Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Icicle Curtain

The temperature got above freezing today. The snow on the edges of the roof began the slow melt.

At this rate, will take quite a while for the snow cover to disappear.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Buggy Family

I saw this old toy in a shop window in Monterey, CA. Love it.

My husband Dale has a VW convertible. It's our vehicle to peace. When life gets too hairy, we go for a ride and let the wind blow our troubles away for a little while.

We need to wait until late spring before we get to put the top down again. It's worth the wait.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Knit Four, Purl Four

One of Jodie's goals for 2016 is to learn how to knit. She had a head start as a teenager, but had forgotten most of what she learned. So she asked me to teach her while she was visiting over the Christmas holiday.

Funny thing is, I barely know how to knit myself. It was a little like the blind being led by the visually impaired. I couldn't remember all the official vocabulary of knitting, so made up my own terms. On top of that, Jodie is right-handed and I am left-handed. That's always a little hurdle we have to overcome when I teach her a new skill. Luckily, we have experience in working in mirror image, so instead of sitting side-by-side as teacher and pupil, we sit across from each other.

I joggled my memory and taught her a few basics: casting on, the basic knit stitch, the basic purl stitch, then how to put those together to make a stockinette stitch, and how to put them together in another way to make ribbing. I explained how to take a rib stitch and turn it into a basketweave, but we didn't practice that. Out of necessity, Jodie learned to decrease because she somehow kept adding stitches inadvertently. And I showed her how to increase at an edge, because that's the only way I know how to do it. Then she learned to cast off.

I kept invoking the name of our friend Susan, who is a fantastic knitter (and spinner and weaver and baker and dog lover ... but I digress). I also encouraged Jodie to spend some time with online tutorials to get more tips than I have to share - and to learn the proper lingo.

The cool thing was that, after a bit, we were quiet and concentrating, and we began to hear that lovely rhythmic click of the needles begin to happen. It's such a soothing sound. Our little sampler began to grow. Our stitches became more even. The feeling of accomplishment and serenity was palpable.

As a bonus to me, the lesson got me jazzed about knitting again. I grabbed a couple skeins of yarn from my stash, and started (well, started six times due to making mistakes and having to start over) a new scarf for myself. Such pretty colors! Using the rib stitch, it ought to be nice and warm, too.

Let's see if I can get it done before the snow melts.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Rudy's Invasion

Guest post and photo by Jodie Davaz

Another gift card, another Pinterest-inspired delivery! You'll remember that last year Mom made a Santa-style gift card holder. This time around, Mom created certain red-nosed reindeer.

Huh. Reindeers don't have goatees. Why...?

Oh. HuHot guy. Got it. Hah!


Inspired by
That's What Che Said

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Snow-Oh-Oh, It's Magic

Guest post and photo by Jodie Davaz

Mom has a long history of handcrafting beautiful ornaments for the family's tree. Recent years have included a number of gorgeous beaded pieces. But this year's glittery pearl snowflakes, made in a team effort by Mom, Jeanne and me, are my favorites yet.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Home for the Holidays

by guest blogger Jodie Davaz

It almost never snows in Oregon. Sure, we have rain – a record in Eugene this year, with rain falling hard every day since Nov. 30. It stops being gloomy after a while. You suck in a couple vitamin D pills a day, sit in front of a happy lamp at work, and curl up with a blanket and a good book at home.

With all the cold and rain, it's hard to be festive. Nobody wants to put lights on the outside of their houses in the rain. And even if we tried to time our outdoor light excursion with the brief cloud breaks, I live in a neighborhood of duplexes occupied by renters who don't want to jeopardize their deposits. It's not exactly a holiday hotspot.

Though I've been planning a holiday visit to my parents since Thanksgiving, I haven't been able to experience a jolly spirit. My sapling-sized (fake) tree fell apart, my stockings refused to hang prettily. Mom and I made a commitment to let the candy canes and wrapping paper explode upon my arrival to town. And boy, did my hometown deliver.

I began feeling the holiday hype when I passed through Ritzville and saw deposits of snow on the ground. In Sprague, pine trees weighed down heavily with snow dotted the landscape. Medical Lake was positively frozen over. And in Spokane, heavy snowfall pelted my welcoming windshield.

But finally, driving down the street to my parents' house, the real holiday magic set in. Here, the snow lay thick on the ground. Here, neighbors took time to plan exquisite lighting of their homes and yards. Here, Mom has decked the halls and hung the stockings and put up a tree and wafted cookie-smell through the house.

