She can't eat what?


Sometimes your body screams at you so loud 
there is no choice but to listen
and take heed.

I've long held the belief that the majority of modern day ailments in
Western society are, without a doubt, strongly linked to what we eat.
Or don't eat in some cases.
In the last 10 years or so I've had this belief put to the test within my own framework a
time or two, and if my current health adventure provides the same positive results that I
was blessed with before, I shall be kicking up my heels quite well thru this decade.

You know that expression about making lemonade, right?
A short tale follows ....

While over in America the other day (that's what we islanders call the mainland)
I found myself driving around in circles.  Was a hot day (for here), just past 80F, 
and I had my dear woofie with me in the car.  She loves to travel so she goes 
with me whenever possible.  Anyhoo, on this particular afternoon I was taking
care of some body testing & adjusting and my fluffy one was in need of
a cool place to be parked while I was otherwise detained.
Hence the driving in circles.
Finally, rounding a corner somewhat near a park, I spotted a wide leafy stretch
of available curbside underneath the most magnificent trees.  I was gonna
have to walk a fair bit to my destination, but the deliciously cool shady spot for my 
dear fluffy one was absolutely worth the trek.
As I got out of the car and looked up to actually identify the gorgeous 
canopy we were parked below, I stopped dead in my tracks.
For there we were underneath two enormous black walnut trees
which happened to be dropping all their fruits over sidewalk & parkway
in great profusion.

Now the backstory to my stopping dead in my tracks is that last year
I looked high and low for one of these trees because I wanted to try my hand at
brewing some black walnut dye - deep, dark, tannin-rich goodness.
I asked around amongst all my island friends - and they of their friends - and
even went so far as to place an ad in the local online news rag ...
"Who's got trees??"

Nada.  None to be found.

Some suggested I go to eastern Washington where they're farmed in abundance
and then there was the ever present option of mail-order.  But I was keen for local so I
finally put my little dream on the back burner & moved on to something else.
So this particular day, which could very easily have been viewed as one filled
with one lemon after another, suddenly had me grinning like an idiot on the roadside,
chuffed to no end that this part of my particularly grueling adventure had brought me to
the very trees I'd been seeking for so long.

All this to say (in my somewhat roundabout sort of way) there will be
a slight delay to my next posting of the  52 weeks : bead sketches  installment.
I've been somewhat sidetracked by the inner voices so I'm more than a wee bit behind
although my iron cauldron is gratefully, now quite full.

I'll be calling this my black walnut "lemonade."


Despite everything


the amphibian inside us

Because it's summer.  Because the air is heavy with heat and nostalgia.
Because this is what we have to keep remembering, the way our bodies
know the waves, the amphibian inside us unafraid of going under,
of what ripples beneath the surface.  Because waiting on the dock
for the signal to jump is like thinking someone else is responsible.  Because
there is no one else responsible.  Because despite the current,
it is possible to swim against it, or even stand, inverted, balancing
on a slippery mulch of murk and mud, and stay perfectly still.
Because when the world tips from view, we have to do everything we can
to tip it back.

~ Maya Stein
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from Maya Stein's "10-Line Tuesday" poetry series
... the backlog can be enjoyed  here


bead sketches : month six


June was my birth month and I was having very mixed feelings
about growing older, like we all do I suppose.  I try not to dwell on the negatives
and instead, steer any introspection that occurs right towards that which
is beautiful and calm and filled with positivity.
And that's where doing an enterprise that we love
can save us.

Not to put too dramatic a spin on it, but it's a challenge to not be
brought down by the goings-on in the world.
It seems so important to keep going 
in the midst of all that

I didn't follow particular prompts in June, not like previous months. The natural dye pots
were fired up, sewing was at hand, the garden was being tended & revamped for
dye plants (instead of food) ... then, the new space needed arranging, many
photographs to take & play with, resting to give attention to, dietary changes to make
 and so all became one big swirl of activity,
each one seeming to feed off the other
with hardly any separation or pause.

There were words, some phrases, even memories that cropped up
while working with these littles so I'll share those instead
and you can make of them what you will ....

walking a thin line
full pockets
order from chaos
solace undermined
the wee lass who collected abalone shells on her 10th birthday
"nostalgia is not indulgence"
sunset tidelines
stay calm; wait, hope
delicate balance
relative symmetry
frayed around more than the edges
flower  power
"to rest is to prepare to give the best of ourselves"

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To view all of the  52 weeks : bead sketches  posts, starting with the most recent,


bead sketches : month five


Bead sketching in May was like wrestling a dragon.
But then, most everything in May felt like a wrestling match.
Here, all of nature seems to "wake up" at this time of year ... spring  positively explodes ...
and most afternoons I find myself wondering just how I'm going to fit in a nap between 
all the items on my long list of tasks.
Bone weary might be an apt description.

Those are the moments when the strong commitment I made to this project
becomes its own guiding force,  nudging (sometimes shoving) me to the beading table
while the other half of me feels like she should be outside accomplishing x, y, or z instead.

