Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tonight we are visiting with John's parents and going out for Chinese. Gavin and Hugh are heading home afterwards. Hugh has to go to work at 4 am tomorrow. John 's vacation is also over and he's back to work tomorrow as well. I'll be driving Owen and Sarah to Salem and then visiting with Merrialyce at the Oregon State library. I'll be interviewing her for an article I'm writing. Friday night Jack catches his flight to NYC. By the week-end it'll be just me and John once again and we can relax by the fireplace with tea and cookies and oranges.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Today I baked more cookies and a pan of brownies and made the chocolate covered cherries (which should have been made last week). John and I are going to town today where I'm getting a few more small gifts, we'll go to the library, do the recycling, and then go out to dinner to celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary.
Tomorrow: Finish decorating the tree, and the house, and bake the pies!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
My birthday is the day after tomorrow and I've already peeked at one of my presents. It's the complete first year of Saturday Night Live on DVD. I can hardly wait.
I love Gilda Radner best of all. She makes me laugh so hard I cry. And that she died so young makes me just cry. I miss her.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I see it in the wreath hung on a church door. I see it in the snow falling down, even if it doesn't stick. I see in the glimpse of one small pine tree lit with a few strings of lights at the end of a long country driveway. I see it in the apples hanging like golden ornaments on a leafless tree. I see it in a little child, singing a Christmas carol, his face lit up like a bright candle. I see it when looking up in the sky at a cold winter moon.
I haven't seen it yet this year. I'm waiting.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
~ Luke 2:19
Here we are, in the the season of Advent, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus. It is a time of silence and peace, a time of acceptance of grace. As Mary became aware of her son’s purpose,she “marvelled at these things.” And she “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”
I ponder as I think about my four young-adult sons. I am not much like Mary and my sons' destiny is not like Jesus’, yet I find myself watching and marvelling as their own callings unfold.
For more than twenty years I repeated phrases to them, phrases like "take care of each other" and "remember to say thank you".
This year all four of them will be home for Christmas and now, it’s time to be quiet. This year I am in the role of having them come home to me for Christmas. I am the one fluttering and feathering, cleaning, decorating, and planning favorite dishes. And, like Mary, I will watch and pray and wonder.
This is the time to listen and love and cook more food, but not to talk. As Jesus’ calling unfolded with time, so will theirs. One son lives in New York City, a place I can only imagine. Another will marry this summer. The third is going to university and the youngest is working. I've watched my children grow and now, as their futures unfurl, will see what they'll become.
Christmas has come over me gently this year. I'll read the familiar story in the Bible, reflect on the presence of God in my life, the message of the angels, and Jesus' gift of peace and know that for all the mysteries and unknowns in our family’s lives, the good will is toward all of us, and ours is again the wonder and hope and joy.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
My Christmas break reading for this year:
**Hostages to fortune, a novel
**Good evening, Mrs. Craven
**Few eggs and no oranges
**The children who lived in a barn
**William: an Englishman
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
My heart is overflowing with gratitude for so many blessings.
The turkey is defrosting, the pies are baked, the living room is vacuumed, the kitchen floor swept and mopped. Two of my sons will be here tomorrow for dinner. The other two will be with people they love. Life is good.
Blessings to you and yours. And let's give thanks for all we have before the frenzy of Christmas preparations begins.
Love to you all!
Friday, November 2, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
There's a fire in the fireplace, the down comforter is on the bed, and I've taken a few extra quilts out of the cedar chest just in case. The birds are gone to a warmer place. I loved summer so and now it's gone.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
John and I have both come down with the stomach flu and are now being forced to survive on the kind of foodstuff you see in the photograph. I forgot to include bananas. And bottled water. I came down sick Tuesday and could manage nothing but sips of water for two days. This morning I dared drinking a cup of Earl Grey tea. It was well worth the risk. I'm getting tired now. I think I'll go lie down for a bit.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Summer is over. These pinks are the last of them. Pinks are members of the Dianthus family, a group of over 300 species, and are very easy to grow. They have a nice scent too. This group of flowers includes Carnations, Baby's Breath, and Sweet William.
Monday, August 27, 2007
And this morning I saw this spiderweb after I watered my flowers.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Our little grocery store carries a variety of apples grown by local farmers. These are William's Pride, a small and crisp apple. One or two fits well in a pocket and they taste wonderful.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Freedom is far more than being able to work, or being independent and having a life (or a room) of one's own. It's about having a choice about how to live one's life and having that choice, whatever it may be, honored and respected. Sadly, those who chose to be housewives and mothers were viewed as refusing to join the Great Cause and as being cowardly, oppressed or in need of re-education, or, if it was done as a real choice as it was for me, a university educated woman in her 20's who could be or do anything she wished, as being a traitor.
Now comes an article in the UK Guardian by Germaine Greer,author of The Female Eunuch , considered one of the classic feminist manifestos.
