Monday, December 21

what a sweetie~

look at this sweet girl! and her beautiful frame! this is the wonderful treasure i received from my swap partner deb miller. we were partners in A Swap for all Seasons' "Santa's Helpers" altered cabinet card swap. the frame is an antique cabinet card frame made from pot metal. i love the detail on it. it's heavy, and very soft. a local artist gilded it with gold leaf, and it really is wonderful, with an aged patina. i love how she is fiddling with her dress. i was a dress fiddler also. she is hanging by our christmas tree, guarding the packages from the sneaky 14 year old.

as i write this it is howling with wind and buckets of rain. my daughter thea has been stranded in the anchorage airport for over 24 hours now, trying to get home from college. too much wind, too much fog, no planes are flying. at least she's not alone, there's a large hoard of college kids with her. if the weather doesn't clear soon, alaska airlines is going to have to send an entire fleet to get everyone over here.

just something to think about if you are considering living on an island....

Thursday, December 17

how can this be????

after a very hectic day, i finally got around to looking at the pile of mail on the counter (at 11:30 pm). there was a letter from my boot camp son. this was in it:

needless to say, i got all teary-eyed and blubbery. can this be the same floppy goofey swimmer boy who walked across the tarmac and got on that plane just 8 1/2 weeks ago???

so many images have been flashing around in my head, things like how determined he was not to have training wheels. how mouthy he's been the last few months. his face when he'd look up at the scoreboard and see a PR time after a big swim.
all those little things have turned him into the man in that photo. well, those things and a healthy dose of airforce discipline i imagine...

geekers. kids are just full of surprises.

Monday, December 14

ahh, a minute to come up for air...

hot diggity what a busy 2 weeks i've had. i'm sure i'm not the only one. but holy cow it's already december 14th??? nuts! i've been submerged in my workroom (i'd like to call it my "studio" but feel that's a bit presumptuous, and the washer and dryer may take offense. they are bigger than me and i can't afford to make them angry right now) at any rate, that's where i've been living, getting ready for a wonderful holiday art show/sale held last friday & saturday. there were a total of 15 local artists along with our hosts Just Jane's fabrics, The Artists Eye Gallery, and Stringbeadz bead shop. friday night the place was packed, i was amazed. everyone was in such a holiday mood, it was a lot of fun.
i spent a week and a half sewing and dyeing silk ribbons and cut silk velvet scarves. i love dyeing, every stage is like finding hidden pirate treasures of colour; the way the fibers grab the dye, blend it, and release it is so amazing. i love the surprise. i'm not one to keep notes, and i don't beat myself up trying to duplicate shades, hues or whatnot. i guess i dye using the prozak method, that way i'm happy and so are my pieces. so, here's some of the stages:the dye bath ~ i use procion dyes and a low water immersion method loosely based on Ann Johnston's book "Color By Accident." here they are after the final clear rinse and before the first machine wash. at this point, i have been rinsing these by hand under hot running water, for what seems like days before the water runs clear and free of dye. an interesting point is that each primary colour rinses out at different times, the blues usually hang in there the longest, the stubborn things.

here's the line up after the wash, before i steam pressed them. i got some awesome vivid greens and oranges this time. happily they all went home with new owners and i'm ready for the next batch.

once i finished with the dyes, i dug back into drilling the sea glass and piecing together more necklaces. i also finished a few bracelets that were quite hard to part with. i spent some late nights with my dremel tool, and thank goodness for starbucks christmas blend in my favorite elf cup.

here's one of the bracelets, almost done. i go all mooshie over pearls, i don't know why, but i'll take a pearl over a diamond any day... and check out that amazing piece of pink glass! what a score, that had me doing major happy dance at mill bay beach one morning, let me tell you! that i had the perfect pink oh man. nirvana on a jump ring...

my ultimate stress reliever is needle felting, i just love everything about it. the feel of the fibers pulling together, they way you can blend the colours, the pop pop of the needle. it's either the first thing i do in the morning, or the last thing i do at night. i didn't get a lot done, but here are two of my favorites: a sea urchin which measured about 2.5", and a little limpit. i made some sweet little angels but neglected to take their photo, so will have to do some more.

