Feb 19

Just gonna tell you about everything

It’s a three-day weekend. You might think that this would be a perfect opportunity to write a great blog, full of insight and pictures.

Ha. I’ve mostly just sat around doing the things I want to do, occasionally getting something like grocery shopping or laundry accomplished.  But as this day (and weekend) heads to a close, I am realizing that some things do need to get done before I head back to real world.

Therefore, I will attempt to entertain you with the good things that have happened this week.

Canby Library Art Show

As I mentioned last week, I have a show up at the Canby Library. This is good enough news that I felt like I should mention it again, especially since feedback has been so positive.

Acceptance to WSO Spring Show

Thursday  morning, before I went to work, I checked my email and got an exciting email. My painting “Should the Turkey Cross the Road” was accepted into the Watercolor Society of Oregon Spring Exhibition in Florence. This makes my third acceptance into a WSO show and my first into the spring show.

Key – NW1

I reported a few weeks ago that Key aced his odor recognition trial. Since then, I have been entering him in nose work trials for the spring, but I have found out that many shows have a wait list and it’s harder than I thought to get in.

I was a little flustered by this information, so I entered him in a trial that I knew had a short wait list, but was very soon. I figured we wouldn’t get in. (Note: I’m not so sure my thought process had any thought at all.) Imagine when I got the email on Wednesday that the wait list had disappeared and we got in.

So Saturday morning I got up EARLY and headed up to Centralia, WA, to take Key to a NW1 trail. This is the most advanced kind of trial, because he has to be successful at four searches in a row to get a title. I decided to look at as a fun match; Key can still be a little wild in public.

Not only did Key NAIL the show, he got the prestigious Harry Award: “The Harry Award is given to the most outstanding rescue dog that demonstrates extraordinary ability and spirit in nose work.”

So now I have a NW1 dog.

Note: This may be as high as we ever get because at NW2 he has to ignore food. I can’t imagine such a thing. Sunday our odor work instructor put out a donut at a distractor item in a container search and it was all I could do to DRAG him away from it.

Feb 15

Healthy Steps – Week 7

This week I was down 3.8 pounds. This makes a total of 20.6 pounds (12.2 of those in this year) removed and… drum roll please… 5% of my starting weight. Weight Watchers doesn’t celebrate this milestone anymore, but I’m going to because I need the validation!

So I was thinking this evening about all this and if I feel any different.

The answer: not really.

I started this by saying I was tired of being in pain. I will say my knee is on the mend, but it’s far from healed. My feet still hurt, but not as much. I’ve gone to physical therapy and got some stretches which have helped. I’ve started seeing a chiropractor, another positive step. But there is still a lot of discomfort.

Do I feel fitter? Maybe a little. I’ve been noticing that my short walks around the building have merged into two trips around the building to use up break time. My breathing is better. And when the dog asks to go the extra block on our evening walks, I say yes more often than no. But I don’t feel a lot better.

Do I notice a difference in how I look? Or how my clothes fit? Not really. When you are as fat as I am, all clothes have so much give that it takes a while before there is any appreciable difference. The last few days some pants have been feeling consistently loose, but I’m not even thinking about going down a size in my closet yet.

So what’s the upside here? The little things I mentioned above are starting to sink in. My digestive track is certainly responding well to my new regime (ah, fiber…) But by and large, I am relying on numbers to tell the tale.

I wait for the scale to tell me how I did this week.

I let the Weight Watchers points tell me what to eat or how bad I’ve been.

I let the FitBit tell me if I need to get in a few more blocks at night.

I’m very much in the white-knuckle phase of this journey still. I don’t know what I’m doing, so I’m holding onto what I have to get me by.

So for the next week, am I going to change my goals? Nope.

  • Tracking
  • No Frappachinos (didn’t buy them this week, so it’s ON!)
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

And I didn’t figure out a weekend plan, but it’s still on the burner. I had a good weekend, and I think it showed, but a plan has not emerged yet.

Feb 12

A dream (almost) fulfilled

If you ask any artist what their dream is, they will tell you the same thing: Storage space.

