Friday, December 31, 2010


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Two PLAYDAYS in one week make for much color exploration and fun. I marvel at how we all approach the creative and learning processes in totally different ways. Since there are NO RULES in dyeing fabric, I'm regularly observing new and interesting ways to achieve new and interesting effects on cloth. I have a tendency to try the same old tried and true methods that consistently serve me well, but as an observer this week (8 different women coming to my studio), I have been privvy to other ideas that push my brain in new directions. These new dyers think that they are the learners in these sessions; if they only knew how much I am gathering and learning as the outsider looking in.
 This week we had Pam, Robyn, and Ann trying out some beautiful striping patterns. Anne was back to work on embellishing the personalized pillows for her grandbabies. Kathi too was  planning and prepping for more grandbaby projects. She brought amazing photos of the fabric books she created last summer and now she's dyeing up more for an advent calendar. Nancy showed us the collage she's working on (Surfer Boy in Mazatlan!) and then proceeded to dye up 3 gorgeous rainbow palettes in preparation for new dining room chair covers. Sue brought in an old chenille rug and attempted to "stripe" it. (Not sure of the outcome there as she took it home for a second go-round of dyeing.) Filter wraps were popular methods this week and Ann shows one of hers here.
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And Bobbi took her time to create this amazing spiral print. When she finished it, she dipped it in a lemon yellow was gorgeous!
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Two PLAYDAYS in one week make for much color exploration and fun! 

Sunday, December 26, 2010


 from the beach 040
On our last PLAY DAY, Heather was exploring stripes and started wondering about turning those stripes to create a plaid. “I’ve always wanted to try that”, I told her…”Go for it!” She pleated and dyed, rinsed, then turn it a good 90 degrees for another sequence.  After about eight color go-rounds, she had a beautiful plaid. Her first plaid palette was with yellows, reds and blues, and then she tried another with yellows, greens and blues. Beautiful! And wouldn’t you know that Heather is from Scotland. There must be a little bit of plaid in her blood.
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If you're in Mazatlan and want to join in on a fabric PLAY DAY, just drop me an email ( and I'll sign you up for a Tuesday or Thursday session. A little bit of play with friends (old or new) makes for a very good day!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


from driver 658Oh, it's great to be back in Mazatlan! The friends, the culture, the colors and the festivities!

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And that sun! We left chilly and gray Oregon to enter the warm winter days of Mexico. To the locals, this is a cool winter, but for us, it's perfect. Of course one of our first days was to visit beautiful Stone Island with its breathtaking beaches and leisurely palapa restaurants.

from driver 182
Restaurants? Food? This year I'm finding I have much less energy to cook at home. Heck, it's hard to put together a meal for the price of street food. And so delicious too! We've been hopping on Tom's scooter and searching for new and interesting places.

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And all the beautiful textiles and crafts here. I've been busy getting my own studio set up for fun winter playdays! Check my class schedule to see what I have in store.

Yes, we've been busy in the 10 days we've been here. Maybe that's why we both started feeling a bit punky the other day. Now we're both laying low with "la gripa" (bad colds), but thinking of all the wonderful ways we're going to take advantage of this wonderful scene once we're feeling better!
from driver 8458

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


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Cribbage.  This game is a mainstay of our marriage. My husband, Tom, taught me to play 30+ years ago and rarely a day goes by that we don’t play. Somewhere around 4 or 5 pm, we stop whatever activity we’re up to and join together at the dining room table, cocktail and snack on board, and play our best two out of three game match. Keeping score on a piece of masking tape affixed to our crib board adds to the competitive spirit. There is no prize for the winner, just the opportunity to gloat and rub in the loss to the loser. The tourney ends when we pack up and move to our next station in our gypsy lifestyle.
I wanted to play with design elements on this one: shape, line, angle, number, balance, etc. I “bleach-dotted” some colored strips to resemble crib boards, arranged and rearranged, then found space for buttons in lines of five to add a bit of interest.  I bound it in white and wrote out scoring sequences around the perimeter.
Tonight was our last match of this tourney…bright and early tomorrow morning we leave for Mexico where we’ll start another strip of masking tape on our crib board. And thank goodness because I lost horribly in this one and I HATE TO LOSE! Tomorrow is a new beginning!

