365 days


we are what we repeatedly do. excellence, then, is not an act but a habit

i've done it, folks.  one year ago, i set a goal, a lofty one at that, and today i reached it. sure, i've flubbed a few times, complained a lot, blurred the requisites, moaned and groaned, but in the end, i pretty much stuck to it, made it work: one painting a day, for one year.  it's not a new idea; i know it's been done before.  but as a result of this project, a revolution happened inside of me.  i showed myself what i am capable of.  i healed many old wounds.  i found my voice.  "practice what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know" said rembrandt.  through this journey of daily practice, i have learned some of the most valuable lessons life has to offer, lessons in self-discipline, motivation, communication, self-expression, creativity, humility, grief, healing, community, progress, persistence, accomplishment, and ambition.  today, one year later, i am a better version of me, and for that, i am so completely grateful.

looking back over this year, oh how it flew by... i realize: it took this magnitude of project to dig me out  from the sooty black ashes of my own grief over losing my mother.  today, looking back, i'm happier than i've ever been, and this project is to thank.  my daily practice brought me back...back to my mother, and back to life... to the legacy of a life lived through art, a life that endures, a life that extends far beyond our own mortal boundaries.

i have a lot of people to thank.  i'd like to thank my husband james, who has been a shining star throughout: his patience with my mood swings, his gentle encouragements holding me accountable, his pride in me that keeps me striving to be better, and his valiant rescue efforts whenever i'd fall.   i couldn't have done it without him.  and i'd like to thank you, my readers, my friends, my family, all of you out there: for your interest and support and love and investment in me.  because it takes a village....if people didn't care life wouldn't be worth living, art wouldn't be worth making.  but most of all, i have my mother to thank.  she's the one that badgered me to start it in the first place, years ago, you should do that jessie she said one day when we were sitting on the couch together snuggled under a blanket, looking through someone else's one-a-day on a little laptop screen.  because sometimes, it takes a push start to get the motor running.  and inspiration doesn't come out of thin air; it's the tree that grows tall and broad to shade us on a hot day, the flowers that bloom to feed the bees and produce fruit, its the fruit that feeds us, then falls to the ground to rot, the fruit that bears seed from which new life is born.  and creativity, it's the water of life, the ice that melts from the snow capped mountains, flows to the river that is breeding ground for the fishes, the river that winds through, finding the low spots, to feed the fields and water the coyotes, the water that flows to sea to become home for us all.  these are the things we must not keep for ourselves.  these are the things we must nurture, and share.  these are the things that keep us alive and well.  inspiration and creativity, our lifeblood, our sustenance.

you might wonder what's next for me.  as i've mentioned before, i have a long list.  it's a looooong list.  i plan to keep this blog going with regular posts on my creative endeavors...so as to keep me accountable.  and so we don't lose touch with one another.  it's a long road behind me.  it's a long road ahead.

thanks for everything.  i love you, i really do.


snow goose saga: part 5

just then, we saw jim and his wife crossing the bridge.  they were dropping pieces of bread down into the water for the geese, a daily ritual.  the two large geese clamored to get to the bread.  at very the same moment, a group of seven kayakers came out from under the bridge,surprising us all from out of nowhere, all geared up in fancy bright brand new kayaks, laughing and chattering loudly.  in a frenzy to get the bread, the large geese pecked fiercely at the smaller geese.  the three small geese, spooked by the cacophany, took flight.  as you know, these geese aren't the most graceful fliers.  barely two feet off of the surface of the water, they flew over the kayakers riding the incoming tide.  the birds, circling, accidentally brushed them with their feet and wings.  the kayakers, afraid, yelled loudly, spooking the geese further.  one put up a paddle in "self-defense" and knocked a goose into the water.  that goose attacked me! he screamed once and then twice, frantically splashing with his paddle at the helpless floating goose swimming towards him in the water, surrounded by kayakers with nowhere to go.  knock it off!  leave the goose alone! get the hell out of here and go back to where you came from!  jim yelled at the kayakers from the bridge.  the goose flew again, narrowly missing a swing from the paddle, back to the muddy banks, to land invisible somewhere in the tall grass.  my heart was in my throat, beating hard, and i had been holding my breath for who knows how long.  are they okay? i asked james. i think so he said, as the third goose struggled to find its way through the tall grass to meet the others on the bank.


snow goose saga: part 4

we drove to the river bridge and parked in the gravel off to the side, then walked to the bridge to stake out the scene.  there, we saw the two resident domestic ducks, big and fat and stately brown and white with orange feet, standing in the muddy low-tide banks of the river.  right next to them, dwarfed by their stature, stood two grey geese, exact replicas of the one we had in our backyard.  bingo!  we pulled the kennel out of the van, went down to the bank opposite of where they were at.  we held our breath, and opened the door.  the goose was confused.  he must have not see them.  he didn't get it at all.  he tried to walk the wrong way, up the bank.  we were panicked he would fly away before reuniting with his family, so we put him back in the kennel and walked him over to the other side to try again.  and again, we held our breath. and again, we opened the door.  this time, the goose saw his kind.  everyone stretched their necks up and honked.  it was a happy reunion.  then, all five geese went back to their business pecking at the mud, as if nothing had happened at all.  


snow goose saga: part 4

the day went on, and that rage-filled guy with the stick never came.  it was a relief.  i wasn't sure what i would have done had he seen the goose napping in my grass, had he wanted to hop my fence and pound that goose into oblivion.  but i do know it wouldn't have been pretty.  my hunch is, he wouldn't have won.  he would have run away screaming bloody murder.  because i do have a dark side, a fierce and protective mother lioness in there.  when tempted, she will pounce.  not to mention, i happen to prefer the company of animals to humans, thank you very much.

