Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Culinary Creativity

Lately I've been lamenting my blocked creativity. But I woke up in the night last night and had a thought - hey! I've been cooking up a storm. During the last few days, those who have been celebrating with me have been treated to many fine things:

Chicken enchiladas
Pasilla peppers stuffed with quinoa, mushrooms, and goat cheese
Deviled crab
Creme brulee
Fruit compote of persimmons, pomegranates, blueberries, and cherries
Cream cheese balls rolled in crushed wasabi peas
Huevos rancheros
Giant salads
Chicken soups
....... and much more!

I'm getting on a roll with southwestern food. I'm seriously loving everything with peppers, chipotle, corn, beans. In the winter time, those flavors hit the spot for me. So I thought I'd give a report today, creativity is flowing but just in a different channel!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Goodwill, peace on earth.

Today is Christmas, 2006. We had our big family celebration early this year (Friday) so that my son and his wife could be with her family this weekend. Having the extended family together was really joyful and sweet. There was a baby, and news of another one. There were tears and laughter. There was delicious food, and abundant left-overs. I am so blessed!

Here's wishing all of you, wherever you are in the world, in your life, in your heart, some true joy in your holidays, however you honor (or ignore) them! How we touch and connect with each other is really what matters most, and what can heal our world and our spirits!

Praise wet snow
falling early
Praise the shadow
my neighbor's chimney casts on the tile roof
even this gray October day that should, they say,
have been golden.
the invisible sun burning beyond
the white cold sky, giving us
light and the chimney's shadow.
god or the gods, the unknown,
that which imagined us, which stays
our hand,
our murderous hand,
and gives us
in the shadow of death,
our daily life,
and the dream still
of goodwill, of peace on earth.
flow and change, night and
the pulse of day.
Denise Levertov

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Blogger Blockage

Yes, it's been nearly 6 weeks since I've posted. I got to a creative impasse, a ravine too wide to jump across. There have been many false starts, but nothing came of them. I began to mistrust my own voice, to have doubts about saying anything worth saying. I suffered from blogger envy, comparing myself unfavorably with other, better, more profound or poetic or artistic or meaningful or politically savvy bloggers. It began to spread, so that I also had trouble reading other blogs, even though there are many that I love. It spilled over into my other creative activities. I haven't made a drawing or a painting, written anything, or even painted my own toenails. I've been stuck inside my head, churning around in a wallow of doubt and stagnation. Today I say ENOUGH already! It's time to get over it, and just be who I am again, and have that be enough.

Poetry always has been important to me. A friend sent this little jewel a few days ago - I think it says it all:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

-Leonard Cohen

Friday, November 17, 2006

Lifting the Blues, Back in the Pink

I wrote that I have been feeling blue lately. Part of it is the (delayed) transition from working full time to being a retired person. I find myself wondering how I can be valuable if I'm not working, not taking care of anybody (like my now grown-up kids), not "needed" anywhere in particular. This feeling comes and goes, and when it's around it pulls me down, even though I know in reality that my life is just fine. I have everything I need, good health, love, a comfortable home, friends and family, and the freedom to enjoy each day as I choose. I've had great joy in the results of the recent election, and watching Crummy Rummy hit the dustry trail towards an ignominious finale. It's hard for me to grasp how I could feel sad.

I've discovered some things that have absolutely helped me to lift out of it, and today I'm definitely feeling better. Taking long walks with Zuma around the beautiful neighborhoods of Santa Cruz is a great tonic. In the last couple of weeks I've exchanged long emails with my brother, Tom, in Georgia, whom I miss very much. I had long telephone conversations with my friends Missy in Colorado, Mary in North Dakota, Rosemary (currently in Virginia), Robin in Washington, Johna, Amber, and Mecca here at home, Christopher in LA, brother Dick in Florida, Annarae, Amy, and Margaret, all in Massachusetts, and Michelle in Capitola. I had a wonderful conversation with my daughter Annie last week. Each of these conversations has been helpful and has reflected back to me how loved I am. Sometimes it is hard to remember to reach out for help and reassurance, but I'm so glad I did and so grateful to all the people who are there for me. So today I'm coming back into the pink again. Yahoo!! Thank you dear friends.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"How to Live" by Charles Harper Webb, from Amplified Dog.

