volcano gawkers

We live along a part of the Pacific Rim of Fire, a seismically active horseshoe of volcanoes and earthquakes.   Well before I lived here, in May 1980, Mt St Helens, one of the local conical volcanoes erupted so strongly that it exploded cataclysmically upward and outward, destroying 14 percent of its peak and devastating about 150 to 200 square miles of forested land.

Here’s a very short video that shows the before and after shape of the mountain (with amusing musical accompaniment).  Here’s a National Geographic gallery of pics.  Our pics upcoming will show only the after.

Last Friday we took the camper to a park about 50 miles from Mt St Helens, just to get out of Dodge for a few days.   Almost as an afterthought the next day, we decided to drive the 50-mile road that winds toward the summit and go nose around.

The only other time we’d been here was heavily overcast with no chance of seeing this volcano.  I’ve flown over the area many times, so have seen the destroyed peak and bleak landscape from 30,000 feet.  Our Saturday was clear and warm.

Herewith, perhaps too many photos to illustrate those 8 hours we messed about.  (N.B.  Click on any photo in a section and they’ll get bigger!)

We continued tootling up the road, along sections of the Toutle River that were devastated in the explosion.

For the gawkers, the smart powers-that-be constructed many waysides and several complex interpretive centers.  I kept wondering about having to rebuild if the mountain blew again….  We’re a peculiar species.  I digress.

bunker potty--I'm trying to imagine the request for proposal:  need blast-proof potty in case the mountain blows again

bunker potty near the end of the road–I’m trying to imagine the request for proposal: need blast-proof potty in case the mountain blows again.  Maybe we’re supposed to hide in their for a few weeks?!

We found a wayside about 20 miles (?) away from the mountain, just a parking lot with three interpretive signs, no facilities, and a knock-em-dead view of the peak and surrounding terrain.   We had the camper (with a potty!).  We lingered.  Had lunch al fresco, had naps, and I did laundry because I dumped a cup of tomato juice right into my only bag of clothes.  Sigh… !!

Our final view of the mountain at that spot:

late afternoon and the clouds bathe the broken peak

late afternoon and the clouds bathe the broken peak

The clouds continued to thicken.   Sunday the cloud deck was so low that there was no hint of a peak.   Weren’t we smart to go up the road on Saturday?!

We took kitty Calpurrnia with us because she needs three medicines twice a day, though we’d rather leave her home with Ooper.  They probably snuggle up when we’re not looking.  …  Nah…  Not sure how much longer she’ll be with us, our old girl, and it grieves me deeply to think of her fuzzy tortoise-shell self absent.

The camper road trips are quite demanding of me, but I recover faster now, which inspires lasting hope instead of mere pockets clung to in desperation.


lawyers, guns, and music

Friday afternoon, Big Mister arrives home from work, tired both because he worked hard all week and because he is fighting this season’s Weird I Want to Lie Down Right Now Cold.

Right about then, I got a surge of inspiration to go back to the art table, which would make it twice in one day–unheard of!   Of course, had to change clothes because I always get paint on myself.  Stopped by the laundry nook and–no. no. no!–there was water on the floor around the washer and near the hot water heater.

Well, hell, right now I’m not the most flexible tool in the crayon box, so did an unfocused Eddie Izzard dance–go to the art table there or clear up the mess and further investigate here.  Boing-boing.   Rats-buttocks, will have to stay with the watery-doom mess.

{Aggggghhh, I have a tiny window to give myself the gift of art and I have to do this?!  (Yes, self-centered, thankyouverymuch!)}

Kind of moaning to Big about the water–he had only been home 10 minutes and was sitting finally–how unfair!  He sat for a few more minutes, no doubt grumbling inside his head as would be correct, then came over to the wetness, sighed, and said he was going to need music for this.

From the CD player came Warren Zevon, a singer/songwriter (plus conductor!) with a macabre bent I became familiar with in the late 1970s, with songs like Werewolves of London and titles stranger still.  He would have understood Edward Gorey well, maybe collected his art.

Just that morning, I had paused with my coffee, wondering if I should go turn on a CD and see what would happen, if I’d have room for Baroque chorale along with the computer and coffee-sipping.  Nope.  Move along, nothing to see here.  14 months removed from my music….

After I’d done basic cleanup, Big did the heavy lifting to get the machine torqued out of its tiny corner to sit on the back porch.  We figured to let the water show itself from either the washer or water heater, so I returned to my starting place and fiddled with Art.   Big once more got to sit down.

Suddenly, I looked up at Big where, eyes round with surprise, he was grinning at me:  in time to the music, I had, unknowingly, been dancing in my chair, arms waving, maybe singing along!  Long astonished gaze.  Promptly burst into tears of relief so great that only a release like a champagne cork improperly removed would do.

