Blogging the Infinite Static


sat 21 may 2016... Three Stressful Things

#1... Day job has become very stressful and frustrating and no end in sight for that mess. Not anything I can do about it, that's just how it is for now.

#2... I quit sending out monthly postcards to my VIP list a couple months ago. I am sad about not doing it any more, but I am ambivalent about going back to my mailings.

#3... But the major stress is about our plot at the community garden... This may be our last year there.

My partner and I are not real gardeners, no matter how much we pretend. And neither one of us belongs in a place with strict rules. But when I found out that they are probably going to kick us out of the community garden at the end of the year, it's like they ripped out my heart and stomped on it.

  So anyway, I am doing all I know to lower the stress levels in my head: Writing in my journal, Playing with the piggies, Meditating, attempting to get extra sleep, and thinking about some art projects.

And when I kill weeds in our garden plot, I try to imagine my life without a place to garden. Maybe I could go out hiking every weekend. I guess we could buy Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and Lemon cucumbers at the saturday Farmer's Market. but how depressing.

So I am going to try to follow their stupid rules as best I can. And maybe they will let us stay.

Columbine blooming in our garden plot

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sun 10 apr 2016... First Fountain Pens

I did my taxes last weekend and my reward for this unpleasant task was to place an order for art supplies! I opened up my box today. Some washi tape, some shaped punches and some fountain pens...

playing with the art supplies I ordered

During LetterMo, I became vaguely interested in the conversations about fountain pens and inks. I have one fountain pen from my day job, and it was a disappointment to me: it felt scratchy to write with and you have to hold it at a fairly precise angle in order for the ink to flow. bah.

I also have one dip pen with which I have only experimented a little. I bought some inks for it, but never broke them open.

My interest was piqued, because people have a serious love of their fountain pens, not to mention their inks. But I had no idea about what to get. All different brands, all different price ranges, nibs, colours, inks, converting stuff, and all levels of tinkering. Overwhelmed. I don't even know what needs to be tinkered with!

But then JetPens had an article about Great Beginner Fountain Pens and I decided to get a couple to try out.

Pilot VPen 7pack


The Pilot Varsity or VPen is a disposable that came in a pack of 7 colours including black for 15$. These are ready to write and my first couple of scribbles had smooth ink flow, not scratchy, and nice, solid colours (tho the purple is too close to blue for my taste). The ink doesn't dry immediately, which I noticed right away on the green pen, the ink moved around quite a bit and puddled in parts of my letters. But maybe that's just the cheap copier paper I was using.


green Pilot Metropolitan

I also got a Pilot MR or Metropolitan. This is more of a "real" fountain pen: it cost 15$ and uses cartridges or an included converter if you want to use bottled inks. The pen comes with one black cartridge, but I got some purple ones and that's what I put in.

I had trouble starting the ink after I put in the cartridge. I actually opened up the pen, carefully, to make sure the cartridge had opened! It was open, and then I read the rest of the directions! ha. You have to squeeze the cartridge a couple times to get the ink flowing. I squeezed until a huge blob of ink came out... after cleaning that up, the ink still wasn't flowing through the nib. I kept messing with it, and in a minute or so it finally started working.

experimenting with new fountain pens

I'm not sure how I feel about these fountain pens. It's definitely not Love at First Write. But new pens are always fun to play with!

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sun 3 apr 2016... the hummingbirds

CG hummingbird

On January 29th, I discovered a male Anna's hummingbird standing at the top of a trellis in the garden plot behind ours at the Community Garden. He was singing his heart out and I may have fallen in love with him.

I've been taking his picture every weekend since then, all through February and March. He sits on the same trellis, or one nearby, occasionally flying off to get food, but mostly singing. And since teaching me his song, I became attuned to hummingbird songs elsewhere. I started taking photos of so many hummingbirds along my walk to the garden that I had to name them all according to their territory...

OP-e hummingbird

OP-e and OP-w, both named for the street I live on, east and west side.
BPC, Bike Path Curve.
CV, for the next street up.
and of course my friend at the Community Garden, CG.

Meantime, I was also watching a hummingbird cam that was set up at a window of our local newspaper building, just down the street from my day job. A nest has been built there in the rhododendron bush for several years in a row. The cam was set up on the 29th of Feb... and you could see the female sitting on the nest she built. The males have nothing to do with raising the babies (which is why I got so many photos of all of them, standing at the tippy tops of the trees or trellises in their territory!).

There are only a few flowers blooming in March, which made me wonder why you'd want to support a baby during this time. But I guess the hummingbirds know what they are doing! Soon I saw a single baby being fed! I never got to see what the young one looked like tho, being deep in the nest, so it was a bit of a surprise when the next update on the site was 24 March, the "fledgling appears to have flown the nest."

Wow. Done. Just like that.

And now, none of the males are sitting in their singing spots! It's been a very nice weekend, with warm temperatures and many more flowers blooming now. I'm sure they are off, enjoying Spring and the yummy food that the flowers bring... but I sure miss their songs.

Walking into our garden plot today, CG was sitting in his usual spot! I said hello enthusiastically and carefully moved into a position where I could get some pics. I took 4 photos before he flew to some nearby flowers. I couldn't get my camera to focus quickly enough before he flew elsewhere. bummer.

But I think I'll continue to see him at the community garden occasionally! It will be prime hummingbird territory, after all, with trellises supporting all kinds of flowering vines and tall bamboo poles set up all around for favored hummingbird perches.

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fri 1 apr 2016... update

March was not a good month for me. I was very sick for a week and I stayed "not well" and needing 10 or 12 hours of sleep for a long time. Day job has been stressful, and it continues to be. I had a little issue with my windshield...

crack in the windshield

... approximately 6 inches across, not quite in my direct line of sight ...

which has actually been the least stressful thing this month because my wonderful Significant Other took care of it: He called around and got Speedy Glass out to my day job to replace the windshield out in the parking lot. Nice!

But back to my complainings.

I have had a terrible time with my postcards. After a little bit of procrastination, and many dumb excuses, I realized that I'm just not going to send out my regular "March" postcards to friends and family.

It makes me sad that I am not doing my favorite thing in the world. It's a little bit a lack of enthusiasm, a little bit I need more sleep, and a little bit of wanting to change things up.

My Intentions for April:

  Get back to my horse drawing class. The class officially ran in Nov and Dec, but I had to quit at the end of november. The class will remain open until June, I think; it's not a forever class and I'd really like to at least try to get through to the end. So I'm going to draw some horses.

  Wouldn't it be nice to have a few blog updates?!

  Stuff needs to happen at our community garden plot.

  As for the postcard situation, I am not going to force it. If I take a photo that I'm excited about and want to share, I will return to sending out crazy amounts of postcards. If not, I won't.

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sat 27 feb 2016... Last LetterMo Weekend

LetterMo

My goals for this year's LetterMo:

  My letter writing goal for this year is to write more letters: Specifically 10 notecards or stationery letters a month. In january I only sent 9, so I was hoping to send 11 during february.

  I wanted to send a postcard to all of my MoL friends. I currently have 41 friends there, but 3 or 4 have removed their address from their profile.

  When I got a roll of Additional Ounce Penguin stamps (to make up for the lack of Global, International rate stamps), I bragged that I wanted to send 100 International mailings. haha. I had never counted how much international mail I send so I had no clue if this was even possible... well, other than the fact that I usually only send ~130 postcards a month and probably less than 1/3 are out of the country!

  I sent 163 mailings last february for LetterMo. I wanted to send more than that this year. I was hoping for 175.

sending out the first Moon Global stamps today

I was seriously side-tracked with a computer glitch which kept me preoccupied for the 2nd week of feb. But, I've rallied and tried to make a decent come back! And I've still got this weekend to make mail to send out on Leap Day! Here's where I stand right now:

  7 Letters sent

  Postcards sent to about my MoL friends

  48 International postcards and letters sent

  156 total bits sent off in the mail

hmm. I probably won't get 4 more letters written this weekend. And I definitely won't get 50 some postcards out internationally!

But that's okay: I don't expect any mailing miracles to happen this weekend, but I'll keep working on it...

And I will continue with my goals into next month.

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sat 20 feb 2016... walk in the rain

It has been raining a normal amount this winter... which is to say, a lot! On the weekends, I go out walking. I try to wait for a break in the rain, but it's usually sprinkling or downright pouring by the time I get to the Community Garden, a mile away.

This has been my luck with the rain this year.

rain in the creek

Don't get me wrong: I love walking in the rain! I have an excellent rain jacket which protects my camera. But I'm out there to take photos, and the rain makes that difficult and the clouds make the photos dull and sometimes blurry because of the lack of adequate light. sighs.

I tried to change it up yesterday: I left the house just as it was starting a rain shower. My hope was that it would rain itself out by the time I got to the garden!

Ha, what a joke. The sky was actually getting darker as I approached the community garden. The rain started pounding right as I got there, and I was actually worried that I was going to get hailed on!! I turned around, thinking I could wait it out under the bridge. But it was back to sprinkling when I got to the bridge, so I decided to head home.

I was a couple blocks away from the garden when the sun came out. I looked at the hole in the clouds. It was tiny. But you know what? Yep, I walked back to the garden! I had noticed some daffodils blooming and I HAD to get their photo! :)

Daffodils at the community garden

By the time I had worked my way around to my own garden plot, it was sprinkling again. But I was happy to see that our hyacinth is on it's way. It's a purple one, but it won't bloom for a while. We also have a couple of pathetic looking crocuses which fight their way up every year... they'll be blooming maybe today or tomorrow!

And I got to visit with my new hummingbird friend. He looked a little pathetic in the rain, as well! ha. I have been spending time with the lovely fellow every weekend since the end of January. His territory includes the garden plots behind and to the right of ours. I'm not sure if he has a girlfriend... apparently the Anna's Hummingbirds are already nesting. But the males don't help with that, so there's probably no way of knowing if my friend has a family.

I walk home in the rain, and the rest of the afternoon the clouds clear out and the sun shines. ARG! (ha.)

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Thu, 18 Feb 2016 19:17:54 PDT

International postcards

Still no Global stamps being sold at the post office, so I'm making due with 2 domestic stamps, 49¢ each, plus one Extra Ounce Penguin stamp, 22¢ = $1.20 International rate.

Sticking 3 stamps instead of one slows me down a bit when I'm writing bunches of postcards... but the colours are delightful! I love the new Botanical Art stamps!



