Thought it might be fitting to wind down this year of posts
with some thought-provoking verse from Maya Stein.  I've borrowed one of her words
for the title of this one.   "a dream" appeared in this morning's mail with perfect timing,
as her poetry so often does, and not only includes a reference to potholes, but arrived
exactly when I am ripe for the reading.
yes, this will be a fine word to hold onto for the new year ... a heady reminder
that most blockades I feel are actually the ones I've put up myself.

First though, I owe you kind folks a debt of gratitude for your extremely helpful comments
on my last post about a Sweetpea Path makeover.  You've given me much to consider
and I'm so glad I asked!  It's been very  very  enlightening
and heartwarming
to receive your feedback, both on the blog and via private emails.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do that.
My 'idea hat' is now filled to the brim.

~ Mt. Baker view, while riding the ferry across the Salish sea ~

... so without further ado

a dream

For a moment, it all disappeared: the potholes tripping up your stride,
the broken love story, the difficult decision, the rigor of worry about things
you know you can't possibly fix.  Suddenly, some vacuum sucked it all inside
and you leaned back, unimpeded, innocent, casual with your gaze, the stings
of your life returned to their nascent nettles.  For a moment, you were able
to neutralize your place in the world, find fresh buoyancy in the waves.
For a moment, you saw, even, the geometry of loss, each cradle
that holds our grief so steady, each heartbeat threading through the maze.
But this was no sunny island reverie, some implausible and pointless dream.
It was you, remembering where you've always been.

~ Maya Stein

: : :

from "10-Line Tuesday" poetry series
... a backlog can be viewed   here


Changes gonna come


My little blog is in need of some new finery.

~ deer trail across the front field ~

Just like the deer trail above,
Sweetpea Path has barely wavered  in style, direction or sideline accoutrements
since hopping onto the internet five years ago.
Oh my, has it really been  that  long?
Why, some blog authors I know have changed their look half a dozen times
within that span.

Our time has come.
And I'm so excited !

~ picnic table, weathering ~

Dunno exactly when, sometime early in the new year I expect,
I'll be shaking it up around here.  Gonna stay with Blogger [am comfy here]
but I've been feeling the need for pages/tabs up top [more elbow room to add information],
a little less clutter in the sidebar [maybe no sidebar at all],
and well, just the opportunity to enjoy more template options such as fonts & picture placement;
perhaps even a header with photos in it - imagine that.

My current template is so old, no one joining Blogger in the last few years has had
the option of using it.  It's terribly limiting and I do believe
I've plum outgrown it.

So this is to let you know there may be a bit of chaos
while I sort out my new  *look* 
I was wondering, ahem, if I could ask you something ...

~ sun flares at winter solstice ~

You see, nowadays there are SO MANY options for page design/layout
I'm spoiled for choice.  And I'm a bit confused if truth be told.
A few details I'm certain about and the rest are up in the air.
What better way to get a temperature reading than to ask those of you who stop by,
what do you most like to see on someone's blog?
What welcomes you?  What makes you want to come back?
If you can spare a few moments, would you kindly leave a comment
[or write a quick note via the email link on the right if you prefer]
and let me know what blog attributes you like best ...
Meaning, as a visitor & reader, when you arrive on someones blog to peruse a post
what is it you really like to see there and what are the blog functions which make that easy?

Although this blog has served as my online journal - tailored & tuned in a personal way - 
there's no denying how very important you folks are.

I thank you in advance for leaving your thoughts.


Thievery ... a reflection


Don't worry.  This post is not about what you might think.

But it is about theft.  Of a kind.

It all started when I headed out to the driveway for some pothole repairs.  Minutes before,
while finishing a strong cup of sweet milky tea, I'd been re-reading some inspirational quotes. 
Collected over the years I revisit them periodically - a kind of mental balm.
As I shoveled gravel, loaded buckets into the cart, hauled them down the drive,
one quote in particular
kept going round & round in my head.

Manual labor does this to me.  Always has.  And I suppose if I really examine the subject
I'd have to say that one of the aspects of hard physical work I enjoy the most
is that there's precious little room for mental distraction - it taxes my body 
while something akin to stream-of-consciousness thinking always sets in.
Perhaps it's to do with endorphins, I don't know. 

My 10" X 10" cast iron tamper weighs about 16 pounds and aside from a shovel
- and my own muscle power, such as it is -
it's the only tool necessary for the tedious job of compacting as much gravel as possible
into every size imaginable sodden pothole.
Old-timers would advise me to do this patch job in the dry season
but I've found that after baling a bit of the standing water, those mushy spots are perfect for
accepting a new [repaired] stoney base.
And when they do dry, they're tough as cement.