so, that's what i've been doing. instead of decorating the house for christmas, or baking for christmas, or anything for christmas. guess what i'll be doing this week... my daughter comes home from college next sunday, and i just can't wait to have her here to hug whenever i want. and have her bring me coffee whenever i want. etc. getting to see her for 2 days in 12 months just isn't enough. i need to get her room dusted out and hang the christmas flannels out to air.

and here's the big happy news - my devon will be graduating from his Air Force basic training this weekend - with honors! he survived the texas heat, the push ups, and the TI's who can yell better than his mom, according to him, and he did it well. we are so proud of the little weasel and i can't wait to see that hair cut. he arrives home at 11:00 am on christmas eve, so we are praying that the weather have a bit of mercy for us so my boy can land on this island.

i can't think of a better gift this year, than to have my family together again. i hope you all are ready for the holidays, and also get to share them with family, and friends.

Tuesday, November 24

in the spirit of the sharing season....

i am sharing this info with you all. even thought i really really want to win, if it can't be me, i would want it to go to one of you, my dear friends. so - click over to Knit Purl Gurl and sign up to win a fabulous Namaste knitting bag. i have coveted one of these bags for a long time. could anything be more decadent than a beautiful leather knitting bag? in my humble opinion, coach & dooney have nothing on these lovelies. let me know if you win!

boy, am i ever thankful...

that i finished these babies. even more, i am thankful that they are the RIGHT SIZE!!!!! yes, they fit, and they are finished! and what about this yarn folks??? if it was food, i know it would rock the calorie scales. i think i gained weight just knitting with it. it is a noro yarn, i have always wanted to try a noro yarn, but felt i needed to reach a certain level of, i don't know, knittingness i guess. the knitting god was with me, because it all sure came together in these mittens.

even chuck loves these mittens. look at him rubbing his hands together, the little stinker
have a wonderful, happy thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 15

it's winter!

we have our first snow! folks around here are either tickled and jolly about, or grinchy mcgrinches. surprisingly, i'm one of the tickled ones. i've always believed if it's going to be cold, we might as well have snow. cullan and i hauled all our snowboarding gear down from the attic yesterday. in this season of being thankful, i am very very thankful i still fit in my snowboarding pants. for now.
my boot camp son got a 10 minute phone call a few days ago. he says he has never been so hot in his life. they get 4 minutes to eat their meals. he and his wing man are the best bedmakers in their flight. and the whole flight has to do push ups if someone leaves the toilet seats down. for pete's sake, does the air force have any idea how much time mother's spend ranting at their boys for leaving them UP???
i'm still working on bella mittens #2, forcing myself to knit loose.... i'm using a nice fat Noro yarn and the colors are too wonderful.

and i just finished my annual volunteer project, a raffle quilt for the Kodiak Kingfishers Swim Team. the team has been a big part of our family since devon started swimming in the 3rd grade, and even though i don't have a swimmer right now, i feel it's important to support such a great organization for our kids. i hope it goes to a nice home, and makes some travel money for the team too.

Thursday, November 5

oh rats.

i really want to be able to knit. i have been trying hard the past year or so. i've bought a lot of books that assure me i can do it. i've collected some beautiful needles in many sizes. and lord knows purchasing yarn is not what is holding me back, i have lots. thick soft fat stuff, slinky slidey lacy stuff, boy can i buy yarn. i've managed a few hats, some scarves, one pair of socks that look like they were purchased at a store in Who-ville. when i get to a place in a pattern i don't understand, i just make something up. so far, it has worked okay for me. now, my mom can knit like a goddess. i swear she could knit wings for the angels. i didn't get the knitting gene from her. and when she tried to impart her knowledge to me, it's like a door slams in my face. i just can't follow her. so, i signed up for a mitten class. chris told me i just had to be able to cast on, knit & purl. i can do those 3 things. they were cabled mittens, and she was going to show us how to knit two at a time on circular needles. perfect. it was a fun group of ladies, kindof varied in skill levels, and everyone has been helping each other along. i've learned that i can't knit and talk at the same time. even listening to other people talk while i knit can lead to heinous errors. but, i've managed to keep up class by class, with some interesting detours from the pattern, which wonderful chris helps me remedy as needed. finally, tuesday night, i finished the thumbs, wove in the ends, and there they were, finished & in my eye, beautiful. only one problem.

they are too small.

