7 random items for a Sunday post

1. I had guests this weekend. This is my excuse for no art.

2. I am tired tonight. That is my excuse for this post.

3. The last few weeks have had some fun art things. My painting, “Flammagenitus Clouds” (unfinished version shown below) got The Art Department Award at the Paint the Town event. $25 for art supplies!

unfinished – “Flammagenitus Clouds”

4. My painting, Arminda’s Poppies, got into the Waterworks Unplugged (NWWS 2018 Waterworks Members Exhibition) exhibition.

5. Next weekend is the Watercolor Society of Oregon Fall Convention here in Salem. My painting did not get in, but I’m still excited to go for two reasons (that are connected). I was in charge of scheduling all the classes and I think it’s an awesome line up. I’m excited about attending!

Second, my friend, Sandra Pearce, is coming to stay for the weekend so she can attend the convention too. Let me pause here to brag on her! She participated in the Washington County Plein Air event this weekend and took home “Best in Show”, “Best Nocturne” and the “red dot” (sold a painting.) Congrats, Sandra! Drop the mic, indeed!

6. I’m going to try to participate in Inktober. I’ve prepped my sketch pad. Wish my luck!

7.  It’s the end of the day. For the first time in weeks I am fully prepped for the week with food in the fridge, money in the bank, and a “clean” house. I feel really on top of things.

Let’s see what disaster happens…

Healthy Steps – Week 35-37

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks. The week before I left for Hawaii was full of odd events and doing a blog post just didn’t make the list. When I was in Hawaii I was having too much fun to even think about healthy steps (also, I ate… everything) and when I came back it took all my energy to make it through the first few days.

But I have come back. And I’m looking straight down the barrel at 7.4 pounds regained.

Time for a reset.

Between you and me, getting back on track is going to be tough. I have guests this weekend. Next weekend I have the WSO convention. Then two dog event weekends. Then Halloween. Then a trip. Then Thanksgiving. Then Christmas.

Okay, that was a little depressing. Time to think again about where I want to go.

I’m still down 34.2 pounds, which is enough to deliver the non-scale victory (as we say in WW) of not having to ask for an extension on 1/2 of the legs of my recent Hawaii flight. That’s real progress!

I think I need to look ahead at the next few weeks and concentrate on my little goals.

  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk
  • Tracking 3 of 7
  • 2 Frappuccinos per day

You’ll notice I dialed back to 10,000 steps (my knee is still bothering me). And the tracking is modest, but a place to get started!

On a related note, in addition to all the event challenges, my work right now is… fraught. I need to remember that and take the topic of the week about not eating emotionally to heart.So I’m going to work on getting back into the into the swing of things and restarting taking walks at break!

And finally, they upped my medication again last week. So I need to remember that I’m still not back to “normal” and take it easy on myself!

Remember to say “Finish”!

This weekend Key and I went down to Grants Pass for a nosework trial. This will be his fourth trial this year, plus the ORT in January. This time he was competing for a Nosework 2 title.

Saturday sights

We drove down early on Saturday morning because I wanted to volunteer at the NW1 trial in the afternoon (no volunteers, no trials…) We got up early and made several little pit stops along the way, seeing exotic wildlife of all sorts along the way.

We go to the trial site about noon and set up. Key did well in the car (he’s come so far), chilling out in his wire crate with the shade cloth to keep the sun out and windows open. He didn’t bark or guard, he just dozed!

While this was going on, I was a “competitor guide” telling teams when they could round a particular corner and move toward the search area. The 44 dog teams were all so cute, but these teams needed a picture.

We finished up around three and I decided to go explore a little. We drove about 30 minutes to Lake Selmac.

Of course, I did a little birding while letting Key enjoy the new sights and smells.

As you can see, I was particularly entranced with the turkeys.

We finished up and settled into the hotel where Key did MUCH better than his first experience in a hotel last year. Last year he insisted on being a guard dog and barking at everyone who walked by. This time… I brought the crate inside and that was the end of that!

