Saturday, December 29, 2012


If you are by chance lucky
enough to wake up in the morning and
the first thought you have is the
unbelievable one about how we all die
and you inhale deeply and consider crying out but
instead place your hands firmly on
the back of the person laying
next to you and make your recovery pulling
in breath avoiding those tears and
then you realize it has been a long time since
you felt fear about dying and so you turn the disc
that is you around and realize that you feel good
really good for a change and that is what makes
death seem so appalling and even though
you are shaken you turn again and try to focus your
closed eyes on what feeling alive is.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A new path.

12/12/12. An auspicious day perhaps. I picked up this book after clawing my way through a particularly bad week. I was stuck in the throws of an anxiety attack that was making it hard to walk when I went into the local library and spied this book. I sat and read the first 30 pages and confirmed that I was not in fact losing my mind, my memory, my ability to speak, and to walk. I felt hopeful for the first time in a long time. My hormones are out of whack and I have to take control of the situation because the toll it is taking on me is ridiculous. I had a flash a few days before the 12th that maybe I was missing the point of Perimenopause, that maybe it isn't an end, it's a beginning. A chance to really experience our collective wisdom as women. This book shares that notion. The book is very straightforward in its approach. 6 easy steps including detoxification, diet, exercise, treatments and supplements, and mind body work. It all makes good sense and presents this phase as manageable if not even potentially filled with opportunities for greater understanding of ourselves resulting in less depression and anxiety and fewer health complaints in general. So expect to hear more about this. It's a pretty closeted subject I think and it's a pretty tough experience for many woman who choose not to medicate for the individual complaints, or are unable to recognize that all of those component parts make up the whole picture of Perimenopause. It's baffling to begin with and then shocking how extreme the symptoms can become. So I am going to start to document a little more closely what I am eating and how I am feeling and try a few treatments and supplements as well as exercising a bit more. Let's not kid ourselves, being happy and alive is a lot of work.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's Here!

Jesus, if it isn't Christmas again. Next to school and summer break, Christmas is my daughters absolute favorite time of year and while I am not prone to overdoing things I try to make it as special as possible for her.  She would have us get a tree directly after Thanksgiving but my waspish reserve dictates we must wait until around the 20th of December. Now that she is older and busier we have to be flexible and look for opportunities to fit it all in. We got the tree on Friday afternoon, we trooped next door to my neighbors personal tree lot and sawed one down with his permission, of course. We decorated it Saturday morning whiling away the time before Pearl's dad came to get her for a weekend visit. As we decorated we talk about the decorations. Where they came from or who made them, which are our favorites and why. We talk about the approach to decorating the tree, the logistics and physics of it. I was not one of those parents who let my kid decorate the tree so this comes up in conversation too. I can't help myself, aesthetics are important to me and yes I am a control freak. Christmas is going to be a bit thinner this year but we'll have fun anyway repeating the old standards and introducing a few new tricks. I'm grateful for my kid, my husband and my improving mental health.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Having just exited the crazy train and arrived safely in the arms of my ever understanding husband, I am able to reflect on the week. So here's a quick round-up.
Monday. Total blur, involved dance class and a Jamie Oliver beef stew, I also designed two book covers for a new project.
Tuesday. Mark went home to have Acupuncture, a first and I went back to work on a 3rd cover of the book. Afterschool we drove to town for vital supplies; hair conditioner. Fell asleep early. Uneasy dreams.
Wednesday. I turned 49. Pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Worked on designing some collateral pieces for a client, cleaned the house and had a little tea party with a friend and her darling son. It was pleasant but I could feel myself slipping, weakening. Watched Survivor. Slept poorly. Convoluted dreams.
Thursday. Worked a little in the morning on I don't know what, did laundry. It rained hard and was really dark and very cold. After lunch and a little activity I tried to work again but felt exhausted. I tried to nap but couldn't relax my body. After an hour a friend appeared bearing birthday wishes and we sat and talked a bit which sort of helped but my eyes twitched on. The rain stopped and I went for a walk and felt better. In the evening I took Pearl and a classmate to see another schools band play. It was very pleasant as was the ride home through the county, the roads were dry and the sky was filled with fluffy clouds that were illuminated by the lights from Canada to the north. We drove home and enjoyed the artificial lights of christmas on the various homes and farms along the way. Sleep was fitful.
Friday. Tylenol, coffee, water, strange hot beverage combining emergen-c and apple cider vinegar, toast. Worked on some new logos that I have had rolling around in my docket list. Went to town to meet yet another friend for brunch. Had a good chat. Went food shopping. Felt physically shitty. Took a walk when I got home, it was sunny and I almost felt good. Chopped firewood post walk and felt I had broken the spell of whatever was gripping me. Designed an ad and came to Canada.

There are a lot of grizzly details I have left out for the protection of the author but it was a rough week. I can trace it directly to hormones but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with or any less scary while I am in the middle of the thing as I hurl through time and space acting like everything is okay when I am certain it can't be. So when I walked in the door tonight and Mark asked me how I was I let it fly, knowing he was right there to catch me on my way down. The crazy train left the station a few wet minutes later and now I really do feel fine. Better than fine. I am alive.

