Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Day 2016: What price joy?

"Members of the North Olympic Watercolorists (NOW) will have an Artist's Reception at the Fifth Avenue, 500 W. Hendrickson St., to open the month-long showing of their work from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, May 1.
Free and open to the public, the show will continue until May 31." (Peninsula Daily News online calendar May 1.)

"Sunset in Sequim" is a misnomer. At the last moment I was
not happy with that submission, but the label was already
made up. This really has the title "Hot Summer Sunset in
New Hampshire
," done from memory, thinking of my
days near those lakes and ponds.
And I am a member.
And I have three pieces in the show.
And I was ecstatic to be included!!

The photos of my watercolors are not very good because there is light from the room reflected in some of them.

But the colors are at least true with this Sony camera I was using.

The Canon tends to wash out some of my photos and then I am faced with trying to reconstitute the photo with an unsatisfactory software.

My goal this next week is to make sure that I have a checklist prior to framing that I go through to make sure that getting a good, sharp photo is the first thing I do before it is sealed up in a frame.

That's what we learn as we go along, I guess.

Following are some shots of folks looking at the works of others and one of someone looking at this one above. 
This was not my first show, but the first in the U.S. The level
of excitement is the same for me, though... thrilling!

Reception guest looking more closely at my piece.

Guests and artists mingle at our NOW reception.
The crowd was largest about 1:30 p.m., but I was occupied greeting some friends and so could not take any photos of them. (Thank you John Brewer and Barbara for making the effort to come and see what I've been doing.)
Carol Joy brings light and laughter to all my adventures!
She's carrying in the cake that we worked on together.
Thanks also goes to my friend Carol Joy who drove over from Bellingham to help me prepare (this time it was a cake, not a sleeping bag - LOL) and to Jenna Rose who left the dance floor to come and admire work she had seen in progress... without my special friends cheering me on, it would be far less enjoyable!
Deni Young, one of the artists, studies the work of another
member. We all learn from each other.
Sixteen artists each had three pieces hanging and the NOW hanging team did a great job of keeping a thread of colors and patterns going around the gallery space for an appealing balance for viewing.

The other artists are: Sandy Placek, Katie Carlson, Marcia Lyn Barrett, Beverly Beighle, John Wilkinson, Janet Beers, LeRoy Beers, Lyn Smith, Jolee Sanborn, Jim Gift, Pat Donlin, Janet Flatley, Deni Young and Rita Heywood.

Some of the comments overheard: 
"This seems a lot more professional than stuff I've seen in some of the galleries that are agents." 
"I love how this artist has captured the feeling of water."
"Each artist has such a unique and special way of conveying what seems important to them."

"Dew on the Leaves" is done on clayboard. It was also
framed by Gregg Elwood of Port Angeles.
"Sunset in Barichara" was framed by Gregg Elwood
from Port Angeles. This photo doesn't show off his
great work as well as I would have liked.

Several members brought food for the reception. The top photo
shows my Fannie Farmer pound cake with a buttercream
frosting made with stevia instead of sugar. Most folks liked it.
What I've learned so far... showing your art work is a lot like trotting out the kids to see if strangers think they are well-dressed and mannerly. In one way you really don't care what those folks think, but in another way, you don't want to come up short when everyone else's kids are being displayed also.

Another aspect is putting a price on those 'children.'

If someone wants to take them off my hands, they will have to pay a good price... I love them enough to spend the money for framing and so am happy to display them in my own home.

And after the cost of framing, there is the evaluation of my time... I was asked "How long did it take you to do this one?" (the "Dew" work) I replied, "I really have no idea. I wasn't clocking in every time I put some additional work in on it... it was all joy." 

What price do you put on joy? (Even Carol will admit she is priceless!!)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Grateful for the gift

This flower was chosen for it's color;
the deep maroon is the color that MM
supporters use for fund-raising.
When Multiple Myeloma appeared on the horizon of my life with a relative's announcement about this time in 2009, I could not see farther down the road than the next treatment and certainly with all the news about the current situation at that time it did not seem hopeful.

Now, seven years later, the relative is off all medications and is moving, literally, into a new life.

For the individual, it was the autologous stem cell transplant from a close relation that turned things around. But it was at least two years after the transplant before we were seeing green lights.

All of this is still important because a friend has discovered some seriously flawed information that is making its way into the MM threads.

Please read her post at: and draw your own conclusions.

What is really important is that false information is not allowed to proliferate in a field where hope is so fragile and where successes hold so much promise. Let's make sure this does not become cemented anywhere and used for future data or research.

And meanwhile, I am grateful for the gift of life for my relative, appreciative of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Fred Hutch and UW for all they did and are doing to solve the mystery of MM.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Eagles, eagles everywhere

I enjoyed a weekend in Lynden, WA, recently with my dear friend Carol. Met some more of her local friends and danced at the Bellingham contra. It was one of those special set of days with weather, folks and food that made it quite memorable.

