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 2011...it'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.