Saturday, March 4, 2017

Birds and Quilts

It's a strange combination, birds and quilts. But believe me, there is a connection between the two.

All winter long I have been working on a Mystery Quilt, developed by Bonnie K. Hunter at Finally, in the last few days of February I put on a push and finished piecing it together. It will be awhile before I can afford the materials to finish it off and have it professionally quilted, but it is done.
The "En Provence" pattern for the 2016 Mystery Quilt by Bonnie K. Hunter,
which I completed at the end of February 2017. Almost 12 weeks of work.
It was a great way to spend the dark days of winter, sewing for hours, cutting for more, stitching up and having dates with Jack the Seam Ripper, but I learned a lot. Oh, did I say that it was my First Quilt ever?

So, as I was recovering from looking at the purples, pinks, yellows and greens of the quilt, my eyes were given a treat of seeing several types of early birds at the casual feeder I set up. This has been a particularly cold (and wet, and snowy) winter here, so I decided they could use some augmenting fuel. I had junkos, chickadees, sparrows and the biggest were the Varied Thrush pair that really chowed down at my seed restaurant.
According to several bird books, this is the male of the
Varied Thrush. Isn't he beautiful?

The entrance to Robin Hill Park, Sequim, WA after a 3-inch
snowfall. Quite a bit for us in this area.
Last year I signed up to be a Weather Spotter and part of my volunteer assignment is to report into the local National Weather Service office as we have interesting weather. I do not have a weather station, but my camera and my ruler were acceptable and there must have been hundreds of other spotters who used the same devices to report our storm conditions. And as I write this tonight, March 4, we are under another weather advisory for snow conditions tonight... sigh.
Outside my front door during the February 6th storm.

But, I have good wheels for getting around in adverse weather, so it doesn't really bother me. What I noticed in the February storm was how sparkly the snow crystals were. Sometimes they are just pellets or too wet to be very interesting. I love the sound of snow crunching under my feet.

So we go from seeing green grass to white snow and back again. The promise is that if we get snow again, it will melt quickly because the forecast calls for temperatures in the 40's.

I am just about ready to start spending my days getting my garden cleaned up and watching the clematis bloom. Maybe now the quilt is done, so is winter.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Hearts and Flowers

This is the month of romance, hearts and flowers, friendship, love and all those tender things. It is going to be my month of gratitudes and appreciation as well.

So here are 28 things I am acknowledging:
Me in La Conner, WA (2016)

1) My own body; for putting up with my indulgences and still it keeps on ticking and showing me how resilient it can be. I love you, my body, for all the places you have taken me and all the places we haven't seen yet!

2) My children; because you remind me of how I was instrumental in starting something that has turned out very well, not entirely because of my influence, but still I take pride in knowing each of you.

3) The rest of my family of origin including all the grands: Each of you has helped to shape me into who I am today from experiences, events and connections. I am grateful for it all.

4) My very best and longest friend of all, Dee Rivard: hardly seems possible we have known each other for all these decades and that it has taken me so long to realize how important it was that you got to be the Long Ranger for once... this is your year! Ride hard and long and I'll still be riding with you... Kemosabe!

5) Blessed and special friends, some with years of connection, others with less. A couple I will mention here: Rod Normandin, who died Jan. 11, was one of the first folks in Sequim to be truly helpful to me and worked with me to purchase (and then sell) my first place and then was diligent and supportive as we worked on the purchase of my present home not believing me when I said the other one would sell in three weeks... which it did... and gave us both laughter and a sigh of relief. You will be missed, my friend. Carol Joy, who celebrates her first wedding anniversary this month, is dear to my heart for her teaching, supporting, blessing and loving me whether we're close in distance or not. Jenna Rose, the twirly girl, former roommate and dancing pal, keeps reminding me of my responsibility to stay happy.

Cleopurr-tra and Maksim
6) There are two fur babies in my household: Maksim (Russian for 'the greatest') and Cleopurr-tra keep me warm and busy picking up their toys. Oh, and lest I forget, my water balancer, Blue, the Siamese fighting fish, who also entertains the cats.

7) I am so grateful for my steady and reliable car which has the name "Ankh," referring to the Egyptian heiroglyphic meaning "life." I get a lot of joy from this car that has heated seats in the winter and a sunroof in the summer. And in line with that, appreciating the folks at Murray Motors in Port Angeles who keep her running.