Friday, October 30

happy halloween!!

halloween is my very favorite holiday. i am so sad that for the first time in 21 years, i didn't have a costume to sew, no tulle, no aluminum foil, no cardboard, no feathers. luckily i have a friend with 3 wonderful little girls whom i adore, so i've spent the morning making them treat baskets out of peat cups. that left me feeling a little better.
i felt a LOT better after i walked down to get the mail and .....this was in my box....

wow! i was the lucky winner of linda's altered cabinet card. linda hosts great swaps at A Swap for all Seasons. she sent me a package full of halloween goodies: a ghost stamp, a tiny little broom that probably gets great mileage, little spiders, pumpkins and bats, and this over the top necklace made on a domino - i love it all, thanks linda! (i am such a poor photographer..)

trick or treating on kodiak is not always a treat. for many years we trudged through rain storms, slush, and snowy blizzards to bring our kids trick or treating. our poor kids never once got to go outside just wearing their wonderful costumes it took days and weeks to make, they always had to be buried in snowsuits or rain gear. it wasn't until my daughter was at college in oregon her first year that she realized fall was an actual season that didn't include snow or ice, and she called to let me know she felt cheated thinking back on all those trick or treat nights that no one knew she was a fairy ice princess. i told her there were hundreds of children down there who have never gotten to pull their own king crab pots. she quieted down a little after that. but she has a point. at any rate, we are having a sunny dry halloween right now, and boy are the local kids ever out in full force. good for them! and happy halloween to all of you, hope yours is also dry and sunny!

Wednesday, October 28

words of wisdom...

i've been working the last couple of sunny but freezing (i mean it~ice on the lakes, cold air coming in all the cracks kind of cold) days on some ATC's for a show my friend liz is hosting at her gallery. it's entitled "words of wisdom." when she put out the call we all went and picked up a sheet with a vintage vocabulary flash card attached to it. my word was facetious. i was thrilled. i have no problem being "facetious." the problem came with trying to visualize the word on a 2.5 x 3.5" card. i've spent days pondering ideas, and finally settled on these two. all of us participants have been saying the same things to each other ..."oh man, i wish i had your word..." i can't wait to see what everyone else has done. wouldn't this be a great art/english project for a teacher to do in class?
i'd like to give credit to debrina of land of enchantment for the marie image and karen the graphics fairy for the pierrot photo and sheet music image (what a title for a song, huh? cracked me up)
i've also made several more necklaces, have started on some sea glass charm bracelets, and am gearing up to head back to mermaid shadow box land for the holidays. and i have a group of silk velvet scarves to get in the dye baths. sure wish the two remaining members of my family didn't expect dinner every night...

Tuesday, October 20

oh this is so sad

saturday night was the last dinner my son devon will have with us for some time, as he left for Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio Texas sunday morning. he wanted kraft macaroni & cheese and hot dogs. it was tough, but i pulled it off. we did a lot of remembering over that dinner. like how he used to always choke on his hot dogs. set fire to things inside the house. tinkle in his sisters' dollhouse in the night. the next morning we brought him to the airport and had to say goodbye, without knowing exactly when we would see or hear from him again... he was allowed to take only a backpack. and gosh he looked just like he did on his first day of kindergarten. now there's only 3 plates on the dinner table.

on the bright side, it only took his younger brother cullan 25 minutes to complete the move from his old room into devon's...

if any of you out there are in texas, maybe you could keep your eye out for devon. sure hope the heat doesn't evaporate the poor alaskan boy.

beach jewels...

there isn't a windowsill or flat surface in my house that hasn't collected a few pieces of sea glass. who can walk on the beach and not pick these beauties up? not me. if our house falls off its' foundation, i know it will be from the tons of jewels i have been collecting. i finally decided it was time to share them, and am working on perfecting my drilling and wirework. i do love the feel of my dremel tool in my hand. we'll see where this takes me...

Sunday, October 11


hot dog, look up there everyone! at my new header! it has taken me so many frustrated hours trying to figure out how to get a nice banner up there, using a font i liked...i have shed tears over this, and felt all the worse knowing it could be done, because everyone else is able to....if i had champagne handy, this would be a mimosa moment. a very heartfelt thanks to karen, the graphics fairy, who shares such beautiful images with everyone.

