October 2007

Monthly Archive

Taking a Break… when it’s a good thing

Posted by on 31 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: art, Happy Messages, musings, plans, Uncategorized

I realized this week that I haven’t had the energy or inspiration for “art” in several months.  My blog-babble friend, NRKII, is taking a break from her writer’s blog, and it made me take another look at my output and motivations.

While I still have the desire to write, I have completely lost the ability to even consider picking up a brush.  Still, I was thinking I “had” to — or “ought” to…  and it was making me miserable.

So I am officially on hiatus from card making, art projects or any other crafty projects for the time being.  I need to regain the energy and enthusiasm so it’s fun, something I wake up looking forward to, instead of waking up in the middle of the night dreading.

Would I take a break if I were making any money from these projects?  Probably not.  If I were making money from it (and needed the money), then I would push through the discomfort somehow.  Just as, every day, millions of people around the world go to jobs they don’t enjoy (if they ever did) because they need the money.

But I don’t make money from cards (other than things I “sold” to my mother — how pathetic is that?).  Or paintings.  Which has been fine, I have painted for the love of it.

And when I love it again, I will go back to it.

Free Rice

Posted by on 30 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: education, fun, Giving, good things, hope, Making a Difference, poverty, Uncategorized, Word Games, wordplay, words

This is a cool website.

Improve your English vocabulary — and do something good for people who have need.

Free Rice.

It works a little like the old word association tests in school. They give you one word, then you choose the closest equivalent from four others. If you get it right three times in a row, they bump you up a level; if you get a word wrong you go down a level until you are hovering pretty close to the sort of language you use and understand easily.

Note to non-native speakers: as you get higher up in the levels, you will run into more words that are not in common use except by people who study specific subjects (history, science, medicine are the ones I have noted so far).

Take Note

Posted by on 29 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: climate, environment, Peace Making, rain, Take Note, Uncategorized

I am going to start a new category on my blog. Sometimes, as I am reading “stuff” I see things that I don’t really want to blog about, but I think you would find interesting. Here, you will discover quotes, articles or other things that generally fall into one of the categories I often write about, but that isn’t my own work.

Up first, from the Natural History magazine we get along with our Pacific Science Center membership, is a blurb from “Blue Planet Blues,” the first article in Water, the Wellspring of Life (November 2007, volume 116, number 9, page 29):

Despite all the water in the world, only a small fraction is available to us and other species that depend on freshwater. Salty seas account for more than 97 percent of the water on Earth. Of the remaining 3 percent or so, at least two-thirds is tied up in glaciers, ice caps, and permafrost, or else lies deep underground, of little use to those of us living on the land above. ~ Eleanor J Sterling

This entire issue of the magazine is devoted to water: its sources, scarcity and conservation. How do we balance our needs for water with the needs of the rest of the planet?


Posted by on 25 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: books, education, friends, fun, stidmama, Uncategorized, wordplay, words, writing

Like a challenge? How about adventure, romance, thrills and chills? Aspire to be/do/say something a bit more than the average?

November is National Novel Writing Month. I think I will give this a try. I managed to write a chapter in the BabbleStory today… 978 words in one hour. How hard can 50,000 words be?

Thank you, LiveJournal for the timely announcement to your users’ list!

If you want to join me, please let me know and we can keep each other company!

Blossom Night

Posted by on 21 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: art, fun, good things, health, Local Artists' Websites, Uncategorized

This is the lovely watercolor I picked up today at the Apple Affair. If you like it, the artist is Amanda Waggoner. She has many more watercolors…

First the whole shebang…

A lovely pink-flowered tree by moonlight

And a detail of the moon and pink blossoms on bare branches.

Pink blossoms cling to stems in the moonlight

I just love this!

An Apple Affair

Posted by on 21 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: food, friends, fun, garden, good things, health, hope, Uncategorized

I love this day. I look forward to it every year, and every year it seems to get better and better.

Here are some shots of the grange before people started to come in… you can see Jeannine at the till checking the change.

Dozens of apples waiting for homes Dozens more apples

Apples, apples and a few autumn squash…

A few of the varieties, tydeman, winesap and york imperials

And the long row toward the door… and …me with my back to the camera, pulling things out of boxes. A bunch of us who are friends with the owners of Madrona Grove like to make samples for people to taste so they know what the varieties can be used for. Our family’s job is to serve up the lovely things other people make!

