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the husby, son, pup and i went down to lorane oregon last week to look at the cabins i mentioned in my last post.  so in love!!  i hadn’t been there in a couple of years and hadn’t walked out behind the property and in the surrounding area in about… twenty years!?  even the boy, who said “we’re never moving from this house!” when we left said “ohmygawd, you  have to buy it now!  it’s so beautiful here!!”.  he’s such a sweet boy.

it’s no wonder my fellas have fallen in such love with the area like me — look how beautiful it is!!  these are all within a few moments drive from the property (which, by the way, is WAY more beautiful than the previous photos depicted — i was an arse and didn’t take any photos though!!  wth!?):


in a nutshell, the property (despite being so very dear to me) may not be as perfect as we once thought.  the surrounding area is owned by weyehauser (too lazy to look up my potentially-wrong spelling right now) and they to aerial herbicide spraying, or at least used to.  fuckers.  i refuse to live around that.  the sole water source to the cabins is via a mountain spring which could easily be contaminated, for one.  BUT, there is a stream through the property with a state protected salmon run so they may not be able to spray anymore.  i’ve only found evidence that they have been doing regular spraying up until 2011 so either they stopped, or they didn’t.  if they’ve stopped, i will make an offer on the property and live happily ever after.  if they didn’t, we will find another property.

all of this has clearly effected my most recent art piece: cabin in the woods under the moon (shown above in my front garden).  maybe i’ll create 7 of them for some universal magic.  ❤  this piece is currently available in my online shop along with a couple of other new pieces i haven’t shared yet >>

here are some detail photos:

the cabin

the cabin

the trees

the trees

the moon

the moon

this piece measures 8×10″.  ingredients: 1920s sheet music (the cabins are 1920s also so it felt befitting), acrylic and ink on clay board.

this week, my heart is in lorane, my mind is on the gorgeous seven cabins (i already picked out my future art studio which has ivy growing up the side and japanese maple outside the window), and i’m hoping to find out about the stupid spraying so i can see what our next step is.  either way, there is now a fire under our arses to find that perfect property for us so we can branch out, have a larger farm, get goats and more chickens, and live off the land.  i’m not going to let this get me down.  we spent 9 months trying to find the perfect place in alaska after spending last summer there and when we discovered a school issue and that we couldn’t move there for ten years i got into a huge funk.  not this time!  whatever is meant to be will happen.  i think.  and i will be happy.  i have to.

UPDATE (about an hour later):

apparently there has been no spraying for 2-4 years and will not be any more spraying for 50+ years, once the trees behind the property are old/tall enough to harvest again.  in 50 years i’ll be 89!!  🙂

meeting with mortgage guy today.  woohooo!  (oh, and the seller told the realtor who is his son that he loves that i was born there and that we would sign 2 year lease agreements with all of the tenants!)  it’s still hopeful after all!  little straw bale house and cabin-art-studio and art retreats and organic farm, here we come!  🙂


free vintage circus trampoline photo
the winners of last week’s collage pack giveaway have been picked!  congratulations to the four picked from the original blog post:

patricia kurowski
debbie price-ewen
romeo and “her”
katie cahill

and the facebook winner of the fifth free collage pack is:

serena barton

congratulations, ladies!  (and romeo!)  i will try to contact each of you directly today to get your mailing addresses (or if you see this first, email me your address to hi (at) altered bits (dot) com — no spaces, of course).

for those of you who did not win, stay tuned as i will be having lots more summer giveaways.  and you can take the above trampoline girl from a circus image above (click for larger version).

yachats oregon beach shot

right after i posted the giveaway, my family and i traveled to yachats, oregon (thus my utter silence) for a job my husband had.  in addition to being one of the most amazing musicians in the world, he’s the king of artisan concrete.  he does the most amazing decorative concrete floors, patios, counters, etc..  anyway, it was a LOT of fun to visit the coast again (we go to the northern oregon coast almost every month but i haven’t been that far south in years).  other than the gorgeous sea, stunning scenery along the drive, a doe and her fawn and heaps of sunshine, guess what i got to see!!  one of my favorite artists and dearest friends kerin gale of remnants of olde.  woots!  i love miss keriny and it was so nice to see her.