Monday, November 22, 2010


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It's journal time again. This small monthly activity is sometimes the only thread of fiber connection I can conjure up. Thank goodness for quilt journals! This month's focus, from the MASTERS, was brought forth by Terri, who seems to always come up with good artistic challenges. In my mental ruminations, I felt I had two options for approaching this: to study the style of one of the masters and create my own piece in that style, or to just replicate a piece in fabric. With my busy and disheveled life, smack dab in the middle of  remodeling projects, I chose the latter.
One of the things I love so much about my new town, Jacksonville, Oregon, is the library. In my summer spot of Refuge Cove, the closest thing we have to a library is a tiny book exchange. In Mexico, there is a great gringo library, but mostly filled with donations over a period of 10+ years. No interlibrary loan, no search engines. Mostly I am forced to bring along my own books to keep my reading spirit fed, and I'm always checking with friends to see what they have available. Here, I am a 15 minute walk away from a small but beautiful building that has the world at my fingertips. So on a lovely fall day I headed downtown to check out books of the MASTERS.
Dali, Degas, Renoir, Matisse, Monet, van Gogh... I spent a lovely hour perusing through these books to see what would jump out at me. What was I most attracted to? What could I handle in fabric? It was the color, shape, line and abstarct qualities of Henri Matisse that led me to focus on his work. And from there I chose his 1950 piece "Zulma" (he was 80 at the time) to recreate.
I dug out my stash of hand-dyes to look for potential colors. I started slowly (hand stitching all the way) with the shapes of the background, moved into the side tables and then struggled with the body form. Achieving that perfect drape and stance next to the table was tricky. And then when done, my form was so much more MATURE than his. But I let it go and continued. After all, mature figures are a good thing, as I tell myself these days! I know, many fiber artists use transferring tricks and materials to get the perfect copy, but that's never been my thing. There's something about the "look and cut" method that I far it works for me!
I was just about ready to leave off the two vases but then decided to go for it. The stark white against the colors of this piece seemed to be quite an anomoly to me, so I chose to go with buttons which also stand out in this piece. I'm happy with those little white buttons.  The eye is drawn to them, but then back to the colors, the shapes, the lines. There's much going on of interest in my little piece.
Thanks again Terri, for your MASTERS challenge!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I've been doing a lot of nothing lately. At least with fabric. I do have a few hand stitching projects nested next to my "spot" on the couch, and occasionally they get a few more stitches added to them, but mostly I've been involved in our "extreme mobile makeover" project here in southern Oregon. It's a two month project to set ourselves up with a little home between our frequent travels between Canada and Mexico. We've been ripping and tearing, digging and planting, and just plain having a pretty good time.
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You see, southern Oregon is an amazingly beautiful area. Add autumn to it and you've got a prize winning setting. And to top it off, there's an amazing wealth of  fiber artists here. My friend and neighbor from Alaska, Christine, is one of them. I certainly have an inside track into the fiber arts scene with Christine. I've already had a couple of dye days, and one evening I wiggled my way into a crowded living room of women who have organized themselves into a mini guild with an art twist. They most recently created a "River" project that shows 20+ individual quilts connected side by side as if it flows along the banks of the local Rogue River and its valley. A treasure for sure. The talent and enthusiasm was emanating from their beings!  So midst my metal sculpting (trailer renewal), I've found very inspiring ways to keep my passion going.
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So these fall days I just live vicariously through my friends, both old and new.  Here Christine shows off her hand dyed, then bleached (discharged) bag that she whipped up one afternoon. Hmmmmm.... love that dreamcatcher motif, Christine! I think I'm going to like it here in Southern Oregon just fine!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


