Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snow

This was the view out my front window late yesterday afternoon. The snow started coming down about 3, to everyone's great surprise. The weather guys missed it completely. It snowed like crazy for several hours—just long enough to send the entire city into a tailspin. Everyone left work, apparently at exactly the same time, about 4, and headed home, which resulted in total gridlock. At 11 last night some of them were still trying to get home. I went out to the grocery store about 4 and had a very slow trip home, watching cars slide and spin their wheels and some give up the idea of getting up our little hill and turn around in the middle of the street. Several cars were abandoned in front of my house. Craziness. My car, with its all-wheel drive, just plowed on through with no difficulty. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening inside enjoying the incredible beauty. Isn't that blue in my photo amazing? It really looked just like that. No Photoshopping employed.

Ray flew home from So. Oregon last night and took the MAX train, from the airport, through the city, bypassing all those cars, still sitting on the freeways. I picked him up at the Beaverton station and we were home in no time. It was already starting to thaw and rain a little by then.

You really have to love a surprise snowstorm. It reminds you how little control we really have despite all our science and technology. Best to view it as a gift and enjoy. I can say that, but I wasn't trying to get home from downtown . . .

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Add another one to the list

A couple days ago I posted a slide show of the work I have done this year. Yesterday I decided I wanted to finish something I started earlier in the year before the year was done.

This is a little book-like folding piece that I made from work that I did in a class I took from Laura Cater-Woods in September. Laura puts a lot of her work together in a similar way and I was quite intrigued by the idea. (BTW, you can click for a bigger view if you are interested in details) The spine pieces that make it stand are bamboo skewers cut to size and finished with some of the many wooden beads I seem to have accumulated over the years. Since the photo images that I incorporated into these pieces were all photos I took in Mexico I thought of putting more Mexico photos on the backs, but in the end decided on just a printed fabric for the backs. I love the fabric I used—given to me by my friend Jeri.

I seldom take classes, had always thought that if Laura were to teach here I would love to take her class. She is another internet friend from many years back who I had never actually met in person. It was wonderful to finally meet her and see some of her work in person as well. Her work is so beautifully organic and full of texture and line that it was a pleasure to watch her work and to hear her ideas and thoughts about creating. The class was about specific techniques and I was glad to have a chance to try out different materials and ways of working. Some may find their way into things I do, though they are very far from how I generally work. Even though the pieces I made in the class are quite different from my usual style they still feel like mine. My color palette is quite different from Laura's. Still, this is not a piece I would include in my portfolio or show. Instead it is a quite lovely (I think) souvenir of the class experience. I will be keeping it and enjoying its presence and it will remind me of Laura, my friend.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The week between

Last of the Christmas cards—1988. It reminds me of Idaho, of the mountains and the tall pine trees in the snow. It's a good card for my mood today. I am thinking about my childhood, my brother, my sister, my parents. I am thinking about living in Southern Oregon with small children and days of cross-country skiing in the mountains. I know many people, especially here, who find peace and a sense of renewal at the ocean. For me the mountains provide that. This morning I was reading a blog in which the blogger claims she gets that sense of peace and renewal only in Paris. Ummm. OK. I suspect those special places in our lives are less to do with the actual place and more to do with our happy associations and memories. It is also my belief that if the place has a very distinctive smell, as well, it really triggers those strong feelings. My memory triggering smells are evergreen and sagebrush. Ocean people rhapsodize about the smell of the ocean, which has never done it for me. I love a trip to the beach, but it isn't the same as standing on a mountain trail, breathing crisp, astringent, pine-scented air and looking out across mountains beyond mountains, that eventually dissolve into sky.

