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September Skies & Life Notes

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A Good Start

…began at the end of August when I broke with solitude for a wonderful visit with my cousin and his girlfriend. Jimmy, Darcie and I strolled around Westport, had a bite to eat and I gave them the 5-cent debut tour of my almost completed Turtle (homemade wooden mini-camper). It was a joy to share The Secret Garden and send them home with some raspberry plants.

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September kicked off with a little road trip to meet one of my Alaska sisters in the Seattle area for 3 days. There was a lot of laughter and cussing at the map app as Laura and I  navigated around Auburn for 2 days. We managed (without the damn app) to figure out how to take the Sounder train from our airport hotel into Seattle to check out Pike Place Market. It was so good to be with my sis, but we were both a little creeped out about being in such crowded places in the violent climate of our world today. Sad but true. (12 photos)

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Back To Solitude And Some Nature Nurture

The rainy season has begun here on the Washington coast, which means many thick foggy evenings and mornings, but also rainbows!

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The temperatures are between the high 60’s and mid 50’s, hovering only about ten degrees between day and night. (Was 74 on Sunday!) On some days the skies are a solid blanket of light grey from dawn to dusk, horizon to horizon. Other days are bright blue with cool cloud formations that develop into stunning sunrises and sunsets. (12 photos)

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In many of my sunrise and sunset photos there are black dots or clear silhouettes of birds. During spring and summer it was a mix of ducks, geese, pigeons, doves, starlings, sea gulls, eagles, crows and Northern flickers.

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Sunrise, crows & moon

The birds seem to travel on an mapped out skyway. In the morning they fly into Westport along the eastern skyway, and at night they fly out of Westport along the western skyway. So as I step out of my door and look to my right (over The Secret Garden) in the morning, the skyway of birds cross the sunrise. To my left in the evening, they cross in front of the sunset.

By now, in early fall, I’m seeing mostly crows and a few sea gulls. Early morning crow migration from their night time roosts, plays against the background of calm pastels or vibrant oranges, pinks and purples of the rising sun. As the sun begins to set, the crows make their way back to their slumber party among the inland trees.

I can’t help but wonder why they never stop to gaze at nature’s colorful background for their journey. Of course, I wonder the same thing of fellow commuters when I seem to be the only one to pull out of traffic to take in the wonders in the sky.

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Thanks for your patience. Peace out.

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Raging sunrise

 

 


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Go Ahead And Ask. I Know You Want To.

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Purple dinosaur roams the Secret Garden. Essential.

Just where the hell have I been? My last post, aside from the lame January Home page update, was September 2014!!!! Holy tomato, Batman. Sure, I’ve been dipping my toes in the Facebook social pool over the past few months. Just a few lines and a photo or ten, nothing much really.

And, no ma’am/sir, I have not been tucked away in a cozy writer’s retreat tapping out The Great American Novel. I haven’t been off saving the world, one family member or friend at a time either. I haven’t been busy raising a family, promoting a book, working for a living or chairing ten committees.

Nope, that’s you guys. Man, you people have been BUSY!

During my 9-month people-phobia I have had a very limited itinerary; Maggie (the beach cave/home), the Secret Garden, the beach, the post office, the smoke shop and the grocery store. Did you catch that? Yes, I started smoking again, and I’m un-boyfriended too. I suppose I wasn’t ready for either one, despite how great they both (not smoking and boyfriend) were while they lasted. I WILL give quitting another try though.

I spent a month or so in Centralia with my 3-year-old grandson, Cameron, while his mom worked some crazy hours. It was good to be with their little family and it was also good to be back to my beach cave. Cora and Nola came back with me and we spent a fun weekend in the garden and at the beach and marina. The girls made some awesome beach art. Then my Sara, Jon and Cameron came to get them. We had a yummy BBQ in the Secret Garden, they unburdened me of lots of garden goodies, and then they all headed back home.

Aside from beach combing and gardening, I’ve been dabbling in painting and crafting. I spend a lot of time researching and charting my family genealogy. I have so many interests, I don’t think I’ve spent one minute of my life bored. Reading and writing have always been a huge part of my life, but not so much these past nine months.

I watch movies on Netflix sometimes. Last night I watched On Golden Pond. I loved Katharine Hepburn, the lake, the fishing and especially, the loons. The family dynamics were familiar and bittersweet.

I still write weekly postcards to my grandson, Hunter, and every few weeks to my Nola, Cora and Cameron. Other friends and family get snail mail from me occasionally. I sent my adult children, Sara and Jon, “Where’s Waldo” postcards a few weeks ago.

I’m usually up all night and sleep 4-6 hours during the day. I catch the birds singing their dawn chorus at 4:30 A.M. and the often-spectacular sunrise show. At night I get the beach sunset, moon and stars.

I still cry at the drop of a…it was a sock a couple days ago. I was rearranging something and a catch-all basket fell to the floor. As I bent to gather everything I saw a toddler-sized sock. Whether the sock was my grandson Tiven’s, who died in 2013, or his brother Hunter’s, whom I haven’t seen in almost 2 years and who is being moved to the other side of the country this week, it was heart-wrenching. I still avoid the cubby under my bed where I stored their shells, beads, drawings and toys. Hunter’s bright orange toothbrush catches me off guard sometimes.

Since Paul died in 2009, then my cat, my sister, my grandson, 2 aunts, an uncle and several friends, I haven’t moved forward much. I’ve spent a lot of time in Alaska with my parents and siblings, and I’m trying to build strong bonds with Sara’s 3 children.  Most of my adult friendships are on the phone or online.

The Secret Garden and my camera keep me going, as does sharing what I find that amazes me. Publicly, I try to add a kind word or humor when I can. If not, I say nothing.

In the back room of my friend’s garage, are floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall totes. Two households (both mine, both gone) of STUFF. If I could, I would pay for someone to take it all away. That’s not going to happen. My goal is to sell, toss or give away all of it by the end of the summer. Baby steps. I’ll start with 20 minutes a day. Let’s see how that goes. Wish me luck.

So my first blog post in a long time and a goal and plan to unburden myself from my STUFF. Maybe I am moving forward a bit 🙂

Thanks for reading if you made it this far,

Patti

P.S. This was written the last full week in June. Real progress being made on my goal; 6 or 7 empty totes! Grandson moved to undisclosed location, so I’ve decorated an antique box and keep adding his weekly postcards and a few treasures that I find.


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Alaska Travels: Revving Up and Winding Down

Sunset last night, from my parent's deck, Eagle River, Alaska.  Phall Photos 2014

Sunset last night, from my parent’s deck. Eagle River, Alaska.
Phall Photos 2014

A week from today I’ll be catching a ride home on another big metal bird. Yes, I’m 55 and still amazed that those things can carry us through the sky. Of course, the miracle of electricity still boggles my simple mind too. No, no, don’t try to explain them! I NEED every little miracle I can claim 🙂

Up and Down

So, I’m revving up to wind this visit down. It has been one of my best trips home (I always say this, because the present one IS always the best one!). The lists that mom and I make just grow longer, as my days here grow shorter. Sure, we got a lot done the last 2 months, but man, there’s still so much to do!

And Up and Down Once More

One way or another, I’m heading home on the 29th and am very excited to see my Centralia family; 2 adult children, 5 little grands, cousins, aunt and uncle. There are some special friends I’ve been missing too. And then there is my beach gypsy cave and secret garden awaiting my return to Westport. From social to solitary again. At last. The solitude lures me more every day, no matter the love and joy I receive in the presence of family and friends…

A Traveling Clan

Dad will be flying “home” to Kentucky to see his ailing sisters and brother for a few weeks, on October 1st. Four days after he returns to Alaska, mom will leave to spend the winter in Arizona with my youngest sister and her family. We should own Alaska Airlines by now. The sister that I have had the longest (not allowed to say “oldest sister”) and her husband spend the coldest winter months at their condo in Costa Rica. Some how, some way, I have plans on making it over there this year. A girl can dream 🙂

Swing over to http://phallphotos.wordpress.com/homer-alaska/ to see some slide shows from our trip to Homer, if you have a few minutes. No metal bird needed for this tour!

Traveling On,

Patti


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Alaska: Picture Snippets

Once in awhile the bug hits and I have more than a caption-worth of words for some of my photos. These were taken in the last day or so. Their more like snippets of stories, rather than full blown stories. Hence, the weird title

P1170078I am not a sun worshiper. This umbrella used to block the sun, in addition to the huge one over the table. The chickadees kept flitting past it, so I thought I’d try to snap a photo of their shadows going past. No such luck. However, I did capture a large moth’s shadow.

P1170082 Speaking of moth’s, this one came for a visit at my table. I took some photos, then it simply disappeared! I sat my camera down and as the lens closed the moth jumped off…he had hopped from the table to my camera lens.

P1170089Another visitor, a chickadee, I believe. They come each evening, between 7:30 and 8:00 to gather seeds from the feeder. My folks put all the feeders away when the bears wake up, so as not to attract them to their yard. I risk it all and have one clandestine feeder and one suet tray. Please don’t tell my dad…or the bears.

P1170084When mom and I took Sophie back to my brother’s house, I learned something new. I learned about Larch trees. My brother has a row of them at the front of his property and I went to explore what mushrooms might be growing beneath them (none).  The tree is a deciduous conifer, meaning that it sheds its leaves (needles) in the fall. It has hard, waterproof wood and is often used in building boats. It smells wonderful, but the best thing was the feel of the needles. They are very very soft!

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Here is Sophie…watching the birds, begging me to get off the deck, and trying out all the seats in mom’s car. She really really wanted to come back with us. It took all three of us to get her out and get Cee Cee in.

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On the way home from Michael’s house, I pulled in to take photos of these awesome weeds. That’s when mom told me that her and dad had rented the house we were parked behind, when they moved back to Alaska in the mid-80’s. Weird, I never knew that and we’ve driven by it a million times. Anyway, cool weeds, huh? Fireweed.

P1170109 My parents rented this house in the mid-80's P1170110Last, but not least, a fresh bouquet of mom’s sweet peas for my sister, Michaela (1964-2012). She gets store-bought flowers from dad in the winter and fresh flowers out of the garden from mom in the summer.

P1170092I hope you enjoyed these snippets.

Patti


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Alaska: A Walk With Mom and The Dogs

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Sophie’s legs on the left, Cee Cee on the right, mom in the middle and gaboodles of mushrooms dot the ground.

We took a break from framing and painting. Our mission was to enjoy some time in the woods with Cee Cee, a Brussels Griffon (possibly part Ewok) and Sophie, a Rottweiler /Pit bull (mostly creampuff). Sophie lives with my brother most of the time, so we picked her up from there and went on our merry way.

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Peters Creek in August is a mushroom haven! I found one of my coolest specimens here. I am certainly no expert, but am learning fast! The info I found says this Coral Fungus, Hericium is very edible and tastes like crab, of all things. And no, I don’t eat wild mushrooms…yet!

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Will check in with more Alaska news soon,

Patti, the ‘shroom hunter

Cee Cee asking for more peanut butter popcorn :)

Cee Cee asking for more peanut butter popcorn 🙂


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Over My Head Again?

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Alaska Visit: August 7-Sept 29, 2014

The days are slow and easy; no care-giving or worry about the physical or emotional pain of a loved one. Mom, dad and I have had a lot of practice living together in this tiny house over the last several years. We all have our own mini orbit and rotate around each other quite smoothly. That’s the slow and easy part of my story.

The crazy over-my-head part includes this art thing. Like her mother before her, my mother is a prolific visual artist. She dabbles in all sorts of painting media; oil, acrylic and water color. Grandma pushed her art even further and used charcoal and chalk also. She worked leather and embossed copper and had her own ceramics shop.

About 25 of Mom’s paintings will be hanging in a gallery/cafe in Eagle River during the month of September. She is a shy and humble artist and will not let me plan a meet and greet opening event. Meanwhile, guess who is framing these paintings? You got it, me.

I have never framed anything in my life, okay, besides a photo or two in a ready-made frame. I was over my head with the first painting. I’ve learned a lot as I moved on to the next and the next. I think I have about 16 finished. I’ll probably go back to the first few and re-do them.

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Mom continues to paint, so the tiny house is filled with framing materials, a large tote of finished work, mom’s easel and paints and brushes, and paintings leaning every which way, in various stages of completeness. Some are even drying out on the deck. Visitors and the three of us have a choice of one or two places to sit, if we are lucky.

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When will this madness end?! Ten more days, and we will take the whole lot to the gallery. I still have to write ads and make a template to label each painting.

The joy here is watching my mom work her talent. Grandma died in 1977, but she is all around; in the smells of paints, the materials all about, and in the similarity of their (mostly) Alaska painting scenes. I lived with my grandma for a month when I was about 14. Her home was filled with the same smells and art materials and inspiration. I’m as inspired and amazed by mom’s talent as I was of grandma’s.

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I’m still deciding whether I should thank or curse my sister who sent me the ticket to be part of this craziness. Maybe a little of both.

Over My Head In Alaska,

Patti

 


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Phall Photo Friday; The Bay and The Bike

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Wild Bleeding Hearts, Phall Photo 2014

See The Blossoming Of The Garden Bike on my photo blog, Phall Photos http://wp.me/p3J4Ab-fH

and Morning Glory Evening On Willipa Bay at http://wp.me/p3J4Ab-fq

I’m setting this to publish on Friday morn, as I’m off to more adventures. I’m going to see Kevin in Packwood. Hopefully, we’ll have good weather and I can go check on all the wild plants that I’ve been following with photos. I look forward to seeing how Kevin’s veggie garden is going too. Oh, and the hummingbirds. I hope to see some new birds at the feeders with seeds.

Saturday morn, we’re taking off for the Portland area to see his mom, Mrs. M. We’ll stay over one night, then head back to Packwood Sunday afternoon. The latest school shooting took place just down the road from his mom’s place. I can only imagine the anger, fear and sadness of that community. I took a lot of photos there this fall and it was one of the places I was going to take Kevin, but we’ll probably do that next trip. Instead, I hope I can find one of the back roads to some vineyards and a great view of Mt. Hood.

If we’re not too tired, we’ll probably play a game of pool and listen to some music. I’ll head home Monday, with a stopover in Centralia to see my children, grands and maybe an uncle, aunt or cousin. If there’s things for me to do at my aunt’s, I’ll probably stay the night at Sara’s.

Then I’m home for the rest of June, except a trip to Bremerton to consult with an oral surgeon. Since I got some white picket fence from my aunt, the secret garden has been extended, so there is a lot of work to do on that. Greg does most of the structure work and I do the planning and planting. I hope to incorporate a sampling of the wild plants, berry bushes and shrubs from the strip of woods on his property. They will go along the length of my beach cave, where there is mostly shade.

I’ll post again on Newsday Tuesday. Phall Photo Friday is a weekly feature here. Phall= P(atti) Hall.

Take Care,

Patti, the gypsy cave woman 🙂