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Next to my TOILET in our summer home in Refuge Cove is a painted mask of a GOAT. The background for this west coast Native piece is weathered barn wood.   I love northwest art and when I was hanging my eclectic collection around the house when we first moved in, the GOAT piece was the last to go up. Despite its sentimental value, I never found another spot for it and it resides in my bathroom to this day.
When “masks” was introduced as the October assignment for our quilt journals, I knew what I would do.  I took a photo of the GOAT and cropped it so that when I printed it out onto 8½”x11”paper, the size was perfect for transferring onto my fabric. I chose a hand-dyed piece that had a similar weathered barn wood look for the background, and simply put them both up to a window on a sunny day and proceeded to draw the outline of the mask details with a black “sharpie”.  Now all I had to do was color in the lines with my new Shiva Paintsticks. Finally, I sliced it with my rotary to represent the barn boards and placed it on a backdrop of black cotton. My current living situation is such that handwork is a better option than machine work, so that was my choice for finishing off my piece, along with a few buttons for eyes and teeth.
At the bottom of the original piece, the word GOAT is written in white on the left, and the artist’s initials are on the right. I found I didn’t plan for that, and was stuck with a tiny slice of black background on the border in which to squeeze my altered words.
So why is this GOAT so sentimental? I purchased this piece as a birthday gift for my dad about 30 years ago. I was working at Mt. Rainier National Park, a place he too worked as a young person, and found it among the NW art treasures in the gift shop. I knew my dad would like it as he too was a lover of west coast Native art. He chose his patio as the display point for the GOAT. When he passed away 15 years ago, I was happy to receive it back into my life as a special reminder of my dad.
As adolescents, my brothers and I secretly called him “Art the fart”, or a casual friend might have referred to him as “Arturo”.  His undecipherable, scrawly signature somehow displayed “ABC Jr.” But most of the time I just called him “dad”.
Born in 1915 to Gertrude and Kim, he was the oldest of five boys and one girl, all raised in an ultra-Catholic home in Tacoma, Washington. He lived through the depression, avoided WWII with his bad eyes, and spent his career as an insurance broker in his father’s business. He married my mother, Mary, and together they raised four children in the Catholic tradition. But my father had a conflicted inner world, perhaps as a result of pressures from being the first born, and slowly grew distant from my mother, divorcing after 20+ years. He had two other marriages (the last which was happy through his final days) and battled with alcohol (in the closet). He loved traveling and was keen on accompanying his travel-agent wife on the many trips she organized around the world. He always stayed close with his siblings and their families. Multiple cancers got him in the end and he died at home at the age of 78.
But my memories are unique. I remember his large record collection and loved to hear his newest acquisition. He taught tennis to the neighborhood kids at a local court, loved gardening, and wore flashy clothes. After my parents divorced, I was estranged from him for about 4 years, probably through anger and confusion, but we later reconciled and maintained a strong relationship from then on. He was always my supporter, there for me through thick and thin, without questions. I’ll never forget his words to me as I was floundering through life in my early 20’s: “no matter what you choose to do in life, I’ll always love you”. Those words gave me the freedom to live my life according to my own personal values, and to this day I try to extend that message to my own son.
So my altered words at the bottom of this piece read “my old goat…ABC Jr.”
And first on my list is to move the original OUT of the bathroom to a place of much greater honor.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


