House of the rising sun

I stitched this last night. It surprised me. It is a very intimate, and somewhat damaged, piece. Made from an old bedsheet, white rayon satin from a pair of pants I bought in New Orleans that I have no doubt was in a parade or two, and some ancient ribbon I had laying around. French knots make up the little mattresses, which still need a bit of stuffing. It is not finished.

I think French knots are my jam. Thanks to Jude for jump starting this process. Handwork goes at a much different pace and is well suited to the solitude of the next two weeks (my busy town life excepted.)


Mark and I had a field trip today, out to South Jetty, where the Big River meets the sea.

the ocean side.

It was great ankle exercise, and wonderful windy…

On the way home, I saw this incredible thing:

We almost stumbled upon a wounded seal.
wounded seal
maybe shot by a fisherman?
We had a long talk about compassion after that.
Not that I am, particularly. Compassionate, that is.

Went to ballet class last night, after a far-too-long break, some of it holiday dictated, some of it self-imposed. I have to regain all that I lost. sigh. At least I know what can be lost.
At class, I learned that one of my fellow students found me on the internet. On ravelry. She is quite an accomplished knitter, and a good dancer, too. A shout out to noodleknit!

Sometimes at dance, I feel a bit disconnected from the rest of the group. My skill level is so low, but why whine? I am clear about not being there to become ballerina, but rather to learn coordination and discipline, and in that I am succeeding. when I go.

Anyway, I definitely don’t feel disconnected here!
fort at night
My pub.
which gets a bit in the way of my developing that “dancer’s body…”
Ha ha!

I have been taking quite a few photos, many of which don’t make it outside of flickr. Go check them out if you like!

Upcoming is a wonderful passage by the composer Christian Wolff in which he describes how improvisational music can act as social change!

Until next time…

day off

from work that is. I am feeling a bit dragged down by this cold, which I have not been babying. As much if not a bit more beer drinking than usual these days. ah, the perils of working in a pub…
We have an old Martin Mull comedy record with a funny bit about how to meet musicians if you want to start a band or something. In the sheet music store of course! Then they launch into 2001 Polkas…
anyway, my recent trips to Joann fabrics have been much like this. The last two forays into that mega-store, to buy thread et al, have resulted in fantastic visits with fellow stitchers that have led to home visits and even stash reduction! I have been going through my fire damaged yarn and fabric stashes, and the whole lot needs some serious culling. I guess more was saved than I had originally thought, but really, I am working, ever working, towards greater selectivity.
Good-bye, kidsilk haze!

I was framing pictures yesterday but didn’t have my camera with me. (I so rarely do.) Last night I got home from work and found my camera in my bed. I guess when I laid down for an afternoon nap, I took it up with me, as if I would find moments that begged to be snapped! Anyway, I’m about due for another long perusal through soph’s stitch blog in search of more photo tutorials. Her DIY art and photography schools are truly an invaluable resource. Mmmm, and she sent me a lovely mix cd post fire, too. Thanks, Soph!

Speaking of thanks, I must publicly acknowledge receipt of a lovely addition to our family, from jude of Spirit Cloth. this little fellow!

It rode around with me in my pocket for weeks after it’s arrival.

Sunday was an amazing dance day in Portland at Performance Works Northwest. We were doing further work on the Tuning Score. Lisa Nelson, who developed this means of exploration, is coming for an intensive in not too long…
Sunday’s whole experience deserves a lengthy elaboration, one that I do not have the inclination for in this moment. I should like to get back and make a post about it soon. Perhaps I will.

Here is a postcard for you all.

no fanfare.

without further ado, I re-enter. Again.

I must say, I hope I won’t be leaving it for some time now. I do like blogging, and I have had my fill of impediments to said activity!

