Friday, January 30, 2015

Freaky Friday

Woke up this morning to fog.  We have been having fog many mornings.  Winter fog is sometimes bad if the weather has been exceptionally cold and the fog moisture freezes on the trees and roads.  But this isn't freezing fog today.  It is just some fog.

My daughter-in-law loves fog.  She loves pictures of trees through the fog.  She loves the idea of getting lost in a fog.  When I was in grade school, my friends and I would go way out into the back of the playground and draw a house in the dirt.  We'd draw in beds and toilets and stoves.  We'd have a front path to the door.  We were very creative in our house-building.  There were times when there would be a heavy ground fog.  It was the best!  We would run out to our houses and could feel like we were the only ones out playing. The fog would soften the other kids playing noises and we were the only ones in the world.  Once we actually were...the fog had soften the bell so we couldn't hear it and so we didn't return to class.  The teacher and the office people became worried and came out to find us.  We did finally hear them calling us but until then, we were happily playing house.

Tule fog in Central California
I used to drive south during winter to visit my folks.  I would have to drive through the San Joaquin Valley--through Central California--on I-5 to get there.  They have a Tule Fog that is so thick you can't see the cars on the road.  I had to get behind a semi and follow closely so I could stay on the road.  I couldn't get off the freeway because I couldn't see the exits until I was beside them.  If it was night, it would be visually worse.  I remember my mom telling of a time when she was working an election.  Our elementary school was a voter place.  At that time they had to count ballots by hand, so she would finish very late at night.  She said the fog was so bad she couldn't see the center line.  She had to drive with her door open and her eyes both on the line and the road ahead.

There were times I drove my speech team home from a tournament--heading down I-5 through Washington--and fingers of fog came creeping around the van.  The night would get darker and my heart would jump a little.  I would slow down a bit.  The students would continue singing and complaining about how the "judges not smart enough to understand" and other things.  Never let them see me sweat...  But the fog never got as bad as it is through Central California.

So this morning I woke up to a bit of fog.  My daughter-in-law will be happy.  In Southern California they said it will "burn off;" in Portland we say it will lighten up to simply another overcast day.  Perfect weather for piecing a new quilt.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday: My First Quilt

We moved to Grants Pass, Oregon in 1970.  Our first home was in what had once been a motel.  We had the front unit, which was the manager's unit.  So besides a large living space, it had a bonus area that used to be the front office.  Unfortunately we couldn't afford this luxury and soon found a tiny house down on Maple Lane.  Two things, beyond the problem of no money, that made this little house ideal.  First, it had neighbors.  This was a big thing for a 19-year-old stay-at-home-mother with a little 5 month-old baby, a young mother who knew no one in Grants Pass.  Secondly, the house next door to the motel blew up from a gas leak the day after we moved out.  It pretty much blew out the place where we were living along with it.

I had great neighbors on Maple Lane.  There was an older couple who lived to our left and a young couple to our right.  Across the street was another young couple with children a bit older than ours.  I loved living in Grants Pass; I hated living in Grants Pass.  We were dirt poor.  In 1974, my children's father got a job in Portland and we moved north.  
Christmas 1972 Grants Pass, Oregon
Now I told you about Grants Pass because I thought I was living there when I made this first quilt.  I thought the older couple had given me the fabric.  But after searching pictures, I realized we had already moved to Portland when I made it, so the story takes a sharp turn in the journey of this quilt.

So now I don't know who gave me the rectangular patches of fabric, but someone did...  Maybe it was a sweet woman in Grants Pass; maybe it was someone in Portland.  But someone gave me pieces of fabric. The rectangles were all cut out, reds, blues, and blacks.  That special quilting someone asked me if I wanted to make them into a quilt.  Just about that time, we found an old treadle sewing machine for only a few dollars.  My children's father cleaned it up and TaDa!  I had a sewing machine!    Now this wasn't my first sewing machine.  I received one when I graduated from high school--a portable Singer.  I had made plenty of clothes on this little machine.  But a treadle machine meant I could sew while my sons napped and not make noise!  It was perfect.