All artists DREAM of an empty studio, with all finished paintings miraculously sold, all failed paintings quietly removed from reality without decisions to be made, and the only thing on the agenda is the next idea.

This Friday I came as close as I ever expect to having that dream fulfilled.

A few months ago, a lovely woman named Hanna from the Canby Library contacted me and asked me if I would like to have a show there in February and March. I said sure and we worked out a few details.

To be honest, I should have worked harder on those details.

After a few days of daydreams about painting a whole new show (even I laughed), I decided to bring my top ten animal paintings and call it a day. Last year was quite successful, and I still have a variety of paintings hanging around, so I figured it wouldn’t be any problem to fill up the space I remember the library having.

Here’s the fault in my logic: the library has moved to a new, GORGEOUS building since the last time I went there. And this building has A LOT of room. The ten 1/4- to 1/2-sheet paintings I brought were a start, but frankly I could have brought 20 full-sheet paintings and still been okay.

The lovely Hanna hung what I brought, and they look AWESOME, but today I drove up another six paintings in hopes of filling up the available space.

These sixteen paintings are literally every framed painting I have that is fit for public viewing. I even included at least two that really should have had the mat changed (I  made Hanna hang them high.)

While this doesn’t empty my studio (I still have bin paintings (paintings that I haven’t framed), failed paintings (though lately I have been tearing these up for collage), and paintings in progress (ugg)) there is at least 20 square feet of floor space that is suddenly freed up. It’s very nice.

As I was driving back home today, 16 paintings hung in that lovely space, I started thinking about what I could do with this opportunity.

I’m going to have a sale.

I’m going to announce the details on my newsletter (yes, a year between newsletters is long enough), so make sure you’re subscribed (sign up at the right side of the screen). But if you’ve ever thought about purchasing a painting from me, this is will be a GREAT chance to get a bargain.



Feb 08

Healthy Steps – Week 6

In spite of a week that in some ways got the best of me, I am down another 1.6 pounds this week!

Frankly, it seems like a miracle because there was A LOT of emotional eating in there. But my goals, small though they were, were there and at the end of the week progress was made.

  • Tracking – 5 days, 3 in blue dog zone
  • Have 1 Frapachino in the morning – did well on weekdays
  • Eating my prepared food – GOOD JOB HERE!
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk – Nailed it!

I’m sure you are tried of my little goal list, but I still feel like I have a long ways to go on this, so it’s gonna stay pretty much the same.

  • Tracking
  • No Frappachinos (didn’t buy them this week, so it’s ON!)
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

I am going to add a little to this. I’d like to think about a plan for the weekends. I am starting to see myself sort of careening around for this 48 hours, so in the next week I’d like to work on a strategy.

Feb 05

Stealth project reveal – Cosmo and Zoe

As an artist, an especially an artist who plays too much on Facebook, I am constantly barraged with lists of things I could or should do. Sometimes these lead to experiments, but more often these lists just fill me with a vague sort of guilt that I have not accomplished them.

A couple of years ago, I caved to “pressure” and set up a newsletter for myself. I am proud to say I have NOT abused the patience of anyone who signed up for it. Mostly, the newsletter sits empty, it’s little link a constant reminder of another thing I haven’t done.

About a year ago (Dec 2016) I sent out a newsletter hoping to inspire my little list into purchasing some paintings for the holidays. I don’t think I made any sales, but I did get a commission from my aunt to paint portraits of my cousins’ dogs: Cosmo and Zoe.

In my usual fashion, I jumped right on it, and at the end of May I had started on both projects.

As you can see, I didn’t initially paint the reference photo above for Zoe, because my aunt liked this one.

I valiantly struggled for another four months before giving up and restarting on the photo I liked in the first place.

I was supposed to turn in the finished paintings just before Christmas, but a combination of the flu (mine) and a broken leg (my aunt’s) prevented us connecting. So, I shipped the paintings off, after a cell phone approval exchange. A few days ago, my cousin emailed me and said she loved hers.

Therefore, I can finally reveal… Cosmo and Zoe.

Feb 01

Healthy Steps – Week 5

Another 1.2 lost!