the day went on, but we were all pretty shook up by the turn of events.  we couldn't shake that creepy feeling.  was the goose dangerous?  not to us.  but it was a wild animal, and that was inarguable.  i watched as the ducks and goose started to bicker over access to a water bowl.  as an answer, i filled a large enamel roast pan.  the goose promptly got in, one foot and then another, until it was swimming....sort of.  this is ridiculous, i thought.  the goose filled the entire baking pan in a moment of dumb irony.  and then, in an attempt to dip down and bathe, the goose flipped entirely upside down!  it was awfully awkward, and all too apparent that the goose needed a water body, not just a twenty inch roast pan.  i picked it up and set it in the ducks' pool.  there, it bathed much like the ducks do, fluffing and dipping and flipping all about, splashing water everywhere.  it was a lovely sight, but even the kiddie pool seemed too small for that growing young goose.

the goose, freshly cleaned, got out and began preening.  pato and gonzo, curious as to what this bird was doing in their pool, this was their turf after all, approached the goose.  more confident than ever, the goose reached out and bit pato's hind feathers.  and at that moment, it was clear that the goose had the strength to seriously injure one of our ducks if it wanted to.  we had to do something.  we had to take the goose somewhere.

we studied our options.  wolf hollow wildlife sanctuary?  too far away, and the bird wasn't injured.  Cornet Bay, where we knew there were lots of resident geese? still too far... it seemed like the closer the better, considering that the goose might be on its home turf.  James had a hunch that someone local had released some juvenile geese for future hunting seasons.  We settled on the mouth of the Samish River, where we knew there were some domestic geese living, and good habitat to boot, put the goose into a kennel, and hopped in the van.


snow goose saga: part 3

later that afternoon, the goose took off again, in slow motion, flapping those massive wings awkwardly like it was the first time, whoosh whoosh whoosh, filling up space, barely getting over the fence and the flitting white banners i'd hung, like an amateur pole-vaulter, off towards the slough.  i figured it knew where it was going, it was "nature" after all, so i shrugged my shoulders in an "oh well" and went back to my business inside.  i figured it knew where it was going, but apparently i was wrong.

the goose landed about twenty feet away in the gravel alley between the longhorn bar and the gallery.  there, it was met by an unsuspecting day-tripper, a slick seattle hipster dad with infant in tote.  the goose, confused, seemingly tame or at least young enough to not know better, approached the dad.  the dad, who hadn't had such a close encounter before, was amazed and awestruck.  a friendly goose!  he brought his baby closer, look at the friendly goose he said to his baby, and they walked closer still.  and then....the goose got startled.  maybe the whap-whap-whap! of a motorcycle's tailpipe, maybe the squeal of the baby, but something made the goose take flight.  and awkward as it was, it flew straight into that dad holding his baby.  a collision.  the dad panicked, fell, dropped his baby in the gravel.  all this, in front of his wife, in front of his mother-in-law.  baby screamed, mostly uninjured except for some scrapes on its face.  dad was humiliated, angrier than the dickens. he was out for blood.  that goose attacked me he yelled, that goose needs to die! pointing at the goose behind james in the street.  the goose, unaware of what he'd just done, approached the man.  thinking the goose was about to go in for another cheap shot, the man ran away.  and then next thing we heard, he was stomping around town in a red-faced head-hunt fury, stick in hand, looking for a grey goose to kill. 

james picked the goose up, put it back in our yard, and we all tried to lay low for a bit.


snow goose saga: part 2

that evening, while i was reading bedtime stories to my two little cousins, the goose flew away.  it was clumsy, slow, just a teenager and still learning how to use those wings that stretched nearly four feet across.  james followed it to the lumberyard, where it had built up enough loft to land on the peak of the warehouse roof.  it readjusted its feathers, and then took flight again, off into the distance.  when james announced the goose's departure, it flew away he said, i was slightly sad but mostly relieved.  it's what i expected.  because a wild animal isn't called wild for no reason.

the next morning, we all were waking up and having our coffees and teas when we saw our neighbor chris and his baby boy walking down the empty street across town.  following close behind him, straight down that yellow line, was the goose.  we were all overjoyed!  the kids ran to catch up, so did james, he called out to the goose, gooser! the goose responded with a familiar honk, and increased its gate.  we all walked together to our backyard, the goose entered as if it knew right where it was headed.  it quickly resumed eating feed, drank some water, bedded down, and took a nap in the sunny grass.  that afternoon, after everyone else  left, i took a nap too, in the backyard, all of us sleeping in the summer sun, the two cats, the two ducks, us plus the grey goose with the white eyelids, its black beak tucked neatly in its wing feathers, all of us purring lightly, cozy, every now and again cracking my eyes to see that the goose was still there.


snow goose saga: part 1

when i drove into the driveway from running errands yesterday, i wasn't really surprised to find a wild goose in the backyard.  these things just seem to happen to us, i guess.  it was on john's back patio by the slough james said. john thought it was one of our ducks.  and when i kneeled down to it, it came right into my arms.  the goose was nonchalant in our backyard.  it was sleek, the color of wet gravel, long-necked and gracefully slow in its movements. i observed: much bigger than pato and gonzo, more defined features, with a pointy razor-edged beak for gnawing on grass or what-have-you.  strong, the bird was yanking the shit out of weeds. pato and gonzo, flustered by the goose's presence, made some fruitless attempts at defending their territory, valiant running beak jabs over the goose's back, but that goose remained cool and calm, gently cooing around the yard.  we hopped to a bird identification book to confirm that the bird was an immature snow goose.  right part of the world, but wrong season.  the bird was obviously confused.  we hung around for a while, reveling in how tame it was, speculating, watching it eat and drink and mingle about, seemingly enjoying our company.


all i ever wanted

all i ever wanted to do for my birthday was go on a little vacation.  so it was the perfect ulterior motive for scheduling a recording session out on orcas island to land on that day.  the weeks leading up to it, i could tell we were all a little nervous...nervous to leave home, performance anxiety, so many unknowns.  but as soon as we got on the road, saddled up to an early morning breakfast and hit the ferry landing, our spirits were high. there at the landing, in front of us in line, a family with out of state plates tended to their child who was screaming with shit barf and pee soaked pants.  we gave them a towel for cleanup in lieu of their tissues, the same towel that our dear old dog passed away on, and told them not to worry, you'll see the ferry coming long before it's time to load, we said.

