Jan 17

Anxiety over a hat

I am not much of a protester. It isn’t that I don’t have a list of things I am protesting, but I tend to be a sort of middle-of-the-road person.

For the past several weeks I have been attempting to muster my courage and attend one of the many local “Women’s March on Washington” events on January 21. (I am trying to decide between Salem (local) or Portland (where I have more friends who are going.))

On this Martin Luther King Day, a meme came across my Facebook feed that really pushed me into making a decision.

Yes, I’m going to march. I’m not willing to be a “moderate” with the incoming administration.

Just to be clear, I’m not protesting because Ms. Clinton lost or Mr. Trump won; I’m protesting because I simply cannot accept that the future President of our country regularly uses the kind of language and messages he does. One of the main things I want in a President is a calm, well-spoken leader who demonstrates rational, reasonable behavior.

I believe Mr. Trump has already failed in his responsibilities and I’m not willing to accept that.

Planners of the (country-wide) march explain the protest like this:

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us–women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

One of the things the protest/marchers are supposed to do is wear a “Pussyhat“. I have so many objections to everything about that name that my stomach crawls into knots as I write it (I think that’s the point.)

In spite of the name, I decided that if I was going to do this thing, I’d really do it and I cast on a Pussyhat with some pink yarn left over from another project. The difficulty, which I should have accounted for, is that I didn’t have enough pink yarn. So now I’m having to improvise.

This hat uses a total of four yarns. I sort of like the statement it makes.

So now, with my proper hat in place, I guess it’s time to make a decision about where my Saturday will be. I think I’ve decided not to do a sign; my friend says they get heavy. I think for my first protest, I’ll be conservative and see how things go. Maybe next time I’ll add a sign.

Fingers crossed I don’t have to use any of the information about tear gas safety or documenting violations that have also been posted!

Jan 16

Beginning the 2017 birding year

Because of the pneumonia, I missed the Salem Audubon Society‘s New Year’s birding trip around Minto Brown. Today was their regularly scheduled monthly outing to Ankeny. While I am still not feeling 100%, I know this trip usually involved more driving than anything else, so I resolved to get up and go see what I could.

At 8:00 we gathered at the hilltop to see the sun peaking over the Cascades and illuminating the Coast range.

Because of the recent cold weather, open water was in short supply. All the birds were gathered around, but the sleeping Tundra swans really took my breath away (pneumonia joke…)

With the birds in such close proximity, we saw a great variety of waterfowl. Red-winged blackbirds industriously supplied the background soundtrack. Spotted towhee were also particularly outgoing in the cold.

I marked 44 species off my list, including a Wilson’s Snipe, American Pipit, and Bald Eagle. I caught a very long distance shot of what I think may be a Shrike, but at this distance I can’t confirm.

As always, we ended the outing at Pintail Marsh, which yielded the greatest variety of waterfowl, including “Duskies”.

Returning home, I noticed a Yellow-Rumped Warbler hanging out by my new suet feeder.

Jan 14

An inauspicious start

Well, my 2017 is certainly off to a lurching, rather upsetting start.


On December 31 I took the dogs for a walk and noticed my lungs felt tight and rather “burning.” By Sunday (Jan 1) I knew I was sick with either a cold or the flu. On Tuesday (Jan 3) I made an emergency call to the doctor and the next day went in to be diagnosed with a case of pneumonia.

For the next two days I coughed and shivered and generally wished for death. Finally, the evening of the 5th my fever broke. I crawled back to work on Monday the 9th, but only made it a half day. For the rest of the week I worked 5-8 hours a day before finally giving in today (Friday) and taking the day off to sit in my chair and breathe.

After two weeks of being sick I am miserably sore from coughing, out of breath at the slightest exertion, and still fighting to stay on the right side of hydration.



Last week my tires kept going flat. I took my car into Les Schwab and ended up getting two new front tires.



Winter is my favorite time of year. However, in Oregon, winter is usually wet and a little cold. This year Oregon is doing a good imitation of Montana… cold and snowy. Now, I’m not complaining about this. But Salem is getting shorted on the snow front. Up in Portland they have 6-8 inches on the ground; Salem has about 1/2 inch.

I feel short changed.

Above and beyond that, however, the weather is weird and Oregonians are just not equipped for this kind of weather. It’s sort of making us all grumpy.



