Image Slider

squares and loops

| On
Monday, May 30, 2011
spring quilt project
I promised Maggie I'd upload some pictures of the little quilt I finished earlier this month.  Here they are! If you look closely, you can see my current pedicure. (I took this picture less than an hour ago.)

spring quilt project
and here's the back - I used an aqua dot instead of a solid and I LOVE IT SO.  You can't really tell from any of these pictures, but the binding fabric is yellow and has toast on it. I love that, too.  This is comfortably lap sized - not as big as a bed quilt, but generous for sitting on the couch and reading under. A good napping quilt.

spring quilt project
Loop-de-loop. My second attempt at machine quilting. I think this one was harder, for some reason. I used a variegated thread that runs from pale yellow to orange.  I see a million mistakes, but overriding that (for once) is satisfaction that it's DONE and the cheerful squares and variegated wiggly loops make me happy.

spring quilt project
These back tracks are a way to enjoy the fabric on the front in a slightly bigger slice. I like that, too. This was from Elizabeth Hartman's  Practical Guide to Patchwork - she writes excellent instructions. She's got a lot of basic instruction and plain old good reading on her blog Oh, Fransson! - check it out!

I said ice cream

| On
Sunday, May 29, 2011
strawberry milkshake
Here is the promised ice cream to follow my last post.

MILKSHAKE! It was made from strawberry ice cream and served in a huge and heavy glass. I don't even know how to describe how big it was - maybe not quite as tall as my forearm? In that region. This milkshake was so big I couldn't finish it, and I REALLY wanted to finish it. The woman who made it even gave me extra on the side milkshake since it didn't all fit in the glass that was so heavy and so tall. I struggled valiantly to do justice and drink it to the bottom, but it was not to be.

mom's sundae
Mom's chocolate sundae. She wanted hot fudge, but they were out so she had chocolate sauce along with a tiny bit of whipped cream instead.

soda fountain
This soda fountain was in Tolly's restaurant in Oakland, Oregon. I think the building used to be the old drugstore. It's brick and charming - especially the bar at the soda fountain. We weren't even planning on going in, but mom saw that they had a soda fountain (serving ice cream) and said OH HELL YES. (except my mom doesn't swear, so it was her version of OH HELL YES, which is mostly accomplished by stubborn body language - a way of standing that says "we're not leaving this town until I have ice cream." It's not like I was going to argue with her about it.)

soda fountain
I love the old soda pumps. I'm not sure how these worked  - my guess is that the flavored syrup came out of these, with soda water on top? Something like that?

This makes me think of Creep by Radiohead because sometimes my brain seems to bounce to literal associations: they sing special, this says special. SO VERY SPECIAL. I mean, it doesn't go with the song at all! Radiohead says What the hell am I doing here? and I think  I'm eating ice cream. 

soda fountain swans
These look like swans, don't they? The one on the left has the word SUPERCOLD running up the back of its neck. I'm still reading that fairy tale collection and there are a LOT OF SWANS. Or people who used to be swans. Actually, people who were people first, then swans, then back to people or people with one swan wing. As you might imagine, this can cause spiritual and mental distress.

soda fountain
This is a picture of a picture from inside the museum/historical society. (Yes, I go to small town museums AND I LIKE IT.) I don't think this is the same soda fountain, but I love the photo - same soda/syrup dispensers! Love the gibson girl (sorta) poofy hair! The cup of straws!  LOVE!

near, far

| On
Thursday, May 26, 2011
knock on the door
I finally got some of my April road trip pictures uploaded! These are from Oakland, Oregon. I love this door detail.

And here is the door from far away. There's a lotta bricks in Oakland.  Also, ice cream. (ice cream to follow.)

In other news, I am ridiculously excited that the lady who cuts my hair now has an online appointment system, as I had an irrational dread of making appointments. Now I do not, and I'm getting my hair cut today, hooray! (It was getting long and I was getting that uncomfortable feeling that it was actively plotting against me.)

ALSO! I have unearthed a quilt project from the nineties! It was from a class and I never finished it because I got busy or went crazy or something like that. It's extra-satisfying to work on it and know not only am I finishing something long in limbo,  it will be one less box hanging around taunting me. (and one more quilt on my bed.)

