o, the light! the light!

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One night each year, Joy Creek throws a party to celebrate its wonderful customers and to share the sights and scenes that twilight brings to the gardens.


We used my ‘Spinnaker’ banners to mark a few spots where the lighting effects seemed especially dramatic.


Monica tied in all sorts of festive streamers and little brass bells.


Many grasses wore halos of light for the occasion.



People wandered or broke into small groups to chat and exclaim


while the music of the Brian Christopher Jazz Quartet lured many to simply sit and listen (though their strains could be heard throughout the gardens)


And there were treats, of course. If you live anywhere in the area, do yourself a favor and put this on your calendar when it rolls around next year.

bloom day banners

pair of floral spinnakers

Other than the few fuchsias hanging on, Mom Nature has provided me with nothing to show you for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. But when I’m not sowing flowers I am sewing them, so here are a couple of the floral series of Spinnakers standing in for the flowers of the horticultural kind. I call them Spinnakers because they flap in the wind and make that wonderful sound referred to in sailing circles as “luffing”.


This one is called ‘Pistil’. I started out by doing a series of four abstract flower banners on commission. They were a more typical banner shape to attach to a wall or post. I actually like the Spinnaker format because it can be free-standing and really takes advantage of any whiff of wind that comes along. I adapted two of the floral designs for my own use. The original designs are available in my Etsy Shop.


I call this one ‘Budding’. If you visit May Dreams Gardens, I’m sure Carol can point you to many gardens where the plants provide the flowers.

after the booms come the blooms of July


Of the three plants from seed generously given to me by Linda, this is the only Eryngium giganteum blooming for me. One plant was pulled into his tunnel by a gopher as I looked on. The other is thriving, but I will need to wait for next year to see it flower. If you click on the link to Linda’s post, you will see what happens once Miss Wilmott finds a place to her liking and decides to start her family there.

Verbascum ariaphaenum

I love the fuzzy stem and large flowers on the only Verbascum that I have ever laid out cash to procure (it’s other name is ariaphaenum), but it failed to get a grip and toppled over into the V. chaixii surrounding it.

volunteer Verbascum

The volunteer Verbascums that pop up here and there are made of sturdier stuff. The architecture of the plant is stunning, though the flowers are nothing to write home about.

Romneya coulterii

After two years of struggle, the Romneya coulterii is beginning to hit its stride.

Romneya coulterii blossom

Flowers are mostly an afterthought in this garden, but not in this case. Here’s a close-up to show you why.

sempervivums in bud

The early stages are best when the Sempervivums decide to bloom. Here they are in bud…

sempervivums blooming

…and again as the flowers begin to unfold.


This is the first time the Rhus has produced these fuzzball flowers. Maybe it’s a keeper after all.

creeping Charlie

In sunny spots, the flowers of Creeping Charlie are exactly the same color as the foliage, but in shade it’s a different story.

Lychnis coronaria

When I showed off the foliage of Lychnis coronaria, I promised to show it in flower, so here it is.

Clary sage

The Clary sage is another windfall from Linda.

Fillipendula rubra

Fillipendula rubra will erupt into a froth of pink, but I like it best in bud (guess I say that a lot).

Verbena bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis is one of those peek-a-boo plants that allows us to see what’s behind it. Good thing, too, because it has a habit of popping up everywhere. The other players in this combo are Stachys ‘Helen Von Styne’, an orange geum and Acanthus spinosus.

heuchera and astrantia

Speaking of playing peek-a-boo, the sunlight is having some fun here as it plays off of the flowers and foliage of Heucheras, Astrantia, Persicaria ‘Purple Shield’ and Hydrangea ‘Limelight’.

floral series banners

Finally, here are a couple of flowers you will not find in nature…part of my floral series of banners.

That’s it for me…more here.

“weather event”

deep snow

Here’s what we woke up to on Wednesday morning…about a foot of very wet snow. It broke many tree limbs and bent others (and even some whole trees) to the ground. It also kept me from an event I was very much looking forward to…reading from BeBop Garden for a garden club in Vancouver WA. They were gracious about my wimpy ways and assured me that we could reschedule for a couple of months hence. Enough with the carping. It was really pretty.

snow scene with flags

Everything covered in white becomes even more dramatic viewed through the line of flags at our front deck’s edge.

snow scene taken with the flash on

Richard took a few pictures with the flash on. I like the effect…very different than the first pictures, taken with the snow setting. Here’s another one:

more flash

Unfortunately, we can’t seem to reach a level where these special effects are anything other than accidents. By this afternoon, most of the beauty had dissolved into a bleak, dismal slush. R commented that it was an Edgar Allen Poe sort of day. Hah! Turns out today was EAP’s birthday!

do you kindle?

