Sunday, July 31, 2011

There's Something About Berry!

Yesterday I made my first-of-the-season trek to the Boone's Ferry Berry Farm on Boone's Ferry Road. (Yes, that Boone's Ferry!) While it's just a few miles out of town, I feel as if I am entering another world. On the small two-lane road, I pass sheep, a commercial nursery that grows bushes-topiaries and manicures them into all kinds of shapes (yes, people do seem to like bushes that look like deer, bears, and fish),a variety of tree farms, filbert (aka hazelnut) orchards in full bloom, sod farms that are the most heavenly shade of emerald and look magical when the large sprinklers are rolled out and the sun glistens through the droplets of water 20 feet above the green and, of course, berries. Berries of all types -- this is after all, the "Berry Capital of the World." If there is a berry to be found, I am sure you'll find it here. While I love them all -- blueberries are my favorite. If you haven't had the great fortune to taste a blueberry fresh picked some the field, I feel really bad about that. You see, picked at their peak, and eaten when they are still a bit warm (I never put mine in the refrigerator unless they will go into jam) I'm telling you, they are better than the best bon bon you can imagine. And, what's better than that? No calories...well, some calories but not enough to worry about. Okay, so there is a downside -- little teensy tiny black seeds that get stuck in your teeth. So, just a word of warning...when you eat them, there's a good chance you might look like Huck Finn if you smile.

If you've been following for a bit, you might remember my post about the quaint little berry shack from last year. Yesterday, my heart dropped as I came to the big barn that is my landmark to turn into the farm, and the spot that normally houses the old shack was empty. I was so old friend was gone. Luckily, I noticed the hand painted sign posted on the side of the commercial entrance -- the retail "store" had been moved just a bit up the road. Making a quick recovery, I found the gravel entry that leads into the fields and there it was -- my little berry shack all grown up. Very cute little iron tables and chairs out front and when I walked in, it was a nice little surprise. It seems that the young families that own the berry farms are quite entrepreneurial -- inside there were all kinds of "Boone"s Ferry Berry Farm" branded specialities. Berries, dried and fresh, filberts from the tree and in butters, and pickled garlic. So it was an unexpected little shopping adventure. I couldn't stay long since Bea was in the car and it was quite warm, so I picked up my flat of blueberries along with a pint of Marionberries and called it a day. Of course, I will be back next Friday, to replenish my supply. I drove away with mixed emotions. While I am all for progress...I have to say, I missed stepping back in time I felt with the old berry shack; but really happy to see that the young women who are running the new store are visualizing something more than a seasonal shack and I wish them nothing but success with it all.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Dog and Her Grandma

My mom had a wee accident this morning, so Bea and I ran over to check things out and make sure it didn't require a trip to the emergency room. Thank goodness all is well and good. My mom, who is 87, now lives in an independent living facility here in town. It's not easy to watch our parents age -- much harder than I ever imagined. When we are young our parents seem so vibrant and strong -- they could do anything. As we age along with them, at some point there is a bit of a role reversal -- where parent becomes child and...well, you get it. My dad passed in 2001 and while I watched him grow weaker, I was living across the country so didn't really see the day-in-day out of the progression even though I talked with him daily. But with my mom living in the same little community that I now call home, I do see her frequently, and I will say it doesn't get any easier. The shining star in all of it, is little Beatrix Potter, the wonder Cairn. You see, Bea lives for people, which I am told is a strong Cairn characteristic. However, I think Bea has been blessed with a spirit that is all-knowing. Don't ask me to explain what I mean by that, because I am not sure I have the words. But, I do know this, whatever the situation, Beatrix knows exactly what is needed to soothe the soul of whomever is in her company. Today, that was my mom. As soon as we arrived, Bea asked to sit in my mom's lap, where she totally distracted my mom from the pain she was feeling. We stayed long enough to "doctor" the wound and the patient; and, we knew we had succeeded when my mom wanted to go have lunch with her friends. So, we walked her to the beautiful dining room, visited with everyone who loves Beatrix, and then said our good-byes. Since returning home, Bea has not left my side here in the studio -- I think her concern has shifted to me -- so she is staying close by just in case I need another hug.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just a Small World Tale