Sunday – Almost!

We woke up on Sunday and took a leisurely stroll around a local park before checking in for the trial.

The Rogue River

And there Key handled himself with aplomb. I was so proud of him I could have burst.

In nosework, there are two basic types of trials: element specialties and “regular” nosework trials. At the element trials, the dog will do four “courses” of the same type; all vehicles, interiors, exteriors, or containers. At a “regular” nosework trial, the dog will do one of each type.

As the dogs move up in levels, more challenges are introduced. So at a level 1 show, the dog is just finding scent. At a level 2, the dog might be asked to find multiple hides and ignore a distractor. At level 3, there are even more hides, more distractions, and a “blank” or odorless room possibility. When they pass level 3 and move up to Elite… well, the sky is the limit.

This time, Key was competing at level 2. This was also a new challenge for me because (unlike at level 1) when we have found all the hides, I have to call, “Finish”. Fortunately, at this level I know how many hides there are (that won’t always be the case!)

And let me say again, Key rocked it!

We started out with a vehicle search. It was pretty basic. There were three vehicles and he had to find one hide. It also happened to be on the first side we searched.

3rd place: Key (American Shelter Dog) – Time: 0:18.78

Next was interiors. Now, this was a new test. There were two rooms. The first room had two hides, then you went to the other room that had one hide. The rooms were classrooms and quarters were pretty tight. I will admit I felt a little anxious!

5th place: Key (American Shelter Dog) – Time: 1:06.87

And that was with getting our leash tangled on table legs twice!

After a bit of a wait we did containers. It seemed like a simple challenge: there was one hide in 18 boxes that were arranged in three lines. But we were warned… there were distractors (think food or toys in some of the boxes.) With this in mind, I reminded myself that when Key find food he DOES NOT LOOK BACK AT ME, which is what he does when he finds scent, because that’s when he gets food.

Unfortunately, we found a food box before we found the scent box and I was not brave enough to, a) listen to the voice in my head that said, “He’s not looking back at you”, and b) Move onto another box and come back if necessary.

So… we didn’t pass. But now we could have FUN! Or even more fun?!?

We finished the day with exteriors. When we had looked at it, it had seemed pretty straightforward, though there were a lot of “items” within the search area. Shopping carts, ball bins, mops, etc. I carefully considered a plan to ensure we searched all the various item (I had been doing this all day, good for me.) Then they announced there were THREE hides to be found. Gulp!

10th place: Key (American Shelter Dog) – Time: 1:22.58

Key found the first hide in a dust pan, which took all my courage to call because in our first trial he had sniffed around one of these just for apparent enjoyment. But it was a “yes” and we trundled on. Key apparently REALLY liked the second hide and I had to pay out twice on that one because we had to go by it again (time sink). I was starting to worry however, because we were getting toward the end of my planned “path” and hadn’t found that third hide. We kept going on the plan and I looped him around a little step stool and his head turned and that was that! I called the last “finish” of the day and pranced off, each of us proud of Key.

I committed a breach of etiquette and did not stay for the awards because I was anxious to get home (work the next day.) But a friend picked up Key’s note sheets and third place ribbon, so we’ll get them later.

The shadow got progressively longer as we made our way up north, but we got home just before dark. And I know I wasn’t the only one who was tired…

But it never lasts…

If you can’t brag on your dog in your very own blog… where can you?

The Hawaii stealth project

I always seem to go on vacation with big plans. And then I spend my free time watching TV or reading. I am proud of myself on this trip, however, because I did a small part of my goal to do some painting!

A couple of years ago I made a journal in a class at the Watercolor Society of Oregon convention.

While I brought more supplies than this, I am very proud to announce that I filled the journal on this trip! Yeah!

And here it is…

Aloha, Hawai’i

Apparently, I have trouble with the vacation concept. I run around doing stuff and adventuring and having a great time, but I’m TIRED when I come back.

So today, my story is that I relaxed. I didn’t do much. That’s my story.

