Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Spontaneously Decorating with Turquoise, or "At Least it's a Pretty Color"

Last night before bedtime, I was looking at one of those decorating blog-hops where people showed their work and craft spaces.  I noticed how stark white seems to be the current trendy look, and I was marveling over how those people could keep white things white. I mean, for work and crafty activities?  I make a mess. Plus all of that white looks kind of stark and unfriendly, don't you think?  Well, that's my opinion, anyway.   

I shut down my Ipad and headed off to bed, making a detour into my non-white and rather cluttered office to put some mail on the desk. Sitting next to my keyboard were a few fountain pens that I'd cleaned earlier in the day to ready them for filling with ink.  I love fountain pens!  But if I drain one and then let it sit for a few days before I refill it (which I do, constantly) the ink dries in the nib and it needs a little flushing out with warm water before it can be refilled to flow smoothly again.

ANYway, I'd had a very productive day. (I promise you, this is going somewhere.) I'd worked in the garden. I'd checked a bunch of stuff of of my to-do list, including "clean pens."  But wait, I hadn't refilled them, and I wanted that task finished. I figured I'd quickly fill the three pens with ink, at best a 10 minute task.

I grabbed one of my favorite inks, Navajo Turquoise by Noodler's Ink. I love this color for writing in my journal -- it's actually a bit darker out of the pen than in the Goulet's sample up there, so it looks more like a turquoisey dark blue and it makes me happy.

Here's what my bottle looks like.


I use this ink pretty often, but it's this empty and this messy because I spilled it once. Big surprise.

So, I got my pens lined up, their converters ready to load.  I opened the bottle. I dipped the first pen, realizing that because the level of ink in the bottle was low, I had to dip the pen pretty deeply to immerse the nib in the ink. Hmm, I need a tissue to wipe the tip off, I thought.  And as I turned to grab a tissue -- you are seeing where this is going, aren't you? -- my elbow hit the bottle, and yes, the bottle tipped and spilled a lovely Navajo Turquoise onto my desk and under my keyboard.

You'll forgive me for not stopping to take photos, I assume?  Rest assured that I leapt up, grabbed the box full of tissues and started swabbing frantically.  I dashed to the laundry room to grab some rag towels.  You can imagine the frenzy of wiping that ensued. I left a lot of turquoise fingerprints in the process, but I eventually got it all cleaned off of my desk and keyboard. Luckily none spilled into the keys, it was just underneath.  I was greatly relieved that none had dripped into the carpet.


Now my mousepad -- a pretty floral with a turquoise background to begin with -- has an extra dark turquoise corner.



Good thing I have a manicure scheduled for tomorrow, as I don't really want to wear this turquoise nail look for long.  And this is after a whole lot of scrubbing.

It was only when I went to climb into bed that I discovered the rather large splodge of turquoise ink on the top of my right foot.  It must have dripped when I was carrying soggy towels to the laundry room. (Still, just my foot. Not the rug. Phew.) Back into the bathroom for more scrubbing.  I went to bed with just a delicate aqua stain.


So, things are back to normal sort of, plus a few turquoise additions to the decor. But I'm quite certain that I'd never be able to carry off a stark white office.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dishes, dishes, and more dishes

When we last parted, gentle readers, I was on the hunt for new every day dishes and I'd decided that a foundation set of white dishes was what was required.

Oh, what a rabbit hole that turned out to be!


I started by gazing at some white dishes I've loved for as long as I can remember -- Nantucket Basket by Wedgewood.  They're simple but interesting, and they remind me of wonderful Nantucket vacations.  I realized I like rounded shapes, not square, and I like texture. And I like things that feel sort of comfy and homey, not super modern.

It's good to have clarity about one's goals and preferences, you know.


I came across these "Cowgirl Lace" white dishes, designed by Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, whose blog I've followed since before she was a big Food Network Star.  I love the name, Cowgirl Lace, and the detail is so pretty! These are available from Walmart for just $44 for a set of 4 place settings! Good news, bargain. Bad news - reviews say they chip really easily and show marks instantly.  Darn. Sorry, Ree, I'm looking for something a bit more durable.


 I think these are Emma from Pottery Barn. (Pssst... they're on sale right now.) Love the simple but striking dot detail and these were a strong contender.  But reading the reviews shut down that option... lots of poor reviews for durability, marking, chipping easily.

