Wildlife, and I’m not even out of my driveway

Today we loaded up in the car to head down to Canemah. I was pulling out of the driveway and something caught my eye…

It was a bunny! I think probably a young one. I’m sure it came into my yard to drink from my bird feeders, but as it was nibbling on dandelions… I hope she stays!

Also fun around the house, the tree swallows the have nested at my house every year for at least five years, have finally produced audible babies. This is very late for them; in previous years the babies are getting ready to fledge around now. This batch is not even big enough to peak out yet. In fact, they are small enough that the parents have to completely inside the house to feed them.

Earlier this year I was sure that a pair of chickadees was nesting in this same house, and I was concerned the swallows wouldn’t nest. It appears that the two species somehow worked things out.

At Canemah

Once in Canemah, it was immediately obvious that lots of animals had young ones just venturing out into the world. We saw lots of ground squirrels and heard lots of young birds begging. This young sparrow was particularly photogenic.

Still, even though it’s high summer and most everything is brown and dry, I got a few pictures I really like.

But my favorite picture of the day is this one.


Misumena vatia (Goldenrod Crab Spider): This spider is an ambush hunter, lying patiently in wait on flowers for an insect to come within striking range. Adult females may be overall yellow or white, with the ability to change back and forth. This species can conquer surprisingly large prey like bees and butterflies. (Identificaiton and description courtesy of http://www.spiders.us/species/filter/oregon/ )

Oh Not-So-Happy Day

Today Mom and I moved Dad into a memory care facility.

whitelavendarI took the day off work and drove down to Lincoln City first thing to help Mom. I figured if nothing else, I could be a pack mule. On the drive I stopped at a little coffee shop; it had the most beautiful white lavendar in front of it. I need to find some of this!

Upon arrival, my first job was taking Dad to NESS to hang out for the day while Mom and I got his room in order. When I got back, Mom’s friend had taken the load of heavy stuff, so we loaded up the last of the lighter stuff and headed out.

When we got to Dad’s new residence, the day unfolded as I expected. One person after another came to Mom to ask questions about Dad’s care, abilities, and routine; I played pack mule and general dog’s body.

While I was tired when it was finally time to go get Dad, the emotional part of the day was really just beginning.

Just so you know, this is how I see my dad. This is Dad.

In the last few years I’ve seen my dad in several hospitals, struggling to walk, and sleeping a lot. That’s not Dad.

While we were setting up his room, in a complex surrounded by other residents, it was disheartening to recognize my “new dad” in a lot of those behaviors: the trembling hands, the slurred speech, the hallucinations, People who haven’t dealt with dementia/Alzheimer’s think of this disease as memory lost. That’s really not what it’s about.

It’s about a loss of dignity. A loss of vibrancy. A loss of self.

I will never see my dad again; he helped me roof my first house, catch fish, and learn to garden. Instead I will watch “new dad” sink further into immobility, confusion, and dependence.

While this is hard on me–and Dad–I know it’s even harder on Mom. She has done her level best to keep him at home and has given up so much of her life to keep him at home. But it’s like a scale; there comes a point when you can no longer give enough of yourself to keep the scales even. I know of at least two 911 calls because Dad had fallen and she couldn’t get him up. I don’t know how many tons of laundry she’s done in recent years for him. I don’t know how many times she’s explained that the cats and dogs and rabbits he sees around the house aren’t really there. I don’t know how many things she’s purchased to try to make his life a little better. “I said for better or worse,” she says.

When Mom finally went to pick up Dad from NESS and bring him to his new home, I watch him walk into the complex. It has a security code that he won’t ever figure out, even though it’s printed right underneath the keypad. The windows only go up about three inches for security. It’s a little like prison (though a nice, clean, and friendly one.)

I asked Dad how he was doing, and he responded, “Tara, to tell you truly, I’m confused.” And he went into his room and sat down and basically refused to answer more questions or accept our help.

The next few weeks are going to be tough and I hope everyone survives.

Before we left, we walked Dad out to get him set up for dinner. He told mom he didn’t like it and wasn’t going to get used to it, and an expression crossed his face that was just heartbreaking.

If only I had a magic wand.


macte, int.
[‘ Expressing approval, encouragement, or good will: ‘all praise to you!’, ‘well done!’, ‘bravo!’; ‘good luck!’.’]

Tonight at Weight Watchers I hit my 10% goal; I have now lost 10% of my total body weight when I started!