While waiting for calls from clients and vendors, I thought I would take a run to Bauman's Farm -- you know about that place by now. I have been out of cherries for several days and needed to replenish the supply before they are out of season. Oh, that's always a sad day for me. Anyhow, on the small road that goes through the fields I always see the top of this Russian church off in the distance. So today, I took a little detour to explore a bit more. It took a little doing to get there, but when I finally figured it out, this is what I found. It is very small, looks like it might be a manufactured home type building but proudly, on top of what would be called a steeple on other churches, is a golden onion-shaped dome and cross. The onion-shaped architectural feature is found on the Russian Orthodox cathedrals in Moscow. There is a huge Russian population in this area -- a very long history which, sadly I don't know much about. I do know that my Grandma and Grandpa on my mom's side came from Russia to this country a few years before the Russian Revolution in 1917. Their story was much like that portrayed in Fiddler on the Roof, they fled their homes hoping to find a new world that gave them the opportunity for a better life and freedom to practice their religion. (Don't quote that year please, it's just the one I am remembering at the moment -- okay the writer in me couldn't let it go without researching and bingo! it was 1917.) While my relatives eventually settled in Southern California many others came to this part of the world. In fact, I have distant relatives that live right in this little part of the country. Small world, as they say. Just another little side trip in my day-in-the-life tale. If you are wondering when I took this pix, it was today July 21 and yes, those are rain clouds in the sky. Rain clouds and cool temperatures -- surprised? Well, you shouldn't be, after all, it is the Pacific Northwest.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Life is Really Good

We have been having a bit of summer spotted here and there with a few days of rain. But, I'm not complaining...for once. I don't mind the rain so much as long as there are bits of sunshine and warmer temps scattered throughout. I was out working in my little garden a few days back and snapped a few pix of my little furry muse. Beatrix Potter, the wonder Cairn. For those of you who know me, you'll know that Beatrix is the third rescue dog that granted me the greatest gift of all -- sharing their lives with me. First was Molly, an Australian Shepherd in SoCal; next was Agatha, a shy Norwich from Maryland and now, this little Cairn who came when I least expected it. As you may know, when rescuing a dog, you must be prepared for dealing with some "issues." None of which, I'm certain, can't be overcome with lots of love, care and patience; and most importantly, the letting go of any expectations. Since Bea was a bit younger when she came to me, her issues were not as great as those of my other girls; but she did and still does have issues. She was "tippy-tripod" for several months, while her back hip healed; and most of her issues now are around a fear of small places (which presents a bit of a challenge when she travels in the cabin with me on an airplane) and her flinching if I raise my hands too fast and too close to her head. We don't know the cause of the hip problem, but we do know that she was made to stay in a small kennel 24-7 and the woman who had her smacked her a lot during grooming. Don't get me started down that path -- however, I will say that any person who abuses an animal of any kind should be made to experience the same treatment as punishment for their inhumanity. I know...not very Zen on me...but there are some things I just can't tolerate and this is one of those things. Thank goodness for karma.

That being said -- you probably guessed by now that life is good for Bea and me. She loves her little hammock, which keeps her from the grass so her feet and tummy don't get so itchy. Yes, I have a dog with allergies -- just like her mom! What you can't see is that just to the right of where she loves to lay, Tess, the neighbor's rescued Brittany Spaniel, loves to snuggle in. She loves to be as close as possible to Bea when she is out in her yard. Bea and I were here a bit before Tess came to live with her new family and, in some unspoken way, I think Beatrx helped Tess make the transition from puppy mill breeder (enough said) to a life full of love and people she could trust. She and Bea are like "old friends, sat on the park bench like bookends." Yes, I did just quote a Simon and Garfunkel tune. But when I see them chatting between the fence or just enjoying the peace and quiet and the birds, the song just comes to mind and it makes my heart happy. What makes it even better is that my studio looks on to the patio and out over the back -- so I feel as if, even though I am the only one in the studio, I am not alone. Little Bea is my muse and my family. So, you is really, really, really good.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

It's a Beautiful Thing

Summer in small town -- I went to a very small vintage-classic car show today and this was one of the entries. A beautiful LaSalle; and, if I remember correctly, there were only 25 or so of them built back in the day. But, please don't use me as your Dial a Friend should you find yourself on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire or Cash Cab because I can't be trusted to remember facts or figures any more. Are either of those shows still on? See, what did I just tell you! In my mind I can picture the women who rode in such an automobile in those days -- lots of long beaded necklaces and bracelets up to their elbows day and night. Just watch a few movies from the 30s and you'll get the idea. Anyhow, it is a stunner -- I can only imagine that lots of hard work, determination and energy went into the restoration of the car. Of course, I liken the restoration to life. While it's true that life just happens...I think we have to work pretty hard to make it the life we want...not just the life we are given. That being said, there are days when I just want to give up, call it a day, and just go for "average." Luckily, there is something in me that isn't willing to settle for average -- so even on days when I might not want to do my best, I know that I will regret not doing so tomorrow or the next day.

