Wind, Fire, and Smoke in Portland

You’ve probably seen on the news that we are having terrible fires in Oregon. Some of them very near Portland. I’ve had several friends who have had to evacuate their homes and some had to leave livestock behind because the evacuation orders came up so quickly. Luckily, they have since been able to get back in to get their animals to safe locations and have been able to check on their homes.

Entire towns have been burned and they’re just starting to be able to put numbers together on dead and missing people.

So far, the fires have avoided my friends’ homes and properties. They’re very fortunate, but they’re not out of danger yet.

I have a lot of people asking if I’m safe. Here’s a map of the evacuation orders in the Portland area. I’ve marked my house with the blue X.

There’s a lot more distance between me and the evacuation zones than this map would lead you to believe. I’m safe now, but am watching the situation closely and am making preparations to evacuate in case it comes to that.

On this map, the green area is evacuation level 1: make preparations to leave. Yellow is level 2: be ready to leave at any time. Red is level 3, which means get out now. I’m not even at level 1 yet. I think it’s unlikely that I’ll have to evacuate, but I want to be ready in case it becomes necessary. There is a lot of city between me and the red zone.

I can’t tell you how frightening and stressful this is. It all started earlier this week with terrible dry wind storms that came in from the east. There were predictions that these winds had the potential to cause serious fire situations, and they didn’t disappoint. The wind started early this week and continued for two days. I’ve never been so glad to see wind die down as I was with this storm. The storm brought down branches and full trees and a lot of people have had power outages to deal with. I didn’t lose power, and only had some branches come down. There were were trees down in my neighborhood.

And now, several days later, the winds have shifted to coming out of the west, which means they’re coming off the Pacific Ocean… which means cooler and moister air. They are also very light winds. This is all very good news for fire fighting. We’re even expecting some rain next week. It won’t be enough to put out the fires, but will be a positive for fighting the fires. It’s likely these fires will burn for months, but some favorable weather will help them get them contained and under control. Our rainy season should start in about a month and typically continues into May or June.

Right now, the thing affecting most of the area is choking smoke. Initially, the winds took all the smoke across the Portland metro area and out over the Pacific Ocean. Now that the winds are coming from the west, all that smoke is coming right back over us… and is spreading out across the western US. Our air quality is the worst on the planet right now. My eyes and lungs are burning, and my head hurts. There’s just no way to get away from it.

Here’s a link to an interactive satellite map that shows you the fires and the smoke movement. You can change the time of the photo in the upper left. It’s interesting to see how the winds and smoke have changed over the days. The smoke stretched out 1,000 miles out into the Pacific!

I was walking the dogs in the afternoon several days ago when I noticed the first smoke from the fires coming into view to the south.

This is the view from our evening walk that same day.

Even with all that smoke it was a couple days before I could really smell much smoke. But the smell came in yesterday morning with a really acrid smell. In late morning, more smoke rolled in and the strong smell of wood smoke was everywhere.

That evening it was almost pitch dark by 6 pm. Here’s a picture looking across the street to my neighbor’s house. Her automatic lights came on two hours before sunset, and the street lights all came on too.

Here’s a view from my back yard, looking west at around the same time the previous night. We didn’t see the sun today.

I was hoping to be able to take a short drive this weekend to find some clean air and get out for a nice walk, but it looks like I’d have to drive for five hours to get to clean air. So we’ll have to find other ways to get some exercise in the house. They were saying on the news just now that all this stress makes your body produce stress hormones, and the best way to get them out of your system is exercise. We all need some exercise. Today was the first time since February that we haven’t taken a walk. But it’s just too unsafe to breathe that horrible smoke.

That picture is looking north from my house yesterday. And the smoke was worse today. The neighborhood is deserted. No one is walking. Very few cars go by. It’s very eerie. There is usually a constant stream of walkers and dogs going by.

These poor kids need some activity. Please keep us all in your thoughts for safety from the fires and relief from the smoke.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Today I started on the repeat of the Aboriginal quilt I made a few months ago. I got the sashing and cornerstones put on all the blocks and got them all up on the design wall. I was able to get the bottom two rows sewn this evening.

I got a message from a friend today who used to run a long arm business that she wanted to buy my Ruffled Feathers quilt top. So we made a deal on a price, and it’s a done deal. She bought the backing along with it and will quilt it and keep it for herself.