Fri, 12 Feb 2016 08:06:02 PDT

stamps from USPS.com

I'm ready for the weekend: My usps Stamps arrived on thursday, printer inks arrived today, and I got a lovely care package of pens from a dear friend!



Tue, 02 Feb 2016 20:18:33 PDT

postcard stamps

I'm almost out of international rate Global stamps. And the post office isn't selling Global stamps right now, and hasn't for several weeks and probably won't for several more weeks. I can only conclude that they are evil.



Sun, 31 Jan 2016 20:29:05 PDT... LetterMo!
LetterMo

I probably get overly excitable about the Month of Letters. After all, I don't have any trouble with sending mail every day. The problem is responding to the mail I get.

So... maybe this year I will keep myself honest by listing my incoming mail here. And making a note when I send the reply.

Because I have made some lovely pen pal friends through LetterMo, and it would be nice to keep in touch throughout the year.

Plus I've found some great books as well! It's so wonderful when letter writers are not only book readers, but authors as well!!




sat 23 jan 2016... Bored!

Bored and dissatisfied, arg!

Part of it is the time of year. Yes, I continue to go out walking with my camera every weekend... but I know I'm not going to get any brilliant photos right now. It's raining and sometimes I can't get out in the morning when all the urban wildlife is active. And it's cloudy and all the photos are dull anyway.

I have to admit, another part of it is the day job. It's very stressful and it takes it's toll that way, but I do not want my day job leaking into my Real life.

And another part of it is that I am bored with my current mailing projects. I sent 1500 postcards last year, ya know? I've got the postcard thing down to a science. I still enjoy it, but it's not challenging anymore.

I just need something new and different and inspiring... but I don't know what this new thing is, yet!

LetterMo is coming up in february. But that's just more of the same. Mailing extra stuff will keep me occupied for the month, but then I will get behind on sending replies, I'll get discouraged, and then I'll quit. Same old, same old.

I never finished my drawing class from last november. eh.

I seriously thought about taking on and revitalizing an old group at Swap-Bot. The Butterfly Anarchists was founded in 2011 and has about 80 to 90 members, there are loads of posts at the group forum, but there hasn't been much activity in the past couple of years.

Revitalizing old groups is hit or miss... believe me, I have tried multiple times: Blue Haze, SB Vegan Voices, Veganic Gardening, Eugene Community Gardens. But the GoodReads Postcard Exchange is a revitalization, and we are now a strong group with 500 members and 60+ active members participating in the monthly exchanges.

Yeah, I could take on The Butterfly Anarchists... but at this point it sounds more like work and less like inspirational fun. But perhaps that's just my overall "meh" mood talking.

So I guess I'll just hang in there until something interesting strikes me! Maybe I can spend a little extra time typing here in the meantime?

winter robin

An American Robin looking for bugs and berries at the community garden. Traditionally Robins are a sign of spring, but actually they can be found in most of the US states ALL year!

There are some real signs of spring tho: crocuses are pushing up some leaves and catkins are hanging from some trees.

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sun 3 jan 2016... Review and Revise

Happy New Year!

Looking back over 2015, it feels like a pretty "okay" year... not the best, not too exciting, actually maybe a bit boring, but nothing horribly tragic happened, either. Here's what I accomplished:

in 2015, I read 35 books. The average book was 314 pages and GoodReads tells me my shortest book was 97 pages (84, Charing Cross Road) and my longest book was 973 pages (The Cider House Rules). I read 211 pages a week (I read 211 pages a week in 2014 as well, but 221 pages per week in 2013).

in 2015, I sent exactly 1500 postcards and letters. Wow. The average is 125 per month which is a huge increase over previous years. 2014 = 98 per month, 2013 = 78 per month.

The GoodReads Postcard Exchange group that I host, really kept me happy and focused. The monthly membership started at 45 and ended at 63 and averaged 54 players every month! I started working on a much needed FAQ, but haven't uploaded it yet. I also need to think about other time saving measures: the GR PCs are fun, but time consuming, I think I might like to work on other projects in the future!

I wrote and sent 13 Amnesty International cases. and I wrote letters of protest to all of the 12 Write for Rights cases, plus 1 solidarity card. In the past, my goal has been to write an AI case every weekend, but just 13 regular cases in 2015 makes 1 a month. My goal for 2016: 2 Amnesty International cases a month, plus a good effort at the Write for Rights, including especially solidarity letters.

I also re-activated my PostCrossing account, which had been mostly inactive since 2011 (with brief activity in 2013). I sent 33 postcards this year, bringing my lifetime total to 292 (I joined in sept 2008). PostCrossing is simple and fun, despite the heathens who say they don't like homemade or handmade postcards. I'd like to continue in 2016.

At Swap-Bot, I participated in 49 exchanges and hosted 3 of my own vegan group swaps. This brought my lifetime total to 191 from when I joined that site in May 2011.

in 2015, I took 4499 photos, averaging 375 per month. 2014 avg was 394. 2013 avg was 555. Maybe I'm taking better quality photos, so I don't have to take as many? uh huh. Maybe I need to get out of the house with my camera more often!

in 2015, I wrote 23 entries here and had 10 updates, which has been my normal average for the past many years. I enjoy crafting a post with words and photos and it's a lovely creative outlet for me. I don't know why I don't do it more often, maybe I can shake things up here in 2016?!

in 2015, SO and I kept gardening... but I think I'll put that in a separate post.


In last year's New Year post, I wanted to take on some vegan projects for 2015. I did host a couple swaps at my Vegan Voices group, but I never engaged with the Veganic Gardening project I was thinking about.

And I wanted to do some drawing in 2015... which I did: I started (but didn't complete) a Horse Drawing online class in November.


In 2016, I would like to do another Space Clearing year. I worked on a year-long online class about Space Clearing in 2014. I got some stuff done that year, but the clutter has not improved since then.

Not only do I want to tackle the clutter, there are also some home improvement chores that need to be done. I need to buy a new mattress and bed frame, a new couch would be nice, as would a new entertainment center for the living room. And it would be nice to adopt a new computer before the old one crashes in a permanent way.

Obviously I spend a lot of time and effort on postcards. But I had a "Reply To" pile that got overwhelming and completely "unaddressed"! That's okay, but I need to find a better system, one that actually works.

I am not sure how I would like to express my joy at being vegan in 2016. So I will be on the look out for some projects which excite me.

Canada Geese overhead

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sat 5 dec 2015... Write For Rights!

Amnesty International's Write for Rights campaign is the largest human rights event in the world! I've been participating since 2011, and it's become an annual tradition for me.

There are 12 cases you can write for... most of them have addresses to send one letter of protest to a government official, and one letter of solidarity to an individual or family. My goal this year is to send 8 protest letters and 5 cards of solidarity.

And I sent my first protest letters this morning...

Amnesty International Write For Rights

Yep, I love to decorate the envelopes!

The thing that's great about this campaign is that sample letters are provided... so all you have to do is print them up and sign them. They make it really easy!

And this is a campaign with many successes! Governments that get inundated with Amnesty International letters actually work to correct situations. And of course, the cards of solidarity that are received by people in prison or in difficult situations, bring hope and courage.

If you have a couple of stamps laying around, I invite you to join me in writing some Amnesty International letters this year! Check out the web site, and if you have any questions or need help, please feel free to email me!

  Write for Rights

  My Email: Journal @ Static8.com

Frosty Morning

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fri 27 nov 2015... frosty morning walk

Our first frost of the season occurred on the morning of last saturday, 21 nov. Since then, it's stayed pretty cold, with below freezing temperatures most nights. brr! Especially since normal low temperatures for this time of year are around 37° (3°C).

When I headed out for my walk, mid-morning, it was right at freezing. There was still frost in the shadows. And when I got to the garden I saw all our borage had been frost killed in the past week.

On the way home, I discovered a hawk! He or she was just a little bit too far away to get a decent photo... but it's adequate for attempting a species identification! I'm pretty sure this is a California Red-Shouldered Hawk, just at the northern edge of their winter range. (NatGeo) (Audubon)

red shouldered hawk

(Identifying hawks is hard!)

In the past month or so? there has also been a new Kingfisher patroling the creek. I've never seen one in our area before! No pics yet, other than a couple blurry ones. But if he sticks around, it's just a matter of time before I get his portrait! :)

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thurs 26 nov 2015... sad holiday, happy time off

As an ethical vegan, thanksgiving makes me incredibly sad. Millions of individuals have been tortured and murdered for this one day of gluttony which has nothing to do with being thankful.

In protest, I will not be eating today. I have been fasting on thanksgiving for the past few years, my own personal tradition.

I am also disappointed in myself for failing at the Art Every Day challenge. Always before, I have taken my november "every day" challenge very seriously. I don't know why I'm not demanding my best efforts this year.

Granted, I was not feeling well last week. And this week, I had to work overtime at the day job. Not fun. But I started skipping days well before all this, at the beginning of the 2nd week. And now that I'm acknowledging my lameness, I have also lost my motivation to continue!

I will keep going with my drawing lessons, and my occasional sketches. And I think I will try again, some month soon in 2016... Perhaps also making an effort to post here every day as well, to keep me motivated!

The day job has become rather oppressive to my spirit recently, and I am happy to have a couple days off. During this long weekend, I will be catching up with my GoodReads postcards (over 60 to send out this month!) and a few other letter writing projects. And a few other random projects!

horse sketches

Stuff I'm learning from drawing horses every other day... I haven't gotten bored of drawing horses yet! Charcoal (top two sketches) is fun, but messy. I hate sharpening pencils, so I dug out my good mechanical pencil for the second 23 nov sketch.

Lesson 3 is about drawing horses in motion... I printed the PDFs, and jumped right into sketches without watching the video lessons! I realized right away from my "Ugh #1" that I still need the square grid to help me with the body proportions.

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sun 22 nov 2015... weekend update

Not a great week here in Static land: I've been dealing with a low-grade cold which saps my energy and my will to live. I've barely been drawing, and I sent no mail for 4 whole days. Which basically means I've died and gone to hell!

But some idiot let me out of hell, and here I am again, gracing you with my internet presence. ;)

drawings for the 3rd week of November

This week's drawings. I skipped another couple days, so I'm 21 days in and I've missed 5 days total and I drew double horses for two days, so I'm 3 drawings behind. Not to mention the fact that I haven't watched this week's video lesson at all!

