Sunday, September 23, 2007

Meeting Jen

Last Sunday I got up early and hurried myself over to the north end of Lake Washington to the Kenmore Air Harbor for my flight to Victoria. I was supposed to be on Vancouver Island already at an art retreat, but my friend and painting teacher, Anna, broke her foot and had to cancel the retreat. Sad as that made me, I was still determined to head north to meet Jennie. We'd had this dinner date planned since we had discovered that we'd both be on Vancouver Island at over-lapping times. I saw no reason not to meet her anyway, even if meeting Jen became the sole focus of the I did!
I had a day to myself to shop and have tea and a pastry at Murchie's. I finally made it to Chinatown and found several fine shops, one of which carried teas and tea sticks. Tea sticks are a very clever invention for putting loose tea into a sort of stick and then using said stick like a tea bob to make a single cup of tea. The screen slides up and down and you actually sort of scoop the tea into the stick, slide the screening part back down over the loose leaves and then add the hot water to brew a cuppa. Works like a charm! I enjoyed my wanderings but was glad to meet up with Jen at The Empress, where she was staying. Jen was in town for a conference and was traveling with several of her colleagues. I finally got to meet Darrin. (We have emailed each other on occasion and he's as charming in person as he is via email---and handsome, too.)

Jen's friends had other dinner plans so it was just the two of us who walked up to my favorite Victoria restaurant, Matisse.

Ah. Matisse. I could wax poetic about the food and the wine and the ambiance of Matisse for paragraphs but let's cut to the chase....if you are ever in Victoria, B.C. hie yourself to Matisse for dinner. Trust me, you won't regret it. And if you should have any hesitation about what to order, put yourself into the most capable hands of John. He'll help you assemble the perfect meal to suit your hunger and your mood. was able to meet for breakfast, and Darrin joined us, too. After breakfast I checked out of my bed & breakfast and hauled my suitcase back to the air harbor for my return flight. I was back in Edmonds by 2 PM, missing my beautiful daughter.

The last week has been full of little chores and projects as I try to get organized for Art & Soul in Portland. I leave on the 2nd of October and since I am taking seven classes, the pile of supplies required for these classes is huge! I have made a total mess of the dining room while I try to get things sorted out and organized by day and class. I had to order quite a lot of items, and while I think they are all here, ready for packing, I'm not sure. Besides the amassing of a short ton of supplies, I have been working to finish two projects that are due in the mail right after I return from Art & Soul. I promised myself I'd have them finished, and mailed, before I leave for Portland. I have finished the photo journal cards and they are bagged and ready to post. The holiday recipe journal pages are pretty well finished, but there is still about an hour, hour and a half of taping and gluing before they are ready to be boxed and sent off to Gina. I am especially pleased with the holiday recipe pages. The page has to have a vintage image on the front and the recipe and contact info on the back. I like what I finally came up with, so it's not such a bore to be working on these pages. I WILL have them finished before I leave. I WILL.

For the first time I had an apple crop at Grant Creek! Five lovely green apples grew to adulthood (or whatever you call a ripe apple) and somehow managed to not be eaten by the resident deer, who seem to eat everything. I harvested them this last weekend and decided to make an apple cake to properly use them up. It took 60% of my entire harvest to make the cake, which, by the way, turned out to be delicious. I used a recipe from one of my Aga cookbooks and the ol' Aga did a fine job, not only with the recipe but in the baking. It was fun to come up with a product that was yummy from something I grew.
I came home from Grant Creek last night so I'd be in town to partake of the Edmonds Studio tour. I missed taking part last year and so I was determined that I would go this year. Susan P came along and we had a very good time. I was especially impressed with Barbara Wyatt's pottery. I already had succumbed to Barbara's wonderful work as I bought a piece from her over the summer. Now I have added two lanterns, a necklace, a small lidded jar and two little tiny bowls to my collection. Her organic and happy pieces sing out to me. Barb has great talent and more than a little of whimsy, too. Dd I mention I also have a huge case of studio envy? Besides all the talent and fun she has, she is also the proud owner of an amazing studio. It's over her garage with a stunning view out the window to tree tops---it's like being in a tree house, really----and the room is full of light. Her kiln is there, she has wonderful 24-inch square tile on the floor, she has room for a slab roller and it's all pretty and organized and wonderful. Sigh. Lucky Barb!