On one hand, I am thrilled. In my three previous attempts at Weight Watchers, I have never hit this goal. As you can imagine, it’s really exciting that I have accomplished this. I have further to go, but regardless, I’m going to celebrate this victory. Saturday I’ll get a new pair of jeans (frankly, everything I have is very baggy) and get a pedicure. Party!

On the other hand, I’m very nervous. Doing this 4-5 more times to get to my goal weight seems REALLY BIG. Even breaking it down into smaller goals (15% might be my next goal) seems pretty far away (50lbs lost could also be a milestone.)

I’m in uncharted territory. I’ve never made it this far. But I’ve also never failed after doing this well. Seems like a lot of pressure.

I’m too far away to contemplate the “first number changing” or even my goal of being able to ride a horse. So I’m searching a little for a goal that seems reachable and important.

In the meantime, I’m going to concentrate on getting back to lots of fruits and vegetables; I’m no longer in the “white knuckle” stage so I’m doing a little cruising. But I’m finding myself starting to graze a little bit, and not on fruits and veggies like I did in the beginning.

Also, the last three weeks I’ve been taking part in a challenge to walk my dog every day and I’m surprised how much it has motivated me. Hot weather is tough, and Finn is getting slower, but it sure has helped me! I’m even thinking of maybe signing up for another 5K!

So, best wishes to me!


Queen of the dorks

I have been wanting to write that headline for a couple of days now because I have been really feeling foolish.

I have had a year–365 days–to get my act together for the 2014 Equine Art Show. The minute I got my 2014 calendar, I marked the date. I have obsessed about my three paintings to send up. I taken them to critiques, posted about them, and tweaked them.

In May, just before my Open Studios of Beavercreek show, I ordered mats for my most likely entries. Last  month I send in the entry forms and other paperwork.

All this time I was figuring on purchasing the frames as the last detail. So Monday, I sat down to order them. It was the last day I could order them and get them before the “SHIP!” date on my calendar. I paid, feeling good about it all, then went to view the prospectus to make sure I had covered everything.

Then I saw it. The “SHIP!” date was the last day they would accept paintings. They changed the timeline from last year. Thus a week of insanity has begun.

By the time I figured all this out, the frames had shipped, so I couldn’t get them speeded up. And because they are custom, I can’t send them back. But they won’t get here in time.

So today I did a Goodwill crawl, trying to find frames that would match. After four Goodwills, I gave up and went to an art store that has some discount frames. I found the frames, but still had to get the plexiglass at Home Depot and cut it.

woundIn short, this whole event took seven hours from leaving the house to leaving the UPS store with my receipt. I’m exhausted and my hands look like this from cutting the plexiglass.

But “Sizing Up the Competition”, “Trackside Discussion I”, and “Distaff Divas” will arrive at Emerald Downs on Tuesday.

Knock on wood.

Next Sunday, July 13, I’ll be heading up for the day to see the show, enjoy the races, and pick up the pieces again. Anyone want to come?


I know a secret!

I didn’t do much today. My big goal for this weekend was to get the new Watercolor Society of Oregon website updated, and it’s almost 11pm, but it is! It will still be a few days before the technical types get everything just so, but my part is up to date.

To take a break, we headed down to Canemah. After getting a little way in, we started to see these:

Upon closer inspection, they were filled with video equipment. Then we came across a security car:

securityIt turns out the new TNT series “The Librarians” (which shot at the Oregon City Library earlier this week) will be shooting in Canemah on Monday!

So now… you all know this too! I probably won’t go back on Monday, though the chance to see hottie Christian Kane is almost overwhelming.

Of course, Finn was thrilled by all the developments, but we persevered and continued on our hike.

Finally a moment

sunsetIt’s been a week since I had a moment to sit down, let alone write. Frankly, it’s been a little TOO busy around here, and I’m glad to be facing a three-day weekend to tackle a few things.

Almost every day this week I’ve had something I meant to write about, but it’s just been too busy. So consider this a random recap post to get y’all caught up!


Saturday my friend JJ took her inaugural trip with her new company, The Traveling Ewe. I designed her new logo and we offered a ticket, but I had other commitments, so I turned it down. I think this was a mistake! Everyone had a great time and they saw a 3-hour old cria (baby alpaca). It looked like an amazing trip and I’m so proud of JJ for making this work. I’m marking my calendars for future trips!

However, I stayed home to tackle some other issues. First, I had an AirBNB customer, a cute and sweet couple that were in town for the weekend to attend a wedding. As this was my first customer, I felt I should be around. This couple was SO sweat and respectful. I hope they are all like that!

