little old and has been worked awfully hard. I have been thinking I need a sturdy workhorse machine to do the hard jobs of piecing and quilting, to spare my wonderful computerized Janome that wear and tear and preserve it for the more artistic chores, like fancy stitches and buttonholes and such. It is getting a bit old and frail. Today I found a great deal on a heavy-duty mechanical (non electronic) machine that does none of the fancy stuff, but excels at the meat and potatoes—straight stitching and quilting. I will sit them side by side and use each machine for what each does best.  Meet my new machine.

 She is heavy and she's my Brother. Some accommodating needs to take place. As you can see she does not fit the hole in the table/