So I'm out there, working away .... tamping, tamping, tamping,
emptying one gravel bucket, two gravel buckets, leveling, tamping, tamping, tamping,
and my mind wanders off with the quote
and it wanders over to recent thoughts I've had in relation to artist friends who
somehow feel like their creative work isn't good enough; then over to my pal, a fellow dog owner,
whose goal to compete in Agility is being stymied by not feeling good enough; then
to a very sweet gal I know who wouldn't come join in on volunteer wreath-making this season
because she was certain she couldn't make them as pretty as the rest.
Even though she was sorely desirous of camaraderie, she wouldn't come.

My neighbor is embarrassed about her beat up car.
One of my dear ones is so sure she won't measure up she's decided she won't even risk
applying for the job she so desperately wants - no words of encouragement can budge her.
One friend is so jealous of another she's stopped speaking to her altogether,
such is her perception of the other's success & good fortune in life. 

The list went on
and eventually the wondering came around to myself
so I asked self a few tough questions about how I hold my own self back.

Why  DO   so many of us rob ourselves of joy?
Because that's what we're doing when we constantly compare ourselves to others.

I lock my doors when I'm away from home for any amount of time.  I lock my car when I'm
in town and take precautions with online banking.
My doggy is secured in a safe enclosure where harm can't come to her and I
watch my back when I'm in a strange place, walking.
All these are safeguards against theft of one kind or another.
But what of the intangibles ... 
is joy of any less value?

The lowly pothole can be a splendid mirror.


Natural progression ... of sorts


We've had a long stretch of uninterrupted bone-chilling cold.
The second heat lamp in the pump house has been kept on
[ not good to risk frozen pipes with our primary water source ]
but nothing stops the back pond from freezing over;
much to the chagrin, I imagine, of the small band of buffleheads
that paddled around in sweet abandon for a week prior.
Wonder where they've gone off to now?

The ice crystals criss-cross in a beautifully random manner.

Knitting seems to be primarily a winter habit for me ... dunno why.  
It's a soothing activity in the long hours of darkness.  I'm not much good at it
[ close inspection would reveal many wabi-sabi mistakes ] but I enjoy my time with it nonetheless.
The season has arrived, for this bit of lacy indigo recently came off the needles

and this green scarf-lette jumped on next.
Fell in love with this nubby yarn ... a blend of 70% silk 30% cotton
Very light ... shall come in handy on my summer travels when an 
evening breeze next to some bonny shore
has me reaching for an extra pinch of warmth.

Had to order an especially long pair of circular needles for this one
as my longest edge will be 52 inches.
Whoever invented the circulars should be awarded a Nobel prize,
don't you think?

So, late yesterday a pleasant walk with the dogs took us round the far back side
of the pond where we hadn't ventured in quite some time.  There are two
"wrapped trees" back there and it's been my practice to check up on them occasionally,
see how the cloth is faring ....

oh my
what a surprise
to discover the downed willow was missing its wrap!
And not only was the the cloth gone, but
the tree had been severely gouged by wandering deer
who'd used it for a scratching post

If you've been visiting here for awhile you may remember its earlier days ...
Here's the photo I posted four years ago showing the fresh wrap
[ notice the willow hadn't grown any lateral shoots yet ]

~ newly wrapped, September, 2010 ~

This piece of old cutwork cotton was from a tablecloth
I found at the thrift store.  So pristine, so   WHITE    back then ...

Then, just two years ago this is how it looked, greening up nicely from the lichen
and lord knows what else.

~ January, 2012 ~

~ May, 2013 ~

By spring of last year, the top portion had slipped some although the binding cloths
were still holding fast.  I contemplated removing it at this point but my curiosity 
won out and I decided to wait some more.
At that time, I was the last holdout amongst the members who'd
joined 'wrapt, tied and marked by nature' 
[ the blog has since been removed by its owner so I'm unable to provide the link to all the stories ]
... an interesting group project which involved about 8 of us from 
different areas of the world who wrapped cloth around parts of trees, 
leaving them for a period of  six months or more
in order to see what marks Mother Nature might provide.
We then recorded our results on the group blog, exchanged ideas, encouragement, etc.,
great fun overall.
Other climates produced very different results and
since I saw zero change after six months,
I decided to just keep going.

I wish I'd copied my original posts from the group blog
where I described in great detail the varieties of trees and the types of 
cloth I used for each.  Alas, all is not lost for I still have all the photographs spanning
the years, if not my written words.

But back to the fallen willow ....

After rooting around in the leafy detritus piled underneath,
lo and behold I found a scrap - ONE scrap of the original tablecloth !
I had visions of local deer galavanting about the woods with cutwork
dangling from their antlers -- what a sight that would be --
for what other conclusion was there than they'd scratched all
the rest away?

It's barely holding together.  Quite a fragile delicate thing now.
Once it's dried I'll carefully lay it out flat, assess what's really become of it
and make a decision about what's to follow.