I also hit the farmer’s market because I had a canning get together planned for Sunday. I got a box of green beans, two flats of blackberries that needed to be used quickly, and my knives sharpened. Good times.


The line… all the SEO horses were in and they never took their eyes off me in hopes of cookies!

(Dirty) Fritz

(Dirty) Fritz – Why I’ll probably never own a white horse!

It was also my day to muck out the stalls at SEO. I mucked the stalls and played with the horses, particularly a cute boy named Fritz. He’s a character!

After hanging out at the barn, I headed over to a party I had been invited to. Being invited to a party is something of a treat for me, so I was pretty excited. It was a nice party, not in the least because we got to meet Kathy’s new baby, Coco, as well as admire the new chicken coop (with chickens) and meet the next-door mules. Good times.


After all this excitement, Sunday rolled around. My friends JJ and Arminda came over and we canned. And canned. AND CANNED. We canned until almost 9pm. It was a long day… but we got:

  • Strawberry vanilla jam
  • Blackberry jam
  • Blackberry sage jam
  • Blackberry ginger jam
  • Dilly beans

cans1 cans2










Monday was weigh-in day and after last week… well, I need some success. I had a thoughtful week, even with Saturday’s party (and potato chips…) but I was still nervous. I am DELIGHTED to report that I had a quite significant drop and am now within a pound of my 10% goal. That will be a COMPLETE part for me. You’ll hear more about that later, I’m sure.

But after attending my meeting and walking the dog, the day was pretty shot. What remained was eaten up with the laundry I didn’t do on Sunday with canning.


Believe it or not, Tuesday found me canning some more. I had MORE beans and I love just straight beans too. A couple of batches of straight beans were pressure canned and the day was done.


Wednesday I’m back to taking painting classes from Anji Grainger. I started a couple of new paintings (dogs) to fill out my pet portrait portfolio. I don’t have pictures to show, and I still need to grab a couple of permissions, but so far I’m pleased.


Which takes me up to today. I got off work early to attend some doctor’s appointments. After doing that, and taking Finn for a walk… well, you’re caught up.


It’s been a busy week and there’s more to report, in some ways, than I have. But at least now I’m caught and I can try to write better posts from now on!

It’s leaving that makes me come back

Tonight after work (at the end of a LONG week) we went down to Canemah. It’s amazing how much things changed in just a week. Metro had mowed, so the landscape looked like this:

Things seemed pretty quiet, but I saw a lot of baby birds and anxious parents.

But all in all, it was a pretty quiet walk. We got in the car to head home. And saw a little pod of three deer!

What a great way to leave! I can’t wait to come back.

Why I won’t let one up get me down

Today was weigh in day and for the first time since starting my lifestyle change endeavor I was up.

Now, last week was not a bad week for me, so this was a little surprising. I didn’t go over my points and I exercised every day.

However, it was also not a great week for me. It was a tough week for me physically; I took pain killers 4 days out of 7.

eatingIt was also a hungry week for me. I had moments were I envisioned myself a little like Godzilla, eating my way through the town.

10coverpaperIn fact, more than once I found myself thinking of one of my favorite books in the Stephanie Plum series, Ten Big Ones. In this book, Stephanie (the main character in the series and a some what unlikely bounty hunter) goes after a skip whose crime is described as follows:

“It says here she held up a Frito-Lay truck?”
“Apparently she was on that no-carbohydrate diet, got her period and snapped when she saw the truck parked in front of a convenience store. Just got whacked out at the thought of all those chips.”
“I’ve been on that diet and this crime makes perfect sense to me,” Lula said.

In addition to this, it was a rather emotional week, with a lot of family changes taking place. I really don’t want to talk about it…
titus2So, with all this, I think exercising everyday and staying within my points is a HUGE accomplishment.

It is scary, though. I really want to make my 10% goal. It will be the first time I’ve done that. All the other times I’ve tried to change my lifestyle like this, I’ve gotten close and then sort of lost focus. So this little pep talk is not to take me back, but to remind me what I’ve learned!

Here are the things that I can work on in this coming week:

  1. I think I’m a little dehydrated. It’s been muggy and I’ve been busy. I’ve had a bit of a headache all day and I’m achy from all my work over the weekend. I need to work on my water intake.
  2. I need to do a better job of planning an afternoon snack.
  3.  I need to do a Starbucks skinny hot chocolate 1-2 times a week, not 1-2 times a day.
  4. I need to work on how I eat on the weekends. While I’m not going over my points, I’m also not getting in enough fruits and vegetables during my busy weekends.
  5. i need to make sure I get enough sleep (I read a good book and stayed up too late this week…)

I really think this week was a function of dehydration and not feeling well, because I’m doing so much correctly. I’m going to end by focusing on this.

