Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cabin Fever

It is winter here in Oregon. Crazy winter. Not like Portland winter—like winter winter. It actually started way back before Christmas with an ice storm that ripped through and, among other things, forced our STASH group to cancel our annual Christmas go-to-a-fancy-restaurant lunch. "Oh well," we said. "We will reschedule in January." So we did—for last week, on the day the huge, big amazing snowstorm arrived and shut down the city. Then it got so cold that the snow didn't budge until today. We have rescheduled our lunch for February, knowing full well some weather calamity is sure to materialize on that very day. My basket of Christmas gifts for my friends is looking a little forlorn at this point.

The snow was beautiful. Really, it made me very happy for a day or two there.

I stayed in pajamas 'til noon, drinking coffee and watching birds at the feeder, then waded through the crystalline snow to the studio every afternoon. I have gotten so much done this past week! Unfortunately I am working on a project that I cannot show in progress, but I can't resist giving you a tiny little peek at a tiny little part.

That's my doodle-y stitching, which I wanted, not black, and slightly thicker than usual, so experimentation got me to the idea of stitching from the back with double bobbin threads. Believe it or not, it worked and I love the look of the combined variegated threads I'm using. So, it has been a productive snowed in week! But cabin fever set in a couple days ago, and I was sick of crusty, icy snow and cold feet and not being able to leave my house, and, oh, did I mention that back somewhere on one of those icy days my son slipped on the ice and broke his arm? And my darling grandchildren had missed something like seven days of school and were at each other's throats, driving their parents batty— so the change in weather today was cause for celebration. It has warmed up and raining buckets, melting all that snow. The creek is overflowing and they're worried about the rivers, but I got out to the SAQA meeting this morning—the first event in a month that wasn't cancelled due to weather. So good to talk to others, not my family! So good to drive without fear for my life! And everyone went back to school and work.

I know. This weather is nothing. Many of you are still buried in snow and will be for weeks to come. Some of you are huddling, in the cold, by the light of your iPads, waiting for the electricity to come back on. But we are delicate Oregon flowers who rarely have to experience winter and we nearly died! I don't know how you do it out there in Minnesota...

And the creek keeps rising...

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Retail therapy for artists

Yesterday I came down with a bad case of cabin fever—had to get out of the house! The holidays, wonderful as they have been, were getting a little claustrophobic. It seemed like a good day for a drive into the city to check out the new Artist and Craftsman Supply Store. I love an art supply store like some people love bookstores. (I like bookstores too!) Some are elegant and efficiently organized; some are warm and homey; some are cluttered and messy; and some are funky and fun. Sometimes you can tell the minute you drive up in front what it will be.

Deceptively small from the outside, this place is crammed full of goodness!

Deep inventories of those special areas of interest to me—all kinds of fiber arts supplies like dyes and textile paints and markers and yarns and tools, no fabrics.

Printmaking supplies and inks and a huge variety of drawing pens, pencils and papers. Bookmaking supplies that I haven't seen in any other local stores. Great stuff for kids, including cool mask-making supplies.

I spent more than an hour wandering and touching and mentally cataloging the inventory, so that when I need that silkscreen ink for fabric, or extra thick foam board or tiny spray bottles for watercolor or dye, I will remember where I saw that perfect "thing." I bought some drawing pens and a dye marker and a little photo book. Not much, but I loved the place and I'll be back!

It's a national chain, but has a local feel about it and the most interesting inventory I've seen in Portland. No affiliation, just happy for another resource!

Artist and Craftsman Supply

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Word

If you've been reading this blog for awhile you might know that, at year's end, I don't make resolutions, but rather settle on a word that will encourage and remind me of my goals and intentions for the coming year. I think it started about nine years ago, when members of an online group I belong to started posting their own words. I liked the idea, and unlikely as it might sound, I think those words actually have been motivating. For 2017 my word is resist.

I have arrived at the end of 2016 feeling worn out, raw and ragged. I let my little reminder icon reflect that. Make what you will of the loose ends and hammered copper... at the last minute it occurred to me that the word itself needed to be created using a "resist" technique— .

Why that word? I considered so many words—positive, optimistic, pretty words—but none seemed to have the strength and resolve I was hoping for, until I got to "resist" which speaks to me on many levels.

Resist hatred, bigotry, racism by standing up for all of my fellow citizens, neighbors, family, friends

Resist hopelessness and despair

Resist isolation—stay active in the world

Resist complacency

Resist artistic laziness—keep stretching

Resist time-wasting distractions like Facebook and online games (that was hard to type!)

Resist saying "yes" to things I really don't want or need

And I'm sure there will be many more things to resist! So, perhaps I'm ready to face the coming year. It is sure to be challenging. The word for 2017 joins those from previous years, there to remind me to be present, be alert and meet the future head-on.

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

T is for...

