Saturday, May 31, 2014

Taming the Front Yard

My front yard has been overgrown since I moved here, but this is the year to start getting it tamed.  This will be a process, since I want to salvage some of the "good" plants that invariably have been hiding there, trying not be choked out by the thistles and tall grasses.  So far we've discovered salal, ferns, rush, and poppies that get to stay.

The horsetail, however, will have to go.  Oh I know, it will never really be gone - I'm just starting the on-going battle!  And lucky me - I have two kinds of horsetail.

What, Exactly, Are They?
Another common name for the equisetums is horsetail fern. Indeed, both plants share a common reproductive strategy: they produce spores instead of seeds.
Horsetails use this primitive method of reproduction because they are, indeed, ancient.Equisetum is the only surviving genus of the class Sphenopsida—a class that included tree-sized horsetails during the Carboniferous period 300 million years ago.
I can imagine a prehistoric forest of Douglas fir-sized horsetails growing in a humid, swampy environment. Earlier this year, I wrote a story about how heron-sized dragonflies populated the earth 250 million years ago. Just as dragonflies perch on stems of horsetail today, in my mind’s eye I can see those giant insects flitting through a horsetail forest.
So instead of fussing at the stuff, I will try to remind myself they are throwbacks from the prehistoric age, and try to imagine those giant I battle to regain a semblance of order in my front yard.

What's interesting is that horsetail has several uses
According to Mountain Rose Herbs:
“The plant at that time was as tall as a modern palm tree. Horsetail, not to be confused with cat-tail, is possibly the most abundant source of silica in the plant kingdom, so much in fact that the herb can be used for polishing metal. It got the name “scouring rush” from this very application. It has had other uses during the ages including as an ingredient in shampoos, skincare products, and in dietary supplements. The German E commission describes its use for urinary tract problems and as a diuretic.” has still got to go!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Olympic Rain Shadow

So very many times my friends and family have called, saying that where they are is either raining, or really cold, or really hot, and I am blissfully dry and comfortable in my island haven.  I hadn't really thought before about what it actually means to live within the rain shadow, but there it is.  The weather even changes between the north end of Lopez Island (which is on the cusp of the shadow) to the south end, where I live.  So I can now understand why people purposefully choose where they want to live based on this weather pattern.  I just chose the island because I've loved it all my life and it feels like home.

Thank you, Olympic Mountains!!

rain shadow is a dry area on the lee side of a mountainous area (away from the wind). The mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems and cast a "shadow" of dryness behind them.
As shown by the diagram to the right, the incoming warm and moist air is drawn by the prevailing winds towards the top of the mountains, where it condenses and precipitates before it crosses the top. The air, without much moisture left, advances behind the mountains creating a drier side called the "rain shadow".
File:Rainshadow copy.jpg

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maya Angelou

May Maya Angelou rest in peace.  She has inspired millions - an amazing woman who has left an amazing legacy. I won't be alone in rereading some of her books and poems.
Some of my favorite quotes of hers are below.

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.

My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.

You can't forgive without loving. And I don't mean sentimentality. I don't mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, 'I forgive. I'm finished with it.'

It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Own Insanity

Today is the beginning of some lifestyle changes for me - of gently shifting my eating patterns, exercise routines, writing schedule, designing and weaving practices.  Operative word is gently - and undramatically.  Some of my habits need to change, but I don't want to go crazy about it all...just calmly trying some new routines and eating patterns, seeing what works and shifting again if necessary.

Which brings to mind the quote:  "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome".  So where did this quote actually come from?  Not too sure.