But the extra practice on the first and second lessons is doing some good, I think.

And yes, in general I am "limiting" myself to one small sketch every day. This keeps the time commitment managable which keeps me coming back most every day. I don't have time for a 1 hour drawing session. I don't even have time for a 30 minute drawing. But a little sketch? I don't even have to look at the time, because it's done in just a few!

Hooded Merganser

These cute little mergansers are winter visitors to our area. This male was paddling with a more shy female. The female has a plain brown crest, but she's pretty cute too!

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sun 15 nov 2015... daily drawing

Well, I'm not doing a very good job of updating. But I am drawing most every day. (I've missed 2 days so far, and made up for one of those with a double drawing.) Not only that, but I'm also sending mail every day as well. (So far, no days missed and I send between 1 and 6 postcards every day!)

Last weekend, I just didn't have time to post an update... But more than that, I didn't want to show my drawings! I was embarassed. Yes, you can tell they are horses, but gah, so artless, so not pretty, so... beginner.

Sighs. Then I decided to just get over myself. Static8 is my home on the internets; if I can't be me here, it's kind of pointless.

And yes, I am allowed to be a beginner! So here I am with my beginning drawings of horses. As a kid I drew horses on my homework. But I've never taken a class specifically about drawing horses. I had no idea that there were grids you could use and proportions to measure things out to make them look right! well, not that mine "look right" yet. ;)

horse drawing class

Extra horse ears



Beyond the obvious trouble of "not quite looking right", I am especially having trouble with the ears. So I took a day to draw a couple extra ears.


Then I got going on the next lessons.

horses

Art Every Day Month


So I am drawing most days! And since the class extends into december, I'm okay with skipping a day here and there. I know I'll have to put the class on pause at some point because december is busy and crazy for me. But I'll keep plugging along until that point.

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sun 1 nov 2015... drawing class

I logged on to my drawing class website, all excited and looking forward to watching a video and reading the intro stuff... um? why isn't there anything new? *reading* oh. shoot. The class doesn't start until the 3rd! foo.

So I pulled out my new sketch book and a nice purple blending group of Copics and...

Horse sketch #1

Yes, it's a Horse and Pony Drawing Class! I used to be a horse person. I rode horses as often as my parents would pay for. And I graduated college with an Equine Science BS.

And then I was not a horse person. I didn't have the cash to get regular lessons any more. and I had begun my vegan journey and understood in my heart that turning horses into slaves, forcing them with bits and whips, was wrong.

But horses are still my first love. Which is why I'm taking this drawing class!

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sat 31 oct 2015... Unread Book Piles

The writing theme for the October postcard at the GoodReads group was about bought but unread books. So I recently revisited my unread piles.

Yes, I have this terrible habit of buying more books than I can read and last february I had counted those books. There were 30 books.

But I missed some random books I have laying around. And then I found another pile containing a mix of read and unread books. (Odd. Why did I do that??!)

And then, my professed saviour from this mess -- my kindle -- is failing me. You see, I thought by getting the free sample, I would only buy books that I would actually read. But I now have 4 books I've paid for, but not read, on my device. Not to mention the dozen or so free books that I mean to read "some day".

book pile

(The "new" pile, some of the books are from 2011-ish.) (I did not add the vegan cookbooks into my count.)

So my new Unread Book Total is hovering around 60 books.

Autumn Squirrel

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sat 31 oct 2015... Update

Well. This past month has been a bit overwhelming for me. I was sick with a bad cold for a while, and then swamped with some day job homework, and then stressed out about "end of the month" day job stuff. My GoodReads postcard group is growing, and I failed a new member. And I have more projects on my plate than I have time for, and that is frustrating me.

Art Every Day Month

And, because I never learn, I'll be adding another project for the month of november... Art Every Day Month

I had signed up for a drawing class a while ago, which begins november 1st. So I'll be making an effort to work on that every day. I probably won't have time to post here very often, but hopefully I'll have some drawings to show here and there.

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sun 4 oct 2015... belated banned books week

Banned Books Week was last week, but I was too busy reading to type up a post. haha! Yay Reading!

some of my banned books

From the 46 banned books on the Classics list, I've read two more from last year, so I'm now at 11...

4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
9. 1984, by George Orwell
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
57. Sophie's Choice, by William Styron

I've just added one book from the Top 100 from 2000 to 2009, bringing my total to 14 books read...

4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
88. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle

When I started looking at the Top Ten Lists of each year, I discovered that I had read at least one book from each list! Except for two years: 2005 and 2003. Ack! So my goal is to read a book from each of those Top 10 lists!

I'm on a banned book reading streak! So far I've read:

  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which has been on the yearly top 10 lists since 2010, and has won a ton of awards!

  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks which has faced a very recent challenge in september. This book has also won several awards. And it's totally fascinating. I finished it in less than a week and had a hard time putting it down!

And in a bit of weird synchronicity, today (Oct 4) is the day Henrietta Lacks died in 1951.

  And I just started Bridge to Terabithia which is on the Top 100 list and on the 2003 Top 10 list (for my goal).

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sat 19 sept 2015... birds in flight

One of my photography goals is to take a picture of a flying bird.

Now, to be honest, both me and my camera are too slow to do this, except by accident...

Gold Finches

But I am very okay with accidental photos! There is definitely an element of luck with wildlife photography, and I not only accept that, I welcome it with joy.

This summer, there have been a pair of, or sometimes 3, turkey vultures cruising the sky as I walk to the community garden. I've seen them most weekends for the past several months.

I never thought I'd be able to take a picture of a bird in the sky... It's incredibly hard to find a tiny black speck in all that blue or grey expanse!

But turkey vultures are big. And their flight pattern is slow and fairly predictable. And when they fly close enough... I have been able to get some photos!

And then there's that luck thing...

Buzzard in the sun

Ha! Isn't that a fun pic?! I thought about turning it into a postcard... the sun and the clouds are quite nice, after all. But who am I going to send a buzzard to?? ;)

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sat 5 sept 2015... the old camera

When I first got the day job that I currently have, the building was one mile from my home. I would walk every day for most of the year... even (or especially!) in the rain. When the walk home got uncomfortably hot for a month or two in the summer, I rode my bike instead. They even made a bike rack for me!

But mostly I was walking. And I always carried my camera with me. There were many early morning photos taken on my walk, and nobody minded that I was occasionally a few minutes late because I had to stop and take pictures!

Then my day job moved to a building on the other side of town. I was sad to give up my daily walking. My car commute is now longer than my old 20 minute walk, and so I no longer have time to spend outdoors, walking or taking pictures.

I bought a new camera and I still hauled around my old camera, and I still occasionally stopped working because I needed to get some pictures! But then this happened:

old camera

The camera still works, and I've taped up the plastic that protects the screen (thus the bubbles!). I had just been tossing my camera into my back pack, and even tho the camera is mostly fine, I suddenly realized I really should use a camera bag or something to protect my poor, abused camera!

But a camera bag will not fit in my backpack with my lunch and my reading material and all the other junk I carry around. So I quit carrying my camera everywhere.

At first, I felt naked without my camera. And then I got used to it. Sure, there were some amazing photos I missed, but I was just too lazy to organize some kind of daily camera bag and too cautious to just throw my old camera back into my back pack again.

But now...

Taking photos is part of my life. Have I forgotten that? There is absolutely no reason to be overly cautious about an old broken camera... I've got two working cameras, and even if the old one breaks in a permanent way, I am able to buy a new one.

I'm going to charge the battery and toss my old camera back in my back pack. Where it belongs. Until a photo opportunity comes along, that is!

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sun 31 aug 2015... random

sunflowers at the community garden

I adore the profusion of sunflowers at our community garden!

I have a little extra time on my hands this weekend, since I don't have any homework. I am happy to work on some older projects that have been piling up. And I'm reading some old blog posts that I've set aside in my blog reader because they were just too long to read at the time. And I wanted to be able to really think about them.

  World Peace Diet: A Golden Key to Effective Animal Advocacy This is a spiritual vegan blog that I keep up with, and this (very long!) post has given me some encouragement.

I've been vegan for 12 years now, but I have yet to convince the people closest to me -- my significant other, my parents, my brother -- to join me in veganism. When I think about it, this makes me incredibly sad... because I love being vegan, it is the best thing in the world, and I want to share the awesomeness that is veganism with my loved ones!

As a vegan, I am an expression of love in this world... [and] I am here to plant seeds. And by far the most successful, joy-producing, and fulfilling way to plant the seeds of kindness, mercy, and freedom that are the core of veganism, is to live and embody these qualities authentically in my relationships and interactions with others. We communicate with our presence and gestures far more than with concepts and theories. Perhaps it can come through our writing as well.
artichoke blossoms

I also love the other interesting things at the community garden. These are some abandoned artichoke blossoms... You are supposed to cut them and eat them before they bloom. But they are rather pretty and many people let them bloom!

And I am almost done with the background with the owl colouring I'm working on. The line art is from Secret Garden

Owl colouring

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sat 22 aug 2015... Update

Each time I start typing a post here, it takes too long and it's disjointed and unsatisfying and then I eventually delete everything that I've typed. But this morning, I came across this quote:

You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.
~ Annie Proulx

Yes! Exactly! Different Words on a Page!

Here's the colouring project that I've been working on a little bit, about every other day for the past month or so. The owl from Johanna Basford's Secret Garden...

Owl Colouring

I am just finishing up the green leaves and I'm in the process of figuring out the colours I want for the blue leaves. Once I'm done with the rainbow leaves, the owl will be coloured in light browns with some blue-greens and some light blue-violets.

That's the current plan, at least. Thinking about the colours I want to use, I realize I want to buy some more markers. Even though I've got about 100 of the 358 copics, there's always one more that I "need". ha.

Unfortunately there's a major supply problem with Copic markers at the moment... too much demand, they can't make the markers fast enough. So it's difficult to get some colours. Making do with what I have!

community garden sunflower

The community garden is beautiful with sunflowers galore! I've been busy experiencing the wealth of photo opportunities, and lazy about the weeding. So I need to start cleaning up our garden plot before they think about kicking us out of the community again!

One of the rules of the community garden is to keep the weeds under control. We get notice every year because I let the wildflowers grow, along with the weeds, so being on the verge of getting kicked out is normal.