Saffron finch

I got up and went for another snorkel at Two Step and it was amazing.

I came back to the timeshare, then ran some errands and got a couple of gifts for friends back home.

Then I finished a book.

Then I watched a movie.

Then I decided to go for a little walk around the complex, find the beach, and take a picture of the sunset.

And locked myself out. So while I was waiting for help, I took some pictures of the amazing tropical flowers and tress around here.

Tomorrow I get up, finish packing, and get on a jet plane. It’s home for me. It’s a good thing. I miss real life (a little) and my dog (a lot).

Three adventures (with clouds)

Today is my second to last day on the island and one I had been looking forward to since signing up for the Hawai’i Island Festival of Birds. It was the day that I went to Kaloko-Honokohau for the guided bird walk. All told, we saw 18 species of birds, though except for the Wandering Tattler, I had seen most of them on the island before.

I took a little tumble (onto the sand, not lava, thank goodness) so when the walk was over I went home to sort things out. Also, it was high tide, so I had managed to get my shoes wet.

After getting sorted out, I headed to the Sheraton for the “festival” part of this event. There was a lot of beautiful art, clothing, and other items, but I managed to resist it all.

Finally, I decided I hadn’t done enough snorkeling, so I decided to go up to Wai’alea (69) which is my second favorite snorkeling spot on the island.

Rather menacing clouds were everywhere, both coming and going. While I was in the water the wind blowing over my snorkel was a whistle, but the visibility was good and it was still easy to maneuver through the water.

Here are some pictures from the last time I went to Wai’alea.

And now I’m back. I’m tired. I’m a little sore from my tumble. It’s a good day to wallow in vacation and read a book while it rains!

I’d like to speak to my travel agent

One of the charms of traveling, I suppose, is that you get to deal with the unexpected. You’re not in your nice little bubble. Okay. I’ll buy that. But is there way to convince the universe that I’ve had enough unexpected?

This morning I got up and did the first of the Hawai’i Island Festival of Bird walks I signed up for. This one was to “Pu’u Huluhulu” (Hairy Mountain).

The Kona side of the island is dry, but the Hilo side is considered wet. This hike was basically on the mountain that separates the two “sides” and it was foggy, misty, and generally very Oregon-like.

Fair enough, but I had only brought Hawaii gear… shorts and a T-shirt. So I was woefully under dressed for a brisk wind and rain.

Still, I gamely followed along up the mountain.

Up the mountain…

… and down again.

All told we saw 13 species, including a lovely dark-morph ‘Io (Hawaiian Hawk).

Dark morphy ‘Io (Hawaiin Hawk) – endangered species

  • 4 – Erckel’s Francolin
  • 3 – Kalij Pheasant
  • 1 – Hawaiian Hawk
  • 1 – Eurasian Skylark
  • 14 – Japanese White-eye
  • 3 – Common Myna
  • 2 – Apapane
  • 4 – Hawaii Amakihi
  • 9 – House Finch
  • 13 – Yellow-fronted Canary
  • 3 – Saffron Finch
  • 4 – House Sparrow
  • 14 – African Silverbill

Thirteen species wasn’t a bad count, but I really wasn’t able to get a good look at the more endemic species such as “Apapane” and “Amakihi”. I heard them, but sighting was limited to little flyovers. The photos below are (alas) not mine and are FAR better than any glimpses I got.

The guides rattled off plant names, place names, and bird names in Hawaiian as I helplessly trudged behind, my knees (which I had been intending to rest on this trip) aching more and more.  I’m exaggerating a little, but the hike was a lot more vertical than I was expecting (though the length of one mile was just right).

After the hike I headed home, then took a snorkel down at Kahalu’u (here’s a link from the last time I was able to get pictures…)

Vacation is exhausting!

Go small and go home

You hear, “Go big or go home” all the time, but I think the lesson I need to learn is to go small AND go home.