once we landed, we drove the winding perimeter of the island to bruce's studio, olgabowl, nestled into the deer laden forests above olga.  the olgabowl's shiny metal was reminiscent of a space station.  inside, instrument upon instrument lined the walls.   the recording board, the multi-colored cords, more knobs than you could ever possibly turn in one day, the ribbed foam ceiling, and all of the machinery made it feel even more like we were about to launch some kind of shuttle.  appropriately so, i guess....we unloaded gear, bruce set up all the mics, and we got our shaky nerves out on a few scratch tracks.  we decided to resume in the morning, and headed to the harlow farm. 

at the harlow's, we were greeted jollily by ian.  erika is out picking strawberries.  she'll be home soon, he said. he showed us around the place...the duck pond, the chickens, the goats, the building he chainsawed into thirds and moved by trailer to his property.....everything had evolved since we'd been there last.  miles, a teenager by now, was stoically excited to find us in his driveway.  and when erika arrived home with a flat of berries, it was as if she expected us.  james and i tried our hands at the nightly chore of goat milking, narrowly avoiding a hoof to the bucket several times.  we watched as erica gracefully milked each goat in sequential order, soothing them with her presence and her rhythmic pulls.  afterwards, we dined on a feast all from the farm, fresh beets and potatoes and collards and slow-cooked roast and goat cheese. we ate by the fire, laughing while miles did card tricks, sometimes messing them up, sometimes stumping us all.  after dinner, we lined the pond, the boys and erica trying their hands clumsily at fishing in the waning light.

the next morning was my birthday.   the last couple of years since mom passed, my birthday has been really hard.  this year, things were different.  i was met with coffee, strawberry waffles, and a tarot reading from erica. the reading said everything i wanted it to say, and i felt empowered. it was the perfect morning, so perfect i could barely handle it, so perfect i cried a little.  we packed up and headed to the olgabowl.

what ensued next was fourteen straight hours in the studio.  it was intense, it was work, and it was loooong.  by the end, all of us were completely fried.  but the first time i listened to a song, to what we made, the first time i listened to one of our recordings, chills ran up my spine.    it was music. it was art.  it was a celebration of life and love and friendship and beauty.  and it was the best present i could have ever asked for.  

i can't wait to share it with you all.


list number two

tomorrow, i'm orcas island bound to record an album with the daffodils.  you'll have to go on without me here in cyberworld for a few.  i'll catch you up on all the news when i get home.  for the time being, another list.

twenty things i would like to do before i die:
1. get a passport
2. leave the country for a spell
3.  see a whale up close
4.  learn how to use a weaving loom
5.  visit a psychic
6.  go on a pilgrimage to joshua tree
7. publish a book of my mother's artwork
8.  rescue a donkey that will be my pet
9.  adopt a child who needs a mom
10.  eat a mango, avocado, and coconut off of a tree
11.  get rid of my cell phone and computer
12.  see all of my favorite paintings in person and visit all the best museums
13.  play a concert in front of a thousand people
14.  have a big art show at a prestigious place
15.  save the lives of many animals
16. be married to my husband for the whole time
17. own and drive a "beater-classic" car
18.  master the drums
19. own a dog that fits in my purse
20. reach enlightenment


list number one

a list of twenty things i notice regularly but neglect to address:

-dead flies on the windowsills
-cobwebs in hard to reach places
-dreadlocks in max's hair
-chachie needs her ears cleaned
-morning glory swallowing the compost bins
-spiders nests in various places
-time for an oil change
-my fingernails and toenails are too long
-rotten leftovers in the fridge
-the compost is full and it stinks
-the toilet needs to be cleaned
-the gas tank is empty
-out of groceries
-haven't gone to the dentist in a long long time
-piles of random paper to be sorted
-need to take out the recycling and garbage
-my purse is full of receipts
-boxes full of crap that need unpacking
-pile for goodwill
-dust.  everywhere.  everything needs a wet rag over it.

i'm sure there's something i'm forgetting

a reminder



sometimes i'll talk to my dad on the phone after he's read a few of my blog entries.  he'll get a concerned tone to his voice and ask are you ok? or he'll say something a little tongue in cheek, like geez, i didn't know you were so deep, or gosh, you're so emo.  but he wants to know the full story.  i know that sometimes, in my writing, i let it all hang out.  my dad and i are really close, but sometimes, i can tell my writing catches him off guard.  and i love to illicit any response, especially an honest one, because it opens the flood gates of communication.  i may have to take the time explain it all out so he doesn't worry too much, whether my writing be about trials with alcohol or my journey through grief, but it's worth it.   true, i may be guilty of over-dramatizing things sometimes.  but i lead with my heart, not my rationality, and so my writing does the same.  

still, there are many stories i haven't told.  i guess you could call them my secrets...my privacy, my mystery.  my grandma once told me: never be an open book.  being the crazy little ukrainian god loving cat lady she is, i never really took her advice seriously. but those words ring true. there are stories too private to tell, stories that would incriminate the people i love.  there are the blacknesses in life hidden deep in my pockets, mine and mine alone to keep, too dark to relive and recount.  there are the joys and beauties so profound that words could not even begin to do them wonders.  there are these things that i keep mostly to myself.  mostly.


the longest list

it's like i'm on the last leg of a marathon.  james keeps saying finish strong, but all i want to do is throw in the towel, walk to the nearest watering hole, and wash it all away.  i tell him, exasperated, while we're driving home tonight: i've written all there is to write.  i can't think of anything else to say.  and again, he says with conviction: finish stronglooking back, you won't regret it.  i know he's right.  he usually is.  so i will try.  if not for me, for you.

you see, the problem is: there are so many distractions.  there are the moments in life that beg to be lived...not in here, in the studio, nose to a painting, or on this machine, this illusory companion we call the computer, but out there.  out there are the walks at dusk to places where feet seldom go, walks with good friends, walks through tall thickets, through gnarls of silver driftwood cemeteries, through swampy wetlands and bull thistle forests, all along that magical river.  there, you can imagine and even sense the traces, natives fishing or coyote bedding down.  there, the energy of the land pulses so hard you can feel it in your veins too.  and you can imagine dropping everything, dropping it all just to lie in the sun dappled grass, between those trees, becoming feral, making a home, nestled in among the wilderness.

