Jan 16

A new “Little” adventure

Today, after months of planning, the final “feature” of my summer garden re-do was installed.

Meet Little Free Library, charter # 67289.

In December, the LFL website had some pretty good sales, so as a “Santa” present, I got myself a library.

I had to paint it (harder than it looks because the hardware had a special screw)…

But the real challenge was the post. But this weekend I got that post in and the library on.

I added the books that came with the library, added the books I had been saving, and then borrowed a few books from other nearby free libraries (just to get things started.)

I had a bench that I moved to the front yard (I didn’t take a picture, maybe tomorrow) and I think it looks great. I’m going to add a pot of flowers and a doggie water dish. I’m working a sign to announce a Twitter handle (not sure about this, even though the guide suggested it…) A geocache like this guy did seems more likely.

And most exciting of all…

It’s already had its first visitors!

Jan 15

I need a keeper

There is a meme of which I am particularly fond. I have it on a notebook as well as hung in my studio.

Today was all about the frustration, errors, and experimentation.

Mistake #1

I am on day three of a 4-day-weekend, and today my goal was to paint. But, well, I was a little grumpy, which is not my most creative mood. So, I decided that rather than actually painting, I would experiment.

Mistake #2

There is an image that I grabbed from my Facebook feed the other day without the least intention of painting. I just liked the placement of the horse’s legs, tail, and head. They screamed “attitude.”

I think this is a horse currently in training in the Sound Equine Options barn.

I thought one day I might collage the painting.

Mistake #3

So, today seemed like a good day.

I found a background that appealed to me (a failed ice painting from about four years ago).

I got out some marble tissue paper from Liz Walker‘s marbling class (2 year ago?) (P.S. Liz… I partially blame you.)

Mistake #4

And I started collaging the shape of the horse. Gosh, I wish I had taken some pictures.

Mistake #5

I got that done and it was okay. But it needed some ump. So, I decided to apply some gesso (Margaret Godfrey, I blame you for this part.)

Again, no pictures. I REALLY wish I had taken some.

Upon evaluation, it was okay, but it was sort of outline-y so I decided to get out my Gelli-plate (Ruth Armitage, I blame you now…)

What I ended up with, I liked. Maybe a little overworked, but if I had just stopped here, I feel like we could have moved on.

Mistake #6

But, I got a bright idea.

I decided to try to give the background a little oomph and mixed some darks.

Mistake #7… 8… 9…

That wasn’t quite right, so I decided to find my “unusual materials” box and try some metallic powder.

I couldn’t just stop while I was ahead, could I?

Mistake #10

With all my materials contaminated with silver…. stuff… I decided to see if I could actually figure out how this stuff is supposed to work. It’s really rather beguiling the way it twirls in water.

So, I got out a clean sheet of paper, grabbed the palette that needed cleaning now, and tried to apply some silver and color.

While some color might have stayed, if there is any metallic silver on here, I’ll eat my hat.  How does this stuff work?

It’s a mystery that’s going to have to be solved another day because frankly, I’m out.

Jan 11

Healthy Steps – Week 2

This week I gained 2.6 pounds. Honestly, while I’m disappointed, I feel like it’s more the category of “staying the same” because I’ve been gaining and loosing that same 2 pounds for about a year.  But, I did make some healthy (small) steps. So, all is not lost.

Last week I said I was going to focus on:

  • Tracking – 4 of 7 days (lost my ability to log in for 1 of them) – 57% success
  • Not having Frapachinos in the morning (caffeine withdrawal as well as sugar) – 2 of 7 days – 28% success
  • Eating my prepared food – 5 of 7 days – 71% success
  • Walking at lunch – 7 of 7 days – 100% success

Frankly, I’m not ready to take on more, so I’m going to stick with those this next week.

  • Tracking – I’d like to go to 6 days
  • Not having Frapachinos in the morning – going to be hard this week…
  • Eating my prepared food – 5 days
  • Walking at lunch – 7  days

So, looking at this, here’s what I see. I need a plan for the weekend.

Weekends have always been a problem for me. Issue one is that I tend to not eat until I am STARVING, then eat lots of bad stuff. Issue two is that I hate to “waste” my prepared food (cut up vegetables, etc.) Issue three is that frankly I get distracted by my mobility and the huge variety of sugar things out there.

This is going to be a four-day weekend, so it could be extra challenging. Here is what I’d like to work on for it.

  • Track all four of those days
  • Prepare some food for breakfast and lunch and EAT IT

Okay. Orders received.