Last week I was without electricity for about 24. It was a very localized issue, according to the power company it only affected about 16 homes. Mine was one of them.



Jan 03

2017 Goal List


  • Keep painting
  • Write more exclusively about art in my blog
  • Attend critique group
    • Investigate Salem group
  • Enter both WSO shows
    • April (actually already done! But unsuccessfully…)
    • October
  • Participate in local art group Arts in Action
    • Join (done)
    • Attend meetings
  • Enter the Equine Art Show (Emerald Downs)
    • July
  • Submit to the AAEA Show
    • Spring (March deadline)
    • Fall (June deadline)

Continue to work on my lifestyle improvement project

  • Go to Weight Watchers regularly
    • Eat more vegetables
    • Eat less sugar
    • Eat more fiber
    • Drink water
  • Participate in walking challenges (particularly with the dog)
  • Find a source for yoga and/or meditation and go to it


  • Goodreads 2017 Book Challenge: 104 books
    • 2016 goal = 100 of 100
    • 2015 Goal = 100 of 100
    • 2014 Goal = 80 of 90
    • 2013 Goal = 118 of 125
    • 2012 Goal = 111 of 200
    • 2011 = 56 of 50


  • Come home at lunch to walk to dog, do a walk afterwork, hike on the weekends
  • Take another training class with Key
  • No more cats if Bob dies


  • Continue 2013 goal of not taking plastic bags at the store
  • Continue 2014 goal of using coffee cups at coffee place
  • Continue 2015 goal of picking up after the dogs every time
  • Continue 2016 goal of not consuming palm oil
  • Scale back on car use
    • Bike to work at least 3 of 5 days
    • Use the bus more often


  • Spin my 2013 fleece
  • Process (clean, card, & spin) my 2015 fleece
  • Finish four projects
  • Investigate a knitting group
  • Go on a Traveling Ewe adventure


  • Let’s just put it out there that I can improve…
  • Donate to charity


  • Put in a rain garden


  • Remain employed
  • Go camping at least once
  • Do at least three “bird loops”
  • Explore the local art museum (Ford)
  • Visit the Salem carousel
  • Find somewhere to volunteer and do that once a week
  • See 125 species of birds (downgrade from last year, expecting to do few bird festivals)

Jan 01

2016 Goal List – Review

On this last day of 2016, I spent the day on a bit of a birding quest, trying to find the last five birds to complete my goal of 150 species in 2016. In the end, I remained at 145. Still, I am feeling good about this goal.

Looking at this list, there is NOTHING about the following:

  1. Putting on the WSO show
  2. Adjusting to new house
  3. Getting new dog

I think that’s a pretty good summary of the year: Coming very close to goals I established and succeeding at unexpected challenges.


(Accomplishments in red) (sort-ofs in purple)


  • Keep painting
  • Write more exclusively about art in my blog
  • Enter both WSO shows
  • Enter OSA Shows (end up not relevant)
  • Do an Artbiz course
  • Enter the Equine Art Show (Emerald Downs)
  • Submit to the AAEA Show

Continue to work on my lifestyle improvement project

  • Go to Weight Watchers regularly
  • Participate in walking challenges (particularly with the dog)
  • Continue going to yoga twice a week
  • Note: Overall this was a spectacular failure



  • Walk the dog as much as possible
  • When I loose enough weight, start taking riding lessons


  • Continue 2013 goal of not taking plastic bags at the store
  • Continue 2014 goal of using coffee cups at coffee place
  • Do not consume palm oil


  • Remain employed
  • See 150 species of birds (I made it to 145)


Dec 31

How’s the blogging going – 2016 version

The end of 2016 marks the end of my third year blogging. A year ago, I posted about my second year of blog progress compared to my first. So, in the spirit of true numbers geeks everywhere, I am adding this post to continue the tradition!

Posts and Other Numbers

2014 2015 2016
Posts 158 124 71
Sessions 2899 7081 2700
Users 1262 5108 1691
Page Views 9790 13586 7009

I posted about half as often as in previous years; readership responded accordingly.

Data Trends

As you can see, I lost some progress this year. In the summer months of 2015 I had peak readership that has not repeated itself in this year.

It appears as though the number of users is remaining pretty constant and maybe even growing slightly.

