Posts filed in: August 2008

Pretty Pictures

comments: 51

My friend California-girl Leslie Lindell takes such pretty pictures.

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"Through the Curtain"

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"Patchwork Love"

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"The Pink Tutus"

She recently opened an Etsy shop, where you can buy prints, printed with archival ink on photo rag fine art paper — I swear the print she sent me of "Patchwork Love" looks 3-D.

She has a professional photography portfolio as well. I seriously love this one. I wish I had formatted my blog to show photos off at larger dimensions, 'cause this one is beautiful larger. I keep toying with changing the format but then it seems like all the old posts would wrap text really weirdly and I don't even want to deal with it. But photos like this make me almost change my mind. She says it's the beach house where she spent her birthday.

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She shot some photos of kids for me for me last summer so I could use the images in one of the projects in my book. She has a way of quietly capturing people. How lovely is this little feather-eyebrowed beauty:

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Miss Leslie, you are so very good at this.

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Small and Mighty

comments: 58

The fall issue of Small magazine is out and it is so gorgeous.

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Small is a quarterly on-line publication of "creative work on a small scale for the small-sized." Small's editors, Christine and Olivia, curate beautiful images, original perspectives, unique illustrations, and fresh designs from small-scale productions, exploring the best of kid-focused fashion, design, and delights. I love this delicate, peachy story, Ballet Russe, photographed by Tamara Muth-King.

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These amazing collages by Jayme McGowan are so evocative and dimensional.

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And this is definitely a sheep, photographed by the clever Catherine Ledner. Love this.

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I was very psyched when Olivia and Christine asked me to contribute to the Small Bites section of this issue! This is the "taste of my childhood," a recipe so special to me and my family. I've never written about my mom's spaghetti sauce on my own blog — you know how there are some things that are so much a part of you that you just can't find a way to say so properly? I've been secretly holding on to this one, and I'm thrilled to be able to finally share it on Small. I would say that Mom's Sauce is our family's signature. Nothing tastes more like home to me than this. I really hope you love it, too.

The Rain It Fell

comments: 26

Avettshow1 After four hours of sitting in a downpour . . .

Avettshow4 . . . the Avett boys came out and made us happy, happy people indeed.

It. Was. Awesome. I hope they heard me scream, "YOU RULE!!!" Cause they do. If I don't return to write this blog don't worry coz it means I've just run off to follow the band is all. Bye!

State Fair

comments: 80

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If you listen to Mignonette while driving the back roads to the state fair, I think you'll have a very fine time.

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All your friends will be there to greet you [howdy]:

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The pretty tweed chickens.

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The sleek, nutmeg-brown cows.

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The mildly inquisitive sheep-goats.

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The velvet-nosed old boys.

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The second-place winners.

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The sweet onions.

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The watermelon-seed spitters.

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The golden homemade pies.

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The creamy cheescakes, watching the crowd walk by.

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The funnel cakes and the lemon ice.

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The painted ladies.

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The opportunities for thrilling flight.

Fresh Eggs

comments: 67

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There are so many houses in my neighborhood that I love. Yesterday evening, Clover Meadow and I took a slightly different dog-walk route because we walked our neighbors down the road to their dinner restaurant, and when we turned we were on a street we never get to. On that street was a beautiful little house I'd driven past once a long time ago; I'd tried to find it again but I could never remember where it was. Yesterday evening there it was, on this quiet side-street, newly painted and as charming as ever. As we got closer, I heard the soft clucking — chickens! Clover stopped in her tracks, ears forward: Out of the shade garden wobbled a velvety black hen. In the side yard, a strawberry blonde with scraggly feathers came forward, greeting us with enthusiasm. The night was quiet; we stood still, watching them, enchanted.

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But then a guy came out of the back yard, wearing a big straw hat and brandishing a spray bottle of water. He shooed the chickens away from us, toward the backyard, said they were not supposed to be in front. The chickens scattered in a flurry of feet and feathers. Bye-bye chickens. But they had looked so sweet, bobbing through the hostas and maidenhair ferns toward the sidewalk.