I always think the week between Christmas and New Years is a time for contemplation, mental house cleaning and taking stock. I like to think about the year that is ending and quantify it with lists of trips, accomplishments, disappointments, losses . . . Yesterday our niece posted on Facebook that she had arisen early on the day after Christmas and starting putting away all the Christmas decorations and restoring her home to "normal". For me that task belongs to New Year's Day and is deeply symbolic of putting the old year behind me and making way for the new. So, Christmas, like the old year, is in its final days and I waver between celebrating those last remnants and looking forward to what is always the hope—the next year will be better than the last.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas

First, another Christmas card from 1989. I have one more to post! I was trying to post them to end on Christmas day, but I miscalculated. As it turned out, our Christmas Day was pretty much pure joy, so the card fits.

It has been ages and ages since I posted about what I have been making, because it was all for Christmas gifts that could not yet be revealed. All of it was for Sofia's Christmas and it has been the most fun. First, I decided she needed a doll bed and bedding. My friend, Paula, surprised me with a beautiful little doll bed her husband, Norm, made many years ago for one of their daughters. Said daughter said she did not want it (thanks, Kim!) and so they passed it on to me for Sofi. I made a small quilt, pillow and pad. Paula thought I should paint the little bed, but I really loved it just as it was.

I think Sofia liked it. Here she is tucking in a bunch of her "guys" yesterday.

My other, more challenging project, was dress-up clothes for Sofia. She has a great imagination and love of concocting outfits to wear. I made her a group of mix and match pieces that can be used to create ensembles for a princess or a ballerina or . . . ??

The look on her face was all I needed to know that she liked them.

It occurred to me that these were gifts like the ones I got as a child, and still are classics for little girls.

Two, it seems to me, is a perfect Christmas age. Too young to have developed a greedy sense of entitlement about gifts, but old enough to anticipate, and delight in everything about Christmas. She was sweet and excited about everything all day. Even Christmas dinner was an adventure at my house where she ate, after some urging, an oven-roasted brussel sprout and declared, "I LIKE it!"
After dinner we got relaxed and silly and compared our pedicures. Sofia had admired her Mom's and my painted toenails after our pedicures the day before, so Emily painted Sofi's toes with washable, non-toxic kids' polish.

A blog first—three generations of piggies.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Card from 1986. Silkscreen print.
What more can I say that what was said back then?
Wishing all of us Love and Peace and Joyous Holidays always.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My favorite

Happy Christmas Eve! As it happens, today's card, from 1985 is my very favorite of all the Christmas cards I made. It is another linoleum block print. Only one block, but printed with a combination of brown and green inks. After they were all printed, I cut a little mask the shape of the print, which I could lay on the print, then spatter a bit of white paint over it.

It's a beautiful day here in Oregon. The sun is shining brightly and it is crisp and cold. Emily and I went and had pedicures this morning. We remembered the time several years ago that we went for pedicures just before Christmas in a snowstorm. The power went out and plunged the salon into darkness. The women who worked there scurried around and found candles and flashlights and finished our pedicures. When we left we discovered that all the street lights and traffic signals were out and traffic was slowly creeping along at a snail's pace. I turned onto a street not far from my house to find it blocked by an enormous, uprooted cedar tree that had crashed through power lines and landed blocking all lanes of traffic. The power crews were already there and traffic was being redirected. I wrote about it at the time. But today is entirely different.

Tonight we will go to my daughter's for dinner and games. Tomorrow we will all have dinner here. We are all looking forward to Sofia's reaction to everything. This is the first Christmas she has had the awareness to anticipate and think about Christmas and get excited. We have all had wonderful fun making and buying gifts that we think she will enjoy and learn from.

Well, the kitchen is calling to me, so I must go and start cooking. Have a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree!

I know for certain that this card was 1984 because I dated it.

We always have a real tree. I know a lot of people have gone to using artificial trees and I understand all the reasons for doing that, but I'm just not there yet. One of the big objections to cut trees is the fuel it takes to truck them all over the country. Living right here in the land of Christmas trees (Oregon produces more Christmas trees for commercial sale than any other state) I don't feel any guilt about that. We usually try to go to a tree farm and cut our own tree, so we provide the transportation, and now we live very close to a lot of tree farms, so we don't need to carry it very far. This year our financial advisor gave each of his clients a tree. He owns a small tree farm. It's a beautiful tree—a noble fir. What a nice thing to do. I appreciate it much more than the calendars or pens he usually sends out.

