Sunday, October 19, 2008

First Frost

This morning when I took the dogs out to go to the bathroom, there was a light frost on everything and we could see our footprints in the grass as we walked. I hurried them back inside for breakfast, grabbed my camera and went back for a few shots. The pond looked clearer than usual so that made a good shot, the frosted grass of course, and then these things that are all over the ground under a big tree by the pond. Barry says they are chestnuts and I have no reason to doubt him. They are quite spiny and I steer clear of them when the dogs are along.
The first shot is some acorn squash we got at our very first produce auction. We had forgotten it and had slept a little late so it was already started when we got there. It was much smaller than the one we went to with Jean, so not intimidating at all. As I made my way to the action, a bid had just been completed on about 25 dozen eggs @ $.65 per dozen and I was surprised the auctioneer let the bidder take what he wanted which was only a couple of boxes. He let the losing bidder take what he wanted (about 4 dozen) and was hunting for someone else to take the rest, so I asked if I could have some without a number and got 4 dozen and instructions to go get a number real quick. We also got a bag of 5 pounds of new potatoes the same way, and I finally actually bid on the squash and got them for 60 cents each. They are small and very tasty. The Jerusalem artichoke was given to me by a man who got a whole box of them. I asked him what he was going to do with them since I've never fixed them. He thought he was getting sweet potatoes so was surprised to find out they were Jerusalem artichokes. We'll go again next week. Another customer we talked to said the auction goes all year, but later in the fall and winter is mostly hay, firewood and pastries. She also told us about another produce auction on Thursdays so we're going to check that out too.

A Sight Seldom Seen

Barry titled this when he walked by while Carol and I were putting the CD rack together. I don't know if it was a brand new experience but she was a fast learner.

The Move

Thankfully the feeling that the move was one long nightmare is fading. Just getting the truck up the hill and then backing it into the driveway scared the s*** out of me and after it was loaded, Ken did it again with the trailer. As we were pulling out with both fully loaded, our neighbor, Larry. who had dropped over to say bye, came running after the truck, waving a piece of something in his hand. He said it was a bolt from the trailer suspension that was completely broken off. Thank you, Larry, from the bottom of our hearts! So we made our way carefully to the UHaul in Bothel (about 7 miles away) where they told us there was nothing to be done but reload the load into a new trailer and that there was one available in Seattle. We pleaded, begged, threatened, whined and cried but had no choice but to drive the monster truck/trailer to Seattle. We had been promised some help with the job, but the two guys who got the assignment were intent on assigning blame for the broken bolt to us, saying the trailer was too heavy and that we were going to have to leave some things behind. And then it started to rain. After they slammed a few things around, we asked them to stop "helping". Another man came from another dealership to smooth things over but other than helping us get the first trailer unloaded, there wasn't much he could do to help. I took the photos above as things came out hoping they would help reload, but the battery ran out just as we finished unloading. Have I mentioned yet that we spent three days getting the trailer loaded? Six rainy hours later, with only one major breakdown on my part, we were ready to roll, with only a few things left behind. I want to say another BIG thank you to our daughter-in-law, Kei Chi, who drove over to Seattle and dog sat with Juniper and Sambo. We wouldn't have been able to do it without her gracious help.
And speaking of the two dogs, you can see from the photo how squeezed we were. I was in there with them! Sambo found a warm spot on the floor and didn't complain about my resting my feet on him. Juniper was more curious and spent most of the trip an my lap. If I scooted all the way to the door (about 3 inches off the seat), we could sit side by side to give my legs a rest.
Some of the ride was extremely bumpy, but some was fairly smooth. It was slow going, taking a full five days to get to Ashland. The other major headache was near Chicago. We had made the trip three weeks earlier to scout out the roads and get the Prius back. I had routed us completely around the whole Chicago area, and when we got to the point of diverging from the AAA plan, it was raining cats and dogs and we got a phone call and missed our turn. So we drove through the Chicago construction, in the rain, with me in tears, convinved we were going to die. We didn't and it probably made the trip 3-5 hours shorter. And way more memorable.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ohio Bound