As of yesterday, I have broadband in my home, and while I am still using sweet Alice’s computer (with her blessing), I intend to participate in that which has brought me so much joy in the past. It has taken me a really long time to make certain commitments that would ferry me back into polite society, like getting internet service, partly out of budgetary concerns, but mostly just as a result of the traumas that the last 6 months of Total and Complete Rootlessness have heaped upon me. I spent a solid 7 weeks feeling extremely detached from most things. (I was told I would make a good bag lady, and the commenter was right.)
I look forward to really going off with my new camera now I can post pictures to flickr any damn time I choose.

one-eye willie
I wasn’t actively seeking new cat company, after the demise of my pets in October’s fire, but I inherited this pesky fellow when I moved into my new house. he was named One-Eye Willie after the pirate in the unfortunate 1985 release, the Goonies, which was, unfortunately filmed here in my hometown, and which is, unfortunately, apparently a huge tourist draw for fans of the movie. Much misfortune in this story. Not that I really mind. As long as they (the tourists) tip well.
Anyhoo, this fine fellow does a great job of shredding my new IKEA rug and new IKEA chair (and if you would have told me a year ago that I would have so much IKEA furniture I would have scoffed, but when I must admit it is a decent place for instant decor if you have lost your tried-and-trues) and he loves to sleep on your face. cats. sheesh.

My new house is finally a Home (that is the tagline to December’s movie) complete with table and dustpan (neither from IKEA) and I must say I like it better than the last. A bit more expensive, it’s true, but cozy. You can witness a small slice of my current obsession with primary colors in the above photo. I like to say I have earned my fire colors, but I suspect it is just my inner pre-schooler coming out to play.

Expect more from me in the future. Alki, as the say in Chinook jargon. I am back, knitting, dancing, sewing, parenting, and just tripping out in general.

kayak afternoon

I’m back…
I just processed a few photos I took a week or two ago down at the foot of the bridge that crosses the Mighty Big river (call it Columbia if you will). Mark and some friends had gone out to surf the clapotis (no, it’s not just a scarf) and I wanted to see if I could capture some of the fun with my new camera.

three boats



now there’s a happy Mark.

more on my flickr.

I do think I will start in on the 365 days diary. I have been enjoying pictures that much.

now it's a dance blog…

So my little holiday in the warm glow of the woodstove is about to come to an end. Phone and power are back up in Astoria, although I don’t know if my house is back on the grid, and I need to work tonight…

I have had a lovely visit to the country!

I cast on for a dinky-dong project while out here. Looking through the available yarns, donated needles in hand, completely underwhelmed by the acrylics kindly given to me by a friend of my brother-in-law, and then it hit me. Dancegear! So, a skein of Paton’s Canadiana is becoming a pair of ankle warmers for dance class, and the red Red Heart bulky fuzzy shit is going to become either a warm-up sweater or shorts, not sure which yet. One of the women in my ballet class is a knitter and is always rockin some handknit legwarmers or warmup shorts (based on EZ’s leggings no less!)

Did I mention I have been immersing myself in the world of dance? Let it be known! I finally have the self-confidence and the resources (ie, there are classes in my area) to pursue this which I have (and my hips) have been desiring all these years. So, this translates into two ballet classes/week, and various explorations of movement in my daily life. Looking at spaces as potential performance spaces. I am reading and thinking about choreography (that would be Modern dance, not ballet) and on sunday, I travel with Paul to Portland to Performance Works Northwest to participate in The Tuning Score, assuming I was able to get the day off of work.
I am exhilarated and nervous about this new venture. As for Mark, he says, “Going through a mid-life crisis, Shan?” funny guy!
Naturally I am thinking about costuming possibilites.

Mark needs this computer, so I will be making this post short.

post-storm post

humungous storm

We just had a beautiful tremendous storm that has our power out even now, several days later…
an “extratropical cyclone,” they say. The flash that I saw sunday night (and thought, “no, there shouldn’t be lightning”) was one of the transformers blowing out. I love to see transformers blowing…

I am in the country now, basking in the world of electricity, woodstove, brought some stout in from town so I’m good to go!

This is the first storm season that I have been living totally dependent on grid power, and it is a bit humbling. My new house has electric cooking and sans electricity, there’s no hot food, but I’m not complaining. The owners of my work establishment (shall I call them bosses) were so generous to open up their doors to all off us “in the family” who needed a place to cook and so forth. It has been a bonding time.