Wednesday will be the first board meeting for the 2008 Edmonds Arts Festival. I'm not really ready to leap back into the fray but I don't really have a choice, either. I reworked the timeline and Susan kindly went over it for me so we'll have ours ready to present at the meeting. One thing done. Check it off!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

South from Alaska

Alaska was as spectacularly beautiful, varied and fun as I'd hoped it would be. I spent twelve happy days there with my good friends Susan, Sandy and Sandi. (We are collectively known as the "Four S-es"----as in Beware the Four Esses!!").....
We started off our trip in Sitka where we were royally hosted by old friends of Susan's. Jack and Marvel were very, very good to us, offering us comfy beds, fabulous meals and even the use of their van for our explorations of Sitka and its environs. We visited the Russian Orthodox Church and were lucky enough to see the icons, took a tour of the Raptor Center, went to a Tlingit dance program (where I, in a very unusual move, got up and joined in the Raven Dance with the dance troupe when asked to participate--- and a memorable walk through Totem Park. Marvel, having health issues, was unable to get out with us much, but Jack took the tourists (Sandi and me) in hand and gave us a splendid tour of greater Sitka, including his fishing boat. We saw The Bishop's House Museum and marveled at the log construction of the building. While the weather proved to us why Alaskans are always complaining about the lack of sun, we managed to be out and about both days from early morning until evening. The bay and the mouth of the local rivers were teaming with salmon waiting for enough rain water to raise the levels of the rivers so they could proceed upstream to spawn. It was mind boggling to see the millions of fish, all following an internal compass and time clock, who had returned from the ocean to the place of their birth. Some of the fish had made their way into the spawning areas and we saw quite a few who were fighting their way upstream. I had never seen so many fish on their way inland to spawn before.
Jack is an amazing cook, and he and Marvel were more than generous with the contents of their freezer. We dined on King Crab and halibut fried in Jack's secret breading. We had the most wonderful crab dip with our pre-dinner cocktails and finished off more than one meal with heavenly homemade rhubarb strawberry pie. We ate like pigs and relished each and every mouthful! Unfortunately for our waistlines, Alaska proved to be the home of stellar cooks and fantastic seafood. Sandi did her best to sample clam chowder (or halibut or salmon or whatever the specialty of the house proved to be) whenever we dined out. She ate so much chowder she finally got tired of it.

Susan, Sandi and I took the fast ferry from Sitka to Juneau and while it was overcast and rather drizzly for some of the trip, thoroughly enjoyed the gorgeous scenery and a chance to see uninhabited shoreline. I kept an eye out for bears but, alas, didn't see any. We did see a whale breach! No photographic evidence but he three of did see the whale's tail---and this is no whale tale! Four and a half hours after leaving Sitka we were waving to Sandy and Karl.
Juneau was so much fun! Sandy and Karl put us up in divine style. We even had our own bathroom and two bedrooms to share. (I didn't share, got my own room! Does this mean snore louder than the other two? Hmmmm......might be!) We dined at their favorite spots and never had a bad meal. Memorable ones were the Mexican restaurant in downtown Juneau, fish and chips at a place out in the valley that I can't remember the name of and most especially Chez Mielke!

I think our day trip to Tracy Arm to see the Sawyer glacier was the highlight of the to Juneau. The four of us had a spectacular time viewing glaciers up close and personal, and we were lucky enough to see a rather large chunk calve off while we were there. I was surprised at the deep turquoise color of the ice. It had never occured to me that glacier ice would have such a deep, jewel-like color. Traveling into and out of Tracy Arm is incredibly beautiful---high mountains, blue ice, green forests and waterfalls abound. There are ice floes to maneuver through and seeing ice burgs up close was fascinating. The whole day while we were on the Tracy Arm trip I kept thinking of my dad and how the one place he really wanted to visit was Alaska and how he never got there. I felt like I was seeing the splendors of wild Alaska that Daddy would have wanted to see, and it made me feel good to be taking "his" trip.