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sat 25 july 2015... Colour

Ha. Last time I typed here was three weekends ago, with a tenative goal to post here at least once a week. Maybe even twice a week.

And then the following weekend, I had some homework that I brought home from the day job. 6+ hours of overtime, but no time for the blog.

And last weekend, I don't know. I was just totally disorganized and a bunch of projects fell by the way side. Arg!

So now I'm back to my tenative goal to post here at least once a week. Maybe twice. You'll have to keep an eye on me to make sure I follow through! ;)


I have been a bit stressed out, due to the day job and such, and have been considering my options to help me manage. Meditation? Extra Exercise? Journalling?

eh. I've done all these in the past, but I want to try something new. How about Colouring?!

I've thought about Colouring for a long time. A couple years ago I bought a few posters of line art meant to be coloured. I'm not sure what's kept me from working on them... worried I'm going to ruin the whole thing by choosing the wrong marker colour?! Anyway.

A good friend sent me an awesome postcard... line art of an owl! I scanned it in, increased it to letter size, and printed it on marker paper. I started colouring the background on Monday.

I'm taking my time.

Well, I have to take my time because the design is super intricate, so it's slow going. But that's okay. It's not exactly relaxing... because I accidentally go over the line with my marker and then I cuss... ;)

But: Colouring is one of the best forms of meditation. Even when you cuss... I think! :)

I will upload a photo of my colouring once I get a little further along. In the meantime, some links:

  Doodle Art Alley I've been a fan of Samantha's free printables for many years, and now she's got a couple of books out!

  Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book and Enchanted Forest The surprise Best Seller on Amazon. And this is where the postcard art I'm colouring came from. Guess I'll have to buy this book now, since I'm using it anyway! :)

  Stuff 2 Color This is where I bought the line art posters, that I haven't coloured yet! I totally adore the Sea Horse! Maybe I'll colour it next?!

And a colourful photo...

dragonfly

I don't know how that awesome background happened! But I would do it some more if I knew how!

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sat 4 july 2015... Currently

Well, it's been so long since I've posted here, and the posts have been few and far between for a long time. Years actually. But I do want to keep this space alive... maybe more of a living space, rather than just a bare minimum, survival space!

So, I'd like to do a few re-introduction posts! And the "currently" posts that I used to do appeal to me right now. So that's what I'm going to start with.

Current Weather Unfortunately, I am sad to have to start off with this one, but it's what I've been most concerned about.

It's summer in this part of the world, and climate change has reared it's ugly head. The normal temperature for this time of year is 78° (25°C), but it's been in the upper 90s (35°) for the past week and a half. This is a major deal because I don't have air conditioning at work or at home.

I've always said my cut-off point at the warehouse was 90°. But it was 91 inside, when I left work early on Thursday. ugh. At home, it was still a "pleasant" 80° downstairs where the guinea pigs live. They have their own personal fan and I occasionally change out their water for cold water which they seem to appreciate.

The upstairs is 5 or 6 degrees hotter, and this is where I spend my time. It is miserable, and I wish the weather would get back to normal, but it looks like the 90s will continue and that makes me sad.

Currently Reading Yay! I've just discovered my new favorite author: Octavia Butler! I finished her 3 book series, Xenogenesis, this week and it was amazing! I can't wait to read different books by her.

The next book I picked up is called The Soul of an Octopus. Octopuses are amazing and this is such a fascinating book!

Currently Gardening Yeah, okay, this is a whole blog post series of it's own! But since I've been slacking I will give you the highlights here: eating a few strawberries, a few sweet snap pea pods and picked a few garlics from the old garlic patch. ate the first 2 zucchini last weekend, and we picked the next 2 today. We ate a couple sun gold cherry tomatoes this weekend and the guinea pigs have eaten their first lemon cucumber!

I ate my first ever Patty Pan for breakfast this morning... it's a lot like zucchini, but just a tiny "twinge" of a different flavor. This is our first try at Cauliflower, as well, and two of the three plants are looking ready to eat but I'm not sure when I'm supposed to um, pick? them, or cut them out, or what! ha!

I re-planted some beet seeds for a autumn harvest, but only a couple are growing. The sweet potatoes get dug up in the autumn as well.

Currently Sending Postcards! Yay Mail! Last year I averaged 98 mailings a month. This year I am sending about 130 bits of mail every month! The last couple of months I have been working on sending mail more consistently. It really cheers me up when I can send an *extra* postcard. And so there were 11 days in may when I only sent out one postcard, but there were only 5 days in june! I want to continue this trend.

Currently Vegan Yay Vegan! My spring time obsession was Butler Soy Curls. They require 10 minutes of soaking, so I threw them in while I was cooking pasta, and they went great with all the soups I ate as well.

But now it's summer and it's prematurely hot. I have been preferring sandwiches... but this requires bread, and I keep forgetting to make an extra loaf over the weekends.

Currently Drawing um, yeah, I actually drew something the other day. It wasn't that great... I need some practice. Or, I need to return to a practice of drawing. I wish I had time for this, but I have so many other hobbies! ha.


Here's a photo from a neighbor's plot at the community garden. I was so thrilled to see some bumble bees, instead of the usual honey bees, which are an "invasive" species brought from Europe.

bumble bee on comfrey

The flower is called Comfrey, which is a relative of Borage. We don't have any Comfrey in our garden plot, and I may steal a few seeds to see if I can start my own patch!

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sat 23 may 2015... not so good

May is my birthday month, but a couple things have happened and I'm a little bit sad.

Our killdeer nest -- which was in the middle of our community garden plot -- got raided by a predator, who ate ½ the eggs around the 8th of May and the other ½ on the 17th. Evidence of the last crime was a bit bloody, and it really upset me. And now, thinking about our garden makes me sad... Stuff was being planted and weeded all around the nest while we had eggs. But now there's this big empty space that we've been working around since they started the nest...

And this weekend, I have a lot of homework that I brought from my day job. bleh, so much for the three day weekend. Having extra stuff that must be done forces me to be more organized with my time. So other stuff is getting done... unfortunately it's not very interesting stuff.

But all I need to do is go for a walk and life starts looking better. There are ducklings...

Ducklings with mom

And there are pretty flowers... purple rhododendron

And the lupines are starting to bloom. And the swallows are flying. And the garden is starting to grow.

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sun 3 may 2015... Urban Wildlife part 2

As I was leaving the house yesterday, I noticed this:

cat up a tree

The cat is someone I didn't recognize; not one of our usual "strays". He was well above my second story window and acting rather consternated about being so far off the ground.

The locals were very upset... There were two starlings and one squirrel yelling at him. In just a few minutes, two crows joined the very vocal protest.

The cat walked back and forth along the limbs, studying and judging the 12feet / 3.5meter jump to the car port next to the tree. Despite his obvious nervousness, I believed he was capable, and I left home with confidence that he would get down on his own!

My trust was not misplaced. He was not in the tree when I came back. :)


And our Killdeer couple have not abandoned their nest in the middle of our community garden plot... The nest in the beet patch now contains 4 eggs.

The mom was still very annoyed with our gardening presence. But I stayed farther from her nest than I did last weekend (when I was accidently practically stepping on it). And she mostly traded her broken wing act for yelling at us instead... Her shy partner on the other hand was doing his act 50 feet away. I didn't even notice him half the time!

We've got 3 weeks before the babies are hatched. And we'll work around the nest as best we can and hope for the best!

Killdeer standing over her four eggs

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sat 25 apr 2015... Garden Nest, Urban Wildlife

Killdeer nest

We went to our community garden plot today, loaded with baby plants from Saturday Market. But I was immediately distracted by a bird who I couldn't identify. I was excited and took a few photos, and intended to get out my bird field guide the moment we got home.

We listened to the bird calling, as we tooled around the garden. Weeds to kill, you know, and lemon cucumbers to plant. We were on the downhill side of working and I decided to replant the cauliflower and beet seeds, since nothing was showing up from my first planting.

I was kneeling down, making a line in the dirt, and the bird, who was still hanging around, started coming at me! I recognized her antics... she was pretending that she was hurt, to lead me away from her nest. But she was getting so incredibly close, I could almost touch her she was so close. She was obviously upset...

But I didn't understand. Our garden plot is towards the middle of the community garden, there aren't any trees nearby at all. I looked all around at the other plots, thinking someone had hung a bird house, but I didn't see a thing. And the bird was very focused on me, even tho my partner was standing and digging nearby, and there were some other gardeners a couple plots over.

Killdeer with broken wing act

And then I finally looked down. And saw the eggs. I was literally right above them. I apologized profusely to the bird! She was yelling at me for a reason, and I felt like such a stupid human.

And I felt bad for the bird as well. She's obviously a first time mother. I mean, who puts their eggs right in the middle of a community garden plot? There's going to be people there all the time. Poor girl.

When I got home, I got my bird book out. She's a Killdeer, a bird common across North America. They nest on the ground (yeah, obvious now, huh?!) and are suppose to have four to six eggs.

oh boy: the incubation period for the eggs is 22 to 28 days!

We shall see what happens. Will she abandon her eggs and go try again someplace else? Or will she stay?

We will definitely work around her if she decides to stay.

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Sat, 25 Apr 2015 08:33:38 PDT

mutts comic 25 april 2015



sun 29 mar 2015... um.

Journal Class Homework

I got seriously off track with my goals for March. The 2nd Week of March, I had a week's worth of overtime at the day job, and that damaged my LetterMo momentum for sending out mail. I did get back to my journal class homework, but I'm completely unorganized with sending reply mail and discombobulated with all my other random projects.

Arg.

But I have managed to work on a couple little things in the last couple of weekends.

I have lots of practice turning my photography into postcards. But I am working on some other things as well. Specifically envelopes and bookmarks.

For the envelopes, I am taking photos of "background" type things that I find in nature. Leaves of trees and blossoms of trees... basically photos without a focal point or "center of attention". Because the focal point on an envelope is actually the Address!

I print up the photos on large typing paper. And then use a template to make my envelope... I bought these a while ago, and they work great:
Kreate-a-Lope by GreenSneakers
(I use the A6 size, which fits comfortably on 11x17inch paper, and makes an envelope that's 4.75x6.5inch.)

With the bookmarks... ha, I don't really have a photographic strategy yet. I've chosen a 2x7 inch format for my bookmarks. And I'm mostly just trying to jam regular photos into this size. It doesn't really work!

