28 July 2007

Sandi Gets Her Tat On

My dear friend Libbi's sister Sandi was visiting from Philly this week. Sandi was celebrating a milestone birthday -- gallantry forbids me from revealing which one, but she's almost exactly 10 years older than me -- and had decided, not on a whim, to get a tattoo to mark the occasion.

Vona had researched the options, and the four of us, Sandi and her support group, converged this afternoon at Tigerlily Tattoo on SE Sandy (an auspicious coincidence, no doubt) at 47th. Sandi chose a simple, classic peace sign. After we double-checked to make sure it was right side up, Mike, the tattoo artist, went about his work. It only took about five minutes. Sandi was brave. She, Lib and Vona went out for a drink to celebrate, while I went home to hang with Jer. I raised my glass of wine to join in the toast -- you go, Sandi. Enjoy your tat. Be happy.

25 July 2007

Eat, Play, Shop

My friend Anita, art quilter extraordinaire and mother of the delightful and talented Zoe, was in town for a short visit, and yesterday was gurlz day out. Our ultimate destination was the Cracked Pots garden art show at Edgefield. We stopped for lunch en route at Om Seafood on SE Powell at 70-somethingth. I bought crab at the market several months ago, but hadn't yet gotten to the adjacent Chinese restaurant. Anita and I both ordered rock cod; the fish was impeccably fresh, our dishes were tasty, attractive, and well-prepared, and the service was friendly and flawless.

Everything sold at the Cracked Pots show -- bird houses, bird baths and feeders, benches, tables and trellises, whimsical sculptures and what-have-you -- is made from recycled materials. The opposite of flawless, in a way. One artist, for instance, transformed hundreds of pieces of flatware into a single giant fork. Another built a charming tractor out of rusty god-knows-what. (That's Anita in the green top, standing to the left.) Someone else turned old kitchen drawers on edge and called them shelves. I loved it. Edgefield itself is a recycled property, the former county poor farm, repurposed by the McMenamin brothers and folded into their funky yet picturesque hotel/restaurant/pub empire.

I lusted in my heart for several items, including a 12-foot-tall fire-breathing dragon with a price tag of $8,000-ish that surely would have been the talk of Rural Street. But heron sculptures have been calling out to me consistently since we moved to town, so I could easily justify my purchase of a two-dimensional Great Blue. S/he seems perfectly at home by the marshy-looking clump of grass just in front of our porch.

On the way back from Edgefield, we made two more shopping stops. Anita wanted to go to Fabric Depot, where I have no trouble killing time. She found yardage and incidentals she needed for Zoe's wedding, while I picked up a few random items, including Shiva paintsticks, a book on using same, and a new, ergonomically-friendly pair of scissors. I resisted buying a set of plastic, pre-formed, textured sheets (op-art, triangles, ethnic motifs, etc.) specifically designed for stamping and rubbing. I'd rather hunt for random objects, though the animal skin set was actually pretty cool. I did love the bolt of day-glo orange fabric on the display marked "camouflage." In what universe?

Finally, we detoured into Portland Nursery on SE Stark. It was another Anita-driven stop, but it gave me an excuse to cruise the shade house in search of the elusive toad lily, which Grace had recommended for the spot in the backyard from which she'd rescued and transplanted three or four struggling roses. I managed to wrest two variegated tricyrtis from Cornell Farm several weeks ago (long story), but they weren't in bloom, and here were several in full, glorious flower. I bought just one, a different variety from those you can kinda see in the background here, and will plant her, I hope, tomorrow.

So, a very satisfying afternoon. Several relaxed hours with a friend, sunny but not hot weather, a good meal and new restaurant discovery all in one, plus modest indulgence in my favorite kinds of shopping: fabric/sewing notions and plants/garden stuff. The only thing missing was a side trip to Powell's, but that would have been too much of a good thing.