Another day we visited the Glacier Gardens. What a beautiful spot they are! The tour of the gardens goes from about sea level up to about 2000 feet, through some wonderful rain forest. The lower part of the garden has been planted with lots of flowering plants, including trees that have been pulled out of the ground by their roots, turned over and planted upside down. The root ball is then used as the 'planting basket' and a myriad of colorful plants cascades out and down from the basket. I had never seen anything like it and it was wonderful. Susan, Sandy & Sandi at Glacier Gardens

A real highlight of the trip was going fishing with Karl. Did I mention the sockeye I caught? NO???? Really? Well, let me tell you all about it now.....I caught the first, the largest, the last and the only fish of the trip. Did I mention Susan got skunked? No? Do let me reiterate...I caught the first, the largest, the last and the only fish of the trip! And it was a beauty, a lovely sockeye, glittery and perky and mine! It was delicious! Karl cleaned it, skinned it and froze it for me and I brought it home and served it to Connie for dinner, the lucky man. I will admit the fish basically committed suicide as I'd only stripped out about five feet of line when it hit my lure hard. I actually thought I'd snagged something and it was a minute or two before any of us realized that it was actually a fish on the line. But, I will concede it was my lure it came to, my line it hit and ultimately, my frying pan it was cooked in! First fish, largest fish, last fish and only fish...ah, it was sweet. Ask Susan to tell you all about it. Please. Ask her!

It was very important to Susan that we visit the Triangle Tavern and have a drink. Way back when Susan was still married to Robert and they were fishing, it was to the Triangle that they always went to have a snort and visit with their friends. Susan has many memories of things that happened there and people she knew who hung out there too. So the last afternoon we were in Juneau we dropped in and had a drink in honor of times and people past.
One lovely day we took the tram up Mount Roberts and enjoyed a walk in the woods. The air was crisp and clean and smelled of trees, there was birdsong and a hint of autumn in the air. I took a little stroll by myself while Susan and Sandi were exploring another trail and my phone was Annie with the news that her ultrasound that morning indicated that the newest addition to her family will be a little boy, my first grandson. Life is GOOD and we are blessed.

It was joyous news and my feet fairly flew down the trail to share the happy news with my friends. I will always be able to tell the little one that I first knew he was a HE while standing on top of Mount Roberts on a beautiful August day in Juneau. That was the 24 karat framing for the whole marvelous trip for me.

I loved my time in Alaska and I really want to go back and see more.

I have been busy getting some of my art deadlines finished up and trying to get ready for Art & Soul in Portland the first week of October. I just found out that my dear, darling pal Bee will be at A&S, too, and I can't wait to see her. We'll both be in Anne Bagby's "Indigo Men and Blue Ladies" class on Wednesday and Thursday. How much fun will that be! I have signed up to attend the gala opening night and for that I had to make 100 recipe cards for a recipe swap that is part of the opening party. We were encouraged to decorate our cards and so I used my fig drawing and my fig and pine nut salad recipe to create my card. I sewed the recipe to the drawing and I'm happy with the results. I will admit that about 54 cards into the sewing project last Sunday afternoon I was well and really tired of the whole process! I have also decorated the little pasteboard house box that came with my registration booklet for A&S as a shell cottage. I am less happy with the results of this project, but I really can't say I was very much into decorating a house box as's just not my thing. I guess that at each A&S retreats the participants get something that they are asked to decorate or alter. It'll be fun to take part, so I guess I'm glad I did it. But still, it's a dumb looking product and I can't say it was much fun to make.

I have also finished my contribution to Heather M.'s TIME journal for the Sensual Journey journal project. I am happy enough with my work in the journal and I hope it pleases Heather when her journal is returned to her next summer. Deb Denton is the force behind this project and she's set it up so that we have two months to work in a total of six journals, depicting at least four of the five senses on our page layouts. After a year you'll receive your journal back with the work of six artists. We are randomly assigned a journal to work in and we don't know that the theme will be until the journal arrives. I had a little trouble getting started in Heather's book but once I got a start it all sort of came together. It's always like that, isn't it? It's the starting that is the hardest part! We have just received the name of the person who gets the journal we have been working on next. I will mail off Heather's journal tomorrow to Sheila. I have no idea what will come my way in the next go round. It's always fun to see what the theme will be---gulp!