Writing about quilts in a commentary entitled "Making pictures from strips of cloth isn't art at all - but it mocks art's pretentions to the core", she writes
What could be the point of such an exercise in futility? The work of art is supposed to defy time but fabric is bound to fade and rot, even when it is kept in between layers of tissue paper and shut away from sight. There's nothing new in this kind of heroic pointlessness; women have frittered their lives away stitching things for which there is no demand ever since vicarious leisure was invented.
Sigh. Where do I start? If it's true that "the work of art is supposed to defy time" then what do you call art that has defied time but was never designed with that in mind and did so only by chance, such as the prehistoric paintings on cave walls in France and Poland or the graffiti and murals on the walls of Pompeii? Do you realize that canvas is made of fabric and fades and rots too? Do you truly believe that time spent creating something beautiful and unique is just time frittered away? Ah, my dear, dear Ms. Greer, after all these years you still do not understand.
The quilts you are writing about, those which are pictures made of bits of fabric and which you describe as having pretensions of being art, really are art. They are just not "Art". You know, Art with a capital "A". Art as defined by men. You ask: "Why didn't she just paint them?" Did you ever think that perhaps women didn't have access to paints and canvas, but did have access to fabrics? You might have inferred that when you wrote about the artist, yes! the artist, Edrica Huws :
Five children later, and living in rural Anglesey with neither electricity nor running water, she turned her hand to poetry and began collecting fabrics for her patchwork. She was 51 when she began her first patchwork picture of a greenhouse. It took her a year.
Edrica Huws was trained at the Chelsea School of Art and at The Royal College of Art where she worked under a professor who was a specialist in murals and after graduation her works were shown in several London Galleries. But marriage, a war, children, and a move to North Wales changed the circumstances of her life and she never painted with paints again but instead used fabrics. Did the change in mediums make her any less an artist?
Do you understand, Ms. Greer, the intense need to create something, and doing the best you can with the materials at hand? Edrica Huws was a trained artist but not all quilters who make fabric pictures are. (See my comment on outsider art.)
Can you see the difference between paint, which is stiff, hard, cold and monotone and fabric, which is soft, warm, with prints that can represent so much more with variations of color, scale, and design?
And then there is the fabric itself. Fabric is tactile, it connects us to generations of women before us (especially for those of us fortunate enough to inherit the rag bags of great aunts or grandmothers so that just seeing the fabric remnants bring back memories), and it brings comfort, both physical and emotional.
I did note, Ms. Greer, that you differentiated between "art quilts" and patchwork quilts, writing
There was a time when women made patchworks together, in quilting bees, and chatted as they worked. The materials were worn-out clothing and aprons; the pattern was a variant on a stock pattern, learned from the older women and modified to fit the circumstances. Such quilts are dignified, dense and often very beautiful objects. They have no pretensions to being works of art....
Oh really? Please take a look at these quilts , then, made by the women in Gee's Bend in just the way you describe in your quote,and tell me they are not Art!
You may be surprised to learn that many of us still make patchwork quilts, although most of us use new fabric and work by ourselves. You may also be interested to learn that patterns were and still being constantly modified, have different names in different parts of the country and the world, and that women often add their own touches by using unusual fabrics, modifying the pattern, changing the size, or choosing a different setting .
Some of us have worked on quilts to help us through grieving and through hard times. A quilter from the 1800's who homesteaded in the prairies and made quilts to help her family survive the brutal winters in a soddy house wrote in her diary:
I made quilts as fast as I could to keep my family from freezing and as beautiful as I could to keep my heart from breaking.
Baltimore Album quilts, African-American quilts, Hmong quilts, Hawaiian quilts, Seminole pieced quilts, Molas, and the simplest, most homely nine-patch pieced quilts are just as much Art and, perhaps more so, then are canvases splattered with paint.
Ms. Greer writes:
You could end up profoundly depressed by yet more evidence that, for centuries, women have been kept busy wasting their time.
I am profoundly depressed that after all these decades,Ms. Greer, you still have an oh so very limited understanding of what is valuable and important to women.
P.S. And I'm not the only woman who believes Ms. Greer hasn't got a clue. See here and here .
Saturday, August 11, 2007
The decorating is a bit much for me (at least until I have grandchildren), but I like the recipes for chocolate-caramel, citrus, and pineapple cupcakes. I also have a tip for those who like the "classic" chocolate cupcake with cherry icing and a maraschino cherry on top: use maraschino juice from the jar instead of the liquid for the frosting and you'll get both a delicious cherry taste plus the perfect shade of pink!
And if you're really, really into cupcakes check out this blog , which promises "all cupcakes, all the time"!
Sunday, August 5, 2007
In the early mornings, the sky is getting brighter just before dawn and I go outside to admire the moon and bright stars. I drink the last of my morning coffee and stand at the front door, watching the sun rising above the horizon, coloring the few wisps of clouds a glorious shade of pink.