I didn’t set out with the intention of selling it, but I’m happy that it worked out because I didn’t have any plans for this quilt.

Plus, quilts are starting to stack up in my sewing room!!!

We’ve had some severe wind warnings for today and Tuesday and they’re worried about forest fires. There’s an area around Mt. Hood where PGE was cutting off power so that any lines downed by the wind wouldn’t start a fire.

Most of the day here was pretty nice and then the wind picked up around 4:00 and the air got really smokey really fast. I can even smell it in the house tonight.

I flipped all of my big agility equipment over so it wouldn’t get caught by the winds. They were predicting gusts up to about 60 mph earlier today, but on the news tonight they said the biggest gusts would be around 39 mph.

We did get a few big gusts earlier today. It was enough to bring some small branches down in my back yard and enough to flip a heavy metal patio chair.

It seems pretty quiet outside now that it’s dark. I occasionally hear a pine cone hit the roof, but that’s about it. I’m guessing there will be quite a few boughs down around the neighborhood in the morning.

It was nice to have an extra day off today. Back to work tomorrow with a really busy day.

Ruffled Feathers Top is Done!

After doing absolutely no sewing yesterday, today I dug in and finished the last four blocks then sewed the whole thing together. And I was right. It did go together really quickly and easily.

I’ll try to take some photos outside tomorrow night and hopefully they’ll show this quilt top better. The photo above doesn’t really do it justice.

This more close up photo gives you a better feel for what the quilt looks like. It’s definitely busy, but I think I like it. This might be one that has to be completely done, quilted and bound before I have a good idea of how I feel about it.

I think I may make another one of these some day out of different Kaffe fabrics with a more calm background… white or off white. And I’d like some really saturated Kaffe fabrics with lots of color variation. It’s formulating in my head.

So what’s next? I’m going to finish the second Aboriginal quilt with blocks left over from this one. All I have to do is put the sashing and cornerstones on the blocks, toss it up on the design wall, and then sew it together.

A friend of mine loved the scrappy batik wedge quilt I made recently and decided to make her own. The blocks looked pretty much exactly like mine, but she laid them all out differently… and I love it! I’m wishing I had done something like this with mine. This is her quilt…

I dug into one of the drawers in my sewing room earlier today and ran across these two Hoffman Dots batik fat quarter bundles that I bought several years ago when they were first out on the market. I had completely forgotten that I had them. So now I am thinking about fat quarter patterns. The fabrics aren’t very exciting since the patterns are just small dots, but the colors are really pretty. I’ll have to be careful in the pattern I select.

Hmmm. Maybe another Ruffled Feathers Quilt…

Several days ago I ordered some new Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics from one of my local quilt stores. So I went and picked them up yesterday. They’re so incredible! A few of these will probably end up in the black KFC quilt I’m thinking about. I don’t have plans yet for the others.

And that’s the last of the fabric that I’ve ordered. Now it’s time to dig in and get busy. Well, busier!

Four More Blocks and A Lot More Fabric

I finished two more blocks for my Ruffled Feathers quilt tonight, which means I just have four more blocks to assemble. I’m looking forward to wrapping this up this weekend and moving onto the next project. Still haven’t decided what that’s going to be.

I received an order of fabric yesterday and another one today.

Yesterday’s order was these fabrics, mostly in the black color way. These will eventually be made into a quilt, along with all the other back color way fabrics I have.

The two fabrics at the right of the top row will not actually be in this quilt. They just happened to be in the same order. I just LOVE these fabrics! It’s a different feel for me, but the pops of color are right up my alley.

Look at the detail in this new KFC Agate fabric, designed by my pal Philip Jacobs. If you haven’t seen this fabric in person you really need to. it’s so incredible.

Bender likes it too!

These are the fabrics that came today. I’ve wanted some of this older Kaffe map fabric for several years. I found some on Etsy the other day for a price that was pretty reasonable, so I ordered a yard of each. No idea what I’m going to do with these, but I’m happy to have them in my stash!

By the end of the work day today Rico was ready for some action. He was looking at me and I asked him if he wanted to go out and play and this was his response…

I’m looking forward to a long holiday weekend. I’m a little sad, though, because this is the time of year that I usually take my vacation. I’m really missing my friends and a little different view.

Fourteen Out of Twenty Done

I finished the last of the remaining flying geese units for my Ruffled Feathers quilt on Tuesday night and have started chunking away on the last ten blocks. Tonight I finished four blocks. So this means I have only six blocks to finish and then I can get this top done.