and then there's everything else that begs attention.  there are the dinners yet to be cooked, full of fish yet to be caught and vegetables yet to be grown.  there are the boxes yet to be sorted, and the home yet to be created.  in my head, i've begun making my master list, the list of everything i might just have time for when my one-a-day is finished, in just nineteen days.

 oh boy, is that list long.



eight days without alcohol.  it may seem like nothing to you, but to me, it's a lot.  it's a lot of work, and tenacity.  it's a lot of willpower.  because drinking is easy.  hell, when you're bored and restless and the sun goes down and you live in the middle of nowhere except for the two bars on either end of town, drinking is easy.  but not drinking, well, let's be honest here:  i guess i'm out of practice.  for all those times when life gets too stressful and i'm used to unwinding with a glass of wine or a hot toddy, now i can't.  what do i do, then, to unwind?  what tools do i have?  these are questions i'm beginning to ask myself.  thirty days without alcohol. well it doesn't seem like a long time, when you say it aloud.  but i'm a daily drinker.  i don't get tanked every day, so it may not seem like a problem.  but a habit is a habit: hard to break.  alcohol doesn't really solve any problems.  it just dumbs down the senses.  so james and i, we're hopping on the wagon for thirty days.  i think it's safe to say, thirty days seems like an eternity.  and it's just the beginning.

eight days in, and already things are changing.  i feel weird, like my body is recalibrating.  a cleanse, of sorts.  there's also some deep itchiness that i can't scratch.  like maybe i'm having withdrawals.  there is a certain moodiness.  but the clouds are starting to lift, too.  i can think clearly.  i can get a lot done.  i feel happy, and optimistic, and patient.  i am more productive.  i look healthier.  and it's just the beginning.


in color

i trust that nature will take care of everything.



today was much too much for just one day.  i could have spread it out between all the days of the week.  i've been running nonstop.  so here's day one of a two day drawing. tomorrow, sleep in.  then, color.


fall to pieces

to mark the occasion of my twenty-first birthday, which was exactly ten years plus ten days ago today, i went to a dive of a karaoke club in portland with my mom and my two cousins, melanie and chrissy.  as i recall, it was bad in all the ways that every twenty-first birthday at a cheesy karaoke club is...spinning disco ball, flashing lights, outdated videos on the teleprompter, horrible off-key singing to all the wrong song choices, weak drinks....you know the scene.  but then, as i recall, it was good for all those same reasons.  my mom and i, in an attempt to bond over karaoke, gruesomely butchered our duet to"wayward wind", which was one of my mom's favorite songs.  and oh man, did we slaughter it.  remembering the way mom gripped the mic, feeling it, remembering the way she belted those words out of key, tossing her hair meaningfully at all the important parts, the wayward wiiiind that yearns to waaaander!...man that was special.  and now, i can't hear that song without crying....and laughing.   remembering how she sang from her heart, sang the words that meant so much to her....the memory is just unbelievably precious to me now, especially now that she's gone.   that night, we sang, drinking not too much but just enough to get us up there performing...and man were we awful, laughing hard from the gut at how foreign our voices sounded coming through those speakers.  we made fools of ourselves, it was total foolishness, the best of times, imagining we were the stars of the evening.  and maybe, just maybe we were. remembering it now, it was the perfect way to celebrate twenty one years under my belt.  remembering it now, ten years later, i fall to pieces, wishing i could press rewind and live it all over again. 


little doggies

oh, dear blog, i wish i had more to give you.  tonight, i'm so full off of a long full day that i can barely keep my eyes ajar.


party on

going to the bar without drinking is like going to the movies without popcorn.  in fact, i wouldn't recommend it.  for all the things that are a little better, prettier, funner, smoother to roll off and easier to stomach with a couple of ice cold beverages in you, there are all the things that abrade, irritate, and consternate without that good old lubricating fluid.  just one of the things i am discovering, as i take a little vacation from the stuff.  so yeah, i'm basically straight-edge.  which is difficult, but has it's merits too.  i'm shooting for thirty days...three down.  you may ask yourself, self, why would she go and do a crazy thing like that?  well, the other night james and i had one too many.  either that, or our bartender was extremely generous.  either way, the next day was a disaster.  we both felt like hell warmed over.  me and james both.  microwaved marshmallows.  and i had a hasty realization while praying to the porcelain gods:  i haven't taken much time off of the stuff since i started on it, nearly ten years ago.  yes, this month i turn thirty-one, which marks the ten year anniversary of the fateful day that i was let loose in a bar.  on that day, the party began.  and i think it's safe to say, that party hasn't really stopped....i guess, until now.  i guess it's safe to say, ten years later: it's time for a change.  time to corral those wild horses.


working girl

from a design to a sign.  just another day of work, folks.


the season

there were so many baby birds in the yard today.  they were awkward, flitting, barking at their moms and dads for food.  they were falling upside-down on the pegs of the bird feeder, and gathering in lines on the fence.  they were clumsy fliers.  they were urgently needy.  it was cacophonous.  it was a party.  it was a family reunion.  and i loved every minute.


time traveler

i've been neglecting my blog lately.  maybe it's because i've already said all there is to say, written what i needed to write.  maybe i've gotten something out of my system.  maybe i've grown tired of looking at the computer screen, and can barely muster the desire to sit my butt down in a chair on a long summer day.  maybe i'm too darn busy now that summer is in full swing and there is so much to do that i can barely squeeze it in.  maybe it's all of that.  or maybe i'm just darn tired of doing one painting a day, one painting a day, one painting a day, on and on like a skipping LP.  