Our house in Washington was as sold as it could be before the closing finalizes it and at that point we will be handing over the keys to the new owners. We had done some looking on the internet at properties in Ohio, but hadn't wanted to get too attached to anything that might get sold before we were ready. We had looked in Oregon just to see what we could see and now we were ready to go find a house to buy. We were pulling a trailer to get the first load to Ohio even though we had nowhere to put the contents except a storage locker courtesy of U-Haul. They know we'll have to rent another truck to get it out of there.
The scenery is just east of Bozeman, Montana and it made me want to stop and look for our little farm there, but we ignored the impulse and kept on rolling. We saw this house in Ashland the second day we were looking and it seemed just about perfect in it's attibutes except that it wasn't near the folks we wanted to be near in Pike county. So we spent four days in southern Ohio trying to find something that would measure up to it. We found one lovely house that we made a bid on, knowing that it was much bigger than we wanted or needed, and that deal fell through when we realized that some expensive work needed to be done to finish the house.
So we went back up to northern Ohio to look at this house again and when we were having trouble making up our minds, Ken made a strong argument for erring on the side of caution by buying a house that seemed to fit our needs. And his sister Carol reminded us that even though we wouldn't be extremely close to our friends in southern Ohio, we would be a lot closer that we were in Washington state.
The 7 acres are about 1/3 wooded (behind the pond) and are in a long narrow plot. I've shown the north and south boundries (the browner mow lines) and the pond is visible in each of the shots. The garage is attached to the house by a breezeway and I have plans to make it my studio. We got airline tickets the same day we signed the papers for the house so we are back in Washington now, packing like crazy and hoping (probably fruitlessly) that we will be able to fit the rest of what we want to keep into a rental van.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dreaming of Buses

I don't remember dreaming about buses before except when I am leaving my dream downtown. Let me explain. I have dreamscapes that are fairly constant.
So having three bus dreams in a few days is unusual. In this one the driver has left his seat and as the bus starts to roll downhill, I have to get in the driver's seat and steer it. It comes close to hitting trees and toppling off the road but I manage to get it to the bottom of the hill. Once there, I can't get it started up the next hill, and using typical dream logic, I back the bus back up to the starting point and try again. The second time goes much smoother as I don't have any near misses with trees or ditches.
I Photoshopped a photo of the Smokey Mountains by squeezing them vertically to get steeper hills, and then raw sketched and colored each hill. Then I dropped in sections of curvy highway and gave each one a similar treatment. I think the dashboard was a Porsche but it had the wrong proportions so it had to be stretched and have a longer hood to look like a yellow bus before I did the raw sketching and coloring. The dream really was as vivid as what I came up with but I don't know how to convey the out of control movement of the bus. I don't give much credence to dream symbolism but this was interesting enough to include.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Can't Get This Off my Mind

Sunday, early August, southern Oregon. We had gotten a little off track following the GPS system which had already admitted it didn't know where we were. So we got on the phone with the realtor to find our way to the property and she mentioned to me that the house was selling because of a divorce, that the man was resistant to selling and that we should not be surprised by anything he said. As we pulled into the drive and up to the house, there were some horses on one side and cows and chickens on the other. A boy about 10-12 years old and a fairly old man came out of the house and started talking to the realtor, challenging who she was and what she was doing there. After she reassured them that she had talked to Bobby the old man said, "Well, you can't be too careful about who's coming onto the property."

She started pointing out the fencing on the pens we had just passed and the boy mentioned to his grandpa (he called him that) that we would need to be careful of the wolf. We thought he was talking about the dog chained to the truck where they were standing but it turned out that that dog was only half wolf, the other half being Rottweiler. It seemed to be a very laid back, fat old dog that appreciated a little attention and a pat on the head, but it could have been more aggressive if they hadn't been there. Then the old man started telling us about how many dogs he had breed from the female wolf that was somewhere in the pasture below, with or near the horses. I was beginning to wonder if he thought we had come to buy a dog when the realtor got him back on track by asking where the property lines for the 3 1/2 acres were. He pointed out the ones we had seen along the road as well as where they used to keep the pigs when they had pigs.