Earlier this week our grandchildren spent a couple of days with us while their hard-working parents enjoyed a little holiday getaway. We wanted to do something fun with the kids and since the weather had improved vastly from the previously icy, snowy week before we came up with a small Portland Adventure. It was a modified "4 Ts" trek, similar to what we did with friends last year. We swapped out the "trail" part for a walk on the new Tilikum Crossing bridge. So we drove to the zoo in our Toyota and got on the train to downtown Portland.

Each kid carried along a little notebook and pen to write down all the things we saw starting with the letter T. They quickly spotted tracks, trucks, tires, trees and telephones, then it got a little harder. Marco decided to embellish his list with a drawing of a turkey. Once downtown, we walked a couple blocks, past food trucks selling tacos and tamales and boarded the Trolley to the south waterfront area.

That's where we got on the overhead Tram that connects the two campuses of the Oregon Health Sciences University.

The view from the Tram is amazing and we all agreed that the cars and houses down below looked like toys from so far above. We rode up, then back down again, then walked several blocks to Portland's beautiful, new Tilikum Crossing Bridge. It is the first bridge of its kind in the US—for buses, streetcars, trains, bicycles and pedestrians—no cars allowed. It was beautiful in the late afternoon, winter sunshine.

Then we reversed our route and headed home. We were tired and happy with our big adventure. We had pretty well exhausted our supply of T words by then, but the final train ride rewarded us with one last beauty.


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Friday, December 16, 2016

The week before the week before Christmas

Second week in December. I had decided this was the year that I needed to embrace the "Christmas Spirit" since the national news was so depressing and getting worse by the moment. I'm not one who can plug my ears, sing "lalala..." and pretend the crap out there isn't happening, but maybe, just maybe we could carve out a little reprieve for kindness and beauty and joy and family. Beth and I were at Starbucks one morning and this song was playing and it resonated. Yes, this old thing, but the words "I've grown a little leaner, grown a little colder, grown a little sadder, grown a little older..." felt like the way so many of us are feeling, and there I was, in Starbucks, gulping back the lump in my throat.

The week delivered, in typical fashion. Very little went as planned.

Screenshot from local news site. Snow, which we seldom get here, wreaks havoc. Roads are quickly very slippery and the local municipalities are unprepared. Worse, the minute it begins in earnest, every citizen of the three county area gets into their car and endeavors to drive home, pick up kids from closing schools and daycares and school buses slip and slide and everything comes to a snowy, cold standstill.

It took me two hours to get grandkids from school to my house and my daughter six hours to get home from her job on the other side of Portland, by first, sitting in traffic for four hours, then abandoning her car in downtown Portland, getting on the light rail train to Beaverton and then walking about three miles, in a snowstorm, to her house. Both holiday parties and dental appointments were cancelled and Christmas shopping postponed. It was not the week I planned, but miraculously, just ahead of the snow, one thing came together—the quarterly meeting of the Columbia Fiberarts Guild. My first meeting as president of the guild and a presentation by Portland crochet artist, Jo Hamilton. She so generously shared her story and her process and her very unusual approach to the familiar craft of crochet. But this is crochet like you've never seen. Magical. Painterly. And if you want to see more, check out her web site—really, you won't be sorry!

Her rich portraits and crocheted Portland cityscapes are wonderfully wonky and rich in color and detail. I find few things in life more life-affirming than viewing joyful, colorful art like this! These are the images from this week that I will hold onto.

And these...

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Location:SW Rigert Rd,Beaverton,United States

Monday, December 05, 2016

Earrings and a little makeup

I thought this was finished and it has been hanging on my design wall for several weeks and every time I would walk past it I would think "it's flat—needs something" but I wasn't sure what. Yesterday morning as I was poking little earrings into my earlobes it hit me that my Mexican lady had no earrings. That just wouldn't happen, I reasoned, so I headed out to the studio to correct that oversight. Earrings actually helped, then I remembered how I put on my own earrings, check the mirror to make sure they look OK (I've been known to wear not-on-purpose mismatched earrings, or get distracted and walk away with only one—) and at that point think I might look even better (!) with a little lipstick or mascara. So I got out my colors and gave the whole piece a little mini color makeover.

Better, I think.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Late Fall

You know I walk most days near a wetland area. And you know I take a lot of photos. I love the fall. I love the cooler temperatures and the changing colors and even the rain. In late November everything softens. The colors are more muted, the sky goes smeary and wet and the edges lose their crispness. We walk in all the weather, until the rain begins to soak in or the wind beats us up and then we retreat to our coffee and hang our wet jackets on the backs of our chairs and watch the storm through steamy windows. Summer seems long gone.

I am spending time in the studio, and watching the creek rise and fall. It gets dark early and I use little flashlight when I make my way back to the house.

I found the Prisma app for my iPad and marvel at what it finds in my photos, like the one I took of the egret.

Or this photo of red berries, that certainly don't have to stay red.

It's a little humbling to see how a smart machine can interpret my images in ways I sometimes hope to achieve by my own efforts. I'm not sure what to make of that...

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