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First day of Autumn. First day I have walked the dog since the beginning of summer. First day I have taken one of my breaks at work to walk the entire (almost) parking lot. Time to set goals and shed the past season.

Summer seems an (almost) wasted season this year. The weather was gorgeous, although not as hot as I would like it to be – but certainly drier than expected. My garden suffered horridly between the lack of tending, the dry, and, well, the lack of attention. I did mention that, didn’t I? That I wasn’t able to garden much? What gardening I did do, I did from a seat on a portable cooler that I hauled around with me, in limited fashion due to the huge Storm Trooper boot on my right leg. No pruning, no digging (that would require an unbroken right foot to push the spade into the ground), and very little weeding. I scarcely kept up on the watering: the annuals and perennials did fine, but the bushes took a hit. I keep telling my lilacs that I’m sorry.

Then, again, I wasn’t able to kill the damn Oregon grape. I thought I was planting mahonia repens (which is what I think of when I think of Oregon grape), but I planted mahonia aquifolium (which is, apparently, the State flower – I thought it was the former). The latter grows 4-6 feet tall and is a nightmare to control and contain. You can read about three species of Oregon grape here. I just want that hedge of Oregon grape GONE before it invades my entire fence line and prayer garden area.

Unfortunately, that means I will probably be purchasing 2-4-D this weekend and applying it to the ground where the current bushes are. I dislike using chemicals at all, but everything I read indicates it is the *only* way to remove the Oregon grape from my yard.

(Unlike the comfrey, which is also a pestilence, but is a great bee flower. I keep it in line by finding new growth and applying a mixture of Dawn liquid soap+vinegar+salt. It’s an amazing plant killer and doesn’t affect anything else…)

Back to goals. My garden is a goal, but I should define my goals.

Garden as a goal: from now until the first ice storm: I need to dig up about seven peonies and divide and replant them. I plan to do this in small increments, mostly when the weather is good and on weekends. Comment if you want peony legumes – I’ll have plenty to share and no guarantee on color. I also need to prune the smaller lilac which has suffered the most from the heat and from a couple of summers of robust growth that has made it spindly at the top. Kill the Oregon grape. Cut the dead out of the maple.

House as a goal: before I broke my foot, I was going room by room and de-cluttering and deep cleaning. I am now three+ months behind on that goal. I had four rooms done, but they have reverted. I could sink into depression, but my first goal is DO NOT GIVE IN. Second goal is to restart the process, but in one of the rooms I had not (yet) tackled and do it little, by little. This weekend: living room.

Dog as a goal: Harvey suffered this summer. He’s an active dog that needs a lot of exercise. He’s had over 3 months of confinement to a quarter acre yard, but that doesn’t compute to exercise for him. Tonight, we walked ten minutes. It was a lot shorter distance than I used to do in ten minutes. He was amazing and didn’t pull at the leash. He was just happy to be outside the confines of the yard. Goal: take him for a few walks a week, regardless of weather, even if it’s just around the block. Oh – and call his groomer and beg her to give him a bath that I *should* be able to give him, but just can’t right now…

Walking as a goal: I was so happy to make it around the parking lot today. Once. I used to take each of my breaks during the day and walk 3/4 of a mile in the 10 minute slot allotted. It takes me 10 minutes to do a half mile right now. I did one-half mile today. So – my goal is to increase that to a half-mile each break regardless of the weather. As my foot gets better, I can increase up to 3/4 mile. I’ll never do a mile in less than 15 minutes – never did before. So a 3/4 mile in 10 minutes is a good goal. That’s where I was before I broke my foot.

Learning WordPress. Not as easy as it sounds. I have books and there are videos. But I am neither a visual nor an aural learner. I am a kinesthetic learner. Hands on. I need to spend 15-20 minutes per day or every other day, working on my website. Not this blog, but the other one – the art blog. Yay. I have a mental block against this that I need to overcome. Putting this out there makes me accountable.