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I've been traveling's that time of the year for me. It must be the migration thing...that pull, that force that says "go". In our case, it was "go south", and my pull was to attend this year's wonderful quilting event, Hands Across the Waters. And it just so happens that my guild, Quadra Quilters, was the sponsoring party for this five guild event that annually celebrates quilting on upper Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and the Discovery Islands. Typically this is just a one day gig, but Quadra always seems to know how to do it up right. We extended by two more days and offered some great classes taught by talented women. And I couldn't say no to those classes! Plus it was also a chance to hang out with my quilting friends. Hosted by Joan at her very special Open Bay cabin for 3 nights, my friend Jan and I had one great quilting weekend.oct. 2010 035
My two classes focused on applique. Ursula Riegel taught me everything I wanted to know about hand applique. Being self taught, I always seemed to struggle with it and I inately believed there must be a better way. Ursula, definitely the queen of this craft, set me straight. Plus, I had never tried reverse applique and now I know all the tricks. (Just have to practice!) Daphne Greig, on the other hand, helped my explore applique using fusibles and let us play with our decorative stitches to accent them. I didn't come out of these classes with any finished projects, but certainly a good amount of hands on practice and a much better handle on tips and techniques.
During breaks, I would run around to see what other groups were doing: ripless paper piecing, a play session with embellishments, and thread play to create bark and branches. Amazing things were happening!
The luncheon on Saturday was a chance for 200 of us to come together, see old friends and meet new ones, see what local vendors had to offer, check out the challenge entries (theme of "nature"), hear keynote speaker Karla Thompson share her wit , wisdom and beautiful quilts, and experience the generosity that Quadra extends to each visitor. 
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010


guild...summer challenge 012Yes, that's what I think about is what it is.
It's the end of another Refuge Cove summer, and now we're off on the next adventure awaiting us in Jacksonville, OR. But its those unknown, invisible curve balls that are the really interesting parts of life. They test your soul and check your resiliency. Whether it's a husband with a few border crossing issues, or a grandson who shows up on your doorstep, or a creative project that doesn't quite turn out quite as you planned, or something coming at you unexpectedly, out of the blue, there is something amazing to be found in all of it. It is what it is, so hop on, and enjoy the ride. It's one of the great things about being retired - the ability to shift gears and grab on to new things as they pass by.
Adios Refuge Cove, see you next year!
(This little project was done as a class sampler last winter. It still sits as an unfinished piece, but I love the way the discharging turned out. This project taught me that its more important to plan your design around the seam lines  - rather than just positioning symmetrically -  as the change of colors is what really makes it interesting.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


sept.10 041Sometimes (maybe more often than not) modern technology just doesn't quite fit the bill. Here in Refuge Cove, we are on a creek system as our water source. Since summer droughts typically bring on water issues in our small community, we decided to purchase a lovely water-saving, front-loading Whirpool washer last year. It was expensive and heavy (a huge issue for us as we haul it from the truck, down the ramp, into the skiff, across the water, onto the beach, in our old beater freight truck, up the hill and into the house), but we wanted that water-saving feature. Needless to say, my hand-dyes just don't wash out as well, retaining much more dye than I'd like. A few of my customers who purchased fat quarter bundles commented on the "running". I cringed, and started to put them through TWO energy efficiency was going "down the drain" so to speak.
We have had a cool and wet September. I decided our abundant water would be put to good use in my low-tech tub. After this rinse, I put them in my washer on "quick wash" that's a saving!

Friday, September 10, 2010


guild...summer challenge 028
One of the challenges of summer is finding time to quilt! But these women did, and entered this year's "summer challenge". Yesterday was our first quilt guild meeting after a long, lovely summer. It's always great to connect with old friends, see what's new in their lives, check out quilts and projects they're working on, and hear what's on the guild's agenda for the year. (Quadra is sponsoring the five guild "Hands Across the Waters" 3 day event in early that's an agenda!)
As last year's winner, it was my job to organize the event, which involved handing out a fat quarter of fabric that each entrant must use, and establishing a theme. I chose the theme of "inspired from a photo" as I've enjoyed the challenge of doing that myself a few times. So here's a close up of the six entries.
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This sunflower was the winner (most votes) and Barb Round took a round of applause , a stack of hand-dyed fat quarters as a prize, and the honor of organizing next year's challenge. Congrats to Barb and all other entrants for a job well done!