And why to god is there a picture of a child's pinafore up top? I took this photo in a store in La Conner last weekend when I wasn't wrestling my psychosis. When I was a child and I would paint or help my mother with little domestic tasks I wore a pinafore. A pinafore is like an apron but more British, my mother generally made mine. I still think that they are a good idea and this one reminded me of the Marcy Tilton dress I made earlier this year which I would like to make again as I have been wearing this green one a lot. I thought this little pinafore was sweet in black with the peppermint piping, and then today when I was feeling better I read this about the appeal of the Shirtdress. This so-called Vintage French Country dress I made earlier this year is just such a garment. This is a dress but it's a working dress, part pinafore, part shirt, part dress. It feels great on and I can really move around in it or I can be quite comfortable in the fetal position on the couch, whichever.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Self at 49

I'm turning 49 tomorrow. Natural progress, there's no fighting it. The salmon are running finally, I saw two today during my walk, their red bodies listing right and left in the shallow pools beneath cedar trees. I am encouraged by the progression and vitality of nature, how it slows but does not stop, there is no dormancy as we perceive. Each day begins and ends as it should, I hold tight to the structure I place on each one and together we move along. The winter solstice is nearing. The darkness won't last forever. It occurred to me this afternoon while I was lighting the stove that I need to embrace this time of hibernation because in 2 short weeks we will have experienced the longest night of the year and will then embark effortlessly on the path to summer, the switch flipped. The days begin to lengthen slowly at first but lengthen they do and before I know it the afternoons will be long and light. Natural progress. I am not struggling as I have in the past, maybe it's this new age but I feel excited about everything again. I am hopeful and philosophical, I suppose I am always that way but often I feel like it might be a facade under which  is concealed something rotten and dying. That is only part of the story because even the rotten things make way for new growth. Look at the salmon coming up Kinney Creek. 40 miles they have traveled to these spawning grounds, their flesh, in some cases, falling off them. They lay their eggs and then die and rot on the banks of the creek. I can smell them even though the air is cool, rotten fish permeates the creek air. The smell of progress.

I made my first oil painting over the weekend with the help and guidance of my sister-in-law, Paula. The whole process is quite backwards to water color but I can certainly see the appeal and will try another one shortly. My mantra, dark to light, seems appropriate for the time of year. I have also been documenting my walks lately in greater detail as I am working on this sketchbook project. The portraits I envisioned for the sketchbook have not quite materialized but there is still time. The practice of walking daily and being observant is most pleasant and nourishing for this part of my journey upstream. Hello 49, welcome.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


All summer long I meant to get firewood but then some other item would come up that needed resources thrown at it and here I am in the final days of November with no firewood. Not no firewood, but challenging firewood and I am in desperate need of uncomplicated firewood. I used to spend a lot of time cutting and splitting firewood and I was stronger 18yrs ago than I am today, this is the truth. I looked online for sellers and scoured the local boards at the grocery and feed-store. Nothing. I put a plea on Facebook and got nothing. My brother who lives in a similar way to me noted in the comments that he was working on next years firewood. He is the Ant to my Grasshopper. Inspired, I went out and chopped some wood I had had laying out in the open. It's wet but a few weeks under cover and it might be burnable. The cedar rounds were very dry after the long rainless summer we had. It's beautiful wood.

The work is hard. Swinging the maul overhead, letting it fall. Sometimes it pierces the wood exposing a clean fault and other times it bounces off in a spray of water. I worked for under an hour and noted how weak I felt. Certainly if I did this more often I would get stronger. After I had split a few wheelbarrow loads I went back to my desk and I must say the physical exertion really cleared my head. Later in the afternoon I walked to the back of the property and eye-balled some fallen trees that I could easily buck up, I also picked up an armload of twigs to burn. Big or small, it's all fuel. I spoke to my neighbor and he'll sell me some bucked up wood. Maple, I think he said. Hardwood. It won't be a pretty year for firewood but I think I will make it through.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Chicken Report

Last years meatbirds in their plastic kiddy pool.

The chickens need my attention. Now that we are fully submerged in fall and it is wet and getting wetter out, I can lose interest in the chickens. They stop laying and go to bed early. I am still feeding them, at pretty good expense; organic, non-gmo, soy free, whatever, food. And I am buying eggs from the grocery store. There are 6 hens at the moment. 3 are young and viable as layers, 3 are older and molting. I am thinking about butchering the non-laying members over the next little while and then in the spring get some new chicks to reinvigorate the flock. These old gals only lay for a few years and then you feed them and listen to them squawk for 4 more years all the while attracting raccoons, sucking back the feed and making it uncomfortable for the younger hens to relax and produce eggs. I like the idea of raising birds that are reasonable to eat after they are done laying and with that in mind keeping to a strict 2 yr rotation of laying and then butchering for food. Some old timer told me once they would kill the birds before winter so they didn't have to feed and care for them during the cold months, I can see why. I did sit with them awhile yesterday, thanksgiving and gave thanks to the silly 6 of them as they pecked around doing their little chicken dance. I cleaned their house, their water tubs and gave them a mountain of fresh straw in the outside cage since they would be contained there for the weekend.

One of the things I do like about keeping the chickens is the creation of the system I employ to take care of them. I want the whole operation to be efficient and easy to use and so I have tried to work toward that. My goal is to offer the chickens maximum comfort for a minimum effort on my part. So far it's worked out pretty well and now I want to work on making the output aspect of the operation more efficient. More eggs and a little meat now and then without too much work or worry. The trouble with raising the big bunch of meatbirds is that they need near constant attention, they are so programmed to eat they have to be fed twice a day and their cage has to be cleaned at least once a day. I cannot stress this enough. Meatbirds are disgusting shitting machines and unless you are keeping them in a pasture setting the pen must be cleaned and it is disgusting and interacting with the birds is grim as they are not a smart group. I prefer the idea of a few free-range chickens that lived like real chickens, laid a few eggs and then got stewed up one at time. This is how a farm wife would do it. I will devise a system for this operation next. The tools required to butcher a chicken are fairly straightforward, the only pieces I need are a propane burner and an over-sized scalding pot. I imagine you need an extra basin with warm water to aid in plucking. The nasty bits can be buried and turned into rich fertilizer in the garden. This seems doable to me.

