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.