Friday, September 3, 2010


rubbings 001
I was pondering Marci’s “rubbing” idea for our journal quilt assignment and had thoughts of using crayons for rubbing, an iron for setting, and an array of textured pieces, etc., when I accidently discovered something totally different. That’s how it works sometimes, isn’t it?
In Mexico I buy a brightly printed, plastic material for my picnic table up north, and every few years I need a replacement piece because of fading, etc. This year I brought back an extra-long piece and used this remnant to protect a piece of plywood that I use in my studio.
Two days ago it was super rainy and this was the perfect opportunity to get out my thickened dyes and try some painting. I was in a salmon mood, so prepped my space for painting a few of these fish. I didn’t want the bright, colorful distraction of the plastic print behind my cloth, so turned it over and put the white side up. I painted two similar 14”x14” pieces and I discovered that when I picked them up to set them off to the side for drying, there was a residue left behind. I decided to set a piece of cloth on top of it and I watched a light waffle texture appear along with the paint left behind. I rubbed it a little and more appeared. That’s when I started moving my intentions towards journal quilting.
The next go round I just painted one lone salmon onto the white texture, added some bluish, watery color on the outside of it and then pressed my fabric onto it. That’s what you see above. Isn’t it perfect for the bottom side of the salmon?
I now wanted to rub the sense of a fish net onto some cloth for accent fabric. I found some old net, cut a piece the size of my large dyeing tray, and soaked it in a thickened bleach solution for a few minutes. In this case, I used Clorox toilet bowl cleaner with bleach because it is a thinner consistency and I thought would have better coverage on the netting.  I spread it onto the tray and then set a folded piece of black on top. I wanted to rub and get the full effect of the net texture, but I knew that if my roller picked up the moisture, I would drag it across the fabric and it would smear and ruin it. I picked out a random orange piece that I didn’t like very well, folded that in half and set it on top of the black. I was now pretty well assured that the moisture wouldn’t soak through. I rubbed and rolled and then pulled the pieces off and set them to the side for 10 minutes or so before I rinsed them. I loved them, and the orange piece that I didn’t care for as a solid now had new interest for me.
I constructed my pieces with simple strips and finished it off with some abalone buttons that I’ve been saving for the perfect occasion…this was it. They are the rocks where the salmon lay their eggs which I feel are represented by the lovely thin strip of “salmon” color.
I now have a stack of so-so fabric waiting to get the “net effect”. I really do love accidental discoveries!

Monday, August 30, 2010


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Here we go on another journal quilt. This was really fun.
I’m not sure what little bird of an idea flew into my head one night, but it all started with wanting to try a continuous line drawing of myself and then coloring it in. I also was encouraged by Shawna’s painting she did (her son flying over the ramp on his bike) and Dawn’s comment on the class she took where she stitched first, painted later.  Thanks ladies! (These are fellow journalers.)
I went to the bathroom mirror with paper and pencil and did a quick two step (line) drawing, first my face and then the hair. It was a bit congested around the nose, but other than that, I could live with it.
I prepared my sandwich of white cotton on both sides with batting in between, and proceeded to reproduce my self-portrait that I had previously done on paper. So far, so good! (I actually took pictures of all these steps but somehow lost them when I was messing around with my camera last night.) And I realized that this was now reversible.
The next step was to soak my sandwich in soda ash, dry it, and press it. I mixed my dyes and thickened them with alginate. I first started with the portrait of my coastal B.C. self in the cool colors, and then flipped it over to paint my southern, Mexican self in the warm colors. I loved being able to try two completely different palettes of color on the same drawing.
As far as how I am connected to these pictures, these facts are true: 1) I have been wearing the same blue, round earrings for the whole summer!, 2) although I don’t have red hair, I have a ton of it in my genes, 3) I do not have blue eyes, 4) my hair is multi-color these days – brown, gold, reddish, gray, white, and 5) I was surprised about all those lumps and bumps and folds and furrows in the neck, chin and forehead areas. Oh well!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


