sun 2 oct 2016... Parking Lot Birds|
For a long time, the trees in our apartment parking lot
have been devoid of bird families.
Years ago, a crow family raised their babies in a Douglas fir in the
south west corner of our lot. It was exciting to watch the family
build the nest in the spring... usually 3 adults: mom and dad and
last year's child, who helps to raise their baby sibling! And then,
in the summer I got to watch baby's first few flights, and their
first few crash landings! ha!
They came back year after year. But one spring,
late in the season, they lost their babies. The mother was
inconsolable, though the father tried to comfort her.
It was terribly sad. But even sadder, they never came back
to nest in their tree again.
Since then, we've only had birds passing through. No one has
wanted to stay.
But this summer, a Eurasian Collared Dove moved in. He's an
invasive species, but that's not something I blame on him.
Listening to a dove's voice is usually soothing and peaceful.
But this guy cooed as fast as he could! His "Coo-COOO-co"
was more like CoCOOcoCoCOOcoCoCOOco! ha, I don't know why he
was so frantic.
He was hanging out in the south east corner of the lot.
There's a sweet gum, a couple oaks and a blue spruce there.
I looked for him but never figured out which tree he was in.
The weather started cooling down in September, and I eventually
turned off the fan in my window. And in the middle of the
night, I heard someone ... singing?
I never really woke up, but the sound came into my dreams.
It had to be an owl? Who else is talking at 1 o'clock in
the morning? but not "hoot, hoot". This was something different!
The very first owl that popped up on my search engine was a
Western Screech Owl. Well, that's impossible! My owl song
was soft and dream-like, not screeching! but then I heard their
voice... Western Screech Owl "Bouncing Ball Song"!
ha! That may be it. But why in the world are they called
I don't have any photos of doves or owls in the wild.
So I shall leave you with some pretty autumn Asters...
sat 24 sept 2016... Yay Books!|
Sept 25 thru Oct 1 is
Banned Books Week
here in the US. I love this event... Celebrate reading and books?
My goal last year was to get one book read from each of the yearly
Top 10 Lists.
I didn't quite make it, I am missing a book from 2005.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
I'm also missing a book from the 2015 Top 10 List. There are several
ones that look good: I Am Jazz, Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out,
Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan.
Also it would be nice if I didn't have to make books do double duty.
For instance, both 2002 and 2003 are Bridge to Terabithia, and 2010
and 2013 are Absolutely True.
I have not read any more from the
Challenged Classics list, since last year. (Still at 11 of 46.)
I've read 16 books from the Top
100 from 2000 to 2009 and from the
100 most frequently challenged books: 1990 to 1999 I've read 12:
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
11. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
16. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
23. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle
37. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
40. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
43. Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
45. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
54. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
81. Carrie, by Stephen King
A new list this year is
Challenged Books with Diverse Content. I've read 9 books on
this list, all mentioned above in the various other lists. But I
am definitely interested in reading more of these!
sun 4 sept 2016... Happy Birding Surprise|
Walked out to the Community Garden this morning... but not too
early because the weather has changed and we are back to reasonable
temperatures. Our garden plot needs some work. I have thought
about this for a couple of weeks. And today I pulled up some dead
plants and a couple old cages and markers.
I was happy to get a few photos of sunflowers. Didn't see any
hummingbirds, but I got blurry photos of some Goldfinches,
eating sunflower seeds. eh.
On my trek home, I crossed the street and was walking the most
boring part of the bike path. A long stretch where trees hang over
the creek and hide the water... and the mowed meadow on the other side
provides no visual treat. My mind was occupied with the letters
I wanted to write once I got home.
There were birds yelling at each other. For several minutes it
didn't even register with me, I was so preoccupied with the
details of my letter writing! But they were so loud! and as
I was walking up to the very vocal avian disagreement... I
realized I had no idea who was yelling!
I literally stopped in my tracks because I suddenly knew it was
Belted Kingfishers! Two of them!! Were they fighting over
territory??! I searched and saw a bare glimpse of someone flying
behind the trees that blocked me from the creek. ARG!
The fight for territory was over and I saw the loser flying away,
away from me and the creek.
The winner still called out, though. I searched and found him
at the top of a dead tree... he stayed there long enough for several
photos! Not a great pic, but definitely a proud Kingfisher:
This is a male, the females have a second, rust-coloured band.
This page: All
About Birds: Belted Kingfisher has audio of their "Rattle" Calls!
I'm hoping he stays and can attract a female! Would love to get
photos of a family of Kingfishers. :)
sat 20 aug 2016... Out Walking|
Every weekend, and any time I can get an extra day off,
I go out walking in my neighborhood.
