Healthy Steps – Week 21

I am delighted to report, after the gloom and doom of my last post, that this week I lost 6.4 pounds, erasing last week’s gain and even dropping a little bit more.

In fact, I am 4.5 pounds away from a big milestone: 10% gone! My goal when I started this 16-week Weight Watcher’s booklet (“My Success Story”) was to hit this goal by the end of the 16 weeks. I have 3 weeks to do it, and I am feeling inspired!

As I was riding my bike home from work (read this cool article here), I was thinking about if I could really do this. It’s kind of silly thought. Obviously, I am CAPABLE of doing it. I have done it before. There is no physical reason that should make it impossible now. But it’s still daunting.

It got me thinking about why the last 4.5 pounds of a goal that is just the first step of many would be so hard. I’m not sure, but I think it has to do with fear of failure. I don’t want to lose my progress in a quest to make more. Which is silly, because I’m far from done. I have too much to do to stand still now.

So, this week it’s back to basics.  I’m not sure I’ve ever shifted from these, but I find the first three very challenging. The fourth is something I find comfort that I am accomplishing (and I wasn’t always.) But having said that, I just went into my FitBit and increased my goal to 11,000 per day!

  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 11,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

I not only CAN do this, I will do this!

Out in the open air

As I said in yesterday’s post, I had a GREAT time with all my birding out in La Grande at the Ladd’s Marsh Bird Festival. In addition to my birding, I joined a group of painters from Art Center East to paint en plein air out at the bird watching sites. In other words, I took my painting kit!

So, Friday night I had checked into the camping spot and was watching the river go by, when it occurred to me that this was a golden opportunity to do some sketching.

I hadn’t brought a lot of actual watercolor paper, so I used the “regular” paper in my journal to do some color sketches.

It was really nice not to feel rushed, which made me realize that when I get out I tend to be a little frantic, worried about capturing the light and getting done and… everything.

So, with the whole day ahead of me on Saturday, with nothing to do but paint and watch birds, I resolved to work on enjoying the process.

I had picked out a painting spot on Friday (spot #5) and when I sat down, I tried to remember not to hurry and started out with some sketches.

Then moved to some value sketches.

Then, I applied some paint onto real watercolor paper.

I like where this is going, but I think it isn’t as “designed” as it should be. While I still have to do something with the water (it’s not going to stay paper-white) I’m not finding a good “path” through the painting. There are a lot of interesting areas, but not a cohesive painting.

When I realized that I had hit the edge of the “plan”, I decided to stop on this painting. I toyed with the idea of doing another painting in the same spot, but I decided that the refuge probably had at least one more painting spot to offer. So, I packed up and did a little exploring of the west end of the refuge.

I’m glad I did, because the camas was in full bloom, and any artist who says they don’t want to take a stab at painting a purple field is lying.

I did this value sketch, but the road was in full sun and it was just too hot.

So I moved about 100 yards down the road and did this sketch and painting (which no reference photo to compare. Oops.)

While I think this one is sufficiently designed, I was having trouble getting the values correct on site and was starting to overwork some areas, so I decided to pack up before I ruined what I had. I’m glad I did, because this one is looking better to me at home.

This weekend marks the beginning of “plein air” season, and I think it was a good warm up. I also think that I’m going to invest in a real watercolor easel this year.

The (La) Grande Tour

This weekend I drove over to La Grande to enjoy the Friends of Ladd Marsh Bird Festival. I had seen this even on my Facebook feed last year and had kept an eye on it all year long. They have some great programs over there. I hadn’t made up my mind whether or not to go, when two things happened.

First, they posted they were inviting plein air painters out for Saturday through Art Center East. So now, there was birds and painting! I’ll tell you about the painting in tomorrow’s post, but for now, I’ll concentrate on telling you about the birds.

My mind was made up to attend when the second event occurred: one of the trips was a tour to GROWISER, a place I had read about in the book “The Hidden Lives of Owls” and had aspired to visit ever since! I signed up the day registration opened and I was still #7 (out of 10) for the tour.


Friday morning I got up and did a few chores before taking off. I had decided to “car camp” and Google assured me there were several nearby state parks, but none of them accepted reservations, so I wanted to get over there as early as possible. It still ended up being a six hour drive, but I got a camping spot (not really a problem, it turned out) and worked on exploring where I needed to be the next day.

Camp site

After stopping in for directions at Art Center East, I drove out to Ladd Marsh to scope out potential painting spots.

Birds were everywhere. It was awesome! I was just concluding my initial tour when I came across the following bird.

In the Willamette Valley, if you see a bird like this, you say “Red tail” and you’re right about 95% of the time. But this didn’t look like a red tail. The color was just a little wrong, and the face a little different.

Thus, I met the Swainson’s Hawk.


Saturday was a day dominated by painting, so a lot of my photos are landscape related. I made big starts on two paintings and traveled around the entire refuge, painting at stations 5 and then 2.

