Tag Archives: photo101

A Narrow Fellow

A Narrow Fellow in the Grass

By Emily Dickenson

A narrow fellow in the grass

Occasionally rides;

You may have met him—did you not

His notice sudden is,

The grass divides as with a comb,

A spotted shaft is seen,

And then it closes at your feet,

And opens further on.

He likes a boggy acre,

A floor too cool for corn,

But when a boy and barefoot,

I more than once at noon

Have passed, I thought, a whip lash,

Unbraiding in the sun,

When stooping to secure it,

It wrinkled and was gone.

Several of nature’s people

I know, and they know me;

I feel for them a transport

Of cordiality.

But never met this fellow,

Attended or alone,

Without a tighter breathing,

And zero at the bone.

I like this poetic experience about coming upon a snake unexpectedly. This is the first snake I’ve seen this year and I’ve never seen a Rubber Boa (Charina Bottae) in grass. I’ve always seen it on a gravel road casually warming itself. This one is more likely a lady than a fellow because she’s about 24 inches long, and males rarely grow to that length. The first one I saw several years ago looked like an overgrown worm, the head and tail look so similar and it is very shiny. That’s a handy trick for fooling a predator. When in danger, this snake tucks its head into its coils and beats at its offender with its tail, trying to fool the bully into thinking it has a chance to snap its head. Hence, its tail is often scarred.

The Rubber Boa preys on mice and voles. It kills by constricting its victims, sometimes squeezing several baby mice at a time while fending off the mother with its tail. We have moles and voles and ground squirrels on our acres so it’s convenient to have this snake around in addition to Bull snakes and Racers. They all go down into the rodent holes for meals. Rubber Boas give live birth, are known to dig, and may live 50-70 years. It’s main predator is in fact humans who capture and sell them for pets, which is illegal in the US.

This animal never strikes and bites with its small head so for people like me who don’t care to handle snakes, the Rubber Boa is a gentle one to begin with. Indeed it seems to enjoy clinging to a human arm and riding around for a while. One of my students told me his dad brought home a Rubber Boa behind his back, asked his son to close his eyes, then put the small snake in the kid’s hands. It wrapped around the boy’s arm and stayed there for hours while he rode his bike, shared it with his friends, and then went to the library with it still attached to himself. That’s when he found out how horrified our small town librarian is of snakes of any kind. His mom said the snake finally got lost in the house and they never found it. She still wonders about it when she scoots things around in closets.

River of No Return

mule train with clouds
Applying the watercolor filter gives the old photo a painterly effect.
clouds over mountains & mule train
Adjusting shadows and highlight revealed interesting clouds and more color texture.

My step dad, Filbur  (Phil) Lakey, composed this photo in about 1949, probably with a Brownie camera while on horseback. This is his step dad, Ken Thomas. Ken was the Ranger at Krassel Guard Station near Yellow Pine, Idaho, for about 30 years and Phil often worked trail crew with him, packing into the back country with a string of mules. Common cameras in those days had a view finder on top; the photographer aimed the lens at the subject and looked down on a big square glass to frame the picture. The subject was upside down in the viewfinder. Imagine doing that on a horse on a rugged mountain trail. In those days the film was black and white so I might have the year wrong or this photo might have been retouched to color it. Look at the lower right corner where age is changing the hue and let’s believe this image was made with color film.

Today’s photo assignment for https://photo101march2015.wordpress.com/ is Landscape. Instead of shooting a new scene, I came back to this old image to see yet again what I can make of it with tools in Adobe Photoshop CS4. You can see the changes from the first adjustment below, to the one above, and finally adding a watercolor filter to get the effect in the image at top. I scanned the image from the original enlargement which had aged over the years since it was first printed from the negative. Below you see how it looked after adjusting just tone, contrast, and color in CS4. In the image above I adjusted again, this time for shadows and highlights. The most noticeable change is the sky. Clouds now appear and the sky is more interesting.

mule train not clouds show
The original adjusted for tone, contrast, and color.

The foreground is colored but the mountains in the background look like they have been made (or left) black and white. It could be snow because you can see fall hues in the foreground. Snow falls early in the high elevations. Look more closely. An enormous wildfire has swept through the wilderness and left the burned landscape colorless. With a little research I can uncover the date this photo was made.

I aspire to reproduce this image with Prisma colored pencils or acrylic paint. I know I can do more adjustments in CS4 to bring out details in the white horses and correct the hue in the lower right corner. The left side background is darkened by a cloud masking the sun. I think Phil made a pretty good photograph with the equipment he had and being on a horse. He would have been up the trail and no doubt he was also leading a string of mules or horses. I can’t make out the structure behind the last white horse but I believe it’s another horse, a dark one, with a big pack stacked on it. Mule strings could be long and often a mix of mules and horses among the pack animals.

