Thursday, December 17, 2015

HOW COLD IS IT?

How cold is it?  So cold I had to use my hair dryer to thaw out the aluminum window frame so I could open the window to get to the bird feeder.

 So cold it was frosted and icicled.

 That’s right, seven degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 14 Celsius: a bit frosty.

 The finches were glad to get a free breakfast.

 An Oregon Junco was next in line.


There are always chickadees.

 I finally found a name for this little guy.  They come and go so fast I’ve had a hard time getting a clear photo.  At first I thought it was some kind of warbler or wren.  But now I’ve figured out it is red-breasted nuthatch.

 Of course we have a plethora of sparrows (aka flying pigs) visiting the bird feeder.

 And the squirrels clean up the left-overs underneath.

 Still, for all the frigid temps, construction continues across the street.

 But they’re using a gas heater to warm things up before they go to work.

Friday, December 4, 2015

WAITING TO GET OVER THE BRIDGE

Forty years ago this month we moved from a two bedroom apartment into our present home.  During the passing decades our house has been through a devastating flood and several different remodelings.

 One of the last building projects was the addition of a front porch where we like to spend summer evenings.  From the porch is the view of a tree-lined irrigation canal which channels water to nearby farmland. 

Our friends tease us about having waterfront property.  It is nice to have nothing but the canal across the street, and just beyond the that is an assisted living complex which makes for very quiet neighbors.

 At least it was quiet until the facility purchased a big chunk of land to develop into an even bigger place.  With all the aging boomers it seems nursing homes are a good investment.

So a HUGE hole has been dug and concrete walls are going in for a basement. Also part of the design has been another bridge across the canal just a few yards from our house.

 As soon as the water was gone for the season, backhoes were brought in and they proceeded to dig up the canal banks to make way for the base of the bridge.

 All day long heavy equipment comes and goes, loading and unloading and rattling the windows with their rumble.

 This morning I took photos of the progress of the new bridge from the original bridge at the end of the street.

 It’s going to be interesting to see the finished product.

 Our view in this direction will soon be blocked by a building several stories tall.

There is one advantage to having access to this place just out our front door.  When the time comes, our kids will just have to toss us in a wheel chair to cart us off to the geezer house.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

TURKEYS IN THE SNOW

Thanksgiving morning dawned with blowing snow and temperatures below freezing.

 Some of those who’d signed up for the local Turkey Trot were having second thoughts about the need to burn off pre-feast calories.

 Then there were the hard-cores who were full of big talk and ready to run.

 The official turkey and his companions were doing their best to help warm up the crowd.

 DH and Jimmy were in a great mood; probably because they were cheering and not running or walking.

 The nearer it came to starting time, the more snow came down.  Dad talked the youngest racer into spending his time in a warm car with his big sister.

Even the dogs were having second thoughts about this foolhardy undertaking.

 Not these two turkeys.  They were geared up and braced for the adventure.

 One last frozen smile before taking that long one mile walk in the blizzard.

On your marks, get set, GO!  Er---go! Hey! The race has started!  These three finally took their place in the mob of clowns who came out in rotten weather to join the Race to Feed the Hungry. 

DH and I didn’t stay to the end, although we called later to make sure the racers had finished without any casualties.  We had an appointment with a roast turkey and family in Utah.  And, considering the conditions, we decided on an early start so we could take our time getting there.

The road was icy and we counted five slide-offs on our way to the Idaho-Utah border.

 The most exciting mishap was this Fed Ex truck which must have lost control and slid across the median of Interstate 15. Here it is headed north in a south-bound lane.

Here’s the other trailer belonging to the rig getting hauled out of the gutter by a tow truck.  We continued on our way in our four-wheel drive Subaru with knobby snow tires, and arrived in plenty of time to help put Thanksgiving Dinner on the table and eat with our family there.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A DISTURBANCE IN THE FARCE

Last week one of DH’s buddies came by to tell us his business had a special deal going and wondered if we were interested in replacing our old furnace.  By the time they got done negotiating, a new furnace was on the way at sale price with the added condition of a trade on the repair of the buddie’s stereo system.  DH would also help install the furnace so the deal was even sweeter.

In a couple of days the new furnace was in the basement and the old furnace was removed.

 Then all kinds of weird and loud noises began to emanate from that part of the house as Buddy and DH went to work.

 By the time they stopped work that evening the job was almost done.   The only minor inconvenience was the electricity going on and off a few times and the gas water heater was temporary off line. 

To keep the house warm that night the guys hauled in a couple of loads of wood and fired up our wood stove.

 The final details of pipes, wiring and venting were wrapped up before noon the next day.  The fireplace had kept the house so warm they had to open windows to cool the house off enough to find out if the thermostat would trip and kick on our new furnace.

The worst of the debris was removed and the tools were put away by that evening.  DH told me if we’d hired a crew to do the job the price would have been well over a thousand dollars more.

The room was still full of soot and stray fiberglass, so before I did laundry I brought in the vacuum cleaner to finish tidying up.  It had been years since the place had seen more than a hasty wipe-down.  There were saggy gray spider webs hanging in all the corners.  I moved the folding table by the washer and found over a dollar in change lurking under the dust bunnies.  I worked for more than an hour and emptied the vacuum cleaner out twice.  Yet, when it was all done there was little evidence of the labor and commotion of the past few days.

