Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas everyone! I so miss the snowy Christmases of my childhood. Sitting by the window watching the flakes fall while sipping a cup of hot chocolate - the moonlight reflecting off the snow as it accumulates in wind-sculpted drifts - the occasional showshoe hare that would hop across the yard when I lived in Montana. So last night I was thinking how much I wish it would snow for Christmas Day. And an hour ago I got my wish ... it's even sticking a bit, unusual for Portland. As the flakes fall in my backyard, I am watching the squirrels and jays scurry to fill themselves with peanuts and corn and hurrying back to shelter. The little Oregon Junkos that are scurrying through the yard, stopping at my feeder, with their feathers blown about by the wind, seem the least perterbed about the change in weather. So I think I will make myself a cup of tea and enjoy my unexpected gift from Mother Nature.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

An End and a Beginning

As the solstice grows near and the new year looms ahead, it is time to say goodbye to 2007 and make plans for 2008. I read that in all winter rituals and religious observations that there is a common thread of musings that are acknowledged in each. First, to remember and recognize all that has been accomplished over the last year. Secondly, to forgive yourself and leave behind all that has saddened or hurt you over the last year and finally, to decide the direction you wish to take for the new year.

I have had an incredible year. I am so grateful for the support and guidance provided or shared with me over the past year by so many wonderful people as I have traveled from a depressed, overweight and defeated individual to a healthy person excited by each new day of life and the prospects it brings. I am grateful to all who helped, supported and encouraged me as I lost weight, got fit, traveled to new places and grew in my art. You all know who you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I will attempt to let go of my need for perfectionism and recognize that despite my upbringing, it is not possible for a human to be perfect and continue to learn to accept myself as I am: not all that I want to be, not able to please everyone, but a human with value, all the same. I ask for forgiveness from those who I have hurt over the past year - know that I would never do so deliberately, but need to be accountable for my behavior all the same. I am truly sorry.

As I grow older and no longer have the energy I once had to focus on many things at once, I will use the upcoming year to determine what is most important to me in life and learn to let less meaningful things go. To realize that my resources need to be focused on that which fulfills me and makes me a better person, not wasted on what brings only momentary happiness or gives me the illusion of being more acceptable in the eyes of others. Most importantly, I want to see more how I fit in this world and where my actions can do the most good rather than on demanding that the world accomodate me. I know it can be done - I have friends who are already there.

So to everyone out there, I hope you are able to lay the old year at rest and wish you all the best with your dreams and wishes for 2007.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Few New Bracelets

These will be in the Sixth Street Gallery show, as well. The Home and Garden bracelet is the class I taught at Art and Soul and the other two bracelets are a variation on that theme.

A Woven Gourd

Since teaching my gourd class at Art and Soul I have been fascinated with the versatility of this craft. You can cut them, carve them, color them with a variety of media and add an assortment of embellishments. Here is my latest effort at creating gourd art. I drew the mountain and
fish design, used a woodburner to draw in detail and then cut out open spaces in the gourd, where I wove layers of yarn scraps to represent water. I used alcohol inks and watercolor mixed with alcohol to color the gourd. The gourd was accepted for show in the Sixth Street Gallery in Vancouver for their December Mosaic Art Alliance show. I look forward to creating more pieces in this versatile medium.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Life is Good

I volunteered to be an Art Walk guide for the Vancouver First Friday gallery tours and had a great time showing folks the growing art community in our town. For so long, we have turned to Portland, OR across the river for our arts, but in the last few years we have gone from one gallery to seven in our little downtown and judging by last nights crowds, people are excited to be a part of it. One of the other guides who represents the Sixth Street Gallery and is a very talented artist was leading a group when she heard a woman discussing the bracelet she had just seen at the gallery and had purchased. It turned out to be my bracelet for the "Day of the Dead" show - it sold the first night! She brought the lady over to meet me and after we talked, I agreed to make it into a necklace for her. I am just so amazed!

Tonight I had a wonderful conversation with an 80 year old gentleman I met at Border's Book Store - he came over to comment on my silver house necklace that I always wear. He was an amazing man. He was in WWII, has traveled all over the globe, worked a great variety of jobs, been in the Peace Corp and traveled New Zealand, one place I have always wanted to visit. We talked about his travels and his philosophy that God will always provide a way for him to live. I have always wanted to be more like that and have the courage to act without wanting a safety net under me and it was inspiring to talk to him. We talked for two hours - unbelievable when you consider I usually shy away from strangers, being the confirmed introvert that I am. I was very touched by him, though I am not sure why.

He left me with his belief that we are all born with talents and abilities and we are misusing life if we don't take the time to explore them. He told me a story of a piece of oak that he was turning on a lathe as a young man and when he exposed the layers of wood, the oak had yellow and red tones to it he had not seen before. He said the piece flowed from somewhere inside him as he turned it on the lathe and the end result was so much a part of him, he could not part with it and carried it with him for many, many years through his travels. He asked me then had I ever created something that was so much a part of me I could not part with it? And that would be the house charm I wear everywhere. Do you all have a piece of art you created that you have not been able to part with? Have you ever had a serendiptous meeting with someone that resonated in your soul? Life is good.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dias de las Muerta

Just thought I would post a photo of the bracelet I submitted for the Day of the Dead show at Sixth Street Gallery in Vancouver, WA

Art and Soul

I am so sad that Art and Soul in Portland is over for another year. What a wonderful retreat Glenny has created for everyone. I took classes from Jane Wynn, Robert Dancik, Daniel Essig and Donna Crispin and they were all exceptional instructors and I learned so much from all of them. But I learned a great deal from fellow attendees, as well. Who could ask for a better group of people!! It just reaffirms I made the right decision to pursue a life filled with art and creativity.