jema "emilly ladybird" hewitt

stay tuned tomorrow for an exclusive interview with jema “emilly ladybird” hewitt, author of “steampunk emporium” and enter to win one of two fabulous prizes: a FREE copy of her magnificent book OR a little steampunk bundle of gears, cogs, watch parts and vintage beads, etc.  see you then!

just this past weekend the husb and i spent the night at the white eagle saloon here in portland… it’s very close to home (just a couple of miles, in fact) so likely seems quite unexciting to most, but we’ve heard that it’s extremely haunted so i really wanted to go.  couple close haunted place, with no child for the weekend, sprinkle some “we haven’t been getting along well and must remedy this” on top, pour some friends and good ol’ mcmenamins beer on it and you’ve got a pretty damn decent night.  check our their site — all in all, this place rocks. you should definitely check it out next time you’re in portland — it’s super cheap too, which is another fantastic attribute.

both the interior art and exterior gardens are gorgeous — i’ll add a few photos i took (mostly shot not sober) to brighten the post a wee bit, but you should really check the gallery on their site…

white eagle, saloon, portland, oregon, haunted, ghost, ghosts, paranormal

after hearing heaps of stories and reading for years about the white eagle, i was certain we’d have this fantastically insane paranormal night.  nope, not so much.  i was bummed.  BUT bear in mind that i spent a decade of my childhood in a very haunted house so what is minor to me may be quite spooky to others.

the very, very short version of the history of the white eagle is that it was built in the very late 1800s and began as a well respected establishment.  as time went on, the russel street area became quite industrialized and this changed the type of clientele that was frequenting it.  because it was close to the river, sailors and other people started spending more time there, and to please the boys, prostitution became a huge aspect of the white eagle’s revenue with a basement and an upstairs brothel.  remember the book pages that i did for kim’s book in the pulp redux collaboration?  the story behind my pages was based upon the portland underground and shanghai tunnels, etc.  well this place was one of many that men were oftentimes shanghaied from.  you can find those posts here and here.  people were killed there too, blah, blah, blah… the place was supposedly so haunted that no one was able to stay there until recently, though it’s still haunted so i’m not sure what the reasoning was.

white eagle, saloon, portland, oregon, haunted, ghost, ghosts, paranormal

okay, so fast forward to this past weekend.  i was hoping for exorcist-style schtuff (well, not really), but it wasn’t quite that intense.  there was definitely evidence of activities of sorts, but all fairly mellow until late in the night.  next time i’m going alone so i can experience it without distraction.

first, while downstairs, i felt a hand brush against my cheek twice.  facial cheek, that is (debs though i meant my bum when i told her).  the husb had his very first mini-paranormal experience of his life in that he heard a girl’s voice as if i were speaking to him, feeling “my” breath on his cheek white “i” spoke but it wasn’t me.  i uttered not a word to him at that moment and was far enough away that he couldn’t have felt a thing from me.  he’ll deny the whole thing, but i saw the disbelief and wonderment in his eyes.  😉

white eagle, saloon, portland, oregon, haunted, ghost, ghosts, paranormal

once we went back upstairs to our room around 2ish in the morning (room #4: mr. spaceman — all rooms have song title names and lyrics painted on the walls), things got a bit more fun. this place is loud!  seriously — someone walks to the bathroom (it’s a european style place with shared toilets and showers) and you hear it.  clop, clop, clop.  it’s loud.  however, at least 7 times during the night i heard banging, as if on the walls, a door slam, several doors creaking open (or closed?) but literally NO feet walking to said doors.  this used to happen in the haunted house i lived in as a child, but with moving chairs and tables and cupboard doors slamming in plain site, etc., so this didn’t really phase me and i would just end up falling back asleep while trying to listen for… anything cool.

