Friday, December 30

Tim's New Website is Live! Yay!

This photo is the draft of the ordering page we just made for Tim's new website. I finally have something up for his business, Timothy's Fine Woodworking. Check it out here if you want.

Anyone who has been a regular reader (or even just an occasional reader) of my blog, for a few months, will have seen the photos I posted awhile back of Tim's gorgeous handcrafted furniture and his woodworking shop. I've been following him around with my digital camera, generally making a pest of myself by getting in his face with it while he worked ... thinking that someday I would make use of my photos to build a website for him. Well, now it's for real!

His website pages, especially the portfolio pages are not final by any means, but we wanted to get something up asap. Gabe has been generously helping me -- teaching me from scratch, actually -- but he left this afternoon so I'm on my own with it now. I'll be refining the website and Tim and I will both be posting on his blog, Timothy's Shop Talk, here. We would love it if you visit his blog, leave comments to let us know you've been there ... even leave feedback, encouragement, links we might be interested in ... anything you want to share with us. I hope Tim's Shop Talk becomes a community of sorts, for other woodworkers, friends, family, his customers, and anyone else interested in woodworking and design.

Soon there will be a link in my own Raven's Nest sidebar to his blog and his homepage. I hope... :)

Wednesday, December 28

We're lucky our bedroom faces east and gets the morning sun. Here is what my lap looks like in the mornings before I get out of bed. Baggins thinks it's his right (and my obligation) to give him lap-time while I read the paper or write in my journal ... Tim brings coffee to me in bed so I don't have to "disturb" Baggins.

An Absolutely Amazing Photography Instruction Site

Through Daniel Mosquin at the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden Botanical Photo of the Day site, I found this very useful website for landscape photography. Many of the Luminous Landscape features and articles are also applicable to other photo subjects, especially outdoor and nature images. I've already learned enough from the tutorials, essays and regular columns to improve my photography skills so much. One of these days, I'll post some of my first shots with my digital camera to make the comparison between where I was a year ago and what I'm doing with the digicam now.

Here is just an example of the incredibly useful information available at the Luminous Landscape. This is the table of contents for their "Understanding Series:"


Understanding Printer Colour Management — the proper settings for using profiles
Understanding Raw Files — whether to choose to shoot in raw or JPG format, and why
Understanding Contrast Masking — a simple Photoshop technique for opening shadow areas and reducing contrast
Understanding Digital USM — what is the Unsharp Mask and what does it do?
Understanding Histograms — how to read the digital camera's most useful exposure evaluation tool
Understanding MTF Charts — what is MTF, and how to read lens charts
Understanding Digital Sensor Cleaning — the why, how and tools required
Understanding Digital Workflow — suggested steps and settings to use when working with a digital SLR
Understanding Mirror Lock-Up — the simplest technique for creating vibration-free sharp images
Understanding Medium Format — a primer on the jargon, and the equipment available
Understanding Depth of Field — a tutorial, including Hyperfocal Distance and the Circle of Confusion
Understanding Polarizers — a tutorial on how to use the most important filter for colour photography
Understanding Lens Contrast — an in-depth tutorial by Mike Johnston
Understanding Bit Depth — a tutorial on hi-bit images and when and why to use them
Understanding Sharpness — a tutorial on resolution and acutance
Understanding Resolution — explores the basics of digital Input and Output
Understanding Camera Movements — the ins and outs of tilts and shifts
Understanding Colour Theory — academic colour theory applied to landscape photography
Understanding the DSLR Magnification Factor — what it is, how it works, benefits and drawbacks
Understanding ProPhoto RGB – are you throwing away much of the colour gamut your DSLR is capable of?
Understanding Exposure — the world's 10 stop range. Why it's so tough and how to handle it

Monday, December 26

This is for You, Mom

Okay, everybody out there over 50 and anybody reading this with parents over 50 who think you can't blog because it's something only the younger generation does .... check out this way cool blog by Millie Garfield, who is 80 and who happens to be the mom of Steve. She also has a great sense of humor: My Mom's Blog by Thoroughly Modern Millie

Millie was written up in the AARP Bulletin as one of the oldest bloggers around. Here's a quote from that article:

Patrick J. Kiger writes in this month's AARP Bulletin, Older, Wiser Bloggers. Want a Place in the Blogosphere? Join the Club.
Among the pioneers is Millie Garfield, 80, of Swampscott, Mass., who's been writing "My Mom's Blog" for the past three years. "One day, I saw an article in the Boston Globe about bloggers, and so I asked my son Steve, who's into computers, 'What the heck is this blogging thing?' " she says. "He said, 'Ma, you should start your own blog.' "

So she did. And it's very cool. Fun to read, too. This is Millie's very first video post She has made a few video blog posts with the help of her son -- and these are funny! When I watched this video about the difficulties of opening and using the packaging for plastic wrap, I laughed so hard I just had to write about her. She is serious, yet it's really funny because of her deadpan humor. She just acts like herself.