From assembling the base, gathering the materials, stitching layers of cloth,
solving how-to-attach-objects issues, then onto the bead embroidery itself,
each sketch requires between 6 - 8 hours to complete.
This is a relatively small amount of time in a week, all things considered.
But I've realized that if I didn't place value on the process of doing this project
- if I hadn't vowed to myself to show up and do the work no matter what -
I would be allowing a million other things to pull me away.
Excuses are easy.

So here is May.  Duly wrestled.

~ Local skies were lit with dancing lights early in the month so I wondered if I
could illustrate my own perception of them with some over-the-top bead stacks ~

~ Circles of friends; how imperfect they are with their loose threads .... 
how simply they can unravel without care & attention ~ 

~ What happens to the tons of used clothing we as consumers donate or "recycle"?  Much of it 
 makes a voyage overseas ... the somewhat disturbing afterlife of American clothes ~

~ From my collection of purposeless vintage keys (keys with unknown or missing locks),
not suited for much now except for illustrating idioms like this perhaps ~

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To view all of the  52 weeks : bead sketches  posts, starting with the most recent,


Sweet, sweet spring


An explosion of petals everywhere I look!
How I love this time of year ....

purple-leaved plum in the parking lot at the post office

variegated dogwood, 'Blue Muffin' viburnum, 'Midnight Masquerade' clematis, and a
spritely pink volunteer aquilegia in the front garden

a rose and her bud in the back garden

street rose gone wild behind the grocery store in Friday Harbor

and my favorite petal of all, snoozy in the back of the car,
riding with her new cotinus bush ['Royal Purple' all a'bloom]
and baskets from the Thrift
for the new studio digs  ...

More on that wonderful story in the coming month.

to all my pals in the northern hemisphere
(and a beautiful autumn to you southerlies)


bead sketches : month four


April's quartet ...

which felt more like a kind of poem evolving than a
weekly exercise in making;
more like a continuous thought that moved quietly from
one color palette to the next - which I will explain further 
at the bottom of this post.

Without further ado ...

Once again I'll note the source, or the word prompts, or where my inspiration came from
below each photograph (with links, if applicable).    

~ New beads! called 'Rose Petals,' which started as an exploration of mandalas but grew into
a green study revolving around this term  ~

~ I wondered how I might create a different twist on an old tradition ... ~

~ Off-loom bead weaving can be an incredibly meditative activity & a welcomed mental state of
mind it was this month, so I included a short journey with the freeform version of
this stitch in order  to practice mixing bead sizes & shapes  ~

~ In March of 2015, I had rather an amusing *failed* attempt at dyeing with madder and only
achieved apricot colors.  Since then the shade has grown on me & I've wanted to use some of
that cloth in a beaded piece.  A water-inscribed twig of driftwood, some pearls

: : : :

Now, about that evolving thought I mentioned earlier ...
I didn't realize until I took this quartet outside to photograph her that there is a certain
running through this batch that I haven't seen in the others.  This month
feels like one cohesive journey tied together by an invisible equilibrium.  Am I 
making sense?  Its as if I'm starting to work out some triteness, some of those cliches that
crop up when doing improvisational bead work.  There was definitely more of an ease this
month, a kind of level of intention that never left me.  It's hard to explain but let me tell you
what I did at the beginning of the month:
I drew a card ...
a prompt card from my dear friend India's "wander cards for wonderers."
The words were
I kept them in front of me on the beading table for the entire month.

It is where I held my focus.

And from that came a great, soothing calm
along with an unmistakeable affirmation to keep paying attention
to that which is most important.

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To view all of the  52 weeks : bead sketches  posts, starting with the most recent,


bead sketches : month three


March was a bit wild, not the least of which was the unrelenting rainfall
which definitely set my teeth on edge by month's end (all time records were broken for Seattle!)
but did make for cozy hours at the beading table and a guilt-free frame of mind
as I watched the grass grow another foot taller and didn't have to mow it.

So now there's 12 ...

March's collection - month three of my '52 weeks : bead sketches' project - was more challenging
than earlier months due to paper wrangling one week and found object attachment issues
the next ... but part of the joy of this project is continuing on no matter what.
Nothing has to be perfect.
I can change my mind right in the middle of a bead pattern
because these are "idea" squares ... itty bitty templates for trying on a new dress, 
so to speak.  And it's all about the process, not about the finished product.

I've said it before - this adventure is so  freeing.

There was quite a lot of positive feedback last time about posting my inspiration each week,
so once again I'll note the source, or the word prompts, or where my ideas came from.
They are written below each photograph with links, if appropriate.

~ followed two simple questions: how might I create  texture  on those triangles
& what kind of edge treatment(s) might compliment the graphic elements? ~

~ thinking about an homage to "broken wings" inspired by THIS IMAGE ~

~ one glorious evening I bought a marvelous tome, wrapped in a paper bag,
from this [in]famous BOOKSTORE 

~ contemplation of leaves in the last line of THIS

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To view all of the  52 weeks : bead sketches  posts, starting with the most recent,


Her, with the camera


~ vintage photo, early version of stereo camera designed to take stereoscopic images ~

Do you remember your first?
I do.  It was a box Brownie, bright pink plastic and I thought it was the cat's meow.
That probably was the start of everything.

