Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chris's shoulder surgery

Just a quick note to let everyone know that my husband, Chris, had his shoulder surgery yesterday. It turned out to be the best-case scenario, really -- the screw that had come loose from the previous surgery had not done a lot of damage. The surgeon removed the screw, and then did some bone shaving to fix the arthritis in his shoulder.

Chris has already started to take his arm out of the sling, and he says he's not in much more pain than he was before the surgery. He is refusing to take his pain medications, and he seems to be feeling as well as can be expected.

Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers for his speedy and complete recovery.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cub Scout family camp

Chris, Ross and I spent Memorial Day weekend at Cub Scout family camp. The local council owns some prime acreage on Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho, which is called Camp Easton. It was a beautiful setting for a very busy weekend.

Here's Ross in front of our tent (provided in the weekend package). We got a prime spot, not too far away from the bathrooms and showers, dining hall, etc.

Boys and their families were divided up into groups, and each group was guided to the various activities by a Boy Scout. Our "traveler" was Mike, a Star Scout from Post Falls, Idaho. This was his first time at this camp, and he endured some ribbing from the parents and kids, but he did a great job. Here's a group picture of all of the kids.

The boys had a lot of activities. Ross was especially excited about the BB gun range. The boys got a lot of safety instructions before they were allowed to shoot. Chris and the range master worked very hard with Ross, who was having a hard time figuring out which is his dominant (aiming) eye. Finally, he figured out that he has to use his left eye, and once he did that, he shot pretty well. He was very disappointed, though, that he didn't shoot a good enough score to get a BB gun pin for his uniform. Chris and I told him that he did very well for never having shot before! After a while, I think he realized that with a little practice, he'll be able to earn his pin next year.

They made lots of crafts, learned how to do some magic tricks, ran an obstacle course, shot wrist rockets (using dog food ammunition!), tried archery, and learned about the US flag. They got to practice folding a flag, using a huge one (like you see at car dealerships or Perkins).

Sunday night, everyone participated in a flag retirement ceremony. Some Boy Scout troops perform these ceremonies as a community service, and they had brought many worn, tattered flags to this event. The Scouts had started a large campfire. One of the staff, a veteran himself, read a moving account of why we burn old flags when they are worn out. Then, he invited the other veterans in camp to carry a worn flag to the fire. The audience stood and watched solemnly as each flag was placed on the campfire. Then, the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts started carrying flags (and pieces of huge flags that had been cut up for this night) to the fire, and then the families helped, as well. As the light started to fail and the wind started to whip up the waves on the lake, we burned the flags and sang patriotic songs -- The Star-Spangled Banner, My Country Tis of Thee, etc. It was very, very moving.

It was a tiring weekend, but well worth it. I think we are all looking forward to going back next year.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Cub Scout activities

Last Saturday, Ross's Cub Scout pack got together to clean up the school grounds. They do this each year as a way to express their appreciation to the school for hosting them. After the clean-up, they had a snack, then played some games together. Here's a bunch of them munching doughnuts. Notice how Ross's doughnut has chocolate frosting and M&Ms!

Today, Chris, Ross, and I are headed to Camp Easton on Lake Coeur d'Alene (pronounced "core der lane") in Idaho for Cub Scout family camp. We'll be there through Monday morning, playing games, trying out the archery range, sitting around a campfire, etc. Chris and I figure it'll be fun, and a good chance for Ross to try out camping with a group of kids (without having to do it by himself just yet). I love the fact that I don't have to think about cooking. Well, I'd better go start packing!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Tech Trek

Yesterday, Ross's elementary school held Tech Trek, a walkathon to raise funds for school equipment (computers, cameras, and the like). The kids get pledges, and then walk laps on the high school track.

It was a great afternoon for the walk, in the mid-seventies with occasional breezes. Here are Ross and his friend Christopher, getting ready to start. (The theme was "Pirates Walkin' the Plank," thus explaining Christopher's head gear.)

It was quite an event. Most families turn out in force, parents walking some of the laps with their kids, older siblings watching, the younger ones enjoying a stroller ride. Some of the dads performed old rock tunes as part of the entertainment! Plenty of folks brought squirt guns and spray bottles to keep cool. Ross kept going after Christopher stopped, but at lap 17, he complained that his feet were getting sore. Chris and I made him take a break after lap 18, and we discovered that he had a little blister at the tip of one of his toes. Still, he wanted to get to lap 20 (he originally had wanted to do 30), so we walked with him until he reached his goal. Tired and happy, we enjoyed a dinner prepared in the school cafeteria. We let him eat the ice cream bar dessert first -- as Chris said, it was quite an accomplishment for him to walk 5 miles. I'm glad he finished a little early, because when they made the kids get off the track, the lines got really long.

In other news, I've finished a postcard that I'm sending to an Internet friend. I call it "Clair de la Lune" (Light of the Moon).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A flower tour of our yard

It's May and everything is blooming! Here's a quick tour of our yard.

In the front yard, under the spruce tree, are the irises.

Alliums (blooming onions) are in both the front and the back yard.

I have pots of pansies by the front steps.

One small lilac bush is planted in the back yard. It is awfully close to the pine tree, so it may never bloom all that much. Here are the only blossoms on it this year (notice the ladybug, top left!).

This last photo is of the tree in the back yard. There's also one in the front yard, but not quite as spectacular. They'll have red berries later, that the squirrels love to eat. I don't know what kind of tree it is -- a hawthorn of some type? I'll have to look it up.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Cat ATCs

I spent the past couple of days whipping up some ATCs for the Habiliments Arch ATC swap. I printed out my Chaplin sketch onto fabric. I was going to try to pad it a bit by stuffing in a little polyfill or batting before I attached it to the card, but I decided that was going to be more trouble than it was worth. He's fused on there instead.