I did take a detour to read about durability.  Stoneware and earthenware are apparently the least durable -- they are fired just once, generally a bit more porous.  Porcelain and bone china get higher marks for durability because they are fired more than once. Funny -- stoneware sounds like it should be more durable, and porcelain sounds like it will be more delicate, doesn't it? But it turns out that the reverse is true. And that's proven true with my own experience.  The stoneware dishes I've used over the years have had gorgeous rich color, but have chipped easily.  I started thinking I should be looking for white porcelain.


I did hesitate over this Napoli set by Pottery Barn.  I just love the edges on the bowl and salad plate. Can't you see that bowl heaped with juicy red strawberries?  But these are stoneware which gave me pause, and they're sort of expensive. Maybe I'll keep my eye on PB and buy a bowl or two if they go on sale. 
  

Martha Stewart has some pretty white dish sets at Macy's.  This set is called Belle Mead -- and it's porcelain. I like the plate and bowl, and like that they're different patterns.  But I don't need mugs or particularly like these, and you can't buy them open stock to just get the plates. So, no.  (But if you like them, they're on sale right now AND Macy's has an extra 25% off promotion going on.)


 I did a big swoon when I saw this photo of dishes from Casa de Perrin. (And Perin is my maiden name so it sort of caught my attention.) Turns out the company is a china rental company in Los Angeles, so I guess they buy pretty china, mix and match it, and rent it for weddings and events.  Maybe if I spent the next few years collecting pretty white plates I'd end up with an assortment like this. But I'm looking for more immediate gratification. 

Another gorgeous set, yes? It's White Perle Stoneware by Lenox.  Maybe other people have stoneware and no durability issues, but after what I read, it's putting me off.  Still, they're pretty. (And they come in a few different colors, if you're interested.)


Are you getting the idea that I saw a ton of white dishes I liked? Look at these, a random shot from a collector of vintage linens. I have no clue what the patterns are but they sure look pretty.

So what did I do? Well, I looked and looked.  And read reviews. And looked some more.  And then it dawned on me that the answer was obvious.  Get the ones I loved from the beginning.


Yep, Nantucket Basket. I found them on sale for a good price, even. They were not the cheapest option, but I figure if I've loved them for 30 years, chances are I'll love them for another 30.  They make me smile just looking at the pictures.

So they will be at my door any day now, and I'll be dining in style.

Oh my. Do I need a new tablecloth? Perhaps I should christen them with a champagne opening to their first meal? Hmm, do my champagne glasses measure up? Should I shop for new ones?  Just kidding. I think I'm done with the online shopping for quite a while.

I'm going to go sit at the front door and wait for the UPS man now.



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Let's Dish


I have been obsessing about dishes lately. 

It started when I decided that it was time to buy some new flatware.  The silverware I have is something I bought years ago, when I got out of law school and set up my first grown-up home in Concord, New Hampshire.  That was (yikes!) over 30 years ago.  And while I still like the pattern, they're pretty thrashed. They've gone through over 30,000 meals, moves to 3 different homes, a lot of dropping and banging and scratching, and the occasional unintended tangle with the garbage disposal.  I thought it was time to get something new and shiny. 

After a whole lot of perusing of flatware and reading of reviews, I settled on something that looks simple, classic, but lovely -- and different from what I have, for sheer excitement. It's a pattern called Merlemont by Villeroy & Boch. It should be here any day and I can hardly wait.


Hey. You might not think they're exciting. But I do. And I might even go hog-wild and buy a new silverware organizer for the drawer. Be still my heart!

But, as these things go, anticipating new silverware made me look at my dishes.  Three years ago, when marital changes happened and a lot of kitchen stuff got divided, I bought some simple white plates from TJ Maxx or HomeGoods or somewhere like that.  They were from the Hotel Collection brand, and they had a pretty but not complicated scalloped edge, and they were cheap.  So Miss C and I have used them daily since then.  But wow, what a mess they are.  They are covered with gray lines and scratches from basic daily use. I've researched, I've bought special products, I've scrubbed with cleaners "guaranteed" to remove those marks, I've applied a whole lot of elbow grease -- and they're still horrid-looking.

So, to celebrate the impending final conclusion of the previously mentioned marital changes, I decided I'd get some different daily dishes. And I started looking.  There are so many gorgeous patterns out there -- and somehow, in my mind each one promises a different life if I just had those dishes to eat off of.