I sewed all the patches of fabric together and found an old blanket--one not in the best shape--for the batting. I found flannel for the backing.  It was inexpensive flannel, maybe 50 cents a yard.  It didn't match anything in the quilt top, but it seems like it was all they had.  And I tied the quilt, using pink yarn.  Why pink?  I have no idea.  It must have been something I had hanging around.  The binding was made from the same fabric as the patches.  I don't remember how I figured out how to put on the binding but looking at it now I am impressed.  I gave it to my mother for Christmas that year.  My elder son, so excited to have gramma here, told her, "I'm not suppose to tell you that momma made you a blanket." That was the last I saw of this quilt, forgetting all about it.

I started quilting in 2003 and had totally forgotten I had made this one back in the 70s.  And they say you never forget your first time.  HA!  Jump forward to 2010.  I found this first quilt in Mom's cupboard one evening when I was visiting and looking for pillows.  It had never been used but she had saved it.  I tossed it on the guest bed and proceeded to use it every visit after that.  I brought it home with me when we cleared out Mom's house and put much of her things in storage.  I use it many chilly evenings to throw over my legs as we watch Jeopardy.

Perhaps the moral is that you may not remember your first time, but seeing that first one can bring it all back to you in full force.  Unless you can't remember if you made it in 1973 or '74, in Grants Pass or Portland.  Hell, I'm still not sure...  *wink*


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Last Little Bit

It was such a fun dream: Hawaii for 10 days.  In October, 2012 we spent the first nights on the big island in Kona and the remaining days on Oahu in Waikiki.  On the Big Island, my geology-loving partner spent two different days playing around the volcanoes.  I played around the ocean and in the pool.  Our hotel, The King Kamehameha Beach Hotel, has the greatest pool around.  I loved the big island.  It had such a feel of ʻohana, or family.  And sunrise was absolutely gorgeous.

Sunrise in Kona

Sunset in Waikiki
The second part of this vacation we spent in the dream surferland: Waikiki.  The hotel wasn't as nice as the King Kamehameha and the pool was tiny, but the views were spectacular.  Sunsets held us captive.  Plus it was WAIKIKI!  A beach this old surfer girl had always wanted to visit.  The feeling in Waikiki and Honolulu was much different--being the largest city in Hawaii.  Less ʻohana; more mainland.  We took a tour around both islands and preferred Ohau more than Hawaii, mostly because it was smaller and more compact.

And we shopped.  Doug bought himself a great ukulele.  I bought gifts for everyone in both my family and Doug's.  I bought some great clothes.  We bought flip-flops that are like walking on clouds.  I bought a small carry-on suitcase so I could pack home more touristshitshop stuff.  We bought.   And I took massive pictures with my camera.  I love to get down close, so the turtles had faces...the sand had grains...the trees had interesting root systems.  Doug takes panoramic views.  Together we had this great documentation of our trip.

Coming home was great also.  We left for home early in the morning and decided to treat ourselves to a breakfast on the plane.  The flight was smooth and everyone was happy.

When we arrived in Portland, we moseyed on over to pick up our bags.  Except mine wasn't there.  The small carry-on was there as was Doug's, but mine--the big one that was carrying all my clothes, car things like extra keys I had forgotten to leave home, my camera, gifts for almost everyone, and our checkbook (I had forgotten to leave it home as well and it was just in the way while we were being tourists).  Alaska apologized and gave me a $20 credit because my bag wasn't there within 20 minutes.  We assumed it would arrive on the next flight back to Portland and went on home.  Late that night I received a call from the Portland Police that they had on tape my suitcase being stolen from the baggage claim rack.

Some of my checks were attempted to be cashed.  I went to court to speak against one woman who had tried to cash my checks.  She was charged with identity theft and forgery, as well as attempting to pass a bad check.  I had to go through the tedious process of changing accounts.  We never found any link to my camera, clothes, nor gifts.  I had to go through the long tedious process of listing everything, the condition of the piece of clothing, the price of new.  Alaska paid a portion of my loss.  My homeowner's insurance paid a portion of my loss, but it was long after the claim/theft before this happened.

The thieves were quite good at this whole thing.  Starting with one suitcase before mine, they had taken over 15 suitcases before being caught. They presented themselves as a family with two teen sons.  And they would casually walk up to the turning baggage claim stand, take a suitcase, and walk away.  They were eventually caught running away from the airport.  I was called to speak before the Grand Jury.

