Sunday, December 25, 2011


What a lovely Christmas morning! We woke up, grabbed a bite to eat and headed out for an early morning bike ride along the beachfront malecon. It was cool and breezy but the sun was shining on the ocean and glistening on the sand midst the wave action. The typical hustle bustle of traffic and street-front cafes was non-existent.  There were a few other early risers out to enjoy the peacefulness of the morning, either walking or riding, and we recognized a few friendly faces for exchanges of “feliz navidad”. The pelicans were soaring so gracefully overhead…I was reminded of my friend, Rosemary’s lovely fabric piece of the pelicans she created last year. There they were, just riding the currents, creating a beautiful image of peace.

I have really gotten into holiday baking this year. Thanks to my Quadra Island friend, Carol, I now have a new favorite recipe that I will save forever and SHARE on my blog. I have made 3 batches of these amazing gingerbread squares in the last week and have enjoyed taking little plates of them to my Mexican neighbors. They are not your typical Mexican taste, so I delivered them with a bit of hesitation, but reports are very positive…now I have to translate the recipe in Spanish, so they can make them too.

Gingerbread Squares (Soft on the inside with a crackly finish on top, these gingerbread squares are packed with dried fruit and warm, bold spices. They’re the ideal holiday treat with a pot of tea.)

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

¼ cup molasses (in Mexico, ask for melado)

2 Tbs. brewed regular coffee

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ c. golden raisins

½ c. dried apricots, chopped

¼ - ½ c. candied ginger (I couldn’t find this in Mexico but was directed to the internet where I found out how to make it…easy!...from fresh ginger.)

2 Tbs. icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9x9 pan (My buttered pan burnt a bit on the first batch…from then on I used parchment to line my pan and I was much happier.) Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, molasses, and coffee until well blended. Sift dry ingredients together, then stir into wet batter. Mix in fruit. Press batter (it will be sticky and stiff) into the prepared pan. Bake for approx.. 30 minutes, or until just starting to crackle on top. Let cool completely, then slice into squares. Dust with icing sugar if you choose.

If you like the flavor of ginger, you will LOVE these! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


The email came as such a surprise. It was forwarded from my cousin Sally, who lives in Pennsylvania, and initially it made no sense to me. Most of the recipients’ names were unfamiliar, except for my three cousins’ names. It took a while for the puzzle to come together.
My mother, born in 1915 in Seattle, was one of five children. The first three of those five were girls, and I believe these sisters were not more than two years apart. Were they close? Like Velcro, I’d say.
These three sisters also happened to be tied closely to a group of friends they went to grade school with, then on to high school, then on to the world of work or education, onward into married life, post-children, grandchildren, their “mature” years, etc. etc. etc. They were lifelong friends. Close? Like glue. They celebrated not only major events together (weddings, baby showers, etc.) but also frequently gathered for luncheons, bridge, shopping, and always the laughter. My cousins and I remember learning about life from those gatherings – huddling on the stairs, eavesdropping on the stories and the whispered comments, and always, the laughter.

What this unexpected email contained was an idea put forth by two of the female offspring of these BFF’s – to have a reunion of all of the daughters to share stories, pictures, and the like. The response was positive, and a date and place was set. Laurie was going to be the hostess, and her mother, Minty (they all had nicknames: Odie, Andre, Mariah, Minty, Dickie, etc.), was going to be there too. Minty, at 96, was the last of the friendship group, and word was that she was looking forward to the gathering. Being able to spend time with one of my mother’s special friends was one more draw for me to attend.
In the recipient list were approximately ten names. Five of us were cousins, and of the others, I only knew one. Because I have lived in faraway places, I haven’t connected much with my cousins in our adult years, and I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to do so, AND get to know some women I’d heard so much about many years ago.

I cashed in some air miles for a brief flight from Medford, Oregon, to Seattle.  My rental car carried me on that rainy October day to the Magnolia neighborhood, where I arrived at Laurie’s beautiful home overlooking Puget Sound. This was actually the home of her parents, and I imagined my own mother enjoying similar festive events with her friends. I had a feeling she, her sisters, and other friends now long past, were with us that day, their spirits shadowed among the beautiful flowers and table setting she had prepared for us that day.
We either introduced ourselves or hugged those we knew, and quickly got on to the stories and photos. We shared and laughed about the tales and antics of these lifelong friends, and pieced together different chronologies of events with the photos we brought.  I’m sure the ghosts of our mothers past were giggling at our guesses of what their lives were like.