I love the effect of mismatched vintage dishes, I really do.  But let's get real.  I'm going to put them in the dishwasher. They're going to get banged around occasionally on the granite counter.  So for every day, that's not going to work.  (Although looking at so many beautiful vintage dishes has me thinking that I need to have a weekly tea party to use pretty pastel floral cups and saucers and dainty little plates. Care to join me?)


I love this set of dishes, Petit Fleur by Villeroy & Boch, I always have.  I even have 2 complete place settings, bought at a bargain price at a V&B outlet store back in Maine years ago. They're in perfect shape and they don't have a grey mark on them. They're fun to use when I feel springy.  But too ... well, cutesy for every day. I'm just not in that sort of mood every day.





I'm always drawn to blue and white dishes when I see them. There is something so homey and comfortable about them.


Oh dear, those swallows! I think I'm swooning. But no, not for every day.
 

And these pretty Spode fleur-de-lis dishes.  Instant transportation to a farmhouse kitchen. Perfect for a slice of blueberry pie, yes?
 

And then there's that mix and match possibility again. Aren't these bowls beautiful?  I want all of them.

But then I'd be locked into blue and white.  And what if I get tired of blue and white in a year? or in 3 days?  I like to keep my options open, you know.

I could do what a certain person I know does (I'm waiving at YOU, sister!) and have one or two or more of  a whole bunch of different patterns, so I can choose to suit my mood.  But what about when I have 12 people over for dinner?  Hey, it COULD happen, you know. 


Is it just me?  I want to LOVE the dishes I use every day.  And while I like having odds and ends of other sets, I want to have one foundation set of dishes that will allow me to mix and match other stuff in.  So, generally, that means white.  I love white dishes.  But that's a whole different online hunt. 

I *did* choose something!  But you have to stay tuned to find out what!  Meanwhile, tell me what your dishes are! Or what you'd choose if you could. I could always add a few more plates...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Selvedge Star



          Well, I'm back after a lovely 4 days on retreat, and as you might have guessed, while I was there I finished the Selvedge Star quilt I've been working on for ... well, seems like FOREVER.  I've hung it on the wall in the upstairs hallway so I see it every time I go upstairs -- please excuse the wacky picture, there's no angle up there where I can get a straight-on look at it.  But it makes me so happy to see it there. One of the aspects of using these selvedges that I like best is that when I look closely at the quilt, I see bits of fabric that I used so long ago. So it's a sewing memory quilt of sorts.

         This really was fun to make, even if it did take me a long time to collect the selvedges, make the selvedge fabric, and then create a design that made me happy. 

         If you are thinking of saving your selvedges to make something fun, I have a few tips for you:

1.  When you cut or tear the selvedge from fabric, keep at least 1/2 inch (and ideally an inch) of the print up to the selvedge. You'll want a bit of color to separate the white selvedge parts, because it's the colored parts that create the stripey effect. You can see what I mean below. If you just tear or cut off the white edge, you won't have room to do anything with it.






























2.  If your friends offer to save selvedges for you, by all means say YES!!  And then tell them #1! Oh, and tell them you only want the side that has the writing.  I had friends save the opposite edges for me too -- solid color strips that I couldn't really use.

3.  I found it worked best for me to create "selvedge fabric" on a fabric foundation.  I started with muslin pieces about 14 inches square, and then sewed selvedges to the base fabric, one overlapping the prior raw edge, until the square was filled.  If you know before you start what you are going to do with your selvedges and what size of pieces you will need, you can adjust accordingly.  Me, I jumped in sewing before I had any plan, and the 14 inch squares worked out just fine.

4.  Once you have some selvedge fabric, you can use it just like any other fabric.  You can plan with it as if you have striped fabric. I would not recommend using it for binding or for handquilting on it, because all the layers make for rather thick fabric.

5.  There are a lot of great ideas for using selvedges out there!  You can check out my Pinterest board where I collected selvedge ideas to get you started.

If you do decide to make something with selvedges, do let me know! I'd love to see what you come up with!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Making, making, making!



Hello, friends!  I have been a busy artist over the last few weeks. I got caught up in a book-making frenzy and away I went. Does that happen to you? It's as if something takes me over and my mind is filled with ideas and plans. And my studio/sewing room looks like a tornado hit and flung bits of paper everywhere.