High points of the storm: heading up to Paul’s 8th floor apartment on sunday afternoon to listen to the wind, thinking about environment=instrument, and my question was, “Is one environment or instrument?” and Paul’s answer was “both?”
Maybe it didn’t go quite like that but something… (the stout is getting in the way)

Walking Monday morning with the girls in the 80 (or higher) mph gusts, learning how to keep from being blown over (back to the wind and squat down).

Sitting for an hour in a line for gasoline, not that I really needed gasoline, but I wanted the experience. Why was this a high point? (especially as the pump I was in line for ran out exactly when I got to it)
Humans here don’t seem to have many outlets for their wildness, and this kind of event brings people to their edge, the edge of their comfort zone. It doesn’t take much to push them, and I spent the hour waiting for fuel listening to the human storm raging around me… like a carnival, but more frightening.

Community. How many ways can I count my appreciation for the informal family I have stepped into and helped to create on our small block in Astoria? My heart goes out…

So, a snippet of video that Mark shot standing on a porch on the mouth of Skamokawa creek on Monday morning. Looking away from the river. The wind combined with an ebb tide made for some high drama. I was several miles downriver from where this was filmed.

Speaking of film, between the time of this post and the last, I had flash moment in which my fear of taking photos was diminished if not erased. Thanks go out to soph of stitch blog for her diy camera school. It pushed me over the edge into understanding.
Sadly, I left the camera in town, but you will have photos. Oh will you ever, I promise.

fire pictures

This was my craft and textile library.

my bed
This was my bed, and my beloved window. I used to wake every morning to the sun’s rise reflected on downtown Astoria. That last night I woke (at 3 am) to the smell of smoke and the backyard all a-glow, cozy crackling and the sight of sparks coming off the side of the house…

The refrigerator. The kitchen was hardest hit. You can see the ladder behind the fridge that is being used to get upstairs. The stairs burned through.

There are few more pictures on my flickr. I am hoping to move beyond all this soon, but truth be told, I have been having hard days lately…

out of ashes

hi all. I’m bummed. I was just getting back into blogging after a long break and then the damn computer burns up. Thanks to our dear friend Behr (and her sister) Alice has a new computer, and I have privileges so I am going to try to do this periodically…

we’ll see.

First of all, I NEED to say huge THANKS to everyone EVERYONE! who has sent me support, vibes, money, stuff… JUDE!, that kitty is so amazing, SO amazing. I cannot tell you how much energy went through me when I opened the package and found her waiting. She was in my pocket for a long time after. I need to take a photo it’s true.

I do have a new house. Can I mention that by now I am sick of having new houses? I don’t mean to complain though. It is a nice new-to-me house.
Come take a little tour…
just a wee one…

The front porch:
new porch

burned cases

teensy bathroom:
new bathroom

new kitchen

view from the room that will be the dining room. Burned antler and surviving moon pendant.
antler silhouette

artifacts. My jewelry survived! As did the box that some it lives in (middle item) but barely:

I bought myself a new camera and a thumb drive and I look forward to more photodocumentation of life as it unfolds.

Someone is going to be at my house soon to look through fabric so I had better finish this lovely pint (yes I’m at a pub) and get home. More sooner, and I can’t wait to start reading other people’s blogs as well!

See ya!


Hello, this is Shannon’s husband, Mark. Shannon asked me to make a post on her behalf, as she is not able to access the internet for awhile.

Monday morning at about 3:00AM, her house and most of the contents were destroyed by fire. Shannon and the girls escaped unharmed, although it was a close call. The cats and the parakeets however, did not survive. Shannon and the kids were rescued by the Astoria Fire Department off of the front porch roof, while they could hear the windows breaking on both sides of the house behind them. Hooray for the Astoria Fire Department!

Shannon and the kids have lived at the Holiday Inn for the past couple of days, but she found a housesitting gig for a little while that starts today, so they can at least get out of the hotel room. The girls made it back to school Tuesday, with some new clothes that were bought with help from the Red Cross.