I’m very pleased with myself!

I am also trying to get another project done tonight, so I’m just going to reiterate my goals (still, no change….) with last week’s status in paraenthesis:

  • Tracking – 7 days, 3 in “blue dot” zone (none last week)
  • Have 1 Frapachino in the morning (4 of 7 days)
  • Eating my prepared food – 5 days (check)
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk (6 of 7 days)

Jan 30

Birch, Anise, and Clove

Yesterday I told you all where we went, but today I plan to talk about WHY we went there.

Since March of last year, Key and I have been taking scent work classes. The basic idea is that the dog learns the handler wants him to find particular odors, then does his best to find them and get a reward.

Here is a video taken this summer of Key doing a basic “container” search.

Before a dog can compete in a trial, they need to be certified that they can find an odor. Remember that this whole process starts out with just food. My instructor (Dana Stillinger of Best Friends K9) was sneaky and didn’t even tell the handlers when the dogs started learning odor; she just started pairing it with food.

Key has been to a fun match and he is doing really well in class, so I felt it was time to make him official. I looked on the NACSW website, but it didn’t look like an ORT (Odor Recognition Trial) was coming up in my area anytime soon, so I decided to use the trial as an excuse for a little vacation.

Key did really well at the trial, though he surprised me by needing some time to “settle” into searching. Lately he has been doing practice searches extremely quickly, so when we walked up and down the boxes row six times I was nervous. But I KNEW he knew this, so I just did what our instructor said and paid attention to what he hadn’t searched thoroughly and waited for a change in behavior.  Of course, it feels like forever while you are waiting, but we had three minutes to find one box out of twelve.

Sure enough, after a few times through, Key’s nose engaged and he gave a nice, clear alert. I felt so proud. The volunteers and staff complimented him on being “a good little hunter” and “so enthusiastic!” “He really likes this” the judge told me at a break! (Note: “Good little hunter” must be some kind of instructor code because our instructor uses the term too. It must be something they learn…)

Key settled into searching a little more quickly with each subsequent search, and at the end of the day we celebrated a “hat trick” of being certified for all three scents.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to get him registered for his first “real” trial in April. I feel a little nervous about this, but I feel like going out and searching is really the only way we’re going to improve. He’s very good and I just need some seasoning.

Jan 29

Dungeness, Salt, and Ruby

This weekend I went up to Sequim, Washington (Sequim is pronounced squim) to get Key certified for scentwork (that’s tomorrow’s blog.) It’s a bit of a drive, five hours up, so I decided to make it a long weekend and go the long route coming home.


Friday we got off to a late start because I had some doctors’ appointments and other things, but we had hit the road by 10:30 and were in Sequim by 3:30, so we were able to get a short walk in to dim Key’s energy to a dull roar.

Tara and Key get started (think Thelma and Louise…)

We visited a place called Railroad Bridge Park. Unfortunately, my camera decided to act up, so I only one picture of the site.

The trail was marked by lovely engravings. I love a good compass rose.

We paused for our second selfie of the trip and tried to get the “railroad” in the background.

It was a shorter walk than Key would have hoped, but it was dark and we checked into our AirBNB.


Saturday morning we got up early and got in a hike before the trial. I really wanted to go to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, which has a spit and lots of cool bird sightings. But it didn’t allow dogs (unsure of the point of that) so we settled on the county-run Dungeness Recreation Area nearby.

The birding wasn’t bad, but it didn’t yield a lot of exotic species.

This is my favorite picture from the day.  If I paint it, the title will be: “Trail. Partner.”

We had a very successful trial (more about that later) and ended the day by going to the John Wayne Marina and Washington Harbor for a little more birding before calling it a night.

We saw the Sequim elk herd on on our way back to the AirBNB.


Unless the weather turned terrible, I thought I would go west along the sound, cut down south along the coast, then head east again through the Olympic Forest. This was a long day, but I thought the scenery would be worth it.

Salt Creek county park

The scenery was gorgeous, but the weather got progressively worse as we went along.

Lyric River

We did a bit of serious (wet) exploring at a little roadside cutout labeled “Shipwreck Point.”

