Over the mountains to sunshine

It’s no secret that this has been the wettest winter on record in western Washington (almost 45 inches of rain between October 1st and April 30th – our average, for well over a hundred years of record-keeping, is closer to 35 inches for the entire year), and one of the coldest. There’s no argument that it’s been incredibly depressing as well (and personal reasons have made it even more so for me).

So, when the weather forecasters for this past week noted (with great cheer) that it was supposed to get to and over 70dF on the west side of the mountains for the first time this year on Wednesday and Thursday, and even warmer, with lots of sunshine, on the east side, I thought, you know what? Screw it, I’m going camping.

Of course, when I thought about the east side of the mountains, my first idea was to go back to the Okanogan, which almost feels like home after the time I spent there researching my first two Tales of the Unearthly Northwest. I was also hoping it would nudge me back into writing the third Tale, which has sat there a few chapters in whining at me for longer than I want to think about it, due to those personal reasons I mentioned above. That didn’t really happen, but at least I got to spend some time in the sun, in nature, and to see lots of spring wildflowers.

The first place I went for flowers wasn’t on the way to the Okanogan, not in the region proper. At some point in the past I had picked up a flyer titled Wildflower Areas in the Columbia Basin, and one of them was about ten miles southeast of Wenatchee.

That turned out to be something of an adventure, as the photo of the Rock Island Grade Road will show. At my first sight of it, I thought, oh my gosh, I hope that little dirt road climbing up the side of a canyon isn’t the one they’re talking about, but yes, it was.

The Rock Island Grade “Road”, looking back towards the Columbia River from where I saw so many wildflowers.

It wasn’t the steepest, narrowest road I’ve ever driven, but I think it’s the steepest, narrowest dirt road I’ve ever driven. The recommended place to stop was about two and a half miles up, and the flyer hinted that there was a parking area. Ha. And what it turned out to be was a place for locals to go up and shoot cans, with all of the attendant garbage. That said, it was also literally carpeted with wildflowers. I managed to park Merlin as close to the edge of the road (not, at that point, hanging over the cliff) as I could, in case someone else came by (no one did, thank goodness), got out, and this is what I saw.

Spreading phlox spreading everywhere along the Rock Island Grade Road.
A phlox close-up.
And another. One of the things that makes phlox one of my favorite wildflowers (and garden flowers) is the infinite variation of a simple five-petaled flower in such a limited color palette.
The yellow flowers are wild radish. The purple ones are blue mustard. Both are tiny, but were profuse.
Yakima milkvetch, which was a new one to me.
And the first of more balsamroot I’ve ever seen in one trip before, which is saying a fair amount.

After I made my way cautiously back down to the highway, I headed back to Wenatchee, then north along Hwy. 97, which borders the Columbia River. It was getting fairly late in the afternoon by then, so I stopped at Lincoln Rock State Park, the first of three parks with campgrounds north of Wenatchee. I’d never camped there before. All of the sites are within sight of the river, and it was a peaceful, warm evening. I sat out in my lawn chair and just absorbed it all. Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera chose just then to give up the ghost, and apparently I’d forgotten to bring the spares, so I have no photos of that.

And that was my first day east of the mountains this year.  More tomorrow.

critter quilt

This is another charity quilt.  I’m calling it the critter quilt, and I needed to find a pattern to use that fabric with all the animals without chopping it up too small to tell what they were.  This is the result.  It’s a single block of the Burgoyne Surrounded pattern.

It’s the last of that batch of charity quilt tops.  I have two gift quilt tops layered and ready to be quilted, and I’ve started piecing more charity quilt tops.

48″ square, machine-pieced, hand quilted.

my mother’s quilt

Mother’s whole cloth quilt. 72 inches square, hand quilted.

I’ve been meaning to post a photo of this for a month or so now.

Back in 1998, I wanted to make my mother a quilt.  I “made the mistake” of asking her what kind she wanted, and she asked me for a whole cloth quilt (one made out of a single piece of fabric).  Well, back then I’d only been quilting for about ten years, and I had no real idea how to design or make one.  All I really knew was that I didn’t want it to be beige or white, as the only whole cloth quilts I’d ever seen by then were.