I had a lovely conversation with one of my neighbors the day before Thanksgiving. He keeps horses and I found him out near the road with a bucket of apples and the 4 head of horses and 1 mule all standing around him eating from his hands as he passed each one an apple holding it tightly while they bit down into it, and then passing the remaining half to next waiting muzzle. We talked about the expense and care that goes into owning the horses, he pack rides with them several times a year around the state. He towed 25,000lbs of truck trailer and beast over the Washington Lookout Pass to ride for 2 days in Mazama with his daughter and some friends. He admitted is was expensive hard work but he said he got a lot out of it too, the pleasure of horses is incalculable. Watching him as we talked, the horses waiting in line around him based on rank, the mule licked salt near his feet. His red and white paint gelding was closest nuzzling his arm and neck, it was touching how he just let the horse gently explore him. No matter the size of the creature you look after it's a mutually beneficial experience. His horses, my chickens, the activity of care-taking gives us much more than rides and eggs. It keeps us moving in the world and conscious of life around us.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Way

Christmas is looming on the horizon. I get near daily reminders from my young protege that the countdown is on, the expectations building. I used to be into buying gifts, long ago in a land called Los Angeles when plastic filled my wallet. I recall distinctly staring into my medicine cabinet at 5 or 6 matching bottles branded perfectly for my particular demographic, cleanser, toner, moisturizer, fixatives. I felt completely complete staring at those frosted bottles with their signature grey tops. I had graduated from the green kind and would soon be onto the next iteration but something happened and I stopped consuming, stopped feeding that internal emptiness with stuff. The cards got paid off and the accounts were closed. I feel no ill will toward the consumer society that surrounds me, my lack of consumption is not a political act I just don't want to buy stuff for the sake of buying stuff. My budgets are pretty tight lately and so I can't rationalize a spending balloon at a time of year when I need things like heating fuel and warm sox. I look around my studio and house and I have mountains of supplies waiting to be put to good use, an excess of raw materials. I like giving gifts and I like making things and I like to keep my hands and brain busy when the nights grow long. This year I have decided to embroider some small pieces for the people on my list who I know already have more stuff than they could extract quickly from a burning house. I do like Christmas and one of the things I like best about it is decorating the tree, hanging all the ornaments that various people have given me over the years. I unwrap them carefully one-by-one from the tissue beds where they have been laying dormant waiting to spark my memory with warm thoughts about their origins. This year as I have done in the past I set about creating those memories for others and in the process I feel full and warm and I am pretty sure that's a valid experience for this time of year.

Here's a finished piece that has already found a home next door with my good friend. She was quite pleased with it and I was too. Mission accomplished.

Friday, November 2, 2012


I made this for a book cover I was working on but ultimately it was just an excuse to play a little bit with painting on chip board, some collage with lovely green images cut out of Vanity Fair. I made the photo of myself in my office. I like the back view, it is our most unfamiliar view of ourselves and I think represents all we don't know about ourselves. The brown leather suitcase was my mothers. She kept all her important documents in it. I should consider keeping her ashes in this case instead of the cardboard box where they currently reside. So many things to do. I was cleaning the studio tonight, the ritual reclamation of the creative space and the return to it. I made this piece when the weather was still warm and it came out as a burst, unselfconsciously. Because it was not chosen for the book cover, I cast it aside and then due to occurrences this week when I came across it tonight I decided to accept it as a valid creation. I have been reconnecting with some long time ago contacts in my field and that has set me to thinking about the nature of this work I do and helps me to see all that I have done and how to make it better. It's a time of gentleness.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Ideal Day

Here it is in a nutshell, my ideal day.

6:30am to 7am: Mom duties. Sandwich making, lecturing, checking in, hugging.

7am to 8am: Drink coffee and write, take notes, make lists, think. Ignore negative thoughts.

8am to 11am: Work without distraction. This means staying off the web. When the urge to get distracted hits, make note of said distraction to explore later. No Facebooking*

11am to 1pm: Break for exercise and nourishment, possible reading, knitting.

1pm to 4pm: Work without distraction and perform simultaneous afterschool check-in with the offsrping. Stay in chair.

4pm to 7pm: Take care of the business of being alive. Meal prep, house cleaning, animal care, errands, fire prep, odd jobs.

7pm to 10pm: Free time. Explore web distractions from earlier in the day, knit, sew, paint, whatever. Lay face down on couch. Snuggle with offspring and cat.

10pm: Time to lay this redhead down. Read.

Repeat from top daily to maintain mental, financial, and creative health. Seems pretty doable and it adds an hour to my billable time which is positive. I am hoping that by following this schedule I will have time to do the things I need to do while giving myself time to float and think and entertain all the other stuff that ricochets around in my spongy brain.

