Tuesday, July 31, 2012

waiting for the electrician, or someone like him

Despite the various traumas that have suffused this year, and July in particular, our plucky heroine is steadily if slowly regaining strength and health, if not a cheerful heart. One sure sign of recovery is a renewed interest in moving forward with various needed refurbishments...

The stove here at Acorn Cottage has had only two functional burners for several years now, and only the two tiny tiny ones at that. Cooking is an every day, several times a day, activity here, and even without much of an appetite, nourishing food still needs to happen. Having a functional large burner means more options for cookware, like the large skillet, or the maslin pan for preserving later in the season...

Fairly recently discovered that the burner receptacle is a replaceable part, and that if not replaced if funky, it will simply short out the (spendy) replacement burner over and over again...(well only once, then I simply pulled the burner and the knob) So, to deal with this in a more appropriate manner, now that further information has been acquired, the first step is to remove everything detachable from the range: all the burners, the oven racks, the contents of the storage drawer, the storage drawer itself..
Once that is done, the actual range is not very heavy at all, and can be walked away from the wall to the middle of the kitchen floor, a good place to deal with the replacement project. Won't see any pictures of the state of the floor under the stove, suffice it to say that there was good reason to break out the mop and bucket before going any further. I am a competent housekeeper, but moving the range to mop is not on the kitchen chores. Usually.

This is not spaghetti. In fact, it is nowhere near as scary as I had initially imagined. Am feeling rather chuffed to have figured out *how* to remove the front panel of the controls, and the access panel from the back.

This is what a VERY BAD receptacle looks like. Not supposed to be big holes burnt through from the inside to the outside! And oh, yeah, both wires are supposed to be attached firmly, not burnt through... just sayin', I mean I am nowhere near an electrical expert, but this just looks wrong!

Taaa daaa! A large burner that turns on and off like anything, and heats up properly. Took a few hours, a trip to Ankeny Hardware for the parts, and gave me a chance to clean under the range, and the side walls as well. Amazing how fixing one thing makes some of the rest of the kit look shabby... Now I want to get some new drip pans for the small burners, they are severly oxidised, and almost corroded through... One task for one day, and our plucky heroine will celebrate by cooking dinner, on the BIG burner. I am MIGHTY!

Monday, July 30, 2012

a trip to the Zoo

Since there was a bit of ready dosh from the yard sale this weekend, when invited on an unexpected trip to the Zoo, our plucky heroine said "sure!" ... The red and blue line MAX both stop at Washington Park, the underground station that also serves the Zoo and incidentally is the deepest public transit station in the USA.

There is interesting artwork all over the station, including this diagram on the outbound side wall

The gates to the Zoo entrance are beautifully sculptured with all kinds of wildlife...

...some of which you can see inside the Zoo!

Caracal cat is watching you...

...and also waiting for treats.

Watching this cat move was a real joy, and the enclosure is large enough for leaping, running, hiding and climbing.

The ocelots were playing with a large tub of water, that had tiny tiny little fish. I didn't manage to catch a picture of the one in the tub, but this one was waiting a turn to catch some snacks...

Gerenuk gazelle rests in the sunshine,

Zebra rests in the shade under a tree. When you go to the Zoo in the middle of a warm summer day, a lot of the animals are resting or sleeping

Visiting the Zoo with friends and four children,
we managed to see many of the classic zoo animals.

Bear mother carved stone sculpture, momentararily not being climbed on by children.

Portrait of a fruit bat.

Fruit bats doing their fruit eating thing; mmmm tasty melon bits!

Fruit bats and tanuki have something in common...

Hippo looks as ungainly on land as bats do,
but in water moves as freely as they do in the air

Mountain goat resting in the afternoon...

All too soon it was time to head back home. Definitely got my exercise today, a whole lot of walking up and down hill. A most unexpected trip proved a great distraction; cannot focus on feeling sad when there is so much of interest to observe. Fibonacci spiral, wall image on the inbound side of the station wall was the last bit of artwork seen before we headed back into the city and there split up for our respective quadrants.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

held together by habit

i have not forgotten you.
i have not stopped loving you,
or remembering that i love you.
if i never touch you again,
i will always be touching your absence.
did you think i had forgotten that?