Looking toward the doorgetting the food samples ready

We snagged a box of Arkansas Black apples as soon as we entered the doors… They are one of my favorite varieties — so fragrant and tasty! Excellent for eating, baking or drying, we will use these first because they don’t keep so well.

We also got a fair number of York Imperials, Spitzenbergs, Spy, Mai Gold, and the original “red delicious” (I have to go look at the box to remember the name)… and Rhode Island Greenings. And a few seckle pears… tiny, absolutely perfect little pears… I’ll take a picture later if I can remember.

Only a few pictures this year — as predicted, it is a rather gray day, though not so wet nor windy as I had feared. So we had a lot of people show up in the first three hours, and then things started to slack off so I came home to get a bit up on the site!

One of the people who showed up, of course, was stidgmere… here she is with Michael and Jeannine, and stidmatt — one big, happy, apple-loving family!

Michael and Jeannine take a break from selling apples

This year, Michael and Jeannine invited me and another artist to display (and sell if we could) some of our artwork. I bought a lovely watercolor by Amanda Waggoner, and we also managed to sell a couple cards with the apple motif I painted for Michael and Jeannine a couple years ago, Jeannine and Michael will use the rest I printed for thank yous and such. Here is the picture from the card.

Three apples, green red and yellow

For more information about Michael and Jeannine (or Jeannine and Michael, depending on who we see first!), there was a nice article on the Enterprise for Equity website in September.

A couple very nice days

Posted by on 20 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: art, caring, children, education, friends, fun, good things, hope, Kid Activities, Making a Difference, music, parenting, Peace Making, Uncategorized

Have I mentioned I love working with my mother? Here she is, doing what she loves:

Stidgmere surrounded by happy, learning kids

She is an amazing teacher, and I am so grateful that not only I have the chance to see her in action, but my boys also. Here they are yesterday (Friday, October 19) in her classroom, helping with a very complicated art project. Using paper plates as the template (you see Stidmatt holding some in his pic), the children drew their interpretations of Northwest Coast art — a lot of ravens, a few bear or orcas, and colored them in. Red, Black and White are the traditional colors for this artwork, and the graphic quality makes all the designs “pop” like anything.

Stidmatt helps explain how to make a maskStidgrant helps put the masks on the kids' heads

Stidmatt is in the pic on the left, Stidgrant on the right. The kids really loved having them there! I can’t show pics that would clearly identify the children, let’s just say they are cute as anything, and when they are all doing what they love (this class LOVES art) this class ROCKS! More importantly, we are already seeing some of them make great progress. This is a class of hard workers, and most are eager learners. The ones who are more reluctant are even starting to make progress! It is a good feeling to know we are making a difference — a positive difference! — in someone’s life.

Last night, we went to the Seattle Symphony. No, my new “little black dress” didn’t get finished — I got as far as starting to put the zipper in when I realized something was askew. In fact, though I cut the pattern according to my measurements, I am not at all happy with the way it fits. the front is fine, but the back was much too wide. I will see if I can fix it by removing just the back seam and recutting. If so, I will save a few hours’ work. Otherwise, I love the fabric I chose, and I can rip as many seams as I must to get this to work! *determined mama look*

On to the Music. We get the Baroque series package — this concert was Handel’s Water Music, a very lovely flute concerto by Vivaldi (probably my favorite baroque composer), a viola piece by JC Bach (purportedly, I guess the authorship is open to interpretation), and Handel’s Royal Fireworks. Christopher Seaman, the conductor for this concert, is wonderful. He both conducts and plays the harpsichord (we have seen him before at the Seattle Symphony, though he is the resident conductor elsewhere). I love that I can actually hear the harpsichord parts in Benaroya Hall! So often they are drowned out or just missed on recordings.

Today, we went to Schilter’s Family Farm with the boys. WEAR BOOTS! It’s quite muddy this time of year… but the corn maze is great fun, the pumpkins are beautiful. Large, Small and ENORMOUS, you grab a wheelbarrow and choose the perfect ones for yourself. We found some beauties. Unfortunately, as we got home, it started to rain. So pics of those will have to wait a bit. Meantime, here a few we did take while we were there!

The boys at the entrance to the corn maze.

Here they are, about to go into the maze. You can see the puddle we waded around to get in!

And here is Stidgrant, when the sun finally came out … do you think he had fun?

