Midsummer

comments: 68

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The middle. The greens have deepened. The sun is hot and rich. If there were cicadas here they'd be humming in the afternoons, but instead they hum in my memory of them humming. It's a Midwestern memory, one of many. There was a scent in the air the other day as Amelia and I got out of the car to have our lunch at a Thai restaurant I've only just started going to, needing a change. Something was blooming but I don't know what. It was the smell of a field, or a meadow, though we were nowhere near one. Far from, in fact. A sob caught in my throat. Our neighborhood feels urban in the worst of ways, lately. Overcrowded, filled with cars, crime, and a general crustiness that has me world-weary. I long for a Queen-Anne's-lace-lined gravel road, birdsong, a lake with a pier I could sit on and dangle my toes, a rowboat with which I could row Amelia into the shade to nap. No noise but nature's noises. I long for these things. Everything feels so far from them, somehow. I don't know why. I can't seem to find the right place for us to go to find them. It seems like just a small, quiet, ordinary place but I can't find it. It must be more extraordinary than I thought. Sometimes I wished we lived in the country.

Instead, I tend my little garden. It's not doing very well, actually, and seems rather stunted. The gourds and cucumbers seem stressed, their lower leaves turning yellow and getting brown splotches and falling off. The broccoli leaves, those beautiful, leathery, spruce-green lobes, are getting eaten by something. I guess everything else is actually doing okay, but it just doesn't seem to be growing very much. I've been watering every day and this is the first time I've been so diligent about doing anything in the garden for years, since before Amelia was born. It feels good and I feel ready to do it again. I mean, I'm still terrible at gardening. I learn things and then I forget them immediately, or I don't learn anything at all. I'm super into it for a while and then I'll get totally neglectful (and, well, busy) and won't water for a week, usually right when it gets super hot and the plants need it most. Well, we'll see. So far I'm doing okay with it, and it feels good.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your orders during my quilt kit sale the other day. I am so incredibly happy that these are selling, and yes, I have more coming. I have at least twenty new fabrics that haven't even been cut yet. I'm working on my skirt pattern — and yes, to those who've asked, it is the skirt hanging next to my basket on my post last week — and I'm going to be selling a limited amount of yardage of these vintage calicos to go with my skirt pattern. The pattern has no pieces for you to print out or cut out or anything like that — the skirt is made entirely of rectangles cut with a rotary cutter and ruler, and you can make it any size you'd like. I've literally made five of these skirts in the past few weeks as I've been working on the pattern, and I've been wearing one or another almost every single day. I put my phone/wallet in one pocket and my keys in the other and I go. So practical. I'm haaaaaaappy with this particular summer solution. It's good.

Andy Paulson. The kind of dad I wish every child in the world could have. Happy Father's Day, my dear, dear irrepressible, darling love. XOXO

68 comments

The photos of your precious family are beautiful. I was raised in the midwest and then moved around the country -- finally coming back 4 years ago and it is "home". I can understand your longing. The fireflies are out now at night and there is just nowhere I would rather be. But Thai food isn't that great here so I guess that's the price I pay! :)

Kristina says: June 24, 2017 at 08:34 PM

Come to Michigan! ;-) Gardening is hard, but I keep trying. I move things around a lot to try to make them happy. (Little green worms are eating my broccoli too.)

Yes!! Love your skirt and I'm very eager to make one myself with your pattern.

I moved to the Texas Hill Country from busy San Jose 12 years ago and have not regretted it one minute. The cicadas buzz loudly during the heat of summer. It's a natural symphony to my ears.

Lori Ann says: June 25, 2017 at 10:52 AM

Love the perfume bottles! The Laura Ashley bottles are so beautiful - I still have one with the tiniest bit of cherished scent! And I had forgotten about Anais Anais - used to love that too!
Thanks for the beautiful photos - as always!

i live on a small farm in oregon. a dirt road lined with tall grasses, queen annes lace, and elderberries. in between a forest and the yaquina river with a dock to dip toes. fields with grazing cows, ancient apple trees, and wild birds that nest in the wetlands. if you want a taste of the country, my in-laws rent out their guest house on the edge of our property. we live outside of newport on the yaquina. you can have a closer look on my blog http://phishybee.blogspot.com/. email me if your interested and i will get you in touch with my mother-in-law.