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We wove up and down the streets for a while longer. The air smelled fresh and green after all the rain we've had this week. As we crossed back to our own street, I saw one of my other neighbors, carrying a carton of eggs. She said her friend kept chickens and had given her some eggs, and she was giving them to me. Serendipity! Thank you! They were brown and that lovely brownish-blue.

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I haven't been cooking all that much lately, but I've been meaning to point you toward this food-ish interview I did with Marilyn at Simmer Till Done where I see I talk several times about pizza (but Marilyn's an ex-Chicagoan too, so she understands). Marilyn is so funny — I love the way she writes. This post absolutely slays me. I loved that one.

Now, what should I make with these pretty eggs? Seems like it should be something elegant and special. French toast? Chocolate souffle?

Whatever you do . . .

comments: 20

. . . don't forget to get your Avett Brothers tickets for Sunday, Portlanders! (And if you're somewhere else, maybe they're swinging through your way, too. I hope so :-)

Pastitsio Weather (Except It's August)

comments: 43

Pastitsio2

Weather weirdness. Thunder, lightning, rain, big clouds. Good stuff, stuff we don't get a lot of in August. Cold. Wondering if I should close the windows because it's cold. Instead I splurged and made the pastitsio from Falling Cloudberries, because what else warms up a chilly summer evening than a hot oven and a bubbling casserole.

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I have so many things to tell you about, but I am so behind in stuff like that. I will say that I have finished reading almost everything on my summer reading list, plus a few. I saw Get Smart and loved it. I saw Kit Kittredge with my niece and that was really cute. I saw Brideshead Revisited and the second half of it was so disappointing I complained loudly about it in public for a half an hour afterward. The first half was awesome, the second half just completely disintegrated for me. But I still love you, Matthew Goode. If I didn't, would I really watch Chasing Liberty for the seventh time and then watch the Mandy Moore–Matthew Goode commentary version again immediately afterward? No. I would not.

Brideshead

Just sayin.

County Fair

comments: 71

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On Friday, we went to the county fair, one of our favorite things to do at the end of the summer.

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I don't know why we love it there so much. It's just not like anyplace else, somehow.

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You see great smiles there.

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And lots of bunnies.

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Lots and lots.

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It's a cliche for a reason. But that's okay, because bunnies are cuter than anything.

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Though baby ducks are pretty cute, too. I don't know what that one on the end was doing but he was okay, don't worry.

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I like photographing chickens.

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We can keep them in the city, but everyone I've known who's had them has eventually changed their minds about keeping them in urban backyards. There are a few in our neighborhood and I always do like walking past those yards, and hearing that soft clucking.

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Cinnamon Mocha.

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Hi T!

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Alas, I did not catch the name of this distinguished gentleman. With the straw sticking out of his eye.

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The 4-H kids are all so nice. They hang out in the stalls next to their animals, playing Uno and explaining to us the difference between hay and straw. Andy and I were laughing about last year, when I kept calling goats "lambs." I still can't really tell them apart, expect that I noticed the goats really do like to climb up on top of stuff and stand there looking around, like little mountain goats. I love them all.

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At the Pioneer Village, the iron smithys are genial and content. They get the fire going, even in super-hot weather, and make all sorts of tools.

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Like tiny spoons out of nails.

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And little horseshoes, for good luck.

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We had a great weekend. So nice. Thank you for all your gentle and generous comments last week.

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Y'all are so very kind. Thank you.

comments: 114

Alliswell

It's weird, how summer makes you feel sometimes. As a child, I remember it feeling so long, the nights going on so late, and night after night everything felt the same. My parents sat in our backyard every night, for hours. I never knew anybody else's parents who did that. We girls had the second floor of the house to ourselves and if we were home, we'd be up there. We had a deck with a sliding door off of my bedroom. From the deck, you could not see our parents but you could hear them, vaguely, the murmurs of conversation, or laughter. You knew they were there. You could smell ragweed (always a favorite of mine) and tomato plants and our dad's endlessly lit Newports, the smell of smoke so hateful, and so familiar. There were fireflies, and mosquitoes. It was humid there, in Chicago — many times after moving to Oregon my father said that he missed hot weather, "those balmy nights," and I always thought that was a too-kind, almost romantic way of describing that cloaking, heavy heat, but I know what he meant. My sister would be playing a Fleetwood Mac record. The other one would be on the phone. One or another of us was frequently on the phone past midnight. Our parents stayed up until one or two or three a.m. We almost always went to bed before they did. I think when he said balmy he meant all of it. All of that.

