Sunday, March 30, 2014

What a Wonderful World

White River Falls
We took a little side trip to White River state park today while returning the grand kids to their mom. We agreed to meet in the middle as they live on the west side. It couldn't have been a more perfect day.
This little gem is 34.1 miles traveling south from The Dalles. We took the opportunity to eat a picnic lunch at the top and then hiked down to the old powerhouse that sits at the bottom. There are signs everywhere to not enter the decrepit building, which we obeyed.
I've been here a couple of times but usually when it is so hot that it feels like I'll suffer a heart attack while climbing back up to the parking lot. Today, I felt cold starting the hike and was glad for cooler temps when walking uphill.  I'm old and 30 lbs. overweight and feelin' it. Truth.
The trail, to our surprise, goes further than we've walked before. We found another smaller waterfall at the end of the trail. There were two fishermen when we arrived but they were just leaving so we had this place all to ourselves. Such a treat!
We've had the grandkids since Tuesday and this was our chance to spend just a little more time with them before they get back to their busy school lives. Having them with us this week was a grandma's dream. This hike was like the cherry on top of a delicious hot-fudge-sundae kind of visit.
Do you have special places you like to visit in the middle of nowhere?
love, susan 


Friday, March 21, 2014

Random Development

When I got home yesterday, I had a package in the mail. It is a journal that an online friend and I have been writing and sending back and forth ... for a year.  It is half filled and what kept me up last night wondering who will keep it when it is full.
I've never written in a journal to pass back and forth with a virtual stranger before but it really makes my day when I receive it and read what she's been up to. She is a very busy pre-med student who actually is an artist as well. Most of all, she has a very interesting life.
I'm an overworked legal secretary who dabbles in art, photography and writing. We have enough in common that this shared journaling works.
I had held onto the diary far longer than I should have last fall. When I sent the book back to her, I thought perhaps she had given up on me as it didn't come back until yesterday. She had lost my address.
Develop is the theme word I chose this year for myself. This is the second year I've picked an action word that I want to focus on.
So far I have:
  • Taken an online creative writing course
  • Connected with other writers and artists from beginners to pros
  • Bought a new camera that has a lot of bells and whistles to learn
  • Been on a couple of photo walks
  • Started writing morning pages (brain dumping journaling)
  • Minimized (my theme word from last year) my household junk on a monthly basis
Do you have a theme word?  What is it? Tell me how it's working for you.
love, susan

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Drunk as a Skunk

My friend, Kristy, spotted this skunk yesterday while we were sitting in her car sharing lunch together. It was too cold to sit outside and I was so happy she swung by my office to get me out of the dungeon and into the sunlight for an hour.
The reason this skunk is so far away is that we were parked up on a ledge and how she saw it from way up there, I'll never know. I don't carry my new hunky camera with me but I do carry a Coolpix in my purse. Not a great picture but a great memory having lunch with my friend, for sure!

So I got to thinking.  I wonder where the saying drunk as a skunk came from.

Googled it:  Check with any moonshiner about pulling drowned skunks out of his corn mash and you'll know exactly what it means.

Can you imagine?  Not the dead, drunk skunk, silly.  Drinking alcohol that's had a nasty (now dead) skunk swimming in it.

Think about that, will ya!

love, susan

Monday, March 17, 2014

Photo Walking in Finley

Sassy Sara and Remi
I got out this weekend for a nice photo walk with my friend, Linda, and her dog, Sassy Sara. She invited me to bring one of my dogs so I did the smart thing by taking the most rambunctious one. Remi is my youngest who still acts like a puppy. She is most certainly bipolar so I was apprehensive about taking her. About two minutes out of the car and into Sassy's territory they were fast friends and literally did not stop running and playing for three hours. What a riot! 
Photo walking with Linda is a huge joy for me. She always has interesting animals out at her place as she has a big back yard pasture that needs animals to chew it down. Her neighbors and friends bring their horses, sheep and alpacas to stay with her a few days while they feed on the rich grass. 
And then, there are the birds. She has a great set-up outside of her kitchen window with an abundance of bird feeders and a nice bath place situated just right so she can photograph the little tweeties without much bother. Linda never really has to leave her place to find interesting subjects to shoot but I'm glad she likes to go walking with me. We have been to some really fine places together and have decided we need to go more often.
Linda's birds
The fun thing about photo walking with a friend is that you can kill two birds with one stone. No birds were actually killed during this session of photo walking. She and I catch up on happenings while secretly keeping our eyes open for hidden treasures. The beautiful thing about walking and talking with other artists is they get it.  She gets me.  When I wander off while she is talking, she is not offended. She knows my eye has caught something that must be shot. She knows I'll come back and pick up the conversation right where we left off.  I love that about her.
If you've never been photo walking before, I would encourage you to try it. If you feel too self conscious to go with a friend, try it by yourself sometime. Use your cell phone or your point & shoot, or take a big camera if you have one. Keep an open mind.  In other words, leave your thinking brain at home and take your creative side for a walk. Bend down and look under things. Stand next to a tree and look up. Sit on a park bench and watch people walk by. Be still for a moment and see what you can see. Notice the things you normally walk past on a daily basis.