But I was on a mission and a little mess does not deter me. No sir! I was greatly motivated by the fact that I'm about to head off on my regular quilt retreat, and when I went last fall I got quite a few requests for more of my crazy "jumbly journals." So now I have a big box of books to share with my retreat buddies.

I made a bunch of sewing-themed ones, as the retreat is mainly a quilting retreat and we're all hard-core sewists. (It's awkward to write "sewers."  Because, well, SEWER.)   I had a great time making book covers collaged with old sewing patterns.

I didn't do a flip-through video of these but if any are left when I return, I'll put them up on my Etsy shop and add a video. I love gathering sewing-related papers and bits of ephemera.

And I had a specific request for some travel journals, so I made a few of those:




If you want to see inside, you can take a look at this flip-through video of one of the books:  
 
  

And then I decided to make some books featuring the ranch where our retreats are held. I've written about it before -- it's The Bishop's Ranch in Healdsburg, California (about an hour north of San Francisco) and it's a gorgeous, peaceful place. I used photos I've taken there over the years to feature in these books.

In case you want to see inside one of them, here's a video:

  

And then, well, just because I had it started and it's April and summer is just around the corner, I finished up a beach-themed book, too. 

  
Something about red, navy and aqua says beach to me, not sure why.  

By the way, someone asked me recently if I made custom books. YES! I do! I'll make journals on a custom theme for a special person or occasion. I can use photos you provide, colors, themed materials, etc. Email me if you are interested! 

At any rate, I've cleaned up the paper mess in my studio, switched over to fabric-mode, and now I'm gathering up quilting supplies for a very fun week ahead. 

I hope your week is filled with lots of making, too!

Monday, March 28, 2016























Hi, all! Well, once again time has flown by and it's been an embarrassingly long time since I've posted here.  It's the usual reasons -- just life in general, work-- being busy but not doing anything that exciting to report. 

But a while ago I decided I needed to do something FUN.  So, I did a bit of quick poking around online, sent an email to a friend in Southern California, and next thing you know I had a trip to Disneyland planned! 

Oh, how I love Disneyland. It started, I'm sure, when I was a small child and we went there on vacation a few times.  And since then, it has symbolized for me the place where things feel fun and happy and like life can be magical again.  I'd not been for about 12 years, so it was high time I went.






















I was especially excited for two reasons. Number one was that I'd get to spend time with a good college friend, Moe.  We were neighbors in our college dorm and we've been good friends ever since, although we only see each other in person every few years.  She lives near Disneyland and loves Disneyland as much, if not more, than I do. She's worked there over the years in various jobs so she knows all of the short-cuts and insider things, too.


So it was totally fun to spend time with her.  Even the time spent in long lines for rides flew by because we just yakked the whole time. We had a lot of catching up to do!


The other part of being there that was so fun was that Disneyland is celebrating its 60th anniversary, and it was all decked out for the occasion.  There were blue bunting and sparkly diamond decorations everywhere. I loved seeing how they'd dressed up everything for the event.

So, I had a great time.  We rode on a bunch of rides, including some new (to me, anyway) ones at California Adventure that were really fun.  The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  The Radiator Springs Racing Cars.  And there were so many old favorites, some revamped a bit.  Star Tours. "Hyperspace" Mountain. Big Thunder Railroad. Indiana Jones.  I even got into It's a Small World again, which had been closed the last two times I'd been there.  I still remember the delighted amazement I felt as a small child, riding through that ride with so many delightful details and dolls and decorations to look at.  

We ate delicious food -- okay, not the healthiest -- but still, perfect for a few days where I was constantly walking everything off. (20,000 steps each day!)  The Mickey waffle was a must-order for the first morning in the park.  And it wasn't just cute, it really was the fluffiest, crispiest, most delicious waffle I've had in ages.


And yes, there was another Mickey-shaped treat on another afternoon, the beignets from a cafe in the New Orleans area. I had a lovely break sipping iced tea, enjoying the beignets, and watching people.  And then brushing powdered sugar off of my clothes for a while! 