Warren Zevon, “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” from his 1978 album, “Excitable Boy.”  The refrain is:

I’m an innocent bystander
Somehow I got stuck
Between a rock and a hard place
And I’m down on my luck
Oh yea, I’m down on my luck
Oh yea, I’m down on my luck
Oh baby, I’m down on my luck
I’m so far down, I don’t think I’ll ever get up
If it weren’t for bad luck
Oh if it weren’t for bad luck
I wouldn’t have no luck at all

Maybe I’ve graduated to the fancy crayon box with the built-in sharpener?!


In those early November days in the garage studio, freezing my a&& off, I learned to doodle from an enthusiastic and talented doodler who generously posted her techniques online (Joanne Fink, Zenspirations Patterning Techniques).

I remembered that I’m not a natural doodler, but I’ve begun to see how it could add something to an already painted page.


doodling (on canvas sheets)

At one daily show-and-tell after Big came home from work, I showed him that I had learned to doodle.   He told me I already knew how to do this and pointed to the beaded curtain I had made some years ago:

beaded curtain

I kept messing with doodling, using those markers, color pencils, and Micron pens I’d gathered for landscape design school:

Fibonacci's Spiral; golden mean

Fibonacci’s Spiral; golden ratio (the flip side of the first doodle)

If you’re curious about the Fibonacci’s Spiral or the golden ratio, this site looked great.  Don’t get bogged down by the words–look at the pictures and especially watch the little animations at the beginning.

Nature and mathematics or perfectly-harmonious-but-I-don’t-know-why architecture:  who’d-a thunk it?!  <:-D

a new Great Cycle begins…

…or why the world probably won’t disappear in a puff of apocalyptic smoke and ash.

I’ve been distracted and not-here for most of 2012, so an apocalyptic end of the world has been meaningless to me.

This morning, while visiting a new-found blog me, mine and other bits, I clicked over to another blog and finally read something that offers an alternate meaning to 21 December 2012:  the idea of change and renewal being the central theme to the end of this one cycle and the beginning of a new.

Here’s another short explanation for the hoo-hah over Winter Solstice 2012.

Our 2012 wall calendar, The Apocalypse Calendar, has been a joy of artful enthusiasm and expression of the apocalypse.  (Look at the countdown button at the top of the home page!)

Ryan Browne (cover art!)

Ryan Browne (cover art!)

These folks are the reason it took us so long to buy a 2013 calendar–we didn’t want to give up the art!

Plus, on each month’s calendar sheet, you shoulda seen the running commentary, some in red, a countdown, if you will.   For instance, on Big Mister’s birthday on 20 November (click to enlarge to read the text):

uh, Happy birthday, Big Mister?!  (That's 20 November.)

uh, happy birthday, Big Mister?!

The best bit was how the last days of December are grayed out, as if, well, you know!

21 December 2012...  and beyond

21 December 2012… and beyond

We like it so much that we bought a 2013 wall calendar for a $1.00 and will tape the 2013 month sheets over the old months, keeping the apocalyptic artwork!

Here is December’s artwork, courtesy The Apocalypse Calendar folks.  Go to the site and click around.  Truly splendid!  They also have allowed us to download the art as wallpaper (just remember to attribute if you publish)!

Jay Ryan, artist

Jay Ryan

Peace and much humor to you all in the new cycle.  I’m pretty sure the old one has been grinding down to the end like masa on a metate, making this a tough go for a lot of folks.  How’s that go?  Illegitimati non carborundum (“don’t let the bastards grind you down”).

Here are the other months, in no particular month order, just by artist name–because their mothers are still proud!

Zander Cannon

Zander Cannon

Thomas Quinn

Thomas Quinn

Steve Seeley

Steve Seeley

Sean Dove

Sean Dove

Ryan Browne

Ryan Browne

Nick Pitarra

Nick Pitarra

Matt Moore

Matt Moore

Maris Wicks

Maris Wicks

Jenny Frison

Jenny Frison

Daniel Hertzberg

Daniel Hertzberg

Chandler OLeary

Chandler OLeary




How To Cut a Proper Paper Snowflake [video] « Lillian Sizemore’s Mind’s Eye

How To Cut a Proper Paper Snowflake « Lillian Sizemore’s Mind’s Eye.

Press This: gardenhistorygirl: Words with a Garden History: Favela

It’s a short bit about words and gardens.  What’s a better combination?!  And we get to learn about Brazil!

gardenhistorygirl: Words with a Garden History: Favela.