It's not just exercise, although that's important. Walking also
fuels my creativity and my passion for my creative pursuits because
I've got my camera with me and I take all kinds of interesting
photos along the way. In this way, walking is what keeps me sane.
I have decided that the perfect temperature for walking is 52°F
/ 11°C. At 52° I am comfortable in jeans and a teeshirt with a
long sleeved shirt over it. It's a little chilly when I leave the
house, walking warms me up but not enough to sweat.
I hate sweating.
And I'm not too fond of summer time, either. You have to get up
pretty darn early in the morning in order to walk comfortably...
and I'm not exactly a morning person.
We've been experiencing a heat wave the last few days, and I knew
I'd have to get up at first light in order to enjoy a walk. The
nice things about such earliness: Not many other walkers, bikers,
or drivers (I have to cross a couple streets). Also there's a
better chance to see wildlife first thing in the morning.
Sure enough, I caught a glimpse of my Belted Kingfisher friend. I first
came across him last November. At the time, I got a couple blurry photos of
him, but nothing worth displaying. In January, he
was gone. I'm so glad to see him again... another chance to get
his portrait!! But not today, he flew off before I could even
turn my camera on. :)
And last weekend, I finally discovered the speaker of a most
An American Bullfrog! Unfortunately, he's an invasive species
on the western side of the US. But that's not his fault.
I had been hearing his voice all summer. There's
on this page. I honestly had no idea this sound was
coming from a frog!
My usual goal of my neighborhood walk is the community garden,
where I attempt to take photos of the hummingbirds.
There are so many hummingbirds,
this time of year, that I've totally lost track of my
Anna's friend who I watched every weekend this
spring. He's around, though, I'm sure I've seen him a
few times this summer.
Walking home, and it's still first thing in the morning.
At home, I can still drink my morning coffee. I get my photos
off my camera and work on them. I'll print the close-up of
our 2nd sunflower and turn it into an envelope. The photo
of the moon behind the neighbors sunflowers is going to make
a very unique and spectacular postcard.
Have to think about the gold finch, and
google and identify the plant he's standing on. The Green
Heron is sadly surrounded by litter, but I can't believe I even
saw him. And then there's the cat...
All these lovely beings who I meet while I'm walking.
Do you see why it is that I drag myself out of bed?!
These creatures keep me going, their portraits remind me,
and sharing my photography makes others happy as well.
sat 13 aug 2016... Another death in the family|
Lucy the guinea pig died yesterday
and has joined her companion Ethel - who died 29 June -
in the afterlife.
A photo from October 2015. This was the first and last
official guinea pig photo shoot. We all had a lot of fun
with this and I wish I had followed my
creativity and had more photo shoots, but it was not to be.
This photo of Ethel and Lucy was made into a postcard
and sent all over the world. It makes me happy knowing
that many people have seen my sweet guinea pig pair and
think they are adorable!
fri 22 july 2016... Garden List |
We had some trouble with the authorities at our Community Garden
this spring. They didn't like our gardening style and said they would
kick us out at the end of the year. I was desperate to stay, so:
SO and I killed most everything
in our plot and turned it into a sad dead desert which will hopefully
please the powers-that-be.
Honestly, I don't even know if all the hard, depressing work helped at all,
or if the decision has already been made.
Regardless, I'm excited about our current gardening,
and planning for the future, but trying
to be able to let it go in the future, if need be.
So, here's the list of what's going on...
Beets Significant Other
picked out a new kind of beet this year: Chiogia. Imagine my surprise
when I cut into my first one!
ha! isn't that awesome?
A new favorite that we planted for the first time in 2014.
We've been at the Community Garden for, what? 7 or 8 years?
and I've never had too many Lemon Cucumbers! This year I
planted 4 lemon cuc plants... and I can't wait for the abundance!
We also acquired a freebie Silver Slicer Cucumber, but it was planted
pretty late so I don't know if we'll get much from it.
Last October we planted both Hard Neck and Soft Neck Garlics.
They were both very happy until this spring when the Hard Necks
got spots and then died. The Soft Necks got spots, but managed
to flower while they were sick. I just let it go... Mostly because
I had given up when our Elephant Garlic got destroyed in
the spring by an ignorant work crew.
A freebie... I don't actually like kale so these two plants
are going to be ornamental!
Nasturtium and Edible Flower Mix
You can eat the flowers and leaves of Nasturtium, but it's a
bit too peppery for me. I just think they're pretty.
I only got one plant out of the Flower Mix that lived,
so that's disappointing.