By the way, this followed the replacement of our water heater only a month or so earlier.  DH also purchased and, with Beavis’ help, they installed it and carted the old one away.  I can only guess how much we didn’t pay an appliance repair and installation service for that one.

I don’t remember anyone telling me I should look for a man who could fix things when I chose a husband.  Even if I was told I know I didn’t listen. Still, it is so nice to have a spouse who can use tools, understand mechanical and electronic devices and figure out how to repair the broken and maintain the rest.  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

ART WORK

Since DH and I spent the past few months working at summer camp, I didn’t have an opportunity to do any watercolor painting except for a few sketches.  Not long after our return I did a piece requested by a lady from just over the Teton Mountains in Jackson, Wyoming.

 My most recent undertaking started out with this value sketch.

 I transferred the sketch to watercolor paper and went to work.

Before long I had the forest underway.

 I started on the foreground and then decided I’d better put in the deer so I could add their reflections in the water.



This is the finished product.  I’m calling it “Energy Drink.”
 
 It is for sale on my Etsy site along with two other paintings I’ve finished in the last few weeks.

 This one is called, “Saturday Morning” and came from photos and time I spent watching kayakers along the Oregon Coast enjoying a morning away from their weekly routine.

 “Power Surge” is of a blustery afternoon near Maxwell Point.  The tide was coming in between the beach and the rocky islands bringing the roar of waves to add to the rushing wind.  Brown pelicans were scanning the surf looking for a meal kicked up by the surge.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

WHEN YOU HEAR HOOF BEATS

Even though the sun seems to think it’s okay to sleep in and neglect its job of warming the morning air, I still get up early a few times a week and go for a walk.

 One morning last week I arrived at the river bridge when the sky was lighting up with a glorious sunrise.  I regretted the only camera I had with me was my cell phone. Although it did a pretty good job of capturing the moment.

On I tramped, following the river road with my mind wandering about when I heard a galloping sound.  Well, of course I thought it must be horses.

 It sorta looked like horses.  But I pulled out my cell phone and grabbed a fuzzy photo when I realized it was mooses not horses.

 Dang! If I’d had my Nikon I most likely would have a clear photo of this momma and her calf stopping to see what scared them out of the trees. 

They hurried off into the willows and disappeared down the river.  I walked on and didn’t see anything else remarkable.

SO…this morning when I decided to go along the same path, I grabbed my camera with the zoom lens so I would be ready when I heard hoof beats.

 The big Hunter’s Moon had spent the whole night lighting up the sky and was heading for bed.

By the time I arrived on the bridge, the sun was painting the sky with another brilliant sunrise.  This time I could capture the tip of the Grand Teton in Wyoming poking up just behind the Big Hole Mountains.

 I got a few more shots of the sunrise and, as the sky grew a little lighter, I carried my camera down the road where I’d seen the moose the week before.

 The pink sky reflected in the pond where a flock of Canada geese were taking a break on their trip south.

 More geese were already up and on their way.

Only gooses, no mooses, no hoof beats, not even any horses waited for me as I walked down the road.

 By the time I turned for home the moon was settling down and giving up the day to the sun.  Yeah, even though I didn’t get to shoot a moose or two, it had still been a good walk and a good start for the day.  

Saturday, October 24, 2015

GIFTS FROM THE SEA

Just west of the city of Tillamook, Oregon I discovered a little town called Oceanside clinging to a cliff overlooking the Pacific.

 Down a flight of stairs was a wide, sandy shore.  There I went to do a little beach combing while I waited for the tide to go out.  A few other explorers and dog walkers were already there enjoying the quiet rush of waves.

 Some were launching kites in the ocean breeze.

I’d heard this was a place where agates could be found so as I walked, I kicked around through the seaweed deposited by the retreating waves just to see what would turn up.

The beach was long and I walked for quite a while finding little more than a few broken shells and some sand crabs.

I finally discovered a small agate among some gravel.

Then I found a broken compass, the kind that’s usually attached above the windshield inside a car or boat.  I rolled it around in my hand and dropped it in my jacket pocket.

A few minutes later I met a man walking and chatting with a boy who looked to be around six, judging by the gap in his grin next to a brand new grown-up tooth.  He carried a gallon-sized plastic bag almost filled with shells, crab legs, chunks of drift wood and pebbles.  The breeze ruffled his sandy hair as he looked up to see who I was.

I retrieved the broken compass and held it out.  “Look, I found Jack Sparrow’s compass.  See, it doesn’t point north.”  The dad grinned as the boy looked to him for assurance.  “Here, take it” I said.  “Maybe it will help you find what you want.”

The boy gazed at the gadget while his dad reminded him about Captain Jack and his pirates of the Caribbean.  I also showed them my agate, wished them a good day and went on down the beach.

I’d brought along my camera and took a few reference photos of the sea, the birds, and objects scattered about by the outgoing tide.

 I found a still life arranged by Nature on the sand and used reference photos to reproduce it in this watercolor when I returned home.


“And then, some morning in the second week, the mind wakes, comes to life again. Not in a city sense—no—but beach-wise. It begins to drift, to play, to turn over in gentle careless rolls like those lazy waves on the beach. One never knows what chance treasures these easy unconscious rollers may toss up, on the smooth white sand of the conscious mind; what perfectly rounded stone, what rare shell from the ocean floor.” --Anne Morrow Lindbergh--Gift from the Sea