The blocks are big, so once they’re done and I get them moved around where I like them, the top will go together really quickly.

It’s nice to be on the downhill slope of this quilt top. But I am thinking about replacing those yellow jumble rectangles with other fabrics. They are annoying me a bit. I’ve stopped sewing any more of them into blocks.

My friend and I were laughing the other night that we’ve gone a little crazy buying fabric online during the pandemic. So tonight I went into my sewing room and organized all my new fabric to take a little inventory of what I’ve purchased.

Most of these pieces are half yards, some are yards, and there are a few two and three yard pieces. There are also three quilt back size pieces in there. My rough calculation tells me that this is over sixty yards of fabric!

WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING??? I can’t even fathom how long it’s going to take me to use up that fabric. Plus, this is only the Kaffe Fassett Collective fabric I’ve bought. I’ve also purchased an Aboriginal quilt back, a batik quilt back, and nine one-yard pieces of white on white fabrics. And… some Kaffe fabrics that’s I’ve purchased online since I’ve been isolated at home have been sewn into two different quilts.

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’m currently waiting for three separate packages of Kaffe fabric to arrive. I’m not sure I could tell you what’s in each of them.

But I’m ok with it all… it’s all a bright spot in a difficult time.

Determined to Finish this Thing!

I am really getting itchy to start a new quilting project, but I am determined I will finish this Ruffled Feathers top before I move onto my next quilt. I know myself well enough to know that if I set it aside, it will sit for months.

So I gave it a little thought and since the most time consuming part is making the geese units, I decided to dig in and get the remaining needed geese sections completed. And then the blocks will go together really fast from there.

I have completed seven of the ten sets needed to complete the final ten blocks for this quilt top. I will probably finish up the remaining three sets Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and then I’ll trim all the units and start removing the paper.

Before I started working on these final sets I selected fabric for each pair of templates. That way I can really get through them quickly as I don’t have to stop to select fabric for each one.

If all goes well I could finish this quilt top this weekend and then move onto the next project.

I would have gotten more sets done tonight except a friend of mine is choosing fabrics for a black Kaffe Fassette Collective quilt and she wanted me to help her select fabrics. So I pulled out my black Kaffe fabrics and took photos to send to her. Then we spent an hour on the phone looking through online stores to find black Kaffe fabrics.

And now I want to make a black quilt!!! Look at these amazing fabrics!!!

I’m pretty positive there will be one of these in my future.

Moss Garden Borders Done, and My Boredom

I finished the borders on my Moss Garden quilt a couple of weeks ago and finally took some photos last night. Borders are not my favorite part of making a quilt… wrestling with all that bulk of fabric. But for me, it’s like eye shadow and mascara… it just brings the whole thing to life.

With the borders this quilt measures about 97 inches square. This will be a nice size quilt for my bed. And yes… I’ve decided that I’m keeping this one. Now I just need to piece the backing and get this off to my long arm quilter.

I think the boredom of the pandemic is finally starting to take its toll on me. I’m feeling another wave of lack of motivation coming on. I’m going to do all I can to keep it at bay, and I know I need new things to do to keep me interested and engaged. I’m concerned about winter coming on. Being isolated and stuck at home will be very different when it gets dark at 4 pm. I’m already noticing the lack of light in the evenings… the the evening light is my favorite part of the summers.

I was not very productive yesterday. I took Rico for his herding lesson and he was amazing. then a friend dropped by the sheep ranch with her new puppy so I got to meet him for the first time, and he’s adorable! He looks like a baby Bender. After that, I took the dogs for a walk around the trails on the WSU campus. We got home around 3:30. And I have to say, the rest of the day was pretty unproductive. I did work on a big pile of masks I have that are partially made. I’m trying to chunk away at them a little at a time so I have some ready when I need them.

I slept in on this gorgeous Sunday… later than I thought I would, but the dogs let me stay in bed so I took advantage of the luxury. We’re going to take a four mile walk soon, and then I think I’m going to try to make four more blocks for my Ruffled Feathers Quilt. It’s half done and this is the point where I usually start wanting to start a new project. And I know if I don’t get this done it will sit in a partially done state for way too long. So I’m going to press on.