Art as a goal: well, I am steadily working on that and I have a mission statement and business plan to develop. Deep breath. I can DO this. It’s in my head, I just need to publish it and become transparent and accountable. I’m an introvert. This is the hardest goal, ever. EVER.

Not the painting. I got the painting down.

I have more. This is just a good start. Goals. First day of Autumn goals.

021This is the old engine block. Now, I’m going out on a limb here, because I only think this is an engine block. It’s something to do with an engine, but it may or may not actually be the engine block. I am assuming it is. I really have no idea, even though my husband has talked non-stop engine parts for two years, even though my big brother once made me reach into a five gallon bucket of black oily greasy stuff to pick out a gear for an engine (I think it was first gear, but I have no idea to this day what it was, some circular thing with cogs), even though my son has had his head under the hood of a car since he was sixteen, and even though my father spent much of his time hunched over an engine or underneath a car asking me to hand him the 3/4″socket (“No, Goddammit, the socket! 3/4″! Not the damn wrench!”).

Marissa Tomei, I am not. Therefore, captioning the following photos is a bit of a stretch and I am putting this disclaimer out: I don’t know what the hell it is, I only know it goes into a 1971 Volkswagen bus, and it makes the bus run.

020This is a fan. Damn, I am good. I can handle simple mechanical things.

011This is the tin framework stuff-y that is being replaced.

009More tin stuff that is being replaced.

antsOH! LOOK! Teeny-weeny tiny ants on the tin that is being replaced. They’re the little yellow-orangey bumps. I couldn’t get a better shot of them.

018Um. He told me what these are. (I just yelled downstairs: “What are those long, grey things?”) Heat exchangers! They may or may not need to be replaced. He’s not at that stage yet. (See how well he knows me? He knew what I was asking.)

015You don’t have to be a mechanic to appreciate how beautiful this is. I know the orange thing is the distributor cap, and the coil of wire on the bottom right is the thermostat (or where the thermostat goes).

012This goes on top of the other part, and it has the flaps that control the airflow to the engine. Apparently, a lot of people who rebuild VW bus engines like to leave the flaps off, but my husband is not only a perfectionist, but he is a purist. And about that perfectionism: this is the new tin part that replaces some of that old tin part (where the ants are now living). Don went out and bought heat resistant, high gloss, black spray paint. He’s been a mechanic for years (career, not backyard garage) and spray painting parts is an art to him. Not a speck of dust or dribble.

007The cast offs. I don’t think he will let me keep them in case I learn to weld and I decide to create a sculpture out of them. I’m pretty certain he’s going to recycle these beautiful pieces of potential artwork before I get my hands on them.


I rest my case.

My daughter who lives in what amounts to a “foreign country” (Alaska) came to visit us this past weekend.

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We all went to the Oregon State Fair.

There were a lot more animals this year, and 4-H displays.

Those are the things that spell “State Fair” to me, not the big Comcast building with the commercial hawkers or the commercial vendors that spread out in tents between buildings and the food court.

This year, we actually got to see more horses than in years past.

034Gypsy Vanners are among my favorite horses.

I think my next horse should be a Gypsy.

032This one amused Arwen.

The groom told the horse to “Be still”. Told it, didn’t restrain it. That hoof is bigger than his head.

Horses are unpredictable. Arwen did 4-H with a couple of much smaller horses.

No way would either of us put our heads that close to a hoof that big and just tell the horse to “be still”.

Okay, we both would. In a heart beat.

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We toured the reptile exhibit.

I took dozens of photos for the grandkids.

Arwen uploaded several to Instagram for her children.

Most were of rattlesnakes.

I won’t post those.

020There are three baby snakes in this photo. One of which is looking back at the camera (orange and white).

They aren’t poisonous.

040Goats apparently love my husband. This one kept trying to get his attention.

048Then there was “Cocoa”, whose owner coaxed into some hilarious poses.

I want a goat.

Arwen wants a goat.