I retired from a long-time federal job in San Diego and moved to the mountains of Northern Arizona 18 months ago. I love being here, I love the location of my house, but I struggle every. single. day. with the house itself. I have never liked it at all. Everything in it is so very awkward. What a dilemma to have, I know, because so many people in our city, state, country, world have so many more pressing problems and dilemmas. I know that and try to be ever so grateful for the incredible bounty that I have. But still I am so unhappy with the dwelling itself, and the changes that need to be made are unreasonable financially and practically. But I will say that every time I have to go back to the glot that is Southern California, with the exception of loving and lovely relatives and friends who are there of course, I have to quell my panic. I do love my mountains and valleys and wild animals who live here. So I guess that is my meditation and prayer for peace within. I am so blessed in so many ways. Alicia, for the gifts that you give on this site with your writing, I am grateful and hope that you find your place too.

I have days when I long to live in the country too, but now that we just moved to a (slightly) more rural area, I already miss aspects of living in a city--driving into town (20 minutes away) every few days for things we need isn't nearly as convenient as having it all only four minutes away! Guess I can't have it both ways, though. But your words are lovely, and what I'm really trying to say is that I understand the pull of nature and of stillness.

How I am loving visiting Portland at this very moment!!!! It is so beautiful here. How many years have I been following your blog?! The way you capture the seasons is always perfect. You make me want to move here.

Yes, the country...but I watch far too much crime/detective tv to live where no one can hear me if I scream!

We loved it here when we arrived 11 years ago - now there are far too many people, it takes away the quietness and the peace. I often wear ear plugs in my house. The crime is so disheartening. But who am I to say people can't live where they want to? And isn't it always the things that make something special that are also it's downfall? Darn it, Salt + Straw, I blame you. But I can't blame people for wanting to be near Powell's. I just can't.

Stefanie P. says: June 26, 2017 at 05:22 AM

Hmm...perhaps it is time to get out of "Dodge"...go back to you roots, and let Amelia see where mommy is from...will do you a world of good also...summers can be brutal...especially when it is hot...and there is no true rhyme nor reason for the day...my garden is limping along also (deep South!...no surprise here!!)...is just seems the "dog days" of summer have arrived very early this year! Hang in there!!!

I can't wait to sew myself a skirt (or three!). I want to see more of your earring-organizer -- I could use system that's better than a huge jumble in a too-small jewelry box.

That father daughter photo gives me all the feels. Come to Idaho for a visit. It's nice & quiet in our little slice of country and right now the nights are filled with frog song. XO

There are deep green places where you live, but I suspect that you need a country road and a lake and shade giving pre-Civil war trees. The quiet hum of a meadow - there is nothing like the country life. We live with apple orchards on three sides, a meadow and stream in front. It is a little bit of heaven and your post reminds me of how lucky we are.

As always - your post is full of the things that many hunger for - a precious child, your wonderful projects, a good husband! I miss pics of your corgi though!

Ariana W says: June 26, 2017 at 07:57 AM

Yes, I hear you about the lakes. I grew up on lakes, rivers and natural waterfalls and miss them terribly. The grass is always greener for me. When I lived on Beacon Hill in Boston I always wanted country. Now that I'm living on 10 acres in the country and hear nothing but birds, I long for the culture of the city. Ahhh, too bad I can't afford two homes! :) BTW, have you checked out Hagg Lake? I really need to get over there. Forest Grove is really cute with some little bistros on Main Str. and a new yarn shop! (Forest Grove is the town near Hagg Lake.)

I'm having that same feeling of melancholy these days. I think it's anxiety about the state of things (globally speaking) and a general feeling of helplessness about making meaningful change. I sometimes also long for a quiet, secluded place to live. I know that for me, though, I'd be sad and lonely after long. I live in a mid-size city in the Midwest, which I love, but we have our share of urban problems. Having kids in public school makes me acutely aware of this. I think the best thing to do is persevere in our own communities to make them better, in whatever form that takes. For me, it's helping out in the school and staying vigilant about local elections. And gardening! Somehow that's always a good thing, even when stuff doesn't grow like I hope.