Last night, not knowing what kind of weather the day would bring, I searched local birding areas trying to get an idea about where I could go. I was particularly interested in “forest birds” (they look pretty) and I discovered a place called Kona Cloud Forest Guided Walking Tours. I decided to sign up for a 10am tour and went to bed.

I woke up this morning and it was gorgeous and calm, so I decided to head to Two Step, among my favorite places on earth (arguably, this is my favorite spot, but it’s hard to tell sometimes.)

As always, it was amazing, though I was sad to see how much the coral has degraded since I was last there. Lots and lots of fish of all sorts, obviously. Two turtles (honu) who seemed to be going somewhere, but swam along with me for a while. And as I was heading back in from my first expedition, a spotted eagle ray came up and swam beside me before floating off again.

spotted eagle ray

THIS IS NOT MY PHOTO! This is just so you can get an idea how cool it was.

I had seen an eagle ray one other time, but this was by FAR a better view. I never realized they had a stumpy little nose!

I was only there a couple of hours, but it was great. I headed back to get ready for the tour.

When I had made the reservation, I asked how long and how hard the tour was. The gentleman assured me that it was about a mile (no problem) and about an hour (no problem.) I asked him about birds. He admitted that other guests had commented that the birds didn’t come down to be seen. That didn’t worry me too much (birds are rarely cooperative) so I made the reservation.

Before I go on with the story, I want to make sure you understand that the place is BEAUTIFUL and the tour guide (I’m terrible with names) was very nice and really took his time and let his enthusiasm shine through.

However, his enthusiasm came at a price… a lot of talking. And thus, a lot of standing around. And the tour started to go on… and on… and on… I only saw two species of common birds. Pretty soon, my knees hurt and I was hungry and my blood sugar started to drop. When it had been two hours with a pace of about 20 feet every 5 minutes because of the talking (almost all of it uphill), I HAD to tell the group that I couldn’t continue. If I had gone further I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to get back down again.

It was humiliating.

But I got down, I got home, and now I’m at my computer. And FINALLY this silly hurricane has arrived!

This is good, because tomorrow is the start of the bird festival and I’m really looking forward to that!

Surrounded by water, I’m searching the skies

So this silly hurricane is taking its sweet time. It’s having some effects, but so far it hasn’t “arrived” yet. I got up this morning and checked all the reports and determined that if I went snorkeling it would probably be pretty rough and murky. I’m not sure about that decision, but it’s the one I made.

Instead, I decided to try some birding. I looked at some e-bird hot spots and decided to go to the glamorous local waste water treatment plant!

It turned out I had to hike into the site because of a gate, but they assured me that birders were allowed. It was hot and muggy, but very dramatic because of the clouds.

However, the hike in was all but birdless. I was starting to get a little nervous, but then I got to the plant and the black-crowned night herons (‘auku’u), black-necked stilts (ae’o), and Hawaiin coots (‘alae ke’oke’o)started to appear. Pacific golden plover (kolea) and ruddy turnstone (‘akekeke). Least tern and white-faced ibis. SO worth it.

And if you read yesterday’s post, you know why these photos are so bad.

After about an hour I came back and was so wet from the humidity I might as well have snorkeled. I got sorted out with water and other supplies back at the time share and headed South to do some more birding.

This part of the day was not nearly as productive, but just as beautiful.

Finally I stopped into a local farmers’ / artisians’ market. A photographer I had purchased prints from was there and I purchased another photo from her. Then there was a display of bees (to entice the purchase of honey, obviously.)

As my friend Lea said… a possible painting the making!

I have that effect

Back home, babysitting the granddog, my mom is gritting her teeth (and not exclusively about the dog.)

Just before my first trip to Kona in September of 2012 (second trip to Hawaii) my mom and dad purchased a Nikon Coolpix camera that was supposed to be okay for snorkeling. I got five trips out with it, but just as I was going on the “big trip” to the Captain Cook monument, it broke from water damage. The seals just couldn’t hold up against salt water.