How to Live

"I don't know how to live."
–Sharon Olds

Eat lots of steak and salmon and Thai curry and mu shu
pork and fresh green beans and baked potatoes
and fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream.
Kick-box three days a week. Stay strong and lean.
Go fly-fishing every chance you get, with friends

who'll teach you secrets of the stream. Play guitar
in a rock band. Read Dostoyevsky, Whitman, Kafka,
Shakespeare, Twain. Collect Uncle Scrooge comics.
See Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, and everything Monty Python made.
Love freely. Treat ex-partners as kindly

as you can. Wish them as well as you're able.
Snorkel with moray eels and yellow tangs. Watch
spinner dolphins earn their name as your panga slam-
bams over glittering seas. Try not to lie; it sours
the soul. But being a patsy sours it too. If you cause

a car wreck, and aren't hurt, but someone is, apologize
silently. Learn from your mistake. Walk gratefully
away. Let your insurance handle it. Never drive drunk.
Don't be a drunk, or any kind of "aholic." It's bad
English, and bad news. Don't berate yourself. If you lose

a game or prize you've earned, remember the winners
history forgets. Remember them if you do win. Enjoy
success. Have kids if you want and can afford them,
but don't make them your reason-to-be. Spare them that
misery. Take them to the beach. Mail order sea

monkeys once in your life. Give someone the full-on
ass-kicking he (or she) has earned. Keep a box turtle
in good heath for twenty years. If you get sick, don't thrive
on suffering. There's nothing noble about pain. Die
if you need to, the best way you can. (You define best.)

Go to church if it helps you. Grow tomatoes to put store-
in perspective. Listen to Elvis and Bach. Unless
you're tone deaf, own Perlman's "Meditation from Thais."
Don't look for hidden meanings in a cardinal's song.
Don't think TV characters talk to you; that's crazy.

Don't be too sane. Work hard. Loaf easily. Have good
friends, and be good to them. Be immoderate
in moderation. Spend little time anesthetized. Dive
the Great Barrier Reef. Don't touch the coral. Watch
for sea snakes. Smile for the camera. Don't say "Cheese."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Gone To The Dogs

It seems I have disappeared from the blogosphere lately. There are many reasons for this - mostly so that I don't bore myself and others silly. Yes, I've been a little blue too. No special reason - maybe it's winter, maybe it's just ........just .........

Anyway, here's some fun I've been having. I'm taking a charcoal drawing class once a week from local artist Marvin Plummer. I've been a long-time admirer of his beautiful work. He mostly does huge drawings of dogs - we're talking 6' or 8' tall here. He also makes exciting huge drawings from old vintage photographs. Anyway, he's teaching us a lot about using charcoal to draw. Here are some of my early results. Many of you might recognize the last two as our dear departed Lola, and our little princess Zuma.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Great Bookstores

I'll admit to being spoiled living in Santa Cruz. We have great movies here, great restaurants, beaches, open space, redwood forests, a fantastic climate - and so many terrific independent bookstores. Our favorite, Bookshop Santa Cruz, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month. I remember when I first moved to Santa Cruz in 1966 and the first iteration of BSC opened on the main street downtown. It was tiny, funky, and attached to the big hang-out spot, the Catalyst, which later moved to another spot. Outside, on the front of BSC, was a larger-than-life sized modern metal sculpture of a man and a woman. In the 60's, everything about it signaled "cool place" and we spent many happy hours there slumped in old arm chairs, reading, watching the human scene drift by, and sipping tea from the Catalyst. Over the years the bookshop grew and prospered, until the earthquake of 1989 forced it out of the old building and into a tent. Loyal customers kept on being loyal, and eventually BSC found its way to its current location, a huge store in the middle of downtown, quite near where it originally began.

This past week, as part of their anniversary celebration, we've attended three great events there -part of their ongoing 'visiting authors' series. First was the adorably nutty and quirky Amy Sedaris, author of I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, who served cheese balls and tiny cupcakes while pitching her book and simultaneously demonstrating a craft project. Next was her brother, David Sedaris (at a sold out 2500 seat venue on Halloween night, Santa Cruz's biggest holiday). He read many pieces of his work to an audience of wildly costumed Santa Cruzans ready to head out afterwards to the Mardi-Gras like street revels that happen every Halloween in downtown. Anyone who has heard Sedaris on NPR, or read one of his books, knows that his comic voice is unique, sarcastic, and hilarious, and he did not disappoint us.

Best of all the events, however, was last night's evening with Bettina Aptheker, one of Santa Cruz's true local treasures, and someone I'm proud to call a friend. She has just published a memoir, Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech, and Became a Feminist Rebel. This book (which of course I purchased) promises to be a great story of her life. Her presentation last evening was just over-the-top wonderful, warm, intimate, funny, brilliant, and insightful. She has such a passion for life, politics, social change, justice - what an inspiration.

No matter how insane the world gets (and it is at crescendo level these days) I'm so grateful to have a home in one place that seems eminently sane, good old Santa Cruz.

Friday, October 27, 2006

On Overload

I'm feeling frazzled, overloaded, and that there simply aren't enough hours in the day. That's retirement for you! But it's all good stuff.

After getting home from months away, we went right into having Open Studios (an artist's event in Santa Cruz) for two weekends in a row. Daniella was showing her paintings again, and did VERY well, but it meant having about 100+ people a day cruising through our home, for four days. That's over, but it required a level of energy that was hard to summon up after all the traveling.

Next, I've been begged to come back and do a little more work at the University, so I've been going up about 10-15 hours a week for that. It's good to earn a little extra, but working is for - well - working people, not for us retirees! We like to have all of our time to use freely! I find that this is becoming a good habit!

We just took another short trip to Santa Barbara and Ventura - a two day adventure to drop off paintings at a new gallery for Daniella down there.

Meanwhile I've signed up for two small art classes - one about portrait painting, and another one for more in-depth charcoal drawing. Each meets once a week, and so far they are great. For me this is pure pleasure, even though I'm a little intimidated by the "real" artists in the group. I'll get there!

Add to that the daily phone calls I've been making for to encourage voters to get out and cast their ballots all over the US. Now I'm about to be trained to be a poll volunteer and work at the polls on election day, particularly keeping an eye on the electronic balloting process. As I've said before, not much scares me like the fraudulent voting tactics that have been popping up all over this country. I am looking for ways to do whatever I can to make our local process work as smoothly as possible, and to participate in this election in the most meaningful way. I've already sent in my absentee ballot - now I hope it will get counted!

Sorry, dear blogger friends - I haven't been much of a pal lately. I appreciate all of you who have left me such wonderful comments, even so! Many thanks!

Friday, October 20, 2006


Our house is usually pretty neat and tidy, but we do have our little pockets of clutter. This one, just inside the front door, caught my eye this morning, and it occured to me that clutter often has stories to tell. Usually in our house, the story has to do with "why we couldn't get rid of that" even though it is not something essential to our livelihood or well-being. I'll tell you some stories about this little clutter corner.

The big straw basket was a "score" at a yard sale a couple of years ago. It is African, and so beautiful - I love it. Inside that basket is a handmade quilt, a last-stab effort to hold me given by an ex-husband about 25 years ago. It is a beautiful quilt, too good to get rid of, but it holds emotional content that prevents me from actually using it on a bed. So it sits here filling out the sides of the basket. On top of the quilt is an assortment of toys, also found at yard sales, and kept on hand for neighbor children who might come visiting (but secretly also for our grandchildren, who are not yet more than a gleam in the eye of their grandmothers).

Also in the back of the corner is a Chinese umbrella stand which came to us from the estate of Daniella's mother who died several years ago. We now have a solitary green umbrella living there. It was left at our home last year after a party, by one of the hapless guests who apparently never thought of it again. It is waiting to go home, but it probably never will. There is also a nice, carved cane. Nobody in our home uses a cane, but it is nice and it is hand carved, and it gives the umbrella stand something to hold. Someday we might be glad to have one (but let's not go there!)

Next we see a small wooden stool (also from Daniella's mother's estate) which has never found a true place in our home, so it moves around from one clutter corner to another. Sitting on the stool this week is a Cuisinart in a box, the tiny size used to chop garlic and various herbs. Our friend Pamela, on Whidbey Island, expressed a wish to have one of these little machines, and Daniella found one, so there it sits waiting for December to come along so that it can be carried up to the island. Today, I might add, is mid-October.

Finally, the big blue daisy-covered tote bag in front holds assorted swimming gear - bathing suit, visors, sunglasses, lotions, towel, shampoo. It will be going to water exercise with Daniella later this morning, so it is passing through on a quick stopover.

For anyone who might wonder, the lamp on that table belonged to my grandmother, and then my parents. It was the one thing in my parents ' home that I most coveted. When it came to me, my son Phil made the glass lamp shade, when he worked at Johnson Arts Studio in Santa Cruz.

Does your clutter have stories??

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Lots of bloggers can brag about their sexy tomatoes, or their grandbabies, or their great works of art. Today I'm bragging about apples. When we got back to Santa Cruz we found the most abundant crop ever of apples and pears on our trees. The apples seem to get more delicious each year. They are juicy, tart and sweet. I've been making applesauce, and giving them away to anyone who will take them. We also have plums, lemons, and oranges in our yard. As the old saying goes, "an apple a day....." Wish I could send you all some!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Born Again

Our little dog Zuma has not been well for the last couple of years. She has been listless, overweight, suffered from flaky and itchy skin, and rarely seemed happy. She often sat with her tongue hanging out of her mouth, and taking a walk with her has been more like dragging a pull-toy on a string. Often she hid under the bed rather than go for a walk. She was cold all the time, and shivered frequently. Her tail was permanently tucked between her legs, and we never saw her wag it. We have taken her to numerous vets, tried out a wide range of pills and potions, and even had a "dog whisperer" come and try to figure her out. Nothing happened. Here she was, lethargic and seeking a warm spot to rest.
While we were on Whidbey Island we took her to the Useless Bay Animal Clinic, and the vet immediately said "I think she may have a thyroid problem". She proceeded to do a blood test. No vet in Santa Cruz had ever suggested this. Sure enough, Zuma had a thyroid level of 0.01, where normal is between 1-4. We immediately started her on thyroid medicine. The results have been miraculous! After just a few weeks on the pills, our little dog is like a puppy again. She is full of energy, playful, and begs to go for long walks. She runs all the way, pulling us along behind her outstretched leash. At home, she plays with toys and runs around the house like a pup. Her tongue no longer hangs out. Her tail is up and out and wagging. Her skin is silky and coat is filling out. The itching and flaky skin is gone. She jumps onto furniture where we previously had to lift her. She is curious and excited about everything, and more alert than she has been in years. It is truly like having a new dog, the results are so startling. Here is a recent shot of our happy little Zuma. Needless to say, we are thrilled!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Back on Line!

After a minor wrestling match with Blogger and, as it turns out, my outdated browser, I've managed to get back into my blog after a few weeks of having no luck! Sorry for the long silence. To those of you still reading this, I am home again in Santa Cruz, after our month-long travels through the midwest. In fact, in the last 4 months we have travelled over 10,000 miles through 18 states. The last trip was terrific, every day. Without writing reams about it, I'll try to share a few of my most memorable highlights of those last weeks on the road.

Milwaukee - the surprise city of this trip. I thought it was only a 'beer and brats' kind of town, but in fact it is vibrant and exciting. It has one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever entered, the art museum, sitting on the shore of the vast Lake Michigan. The museum was designed by the Spanish architect, Calatrava, and it looks from some points of view like a great white swan just lifting off into the sky over the lake. It is gorgeous, inside and out. Here are a few photos:Not only is the building stunning, but the art collection is magnificent too. The Bradley Collection emcompasses all of European and American contemporary art, with over 700 pieces donated by one collector.

Missouri - on our first visit there, we fell in love with the rolling countryside, leafy green trees, winding rivers, elegiac farms. One day we rented bikes and took a 30 mile ride on the Katy Trail, a bikes-only pathway that runs for 245 miles along the Missouri River, flat all the way. Despite our sore butts, we loved every minute of being able to get out into the woods and meadows and explore.

Grand Teton and Yellowstone Parks. This was another first, and both of these national parks did not disappoint. The Tetons are shown below, at sunset.We saw bison, wolves, and dozens of elk. One of the most exciting moments was watching a pair of bull elk rutting, ramming their antlers together repeatedly, and then bellowing loudly as they repositioned themselves for another run-in.In Yellowstone, we explored the weird bubbling, steaming, simmering geyser areas scattered throughout the park. We watched "Old Faithful" gushing high into the air. Everywhere in these park the views were breath-taking, and the air was brisk and salubrious.Autumn. As California residents, experiencing seasons is always a treat. During the month of September, the autumn colors were advancing as we drove along. We saw golden aspen, willows, cottonwoods, flaming maples, and many other signs of the fall season. So often I thought of just the simple notion of "America the Beautiful", because this trip was all about that - from the wilds of Montana to the lakes of Minnesota to the prairies of Kansas to the Rocky Mountains, and everything in between. I've had such a bittersweet feeling, torn between immense love for our country and huge sadness at what we have become politically, militarily, and emblematically in the world. If anything I'm even more determined to fight back against the powers of fascism and extremism growing in our government. Today I signed up to work at the polls on election day, because I am deeply concerned about the validity of the American electoral process. For some reason I'm more frightened of fraud in the voting machines than all the saber-rattling about terrorists. I want our voting system to remain intact, untampered with, and reliable. For the last 6 years, it has been violated repeatedly, and without the soundness of our votes, our democracy is gone for sure. At least, I thought, I can do a small part to participate.

Anyway, it's great to be home again.

Friday, September 08, 2006

On The Road Heading East

That's me and my camera, on the road in North Dakota, trying to shoot pictures of those beautiful rolled hay bales that are everywhere in that landscape. For a week we've been travelling across the country to St. Louis (our current location). The trip has been fantastic, with so many highlights. We came across the lower Cascade range in Washington into the fully-ripe fruit producing area around Wenatchie, where we stocked up on the most crunchy-delicious apples I can ever remember eating. That first day we made it all the way to Missoula, Montana - wow!

The next morning we took a delightful detour to the little town of Basin, where we met a fabulous group of women artists and musicians, thanks to our new friend Bryher who owns a little cafe there, and is the sister of my dear friend Mary. This little community has put together a Women Artist's Refuge, a retreat center where artists can go and stay for months at a time and work. In a nutshell, what we can say about Basin is .... We'll Be Back (and soon)!

Montana, of course, was heartbreakingly gorgeous. We drank in the luscious scenery, and wildlife (elk, sandhill cranes). That second afternoon we had a little adventure. We stopped in Billings for gas, and when Daniella turned the key in the car there was a huge BOOM from our vehicle and the engine was dead. We were stunned, and frightened, but eventually discovered that our battery had simply exploded. The plastic on top was all cracked open, and we could see battery acid roiling and steaming inside - scary! We called AAA and were towed to a local Sears store (mind you, this was Sunday of Labor Day weekend). They changed the battery, tested the car, and determined that there were no further problems, so off we went again. Wow! We stayed that second night in Miles City, MT - on the far eastern side of the state.

One sad thing that we noticed all the way across Washington, Idaho, and Montana is that the evergreen trees are dying. Everywhere, there are dead trees and dying trees amongst the green ones. We've heard that global warming is creating new conditions in the forests that weaken the trees, allow beetles to attack them, etc. There is also the excessive heat that these states have been experiencing, along with a shortage of rain. It was shocking to see it, however, and very worrisome to imagine where it might lead. At the very least, it increases the fire danger considerably. At worst, it threatens all of us.

On The Road - North Dakota

Because our dear friends, Rob and Mary, are in North Dakota, we especially wanted to visit that state. We were immediately struck by the splendor of the Badlands, the vast and rolling rock formations and gulleys that sprawl across the land in all directions. ND has a real cowbow culture (see above!), and field after field of blooming sunflowers, grasslands of fragrant sage, and rolling meadows edged with brown-eyed susans. The beauty is subtle but undeniable.

Our friends live about 50 miles off the main highway, and then about 8 miles back on a dirt road - what they call "on the mountain" where they are building a home on land that has been in the family for generations. Rob has done an amazing job of putting up a house by himself, and, although there is still much to complete, he has done so much, so skillfully. His parents, Bob & Edna, live nearby in their lovely home, and we had some meals together there. Best of all was the time catching up after many years apart. Mary and I have been close friends for about 30 years. She was with me when my last baby was born. I love her like a sister, and it was a great joy to have time with her and with Rob.

Rob took us out in an open jeep, driving all over their land. We kept meeting up with his dad, age 86, out riding one of his many horses - something he does every day.In the evening, the family built a camp fire and we sat out under the stars. Chris, Rob & Mary's son, is a performance artist who uses the name "The Rappin' Cowbow". He recited cowbow poetry at the fireside, and then Grandpa Bob sang a few songs - he has a rich, deep voice. Here is the family looking at some of Daniella's art work.It was difficult to say goodbye to ND and get back on the road again......what a terrific visit!

On the Road - Midwest

After leaving our friends in North Dakota, we headed east, eventually into Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes. The landscape turned from brown to bright green. There were little lakes everywhere. That night, Tuesday, we stayed in a little town called Fergus Falls, MN, unremarkable in every way. On Wednesday we stopped in Minneapolis at the Walker Art Center, and spent a couple of hours looking at the exciting contemporary art in their collection.

By Wednesday night we had driven down into the corny state of Iowa, and spent the night at Cedar Rapids. We passed the Spam Museum (didn't see it in time to turn off for a visit - darn!) and were delayed at a traffic intersection in the middle of nowhere while a long tractor parade passed through - go figure??!!

Yesterday (Thursday) we finally saw the Mississippi River when we stopped for lunch in Hannibal, Missouri (home of Mark Twain). We bought sandwiches and took them up onto the river levee for a picnic. While we sat there, someone played old-timey songs on a calliope on a river paddleboat. It was joyful and so evocative of that whole Mississippi River culture. Later we arrived at our hotel in St. Louis, had a delicious "tapas" dinner, then rested up to prepare for today when we must put up the booth and art exhibit that begins tonight and goes through the weekend. Let's hope that Daniella kicks butt!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Farewell to the Island for Now

We'll be leaving for the midwest on Saturday. It is heartbreaking to leave here, even though we will be having exciting adventures in many parts of the country where we've never explored. Still, it will tear at our hearts to uproot from this precious spot where, each time we visit, our happiness seems unbounded! Here are a few last lingering photos from the days just gone by.

My dear sister-in-law, Lynn, visited for a few days (she's with me in the snapshot below). We took a long beach walk and observed some heron drama which we did not understand (mating? fighting?). A pair of herons on a sand bar, both with wings unfurled and extended, seemed to be stalking each other. First they would move in one direction a few feet apart, then both would turn and move in the opposite direction. After a bit of this dance, they suddenly turned and faced each other and rushed together, jumping into the air when they came together. This happened a couple of times over about five minutes, and then they went their separate ways. It was beautiful and dramatic, that's for sure! By the way, can you guess my favorite bird???

We saw a magnificent sea star stranded in a tide pool.Just for laughs, I'm including a photo of how they wrap "donut" peaches up here. We've been subscribing to a weekly box of produce from a local organic farm (fantastic food) and each week we've been getting these donut peaches packed up as donuts! Too cute!Since we'll be on the road for the next month, I probably won't be able to post much on this blog. Hopefully in October I'll have lots of new things to talk about! See you then!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Suggestions Please?? Midwest here we come!

During the month of September, Daniella and I will be driving to and through the mid-west. She has art shows in both St. Louis and Kansas City, and between times we will go to both Madison and Chicago, to see friends, look at art museums, and get to know these two cities a little bit. We are looking for suggestions for great places to visit in those areas: good restaurants, places to stay, sights to see, "not to be missed" spots, or any other ideas that might make our travel more fun and interesting. We'll be driving first through Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and then heading down to St. Louis. Don't yet know our route home - but we will swing by Whidbey Island to pick up Zuma at the end of September, and arrive back in Santa Cruz in early October.

Please send us your ideas, suggestions, etc. by Friday! Many thanks! ...... Tawanda!!!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Jump for Joy!

For a dinky little island, Whidbey has a cutting-edge athletic facility, the Island Athletic Club. Their indoor salt-water pool has a glass ceiling that rolls open to the sky when the weather allows it. The very first thing I did when I arrived here was to get a temporary membership so that I could participate in water aerobics. I think I've been to water aerobics 6 days a week since I've been here, and it has become one of the things I most look forward to, and something I'll miss so much when we leave. Our teachers are terrific, and give us a great workout. One of them, after our final stretches, has us crouch down in the water and then shoot out in a huge 'Jump for Joy'. This morning I realized that for me, these water exercise classes are truly about jumping for joy, feeling the happiness bubbling up and out, reveling in the sensation of floating. I'm in bliss, for sure!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Island Days and Nights

The last 10 days of our summer on Whidbey Island are already ticking past. I've been loathe to spend time on the computer when I can be outdoors enjoying all the pleasures of this area. But here are some of the highlights of the last few days.

1. Films - Two in particular stand out. We saw an old film, The Sheltering Sky, a Bertolucci classic from 1990, written by Paul Bowles. It is such an amazing, artistic, reflective film, entirely filmed in Saharan Africa. I was just dazzled by it, and the thoughtful and enigmatic themes it puts forward. It has certainly been added to my all-time-best list!

Last night we saw a screening of a film called "Inlaws and Outlaws" by a young Washington filmmaker, Drew Emery. This is a documentary that takes up the themes of love and marriage and gay marriage and gay love and love relationships in general. It is a wonderful effort, and has so much to say. Drew is pushing to get the film distributed as widely as possible, and has even had some success in - for example - midwest churches. If you see it in your area, by all means go see it. It is terrific!

2. Books - I've been on a reading bender. Today it is the "Life and Times of Michael K" by J.M. Coetzee. Recently finished "Night Work" by Laurie King. Next on tap is "The History of Love" by Nicole Kraus, which many friends are raving about. Love. To. Read. !!!!!

3. Sights - Even after 5 years of coming to the island, I never tire of seeing the magnificent bald eagles. There is a tree above the parking lot at our favorite beach where the eagles love to hang out in the mornings. They sit up there and preen their feathers, watch the beach activities, and probably, digest their fishy breakfasts. Here are a couple of snapshots taken this week, standing under that tree.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

An Outing

Yesterday we took the Keystone ferry to Port Townsend, always a beautiful trip. As we sat on the ferry waiting for it to leave, I noticed that there was a cluster of blue herons sitting on the pilings just next to the ferry, shivering in the foggy morning air. I snapped several photos of them, and as the ferry pulled away I could see that they have a nest right there. Perhaps the two smaller herons are the babies (teen-agers), since they seemed lighter in color, smaller, and more shivery than the older one standing behind them.
We spent the morning with our friend Shane, having breakfast at our favorite Sweet Laurette's, and then looking at the incredibly crafted jewelry and metal boxes that Shane is making. Then she dropped us off at our friends Roger and Robin Andrea (New Dharma Bums) for the afternoon. We had an informal picnic, and then rode off on e-bikes to a beautiful trail that goes along the edge of the cliffs above Puget Sound, and eventually down to a beach there. We sat and talked next to the water, and then hiked out and rode the e-bikes back to their house. We were back at Whidbey Island in time to celebrate our friend Pamela's birthday last evening with some cake and berries. A wonderful day!

Here is Robin Andrea in a characteristic pose, camera in hand, watching birds, with the city of Port Townsend behind her in the distance.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Odd Bird Behavior

A few days ago I went to my favorite, Maxwellton Beach, when there was a large "minus tide" - meaning that the tide was WAY out and the beach was huge. While Zuma and I were walking, a huge bird flew right over my head, swooped down, and picked up something off the beach. As it flew up into the air, I could see that the "something" was long and stringy. I tried to photograph it, while wondering what on earth it could be - certainly not a snake, probably not an eel (never seen one on the beach). In this photo, you can see the bird flying head-on, with the long, wiggly thing dangling beneath its body.
This not very satisfying photo was a disappointment - but I continued to photograph the bird as it flew towards the trees at the back of the beach. This time I could clearly see that it was an osprey carrying a long green piece of kelp. If you click on the photo I hope you can see this against the trees. Now I'm wondering what osprey do with kelp? Do they eat it? Does anybody know?