Best Laid Plans…

Thinking Out Loud,

Well, it took me one day to figure out that an imposed routine doesn’t work for me right now.

I can see that that has been generally my MO—set a plan and make myself follow it with discipline and the knowledge that “work” should feel like “work”.  My new work routine did feel like work, and I got a start, but it wasn’t enjoyable.  I wasn’t even going for the fun part, but I did want to enjoy “working”.  Trust  me, over the years work has been fun, challenging, engaging, exciting, difficult—all that good stuff.  But change happens and time passes.

I guess I want something else now.

Yeah, one of those would be really good, too.

Anyway, by bedtime, after following my new work routine, and after setting a plan for the next work day, I ached all over, felt a bit bummed, and was definitely NOT looking forward to doing it all again the next day.  I wondered–what the heck is the matter with me?  This isn’t how I want to feel.  This isn’t how I want my work to feel.  This isn’t how I want each day to be.

I had an epiphany.  I really did.  I announced to Jim (my hubby)–because I figured he should know it too– I am retired!   At first he looked at me like  I had skipped a beat, then we both had a good long laugh…(I retired nearly 2 years ago, but I guess it has taken a while to sink in…)

Here’s what I think about it today…I don’t want to work to accomplish something, I want to savor something—my process, my experience, my expression.  I want to play!  Pure and simple.

I feel light hearted about the whole thing.  I feel like playing with the same stuff I have been working with, but with a different attitude.  There is no road map for that, no logical following the scientific method, no agenda, no commitments or schedules.  But there is curiosity, lots of it.  I wonder what will happen if I…?

Anyway, I’m retired from the business, not the art making.  I know, duh…

Routine, what routine?

Thinking Out Loud…

That’s one of my favorite Gary Larson cartoons.  The old Far Side calendar copy is long gone, but photo copied so I can keep it pinned to my design wall–an old friend, it seems just the right thing.  As I encounter rethinking the way I work and re-establishing a work routine, believe me, this feels very familiar.

But this morning I feel ready, a shift in my thinking.  I’ve spent the past week finishing up a major knitting project (yea!), and I can feel the urgency to knit (and finish) relax its hold on me.  So I’m clearing a space on my sewing table and looking fresh at my design wall.


There are layers of stuff on my design wall…at this count, three layers.  Projects roughed in and left, covered over with fleece, and new ideas fleshed out on top.  There are actually some good ideas in there, underneath, somewhere.

One that keeps nagging me is the sweater on the yellow plaid field.  Something about this one makes me feel really good, makes me smile–until I think about how to actually DO it.  I’ve got lots of ideas about it, but up to now, not quite the energy to dive in and try it.  I think I am there.  At last.

While often over the past few years I berated myself for not “working”, I realize now that I was simply not finishing anything.  I’d see my design wall everyday, look past the work up there, somehow going blind to it, and end up feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.  But occasionally, I’d fling something else up there–very rough, very incomplete, but an idea that compelled me in some way.  Then I’d think about making it and go lie down.

I have to chuckle at myself…about a week ago, after my last post, I walked into the studio, sat in my comfy chair, looked at the design wall, and I SAW my work.  I saw that I had been producing, not finishing, but producing viable ideas.  Maybe I didn’t want to finish them in the ways I have worked  in the past, but that seemed OK with me.  It seemed interesting to me.  I felt the energy to find a way.  Well dang….it feels good.

So I’ve cleared the decks and thought out a new work routine.  I’m going to take it easy on myself and start out gently, slowly–a couple hours in the morning, doing some trial and error projects to grease the wheels, and to figure out some things.  I am going to allow myself to venture into uncharted territory, explore materials and ideas I am curious about.  And I am building in time to screw up.  At last, that sounds like good fun.

Also, I’m going to add a few minutes of exercise bike time to my work routine–and do some research/reading while I pedal–easy going.   My current pedaling fav is this book…fascinating text accompanying beautiful images.

It’s time to cut myself loose from expectations–mine.  It is time to experiment!

I could not resist adding this–my NEW sweater!  A hand knitting experiment in “will this fit?”  YES!

That Place…

Thinking Out Loud…

That place is Baker Bay, Cape Disappointment, Washington.  Every time we go there, I lose myself in photographing this spot.  There is some mystery for me in that this is the terminus of the Lewis and Clark Trail.  They didn’t find what they were looking for– the Northwest Passage, an easy, cross the continent route to the Pacific and on to the Far East.  Disappointment.