8) My home; a sweet little place in a nice community, placed so that I'm at the edge of things, just as I like it... with a manageable garden and last year I had lots of raspberries and blueberries in it!

Guessing that this is some kind of Thrush, but my bird
friends say the beak is too long. Anyone know?
9) The birds that come to visit... junkos and robins and various wrens, swallows, crows, eagles, etc. Though the eagles only come as far as the top of the nearby trees, it is a pleasure to hear them call out to each other.

10) My computer... updated by my son-in-law, it takes me far and wide with connections to folks all over the globe. It stores all my photos of various places and things, holds my budget safely, and is a daily source of instruction and inspiration.
Pretty sure this is a junko taken in January. 
11) The local YMCA provides me with a place to exercise, swim, and be in community with like-minded folks... it's worth the membership fee to not have equipment crowding my living room!

12) My artist groups: I am fortunate to have several and each of them offers me something special to encourage and stimulate my creative juices!
My most recent watercolor from a photograph by Mark Balcer.
This is an 11 by 17 on 350# paper.

13) The Android device that gives me access to hundreds of free books on the Washington State library system, and other free books or movies on other sites, making the dark days of winter hurry by!

14) Bonnie Hunter, originator of the Mystery Quilt, gave me joy and frustration in equal measure as I learned how to build a quilt for the very first time starting in November. The "En Provence" pattern caused me to cut out too many items because I didn't read it well enough, so I have more stuff for another one, perhaps next winter.

Here is a picture of the progress so far:
"En Provence," the Mystery Quilt by
Bonnie Hunter, still has a few panels to go.
15) Financial advisors: Nichols and Pratt, a Boston, MA, firm along with Edward Jones, are appreciated for keeping my financial life in balance so that I can enjoy my retirement which includes exploring my world locally and at a greater distance.

16) The T-mobile phone that costs me the least of any I've ever owned and gives me information, connection, and direction (I'm a WAZER) plus keeping my schedule so I don't miss appointments. Does it get any better than this?

17) All the baristas: who from one provider to another always have a happy smile when I pull up for a vanilla latte and don't make a face if I ask for a little extra milk - I appreciate you all!!

New couch is perfect for me!
18) Brian from Sequim Consignment: who struggled to get my new-to-me couch into my living room and was prompt about getting repairs done to the damage created by the move. And I just love how cozy the replacement couch is!!

19) All the Abrahamsters in my life who support and encourage me by setting a shining example of staying fierce about alignment, minding their own business, focusing on the downstream and soothing phrases that keep joy flowing... I really love and appreciate you!

20) For all the men and women in our military who do their very best to protect the rights of democracy at home and abroad.

21) Grateful for my Naturopathic Physician for discovering that my adrenals needed support and essentially rescuing me from having a personal dead battery... recharged and moving on!!

22) Appreciating the two art show organizers that made it possible for me to show my work in two separate shows in this area for the first time last year. And feeling excited about having my own show in September in Sequim!
Light reflecting off the frame of my Dungeness Sunset,
a watercolor on 10 by 12" cold press paper.

23) Appreciating all the musicians in the area who play in a number of venues so that folks like me can go and dance for a reasonable fee, and for all the fun and laughter I have when I do go dancing.

24) Grateful for the opportunity to learn more about PSYCH-K (TM) and to incorporate it into my Reiki processes, for the highest and best good of all concerned.
The Olympics, as seen from Sequim, WA.
25) For this beautiful part of the world, which gives me delight daily!!

26) For all the scientists and others working for a cure for Multiple Myeloma, so that no one has to endure the challenges it brings, I am truly grateful.

27) The developers of the digital cameras that I use frequently, in my phone, around my neck, in my hand, to capture all that I am appreciating... they get a big hug of gratitude!

and finally,

28) Appreciating all my readers, without whom I could not have continued this blog, and especially those who have, and continue to make, encouraging comments or observations!

May your February be full of things you can appreciate or have gratitude for!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sturm and Drang

I guess I was holding my breath for a miracle.