* More and more I see Facebook as a way we are being kept down and controlled by marketers. There is too much information available to us and we begin to think it's all important. It's not. I am finding that self directed study is more helpful and honestly healthful.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I am. Trying. I am trying. I am studying. I am thinking. All these I am statements. I am confused. I am lost. I am tired. I am tired of I am. I am taking a bath on Friday morning and I am thinking of Winston Churchill who took baths every morning to sort himself out before his day. He painted too, to help ease the black dog of depression that followed him about his English life, his misunderstood to him at the time life. Let's assume that we all have this and decide never to speak of it again because it is neither productive nor interesting. It is dull and we don't have much time so why not just read happily in the bath and be glad our belly is not as huge as Winston's was and be pleased about our female genitalia soaking in the hot water and just feel good. Let's try that. I am drifting off from where I have been, where I came to 30yrs ago. This land called America. I am moving north in my mind at the moment, later my body will follow. I am noticing things about my womanhood, more now as it perches at the edge of one phase ready to sweep down into the next phase. I am noticing things about my place in my world and where I belong based on my DNA and the information absorbed by my cells when they were forming and growing. I am thinking about but not quite making the art I want to make but I am coming to it, rolling it around in my brain, in my mouth, my hands, my heart. Sitting in water on Friday morning reading about politics while listening to the radio from the north straddling phases and borders, roles, disciplines. Rise up. Leave the skin filled water behind and walk out into the gray day which lays before me. I am moving ahead and despite the periodic blindness that seeks to derail me all the signs are pointing to success whatever that is. I have always been lucky. I am not afraid of hard work and I like making progress so that is what I will do. Thank you for reminding me of what I already knew in the face of what is unknown.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Favorite Things

In the universe that is my life there are many pairs of black fleece gloves. I wear them in the fall and winter, I abhor cold hands. I have worn gloves twice this fall, last week was the first time and today was the second. I try to never smell the gloves, I know they stink because I pet the dog when I wear them and sometimes they get left damp in pockets of infrequently worn coats. I wash them in the washer and sometimes after the dryer has run I have to search for them as they can adhere themselves to a synthetic pant-leg with whom they have shared the journey from washer to dryer. I don't mind. Laundry is one of the things I like in addition to the simplicity and near disposable quality of black fleece gloves. I am trying to organize this universe that is my life and make piles of things I like and dislike and to take note of how particular things make me feel. I want to have logical answers to these persistent questions so that when someone says what do you like. I have an answer. I can say I like my black gloves. I have at least 4 pairs placed strategically around my house so that no matter what I am never without them, but I never smell them. Smelling is forbidden.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Warm and Cool

I took the car in to get fixed yesterday afternoon. I strapped my bike to the rack in the carport only to discover that the cat piss covered faux Persian rug I have stored in the roof trusses was hitting it, making it impossible to back out. I took the bike off doing my best not to let my frustration over take me and backed the car out sans bike. In the back of my mind I was thinking I should put water in the car but I was sort of beyond giving a shit. I got the bike on the car and even tightened the rack, interestingly I do give a shit about my bike falling off the car. I drove with confidence along my bumpy gravel driveway. At the car place I was prepared to wait for the work to be done but decided to stick with my original plan of riding home. I had a mission in mind to photograph some Rosehips for a poster I am about to begin working on. Some friends live along the way and I considered stopping in but decided I wasn't up for the distraction of conversation so I rode on and was pleased to find some Rosehips at the side of the road. A free opportunity to do my work without the complication of human interaction is appealing. I parked the bike and climbed up the bank and took a few photographs. I like the Rosehip. They are smooth red orange and I have a vague but pleasant memory of eating Rosehip syrup as a kid. I took a few photographs on the way home of the hills and fields now stripped of their corn. The marriage of warm and cool air leaving a translucent veil over the landscape made me wish I could paint.

I walked the dog earlier in the day, my 3 mile walking meditation, and on our way home she wanted to go down to the creek for her habitual drink but lately I have decided not to let her do it. The creek is low after 2 months without rain and I wonder if the salmon will be able to make it up to spawn, I also worry about parasites that might present after the long spell of warm weather. The edge of the road is shaded and wet so instead of drinking from the creek the dog walks there purposefully and seems to enjoy the feeling of the wet grass on her legs and belly. I half expect her to lick the wet blades.

I spent the afternoon in my office and around 5:30 went into the house to prepare for the evening. The dinner hour is challenging for me. I feel sort of alone in my tasks of making supper, getting the fire ready and remembering to bring in supplies from my studio so that I might get something done in the evening. I made a quick trip next door to get some veggies from my neighbor and when I got back, much to my surprise Pearl offered to cut up all the veggies for the stirfry I was making. This simple act made me so happy that the whole mood of the evening changed for me and I was able to work a little on a painting I had been neglecting. I am still not working on the Smithers piece although I tried this morning. I don't know why I am making it and what I am trying to say. Then this morning while surfing the web I found a lame little DIY blog post about making a chalkboard and written on it was "think less, do more". No shit. Anyway not sure what the fate of this piece is. I feel more interested in understanding what I like to do and what I want to make, it seems odd that at this stage of my life I don't have these answers.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Goddam Cool

This hat is my next project. Not sure if I am going to get my Smithers piece finished. Inertia and fear have struck again and today my car needs work which is troubling as I have no money. Alas I want to shake off all these modern problems and strive to get the piece made. Quit resisting as it were because this blog is so much more interesting when I am posting work rather than complaints. It helps to say it out loud sometimes. Thanks for being there.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I am lost in a forest of thoughts and ideas and they all look alike and after a time I realize I have been going in a circle because I am passing the same un-acted upon ideas and having the same negative conversations about why they exist and why I can't make them happen. I looked for a picture of myself today in a trunk in an effort to free myself from the concentric circles I grind into the ground and before I found what I was looking for I found what I needed.