Later, during college years, I collected a hoard of old relics, stacked them
on a bookcase in my tiny studio and if they were lucky
I even dusted now and then ... similar to this collection below
although not near as tidy.

~ photo collection courtesy of Flickr ~

I've simplified since then and only "collect" online images of these antiquities
 - far less space involved & no cleaning required -
and the subject matter is mostly women  using  cameras.
Don't ask why that started cuz I just don't know.

But here's some favorites ... all females, using the *tool* of the day.
Where am I going with this?  I hope it will become clear in the end.
I'm thinking these pictures may be good food for thought because
these glimpses back in time could spark a few potent thoughts about  now.

In no particular order than just because I like them ...

~ Kodak girl, 1909 ~

~ Photojournalist, Margaret Bourke-White with her camera during WWII assignment,
Time Magazine. Favorite quote: "Work is something you can count on, a trusted,
lifelong friend who never deserts you." ~

~ Myrtle Lind, posed with Graflex camera, 1919, Library of Congress ~

~ American, Berenice Abbot, portrait behind a view-camera, early  1900s.
Specialized in architecture & urban street photography ~

~ Georgia O'Keefe with her new Leica, New Mexico, by Todd Webb ~

~ Jessie Tarbox Beals, pioneer photographer working Worlds Fair, 1904.
"Her trademarks were her self-described 'ability to hustle' and her tenacity in
overcoming gender barriers in her profession." First female night photographer. ~

~ Patti Smith, with one of her Land Poloroids, circa 1960s ~

~ Maiko girls (Apprentice Geisha) with camera, Japan, postcard mid 1920s ~

~ Documentary photographer, Dorothea Lange, working on 'Dust Bowl' series, circa 1936.
Favorite quote: "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." 
I've had a framed postcard of this image in my room for over 30 years - such spirit ~

~ Women holding Kodak cameras, Ideal Home Exhibition, 1971, Eastman Kodak 
eyeeee, the hot pants! ~~

~ Elizabeth Taylor with a Rolleiflex, photographer unknown ~

~ vintage photograph, little girl with her camera, circa 1910, from Flickr ~

~ Mary Ellen Mark, self portrait with Marlon Brando, 1979 (set of 'Apocalypse Now').
Known for in-depth documentary projects and portraiture - Time Magazine called her
a "humanist" photographer.  My teacher for one life-altering workshop, 1985. ~

~ Woman holding early Kodak camera, 1895. The camera was sold with
the film already loaded.  The entire camera was returned to the  factory
for film processing. Hulton Archive, Getty Images. ~

~ Diane Arbus, Central Park, 1969.  Noted for photographs of marginalized people.
Photo, Gary Winogrand ~

~ Climbing pioneer, environmentalist, and feminist, Miriam O'Brien Underhill,
Chamonix Aiguilles, France, 1929. To scale this center ridge she held her camera between
 her teeth.  She was the first woman to conquer the Matterhorn, along with other 
challenging peaks. On these treks she climbed only with other women - famously known
as "manless Alpine climbing." ~

~ Imogen Cunningham, circa 1970s. Prolific American photographer known for
her botanical photography, nudes, and industrial landscapes.
Proponent of "sharp-focus rendition of simple subjects." ~

~ College girl recording her experiences in yearbook photos, date unknown ~

~ Margaret Bourke-White, top of the Chrysler Building, New York, NY 1935 ~

~ Edwardian woman, c. 1900. Possibly the world's oldest documented "selfie"
taken with a Kodak Brownie box camera ~

Which brings me back to the beginning of this story 
and that pink plastic Brownie camera ....

This morning I read a blog post by one of my favorite  male  photographers,
David du Chemin, called  'The Place of Craft.'  He always seems to arrive at the heart of
the matter, no matter what subject he chooses to speak about.  Now, although his post is
aimed at photographers - the craft of photography - one could replace that word with ANY
other artistic discipline and his thought provoking words could still be applied.

Here's why [aside from the fact that many of them produced incredible work]
I've put up a truckload of images of women using the cameras of their day,
and why the *tool* is not the point at all.
Not yesterday ... and not today.
Excerpt from du Chemin's post:

Make your art with the tool you have. Use a Polaroid or a RED camera. Use film or digital. Use Leica lenses or Lensbabies. Create abstracts and impressionistic studies of shape and colour, or stunning landscapes that are tack-sharp @ 400%, but don't kid yourself - it's not sharpness that makes it great. It never has been. Humanity doesn't need more sharpness. That is not one of the things for which we hunger. We hunger for beauty, and meaning, for stories, and for love - among other things, things that are communicated visually through light and composition - through our use of balance and tension and movement and scale and colour and a hundred other things that you can't buy in the B&H catalog, and won't be found in the manual of your new camera, no matter how much money you spend, no matter how much better your camera is than mine. We get it. Hell, every one of us has right now, at least one camera that's better than what every photographer who created a truly iconic image before the year 2000 ever had. You can make sharper, larger, cleaner images than any of them, together, ever made. And you know who cares?

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