I think my next project will be to finish the Aboriginal fabrics quilt that will be a holiday gift. the blocks are almost done. All I have to do is add sashing and cornerstones to one side of each block, then get it on the design wall. Then I’m going to make an Aboriginal quilt for another holiday gift but on a different pattern. I have the pattern selected and it will be a quick and fun make. I want to get these done so they will be quilted in time for the holidays. I’ll be giving four quilts as holiday gifts this year.

Progress on My Improv Diversion and a Day Off

(Apologies to anyone whose comments I’ve accidentally deleted. Somehow, It’s happening as I try to type a response. I deleted one from someone on yesterday’s post where she talked about her love for making fabric through piecing. I can’t remember her name. Please comment again and I’ll try to be more careful as I respond!)

I took today off from work and had a great day. Amazing how refreshing and renewing one simple day off can be. I had a floating holiday that I had to use before August 31 or lose it. I’m not one to give away days off!

More about the beginning of my day later in this post, but first… this is where my sewing ended tonight:

This measures around 37 X 41 inches. I really like the black and white borders with the bright batiks. Not sure where this will go from here. I’ll probably put it away for awhile and finish my Ruffled Feathers quilt and give this more thought.

I have a drawer full of black and white fabrics. It’s a lot of fun to dig into it and find fabrics that I’ve forgotten. I’m pretty sure I bought that outer print on sale at a store in McMinnville, Oregon several years ago in their clearance basement. I must have bought a big piece of it because I’ve used it in a lot of different projects. I used it as a border on my wonky log cabin quilt that I made from batik scraps. You can see the wonky log cabin quilt here. I just realized I use that whiter fabric in the border for the sashing on that quilt too.

At first I laid out some black and whites on my cutting table to see how they looked. Then when I had a combo I liked, I cut strips and put them up on the design wall to see how I liked them.

Once I decided it would work, I cut enough strips to get all the war around this piece. The 1st border was cut 1.5 inches. The middle was cut 2 inches. And the outer border was cut 3.5 inches wide. I was happy that this piece was small enough that I didn’t have to piece the borders.

I had to sew two of the wedge strips out of batik scraps today to get this to the point where I could put the black and white borders on. They go pretty quickly when you’re not trying to be precise.

I decided to get out and get some exercise and see something different this morning so I got the dogs loaded up and headed north to Vancouver, Washington, to Frenchman’s Bar park to take a nice long walk and let the dogs do some swimming in the Columbia River.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day. Temps were in the mid 60s when we got there and it was really sunny with a nice breeze. There were only two cars in the parking lot when we got there so we had the place almost all to ourselves.

We started out with a two mile walk around a big field. The dogs really got a lot of running in and worked up some heat.

Rico ran miles around this field! Poor guy… that tongue!

In the upper right of the photo above you can see a big mound of black berry bushes. they are everywhere in the Pacific Northwest — a very insidious invasive species and they are not native to this region. They are absolutely full of black berries right now. Bender and I ate quite a few as we walked the perimeter of this field. My right hand was purple from the juice!

Here’s one of the canes from a black berry bush.

That thing was about as thick as my thumb. Those thorns are so nasty! They will grab your skin as you walk by. You have to be really careful when you’re picking berries. And, of course, the best berries are harder to get to and therefore more risky.

Once we got a couple miles under our belts, we hit the path to head down to the river. My boys know when they’re heading to the water and it’s all they can do to not just bolt ahead and leave me behind. I like to keep them with me because you never know what’s ahead on the trail. They were really good boys and did a good job of containing all their excitement!

The water in the river was pretty low and shallow where we walked onto the beach as the dams upstream in the Columbia River Gorge are letting less water through. I wasn’t able to throw sticks far enough to get the dogs into water that was deep enough to actually swim initially. So they did a lot of running and leaping in chest deep water. They got a lot of exercise and had an absolute blast! These boys love hiking, but they love water even more!

We were able to find a section of the river that had a bit more of a drop off where they were able to get some actual swimming in. But they had nearly worn themselves out by then so I didn’t throw the stick too far out.

It’s so nice to be able to get out and not have to share all of this with crowds of people. It was a good day and Bender and Rico are sleeping really soundly tonight.

A Little Improv Diversion

A couple weeks ago I was bored one evening and decided to do a little sewing before I went to bed. So I dug out my batik scrap bin and did a little crumb piecing. Rather than trimming the pieces into square blocks I sewed them all together into one piece of fabric that measured around 20 x 30 inches.