He pointed to a gate behind the house that he said opened onto a neighbor's land and as we walked back I saw a couple of dachshunds in a dog run. I started toward them but thought better of it when they started yapping at me. The old man said to just go on back to see them so we all walked back. Just as I spied one really, really long dog with it's back held at a horrible angle, he said that two or three of the white ones were blind. He explained that they used to breed them to sell and there were always one or two in a litter that the kids wanted to keep and that's why they had twelve. I adore dachshunds and have had to put two down because of bad backs but all I could think was that all of these needed to be spayed, some of them put down immediately, and all of their offspring be hunted down and spayed. So as we walked into the house, I was already feeling a bit of shock.

The old man and the boy walked into the house with us and sat down on the couch to watch TV. They pointed out Bobby who was washing dishes at the sink and there was another old man sitting in a chair. I can't remember if he spoke but he seemed to be pointing toward a bedroom. I don't know if he was asking for something or trying to tell us about something. He had a doughy look as if he didn't ever get out of the chair and in the bedroom were the things I remember from my mom's house when she was bedridden. Bobby didn't stop washing dishes but told us his wife had left him and wanted him to sell the place. He said he had hoped he could keep it but that didn't seem to matter. Every surface of every piece of furniture was covered with stuff. I don't know what the stuff was - it was too much to comprehend. How would these men ever begin to pack it up and get it out of there? How would they get themselves out of there and where would they go? There are not enough boxes in the world to pack up their lives and go. We poked our heads into each sad room and got out quickly. As we left, I noticed on a wall by the door pictures of a nice looking youg man. They looked like several graduation pictures.

Grandpa and the boy followed us out and told us that the calf in with the cow was a Charolais but the cow was a Brahman. A neighbor's very young bull had been visiting? boarding? and he had never imagined that that little bull could have breed her. He said he hadn't even wanted to breed her again because she was so old.

We walked out to the barn which was really more of a manger or maybe a half barn since it was missing one side. Ken pointed out a pig lying in a depression beside some tools. We wondered if it was alive and it answered by wiggling it's snout. It was in no way contained; it could have taken a mind to folow us home but it just laid there. Then Ken started wondering if they even knew the pig was there since they had referred to a time when they kept pigs. The pig didn't tell us the answer to that one and we decided not to go back to the house and find out. We drove down the drive and around to the other road beside the old pig pens and chicken coops. There, in a small field, were enough chairs and tables and stuff and more stuff to fill another two houses the size of the one we had seen. Maybe their realtor, like ours, had told them to clear the house out a bit.

I've tried not to inject my feelings into this, not altogether successfully, but I really can't get this out of my head!!

File This Under: Too Dumb To Be

The boot on my left foot is for a fracture that was discovered after I hurt it while I was walking the dogs. At that point it was about two weeks old and I have no idea how or when it happened. But the bruised toes on the other foot are another matter. After Ken and I had walked around a few acres in southern Oregon we were covered with seeds, lots of the little furry ones that stick like velcro and lots of the ones that work that tiny little fish hooks to spread themselves around. I was starting to feel them prick my skin. So while he was getting gas, I decided to take off my shoe and boot and pick them off. All was going well until Ken got back in the car and said he was ready to go and I shut the car door on those two little toes. It really didn't hurt at the time so I thought maybe they had just gotten pinched but they turned black and blue quickly. Ken thinks I'm trying to get out of all of the work.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What's So Great About Goats?

