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.

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)

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.

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!

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.

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!

Featuring fish, fowl, and fossils

This morning was my monthly critique group excursion. While I haven’t exactly been producing at a record speed (or even producing anything very good...) I have been working. I sorted through the piles and came to the realization that I needed some help more than I needed anyone to admire some of my latest successes, so I loaded up a couple of paintings that I am stuck on and drove on down.

Fish or fowl

I won’t show you the first painting, because that would be a blog all by itself. My second entry was this painting, which I have been working on since the Bev Jozwiak class.

English Royalty (30″ x 18″ on Yupo®)

Several members said, “I love this fish. It’s so abstract.” I feel like a toddler who proudly goes up and shows the parent his painting of a dog and they say, “What a nice house.” Frankly, I don’t see fish and can’t figure out what they are talking about. They could never explain it to me, either.

Oh well, it’s all about feedback, and I got plenty. The shape of neck needed defining; the green blobby background needed something…; the bright green of the back made the “fish” look hollow.  So, I came home and did this…

The basic problem I am struggling with is that this is on the Yupo® paper which I can’t figure out (YUPO is a 100% recyclable, waterproof, tree-free Synthetic Paper. In other words, it’s like painting on plastic.)

Frankly, right now, I’m considering the trash bin for the whole thing. I’m not sure it’s worth it.

In order to convince you all (and myself) that I actually do know about painting (STOP THAT LAUGHING!) I will show off some other endeavors, though none are the ones I am SUPPOSED to be working on.

Quick warm up on very small, bad paper

Yellow-headed blackbird on small watercolor panel

Gelli-plate prints using “the silver”

This is more of the silver dust that got away from me last week. I don’t think that stuff can actually be used.

But speaking of that…

Speaking of last week… does anyone remember that I ended up throwing some paint on a piece of paper so see if the silver would come out that way?

Don’t hold your breath, because the silver isn’t on this either. But when it dried, it looked like this:

Every time I have walked past it in the the week I have seen the same thing. So, last night I decided it was only paper and decided to follow my muse (albeit one with a somewhat warped sense of humor.)

If anyone calls this one a fish, I’ll just have him eat them.


Healthy Steps – Week 3

Right off the bat… I lost 3.6 pounds this week. I’m a little surprised, but so thrilled. It wasn’t a stellar week, and my steps were absolutely tiny, but at least I’m heading in the right direction.

Once again, I’m not ready to take on more, so I’m going to stick to my basic set of goals.

  • Tracking – I’d like to go to 6 days
  • Not having Frapachinos in the morning (Gonna DO THIS THING!)
  • Eating my prepared food – 5 days
  • Walking at lunch – 7  days

So, how did I do on these last week? Let’s check…

  • Tracking – 3 days
  • Not having Frapachinos in the morning – 1 days
  • Eating my prepared food – 4 days
  • Walking at lunch – 7  days (goal!!!)

I’ve been thinking about this post most of the day, but unfortunately, it’s late… I just got home… and dinner just buzzed. So, I’m going short tonight.

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!

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.

Load more