honestly, now that i'm a measly twenty seven days away from my landmark of one year on this project, i feel a bit like a kid trapped in elementary school the week before summer break: restless as hell, looking longingly out that window at the beckoning green grass field.  don't get me wrong, i love my watercolors.  i love how people love them.  they have become me, and i have become them.  i've learned a ton, and made tons of absolute breakthroughs with my work and my self.  but enough is enough.  i have ideas a'brewing, the kinds of ideas that will take me more than just one day. 

like this piece, for instance.  it took me three days, altogether, in bits and pieces.  art-making is an evolution of ideas, with a few successes and a few failures every time.  it takes time, and can't be rushed, or squeezed into a box.  at it's best, it's not so formulaic, but born of discovery, tending to lead down a windy road full of surprises and revelations.  to an artist, every piece is never finished, an incomplete picture, a fragment of the greater puzzle that will one day become your "life's work".  as the saying goes, rome was not built in one day.  so here's to future accomplishments.



a day of drawing.....in process.



four days all wrapped into two pieces of paper

 the cabin is a safe place to go.  there, the sounds of the forest overwhelm your ears.  the wind on the emerald green water laps at the silvery wooden edges of the dock.  a bloom of mayflies lands on the water only to be slurped by trout hiding in the shadows.  the mayflies land innocently on your arms and legs, while the tiniest spider traces the lines in your hand.  you don't mind, you let them be, they don't bite, they just tickle like the wind as you lay bare skinned to sun the surfaces that haven't seen sun for years and years.  you lay bare skinned because you know there isn't another human for miles upon miles, save the lone flying airplane, too far up to look down and see, or even care.  a snake swims by, a hummingbird buzzes, a pair of osprey circle.  at dusk, the handsome herd of elk whistle and chew the tender edges of greenery.  you're quiet, quieter on the inside than you've been in a long time.  and although it takes forever to unwind after a day of driving, once you're there, at that little cabin in the woods, it is a tonic, a calm after a storm, a new drug for all ailments. and you never want leave.  you never want to go back to civilization.



what's great about independance day?  not much, i used to think.  just a bunch of pollution, loud noises and gratuitous money wasting and debauchery.  but after living in edison a couple years, i've changed my tune.  the fourth of july has become a spiritual experience.

last night, for instance.  at rodney's party, the daffodils played a set to a diverse crowd.  everyone was represented:  there were good old boys, hillbillies, rednecks, couch potatoes, hippies, hipsters, rock-and-rollers, butt-rockers, artists, mamas and papas, oldies, outdoorsies, athletes, grown-ups, kids, grown-ups posing as kids and vice versa.  yup, there was one of everything. the party-goers were just as diverse as the potluck table's offerings, which were a'plenty.  

which is precisely what i like about valley parties.  out here, we're not fronting, pretending like we don't see each other, like we aren't neighbors.  we are neighbors, and we have no choice but to coexist, to eat together, to live artfully, to share space.  out here we are anything but homogenous.  the one thing we do all have in common is the land.  we live here because we love the land, that fertile productive land, not to mention the ocean air, the big big sky, the softly lulling waves, and the view of those majestic mountains peeking over the hills.  yes, i think it's safe to say, the land unifies us, brings us together in rare and magical ways.  so sitting on a beached dock last night as the sun set across the water, soaking it all in with a collection of my favorite people, chatting drinking whiskey and passing a smoke around while the swimming kids coated themselves in seagrass, i wouldn't have traded my spot there with those people on that rocky beach for a million nights on the town.  and tonight, after watching several delightfully creative and constructed pyrotechnic exploits, and while lighting my paper lantern in the dark open field and watching it float away until it disappeared, i cried a little.  because i am so fortunate.

this independence day, i celebrate my inter-dependance.

beggars can't be...choosers



colorful.   flexible.  stretchy.  chaotic.  cyclical.  full-circled.  well-rounded.  light.  strong.  functional.  useful.  for closure.  to keep from spilling.  for openness.  resilient.  elastic.  an innate ability to bounce back. 

all qualities of a good life.  my life.  and this pile of rubber bands.



one for today
one for yesterday

i love the night life.  i really do.  the lights, the loud music, the energy.... i would consider myself nocturnal. or at least i used to be. i couldn't get enough of the city streets at night, veins coursing with light.  but nowadays, i live where the sidewalk ends.  i don't stay up much past eleven.  have i outgrown that night life a little?  or has it outgrown me?  i don't know, but either way, we don't see each other all that often.  maybe it's because i live in a distant land, at least a half hour drive in any direction to twenty-something bars full of uninhibited drunk dancers. it makes "going out" a bit more of a laborious endeavor. and so it keeps me home, reading books and nerding out to art docs.

every now and again, just so i don't feel all stuffy old and boring, i have to get my feet wet in the wild and crazy scene to feel balanced.  like last night, for instance.  pink sparkling wine with the ladies, that followed by pabst and a lemon (just to keep it classy), definitely one too many, lots of girl talk and greasy bar fodder, wearing the absolute wrong shoes for dancing, the wrong shoes for walking miles and miles across town, but doing it anyways...it was exhilarating,  just like the old days, my twenties....until the buzz wore off and i had to get my ass home.  at that point, there's just something weird about staying up so late that you watch the sky start to lighten, hear the birds, one and then two of them, wake up before you've even had a chance to shut your eyes.  

so i made it home, got a few hours of sleep.  and then today, well that was mostly a fog.  i felt real out-of-sorts, in a comfortable, dazed way.  but wholly unproductive.  and that's probably why i'm not the party girl i used to be:  for a self-made lady with a lot of responsibilities, it sucks to lose a day.  there's always too much shit to do to cut loose completely.



sometimes it's hard to let go of the past.  but letting go makes room for the future.  this is what i've been meditating on lately, as i go through my boxes of belongings, as i go through stuff to get rid of stuff.  it feels good to let go, sometimes.  but often it's hard, and it hurts.  i've even seen a friend clutch her stomach in pain to think of losing some thing.  but it's just a thing, and there are so many worthwhile things in this world; things to fill space, physical manifestations of human ingenuity and imagination, waiting right behind, waiting at the gates, waiting their turn to infiltrate your life.  