~ Karen Lindsey
(excerpt from "straight poem", Falling Off The Roof, 1975)

This life we live is a dance between, between love and fear, between joy and sorrow, between habit and spontaneity. Clever plucky heroine has for a number of years made active choice of certain habits, after taking many decades to learn that choice was even possible... To choose to see the good, the bright sparkle of the common world, while remaining cognizant of all that is counterweight to that. To choose responsibility, to choose clarity and straightforward words. To choose action in congruence with my deep beliefs. Times are when this is as easy as breath, the breath that in some languages is the same word as spirit. And other times 'tis only the steady harness of habit that allows forward motion at all. Take thought and care what habits share your life, for when all else fails, they will be your boon companions, strong draft horses that pull into an unknown future when your own strength fails...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

memory and dream

In the classic mode, there were some transfers of STUFF between participants in the garage sale here today. I ended up with this lovely Couroc tray decorated with tourist icons of San Francisco. This makes me all kinds of pleased... I had no large serving tray for guests here at Acorn Cottage; I have many happy memories of that city both as a child and as an adult; and Couroc reminds me of my childhood... I was a child that noticed objects far more than interactions. Humans were baffling, and remained so for decades... our plucky heroine is still working on that. I remember driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, and my little sister wanted the windows open so she could feel the fog... we rode on the cable cars, and climbed up to Coit Tower... I learned to use chopsticks on a family vacation... years later Bill and I rambled round Chinatown eating potstickers and buying pearls and gems... showered in the Tortoise hostel... went on pilgrimage to the Christopher Alexander bench at Fort Mason... there are more memories than words to write them with, a whole lot of resonance for one simple object to call up.
Have been thinking about possible workshops to teach this autumn and winter, in addition to enameling. A number of ideas have surfaced... since in addition to the tray, I traded for several sheets of carving rubber, suitable for stamping on paper or cloth, I was thinking that a workshop on carving custom stamps would be an idea - can be used for papercraft or for fabric decoration. Cutting stencils for fabric printing is another option.... Some other ideas are related to sewing tools, like making pincushions in vintage crockery, or hand-stitched needle books and scissors sheaths; Holiday ornaments of various kinds - whimsical decoupage from childrens books, layered felt and fabric, and ribbon and cloth flowers. All of these could be done as brooches or as hanging ornaments for the home. Yet another idea is simple embroidery skills, which could be followed by a how-to turn your embroidery, or vintage embroidery, into a brooch. So that is eight different ideas already, a good head start on next months goals, which are mostly about teaching. Anyone interested in any of this, or on the other hand have something you wish to learn that I know how to do??

Thursday, July 26, 2012

another unexpected journey

On Monday morning, our plucky heroine answered the phone. A dear friend was direly ill and in the ICU. It was the decision of a moment to drop everything and head north to OlyWa - Sharon and I have been friends since we met in 10th grade, many decades ago.

The fastest way to get north, without an auto, is by train. Most fortuitously, Ariadne was heading south about an hour earlier, so Mr Dawson was at the train station anyway, and waiting an hour for my train to come in, on a summer afternoon in the beer garden outside the Olympic Club McMenamins was not a hardship for him... Of course, despite the troubling nature of my journey, the trusty camera was often close to hand, and a few images were worth sharing... the coffered ceiling of the train station in Portland is beautifully carved and painted

sometimes, looking for security has you heading straight into a stone wall

this was nifty - on the new trains, there are monitors in every car that show the position of the train in realtime, and the expected time till arrival at the next station on the line

The house at Fjords End is one of my favorite places to stay, there are always interesting creative things going on, the folks who live there have been friends of mine for years, and there is also Toshi, beloved and goofy Akita dog, here seen in a patient "waiting for adventures" pose

On Monday night, met with my friend in her hospital room in the ICU - The nurse woke her up, but she really woke up when she realised I was there - I watched her self come back into her eyes... we had actual coherent words back and forth - slowly, but coherence. She is very very sick with an uncontrolled infection. I did get to talk with her in a kind of between moment, and am grateful for that... if all goes well, or if it does not, at least I managed to get up there and let her know how much I and many others love her, and she was conscious enough to hear that during the time I was there.

the cars pass through the night, while Maeve and I walk over the bridge, taking Toshi on one last walk before bedtime.

just outside the front door, this wild pig sculpture, carved by John from Tenino sandstone, waits to have his righthand tusk repaired

While there, an afternoon walk to the beach was a needful counterweight to hospital time. There is a public access path that winds through the industrial and private lands... a walk that was new to me, but very familiar to my pals, the pathway was installed long after I moved away from Mud Bay... here and there along the path, there are vistas through the trees

some feral apples, not quite ripe, along the path to the beach

There were other wild foods, dewberries, and salal, ripe and tasty, well, the dark ones are ripe, also along the path

Some tiny pink wildflowers, I do not know their name...

and saskatoons, ripe and unripe... had never tried these before, they are sweet, a little bit bland, a little bit flowery and a little bit mealy, but definitely edible

out at the beach, the lines across the mud are the pilings of old log docks.
There was glasswort growing all in the tidal zone, it tastes a bit bitter and a lot salty, would be a good garnish to a salad

On Tuesday young Clover was there, visiting her dad. Chalk art in the driveway was most entertaining. Travis drew a chalk lion for his daughter...

Guess who drew this chalk horse...