kindle and library book

My kids gave me a Kindle for Christmas. There it is next to a library book, The Complete Works of Jane Austen. Which of these would you prefer to carry around in your purse to read whenever you found yourself with a snippet of time on your hands? Don’t get me wrong: I am, and always will be, a book person. One of the first things I did when setting up housekeeping on my own was begin to build a library. When I hooked up with Richard, who shared my book habit, we quickly outgrew our shelf space. Did we cease and desist? No, R built more shelves. It is only lately that we have begun to jettison a random book or three, to make room for more. There is a limit, even for us, to the amount of wall space that can be given over to book shelves. Enter the Kindle, at precisely the right moment in time. It is slim, elegant and relatively weightless. The screen renders typography extremely legible. The number of volumes it will store is practically limitless. Order one from Amazon, and before you have even logged off it will have been uploaded, seemingly magically, to your reading device. The Kindle versions of books cost less, even, than paperbacks, and works that are in the public domain are either free or a nominal $.99. What is more, when in doubt about a book you might want to read, you can download the first chapter to give it a test drive before committing resources.

Richard was disdainful (to put it politely) of this newfangled contraption. He was casting about for some reading material the other day, and I knew he would love Just Kids, Patti Smith’s National Book Award winning account of her life with Robert Mapplethorpe. It was the first book I had ordered up for the Kindle. I wouldn’t say he is exactly a convert, but he did have to admit that it was a pleasant reading experience. In the case of Just Kids, it is a book I will probably buy in its hardbound edition, just so that I can have all of the wonderful line drawings and photographs sprinkled throughout. Riffling through the pages of a book is satisfying in a way that bookmarking in an e-reader does not duplicate. There will always be books we will want to own. For reading in the tub, best to stick with ink on paper. I love my Kindle, not as a replacement, but as another tool for gobbling up words.

kindle case

It didn’t take long to figure out that if I was going to carry this thing around with me, it would need some protection. I made a case for myself, and one for Hillary. She was thrilled, and said that she had gone on Etsy to try to find something like it and had found nothing. Whoa! A new, uncrowded niche in the labyrinth that is Etsy? I made a few more and added them to my shop, by which time there were over 4,000 others ahead of me. Sigh. What about you? Have you fallen prey to the Kindle? Do you have an experience or an opinion or a rant? Please share. And if you want one of my cases, you can find one by poking around in my Etsy shop.

r&r art sale party

Have I told you that R is a painter? Well, he is. We decided that the house in town should have a last hurrah before it passes into new hands and becomes something else. So, for those of you who live around here…maybe you can drop by and we can put faces to all the words that have passed between us. To far-flung friends: there are website links in the following invitation. We will have to continue to exist in each others’ imaginations.


rites of spring

Richard White invites you to view new work:
paintings and furniture

2107 NW 22nd Avenue at the corner of 22nd and Wilson
3-7pm Sunday, November 14, 2010
wine and nibbles provided

If you can’t make it to the event, please visit the website or call Richard at  503 248 9670  to set up an appointment for a private showing.

I will also be showing my collection of handmade designer pillows.

‘bubbles’ pillow

hope to see you there,

everything will be for sale, including the house and garden

apples love cardamom


I still haven’t gotten around to processing those apples in my last post. The rush has been on to put the garden to bed before the big storm arrives tomorrow. The photo is from last year. Being a fabric nut, I have boxes of remnants to cut into circles for the tops of my jars. This one is tied off with a remnant of the streamers I use on many of my banners and such. The charming tag really polishes up the package. It is from my friend and fellow Etsian, Ellie. I’m going to do a post all about her soon, but in the meantime, I highly recommend following the link to see her gallery of playful and colorful paper works.

jam bags on Etsy

This year I am making special bags that can be reused later as travel bags, ditty bags, or passing along to someone new. I find that people really enjoy getting specialty food items as gifts, but I feel like I need to keep coming up with new presentations to avoid boredom. These and others are for sale on Etsy too.

Now about that title: I seem to remember a book with the title “Applesauce Loves Cinnamon”, but when an orchard overwhelms with fruit, a certain amount of experimentation is bound to occur. Here are the rough guidelines for my favorite experiment to date. Fill a large pot three quarters full with peeled, seeded and sliced fruit (I like half apples and half pears). Mince a good sized knob of ginger, and add with several whole cardamom pods and about 3/4 c of sugar (I like it on the tart side) (brown sugar gives a mellower finish). Boil until the fruit begins to break down, then mash and process.