The vases are cut from a gold paper that's almost like fabric, and easy to embroider through. The yarns are couched down. And of course, the cards had to have some beads and sequins!

I like the edging on the card with the pink striped vase. I decided to stitch some rolled-up ribbon onto the side of the card with a variegated, dark blue and purple embroidery floss. But then I didn't think it had enough oomph, so I went around again with a pearl cotton that is variegated with blues, purples, and pinks. Much nicer.

(DMC has a bunch of new variegated embroidery flosses. I fell in love with most of them as soon as I saw them in Michael's, and snapped them up. The colors are summer-y and the combinations are sophisticated. They have a package with all the colors, but I wasn't interested in the cross stitch charts that they include, so it was cheaper for me only to buy the colors I wanted.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Sketch a cat

I sketched Chaplin the other morning. It's tough to draw him because he won't sit still, so I have to work fast and rely on memory. I'll have to try drawing him while he's asleep sometime!

I'm going to use the sketch for an ATC swap that I'm participating in, on the Habiliments Yahoo group. (ATC stands for Artist Trading Card -- small pieces of art that we exchange, sort of like swapping baseball cards.) The swap is a little unusual because we are using an arch shape instead of the traditional rectangle. My cards will feature Chaplin, as if he's being framed by a window. I think it'll be fun to use my own drawing for a change.

Sunday, May 6, 2007


Today we got up early and went downtown to watch our first Bloomsday run. Bloomsday is a 7.5 mile race that starts downtown, makes a loop to the west, and ends just before the Monroe St. bridge downtown. It is a big deal here -- approximately 50,000 people walk or run or wheelchair in it! Chris, Ross and I went to watch some of the participants cross the finish line. Many folks crossed the line holding hands (upraised in victory) with their friends; some people wear crazy wigs and costumes. We saw one person dressed as Raggedy Ann, with a big head like a sports mascot. (How can you see, never mind run, in that?) We also saw the Gonzaga ROTC cross the finish line in force. All had matching t-shirts, and one person ran with their squad banner.

With so many participants, plus all of the spectators, downtown was a bit of a zoo, but a pleasant one. Many runners headed for the food vendors after they cooled off, grabbing pizza, tacos, kettle corn, Hawaiian ice, you name it. (So much for their training regime.) We grabbed a Hawaiian ice and walked along the river toward campus. The masses of lilacs planted on the north side of the river are starting to bloom and smell like heaven, and the other blooming trees are showing off, too -- apples and cherries and dogwood and magnolias. Spokane is very pretty in the spring.

So, we are thinking about walking as a family in the next Bloomsday. I think we'll have to do some training!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Snow showers in May

This morning I was sitting at the dining room table, working on the background for a journal page, when something prompted me to look out the window. The sun was peeking through the clouds, and there were big snowflakes drifting down! I laughed -- what crazy weather.

I've been concentrating on my journal for the last few days. I've been writing steadily for awhile, but lately I've decided to do more painting, drawing, collage, etc. It's very spontaneous. Most days, I get out of bed, open the journal, and start. Occasionally, I remember to paint a background the night before, but not always.

Today I decided to work with scraps from some of Ross's school worksheets, tissue paper, watercolor crayons, paint, and pens. I played with the idea of drawing some lilacs on the page, and here's what I ended up with (click on the image for a much larger view):

The page is a bit curly, so that's why you see my finger and a glass holding down the corners. The quotations are from Michael Beckwith's 40 Day Mind Fast Soul Feast, and "Daily Word," a small inspirational magazine. I looked at a photo in a gardening book while drawing the lilacs (they're just starting to bloom here, but not in my yard). Once I started to draw individual blossoms, I realized it was going to be tedious, but I tried to loosen up and not worry that it was going to be more representational than realistic. I like playing with the pens I bought recently -- it makes drawing a more pleasurable experience.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Sometimes, you've got to take the leap

For the past couple of years, I've been wondering what it would be like to go to one of those art "events," such as Art& Soul or Art Unraveled. If you've never heard of these before, they're sort of like art camp or an art retreat -- you go for a long weekend, take art classes all day with other similarly obsessed people, share meals with them, do other artsy activities with them, etc. I know some folks that go to these events every year, and they relish every moment.

When we moved to Washington, I realized that Teesha Moore holds Artfest and Artfiberfest in Port Townsend, near Seattle -- a comfortable day's drive away. And, since Artfiberfest concentrates on the fiber arts, it seems to be a perfect fit for me. So, I've been thinking and thinking about going to AFF this October. When the list of classes came out, there were plenty of options to intrigue me. However, I was hesitant about the money. It's one thing to spend $20 or $30 here and there on art supplies, but this is a big commitment -- to get away by myself, to do something just for me. It seemed kind of selfish and indulgent to plan a long weekend like this.

Yet, I realized that I had to take this leap. I am getting more and more committed to my artwork, and I need the opportunity to meet others who are on this path and to learn from them. It's important that I explore the possibilities. I must be who I am -- I embrace all the good that is in my life and in my heart. Creativity, peace, and joy come into the world through each one of us, and I know that I must step up to my role and continue to grow as an artist and as a person.

I filled out the form, wrote the check, and got an envelope. Then I realized: what a boring envelope! I need to send a little love out with this registration! So, I jazzed it up.

It's a standard number 10 envelope, painted with Dye-na-Flow and Lumiere paints. I traced my right hand on the front of the envelope, and my left hand on the back. It obviously needed some fabric, since it was going to Artfiberfest, so I embroidered and painted the eye in the heart image, then ironed it on with fusible web.

Now the envelope was suitable for sending on its way!