My daughter-in-love wants a goat.

Can we have Cocoa?

052This has nothing to do with anything, except it is a pig enjoying his moment at the fair.

Or hers.

While Arwen was here, we shopped, we talked, we ate. My other daughter came over with her fiancé and we ate dinner together.

I gave away my mother’s jewelry.

I gave Chrystal her mother’s jewelry.

But, mostly, we did very little.

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027These are probably my favorite photos from the fair. A teenager and her Jersey cow.

This is what I love about the fair.

It has nothing to do with visiting with my daughter, only with the fair.

We had a great visit. All of us. We just didn’t take any photos of us.

055Grumpy Bunny

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I meant to do this when I arrived home from Nevada in May. Well, I started to do this in June. Between the books, the clocks, and the myriad of little items, Mom’s jewelry box kept getting shoved aside. Then I broke my foot on the first day of summer, and I haven’t even looked at the books, clocks, or anything else (except to read some of the books – I have done a LOT of reading this summer).

This evening, I tackled the jewelry box. I sorted everything: broken jewelry (beads I can reuse), trash, odd items I can glue onto my Art Deco Horse (sorry, I don’t have a pic, just trust me on this – I’m gluing odd items onto an abandoned American Girls™ horse), costume jewelry to give away/sell, and stuff I want to keep. There are a lot of photos to follow. I did not take pics of everything, only the items that fall under costume jewelry to give away/sell and stuff to keep – and not even all of that. Just the more interesting or collectible items.

KEEPERS

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Four pairs of earrings to convert to pierced earrings. My mother never had her ears pierced; I could never stand to wear clip-ons. I pierced my ears when I was 23 and have never regretted it. The above earrings should be an easy conversion.

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No, I have no idea where this souvenir came from. Someone went to Paris and sent it back home, and it ended up in my mother’s jewelry box. The photos have come loose. It’s meant to wear on a chain. It is silver, and I found one like it on eBay for $59 (starting bid). Vintage 1920’s or ’30’s. No, I won’t sell it.

026027I *love* brooches. Some of the pins are just fun – others I got rid of (not pictured). I adore the enameled animal cracker (the lion, in case you don’t quite understand, was once an edible animal cracker. It is now an enameled brooch). The bumblebee thingie is not a brooch, but it’s just odd enough that I want it.

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SO Vintage 1950’s! Have a nice, white, pressed shirt? Want to look highly professional with these collar pins? Not worth a whole lot of money, but certainly very unique!

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Vintage! Vintage Avon! My mother was known as “The Avon Lady” to many of her contemporaries in 1960’s Winnemucca, Nevada. She only sold Avon for a couple of years before she moved into reception and secretary work, but her Avon collection is “too die for”. That white necklace with matching earrings? Of, the memories!! Avon.

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This photo didn’t come out as I quite hoped it would, but: I believe all of these earrings are vintage Avon. Not so certain about the collar pin with chain. The photo doesn’t do any justice to the navy blue earrings on the bottom there.

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More items I am not keeping – I had to untangle all of these chains, plus several more chains that had nothing attached to them. Oy. I probably won’t wear any of these. The bottom one is actually a tie slide? It works like a slide. You can move it along the two chains that go through it. Vintage, of course. Eventually, for sale on whatever website I decide to sell this stuff on.

030My mother loved to stop and buy things from the local women who sold jewelry along side the roads in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. This is a beautiful juniper berry and yellow bead necklace my dad bought her in 1977 from a Navajo woman in Monument Valley, AZ. It held some sentimental value to him as he labeled it for posterity. I kind of wished he’d kept the woman’s business card, but maybe she didn’t have one.

One of my girls will get this. Yellow is a color that hates me (and I hate it right back), so I’d never wear it. Then, again, maybe it isn’t meant to be worn, but to be preserved as a relic of roadside artists in the southwest?

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Not sure the photo does justice to this bulky bracelet with blue glass. Top is the side you see, bottom is the interesting way it is put together. Again, vintage. And bulky, but cool.