Last Wednesday Ken and I went to Everett (30 minutes up the freeway) to a farmer to farmer presentation sponsored by Washington State University on dairying and selling raw goat milk to local co-ops. The presenters (John and Marsha St. John of the St. John Creamery) had upwards of 150 Oberhasli goats of which 17 were billy goats, about 40 does with kids and the rest does without kids. They milked 60 – 70 goats morning and evening with one early and one late employee. They did all the marketing and all of the milk deliveries themselves. The goats were mid-sized but with fairly high milk production. They were a beautiful chocolate color and they pointed out which ones had had their copper for the season already and it made quite a difference in the depth of the color. Most of the talk was near the kids so we got to watch them play. The presentation itself seemed about right for us knowing nothing but I think there was quite a bit that went over our heads because there were other goat people there asking questions about everything from size and restrictions of the milking facility to county to county farm management. Marsha said she had so many billy goats because the boys of this breed have the sweeter dispositions. We didn’t actually get anywhere near the boys so we had to take her word for it. I think another reason for so many boys is that up to this point they have mostly been breeding and selling the kids and have only recently started selling the milk. She is still selling kids for $25 or with papers for $100. That seems pretty reasonable to me; they leave the kids with the does for eight weeks, I think they said. We resisted bringing two home for Sambo and Juniper to learn to take care of but they were sooo cute.

After the farm part of the presentation we were supposed to go to the Everett co-op and listen to a short presentation by their buyers but we got lost on the way and missed the presentation. It was a very well stocked co-op, though, and we were pleased to get some sorghum molasses which we haven’t been able to find anywhere since we’ve been here. We also got a $16 gallon of the raw milk produced at the creamery to see if we would like goat’s milk. It tastes pretty good although I haven’t really drunk milk straight for quite a few years so I am a little more interested in learning to make cheese. We seem to be adjusting to using it on our cereal but it cleaned us all out pretty thoroughly. We met some other people at the presentation who raise goats (Nubians) mainly to make a little cheese and asked if we could visit their farm also, so that will be a fun thing to look forward to.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cob Owner Builder Workshop

I decided to post the pictures here: so that my thoughts about the workshop wouldn't be quite so public but the pictures would be available. I learned a little about building cob houses but found the learning procedure very trying most of the time. I think that in attempting to make people feel comfortable designing their own little homes, they didn't want to give answers to our questions that could be construed as "THE answer." But the answer given most often was, "It depends," and unless the factors that an answer depends on are clearly spelled out, along with the range of possibilities, that's not an answer at all.

The weather was atrocious and contributed to my getting quite sick along with a number of other people. I had Ken come to get me at the end of the second week and it took several days at home to get back to normal.

The jury is still out about whether I would attempt to build cob anything, but I do think I would try something more managable than a house the first time out.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Off the Tradmill More

This will finish up my postings about the Off the Treadmill workshop. The first photo is the courtyard which is on the other end of the garden wall from the Myrtle and overlooks the garden (second photo). The third photo is looking out the large window in the Myrtle onto the garden. Linda is working on a discussion chart, Sarah, Ianto's apprentice gardener, is next; Todd and Kei Chi are seated also. In the photo of the outdoor kitchen, Ken is chatting with Ryan, the cook for this workwhop. Sarah and Ryan are married and are staying at the Boggs Homestead as part of a work/study/apprentice program. They were on loan to the NASNB for the workshop. Ryan is a photographer and did a great job as a first time cook. The last photo is Linda's kitchen inside of Laughing House.

As I said in the first post, I've given this workshop quite a bit of thought. There must be zillions of folks out there who have been exploring the ideas of self-sufficiency, permaculture, off the grid, etc, but up till now I haven’t examined my life with respect to those concepts and I would say that Ken and I stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb at the talk sessions. Ianto Evans, the man who was running them, is a Welsh man who has lived in the states for a long time. He states right up front that his reason for living here is to undermine the consumerism that is driven by (mostly) the US. His way of doing that relates to his field of study, architecture, but is very removed from formal concepts. He believes that people should not be living in houses that 1) make them sell their souls to banks; 2) are made of semi or outright poisonous materials; 3)require heating, ie, houses don’t feel the cold; 4) have gobs of unused right angle corner space; and 5) don’t embody the magic to make the inhabitants feel joy. He probably had a few more reasons to justify his belief in cob building but those are the first that I think of. We talked about family, food, housing, community, and money. I felt very attuned to lots of things he was saying, like making and doing so much for yourself. His gardening skills were amazing but that was covered rather sketchily. The houses were little oases of magic, even the ones that were in process, which was probably over 50% since the site is a school for cob building and people need to be able to experience all phases of the work.