When we lived in Ashland, when I made this card, we usually got a permit from the Forest Service to cut a tree on Forest Service land. This was generally up in the mountains in the snow and was a fun day for our family. We'd take X-country skis and sleds and a saw and sandwiches and thermoses of hot chocolate and head for the hills. Skiing into the silent forest was magical, especially if we were lucky enough to be out on a sunny day that made everything sparkle or if we were skiing through gently falling snow. Once we found our tree, digging down into the snow to be able to cut it close to the ground was work, as was hauling it back to the car. I was always surprised at how much bigger the tree looked inside our house than it did out in the forest!

The smell of a freshly cut douglas fir or noble fir instantly brings back memories of those snowy trips to the forest. Maybe that's why I resist the idea of an artificial tree. Besides those artificial trees are too perfect. I need a flat side to face the window.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dickens card

Sometime in the mid-'80s I was involved with a production of A Christmas Carol in Ashland. My friend, Alec Teague staged it and hired me to design the poster and some large puppets used in the production. It seemed natural to use a quote from the play for our Christmas card that year. This one is another silkscreen print for the snowflakes, which I printed on photocopies of my hand calligraphy. This was long before you could choose an appropriate font on your computer and print the text on your inkjet printer. In many ways that doesn't seem so long ago. Hard to believe how far we have come in such a relatively short time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Of all the trees that are in the wood the holly bears the crown"

Another silkscreen print, this time using three screens. Early '80s. I have always liked Holly. Holly does not grow in Idaho where I grew up, but I saw it when we visited family in Oregon. It always seemed like the perfect Christmas green. Shiny green leaves and beautiful red berries. What's not to love? Oh yeah, stickers. Those points on the leaves are sharp! But to look at—so beautiful.

My sister was married a few days after Christmas and the wedding had a very Christmas-y theme. Of all my bridesmaid dresses (I was a bridesmaid a LOT for a few years) the one for Beck's wedding was my favorite—long, red plaid taffeta skirt with a white crepe, french-cuffed shirt top. My grandmother shipped several large boxes of holly from Oregon to decorate the church.

When we bought our first house in Oregon the first yard purchase was a holly bush. Imagine my chagrin when I learned, just recently, that English Holly is considered an invasive species, which we are discouraged from planting in Oregon. We didn't plant it, but we have some out front and I don't plan to pull it out. When I posted the photo of my terra cotta ornaments the other day there was a sprig of holly from our yard in the photo. I will always think of it as an Oregon plant.

By the way the title of the post comes from the carol, The Holly and the Ivy. English Ivy, also abundant in Oregon is another invasive species.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The final glide toward Christmas

Another Christmas card from the past. This one is a silkscreen print, using two screens. One screen prints the lighter red on the dark red paper. The second screen prints the cream-colored lines. The registration is casual, so you see bits of the dark red base paper showing between the light red and cream lines. I really like this card. After a lot of fussy detail in the block prints, it was refreshing to come up with something kind of crisp and clean and simple.

Christmas preparations feel pretty under control this year. I am using only some of the decorations, but Ray put up the multicolored "drippy" icecicle lights on the front of the house and that feels the most festive to me. I love driving into the driveway in the evening and seeing the the lighted house and the Christmas tree through the front window. We have a nice, smallish evergreen at the corner of the driveway near the street and I thought it would be pretty with lights, but would have required an extremely long extension cord through the woods and over the creek for conventional lights. Not practical. I found a string of solar powered lights at Target. Pretty neat idea, but we have had so much rain and the days have been so dark that I have only seen them lighted for a few minutes at a time. Not enough sun to power the solar battery.

I still have some sewing to do, but all my shopping and mailing are finished. I am planning to enjoy the days leading up to Christmas with friends and family. I hope you are all feeling as ready.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Let Sorrow Lie..."