But I couldn’t find a pre-printed top in anything but beige or white, and I didn’t know where to buy a) fabric wide enough to make a bed-sized quilt out of a single piece of fabric, or b) a bed-sized stencil (I’m still not sure there is such a thing as a bed-sized quilt stencil [wry g]).  So I did the best I could with what I could find.

Technically, this is not a whole cloth quilt, because it’s pieced out of 42″ width fabric.  I bought a center feather wreath stencil and two border stencils, a lot of blue (her favorite color) fabric, and got to work.  I remember that I saw blue fabric in my sleep for weeks after I finished it.

I washed and dried it, and picked off what I thought was all the cat hair, then I took it with me when I made my annual visit that year (we lived 2000 miles apart).  The first thing she did after we spread it out on her bed was pick a cat hair off of it.  Well, no, that was the second thing.  The first thing she did was hug me and tell me how beautiful she thought it was.

My mother died in January of this year, at the age of 92.  That quilt decorated her bed for eighteen years, first in her home, and then in the assisted living facility where she spent her last two years.  It’s been washed many times, but it’s held up pretty well (the binding’s a bit worn, is all).

And now it’s mine again.  I miss her, but I’m so glad she loved this quilt.

the globe quilt

I was going to call it the globe fence quilt (the pattern is called rail fence, and the focus fabric has globes all over it), but given the current political climate, that didn’t seem quite right.

It’s the second to last of this batch of charity quilt tops.  Gotta make more tops!

And the color combination, which was riffed off of the colors in the globe fabric, seems kind of weird to me now.  I’m not sure what I was thinking when I pieced this last year, but oh, well. 40″x48″ (the blocks are 8″ square), hand quilted in the ditch.

Pinwheel quilt

I didn’t realize until I looked at the dates of my last few posts, how fast I’m quilting these little charity quilts.  The process does go a lot faster when I’ve got the tops already made.  Only two more to go till I run out of charity tops, though!

This one is named the pinwheel quilt, for obvious reasons.  It’s another misfit fabric quilt, with the robbing Peter to pay Paul effect (dark/light blocks alternating with light/dark blocks) I like so much.

This is my coping mechanism right now

Because writing just isn’t happening, much as I wish I could force it to.  For personal as well as political reasons.  So, meanwhile, enjoy the pretty.

This is the first monochrome scrappy quilt I’ve made.  Years and years ago I saw one at a quilt show, and it’s been at the back of my mind to make one ever since.  So last year I put the top together, and I pulled it out and quilted it over the last couple of weeks.

I’ve got three more charity tops waiting to be quilted, and I’m currently piecing a bigger quilt for a gift.  I have one more gift quilt to make, and then I’ll be back making charity quilts again.

36″x 48″, hand quilted in simple diagonal lines.

Thump, thump, thump (that’s me, marching)

I haven’t said anything here about recent events here in the U.S., although I may begin doing so, but I did want to share this link to an excellent article on the subject:

The Inspiration of Badass Park Rangers, by John Beckett

“First they came for the scientists…
And the National Parks Services said, ‘lol, no’ and went rogue and we were all like ‘I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance, none of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this but cool.’”

And another quilt bites the dust

Sorry about the subject header.  I was a teenager in the 1970s, what can I say?

Anyway, this is the blue and silver quilt (no duh).  The patterned fabric had a heavy silver metallic overlay (it came out of my stash — I have no idea why I would have bought something like that) and was a bear to quilt.  The navy blue and white fabrics are fairy frosts (a line of metallic quilt fabrics), and the easiest metallics to quilt I’ve ever worked with.

It’s 36″x48″, and hand quilted in a cross-hatch pattern.

Here’s a close-up of the fabrics:

baby quilt #N+1

I have long since lost count of how many baby quilts I’ve made.  Anyway, my best friend’s granddaughter had her second child in November.  Fortunately, the top for this quilt was in my stash, so all I had to do was layer it and quilt it, and cross-hatching goes pretty quickly, so here it is!

Baby Elliott’s quilt.
A close-up of the center panel in Elliott’s quilt.  I love this panel with all the funky animals, especially the ice cream eating iguana.

36″ square, hand quilted.