First it was found,
then it was dyed ...
I may already know what comes next.




just some serendipity this morn between
tree photos from the editing lightbox
and penetrating verse found in the inbox ...

chess anyone?

I'm imagining someone bent over a fresh board, poised for footsteps.  Despite
an early winter draft snaking upstairs, despite the almost-dinner hour and the too-small
likelihood of a passerby plucky enough to take the plunge, they are listening and patient,
ready for any stranger who might sit down. Such sturdy optimism. The invitation of it all.

I wonder if, at the heart of it, we forget to say exactly what we're looking for, anxious
that the details will cloister and confine, keep us from the thing we want.  The sign I read, 
narrowed as it was, stood beside an open door, and no matter what was next, there was,
at least, the certain knowledge it would include the pieces for a game to be played.

What little flag could I hold out?  What batch of words would say it best?
What would I ask if asking were the only branch I'd need to build my nest?

~ Maya Stein

: : :

"10-Line Tuesday" poetry
by Maya Stein ... a backlog can be viewed   here


Marking time


There's more than one way to keep a diary
and it seems I've inadvertently been keeping one
through bundle photographs.
Call me crazy
but I love the look of them.
Obviously I must, because I can't seem to stop.

Beyond the anticipation of scrumptious prints [hopefully] waiting be revealed, 
there's a metaphor about this process I strongly relate to --
the metaphor of time ...
mainly, the importance of  giving  time.

Now I can say
I've learned great patience when it comes to unwrapping my bundles.
Oh, it was   SO HARD  in the beginning, I'll grant you that,
but it didn't take long to discover the wait was worth it.
Such marks from dry-down !
So, I'm not troubled by that discipline any longer.

And it seems when I have gotten antsy
I've helped to pass the time by taking a lot of "portraits."
Otherwise my files would not be so close to bursting with the sheer quantity.
oh dear.

Collating parts of my picture library this week was a long overdue task.  Since I've
gone off the deep end you might say, with effects editing, the multiplicity factor
was slightly out of hand [putting it mildly] and if there was going to be
any hope of finding particulars, some organization was in order
or I was doomed.

When the  Ecoprints  album was finally assembled, I reviewed the group
with a scrutinizing eye
noticing immediately the inordinate quantity of bundle shots.
Ever do a thing repeatedly - unconsciously - only to become aware of your
at a much later date?
Good then.  I'm not alone.
Laid out in chronological order I saw the entire past year [almost]
illustrated by the progression of foraging, wrapping and dyeing ... 
with special emphasis on

the bundles themselves.

It was grand to have them all in one place !

There was a "walking down memory lane" aspect to this endeavor
and I kept getting sidetracked by delightful memories of dye days past ... like the
great can experiment with my Lopez group - how we juggled for space in the cauldrons
but folks using blackberries bled all over their neighbors anyway.
Still, with such pretty results nary a complaint was heard.

And then there was the afternoon I became my grandmother in the kitchen
[preserving cloth, not green beans] and learned to  stuff, steep + store
for India's pantry shelf out in the interpixies ....

Mainly, I've dyed alone [cue Country Western music ?]
conducting all manner of experiments.  Different themes on different days,
playing around, plodding through,
definitely having a grand ole time.

I've put a few leaves through their paces

but then later, trying to ecoprint on paper put me through mine.

 do not wrap your paper bundle with rubber bands
you've put something sturdy inside to hold the bands in place.

Imagine unfolding mush [see collapsed bundle above]
... yessiree, not pretty.

When I couldn't make bundles, I sometimes dreamt them up instead ...
messing about with the entirely wonderful DianaPhoto app
one can conjure up all manner of imaginary landscapes
and so I did.

Halfway through the year a very particular dream did come true
and I wandered off to one of the more gentler landscapes I've ever encountered
where I bundled my heart out next to a great wide river
and drank   far too much   far too little fine, single malt Scotch Whisky.
This one was especially yummy.

but I'm digressing from the true direction of this story ...

which is to share my year of time-marking
through some portraiture of
the humble bundle
[no, I have not been drinking whisky this evening].

All those glorious bundles !
They've been rough and ragged ...
they've been tidy, clean & slick

but they've been mostly everything in between.

A motley crew of unrelated objects served as bases:
hauled from the shore
mailed from the desert
and yes, even stolen ...
[innocent indiscretion at the shipyard, really]

but in all cases,
the tighter the wrap, the surer the outcome.

Here's a couple of favorites.
On the left, silk wrapped around three copper pipes; on the right, silk filled with seaweed.

Their diary entry might have read something like this:

Dear diary, had the most marvelous morning beach combing at the cove. What a 
stash of interesting seaweed! (time of year?)  Must try some in bundles - 
wonder if they'll give prints?  So nice of P to give me the copper.  Perfect temperature this aft, 
no wind - I'll wrap on the porch.  Still good color in the madrone bath, I think.
Dog's curious bout the unusual smells - funny to watch her nose twitch 
while she investigates. HA! a sneeze.
Can't wait to try my new string.