Baker Bay opens out into the Columbia River just before the river flows into the Pacific.  At this point, the Columbia is a place of dangerous sand bars, shifting waters, and often wild weather–still requiring careful piloting of the ships that travel up river to Portland, Oregon.  While Baker Bay is a small protected and shallow bay, sand bars come and go with the storms.  It is a place of many moods.  I love it.


Even in the pouring rain and blowing wind, I can’t help but try to capture it.

Marks for counting—the posts, relics of an old pier,

Imprint still water.

On our most recent trip to that place, I found myself saying–“I need to make a quilt of this.”  And then I stopped, astounded.  I haven’t said that in a long long time.  For a brief moment, I could see the fabric I would use.  I could see the pale colors I would use.  Then the moment passed.

Like a bolt of lightning, the idea seemed so clear

Where did it go?

I’ve been writing a lot of haiku lately.  Well sort of haiku—17 syllables. Traditional haiku pays attention to the number of syllables per line as well as in the whole…I am just letting it rip.  I think of haiku as a word picture with a point.  And that is the basis of what I am going for.

Since the beginning of my quilt making, I have thought of my quilts as poems, not particularly holding to any form of poem, just your garden variety visual poetry.  Kinda high-falootin’ my mother would say….  but there you go.

It is helping me, right now, to think of my quilt ideas as haiku—short statements capturing a feeling or a moment—visually.  And somehow this place that I keep photographing is prodding me.  It’s a bit like bird watching–catching glimpses among the branches, standing quietly, respectfully, gently so that the bird does not fly away.

So an idea begins to come into focus, just a hint or two for now.

The next stage feels as though I am marshaling my forces to begin a campaign–gathering the bits, the tools, all the stuff that takes an idea into real form.  And it still seems a task I am not ready for.  What’s holding me up?

I know I have to figure out the HOW.  How am I going to work now?  How am I going to DO it?  I don’t want to force myself into the ways I have worked for so many years.  It feels like an old shoe that no longer fits.

Hand work, lap work, portable, rough and ragged, loose and fragile, humble, collected elements, simple, crude techniques, unfinished, unvarnished, imperfect, aged and relaxed, freed up….Ideas are coming around, and around, and around….





I’m Back!

Thinking Out Loud…

“Camping” for three weeks touring around the Olympic Peninsula.  Aaah, what a treat–relaxing, relaxing, relaxing.

When we left home, there was still snow on the ground, and when we returned a week ago it was full on Spring.  Amazing.  We had freezing weather, wind and rain, bright sunshine at 30 degree temps, and two days of a heat wave that broke local records for the highest temperatures ever recorded for Western Washington in March.

Our goal was to revisit some of our favorite places from Fort Flagler State Park to Cape Disappointment and points in between.  We aimed to include a bunch of simple cafes out in the wilds, take lots of pictures, and see the wide open spaces of Washington off season–rain or shine.  For me, it was a good time to think, to ponder next steps, and let my mind wander just as we were, letting each day unfold in its own time.

Dawn, Fort Worden, WA.  Yes, we really did get up at dawn–once.  It was worth it.

This place has pie….and darn good burgers.  Town of Joyce, WA.  We managed quite a few cafes…good ones.   Over the three weeks, we indulged in pie, razor clams, hot cakes,  home made hash, and burgers….oh, yeah, and beignet.  Oh man….

We love little towns.  This place is the oldest (1911) continually operating General Store in the state of Washington.  Inside is a step back into history, and…

Candy–the most amazing candy collection I have seen since childhood!  It was mythic.  They also had a store cat, but I didn’t manage a picture of him. Darn… I even went back, but he was out.

I stored up a lot of great views…That’s when I know I am not really a photographer.  I get lost in looking.  I listen to how it feels to be seeing what I am seeing.  So I didn’t get pictures of the river otters at Cape Disappointment, or the vultures riding the thermals above Salt Creek.  But I watched and soaked it up.  And that felt really good.

I found myself wondering how I might translate what I saw into stitches.  Each time this happened, it was a brief fleeting moment, but it was there.  And then we came to a place that I never get tired of trying to capture with my camera.

Baker Bay at Cape Disappointment, WA.  The Terminus of the Lewis and Clark Trail.

But more on that next time…