It’s all about the grass now

Today was a big day. “Delight” was turned in to the Oregon Society of Artists Rose Festival Show. Fingers crossed it gets juried into the actual show. I was so excited I had trouble sleeping last night.

After surviving the excitement of the day, I came home and took Finn to Canemah.

No matter what the calendar says, it’s now summer. While there are some flowers still blooming, it’s really all about the grasses now.

Of course, that isn’t to say the flowers aren’t blooming; but even the flowers are long and whispy.

Today we went a little further than normal, into the Douglas Fir area in hopes of seeing the (possible) Great Horned Owl seen on my last hike. No dice, but it was clear that the song sparrows had recently fledged. There were several that were unusually loud and still on our hike. I swear, one kept following me and let me get incredibly close.

friendlysongsparrow youngsongsparrow

ospreyAlso I confirmed that the osprey nest across the river is definitely being used this year.

The courage to post my anchor

Last week Weight Watchers’ topic was: “The Power of an Anchor.” The program encouraged users to think about something that keep them inspired to stay on the program and thus meet weight loss goals.

The first thing that popped into my mind on this topic was horses. I sort of started this because I would eventually like to be able to start riding horses again.

A book I read a few years ago, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, posed the theory that the things that we did when we were young children are the things that make us most happy. But as we age, we find other, more practical things to take up our time. During her happiness project, Rubin started reading young adult books and even started a book group (for adults) about them.

I have a picture in my home of a four-year-old-me reaching up to pet a horse. I love this photo.

As I was looking for photos for my post about my dad last week, I came across another series of photos of myself at about 10 with my cousin’s horses and my Montana friend’s horses.

What struck me about these photos was the look of awe and happiness in all of them.

tarajgjI have another photo in my house. I am 19 here and think I’m fat (I wish the horse I’m on was… she needs some weight). But I remember the thrilled feeling of riding English. This picture and this horse are about my only good memories of this period in my life.

It’s taken me all week to post this, but I want to remember this:

  • Joy
  • Awe
  • Happiness
  • Thrill

This is my reason for loosing weight. I want to ride again.







Kindly refrain from pressing the panic button

In one week the Open Studios of Beavercreek begins.

indexA couple days ago I found out that I will not be using my tent, as I assumed, but I will be in a garage. While this is preferable in many ways, it means all my planning was wrong.

My plan is to spend this weekend shoring up Plan B and getting the last of the things I need printed.

Tomorrow is the reception at Grapevine Gallery (newsletter below talks about the event.)

Next Tuesday I need to turn in my rose piece (“Delight”) to the Oregon Society of Artists.

I think my post title says it all.



Grapevine newsletter-614

Apply paint, let dry, repeat

Tonight was painting night. When I sat down to look over my (extensive) list of paintings in progress i knew I didn’t want to work on any of them. So, I resolved to kill two birds with one stone: I would clean out my palette of all the great colors I no longer am in love with and start some abstracts.

abstract2This was my first attempt. I had some green and purple on my palette that I no longer use (I tend to mix these colors now.) So I mixed them up and started applying, intending to cover my paper. I got so entranced by the way the colors flowed, I stopped and just added some stones to see what kind of texture developed. I’m not sure what is coming from this, but it is interesting.

abstract1Take two was a little more elaborate. I have some textured paper that I like to use. I put it down and applied paint on top of it. Then I added salt and some more rocks. We’ll see what shows up when it all dries.

Two abstracts seemed like enough of a start, so I moved to work on a couple of paintings that were sitting around needing finishing touches. Nothing much to show there, just a few brush strokes added.

Even after all this I hadn’t had enough painting this evening. I wanted something BIG and BOLD and SILLY! So I dragged out an ice painting background that I knew wasn’t going anywhere exciting, spent about two seconds thinking, and sketched what I saw.

sketchThis hit the spot. I might make a few more tweaks to enhance the theme, but it’s just what I wanted to do. A quick painting with big strokes.


Canemah with Metro’s Ashley

Ashley shows the group poison oak.

Ashley shows the group poison oak.

Monday I went on a guided hike of Canemah with Metro naturalist Ashley.