The town I live in is not small, it is tiny. I only have to go several blocks and I'm out in the country. The vast flat fields change from green to a rich tan as the tall grass becomes piled and windrows are cut and left to dry in the sun. Then they are harvested with huge combines driven by people who wave at me as I go by. I sometimes stop by the road for the sheer joy of absorbing the smell of harvest, an indescribable fragrance, dry and seasoned yet tangy and sharp. I watch the red tailed hawks swooping over the fields looking for their dinners of mice and snakes.
After the combines whine down the road to other fields, red and yellow balers take over and efficiently bundle the leftover straw into neat bales as the setting sun lights up clouds of dust behind them.
Between me and the fields the wild roses bloom first, then teasel and Queen Anne's Lace take over, waving like passing neighbors, and then, finally, the blackberries ripen in tangled profusion in the fence rows.
The fresh tastes and smells of summer are almost divine, as well - field-ripened strawberries are first. Fat blueberries from the farm on Peoria Road. Peaches from Hentze's. Scents of fresh basil and tomato vines cling to my hands when I work in the garden. And when I make the first blackberry pie of the season the flavor is so rich and delicious that I don't even mind the sticky purple drips on the bottom of my oven.
Summer is the season of expansion. Fragile petunia plants in hanging pots balloon into green velvet clouds studded with bright purple jewels. Gardens reach in all directions, the corn leaping upward after a sluggish June. The zucchini are just the right size to be cut into slivers the size of coins, dipped in egg and then a mix of flour and Parmesan cheese and fried in butter, but if I turn my back for a couple of days they are huge and good only to be fed to sheep.
When I drive anywhere now,I need to watch for the slow moving tractors going down the highway in convoys onto the next field. I see the trucks, loaded with fresh green beans heading for the cannery in Salem. Soon those trucks will be filled with corn. Then, in autumn, will come the beets and that will be the end of this summer.
Realizing that the summer will pass soon is what makes it so precious. Maybe this taste of heaven is meant to whet our appetites for eternity. I don't know.
I just know that this summer, while the grapevines climb up into the tree branches and the sun shines through the haze of rye grass dust in the air, I think, "Oh! But we just started! Don't let summer end! Please, not yet, not yet."
"Nobody needs to pity the farmwife, however scratched and
bedraggled she may look, coming out of the blackberry patch.
She has got something more than blackberries from the time
out there. There is no better place than the blackberry
patch for that hour of solitude every farm woman craves now
Rural Free: A Farmwife's Alamanc of Country Living
August is one of my favorite months for now there are times and places when I have an excuse to be outside, by myself, to think my own thoughts and dream my own dreams. These are rare and special moments, even for women of a certain age who live in small towns.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once he grows up.
~ Pablo Picasso
There was a story in this morning's New York Times entitled
Handmade Alabama Quilts Find Fame and Controversy . The story is about the Gee's Bend Quilts , quilts I'd first read and heard about when I first began quilting, although at the time they were called Freedom Quilts.
These quilts remind of Henri Matisse's paper cut-outs . I was struck by this last month when I saw the Gee's Bend Exhibition at the Walter's Museum in Baltimore and then, the next day, went to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and saw an exhibition of Matisse's cut-outs .
The New York Times story describes the history of the quilts and the lawsuits filed by two of the quilters against Bill Arnett and his sons, claiming they had been cheated out of thousands of dollars in proceeds from their work and copyrights. This seems to be a fairly regular occurance when dealing with folk or outsider art, but it's unclear if that is the case here.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Sunday, July 8, 2007
I've checked the weather reports and see that we are expected to get temperatures near 100 on Tuesday and Wednesday. I love summer, but I don't like it when it gets this hot. Perhaps I'll spend those days studying at the Oregon State University Library . They have air-conditioning!
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
We're going to have a quiet holiday at home. I'm fixing barbecued ribs, baked beans, cornbread, coleslaw,lemonade and iced tea with flag cake for dessert. This is one of my rare days of real vacation. I'm not going to work on assignments or study or do research. I'll knit a bit, read a chapter or two in a mystery novel, maybe take a nap, water my flower garden, feed the birds, go for a walk. Today I'm just going to play.
P.S. I've decided to start a new blog about my play-time. It's called Small Comforts .
Saturday, June 30, 2007
I discovered that the Walters Art Museum, only a few blocks from the hotel where we stayed, had an exhibition of the Gee's Bend Quilts . Click here to read more about them. They didn't allow photographs to be taken but I did buy a book of postcards, some small magnets, and best of all, a two-compact-disc compilation that was recorded over 60 years ago (but never released) and newly recorded music performed by quiltmakers who had never before been heard outside of Gee’s Bend, mainly gospel music. John put them on my i-Pod and I listened to them all night on the long flight from Chicago to Portland.
I also visited the Maryland Historical Society . They had an antique Sorrows Quilt for sale for $250. This is what the sign next to it said "Using fabric scraps from the clothing of loved ones,19th century quilters crafted quilts made to commemorate someone who had died. Usually blocked with black alternating pieces, these quilts are also known as sunshine and shadow."
The only other quilt on display was this one, a Baltimore Maryland quilt made almost 150 years ago.