i've learned over time, this pain of loss, it's a temporary suffering that is followed by a release, a new kind of freedom, space where there was physical and emotional claustrophobia.  i know and i've seen: stuff can swallow you up. each object holds a potential memory, a feeling, and when you surround yourself with physical manifestations of memories, sometimes all you end up with is a cluttered mind and heart.  so lately, as boxes upon boxes have left the premises to be turned over by other hands, i've been meditating on space, and the freedoms letting go will grant me.

take this little stuffed bear for example.  seemingly insignificant.  he was in the fifty cent bin at a rummage sale on the patio of the old dairy farm house up the street.  james picked it up, gave it a good once-over. look at that face, i can't leave him here, he said, and brought it home.  adorned with an embroidered tag that says pooky, made in 1983, the bear was obviously loved well in it's lifetime.  it's smooshed face with too-close-together eyes looked like it had been snuggled and kissed and drooled upon by dogs and cats and babies alike.  this little guy had a story to tell, and james couldn't resist. he put down his fifty cents, brought him home to put in our toy chest, so kids who came to our place could play with him. 

when faythe came to the lucky d later that afternoon from her yard sale and saw pooky in our toy chest, she keyed right in on that little face.  that was mine when i was little she said.  but she decided to let go, to pass it on, say goodbye.  maybe it was hard.  i'm sure she was surprised to see it again, just a few hours later.  i'm so glad it's here.  this is the perfect place for it, she said. and i'm glad too.


orgies, etc.

today's post, or cry for help, rather, comes to you from sarah, my dad's lady friend, from their humble abode in ne portland:

Hi Jessie
I just wanted you to know that your dad is having a particularly bad weekend because of one thing, squirrels. He feels like the squirrels have take over his life. Yesterday, as he hot tubbed, he explained to me that a squirrel orgy took place above him, in the big tree. About 10 participants were involved, and the noise was atrocious. Limbs fell from the tree, the bird feeders shook feed, and it was mayhem all around. Now, Pat does have a loaded gun, yes, he hot tubs with it. It is a plastic small pellet gun, and he aims from the hot tub, shoots at them, and they move a foot away, a little closer to him. He can't see from the hot tub, because it is steamy, and because he wears no glasses, and he is sure the squirrels know he doesn't have his glasses on. Yesterday, about 2 pm, it was so quiet outside. I was inside, and from the stairs, I saw Pat asleep in the lounge chair out side. How sweet I though. I went out to sit near  him in the quiet, and found the loaded and cocked squirrel gun under his hand, finger in trigger, while he slept. Is this good for someone? 

Today, he saw how the squirrels are getting to the 8 dollar a gallon container of fancy bird food in the two  30.00 squirrel proof feeders. I am living with a background sound of Pop Pop Pop.......and I just stop, and breathe. It's Pat, , with his gun out there.  They hang from the feeders, which then lower themselves (hence...squirrel proof) but, the squirrels are smart enough to figure out, to simply hang there, and use their long and thin tongues to simply lick the food out as fast as they wish. Sorta like a  big squirrel.pixie stick.

Now, a new problem. The squirrels leave a lot of corn and other grain on the ground as they bounce all over the squirrel proof feeders. Scout and Amy eat the corn and grain. For the last 2 days, Scout is pooping corn poop all over the house. Corn poops everywhere. He is not even aware he is pooping....just almost solid corn and bird food coming out. It has been on the sofa today, on the floor, I stepped in it first thing this morning, our dog walk had 3 bags of corn poop to pick up. Amy won't sleep on any of the dog beds now, because Scout has corn pooped on them. SO, all of the bedding is being washed today.It's drying outside all over the back yard.

Pat took his bike to the Wild Bird Store earlier for a consult. He said there were other people in there with severe squirrel frustration,, but he did not offer any advice, as he considers himself a failure.. He was sent home with a different food, that the birds should be able to eat, but not the squirrels. However, this is further complicated by the fact that, as he learned in his squirrel  fucker consultation, that momma birds, teaching baby birds how to eat, show them how to JAB the food. Jabbing food from a feeder, ( yes it is happening as we speak) attracts the squirrels. This morning, as Pat spoke with his sister Linda on the phone, dogs were in the house, Kitty's time in the back yard. Broken and Timmy found Pat talking in the lounge chair, and of course, joined Pat. Timmy made bread on Pats stomach, and as the squirrels jumped from limb to limb knocking more expensive food from the feeders to the ground, for Scout to eat, Broken drooled huge droplets of drool on Pats shirt in love with the sound of Pat's voice, and could care less about the squirrels 8 feet from him. At this time, all of the gun ammo is gone. I  am sure  Pat will restock on his lunch hr tomorrow. Most people around us, are listening to some cool Fleetwood Mac, practicing some terrible  guitar song  in the yard, babies and pups happy and playing sounds all around...not our house. Pat has gone back in the yard, but before he went out there, he said like he had lost his manhood because of the squirrels. The had taken over his life, and he can't get it back He said his rank in life is 5th. In this order. Dogs, Cats, birds, squirrels, then Pat. Now I hear pounding metal.....???. I'll keep you posted.......love, Sarah


all in a day's work

not quite finished.  but almost.

the first half of today, i spent sorting and pairing lonely socks, foggy from last night's honky-tonk bonanza, remembering moments, snippets... a sea of Hawaiian shirts, a full dance card of waltzes tangos and spins, singing a gram parsons number with the band, passing the hat...and a late night dinner at home to polish it all off.  phew.  the second half of today, i spent working on this little lady.  

this painting is my first experiment with "open acrylics", which stay wet and workable longer than your typical acrylic paint because they have no drying agent.  it was lovely to not have the fumes of oil paint hovering around me as i worked, and even lovelier to clean my brushes in a jar of water, not solvent.  these paints don't have the pigment, depth, body or saturation of oil paint, but with a little finesse, i could still make them perform, a worthwhile compromise in the journey to eliminating the toxicity in my art-making.


beat it

okay then.  less talk, more action.