This was the journal my mother took with her to Greece the September before she died. I made it and another one for myself so we would have some small books to document our travels. She was already very sick by then and so she only wrote in it a few times. I wasn't startled as I might have been that the last date she recorded nearly matched today's date. I took it as a sign. It is my discovery so I can attach my own meaning to it. My mother has stayed connected to me even though she is no longer here breathing the air, growing old, she faces no complications and so she has time to encourage me as she always did. I am struggling as I always do and now with the additional weight and confusion of peri-menopause which seems like a dragon I must fight with all the time that breathes fire onto my anxiety level and sparks it ablaze driving me deeper into the woods. I choose to take these small discoveries as moments of salvation where my mother reaches out and taps me on the shoulder and encourages me to move ahead and because I am a dutiful daughter, I do. I try to think of one thing at a time in order to get out of the forest of my mind that I so often get lost in.

The little photo I was looking for will be used in a piece I am making for a show in my hometown at a gallery that my mother was involved with for years. The piece is about who we are based on where we came from. I grew up in a northern town beneath a beautiful mountain with a sparkly blue glacier and everyday it watched me. If I can make the piece and get it off on time I think I will be making some progress in knowing the way out of the darkness I often find myself in.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Falling in

September 5th. I feel a bit contracted but I also feel kind of stoked. I'm worried about money but I also feel like there is endless potential work if I just flip the switch. My mood is up but I feel nervous about that too because it changes so quickly but mostly I have been trending up into that good place where I feel both happy and calm, if I can battle the anxiety I will have achieved a trifecta of sorts. The days are shortening at both ends but it's most noticeable in the morning when I awake in the darkness. My mid morning walks have been refreshing and warm once I get out to the road where there is more sun. There are spider's webs everywhere and yesterday I picked an albino woolley bear off my car tire in an effort not to squash it. The edges of the road are dry and crunchy and when I go to feed the hens there are more leaves down, they are mostly green but getting yellower by the day. Have finally begun to sleep better after a long stint of not being able to achieve that deep state of unconsciousness. It wears me down so and weakens my mind, I feel frayed and bare after a while. As you can see by the start date of this post I have been a bit slack. On the other hand I have been working and the kid is back at school and the routine has been good despite the first day when I felt like I was falling into a big pit of sameness. A week or so has passed and my happy state seems to be taking hold. I can honestly say I am looking forward to fall.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Missed connections.

The annual back to school BBQ and re-orientation event happened today at the high school. We're new there, new to High School. I barely know my way around the building. I am not in the minority of parents who actually attended this high school ahead of their kids. The place is new but the faces are all the same, the moms mostly, some dads come to the event that is sort of informal and awkward. The students are instructed to sit up front in the auditorium while the adults are scattered everywhere in little clumps mostly close to the edges of the rows for quick exiting. We arrive late and sit smack in the middle of a row. The lights are bright and it feels like we have wandered into a grocery store at midnight after being out in a bar. I feel out of place as usual but try to listen to what the tan man who must be the principal is saying. He's funny and direct with the kids and that feels good and my discomfort momentarily subsides. Then, it's over and it is time to go outside to have a free hamburger on a white bun that I know I will regret eating later. I lose Mark immediately upon getting up to leave and I try to make eye contact with a few of the other moms. We don't have much to say to each other, at least I feel at a loss to say much beyond spewing something about how strange it all is but I stop myself, those are not the lines for this particular skit and we're all having slightly different experiences. I smile to the left I smile to the right and slowly move toward the smoke of the BBQ that is now filling the entry hall.

Outside, I decide to sit down and let the hamburger line die down while another mom moves past me. She looked a little lost so I said "Hi" and she came over. I think she would have sat there and said absolutely nothing if I had not asked a few questions and even then she did not inquire about my summer, my plans for fall, my garden. At these times I feel like I am in a haze, the twighlight zone where everything is stretchy and perspectives are angled. I move away and get in the food line near my kid who wants to act like I am not there but I give her the "don't even begin to give me any of that; I can act completely different at school bullshit" look and then I begin chatting with another mom who attended the high school and is having the strange experience of being there as an adult. She's maybe 31. I take it she wasn't the best student back then. Oh well I think, I got the hell out of my own little town and have missed out on that fate. We have a positive but brief exchange about time and remembering to breathe and I feel like that might have been the most real exchange I have had the entire time I have interacted with all these mom types. I get my burger, Mark has a second and we eat and leave.

I come away feeling conflicted. I don't really want anything from them, not friendship, I don't need to be invited to their homes, I am happy to be invisible but something tells me I am not entirely. I am helpful when I can be, I engage when I must, I am aware of what is happening within the little community but it's my choice to stay outside the circle of familiarity so maybe I should just be grateful to them for respecting my privacy. Although, I do know I am a good listener and a pretty good friend and so it's sad that none of them ever tried to buddy up with me, but then again I probably haven't been putting out the right signals and my dance-card is pretty full. Next.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I love Kimchee, you can too.

This is the project of a very talented friend of mine. I encourage you to give a little to the project. Who doesn't want to know more about Kimchee and this guy is a no holds barred brave like a super hero when it comes to mixing it up with Kimchee. Raised in Guam, schooled in Los Angeles, lives in Brooklyn. He is the culinary multi-cultural fusion king. Help him realize his dream of putting a Korean pickle on every American table. 5 days to go.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Natural World

Golden Ears Park, B.C.

I casually titled this photo "What Emily Carr Saw". Of course the woods she encountered were wholly different from these. The trees she saw were giants, as big around as 10 men standing with arms outstretched, some of them were close to a thousand years old.  I can't say what she saw there but the resulting paintings are mysterious, sometimes dark, gnarled and smoothed, deep and cavernous forest-scapes. I read recently she was never accepted by the darling, Canadian, Group of Seven. They were easterners, she was out west. They were in different worlds geographically, she was a woman.