Another Christmas card from about 1981. This is another lino block print, with some added watercolor. I have no recollection of where I found the verse—kind of has the ring of an old Carol, but who knows? It's a worthy sentiment for these times.

I went along with my daughter, son-in-law and Sofia to visit Santa at the mall a couple nights ago. It was a hard decision for a two-year-old. She was interested and excited to see Santa, but also a little scared. The scary part was getting the better of her, but I could see that she was fighting it. Having Mom and Dad with her helped, plus not having to actually sit on his lap, but there was a look of terror that crept into her eyes the closer she got. When the photographer said "smile" she tried, but it was more like a grimace, then Santa asked what she wanted for Christmas and it came out in a sort of desperate, strangled sob— "I wwwwant a Hello Kitty Booooook." Then it was over and she was elated at having done this scary thing and survived and delivered her message to Santa. I was so proud of her baby courage. Have I told you what a great kid she is?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas stuff

I have done all the Christmas decorating I am going to do, except for digging around to see if I can find my reindeer to go on the dining room table. The Thanksgiving Mum is starting to look a little past its prime! The photo above is a small part of my collection of terra cotta Christmas ornaments. They are usually on the mantle with greenery, rather than on the tree. It is a collection that started sort of unwittingly about 20 years ago. I found several small terra cotta ornaments at a gift show and bought them, then I started looking for more and just kept buying. I am particularly fond of the Guatamalan angel, holding the dove. Reminiscent of my Christmas card from many years earlier, isn't it?

Here's another dove from the old Christmas card collection. Still one of my favorites. Probably around 1979.

And now, a special treat! This video is Bob Dylan singing "Must Be Santa." It is one of the wierdest things ever, but mighty catchy! I discovered this video thanks to Sue Reno, who posted it on Facebook with the comment that it reinforces her belief that "everything is better with an accordian!"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Icy creek

Today was a Christmas prep day. We finally got our tree up yesterday and today I started making candy. Silly me. I squandered the cold, dry days we had all week last week, which would have been much better for candy-making than today's misty, moist day, but couldn't be helped. I am trying the cranberry candy, which is so good, but which I had so much trouble getting to dry several years ago. I haven't made it since, but think I have a better recipe this time.

I went outside to cut some greens for the mantle and found that the creek has begun to thaw in beautiful and amazing ways.



Isn't that last one amazing? It was like needles of ice in a pile, while in other places the ice was still quite solid, encasing the fallen leaves.

I am sewing, but I don't want to show what I am making just yet. Things for Sofia. Dress-up play clothes have been the most fun so far. I knew I was on the right track when I learned that today she was wearing her Baptism dress over her turtleneck and jeans because it is kind of like a princess dress. Where does this love of girly, frilly stuff come from? I have come to believe that little girls are born with it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another Christmas Card

This must have been 1978. Another linoleum block print. Do you notice how I avoid the typical clear red and green "Christmas" colors? They do show up in some of my cards, but I always think it is much more interesting to use earthier colors, even for holiday cards. My taste in color hasn't changed a lot in the past 30 years.

Speaking of color, today is the day that the Twelve by Twelve group revealed our "Pink" theme pieces. If you have been following along, you know that we finished our two-year, 12 quilt project a couple months ago. Those 144 quilts will be the subject of a book. (so exciting!) We decided as a group that this project has been such a great experience that we wanted to go for another round of 12 quilts by 12 artists. This time around the themes will all revolve around color. Our organizer and inspiration for the whole project, Diane Perin Hock, chose the first color theme. Pink. Not a favorite color of mine. But here is my quilt. Go to the 12 x 12 blog to see all the pink theme pieces and read about how each one came to be. You will learn the story behind my St. Rose and her Pinking Shears.

This post, featuring my angel Christmas card and saintly challenge quilt reveals a secret about me. As a basically non-religious person, I have an odd fondness for saints and angels. I think there is something so appealing about the very idea of spirits who protect us, advocate for us, defend us. And they make for lovely images.