Rereading the last two paragraphs, I wonder if I have some sort of personification problem. But maybe it's just a (totally normal!) way to deal with the basic craziness of life on earth. Yeah! So my hair is plotting and the boxes are taunting, but there's some kind of squirrel party* happening in the tree out my window, so it probably all balances out, right? Right.

*I believe they are moving their squirrel babies to the cedar tree out front.

meanwhile, back at the ranch

| On
Sunday, May 22, 2011
• Today at the library there was a little boy very excited to get his first library card. He'd recently had a birthday - which he informed me meant he was old enough to get a card, thank you very much. (We issue cards to babies, so he was certainly old enough in our eyes.) I didn't do the paperwork, but I was at the other desk while his grandmother made my coworker re-enact the handing off of the new library card because she didn't have her camera ready when it actually happened. It was very cute! I kept seeing camera flashes all over the library, so I assume she got him picking out his first books as an official library patron as well.  He was very proud and we were all charmed.

• I downloaded Lady Gaga's new record because Amazon mp3 is having a sale: .99! It's not a purchase I was necessarily planning on making, but she was game on SNL and I'm happy to help boost her opening weekend numbers. (If that's what I'm doing. I have a vague sense that that's what this is all about.) And come on! .99!!! I would pay that for Born This Way, and now I get that plus 13 other songs AND the digital booklet that amazon seems very excited about. Maybe in the booklet, Gaga transforms into things other than a motorcycle. Maybe Lady Centaur, Leslie Knope-style! (note: I cannot find the booklet, but it's okay because I'm amusing myself with what I imagine might be in it: half Gaga, half yacht! etc.)

• According to the link above, the price is only good through Monday, so act now.

•I just started reading My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me and I love it already. I'm still in the introduction, but hell yeah! Many favorite authors have contributed a story, including Amy Bender, Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, and MORE.  From the introduction: "I have a sense that a proliferation of magical stories, especially fairy tales, is correlated to a growing awareness of human separation from the wild and natural world. In fairy tales, the human and animal worlds are equal and mutually dependent. The violence, suffering, and beauty are shared."  Yes! Everyone's always turning into a bear in fairy tales. Which reminds me of this:

Here's a bit about the goal of the project: "The goal was to bring together a variety of writers--in true fairy-tale spirit, not only those widely known; I sought out writers whose work had suggested "fairy tales" to me, whether in obvious or subtle ways. Initiating the process, I asked merely that writers select a fairy tale as a starting point and to take it from there, to write a new fairy tale."  Anyway - I'm very much looking forward to reading beyond the introduction, so I'm going to go do that right now.

Fadeaway Girl

| On
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Fadeaway Girl by Martha Grimes  --

This book is the most recent installment in Grimes’ Emma Graham stories. I’m so fond of this series - Emma’s one of my favorite young girls in literature. She’s twelve and smart - just at the border of her childhood, she’s believably self-aware and believably dramatic enough to mourn the loss. She’s a romantic and a dreamer, but also curious, clever, stubborn, and willful. Grimes does such a wonderful job expressing these aspects of Emma while expertly laying out the story that’s been unspooling for the whole series. (There is a long-ago murder, there are old secrets, new secrets, stolen babies, mistaken identities, and characters with wonderful names like Carl Mooma, Fern Queen, Ree-Jane Davidow, Mr. Butternut, etc. Grimes has always had a way with character names.)

Emma’s an intrepid cub reporter, detective, cocktail inventor, waitress, busybody, sneaky prankster, and cinephile. Her world is pretty large, considering that she’s too young to drive; I love her friendships and sometimes adversarial relationships with the adults around town - she’s taken seriously because she takes herself seriously.

The setting of these stories is a faded family-owned resort hotel in a small town near the water (in Maryland? Yes! I just found it - “This is a little town on the tag end of Maryland, nearly in West Virginia—“ ). Emma’s mother, Jen Graham, is the chef and everyone will tell you (particularly Emma) that no one can cook like she can cook. Food is a feature and I’m always hungry when I read these. Emma’s older brother Will is some kind of showbiz prodigy who is always putting on entertainments in the barn. (I love the comic glimpses we get of his spectaculars, which almost always involve pulleys, fake beards, and explosions.)

