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!"

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Post-Thanksgiving Ponderings

There are so many things I am grateful for, so much I am appreciating, that to begin to list them would probably be boring to anyone reading this.

But I have noticed that since I started making a nightly list of things that have happened during the day for which I am either grateful or appreciative, there are more and more events bringing me joy and delight.

Is it because I am more aware of the process of appreciating that I notice more to appreciate? I think I have always been a person who can easily thank another or express my appreciation, so I am surprised to hear from someone who said to me, "You never tell me you appreciate me."

Reflecting back on that remark, I realize that the Receiver is not in a mode to hear the number of times I have said, "I do appreciate all that you are doing." or "I am grateful you are ________(fill in the blank)."

Like tuning in to a radio station, we tune in to what we want to hear... sports, news, classical music and thus do not hear the messages coming from country, rock or talk shows. How do we tune ourselves so that we are receptive? For me it is this daily practice of appreciating as I go to sleep.

I was fortunate enough to be up at the Summit at Snoqualamie for a Thanksgiving feast with my daughter's and husband's family (granddaughter and the now-four-year old twins) and I had been wishing for snow so I could enjoy it briefly. Wish granted!!

We woke up on Thursday to about four inches of very wet snow which fell most of the day. Fortunately the roads were kept clear so that my son-in-law, who was cooking the turkey at home down off the mountain, could drive the half hour unimpeded.

It was so delicious to watch the falling snow with a gas fireplace burning brightly sipping a hot cup of tea and just knowing all was well. Sometimes these moments are what sustain us when the world shifts.

I hope you readers who celebrate this U.S. holiday have enjoyed your time of reflection, and for those who live elsewhere, may this begin a season of appreciation in your world.

It is a scientific fact that we are connected... hearts to hearts: listen to this 8-minute report by Gregg Braden. So if world events are distressing you, perhaps you want to refocus on how you want it to be, what your heart desires, and in this way, we can all create energy for greater happiness worldwide. May you have a joyful season where ever in this lovely world that you live!!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

My Daughter's Birthday

You just ran out the door to play with Michele, now I've turned around and you are graduating from high school and is it really true that your first son is now in college and you are.... over 40?

It has gone by so quickly. All those moments of wondering if you would ever sleep through the night, get your homework done on time, make your bed, pick up your clothes, get through college safely (you were nearly on the bridge in California during the Loma Linda earthquake) and then one day you were struggling with your own babies not sleeping.

Sigh... I am so very proud of you. You have been climbing your own mountains for a long time and I think you are finally able to turn around and look at the view... you should be just as proud of your accomplishments as I am... a loving and devoted wife, a funny and responsible mother and stepmother, a woman of integrity who recently (and casually) told me she is a partner in a patent!

May this birthday mark the beginning of a new year of many joys leaving behind the "annus horribilus" and all its challenges -  you certainly deserve it!

And may I add how grateful I am for being a part of the whole adventure? So glad you came into my life and enriched it so measurably!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Not tame, and very bad... neotame

I was sent this information by a trusted friend who is paying attention to ingredients.....
" Just when we thought that buying “Organic” was safe, we run headlong into the deliberate poisoning of our organic food supply by the FDA in collusion with none other than the folks who brought us Aspartame. 
NutraSweet, a former Monsanto asset, has developed a new and improved version of this neurotoxin called Neotame.
Neotame has similar structure to aspartame — except that, from it’s structure, appears to be even more toxic than aspartame. This potential increase in toxicity will make up for the fact that less will be used in diet drinks. Like aspartame, some of the concerns include gradual neurotoxic and immunotoxic damage from the combination of the formaldehyde metabolite (which is toxic at extremely low doses) and the excitotoxic amino acid. 
But surely, this product would be labeled! NOT SO!!! For this little gem, no labeling required. And it is even included in USDA Certified Organic food.
The food labeling requirements required for aspartame have now been dropped for Neotame, and no one is clear why this was allowed to happen. Neotame has been ruled acceptable, and without being included on the list of ingredients, for:
USDA Certified Organic food items. 
Certified Kosher products with the official letter k inside the circle on labels. (Janet Hull)
Let me make this perfectly clear. Neotame does not have to be included in ANY list of ingredients! 