  1. I signed up for a walk-the-dog-daily challenge and have done it for one week.
  2. I have gone over my Nike Fuel goal each day (more activity than my goal.)
  3. I have eaten breakfast every day.
  4. I had a salad for lunch four days out of seven.
  5. I attended my Weight Watchers meeting.
  6. I tracked every day.

I can do this. This is a good check in and a good placeholder.




It’s all over but the laundry

This has been a busy weekend and I’m tired now.

Saturday Morning

So Saturday was a full-on day. I had to wake up early and head to the Farmer’s Market to grab supplies for the week, then went to Grapevine Gallery to pick up “Milky Way Fisherman” from the Open Studios of Beavercreek show. But 9:30 I was headed to downtown Portland to join the Urban Sketchers of Portland in Director’s Park.

The idea of the Urban Sketchers group is that a group of people get together in interesting locations around Portland to do sketching, plein air, or whatever other kind of “immediate” art strikes the artist’s fancy.

As this was my first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found a very loose group of about 20 sketchers arrayed throughout the square, doing everything from quick sketches to full-on water colors. Most artists worked in small books and there was a great variety in the length of time people took on their various projects.

I can’t say my own work was great. I took a sketchpad, pencil, and my camera. I am embarrased to say that I think I spent more time with my camera than sketching.

But I did a little sketching. Nothing that jumps out as a painting, but good practice.

Saturday Afternoon

meandpaintingAt 12:30 I headed for the Oregon Society of Artists. As part of being in the Rose Festival show, I needed to sit the gallery for an afternoon.

It was a really high quality show. I can’t show you pictures other than my own, but here I am with my painting, which is among the first you see in the gallery (prime position!)

It was a nice day and there were other art things going on in town, so it was pretty slow. Still, I feel like I made a new friend in fellow sitter Lynne Patton (who incidently got first place in the Rose category for her painting “Copper and Roses.”)



Saturday Late Afternoon

From the gallery I headed over to the SEO barn to play with the horses and clean the stalls.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been there, so there were a few new faces!

In short, I left the house at 9:00 am and returned at 7:30 pm. It was a busy day!


I’ll admit that Sunday was a little more laid back, but I’m still tired at the end of the day!

In addition to weeding, I did a major house cleaning because I have an Air BNB guest coming this weekend. 7 loads of laundry, floors are clean, windows are washed, dog walked. I’m tired now.


It was a good weekend, though probably not the most exciting one to tell about. Sitting the Rose Show gave me a lot to think about as far as composing a piece for next year.

There are two basic categories for the event: “Roses” and “Making Memories.” “Roses” is mainly about, well, roses. While each painting in the show was unique, the category was, by definition, pretty limited. I think in order to get into the prizes the painting will need to be perfectly executed and have an original element. Not too different from other shows, but the uniqueness is something to consider.

rose1 rose2









“Making Memories” was more open, though they do suggest scenes from the parade and festival, Portland scenes, or painting evocative of making memories. I think next year I’d like to enter two paintings, so I’ll have to do some thinking about this.

For the Urban Sketcher’s group, I’ll try to go again, but it’s not going to be a high priority on my list. Buildings and people are fun, but not my primary source of inspiration. If I go again, it will mainly be for quick draw practice.


Raptor report

I almost stepped on a bald eagle today.

That was how I was going to start this post; but I have calmed down a little and decided to go with something closer to the truth.

So, after work today we headed down to Canemah. It looked to be a pretty average summer Canemah evening.


We were just getting into the flat area before leaving and a HUGE bird errupted out of the trees in of me. Because the trees were in the cliff area, it felt like the bird was flushing from under my feet!

It was an immature bald eagle. It lunged into the sky and flew a shaky circle, before landing in a nearby tree.

But that’s only half of the story! When it erruped, within seconds a whole crew of other raptors came out as well. I counted six vultures, two red tailed hawks, and the bald eagle. I also saw a Great Blue heron!

Then the ospreys who area nesting across the river started getting involved!

My suspicion is that there was something the raptors (not the ospreys) were feeding on and that I somehow arrived just as they finished. And here is my “proof”… also happening to be the coolest picture I think I’ve ever taken!


Bald eagle cleaning its talons while flying (can you believe I caught this on camera!)

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