The year is never explicitly stated, but I’d guess the books are set somewhere at the end of the 50s or early 60s. It’s not a big deal as the stories happen almost out of time, but it helps explain the cost of things (Emma takes taxis and is a regular at the Rainbow Cafe, among other eateries) and the pace of things, which is slower than a lot of mystery stories. (Not that the late 50s or early 60s were inherently slower in some sort of olden times walking in molasses way, just that there’s not that modern technological internet cell phone soccer practice hustle bustle.) I think they must take place in summer, because Emma’s never in school. This also allows for lots of daylight investigating. However, Emma being Emma, she does manage to get herself into some scary after-dark scrapes.

Here’s a pull quote from the back cover from the New York Times Book Review: “Grimes saves her loveliest writing for the gloomy images of empty train station and tumbledown houses in which Emma takes such a melancholy pleasure…. an explosive comic exuberance.” Emma really does have a connoisseur’s appreciation of the melancholy pleasure.

If you decide that this sounds like something you’d like to read (it’s not for everyone), definitely start with the first book - there is one central mystery that keeps spiraling out and you’d miss a lot not to begin at the beginning. (FOUR STARS, read in March 2011.)

Here’s the order of the previous books:
#1 Hotel Paradise
#2 Cold Flat Junction
#3 Belle Ruin

Book cover bonus: both cover art and title refer to artist Coles Phillips who did a lot of work for magazines and advertising. Click on the link to see more.

If you like looking at book covers in general (I really do), check out Book Covers Anonymous  and CoverSpy.

so bright and not so bright

| On
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
1895 moon bookplate available for purchase: here. 
Full moons happen once a month, but living in the often cloudy pacific northwest I don't always see it.  Tonight it's very bright and shining right into my window through a space in the tree. (If I squint I can make it hide behind a branch, but that game is only fun for so long.)

All this looking out of windows reminds me of the other night when I was up WAY TOO LATE and was so very sleepy. When I get that tired, I start hallucinating just a little bit - I'll see things or feel some phantom cat jump on the bed, but sometimes it's noises - someone calling my name, that kind of thing. It doesn't happen a lot! Just enough to freak me out when I'm super tired. On this particular night I heard a sound like a high pressure air hose -  I just put air in my tires, so that's what came to mind. Once I figured that out, I was all relieved in a ridiculous late night way: "Oh, phew! They're filling up tires behind the bar at 2AM, nothing for me to worry about." (Maybe I should note that there's a bar/tavern on the corner and thanks to the peculiar science of sound I hear a lot more back alley shenanigans than I'd like. Which would be ZERO back alley shenanigans, with maybe 3 annual exemptions for drunken Happy Birthday singing.)

Before I could get pillows over my ears to block the noise, I thought I heard something land on the roof.  NOOOOOOO! Of course I was convinced that whatever it was, it was going to explode and it would be all my fault for not doing something (my 2AM mind wasn't clear on what). By that time my poor tired brain started doing what I think is its new favorite party trick: what would scare Jen most? Let's conjure that up.  I became convinced that if I looked out the window, some horror movie scary thing (like a dinosaur, but monster-y) would slap the glass and I'd have a heart attack and fall down the stairs and die, blah blah blah. I summoned my last little shreds of reason and went to bed immediately.

The next morning there was some kind of propeller toy thing on the roof. I'm glad that a) it didn't explode, b) the drunken jackhole who sent it there is deprived of his air hose toy. I was also perversely glad that I didn't hallucinate the whole thing.

later that day

| On
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
after I wrote the previous post, I went outside and started digging up dandelions from the yard. It's that time of year and they're EVERYWHERE. Did you know there's a special tool? There is! Of course there are more dandelions than I'll ever be able to get even with a special tool, but still I try. I didn't pull this one up because it looked so pretty in the middle of these purple flowers.

bright tulip

The inside of a tulip! I love the red here and the wiggly spider-leg stamens.

leopard's bane
This is Leopard's Bane! This particular one is spent, but I love the curl of the petals and the yellow light. They look good in bud, in bloom, and beyond.

pink azalea
Pink azaleas and the last picture before I put the camera away and resumed dandelion warfare. (The Dandelion War only lasted about 4 minutes, post-photography.)

sunny afternoon

| On
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The sun is finally shining! Like, with shadows and everything.