I didn’t have a direction I was going and had no plan for this piece. It’s been sitting on top of a dresser in my sewing room since I made it.

I pulled it out tonight and decided that I would square it up and just add more improv pieced rows to make this bigger. Again, no direction or plan, just playing with batik scraps.

So after squaring it up I added a one inch zebra print border. I tried the zebra print in two different directions and went with the second option here with the wavy lines going along the long edge of the piece:

Then I did some strip piecing on a long piece of paper to make a border for this rectangle.

I got two sides of the border done tonight and made some wonky log cabin cornerstones for this border.

Here’s a better look at one of those cornerstones.

I use packing paper from things that I’ve ordered from Amazon for piecing the border strips. The paper looks like grocery bag paper, but it’s a lot thinner and it tears really easily.

This picture shows a big wad of the paper that I’ve saved, along with two long four inch strips that I cut for improv piecing the side borders for this piece. I could easily piece these borders without the paper, but the paper helps me keep the strip straight and insures that it’s the correct width.

I made a mess in my sewing room with scraps everywhere, and this photo doesn’t show the pile on my cutting table. I did manage to get some fabric pressed and organized so I can piece quickly now. It did take some time to get this all cleaned up.

I have no idea where this piece will end up. I’m thinking I’ll keep adding pieced borders alternated with graphic black and white fabrics. maybe I’ll actually run out of scraps by the time I’m done!

Ruffled Feathers Half-Way Done

I didn’t do very much sewing this weekend. I’m not really sure what I DID do this weekend. I don’t feel like I accomplished very much. But sometimes you need a weekend like that.

But today I dug in and made four more blocks for my Ruffled Feathers quilt made from KFC contrast fabrics. That makes a total of ten blocks, which means I’m half way done.

I had planned to get more birds done this weekend for my friend’s wall hanging, but it just didn’t happen.

On Saturday I loaded the dogs in the car and headed up to southern Washington for Rico’s sheep herding lesson. And he was so amazing! It’s so much fun to see all that training coming together. He gave me some really beautiful out runs as he headed out to gather the sheep and bring them back to me. He is so crazy talented at this and he continues to work so hard for me as I confuse him at every turn. I just love watching a dog do what they’re bred to do!

After herding I took both dogs on a 3.5 mile walk around the trails on the Washington State University campus. We only saw two people on our walk. The weather was just perfect and the sky was so beautiful. Bender and I ate a lot of black berries on the walk. Rico has not yet discovered that black berries are delicious and many of them are within his reach.

These trails are fun because they are very shaded, they offer a little elevation gain, and they run along a creek so there are a few opportunities for the dogs to get wet. We even have one part of the creek that’s deep enough that they can do a little swimming.

I had to get some serious grocery shopping done this weekend. I haven’t been to the grocery store in a month. So I planned to go on Saturday night. I go at around 9:30 at night and have the entire place to myself.

It’s amazing to me how something that used to be so simple has become such a production. I spent an hour on Saturday going through my fridge, freezer, pantry and cupboards to make a list for shopping. I came home with eight big bags of groceries.

I keep a sanitation kit in my car. In includes a container of disinfectant wipes, a baggie of rubber gloves, a couple of bottles of hand sanitizer, and a couple of clean masks. I wonder how long I’ll feel the need to keep this kit in my car. I wear gloves and a mask for shopping. Masks are required here, and I choose to wear the gloves. Mostly so I can take them off before I get in the car so I don’t contaminate my car. I take them off outside the grocery store and leave them in the store garbage can.

I made sure I bought some bacon and bread as I was shopping because a friend of mine promised me some of their garden tomatoes. So when she texted me today and asked if I was ready, if headed right over and grabbed some of these beauties. I ate two of them immediately with just salt and pepper. They were pretty amazing.

I grow my own tomatoes but I only grow the small ones. I’ve never been able to grow a decent full size tomato since I moved to Portland. It’s hard to make a BLT with cherry tomatoes! So I’m always happy to have friends that are generous. This same friend has kept me in lettuce most of the summer.

I took the boys for two walks today. One 4.5 mile walk after breakfast while it was still cool, and then a three mile walk after dinner. They’re always happy to take a minute to pose with some pretty flowers.

Back to work tomorrow. I’m taking Wednesday off because I have a floating holiday I have to use before the end of August. Not sure yet what I’m going to do that day. Maybe a hike.

We’re going to have a fantastic week of weather!