Borage at the top, Nasturtium at the bottom.
I don't know what the spike at the left is: need to look it up!
Peas We planted so many Sugar Snap
Peas, transplants and seed sowing,
but I only ate a couple handfuls of pods. They were very yummy,
but I want more. I don't know why our pea plants don't grow
big like everyone else's.
Tomatoes We've been planting
Sun Gold cherry tomatoes for a long time because they are sweet like
candy. This year we are also experimenting with a new-to-us,
large tomato: Brandywine.
Supposed to have a "sweet, rich, slightly spicy flavor".
Looking forward to trying it!
New this year and I'm already obsessed. First transplant was completely
eaten by Striped Cucumber Beetles (who totally ignored the actual
cucumber plants in our plot!). 2nd transplant was completely
eaten by Striped Cucumber Beetles. Apparently I just don't learn,
but for the 3rd time around, I got four plants...
and they were completely eaten by Striped Cucumber Beetles.
For the 4th time, I got three plants and put them under a row
cover! They lived! Last week, I set them free from their cover.
We've got two very small strawberry patches, and I only got a
couple of strawberries this spring. I should figure out what
I need to do to get more fruit.
Sweet Potatoes One of our
usuals. Trouble is, at the end of the season when these are ready
to dig up, I'm tired of garden food! ha. So I only planted 2 instead
of our usual 3.
Sunflowers and Oregon Sunshine
There are more than enough sunflowers at the community garden,
but I wanted to add to the abundance! The Oregon Sunshine is
a little plant with pretty leaves and yellow flowers. I found
out after I planted it, that it's a native of Eastern Oregon,
so I didn't hold out much hope for it here in Western Oregon...
but we've got a couple blooms after all:
Zucchini Got a Yellow Zuc
this year. It was eaten by the aforementioned Striped Cucumber
Beetles, and I got another one to replace it. Except the original
plant lived! And so did the replacement! I'm not sure how to
handle 2 zucchini plants, since I get tired of zucchini with just
one plant every year.
sat 2 july 2016... a death in the family|
A very hard week. Ethel the guinea pig was sick, had several emergency
doctor appointments, and surgery. She died 12 hours after surgery.
Ethel was the older of our team of two guinea pigs. When we adopted them from
the Humane Society in 2013, they guessed that she was 2 years old,
and her companion Lucy was 1 year old. But it was a guess, they had been
abandoned in their small cage on the door step of a local veterinary clinic.
Ethel liked to surround herself with hay! Sometimes she slept in the
middle of the pile of hay.
Ethel was the calmer one... Lucy isn't exactly high strung, but she leans
in that direction, while Ethel took everything in stide. Ethel was also more
willing to climb up into my arms to be lifted out of their house. Lucy
requires an obvious treat, and even then she thinks long and hard about
being lifted and carried around.
Ha. Such different personalities. They were quite the pair. But now, it's
sat 21 may 2016... Three Stressful Things|
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.
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.
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.
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...
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
The Pilot Varsity or VPen is a disposable that came in a pack of
7 colours including black for 15$. These are ready to write and
my first couple of scribbles had smooth ink flow, not scratchy, and
nice, solid colours (tho the purple is too close to blue for my taste).
The ink doesn't dry immediately, which I noticed right away on the
green pen, the ink moved around quite a bit and puddled in parts of
my letters. But maybe that's just the cheap copier paper I was
I also got a Pilot MR or Metropolitan. This is more of a "real"
fountain pen: it cost 15$ 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.
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!
sun 3 apr 2016... the hummingbirds|
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 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
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.
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...
... 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
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.
sat 27 feb 2016... Last LetterMo Weekend|
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
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.
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 ½ 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.
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.
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
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! :)
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
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.)
Thu, 18 Feb 2016 19:17:54 PDT|
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|
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|
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!|
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
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?
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.
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 2015, I sent exactly 1500 postcards and letters.
The average is 125 per month which is a huge increase
over previous years. 2014 = 98 per month, 2013 = 78 per
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
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
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 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.
sat 5 dec 2015... Write For Rights!|
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...
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
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!
My Email: Journal @ Static8.com
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.
(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! :)
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
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
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!
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
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.
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
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!
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
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. ;)
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.
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.
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...
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
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!
sat 31 oct 2015... Unread Book Piles|
The writing theme for the
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.
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".
(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.
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.
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.
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!
From the 46
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
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
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:
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!
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
to Terabithia which is on the Top 100 list and on
the 2003 Top 10 list (for my goal).
sat 19 sept 2015... birds in flight|
One of my photography goals is to take a picture of a
Now, to be honest, both me and my camera are
too slow to do this, except by accident...