North Fork of the Nooksack River... eagles looked like
sparrows there were so many of them!!!
My friend drove me to this magical place where the eagles were taking turns getting dinner from the river... I want to go back there because I needed more time to watch them and their patterns for better photos.
This is what it means to get "the eagle eye."
They seemed to be unaffected by the hoards of folks snapping digital shots of them.

I am using these photos to get a better artistic sense of these glorious birds as I have an eagle in a tree acrylic painting I am working on.

After an hour we left, as did almost everyone else, but there were still a lot of birds... truly wonderful and great for children to see this national bird up close.
Beautiful to see them in flight so closely!

I think this is a juvenile, but I bow to the orthnologists.
To get to this location, you head up to Bellingham and get off I-5 just after the main city exits. Head up toward Mount Baker and look for the Mosquito River Road. Or just ask the folks who live there; they know where they are. I will try and post an actual map.

There are a fair number of eagles in Sequim, too, and regularly people blame the disappearance of their cats and small dogs on some 'napper, but it's just these hungry birds of prey looking for a good lunch. 

I have them in the trees around my home, too. I just don't seem to catch them as easily as I did on this particular journey.

And the only caution is not to let your little dog Toto run around near the river... easy pickin's.

By the way, if you are going to make this trip, absolutely do not miss out on ACME. 

Go into the little general store there and get the local ice cream. It is so delicious, you will be planning your next trip with a freezer truck.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Hurricane Ridge Trip

Standing on the porch at the lodge at Hurricane Ridge in the
Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, WA.
I think I smell snow in that leaden sky.
   The last trip to Hurricane Ridge was on Beloved's Harley under sunny skies and of course the road up there was dry and clear.

Mt.Olympus is off to the right, past the snow-made polar bear.
   Today it was snow-covered and, in at least two places, had tree debris from trees dislodged with by snow or wind.
   And this time it required chains on tires, so I wasn't about to put myself through that experience again. (I think the last time was from my house in East Fork heading toward Ketchum in Idaho.)
Looking eastward, sort of toward Seattle, WA.
   So I rode up with a shuttle service and a trip that should have taken about an hour was almost twice that with a faulty chain install on a rear tire that went "whap-whap-whap" for 18 miles up and 18 miles back.

    It was impressive at the top, though.
   Over a week of steady snow and wind with periodic mild warmings had created some very long icicles and snow statues from trees that were totally covered.

   I stepped off a path for cross-country skiers and sunk down to my waist... and the snow was really blue even a short distance down.
I love this color blue under these circumstances. I think it
might be less appealing if it was much deeper and I was in it.
   The most fun was enjoying the smell of snow, the crunch under my feet, and my body was remembering the guarded expectation of putting on skis, heading off for a powdery run, the wonderful exhilaration of feeling the weight shift back and forth while whooshing downhill.

The lodge to the left has an overlook spot below,
but it is covered in snow up to about six feet.
   When my kids try to encourage me to take up skiing again I explain that it's not a sport for seniors who have stopped it for a decade, and besides, it's significantly more expensive to rent all that gear now that it was 10 years ago... and just for a one-weekend experience?

   I have skied in N.H., Vermont (Suicide Six, especially), Massachusetts, Idaho, Calif., Canada and Austria. I have skied with some of the most interesting folks when I worked at Sun Valley and that includes volunteering with the Ski Patrol.

   Getting older should mean getting wiser, too.

   And so when I had my last downhill ski trip with the Scottsdale Sail and Ski Club, I decided it was time to enjoy it to the fullest and then sell my equipment.

   The two close calls I had with other skiers who were skiing out of control only confirmed it was time I did just that.

"Sandy Banks" in a snow bank...
Halfway down the ridge, after the tunnels, looking down on
Sequim, WA and Puget Sound.
   I can still cross-country ski or snowshoe, and perhaps I will do more of that this winter.

Unknown couple heading off on the Cross Country trail.

There is still a lot I can do to enjoy the times I go out into wintry weather, and I hope, dear readers, you have enjoyed this trip into a wintry wonder just a short distance from Sequim.

A White Christmas... really!

Snow sticking to moss-covered branches - Sequim, WA
 According to the National Weather Service, in order to qualify for the "White Christmas" label, the event must have "one inch or more on the ground, sticking" and so today, Dec. 25, I went in search of my White Christmas.

I found it about half an hour from my home, up on Palo Alto Road in Sequim, WA. Slushy roads and all, there was plenty of snow that was sticking and more was coming down as well.