It’s amazing how much difference training can make! Ashley demonstrated some significant geographic features of the area. She answered myriad questions about plants, and showed me birds that I didn’t even know were in the area!

cedarwaxwingFor example, I had no idea that Cedar Waxwings were in the area; I thought the gray/brown birds that I saw eating berries up the in trees were robins. Ashley knew they were Cedar Waxwings by their song! She was also able to identify black headed grossbeaks, marsh wrens, brown creepers, woodpeckers, Anna’s hummingbirds, robins, and towhees the same way!

One of several large Pacific yews overlooks the historic graveyard.

One of several large Pacific yews overlooks the historic graveyard.

Ashley also showed the group how to properly focus their binoculars (worth the $6 all by itself). She pointed out trees that I had seen, but I didn’t know they were interesting. I have walked by this Pacific Yew lots of times without knowing what it was or that it was such a big specimen.

hazelnutIt was really exciting to walk this familiar terrain with someone so knowledgeable, but also with other people just as excited about nature. I will look for more of these Metro walks.

The most exciting part of the walk (at least for me) (and it was all pretty exciting) was that we (probably) saw a great horned owl! We were walking and we saw a large raptor in a heavily forested area. A few minutes later we saw it again. Neither Ashley or I was able to get a good enough view to positively identify it, but based on its size and coloring, and owl is the most likely visitor. At Ashley’s suggestion I will go back and set up camp to look for him again!


Memorial Day & memories

Today I went on a guided hike in Canemah and had a blast, but I’m going to write about that in tomorrow’s post.

While in Canemah, the historic cemetery had its gates open to allow Memorial Day traffic, and our group went in to admire the lovely grounds. As I was walking around I got to thinking about Memorial Day, which was originally designated as a day to decorate the graves of veterans in the Civil War and then eventually morphed into the holiday it is today.

I am not the biggest fan of holidays, but this year Memorial Day has made me stop and think. It’s probably because my dad is quickly fading from dementia / Alzheimer’s disease. It’s hard on me because I remember him as the man who put in the garden every summer, taught me to drive, and helped me roof my first house. Now he does very little; while he is still “at home”, he can’t really travel and has trouble with a lot of daily tasks. It’s even harder on my mom who takes care of him. I worry about them both.

choateuniform_smchoatonship2_smMy dad was drafted into the navy after finishing college. He served as an officer on the USS Providence (CLG-6) from around 1964-1967. During this period, he went to the following places:

  • Guam – July 19, 1964
  • Fiji
  • Port Swettenham
  • Singapore
  • Taiwan
  • Hong Kong
  • Beppu – 1967
  • Japan
  • Subic Bay, Philippines, September 1967

choatwithpipeI have to say “around” in my description of his service because Dad never really talked about the details of his time in the navy. The stereotype of those who serve is of men who came back and tell war stories. Dad would occasionally tell a few stories about his friends in the navy when he had a few to many, but he never would say much more.

When I was in my teens I learned from my mom that he had spent some time behind enemy lines and that was why he didn’t like rice and kept his hair so short (he still wears a crew cut. )

Going through old photo albums, and we are lucky enough to have many, I can see Dad’s artistic side in his photographs and meticulously detailed photo albums, in some cases complete with notes.


There is no description of what this is, but I think it must have been a rocket being launched off Dad’s ship.

When I look at these notes, I really feel that how young and scared Dad must have been.

Dad came back to the states in about 1968, re-entered college as a graduate student, married my mom in 1969, and became a shop and art teacher in Oregon about 1970.


Dad’s Naval Retirement ceremony, June 1985.

He stayed in the Navy Reserves until 1985, serving 20 years.

Its more than a little sad to think about Dad’s period in active service, because I know it left him with unpleasant memories. But I’m proud of him. And grateful.

I just wish it hadn’t been so hard on him.


Short and random recap

Last week was a very long week and Friday capped it off with a variety of small computer disasters. The minute I got home, Finn and I hit Canemah.

Immediately the day vastly improved.

Saturday was marked by the farmer’s market, a TRAG board meeting, and a shift as an SEO volunteer. Once I got those obligations out of the way, I did some major gardening. I did so much gardening I actually woke up last night because of soreness!

But today I was out again. I lost a lot of plants over the winter and I had to redo some flower beds. Plus the weeds are crazy.

I’m sore and tired again tonight. So please forgive my short post and just enjoy the pictures!