There is so much to catch up on which was starting to overwhelm me, so I thought I'd write this little note more as a blog ice-breaker for myself than anything else. THE SUN IS SHINING.

other things:

•I saw a yellow bird in a front yard tree - not a goldfinch, not a canary, not big bird. I'm not sure what it was, but I hope it hangs around. Unless it's some kind of  human flesh-eating bird, in which case I hope it goes away.

•Crafty Wonderland was on Saturday. I saw many beautiful things!

•I'm reading A Discovery of Witches, which is thoroughly addicting. It has witches, vampires, alchemy and an academic library. (I KNOW, RIGHT?) Also a lot about wine that's very interesting.  It's over 600 pages and the first of a trilogy whose second and third books have yet to be written and I don't even care. Ooh, here's a little not-giving-much-away review.

• I finished the little quilt I was making! It's super cute and I shamelessly took it with me to the library when I went in to pick up my holds so I could make everyone look at it. When I got exactly what I hoped for (praise), I suddenly got embarrassed and started saying things like "it's only little" and trying to fold it up and put it back in my bag while people were still looking at it.

•Now I have to decide what to make next. I have been making fairly simple pieces with the idea that I  could finish them without too much agony and feel accomplished. Now I think I want to take on something a little more challenging, but I haven't decided what.  HMMM.

•I'm going back out into the sun while it lasts.

too marvelous to be understood

| On
Friday, May 06, 2011
blue glass


Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
  to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
  mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
  in allegiance with gravity
    while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
  never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
  scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
  who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
    "Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
  and bow their heads.

Mary Oliver, from Evidence: Poems

This was one of the poem in your pocket poems I found at the library. I like it very much!

(the photo is from the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. They were closed when I was there, but this was outside. I need to go back.)

rich girl

| On
Thursday, May 05, 2011

Please enjoy these now out of season yellow daffodils (the photo is from March). Yesterday was BEAUTIFUL, with the sun shining, bees buzzing and tiny little bluebirds synchronized-swim-spelling my name in the birdbath. (some of this is contra-factual.) (I don't even know if contra-factual is a thing or not, but you know what I mean.) Anyway - yesterday was great! Even if I did have to google "omg what is that smell, I think something died under the house." (Google suggests quick lime and time.) I planted plants, went to a nursery and read in the sun. Were there other things I maybe should have been doing? Of course, but the SUN was SHINING.

After I got home from trivia (we came in 3rd) I discovered that according to the weatherman, today was going to less sun, more rain, p.s. that 80 degree day we promised is delayed. But who cares? The sun will shine eventually and it will be WONDERFUL, la la la let us praise the pleasures of anticipation. (I care, but I'm trying to put a good face on it. In my heart of hearts I want the sun and I want it now! - Veruca Salt stamping foot style.)

silver falls
(another sun flare in the rain forest picture. I love them forever.)

In other news, the book I'm reading (Among Others by Jo Walton) is SO GOOD. I wasn't even sure I was going to get to it - I'd heard good things, but the blurb on goodreads didn't excite me too much and I had just a couple of days before I had to return it to the library. But since one of my goals as a reader is to stretch out and all that jazz, I decided to give it the 50 page test.  So glad I did!  I'm about halfway through it now - it reminds me a lot of I Capture the Castle with its first person teenaged girl narrator who is sometimes too smart for her own good.  More on this after I finish. Books that surprise me like this make me so glad I read.


Sometimes I wake up with a song stuck in my head -  yesterday it was Rich Girl by Hall and Oates (see below). I blame Freegal and Leslie, who mentioned one week that she was using her Freegal downloads for Hall and Oates. I promptly copied her. Freegal is a pretty sweet deal - if you don't live in Portland, check your local library to see if they also offer it. Tip for my fellow Portlanders - your weekly allotment expires at 9pm on Sunday nights! I thought it was midnight, and it is but only on the east coast. Now I try to remember during the week so I don't accidentally miss my 3 free songs. I've been using it as a time machine (Manic Monday) and for Glee songs (What? I NEEDED to hear the Warblers sing Bills, Bills, Bills again and again), and for Ke$ha singles. (The guy who runs trivia uses her lyrics a lot so at first it was for that, but now it's because I get genuine pop single pleasure from listening to them.)