In case you're wondering, not all of the food was shaped like mouse ears, and not everything I ate was fried and indulgent. I had a fabulous salad one afternoon, another delicious and relatively healthy dinner of roasted chicken and roasted veggies another night.  But really, who goes to a theme park for the healthy food?!  And on 2 of the 3 days in the park, I stood in line for the famous Dole Whip -- a soft-serve ice cream made with fresh pineapple juice that was fabulous and fresh and perfect for the hot afternoons.   

I did a fair amount of sketching. It was fun to sit and listen and look and sketch, and just soak up the feeling of just being in Disneyland.



And I took a lot of photos, thinking that maybe I'll sketch from them when I need a little mental visit to Disneyland.

 
So it was a very fun couple of days.  The very best part, though, was just having pure fun with a dear friend.  There's nothing like it.  I'm already dreaming of my next Moe-and-Disneyland trip!

 

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Cat Lady Activities


Every once in a while, a fabric collection appears on my radar and I fall in love with it.  Yes, it's true -- although I have plenty of fabric in my stash, I do keep an eye out for enticing new pieces!  This "Cat Lady" collection from Cotton & Steel just charmed me. And what could I do? It arrived at my door a few days ago.

After a frustrating morning of too much stuff at the computer and not enough progress, I decided on the perfect antidote: cutting this up for a fun new project.  What will it be, you ask?  Stay tuned! 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Filling Sketchbooks



I had a rather amazing discovery this morning.  I went to my office closet to find a new sketchbook, and I kept pulling out ones that were full.

That made me pull out all of the sketchbooks on the shelf, to see which were empty and which were full.  I found 9 full sketch books, and several others that were partially filled as well.

I had no idea that I'd filled so many sketchbooks.In fact, I was downright astonished.

Just this morning, I was watching a video from Michael Nobbs, an artist who has a delightful blog called Sustainably Creative and a wonderful daily podcast called One Thing Today. In the video, he was talking about how by doing one tiny thing each day, taking one little step forward, one can accomplish big things.

So it seemed like a cosmic affirmation that I made this discovery this morning.  Since February 1, I've been taking an online drawing class from Roz Stendahl (more about that in another post) that requires me to draw for at least 30 minutes each day.  One of the goals is to create the daily drawing habit.  I've participated in daily drawing challenges periodically - - Every Day in May is a fun one, for example.  But I've not made myself draw every day.  My creative practice is about trying to do something creative every day, but I give myself the leeway to venture off into other creative pursuits, too.  So I make books, and I make quilts, and I knit. Sometimes I dye fabric or play with other media to experiment. It's all part of the creative practice that has been an important part of my life.

But drawing still feels like a "new" thing to me.  So it was with genuine surprise that I saw the pile of full sketchbooks.  The first drawing in the earliest is dated October 9, 2011.  It's been a little over four years.  And I can really see that I've come a long way.

My current class is on drawing live subjects in public.  I've been intimidated about drawing live creatures (including people) because, well, they insist on moving.  It's no accident that virtually all of my sketches are of objects or buildings or scenes mysteriously devoid of living things!

But this class, and working on it daily, are pushing me and showing me that I can actually do this and get better. Yesterday, I was at a friend's property to sketch some of her many animals.  I had a grand old time sitting and watching and sketching the bunnies.  Even while they're sitting still, their noses are twitching constantly.  I never realized.


After I'd warmed up a bit, I got braver and went to watch the teeny button quails for a bit.  Talk about constant movement!  I found that if I practiced the skills I've been learning in this course -- watching, paying attention to which positions the animal returns to over and over, looking closely at shapes and angles and features, I could get a decent sketch even while the thing kept darting about.


I'm very encouraged, I must say.  And I think I'd better stock up on a few more blank sketchbooks.  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Selvedge Star



Hi, friends!  And happy February to you!

What's this, you ask?  A new quilt?  Yes!  Some years ago (I don't even want to try to count), I started saving selvedges.  When I'd buy fabric, or I'd pull fabric out of my stash to use in something, I'd tear off the white printed selvedge and toss it into a tote bag that hung on the back of the door to my studio.  Before I knew it, I had a very full bag.

And one day, in the mood to sew something mindless and soothing, I pulled out some muslin, cut it into 14-inch squares, and started sewing down the selvedges to create selvedge fabric.  I didn't know why, but it just seemed like something I could work into a project.  I found that sewing selvedges down, one after another, was remarkably fun. 