The definition of insanity...
I respectfully suggest that the quote "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to come out different" is a misattribution to both Franklin and Einstein. According to Google news archive, the earliest news article attributing the quote to Franklin is from 2004. The earliest attribution to Einstein is 1998 . By contrast, the earliest Google news article that attributes "time is money" to Franklin is 1849.
The earliest news article in Google's archives that has the quote "The definition of insanity is doing the same...." is 1991 to Zamberletti of the Vikings. He said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing year after year and expecting different results". The earliest reference to "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" is 1989 to david boswell.
The earliest reference to "the definition of insanity is doing..." is 1986 to Tony Elliott of the New Orleans Saints when he said "the definition of insanity is doing over and over again things that can kill you".
A similar quote is from "Sudden Death" by Rita Mae Brown, from 1983.

And it probably doesn't matter its provenance.   I just know that if I want things to change in my life, if I want to get healthier and be happier with my work, I need to be doing some things differently.  That's all. Some helpful reminders now posted on my board:


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Art in Wood & Botanicals

As I had the opportunity to just "sit" with the art in Chimera Gallery, the beauty of the work around me had time to seep in.  The current show features two artists, TJ Anderson and Linda-Ann Vorobik.

Tj works in wood, creating amazing sculptures and bowls.  My favorite tree is a madrone, so those pieces speak directly to my heart.

Linda is a botanical illustrator turned artist, so not only illustrating but creating wonderful art on silk and paper.

I knew working with Chimera would be inspiring - I just didn't know how much I would gain personally.

show poster

Monday, May 26, 2014

Whale Watching

We had an absolutely awesome adventure on our whale watching trip with San Juan Excursions yesterday. Fifteen minutes out of the harbor we caught our first glimpse of a transient pod of orcas and followed them for 2 hours. The naturalists on board were so knowledgable and most helpful. We also saw eagles, seals, porpoise and wild sheep, but the whales were the main event!

Our oldest grandson's birthday adventure was a complete success. He now is exploring ways to help our endangered resident Orca pods. Just possibly a life- changing day for him.

They also take photos for you of what we saw, and  of your family group if you choose - and email them all to you free of  charge. Obviously, I'm quite impressed with the whole experience.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Slower & Simpler - Play Like a Child

Having grandchildren visiting here is a wonderful reminder of how to enjoy the simple pleasures of beachcombing, watching the birds, and throwing rocks.  How often do we, as adults, simply throw rocks into the water??

Simple.  Pleasing.  Carefree.  Their Nana definitely loves to join them in child's play.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Working at Chimera Gallery

Today is my first day to work at Chimera Gallery.  If you are on the island, please come by and say hi!  With the start of a holiday weekend, it should be busy with lots of folks wandering through.

I have a few new pieces to bring in today, including one on a slab of myrtle wood.

Not the best background to show it off, I know. Ah well, perhaps it lends some island flavor?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Dishonesty in the World

It is so unfortunate that some folks in this world live a dishonest life and prey on others.  And the innocent victims of these crimes must deal with the aftermath and upset in their lives.  Even the threat or fear of theft can cause disruptions in our lives.

Case in point:  it's a lovely, rainy day on Lopez.  I'm having a quiet breakfast with my husband and we are planning our day - he'll work on the computer, I'll weave.  Settling at my computer to blog and check messages first, I'm confronted with a warning from my credit card company that our card is on hold for suspicious activity.  No worries, there was nothing wrong on it.  But just the fact that my morning ease and comfort was hijacked with worry, even momentary, and a forced detour to check the purchases sort of popped my blessed island morning bubble. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the the credit card company is ever vigilant.  I'm just saddened that they HAVE to be.

If dishonesty were erased from the world, what a better place it would be.  No, I'm not dreaming - eventually human beings will evolve enough spiritually to embrace a New World that encompasses virtuous living.  All the religions of the world have expressed this view in some form or another.*  It probably won't happen in MY lifetime, but there still is the hope and promise that it will eventually come.

I'm back on an even keel now.  It's still raining.  My husband is here on the island, Sophie is beside me. And I have a basket to weave.  But I also have a renewed sense of the need to work toward a new world order.