After two days, was time to return home. The medical situation up there remains very dire. Indeed as of tonight, despite the best efforts of the doctors there, the infection is still uncontrolled and I am sending healing wishes to my dear friend. I told her that Smokey had the watch on the otherside, but that Smokey says not to hurry and visit, that there will be time for that later...

dog has the watch

Monday, July 23, 2012

on the way out

Even though I did not finish my summertime 6PAC, each of the parts that I did complete are so welcome in my closet. Black and chocolate brown will be the basis of my Autumn group. Those colors colors play nicely with my favorite indigo, and I have a chunk of brown denim twill, and a large piece of chocolate brown jersey, (as well as all sorts of black fabrics in different weight and fibers).

Still playing around with exactly what to make...
A pattern taken from my old pair of overalls would be very useful, and could also be used to make another pair of pants as well, which will be useful for any outdoor adventures that might come along. There might be some Resiliency Ranger trips, (a girl can hope), and last year I learned that skirt and ocean waves are not friends...

Might do some more re-fashioning, as my beloved dark brown knit merino/possum fur cardigan is wearing out around the armholes, but is in good condition elsewhere. The possum fur makes it incredibly warm and lightweight, and it gets worn all through the colder weather. If I can find some suitable fabric or another sweater in a similar color, it could be patched, and would keep me warm for a few more years without looking so tatterdemalion...

It would be useful for me to take some time to work on adapting one of my former TNT blouse patterns to fit my current shape; while I am doing what I can to get both healthier and lighter in weight, the pre and post surgery weight gain meant that none of my TNT patterns fit any more. I'd like to get the LaFred blouse pattern to be a little less oversized and a bit more contoured, though that is not the way it was originally designed. A while back I adapted it for my pal little Beth, splitting the back horizontally and adding a curve to the lower half, like a subtle peplum, that might work...

my tentative plan
  • dk brown refashioned merino/possum cardigan
  • chocolate brown denim pants or overalls
  • chocolate brown cotton jersey Teagarden T
  • black cotton knit Alabama Chanin style pinafore
  • black top or blouse or underdress
  • print top or blouse or underdress,
    using some of the Alexander Henry lawn in either the black or the navy colorway

Sunday, July 22, 2012

small progress

Started on the hem edge of the pinafore... will be mostly just a triple running stitch, about a generous inch above the actual hemline, which will be left as a doubled raw edge. The skirt portion of the pinafore is made from a salvaged black jersey skirt, which had an unfortunate tendency for the hemline to roll up where it had been topstitched. I layered some more of the brown jersey all around the hem edge, to add some weight and hopefully keep the hemline from flipping up. Approximately every 11 to 13 inches there will be two tiny blue squares, which will be stitched around and cut away on the inside, identical to the squares accenting the Makintosh rose on the center front. Should finish this part of the handwork in a few days.

that was dumb

I could not find my phone this morning. Then I did. It went through the washing machine. It is in pieces. So now I have no phone access out of the city. And, even worse, I have lost all my phone numbers to call my friends and family.

I shall attempt to dry out and reassemble the phone. If friends would be so kind as to message me your phone numbers, I would be very grateful.

Learn from my error, and keep a backup copy of your personal phone book somewhere other than in a wee bit of pocket electronics (and do what I did not, and check your pockets before laundry)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

unsent message

A week ago, I was happy. I was healing, and working, and being creative. A week ago I was busy. I went to the market, so there would be food we both could eat while you were visiting here. I tidied the house, and put clean summertime sheets on the bed. A week ago I was telling myself that any worries I felt when you did not send me messages were foolish remnants from my past, that you were busy with the many projects in your life, that I had no need to think your heart had turned from me.

I was wrong. I knew I was wrong when you walked up to my door. I knew I was wrong when I smiled and kissed you. I knew I was wrong when you offered a nightwalk, (which I love), and said that you needed to talk and that you knew I listened well. The more you talked, the more I knew I was wrong. I kept wanting to say stop, you are scaring me, tell me you are not leaving me. But I listen well. I hear what is said, even when it is unsaid. I hear what is being said, before it is words. And eventually the words in your heart reached your mouth, and came into the world. Words said cannot be unsaid.

A week ago my hopes and dreams of future joy were destroyed. A week ago I learned that the best me I can ever be was not enough. A week ago you told me that she meant more to you than I did, that your choice is not open to negotiation. A week ago I learned that if the bird walks into a cage freely, no open door in the world will call back the freedom of the sky.

I am sorry that the strength and competence I have earned with such effort let you think I will be unharmed by your choice. Oh, I will continue my life, till the weary body goes to rest. My work here is not done. But to never again have the joy of common ground with you, to never again lie nested in dark and just talk for hours with you, to never again know that you have the watch and I can let my guard down, to never again with you share the joy of adventures with someone who speaks my language, to never again wake in early dawn and see your sweet self asleep beside me.