When our guest of honor, Minty, arrived, we all were awestruck that a link in this chain of friends was there with us. In a wheelchair, accompanied by an attendant, she was elegant in her pink suit and beautiful white hair.  Now the questions began: “Who was the first to get married?” “Where was this picture taken?”  Even though she is hard of hearing, she did her best to help us out. She became the missing link to the bits and pieces of information we brought together that afternoon.

Lunch was served and we gathered at the dining table that our mothers ate at many times with their hostess, Minty. The same china and silver were used, so lovingly preserved and cared for by Laurie. Outside we could view Laurie’s beautiful garden, still full of fall flowers. Our lunch setting was magical and we all commented on how we felt the presence of our mothers.  We shared favorite recipes these women loved to make, and then brought home to their own families. We were networked together as young girls by these Seattle gal-pals. Little did they know that their friendship would carry on to such an event as we enjoyed that rainy Friday.
My cousin Kristine brought each of us a present: a lovely coffee/tea cup to remember the camaraderie of our moms and the connection we now had as a group of their daughters. Perhaps when sitting and enjoying a cup of tea, we would conjure up found memories of either the generation past or the present one we had now solidified.

It was an incredibly special day. We vowed to not let this connection be broken. I know our mothers were smiling.

Technique: This is another piece in the style of Pamela Allen, collage work with pieces hand-stitched in place, then free-motioned with a design on top. The fabrics are all hand-dyed of course! The flower on the teacup is discharged (bleached), and if you look closely into the little faces on the flowers, you’ll see some eyes peering out at you.

Friday, December 9, 2011


The economic rug has been pulled out from under the lives of many Mexican people. The drug war and reports of violence have warded off many potential tourists, and in our town, Mazatlan, it has even brought a stop to the cruise ship industry…hopefully only temporarily. The effects of all of this can be seen everywhere, and our group of snowbirds scratch our heads in wonder as to how many locals can survive in this horrible economy.
Sometimes hard times bring unexpected situations. This is certainly true in the case of Mazatlan’s “sewing ladies”, a group of 12 local women who have been organized through an umbrella group, Pro-Mexico, for over a decade. They create an array of items: placemats, tote bags, table runners, aprons, dolls, wall hangings, napkins, etc., and sell them at venues such as rv parks, the cruise ship terminals, and local hotels. As you can imagine, these selling spots have diminished with the lack of tourists.
Today their new storefront in the Golden Zone (hotel zone) was inaugurated with a ribbon cutting and lovely reception. One of Pro-Mexico’s founding members generously has given this shop to the women rent-free, allowing them to set up their wares in one spot where the tourists that ARE here can buy their products and support them. It’s a great opportunity for them, jumping them up to another level of merchandising, and giving them the experience of running their own store and problem solving , with the help of Pro-Mexico members and some gringo volunteers, to make the most of their new shop.
These women are skilled, honest and hard-working. The community of Mazatlan wishes their group much success. And we all hope that Americans and Canadians AND the cruise ship industry will realize that life is good here in Mazatlan, and will take advantage of an amazingly beautiful and welcoming Mexican destination to spend their vacations.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Here we are…another winter season in Mazatlan. We migrated (via Alaska Air) five days ago and have been busy cleaning out the dust bunnies from our open-air home that takes a bit of a beating during the rainy season. Washing walls, cleaning out cabinets, unearthing treasures…slowly but surely we are reacquainting ourselves with our Mexican hacienda.

But that’s not all we’ve been doing. This is a diverse city of close to a half million people and after spending close to ten winters here, we have gotten to know many aspects of it. First of all, there’s our neighborhood (barrio). We live on a very Mexican and family-oriented street, and happily I can say that with every year that passes, we feel more and more accepted. There were hugs and hellos and many stumbles with our rusty Spanish.

Beyond the barrio (about three blocks worth) is the larger area we live in called Centro Historico. Of course we’ve been curious about any changes that may have taken place in our eight months absence. Without a car, we walk most everywhere, and these first few days we have been criss-crossing the area, catching up with familiar faces and places.