Over the next months, year, I would received information about the couples' trials and convictions.  The woman made a deal by turning in her partner.  She received drug rehab, community service, and a slap on the wrist.  They moved her crime down from a felony theft to a Class C misdemeanor.  And as a bleeding heart liberal, I should be happy with this--she gets help for her drug addiction, pays for her crime with some jail time, and goes on record that she stole things.  And I was.  But what I really wanted was for her to step in front of my and apologize for all the headaches, tight shoulders, hard work I was going through because she stole my bags.  But it was over.  Insurance paid part.  Alaska paid part.  She was in jail and was required to pay restitution.  I figured that would never happen and moved on with my life.

Last Wednesday I received a letter in the mail from the courts. I had no idea what this was about because it was January 2015.  I thought maybe I had run a red light or something.  But noooOOOooo!  It was a check for the suitcase theft!  WhooooooHoooooooo!  There was still a good $1000 outstanding in what I lost.  I opened the letter and started laughing.  Final restitution: $12.76.  And that settles it all. 

We are going to live it up!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Keeping Portland Weird

When the weather changes and we have 50 degree days with sunshine, we often call it "shorts and flip-flop" weather.  I often see kids waiting for the school bus wearing shorts, flip-flops, and a coat.  We like to mix things up here in Portland.  I have a friend from somewhere in the south who posts pictures om Facebook of strange things she sees, labeling them each: only in Portland!

Here are some of the things we do to keep Portland weird...

The World Naked Bike Ride in June each year.  It is an annual, worldwide bike ride that "highlights the vulnerability of cyclists everywhere and decries society’s dependence on pollution-based transport."  It happens all over the world, but I've only seen the one here in Weird Town.  We have it with the support of the Portland Police, the city, and the neighborhoods.  It is in June.

The Naked Pumpkin Run.  Apparently we love to take off our clothes.  This run is held on Halloween and people run with shoes and a carved pumpkin on their heads.

Global No Pants Day.  This is the 11th annual No Pants Day and was held on our MAX, public transportation.  This year it was help on January 11.  I love the looks on these folk's faces...

This is a great painted alley.  I have been trying to find exactly where this is in the city and so far no luck.

And of course we have Voodoo Donuts.  We used to have the Church of Elvis, but eventually it closed.  So sad.  Another thing we had that I loved was the American Advertising Museum.  I took my mass media class there every term.  I was heartbroken when it was sold off to someone back east somewhere.

We recently counteracted by protesting against the Westboro Baptist Church, who was protesting a Trailblazer game because the Blazers supported gay marriage.  

And then there are just the stuff we do that is well, weird...

A clown after my own heart :)


Monday, January 26, 2015

On the Road to California

Me, my friends, and Eleanor Burns--what a gracious and funny woman!
Saturday held great fun.  I met up with some online quilting friends (The Quilting Bee on Delphi Forums) and we spend most the day wandering through vendors and beautifully crafted quilts.  Such inspiration and ideas.  Great eye candy. Fun shopping at what one woman called "the toy stores."

Here are just a few of the great quilts I found inspiring.

The colors and the whimsical design of this purple circle quilt caught my eye.  Fun and fanciful!

This wall quilt of two women was amazingly exquisite.  The details of their faces with the scrappiest of fabrics gave it a depth I rarely find in my own quilts.  What a story it tells.

I must be on a purple kick because this one is so great.  So many patterns within a pattern and the purple and turquoise pop out at me.

When my mom saw this photo of the butterflkly, she thought it might be an outline of the United States.  But I pointed out it was a butterfly.  I love the scrappy happy wonky log cabin pattern of the wings.

This quilt isn't that interesting.  It is just postage stamp squares...okay a bunch of them.  The pictures are of fruit and veggies fussy-cut.  But then I looked closer to the quilt.  Each white square is quilted differently. Amazingly tedious brilliant work!

My kitty always wants to climb my quilts.  No different!
Stitching on this ship is amazing
An incredible sundial pattern.  So much beautiful work!
This is what Doug would like: clean and geomentric.

