"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Living in a forested area is lovely, until your worst nightmare comes true. Wildfires. Fires close enough to be a threat to your house and animals. That's the high-anxiety threat we have been living under since last Friday, when a thunder storm rolled in Thursday night with no rain, but lots of lightning strikes all across Southern Oregon.

The scattering of fires, burning out of control, are being lumped into the title Douglass County Complex, and several of them are burning within 15-25 miles of our house. If the wind shifts, or the fire changes direction, we might have to evacuate. If they tell us to get out, what we can take will depend on how much time we have. Suddenly we'll be facing a hard reality. What will we attempt to save, and what will we be forced to leave behind? Those are decisions we hope we won't have to make, but the possibility that we might have to is a real one.

Our safety and that of our animals is a priority. After that...what? Our personal papers are in a safe deposit box, so those aren't an issue. Here is my mental list of things I will grab: Our two computers, because they hold thousands of photos, and all of my manuscripts; my jewelry box of good stuff including things belonging to my grandmothers; the silver teapot my dad bought for my mom back in the 70s and that she has given to me; a Brown Betty teapot that my grandfather bought in England during WWI and brought back for my grandmother; my collection of Dorothy Dunnett books which are out of print and one is signed. After that, depending on time and space in the trucks, two pieces of furniture: an antique dressing table my grandmother gave me when I turned sixteen, and a Victorian library table that belonged to my aunt who was murdered in her house back in the 80s. Then clothes, and whatever else we can throw in the trucks or the tack room in the horse trailer. 

As the days go on, we monitor the Forestry reports, check web sites for updates, and keep fingers and toes crossed. In the meantime, ash falls on everything, smoke makes the air hard to breath and burns the eyes, and bombers (so far, one DC10, two DC4s, and a twin engine) full of fire retardant and helicopters dragging water buckets fly right over our house.

Here are a few photos. I started taking them Friday morning, when the smoke wasn't too bad, but things got slowly worse as time when on. Today the smoke is horrible and has engulfed the whole Rogue Valley, causing the EPA to issue a hazardous air quality warning.

The red stain on the bottom of the bomber is from the fire retardant. 

Our two horses, trying to figure out where the smoke is coming from. They are wearing fly masks, to keep flies out of their eyes and ears. They can see through them just fine. It also keeps the falling ash out of their eyes - a use I doubt the manufactures originally had in mind, but they work. 

Helicopter taking the empty water bucket back for a refill. 

Bomber flying through the smoke. The photo is blurry, as Robert grabbed the camera and took the picture as quick as he could, because the bombers were traveling really fast.

Smoke curling through the valley. By Sunday afternoon, it looked like a volcano had erupted behind our house, the smoke was so dark and thick.

 Because of the heavy smoke, everything is cast in an eery orange light, as if you were looking at the world through a tinted window.

Robert, last evening, out on our deck, reading the reports of the fire in the local paper. It's really no fun when you have to pick pine ashes out of your wine. At least they can't get into his beer can.

These fires are still out of control, with no way for us to know which way they may travel. So we stay on alert, and if things start looking grim for us, we'll start packing whatever we can, load our horses, grab our two cats, and we'll GO!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Proportion = Fail

Properly wearing the clothes you make is just as important as making them. Especially paying attention to proportion. This combination is an epic fail. I have worn this combination twice, mainly because it's summer and it's hot, and I don't want to sweat to death in jeans. Also, other than jeans, I don't have any other pants that come anywhere close to matching the colors of the tunic. The result is that I look a frumpy. Very frumpy. And before you wonder, "Well, gee, didn't you look in the mirror first?" the answer is, yes, I did, but rolled with the look anyway...due to said heat (it was around 100 that day).

This tunic would look much better with skinny jeans, and a shoe with a bit of heel, instead of flip-flops (remember, I said it was hot, and I live in flip-flops all summer, and these even had little purple stripes on them, that matched the tunic skirt). The cargo pants are too baggy. Baggy on baggy looks, well...let's just say it's not the most flattering combination I could have picked.

The tunic itself works, although in looking at this picture, I think it would be even better if I had made it a bit shorter. As far as the back view goes, the tunic does cup my butt a little, but not as much as it appears in the photo. I had my hands on my hips, and it pulled the fabric in tighter. Also, the cargo pants are low-rise, and have pocket flaps on the back, so those and the waist band kinda push the tunic out a bit. Another reason why the cargo pants really, REALLY don't work with this tunic.

Rule of thumb for proportion is usually, if it's loose/baggy on top, it should be tighter on the bottom, and vise-versa. Also, don't chop up the vertical line of the body with a bunch of horizontal lines in your clothing. With this combination the bodice ornament, tunic waist band, tunic hem, and cargo pants ending mid-calf just make a hash-work of the vertical line. Hash =  frumpy. 

Needless to say, I will not be wearing this combination again. No matter how hot it gets.

BTW, there is not a big, ugly pleat in the back, it's just the way the shirt kinda bunched up because of where I have my hands, and also, this was after we got home from running errands all day, so the shirt was kinda wrinkly from me sitting in the car.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Belle Epoque Tunic — Completed

After hours and hours of pleasurable beading, and adding the front decoration to the bodice, the tunic is now finished. Well, except for the buttons, which are boring, but I don't have anything to replace them that would work. I will keep an eye out, and when I find something, will swap them out.

I didn't bead the arm binding, as I thought it might be pretty scratchy on my underarms. The center decoration was made up of a scrap from the shirt, purple binding, beads, and an iron-on peacock feather that was one of several in a package I bought at JoAnn Fabrics.

The skirt hem beading.

Waist band, with double row of fly stitch and beads.

So, this project went from this = The inspiration.

To this = The materials (All from the Goodwill)

To this = The finished tunic.

I still wish I had been able to add the short sleeves, so if I do another one of these, I will make sure I have enough fabric to do that. Also, I may do the whole tunic out of T-shirt material rather than another cotton shirt, just to see how each one moves and hangs differently. Another tweak I may do, is not raise the front part of the waist. My fear is, the way I have it now, will make me look pregnant! NOT GOOD. I am wearing it today when I run into town to do errands, so will know better how everything works by the time I get home. If anyone asks me, "When are you due?", after being horrified, it will be my sign that something must be changed!

So, now it's on to the next project. I have an idea I want to try, using stencils on a T-shirt. Also, my Etsy jewelry shop has been closed for several months, while I decided in what direction I wanted to go, and to give me time to upgrade my stock, and take better photos. I need to get busy on that, and have several jewelry projects in mind that need to get made. With the temperatures hanging between 95 and 103 inside projects are a good thing!