Thursday, August 19, 2010


chinook salmon 007
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!

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