Interestingly or strangely I have little interest in painting the natural world. I prefer to walk in it, listen to it, absorb it and carry it away with me, let it nourish me. Today a friend and I walked up near the site of the 2010 winter Olympics at Cypress Bowl above Vancouver. My friend is a Parks Volunteer and I went along with her to help observe a particular trail. She took notes and photographed trouble spots, we noted birds and flora and fauna and I felt profoundly content. It felt useful to make honest observations and to clear a few branches away from the path and to consider how we could, in simple ways make the destination of the trail a better experience for those who trek up there. I forgot my camera and was a bit worried about my feet as I had neglected to bring socks (stupido!). The hike was fantastic and I decided, as it combined my two greatest interests; walking and pruning things, that I want this as my new job.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What I'm reading

In keeping with my goal of reading a few books by one author to get a handle on what they are up to I am reading this collection of short pieces from my new hero Haruki Murakami. The stories are varied but all have that blurry edge of magical realism, which I relish. Some of them go nowhere which is interesting as I try to write things and have no idea how to end a story. What is a logical conclusion to something you have wholly made up, the possibilities are endless. I suppose the stories end like thoughts do, they simply cease and you might look back in the future and wonder where did those thoughts go, those thoughts I was so passionate about. Interesting. Summer is a good time for short pieces to be read in bed and on the ferry, in border line-ups and in empty living rooms in relatives houses and at beaches, if you do that sort of thing.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Show and Tell

Words seem to elude me, thoughts are slimy things and easy to lose grip of. The bees are humming everywhere and I am sleeping later, starting my day more slowly. When I feel the chaos of my mind begin to grow it is good to do simple things like strip the couch of its cushion covers and wash and hang them on the line. This is one of the pleasures of summer.

So is pruning the Rhododendron. Cutting the long scraggly branches that have grown up over 18 years and nipping off the spent flowers and finding these, the buds of next years blossoms, already in full swing. This is comforting.

The house and yard are a mish mash but in summer it is all pleasant. We live outdoors mostly, at least I do. I feel better outside.

 The Hydrangea has gone rangey, gangly, spindly, woody and heavy with flowers. The orange sliding shed door makes me happy, made from two old wooden back doors.

The view over to my office, so pretty this time of year. I must burn this into my mind to recall in the depths of winter when I am trudging to and fro.

My companion, coyly sits on her bed. Waiting for me to tell her what is next.

A sign from my youth in B.C. The back door and the aloe I tried to kill with sunlight. It's better now and my interest in growing things is piqued. It always amazes me the difference a little water makes. It is so wet most of the time here that I don't feel a strong desire to water when it's warm.

I made this terrarium and made use of some stuff I had on hand. The plants I bought at Lowe's, they were almost dead but seemed to perk right up once they got a little TLC. I am in love with this tiny world I have created, I am considering moving there.

The letter B, marks the rental on my property. I am grateful for tenants that seem pleased to live here. Their rent lightens my financial load

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Self Portrait July 2012
The thing is to not make excuses. Perhaps the thing is to turn off the TV and the computer and sit and listen. I do this sometimes and then I check FB on my phone and it feels so ludicrous but still I do it, like reaching for a drink when you know damn well you've had enough, or another cookie or a chip. I imagine myself, my self, in wrestling tights leaping at my best intentions, performing impressive efficient take downs of ideas and schemes and I rise and turn on the TV and obliterate my motivation to do anything. Then one day I stop thinking about the painting class and what She told me and I make one and I feel good but my busy mind gets ahead of me and asks why and what for and I don't have those answers. I don't have any answers and I wonder if I just want to lie down, close up and not compete with the rest of the burgeoning human race, human mess. I wish I could just stop wrestling and make and do without thought. Empty my mind completely, how peaceful that would be.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


8 years ago today I married Mr. Seifred. As far as weddings go it was fun but the best part by far was the honeymoon in Tofino, a gift from my dad and stepmother. When we went back there last year I was filled again with the almost overwhelming feeling of happiness and well-being I had experienced that first night on that wild west coast beach, only this time we were three and that felt great too. We never do much to celebrate these little milestones beyond just acknowledging the fact throughout the day, counting our blessings that we met, reviewing how much fun we keep having together and then re-counting our blessings again, it's a happy little loop of love and gratitude. No gifts or fanfare required, just hugs and kisses and always champagne.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Edge of the Deck

(perhaps a poem)

Out there in the darkness
beyond the edge of the deck
lies our collective unconscious.
We are looking out to where we know it must be,
searching, seeing nothing. And it is looking in
at us from just out there with equal interest,
seeing and knowing everything.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Begin again

The kid comes back today after about 2 weeks away. I've been sleeping well, not having the usual lost child dreams of days gone by. I am certain there will be a period of readjustment, there always was but it feels bigger this time. I have allowed, almost encouraged at times, an adversarial environment between the two homes she inhabits and it has given me nothing. My daughter has always been hip to everything in her world. She is observant and a little suspicious and she knows how to get what she wants and possibly needs. She doesn't need me to point out the flaws but rather be a sounding board when she sees the fallibility of things and people. In that vein I will attempt to close the door on the past and look ahead. She is a baby no more and neither am I.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Post solstice wrap-up

5 days into summer. The solstice came but I didn't celebrate on the day and instead I ambled next door and did it belatedly with some longtime friends on Friday. We sat around under my white — ever useful in many circumstances—farmers market canopy in folding chairs, while the rain poured with all it's might and we agreed that this was certainly the only way to welcome summer in the Pacific Northwest. The very next day I got caught out in a thunder and lightening storm that blew down trees around the county and soaked my jeans and shoes, and dog. Yesterday it was okay all day weather wise and I went to the Cone Sisters Show at VAG with my sister and seriously considered whether or not we should dedicate our lives to leisure and art. You know, make a name for yourself in better circles like those Cone Sisters did. My sister gave me change for transit because I had none and showed me where to catch the sky-train to visit our stepmother which I felt was terribly good of her. It felt exciting to be inside the Gallery. Matisse's Odelisques were inspiring and hopefully, affirming.