I taught three evening classes - a gourd class, a bracelet class and a needle felting class. I was blessed with wonderful students and had a great time teaching each class. Each student turned out beautiful pieces of art. Even though they used the same techniques, each piece they created was unique and wonderful and the variety amazed and delighted me. What a privilege it is to watch such creativity at work. Thank you all for taking my classes.

I am energized by all I've learn and dizzy with new ideas - now I am off to organize my garage studio and start producing jewelry using my new found skills. Hopefully, I will be able to hook up my big kiln and install an exhaust fan before winter really sets in and then I can have friends over to play with metal and clay. I will be off to Sisters, OR this weekend to take in the Harvest Faire with 200 art vendors. I have my fingers crossed it will not rain!!

Summer Vacation and the Climb

Well, I left you last about to climb Mt. Whitney but got so busy upon my return that I never got back to how I did. I had a fabulous trip - I spent the first night and day in Mt. Lassen National Park. I climbed to the top of Mt. Lassen on the peak trail in a driving wind and rainstorm. When I got to the top at 10,000 plus feet, I couldn't see a thing - I was in the clouds, but I made it. After I hiked back down, a total of five miles, I headed directly for the store in the parking area and ordered a bowl of chili, I was so cold. I drove a couple miles down the road and hiked the Bumpass Hell trail to the most amazing collection of mudpots, hot springs and fumaroles. There was a boardwalk through the area so you could see everything upclose and personnel. It was amazing. I left the park and spent the night in Carson, Nevada and left early the next day for Mt. Whitney. I stopped in Mono Lake on the way and was so happy to see that now that Los Angeles only takes a third of the water they used to take, that the islands are back and the alkali flats are gone and the birds get to nest again without being eaten by the coyotes. Proof that a grass roots campaign can succeed.

When I arrived in Lone Pine, California, I picked up my permit at the ranger station and drove up the Whitney Portal Road to the campground. I drove through the Alabama Hills, where so many westerns have been filmed. The valley was full of haze from the nearby fires. I found my campsite easily enough and it was right on the creek. After putting my food in the bear box, I took a short hike up to the store and found the trailhead where I would begin my hike the next day. I went to sleep early and woke at 3 AM to begin the hike. I thought I would be spooked by the darkness, but it was not scary at all. I watched the sun rise while on the trail and the colors were beautiful. Initially, the going was pretty easy, but as the day wore on, the trail became rockier and oxygen more scarce, especially since I come from sea level. I stopped to feed a blue jay and admired the creeks and lakes as I went, stopping to talk to folks on the way.

After several hours, I reached Trail Camp at 12,033 feet and stopped. I could have continued, but it was hot, there was no shade and I would have had to come back for several hours in the dark. So I made a decision to return, having accomplished my goal of doing something I could not have done a year ago when I was fat and out of shape. I hope to return next year with a two day permit that will allow me to reach the top as I will camp one night at Trail Camp rather than trying the climb in 24 hours.

I climbed down the mountain and ate dinner at the Whitney Portal Store and went back to the campsite where I was asleep in minutes. Left the next day and drove through Yosemite National Park on my way to Sacramento. Still beautiful, but so crowded that I did not stop to enjoy the sites. You could not take photos for all the people there. I spent the night in Sacramento and got up early the next day and drove out in the Sacramento River Delta to buy gourds at Leiser Farm for my Art and Soul class. What a wonderful lady and so willing to share her knowledge about gourds and her fantastic gourd collection.

From Sacramento, I crossed to the coast from Redding, CA to Eureka, CA and visited a couple of bead stores in Eureka, still picking up class supplies. I spent that night in Gold Beach, Oregon after driving through the Redwoods National Park and found a wonderful two story book store there full of art and old used books - a treasure I will remember to go back to. The next day, I visited a delightful older lady who sold pine needle baskets from her home on the side of the highway, before finally heading for home. A great trip with many lasting good memories

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mt. Whitney

Those of you that know me are aware I have been on a year long journey to create and live a healthy lifestyle. It has not been easy to end old habits, learn to limit the foods I love (and there is very little food I don't love) and actually use my gym membership and exercise. Over the past year I have lost 63 lbs., lowered my cholesterol to 146, my triglycerides to 67 and my resting heart beat to 48 - all at almost 54 years of age. A year ago, I didn't believe it possible. But taking it one day at a time and never letting the bad days end my efforts, as they did before, I am almost to my goal of a healthy BMI - 12 more pounds. To celebrate my anniversary of a new life, I obtained a permit to hike to the top of Mt. Whitney, California - the highest spot in the lower 48 states. Imagine going from a coach potato to climbing to the top of a mountain!! I have no idea if I will make it, especially as I was only able to get a one day permit, but I am going to give it my best shot. In addition, I am participating in the Washington Trail Association Hike-a-thon and my miles on Mt. Whitney will count towards raising monies to repair the storm damage to Washington trails that occured last fall. A worthy charity since the National Park Systems budget is set to be slashed again this year (if you are interested in donating please let me know) So please send me good thoughts on August 21 as I head to the top of the mountain. I will need all the support I can get.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Time can fly when you don't pay attention

I can't believe it has been just short of a year since I posted. Life has a way of getting complicate at times and before you know it, you have lost track of time and purpose and need to re-center. I have continued with my art and travels, taking a beautiful trip on Halloween week through Northern California from Mt. Shasta to Mt. Lassen, through Reno, up to Boise and back to Vancouver, WA taking in the beautiful fall colors and awesome scenery. I have trips to Virginia and Idaho coming up and have a trip planned to climb Mt. Whitney in California in August. I was accepted to teach three evening classes at Art and Soul Retreat in Portland this fall (see above). Art and Soul has a vast assortment of great classes to take - here is a link ( ). Life is busy, but good and I will be more diligent in keeping everyone up to date