I came home to my family, but I also came home to Christmas.


These little fellas greeted me as I walked in the door. Don't be fooled by the macro photo; they each are about the size of a quarter. This, a close-up shot of the all-encompassing holiday spirit I have the luxury of feeling tonight.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

After the Storm

We ended up getting around a foot of snow.
The streets were plowed.
The driveway was shoveled.
The berm was removed.

Then the moon broke through the clouds, and rose over our home.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Christmas Storm

The view from my front porch on the longest night of the year. It feels like Christmas now.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Favorite Quotation

"Ah, shit. That damn bird is perched on my head again!"
~ John Steinbeck
   in Cannery Row

Inscribed on the Cannery Row monument. I'm sure I read that quote in this plaque!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Every time I return to California, I fall in love with this plant all over again. The way sunlight filters through the petals is exquisite ... then they flutter and shimmer in the breeze. I was surprised to see the blooms in November. I didn't remember the flowers lasting all year.

Then there are the details. Though we have some really gorgeous flowers here in the warmer months, there's nothing quite like a bougainvillea in north Idaho.

It's like a prayer.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


This was the most memorable moment of my morning on the bay. No telephoto needed. Yike!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Line 'em Up!

I have a minor OCD issue.

I can't drink my tea until the logo, the holder and the lid line up.

I line up my french fries and Cheetos, too.
It's a feature, not a bug. Not too severe as oddities go. 

Friday, December 11, 2015


I was inspired by these incredible paintings by Ran Ortner that I saw online yesterday. Click through to view all his incredible artwork!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Just Another Flower Photo

Here's a little something to brighten my life on another dark and soaking wet day.

Hard to believe I took this photo just a month ago ... where it was warm and sunny outside in California.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

California Waterway

Autumn glory on the Sacramento River
[click for larger image]

Another in my series of Passenger Seat Photography at 70mph.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Thar Be Dragons!

Wildlife photography of fantastical beasts along America's highways.

[click for larger image ... it's worth it!]

Another in my series of Passenger Seat Photography at 70mph.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Self Portrait Week 40: The Microscope

I got a new toy for my birthday. A microscope. With it I received an attachment so that my smartphone can be used with the eyepiece to take photos of the fun objects I'm studying.

Jeanne and I were trying to figure out how to attach the phone to the eyepiece, and this photo was taken by accident. I love facial expressions full of focused concentration! (And there's nothing quite like an "up the nose" shot!)

We did eventually figure it out. I don't have any slides yet, so we put a piece of tissue paper (with a small hole in it) under the lens and captured this image:

This is going to take my love of macro photography to a whole new level!

Now ... how do I capture a snowflake?


Photo Tips I Learned:

  • Don't be afraid to try out new equipment or a new technique. If you feel intimidated, have your scientific kid help you out.
  • When using your camera with your microscope, remember to take if off "selfie mode."
  • Beware of those who have a knack for photobombs!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

In the Shadow of Shasta

Dale and I drove by Mt. Shasta in northern California last month as Autumn made herself known.

[click for a larger image]

This is another in my series of Passenger Seat Photography at 70mph.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Rock Pidgeon

This one likes Mexican food. It was perched on the roof of El Torito, overlooking Monterey Bay.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay

Sittin' in the morning sun
I'll be sittin' when the evening comes
Watching the ships roll in
Then I watch them roll away again, yeah

I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay
Watchin' the tide roll away, ooh
I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay
Wastin' time

~ Otis Redding

Monterey Bay, California

[Click for larger image]

Monday, November 30, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 30

I'm grateful that I sometimes have the courage to be vulnerable.

You'd think that for someone like me -- who wears her heart on her sleeve -- opening myself up to other people is an easy thing.

It's not.

When I wear my heart on my sleeve, it exposes me to the possibility of getting punched in the arm. A few sad souls do it just for the fun of garnering my reaction.

I wear my heart on my sleeve anyway.

Over this last birthday weekend, I received over 100 wishes for happiness. A few in person. Some on the phone or by email. Most were via Facebook. My daughters noted it first, "Mom! Your timeline is EXPLODING!"

My birthday was on Saturday, but I waited until yesterday -- after the last family member backed his car out of our driveway -- to start reading and responding to my birthday greetings. What strikes me most is that, with each post, I picture that friend's face at the time that I met them or, more significantly, at the moment we became friends because we dared to open ourselves up to one another.