letting go

last night, in my dreams, i rescued a duck with diabetes that was passing out on a northeast portland sidewalk.  it was in my old neighborhood, on the side streets that are still so familiar to my memory i can conjure images of the rooflines, trees, alleys and fences.  in my dream, i was walking home and a group of youngsters with haircuts stood around a duck.  the duck was obviously in distress.  i glanced into their backyard, where a young bear with forlorn eyes was trapped in a cage.  i swooped the duck up, said i'll take care of this, and swiftly walked on before they could react.  the duck was comfortable in my arms, and burrowed its beak inward to sleep as i walked the rhythmic fifteen blocks home.  and that was my dream. but in real life, it too seems as if i am always rescuing something. in my current roster to date, james and i have rescued: a cormorant, a beaver, three skunks, a flickr, two ducks, a few cats, a dog, a rat family, and more.... not to mention: our most current recruit, paloma the pigeon.

but this morning, i knew that paloma was gone.  after four days of food, water, and rest, she had recovered from whatever brought her to me in the first place.  she was ready to find home, to find her covey, her partner... because pigeons mate for life, they say.  the way she flew last night, out towards the bay, confidently into the blinding sun, told me so.  and the way she brushed my head so close, as if to say goodbye, told me so.  so when i asked james this morning, just as i cracked my eyes open, is paloma there?, i wasn't surprised when he said no.  even still, i was saddened by the news.  i cried, because i had hoped she would stay forever.  because, in the wide world full of houses and backyards and freeways, she picked me.  but, as the saying goes, if you love someone set them free.  i guess i'm still learning how to let go.



i remember the day i found out: my parents sat me down, and said they had something important to tell me.  i was terrified: had someone died? it seemed serious.  and then they told me: your uncle is gay.  i was upset, but only because they kept it from me for so long, as if i wasn't mature enough to handle that information!  i wailed.   but other than that, i was like what's the big deal? but to some people, it was a big deal.  some people in the family thought that if their children hung out with a homosexual, it might in fact rub off on them.  this horrified me...not that it might rub off, but that people in my family could possibly hold so much closed-mindedness, resentment and bigotry in their hearts. luckily, my folks were open and accepting people, as was i.  to me, a twelve-year-old wishing she was eighteen, my uncle was the coolest guy on the planet.  i worshiped him completely, and the fact that he was gay only made him more awesome.  it also explained why he was so anomalous to the rest of the family:  too hip to be square, fashionable to a T, drop jaw handsome, sassy as a toy terrier, and smart as a whip; he was my dream uncle.  he exposed me to my first george michael, madonna, janet jackson, and lots of other fabulous music.  and frankly, i wished everyone was that cool.  and if being cool meant being gay, well then, i wished everyone was gay.  

today, i would like to congratulate the gay community for another victory towards political and social equality.   i'm sorry its taking so long, but justice will eventually come to pass.   finally, finally, finally, the rest of the world is starting to evolve.  


keep it together

some days, i just can't wake up.  i'm sleepwalking.  i drink as much black tea as the kettle can brew, but still, i go through the day at half-mast.  i have no oomph, no spring in my step, no motivation.  why? i don't know.  i feel tired, like i could sleep a lifetime. i feel sad, for no reason, or for every reason under the sun. i might just cry, yes, i probably will, cry about one of the many tragedies in my life, those thoughts and memories i file away in my head, file away in that giant file cabinet that i try to keep closed for a million good reasons.  days like these, i'm probably just dehydrated, i'll say.  i drag my feet to the kitchen. drink a few glasses of water, lay down on the bench in the backyard.  i'll watch the birds, let the sun hit my face, close my eyes.  i feel that i must slow down, slow down, slow to a near stop.  and then james, he comes to the rescue.  he takes me for a drive, through the sandstone forest that borders the ocean. and that blue blue ocean, it goes on forever. it is only then, when i take the time to breathe, breathe in the beauty around me, do i start to feel better.


hello again

this morning she was there.  i say she, but i don't really know for sure. i just have a feeling. so there she was, just like nothing had ever happened, even after flying away in the dusky evening light of solstice, spending the night away, away somewhere.  there's no way to know where.  had the campfire scared her away? we wondered.  but there she was in the early dawn, eating the food i'd left out, as white and beautiful and stoic as ever.  james and i both celebrated, because secretly we would love for our little farm family to grow.  and secretly, we like our animals more than most people.  so we celebrated, because we had won her over, if only for another day.  i built a nesting box from an old green-painted cabinet, brought it up on the highest wooden ladder i could find, and shaking, screwed it into the back side of our building, high high up as she watched from above, hoping there she could find refuge from the wind and the rain, clinging to life clammy-palmed precarious on that tall wooden ladder..



i kind of panicked when my little paloma blanco flew away.  i mean, i only had it for a day, but i was getting attached to seeing the bird, perched on the tip of the barn like the statue on a bow of a ship set to sea.  i took great pleasure in watching it eating my food, drinking my water...living with me.  yeah, i knew in my heart it might just be a fleeting friendship, a one night stand, a pit stop on the long road home.  and when it happened, when she flew, she stretched her wings, rustled them up a little bit, and then jumped.  la paloma swooped and circled, through the trees and power lines, higher and higher yet, then out of sight.  i tried not to cry, i was sad to see her go, proud to have been a rest stop for the weary and injured traveler.  but as the saying goes, if you love someone set them free.  i fear i may love too too much to make this an easy parting... but still, i try.  i went back to my business of chores: planting, painting, cooking and digging.  and before i knew it, i was pleasantly distracted from my loss, floating through the drifting currents of thought.  i looked up, just out of habit, just for good measure.  and the homing pigeon had returned...