Monday, October 5

is there anything more wonderful than a package in the mail?

i've spent all morning with my pile of mail. i'm probably the only person ever who even loves her junk mail. i read it all. but i always save the best for last, and boy howdy, did i get some great stuff. earlier this summer i joined the Good Ol' Summertime Mini Quilt Swap. i finished mine up and sent it off before i left in august. how fun to get home and open up this....

what an awesome piece! i am so lucky to have been the talented doris' swap partner! my quilt was made by doris from threads of conversation and i love it. she does beautiful work, the colours and curved piecing are fabulous. thanks so much doris!

i saved my last package for last because i knew what would be in it, and i love prolonging the excitement. halloween is my very favorite holiday, so when sarah (gypsy mermaid) announced a vintage halloween tag swap i didn't think twice. she is a great swap coordinator, and did something really fun with this one - each of us made 13 tags and mailed them to her, then she collected them all, and assembled them into books for each of us. after opening up my box and looking at each incredible tag, i am so amazed at how much art can be fit on such a small surface. each tag was so different, and so wonderful. my photo doesn't do justice to them at all, and i can't wait to visit everyone's blogs to see more of their work. look at these great treasures!!

i love them all. i can't wait to haul out all my halloween stuff now. thanks sarah, for putting these together for us!

Sunday, October 4

hello, i'm finally back home!


after almost 2 months, i'm home with the family. when i left, i had no idea it would be for so long, but what an adventure.

it's a bit hard getting back into the swing of things, it's taken me a couple of days to even be able to turn on the computer. i feel like i've been fast-forwarded back into civilization, and i'm most definately on overload. the grocery store almost did me in...

the first week at ugak i spent with my family at our cabin, in beautiful sunny weather, it was wonderful.

then for the next few weeks i moved over to our neighbor's working lodge, Alpenview, where i cooked for clients and staff. check out their website, it is pretty incredible, especially if any of you fish or have fishing husbands. what a fantastic time.

owners/guides dave jones and shawn finn have been fishing guides on kodiak for many years, and they sure know what they are doing. i had the pleasure of meeting and cooking for clients from all over the states and many countries.
alpenview has an incredible top-notch commercial kitchen for being out in a remote area, what a treat for me to create meals in. combined with the freshest fish and seafood ever, i was in heaven. i never thought i could be so happy getting up at 5:30 every morning, but it was so much fun watching folks from ohio, arizona, colorado, germany or spain get up at the crack of dawn and be thrilled about pulling on rain gear to go fishing....even when it was raining sideways from the wind. amazing, these fishing people.

before i left i packed up my baby sewing machine and some other supplies, thinking between meals i would have some great time to do my art, but that never happened...i did nothing but create food from sun up to sundown, and often much later. however, i have a head full of inspiration for this winter.
i did find a creative outlet while making meals - i began a "food as art" campaign. i have a long way to go before i reach julia child status, but the clients seemed to enjoy everything. we pulled the crab pots every week for a huge fresh crab dinner. i also made sushi every week, and made bread every day. so much different from cooking for my family - no blue box mac & cheese! and the wonderful clients were so gracious. (of course, it helps when the folks eating your food have been standing on their feet in water and rain all day catching fish, they are usually cold, tired and starving.) having an unlimited supply of fresh halibut, salmon, rockfish and crab to work with was wonderful.

at any rate, the days at the lodge were great. it was hard every saturday, the client switch out day, to say goodbye to our "family" of the week, but also fun to meet our new guests. now there are so many places i want to visit...after hearing folks talk about their homes, i'm pretty sure i need to see north carolina, spain, portugal, germany, and ohio...

as well as running guided fishing stays at alpenview lodge (where there is the wonderful kitchen, hot running water, showers, windows and floors...) dave and shawn also operate an outcamp on the ayakulik river, located on the southern end of the island, miles and miles away from...anything. the outcamp is definately camping, with a main tent for the kitchen/eating area, a tent for the banya (an native kodiak island steam bath, like a suana) and 5 sleeping tents. and the outhouse. all this is enclosed in a solar powered electric fence because the outcamp is located in the middle of kodiak grizzly bear home.

i've enjoyed photos of the outcamp, but never ever had any longings to visit it. the clients who stay at the outcamp are hard core fly fishermen, usually there for king salmon, silver salmon, and what i believe is the holy grail of fly fishing - steelhead.