Saturday, December 24

Sunday, December 18

A Room with No view

You need a room with no view so imagination can meet memory in the dark..
--Annie Dillard

An excerpt from Annie Dillard's essay, "This is the Life"
Say you have seen something. You have seen an ordinary bit of what is real, the infinite fabric of time that eternity shoots through, and time's soft-skinned people working and dying under slowly shifting stars. Then what?

Friday, December 16

"Why I Don't Sew" ... or "I will Never be Martha"

Colors of the Season: A Glass Quilt

I "sewed" this Glass Quilt with my computer, a closeup photo of a glass dish and some tweaking in Photoshop.

The only thing I didn't have to do was use a needle and thread or sewing machine!

My four sisters, my two sisters-in-law and my mom are handy with a sewing machine. I am not. I do not sew by hand or machine. I break out in hives if I feel pressured to replace a button or contribute to a friendship quilt. If I have to hem something, I use staples or duct tape. I've made numerous curtains for my dorm rooms and various apartments by just folding fabric lengths over at the top to make a "tube" then threading them onto curtain rods. No hemming required. Voila! Instant Curtains! Table cloths are super easy. The fabric store clerks are always nice enough to cut the cloth to the right length -- all I have to do is put it on our table. Simple! If I'm missing a button on my shirt cuff, a safety pin will substitute nicely, thank you very much! Before all my sisters got really busy sewing for their own kids, they used to occasionally sew something for me to wear if I gave them the fabric and pattern. Of course, I loved that!

I do know how to sew. In fact, I'm still proud of the complete wardrobe I made for my Jill doll when I was about 8 or so ... yeah, I can sew. What ruined me for sewing was a "bad experience" in junior highschool -- in my Home Economics class where we had to learn to sew their way. Our assignment was to sew something we could wear. We were graded on our choice of style and fabric and it's appropriateness to our body shapes; the quality of our sewing, the final product and oh, yeah (how embarassing) -- on how well we "modeled" the clothing to the class and teacher. This was back when Home Ec also included chapters on how to sit, walk and stand like a "lady." Hmph!

Oooh boy! I bombed out on that assignment big time. This was in the 60's, when very short skirts, flowy poets shirts and vests were starting to be trendy. I chose a tube skirt (a rectangle with one seam, the waistband was just folded over, stitched then elastic inserted into the tube) and vest (the vest was about an inch shorter than the skirt.) I chose a brown tweed fabric -- I think it was from the upholstery department (I was into hand weaving, earthy-mama stuff then) and big wooden buttons for the front of the vest. My first frustration was that while handsewing the skirt hem, I sewed the skirt to the jeans I was wearing at the time. Okay, that's fixable. Next came the so-called waistband. It was easy (right down my alley) ... but when I tried the skirt on, I cried to see how bunchy the waistband was, making me even more self-conscious than I already was, about my body shape. Oh well, nothing to do about that - I had to carry on. The vest button holes were the hardest part of this project but with perservereance and help from my mother, I got 'em done. Only thing was, I discovered the chunky buttons did not want to go through the button holes.

I had saved my babysitting money to buy a batiste poet's blouse to wear with my "burlap" outfit thinking that would soften the effect. The blouse had cuffs up to my elbows, huge billowy sleeves and hundreds of tiny buttons. I still fondly remember it. It was almost see-through, so I had to buy it myself-- I didn't want to expend the enormous effort it would have taken to talk my dad into buying it for me. Of course, the blouse was expensive, so it probably took more effort to earn the money babysitting than it would have taken to convince my dad.

Anyway, the day we had to model our sewing projects was, in my memory, the most embarassing day of my young life -- to that point. I already had a complex about being a big girl (although in retrospoect, I wasn't big I was just tall, and thought I was "big) but the skirt and vest were about the least flattering thing I could have chosen to wear -- ever! Mom was encouraging, as she always was with us kids ... so off I went to my 7th grade Home Ec class wearing something much more suitable to a sofa than to a self-conscious adolescent. I don't remember the grade my teacher gave me -- probably a C, maybe worse. The C would have been because she felt sorry for me, not because there was even an inch of merit in this outfit (by her standards.)

I don't remember ever wearing that skirt and vest again. But I did make another skirt and vest to show off my hard-earned poet's blouse. I made them of dark blue crushed velvet.