A constant question we hear up north is “aren’t you afraid in Mexico?” The answer we give is always a “no” but we also say that we make sure to be cautious with carrying valuables and where and when we walk.  Use common sense we say. With the economic crisis (“when the U.S. gets a cold, Mexico gets pneumonia”), petty theft is up and in the past few years we have known a friend or two who have had purses and jewelry stripped from their bodies.  Added to these questions are the constant media reports we hear about more and more violence here, so of course we have also been checking out the pulse and the feel of Mazatlan during these first few days of our homecoming.

It feels quieter. Some storefronts are empty, and our local plaza, typically a thriving place, is sleepy at best. But other than that, there are impressive signs of life. Cultural events at our local performing arts theater (Angela Peralta Theater) are plentiful.  Mazatlan Film and Theater is an active group that provides great classic movies and also frequent playreadings. Over 200 people wandered the streets last Friday for First Friday Artwalk. A new beautiful gallery has opened its doors. The Mazatlan Marathon drew a group of participants that nearly filled all of our hotels. An amazing skateboard park located on the waterfront opened last night and was buzzing with activity. The locals are as friendly as ever and the gringos we have come to know continue to return. The tempo is upbeat, and our slice of Mexico feels as magical as ever.

Our little street saw two big parties this Saturday night – one on each side of us. (Two parties = two karaoke machines!) One was a 40th birthday celebration and the other was an early Christmas posada and each lasted until 4 or 5 in the morning. Our bedroom is located on the street side so you can imagine the noise level throughout the night. Typically we close our windows, put in earplugs, and TRY to get some shut-eye. But this night, we joined the birthday party until midnight, then came home and went to bed with windows OPEN and without earplugs. Unbelievably, we slept well.

There are those who can’t get past the media reports about Mexico. They truly are missing out on a wonderful experience in this beautiful country with our neighbors to the south.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Do you know what FASTURN is? When I first moved to southern Oregon I kept driving past this building and had no clue what it was all about.
The signs in front said SEWING, QUILTING, CLASSES and STRIPPERS WANTED. "What is this FASTURN place?" I asked myself.
It took awhile before I found out. But when I finally got around to going there, I knew I had found a new sewing home and community. Fasturn ( is the manufacturer of one of the top twenty five sewing notions of all time. They produce all sizes of metal tube turners. I can't tell you the number of times I've sewn a skinny strip, attached the safety pin to the end and then struggled to turn that darn thing. When I saw that tool, I was thanking the universe!
But I was more thankful for finding this wonderful welcoming place. They offered open sewing (just come and sew!!!) every Friday and this sounded great to me. Living in my little mobile that happened to be torn apart with remodeling just didn't offer me the sewing time and space that I needed, so an open door session with other like-minded sewers sounded fantastic to me.
I've met a wonderful group of fun, talented and generous sewers. Everyone comes with their own agenda, maybe to make a bag, a table runner, a quilt, or a machine-embroidery project. For me, I was there to work on a "diamond" quilt that I started at a class on Quadra Island in September.I had hand-dyed the fifteen pieces for this quilt, and the 60 degree "stance" of this quilt really challenged my mind. But there was help and support surrounding me at FASTURN.

Open-sewing on Friday is not the only thing happening at FASTURN. There are classes held frequently throughout the month, and the facility is the home to the local faction of the American Sewing Guild. One corner holds shelves of folded yardage, batting, and hanging close-by are a number of completed quilt tops. In the midst of this area is a long-arm quilter, where ASG members take turns to put together quilts for local charities. And let's not forget the shop full of beautiful fabrics and notions (not to forget FASTURN products), and unbelievable samples that have been made up by the friendly staff. It's a great place and I thank the universe that I found it!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


It was a bit of a blustery November day and with my friend Corrine visiting while on her yearly sojourn from Refuge Cove to Long Beach, we felt it was the perfect day to take a drive up to Shady Cove for a quilt show.

I had heard about this show, sponsored by the local guild Material Girls, from Christine who had a booth there to sell her beautiful hand-dyes. It was great to see her there midst all the amazing, very organic, screened prints that she and Cynthia have produced over the last year or so.