*The phrase "New world order" in the Bahá'í Faith refers to a system of teachings, enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the religion, that Bahá'ís believe embodies God's divinely appointed scheme for the unification of mankind in this age. Among the beliefs it includes is the eventual establishment of a world commonwealth based on principles of equity and justice, a commonwealth as vital spiritually as it would be materially.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cleaning Up the Studio

Living in my studio is wonderful - creative space to leave projects out, having several projects going at one time, and the ease of moving from one work-space to another as the mood hits.  And yes, sometimes I even start work in my pajamas.

But family members will start arriving today for the holiday weekend, so I need to pack things up, straighten and clean. I'm delighted they are coming to visit.....I'm just not so much into the cleaning part of it!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Taking Things for Granted

Dealing a bit with my newly found issue with asthma has made me think how often I've taken for granted just the simple act of breathing.  Which led, of course, to thinking about all of the other simple things in life so easily ignored and that we fail to appreciate.  Besides breathing, just walking normally (after the broken leg last year) is also at the top of  my list.

More ideas:

25 Awesome Things We Take for Granted Most Days

“It’s not a bad idea to occasionally spend a little time thinking about things you take for granted. Plain everyday things.” ~Evan Davis
Some mornings I open my eyes and immediately start thinking about everything I have to do. I don’t notice the sun shining through my blinds.
I don’t imagine all the things that could go right in my day, as Srinivas Rao suggested in the awesome guest post How to Wake up Every Morning on Top of the World.
Instead, I immediately hone in on my to-do list and all the mini fires I plan to avoid.
On those days when my mind goes into to defensive pessimism mode—conjuring up everything that could go wrong and creating plans to circumvent those things—it feels imperative to go on that way. Like the stressing and plotting somehow gives me more control over the day ahead.
The irony is that while this type of thinking does nothing to avoid chaos and struggle, which are both inevitable, at least on some level, it actually creates the type of situations I’d prefer to dodge.
A busy, cynical mind is more apt to find problems than solutions.
Since I’ve been meditating in the morning again, I’ve been starting the day on a much more positive note. But I am by no means perfect, and some days I still expect the worst instead of creating the best.
So I’ve started focusing on all the little things that usually go right instead of the big things that could go wrong.
The reality is things could go wrong later, even if I start the day whistling over breakfast while birds and bunnies hover around my patio bistro set. Being positive isn’t a safeguard against the unknown.
It is, however, one of the best ways to fully enjoy the moment and create the next one from a place of peace and empowerment.
With that in mind, I’ve created this list of things that we often take for granted (some or all of which may be true for you). When you start thinking about everything you can’t control, it’s helpful to remember and appreciate all the little things that work in your favor most days.
The little things that usually go right:
1. You woke up breathing. No matter what happens in the hours ahead, you can come back to your breath for a sense of peace and presence.
2. You have the freedom to choose what you’ll do today, even if you have some limitations.Sometimes we take it for granted, but what we do on a daily basis truly is our choice.
3. You had a bed to sleep in. Even if you didn’t get as much sleep as you’d like to, you had the opportunity to rest somewhere relatively peaceful.
4. There isn’t a hurricane, tornado, typhoon or other natural disaster going on outside your door.
5. You have the means to eat three meals today, even if one of them is Top Ramen (or spam and rice, as my boyfriend made on our first night in our new place).
6. Your roof isn’t leaking copious amounts of water directly on your head.
7. Your significant other is alive and healthy, albeit a loud snorer, an off-key shower singer, or a consistent maker of ridiculously strong coffee.
8. Your shower works—with hot water—meaning you don’t have to go to work with bed-head or skin that smells like night sweat.
9. If you don’t have work to go to, you have endless possibilities for your future. Right now might be a little uncomfortable, but your future is completely open, ready to be seized and enjoyed.
10. The sun is shining, giving you all those feel-good brain chemicals. (The sun actually increases serotonin production—it’s a natural mood lifter!)
11. You don’t have Wicked Witch of the West syndrome, meaning that if it’s raining, you likely won’t melt.
12. Your closet didn’t catch fire overnight, meaning you don’t have to go to work naked or fashion an outfit out of hefty bags.
13. Your iPod works, so you can listen to your favorite tunes during your commute.
14. If you don’t have an iPod, you probably have access to music somehow—radio, streaming music online, your mom’s old 8-tracks. Music is such a powerful mood lifter that we can access any time.
15. If you drive, your favorite morning radio show is on and it’s so funny you almost don’t care about the gridlock traffic.
16. As for that gridlock traffic, the fact that you’re in it means you have a working car.
17. Your computer works, meaning you won’t need IT guys to come help you, disrupting your usual flow.
18. You have a cell phone, even if it isn’t an iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry. (Mine is none of the above.) Even a bulky, old-school cell phone that can’t connect to the Internet can make life world’s easier.
19. You have an office or workspace, even if it’s shared, meaning you can get things done relatively efficiently allowing for free time later this evening.
20. If you’re like me and don’t have an office or workspace, you have the freedom to work wherever you want. Go work under a tree for a while—you can!
21. You received some type of email that lets you know someone cares about you, even if it’s one of those chain emails your grandmother sends to the special people in her life.
22. If you didn’t get one of those emails, you have the capacity to send one (mass-emailed or personalized) to make a meaningful difference in someone else’s day.
23. You got a call or voicemail from someone you miss, giving you the opportunity for connection and even a little shared nostalgia.
24. If you didn’t get that call, you have access to a phone, meaning you can make one. Any day you connect meaningfully with someone else has the potential to be a great day.
25. Someone somewhere loves you, so no matter what happens in the day ahead, you’ll get through it with the support of people who care.
There’s a lot that goes right on a daily basis. I’m choosing to start the day embracing the good in the present instead of trying to predict and control the bad in the future.
Have anything to add to the list?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Artists and Inspirations