Wednesday, December 14

Lying by our Fire Makes me Sleepy

Tuesday, December 13


Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.
Have you ever thought of where your inspiration comes from? Of how there are so many widely different images in the world -- human-made objects, natural textures, patterns and shapes -- that inform your art, no matter what medium you use to express yourself -- poetry, prose, dance, photography, fiberarts, metalwork, painting, ceramics ... what does your muse look like? Where do your ideas come from? What inspires you?

December Sketches

We're back from the winter meeting with our study group ... I will be posting a few drawings I did in my sketchbook/journal while on our trip. It was incredible weather - just perfect for Tim and me -- when we left Montana last week, the temperature was -16F ... brrrr! And on the coast, it was in the balmy 60s. Ahhh, to have a few days when I could go barefoot (or just wear my zorries) when just a light shawl was enough of a covering even in the sea breeze.

What a luxury - to have five days with no responsibilities other than to really focus on being there -- at the ocean ... sleeping, dreaming, dancing and breathing the smells, sights and sounds of waves and shorebirds, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets ... the constantly changing reflections and colors on the wet sand ... the shifting shapes of dune, intertidal zone and wave patterns. I had a beautiful, relaxing time.

The drawing below is our view out the window of our plane, on the right -- as we were cruising over eastern Washington, I was really fascinated by the huge variety of cultivation patterns and natural patterns in the agricultural areas of the state -- the ground was "neatly" divided into square sections which were further divided in many cases, into different shaped fields. It reminded me of a crazy quilt. On the left side of the page is my view of the east slope of the Cascades just before we came across the top and headed down into Seattle.

Tuesday, December 6

Break Time for Tim and Me

We'll be gone for a few days to a winter retreat. Back next week sometime. I am going without my camera because it's (boo-hoo) broken at the moment. So no good photos from our trip. But I'll be back blogging as soon as I return. In the meantime, to all of you who read my blog or just stumbled upon it -- I wish you a merry next week.

Waiting for me to "sign" it's time to go ...

Sam is about 99% deaf in his old age. He's been getting progressively more deaf over the last year or so. We know he still here's something because he comes skidding out into the kitchen when we fill up his food dish. He hears loud clapping, too -- that's the main way we get him to come when he's not looking at us. Or, on walks, if he gets too far ahead, which isn't often these days, we toss a tiny pebble at him to get his attention.

Mostly if Sam can see us, then sign language and lip-reading works. Otherwise, he either ignores us totally and goes about his business as if we are the ones supposed to follow him around .... heheh. Or, he listens to our intent -- he reads our minds -- I am convinced dogs and other animals have the ability to read our intentions. That's why horse whispering works.

Well, Tim and I practice dog-whispering. And Sam is highly skilled at human-whispering. He tells us what he wants not only with his body language and expressive eyes ... but he "beams" at us. That's what we've taken to calling the intense stare and "loud" mind-talk he sends our way when he really really wants something ... like the last bite of that juicy sandwich you're eating.

Here, Sam is conducting several kinds of communication: he is watching me intently for cues to "what's next." He is beaming at me, his desire to get going: "Enough of this sitting around while you shoot photos, already!" And he is reading my mind to see if it's time to go yet. Check out those eyes at the large size by clicking on the photo and going to the "all sizes" link right above the photo on my flickr page.

One of a Kind Handspun Yarns

My mom learned to knit last winter (or was it re-learning, Mom?) and she has been gung-ho about knitting ever since. She has been making scarves for . She has a list she's working on -- scarves for each of her 8 children and their spouses, all 27 of her grandchildren (one of those for her granddaughter is in the photos below) and her 3 great-grandchildren.

Amy's scarf and package
Originally uploaded by Patshag.

Whoa! -- That's alot of scarves! I wear the scarves she made for me all the time. So does our cat, Baggins (just kidding) Mostly Mom uses the many kinds of popular "Fun Fur" yarns. The scarves she makes for the "men and boys" are knitted of more traditional yarns, but all of the scarves are super soft and warm.

I don't knit. I know how to crochet, but lately I haven't had the patience to do even that. Maybe someday I'll get back into crocheting (maybe I'll start the trend of a HAT for everyone in my family ...) in the meantime I drool over beautiful yarns in my friend, Carol Worthen's downtown Helena store, the Fiber Whorl. I stumbled across a beautiful website called Plucky Fluff where the owner and artist sells her amazing, incredible, crazy-fun unique handspun yarns. Oh wow! These make me want to run out and buy a set of knitting needles and just dive right in. Wish I could afford to buy lots of this handspun. It's a bit pricy, but knowing how much time and effort goes into washing fleece, carding it and spinning, I know her prices are well worth the money. These are entirely unlike commercial yarns. Check out her website and the others I've linked here if you're a fiberartist -- or know one who might be talked into making you something from one of these skeins.

