Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Contra on steroids

It was my first-ever Northwest FolkLife Festival event in Seattle, WA this past weekend. It was everything it promised to be and more.

International flavors, foods, music, people.... I was looking forward to some non-stop dancing with other folks who love it as much as I do.

The first dance started at 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. with a break for lunch and I took another break of about an hour mid-afternoon when the English Country dances were taking place. 

It was like contra on steroids. Each line was made up of at least 160 folks and there were usually five or six lines... there was no way you ever made it to the top of the set if you started at the bottom.

But I danced with lots of wonderful dancers from Ohio, Calif., AZ and other distant locales. Some of them had established a tradition years ago to come for the entire weekend to dance and watch.

And there were folks from our local dance communities of Port Angeles, Port Townsend and Bellingham that I had danced with before as well.

Worn out after the last dance, I hobbled over to the Armory to watch tango demonstrations and then went to the car to take a nap until 7 p.m. when the Scandinavian dancing started.
Dancers from many different places
came to Seattle for this weekend.

I enjoyed watching and doing a few dances, but I had realized it was just not possible for me to dance in the evening with the same energy I'd demonstrated earlier in the day.

And I missed seeing the Whirling Dervishes from Turkey, the Indian folk dancing, Hungarian musicians, African folk drumming and much, much more. But I had a great Greek 'hero' from Athena's.

Between walking and dancing, I took 17, 582 steps the entire day. According to my rough calculations, that is about eight miles.

Carol's husband said I had danced from Everson to Deming and back. Quite possibly, but the surface was considerably easier on my legs and feet than the roadway.

All I know is that by Sunday, I knew I could not dance any more... so I headed up to Bellingham to retreat and recover.

I enjoyed my visit with my very dear friend, we picked some cherries, laughed and suddenly it was time to head home to my cats who are less upset by weekend wanderings now but they still let me know how irresponsible they think I am to go away from them.

Next year I think I will have been in training enough to go the entire distance of dancing every day... at least that's my goal now. Wonder how many miles that will add up to?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Where is summer?

Another day with brief sunshine and very cool temperatures leads me to wonder where summer is.

I went to Home Depot to see if they had any, and after the clerk looked at me quizzically, he laughed and said, "Oh, it must be on back order."

My garden doesn't seem to care that the daytime temps don't get above 58 degrees lately.

Bees are pollinating my raspberries - looks like it will be a
big crop if all the blooms stay on.
The raspberries are in bloom and the bees are busy cross-pollinating. I wonder a little about where their hive is and what their honey might taste like.

I discovered that eating a 1/2 teaspoon of raw local honey this year helped me to avoid the congestion of allergies. Nice.

Peonies bloomed and passed, the dogwood blossoms draw in the hummingbirds and the clematis that Beloved gave me last year is in a glorious state of color.

Interesting to think that he is now with a new girlfriend and couldn't care much about how his gift is still being appreciated. But I am grateful for the color and the present joy it brings.

The dogwood blossoms are quite pink and lovely this year.
I have been out and done some weeding and assessing what really will need to come out this summer and be replaced with something new and healthier.

It really is delightful to go out in my own yard and around the area when the sun is out and the colors are rich in so many gardens. But the rain or blustery winds have kept it cool enough that even a short walk is not that enjoyable.

I think the hot weather we had in April was too much of a tease and now I am impatient for the next season. And really, each day has it's own joy, it's own moment of delight... and I expect if it bolted into the 80's I would be no happier than I am right now.

The solstice will be upon us soon, Mercury will go direct, and everything is in order.

Patience... everything is working out for me, and when I truly allow that concept to sink in, I'm doing just fine where I am.
Clematis, a gift from Beloved last year, blooms with a more
intense color than it did when gifted to me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Following My Bliss

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year.
As of May 14, I will have been totally retired (this time I am pretty sure it is for good, in all ways that could be interpreted) for one month.

"Follow your bliss," is a phrase I had heard but honestly, when you have to get up to go to work and it's still dark (and cold) outside, that was not ever my idea of bliss.
A glacial lake near Mt. Baker, WA, is almost perfectly still this spring day.