stripes and all tied up 029
Journaling has become an important part of my creative life. When I first began, two years ago, it was more of a sampler session, a way to try new things on a small scale. Since then it has evolved into that and more - sometimes an intimate connection with a part of my life that might otherwise go untold, or an opportunity to share a snippet of my experience in fabric. I love having the pallette of journal assignments (themes) before me, free floating in the back of my mind, and like a slot machine or the cosmic planets, the plans and ideas all line up one day and I begin on another.
I recently had a week with 5 themes on my plate...that was a lot of ruminating!...and I took the plunge and knocked off two. The first, seen above, was in response to the idea of "stripes". Hmmmmmm....I had always wanted to try simple stripes and then re-stripe with bleach to form somewhat of a plaid. What would that look like? And that's what happened. I love it and now the wheels are turning on how I can incorporate this into a larger piece. Here's what it looked like before the bleaching...what a transformation, yes?
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My next theme I attached myself to was "All Tied Up". Suggested by Linda about 3 months prior, it became a most difficult assignment for me. She hinted that it had to do with how busy women's lives are, how at times we are all tied up with a million or two responsibilities (or three?). After struggling with that connection for a month or so, I had to finally let it go and move on to other "ties". The brainstorming began.
I had a photo floating around that I had taken last summer from the Refuge Cove dock. I loved the composition of the fleet of kayaks tied up together and knew that I would put it to fabric someday. The shapes, the colors, the lines of the dock all added such interest for me. And yes, they were "all tied up"! So, round one came out like this:
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I was preparing for a discharging class I was scheduled to teach and thought I'd take it one extra step and apply the thickened bleach (Soft Scrub with bleach) within the spirals of the water. And we all know what happens when bleach is applied...there's no turning back!
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I think it's a totally different piece. It's hard to know what to focus on at first until you realize what the subject is. I think I like the simplicity of the first one better, but I always love to try the "what if...?.  What do you think?
Summer is soon to be over. I think I better get in my kayak and go exploring...

Thursday, August 19, 2010


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Summer's bounty is still with us.  And that theme, "summer's bounty", was a quilt journal theme from way back in the early days of our that I never quite got around to, until now. It must be my current focus on harvesting and the amazing abundance that I am surrounded with that brought me back  to this theme.
For me, quilt journaling starts with this long rumination, a tossing and a turning, of thoughts and ideas and what ifs and maybes. Some blips on the brain frame immediately are tossed out because the project, even though 8.5"x11", is way more complicated than I want to commit to. In this case, it started with a list of some of my favorite summer bounties...beets, shrimp, peas on the vine, flowers, carrots, berries...and nothing quite grabbed me. I delved a little deeper...zucchini, nasturtiums, garlic...still no hits. Then I moved into jars and the pickling/canning process, and there I had it - kelp pickles! And with it a story of a person in my life connected to teaching me about making kelp pickles.
How to do it? (My piece, not the pickles!) This is really where the complicated tasks get canned. I had just finished an applique piece and had a brief moment of wanting to create a kelp bulb and frond in applique, but knew that would be WAY too much for my skills and patience. I could free motion, then discharge, but the kelp would be white/pink and I wanted it to be green. Soooooo....add another step, that being paint over the discharged part with green thickened dye, and I had it!
My ex-mother-in-law, Dorothy DeBoer, taught me how to make kelp pickles. We lived in the southeast Alaska community of Gustavus, and we spent a lot of time on the water – fishing, crabbing, traveling to Center Island for deer hunting, etc. In the summer, we’d come upon huge kelp beds, and if I had a 5 gallon bucket along, I would cut a bucket full of healthy looking 2 foot stalks and bring them back home. Dorothy was proficient at both pickles (rings) and relish, but I didn’t have a food processor so just made the rings (which are most delicious with a tuna sandwich!). She showed me how to soak them for 2 days to get the slime off prior to pickling. She also would make sure she had extra spices to share with me.
Dorothy was born and raised in Gustavus, and lived there with her 8 siblings, parents, and numerous relatives. As an adult, she became a teacher, and both she and her husband taught in the Juneau school system. She was Juneau’s first female principal, only after the school board’s request that she complete a doctorate.  After retiring, she spent much time doing world-wide ministry work for her church. She was an amazing woman.
But most of all, she was a good friend. Despite the fact that I divorced her son (yes, instigated by me), she remained connected, supportive and the best grandmother my son could ever ask for. He spent every summer with Dorothy and her husband, Charles, until they were unable to return to Gustavus. As a testimony to the power of these wonderful people, my son Ben has the most amazing tattoo of his grandfather on his arm. Maybe Dorothy will be portrayed on the other arm someday.
For me, I’ll just remember Dorothy every time I see this piece. And also be reminded of summer's bounty!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