I started this painting. That is all I have to report. After I have made about 400 of these I will have more of an idea of what it is I am doing. I think I should spend some more time on this one and then make another one right away. You heard it here first. I saw my stepmother again today so that my dad could go freely to Walmart to replace a pair of pants for her. I rolled her out to the garden and we sat and she laughed out loud, almost hysterically at times at what was going on around her. She was lively for a time but then began to think that one of the men was her father. She said, "my father never wore white shoes". She looked lost and agitated. I reassured her that everything was going to be okay. "I feel mad with madness" she said. On the way home I got lost on United Boulevard amongst road construction and landfill traffic looking for the good fabric store. Mark wrote his final securities exam and we went for a walk in the late afternoon with the dog and it was hard to tell what day it was because we had not spent the whole weekend together.

I have been alone much of the last 10 days which has been somewhat novel and certainly rejuvenating. Initially I felt freaked out about releasing my death grip on my young charge but a cooler head prevailed and I took the time off willingly and I am glad I did. The growing pains we experienced a few weeks back are gone and a new phase is upon us. This parenting is a tricky game of push-me pull-you and I for one do not always see the changes in direction coming but clearly there is no stopping them and that as it turns out is a good thing. The process is much like painting, you start, the colors run, you try madly to see the shapes and values and then you wait, and when it's all dry it looks totally different to what you planned or imagined.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Painting Exercises

I've made a little book of a few of the exercises from my recent painting class. Beyond the paintings I really wanted to test drive issuu. Enjoy.

Friday, June 8, 2012

High Stakes Dressmaking

 Vogue 8813 Marcy Titlon

My very good friend Lois is getting married on Sunday. In typical fashion I could not decide what to wear. I blame a lack of belief in God and the fact that I work at home. Because I don't believe in God I do not go to church so I don't have a closet full of Sunday best outfits that might also do double duty as wedding attire. Because I work at home I tend to wear pretty utilitarian costumes that afford me both comfort and function. I can work, take my daily walk and clean the chicken coop in the same duds. It's ruthlessly efficient but it puts me in a funny spot when I actually need to dress up a little. Another hurdle is the whole body image thing but I won't go down that rabbit hole this morning.

I had a few ideas about what I wanted to wear to the wedding and basically none of it worked. I hate shopping and I did make an effort, I dragged Pearl around the mall and several small shops one afternoon and found nothing but a few very sympathetic saleswomen.

Some months ago Lois gave me a rather nice beaded necklace so I decided to build my outfit around it. I happened on this pattern from Marcy Tilton who I met at Sewexpo in February and I had this green color in my mind. So off I went on Tuesday to town, gave the shopping thing one more try but came up empty handed. I bought the pattern and this lovely green linen and went home. Keep in mind this was Tuesday and the wedding is on Sunday. I have a tendency to leave things to the last minute, I am not sure what the psychological implications of this activity are but I do it often. It seems I need fear to motivate me. I washed the fabric and cut out the pattern on Tuesday night trying not to think about the whole process all at once. I find thinking only about the next step keeps things more manageable. On Wednesday night, while apparently locked in some destructive internal power struggle with my Self I watched TV with Pearl until 10 and then began sewing once she got off to bed. I had to rip out one of the pieces after sewing, notching and pressing it, amazingly it did not discourage my fretful easily put off Self. On Thursday I began sewing at after lunch and continued on until 7. I just kept taking the next step, reading the directions carefully and then rereading them. The dress is allegedly an east to sew pattern but the structure is slightly complicated. It has these crazy huge drapey pockets and the front is smocked.

Smocking detail

For the most part the dress is complete except for the hem and 2 buttons that keep the oversized pockets from looking like saddle bags. I like it but I can also see how I could make it better. My fabric choice was not ideal, a lighter weight fabric would have been better. Will finish it all up on Saturday and despite my best efforts to sabotage myself the eternal optimist in me had a good time making this piece, it was challenging and rewarding and you can bet real money this process will be repeated at some point in the future. I have 2 more weddings to attend this summer so stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Sketch, June 1/2012

Trish the teacher says make it juicy, and I do because I am obedient and crave acceptance. Some of the other students have trouble with the concept because they can actually paint but my total lack of experience enables me to hear what she is saying and follow it religiously and I don't care how it looks like some of the others because they have a point of reference which I do not. I step away from the painting—9 feet, our commander and chief says—and I am in love with what I see and I think I could do this everyday, I could live on this.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Painting detail 5/25/12

Last Thursday I burned the red beans I was cooking while a man was rumored to be holding his family hostage a few miles from my house. I imagined at gun-point. On Friday with my skin still smelling of the burned beans I melted down and spent the weekend puffy-eyed and pale while my family simultaneously stroked my hair and avoided me. As scary as my mood swings are to me they must be terrifying to those around me. On Sunday I confided to my dad that I had been having a rough week. He has these rough patches too, we all do. On the bright side I did not hurt myself or take anyone hostage, and after a few rounds of Bananagrams Friday night we were able to laugh about the debacle of the day, the misunderstandings, and I think we may have all experienced teachable moments. I slept so hard that night that I didn't know where I was and on Saturday morning when I visited my stepmother and suddenly found myself trying to hack up a lung like I had TB, my stepmother who is struggling to get her words organized easily uttered "pollen". I agreed because it felt too hard to say no, it's a chunk of grief passing through me, but I feel certain I am going to be okay.

