Focused Friday? Fatal failure.

Like many bloggers, I am going to do a “random” blog today because, well, this week has just worn me out.

1. First City Celebration

This Saturday I will be in downtown Oregon City meeting and greeting the public along with 100 other artists and vendors for the 5th Annual First City Celebration. There will be music, food, and wine. This promises to be a great event, so if you haven’t already, put it on your calendar and come on down. Even the weather looks to cooperate by not raining and not frying us like so many eggs.

The event is from 11am-9pm (as an artist, I’ll be leaving at 7, but there will be music and wine going on until later.) I really hope to see you all.

firsticyt2. Go Stacy Riggs and NoName

My friend Stacey Riggs is once again taking a mustang (NoName) to Extreme Mustang Makeover, this time in Nampa, ID. Unlike last time, she hopes that someone will adopt the horse that she has worked with for the last 90 days. To facilitate this, she gave him the name NoName (pronounced No-Nah-Mi). At the end of day 1 they stand in 3rd place.

I guess she’s going “Dressage” this time instead of Western. I don’t know if this is part of a larger plan, but I think they look great.

I hope she’ll forgive me for stealing her Facebook photo in order to wish her luck.

riggs3. Swallows

The swallows have fledged. But before they left, I managed to verify 3 babies.

threeswallows4. Big cats

For the last week there has been a sign up at Canemah.


Now, I’m not sure, but I think I spotted it today.

cougarWhat do you think?

5. Birding at Canemah

Things are so quiet at Canemah (maybe the cougar has scared them all off?) I haven’t even seen the vultures the last few times I went down. Then today, I had a pretty good birding day.

6. Other things that fly

It’s so dry that it is hard to get good photos (or at least photos that I find pleasing) at Canemah.

But today I took a little break in the shade and I saw a little flock of the most lovely damselflies.

damselfly1 damselfly27. Madrone trees

I think the madrone trees are so striking this time of year with their sunburned and peeling bark.


It’s almost time for goodbye

For the last five years I’ve had a family of swallows nesting outside my office window. I love this. I love the swooping of the parents, the cries of the babies, the briefness of the whole affair.


This year the nesting has been later than normal; based on my records, the swallows nested about 10 days later than in other years.

Tonight I went out and took pictures of the near-fledglings. I think they’ll fledge in the nest day or two.

This year I was able to use my new camera that can take pictures more quickly. I got some great shots. Including this one of a VERY full mouth.

fedThese swallows are my favorite thing about summer. I’ll be sorry when they leave, though they’ll hang around looking all fluffy for a few weeks.

This post by Anna Blake, Muck Meditation on Swallows, posted at Anna Blake Blog, is a beautiful description of these beautiful birds.


Monday evening I attended the Three Rivers Artist Guild monthly meeting. As the vice president, it’s my job to line up speakers for each meeting, and this month we had Laura Valenti Jelen giving a presentation on “Creating a Visionary Portfolio.”

As a photographer, Laura’s focus is little different than mine as a painter; not only are the mediums different, some of the protocol and etiquette is different.

These differences proved to be an insignificant barrier. Laura explained that in her world a portfolio was the development of a theme or idea, not a collection of greatest hits. She invited us to really explore an idea, giving examples from her own work an others.

For example, she has a current project called “Atlas of Remote Islands” which is loosely based on a book she read. She selects photos evocative of a place, real or imaginary and names them after these remote island (Laura, forgive me if I’m not explaining this correctly.) It’s a fabulous idea and so inspiring.

Many people in the room commented on ideas that they had base on Laura’s ideas. I, too, have some ideas. I’ve been toying with the idea of going smaller and more frequent with my work, and this seems like a great jumping off point. Here are some ideas:

  • Skies (sort of a sky scarf idea)
  • Birds (either yard-based or Canemah-based)
  • Horses on Yupo
  • Hawaiin fish series inspried by work of Carol Bennett
  • More abstracts
  • Insects (particularly bees)
  • The madrone trees at Canemah
  • Sketching every day
  • Hummingbirds at my flowers
  • Whales

Maybe doing a series of smaller works would allow a little more play and experimentation into my life.


A Day At the Races

No, I haven’t forgotten to blog; I’ve just been so busy that I’m completely backlogged with things to say! But my goal this weekend is to churn out some posts… here goes!


Me and official bugler Dan! I love that hats are a total thing at the races… the bigger the better1

Last Sunday I went up to Emerald Downs to enjoy the day of racing, see the Equine Art Show, and pick up my paintings. My friend JJ and two of her sons, Ethan and Ryan, came up with me. It was a really great day. We got their early enough to get a picnic table, rented a shade umbrella, and enjoyed the day!

The Equine Art show was VERY strong this year, particularly in the watercolor division. I was disappointed that none of my paintings received an award, but the award winners were so strong, I couldn’t really find fault with the judge’s decisions.

As if to make up for it, I became a rich woman by winning $1.60 over and above my bets.

The art show was fun, and so was picnicking with JJ and the boys, but of course the real excitement was the horses. I took the newer camera with the telephoto lens and I think I got some good photos to keep my inspired in the upcoming year.

Unfortunately, for the first time I also saw a serious fall; the horse was vanned off, never having gotten to its feet, and the jockey is still sore and not riding a week later. I haven’t been able to find out if the horse made it, though I asked several officials. I am keeping my fingers crossed because I overheard a couple of the pony riders talking about how the horse was hyperventilating even 40 minutes later; hopefully it was scared more than hurt? In the next race another horse was pulled up, and I found out from her trainer she had a slab fracture on her knee, but was resting comfortably. If anyone has more information, though, I’d love to hear about. I’ve scanned the web, but the industry is pretty closed-mouthed about this kind of thing.

Inspiration for "Weiner's Circle"

Inspiration for “Weiner’s Circle”

On a lighter note, the Weiner Dog races were taking place. Those were a lot of fun. I’m contemplating a painting entitled “Weiner’s Circle” for next year’s show. The slogan of the Equine Art Show is “The Horse and a Whole Lot More”; I think this would fit!

I also had a good time hanging out with JJ and the boys. I haven’t been around teenagers a lot; I knew going in that enthusiasm would be asking for too much, but I was surprised they weren’t more active. JJ says that they didn’t complain and thus the day was a ROUSING success. I’ll take her word for it, but I had a good time!


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 )

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!

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