On May 17, Todd, Kei Chi and I are headed back to learn the bare bones skills to build one of these cob cottages.

Off the Treadmill Other Structures

The first two photos are the washing station, which has the shower behind it, and the passive solar water heating system. Be sure to click on the water heating system. It is brilliant: just black hoses full of water being heated by the sun helped out by the glass in front of them.

The next two are the garden wall which runs from the courtyard (next post) to the Myrtle library. The closeup is the gate to the garden. As I understand it, all of the mass of the garden wall stores and holds heat to warm the garden soil.

The last photo, which should have been the first, is the troll bridge that we crossed over to get from where we parked the car up to the first of the cob buildings.

I neglected to take a picture of what I considered to be the most amazing auxillary structures: the outdoor composting toilets. Kei Chi said using the toilets was kind of like when we take the doggies to the potty box. They were sort of open outhouses facing out into the woods and surprisingly had no odor.

Off The Treadmill Buildings

We had come prepared to camp: two tents, sleeping bags and whatever other paraphernalia we could fit in the little car. As it turned out it was an extremely wet weekend, raining all of the way down and most of the rest of the weekend.
Linda and Ianto, who live and teach at the North American School of Natural Building offered to let us stay in some of the cob buildings. Being a teaching facility, many of the structures are in progress.
The first photo is the Meadow House where our gang stayed. As you can see it has no doors, but the windows are in place. Our sleeping bags were partly on a couch and partly on straw bales - very comfy especially compared to the very wet ground where our tents would have gone up.
The second photo is the Dawn cottage (facing east, of course) and Mary stayed there. On the other side facing west is the Dusk cottage, where Sally and Andy, stayed. It took me a while to understand that there were two cottages rather than one with two doors.
There are two shots of Laughing House (Ianto and Linda"s house) as well as a shot of Linda's kitchen in another post. Most of Laughing house is done but the downstairs sitting room is in progress: Linda had just finished building the couch/bench and was experimenting with a new cob mixture that contained styrofoam pellets.
The last photo is the back of the library (the Myrtle) and the very large window is the one visible in the participant post. Most of our sessions were held with all of us seated on the heated bench in the Myrtle. There were always ten to twelve of us in a small (square foot wise) space that seemed quite roomy.

Off the Treadmill Participants

I've been musing and musing about this, but since Todd, Kei Chi and I are going back to Oregon in about a week and a half, I decided it was time to get these photos up and let y"all see what I'd been up to.
The first photo is our gang Ken, Todd and Kei Chi. Next is The Ravin' which I originally thought was The Raven but it was explained that his "nickname" is derived from his style of online blogging. After that are Sally and Andy who travelled to the workshop from New Jersey. They also visited Washington and California on their journey. Next is Mary. She lives very near to us as it turns out and is also returning to Oregon in May for the cob building workshop. And last but not least is Bozidar posing with Todd. Bozidar is from Croatia and was returning there to open a retreat with his family as soon as this Off the Treadmill workshop was over.
We got to know all of these people fairly well as a lot of our time was spent exploring the reasons we were there and what we hoped to achieve from the experience.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Collage from Photoshop Class

This Photoshop collage was done a couple of years ago as the final project for a Photoshop class I took at Columbus State Community College. We were required to put an image of ourselves into the work and short of that anything was OK. I used images from magazines, calendars, a tarot deck, a travel book, and an insect field guide. Mostly I think we were demonstrating that we knew how to make a decent selection with various tools. It had upwards of 50 layers and I still remember how much fun it was.