Krassel Ranger Station is now a Forest Service Work Station in Payette National Forest, with headquarters in McCall, Idaho. The ranger’s cabin is available for temporary summer stay with the expectation the guests serve as host and docent to visitors. It’s located on the South Fork of the Salmon River, near Johnson Creek and Big Creek, and the so so small town of Yellow Pine, all part of the Salmon River in Idaho, adjacent to designated wilderness area. Once called the River of No Return Wilderness, it is now termed the Frank Church Wilderness. Here is a link for information about http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/scnf/specialplaces/?cid=stelprdb5360033 and here is a link for a DVD that features this wilderness http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/river-of-no-return-introduction/7618/. I’ve seen it on live streaming from the PBS channel. Here is a link to photos and information about the Krassel Ranger District http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinternet/!ut/p/c5/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gDfxMDT8MwRydLA1cj72BTQxNjAwgAykeaxRtBeY4WBv4eHmF-YT4GMHkidBvgAI601R0O8it-t4NNwG2-n0d-bqp-pH6UOYY9Zk5mMFMic1LTE5Mr9QtyQ0MjDLJMQh0VFQFx4Y7u/dl3/d3/L0lJSklna2tra0EhIS9JTmpBQU15QUJFUkNKS28hLzRGR2dzbzBWdnphOTJBZyEvN18wTzQwSTFWQUI5MEUyS1M1NkI2MDAwMDAwMC9zYS5GU005XzAzMzMyOA!!/?pname=Forest%20Service%20-%20Krassel%20Work%20Center%20-%20Krassel&recid=&counter=null.0&actid=&navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&ttype=photogallery&navid=091000000000000&cid=1491&pnavid=null&ss=110412.

I have a few photo albums of my family’s life at the ranger station over 30 years and those images are in black and white. Today’s post is about photography and adjusting old images but in a future post I will feature the history of the family that lived at the station and the ranger’s job, with vintage photos.

Come closer

I find peace among granite boulders. It’s where I feel I belong. I travel in a four wheel drive pick up truck and the vibrations rattle my brain. Sitting in meditation by a stream brings me to Nirvahna. I’m never consulted about where we go or if we’re on a paved highway or a bumpy road to a jagged outcropping. I’m sure if the woman left me here, my relatives would find me. I’m not sure where I come from, but I sense I am part of the Seven Devils Mountains. No doubt the woman will haul some of these rocks into the back of the truck and put them somewhere in her yard. She doesn’t know that when she leaves the window down at night, I crawl out and visit my metamorphic relatives.

Observing and scaling objects in landscape drawing, some of my students get it right away. For some it takes a while. Working from a photo often helps. Today’s https://photo101march2015.wordpress.com/  assignment or challenge is Scale and Observation. On a huckleberry picking trip in August 2012 I found this huge bull and stopped to photograph him. He looked ever so gentle and seemed to be asking me to rub his nose or his back. I walked closer and closer, photographing the scale as I approached. I had a nice little visit with him and he moved nearer for my voice, but I chickened out on touching him. That barbed wire didn’t look strong enough to keep him on his side of the fence if he took the notion to get closer, for whatever reason. Besides, I was sure someone at the OX Ranch was watching me through a magnifier of some sort. After picking berries, I took my Czek Shepherd (a type of German Shepherd) to a stream to cool off. Click here to see a slide show of her in a https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/search-rescue-dog/. While cooling off at a stream I set my small dashboard Grotesque on a rock and made its portrait. The scale is not as obvious in those photos. And while I’m at it, why not compose a little internal dialogue for it?

Search and rescue practice

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ozette loves search and rescue missions. She’s not formally trained for the task but her tracking skills are incredible! Her favorite search and rescue activity is finding logs, huge branches, or even small sticks under water and bringing them ashore where she lines them up and goes back for more. It’s in her instinct tool kit, her default. I read a book about why some dogs exhibit certain behaviors, possibly in their genes from the job an ancestor performed, some where back in its lineage. I’m pretty sure if I researched I’d find this dog had an ancestor that worked at logging at a river or stream. If I could teach her to catch fish, sweet. We had been picking huckleberries at a high elevation in August 2012 near Cuprum, Idaho. To cool off, we stopped at a cold high mountain stream  near Landore in the Seven Devils Mountains over Hells Canyon.