During my painting class on Friday I could feel myself relaxing into the work. The technique seen here involves creating a quick and simple gestural layer followed by subsequent layers of warm and cool colors all applied with tons of water. It's pure magic watching the image emerge.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Drawing from Life

Detail from 5/22/12 

Had my second life drawing meeting at UFO Studios yesterday, my drawings were nothing short of awful. Today I spent some time looking at David Hockney's early work and felt better about everything. The woman who hosts the class has a very predictable style which is slightly intimidating to someone just coming in to the group. I remind myself that she draws everyday. my skills might improve if I drew a bit each day, who knows. The interesting thing to me is the pleasure I get from drawing, even badly and how much I like some aspects of what I have put down on the paper. The host announced a "Drawing Pathologies" class where they look at the hidden meanings in your work based on your approach. I am not sure I will attend but I have an idea what my strokes might indicate. Each drawing is very different suggesting an absence of attachment, the bodies are out of proportion which could indicate my lack of knowledge of my own form and finally the filled in backgrounds might mirror how interested I am in knowing what someones back story is. This might not be fodder for a good draftswoman, maybe they are better skills for a party planner. At any rate I am struggling a little at the moment and going to these classes takes my mind off things. It's cheaper than therapy and honestly I am not that interested in sitting in someone's office weeping about it all. I'd much rather have a quick cry in the car on the way to class and then go make a mess quietly in a group of strangers who are devotees of the instructor and barely pay attention to me. I know what my problems are, I know what I need more of and less of. The hardest part is when my anxiety gets me pinned and I feel like the only way out is so final. The feelings pass but being held down by the black mass is frightening in the moment because it feels like my normal life will never return, it's hard to not want to do something, anything to make it all stop. In those moments I have to tell myself, this too shall pass. This too shall pass, and it generally does.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Grand Coulee, Part 2

Roll on, Columbia roll on. 

Roll on, Columbia roll on. 

Your power is turning our darkness to dawn.

Roll on, Columbia roll on. 

-Woody Guthrie

We left our campsite and raced up to Mason City for the tour of the Grand Coulee Dam. I look forward to visiting this park again as there is much to discover.

The tour was reasonable but the security on the dam makes the whole experience feel somewhat surreal. The presence of an armed guard sort of puts a chill on your holiday sightseeing adventure. On the positive side the hum of the turbines is soothing. The reception area is a relic from the 70's.

High above the dam the hillside is covered in high tension power lines and the over sized tubes that carry water, pumped up from the dam to fill the thirsty land on the other side of the hill. The water ends up in Moses lake to the south and feeds irrigation systems along the way.

We headed south to Dry Falls and Soap Lake and then west along the 90 and home. A circuitous route to be sure, next time we'll take the 20. Had to take this picture. Nothing like big neon letters in a hot barren landscape.

We stopped at Dry Falls along the way. Another spectacular area carved out by massive flows of ice and debris 15000 yrs ago. The pools are a result of the water from the dam, all deathly still but apparently fishable. Being from an area where there is plenty of moving water I find it hard to totally trust water this still. It was gorgeous though, in it's vastness. 

Looking south toward the interpretive center. The rock posts lining the canyon were lovely and lichen covered, made from the basalt which is plentiful.

View of the falls through the lookout gazebo.

Still bare trees and windmills at the rest stop on I-90. Although we took the wrong route home home, we'll know better next time, it was nice to show P the Columbia River as it cuts through Washington and there is a new sculptural piece on Iron Horse Ridge which was cool. I found PSE's 150 windmills pretty great too. Big art in a vast landscape.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Grand Coulee Part 1

So we took a little impromptu trip last week. The idea for the trip came from a combination of sources, including; a TV show about the Hoover Dam, a classmate's social studies report, and last but not least—and most importantly— a friend's facebook post. We agreed we should dash out to Eastern Washington and see the The Grand Coulee Dam! We decided camping was the thing even though it has been cool out west I knew that the east side would be a tad warmer. We set off Saturday morning, heading East on Highway 2 and enjoyed the sights as the landscape  rapidly changed the farther east we went. This photo was taken on the approach to Steven's Pass.

The eastern slope, wildly different from what we are used to in the west.

We arrive at the dam late in the afternoon and miss the tour but make a more bulletproof plan for the following morning. The air was very still, it was warm and I was relieved I had not brought the dog.

Six new turbines installed in the 1980's produce two thirds of the dam's power now.

Looking down at Grand Coulee and Mason City, across the bridge from each other. Engineers lived on the left and construction workers, closer to the dam on the right.

Back of the dam and Roosevelt Lake. Stiller than still.

Looking up Roosevelt lake to the north. It extends 151 miles to the Canadian border.

Driving away from the dam along Banks Lake which is fed by the dam and in turn spills down into the valley supplying the farms with much needed water. Banks Lake is 26 miles long and has many little islands and inlets.

Taking pictures at sunset. My partner in crime.

The basalt formation is covered in lichen which changes color as the sun subsides and emerges.

Little Pine on the sandy shore near our campsite. The park itself was very nice. Good amenities and over all very clean and serene. Lots of people fishing, and one nice thing about fishing is that it behooves you to be quiet. This is a very good thing.

I brought my bike on a whim and enjoyed the ride up the hill at 7am. Best mother's day ever.

Steamboat Rock in Sunday's sun. Now that is something to be thankful for.
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