Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Spare Change; a Widow's Journey

There's something about the places where land and sea meet, that really resonate with me. Whether sailing in the Puget Sound and the Canadian Gulf Islands or doing Qi Gung on the beach, I can't help but gather images that might later become paintings.

I am working on a series of silk pieces--partly painted and partly "art Quilt"--inspired by photos I've taken over the years. Some of these have been nagging at me to paint them for almost a decade, like this one of Spare Change on Goat Island.

Spare Change on Goat Island
Spare Change on Goat Island speaks to my heart because I took it after my husband Bob died. Bob and I sailed our boat Sea Change among the Gulf Islands in Canada for several years. Spare Change was--still is--the dingy.

When Bob was nearing death and knew he would no longer be able to sail, I told him I would sail when he was gone, no matter what the weather. That's when he knew that I would be OK. He told me he would be "the wind on my cheeks".

Bob died in July. I taught my son James to sail, and we took off for the San Juans and the Gulf Islands for a month. It was my time to come to terms with Bob's death, to learn to "skipper my own boat". There were times I was terrified to leave harbor, and James and I stayed at anchor for two days until I was ready to move on. There were times I felt Bob so close, I knew he would be a part of me always.

Goat Island is a small piece of land and rock in the harbor by Ganges, Canada, one of our favorite stops. Bob and I never landed on it, but James and I did. James and I visited many places Bob and I loved and also had new adventures.

Spare Change on Goat Island is about building on the Love and Adventuring Bob and I shared and continuing to love and to explore life.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Call Me a Tree Hugger

I have always loved trees. As a child I was a tree climber. As a young woman, I sensed a communication with an old Douglas Fir outside a friend's house. Really. I reached out to the tree in my mind, and I felt--sensed--the tree respond. Not in words of course.

Later, as a teacher of young children, I was gathering fir branches to decorate the classroom, for a unit on NW Native Americans. I had clippers in hand, but could not bring myself to cut branches from living trees. It felt like I was cutting off their fingers. In my mind, I said to the tree, "I need some greens for my classroom." I looked around, and there was a large branch full and green laying on the ground!

I used that, of course, hung it from the ceiling.  It gave us the feeling of being in the forest.

Every point of land here in the Puget Sound seems to have a Cedar or Douglas Fir leaning out over the water, like a sentinel.

I've heard that pioneers used fir or pine needles to make a tea rich in vitamin C. Native Americans used Cedar bark for clothing, ropes, to weave into blankets. The roots they made into baskets, and the trunk made their canoes. I can imagine each tree being asked it's permission before it's bark or trunk was used.

Just being among trees or standing at the foot of one gives me a sense of comfort. I feel protected when I lean against the trunk of an evergreen. Trees are like friends.

OK, call me a tree hugger. I am  not offended.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Steaming Silk Dyes at Home

Have you checked out the cost of a steamer for steaming silks? OMG! Not in my budget! Luckily there are other solutions.

I can steam 4-6 scarves at home on  my stove this way:
1. Lay out a piece of cotton wide enough and long enough for two scarves laid side by side.
2. Lay the scarves on top.
3. Cover with  three layers of old newspapers (at least 30 days old).
4. Repeat if you have more scarves. I find 3 layers of scarves is max.
5. Roll into a cylinder, starting at the top of the scarves.

6. Roll this into a spiral.
7. Wrap in newspaper; tape or tie shut.
8.  Put about 2" or so of water in a large pot.
9. Put in something to hold silk package up out of the water. I found an old cake pan about 3" deep and my husband cut holes in it to let the steam through.
10. Cover with a folded towel or a lot of newspapers.
11. Steam as long as your dye requires. I steam red label Jaquard dyes for up to 2 hours including time it takes to heat up the pan.