These handspuns are lovingly made, each batch or skein is unique. So the yarns I've posted from these small artisan businesses may already be sold. I'm posting the pix to give you an idea of the variety and creativity. They all add photos of available yarns regularly, so check their websites for the latest one-of-a-kind fibers for handknitting, crochet and felting.

Handspun one-of-a-kind yarns from Plucky Fluff. From upper left: End of November, Grow, Wildflower and Snuggle Bunny.

Handspun one-of-a-kind yarns from Plucky Fluff, Ahsa and Neauveau, from upper left: Ahsa's Jelly Sandwich, Plucky Fluff's scarf made of Flora yarn, Neauveau's Blue Bird skein and Frostbite by Plucky Fluff.

Another group of gorgeous handspun fibers, from upper left: Fall, Seaweed-Lemon and Forest Floor all three by Pink Peppercorns. And lower left, Yumm Twist by Fuzzy Bumblebee.

Pink Peppercorns not only sells awesome handspun yarn skeins, but also bags of "scraplets" for fun knitting and weaving projects; and handpainted silk ribbons (see photo below) Her site is easy to navigate and beautifully designed, just like her yarns and ribbons. Pink Peppercorns also creates beautiful hand painted silk ribbons for artisan sewing projects. I could think of a few unusual uses for these ribbons, if only I could afford to buy them! They're on the pricy side, but if you like fiber arts, take a look - they might inspire you to try making your own hand painted ribbons.

Neauveau is another handspun and fiberarts business onwed by artisan, Ashley Martineau of Oergon. She has raised the art of recycling to new highs by unraveling thrift-store sweaters and re-selling the skeins of yarn on EBay. She has some interesting tutorials on her website, including an illustrated how-to-unravel article. I always thought unraveling a sweater would be super easy, but you apparently have to know how to do it right or you'll just end up with a pile of short peices! Ashley has been written up in Interweave Press -- an article about her yarn recycling and a shawl pattern that looks very cool.

Ashley has kindly provided an easy-to-read list of links with many more handspun artisan's websites.

Monday, December 5

Keep A Breast for/of Breast Cancer Research

Wow! I just stumbled on this amazing non-profit organization's website. The Keep-A-Breast Foundation raises funds for breast cancer research and treatment by auctioning plaster casts of women's torsos that have been ornamented by artists.

These torsos are from the Keep-a-Breast Gallery. Torsos shown are by Andy Jenkins, Martine Pinsolle, Nick Gammon and Wilma. To view these and other torsos in the project, please visit the Keep-a-Breast Foundation website.

What struck me about my own response to the galleries of plaster torsos is my appreciation for the wide and beautiful range of shapes and sizes of breasts, chests, torsos ... and not one is more attractive to me (disregarding the design painted on it) than any of the others. I expected to be biased against the larger torsos, the ones with large breasts and big-around chests (the ones that don't fit the societal "norm" of what is beautiful in a woman ... the shape I have) so I was surprised to realize that I liked them all equally.

Maybe because the plaster torsos are painted and otherwise decorated with different materials the breasts are removed from the context of beauty-like-models-are-defined-as-beautiful ... and their everyday shapes that I so often take for granted, are transformed into an art "objects" so I can see the beauty in each torso's form for it's own sake.

But even more than the fact that the torsos are painted with the unique vision of each participating artist is the way the true-to-life representation of each woman's body portrays the individual behind the shape -- portrays more of the inner strength and courage of each woman (and man) who faces breast cancer, or who is close to someone with breast cancer. It is the individuals inside the plaster cast that I am responding to so openly. In the words of the Keep-a-Breast Foundation,

The casts are physical representations of a simple truth— while breast cancer attacks all women without prejudice, it is the powerful individual present in all women that will conquer it.

I love this idea and would like to see more of these types of fundraisers happening all over. Not only is the Keep a Breast organization raising money for breast cancer research, they are also increasing breast cancer awareness as well as acceptance of all body shapes and sizes, which can only be a good thing.

I'm not the most diligent when it comes to doing breast self-exams. Mostly I have a hard time remembering to do them because I am post-menopausal and no longer have that convenient, built-in monthly reminder to do the exam. My naturopath recently gave me a way to remember to do my own exam every month -- just do it on my "birth-date" every month. So on the 27th of each month, that's what I'm doing. The Keep-a-Breast Shower Card is just another reminder for me, and this one looks more detailed than most I've seen. You can print out the shower card from this PDF document and laminate it with plastic. Keep it in the bathroom as a reminder to do breast self-exams regularly.

Saturday, December 3

Learn to lose in order to recover

I think of the trees and how simply they let go, let fall the riches of a season, how without grief (it seems) they can let go and go deep into their roots for renewal and sleep. ... Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.

-- May Sarton, from Journal of a Solitude