during the course of my stay at alpenview, i was gently convinced i wanted to experience cooking at the outcamp. and so, for the last 2 weeks, that is where i have been. i never took my longjohns off once the entire time, except for 2 quick banyas. i slept in my longjohns, wool socks and a hat and mittens.

my best friends were sweetpea, the bear, a little ermine, and several fox. and the heater in the kitchen tent.

i thought that ugak bay was peaceful, but the calm peace at the ayakulik was amazing. the outcamp is in a huge valley, the mountains are quite a ways off, so the sky is huge, bigger than i've ever seen. at night it is so pitch black the stars are overwhelming, it is like being in a 3D movie. there are always shooting stars flying by and once we even saw jupiter. the quiet was incredible. so quiet i could hear the bears swimming down the river. i loved it. then it froze. one morning we woke up to 18 degree weather. a very cold trip to the outhouse. a lot of water hauling. the clients were all so great, so happy to be there. it was fun seeing it all through their eyes, especially when they were from new york city & such. one mom bear we call susie mocha, and her three 3 yr old cubs we call the chocolate drops, were frequent visitors and fun to watch as she gave them lessons on fishing in the home pool by the kitchen tent. the cubs loved to visit in the mornings and caused many clients to cut their outhouse visit all, it was a great experience. i'm glad i went. i made some great friends, learned how to fly fish, sort of, and created meals on a 3 burner camp stove instead of a viking range...i learned i'm not too old to haul water from a stream outside of the bear fence. also learned how incredible total silence can be for your soul. and i hummed the national geographic explorer song a lot. especially when trying to cook on the smoker outside in pelting cold rain with bears watching me.

anyhow, it's good to be home with the boys. and the toilet that flushes. and my flannel pj's. i won't be wearing rubber boots again for a while.

i remembered how to drive my car, and i survived my first trip to the grocery store in 5 weeks without too much culture shock. it is a bit hard to get used to the noise and bustle of life...and i admit, i miss conversing with sweetpea in the mornings, and dodging fox poop on the boardwalks.

i wish i could post all the photos i took while down there, but i have to say getting photos on this blogger thing sends me minute they are there, then they are gone, or even more fun, jump to somewhere else in the post... but i did want to share my bear friends with you all, and some of the fellows i had the pleasure of meeting and watch fish. i am throwing in one of myself, which i usually don't like to do, but i am quite proud of my beautiful dolly varden i caught after shawn patiently taught me how to cast out the line and all the other motions of fly fishing. my fish was happy to be put back in the river and swim away from my bumbling efforts.

i have a lot of catching up to do here in blogland i can tell, and i can't wait. i have a huge pile of mail to go through also, i'm waiting for everyone in the house to go away so i can have a good cup of coffee and open up all the packets... fall has definately arrived here, even though it's not as cold yet as at the outcamp, the colours are changing. i will be glad to get back at the sewing machine and get busy with all the projects i've been carrying around in my head.

i would also like to say thank you to all of you who have visited & left me comments! it's so exciting to hear from all of you, everywhere! even if i never get off this little island, it's so awesome to be able to converse with folks out in "the real world" - so thank you for taking the time to share a few words with me!

Friday, August 7

off to the lodge...

our front yard
my son devon is impervious to the cold when it comes to fun
gill netting for reds (salmon)
it's time for us to be heading down to our other home, and my favorite, our lodge out at ugak bay. we leave on sunday (or tomorrow, whenever the captain says) and i will be gone until the beginning of october. we have no phone (the boys won't be able to text, i hope they can keep their thumb muscles in shape) or internet, so this will be my last post for a bit. we do have a generator, so this time i get to bring my awesome hello hitty janome with me & hopefully get some quilts whipped out.
the family vehicle
it's hard to explain how wonderful it is down there, like another planet. so peaceful and quiet, with just an occassional float plane flying by. time slows down, and at night there are so many stars - without electric lights it is amazing what you can see in the sky.
momma brown bear & fox family
we have game cams set out in a couple spots behind the cabin, and it will be fun to see what has been walking by. last year we got to watch the day by day travels of a momma deer & a momma brown bear before & after babies.
duffy loves a skiff ridethese are my seal friends who eat the urchins for me...

i look forward to catching up with everyone when i gat back. and boy am i glad i managed to get my spooky halloween tag swap tags done!!! phew!