Posts filed in: July 2011

Kinda Like These

comments: 40

"Dutch Still Life with Lemons and Engagement Calendar"
Paul Wonner

"Be obscure clearly! Be wild of tongue in a way we can understand!"
Maira Kalman, from the book Elements of Style

"Still Life with Plums and White Pitcher"
Hank Helmantel

Wayne Thiebaud

"Still Life with Three Eggs and Four Pears"
Braldt Bralds

The perspectives on these aren't all from above, but it is kinda interesting that in all of these ones that I like there is a big blank wall. I love these. Especially the kitterses.

Breakfast with Elizabeth

comments: 19


I am trying to shoot more photos without using my tripod. I think I've gotten very dependent on it. It's nice but it doesn't let you get to every angle. In summer, there is so much more light! And it is so much easier to take photos without a tripod!

Thank you for all of the thoughts and reflections and memories and insight you added to my day (life) yesterday. Thank you thank you. I needed that. xoxo

I think I want to do one of those still-life paintings of a table scene. You know the kind I mean? Perspective from above? Any favorites? I know I have a few — I'll try to find them. I always really liked those.


comments: 101










A couple of years ago — or maybe it was even last spring? — I read Howards End for the first time. It blew. my. mind.

I had seen the movie many times and had always loved it. The movie is fantastic. One of the best movies I've ever seen. As great as the movie is, the book is even better. There's a section where Margaret can't figure out why Helen has been so distant, and as she thinks about it she comes to the wrong conclusion. I read that part while eating pad thai alone at Stickers cafe and I cried into my lunch at two o'clock in the afternoon. Unable to see the words on the page, I swiped at my face with my napkin — the brilliance and total fallibility of her conclusion moved me so much. She'd gotten it so right and was still so wrong. I looked up and was alone in the restaurant. I'd been there for a couple of hours. I paid, took the book, and headed down the road to the Reed College campus, needing an emergency tree to sit under to finish the book. I found a great tree but then pretty soon a guy came along on one of those riding lawnmower things and started mowing the enormous lawn right in front of me, slowly going back and forth and back and forth, getting ever closer to my tree and making me all nervous . . . plus it was extremely loud. I picked up and went across the street to Crystal Springs and found another tree at the water's edge. I finished the book there, sitting on a tree root in the dirt, late in the afternoon. I can't remember the last time I read (or made time to read) for that many hours in a single day. That was the best book. For me, at that time in my life, on that day, it was. I didn't want to let that one go.

The opening scene of the movie, where Vanessa Redgrave is walking around in the fields outside her house (the house is named Howards End) at dusk, dragging her long skirts through the long grass, and the rest of the family are seen through lighted windows playing a game inside the lovely house. That scene isn't in the book, I don't think — at least not that literally? But those first two minutes or so — the purple-gray evening light, the glowing Queen Anne's lace, the paned windows, her walking alone — they have always stuck with me. It's almost like certain visual moments make such an impression on you that you somehow internalize them, or memorize them, and then you might find, without your totally realizing it, that you're looking for a place like that, or trying to make a place like that. You're conjuring something. I remember another time, way back in River Forest, when I was sitting at the drive-through at the River Forest Bank, waiting for the money tube to come back. It was late summer, early evening, the light was golden, I was just waiting, and a bunch of seed pods and dandelion puffs floated past, and for a moment they were silhouetted black and silver against the sun. And I thought suddenly, "There. That. Like that." As if I'd somehow been waiting to see dandelion puffs and seed pods sail by. Like I recognized them, somehow.

comments: 50


It's been the most non-summery summer I can ever remember. Most days are cool and cloudy and damp. Rainy. This morning, thunder. Rolling from one edge of my dimly perceived 5 a.m.–world to the other, for seconds it seemed it was part of the dream. Then, no: just the rare tympani of an imploding storm rather than the quiet, mousy drizzlesound we normally barely notice or hear. Outside our bedroom window is a strange sound tunnel. The house next door is so close to ours, both of them perched at the far edges of their skinny plots, built originally by the same person in 1927 and '28. Perhaps inhabited by members of the same family? They did not mind having their bedroom windows directly opposite and only feet away from eachother? Our shades on these windows are almost always drawn, drawn in both houses. I imagine each of us — our neighbors and we — hear dawn more than we see it: the lone and insistent calling of crows, the paper deliveryman talking at the top of his lungs on his cell phone then peeling off in his jingling car, the slap-slap-slap-slap of the determined jogger. All of them, I imagine, preferring that still, gray, magical hour, when it's possible to feel you might be the only one here. Anywhere.

In the back yard, we moved chairs, planters, lanterns, and leaves in order to stain the deck this weekend. The color was called Nantucket Mist. I was down with that name. A pale, gray wash. Today the yard is still and quiet. The color of the light is so flat it doesn't look quite real. There is barely a breeze, hardly a leaf moving. For some reason, I hear no traffic, either. One of our other neighbors is talking to his cat. Sitting in my office, I hear every word. There is a bolt of thrifted eyelet on my work table, enticing me (as eyelet will do). I have not sewn in weeks and weeks and weeks. I would love to make a new quilt but it feels like there isn't time for it lately. Suddenly the quilts we use all the time have all decided to fall apart at once, the fabric ripping like tissue paper. This may be the first summer in quite a while that I haven't made a quilt. But it feels like more work than I can muster out of myself right now. It feels good to just sit around a bit.