So, if you buy processed food, whether USDA Certified Organic or not, that food most likely will contain Neotame because it is cost-effective, and since no one knows it is there, there is no public backlash similar to what is happening with Aspartame. A win/win situation!
But that’s not all. Just love chowing down on that delicious steak? Well, that cow most likely will have been fed with feed containing… guessed it…..Neotame! A product called “Sweetos,” which is actually composed of Neotame, is being substituted for molasses in animal feed."

Do your own research. But you might want to be finding a farmer who is not feeding anything but grass to beef cattle if you are eating meat.

I am on a deliberate campaign to change my cellular structure so that I can eat anything at all and it has no deleterious effects on me... and that includes chocolate!!

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Goal Reached!

Four years ago, plus or minus a few weeks, I arrived in Sequim. My choice to live here was based on two major factors: 1) It is a community that supports senior citizens in a variety of ways (health, transportation and social activities to name a few) and 2) It was less than three hours away from my daughter's family.

Well, this spring #2 became a little further away when they moved to Issaquah. But I still love my life in Sequim.

Another thing that happened about four years ago was going to the Sequim Arts Association members show at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in their parish hall. As I walked around, I thought to myself, "Self, someday we are going to be in this show."

Dungeness Spit Sunset (2016) Watercolor (8.5 X 10)
Dear readers, this year I am reaching that goal! This is my second art show in the U.S. and I have three entries. The name of the group has changed to the Olympic Peninsula Arts Association and this event is only open to members.

Two watercolors and one photograph are entered; shown here.

Before having them framed, I had Clear Image in Sequim take proper scans of them and make one copy for sale. I am not willing to part with the originals at this time.

And, by the time I got through with the scans, matting and framing, I have invested over $200 in all three of them. Most folks in Sequim want to buy something for about $35. It's just not possible for me to provide an original with my creative work and have it ready to hang at that price.

Bluejay (2016) Watercolor (10 x 10.25)
But this photo was selected by John Brewer, (Publisher Emeritus now) when I was working at the Peninsula Daily News to be on their webpage as representative of a summer day. So I thought it must still be worthy enough to be a candidate for my three entries.

Lake Crescent Visitor (2015) Photography (8.5 x 10)
I don't know if any of these will be selected as 'winners' in the show; that is such a subjective game played in the art world. But I am happy with them myself, and that is what really counts.

The Artists Reception is on Wednesday, Oct. 12, and the show opens on Thursday, Oct. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 16, at the St. Luke's Episcopal Church parish hall, 525 Fifth Ave., Sequim, Washington.

I so wish my family could come out here and be part of my celebration of accomplishment, but a dear friend has announced she will come and be my 'witness' for achievement, and that is a special event for me!

I will take some pictures at the reception to share at a later date.

Thank you for stopping by and especially for any encouraging comments...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Signs of the Season

So it is barely the middle of September, but I think I saw snow falling on the top of Mt. Olympus during our last rainstorm and the temperatures are below 50 degrees at night already. My gut feeling is that we are going to have a much colder winter this year, with snow levels dropping below 2,500 ft.

While I am not the Farmer's Almanac (my father worked there as a Marketing Director ages ago), and I have not seen any fuzzy worms, I have had a fair amount of accuracy forecasting weather trends. Not that anyone has any records of mine, but I just seem to sense it and I respect that intuitive feed.

I have a friend over in Hong Kong who says it has been unseasonably hot, but he doesn't live there full time so he doesn't know what that means. I think the weather patterns are all 'calli-whumpas' (turned about and upside down) because Mama Gaia is trying to sort out some things. Kind of like when you had fall cleaning and threw things around when you weren't sure what to do with them.

But all summer has been cooler than normal over here, lots more small craft and gale warnings in the Juan de Fuca Straits, and now we are getting a smattering of rain showers and plenty of cloud cover to make the temperatures plummet at night.

Canadian Geese in the Solmar Pond, Sequim, WA
I usually do not bring out my heavy duty down comforter until after Halloween, but I am not sure I will last that long since my present covers have little warming capabilities. And my cats have found their own cozy places, so I don't even have them cuddling up to me anymore.

Female mallard duck among the geese; didn't see her mate.
The ducks and geese are leaving enough feathers floating on the nearby pond to make a least one down pillow, possibly two.

That usually means they have new (pin) feathers coming in and in the effort to break the casing, they knock out older ones.