Stidgrant in the corn

And on the way out… the kids stood for one last picture…

The boys at the height poster... the younger is finally taller!

Weeks like this one make me feel hopeful about the future. My children spent their day off from school helping their grandmother and the kids in her class. They are just as happy tramping around a pumpkin patch as in front of a computer game. They don’t just go to the symphony — they enjoy it and have a real engagement with the music.

My children are not unique, but the things we do as a family often are. Tomorrow, we will help at the Apple Affair, the autumn festival our friends with the fruit stand hold. Pictures from last year’s event arehere. I don’t think this year’s pics will include a sunny establishing shot though…

More Environmental stuff

Posted by on 16 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: climate, education, environment, good things, health, politics, rain, Uncategorized, weather

Check out a few more links I found or rediscovered since posting yesterday’s blog piece…

  • Planet in Peril from CNN, a series on how climate change and other ecological concerns are affecting the world.
  • Care2.com is a social networking site with many places you can explore for ideas on ecologically sound living. Email groups, networking lists, and links to other sites that have advice and products.
  • New Dream is another site that has good information and resources to help you discover and maintain a more sustainable lifestyle.

And here is an article from yesterday’s New York Times that underlines the urgency we ought to all feel… click on the quote to get to the remainder:

ATLANTA, Oct. 15 — For the first time in more than 100 years, much of the Southeast has reached the most severe category of drought, climatologists said Monday, creating an emergency so serious that some cities are just months away from running out of water.

Now, I don’t know about the water cycles, historic or in earth-time, but this is not the only city that is facing major climate-related environmental challenges. Whether this particular drought is caused by human action or natural cycles, it highlights our need to conserve resources whenever possible, and to not out-build the land’s ability to support us!

Blog Action Day: The Environment…

Posted by on 14 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: allergy, blog action, caring, celebrations, climate, editorial, education, environment, fun, garden, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, health, hope, illness, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, map, musings, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, poverty, rain, social justice, Uncategorized, weather

So many things a person could write about, I spent all weekend thinking and working on this post. Here is my meagre contribution to this month’s Blog Action Day.

Of course, we all know by now that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize was given out to people who have been working on Environmental Issues (Global Warming) for many years. One commentator I heard (on National Public Radio) related that they did so because it is already apparent that many of the violent conflicts in the world are the direct result of shifting resources as formerly lush landscapes become deserts, and as storms wash away other areas.

This particular year has seemed to drive the point home for many people in my country (USA) and on my continent: North America. On the west coast, it was a cooler than normal, grayer/rainier summer after a rather nice spring. On the east coast, the spring was very wet, the summer overly hot (and as of this last week many places were still in the 80sF/25C!) and autumn appears to be late arriving. The middle of the continent sweltered through the summer… some people died from the heat.

Environment: climate, pollution, allocation of resources, activities for work and play.

Changes in the climate affect the environment in many ways. I am an expert on only one small part of the environment, so that is my focus today.

For me, the changes in the climate affect my garden as well as outdoor activities. My garden is a little micro-world, with its own hot and cold areas, variations in ecology just within our one acre. I notice how the plants react through the year to the sun, the rain, the wind, the shadows… I evaluated my space (light and shadows, orientation of the house) carefully before cutting any of the existing trees when we got ready to move here; and carefully considered existing vegetation (what grew naturally, where) before planting new. Eight years ago, we began our gardening odyssey…

I recognize that there are normal fluctuations of temperatures, and I remember when I was a child “the year without a summer” when we had the fireplace lit on the Fourth of July… I remember the year that we had a week of temperatures in the 80s in September (I was in high school, it was great). I know that most years the last two weeks of March are sunny and warm — shorts and T-shirt weather; surrounded by gray, windy, rainy months. What I don’t know is whether the extreme fluctuations from the “norm” in the last five years (extreme rains in winter, but drought twosummers in a row followed by the very wet and cool summer this year) are becoming the new pattern, or if weather will change back to the usual 9 months of rain/3 months of sun. Will the average temperatures continue to increase?

What should I be planting now? It takes years for trees and shrubs to mature enough to produce a crop that is useful. I can nurse young trees along no matter what they are, keep them alive for five or even ten years. But for them to thrive and bear as they ought, the climate as well as the soil they are in need to be right. My figs did not ripen, though the trees held record numbers, because there was too little sun this summer. My apples bore, but not well, because of the rains during the flowering stage.

I did not plant a vegetable garden this year, but if I had, my usual crops of lettuces would have lasted longer and the squash would never have fully developed. Corn would never have reached the tassel stage. Beans would have been slow, though peas would have liked the cool days. Potatoes and tomatoes would have been cranky. Coles and brassicas would have been ecstatic at the cool weather. Melons, which are iffy in the best years, would have not even set.

My flowers were, by and large, late, small and highly unmotivated. The birds didn’t delight in visiting the yard as they do most years. The frogs were quieter than normal. No crickets were heard… I didn’t see as many snakes. We had bees, but not as many or as constantly as I am used to. There were more “bear splats” in the yard than normal — are they looking for food further afield than in a usual year? We certainly had more “deer plops” as well, as they nibbled my fruit trees and rose bushes. But who can blame them? Much of their usual forage was late and minimal also!

Friends and acquaintances in other areas were stymied by overly sunny and hot weather. Many plants shriveled and died despite repeated waterings and good mulch.

What will all this mean to me? To my family? To the world? Well, around here we still have abundant water — more necessary than sunlight for life. But if the climate here continues to sustain trees and life, if our home becomes very attractive to people from places on the continent where extremes of climate are out of control, more people will want to move here. I don’t blame them… but how will our resources hold up if they need to be shared by too many people? Will the government decide to restrict our use of the aquifer our well pulls from? As harvests are more variable and less reliable, will food supplies become more valuable than gold? Will we be able to feed our families? Will we be able to afford the taxes on our home if the value increases because so many people like it here?

If the weather warms, and becomes sunnier, other crops may become possible: oranges, bananas, avocados? But if that happens apples, pears and even the type of grains that are grown here will not be successful. If the weather becomes more erratic, crops like cherries and peaches will be less reliable. Corn would be easier to grow in a warmer, dryer climate… but after only a few years of drought our forests become scary places, and the lovely trees start to suffer. And if rivers dry up, the fish will have more difficulty and the dams that generate much of our power will produce less electricity.

Environment: it affects EVERY aspect of our lives. From whether we go for a picnic in the summer, to how expensive it is to keep the house comfortable in the winter. It affects how much we have to eat, and whether we have anything left over to share. People in this area are quite generous, but can that last?

I don’t have answers today, just questions; some fears, a few hopes, and many dreams. I know that I will continue to look for ways to minimize our family’s impact on the environment, from being careful what we put in the septic system and use on our plants (we are an organic family for most things) to trying to minimize the electricity we use, to cutting down on trips in the cars and keeping them tuned up for better mileage. Recycling, reusing, sometimes doing without… all of these are ways we attempt to be a positive influence on the environment. Will it be enough?

Only time will tell. Our family will continue to “reduce the things we purchase new, reuse what we can, and recycle as much as possible.” I am optimistic because I think we are adaptable: not just my family, but our species. I think we will find ways to grow enough food, to stay cool enough in the summer and warm enough in the winter, to enjoy a few of the nicer things we have come to expect. I really hope the internet will continue to be available! Mostly though, I believe that our world will find ways to be beautiful and healthy. I hope my descendants will be able to look back at us someday and say with pride, “Stidmama and her family were good citizens of the planet.”

Here are a few websites I know about that can encourage you to make changes — small or large — to keep having a quality lifestyle and still reduce your impact on the environment.

  • Ideal Bite
    I get a daily email from these people.
  • Mother Earth News We have had a subscription to their magazine for most of our married life.
  • Consumer Reports I believe that buying good products is the least wasteful and more environmentally sound practice. We have read this magazine and used their website for years to help make decisions about large purchases.
  • Treehugger.com A new site to me, I like the links and articles they have.

There are many more resources available, too. Check the local phone book, or the libraries. Google climate, environment or conservation. A new resource I found is a World Catalog for books in libraries and other public repositories. It not only can locate a book based on keywords (title, subject, author) but I will tell you how far away the closest copies are! Many communities have recycling programs, used building material stores and thrift stores can have wonderful finds.I encourage you to find ways to make it better — turn off one extra light, wear long underwear and keep the house cooler, walk a block or two instead of moving the car that distance, eat local foods, in season or prepared at home, plant a tree or a flower.

Together, we can help our world heal.


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My Inner Role Player…

Posted by on 13 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: fun, Uncategorized

I am a Neutral Good Elf Cleric!

Take this silly and fun D&D character quiz.

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