Along the way, I saw…

It was a wonderful day, though in the end, thunderstorms came through and I decided to give up my plan of car camping a second night and use my credit card to score a hotel (yes, I’m getting older and things aren’t as comfortable as they used to be, but now I have credit!)


The big day, the GROWISER tour, started as early as the day before because I got out to the meeting spot on the refuge with enough time to do a little more birding. I scored a Wilson’s snipe on the way in, but the photo is too poor to post.

GROWISER stands for Grande Ronde Overlook Wildflower Institute Serving Ecological Restoration. So, essentially, it’s a wildflower preserve. The story is amazing. Take a minute and check out their website!

But the real selling point for birders is this. A long-term, nesting, human-habituated Great Grey Owl…

… and her three chicks…

… in their wicker basket.


Healthy Steps – Week 20.5

Oops. In so many ways…

Last Wednesday (it’s Monday evening now) when I got on the scale I had gained over 5 pounds! Now, I was expecting an increase, but the amount surprised me. I resolved to work on the basics again, and have made some progress decreasing to 1 frappachino a day (again). But, I traveled this weekend. And a lot of candy was had. So, 36 hours, when I have to face the scale again… it’s going to be an ugly meeting.

Thankfully, there is no limit on second chances. And I have two days to practice the basics so I’ll be ready to hit it again after weight in.

  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

The evolution of a harmless painting

I have a major case of the “I don’t want to” blues tonight, so I’ll show you what I can do if left unsupervised.

This is an exercise on an 8″x8″ canvas i will turn into the Aritsts in Action fundraiser as the World Beat Festival.

Too far

Trying to go backward using gesso.

Trying again… with a little collage?

Too far again, I think.


Healthy Steps – Weeks 18 & 19

I’m not sure what happened to my post from last week (week 18); I guess I wrote it in my imaginary blog? It was a nice post. I gained 1.2 pounds and it was about how it’s the kick in the pants I need to get back to making changes.

It was obviously a motivational post because this week I lost 3 pounds, bringing my “middle number” into a nice new range that I’ve been admiring all day.

In spite of making some great choices this week, I was a little nervous because I took a fall last night and had some Advil, which sometimes makes me gain (or at least that’s my story.) But I was down, and I’m looking forward to working hard this week too.

  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

For this last goal, I had to buy a new FitBit (my third) because the band on my HR came away from the device. My new Charge 2 has bands that can be changed. I also found out FitBit makes waterproof ones, though I didn’t get one. (Don’t tell my mom, but she may find one in her stocking at Christmas.)

Painting with intention (or the opposite)

Several times this week I had thought about sitting down to paint, but there has always been some other job that seemed more pressing. But, I told myself, I’ll do it this weekend. I didn’t have time to paint on Friday. I meant to paint Saturday. And Sunday got off to a slow start, but eventually art supplies did appear.

Sunday morning was too rainy to be inspired, so I decided to some bird watching. I drove out to both Basket Slough and Ankeny, and I was glad I did. I saw several birds I don’t see often, including white-fronted geese (no idea why, but I always miss these), yellow-headed blackbirds, and black-necked stilts.

This was enough to inspire me into my studio where I dithered around about what to paint. It isn’t that I don’t have things to paint, I just had a messy mix of not feeling very talented and not wanting to start something “too big.” Also, a lingering feeling I should continue to work on my homework.

Instead, I poured out a new triad I’m trying (ultramarine blue (same), aurelian or cobalt yellow (same), and rose madder (different).)

Rose madder was suggested as an alternative to the “assertive” reds I have been using. It certainly is NOT assertive. I had to use a lot more pigment in order to create a neutral dark for this (not quite finished) piece.

While I was waiting around for things to dry (I still am, that’s why it’s not finished), I worked on a Yupo ™ piece that has been scrubbed into a neutral background. I tore some tissue paper and added some shapes.

This is back to my “previous” triad.

Last but not least, I worked on finishing (what do you think?) a piece that has been lazing around studio for quite some time.

For those who don’t have a memory like an elephant, this piece has evolved from this…

Arminda’s Poppies

… to this…

… and now, to this…

I’m close to calling it done, but I’m trying to decide. I like the little collage pieces, but do they overwhelm the poppies? I’ll be thinking about it.

Blame it on the weather

At this point, I’m going to blame my continuing vague discontent on the weather. It’s as reasonable as anything else. It’s another Sunday and I’m contemplating my work (quite a bit, actually) with interest in continuing (why does Monday have to follow Sunday?) but no real satisfaction.


Last week I showed off a small 8″x8″ canvas that I had started as a circle exercise I had seen in a magazine or something.

This is an exercise on an 8″x8″ canvas i will turn into the Aritsts in Action fundraiser as the World Beat Festival.

The next stage, I thought, would be adding a contrasting color. I will spare you the details, but this layer didn’t go well. So, I decided to add some “gold leaf.” No bad, but it needed a little bit of something else, so I added some black.