Visit Wendy to gain access to others’ inspirations for using the bounty from the land.

banners at the farm party

spinnakers mark entry

Every year, our neighbors mark the ending of summer with a big party at their place. This year there was a patriotic theme, and I added a few banners to round out the decorations. This pair of “nautical” Spinnakers market the gateway for cars to enter the parking area in the field.

red white and blue

Of course, red, white and blue were the dominant colors of the day.

spinnaker in red white and blue

I just happened to have a spinnaker in those colors left over from an earlier project (Bastille Day, in fact, and the French, handily, share our colors). We put it out near the fire pit, where folks would gather later in the evening.


But first, the food. All-American hot dogs provided by our hosts, with potluck side dishes filling that long table in the back to overflowing. I had a sky dancer banner flying from the eaves of that long shed, but failed to get a good picture.


Besides the food, Jim dished out plenty of hugs to go around…the perfect host.

parking in the field

Plenty of open field for people to park their cars, and later to throw down a sleeping bag. Kelly Sue and Jim are gregarious people, and there were guests from every phase of their life together. They were married at one of the earliest farm parties and have been throwing their annual bash for 22 years now.

view across the fields

I’ll end with a shot looking out across the fields, with the hills in the distance, but the party went on, ending only after a pancake breakfast was served up the next morning.

lets party


Around the same time we left downtown Portland for our bit of ground on the outskirts, our good friends Susan and Gilbert made an even greater leap of faith. They moved to Carlton, OR, in the heart of wine country, where Gilbert opened Cuvee, a restaurant where he can ply his considerable skills as a French chef (yes, those are banners by Ricki bracketing the facade).

Susan, meanwhile, as soon as she recovered from the shock of rural life, located, and bonded with, every creative person in the vicinity. One of these artist friends has a birthday in late April. She and Susan put their heads together and devised an annual event, a Birthday Party built around a theme (different each year) requiring costumes, elaborate invitations, favors, awards…these babes pull out all the stops. This year we were to come as our 9-year-old selves. The invitations arrived in envelopes apparently addressed in a fourth grader’s best block printing. Inside was a lined sheet torn from a spiral notebook with a class photo and all the pertinent info.


Hopscotch, anyone?


Kid-pleasing vignettes met the eye in every direction. I was so taken with the bear that I failed to notice my pillows on the couch until I looked at the shot later.


Here’s our birthday girl, Lorrie, leaning into little (it’s a state of mind) Ashley. There must have been 25 to 30 women, ranging in age from 20’s to 80’s, and all blending into a harmonious whole…if you can imagine such a thing.


Mousketeer Nancy was adept with hula hoop and yoyo, performing with great dash and confidence some tricks I had never seen before. Annie in pigtails had just “fallen out of a tree”, and broken branches were sticking out of her tomboy duds every which way. Evonne came as the 9-year-old she always wanted to be, right down to the ankle strap shoes she didn’t get the first time around. That’s me on the right. Something about pulling hair into two pony tails, one on each side of the head, makes me feel like a kid again.


Footwear played a big part in our regressions. Marilyn’s white knee sox show off her Mary Janes, while Ellie’s zany patterned version hints that her mastery of combining colors and patterns started early.


Tracy threw herself into her role by ramping up her already high energy level to that of a hyper kid on a sugar high. With her is our co-hostess, Susan, who always could pull a look together.


Hank, at one year old, must have gotten his directions turned around. He arrived looking much older than his year.


Here’s Elna, showing off her certificate for “student of the year” and her lunch box prize filled with twinkies, bubble gum Crackerjacks, etc. You can see the refreshment bar to the side, well stocked with KoolAid, Tang…oh joy!


Having feasted on delicacies like grilled cheese, pbj, mac ‘n cheese, jello molds and the like, a fire drill booted us out to the fire pit for some singing and storytelling and visiting.


Everyone had come a considerable distance on winding country roads (plus that Tang was laced with a little something) so of course it was a sleepover. We had developed grown-up tastes overnight and brunch on the terrace was magnificent.


People were having a hard time tearing themselves away. As I wandered around taking pictures, I kept dropping into little groups having all sorts of interesting conversations. Tomorrow, I will take you on a walk around this wonderful property and then show you the strange sight that we earmarked for pictures on the way here.

couch bling


When friends bought a new couch for their TV room, they found it comfy but boring. Laurie had certain colors and sizes in mind, but didn’t want to wait. I loaned them some pillows to use while I worked on the custom order.


Working with a color palette chosen by someone else can be fun and challenging. I gave Laurie swatches of all my fabrics, from which she chose rust, taupe, steel gray and a touch of bright yellow.


I call this one ‘Bubbles’. I made two of these, so one is now available in my Etsy shop.


‘Waveburst’ is the other one she chose, after deciding that the loaner pillows would have to stay as well.


The mixture of colors, sizes and designs works surprisingly well. Indoor shots are never very true to the colors, but you get the idea. I love the isolation of my studio, but this project put me in touch with the kind of new thinking that collaboration can bring to bear.