The show had some beautiful quilts, both big and small, traditional and whimsical, and a great collection of hospital quilts made by this active group of women. Corrine and I both enjoyed our visit to Shady Cove.

We topped off that event with wine tasting in Ashland. What a fun, blustery November day!

Monday, October 31, 2011


This was the graffiti message that I saw on my recent drive from Refuge Cove to Oregon. Long hours of endless miles, passing streams of traffic, shopping malls galore, listening to NPR and my favorite music: the message of RETHINK EVERYTHING really jumped out at me.  My next quilt journal with the theme of “TEXT” had some content here.

What do I think needs rethinking? Our polarizing politics, overbearing religion, our endless consumption of stuff, stifling immigration policies, how we prioritize the environment, education, our out of control health care, are just a few items (not to mention the American tendency to get involved in way too many foreign situations). Even though I live in countries other than my own (United States), I still pay close attention and am very concerned about the activities of the US. Yes, Mexico and Canada certainly have their share of problems too, but the US just seems so CRAZY these days.  The problems we face are endless and I believe we need some major mind shifting, rather than the same-old, same-old ways of doing things, before we can make any sense out of our mess.

The bottom line for me is that this all seems so out of control, and I am once again reminded that my little world is all I have any impact on. My quilt journal for this month reminds ME of that message FOR MYSELF. Thus, my new favorite mantra is RETHINK EVERYTHING (rivaling my new favorite bumper sticker: DON’T BELIEVE EVERYHTING YOU THINK). On this personal level, it’s a call to challenge the beliefs that no longer serve me.

For construction, I chose to continue with a diamond pattern that I was using for a quilt, yet on a smaller scale. This diamond piece was certainly a thinking challenge for me, and I was hoping that making a small piece would help me with the larger quilt. When everything that is normally straightforward (90 degrees, etc.), is now cocked to a 60 degree angle, it can really mess up your mind (at least it did mine), so here was another situation where I had to rethink everything. I was hoping to have a full rectangle to work with, but my planning was poor and I ended up short. I added an oval frame which solved my problem. I then stitched in my words. I thought I had planned it well, but quickly ran out of room at the end and had to squeeze in my last letters. I bleached out my letters and the border and added tiny buttons for accent. I was hoping to find some in brown, beige or gray, but the store was out so, rethinking it, I settled for blue.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Now in Oregon, I have pick of activities to choose from: classes, groups, sessions and workshops, all fabric related of course. I'm like a kid in a candy store. Today's item on the agenda: screening with Christine. Once my neighbor in Alaska who I taught to dye, she now is my southern Oregon neighbor who has pursued this craft to the "nth" degree. She always has something new to show me.
This year it's screening. You know, like silk screening, but with a twist.

She set up the screens a few days ago with a thick layer of print paste and then imbedded all sorts of textured objects into the paste and let it dry. We pulled off the objects and were left with our screen for printing. The hardened paste was a dark color and I chose a ruddy brown as my printing color.

On the screen, the wet began to break down the dry and the pattern emerged onto my fabric as I sqee-jeed across the screen. I filled up my meter of soda-ashed cotton and set it aside to cure.

But there was more to show me. She pulled out her collection of textured goodies and high-density foam roller and set to demonstrating how to put these beautiful textures onto fabric. Not only could we place the texture under the fabric while rolling on top, but also roll over the texture with the high density foam and capture the pattern for a quick transfer. I loved every minute of this process and my mind started reeling with possibilities. I went on to try a few stencil transfers and of coursed watched Christine with her creations too.
At the end of our session we set up the screens with more print paste and a new texture design. They will take a day or two to harden and be ready for more printing.

Now curing, the fabrics will be ready for adding a background color in a day or two. For now, I am searching out online silkscreen frames to haul to Mexico to continue the fun down there. Muchas gracias, Christine.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


If by chance I find myself in the Seattle area, the region of my birth and upbringing, I am always hoping for a clear day in which to view Mt. Rainier. I am consistently awestruck at the sight of this majestic mountain. It truly takes my breath away. I am taken back to an infantile state, subconsciously a small child, feeling the emotional power of this iconic giant.