Even a little.

The memory snapshots flip through my mind. I recall the conversations and re-feel the tingles each person evokes in me. I've deeply loved many - and have been deeply in love with a special few. With tenuous ribbons of words, bits and bytes and images, we remain connected. The nature of the relationships alters over time. We grow. Or sink. Some of these reconnections solidified after years apart. Some of the friendships exist solely online as we share common interests.

With each, there's been at least one moment of vulnerability, one moment of intimate connection. We've immersed ourselves into a conversation, daring to ask a personal question or share an opinion or a memory or a dream or a story or some poetry or a bit of humor. We dared to bond.

So on this last day of my month of gratitude, I'm grateful that I dare to initiate or respond to these invitations. I'm grateful that I crack my safe shell, and break into vulnerability.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 29

I'm grateful for a superb family weekend.

(and re-learning how to use a selfie stick)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 28

This lovely young woman came into my life 31 years ago. She's the best birthday present I ever worked for!


I'm grateful for you.

Bonus: my red wig looks really good on you.

Friday, November 27, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 27

We call the day after Thanksgiving "Gingerbread Friday."

It's the day my daughters and I begin our annual gingerbread project. In 2013 we made a gingerbread house. Last year, a gingerbread village. This year? A railroad yard!

We also planned next year's art projects for AuralArtists. So today I'm grateful my girls caught the crafting bug from me.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 26

On this bustling day, I'm grateful for moments of stillness.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 25

I'm grateful that my very favorite weekend of the year begins tonight.

I'm also grateful for my sister Janet who celebrates her 60th birthday today.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 24

Today, I'm grateful that I have enough.

Enough love.
Enough food.
Enough money.
Enough shelter.
Enough friends.
Enough children.

And a happy marriage to boot!

Monday, November 23, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 23

I'm having an "iffy" day today. Sort of stuck in neutral. Not a lot of energy. Hard to move things forward.

On days like today, I'm grateful for the little things ... like a working garbage disposal in the kitchen sink. All the electricity on that one circuit was out for a week or two. We called in a very nice professional electrician (who also happens to be our neighbor). He fixed it in a flash. Now it works.

I'm grateful to have it in order before the Thanksgiving cooking begins.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 22

I'm grateful for those professionals who help me through dark times.

Today, I'm having a great day. The aromas of Thanksgiving are beginning to waft through the house. Chex Mix (a family holiday staple) and home made soup.

On my good mental health days, it's hard to call to mind how small situations can trigger difficult mental health days. I've learned a lot of tools to help me cope and come out of those low times in large part from our family counselor. She's been working with us on and off for almost 15 years now. She's a great coach. I feel blessed that she has cared for me and my family with strength, and gentleness, and kindness.

My heart bleeds a little when I see folks who are obviously under mental stress, but have not yet found a professional to help them through the hard times. I have no joy in watching someone spin into harm's way, hurting others in their path because they aren't aware of how their words and actions are affecting those around them.

It's no fun observing the pain from a distance, knowing help cannot be had until the person is ready to accept help, ready to take responsibility for themselves, ready to transform from a victim attitude, ready to accept life and learn to navigate through it with grace.

So today, I'm grateful that I had that help and that my daughters know how to seek it when they need it. I celebrate how much all of us have grown with the help of compassionate professionals.

I'm wholeheartedly grateful for today's wonderful mood.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 21

Today I'm grateful for Crafternoons.

My eldest, Jeanne, spent the day with me today. First we worked. She helped prep the house for our Thanksgiving guests. Everything looks so nice now. We scrubbed, and dusted, and vacuumed, and swept, and wiped, and, well, you get the picture. It went so fast because she's a great hand, now that she's no longer "kid help." It zoomed by because we laugh a lot while we work.

After lunch, we spent the rest of the day in my Studio for a crafternoon. Jodie Skyped in and we all worked on some Thanksgiving decorations together. We're only a little tipsy from huffing the paint fumes.

In less than a week, we'll all be together. Baking. Laughing. Cooking. Laughing. Eating. Laughing. Playing games. Laughing. Crafting. Laughing. And did I say laughing? We'll have a bit of a slumber party on Thursday. On Friday we begin this year's gingerbread project.

There is no such thing as too many crafternoons with my girls.