I'd bring my selvedge bag along on sewing get-togethers and retreats, and spend some time sewing more selvedge fabric.  Over the course of maybe 18 months, I'd sew selvedge fabric in odd moments.  I was accumulating a satisfying stack of selvedge squares.

And what to do?  I started without a plan, and made the basic Sawtooth Star you see in the center.  I was delighted.  And for a while I figured I'd make a bunch of those and have a star quilt.  I poked around to get selvedge quilt ideas.  I started a Pinterest Board of selvedge ideas.  But somewhere along the way, I decided that doing different things would be more fun, which led to a bunch of sketching and even setting up some medallion layouts with Electric Quilt.  So I had a plan.  And a stack of selvedge fabric.  And a whole lot of red scraps.

You see what resulted, finally.  This past week, I was off at a quilt retreat, and putting this all together was my #1 project.  It was the first time I'd laid out everything on a design wall, so it was exciting to see it go from a design on paper to the real design in fabric.  I so enjoyed putting it together.  It makes me happy -- all that red! All those words and selvedges to look at!

As luck would have it, the challenge theme for the next retreat is Words/Text/Fonts. I think I'm all set!  Now to get it sandwiched and quilted... and to decide what to do about the remaining selvedges I have in that tote bag...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Longtime Friends

Hi, friends!  Happy new year to you!  It turns out that 2015 wasn't the most prolific blogging year for me, but perhaps I'll have a bit more to say in 2016.  I hope your new year is off to a good start.

 My year has started off just beautifully, with some lovely special events and, most recently, a visit from a longtime friend.  You probably know my fellow Twelve by Twelve quilt artist Terry Grant, yes?  Her blog And Sew it Goes is always inspiring and a pleasant look at life in Portland, Oregon.  We realized that we're probably known each other for over 10 years now, but we've spent just a little time together in person.  So we started talking about Terry popping down for a visit, and this past week she was here for a few days.

We discovered, as we had on our last visits together, that we can talk and talk without running out of things to say.  We seem to have an endless supply of stories to share and interests in common.  We covered art, quilts, family, parenting, marriage, moving to new cities, knitting, past careers, favorite books, favorite tv shows, cats, horses, strange foods we've eaten... you name it. (Terry won the "strange foods" story.  I've never eaten guinea pig, but she has.  Ask her to tell you about it.) And frankly we could have gone on and on.

We took a day to go see Berkeley, which Terry had never seen, which of course required a visit to New Pieces and Stone Mountain and Daughter, both fantastic quilt shops.  We cruised the boutique shops on 4th Street in Berkeley with an especially fun visit to the Crate and Barrel outlet to look at the bargain Marimekko fabrics there.  We drove around the UC campus a bit (which isn't really drivable, but Terry did get to see some of the main buildings and the tower) and ended up at a favorite dining spot, Skates on the Bay at the Berkeley marina.  We dined on wonderful seafood louie salads while gazing across the bay at the San Francisco skyline and had a wonderful time. 

The next day was very rainy, so we had a quiet and mostly indoor day.  We lingered over morning coffee and talked, talked, talked.  Terry mentioned that she'd been wanting to learn how to make books, so we decided to have a spontaneous book-making lesson and started on coptic stitched books. Here's Terry learning how to tear watercolor paper for pages to get a pleasing deckled edge.


You can see Terry's blog about making books, as well as a picture of our finished books, here.  Terry was also quite kind about braving the rain and mud to take Miss C to her riding lesson (yes, horseback riding continues despite rain), and then we had a cozy dinner back at home of mexican tomato soup and a southwestern-style salad.

Saturday was our day to explore Healdsburg, and we were glad that the sky was gray but dry for our strolling about. We popped into my favorite local quilt shop, Fabrications, where Terry found some of the shirting fabric she loves to use in her quilts. We'd planned to eat at Rustic, the restaurant at the Francis Ford Coppola winery which is always fun to visit, but after touring the shop and the fun movie memorabilia on display, we determined that the restaurant was too noisy and crowded and we retreated to a local mexican restaurant for a far more relaxed experience.  And then it was back to Portland for Terry, and back home to real life for me.

It's kind of amazing, this internet world.  We can make friends and develop deep friendships even when we can't spend a lot of in-person time together.  You can get a good sense, for the most part, of someone's personality from online interactions, don't you think?  It was such a nice experience to spend that time with Terry.