Stepping Away from the Map…. For Now

Dear Liza,

A little over a week ago, I pulled out an old project to work on. It is a map of Portland done in appliqué and embroidery. I have been adding and adding, trying to recreate the intricacy I see in my head, on the fabric.

The East Side

Oregon Poet William Stanford was once asked, “How do you know when to stop editing?” He replied, “When it stops feeling creative.”

And that’s where I am, for now, with my map. In the last ten days I have added dozens of buildings, streets, and trees. I have gotten braver and freer with embroidery. I even think I know what I want to do with the river.

The West Hills, Downtown and the Willamette River

But it has stopped feeling creative. I feel like I am adding in desperation, thinking this next tree will make the difference. And it just isn’t. So I will set it aside again for a while and come back to it later, with fresh eyes.

Mouse likes to be right in the middle of the creative process!

That ‘later’ may be next week or next year. But it will be waiting for me.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Back to Map Making

Dear Liza,

A year and a half ago, I started a sewing project to celebrate and explore my new city. I love maps, and sewing them is a way to enjoy the process of city-building.

Bare beginnings…..

I got the basic sections laid out … the west hills, downtown, the Willamette River, and the east side, where we live.

I started by laying in the main parks, Laurelhurst ( and the smaller Lone Fir Cemetery) in the east, and Washington Park in the west hills. I didn’t forget the North and South Park blocks downtown. The dozens of trees in Washington Park took days to pin and sew!

Parks!

I decided that I didn’t want to make a block -for-block exact map, but I did lay in some main streets so it would make more sense. Then I laid in the warehouse district on the east bank.

The Willamette River divides Portland east and west, and so far I have put in the Hawthorne and the Morrison Bridges. They require a level of precision that gives me the shakes, but I like the way they are turning out.

It was at this point, about a year ago, that I ran out of ideas. I couldn’t figure out what to put in next. So I folded up the map and set it aside.

And this week, after months of painting, baking, and writing, I figured it out. The map came back out and I started putting in the Laurelhurst and Sunnyside neighborhoods, where we live. I used a blanket stitch to show the rows of Victorian houses, and added dozens more trees.

The last three days work!

And today, while listening to the Impeachment hearings, I put in most of the buildings downtown. There will be more streets downtown, and more embroidered details as they are needed.

I’m sure there will come a time when I run out of ideas again, and will pack the map away for a while. But for now, I’m sure having fun with it!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Sewing for… Just Me

Dear Liza,

Isaac’s second quilt

I learned to sew back in college, when I needed inexpensive clothes to work in, and since then sewing has been a useful, interesting hobby. I sewed prom dresses for Auntie Katie, baby quilts for friends and family, and clothes for dolls and stuffties.

Tani with Naio’s quilt

Sewing has been a gift I can give to those I love.

And now, I’m doing some just for me. It may not turn out to be anything, but since I’m stuck inside and my story is on hold for a while, what have I got to lose?

Our neighborhood in Salinas…University Park School on the left

I love maps, as you know, and have spent some time trying to combine quilting and map making. I made you this map of our Salinas neighborhood, and this More abstract one of where the Salinas River flows into the ocean near Castroville.

Where the Salinas River meets the sea
Promising fabric….

A few years ago, I found this map-printed fabric. It looked perfect, like scenery from an airplane… what wonderful things could I do with it? Well, as it turns out, not what I had planned. The sections are TINY and not suitable for the appliqué I wanted.

Frustrated, I decided the printed lines were not the boss of me.
So this is my new project, where it is now. It looks pretty clunky, but we will see.

Some promises are harder to keep…

And since this project has not been promised to anyone, I can proceed into the unknown without fear of disappointing them. It is for me, and I know the risks.

Love,

Grandma Judy

New in the Neighborhood

Dear Liza,

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Beautiful work by Valerie S. Goodwin

Rain was predicted Wednesday, but not until later in the day, so after working all morning, Auntie Bridgett and I enjoyed a walk to the Belmont Library. She had books to return and pick up, and I always like to see what they have.

I found a book called  Art Quilt Maps by Valerie S. Goodwin. Valerie is an architect who also happens to be a fabulous quilter and artist. She loves maps, quilts, and haikus! I will be reading it closely and trying some of my own art map quilts this winter.

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Newest tiny library

On the way home, we walked on a side of Alder we usually don’t, and discovered something new. One of the lovely old Victorian homes now has a tiny free library out front! It’s hard to see because the trees are a bit overgrown, but it is well built and I found a small coloring book for Kestrel.

Near the library is our newest sweet chestnut tree. Remember I told you about chestnuts and how only a few are the kind you can eat? This is one on those!! This makes five, I think, that we have located. We will be going by with bags, come November, and picking up a few.

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Sweet chestnuts!

We got home, worked some more, and had dinner. I was thinking of going out and enjoying the park when whoosh!! Rain, wind, thunder and lightning! It was amazing!

Grandpa Nelson and I tried to sit out on the balcony and enjoy it, since we have a nice overhang, but the wind and splashes chased us inside. Then hail started bouncing off the railing and balcony floor! And just a week ago we were complaining about the heat.

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Joyous rainstorm!

We made sure we knew where the flashlights were and settled in for the evening, since walking through a forested park during a lightning storm is a bad idea. I felt so cozy and wintry, I even dug out my knitting needles and some new yarn I found on the sidewalk and started a scarf.

I guess Fall has fallen!

Love,

Grandma Judy