I not only grew up with Mt. Rainier at my doorstep, but also spent my summers during my college years there, working at Paradise Inn. My father worked there when he was that age too. First a maid, then a waitress, I worked hard during my shifts and took to the hills on my off hours. Four times I climbed to the top, and on that last ascent I was part of a research crew who spent an entire week living at the 14,000+ foot summit. On our last day there, we were overtaken by an electrical storm which really made things interesting. We tried to descend the mountain but our fillings (in our teeth) and pack frames were buzzing, and the lightning was feeling way too close for comfort. Back up we climbed to wait it out for another few hours inside a snow cave.
My last adventurous experience with Rainier was in 1980. I had been hired for the upcoming summer, so I was heading to the mountain for a training session on an early May morning. The closer I got to the park entrance, the darker the sky became, and then a dusting of something snow-like started to fall from the sky.  Darker and darker, with dust now billowing up around  the few cars as they motored along, I knew something was happening, but had no idea what it was. I arrived at Longmire, half way into the park and was pulled over by the ranger. Mt. St. Helens had just erupted, and all cars were detained there until the situation could be assessed. For four or five hours, we watched the sky turn pitch black, the air turn thick with ash and collect on the roads in a 6” blanket.  Slowly the light returned and we were allowed to leave, but only back to where we came from. My job was put on hold that summer, and I never returned to work there again. The next year I left the area, and since then my experiences with Mt. Rainier have either been from an airplane or from the highway, a long distance away.
Sometimes when I am mulling over ideas for a journal quilt, I gather possibilities for not only what I want to do, but also for what is possible. For example, with “favorite things”, I was leaning toward books or maps. That is, until I was looking through a tub of odds and ends and came across a scarf/handkerchief of Mt. Rainier. I can’t remember where it came from, maybe a second hand shop or a leftover at a laundromat, but there it was, reminding me of its importance in my life (and a bit map-like too!). So I simply sliced it up, added a border and called it good.  

Friday, September 23, 2011


Summer of's been a good one. Lots of company, fishing, gardening, hiking, rain (early on), and sun (in September). The harvest was good to us. Refuge Cove once again comes through!
My creative juices were at a standstill this summer. At first I was worried, but now see my hiatus as a needed break.
Last week I conquered three journal quilts, long overdue!

#1 Prairie - Since I have never been to the prairies, I was a bit stumped at how to interpret this theme. But I have lived in a number of places that I have described to others as "Little House on the Prairie" type settings, and a wood cookstove has been a part of a few of them. ('Tis the simple life for me.) This was another bleach study, this time piecing together oddball pieces, dyeing this patchwork black, then stitching in the woodstove and bleaching out parts of it with Softscrub.
#2 Hallelujah - This is my interpretation of a U-Tube of K.D. Lang singing "Hallelujah". Beautiful song, amazing stage, but my internet connection was uncooperative that night and all I could watch was about 10 seconds at a time. I watched frozen scenes of lights on the stage, and decided I would try to capture that. I pieced together blues with white elements in them, then stitched in concentric circles with lines and bleached out sections. I was pleased with how this turned out as it truly was only an idea in my head.
#3 A Thin Green Line - This came out of no where, or maybe it was from my box of scraps that I was rummaging through one night. First I found the hand and the rest just followed. Yes there's some bleaching here: the hand, the forks, the lettering. I really love playing with bleach over patches of color. I was hoping that the vertical yellow would bleach out white, but it decided to blend in with the rest of the utensil.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Two days away from home, hosted in a lovely setting on Quadra Island, with the focus being FABRIC...what more could I ask for? I left my family behind and my day-to-day chores to join my two friends, Terry (our hostess) and Ellen, for what we called our mini-retreat. I packed my tub with dyes, white fabric, stamps, and a collection of embellishment tools with the idea of creating fabric pieces in both new and tried-and-true methods.

Terry's new home, not yet completed to the stage of being move-in ready, was perfect for the 3 of us. Downstairs was our makeshift studio and upstairs were our living quarters. Her husband helped to rig up a hot and cold water sink, complete with a 5-gallon bucket underneath as our drainage system.

We busily tried a number of methods: wheat paste cracking, stamping and making stamps, carving stamps out of styrofoam trays, palette dyeing and folding. Using wheat paste was a new one for me. The sun cooperated by drying out the pasted fabric quickly, then I gently crushed it to get the "cracked" look. I painted over it with thickened dye to fill in the cracks. My results showed that I should have been more aggressive with my crushing, so I went ahead and tried it again. Terry drew a lovely picture into her wheat paste AND pressed lace into it which produced amazing results. This is one method I will definitely try again.