24 July 2007

Party, party, party

Last weekend we went to two of the best parties I've attended in ages. Both were hosted and largely populated by people less than half my age and a third of Jerry's. I didn't bring my camera to either, which was probably just as well. One, a housewarming on NE Alberta, involved a whole roast pig, a pinata, dozens of pies, and a highly literate and entertaining female duo, the Alphabetics, who rapped about Scrabble, asthma, pizza and body hair (not all in the same song). The other, a 25th birthday party held on the bluffs west of Overlook Park, featured a potato cannon, accordions, an exquisite yellow-and-blue cake, and a commanding view of the railroad yards from possibly the most esoteric corner of Portland I've visited so far. Thanks, Tessa and Kristin & Eric, for the pies, potatoes and opportunity to celebrate with y'all.

Sunday was also the final day of the national petanque championship playoffs, or something like that, at Westmoreland Park. Neither of us plays or knows much about petanque, but our friend Bill, who visited recently, is into it, and it seemed a shame not to check it out since the venue is less than a 15-minute walk from our house. This time I did remember my camera, and took several boring photos. From an outsider's perspective, petanque isn't a particularly dynamic sport; I'm not sure it would even qualify as aerobic exercise. The "Boule Bleu" brand name struck me as amusing, though, as did the art car (truck, actually) we spotted on the way home, and the porta-potty on SE 28th that was definitely not at the "right angle" (click on the top photo to enlarge it).

Between petanque and potato cannon, Jer and I zipped downtown for a block party celebrating the Contemporary Craft Museum's new quarters bordering the North Park Blocks. Gerrie has posted some pix on her blog. Inside, it was shoulder-to-shoulder, too crowded to really take in the exhibit which, fortunately, will be up for several more weeks.

Monday, I did essentially nothing. It felt great.

21 July 2007

Garden Party

Last night we attended a dinner/art opening at the Japanese Garden. I'd gotten tickets because the thought of a summer evening in that exquisite location sounded really appealing. It was a pleasant enough affair, with a jazz trio, friendly folks to chat with, good wine, and a light, Asian-inflected supper in a tented area adjacent to the Pavilion. I ran into fellow STASH member Linda, an unexpected bonus. The view east, across the city and toward the Cascades, was spectacular, as always. What a spot, as Jerry likes to say.

I was surprisingly put off, though, by the gathering as such. I hated the fact that a crowd of people were eating, drinking and generally yakking it up in "my" tranquil green garden, my special retreat, my single favorite place in Portland. I had no idea I'd react in such a proprietary way. I'd never been to the Garden this late in the day; I was looking forward to it, and I'd brought my camera thinking the evening light might show me something new. There was no evening light to speak of -- it drizzled, off and on, all day and into the night -- but the Garden was still beautiful.

I felt better after we left the party for a while and took a short walk to the waterfall and koi pond. And I did buy some Art, a piece by Jan Rentenaar. It's a tiny ceramic sculpture of Usagi, the rabbit who lives on the moon. Here he is posed on some appropriate fabric from my stash.

Speaking of small creatures, China Rose has been particularly nesty recently. I just posted three more "awww...." shots on Flickr, for you cat people, starting here.

And speaking of art, I've had fabric on my design wall for the last few weeks, but it's been too hot and/or I've been too distracted and/or uninspired for any compelling ideas to emerge. What I am going to tackle, maybe even this afternoon, is a quite traditional ribbon-block table mat (think of a single large placemat). I'd set aside my fabric selection for this project years ago, before we even had a yellow-and-green kitchen. We have two sets of purple napkins, which will tie in well.

Sometimes it helps to work on something straightforward and mundane while the more interesting projects percolate in the subconscious. That's my theory, anyway, and I'm stickin' to it. It couldn't possibly be that I don't have a single creative idea left in my head.

13 July 2007

Great balls o' fire!

I spent most of yesterday in an air-conditioned car riding to and from air-conditioned Astoria with my art-quiltin' STASH buddies. It was a welcome respite from Portland's heat wave. Tuesday was a record-breaking 102; temps have gradually moderated down into the high 80s. But still: HOT.