But January 20th came and went and I was feeling a little discouraged.... until Jan. 21, which turned out to be a Magnificent Day around the world when the miracle arrived!
Seattle, WA, as seen from the Bainbridge Ferry.
The Women's March outpost in Seattle brought over 175,000 folks according to a news station when only 30,000 were expected. And so it was around the world, even as far away as Antarctica. People, not just women, were peacefully assembling to stand up for themselves and everyone else. NO riots, no roughness, just holding up signs, having a few speeches and many wearing pink hats.

It was historic on so many levels.

I will not dwell on anything negative because my intent is to support progress, not slow that train down with logs on the rails. I am not putting my head in the sand, either, and there are some things occurring which should make all of us who are standing, walking or sitting in protest be prepared to take more action if necessary.

Let's remember... and let's stay aware and not let the energy of January 21 be defused.

From Wikipedia: The term Sturm und Drang first appeared as the title of a play by Friedrich Maximilian Klinger, written for Abel Seyler's Seylersche Schauspiel-Gesellschaft and published in 1776. The setting of the play is the unfolding American Revolution, in which the author gives violent expression to difficult emotions and extols individuality and subjectivity over the prevailing order of rationalism. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 is a #1 year...

To celebrate the coming year, which carries the numerological weight of a "1," I decided I wanted to do something new and adventuresome to set the tone for "new beginnings," which is the energy for this new year.


(Numerology is an ancient science of evaluating birth dates, birth names, starting of a business, etc. and the link will take you to a place with lots of details about the coming year.)

The camel, "Eli," lives in Port Angeles and is available
for events where camel rides are an option.
The "new" thing I did was to ride a camel and to attend an Arabian Nights Murder Mystery dinner, neither of which I had ever done before.

A friend asked me "What did the camel ride feel like?" I told her that it was just as I had imagined it might be... like sitting on a rock while an enormous bowl of gelatin was being moved from side to side.

Because the temperatures were hovering in the 30's I was double-duck downed so that sausage on top of the camel is really me, not Omar's tent.

Other riders were younger or more gutsy or both and were dressed in the costume of the evening so they look as if they are supposed to be riding a camel.

"Samyiam," or "Deniz," a trader with the caravan.
The fellow in orange was also celebrating his birthday, so he was over the moon when everyone starting singing "Happy Birthday" as he went around, but the camel (named Eli) was less enthusiastic about the raw choral delivery.

My character was "Cantara," the fortuneteller (fitting, as some of my friends noted), and I tried to find costume elements to fit that role.

"Zahrah" is in the middle, discovering there's a plot afoot.
Jenna Rose, a former roommate and good pal, was "Zahrah," a young woman shopping in the marketplace. She had a friend with some belly-dancing costumery so she was quite colorful and it fit her, too, as she does personal shopping as her business, though not generally with bells and hip jewelry.

Moi, as "Cantara" with Kasuni, a caravan
guard, wondering what his future was.
At the bottom is a group shot of the folks who came to the event, and we all had a great time trying to solve the mystery of who killed the prince.

What was quite entertaining was that each person had a script and a few folks really took their roles very seriously (including Dr. Marschall, NP, as the character "Jinan" who claimed his herbs were miraculously healing stuff)!

Following the mystery event, everyone enjoyed a potluck dinner and some creative desserts. And there was a drumming circle which was pretty lively, but by then I was ready to head home for a quick refresher before going to a dance.

However, once I got home I received a message about the death of my son-in-law's sister and although it was expected, it did not feel to me like I wanted to go and dance and so I chose to be quiet, keeping my energy focused.

As 2016 came to an end, I realized that there had been many 'journeys' over some rough terrain at times, but I was not beset upon by thieves and charlatans, nor forced to beg for food in the marketplace and from time to time my palm was crossed with silver, so all in all, it was a pretty good year. But 2017 is going to be even better...

What can I say? People were tired of listening to the
fortuneteller giving them bad advice and putting them at
risk with the guards... could not get them to focus.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Holiday Hmmmmm's

Now that Christmas is over, I am preparing for a camel ride into the New Year (photos to follow soon) and plenty of exercise at the new Sequim YMCA.

Maple Valley, WA
To get this energy moving, I had the good fortune to spend some time with my dear friend, CJB, and her husband Joe, near the Nooksack River (Bellingham area of WA) and as part of my Christmas gift, she took me down to the North Fork of the Nooksack to watch the eagles having their Christmas dinner of spawning salmon.

The day before it had snowed a lot so we had the added attraction of driving in rutted paths down back roads listening to the crunch and slush of the snow, depending on whether or not it was in full sun or shaded by tall evergreens.