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Not sure what these are: melted glass? Old bottles that made it through a fire? Something my sister created? I’ll take them in to a jeweler for an opinion. I have six and two chains.

015016These items fall under “I don’t know” and “They need cleaned”. The ring is 10 carat gold, so the stone can’t just be paste, but it is in rough shape. The green “stone” looks like melted glass. I have NO idea. Another item to take to a jeweler.

017I could easily dismiss this as “just”rhinestones. But something niggles at the back of my mine and says not to jump so easily to a conclusion. Another one for a jeweler to tell me it is/is not worth anything. (I’m pretty certain it is rhinestones – and not a single one missing!)

031Sigh. I did not get a great photo of this plastic bracelet. Doesn’t matter: I am keeping this.

063But I am not keeping this bracelet.

034035Poignant items. My father took the time to label these: he gave them to my sister. Black Hills gold. I will pass them on to either Chrystal (first) or her little sister, Jessi (second). They are not mine.

033 032More of my sister’s jewelry in my mother’s box. Chrystal has first choice, and what she does not take, I will send to Jessi. There are two spoon rings – my sister made those. She loved silver and turquoise.

038 039These were in a little box together, but they don’t actually go together. I have not opened the iodine swab container. The other item I take to be a screwdriver for eye glasses, but that’s a rather pointed blade.

040 This item is a vintage abalone tatting shuttle (thread is still on it). I’m pretty certain the little felt pouch belonged to a fancy cigarette lighter (dead giveaway: “Ronson” embossed on the bottom). My mother was quite the smoker. Fortunately, these items have been away from cigarette smoke since she died in 1995, and there’s not even a trace of odor on them. Some of the print items I inherited from her still have a bit of a musty cigarette smell to them.

042 043Gold and garnets! These are just beautiful. Brooch, necklace, adjustable ring, bracelet. Not for sale – definitely a keeper!

052Yet another pocket knife from the estate! This one has my mother’s initials crudely etched into the side. There’s only the two blades. I left my lens cap in the photo for size comparison.

053I smiled when I saw that. If I had known it was in the jewelry box before I brought it out of the house, I would have left it with its rightful owner: my nephew, Johnathon. I’ll mail it to him (sometime this year)…

054I’m stumped. There are two, both plastic. The back sides are identical. The fronts are identical. Who sews or is into antique buttons and such? What are these for? They’re about the size of my lens cap – say 2″? My husband couldn’t figure them out, either.

048Just some quartz crystals: two very clear ones that are less than half an inch in length and one amber colored one. It isn’t like *I* don’t have a similar collection of quartz crystals somewhere in this house!

066070This lovely fresh water pearl choker necklace is very vintage! I’m surprised it is still intact. It is on a very fine fishing line.It’s one of my favorite items, but I’d never wear it or I’d worry all the time about breaking it. If my girls don’t want it, I have someone in mind who I think would totally rock my mother’s vintage style.

Last – and definitely the least! – is the little round cup full of…

050ROCKS! I am so “my mother’s daughter”: I pick up rocks all the time and slip them into my pocket, drop them into a jar or a box or an old unused ash tray (I don’t smoke, so what else are ashtrays for?). My mother must have liked these tiny, flat, stones in particular, for she kept them in her jewelry box.

This post is long as there are a lot of photos -and I really only showed you some of the items in the jewelry box. There were broken necklaces, loose beads, single earrings, and odd buttons of no value. Several gold chains that are no more than ornamental gold chain necklaces. I have a bag of items to look into selling or giving to certain children or a close friend into that sort of jewelry. I’m pretty certain the rocks – along with the tons of rocks already inside my house! – will make it back to the outside world, to be buried in the soil and loam and eventually resurface again to the joy of another rock collector (not rock hound).

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I had a lovely encounter with someone the other day that reminded me of People I Can Live Without.

She’s a bit of a Type A personality, and rather ADHD. On the surface, I rather like her: she has a lot of energy that I don’t have, and she’s very up-beat. I like upbeat people, and I don’t mind energetic people. But along came the conversation about retirement… and I divulged my plan to create a niche for myself in art and sell my artwork as a retirement plan.

She had the canned response we all know by now: “Oh, so-and-so did that! They always dreamed of selling their art, so when they retired…” And then she added the caveat: “But they’re high-end.”

You know. They are high-end. YOU are not, implied. Sight unseen. Judged on my current laid-back office position in a small office.

I really have no desire to *be* “high end”. I like laid-back, Bohemian, hippie, different. I have a very successful friend who does sell “high end” art work. I have another friend who successfully teaches and sells in galleries. Another who works with beads and does what I would consider excellent to high end jewelry. I’m immersed in art. What *I* want to do is create a niche that pays the bills, makes people happy, and satisfies my need to create.

What I do not want is to be classified as “not” something or other, especially if you have never seen my artwork. Thank you very much. After you see it, you can judge. I’m cool with that. Because it isn’t “high end”.

I can live without people like that and as soon as she was out of my presence I rolled my eyes and flipped her off. Because I don’t need her approval.

People who manipulate you by subtle criticism are people you can delete from your friend list. You may still have to interact with them, but you don’t have to like them or take their words to heart.

That woman who criticizes your bra size? She has a problem, not you. (In my case, I’m rather flat chested. The “she” I refer to criticized the fact that I had done nothing to “improve” upon that. Read: implants or padded bras. It could go the other way, however.) Really? Really??? My husband married me, knowing I’m flat-chested, and I bore him two children. If it doesn’t bother him, why should I care???

She made a few other “suggestions” about my dress, my hair style, and so on. I don’t need her approval. She’s also a Type A personality, very driven to “succeed”, have lots of money and “nice” things, and so on. She uses massive amounts of make-up to cover her facial flaws.

Me, I have puffy moles and facial hair, and expressions that Ruth Buzzi and Lily Tomlin would love. If I was an actress, I’d be a character actress with a specific genre to appeal to. I don’t need to be perfect. I just need to be me.

Then there was my orthodontist. My last visit in her office, after I got my braces removed, was a high-pitched sales offer to bleach my teeth. I drink coffee, so my teeth tend to the yellow. I brush and floss and take care of my teeth – that’s not an issue. The braces were to fix a problem that was affecting my health, not to fix a smile. I rather liked my (old) crooked teeth, but they were affecting my overall health, and so I capitulated to braces late in life.

So – the whole “bleach your teeth” sales pitch came on and I calmly said, “NO.”

But “why not?”

“Because I am in my fifties, married, not in the dating pool, and I AM HAPPY WITH MY APPEARANCE.” You can bleach my teeth to hell and back and I am still going to have my father’s face, thinning hair, moles, and old skin.

I’ve never been back to that orthodontist. I don’t need her approval.

I have a pretty good ego. I have a great self-image. I intend to build on the Bohemian side of me as I retire. I don’t need anyone’s approval.

Just so you all know.

Oh. And here’s a sketch I did today that needs some work, but… I DO need your approval on. Gomer Camel.

001He has my teeth before I got braces on… And, yes, I know I need to get rid of the tree in the background.

Have a great day.

I spent much of this weekend sitting in a lawn chair with my right foot propped up. I managed to re-hurt it a week ago (not re-break, thankfully), and I have been – again – confined to the lower half of the house. I’ve made a couple trips up the daunting stairs over the weekend: once to pay bills online and once to grab some art supplies so I’d have something TO DO while sitting around. (Okay, we own two very large dogs. Usually, we leave a light on in the bathroom to illuminate the hallway at night. We neglected to do so last Sunday evening. My booted foot collided with a ninety pound English Setter in the dark. The resultant collision probably bruised the dog, definitely turned the air blue, and sent a shock wave down the length of my foot that confined me to bed for the following two days. I’m finally past that and am back upstairs, blogging. Now you know.)

The weather has been cooler than I prefer (read: “a perfect Oregon Summer” to the Natives). Every day has been breezy. Even those days which have achieved what *I* consider “perfect” (89 degrees or above) have been chilled by the west wind, and I find myself resorting to long sleeved shirts. Since I have been relegated to light walking and waiting for the pain of the most recent sprain to abate… I wondered how I would draw the summer breeze?

I stretched out under the perfect blue canopy that matches the perfect blue summer sky, and felt the breeze chill my arms and cool my feet. I began to doodle with my colored pencils. My first doodle is reminiscent of the stuff I produced when I was still under the age of thirty. I started with hanging vegetation, then curling hair, eyelashes… The finished 8×10″ is not my favorite:

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Original

But run it through a photoshop program, and I *love* the “chrome” version of the same:

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Chrome

Today, I was a bit more pragmatic. I started with the stereotype of wind: a puffing cloud face. I left off the actual face. The breeze is capricious, so the lines had to be capricious as well. There needed to be moving grass along the bottom of the doodle. And a leaf, dancing in the wind, but not an autumn leaf: a summer leaf. The clouds needed to be moving in.

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Summer Breeze Original

This one was much more fun to play with in photoshop. How about chrome?

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Chrome

Not bad, not bad.

How about “colored edges”?

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Colored Edges

Or “colored foil”?

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Colored Foil

What a fun version!

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Glowing Edges

Which one do you like?

I grew up with Will James. His artwork and his best-seller, Smoky the Cowhorse, tucked under my pillow at night. I dreamt of that horse, so unlike other horses: blue roan, wild, and loyal to one man. But it wasn’t really *that* Smoky that I imagined. It was the Smoky of my childhood that tracked through those dreams.

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I first saw him when I was but a toddler, and my dad was stationed at Pole Creek Ranger Station in the Jarbidge District of Humboldt National Forest. He stood 17 hands and was a blue roan, wild as the high desert around him – and my father’s favorite horse of all the US Forest Service animals.

My mother feared him.

Smoky could escape any enclosure less than six feet tall. If he couldn’t jump it, he merely broke his way out. He was more than half-wild, a mustang rounded up for use by the Forest Service, and duly branded as such. he was never truly tame.

Nearly 60 years later, looking at his photograph, I can see the Quarterhorse lines through this horse. Someone left him out on National Forest land and lost a truly beautiful stud (that the USFS acquired and gelded). That’s a horse with amazing conformation and bloodlines.

I own the bridle and bit he wore – he was not a small horse.

Dad told me that he would take Smoky out and the first mile or two, Smoky bucked, crowhopped, and kicked. After that, he settled down into a long and steady gait. He was trustworthy in the worst of conditions, but when my dad made camp, Smoky has to be double-hobbled: hobbles on the front and rear. In the morning, despite the double hobbles, they had to hunt down Smoky. He was too wild to tame, and too crazy to know it.

I knew Smoky vaguely as a toddler. The photo above is of him in a corral at Pole Creek RS in the Jarbidge District of Humboldt National Forest.

002The color photo is faded with time. Same place. Smoky, saddled and ready to go. Alert and fiesty.

The last time I saw Smoky was when I was about 11. He was confined in the cement-and-brick water pool of Paradise Station in Paradise, Nevada. The hole was supposed to be a water container for fires seasons, but they had this especially crazy USFS saddle horse to contain, one that defeated all wood fences – even at his old age, which must have been 14 or 16 at the time.

My father kindly never told me when Smoky died, or how. What remains in my head and heart is a picture of a blue roan with a wild spirit – and impeccable Quarterhorse conformation.

I wonder what idiot rancher let this animal trespass the USFS so that they claimed him as their own? And I thank Smoky, because he has infused all my dreams of the perfect horse with images of roans. Blue and red and… Because roans are the most beautiful horses, ever.