A Grand View

Every time I fly back into Seattle, I hope to catch a glimpse of Mount Ranier from the plane. I know to sit on the left side and I always want a window seat.  If I’m lucky, it begins to loom on the horizon after crossing over the Cascades, and shows up as the plane is descending into Seattle.  Sometimes, it is invisible, shrouded in fog and clouds.  Every once in a while, it is huge and shining and the air all around it is clear and sweet.  For me, it means that I am almost home.  And seeing this glorious mountain reminds me of the power and sanctity of nature.

On Monday, I was flying back from Chicago and there it was.  This time, the clouds did not surround it completely, but only allowed its shape to emerge ever so slightly through the window of the plane.  I decided to take a few pictures anyway, thinking that maybe they’d be better than I thought.  The pictures looked fuzzy and Ranier was barely visible.  But even though the mountain didn’t  look like much in the camera, I downloaded the pictures anyway.  Then I started to play around, cropping a little, playing with contrast, saturation, light and dark.  Left a little tilt to the photo, so the idea that it was taken from a plane is obvious. Finally, I made the image black-and-white.  The horizontal chain of mountain and clouds is still merging into one another, but Ranier can hold its own.

Just a fun exercise.  To get a grand view of a grand mountain, well worth the effort.


Taking a Holiday

I had a great holiday weekend! I didn’t go anywhere at all.  Friends came over on Monday, so I cleaned a little and cooked a little and we all had fun.  Just stayed home and wandered from the garden to my studio to my computer to the kitchen.   Despite the lack of activity in my life, the feeling that it was a holiday was somehow still in the air, and I gave myself a vacation from stress, from haste, and from the need to cross things off my constantly growing list of things to do.

On Sunday, it was especially beautiful out, and I found myself picking up my camera and just walking around the house, down to the studio and back, and all around the house, down to the meadow, and back around again.  I took a lot of pictures on that sunny day.  For some reason, I wanted to fix that moment in time .  It felt important to document the house where I live and the flowers that I nurture.

It was part of my holiday, like going away to an exotic place, and taking a million pictures to capture all those memories and visual treasures.  But I didn’t even have to get in my car to have the holiday experience.  I just stayed home and started looking at things with a fresh eye.  Discovering the brilliance of the azaleas as if I had never seen them before.  Watching the bees swarm around the chive blossoms, I felt like I was on a wildlife expedition.

It was too much fun!  I picked out a few of my favorites to put here.  Normally, I play around with photos trying to make them better, adjusting the light and the color to get what I want (or think I want).  But this time, I just left them the way they were.  No cropping or changing them in any way.  Snapshots.  Postcards.  From my holiday at home.

I think that I’ll come back to this place again.


Right at Home

Last weekend I took yet another workshop and learned yet another new thing that I am excited about making.  This time, I went off to San Juan Island and spent a beautiful day outdoors making concrete leaves.  It is a really fun process and wonderfully tactile, even though rubber gloves are essential.  It starts with making a mound of sand, then laying the leaf on top of that.  The really fun part is mixing the concrete and then laying it on the leaf.  It is earthy and sensual to feel the cool, mushy concrete as it gets molded onto the leaf, moving it and shaping it to the desired thickness with the right contour.

There is a lot of potential for these leaves.  They are fun to make and fun to paint.  And I could see getting really wild with colors and shapes that have nothing to do with the natural world.  A purple leaf with yellow dots for instance.  We’ll see.

I keep learning new things that I want to do, and then feeling panic when I don’t have enough time to do them.  Or to do them justice.  Or to do them at all.  Somewhere along the line, it has to stop.  Yes?

For now, this leaf looks right at home in my garden.  At home in my garden, outside my house where my cats and lover live, near my studio where I want to be.  When I’m not off taking more workshops, that is.  Oh you mean like the wonderful mini wire basket that I’m going to learn this weekend?

But after this, I swear I’m staying home!

Staying Inside the Lines

We just had a wonderful three-day visit from Dennis’s son Ryan and our five-year-old granddaughter Leah. One of her favorite activities is to color, so I had bought her a mandala coloring book which turned out to be a really fun thing for us to do together. I had this realization that basically I have been coloring for four years, ever since I started drawing mandalas. What is strange is that I never really figured it out before.

Anyway, at one point, Leah said, “I like the way you color. All I know how to do is scribble.”

It was such an endearing thing to say, and I asked her if she would like to learn an easy way to help her stay within the lines and she said “yes.” I explained how she could use the black lines and first outline a shape in the desired color and after that begin to fill in the space. She tried it out and caught on really quickly, and I was so pleased that I had been able to teach her something.  She was very diligent about it for a while, but after a few minutes, she reverted to scribbling again.  I asked her why and she said, “I just like to scribble.”

That really made me think about how a child makes the transition from scribbling to being able to stay between the lines, and about what is gained and what is lost when that happens.  Leah knows.  Scribbling is fun.  It is free, wild, daring.  It isn’t afraid to go outside the lines.  It makes a bold statement.  I wonder why did we ever have to learn to stay inside the lines?  Who taught me?  When?  Why did I let it happen?  Is it too late to go back?

Pictured above is one of our best collaborations, with me trying to be looser, and Leah trying to stay inside the lines.


On Tuesday, I took a class at my favorite bead store and learned one of the many variations of the peyote stitch. What a wonderful way to spend a day. Figuring out a new technique. Hanging out with friends. Talking. Beading. Talking some more. Surrounded by the colors of all the beads hanging from every wall and in all the small bins surrounding the room.

These hundreds of seed beads may not look like much right now, but they will soon become a bracelet.  And if all goes well, it will be adorable!

And aside from all that, when I learn something new, I always learn a bit more about myself as well.  This time the mini-lesson came in the form of taking time for breaks and to get up and move and to stretch and to breathe.  Now you’d think all that would be second nature, but sometimes with something like needing, I get so intent on doing the project and so determined to finish it before I go home, and so determined to keep up with the other students because I know that I work slowly that I can sit for hours and not pause for anything.

But this time, I knew that I wouldn’t come close to finishing, and I was keeping up, and there was a flow and a rhythm to finishing a section then taking a break and then doing it all again.  Learning, remembering, creating, all one.