She says:  “What is your favorite word with an unexpected or forgotten garden meaning?  Mine is vignette, which means something short enough to be written on a vine leaf.”

the Weather Service KNOWS…

I’m a weather-freak, the stormier the better.  When it’s calm, I’m not.  Go figure.  I ain’t gonna.

This morning got my day going perfectly:

take heed, Earthlings!

another book: The Secret Life of Water

Partway through one book, I posted a snippet about it.  Still haven’t finished the book, but it’s pretty good that the guts of the book got my attention.   Bruce Lipton’s supposition that the environment plays an often-discounted role in cellular and multi-cellular (human) life reminded me of another book.

This other book, The Secret Life of Water, by Masaru Emoto, demonstrates through fabulous photography the effects on water by thoughts.  Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s all woo-woo ‘n’ stuff.  Just read some of it and look at the purty pictures.  Your library should have it and I see that Amazon has it for 14 cents, plus shipping!

The publisher’s description:

Masaru Emoto‘s research has visually captured the structure of water at the moment of freezing, and through high-speed photography he has shown the direct consequences of destructive thoughts and the thoughts of love and appreciation of the formation of water crystals. The revelation that our thoughts can influence water has profound implications for our health and the well-being of the planet.

The art of the photos is worth the 14 cents (plus shipping).  But the implications are enormous.

Besides, why couldn’t it be true?  What would be so horrible about being connected at so basal a level?  Couldn’t it be grand?  What is there to fear?  Does it matter if Official Agencies have or have not tested the hypothesis to death?  Isn’t it enough to wonder about our world as seen through other eyes?

Rube Goldberg: Human-Powered Freerunning Machine – with Jason Paul – YouTube

Your morning entertainment.  You’re welcome.

Love Rube Goldberg?  Don’t know who he was?  How about a Rube Goldberg machine/invention?

And now this:

Human-Powered Freerunning Machine – with Jason Paul – YouTube.

an alarming echo of childhood

I’ve been learning a new cement sculpture method taught in a very fine book, Sculpting with Cement.  The book’s author, Lynn Olson, starts out with a small project so we students can get a feel for the mixture, which is called ferrocement.

(I have looked and looked for a website for Lynn Olson, but have only found incidental, but elucidating, links.  If you’re out there Mr. Olson, please wave your arms around madly and leave a link!)

Here’s a pic of the cover of the book.  Kinda gets your attention, huh?!

Sculpting with Cement,
Lynn Olson

The little project is a human figure, about 6 inches tall.  I made two of them today, using white cement, to try to get a feel for differences in the mixes I’d made.

In grade school, I made a little man figure outta clay.  Even I grin a little ruefully at my artwork.

So, my childhood and adult interests collide, and perhaps not prettily!

sculpture echoes

Every so often, I find his missing arm in some odd place in the house.  I really hope it’s out in the studio, filed carefully under “sculpture materials.”  His foot is long gone!


Cupid stops in: An Odd Ode to Big Mister

Cupid:  Hello you, two.  Since you’re so comfortable together, surely your first fabulous meeting 14 years ago would be a good story to tell.  You met when you were in your 40s, correct?

Him and Her:  Uh, yeah.

Cupid:   So, tell us!  We’re excited to hear!

Him:  My friend Robin, the 70 y.o. Master of the tugboat Joe had met her recently.  One day during the annual Maritime Fest, she came into the 100+ y.o. wheat warehouse that housed the local working waterfront maritime center, and Robin and I happened to be standing together.  He nudged me.

Robin:  She has a kayak.

Him:  I introduced myself to her.

Her:  Can’t remember a thing.  It was the morphine, I think.

Cupid:  Uh,  OK.   What happened next?

Her:   I was attending volunteer meetings at that 100-y.o. dock building.  He had been volunteering for eons and was at those meetings.  I was definitely put off by him because  at every damn volunteer meeting, he was a crab-ass and smelled of beer.  I ignored him successfully for six months.

Him:  She didn’t talk to me and seemed pretty crabby.  I remember that she was always wearing those long skirts with those long sweaters over them and I wondered what she had on under there.

Her:  You did?!   Sheesh!  It was cold in there!

Him:  Oh yeah….

Cupid:   OK, OK, enough of that.  Did you actually talk?

Her:  Not when I could avoid it, and I was good at that!  I didn’t talk much back then–I’d just uprooted my life of 16 years, plus I was on the morphine, so I wasn’t interested in talking particularly.

One time he came into the only warm room in the whole giant building, a teeny pilot house–maybe 8 feet by 10 feet.  I was there keeping warm, getting ready to go home after my volunteer shift.  It went something like this:

To Herself:  Oh crap.  Why’s he coming in here?   I don’t want to be trapped in here with him.  Can I snake outta here first?  Nope.