I spent Monday afternoon going through the remains of the house, searching for salvageable items, and giving the poor cats a funeral. Yesterday I went back with a truck and a friend and we spent the day salvaging some more. It looks like a great deal of Alice’s vintage clothing will survive, since her room did not get very burned or much smoke damage. Most of Shannon’s clothes are gone though, and only some of Opal’s look retrievable. Not much else made it out: a few pieces of furniture and books from Alice’s room, a couple of kitchen items, and a few other treasures, like Shannon’s purse, keys, passport and things like that. Computers, stereo, digital cameras and so forth were all destroyed completely.

picture courteesy of Astoria fire department, via the Daily Astorian

In the shock of dealing with this near tragic happenstance, I learned a few things:

One of the very facts that made that old house so beautiful, and so of this place, is one of the reasons it was so completely damaged. Those thrifty and sensible Scandinavians of Astoria in the late 19th century sided the interior walls of those old houses with Douglas Fir 1×6, of which they had a lot, and then covered it over in wallpaper. This house still had just wood and wallpaper interior walls like that, except for a couple of small portions. Those small portions covered in sheetrock did not burn. The wood and wallpaper however, burned like a torch. As much as I don’t like the aesthetic of drywall, nor do I like to work with it, it is obviously a far safer wall covering than what was there.

Again, beautiful and practical balloon framing, of which I am very fond, is what those Scandinavians framed the house with, but they did not put in fire blocking, so when the fire got inside the walls downstairs it was able to very quickly travel to the upper floors and attic space.

from the Wiki entry: “Balloon framing has several disadvantages as a construction method:

1. The creation of a path for fire to readily travel from floor to floor. This is mitigated with the use of firestops at each floor level.”


Remember those fire escape ladders that they talked about in school safety classes? They meant it. Shannon and the kids were trapped on the second story of a burning house with no safe way to the ground. They were Very Lucky that the room that was the safest was also the only one next to a porch roof, and that the fire station was only a couple of blocks away.

Apparently, not only should you keep good batteries in your smoke detector, and test them frequently, you’re also supposed to replace the whole smoke detector at least every ten years. Who knew? Well, the fire marshall, that’s who. And then me, and now you, too. Shannon was awakened by the sound of the flames and the smell of smoke; the smoke detector upstairs went off after she was already up and only a couple minutes or less before the space was no longer a safe place to be.

Fire is amazing stuff. It is totally capricious in what it consumes and what it leaves behind. In the living room, where all was charred black, I turned over the upturned firewood caddy by the woodstove and found a bright, clean and unburnt piece of firewood. However, the “junk drawer” in the kitchen (everybody has one of those, right?) was practically a work of art, wrought by fire. Sally, we thought of you. In Alice’s room, in all the chaos of torn out walls, water damage, and wet, old-fashioned cellulose insulation, I found an unbroken and unscathed vintage bevelled mirror, a recent gift to Alice from friends. In Opal’s closet, in Opal’s very smoke damaged room, all the way at the bottom of a pile of smoky, charred and soggy clothes and toys, was a totally unscathed and like new piping chanter. This is like a pipe off of a bagpipe with a reed and everything, but you blow directly into it with your mouth. I wish I had a picture, but a quick websearch did not yield what I was looking for. Anyway, Andrew and I tried playing it and were cracking up laughing on the way home with it.

If you want something to withstand smoke damage, store it in a suitcase. Every single suitcase that I opened had undamaged items inside, even when they were found in totally smoke filled rooms. That smoke damage is nasty stuff, too. It was fortunate that Shannon had thinned her lifestyle down to such a small plastic content. The place mostly smelled like a wood and paper fire, not a bunch of toxic, melted and burned plastic. For the job of working inside the house after the fire, this meant the difference between wearing a respirator or not. I was thankful that I didn’t need to wear one of those all day.

People can be very generous. The outpouring of support and offers of help have been almost overwhelming. I know that there was an account set up yesterday at the bank, and I don’t know what is going on with that yet, or what the number is, but amongst the spectators and looky-loos, a total stranger walked up to the house where we were working yesterday, talked to Shannon for a bit and handed her a hundred dollar bill. Everyone has been offering replacement goods and help of all kind.

Until we figure out what the next housing will be, goods are something that Shannon can’t really take a lot of right now. She asked that I direct any blog-land donation offers towards the Red Cross office in Astoria, or your local Red Cross. They have been so helpful, fast and efficient it’s hard to believe.

Enough from me for now. I will relay any blog stuff Shannon asks me to do until she has computer and internet set up again.