Last night, after it cooled off a bit, Chef Jerub prepared a lovely dinner of grilled chicken and veggie skewers, served over rice with a side of sauteed greens. We'd finished eating and were watching a Jerry Lee Lewis tribute concert on the PVR, when we heard what sounded like thunder. Strange; there was no rain in the forecast. We paused Jerry Lee and came upstairs to check out the scene: More thunder, lightning, and finally a steady downpour that went on for an hour or more. Several of our neighbors were out on the sidewalk, too, or sitting on their front steps. We talked for a while, illuminated by flashes of lightning, enjoying the mild summer storm.

The plants seem to've appreciated it, too, after all these days of artificial watering. Several of the grasses are flowering, all but one of the transplanted rose bushes (rose sticks, really) are leafing out, the ground covers are spreading. Some of the plantings are actually starting to touch each other, yay.

Our Sea Ranch friends Bill and Claire visited last weekend, and bought us a carnivorous pitcher plant (sarracenia) at Saturday Market. Its requirements are completely counterintuitive: it wants a nutrition-free growing medium, since it gets its nourishment from the insects it eats, and, as a bog native, as little drainage as possible. It seems happy so far, in a pot in the garden. We're resisting the impulse to name it Audrey.

06 July 2007

The Wisteria that Ate Rural Street

The First Wisteria Blossoms
Originally uploaded by revalani
The wisteria vine was part of May's garden makeover. It's already at the top of the porch column and started on its horizonal journey. Yesterday I noticed that one slim tendril had snagged the cornermost Tibetan prayer flag by a couple of threads. By this morning, the flag had been captured completely; I couldn't extricate it without cutting either the fabric or the plant. We've unleashed a monster, I fear. But it's fascinating to watch; you can almost literally SEE it growing.

02 July 2007

Thickened Discharge

I can imagine the Google hits I'm going to get on this one. But this is not about sinus (or worse) infections. If you're surfing for symptoms, try WebMD. And good luck.

"Thickened discharge" is another method that fiber artists have developed to manipulate and alter fabric. "Discharge" is the opposite of dyeing; you're removing color rather than adding it. Simply put, discharge is selective bleaching.

I've played a bit with plain ol' chlorine bleach and gotten some interesting results, but in Jeannette Meyer's workshop at OCAC last weekend, we used thiox (smellier but less toxic), mixed with sodium alginate to add body. Hence thickened discharge. Here's a shot of me, masked but healthy, courtesy of Gerrie's blog.

Dealing with a gel or paste, as opposed to a liquid, gives you more control over the discharge medium and the end results. That's the theory, anyway. Instead of just dipping or spraying the fabric, you can paint, draw, stamp, or silkscreen, using all sorts of creative tools -- leaves, potato mashers, construction fencing, plastic crates and supermarket trays, circuit boards, bubble wrap, newspaper, foam rubber, masking tape, combs, brushes, meat tenderizers, syringes, squeeze bottles, fingers. Now, when I open a kitchen drawer, I think "hmmm, interesting..."

Here's some of my output on my design wall. China Rose wasn't particularly impressed with the art show in her napping territory, but I was happy with the results of my first attempts at silk screening. The purply vertical piece on the far left was done with masking tape, and the branching design on the three different fabrics toward the middle was stencil-cut out of freezer paper.

In preparation for the workshop, I'd overdyed some printed commercial fabrics, including some real uglies, that have been in my stash forever. Discharging definitely redeemed some of them. The others are still ugly, but in a much more interesting way.

Sunday afternoon, when the workshop ended, Jer got a ride over to OCAC from Gerrie's husband Steve. After a stop across the road at Cornell Farm to buy toad lilies for the backyard (they proved scarce and elusive, but after a protracted hunt I managed to bag two), we headed way up Skyline for a Slow Food potluck. The hosts have a couple of acres with a beautiful garden as well as dogs, chickens, and half a dozen llamas. The llamas are crazy about broccoli leaves; I almost lost a finger. Also, we were told, they show their affection by blowing in your face. Here's Jerry getting intimate with a llama. He'll try anything once.

Oh yes, my hair is shorter. I'll bury down here a full facial self-portrait, which I took by pointing the camera toward myself (duh) while aiming the viewfinder via its reflection in the mirror. I don't recommend this technique, flattering results-wise.