Totally unrelated, but it's a weird thing -- I sit down to write an entry in the blog and I have no idea what I will say, so I post the images and then just let the words come -- something like a free-association game, I suppose. Some days, I end up in the most interesting and unexpected today. Well, at least it is interesting to me...all this talk about life and working to make it what we want it to be. Maybe, all those years long, long, long ago, in psychoanalysis somehow do keep coming back to me on some level. Yes, it's true...I admit...six long years...on the couch every day...but in the end I think it was a very good thing. Did I just share that with the universe? Yeah, me and Woody Allen -- we do have something in common. That and the fact that I landscaped a terrace for a friend who lives in the same building on Fifth Avenue as Woody. So...there you go. But hey, I think Woody is actually old enough to have hitched a ride in this car and, luckily, I am not.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

All Roads Lead to Rome

Weird how things work out, isn't it. Several weeks ago I read Bethenny Frankel's latest book, A Place of Yes, and found it quite inspiring. While I have read many books in this same arena over the years, this one sparked a renewed inspiration in life for me. Not sure what that really means at the moment, but those are the words that came to me in order to describe it. Anyhow -- one of the rules she talks about is "All Roads Lead to Rome." In a nutshell, all previous experiences in some way or another gave me a specific skill to help me get to my "Rome." Today, while I was in the photo studio (aka garage -- yes the same garage that houses the shipping department for Tanya Lochridge Jewelry), I was thinking about my love of photography, in general, and how past experiences over the years have helped me get pretty good images of my jewelry designs for use on my site and in my blogs today. (Yes, I know they are not perfect...and that was part of the getting out of my own way project we'll share another day!) Don't worry I won't bore you with a litany of jobs/experiences but I will say that there have been many opportunities for me to work closely with photographers, set designers, graphic artists and other creative types -- both in front of and behind the camera (both moving and still), at the art table and in front of a computer, all in a wide array of studio settings. And, Curious George that I am, I always paid close attention to what the other people on the project were doing and I was always asking questions about "why and how." I never had anyone tell me to mind my own business, so I just kept at it. Little did I understand at the time that all of those jobs, even those I didn't like (well "hated" would be more accurate), prepared me to be where I am today, making it possible for me to be fairly self-sufficient in areas that I might otherwise have to contract out to someone far more skilled than me. Why do I feel the need to post this to my blog today? Good question -- perhaps just as a reminder, to those of you who follow me, to seriously think about the "All Roads Lead to Rome" rule. Overall, I think it helps put a positive spin (see I learned that term while working in public relations) on a job or task that might seem dull at the time. Actually, it could make it all rather exciting knowing that at some point in your future "Rome," you will be really happy that you paid attention and did the absolute best job you could on that incredibly inane task you have in front of you! I don't know...but for today, I just felt the need to say it.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Boys are Back in Town!

Sing along with me "the boys are back in town, the boys are back in town" and you bet there are plenty of "buckle bunnies" (the rodeo equivalent of "snow bunnies") that are happy as happy can be about that. Some of those cowboys are pretty darn cute. Wait, before you remind me, I can't forget to mention that there are plenty of cowgirls competing these days. So, I'm not slighting anyone. It's true, in small town USA, nothing says summer and the 4th of July like a rodeo. And, living in this little community -- there are two rather large and well-known ones going on in neighboring communities, Mollala and St. Paul. I say "neighboring" but each is about 15 miles from town center in opposite directions. And since riders compete in events at both venues -- the sight of horse trailers being hauled back and forth on the road that runs between the two cities is a common one during the holiday weekend. The driver hauling this rig was kind enough to let me ease into the traffic -- maybe hanging out my Jeep window and snapping his pix with the mobile got his attention! That is a gift I learned from my brother -- do what it takes to get the shot. I just don't take it to the extremes that he does.

I honestly know very little about the rodeo other than it can be pretty tough and dangerous at times for rider, horse, bull or cow. My brother, who is a photographer (and a fabulous one at that), was the official photographer at several rodeos around the state. And, being one of those kind of guys who doesn't want to snap pix from the sidelines -- he would be in the arena so he was sure to capture the action up close and personal. Yeah, that's my brother...nuts; but boy does he enjoy life. After several years of running around the arena, one day he decided the job was best suited to a much younger person -- so he handed in this boots, so to speak. He still continues to capture the spirit of whatever he sees such as this working American cowboy and the wild mustangs below -- and his love of the skill shows in his work. It's just that these days, he's not diving behind barrels in an effort to not get kicked by an animal! Wisdom comes with age...isn't that the line? Anyhow, hope you are all having the happiest of holidays. What a joy to celebrate our good fortune to live in this great place....this country.