But instead ... 


and there was my story.



Hanging out with squares


You could say I've been making the [re]acquaintance of squares ...
as silly as it sounds, Instagram might be to blame.  Which won't make much sense to
non-users so to clarify:  Instagram, the online mobile photo-sharing & networking service,
has the distinctive feature of confining photos to a square format.
If you want to post there your image must fit into a square
so if you didn't shoot it that way to begin with, it's resized to fit.
Remember the Polaroids of old?

Framing within the rectangular 4:3 aspect ratio almost exclusively for most of my life
left me, at first, fighting for elbow room within this equal-sided confined space.

But before too long, I wondered what was so bad about a little size challenge anyway? 
Surely this leap wasn't going to be as great as dumping my film cameras
in trade for digital?
That was enormously difficult.

Fast forward a year or so ...

Forward through a whole lot of practice/editing time
while commuting on the ferries,

forward through lots of "window seat" opportunities to try this, try that, ask what if ...
Alternative worlds were tried on - my app-aholic time, I called it.
It took a while to sort of tweak my viewpoint
but making the subject matter fit into a




finally became not such a conscious struggle.

So what's come from all this?
A hefty file of ferry photos for one ...
During all weathers, ranges of light, in transit & not;
daytime, mid-darkness to ethereal at midnight; 
looking up, behind, out, across the rails or beyond -
laden with tourists in the high season,  deliciously empty & silent in the off ...

and at times, strangely decorated ...
My island wandercloth became a textile installation afloat
near Waldron Island
[yup, there's an app for that].

Somewhere along this mobile photography journey I began to follow an info-packed blog
called, "Art of Mob" compiled by Geri Centonze.  Wowza.  App reviews, tutorials,
fab interviews ... chock full.  I noticed Geri ran the occasional *challenge* on Instagram.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles  [any mode of rapid transit] was the chosen subject recently
so I thought, what the heck, I've got ferries ...
Twas the rope composition which floated me onto the  showcase
but I want to mention that I couldn't have done it without 
Distressed FX texture app ...
*  thank you  *

Now it seems the whole square option is sneaking its way into other aspects
of my once rectangular life.
'splash' went decidedly that direction without hesitation ...

and today's gathering of leaves got into the act ...
during the lineup for the seasonal portrait
they arranged themselves
just so.


National Black Dog Day


October 1st is  National Black Dog Day.
It's a special day devoted to highlighting the plight
of black dogs in shelters around the country.

Around our place, EVERY day is black dog day
but to put a special note on it since
black dogs are notoriously difficult to re-home,
a warm hearted backward glance might be in order ...
an ode to some lovely mugs & the humans they owned.

~ archive photo, photographer unknown ~

~ Mary Miles Minter, 1917 ~

~ from George Eastman House ~

~ Queen Victoria, by W. and D. Downey, Getty Images ~

~ cabinet card from Germany, c. 1915 ~

~ Jet ~
[ 7/21/42 - 10/18/49 ]

Jet was an Alsatian who assisted in the rescue of 150 people
trapped under blitzed buildings.  Born in Liverpool, he served with the
Civil Defence Services of London and was awarded the Dickin Medal
and the RSPCA's Medallion of Valor for his rescue efforts.
He trained at the War Dogs School in Gloucester at 9 months in anti-sabotage
work and relocated to London.  Cpl. Wardle and Jet were the first handler and dog
to be used in an official capacity in Civil Defence rescue duties.

~ archive photo, Harris-Ewing ~

~ vintage photo, photographer unknown ~

~ Duchess of Fife with daughters, c. 1908 ~

~ Edwardian lady with her dog, French postcard ~

~ girl & her dog, Stockholm, Sweden, by Wilhelm Lundberg, c. 1865 ~

~ Helen Keller, archive photo ~

Whenever it is possible, my dog accompanies me on a walk or ride or sail.
I have had many dog friends - huge mastiffs, soft-eyed spaniels, 
wood-wise setters, and honest, homely bull terriers.
At present the lord of my affections is one of these bull terriers.  He has
a long pedigree, a crooked tail and the drollest "phiz" in dogdom.
My dog friends seem to understand my limitations, and always
keep close beside me when I am alone.  I love their affectionate ways
and the eloquent wag of their tails.
~ Helen Keller

~ Malvina Longfellow by Bassano, 1918


~ our black dog, Quinn ~

... grateful you came home with us, girlie.
You may be a handful 
and a training challenge, to say the least,
but you're all heart and smart as a whip.
It's only your fears holding you back ...
same as with the rest of us.


Can't adopt a black dog today?
That's ok ... it can be a big decision.
Here's something easy: