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?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Five (not too) Weird Things

I was tagged, by Tara Dharma, to create a bizarre list of five weird things about myself. At first I thought “No Way!”. This is just too embarrassing, and too … well ….. weird. I just won’t respond. Then I thought "Only Five?? That's not too bad. "Now, I surrender and will make this list – but as I do so, I realize that I’m just not a very weird person, at least in my own eyes.

1. I obsessively play the piano with my fingers during most of my waking hours. I had piano lessons as a child, with a heavy emphasis on fingering, and I’m always working on that fingering, even though I haven’t actually played the piano for years

2. I seldom listen to music, even though I love it. It’s just that I love words even more. So I listen to NPR radio, read or write whenever possible, and when that is happening music is a big distraction!

3. I’m a really poor swimmer, and have never enjoyed being in the water much, but in the last couple of years I’ve developed a passion for water exercise and can’t get enough of it.

4. For my entire life, I’ve been a very early riser, as well as a light sleeper. I could probably count on both hands the times I’ve slept past 7 am in the last 20 years. I’d like to, but it just doesn’t happen. But early mornings are definitely my favorite time of day...

5. I don’t like the flavor, taste, smell of coffee and have never in my life been a coffee drinker – don’t even like coffee ice cream. And I'm an adult - weird!

Painting by Cynthia Tom

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Books and a Girl who Loves Them

I'm responding to a tag from the ever-succulent and wild woman, Divajood, about books, one of my favorite things in the world. I could write a book about books I've loved, but will try to confine it to a few for this meme.

1: One book that changed your life: I’d have to say Middlemarch (George Eliot). I read it in college, when my life felt as if it was in a real mess, and something about the clear starchiness of the moral and ethical choices in the story, and the way they were described, helped me get through a hard time.

2: One book you have read more than once: Many of the poetry books by Mary Oliver. They never fail to give me joy.

3: One book you would want on a desert island: A big sketch book and lots of art supplies so that I could entertain myself, journal, draw, etc.

4: One book that made you laugh: Oh, so many have done this! One old favorite is Here At The New Yorker, a story/anthology of the early days of the New Yorker magazine. Hilarious! Another favorite was A Winter’s Tale by Mark Helpern. I remember reading it and laughing until tears were running down my face.

5: One book you wish had been written: More true stories by women throughout history, about their lives and the times they lived in. We get so much of our history through the male perspective, wars, conquests, etc.

6: One book you wish had never had been written: I’ll have to agree with another blogger I noticed who suggested “The Bible”. Add to that the Quran and any other “holy book” that religious extremists interpret literally and use to bludgeon others with their beliefs. I think these books have caused more misery than value.

7: One book that made you cry: Again, so many do! I think perhaps I’ll mention Atonement, by Ian McEwan. It is a masterpiece, it made me sob, it touches the human condition on so many levels.

8: One book you are currently reading: Just finished Two Lives by Vikram Seth, a double biography of his aunt and uncle set in the time of the second world war. And I’m always reading The New Yorker, every week!

9: One book you have been meaning to read: I have a big long list. My Kind of Place: Travels from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere, by Susan Orlean is nearing the top of my list!

10: Now tag five people: Oops, I can't! I read very few blogs, and am shy about pushing my agenda onto anybody. But if you, dear reader, feel inclined to make a book blog, or write a list in the comments below, or simply to go to your favorite wicker lawn chair and read, please feel free!

Okay. Tag. You're all it.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Low Tide Morning

Just back from a beautiful morning beach walk at Maxwellton. We had a low tide and a vastly empty beach today. Although it was clear and sunny, there were wisps of mist rising from all the tide pools, and trailing white clouds over Puget Sound. Here were some of the morning's treats:A shiny red plane doing flip-flopping aerobatics and barrel rolls over the beach (no photo, too gape-jawed to respond, but here are Daniella and Zuma on the beach).
Eagles feeding in the bay - plunging into the water, then flying off with fish in tow.
Squiggly little piles of sand everywhere, indicating some creature below. Daniella said it looked like little spaghetti dinners !Blackberries picked on the way home - this is the season!! Oooooh I do love it here on Whidbey Island.....

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Journey - David Whyte

In these horrific times, when war is tearing the world to pieces and when hatred seems to outweigh all reason, sometimes it helps to turn to art, poetry, or nature, to regain a sense of balance. This poem helped me today with my feelings of despair and helplessness about the world. I am sifting the ashes and looking for a wedge of light. THE JOURNEY
Above the mountains
the Geese turn into
the light again
Painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.
Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens
so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.
Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that
small, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.
Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out
someone has written
something new
in the ashes
of your life.
You are not leaving
You are arriving.

-David Whyte
from The House of Belonging

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Striking Gold

While browsing through a favorite Whidbey Island thrift store earlier this week, I spotted an intriguing looking brown wooden box on the shelf. When I opened it, imagine my surprise to find 50 tubes of oil paint, and 29 (all sable) brushes in this beautiful box, marked at $50. I have little experience with painting in oils, but not due to lack of interest or desire. I know the cost of a single tube of paint, and of expensive sable brushes, and this box held a fortune! Now, thanks to Daniella's generosity (she stepped up and bought it for me), I find myself possessed of the means to begin to paint in oils - one step closer to becoming a Renaissance Woman, right??! Is anybody else out there lucky at finding terrific bargains at thrift stores and yard sales??

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Last Few Days

I've been away for a few days and here's why. On Thursday last week I went to Bellevue, Wash, with our friend Shane to set up Daniella's art booth for the annual Bellevue Arts and Crafts Festival. Daniella, meanwhile, was finishing up with teaching her class at Cabrillo College, and she flew in from Santa Cruz later on Thursday night. The show opened on Friday morning, and went on all weekend, until Sunday night. Tens of thousands of people trooped through the show, and it was one of the most entertaining human and dog parades I've attended in a long time! People loved Daniella's art work, and many signed up to take classes with her to learn about encaustic painting technique. Here is a photo of her booth (we were on the ground floor level of a parking garage this time).

We got back to Whidbey Island yesterday afternoon, thoroughly exhausted and wrung out. Here is a picture I took of Daniella and Zuma having a little reunion/love fest/meltdown after their weeks of separation. It is really good to have her here!
This morning when we woke up there were bunnies in the front lawn. As I watched, I realized that one of them was furiously digging in the dirt. Next it began rolling in the loose dirt, like a horse does when it is taking a dust bath. I caught a picture of this bunny - here it is!Nothing very exciting, but a lot of work and effort over the long weekend, and it sure is good to be back on the island!