Now I can practice following my 'bliss' and I don't really require an alarm clock anymore, but my body seems to know that it's time to get up before it is lunch time.

I potter about making tea and ponder what I will do for the day... there is nothing on the list that HAS to be done.

Go and get eggs?

I can have oatmeal today and maybe I'll get the eggs tomorrow, provided I feel like it.

The real discipline is to stay in a state of joy.

Anything that pulls me off my high flying disc will require a 17 second re-focus... like getting a bill or hearing bad news on TV.

One way I made sure I minimized some bad news was to tell Direct TV I was going away until July... I am liking not having to do more than read a local newspaper once a week to get the essentials.

I converted this color photo to B&W because the heron
was not well colored due to camera and light angles.
The world - my world - has its parameters.

There are two cats who have intense confrontations once in awhile.

The sparrows were fighting last week about ownership of the abandoned birdhouse.

I got word that now that I no longer work full time I have to take my vested IRA account and find another place for it.

Everything is working out for me... as long as I keep my world and my parameters in focus.

Once I start paying attention to something that really has nothing to do with me, I'm back on the hard ground worrying about things I can do nothing about.

It's taken me almost a year to get to this peaceful place.

It's about as close to heaven as I want to be just now.

I'm following my bliss... and it's a great pity that most folks have to get to retirement age to fully experience it.

Children, however, when left to their own devices, are pretty good at doing this.

Emerging ferns look pretty peculiar... but interesting...
I recently listened to my daughter telling her daughter it was time to come and have dinner.

G'daughter was focused on something that was giving her pleasure and she was not interested in eating because that wasn't on the same vibration as what she was doing.

Finally the insistence of her mother's demands brought her down and she came to the table.

But it was not a willing arrival and we all got that message.

I have to say that my daughter is very good at parenting, and it is really not unreasonable that she views eating as a requirement.

And yet, while I have taught my daughter to be responsible, and as a caring parent myself, we all want our children to be well-nourished, sheltered, protected, I am asking myself have we gone too far?

Perhaps some of that nourishment has to come by allowing everyone a way to get food when they want it, water when they want it, shelter when they want it and everything else in that same way.

But dear reader, perhaps you think the world would be in chaos? What is it in now?

This is just a subject for thought... but I must leave and go to my garden... back later!

Viewing a wave through a huge tree on Dungeness Spit, Sequim, WA.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Age Irrelevant

World's largest Spruce tree in WA.

Closer view of the spruce tree.

This week I have been celebrating my date of origin some (age irrelevant) years ago.

Last night a friend and I went off to see a new movie, "Hello, My Name is Doris" which seemed an 'age appropriate' story.

It is impossible to see the top of this tree from
the bottom, and the girth at the base is quite
massive. Well worth the trip.
There is a bias about older women having relationships of any length with younger men... I dated a younger man last year and when it was all over, I realized he was still too old for me.

When a woman is youthful, energetic, still thinking and creating, why can't she be seen as she is?

Why do folks want to say "She's doing all right for the age she is..." or "She's robbing the cradle?"

World's Largest Spruce Tree is about 1,000
years old. I don't think I even want to live
that long... 
When men date women who are much younger, other men crow and chuckle and sigh like the biddy hens in the barnyard. But if a woman in their midst is going with someone much younger it is interpreted as desperation.

"Hello, My Name is Doris" is about an older woman (Sally Field) who has a youthful outlook, ready to explore more of life. She is living... not just coasting along. And she reinvents herself as the movie progresses.

Men who were born around my date of origin are, in far too many cases, tapping their toes waiting for the Glory Train to pull into the station and take them out of this world.

So, don't ask me ever again about my age... it is just as irrelevant as how much money I have or what color my skin is. I am. But who I am today is different from who I was yesterday, and I will continue to be different in the days, weeks and months to come. I am evolving.

So, in looking for some photos to give some relief to the rant, I found these from my trip to the RainForest in Quinault, WA last summer. It's not far away from Sequim or Port Angeles and so it's an easy day trip to go and explore some natural history.

Here's a link to read more about the tree, it's location and the area where it is situated with some walking trails and other activities.

Stay tuned... isn't this a joyous life?

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!!)