And when I'm out walking... I don't have any problem considering "background" type photos for the envelopes. But I don't think about "2x7" type photos at all! That's a crazy size and it doesn't even occur to me when I have the camera in hand.

handmade envelope and bookmarks

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my cute lil calendar Journal Class Progress
Fri, 06 Mar

Read discussions and
Homework for Day 3 & 4 (of 28)




thurs 5 mar 2015... Refuse to Choose

I still hadn't decided what project I'm going to work on this month... and last night I sat down to think some thoughts about that. Very important to do -- to think some thoughts -- every once in a while! ;)

My dilemma was choosing between a project that I want to do (study WordPress) and a project that I should be doing (finishing my Journal class). I was procrastinating because I can't choose, but in the process of *not choosing*, nothing is getting done! Not the "should" project, not the "want to" project, and certainly not anything else!

Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher

But then I realized, from my reading of one of my favorite creativity books, Refuse to Choose: it's a false dilemma! I don't have to choose between the two projects... I can do them both. I can go every other day, or I can do one during the week and the other during the weekend, or I can spend an hour here and an hour there getting them both done.

I don't know why I get stuck "trying to decide", but it happens every once in a while. Which is why it's nice to re-read the book and remind myself that I can do everything!

Yay Everything! haha. :D

But now I need a bit of motivation to get me through the "should do" project of my journal class since I seem to have lost my enthusiasm for it. I think I'm going to whip up a little calender, and put circles around the days that I do my homework and stuff... and then post it here... Kinda like...



my cute lil calendar Journal Class Progress
Thu, 05 Mar

Last night, I wrote my homework for Day 2 (of 28)


February Cherry Blossoms

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sat 28 feb 2015... Next!

20150228_P1060243_

LetterMo 2015

This is the last day of the Month of Letters challenge of sending daily mail. I have sent mail every day and I have met my personal goal of sending more than 150 bits of mail.

Trouble is, I haven't sent all the mail I planned on! I just ran out of time for the Dec PCs, the packages, a couple of long letters, the BH Monthly Greeting Card exchange which I'm about 6 months behind on! Oh, and not to mention all the replies I want to make... I met some great new pen pals this year.

So the spirit of LetterMo will continue for at least another month or two. :)

But, with a new month, I want to start a new project! I have so many things I want to do and I must make room for them.

  What I REALLY want to do is start studying WordPress. This is a project that I've had in the back of my mind for a while. The book I bought is over there, staring at me, "read me, read me." ha.

  What I Should be doing is completing the Journal class I took in january. I got about half-way thru before I ran out of steam, and time. It's not a forever class, meaning the lessons will disappear mid-April, so I really need to go back and do my homework.

  But I kinda want to do some art projects... Get out the calligraphy pen and the inks, or start a new notebook with some coloured pencil drawings.

  There are a couple organizational projects to do... like printing and binding my paper journals, and setting up some photo albums of my postcards, and going thru some of the boxes in my closet. My inbox is up over 100 again.

  Plus a 100 other projects that interest me. We've already started working in our community garden plot. I need to work out a plan of action for the veganic gardening club I'm a member of. And there's a vegan mailing group I have plans for. I've been slacking off, I need to get some exercise. And when it's not raining, I'd like to go get some photos at Fern Ridge. And I'd like to start practicing American Sign Language. Plus all the other books I want to read. Piano. Significant Other is learning to juggle, I want to, too!

And, well, do you really want me to type out all 100 things?! I don't actually have time for that! ;)

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Sun, 22 Feb 2015 17:54:24 PDT
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sun 8 feb 2015... Book Piles

This month I'm working on mail, for LetterMo, and my reading time has been significantly reduced. And my Book Piles are staring me in the face.

Yes. I have piles of books that I've bought but haven't read yet. I had to start a new pile when I came home from xmas. I am doing my part... the new pile has been reduced by 3 books already.

It's been a while since I've done a count of my unread books. And I thought it would be interesting to list them here...

Book Pile

This is my new 2015 pile. Not too bad, huh? Except a couple of the books are some heavy reading.

The wordpress book, yeah, is a tech book... I've been interested in learning WP for a while now and it's been ages since I've learned any new computer stuff. So, that's one of my goals this year!

2015 Pile = 4 Books

Book Pile

This is my 2014 Overflow Pile. Some odds and ends here... A couple movies on the left, including Doctor Who dvds! and the wrapped bundles are back issues of a magazine that I love: GreenPrints. And there's an issue of another mag I subscribe to: the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. There are also a few books in this pile that I started reading and then abandoned for whatever reason. When I come back to them, I'll have to start over at the beginning.

(Not counting magazines and zines)
2014 Overflow = 13 Books

Book Pile

And this is my Ancient Pile. I don't even know how long I've had some of these books! And this is the pile I'm referring to when I say "I can't die until I've read all my books!" haha.

Ancient Pile = 13 Books

Total = 30 Books

Huh, well it's not as bad as I thought. Though, there are a couple more books laying around randomly... Plus a couple more on my kindle... But probably the actual total is less than the 50 books that I thought it was! So that's good!

And, since I read about 30 to 35 books in a year, I could conceivably get through my piles in a year or so. But how can anyone get through a whole year without buying any new books? Impossible!

ha. So many books, so little time!

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Thu, 05 Feb 2015 19:00:13 PDT

20150204_P1050886_



Sun, 01 Feb 2015 17:43:31 PDT
From the Letter Writers Alliance website...

Post for the Parks

Painting 59 National Parks, and then mailing each painting to the head ranger of the appropriate park.
Oh My Gosh! LOVE!



Sun, 01 Feb 2015 12:00:00 PDT
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Sat, 31 Jan 2015 10:02:17 PDT
LetterMo



Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:13:31 PDT

I have a little GREEN Internet Cat from Free Press:

Net Neutrality Cat Fight at the FCC

How Awesome!!




Sat, 17 Jan 2015 09:40:29 PDT

This amused me greatly...

Internet cats unite for Net Neutrality

On Thursday, the FreePress Action Fund set up hundreds of Internet cats outside the FCC headquarters in a symbolic rally to support Chairman Tom Wheeler's hints that the agency will pass strong Net Neutrality rules next month.
It was fun, a little absurd and definitely got the attention of FCC employees heading into work.

Yes, I Adopted an Internet Cat! haha!




thurs 1 Jan 2015... Review and Revise

Happy New Year!

In 2014, I read 34 books. The average book I read was 323 pages and I read about 211 pages per week. (Which is quite a bit less than 221 pages per week I read in 2013... Guess I need to work on that!)

In 2014, I sent 1177 postcards and notecards, which is an average of 98 mailings per month. (More than last year's 78 per month!)

In 2014, I wrote for 14 Amnesty International Urgent Action cases, and all 10 Write for Rights cases. (I had written for 37 total cases in 2013...) There were a few issues with the Urgent Action Network this year, and I lost my dedication along the way. Everything's fixed now, and better than ever, and for 2015 I'd like to work on a case every weekend.

In 2014, I also wrote letters for 7 Animal Causes.

And in 2014, my GoodReads mailing group averaged 39.5 participants every month.

In 2014, I took 4730 photos, averaging 394 per month. (strangely, way less than my 555 average in 2013?!)

In 2014, I averaged 2 blog posts a month, other than November during which I typed every day. I think it would be nice to type here more often, but with all my other projects going on, it's hard to make the time!

In 2014, I worked on a year-long Space Clearing class, which had daily lessons. I kept up admirably, but had to take a break from it in December. I got some good stuff organized through the year, because of the class... but there's much I didn't tackle. It's a forever class, meaning I'll always have access to the lessons, and I'm thinking about re-taking the class for 2015.

In 2015, I would like to take on some vegan projects. Potientially, I will be heading up a veganic gardening group. And there is a vegan group at Swap-Bot that needs some attention.

And in 2015, I would like to do some drawing.

And through all of my crazy projects, I want to enjoy my life!

canada geese flying

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sun 30 nov 2014... Write for Rights

As one project ends, another one begins!

I've been typing here every day for a month, and I've accomplished my goal of writing about my family vacation!

So, the project for December: Amnesty International's Write for Rights!

Here's today's work area...

Write for Rights

The Write for Rights campaign was what brought me to Amnesty International. I first joined the W4R program in 2011... I sent 5 letters that december, for 2 cases. And yep: I decorated my first envelopes as well!

After that, I joined the Urgent Action Network. My goal has always been to write letters for one case every weekend. Of course, it doesn't actually happen that way, but I do pretty good.

This year the support group for the US Network kind of fell apart. And I did not write as often as I should have.

But the new support group, is amazing and awesome! I think that 2015 will be a record letter writing year!

Will you join me? It only takes a few minutes to print out a letter and write the address on an envelope.

Decorating the envelope is only for crazy people like me! ;)

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sat 29 nov 2014... long weekend accomplishments

Yay, getting stuff done!

Mail I finished up the October postcards. I sent replies to everyone who mailed me in November. I've printed ½ the November postcards, and gotten a decent chunk written.

Inbox yeah, the 250 emails were starting to wear me down. I read, deleted, sorted and replied to all of them!

xmas and I have started organizing for the chaotic calamity that others call christmas.

I am so happy that I'm getting so much stuff done this weekend... and I still have another whole day!

scrub jay

A beautiful scrub jay, from a walk I took a couple weekends ago.

I try to go out for a walk, every day that I don't have to go to my day job. And I always take my camera.

The winter scenery doesn't always inspire me. Or, like today, I miss my photo opportunity. The cutest thing:

There are FOUR cats, all fat and well groomed, waiting patiently at the front door of a house. And the sign on the door says "Beware of Dog". hahaha! I didn't even have time to turn my camera on: a human is opening the front door right when I'm thinking about taking the pic.

Darn.

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fri 28 nov 2014... Day 5: Moon Falls

We drove a couple miles to the trail head of the next waterfall. This trail was a bit longer, and mostly followed an old logging road. There were sections where the trees were young and planted in rows (ugh).

I discovered a dragon that the loggers didn't want to deal with...

tree root dragon

:)

The area and trees around the creek are protected from loggers because it's a watershed, and it was a relief to climb down into this undisturbed sanctuary.

And, again, since there had been no rain, the creek was pretty empty... but such a beautiful spot...

Laying Creek below Moon Fall

And the waterfall looked like it would have been amazing... Moon Falls is 125feet/38meters, with many layers for the water to pour off. If only it would rain. This is just the lower part of the falls:

Lower part of Moon Falls

The next waterfall was Pinard Falls, and we got in the car to drive to it's trail head.

Sadly, the loggers were active on the road that lead to Pinard... There were clear cut areas, huge piles of debris covered with plastic tarps, machinery parked at the side of the road, and finally we had to turn around because the road was rutted with huge pot holes and littered with branches.

The loggers had devastated the area and I was disgusted. Yep, this is what we do with our public lands in Oregon. We willingly hand over our beautiful forests to corporations who destroy them and make a tidy profit and then some. oh, and a couple dollars go into our education fund. Despicable.

So, we came home.

Moon Falls

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thurs 27 nov 2014... thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless
Christmas dinner's dark and blue
When you stop and try to see it
From the turkey's point of view.

~ Shel Silverstein

For the past several years, I have been doing a personal protest on thanksgiving by fasting.

To me, it seems like a day of gluttony, rather than a day dedicated to true thankfulness. And I choose to acknowledge this by not eating for a day.

female turkey

Wild and Free.

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wed 26 nov 2014... Day 5: Spirit Falls

On the fifth day of my family vacation, with my Parents and Brother visiting me in Oregon, we decided to do a hike to the south. Another 55mile (88km) road trip, and another stunningly beautiful day...

trail to Spirit Falls on Alex Creek

Down in the valley it was almost 80°, but we were up in the hills... much cooler and more pleasant under the trees and near the water; it was a great day for a walk. And soon the trail brought us down to Spirit Falls:

Spirit Falls

This is a 40 foot waterfall (just over 12 meters), but again, due to the lack of rain, not as spectacular as it could have been. Then again, walking in the sunshine is much nicer than walking in the rain!

For a little bit of perspective, here's my Dad... around 6foot tall, looking up at the 40foot waterfall!

Spirit Falls perspective

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tue 25 nov 2014... Day 4: McDowell Creek

After lunch we got back on the trail. We were heading towards Majestic falls, but saw this cute little one on the way:

Little falls, McDowell Creek

Moss, ferns and mushrooms were everywhere.

mushroom on a tree trunk

And then beautiful Majestic Falls, a 39 foot waterfall (almost 12 meters).

Majestic Falls on McDowell Creek

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mon 24 nov 2014... Day 4: McDowell Creek

This is the fourth day of a family vacation: My Parents and Brother were visiting me in Oregon.

We decided to do some easy hikes and look at waterfalls! McDowell Creek has several waterfalls along a short stretch, and was about 55miles (88km) north. We road tripped up there on a saturday morning.

ferns and moss on a tree trunk

As you can see, it was another beautiful, blue sky day! Entirely unusual for western oregon in autumn... It should have been raining the entire week my family was here. I'm glad we lucked out with our climate change/ global warming.

Then, again... the lack of rain also created a lack of water falling out of the waterfalls! This is Royal Falls:

Royal Falls at McDowell Creek

Pretty wimpy, right? But that's okay. It was a beautiful day, and we are walking out in nature.

We walked down the path a little bit further. We were heading towards a picnic area, shown on the map. We were slightly surprised at the state of the picnic tables when we got there...

picnic tables

haha! Covered in moss and not just damp, soaking wet and slimy!

We ate our picnic lunch straight out of the trunk of the car, instead!

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sun 23 nov 2014... Currently...

I used to do these prompts on my blog every once in a while, but it's been years. (and yes: my blog is a teenager, 16 years old. I started in summer 1998!)

I had to go through some of my old posts, to re-discover some of my old topics. It looks like the first one I did was in Feb 2003, I was living in Phoenix at the time, and wrote the post shortly after our ceiling fell in from too much rain! ha! the previous entry describes that mess.

I picked a few old topics that interested me and added a couple new topics...

Currently Reading: I just finished Station Eleven (I haven't reviewed it yet, tho). And I've been reading Maya Angelou's autobiography, I'm currently on book 5 of 7, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes.

At my day job, I'm reading the current issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Currently in the garden: The tomato plants have died enough that I was finally able to rip them out of the tomato cages. Hopefully next weekend, we'll be able to do some work out there. I want to lay down some leaf litter in the back to help keep the evil grass at bay. And see if there are any sweet potatoes. I totally forgot about them, and now the vines are dead, so I have no idea if they are just rotting underground or if they'll survive for a little while!

Current Critter Stories: I have been letting Lucy and Ethel out for floor time, a few days a week, for about 30 minutes. They run around, all cute-like, and have tried exploring parts of the kitchen and half bath. At first they were ready to go back into their house, after the 30 minutes. Now... they run up to me for their treats, but they try to run away when I go to scoop them up!

Currently Listening To: I listen to Pandora, my favorite stations are Nine Inch Nails, Pink, Lindsey Sterling, Moby and the World Beat genre station. But I'm not really listening to anyone new.

Currently Journaling: For the past several years, I have been very interested in digital journaling. I usually make digital pages on the weekends, print them up later, and then bind them up with the hand-written pages that I write during the week. It's a process that agrees with me, and I usually enjoy the gathering that occurs before the binding. (Altho there are many months that haven't been bound, the papers are filed in a flat box, instead.)

But my current process does not encourage any drawing or doodling, since I add hand-written pages infrequently. And this is something I'd like to change. Drawing and art are an important part of my life, and this should be reflected in my journal!

Currently Mailing: Unfortunately, I had too much homework this weekend, so I wasn't able to get all the october postcards out the door. I also haven't sent any Amnesty International letters this week, or last week. arg! And with the holidays coming, my busy-ness will only increase, and my mail time will decrease. A sad state of affairs!

Current Photography: late fall: I love the autumn season, but you have to look closely to find inspiring photos. Here's a pic from the community garden plot, the seed heads on my aster plant...

Aster seed heads

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sat 22 nov 2014... another working weekend

Yep, got another load of homework from the day job. sighs. But I'm making an effort to get some other stuff done as well...

I started the morning right, with some postcard writing! I got a little handful written and in the mail before the postman got here in the morning.

The state of my postcard projects is currently a little chaotic. I usually send a monthly postcard to everyone on my list. I've gotten behind, tho, and decided to skip the september postcard for now. The rest of the october postcards are going out this weekend. And now I'll begin the november postcards!

I love making and writing my postcards! I actually wish I could send out postcards more than just once a month to people! ha.

The next most important thing to do on a weekend day: go for a walk!

Late morning I went for a short walk, between rain showers. I always take my camera, but I didn't see anything interesting until I got back home...

I noticed movement on the concrete in our entryway...

tiny snail

The tiniest snail I've ever met! Her-His shell was less than half the size of a dime... maybe like 7 or 8 millimeters! Tiny, and oh so cute!

And I'm going to say "she-he" and "her-his" for snails because they are hermaphrodites!

I'm an animal lover, and I love all animals. But snails are especially cool. I highly recommend The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey.

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fri 21 nov 2014... Day 3: Great Horned Owl

When we were exploring the front part of Cascades Raptor Center, we met Lorax, a Great Horned Owl.

Great Horned Owl at Cascades Raptor Center

Lorax has a bum right wing. She had fallen out of her nest as a baby, and broken her poor arm all to pieces. Because of her injuries, there was no hope of returning her to the wild, so they socialized her to human contact. She now helps teach at the raptor center.

She doesn't like being in the cage while it's being cleaned. So someone brings her out, and visitors get to walk by and tell her how beautiful she is!

When we were done at the raptor center we went across the street to one of the trail heads for our Ridgeline Trail.

Ridgeline trail is about 14 miles long, wandering through forests and to the top of our highest peak at the southern edge of the city. Yep, it's all within the city limits!

Ridge Line Trail

I came to western Oregon for the rain and the trees... but the moss and ferns certainly intrigue me as well.

ferns

We did a quick 1.5 mile jaunt on a mountain bike trail and a pedestrian only trail. The trails are not well marked. But wandering around in a forest is definitely my family's idea of fun! haha! For Real!

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thurs 20 nov 2014... Day 3: Raptors

Here's Darwin, a Pygmy Owl...

Pygmy Owl at Cascade Raptor Center

He had been hit by a car, which broke his arm near the shoulder. The bones healed with imperfect alignment. Darwin can fly, but not well enough to hunt. He's been at the raptor center since Dec 2007.

Here's Nike, his good side...

Gyrfalcon at Cascades Raptor Center

He's a Gyrfalcon with just one eye. A raptor researcher found him in Washington state, with a very infected eye. They had to remove his eye, and he wouldn't be able to hunt well enough with just one eye. He's been at the center since March 2005.

And this is Newton, a Northern Goshawk.

Northern Goshawk at Cascades Raptor Center

Newton came as a baby to help teach people about raptors... he did his first program before he could fly.

It's rare for a wild Northern Goshawk to be at a raptor center... in the wild they stay in the wildernes, far away from people. If a Northern Goshawk does get brought in with an injury, they don't adapt well to captivity or being around humans.

But if they imprint on humans as a baby, as Newton was, they can live in our world without trouble.

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wed 19 nov 2014... Day 3: White-Tailed Kites

After the handler talk, my Parents, brother, partner and I got to walk through the raptor center.

All of the injured and healing raptors are kept separate and safe. Humans are stressful to wild birds, and injuries don't heal as fast when you're stressed. And, of course, they don't want any recovering birds to become acclimatized to humans, either.

But there are some raptors who have healed, but can't go back to the wild because they would not survive. Either they can't see well enough to hunt, or they can't fly well enough. These guys have a permanent home at the raptor center.

They live in large outdoor cages. It is so interesting to walk around, see these beautiful birds so close, and to read their stories.

We walked to the back part of the center first... and a White-Tailed Kite was out, practicing her flying with her handler.

White-Tailed Kite at Cascades Raptor Center

The handler would stand 10 or 15 feet from the stand, and ask the bird to fly to the stand. As soon as she did, the handler hurried over to give her a treat. Then the handler walked back to the starting point, then asked the bird to fly back to her for another treat.

There are two White-Tailed Kites at the raptor center. Anu and Dakini, I'm not sure who is who, but here is her sister, sitting in their shared cage.