chinook salmon 009
Here in coastal B.C., every waterway is  DOORWAY. It may be a doorway to distant lands, new adventure, or even a place for the imagination to activate. Its everywhere, inviting one to explore, to stretch, to grow. Whether traveling by sail, power, kayak or canoe, you can swim, fish, dig clams or beachcomb. Be it north, south, east or west, there are doorways at every turn.
August's theme for our Cyber Fibres group is DOORWAYS. My first thought was to replicate another piece I had already done called "Mazatlan's Doors", but I wanted to try something new, so put my thinking cap back on. I had tried a few raw-edged landscapes this summer and wanted to try more, so I pushed it to my next step of turned-edge applique using freezer paper like I have seen so many doing at my guild and elsewhere. I learned a few things on this piece: 1) this process takes a long time, 2) I could use a few lessons on better technique, 3) color value work isn't easy, and 4) that my camera's photo program has some neat features for enhancing your shot. Here I super-textured everything. Interesting effct isn't it?
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And I didn't use one speck of bleach!
I'd also like to take note of an amazing landscape project by the Rogue Art Quilters ( My friend Christine is a participant in this collective view of the Rogue River all created in art quilts. It is an amazing creation...well done Christine and group!

Monday, August 2, 2010


wickininish 016
I have a few "foodie" friends, but I myself don't quite fall into that category. Don't get me wrong ... I love to cook!  To me the term foodie indicates, among other things, that someone is using some hard to find ingredients and my lifestyle just doesn't go there. I've always lived in quirky places, be it Gustavus, Alaska, Mazatlan, or here at Refuge Cove, and I haven't exactly had shopping options at my fingertips. I'm a complete ignoramus regarding trendy food items and I'm not a food channel nut (sorry, no tv!). But I like good food. And that last post I wrote about my mom's pie crust just really got my food juices going.
Here at the Cove, I do one or two MAJOR shopping trips for our 5 months here. I hit on all the staples, then throw in a few extras which sets me up for about 50% of our summer grub. The rest is all local, split between the garden (mine or others), eggs from friends' chickens, honey from the local beekeeper, prawns, salmon, and cod from the sea, and our tiny store for everything else. There is one restaurant here in our community and they only serve burgers. Not that we don't like a good burger, but the food at home is WAY better, so why look elsewhere? Believe me, when I'm anywhere else, I'm the first to suggest going out so I don't have to cook, but here I'm in my glory. Home cooking, good home cooking.
wickininish 001
Kieran, one of the local teens, caught a 19 pound Chinook salmon last week, and last night we had a most amazing potluck. His grandpa Rick cooked it "wickininish" style - cold smoked all day(placed in a wooden box with the smoke vented from detached alder coals). It is my absolute favorite...incredibly moist and so full of those omega 3's! We all brought our favorite side dish and bottle of wine, and yes, there was a "joint effort" blueberry pie (I made the crust!, Barb picked the berries and made the pie) as the featured dessert. Here, Cathy is carrying the salmon from its cooking box to the table.
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Speaking of boxes AND Cathy, she just finished painting Rick's wickininish box, and this was its christening. You should have seen it with the smoke rolling out of it!
As for me, my awareness has truly been on food lately. (Maybe Thanksgiving should be celebrated in summer!) So much so, that I've got a thing going with aprons. All hand-dyed, one-of-a-kinds for sale down at Sandy's shop. Maybe a foodie or two will buy one. 
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Tonight I'm going to write this blog and then make pie crust. Mom's pie crust. My mom made the best apple pie west of the Mississippi and certainly the best pie crust in all of North America. At least in my book she did.
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When I was a young girl in Tacoma, Washington, we had fruit trees. The gravenstein apples trees were always our favorites and they provided my mom, Mary Comfort, with the wealth of resources  (apples, gravenstein apples) to perfect her apple pie. And that she did! Even after we moved from this place, she always seemed to find a source for gravensteins, and every August and September she became the human pie factory. There was nothing like my mom's hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream on the side. Nothing! She would make a whack  at a time (somewhere between 2 and 8), freeze them (unbaked) and provide for every festivity from then until Easter. Besides our family festivities, she was quite social, and always found an excuse to share her well-loved and reknowned apple pie.