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...
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??
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
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:
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.
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!
sun 31 aug 2015... random|
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
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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... ;)
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!
An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book and
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...
I don't know how that awesome background happened!
But I would do it some more if I knew how!
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
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,
this week and it was amazing!
I can't wait to read different books by her.
The next book I picked up is called
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
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
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!
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...
And there are pretty flowers...
And the lupines are starting to bloom.
And the swallows are flying.
And the garden is starting to grow.
sun 3 may 2015... Urban Wildlife part 2|
As I was leaving the house yesterday, I noticed this:
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
sat 25 apr 2015... Garden Nest, Urban Wildlife|
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.
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.
Sat, 25 Apr 2015 08:33:38 PDT|
sun 29 mar 2015... um.|
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.
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
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:
(I use the A6 size, which fits
comfortably on 11x17inch paper, and makes an envelope
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.
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!
But then I realized, from my reading of one of my favorite
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
Yay Everything! haha.
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...
Journal Class Progress|
Thu, 05 Mar
Last night, I wrote my homework for Day 2 (of 28)
sat 28 feb 2015... Next!|
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
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
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.
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! ;)
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 17:54:24 PDT|
sun 8 feb 2015... Book Piles|
This month I'm working on mail,
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
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
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
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!
Thu, 05 Feb 2015 19:00:13 PDT|
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|
Sat, 31 Jan 2015 10:02:17 PDT|
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:13:31 PDT|
I have a little GREEN Internet Cat from Free Press:
Sat, 17 Jan 2015 09:40:29 PDT|
This amused me greatly...
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
It was fun, a little absurd and definitely got the
attention of FCC employees heading into work.
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
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!
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
So, the project for December:
Write for Rights!
Here's today's work area...
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
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!
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!
A beautiful scrub jay, from a walk I took a couple weekends
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.
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
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...
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:
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.
October Family Vacaion
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.
Wild and Free.
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...
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:
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!
October Family Vacaion
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.
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
Then, again... the lack of rain also created a lack of
water falling out of the waterfalls!
This is Royal Falls:
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...
haha! Covered in moss and not just damp, soaking wet
We ate our picnic lunch straight out of the trunk of the
October Family Vacaion
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
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,
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
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...
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
I love making and writing my postcards!
I actually wish I could send out postcards more than
just once a month to people!
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...
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.
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.
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!
I came to western Oregon for the rain and the trees...
but the moss and ferns certainly intrigue me as well.
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!
October Family Vacaion
thurs 20 nov 2014... Day 3: Raptors|
Here's Darwin, a Pygmy Owl...
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...
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.
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.
October Family Vacaion
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
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.
October Family Vacaion
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 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.
October Family Vacaion
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
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
We got to meet Taka, a dark morph Swainson's hawk...
October Family Vacaion
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
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!
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
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?
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!
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.
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.
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!
October Family Vacaion
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!):
My Brother and Dad watching the waves at Thor's Well.
I had warned my family: Never turn your back on the ocean!
A few people die every year, getting swept out with a
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
"largest mortality event for marine diseases we've seen",
I did find one tide pool with a lonely dark red anemone:
(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.
October Family Vacaion
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)
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!
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! )
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!)
October Family Vacaion
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!
We drove to the beach just to the north and had a
fabulous vegan picnic lunch.
The crows and one gull were all interested in the food
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!)
October Family Vacaion
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
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
- 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
sun 9 nov 2014... Mail|
My mailing projects have kind of been on hold for the last
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
I wish my workspace were as lovely as this one,
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
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
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.
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
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
Every Day Month. I always love love love all the art
that I make.
And then I decided on
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!
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!
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
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.
October Family Vacaion
thurs 6 nov 2014... simple pleasures|
Simple Pleasures in Autumn
Driving around in your car with the heat on and the
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.
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
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.
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
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
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 above, Ethel below.
October Family Vacaion
mon 3 nov 2014... huh|
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?!
sun 2 nov 2014... Begin Again|
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!
∞ 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!
sat 1 nov 2014... halloween complainings|
I was terribly disappointed yesterday evening because we
only got one little family of trick-or-treaters for
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!
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.
thurs 30 oct 2014... tap, tap. Is this thing still on?|
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
I'm going to blog daily in November.
Yeah. We'll see how that goes...
I am rift vegan!|
I live in the Pacific Northwest of the USA,
with my Significant Other (SO).
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
∞ Handmade Postcards
∞ Books, Reading & eBooks
∞ the Paper Journal
∞ Drawing & Art Projects
∞ Randomness :)