I can’t decide if it’s getting better or worse.

Extra paint

In sparing you the detail of the contrasting color gone wrong, I will tell you that there was A LOT of extra naphthol red paint to be used up. So, I thought I’d see how one of my new aqua board held up. When there was still more paint, I did some Gelli plate printing. I liked those, so I did some collage. And then some “gold leaf” because it was out.

I think I may stick to watercolors.

Grid of Hooves

I had an idea when I was listening to juror Fran Larsen’s lecture on Sunday. I wrote it down, but this is my first attempt at trying it.

It was a good exercise because I can see my inconsistency of paint mixing. I also wasn’t daring enough with my layout.


At work this week, I was talking to a guy and asked about his dog. He showed me some pictures and video he took and I asked him if he would send me one particular picture because I really liked the play of light and dark on it.

Saturday night I just sat down and banged out this 15″x11″ piece. I need some ponder time to make some tweaks. And it was the first painting I’ve done in three colors since starting this latest “process” and I can feel the naphthol red is just too much.

Still, I kind of like it. I can’t decide whether to name it “The Red Hedgehog” or just “Friends”.


Healthy Steps – Week 15-17

No, I haven’t forgotten about this. I just haven’t been home on a Wednesday so I could go to Weight Watchers and get a report!

After two weeks and SO much traveling, I was very nervous about today’s weight in. While I had made a concerted effort not to eat my way around Oregon in the calorie-free car zone, I can’t claim I’ve been at the top of my form.

  • I haven’t tracked.
  • I’m on 2 Frappachinos per day (and could have done more, but this is where I restrained myself).
  • I’ve eaten my prepared food when I could and tried to eat a salad (occasionally) when I went into restraunts.
  • I hit 10,000 steps about 65% of the time.

I am THRILLED to report I not only didn’t gain weight, I am down 1.8 pounds!

But, now it’s time to get back to work. And I’m starting over (again.) Luckily, as a former Weight Watcher leader told me: There is no limit on the number of do-overs you get when loosing weight.

Basic goals… we’re gonna focus on you this week.

  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk


Vaguely frustrated

It’s Sunday night. After a three-day weekend spend attempting to reassemble my life from the chaos of the last couple of week, I have a clean house, a tired dog, and a vaguely frustrated state of mind.

A few days ago, I was doing something and I realized that I felt good. There was no looming depression or anxiety clouds on my horizon; my new medications and the last adjustment seems to have been the ticket. I’m enjoying the sunshine, and whether it’s the iron tablets or extra vitamin D, I’m feeling less achy. While my weight loss has been stalled the last couple of weeks because of well–everything– my knee is feeling better and my clothes are just on the borderline of too big.

So, why am I feeling dissatisfied?

The answer is that I’m terrible at balance. I feel bad for a while, so I drop activities. Then I get feeling better, so I start to pick them up again. Then I have too much to do, I get overwhelmed, and things go downhill. If all this coincides with a medication issue, I can be in real trouble. But right now, I’m just a little out of sorts.

5-4-9 – Doctors and Cleaning

For years, my mom worked a 5-4-9 schedule; she would work 9 hour days every Mon-Thurs, one Friday she would work 8 hours and other she would get off. My workplace has a different name for it, but in January I switched to this schedule.

You would think that with an “extra” day off, I would do something interesting. No. Almost every one has been spent on doctors appointments or on some other errand or chore. Admittedly, this means that I don’t have to spend my sick leave time and my real weekends (in theory) should have less drudgery. But it’s not nearly as relaxing as it sounds.

This Friday I had a chiropractor appointment (I really needed it after all that driving) and an allergy shot, in additional to some other tasks. But the end of the day I was wiped out.

A non-speaking entity to find something you cannot see

Saturday I went up to Portland to attend a nose work seminar. Key and I have been enjoying this new game and have even attended some trials. However, his skill set far outpaces mine.

I attend the seminar in hopes of filling in some of my skill gaps. I did learn some things, but mainly, the instructor emphasized the need for PRACTICE. Sure. In all my spare time.

Waiting and Wishing and Painting

Today was spent around the house waiting for a delivery, cleaning (more… always…), and painting (but not much).

Right now, painting is another thing that doesn’t feel easy. I’m working on my value / two color homework, and that’s good, but I have to confess that it doesn’t make me run into the studio. In hopes of getting my artistic juices flowing, I watched a Jean Haines video Friday night, but I have to admit it didn’t turn on any brilliance or even a little excitement.

Fortunately, I had some time to wait for a delivery, and there comes a point when you have to admit you aren’t willing to be the kind of procrastinator who turns on the TV. So, I did do some work, cleaning my studio and playing with some ongoing projects.

I can feel summer and the pressure of various shows pressing down on me, but I feel like I need to stay my course.

Of course, it would be easier to do that if I didn’t keep putting obstacles in my path.

Please, don’t let me volunteer for anything else!

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