One last thing. I started Weight Watchers 193 weeks ago (3.7 years). There is a fact for you. I am now at the same weight as when I started (essentially). If I stay on WW another 193 weeks and do small steps to loose .5 pounds a week, in 2021 I will have lost 96 pounds.

I’d feel so good…

Jan 08

The right collector comes along…

As an artist, sometimes you do a painting and you know it’s not perfect, but you like it.

This painting of Taylor Said and Winning Machine in the 2012 Longacres Mile is a painting that I have liked for a long time, but I’ve also had some concerns about.

“Taylor Said Goodbye” – 2013

In fact, it’s gone through a couple of revisions. As you can see here, I toned back Mt. Rainier.

Then I added marbling, which I felt added the perfect touch.

Still, this painting has been sitting around, framed and matted for about two years now. It get admiring glances, but no one has been serious about it.

Then, the other day, I checked my spam folder (why is there spam?). In with the spam was an inquiry about this painting. The collector wanted to know if it was still available because her daughter was now the proud owner of Winning Machine (the horse on the right) as a retired racehorse.

“Mac” and his rider (face blurred).

Don’t they look great?

I’m so happy this painting is going to its perfect home!

Jan 04

Healthy Steps – Week 1

So, it’s a new year. And like millions of other people, I have resolved to go on a dietlose weight get in shape….  I’m going to stop myself there. Here’s my real goal: I want the pain to stop.

Weight Watchers, which is a great program that focuses on healthy eating and wholesome habits, talks about “finding your why”. I have dozens of reasons that I want to do this. That I need to do this. But tonight, honestly, it’s just about making the pain stop.

I am morbidly obese. This last year has shown me that this burden is going to get harder as I age.

  • My feet hurt; I’m still struggling with plantar fasciitis.
  • My knee hurts: I have a torn meniscus.
  • My breathing is not great: I’m recovering from the flu, but also just fat.
  • My back hurts.
  • My hips ache.

So, I’m starting the new year with the first post of what I hope to be at least 52 weeks of changes. They won’t be big or exciting. But they’ll be important.

A friend posted this on her Facebook wall tonight, and I liked it enough to steal it.

I think this is a good focus for the week.

This week I am going to focus on:

  • Tracking
  • Not having Frapachinos in the morning (caffeine withdrawal as well as sugar)
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Walking at lunch

Gaaaa! Anyone of those could be a weekly focus. I think this is one of my problems for sustaining… it feels like I have to do everything, when the truth is that it’s all about the little steps.

None the less, I am going to work on these and next week I’ll report back.



Jan 02

2018 Goal List

It’s really easy to write down all the things I’d like to accomplish over the coming year. What’s hard is remembering I only have so much time and energy.

This is from a Weight Watcher’s exercise about mastering your time.

While the list below is long (really long), I’d also like to think it’s doable over the coming 365 days. Not all at once…


  • Keep painting
  • Finish the commission that is taking FOREVER
  • Do RB homework
  • Write at least once a week (goal on Sunday) about your art
  • Attend critique group
  • Enter both WSO shows
  • Enter the Equine Art Show (Emerald Downs)
  • Submit to the AAEA Show
  • Submit to both NWWS Shows (new goal for 2018)
  • Submit to Emerald Art Center show
  • Organize and attend Ruth Buchanan workshop (2018 drawing)
  • Participate in local art group Artists in Action
    • Participate in Paint the Town
    • Fall Studio Sale with Artists in Action


  • 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
  • Go to physical therapy; improve knee and foot
  • Write at least once a week (goal on Wednesday) about your weight loss
  • Get 8 hours sleep (this means going to bed early)


  • Goodreads 2018 Book Challenge: 104 books
  • 2017 goal – 86 of 104
  • 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


  • Edit and finalize the book I “finished” during the 2017 NaNoWriMo
  • Participate in the 2018 NaNoWriMo


  • Do a walk afterwork, hike on the weekends
  • Get Key Odor Recognition Trial (ORT) certified
  • Participate in 4 trials (including ORT)
  • No more cats if Bob dies

Home and Garden

  • Water my new front yard to ensure the plants don’t die
  • Put in my Little Free Library area
  • Improve kitchen table area


  • Continue 2013 goal of not taking plastic bags at the store
    • Use reusable bags
  • 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
  • Improve on 2017 goal of scaling back on car use
    • Bike to work at least 3 of 5 days per week
  • 2018 goal: energy audit my house


  • Finish four projects
  • Investigate a knitting group


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


  • Church – website and tech team
  • WSO – website and fall convention
  • State Food Drive planning
  • Decide on a volunteer project (either Food Bank or Fostering Dogs) and do it!