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To me, summer is highlighted by apple pies, barbecue, garden goodies, fresh catch from the sea, berries, homemade wine (from the local u-brew, Good Libations!). That's exactly what it's all about here at Refuge Cove each summer. And right about now, the end of July, we are coming on the abundant season of wild edibles! Just today, we pulled our prawn traps (even snagged a crab in there), pulled some fresh beets from the garden, and got involved in a blueberry pie project with fresh berries picked yesterday in Bellingham, Washington. And that's just the delectable fare for today...tomorrow will be another food adventure, Refuge Cove style.
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My mom used Crisco. Here in Canada, many women use Tenderflake. I've been involved in a few Tenderflake vs. Crisco discussions. We all have our loyalties.
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 This small quilt was made 4 years ago for our guild's summer challenge. We were given a quarter meter of fabric with baking implements printed on it. We were to use it in a fabric piece with the theme of "Well behaved women never make history". This was my interpretation and entry. I figured that my mom, quite well behaved in her lifetime, never made history but did make a darn good apple pie. Now this piece graces my kitchen here at the Cove.
Now I'm off to make pie crust for 2 blueberry pies.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Summer is such a great time for putting the projects down, closing up shop, and heading out for some local fun. We piled a group of friends into our boat last Saturday and headed over to Cortes Island for their annual Cortes Day. The five-minute parade, games (they lasted much longer), events, fabulous food, dancing, music, costumes and the unexpected were all there, and we were too!
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The honorary firetruck and ambulance opened up the parade, and then came all the rest. It was a quickie, but there was lots of ingenuity, plenty of candy showers, fern decor, colorful attire, and children.
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This 5-seater go-cart was a hit with the little ones. It was not only in the parade, but was zipping around throughout the day. You know those headrests that you take out of your car and either store or throw out? Each seat back was a discarded headrest. Now that's riding in style! There's a handle on the back for the pusher.
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 These two boys were so proud of their fish costumes. A large cardboard box, a little paint, and they were good to go!
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On to the games. The saw pull was a popular one.

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 The "Nail Sail Bail" had six 2-person teams. They were given a few supplies, 2 hours for building, and then...
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into the water, around the buoys and back again!  Only one team member needed to be in the boat (they built paddles too!) and the other was able to swim behind for a little exta oomph! Just one out of six capsized...not bad. Of course I was disappointed that the women didn't win.
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A tiny booth off to the side caught my attention. There was lots of groaning and grimacing coming from this stand. A well fabricated troll's face was on the board and there were two holes cut for nostrils. Pay your money, put your hand in and see if you get a prize or ??????'s the "Booger Booth"! The attendant kept telling people to "just flick it over there" or "get way in there and see what you get". I thought it was pretty creative!
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Another fun event was the chicken poop contest. A large grid with 512 squares were available for a $2 per square. When all the squares were filled with names, it was set on the ground, surrounded with chicken wire, and the "official" chicken was set inside. The owner of the square where the O.C. happened to poop, was the winner of $512. Drat! I didn't win!
AND, on top of all the fun and gaiety and laughter, there was amazing food! Salmon, burgers, salad bar, pies, cakes, ice cream...only as Cortesians can produce! I grazed to my hearts content! Thanks to Cortes Islanders for a fantastic day!