Friday, December 11, 2009

STASH day

Last December our STASH group planned to visit the Pittock Mansion, in Portland's West Hills, which is always decorated for Christmas, then have a nice lunch downtown somewhere. It snowed so seriously that none of us could leave our houses. Last December we just kept cancelling all kinds of things due to snow and bad weather, so STASH never got to celebrate. Yesterday we finally got to the mansion. It was a beautiful, cold, clear day. Every year different groups decorate the mansion. This year it seemed to be interior designers who each took a room. Pretty uninspired Christmas decor in my opinion, but the house is so beautiful that it is always fun to visit and great for photographing. One year the quilt guild decorated the house. It was better.

From the mansion we went to the Chart House for lunch. The view was spectacular, the food was good, the wine as well, the stories were funny, the friends were all together and a good time was had by all!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Beautiful winter days

This has been a very busy week, with a lot of nice things going on. Tomorrow I will have photos of the day our STASH group spent visiting the Pittock Mansion and going to lunch today. It was our holiday celebration and really fun. Tonight I am too tired to download the pictures and futz with them.

It is still so, so cold here, but oh what beautiful days we are having. The sky is blue, the sun is shining and the mountains (Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood) are "out" in all their winter spendor. We are enjoying them while we can. Freezing rain is predicted in the next day or so. The sun goes down so early. We are really closing in on the shortest day of the year. This was the sky tonight at 5 pm as I was driving home.

It was so beautiful with the last orange glow of the setting sun along the horizon, shading into that steely blue.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Cold

It has been so darn cold here. (I know, I know—it's colder where you are) We are not used to these clear, cold days, but I will take the cold if it means we get some days of sunshine and blue skies. No snow yet.

Our creek was frozen. Of course there were some open spots, but more ice than I have seen.

I feel sorry for the birds. These little bushtits were swarming our suet feeder all day today.



Our morning walks have been abbreviated due to cold. We make ourselves do the first, shorter loop, then make a beeline for Starbucks and a hot cup of coffee.

I have so much to do in the next few weeks, some of it Christmas, some of it other things. I hope I can start the new year with a relatively clean slate. Nose to the grindstone until then . . .

I love this Christmas message from CBS in 1966. Gotta have a little mercy for the birds this time of year!





Monday, December 07, 2009

Another Christmas Card from the Dark Ages

This must be 1977. Emily would have been a year and a half and Andy 4. Looks about right, doesn't it? They were the center of my universe. Now they are grown-ups and still pretty special. Both of them.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Dorky

So here we are on a Sunday evening. Ray's feet on the left, mine on the right. But what are those big, puffy red things, you ask? Why, those are our new down-filled booties that we bought at IKEA yesterday. They are not what we went for, but when I saw them I thought I had died and gone to heaven. We each had to have a pair.

My feet have been cold for the past 17 years. Portland is far from the coldest place I've ever lived, but there is a damp cold here that grabs you by the feet and is relentless. My feet are colder here when it is 30° F than they were in Idaho at 0°. I have gone to bed with cold feet that kept me awake all night despite the fact that the rest of me was comfortable, too, too many nights. Regular old socks don't do the job. But I am sitting here, typing away, with my feet in those puffy, red mucklucks and they are toasty. I don't care how dumb they look. When your feet are warm life is good.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Fungus Amungus

Having grown up in a desert environment, I still find it astounding that, at the first sign of a good rainy day around here, mushrooms pop, full-blown right out of the ground. Seems like everywhere I have gone this fall I have taken pictures of mushrooms.

I was quite charmed by these specimens with the fringe-y edges.





This one looks like the ones you buy in the grocery store.

This is a monster thing growing out in the front yard. The more it has rained the slimier it looks. This was taken when it was still in pretty good shape.

My 1975 block print is of shaggy mane mushrooms that grow in Idaho. I have eaten these. They are quite safe to pick and eat since there is no poisonous variety that looks enough like it to confuse the two. I once made an etching of a mushroom too. I don't know if I still have any of those prints anywhere. Maybe it is time for a fabric rendition. They are awfully good subjects, I think.