***

Clover Meadow and I walked through the neighborhood yesterday, our regular route, the one Audrey and I used to walk, past overblown roses and dried-up lawns and chalk-written sidewalks with important messages, all of it beautiful to me. She walks with such sweet enthusiasm you just can't help but feel like you two could walk, circling the neighborhood in quiet, shuffling communion, for miles, as long as it takes until it feels like you belong. All is well.

***

I've got bigger problems, anyway: Andy is growing a beard and mustache. Help.

comments: 178

Well, I knew this week would be hard, and it's only Tuesday, but it's hard. I've sobbed about fourteen times in the past four days, including this morning, about all manner of unrelated randomness, things big and small (but they felt big). I do that.

It doesn't feel like a year since Audrey passed away, but on Friday it will be exactly a year.

I remember so many things about that time, the day that it happened, the weeks before and the weeks that followed. I remember how in the car Andy said that he really didn't mind carrying her, everywhere. Even if she couldn't walk anymore, he really didn't mind carrying her anywhere she wanted to go, if only she could stay. And he would've. And so would've I. I remember that, how desperately we wanted that, how I immediately starting thinking about selling the house and moving into a ranch, so there would be no stairs. I couldn't think of anything else to do.

***

Clover Meadow is here on the sofa, next to me, as I write. She's curved into that doggy parenthesis I love so much, smooshed tightly between me and the patchwork pillow, for she is a smooshy kind of dog — always wanting to be pushing against you, or resting her chin on your ankle, or leaning her forehead to yours. She is heavy and cuddly, thinking nothing of sitting on my lap with her limbs hanging off, no matter that her pointy elbows are jutting into my stomach, no matter that my legs fall asleep with the weight of her on them. I don't move. Stay, girl.

***

Thank you for all of the kindnesses, the million sweet and gentle kindnesses, that you extended to us then and this past year, extended to us and Audrey and Clover Meadow. I think about it all the time — how, when Audrey died, we sat for hours and read the comments in the ever-darkening house, and I felt there were these tiny points of light, all over the world, each point a little wish for Audrey, for all of the lost pets, love and wishes to be well and at peace, and how the idea of that shimmering constellation comforted me then, and does still.

A couple of days later, sitting on the lawn at the zoo, listening to the Old Crow Medicine Show sing "Wagon Wheel," I laid back on the quilt and cried. The night was so soft, the song too good. When I opened my eyes, I was looking at the sky. And in the sky the clouds were swirled into wiry cowlicks of white fur — Audrey's belly, huge, right above me and filling the sky, her on her back, stretching. I grabbed Andy's hand and pointed, and for a few moments we both stared at it in awe; there was no mistaking what it looked like. Within seconds the image had changed, the clouds softening into a blur, the tufts rearranging themselves into other lost things. But the moment will stay with me forever. I can still hardly believe it really happened. But it did. I know it did. So I know she is up there.

***

For a long time, I could not look back at the blog, either to see the posts I wrote about everything last August, or later when I went off on that guy in the parking lot, or even before that, the older happy photos of Audrey in front of the big, huge dress; the ones where she is in the dog sweater; that funny one where she is sitting on the green chair by the window waiting for her true love, the one where she is sitting in front of the Christmas tree at night, listening for Andy. But today I looked through some really old ones, taken the weekend after September 11, 2001, just after we got her, our first puppy. We wanted to be near other people, and the ocean, so we took tiny Audrey to the beach for the first time. There, by the sea, and the rock, things felt better, as they always do. And I remember that everywhere we went that day people smiled when they saw little Audrey. She was so small and earnest. Even if you were sad, you just couldn't help but smile at a puppy. We smiled back, wanting so much to share peace. And that felt good.

Audreyandme

I feel better.

Miss you, girl. We all do. xoxo

About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Photography

Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.