white eagle, saloon, portland, oregon, haunted, ghost, ghosts, paranormal

i’m not sure what time it was but at some point i felt very uncomfortable before realizing that someone was touching/rubbing my lower abdomen.  i went to push away the husb’s hand but then realized it wasn’t his.  he was snoring ever so quietly, back to me.  i didn’t move for a moment, but it still felt like there was a hand on my abdomen.  pressure and warmth.  a bit of mental discomfort.  finally i whispered “please stop” really quietly and dozed back off to sleep.  i was later awoken by the feeling of what seemed to be a cold metal coin, maybe the size of a silver dollar, being pressed hard into my left palm.  this happened twice.  nothing was really there, but i felt it.

so… once we got home the next day, or perhaps the day after, i read this site: portland hauntings, white eagle pub and hotel.  apparently i am not the first person to experience coins in that building — sometimes they appear on the floor of the upstairs rooms (where we were).  if you’re at all interested in ghosts or paranormal activities, go read that page — there are some great historical facts and stories there, very much worth reading.

white eagle, saloon, portland, oregon, haunted, ghost, ghosts, paranormal

one of the whole main reasons i went was to hopefully get some good photos (just some orbs in one photo, so not worthy there) and some inspiration for another book — i’m going to do a portland/hauntings/shanghai tunnels/portland underground/etc. book for myself.  this was good inspiration for sure.  the coin thing is still a bit haunting to me, so i’m going to investigate what types and size(s) of coins were around then — felt large like a silver dollar.  that will definitely be incorporated into my ghosty portland altered book.

how cool that this summer seems never ending.  i swear last year i blinked and it was time to return to school.  summers for us means lots of travel and lots of lazing around — a nice balance, i’d say.  right now we’re planning another trip.

seth bullock

nutshell: fly from portland to salt lake city (i have an airline credit so it would be free).  grab a snack and 55 minutes later fly on a different airline to souix falls, south dakota.  rent a car and drive to deadwood (we just finished watching that tv series and are in love with the history of that little town).  of course we would stay in the bullock hotel (which, incidentally appears to be haunted by the ghost of seth bullock and i wanted to go BEFORE i knew this!).

wild bill hickok

while there, we would of course have to visit the grave sites of wild bill hickok and calamity jane, yes… of course.  then perhaps a little hiking camping trip somewhere and a jaunt down to mt. rushmore (it’s only about an hour away).  then comes the sweaty and adventurous part: a grayhound trip to… i haven’t decided yet.  i wanted to take an amtrak home as i’ve never gotten to go on a train trip before, but there are no amtrak stations in south dakota or wyoming.  sheesh.  so, a grayhound backpacking trip among weirdos to wherever we go (probably somewhere in montana as i’ve never been there BUT i haven’t been to north dakota or wyoming either so any will do).  camp a night or two, THEN take an amtrak home.  yeah!  a historically fun trip.  we are all lovers of history in this house so we’re hoping to be able to do something like this ever year or two.

calamity jane

calamity jane

so, after many inquiries regarding where where i get some of my tools and supplies, i have created a new “test” section on the altered bits website entitled tools and supplies.

altered art, mixed media art, tools, art, supplies, crackle, distress kit
there you will find a menagerie of things including different non-toxic crackle mediums, letter and number metal stamp sets (two sizes), the best instant setter ever for eyelets and things, etc.  i’m not sure if this will be a permanent section or not, but for now it exists.  i’ve actually never used the distressing kit but it looked cool so i bought some.  is that cheating?

art supplies, art tools, metal punch set, crackle medium, paint, instant setter, distressing kit
i keep forgetting to share the few fun etsy treasuries i’ve been in, so here is a GORGEOUS one.  my cuff bracelet is in it (third row, last image).  click on the image to see the YUMMY treasury, velvet red desires:

etsy treasury, velvet, red, desires
that’s about all i’ve been up to lately, other than working on finishing the front over of my newest book, which i will post soon along with a new “art for a cause” fundraiser on my site.  now, back to catching up on posts — a blog-a-thon day!!

i will likely be doing the drawing for the tutorial give-away tomorrow too.  see previous post if you haven’t entered yet and wish to.