All the brightest bits, the seasoning that brought savor to my days, the precious gifts this woman has never known before save in stories, and the scent on the wind from other more fortunate folk. That is what you have taken from me. Not the memories, those will stay, but all the long slow fading path into the future, without you to be there from time to time, to share the journey. You have taken away companionship. We swore no words together, and I love you with open hands. But how I wish that open hands could still touch.

Sorrow shared is sorrow halved, joy shared is joy multiplied. The equation always balances. With you beside me, in the times our lives allowed, that was indeed how it seemed to me. The equation always balances. And now, I walk alone into the land beyond, without your eyes to share my joys, without your hand to hold when sorrow stalks my path. What cannot be cured must be endured, and if our plucky heroine knows anything at all, she knows how to endure.

And now I am a desert seed again. The rain came, and the desert bloomed, the land covered with a tracery of green and drifts of color in the soft light of evening. But only for a few precious days.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I'm still here

Saw the most humorous thing today - a (golden) guide dog puppy in training, with a jacket on that said "the blonde leading the blind"

I think it might be time to stop saying that the things that don't kill me make me stronger. I think I am strong enough now, thank you, and some nice dull months of peacefulness... would be nice...

To paraphrase Hunter S Thompson: when the going gets wierd, the weird eat sushi...

Monday, July 16, 2012

dispatch from the land of sorrow


Our plucky heroine has no intention of giving up, though Girl is beginning to despair of ever sleeping again... sorely tired... dog is on watch, eyes wide and scenting the breeze from the box fan. That taste behind the palate when something is not right, tears gone to dry grief. There is no peace when I lie down to rest. When I am upright and doing, there is some distraction. Truth be told, experience knows that while the pain will never begone, sharpness will fade and scars will make a home for pain to live. It seems to me that misery and grace dance hand in hand through our lives, sometimes one leads, and sometimes the other. I'd not give up the grace and joy, to be spared the sorrow.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

it has affected my appetite

very grateful for any small blessings - Today daylight rising to a soft grey morning, rain like the touch of a gentle hand... for Girl who hides from the relentless summer sun and heat, this is a very welcome gift, as is the kindhearted company of my friends...

Looking westward on a soft July evening, and glad to share what beauty my eyes find...

Our plucky heroine is very grateful to Silverdale Karen for the gift of conviviality. In great sorrow, the body does not really want food, being denied the true nourishment desired. It was possible, though to eat at least some of this incredible scallop and grilled asparagus meal on Friday at Wilfs Restaurant. It is hard to tell from the picture, but those scallops were over an inch and a half in diameter and perfectly cooked. It was heartsease to sit with some of my dear friends and hear the tales of their adventurous week, and to have the lovely sounds of the most melodious live jazz as the sound track.


On Saturday, Nicole and I went out berrypicking, south of the city near Canby. Came home with eight pounds of blueberries, destined for the freezer; (though Barret has spoken words about blueberry pie) as well as a pound of mixed gooseberries and a pound of blackcurrant. Those are both intended to become either jam or syrup, to save a bit of the summer for the heart of next winter, when that taste of sunwarmth will be welcome.


I have been truly enjoying the needlework techniques put forth in the books by Natalie Chanin. This video shows a bit more about the where and why and who, and is a treat to watch:


...wandered round the Great Big Antique Show this afternoon with Stacy and Barret; these two tiny things followed me home. The black sheep cup is destined to become the base of a pincushion, and the watchface will be one component in a steampunk style pendant. (Not sure the seller realised that the $2 watchface was actually silver with some really sweet hand engraving). Am thinking about teaching a workshop on making pincushions from vintage china and felt and fabric... it is a lot of fun. I made some last winter from egg cups, with tiny trees (inspired by Mimi Kirchner and Jennifer Murphy)... stay tuned for future broadcasts

Friday, July 13, 2012

two flowers

"To see that your life is a story
while you're in the middle of living it
may be a help to living it well."

~ Ursula LeGuin

Life continues in unrelenting dailiness; beauty is the counterbalance to pain. And if I have learned nothing else, and indeed, our plucky heroine has learned quite a bit more than that over the years, it is that healing comes in time, it's own time to be sure, but it does come, as long as there is breath.

Finished work on the bluerose pinafore panel yesterday. Added transparent grey seed beads stitched on with blue thread as accents to the center of the rose and as "rose thorns" on the stems.

The tomatillo plants, transported with much adventure from my dear friend Mindy in OlyWa to here, and planted in the side yard, are doing well; look they now have flowers! Fingers crossed that there will be homegrown salsa verde. A jalapeno pepper from New Seasons will soon be joining them in the side garden...

because it's True...

dog is on guard
will not sleep