Nikon was good and replaced it. A year later (September of 2013) I took the replaced camera back to Hawaii and broke it after… five excursions. I did manage to get pictures of the “big trip” (dolphin tour with Sunlight on the Water) but it was still a little disappointing.

Still, Nikon send ANOTHER one and when I went back in December 2015, the camera made it all the way to the end of the trip, mostly because I babied it along and soaked it in water when I came back each day.

It’s been a couple years since I have been back to Hawaii. The Nikon Coolpix is still working (no more encounters with salt water to kill it) but when I was planning my packing I sort of figured this would be the trip that would end its life.

Then a few weeks ago my mom came home from Costco with a GoPro Hero 5. I was skeptical, but I did some research, and sure enough there are lots of pictures of people snorkeling with it and their website says it’s good to go. So Sunday night I charged it up, took a few snapshots, and packed it. I decided to be brave and only take this camera and my cell phone. (As a note, it’s remarkable that since the last time I went to Hawaii my life has evolved so much that the phone was a must-have; I don’t even think I had a cell phone in 2015. I had to borrow my mom’s flip phone.)

Yesterday (Monday) I hit the island (the Big Island) and after grabbing some groceries and checking into the time share, I headed for Kahahu’u Beach Park. I’m in Hawaii to snorkel!

A hurricane is on target to hit the islands, though the Kona side (my side) is usually pretty protected. Still, the waves were pretty big. But I plunged in and the second my head went underwater, I was happy. I turned on the GoPro to take some pictures of some goat fish (not very exciting) and a Moor (cooler) and then swam a few feet. I heard the GoPro turn off. And then NOTHING I did made it turn back on.

After I returned home, I examined the device. I elected to soak the camera in water, dry it, and then open it to see what was up.

This is what was up this morning.

In other words, it’s toast. Trust me, I KNOW the signs.

I talked to the GoPro people and they will fix it. But that really doesn’t help me right now.

Right now

This is particularly disappointing because I booked a trip with Into the Blue: Kona Marine Life Adventures to go on their “Combo Ocean Exhibition”…. part dolphin swim, part snorkeling adventure, part taking us to what’s good in the area.

I decided on this outfit because it was supposed to be a maxium of six people. When I went on the dolphin swim with Sunlight on Water, it was AMAZING but there were so many people it was hard to get into the water at the proper time to see things.

It turned out, in some ways, I picked a VERY good day to go out. As I mentioned, there is a hurricane (now tropical storm) that is supposed to be coming this way. Because of it, everyone was cancelling. There ended up being only me and a young honeymoon couple from Texas on the tour! The tour guide was named Chase and he gamely put us in the water six times to see a very small pod of spinners surprisingly far out in the Kahaluu bay.

Like my last excursion, they didn’t seem too social, mostly just cruising around and doing dolphin things. The last three trips, however, we were able to get VERY near the dolphins and they were all around.

The nice couple who joined me also had a GoPro (why me?) and sent me these pictures of our adventure. Thank you to David Higgins!!!

I LOVE them! Just for reference, this is a picture I got from the last tour.

I am really grieving this silly GoPro right now.

Eventually, however we had to cut the tour short. The wind was REALLY picking up and it was actually unsafe to be out on a boat the size of ours. We made our way VERY slowly back to harbor, Chase commenting he was glad he didn’t have to go further.

When we got back, the tree were looking like the trees on the right (below).

Chase offered to take us out again (free) and if the hurricane passes in time and I have an extra day, I may take him up on the offer. But tomorrow (Wed) is almost certainly out for obvious weather reasons. And Friday-Sunday are booked up with bird tours (how lucky am I? The Hawai’i Island Festival of Birds is happening while I am here!) And I’m flying back on Monday. So… we’ll see.

I’m glad I remembered my binoculars at least. Think I can manage to keep those intact?

As a final note, here is my mom’s response to the news about the GoPro (as posted on Facebook): “Well, bring it back & return it. I’m going to give up on finding you a waterproof/resistant camera!”

I’m counting on it, Mom.

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