Photoshop Collage

What with painting, packing stuff up to go to storage and being in a general state of confusion about how to move forward with selling this house, I haven't taken time to haul out art supplies to work in my art journals. One night last week I took one of the backgrounds I had made in February, blurred the heck out of it, added grunge with some of my favorite brushes from Vered and Annika von Holt, and then stuck a few photos from my old scanned photo albums in, plus a bird and a bee. It was a fun little quickie!

Two Versions of a Soul Collage

When I do these soul collages I am not trying to be very serious. So Kate suggested the hole in the head words which referenced both alcohol and the background figure and I was working through ideas of fermented brews being as ancient and as cross cultural as the images I had. Also it was fun to try to turn the hand holding the bottle to stone. So I got two for little more than the price of one.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ken's Clown Book

I knew there was one more thing I had worked on in February but couldn't remember what. This is worked into an altered board book, Clifford, the Big Red Dog, which must have 850 pages I've been at it so long. I saw the Ben Hecht quote on a Facebook group, Art Journaling, and knew I had to use it for a clown spread in Ken's Clown Book. The project is probably six or seven years old with no finish time in view but occasionally I like to pull it out and play with it. It's one of the few things I've ever scanned that I couldn't correct all the color that the scanner added to the stamped work.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Land In Ohio

Well, now that I've opened that can of worms about the possibility of moving back to Ohio, I want to share some books I've been reading. One of them is "Truck" by Michael Perry. Kate recommended it to Ken to read when she was here but after we got it out of the library I got to it first when he started reading the other Michael Perry book, "Population 485." "Truck" is his story about small town life in Wisconsin, about a 1951 (1952?) International Harvester truck, and about love. Kate said she loved his voice and I think I understand what she means: style, vision, center of gravity, etc. but what I loved about the book was his total reverence for every aspect of his life. This is the first nonfiction reading I've done for a while and it was wonderful. My son has also been asking me to read Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma," so I have started that as well. It is extremely well written and considering that it is basically about the politics of food, specifically corn, I'm amazed at how hard it is to put down.
I'm not going to become a farmer at the age of 65, but these readings make me consider how little trouble the chickens and goats were for the 8 to 14 year olds on "Kid Nation," and how much satisfaction they gave. Ken and I (mostly him) have gardened for quite a few years now; we love our tomatoes and herbs and it isn't such a stretch to imagine expanding a little and starting to preserve food in ways that I have seen my mother do in those few years we lived on a farm.
So Ohio is a least up for consideration, given that land values there are more in range of our retirement income. We shall see what we shall see!

Photoshop Mandala

I've been speaking with an old friend from Ohio who went to check out a small farm in Chillicothe for us and one of her abiding interests is mandalas. She was telling me about a software program that makes mandalas and I told her I thought I could probably do them in Photoshop. For this first try I used a photo of a crystalline mess that was on some glass after a dying experiment. The small pieces of dyed velvet were great but Kate and I were just as excited by these photos of crystals. This mandala is eight sectioned because eight seemed so easy but I think twelve sections would maybe be more interesting. My friend, Jean, is printing them out to quilt with.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Dreaming journals

This journal page was one I had a hard time getting started on because I had painted the background a pretty bilious shade of pink, overpainted ugly brown, and was not inspired by either. The hands, the dresser, and the borders got me started and I filled the drawers with the stuff that's always in the dresser drawers of the houses I'm exploring in my dreams.

But last night I had a dream I've never dreamed before. I found an old art journal of mine that was filled with wondrous pages. They weren't painstakingly overworked , they amazed me and I wish I could remember even one of them. And now the circle is complete: dream -> journal -> dream.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Making Background Papers

When Kate and I get too tired from staying up too late to think clearly, we spend some time exploring new techniques to create backgrounds. These are all done with acrylic inks using techniques we read about in Alisa Golden's Painted Paper. I had had the FW inks for a long time and hadn't used them so I was extremely pleased to use them for these backgrounds.