White-Tailed Kite at Cascades Raptor Center

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tues 18 nov 2014... Day 3: Taka

Taka, a Swainson's Hawk, was found by a road in California, but he hadn't been hit by a car... he had been shot. They fixed him up as best they could, but when he was healed he could not return to the wild.

His wing doesn't extend fully, so he would not be able to survive the 3000 mile migration down to Argentina.

Taka not only adapted well to captivity, he also doesn't mind being in front of a crowd. So he helps teach at the raptor center, and sometimes they take him to teach kids about raptors at special events. His handler emphasized how incredible Taka is for being able to do this... there aren't very many wild-born raptors who can!

Taka at Cascades Raptor Center

Taka was found as an adult in 2001, which means he is at least 14 years old and may be quite a bit older since they can't tell how old adults are. The oldest Swainson's Hawk recorded is a 24 year old banded bird in the wild.

Altho Swainson's Hawks are currently a species of "Least Concern", in the past they have been threatened by pesticides. They migrate south in the winter, and in Argentina they are known as Grasshopper Hawks.

When farmers sprayed DDT and monocrotophos, the grasshoppers and the Grasshopper Hawks died in droves. The US and Canada worked with Argentina to prevent these deaths. But DDT and monocrotophos are still being produced and used in many parts of the world. :(

And it's not just bugs and birds who are killed by monocrotophos and pesticides... humans are killed as well.

If you've not read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, I highly recommend it. It was written in the early 1960's but it is still relevant since DDT is still being used, and hundreds of new pesticides are being developed every year.

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mon 17 nov 2014... Day 3: Raptor Center!

I was really excited about this day! I had been introduced to our local raptor center last year when my day job participated in United Way's Day of Caring. We had decided to volunteer at Cascade Raptor Center, and 11 of us worked there for a couple hours one morning last September.

The raptor center has quite a few permanent residents... birds who have been hurt and have healed, but can't return to the wild because they would not survive. It seemed like the biggest issues were either vision problems, or wing problems where they couldn't fly well enough to hunt or make their migration.

The residents were in big cages outside, and guests can wander through and see everyone, and read their story. It was just amazing to be so close to these very special birds.

When we were there, last year, we had been invited to see the "handler's talk"... One bird comes out and his or her handler talks about raptors and what happens at the center. Unfortunately, no one else was interested, since we were on company time, they wanted to get back to work. humph.

And also unfortunately, the handler's talks only happen at noon during the week. Not on the weekends. So this was a perfect family activity when my parents and brother visited!

We got to meet Taka, a dark morph Swainson's hawk...

Taka, Swainsons hawk at Cascades Raptor Center

(more tomorrow)

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sun 16 nov 2014... sunday evening

Well, I'm not feeling very articulate today, so I will leave you with this photo.

My African Violets are blooming! I have some dark magenta ones in the background, and my favorite, white with light purple rims. They are both from my Grandma, who had them on her dryer in the kitchen, catching the morning light.

african violets

The weekend has been too short, as usual. But I suppose hell will freeze over, if I ever actually get caught up with all my projects!

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sat 15 nov 2014... weekend!

It's been a peaceful and relaxing saturday... I'm thrilled that I don't have any homework from the day job this weekend!

I got up early. Spent some time working with my GoodReads group. Surfed the Internet. Made mail. Made art. Went for a walk. Read my book.

Doesn't that sound nice?

Sweet Gum balls

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fri 14 nov 2014... Day 2: at the Ocean, end

We drove up the coast a little further and stopped at The Devil's Churn. An old sea cave, but the roof caved in, now it's a narrow channel where waves crash in on each other all the way to the end!

The Devils Churn

Photo of the mouth of the Churn, taken from midway down the trail (you can see the lower part of the switch back on the left side of the pic).

We walked from the end of the path, down to the end of the Churn. The Internets say it's about 100feet long, and at the end you can see the ocean is making a new sea cave.

My brother was quite fascinated by the powerful waves.

Brother at the Devils Churn

After we left the Devil's Churn, we drove a little bit further, up to Waldport, and decided to head home. Dad found a tiny, one-lane back-road, which wasn't even on his GPS... a more direct route, but we were only going about 25 mph through all the turns. It only seemed like it took forever!

Back in Eugene, we picked up my partner who had stayed at home for the day, and went out to eat. Cornbread Cafe is 100% vegan and everything on their menu is yummy and wonderful! I only wish we could have eaten more than one meal there!

A fabulous vegan dinner for all was a wonderful way to end a spectacular day!

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thurs 13 nov 2014... Day 2 at the Ocean cont again

We drove a little further north and stopped at Spouting Horn. This is a place on the Oregon coast where the beach is just rocks. There is a little sea cave which has a hole in the ceiling... so when the tide comes in, water explodes up through the hole in a "geyser-like" spray.

I guess the sprays can be so big they hit the highway! But, here's a little puff that I caught (you can see the road isn't exactly close!):

Spouting Horn Oregon

My Brother and Dad watching the waves at Thor's Well.

Thors Well

I had warned my family: Never turn your back on the ocean! A few people die every year, getting swept out with a sneaker wave.

The tide was just coming in as we arrived at the coast. And Bother and Mom were a bit too close and a big wave came in and splashed them! They both kept their footing, but got a little wet.

As they walked back in their soaked clothes, strangers asked, "Did you turn your back on the Ocean?"

Mom answered, "No! We saw the wave coming!"

haha! but seriously... when you see a wave coming, and you know it's big; Make like a Sea Star and lay down on the rocks and grip with everything you've got!

And speaking of Sea Stars... the tide pools here were sadly empty. The Sea Stars have been devastated by a terrible disease. "largest mortality event for marine diseases we've seen", cause: unknown.

I did find one tide pool with a lonely dark red anemone:

tide pool

(on the left side of the pool.) Most puddles had some kind of little shrimp-like creature swimming in it.

No Sea Stars to be seen, tho. Very Sad.

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wed 12 nov 2014... Day 2 at the Ocean cont

Next on our drive up the coast was Heceta Head Lighthouse. (pronounced huh-SEE-ta)

Heceta Head Lighthouse

We walked up the trail to the lighthouse and got a tour, going inside the lighthouse, all the way up to the lenses at the top! (Apparently, the stairs on the inside can only take so much weight, so they only let one small group in at a time. And then they rush you out so the next group can come up. ha! )

Heceta light and lenses

Above pic: looking up at the light in the lighthouse, seen through a break in the lenses, which were turning. And the light is obviously on as well... I wonder why they keep it running during the day? Maybe it's too much trouble to turn it on and off all the time.

It was interesting to learn that every lighthouse has a unique pattern of flashes. This timed pattern, along with the colour of the light, makes the lighthouse easily identified by lost ships.

Heceta has one white flash every 10 seconds.

(to be continued again!)

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tue 11 nov 2014... Day 2: At The Ocean

This is the continuing series of my October Family Vacation: my parents and brother, from Colorado, were visiting me in Oregon.

I think this was my favorite day of my family's visit! I live about 60miles/100km from the Pacific Coast, but I never drive out there. It's been several years since I've been to the ocean, so I was looking forward to it!

And we had the most amazing weather! October is supposed to be cool and rainy... but we had a warm sunny day, not even all that windy! It was so lovely!

We went straight west and our first stop was the Sea Lion Caves. Bit of a disappointment... there were no sea lions in the cave. haha, it never occured to me that the sea lions only hang out in the cave seasonally! Oh well.

We drove to the beach just to the north and had a fabulous vegan picnic lunch.

Mom and Brother walking on the beach

The crows and one gull were all interested in the food we brought!

crow and gull at the beach

I rolled up my jeans and tried to wade. But once a wave went over my ankles, the coldness of the ocean made me run away! ha.

(to be continued... I got distracted with some back-end website stuff this evening!)

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mon 10 nov 2014... birds at the garden

oh, I get so excited when I find a new bird at the community garden! And this one was super easy to identify! Nice little yellow spot on his head...

golden crowned sparrow

Golden Crowned Sparrow

They only live on the western coast of North America, so that's kind of cool that I got to see such a "local" bird!

This year, I've taken pics of these birds at the community garden:

  • crow
  • scrub jay
  • a red winged black bird
  • a house finch
  • about a million gold finches
  • Anna's Hummingbird
  • Rufous Hummingbird
  • and now the Golden Crowned Sparrow

Yay Birds!

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sun 9 nov 2014... Mail

My mailing projects have kind of been on hold for the last 6 weeks...

At the beginning of October, I took a couple weeks off so that I could get organized for my parents and brother to come visit me.

Shortly after their visit, my mailbox lock died. It's taken 2 weeks to get the lock replaced. I've been unable to go to the post office to collect the mail that's piling up, but Significant Other went a couple times.

But without my usual daily mail, I just haven't been inspired to do anything about my usual mailing projects.

So, I've got a big pile of un-acknowledged mail that I would normally message "thanks" for.

And my sent mail has taken a serious nose dive. I normally send over 100 postcards every month. September, I sent 90. October, I sent 60. This month, I've sent 5.

um. yeah. It's the second weekend of the month, I should have 40 postcards out the door. And I have 5. nice, huh?

It's not about the numbers. Sending out mail gives me joy. And when I am not doing something that makes me happy? What kind of person will I turn into?

I need to change this situation!

I've printed out a bunch of postcards. I need to cut them up. I'll start writing on them in the coming week.

Meanwhile, I've also written for the Amnesty International's Urgent Action Network...

decorating envelopes

I wish my workspace were as lovely as this one, Save Snail Mail: Letter writing al fresco. But we must work with what we have:

I live in a tiny townhouse and there is no room for a proper desk. I do most of my work on a lap desk, either on the floor or on my bed. It works and it fits my personality.

The photo displays my usual set up for my Urgent Action letters. I type them and print them on coloured paper, I usually switch between light green and today's light purple.

I also love to decorate the envelopes! My favorite way to color envelopes is with Copic Wides... these markers have a 3/4 inch nib, which is the ultimate fun in quick colouring! Today's envelopes have a simple plaid design on the left side using G21 Lime Green, B24 Sky Blue, and V22 Ash Lavender.

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sat 8 nov 2014... working weekend

I have tons of stuff that needs to be done this weekend, not the least of which is some homework that I brought from the day job.

Worrying about how long the homework was going to take, I decided to start the day right, with some art. I had a little doodling project that was stuck in my head. I got it out of my head and into the mail box. And then I felt ready to take on my chores for the day.