I liked the deep red of the structure nearly matching the same
color of the branches in contrast to the deeper green of the trees.
My updated Canon EOS Rebel was up to the task of recording this momentous event, but I realized after a brief sojourn in the white stuff that I do not have the same desire I had decades ago for hanging out in it for as long a time as I used to do.

Perhaps I need to do more walking about... but the damp cold made its way into my feet and hands all too quickly and I was more than ready to return to the heated seats of my front-wheel drive vehicle.

The temperature was staying low enough to keep the road
covered and for the precipitation to fall as snow, not rain.
As we go about our lives, on what might appear to be a gloomy day, if we look closely we can see the subtle colors of life making lovely patterns. It is really about how we choose to see things, and the difficulty with folks who are struggling with mental illnesses or brain disorders is that their ability to appreciate is flawed - they are not. If I was a lot younger I think I would try to find a way to help these people divert their brain channels to the prettier and more colorful aspects.

This was a solitary Christmas as all my children were in different places and I used my time well. I did not feel sad or sorry for myself for the time alone. I slept late and made myself a colorful omelet, went out and took some photographs and later was invited to a small gathering.

As the day is winding down, I realize that it has been just what I wanted for Christmas... a day of peace and joy. I hope each of you are finding some of that for yourselves as well.

This last photo seems to sum up my day... surrounded by
other trees, I still am a single, somewhat different version.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Lady Walpole's Reel

    I was about 12 when I started square dancing with Duke Miller calling the Saturday dances at the Peterborough Country Club in Peterborough, N.H.
    Eventually I discovered that I liked contra dancing better and gradually left squares behind for the most part. I still do go to them, but contra is where my heart is.
    One of my favorite contra forms is the Lady Walpole's Reel and so when I was considering my first stint as a caller, that had to be my first pattern.
    There is an event here in the Olympic Peninsula area called the Bob Boardman Memorial Contra, always the first Saturday in December, to honor a remarkable musician and to support scholarships for those who will carry on the musical torch of fiddling. (Follow the link to learn more about it.)

    This is a time when new musicians are invited to join the band and for new callers to have a go on stage. So I'd been thinking about doing this for awhile.

    But with my life being as busy as it is, I had been postponing practicing until mid-afternoon when I realized if I was going to be on stage, I'd better get somewhat prepared...
    Thus, I went looking for music for the reel so I could practice calling to it, knowing there was every likelihood I would have to call to another reel tune.

    What was the first thing that popped up?
    My mother playing the piano with Newt Tolman and his flute on a YouTube rendition (just the music, no video) in a lovely quick version of the Lady Walpoles Reel. (Here: )

    It is interesting that their recording calls it "Ladies Walpole Reel" but Ralph Page always referred to it as I have titled this entry, saying that the reel was designed so that Lady Walpole was not required to dance much with her husband... partners in the dance formation do not dance with each other (swinging) until the very last call.

    Then I found Duke Miller's version, recorded back one summer a really long time ago. (You can listen to it here:
    And as I wrote down his calls, listened to the music and thought about it, a niggling little voice was saying, "Man, this is harder than I thought."

    But I went to the dance, and Carol Piening, who was calling tonight, was very encouraging and coached me before everyone arrived.

Dancers at the Black Diamond Community Hall, Port Angeles, WA, doing
the Lady Walpole Reel (circa 1872) called by Yours Truly.
Photo by Jenna Rose
    After everyone was warmed up with a variety of dances, she said, "We are welcoming to the stage someone who has been dancing for 50 years and will be making her debut as a caller...."

    Introducing the dance, I said, "I want to dedicate this dance to my mother, Kay Gilbert, who was, in her own right, a great musician and who loved the music enough to help keep it going."

(She, with Newt Tolman, produced The Nelson Music Collection, saving some historic music by documenting it for the first time. Here is a link to the publication:, which now has a CD with it, thanks to his son, Renn Tolman's efforts.)
The Possom Carvers, Scott Marcksx, on fiddle, Chris Cooper, guitar,
(Jeannie Murphy was missing from the group) me and Carol Peining (hidden),
was coaching me to make sure I didn't rush the dancers. What a great group!
Photo by Jenna Rose
    And after a brief instruction to the dancers, the music began... I don't know what the name was for the first reel played, but when they switched to the Queen Anne Reel, (also known as St. Anne's Reel) I was   hearing Kay and Newt again... transported, I relaxed, got into the rhythm, easily calling the dance though to the end...

    After it was over, I was speaking to Carol about the importance the last piece of music had for me. Then Scott, the fiddle player, said the last piece was the first one he ever learned. It turned out that Carol knows Dudley Laufman and knew about Kay and Newt and the Collection... and round and round it went...

    I truly felt as if Kay and Newt were with me, that I was being guided and supported in the most mystical way, and after it was all over, even now as I write this, I realize what a gift this evening was.