I was sure he was going to be rude and surly because that’s how he was in those volunteer meetings.  Believe me, I didn’t have anywhere near enough morphine on-board to fend that off.

Him:   [looking perplexed and a little hurt]  I just wanted to ask you what you thought about Casey [a pseudonym for another volunteer].

Her:  Oh, yeah, I finally figured that out.  I held my breath for the first few minutes you were in that tiny space with me, wondering when you’d say something tart.   I kept wondering how long I had to stay in order to seem polite.  Then, you quite reasonably started talking about your frustration with Casey.

Him:  Yeah, I really needed to talk [about her].

Her:   Yep, you did.  It was then that I realized that in those meetings you were crabby because of her and you fortified yourself with beer before the meetings hoping that would help.  But I still got outta there as fast as I could.

Cupid:   Hoo-boy.  I can’t believe you two got together at all.  How on earth did you even have a date?  I shoulda stayed around to be sure the arrows actually pierced those thick hides of yours.

Him and Her:   Harrumph!

Him:   She had to go to her storeroom and really dreaded it.  It was really hard for her to see her life all packed up like that.  So, I volunteered to go with her.  And she said YES!

Her:   Oh yes, he was good company.  On the way back, we stopped for dinner at his favorite Vietnamese restaurant that he’d been going to for at least 10 years, probably more.  We agreed much later that it was a date, the first date.

Him:   Yes, she was a tough cookie back then.  Well…  still is… but, I mean, well, er.  Never mind.

Cupid:   OK, that was going pretty well.  Tell us more.  Let me get this straight:  you finally had a first date six months after you met because you both were tetchy types.  That about cover it?

Him and Her:  Uh, yeah.  [throat clearing and shifting around in chairs]

Her:   You invited me to take a walk in one of your favorite parks, my kind of place because it was unimproved.  As we walked single-file along a narrow trail, we started talking.  You kept saying amazing things:  it was apparent that you observed the world and actually thought about things.  After that day in the park, it was all downhill from there.  We were relaxed together.

Him:  I kept asking her to go do things and she kept saying yes!  I liked showing her my favorite places.

Her:   I was so dense that I completely missed that he was showing me his favorite places!  Duh.

Him:   Oh well.

Her:   Other people have always commented on our relaxed companionship.  Said they liked to be around us as a couple.  Nice, huh?

Cupid:  Very nice.  [big frikkin’ miracle if you ask me, but you weren’t asking, but still!!! …]

Cupid:   I’m wondering how you remember the date of your first meeting 14 years ago when clearly one of you wasn’t all there and the other one was looking at, uh, you know, her clothing.

Him and Her:    We met during Maritime Fest, even have the poster from the event.  It has the date on it [smugly stated].

Cupid:  How ro-man-tic[Not!  These two are, uh, I dunno.  The date’s on the poster?!   What?!  At least my part was done correctly. Never going back and asking questions in a dreamy-eyed mood.  Never again.   I’ll get squashed flat and I’m not setting myself up for that again!]

Cupid:   Well, that was certainly, uh, um, elucidating.  You two definitely come under the heading of Will Wonders Never Cease?   Good luck!  Gotta run!  Cheers!  [Let me outta here; I hope the door isn’t locked!]

we kept the date to hand! good thing because first I thought it was 14 Sept, then I knew for certain it was 28 Sept. rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, wrong on both counts!

Thank you, Big Mister, for being persistent.

Click on one of these photos to go right to the Foss Waterway Seaport site.

Historic sailing vessels in front of the wheat warehouse. (photo courtesy: http://www.fosswaterwayseaport.org/)

Inside the building with those massive beams–each beam milled from a single tree. Back in the days when we hadn’t cut down all the massive old-growth timber.

The glass front is being added right now! Quite gorgeous so far!

dark roasted blend

Big Mister loves this blog and I have just remembered to look at it.  (Never mind.)    Here is how the authors represent the blog:

dark roasted blend:  ‘highly visual “Weird & Wonderful” online magazine to complement your daily coffee ritual.’

‘The “Dark Roasted Blend” online magazine is dedicated to the ongoing quest for wisdom and beauty, for all things cool and wonderful in our world, featuring the best in art, travel and fascinating technology.

‘The “Thrilling Wonder Publication” bi-line stands for the sense of wonder that has been largely neglected in our cynical times. To that end, our “Thrilling Wonder” family of sites try to promote “the intense, wonderful and never-boring” side of things.’

If Neil Gaiman likes this, then I’d better pay attention!

I had a little trouble figuring out how to subscribe by email, so in case anyone else needs a boost….  Here’s an annotated screen shot of the subscription page:

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