I had really debated about what I should be doing every day in november. I actually thought about doing National Novel Writing Month and instead of typing a novel, I could type up 50,000 words of journal entries.

And then I thought I should do Art Every Day Month. I always love love love all the art that I make.

And then I decided on National Blog Posting Month, mostly because I wanted to type about the family visit and I was lacking the motivation to just do it!

But I guess that goes for the other things as well... I lack the motivation to just journal or to just draw. Which is kind of a funny thing to say, because I do journal on a regular basis, and draw occasionally, and I even type up a blog post on a blue moon.

I just want to go deeper into all these things!

gold finches eating sunflower seeds

We did finally get out to the garden today!

We dug up the last of the beets and planted garlic in its place. We also found one more butternut squash, hiding under some leaves... The squash vine is still very much alive in some places and there are a few butternuts that are green but might still be growing! ha!

We've still got the three sweet potato plants to dig up. I hope it keeps for a little while, since we've got loads of butternuts to eat first!

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fri 7 nov 2014... Day 1: Oct Fam vacation

My Dad, Mom and Brother arrived on tuesday night, and as I talked about in Part 0, I had an early morning drop-off at the veterinarian for Lucy the guinea pig.

Everyone was awake, and had coffee and/or breakfast in them by the time the vet called back, so we started planning the rest of the day.

We all drove out to my day job. I was proud and happy to show my family the warehouse I work in and introduce them to the wonderful people I work with.

On the way home, we picked up little Lucy and her eye medicine. After lunch we had an outing to our community garden.

Our community garden plot is such an important part of my life, I was so happy and excited to share it totally with my parents and brother.

Significant Other and I have had our Community Garden Plot since 2009. I pretend to garden there: make plans, plant things, weed stuff, and then harvest and eat zucchinis and cherry tomatoes. But this was the first year that I felt happy and comfortable about the Wild Flowers (aka "weeds") that I didn't kill: the borage had a large section of our plot and the honey bees and a few native bees were happy.

The Community Garden is 1 mile from our home, and I usually walk there on the weekends. About 90% of the photos I use for my postcards are taken on this walk (or at our garden). My photography and my postcards are a huge part of my life, and I wanted to share this with my family!

That wednesday afternoon, we all walked to the garden on the path I always take. I was desperately hoping to see some urban wildlife, or something interesting, so that I could show them how awesome my neighborhood is!

And sure enough! There was a Great Blue Heron waiting for us in the creek next to the path!

I was not so happy with the sprinkle of rain that came down on us. Then again, it's autumn in western Oregon, the rain should be expected!

At the garden, we ate the Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and marveled at their sweetness. I pointed out the zucchini and the butternut squash, the beets and the snow peas and the sweet potatoes that still need to be dug up.

We walked around the community garden and looked at other people's garden plots. Sunflowers and zinnias and black cherry tomatoes and artichokes!

Back at home, we talked and laughed and got out my dominoes for a few games of Mule Train.

great blue heron

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thurs 6 nov 2014... simple pleasures

Simple Pleasures in Autumn

Driving around in your car with the heat on and the window open.

Sitting next to the window at home, wrapped in a blanket and watching the rain. Hopefully with a good book and a nice mug of something warm and sweet.

Butternut squash. (and Pumpkin, I suppose... but we didn't grow pumpkins in the garden this year!) And soon, sweet potatoes.

Leaves crunching under your feet as you walk in a blue-sky-crisp morning or afternoon.

Soup warming in the slow cooker.

Collecting all the leaves that make you happy.

autumn leaf

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wed 5 nov 2014... speaking of guinea pigs

Significant Other was out buying timothy hay for the piggies the other day. As he was checking out, the lady asked him what kind of critters he had. He told her guinea pigs and then she asked if we ever let them out.

My first piggy, Adric, spent most of his life on the floor of my little studio apartment. He'd only spend a couple hours a day in his house. It was so wonderful having him running around all the time. And he went to the bathroom, in the bathroom, which had real tile and so was easy to clean up.

The next guinea pigs were Tegan and Tess. They also got tons of floor time. But since I had moved into an apartment with SO, they couldn't have the run of the whole house! I piggy-proofed my bedroom, blocked the door with something I could step over and then made them a big house with a door so they could come and go (and they went to the bathroom in their house).

After that, I started rescuing guinea pigs, instead of getting them as younglings. The major problem there... it was difficult to teach them "Don't Pee on the Carpet!" Ha. So, floor time became limited.

The current pair, Lucy and Ethel, live in the same big house that I made way back when. It's around 8 square feet, I think, and they've got plenty of room to run around in. We tried bringing them out a few times last year when we first brought them home from the humane society... they would run around the coffee table twice and then huddle underneath the couch. It was not fun bringing them out. And so, Lucy and Ethel have not had much floor time.

But we gave it another go this evening. Lucy explored, while Ethel headed directly for the couch. After a few minutes, SO tempted them out with cucumber. And they both came out without much trouble!

We may try that again some time.

sunflower at the community garden

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tues 4 nov 2014... part 0: October Family Vacation

My Dad, Mom and Brother visited me in October. They arrived on tuesday evening and... hmm. Actually. There needs to be a little bit of back story here!

I live in Eugene Oregon, in a tiny townhouse with my Significant Other and two guinea pigs. My immediate family lives in Colorado. Both my parents have visited in the past, both together and separately, but my brother has never been to Oregon.

I was super nervous about their visit... I've never given our town house a serious, deep clean in the 9 years that we've lived here. And even tho I've been doing cleaning and tidying chores all year through my Space Clearing class, I knew our home would not be perfectly clean by the time they got here.

And then also, I was nervous because I wanted them to stay in our townhouse, rather than in a hotel. And, honestly, the tiny townhouse is sometimes not big enough for just the two of us humans, let alone five humans for six days!

Ha. So anyway, in the weeks and days leading up to the family's visit, little random things were going wrong. Little annoyances, but then something big. Significant Other's van had an accident. SO had minor injuries and his van was totalled. He had two weeks to mend before the visit, but he was still carless.

The night before the visit, we were playing with Lucy and Ethel, the guinea pigs, and giving them treats. And Lucy is squinting her eye, painfully. What the heck, Lucy?! Of course, I couldn't get an appointment right away, I was to drop her off at the vet clinic on wednesday morning, family to arrive tuesday evening.

Fortunately, we didn't have any set-in-stone plans, and it all worked out in the end.

Family arrived tues night, and Significant Other served up a great dinner of homemade Yumm! bowls. (altho my brother didn't like the Yumm! sauce. foo.) We all chatted and laughed, and didn't stay up too late because they were tired of all their traveling.

Wed morning I got up early and loaded Lucy up in the carrier. Dad got up and came with us to the vet to drop her off. Everybody was still in bed when we got back!

In a couple hours, everyone was up and the vet called. Lucy had a scratch on her eye and needed eye drops, three times a day for the next 2 weeks. No big deal, I could pick her up any time.

lucy the guinea pig

Lucy above, Ethel below.

ethel the guinea pig

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mon 3 nov 2014... huh

uh oh.

I don't have anything to write about.

it's only day 3 and I don't have anything to write about!

I should have made a plan!

Why don't I have a plan?!

PANIC!

great blue heron

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sun 2 nov 2014... Begin Again

National Blog Posting Month


Ha... After my first National Blog Posting Month post -- in which I mostly just complained about stupid little things -- I feel I should start over and maybe offer an introduction.

I've been blogging since 1998... but reintroductions are important every once in a while.


So, Hi! I'm rift vegan.

Yes, I'm vegan! Vegan is not just a diet, it's a lifestyle that includes every decision that you make every day. I love being vegan and it's the best part of me!

Yay Vegan!

Other Stuff...

I am a reader! The only reason I have a day job is to pay the rent and to buy books. I enjoy lots of non-fiction, science fiction and randomness.

I am a photographer! I carry my camera everywhere. But please don't ask me about the settings, I'm all about point and shoot.

I love sending postcards! I print up my photos and mail them as postcards. This is how I share my love of nature. I'm an active member on several mailing web sites and I usually send around 100 postcards every month!

I pretend to garden! My partner and I have a plot in a community garden. Many of my photos are taken at the garden or on the one mile walk to or from the garden. As for actual gardening... well, I do plant a few things, and I might weed a little. And somehow I end up with some zucchinis and cherry tomatoes!

mushroom

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sat 1 nov 2014... halloween complainings

crow at the beach

I was terribly disappointed yesterday evening because we only got one little family of trick-or-treaters for Halloween. bummer!

I am also not happy with my day job... I have tons of homework that I need to work on this weekend. ick!

And I haven't been able to get out to the garden in weeks. Do we have any butternut squashes left or are they all rotting? We need to dig up the sweet potatoes! And we needed to plant the garlic weeks ago! arg.

And the most devastating of all... we have a problem with our lock on our mailbox, and I've not gotten any mail since last saturday! ARG! I haven't had time to pick the mail up at the post office this week, so it's just piling up. It might get fixed next week, but I'm not very optimistic about it anymore.

Then I went for a walk and now I feel much better!

eastern fox squirrel

So, here are some of the things that I'm going to type about this month...

My family visited me in October. I've got six days worth of area hikes and waterfalls and the Pacific coast and the local raptor center!!

A couple of vegan adventures.

And other randomness, of course.

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thurs 30 oct 2014... tap, tap. Is this thing still on?

testing... testing...

National Blog Posting Month

Just making sure I remember how to do this blog thing! ha. I think I've been averaging about 2 posts a month here this year. I've been busy, but that should be an excuse to post more often, to tell you what all I'm doing!

I'm going to blog daily in November.

Yeah. We'll see how that goes...


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Welcome
rifts avatar
I am rift vegan!
I live in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, with my Significant Other (SO), and guinea pigs Lucy and Ethel. I am vegan for ethical and environmental reasons, my love for animals and nature is a very important part of my life.
        This blog is occasionally about...
Vegan Life
Nature
Photography
Handmade Postcards
Books, Reading & eBooks
Gardening
the Paper Journal
Crochet
Drawing & Art Projects
Randomness :)

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Archive Pages
Jan 2016
Feb 2016
Mar 2016
Apr 2016
May 2016
Garden 2016
Mailings 2016
Art 2016


Yep, you can email me. and you can write to me.
Email

rift vegan
PO Box 23724
Eugene OR 97402
USA


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