...only to fly away again, hours later.  ah, such is life.  the  ups, the downs, the roundabouts.

happy solstice.



i was adopted by a pigeon today.  i guess these kinds of things happen to me.
it must have been thirsty.  it heard the sound of the hose as i re-filled the ducks' kiddie pool with clean water.  it flew over once, just a flash of white.  never seen a white bird here, except for seagulls, i thought, but it didn't really have the silhouette of a seagullcurious.  
and then it landed.  it was like an angel, the brightest of whites, stark against the tufts of grass and gravelly dirt of my backyard.  it hovered around the kiddie pool as the ducks splashed exuberantly.  they were obviously trying to scare it away.  but that pigeon was thirsty.  so it patiently pecked at the ground, waiting for a moment while the ducks were away.  i noticed a tag around its ankle...domestic.  it hopped on the edge, drank a few gulps, and was so eager to bathe that it stumbled into the water.  wings outstretched, it was in way too deep, and fumbled to get out. the bird hopped to the edge again, eyed me, drank a few more gulps, and then the ducks ran it off.  the ducks are very territorial, as it turns out.
the pigeon flew to roost in the lumber racks, and i could see the blackness of blood under its wing.  injured.  it took a long nap there, opening an eye to scope the surroundings every now and again.  i took a break from weeding morning glory, hurriedly grabbed seed and scattered it about the yard, knowing well that pigeons and doves love millet.   it watched me all the while, eventually flying back down to eat.  i policed the cats, with one near miss from chachie the huntress.  exasperated by the cats' tenacious stalking,  i eventually resorted to locking the felines inside.  you can live here, i said aloud, probably sounding a bit crazy in that dr. dolittle way. but i meant it.  i cooed in the way i know how, the way that doves and pigeons do, whoo-whoo-whoo, while the angelic white bird eyed me
its well known round these parts that this is the spot for birds to hang out, brandin said, smoking a cigarette leaning casually on the truck, amused by the sight of the pigeon.  they probably go and tell each other where the good spots are.  it's true, my backyard is like the old country buffet for birds, with millet, sunflower seeds, thistle, nectar and a birdbath..  the pigeon pecked around casually, and when chased off again by those persnickety ducks, seemed unscathed.  that white pigeon found a comfortable spot on the edge of the roof line to sit, and still hasn't left.


just enough

i want to say everything.  instead, i draw a blank.  today was long, white-grey drizzled, and filled with loveliness: an old friend, a slow walk to the river, little boys selling flowers on the side of the road, art making, good conversation, ducks jumping for worms out of our hands, 8mm film reels of families i never met.  maybe tomorrow i will surprise you with shining epiphanies and articulate revelations about the state of things.  but for today, i must rest in the idea that sometimes, silence is golden.  sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  and sometimes,  just sometimes, life overflows with too much goodness to even describe.



i awoke this morning to the sound of rain.  i had a premonition that my painting had washed away, washed down the storm drain into the slough and out to the ocean.  this is because last night i hadn't quite let the thing dry and was so excited by my idea to hang it on the telephone pole graffiti style that i just went straight to it.  i guess i'm just impulsive like that, not really thinking things through before execution.  and so when i went out this morning in the wet road, wearing my jammies and bare feet, the painting had in fact washed mostly away.  luckily, when you paint a painting every day, losing one to the elements is more of a romantic notion than a real blow.  i pried the canvas down with a cat's paw, examined the direction of the raindrops like hatch marks and how it had scraped the paint away in spots, leaving others, gathering at the bottom of the canvas in thick drips.  after letting it dry by the woodstove, i  proceded to paint it all over again, the same nest but different, a hummingbird nest that my little buddies wiley and nathan found in the street and kicked around until they realized what it was, then brought me as a gift.  so i repainted it, plus did another  painting of the same nest, on wood this time, for good measure.  these i will let dry thoroughly before hanging on telephone poles.  and for the next couple of weeks, if you see a lot of bird's nest paintings here, or up in edison, you'll know why.  i'm creating habitat.


something to remember

public art

me and museums, well, we don't always get along.  as soon as you start mixing politics with money with bureaucracy with art, in my mind, things are bound to go astray.  so i wasn't surprised by the intense surges of anxiety i felt tonight entering the whatcom museum for the "fate of the forest" show.  the exhibit was an open call, meaning anyone who was willing to pay $30 to become a museum member and wanted to put art in the show was indeed included.  and that included me and james.  

i wasn't sure what to expect, going in there, but with a call like "fate of the forest", i was sure i would see some answers...like answers to the stomach ache i feel every time a logging truck drives by with a stack of fresh kills, several times a day sometimes, logs for 2x4's for houses for families upon families.  the tree that takes a hundred years to grow takes but a moment to cut down.  so i was hoping, yes, for a glimpse of the kind of art that answers all the questions inside, like: who what when why and how......could we have decimated the world's great forests?  instead, i saw a room full of tree paintings.  trees...in pastel, in oil, in photography....trees everywhere.  and i knew suddenly, the fate of the forest was to be captured, forever as a memory, in art...so we'd have something to remember it by.


today, the hummingbirds buzzed me in the yard incessantly, as if to say, hey lady, i'm hungry!  these days, i know them: i can hear them buzzing, i have my ears tuned to them.  so i knew the exact moment when they emptied their feeder...and it all happened in one short day, with the help of some busily squawking hungry orioles.  luckily, i was prepared.  i grabbed the feeder from it's branch, under the watch of some hopeful onlookers.  went to the fridge.  a funnel and a mason jar full of prepared nectar later, the feeder was full.  i hung it in the tree, and got distracted by some weeding, relentless morning glory, climbing everything it could grab.  weeding away, i pulled hard and fell on my ass. sitting there, in the bushes, what ensued was a remarkable hummingbird battle.  as the birds vied for position, i held my breath, closing my eyes when their trysts came so close to my face i feared collision. i watched them, seven or so, closer than ever, closer than i'd ever been, miniscule feathers individually reflecting the sun, hearts beating, breathing hard, seeing their eyes seeing me, a moment of recognition.  it was awesome.



three drawings, passed around the table by: karie jane, miles, and myself

when you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, sometimes it's hard to figure out who the hell is staring back at you. sometimes, it's an old friend, and sometimes, it's nobody you know, a foreigner, someone you haven't met yet.  sometimes, it catches you off guard.  but still, every day brings new opportunities to get to know that person better.