We were trying to reach Neah Bay, but when we got there there was a sign that it was a Native American reservation and we would have to pay to get in. I was already concerned about time, and the weather was just getting worse, so we turned around to head south.

Someday I will go back when I have more time. There seemed to be a bald eagle on every tree in this area. This is where I got my favorite picture of the day.

Once we got back to 101 and headed south, the weather turned from windy, cold, foggy, and rainy to drizzly.

We saw another herd of elk at Forks.

When we stopped at Ruby Creek, it was practically balmy!


This was about the last photo point, because I was getting very worried about time.  I would have loved to go down to the beach and explore (and I know Key would have been game.)

But we’re home now and have a list of possible places to go again!

Jan 25

Healthy Steps – Week 4

On Tuesday, I posted this picture on Weight Watcher’s social media app “Connect.”

I want chocolate. I’m eating this.

I also contacted the WW help app to grumble and be reminded about “long term goals.”

This was after a week of tracking, three days in the “blue dot zone”, and seven days of hitting my FitBit 10,000 steps a day.

Did I give into chocolate? Yes, I had a small chocolate bar.

But… I also removed three pounds (3.8 to be exact) for a total loss of 14 pounds since my highest weight (which sadly wasn’t four years ago, but was this last summer.)

I may not be rocking this, but my little steps are starting to gain some momentum.

My knee is also less painful, though it still feels weak and occasionally shoots pain. I start physical therapy on Friday.

My feet are also a little better, though I attribute that to using my arch supports every day, instead of just when I wear a certain pair of shoes.

For the next week, I’m going to stick to my tried and true goals, though bump them up a little.

  • Tracking – 7 days, 3 in “blue dot” zone
  • Have 1 Frapachino in the morning
  • Eating my prepared food – 5 days
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

I will also note that I will be out of town for three days, so my goal there will be to show a small amount of restraint when eating out.

On a last note, I bought a tiny little calendar to hang in my bathroom. I’ve decided to take this small step thing to other areas, such as flossing my teeth, doing my inhaler, and putting on my face cream (MetroGel.)

I’m calling it my Care Calendar.

I’m pretty pleased with myself.

Jan 22

Second verse, same as the first

During what the press is calling “Women’s Weekend” I attended the Salem WomXn’s March to mark the anniversary of the epic 2017 Women’s March. Note: I am not going into what I think about the name change.

The signage standard , already  high last year, was even higher this year. While I opted for my low impact, simple sign (I will not consent to hate) and wore my pussy hat again, many others took it big and stayed out!

I did a very bad job of capturing signs this year, though.

The march took place in MISERABLE weather, but was surprisingly well attended in the end.


As we were ending…


… many were just getting started.

But my favorite items of the day were knitting related.

I thought this was just a cool sock to decorate the cast (cast swag, if you will)… but it’s really just a foot warmer.

This little unicorn also caught my attention. I  may need once of these hats for myself…

More serious…

I started out with the fun stuff up front because I didn’t want to scare anyone. If you have gotten this far, be warned; I’m going serious.

Last year I wrote several posts about the “current” situation, and I’m pretty proud of them.  But the one about having an action plan was one that I thought could use a revisit. So here’s my 2018 Action Plan:

  1. Ignore the Trump Personna: Mr. Trump and his team have lead a world-class, Machiavelli-worthy press scheme that keeps the media focused on the trivial. I’m not going to engage anymore.
  2. Take it down to its roots: When something posts with an abuse, don’t engage it as a problem with Mr. Trump. Look at the reason it can happen and engage with that.
  3. A Marathon (Not a Sprint): Baring incident, we will have four years of this. 1448 1093 days and counting. The 2018 mid-term elections are coming up (ugg). Don’t get bogged down with the unimportant stuff.
  4. Processing: I still hate the term process, but it remains good to find a way to allow myself to voice and ponder the current situation
  5. And I think NPR, except for Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me may be out for the duration. I just can’t handle it.
  6. Volunteer
  7. The funnier side: Among the more important things, I believe, will be to find the funnier side of this situation.

I like it. See you again in 2019!

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