Saturday, April 26, 2008


When I was pregnant with twins, my husband and I could only agree on one girl’s name and one boy’s name. Fortunately we had a boy and a girl, so we were set.

The summer before their birth we drove from Oregon to Wyoming, where my husband was helping a relative remodel his home. Near McCall, Idaho we encountered fields of a lovely wildflower called Camas (Camassia). It was a beautiful sight and at that moment we decided we would name our child Camas, if we had a girl. (We didn’t know then that I was incubating twins.)

The indigenous people called this plant Quamash.Camas flowers range from pale, light blue to deep violet blue. One kind, the death Camas, is fatal and can easily be confused with the edible variety. (Photos of the Camas flower can be found here.)

Camas was one of the most important "root" foods of western North American indigenous peoples, from southwestern British Columbia to Montana, and south to California. The part of the plant that was valued is actually a bulb. Dried Camas is the most expensive form of Camas, with baked and then raw Camas being less expensive. Camas roots were given at marriage trades and to friends and relatives by the widow at funeral trades. The bulbs were usually dug after flowering, in summer, although some people dug them in spring. Harvesting the bulbs traditionally took weeks or months. Each family group "owned" its own camping and harvesting spot. These were passed down in families from generation to generation.

In the Pacific Northwest one can find cities, streets, creeks, sloughs, and businesses with the name Camas. When my daughter lived in NYC she met someone from Washington state at a party. After being introduced to Camas, he commented on how unfortunate it was for her to have to been named, "after a lumber mill."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Blue artichokes

I really like the 100% cotton tablecloths from India which began appearing in specialty stores and boutiques a few years ago. They are wonderfully soft and there's a varied selection of colors and designs. My daughter gave me a burgandy tablecloth from India for my birthday last year. But I couldn't resist buying another one when I was in Eugene last week. It has a blue artichoke motif, similar to this little painting. Perhaps it's time for a dinner party...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"This is Who I am"

I love this book. Here's the description from Amazon:

"Fifty-four portraits of women that are striking, beautiful, and real. The bodies in this book have been shaped by the full sweep of the feminine experience.

They belong to 54 women from all over the country, ages 19 to 95, of all sizes and shapes, ethnicities, and life experiences, who were willing to expose their naked physical forms in This Is Who I Am. They are ordinary women only in the sense that none is a professional model. They are in all other ways extraordinary—courageous, curious, thoughtful, speaking unflinchingly about their bodies, then allowing themselves to be photographed to inspire other women to make peace with their physical selves, "to glorify the real beauty of all women."

Certainly, the feminine nude form is not new to artists and photographers. But the portraits in This Is Who I Am, taken by award-winning photographer Rosanne Olson, with a steady, unjudgmental eye, speak loudly to the American obsession of feminine perfection—slim hips and full breasts, high cheekbones and tiny waists, taut skin and eternal youth—and even more loudly to the way real women, with real bodies and real lives, look."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another pear...

I do like painting these guys...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Anniversary Bread...

Today is our 34th anniversary, although I think my husband has forgotten. This is a phenomena that has been occurring with greater frequency the past few years. Three years ago, I forgot our anniversary and my husband remembered the occasion with a card and gift. He loved that. Last year we both forgot, remembering it a few weeks later and chuckling about it. But this year I did remember. I bought him a little gift and spent the morning in the kitchen, baking bread and preparing a special dinner. The champagne is chilling and I’m looking forward to seeing his amused expression when he walks in tonight and sees the gift by his plate. Oops! After 34 years, this is so NOT important anymore...

This is a little sketch I did last year, the first time I made no-knead bread. I didn't post the drawing because I didn't like it. I still don't like it, but I have an anniversary celebration to get ready for!.. so no drawing or painting today. I think I posted the bread recipe on my first (now defunct) blog, Present Tense, and I’m going to post it again at Kitchen Canvas. It’s easy to make and has a wonderful, chewy texture. The small community near where I live in rural Oregon lacks both good restaurants and good bread, so if I want artisan style bread I have to make it myself. And now that artisanal bread is $4-$5 a loaf, baking it at home has become more appealing.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pure Goodness...

I agree with a friend who once declared that flowers are "just pure goodness." Especially in the spring.

Creative License...

I've been enjoying Katherine Tyrell's posts at Making a Mark about Japanese art and its influence on artists such as Mary Cassatt, Degas, Lautrec, etc. I checked a book out from the library to do a bit of exploration on my own about the art of Japan, and came across a black and white photo of a statue entitled Priest Ganjin. The shading in the photo was so wonderful, I had to give it a try. And then I realized that I'd seen this guy before...well, sort of, and very close to home, too.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Driving home from Portland

We visited our children in Portland last weekend and on our three-hour drive home we experienced torrential rain, sunshine and hail - a typical spring day in Oregon. The farmer's fields were a beautiful spring green where the sun touched them and the new growth on some of the trees was a lovely bright ochre. In the painting, however, it looks more like an autumn than a spring day.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

From the paintbrush of babes...

My three year old granddaughter painted this watercolor on the front of a thank you note she sent to me (with help from her mom - thank you, Aimee).

I think it's beautiful. Good work, Georgia! I love your loose and spontaneous style.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


The shadows link the oranges together, but the vase is just out there alone. It needs to connect to the oranges somehow. Maybe by adding a bit of orange to the vase? I don't know. I'll try it again tomorrow. Suggestions are welcome.