I remember when my birds were moulting how they preened and groomed significantly more often. And there were lots of feathers flying around.
Lots and lots of sleepy geese; worn out from flying south?

Whatever is going on, I am aware it is cooler, and I'm still hoping for some warm fall days. There are still some trails I want to walk and places I want to explore.

I recently saw a photograph of Thorndyke Lake in Jaffrey, N.H. It was reflecting some beautiful foliage, but my sister tells me that they've been having a drought and the colors are no where near as intense as they might be for this time of year.

So, find your color where you can, get warm, and just enjoy what Mother Nature is throwing at us... she is always full of surprises!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Already September? Fall is coming...

I am not entirely sure what has happened to summer because now the leaves are falling and we're back to cool temperatures again.

And the inside contra dances have started which is better for me since dancing in the dirt is hard on my back... the resistance of the ground is too much. But here are some photos of the last summer contra dance at the Sequim Library and I love how the late summer sun enhances all the colors that everyone is wearing.

Dancing bare feet, kicking up dirt and dust, a delight to watch
and once it was a great joy for me to do, too.
And now I'm over in Issaquah with my daughter's family, shopping for school clothes, kids heading off to school, helping to carry some of the burden since my son-in-law has to connect to family this week out of town. I'd forgotten the stresses on all as the summer routine fades into a more strict one for the fall and winter. Plus now there are 14 of the month-old chickens to add to the mix. It's been a little exciting at times!

There are other changes in the air, but it's too soon to share any details just yet. Enough to say that while I've been happy on my own this summer, it always adds a little sparkle to have a glimmer of more to come.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Only Hurricane here is the Ridge

I am more than grateful to not have to board up my windows and stock up on water and food like my son and friends in Florida have to do for the next two months.

You see, it's hurricane season there: June, too soon; July, stand by; August, a must; September, remember; October, nearly over; November.... well, who knows what it was for November? Pretty rare for intense storms in November.

So the only hurricane I think about out here is Hurricane Ridge... is it open? Are the roads clear? Can I go up in my car or do I have to take the shuttle (because there's too much snow).

Deer are unafraid of humans on the Ridge. 
Going up to Hurricane Ridge reminds me ever so faintly of the family trips up to Miller State Park on Pack Monadnock in Peterborough, N.H. (And I find it interesting we have a Miller State Park here in Clallam County, too, but not for the same guy.)
Driving back down from the Ridge taking photo from sunroof.

First, there was the decision to go, and sometimes it must have felt to my parents like herding snakes to get all four of us into the station wagon.

Then there was the food, coolers of beverages, fruit, ingredients for cooking over the campfire and as I'm remembering it, I was 9 or 10 and probably not a lot of help.

The drive from our house to the base of the mountain was less than half an hour, but as most kids remember things, it seemed so much, much longer.

The road was winding, and sometimes when I have dreams of roads up mountains, my brain uses that one as a backdrop.

Once on top, we charged around on the smooth granite looking for the best site to claim as our own for the evening, expecting it would get cool enough for a campfire. I know we usually went up there late in the summer because the hunt was on for blueberries on the low-growing bushes.

And the best part of all was climbing up the forest ranger lookout tower  (The link will take you to Chuck's webpage about the park and you can see his photos. I don't have any to share.) to see how far we could see without binoculars. For me that was the stair in front of me because I was so nearsighted.

But I could push my coke bottle glasses into my face and increase the clarity a little bit that way. Honestly, I didn't mind it because I didn't know any different. My life was a haze from early on and only by the light of the moon at home in bed could I read without straining my eyes. Strange.

What moves this even more into the Twilight Zone is that the park was named for General James Miller, a hero of the Battle of Lundy's Lane in the War of 1812, and a native of Hancock. I was unaware of the humor of the Universe that would 10 years later march me down the aisle with a guy who had the same name, but I'm not sure if the joke extended to his being a distant relation of the General.

Coming down the mountain after running around, eating all kinds of foods, including marshmallows, melted chocolates and graham bars, it was almost a certainty someone would call out, "I'm feeling sick..." and my father would rush to find a wide enough spot to pull over before his vehicle was permanently sullied.