Such fun to turn around one corner after another and find a vista of snow-covered mountains framed by a cool blue (cerulean ?) sky.

Last year I was here in January and between all the photographers with their space-deep reaching lenses and the eagles flying about, it was kind of crazy.
North Fork of the Nooksak River, near Maple Valley, WA.

This year it was quieter; mostly eagles calling out to each other in their lovely scree-ing tones and the crisp sound of snow under my feet as I tried to find a clear shot through the trees.

We sat for a long time just listening, occasionally snapping a shot, and watching as the eagles triangulated for their chance to have some fresh seagull meat.

It was peaceful. Far from the pre-Christmas scramble to get one last present and farther still from any world news of disruption or upheaval.

How many eagles do you see? When I took
the shot, there were at least eight; I may have
cropped a few out.
Anyone who says the world is black and white after a snowstorm has not tried to paint a winter landscape. It is not just shades of grey, either... it is 50 or more of lavender, blue, green and even orange or brown.

This bird was down at river's edge,
feeding on its catch.
Just as a crow is not really 'black,' but a variety of dark colors which, when viewed in some light, comes across as black. One of my favorite crow photos makes the bird look almost purple.

But I digress from the swarm of eagles on the Nooksack, where hapless salmon have been arriving to spawn and once done, they expire to feed a variety of critters.
Mt. Baker, I think, partially obscured by clouds, taken on the Mt. Baker Road.
All these photos were taken with my Sony which has a digital 30x zoom, but the challenge is holding it steady because it is small, the air is cold and I am breathing a little heavier with the excitement of seeing these majestic birds so near by. I tried the mono-pod for stabilizing, but I really needed the tripod.

There is a side road called Mosquito Lake Road off the Mt. Baker Road which has probably the best photo opportunities for these eagle shots. One of the residents has this funny front yard decoration.
Looks like the guy in the sleigh has been waiting a long time
for the cow to take flight...
One day I will bring my tripod and my lunch and just plan to spend the day taking photos, but for now it was good to have an hour or so watching and listening. These are all, to the best of my knowledge, different birds in different trees. The all-brown one appeared to be a youngster learning to land... it made several attempts to get itself on the branch.

And so ended my day-before-Christmas... joy, joy, joy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas is creeping up on me...

I did manage to get most of my Christmas shopping done... thank goodness for ordering on line! But I also produced a significant number of hand-crafted gifts for special friends and relatives. And it was fun to make these 'scrappy' quilted potholders as the temperatures plummeted into the low 30's and either icy rainy or spitting snow discouraged me from driving to any malls.

It is also my first-ever experience in quilting, although I know I have been encouraged by various family members and friends to try it for some while now.

So, I joined up with the Mystery Quilt group headed up by Bonnie K. Hunter at where a new clue is delivered each Friday for about nine weeks.

This is another focus to keep me from feeling low during a time when there are a lot of reminders that these holidays are for couples - mostly.

My color choices for the Mystery Quilt at Quiltville.
Thus it's been a happier season with bright colors, a buzzing sewing machine and cheery expectations of new clues each weekend.

The Sequim "Y" (which was formerly SARC) has finally reopened and I gave myself the gift of membership for the new year.

Nothing like a fire on these very
cool December days or nights.
This gave me a chance to belong to a "Rejuvenation" group that meets three days a week, and I usually follow that up with an hour-long beginners yoga session.

There is a nice young fellow from contra dancing who comes over from Port Townsend for the yoga and we sometimes spend a little time in the hot whirlpool pool afterwards, chatting about his goals, so it makes for an energizing and rewarding, different experience from my artistic endeavors.

My Colombian friends have written on one tech avenue or another to remind me I am being missed. And I miss them also, but there does not seem to be a path back there right now.

There are so many ways I have been blessed during this past year that I could fill up this entire blog with all the good that flowed into my life from the mundane (car repairs were less than expected) to the sublime (spending time with my grandchildren) and having my art being appreciated by various folks.

My goal for 2017 is to finally feel confident and bold enough to have my own art show and then, secondarily, be able to release some of it for sale.

Over the next few days I will upload my newest works and for those of you who are my faithful readers, here is my Christmas card for you!

The greeting on the other side is
"Have a cool Yule!"