It can't be mid - that's way too fast for me.

I would recommend "The Ditch Picnic" for those sort of days. :) You'll love it, I promise. By Edith Unnerstad and Ylva Kallstrom

I adore that you are so open about your love for your husband! I have been married for 17 years and we have watched friends who are obviously not happy and the way they treat each other... so sad. We decided long ago we were going to keep each other and that makes such a difference I think. I hope our love shows to others like yours does.

Sorry you have been in a kind of a funk lately. In the past you always find pleasure and beauty in simple things so I know you'll be all right. What helps me is analyzing where I am with these two little words: content vs covet. If I am wishing for things others have I do not feel content. Breath deep, be thankful, be content. Life is good!

I ordered a quilt kit a couple days ago!! Thank you for a great shopping experience, all the follow up emails, shipping notices, just like the big guys! The heat just zaps my energy so it will be a good indoor project when I don't want to be outside.

Love your post & photos always. Since I live part-time in Northwest District in Portland, I understand your feelings of the changes in our urban neighborhoods and the continuing encroachment of crowdedness and "crustiness". I mentioned to my husband a couple weeks ago that I'm not loving our neighborhood quite as much...it used to feel so cozy and quaint to me.

One thing I still love about Portland is all of the outdoor green spaces nearby that we can escape to. That's important. Today I had a strong feeling to get in my kayak on the Tualatin river and just paddle and watch for birds. But just the driving to these places is getting to be too much effort through traffic congestion.

Remember there are smaller communities near Portland...Forest Grove, Oregon City, Wilsonville, Newberg...there are still some places to live near Portland that offer more space and quiet.

Oh, the cucumbers must be suffering from mildew!

I have several plants on my window sill and was wondering what was making their leaves turn yellow and brittle like rice paper. Now I know and I am quite disappointed after all the work I must say...

Regarding living in a city and access to nature. I am very lucky to be living in a small apartment in an area brimming with natural beauty: creeks, meadows, forest, animals, garden allotments...All this at 30 min from the town center on foot. A luxury.

leslienison says: June 27, 2017 at 01:04 PM

i love the things you do!! I have two granddaughters and is there a pattern for your daughters blouse? i have looked for one and can't find one. Thanks Leslie

Jenn Hill says: June 27, 2017 at 04:59 PM

Oh I so understand this longing for the quiet of the country. I miss the slow pace of our Portland neighborhood just a few years ago. In such a short time it's become the place to bulldoze old growth trees and put up new houses and I fear this is only the beginning with whispers of a new shopping center being planned just a few blocks away. Country life is calling to me more and more with each passing year.

I know it makes no sense but really I see so much of Andy in Amelia!

Lovely blog post. I ordered one of your quilt kits (geranium window-- my five year-old daughter picked it out! and I loved it too!) and I can't wait to make it. I haven't quilted since before she was born. Life is hectic, I have more than one child, and there just isn't the time... Anyway, love the little vision of happiness that is your blog. I live in the portland area too, and though I love (LOVE) where I am (on over half an acre), I too feel like everything-- in my town, and nearby, and in Portland-- is too bustling and crowded. I love my yard. But I keep thinking of moving (though we can't, and I won't). There are lots of lovely places nearby-ish, you know, where you'd have better school districts and can still have land!

A lump caught in my throat when I read about the sob catching in yours. I KNOW exactly what you mean. Here is a very "gravel road" poem I read many years ago and thought of it immediately when I read your post.

So This Is Nebraska
BY TED KOOSER

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
over the fields, the telephone lines
streaming behind, its billow of dust
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.

On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs
hide broken tractors under their skirts.

So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.

Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.

You feel like that; you feel like letting
your tires go flat, like letting the mice
build a nest in your muffler, like being
no more than a truck in the weeds,

clucking with chickens or sticky with honey
or holding a skinny old man in your lap
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like

waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave
instead and leave your hand out gliding
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.

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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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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.