Before I joined the local digital photography club, I had never heard of photo walking. Oh, how I wish I had thought of that sooner. One of the first fun things I did with them was a photo scavenger hunt.  You can do that too!  I hope you will. And, I hope you'll come back here and tell me about it. Or better, I hope you'll post your photos or start a blog.

love, susan

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Where I Found "It"

Black and white. That's how I see the world by the time March rolls around here in eastern Washington. Welcome to seasonal affective disorder. If you have it, you know what I'm talking about. If you don't have it, I am ever so happy for you. 
Just got back from a Sunday drive that took seven days and 3,065 miles to complete. It was a trip quickly planned at the last minute when I found a ticket (just for me) to Fairbanks for a couple of days was going to cost more than a week on the road with my honey bunny. While I would have loved going to Alaska this time of year to visit family and the area's bright blue sunny skies, time spent with my husband trumped. I'll save Alaska for another day.
We rolled out last Saturday morning, driving 16 hours that day to get to Reno. It wasn't planned but the availability of rooms in Susanville was not good and Reno was only another two hours down the road. That's how it is out on the road. It is futile to make plans for how many hours and miles we'll drive. When a second wind arrives, it is hard to stop. Not to mention it was raining. I'll admit 16 hours is probably the longest I've ever driven in one day and I don't recommend it. In retrospect, we were driving away from gray weather with the promise of blue skies ahead.  We would not be disappointed.

Hitting the hay in Reno, we got up early for breakfast at a little 50's style restaurant. It was Sunday morning and the old regulars were there having breakfast and a discussion in bovine scatology. Our waitress was far past the age when one should be working. She, along with 95% of the others we encountered, looked like she had been hard done to. Downtown Reno is interesting that way. People are very weathered and the working ones look like they have to keep moving or they'll quit breathing. It's hard to explain. We got out of there quick. Just too damn depressing.

We made it to Vegas that day. Just finding registration and our room took one full hour, but the sky was blue so things were looking up. A short stroll down the boulevard found us at an indoor/outdoor Mexican food stand where the cooks barely spoke English. Can I just say the food was a nice surprise and the only reason I'd care about going back to Vegas.

Yuma, Arizona saw us pull in late in the afternoon. We checked in and found a street vendor for some carne asada about 9pm. The next day we took a quick trip over the border for fish tacos and some medicine for him. We stopped at my old work place and that's where I started to find "it".

I got to visit a little with some peeps I worked with 7 years ago. It seemed as if time stood still. The lovely, heartfelt reception I received from every single person I used to work with was like having sunshine injected straight to my heart. Those girls will never know how much their smiles and taking 15 minutes from their busy work day to "catch up" meant to me.  Never. Ever.

Two of my old work mates were gone that day but as it happens, my friend Esther's mom made tamales for us and I went back into the office to pick them up the next day and got to see those other girls. If my trip had ended that day, it would have been enough.

That afternoon, we visited my uncle, who lost his wife (of 50+ years) less than a month ago. My cousin is there taking care of things and changes are in the air. We didn't talk about that. We talked about everything else. Pure joy and heartache at the same time. A quick visit to other friends (Evie & Gerald) for a cup of coffee and cookies made the day complete.

I was ready to come home when we left Thursday morning. Going was long and coming home always seems longer. But I got a super nice surprise text from my cousin who lives in Bend, OR, asking us to "stop in and spend the night". So we did! And "it" was there.


It is this super fluid, sunshiny kinda love that lasts me a really long time when I seek it. It freezes and dies when the gray skies come. The only way I can get it back is to actively chase it down.

I found it in the big bag of candy we passed out to children and street vendors while we were in Mexico. I found it in the way our waitress heated up my thermos before she poured hot coffee into it for our long day.  I found it when a total stranger shared a table and conversation with us over tacos. I know it is always there but this disorder suffocates it slowly and surely every winter. I recognize when I am about on empty and am glad to report I am filled up now.

If you've read this far, I thank you. Do you get low at certain times?  What do you do to fill up?

love, susan


You Made My Day, Dude!

A couple weeks ago while I was driving back to Portland after spending the night on the Oregon coast, we came up on some road construction ...