Know when to give up

So tonight was my self-imposed painting night. It’s been a tiring week, but I settled down to paint anyway. I was pleased with myself.

geeseI started with “Twilight Flight.” It’s hard to tell, but I added another layer of darks and the eyes to the geese. I’m still not sure what to do about the background.


ospreyI switched to my osprey painting. I filled in the talons and tweaked the shape of the beak. I need to enhance the fish, and then I may be done.



bathNext I worked on this horse painting that has been around for a while. I still have a goal of taking it up to Equine Art in July, but it’s not progressing very quickly. I went “back to the drawing board” a little today and redrew some sections. I also took off the masking. Then I got stuck again.

Finally, I moved to “Follow the Leader.” What I thought would be a simple matter of adding a horizon time, ended up being a major change. Frankly, I’m not sure for the better. I think it was a big mistake adding pink to the palette. I thought the painting wasn’t colorful enough, but I didn’t realize how colorful it was until I added another color. Now there is no going back.

leaderIt was here that I decided to stop. I wish I had stopped just one step before…

Paint me!

Someone recently asked me how long it takes me to complete a painting. Every artist has heard this question and has their own response, the most realistic being “it took as long as it took.”

For me, I would guesstimate it takes me about two months from “first paint on the paper” to “signature”. Sometimes even longer depending on how the painting goes. The initial parts of the process are pretty quick; it’s the critiques and small changes that take all the time.

Today was a rainy, stormy day so I wasn’t very active as far as getting outside the house, but I did spend some quality painting time with three of my recent paintings.

geeseTuesday I started this painting, tentatively titled “Twilight Flight”. Here it is with the masking off, the black wing feather defined, the beaks started,  and some preliminary shading on the body. It has just been calling “paint me” all week.

I think that once I get the remaining details on the geese done, I’m going to have to make a decision about the background. I love it, but I don’t think it’s going to work as undefined as it currently is.

My original idea was to have the orange part be trees like in the reference photo, but I liked it so much with just the initial wash I thought I could skip that step. I don’t think so. I think a little more suggestion will be needed.

swansI also worked a little on “Follow the Leader” but all I really got in was the feed and five of the six beaks (I need to find the other beak…) Like “Twilight Flight” this will need shadowing on the swans, and more definition on the background. Also, looking at it, I’m going to have to think of something clever to do with the water placement.

ospreyFinally I worked a little more on “Mine” an osprey painted from a reference photo of a Sauvie Island osprey I took last summer (not the osprey I saw last week in Canemah).

I need to emphasize the fish, add some tallons, adjust the eyes, and add some shadows. Then I’m going to have to figure out if the post needs more work.

This is only three of the eleven paintings I have going right now (not including ice painting backgrounds, sketches, or other ideas).

I’d like to promise I won’t start anything else until I finish these… but I hate to lie.


Dreams, wishes & work

California Chrome won the Preakness.

Stacey and General George made the top 10 and will do their freestyle. One goal down, two to go.

And I finished a 5K walk.

routemapI work for Multnomah County, which has been doing a series of heart awareness events. This is where I won my Nike Fuel and new i-pod; this inspired me to start my recent quest for lifestyle improvement.

I decided to try this 5K walk as good way to get some exercise on a Saturday and do something I’ve always wanted to do: walk the East Bank Esplanade.

I have walked a 5K before, but it’s been many years.

Before I begin, let me say this. I had a good time, but being among so many people is really not my thing.

afterstartSo at 9:30, Finn and I started.

My safety net was there was a 1-mile turnaround for those needing a shorter route. But at the 1/2 mile mark I felt okay and kept going.

quarterJust before we reached the Steel Bridge, things were thinning out, but the bridge clumped everyone up again.

steelbridgeAfter the bridge was the halfway mark, and there was a hydration station. I had brought water for Finn and I, but he enjoyed drinking from a real bowl and playing for a few minutes with the other dog, and we were off again. Finn

From here it was simply a walk back to the finish line. I was definitely feeling it, but I knew I could do it. finish

As we were nearing the finish line and I knew I could do it, I got to thinking about this walk as a metaphor for my weight loss journey.

I had prepared with a few supplies. I had a buddy and support in Finn. I had taken breaks. I had a backup plan.

I hope I remember this day the next time I have a bad day with my new lifestyle. Because while California Chrome’s owner had a dream about hose this horse would win the Kentucky Derby before he was born, and while Stacey Riggs wishes to win her competition, it’s really work that makes it happen. One step at a time.


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