We stopped in time to spruce ourselves up a bit for a lovely dinner at the Heriot Bay Inn. What a treat to go out to dinner with friends.
Sunday was another day of more of the same. By day's end I was exhausted, but filled with a much needed burst of creative energy. We vowed to make it an annual event.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


June and July.
I'm living the good life at Refuge Cove, tending my garden, fishing and prawning on a regular basis, enjoying time with friends and family. Squeezed within all of this I have been working to create my summer stash of goods to sell. For the first time in 10 years, I am opting out of participation in the Cortes Craft Shop, and only working for the "Feathered Fish", the local gallery owned and operated by fellow Co-op member, Sandie Dixon. This is her second year and I was quite pleased with results last year, so have decided to keep my focus here in Refuge Cove. And, I haven't made that much this past winter, so the little I can get accomplished in these two summer months that begin with the letter J will be it for the year. Next week, my sewing room gets taken over by one grandson as his makeshift bedroom, so that will be it...4 more days.
One of my goals this summer has been to use up my stash: fabric pieces large and small, thread, small pieces of batting that I sew together to make larger pieces. I even went through my collection of small quilted pieces, either finished wall hangings or a practice piece that I've carried around in the stash box for way too long. I looked at them, took myself back to when I created it, then sliced and diced to make something new. It was liberating to let go of these pieces.
I've focused on two items, luggage tags and tote bags. They have been the perfect recipients of my scraps and remnants, or the small piece that has been folded in the bottom of a tote for many years.
This is a pattern for me: clearing out what I'm not using. I do it in my closet, in those junk drawers that collect all sorts of oddities, my kitchen cabinets. I like things simple and minimal. Minimalist Mary is what someone called me, and the title fits well.
So 127 luggage tags and 7 totes later, I am soon to put the commercialism aside and focus on more play and creative expression in my craft. And I'm looking forward to that!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


You might be wondering, "What is that?" Look hard, what do you see?
I live in the coastal rainforest of British Columbia. The name of the community is Refuge Cove on West Redonda Island, in the middle of Desolation Sound. This community is a land and housing cooperative shared by 18 shareholders, our family being one of them.
You enter " Refuge" from the series of docks, where, depending on the month of the year, you can see a wide range of qualities and quantities of boats moored there. In the summer months, it is a mecca for boaters in search of fuel, groceries, a meal out, perusing through the book exchange, or just some socializing-on-the-dock time. You might even catch a game of washers. In the wintertime, you may see a few float houses and a skiff or two.
Past the "commercial zone" are the "keep out" gates, the boundary of the members-only zone. This is how you would come to my house. I pass boardwalk, hillside and the last 100 feet of thick forest, which pops right onto the bluff where our house sits. This little forest trail has become the home for a few of my ceramic, metal or glass collectibles. I was ready to part with them (probably more like a de-cluttering mood) and decided to give them a new home along this trail. This all started about six years ago so some of the items have a nice coat of moss on them by this time and are getting hard to see.
Today five fairy houses appeared on this magical little mossy path. They are made of sticks, moss, rocks, pinecones and built into the natural curvature of the rock cliff that winds its way next to our path. They are hard to spot, but they are definitely fairy houses. (I don't think the fairies are living there yet, but are probably on their way.)
Who built those fairy houses? My niece, Sarah, and her boyfriend, Chris, were visiting for a week, and just this morning, I walked them to the boat to say good-by. On our way down the hill at 5:30 am, they mentioned for me to look for the fairy houses. It took a moment, but my eye finally tuned in. They had created them the previous afternoon, adding more magic to the path.
So the little quilt journal piece above is a fairy house. It's the one built under a cleft of rock that has the perfect triangle shape, so naturally created by the moss. Sarah and Chris added the finishing touches: sticks rocks, more moss, pinecones.
I've been trying to come up with an idea for this quilt journal challenge with the theme of "TODAY". Lately I've been in the sort of creative funk that does not allow me to have fast reaction times (from idea to reality in just one day???? You must be kidding!). Once I had taken photos of all five fairy houses and got to looking at them, putting it onto fabric seemed like a doable project, with the main idea to create a basic structure, similar to one the actual homes, covered with lots and lots of green stitching to represent the moss. It was therapeutic and the perfect activity to get some of the spider webs and kinks out of my free motion system. I finished, not on the "today", but on the "tomorrow" which isn't too bad for me.
So on this "TODAY" (which actually was the "today" of about 5 days ago), the fairy houses appeared, and Sarah and Chris left Refuge Cove for their return to Annapolis, Maryland, after a fantastic week-long visit. Two, bright and capable recent college graduates, they truly appreciated the uniqueness of our environment and took advantage of all the highlights of Refuge Cove: kayaking, canoeing and swimming in the lake, fishing, prawning, hiking, eating amazing home-harvested meals, playing washers, and enjoying family time together in a special surrounding.
Each time I walk down our path, I look hard to find the "fairy houses" that are tucked so secretively along the path and in the cliffside. Warm memories of a good visit come back to me.
Here's one of the real fairy houses:

Monday, May 30, 2011


It’s kind of like writer’s block, but only with cloth, not pen and paper. And I’ve got it!

 There are a wealth of distractions here in Refuge Cove that keep me away from the sewing machine. Actually my desire to sew is about nil - thus,"Quilter's Block".
But maybe it’s because of all the amazing distractions I have here in Refuge Cove. Like, my new garden fence (put up last year), recently fitted with a beautiful gate made by Tom.
Or playing in the dirt in my new greenhouse.  It’s 80% completed and plenty adequate for growing and taking advantage of our summer.

The hummingbirds are really keeping me busy. I fill 4 feeders every day. Those little hummers are inhaling a half gallon per day.

We’re still hoping to see more goldfish in our pond. Every day it’s the same answer…3! Two years ago, we had 17.

Our good friends and neighbors, Jim and Sharon, arrived yesterday and we helped them move. With hamburgers on Cortes first!
Tom’s latest garden project was to build my 3rd raised garden box.

He asked me to check it out for size…what’s that all about!?????
I quickly filled it with dirt and plants….thankfully,  I haven’t seen him building a lid!
So quilting is the last thing on my mind, but I really should be thinking what I’m going to put in Sandie’s shop (Refuge Cove Gallery) this summer. My first QUICK little commercial project was to cut up a few of my old, undesirable pieces into 3”x6” rectangles and then I proceeded to making them into luggage tags.

And we’ve also been prawning, which is horrible this year because the commercial guys have totally scraped the bottom clean. So now we are trying our hand at fishing, which also hasn’t been too fruitful .
And then there’s my new Kindle. I’ve powered through 4 books in the last 3 weeks. That’s a lot of reading by me. They are: 1) The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, 2)The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea, 3) Unbroken: A World War II Story  of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, and 4) Stoned into Schools: Promoting Peace with Education in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortenson. These all were great reads!

So, you can see, I’ve definitely been pre-occupied.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


We now claim our legal U.S.  residence as Jacksonville, Oregon. After faking our U.S. address as Fairbanks, Alaska, for the last five years, it feels great to have  our little place in America. Of course not much will change with our seasonal migration between Refuge Cove and Mazatlan. Our Oregon life lasts for 6 weeks in April/May, plus the two months of October/November, the transition times for us.  Southern Oregon, in particular the Rouge Valley, is  truly beautiful. Neighboring towns to our small historical community are Medford and Ashland. Vineyards abound. It's a quick drive to the coast. We like it...a lot!

We just spent the last 6 weeks fixing up our cute little trailer. Midst all the projects, I did get some time to do some fabric play with friends! (Yes, we moved to a place where we know a good number of folks!...How wonderful is that!!??)  My awesome Fairbanks/Ashland friend Christine, hosted dye days and collage sessions. Look at the fun we had!

We had fun just letting loose in the dye studio!
We went from watercolor-like blobs to multi-step stamping all in one enjoyable afternoon.
And then we moved on to collage work in the style of Pamela Allen...I shared what I know with Chris and then pulled in Cynthia for another day.
Looked what we produced!

Lovely composition, Cynthia:

Christine, this piece just flowed out of you. It's so, so , so ....Christine!

I just couldn't resist those buttons!