Often I blog about inspiration and from where it comes.  Perusing the internet looking for 3D sculptural pieces, I stumbled upon this intriguing site: .
Just had to share it!  (And makes me wonder just how they think of these things?!?)  At the very least, I need to explore a few of these artists further.

10 Amazing Contemporary Sculptures

Black Whole Conference: made of 72 chairs

The Black Whole Conferencechair sculpture was made out of 72 chairs by Michel de Broin on 2006. It was part of the Québec Triennial "Nothing is Lost, Nothing is Created, Everything is Transformed" exhibition at the Musée d’Art in Montreal.

Sound Wave: made of melted vinyl records

On 2007, korean artist Jean Shin created Sound Wave out of melted vinyl records. The sculpture was part of The Museum of Art and Design’s exhibit "Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary." The artist explained the sculpture shows "the inevitable waves of technology that render each successive generation of recordable media obsolete." 

Controller of the Universe: dozens of tools suspended in the air

The 2007 sculpture by Damián Ortega Controller of the Universe consists of scores of suspended hand tools pointing outward as though in midexplosion. It’s part of the exhibit "That Was Then ... This Is Now" at the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center. 

Economy: Melting Ice Sculpture

To symbolize today's economic meltdown, artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese made thisice sculpture of the word "ECONOMY" and set set it outside in downtown Manhattan. They did it on October 29 because it was the 79th anniversary of the 1929 stock market crash leading tothe Great Depression

Reach for Light: a Skateboard Flower Sculpture

Reach for Light is a Skateboard Flower Sculpture made by Ted Hunter form Roarockit Skateboard Co. The flower petal designs are actually printed using photo’s of real tulip petals. It was shown on 2005 at the Wood Turning Center in Philadelphia. 

Jones' Book Sculptures: made of old books

Australian artist Nicholas Jones turns old books into fine art. Using old books he finds at the bins of the University of Melbourne library, Nicholas makes incredibly detailed cuts and folds with each page, and transforms each piece into a work of true work of art. 