Summer Night Light

comments: 26


comments: 51


Our little Clover Meadow — I just cannot believe what a good dog she is. For the past couple of weeks, the back gate has been wide open. The side of it had to be removed to make way for the deck-dock, and then the workers just needed it to be open since they were going back and forth to trucks and bricks and wood and whatnot. This was nervewracking for her (oh, and for me). She is a dog of habit, and she likes things to be tidy and normal and under control (oh, wait that's me). Gates should be closed, floors should be solid, holes should not appear and disappear in sides of houses. But she took it all in stride (that's not me). With all of the commotion and people and tools and open gates and saws and jackhammers and everything else, she just sort of stuck right by us and rode it out. We can pretty much ask her to do (or not do) anything with our voice now — either with words or by making certain sounds. I've never had a dog like that before. It's not like we are great dog trainers or anything even close. But I think she just really always wants to do the right thing, and we got lucky. Doesn't it freak you out sometimes, the way people and animals learn to figure it out together? It's constantly amazing to me.

She is four years old this summer. Her favorite person in the whole wide world got to puppersit her overnight this past weekend and I know she was LOVING it.

This is the first day in what feels like weeks and weeks that she and I are here by ourselves, without a thousand things to do. It's very quiet. The sun is shining. We cleaned the new kitchen floor. We sat outside and had breakfast. We need to fill the birdfeeders. We are thinking we should paint some stuff. But maybe we'll just sit here. Yeah, maybe we will.

I forgot to say thank you so much for all of the sweet anniversary wishes. It was a really sweet day. Xo

So nice now.

comments: 106


Very nice. Don'tcha love it when a plan comes together? Our deck-dock and walkway were finished yesterday:


We have light, we have air, we have the smell of cedar, we have birds singing, we have rain, we have candlelit nights, we have access to all of it, right from the kitchen. I'm still a little in shock. It's just so, so different here now. A few finishing touches (staining, planting, furniture) and more photos soon. Today is our fourteenth wedding anniversary. What an incredible gift this is. An outdoor floor.


comments: 31


It's starting to look like a deck-dock! That's Jozo the Amazing, who also built our beautiful stone-quilt. Things are coming together. I've been moving and cleaning and priming and painting and patching for days and days. I'm going to my friend's house this morning for a bit of a break. Hopefully she won't mind visiting with me while I lay on her couch. I'm so tired.

Paint Picks

comments: 99


There is wainscoting on the long wall of the bedroom now, which is so very nice. It is primed but not yet painted; when I paint it it will be a milky, glossy white, like all of the trim in our house. I'm picking a new paint color for the wall above the wainscoat and the rest of the walls. I am the worst worst worst at resisting the influence of paint names. When I see a color I like on a paint chip, before I see the name I silently hope that it will be something cool and not something lame. Because I know I am not highly evolved enough not to just ever-so-slightly consider the name in jury deliberations. The color I'm leaning toward in the line-up above is the second blob. Sadly named, by Benjamin Moore, "Quiet Moments." Which sounds like the name of an air freshener. Or a depilatory. Or one of those instrumental-music CDs they sell on the endcap by the wrapping paper at Target. I wanted it to be named "Mount Saint Anne" (obviously), the name of the color that was just a couple of shades darker on the paint chip, which evokes a French convent school. With chipped white latte bowls. And paned windows. And scratchy socks. And oil lamps. On a rocky island. In November. During a storm. In other words, perfect.

Not nice now.

comments: 42


It's super quiet here this morning; that will change in about a half an hour, I think. I can't say it's been a relaxing summer so far. No. It's been kind of a stressful, loud sort of summer so far, with lots of furniture moving (take everything out of the kitchen, put it back in the kitchen, then take it all out, then put it all back, then take half of it out — and hopefully put it all back today), contractors, jack hammers, saws, banging. Also decisions, bids, orders, delays, people who don't call back, all the usual stuff. Lots of PAINTING. More Ikea furniture pieces to put together. Confused cats who actually get over it very quickly. Oh, hole here now? (head bobs up and down, checking it out), then pachoo, right out the new door like it had been there forever. Former window immediately and forever forgotten.

Obviously, people and dogs aren't using the new door, since it's 18" off the ground and needs the deck-dock before it can be truly functional. That's happening this week. New brick path also happening this week. Then, we're done. Except for the kitchen counter (not clear when/how that's happening, but not this week). My stomach feels nervous today — electrician coming back to work on a bunch of stuff that had to be moved/installed (deck light, and the only outlet in that part of the kitchen had been right under the deleted window) and a whole bunch of lumber is being delivered for the deck. That reminds me, the tree needs to be trimmed.

This door-deck-dock project is pretty much the last thing we are doing to our house. Ever. For now. I think at some point it will all be finished and we'll just be sitting around enjoying it. I think. Right [starts to wonder]?

About Alicia Paulson


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




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.