This is what I like: messy and colorful :)
 Two different ideas for double wedding rings.  Both are amazing to me!  I love a double wedding ring.  The one of the left is so unique.  Fat and happy!  The one of the right has these starbursts that the artist said represented her family and friends.  I love how the colors in the rings wrap around those she loves.
Hows this for happy?  Kickin water and splashin in the sun.
This one was my favorite.  Not the most delicate nor the most intricate, but it is so happy and colorful and full of life.  
Until next time, I stay inspired, happy and ready to create more of my own quilts.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday: January 22, 1973

It was January 22, 1973.  The battle had been long and dirty.  And like most battles, people came away bloody.  Both sides lost but only one side had the least amount of loss.  In a vote 7-2, the Supreme Court decided that women had the ultimate right to choose what happens to her body.  In deciding the outcome of Roe vs Wade, women won a victory over more than abortion rights; women became empowered like never before.  Women had the power--and the responsibility--to decide their own health.

And the battle continues today.  We fought to keep this freedom in the 80s, sitting through the same rhetoric as we sat through before.  And again in the 90s and still today.  Throughout the years we have to continue to educate people of the need to keep women safe, healthy, and able to make responsible decisions.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg said it best
Me in 1973 
I was talking to my partner about this battle, how it is constant and told him if I was against something or a law or a system, I too would be continuing to fight against it.  The constant battle doesn't make me upset.  Tired, yes but not upset.  It is that the rhetoric has not changed in the years.  The same arguments against this addition to the 14th amendment are being said today as were said 45 years ago.  Give us new rhetoric, new arguments, if you want change.  Just realize I will continue to fight to keep this freedom regardless of your rhetoric.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Making of an LA Dodger

My nephew and his partner love the Los Angeles Dodgers.  When my nephew was a little boy playing baseball, he worried about which position he would play for the Dodgers.  It wasn't a questions of if he could possibly become a member; it was a question of what he would be doing when he plays.  So when I asked them what they would like for their first child's quilt, they of course said "Dodger-themed."

Do you know how difficult it is to find MLB fabric this time of year?  Even in California there wasn't any cottons nor flannel Dodger fabric.  Online, I could find fleece, but very little affordable fabric.  Since I didn't want a fleece-backed quilt for this one, I decided to make a quilt with a top that is made of Dodger colors.  When I came across some Dodger flannel on eBay, I ordered it.

The pattern I selected is a simple scrappy 9-patch.  It's not a large quilt--maybe 40x56--so it only took about 400-2.5 inch squares.  I just used scraps.  Someone who just started quilting asked me if I had enough scraps to do this?  And I laughed because it didn't make a dent in the scraps I have hanging around.  The only pieces of fabric that are from stash are those for the sashing and the binding.  

One of the easiest patterns is a 9-patch.  This pattern calls for 20 blocks for the center piece and 18 for the border.  The center pieces are five-brights and four low-tones.  Using Dodger colors of light and dark blues (with a splash of red and grey) along with white, I built the scrappy center blocks.  I mixed in creams and neutral tones with the whites.

After ironing the blocks, I stuck them up on my "design board" to see the layout.  My "design board" is simply a felt-backed plastic picnic tablecloth that I glued onto a round curtain rod.  I stick it up on my china hutch when I want to use it.  Otherwise, it is wrapped around the curtain rod and tucked away in the closet.

Speaking of blocks, have you ever sewn the wrong end to the blocks and don't notice it until you are ironing the blocks?  And do you also, like me, notice it but iron it anyway in hopes that the error is not really there when you turn it over?  No?  Well that just the way my mind rolls ;)  Then I have to uniron it, unsew it, and put it together correctly.

Once I got the center to something I want, I started working on the border blocks.  They are easier to put together because they consist of one bright color and the rest are low-tones and neutrals. The four corner blocks are all neutrals and low-tones.  

Now it is ready to put together.  I sometimes get confused as to which block goes where when I am taking pieces from the design board.  See my "studio" takes up three rooms in the house: the dining room where the design board is hanging, the kitchen where the ironing board is waiting, and the sewing/desk area on the other side of the kitchen.  I usually think I won't get confused and just carry them.  Other times I get smart and number the pieces (which takes way too much time so I only do it this way when it is imperative that the design is exact), make note of the order in which I remove them and only take off a little at a time, or my newest trick is to take a photo of them.  Regardless, something always gets out of order so I try to make sure it doesn't matter :)

A bit of putting together and TaDa!  I have a finished top, waiting for the flannel backing to arrive.  Wouldn't it be cool if it came today or tomorrow and I could finish this quilt to take it with me when I leave for southern California on Friday?

So that's the way I create a Los Angeles Dodger.