On Gold Mountain: San Francisco's cityscape made of stainless steel cookware

Displayed at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, On Gold Mountain is cityscape of San Francisco created by artist Zhan Wang using stainless steel pots and pans and silverware. 

Very Hungry God: made of 1,000 kg of kitchen utensils

Made out of hundreds of kitchen utensils, pots and pansVery Hungry God made by the artist Sudobh Gupta on 2006 is now on display at the Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park, London. 

Hellraiser’s Pinhead: an amazing sand sculpture

This sand sculpture of Pinhead (a character from Hellraiser movies) was made by Latvian artist Helena Bangert on Zeebrugge (Belgium) in 2004. 

Elvis: a sculpture made of 50,000 matchsticks

This Elvis bust was made by David Mach, a scottish sculptor and installation artist, using no less than 50,000 matchsticks! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Kilroy was here!

My dad and I had a secret message that we'd leave for each other - usually on slips of paper or on the blackboard we had upstairs.  For some reason it always included a picture of "Kilroy was here".  I didn't question it at the time (who does when we're kids??) - it just was.  And it was something special that he only did with me.  So when I came across a typed rendition that I found years ago, I was delighted:



Where did this all come from? Per

Kilroy was here is an American popular culture expression that became popular during World War II; it is typically seen in graffiti. Its origins are debated, but the phrase and the distinctive accompanying doodle — a bald-headed man (sometimes depicted as having a few hairs) with a prominent nose peeking over a wall with the fingers of each hand clutching the wall — became associated with GIs in the 1940s.
The phrase may have originated through United States servicemen, who would draw the doodle and the text "Kilroy was here" on the walls and other places they were stationed, encamped, or visited. An ad in Life magazine noted that WWII-era servicemen were fond of claiming that "[w]hatever beach-head they stormed, they always found notices chalked up ahead of them, that 'Kilroy was here.'"


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Slower & Simpler - Sabbatical and/or Sabbath

In earlier posts I have written about the value of disconnecting digitally for slowing down.  Another thoughtful article on this subject is "How to Enjoy a Digital Sabbatical"  ( ).  Courtney notes:  Call it a sabbatical, digital detox, or a Sabbath. Wayne Muller, the author of Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives points out that while Sabbath may be a holy day for some, it can be anything that provides a visceral experience of life-giving nourishment and rest. He suggests that Sabbath time can be a refuge from our modern life which is designed to seduce our attention.

Wayne Muller is new to me.  So with a little research on his book on the Sabbath, I found in it:

Sabbath time can be a revolutionary challenge to the violence of overwork, mindless accumulation, and the endless multiplication of desires, responsibilities, and accomplishments. Sabbath is a way of being in time where we remember who we are, remember what we know, and taste the gifts of spirit and eternity.

My, if that isn't slower and simpler living, I don't know what is.

So for a brief read, Courtney's article is wonderful.  For further reading, Wayne Muller may have even more gems!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Called Classics for a Reason

Some books are called classics for a reason, and rereading them now and again helps me to appreciate their nuggets all over again.  In packing up my books (downsizing, cleaning, simplifying), I ran across Thomas Merton.  I'm not quite ready to part with him just yet!  And there is a reason that I underline and highlight my I can pick them up and easily find those special tidbits.

“A man who fails well is greater than one who succeeds badly.” 

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” 

“The real reason why so few men believe in God is that they have ceased to believe that even a God can love them.” 

                                        Thomas Merton - No Man is An Island

Friday, May 16, 2014

In Search of Bloggable

In searching for something "bloggable" today....of course I looked up to see if that was even a word.  Per the Urban Dictionary:
Of special and unusual or notable significance. Worthy of writing a blog about. Unusual in a positive way.
These lyrics are BLOGGABLE. Geoge Harrison is so BLOGGABLE. This is pointless, tell me something BLOGGABLE.

However, I also found MORE words that stem from blog:
Feel free to look any up that tickle your fancy.  It also reinforces my belief that blogging should be an enjoyable "add on" to life, not one's entire life.