over the past couple of weeks i’ve experienced several good lessons.  some background on lesson number one…

cuff bracelet
last week my son’s school had a benefit art fair to raise money for more arty programs at their school.  i helped with the advertising (designed all of the fliers) and had a table there, which was joyous fun — 30 amazingly talented artist parents were there selling things from high end metal sculptures to jewelry to original paintings to t-shits (but really, really cool ones).  i really didn’t think i would sell anything but i was quite wrong.  i spent weeks getting ready, making lots of “little things” to sell with my art pieces — cheaper stuff like art print cards and such so that hopefully i’d make a few bucks for the school (20% went to them).  none of the “small things” sold except some of finn’s cards (of course!).  then, i also made a few more “tame” things — not really alicia-style but i thought maybe it would be better not to have everything anatomical or “weird”.  despite being well made and cool, none of those things sold.  i sold several prints (even the black and white woman and man which i didn’t feel would be interesting to school parents), some journals — just the funkier ones, some collages, some charlotte assemblages, etc.   lesson number one:  i sold almost everything i created from my heart.  things i loved.  i sold nothing that i made to be more acceptable to others.  just sold the skulls and rib cages and charlottes with anatomical hearts and alice in wonderland “stuff”.  so, i’m not making anything to “please” anyone else again.  that was my first and last time.  if i were to place blame, i’d say it was my mother’s fault, but i won’t.  next time she says “you should try making something a little less dark or weird sometime and see how it does” i’ll just smile and ignore her… then paint a girl with bone arms or something.

two cuff bracelets

i had also started making several cuff bracelets.  these were the first two which i forgot to take like a jackass.  i didn’t sell any at the art fair but got a call two days later that a gal wanted the ones i had for her shop.  just six.  but it was nice to sell them (even though it was wholesale).  i had mentioned to a new customer and my friend kerin a couple/few weeks ago that i was trying my hand at making cuff bracelets.  i’m not a jewelry person!  at that point i think i had 7 finished and 2 more started.  BOTH of them asked “have you seen or heard of sparrow salvage?  they literally both told me of this person within an hour or so of each other.  wowz!  her stuff is so very amazing!  i have since finished my two last cuffs and haven’t started any new ones.  go look at her stuff, seriously.  i LOVE it!

cuff bracelet, steampunk, gears, lace
this one is a little too big for my mini wrist but i think i’m going to keep it.  it has so many things i’ve gotten from my sweet friends.  lace from jo in england, lisa in maryland and debs in new zealand, watch parts from rainey in ireland, little bits from kerin in this place called oregon, wonderful fiber (what is it called?) from patti in kentucky, etc.  needless to say, it’s special to me.  i just have to shrink it a bit… and give it one more quick dip into coffee as the white is still a little too white.

judy wilkenfeld, altered book, workshop, kc willis

copyright judy wilkenfeld

speaking of kerin (which i’ll do again in a sec), she and i are going to be taking judy wilkenfeld‘s 3-day workshop at kc willis’s studio in colorado in august.  i’m going to make us pretty cuff bracelets for the occasion.  i’m a dork, i know.  but i think she is making us necklaces so she’s a dork too.

okay, okay.  lesson number two.  i started a painting of a girl a couple/few weeks ago.  grabbed an old painting i hated from about 6 years ago, painted the background black, sketched a girl, and spent a whole whoppin’ ten or fifteen minutes painting her face.  then i was tired and had to go to bed.  i hated her.  her mouth and coloring were wrong, her eyes are totally wrong, never finished her hair, etc.  i kept wanting to finish it.  my little dude asked me just a couple of days before he turned seven “why don’t you finish that girl, mom?”  and i said “i don’t know if i can.”  he said “the problem here is that you don’t believe in your art.  you CAN finish it but you’re just not letting yourself.  are you afraid it will be bad, or good?”  how can a little one be so insightful and wise?  lesson learned: believe in your art (i’m still working on this one).  i worked on it a bit by adding a border and scribbling in pen on her to emphasize her numerous flaws.  still don’t like her… or feel she’s done.  so, i emailed it to kerin… (told ya she’d pop up again!).