Google Analytics




Most popular posts (by month)

Still, readers did appreciate the things I posted. Here’s the favorites by month.

Jan 18 – Raptor Sketching

Feb 27 – Corgi Found

March 6 – No name but beach trip was fun

April 17 – Goodbye, Bella

May 8 – I finished a painting (miracles do happen)

June 15 – Ruth Ellen Hoag, Day 3

July 22 – North Fork Sanitam and Opal Creek

Aug 28 – Student Issues

Sept 17 – It turns out no one walk on… water

Oct 25 – Red

Nov 20 – Another year, another 6×6 painting

Dec 17 – How to have fun in the cold


My next post will be about how I did on my 2016 goals. After that, it’ll be 2017 with a list of new goals. I’ll be taking the information about into account.

Dec 19

Occasionally it’s just a cold way to paint

Last night I got ally my paint and paper ready for another round of ice painting. I was so happy with Friday night’s work that I had some ideas for a few more paintings.

What I didn’t realize that was (according to the records) it was only 33 degrees (I thought it felt warmer.) Comp[are that to 19 degrees the night before.

The results do show the difference. While I got some good results, they are essentially just “pours” not real ice painting.

Another good thing is that I used up quite a bit of “extra” paint that was just lying around. I had some liquid paint that I had purchased as a lot in a garage sale, but didn’t like (except for one color) so I used that up. I used up quite a few samples that were lying around. And I used up quite a bit of masking fluid. So, that a big win for lightening up the studio.

Apparently up in Portland it’s remained a little cooler because several of my Facebook friends went out this morning and got good results. Among ourselves we have a few more tips to share.

  1. Wetting the paper lightly first seems to have a better effect.
  2. Don’t use liquid watercolors.
  3. Don’t over water the paints.
  4. Pour the paint on and then let it be. Don’t keep pouring.

I think that’s the end of this round of Oregon ice painting. This whole episode has not helped with my goal of finishing paintings by the end of the year, but there’s a saying about making hay while the sun is shinning that seems applicable here.

Here are the results of last night’s session.

Gallop – Trying to Adjust

I started this painting a while ago and just got stuck. I hoped adding some texture would help.

I as trying to add some texture; it worked on the blue, but less so on the orange and yellow parts.

Keeneland Barn Cat

Other than having very little texture, I like start on this.

Stealth Project

Well… I can’t actually show you, now can I?

Hardware and Chrome

This one is going to be another painting about horse shoes and legs. Though I was hoping for more texture, I like the way the start came out.

Orange Start With Unexpected Pink and Purple

This was supposed to be gray with a little bit of orange.

Orange Start 2 – Closer to the Goal

This was supposed to have a lot of gray with a little bit of orange.

Using up extra paint start

Using up the extras.

I think that’s all for this storm. I’ll have to work hard to finish these starts so if there is another storm this winter, I’ll be ready to go.

Dec 17

How to have fun in the cold

Well, folks, Oregon has decided to do it’s leap year impersonation of Alaska. Wednesday we got about four inches of snow (enough to pretty much crash the state) and since then it’s been COLD!

The snow has evaporated or melted some, but each evening everything freezes up again and now we have various levels of ice.

This is NOT bad news. For one thing, I LOVE the cold. I suffer all summer and come autumn and winter, I want cool (and prefer cold.) I love the rain, but the snow is so much fun. Entertainment and adventure in one white package! Also, I live very close to my job, so my commute has been a breeze (unlike many people I know.) (Note how I am patting myself on the back for my good planning.)

But, this weather bring other perks. Number one…

The Return of Ice Painting!

To remind the audience, a couple of years ago I experimented with ice painting. A few weeks later, we had another cold snap and I tried again.

I totally blame Liz Walker and Margaret Godfrey for getting me started with this. They were infected by Kathleen Conover. All three, however, have been very generous with their knowledge.

From Kathleen Conover I learned that the tough part of the process was the transfer of paintings from outdoors to indoors because when the water unfreezes it tends to pool and remove the crystal effect. Therefore, I know to babysit my paintings for a while after they make their move.