And my last visit to the park was when we drove my mother up there for a picnic with assorted other relatives and by then she was getting a haze in her eyes as she was approaching 90, I think. As we reminisced about 'the good old days,' she reminded me that coming up to have a cook-out was no picnic for her. I said, "Yup, that's pretty much what I'd think about it now if I had to bring a wild bunch up here, but I am grateful for the memories I have."

I'm not sure if I knew then that might be my last visit as well... who knows when I might return? But my memory carries me up and over that last hump in the road to the parking lot and I don't have to ask permission to get out of the car and rush to the highest rock to look down on home.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Hot Night on the Spit

It was really hot in Sequim tonight, so I decided to go down to Dungeness Spit and have a picnic dinner.
Path to Dungeness Spit as sun sets.
I tried to find a friend to go with me, but one was going up to the lake and another was going to the casino to dance and the other one never replied.

Oh, well, I'm pretty good company for myself, so off I went. It was definitely in my plan to have a walk before or after dinner and this way I certainly got to do that... both ways.

There wasn't much of a breeze, and because it was already after 6 p.m., the path to the spit was quiet.

My picnic dinner on the spit.
I could hear birds fluttering about getting into a nest someplace, or making those last calls to others to come and roost. The sea air filtered up through the tall evergreens mixing with the dusty forest smell.

Nice. Peaceful.
I walked alone and just as I got down near the spit I could see a few folks making their way up the path because there is a deadline that everyone has to be off the beach one half hour before sunset. 

And out of the ether come yellow jackets. How do they know there is food to be eaten? I kept pushing one away and finally had to cover up what I was trying to eat, only opening it when I was ready to take a bite. And one of them got into the plastic bag that was holding grapes. But when I stopped feeling resistance to their presence, they took off. That was weird. 

When the tide is in, the spit looks like it is littered with
dinosaur bones. If you look closely you can see someone
up on one of the huge logs near the tideline.
Sunset watching is done up on the bluff and then you have to be out of the park at 'dusk,' which is a sort of fluid time because some days (if cloudy) it gets darker quicker than if it is clear, like it was tonight.
The Olympic range gets a lovely purple color as the light fades, but the
smoky haze affects the colors right now.
These are the bluffs that are eroding
at an alarming rate.
I did manage to walk for 43 minutes, getting credit for 4256 steps, which is about 2 miles, I think.

There is such a 'beachy' smell there... washed up bird feathers, small crabs, shells of other things, seaweed, damp sand from the recent high tide, and weathered salt-infused wood.
I later discovered this was a couple who were
celebrating a wedding anniversary.
Soon it was time to head back up and a couple that I had taken a photo of walking on the beach asked me to take their photo with their camera because it is their wedding anniversary. Congratulations, you two!!
The sun is setting earlier now; it was 8:05 p.m. tonight.

Then it was off to the bluff to watch the sunset. I am not sure if the time of sunset is when it starts or when it finishes. I wasn't watching my time as I took the photos. All I know is that it is now getting darker a little bit sooner every day.

No disappointment in the sunset tonight... all the smoke from the fires in the Olympics created a lovely reddish glow and I met a nice woman from Tacoma so we chatted as the sun set, with me taking photos as we shared observations. 
Just after the sun set, the Puget Sound breeze began and the
air chilled down immediately. And I live here!!
Thanks, Christina, for making the evening more colorful! And for using my favorite saying, "Does it get any better than this?"
Everyone is gone; hope the sun comes back tomorrow...
By the time I got home the temperature inside was down to a livable 75. I checked on the cats and they were still alive - not roasted yet.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summer's Closing

Sterling Silver, old rose's last bloom.
I cannot believe it is the latter part of August and summer, such as it was for us, is closing down.

Oh yes, we will have some gorgeous warm days now, but the sun is setting earlier and earlier and the signs are all there.

A huge clue for me is when my Sterling Silver rose puts out one last burst of glorious lavender color and although the floribunda has several blooms, usually only one has its trademark scent in any density.

So, that day has arrived. I picked it so I can enjoy it inside for a few days, but there won't be many.

And unfortunately, I cannot provide you, my dear readers, with a sample sniff... it's a heady rose smell, really quite strong, with an energy that just heals you as you inhale. I cannot describe it much better than that.

Please enjoy the photos and intend with me that we all enjoy the fall and all the beauty it will bring us as we let the roses rest for another season. (Shot with my Canon EOS Rebel with a telephoto and a macro, just for fun.)