imaginary friend, portrait, painting, lady
keriny is a ninny.  she said “i love her!  don’t change a thing!”  or something to that effect.  she is ever so sweet, that kerin!  i said “but she’s not done — i didn’t even do the hair.  that was just left over red.  haven’t done her shirt.  her eyes are wonky and i think she should be looking down.  she said “leave her just as she is.”  i think she should see it in person to view the defects of perception and tones.  where is a good place to learn painting faces?  i adore kerin and totally respect her opinion but i think she’s wrong.  😉  i’ve been having fun with my weirdo little girls and want to do a small series of “imaginary friends” but having never taken an art class or workshop, so i’m not sure where to begin.  any suggestions would be quite welcome.  the whole reason i’ve started people is because i was commissioned to paint a nude lady in “my” style.  i don’t do people so wanted to practice first.  this girl here is my third person i’ve ever tried to paint, which i am sure is evident.  maybe i’ll start the nude after my fourth.

this piece is a portrait my son did.  i should take lessons from HIM.  it’s about 18 x 24 inches on heavy watercolour paper and coloured with dyes, not paint.  the black is three dimensional — black ink in glue.  he created this while still six.

child art, portrait, dye, painting
apparently they did two portraits in art class and the teacher kept the best of two.  i MUST see it because this is totally amazing to me.  i’m having it framed as soon as i have some money and hanging it on the main wall in our living room.  i’m such a proud mama!

i have always been a huge fan of movies with or by gael garcía bernal or diego luna (y tu mamá también, motorcycle diaries, amores perros, dot the i, etc.). the other night, after the zine was finally published, i had the hugest desire to go rent a movie and chill with a beer or three.  i found one that had a cover that appealed to me so i handed it to the husby without looking at it beyond it’s pretty box. “i want this one.”  he flipped it over and laughed… “of course you do — ‘your man’ is in it”.  he’s a dork (and he’s not in it).  the movie was sin nombre and of course i knew i would adore it: twas produced by both bernal and luna.

i will just say that it was an amazing movie and you should see it if it looks at all appealing to you.  not sure how i missed it other than the fact that i never watch tv or movies or take even five minutes to relax, but it came out last year and has since won many awards (sundance film festival and edinburgh international film festival).  the cinematography was amazing, and the colors beautiful beyond words: grafiti, cemetery flowers, etc.  just beautiful.  much of the movie was filmed in chiapas, mexico, somewhere i have wished to visit for as long as i can remember, as well as honduras, another place i would love to go one day.


the whole thing got me thinking about planning a well-deserved vacation.  i felt like a kid in my brain “if i could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?”.  exactly fifty percent of that answer is in mexico: chiapas (i would volunteer for a year at schools for chiapas if i could — look at the amazing images under “photo galleries”) and la isla de las muñecas (the island of dolls).

most of you have probably already heard of isla de las muñecas but i’m slow and only first heard of it several months ago.  i will go there before i die.  here are a few photos (all three copyright Juan C. Hamparzumian of Everywhere Mag, via this post):

the island of dolls

the island of dolls

the island of dolls

it is located in xochimilco, mexico (will have to look into how far it is from chiapas).  you can read about the photographer and his story here.

it all reminds me of my last visit to mexico: cancún, isla mujeres, chichen itza, piste, tulum ruins, etc.).  the art: day of the dead shrines, sculpture, jewelry — bright amazing colors, the music, the food, the smells and amazing blue-green water… it was two of the best weeks of my life.  i had actually planned to go back for a six week backpacking ruin tour in the yucatan peninsula and south, but shablam, i found out i was pregnant right before i was going to book my flight (thankfully not after, i suppose).  for some reason it didn’t feel right going when i knew i had someone growing inside me to care for too.  weird, i know… should have gone.

this is my favorite non-colorful photo i took in mexico on the only day that it wasn’t sunny when i was last there (and it’s admittedly the only photo i have on my computer so shhh):

if you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

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