Liz Walker has been particularly generous. Here are a few of her tips:

  • The biggest hassle is just mixing up the paints (Tara’s note: try to get them to a “pour” consistency reminiscent of 1% milk)
  • Put down a tarp so you don’t get paint all over the patio.
  • The effect is very subtle.
  • Works well with pthalo blues/greens especially, but I’ve added azo nickle yellow (acrylics) for a nice effect.
  • I do it on 140 wc paper (cold press or hot press) but Susan Cowan has good results on Yupo.
  • When you bring them inside, QUICKLY move them to a utility sink because that ice starts to thaw and DRIP color everywhere. You might want to put them in a plastic dishpan in the utility sink to catch the excess drips.
  • Except for Yupo, the patterns won’t drip off as the painting “melts”.
  • Then just use some sort of soft rag or viva paper towels (because they have no texture/pattern) and press them over each wet painting so the excess water is off.
  • Then just dry the papers flat and they will be ready to paint on!!

You’ll notice that Liz has a different impression of the “melting” watercolor that Kathleen. As my experience is more like Kathleen’s, however, I’m going to try to do a little babysitting with mine. I suspect part of the difference is that Liz has done more with acrylics and Kathleen says she sticks with watercolor.

So, do you want to see my experiments?


Also based on my previous experience, I decide to put down some masking and “paint” with images in mind, at least to start.

“Scents of the Season” – with masking

This image is from my trip last year to Reedsport. As I was rooting around choosing colors, I decided to try a freebie Daniel Smith trio (Rose of Ultramarine, Quinacridone Gold, and Cerulean Blue) from my October Francesco Fontana workshop.

“Scents of the Season” – frozen pour


So far, it’s looking good to me! Let’s hope it survives the trip to the inside.

Modern Charger

I liked where this was going so much I decided to invest some sleep time (I stayed up until past midnight!) and do a couple more. As horses are my favorite subject, I looked around from some pictures that might do well. And I remembered the beautiful Drum Horse stallion, Apollo, from June’s horse workshop.

“Modern Charger” – frozen pour

At Liberty

What works is worth repeating, right?

“At Liberty” – frozen pour







“At Liberty” – detail

Use it all up

Of course, it’s good to have a plan for those extras. I ended up with masking fluid to use up, And it’s impossible to mix the right amount of paint. Here’s that result.

Ice painting start – “2016 Random 1”


The best tip

But probably the best advice is Liz’s tip about a tarp – because this is what my back stairs look like.

I just feel lucky the dog escaped getting painted.

Dec 12

Adventures in misidentification

This morning I braved the ever-changing winter weather to go birding with the Salem Audubon Society out at Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge.


With today’s birding, I’m at 145 Oregon species for the year, but I still have 5 species to go if I’m going to hit my goal of 150 species for the year.

Of course, this time of year, it’s mainly ducks and geese out at the refuge. I saw:

  • Cackling Goose
  • Canada Goose
  • Tundra Swan
  • Gadwall
  • American Wigeon
  • Mallard
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Northern Pintail
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Ring-necked Duck
  • Bufflehead
  • Ruddy Duck

Raptor viewing was also excellent. We spotted five immature bald eagles and one adult. Of course, harriers and red tails were frequently seen, though we spotted several dark-morph red tails.

The real excitement of the day centered around a Red Shouldered Hawk that I spotted. I thought it was the Peregrine that hangs out at the Pintail Marsh. Then the group decided it was a Cooper’s hawk (not rare, but infrequently spotted.) Then a red tail came over and the group (I should mention the group at this point was everyone except me because I was still looking up birds in my book) decided it was a red shouldered hawk and the two were harassing each other.

When the peregrine showed up, well, it our little group, it was pretty exciting. The group probably spent an hour discussing raptor identification and watching the various birds move each other around. By then it was time for me to take off (laundry and grocery shopping await…)

A blue heron flew by, as though to underscore that it was time to leave.

Dec 11

Still working on it

As I said in A Bold Goal, I am still working on finishing paintings and have some more to show off.

Based on the feedback from Done?, I decide to add a bird to “Confidence.”


I also worked on taking my critique group’s advice and I think I’m done with “Chasing Dark.”


Another critique group victim is “Painted Warrior”. I settled on a crop, changed the angle of the head, and added some collage. I may need to do a little on the feet, but I’m liking where it’s at.


Finally, I worked on “Maroon Ensata”, an abstracted flower painting I started a few months ago. I may do some outlining still, but at least it’s filled in.


That makes  me half done with my goal. Seven more to go!

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