  • Remain employed
  • Say hello in the morning


  • Go camping at least once
  • Explore the local art museum (Ford)
  • Visit the Salem carousel
  • See 150 species of birds
  • Remember that alone time is an important part of my mental health

Dec 31

2017 Goal List – Review

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


  • Keep painting
  • Write more exclusively about art in my blog
  • Attend critique group
    • Investigate Salem group
  • Enter both WSO shows
  • 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 (read 86)
    • 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) – did 163

Dec 28

How’s the blogging going – 2017 version

For each of the four (4!) years I have been blogging, I have posted a fairly geeky post about my progress and numbers.It’s something I look forward to, and it helps me get an idea of what the next year might look like.

Posts and Other Numbers

2014 2015 2016 2017
Posts 158 124 71 64
Sessions 2899 7081 2700 2277
Users 1262 5108 1691 1334
Page Views 9790 13586 7009 7925

Yes, the number of posts has fallen each year. I’m going to think about that some in a future post about goals. But, one a week is still not too shabby.

I find it interesting that the “users” data dropped off so steeply in 2016, which (I hear) is the year that Facebook changed its programming to get people to pay for posts.

Data Trends

Google Analytics



Most popular posts (by month, 2017)

January 13 – An inauspicious start

February 21 – Scent of Season

March 13 – Other opinions are “Out There” 

April 20 – Goodbye, Finn

May 19 – What we share

June 17 – Among the roses

July 18 – Workshop accomplished 

August 16 – The trouble with being human

September 17 – Montana adventure – days 1 and 2

October 15 – The extra bedroom

November 12 – Bev Jozwiak Workshop – Day 1 

December 10 – Pelagic Tour (On the Open Sea) 


My next post will be about how I did on my 2017 goals. After that, it’ll be 2018 with a list of new goals. I’ll be taking the information about into account.

Dec 25

Lump of (char)coal

My post last week clearly offended the Christmas spirits. As I guess they are listening, I take it all back. The current plan about annual Christmas is wonderful and I will never DREAM about complaining about any nonexistent complications that come with this WONDERFUL holiday.

As proof of my sincerity, I offer…

A new Christmas-themed painting.

I hope every one of you, family and friends, has a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

P.S. Those of you who are wondering about my change of heart… in the last week I got the flu and my dog got into a chocolate stocking-stuffer and had to go to the vet for a $300 application of charcoal. Seriously. Take my advice. Never bad-mouth Christmas.

Dec 18

Okay… new plan.

There comes a point in every holiday season where I have a nearly overwhelming urge to declare myself ruler of the universe and do away with the whole Christmas situation. In fact, if I was running for public office, my platform would be:

  • Christmas once every four years (like the Olympics)
  • Eliminate Roman numerals (this is someone else’s wish, but I like it)
  • Each spring people should be given one random day off when the weather “turns” into spring (everyone knows when this is, because no one actually works that day… we all just gaze out the window in longing)

I can’t claim to be in high holiday spirits this year, but I’m doing okay. And I THOUGHT this was going to be an innocent week.


Wednesday I am sitting around work, doing stuff, and my text signal sounds.  It’s my mom, announcing she is coming up a day earlier than planned and she’d tell me the details later.

Okay… new plan.

A little while later I am again working when the text goes off again. This time it is my Aunt Robin. They are in town this week and we had a very vague plan to get together. She suggested some times; I texted back what would work. The next text was this: “Tara. I just fell and fractured the lower part of my femur near my replacement appliances. We are just leaving emergency. Will have to discuss with Darrel when we get home. Maybe Saturday? Will call you.”

Okay… new plan.

I got home that evening and when I talked to my mom, I learned that not only was she coming a day early, she had invited a family friend who has been having some health issues to come stay with “us”.

Okay… new plan.

I spent the rest of the day on Wednesday cleaning and trying to come up with a plan so no one unrelated to me would learn I was a bad housekeeper.

I set up the air mattress in my studio and regressed back to childhood while Mom and Julie were here. I didn’t have a bed, I couldn’t pick the temperature of the house, people kept putting stuff on the counter instead of in the cupboards.

Makes you glad to be an adult, even if you do have to pay taxes and go to work.

It’s Sunday and everyone has returned to their assigned spot in the world. I’m back in my bed. My house is nice and cold. The counter has returned to its stark state.

I’m not calling this the end of the holiday trauma, but frankly… I’m all out of plans.

Wish me luck.

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