I’m showing these photos for Photography 101, an assignment to make photos with blur and capture the moment, action shots. These show the process Ozette uses to find and retrieve sticks in a stream, caught in the moment. Here is a link to the commons where participants can share daily assignments (challenges). https://photo101march2015.wordpress.com/

The New Plank

Frank's Outhouse Nearly Monochrome

Emily squinted toward the privy, hoping Frank was still there. When she last saw him he had rolled up the Cabella’s catalog and stuffed it in his hip pocket, grabbed a PBR from the cooler, and left the kitchen door swinging open. That always signaled he was heading to his one-holer library. But this time he had not returned. She would have heard the creak of the cooler lid as he reached for another beer. Dusk deepened in a whispering symphony of shadows and the sky pressed down upon the ridge saying hush. How she hated this time of evening when she could distinguish few colors except crimson tones in the outhouse plank that Frank had replaced after he’d come at her with his axe last November. She wouldn’t hide from him ever again. She pulled back the hammer on Frank’s Winchester and pressed the butt firmly against the soft flesh below her collarbone. The heavy steel was cold in her grip. She felt her neck swell with blood pulsing so hard she could hear nothing else. Her fear and wrath excited her. And it felt so right.

glass door with window and stove

The story is flash fiction, I  made it up today. If you knew Frank you wouldn’t doubt one of his six wives might have killed him. For his privacy I won’t tell you what really killed him, but he did have a meaningful part of himself amputated in an attempt to save his life. Failed. I didn’t know a man can get cancer there! Look closely and you can see the top of my home in the background. I don’t have an outhouse. Nor a Winchester. And the horror genre is new to me. I’m getting ready to go the the Horror Writers Workshop in Transylvania this summer so this is just a small step in that direction. You’ll more likely see fantasy and magical realism in my poems and stories. Those are also in the horror genre, the “new black”. Dark fiction. This January post tells about the Horror Writers Workshop. There are still a few openings. You can find the link in that post. I posted a poem with another monochromatic version of Frank’s place here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today’s photo challenge is Architecture and Monochrome. I photographed Frank’s place in Feb. 2015. It’s decaying since he died several years ago. I doubt there were building codes when he constructed it. Shadows lend the look of Mystery, a previous daily photo challenge. And the walls address the weekly photo challenge Wall. Click https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/wall/ to see more Wall photos by other bloggers and https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/wall/ to see my earlier Wall post, rather macabre. I took some time adjusting these photos in Photoshop CS4 to create moods and tryout monotone design techniques. In the slideshow above you can see the untouched images next to those I adjusted. I’m still more comfortable in a real true old fashioned darkroom with an enlarger and chemicals. But digital tools are rather amusing, cheaper, and maybe faster. To find out about the WordPress Photo 101 course, which has a daily photo assignment, and see more photos in this challenge, click here https://photo101march2015.wordpress.com/. You might have to be registered for the course to use the link.


Deer skull on red wall

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall. See more photos by other bloggers or learn how to participate here https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/wall/.

To see more photos of bones on my blog look at https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/solitude-together-hike/ and https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/washtucna/.

Frank’s Place

sepia tone abandoned house

Frank’s place

Home was never for you

your too many wives

your too many sons.

You lived

on bacon

and beans

and beer.

Modest shack called home,

called Bear’s Den,

Bear Cat Proprietor.

Even your ghost cannot rest

on that old chair.

road gate and sign

This post is my response to the 2015 March Photo-a-Day challenge/course prompt: home. And since I took the poetry 101 challenge the last 2 weeks of Feb,,  but didn’t post many poems, I wrote a poem for today’s photo. Last weekend I participated in a writers workshop to learn more about Ekphrastic writing. That means the writing is inspired by or related to an art piece, be it visual, music, performance, architecture or other art forms. Truly, this is my neighbor’s place, or his ghost’s place. He died several years ago and his family only camps here once a year to hunt nearby. Look behind the yellow caution sign and you’ll see my place up the hill, adjoining Frank’s. I adjusted the photo in Photoshop CS4 to a black and white image, added noise and tint to make it look like an old photo or newspaper clipping. I made the photo in late Feb.. To participate in the March Photo 101 course and challenge click here.. You can read a dark flash fiction story about Frank’s outhouse here..

No mistake


New snow falls atop the old. If there is nothing new in the universe, how come each individual snow flake is unique in it’s shape? I am not certain there is nothing new in the universe but I feel quite sure there are no mistakes. I contemplated the idea of “new” in https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/new-roots/.

Pretty poor light for photography but the dull winter day prompts me to explore my old Adobe Photoshop CS4 again. I saved a copy of each change I made as I reviewed the Adjustments menu. I’m looking for a happy accident. I’m looking for a mistake made into art. I’m looking for opportunities to experience my 2015 goal: make mistakes.

“Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made
before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it
isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.” Neil Gaiman

Here’s a link to the complete quote. It’s in my sidebar under “Quotes”, too.  https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/type/quote/

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “New.”

New Roots

macro new buds
New buds are starting to branch from this stem. Even so, it needs to be pinched off to shape the plant and promote root development.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “New.”

New Roots

I rather feel like there’s nothing new in the universe. But I’m not certain. Everything is connected or one thing leads to another, or so I’ve seen. Take this little Rosemary start for example. It began about 20 years ago when I bought a small plant in a 4 inch pot in Port Angeles (PA). I repotted it into a larger pot and brought it with me when we moved to Idaho in 1998. It nearly died of a white fungus while it was indoors for a frigid Rocky Mountain winter. I pruned more than half the plant to remove the fungus and let it live if it would. It lived indeed! It thrived from the pruning and when we moved back to PA in 2003 I planted it in our yard and left it alone. Plants do pretty well if left alone, the right plants at least.

yellow flowers over grown
One of my “little gardens”, a sidewalk runs through it. Gone for 2 summer months, this is the result of leaving plants alone. Sheers and a mug of Scotch soon fix it all.

That plant reproduced itself into 4 more plants and they all grew to be about 3 feet high and pretty wide. I found their starts in the soil at the base of the first one, propagated by a natural process called “mounding” in which a branch gets laid down and partly covered with soil. New roots develop and you can just snip the branch off from the original and plant the new start. When I moved back to my Idaho home in 2013 I had 4 big Rosemary bushes growing in my Port Angeles yard. The fifth had been killed by a peninsula winter.

That home has renters now so last fall I started 3 new little Rosemaries from trimmings when I pruned one of the large herbs to clear the sidewalk for safe passage. I popped the little cuttings into small pots of plain old potting soil, kept them damp at the risk of causing rot, and sure enough they began to show new leaves. When new leaves appear you know the roots are developing. I pinch off new growth and use it for aromatic flavors in the kitchen. Even little herbs do their jobs just fine. Removing new growth promotes root development and it prevents the plant from getting spindly, making it bushy.

tall rosemary start
New growth ready to be pinched off. Plants DO grow in winter.

The idea that plants are dormant in winter is not precise. I keep these starts in a sunny south facing window and they are producing abundant new growth. They are beginning to branch out so by late spring when it’s safe to put them outside, they will be nice little herbs to move into larger pots. Look at all the new white branches stemming from the brown trunk.

macro many branches

lop sided plant start
This start needs shaping. Obviously new roots are developing.

If plant life is so well connected, new roots emerging from old stems, how can our human lives not be interconnected, too? I’m not just talking about genetics here. I am rooted in the Pacific Northwest and have restarted myself more times than I can recall. We can nurture our own roots and use them not to anchor us to one place or one idea, but to set us out on new paths. We can nurture new roots in people we encounter, too, without even knowing it. Some people say I am the most grounded, rooted, person they know. If that’s so, it’s because I have learned that I can regenerate myself when I need to and I’m not afraid to take that risk. Well, a little afraid but brave. My daughter calls me spunctuous, a word she created. She asked if it’s OK to make up words. Of course it is.

sidewalk garden

Weekly photo challenge: Warmth

I seldom participate in the WordPress weekly photo challenge but I think about it just the same. The low last night was 10 degrees F. As I write this post at about noon it’s 20 degrees outside and 92 indoors. Breeze makes the chill factor feel lower. With three levels of windows facing south, on sunny days we turn off the heat and open windows. This morning I oiled 5 pairs of boots, some to wear in snow and with my snow shoes. They rest in the warmth at the windows while snow swirls off trees outdoors. The temperature differences indoors and out struck me. In one of the photos you can see some pine needles sticking out from beneath snow. Together the pine mulch and snow insulate tulips in the container, keeping them frozen until time to bloom. Maybe I should move them away from the sunny side of the deck to help prevent thaw and freeze. I have only one photo of a wind sweeping through the area, blowing snow off trees, creating a mysterious mood. I made the shot from our deck. The wind is only apparent on the ridge.


The Snow Fairy

The Snow Fairy

by Claude McKay

rose quarts in snow
“Throughout the afternoon I watched them there, Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky”


Throughout the afternoon I watched them there,
Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky,
Whirling fantastic in the misty air,
Contending fierce for space supremacy.
And they flew down a mightier force at night,
As though in heaven there was revolt and riot,
And they, frail things had taken panic flight
Down to the calm earth seeking peace and quiet.
I went to bed and rose at early dawn
To see them huddled together in a heap,
Each merged into the other upon the lawn,
Worn out by the sharp struggle, fast asleep.
The sun shone brightly on them half the day,
By night they stealthily had stol’n away.

Rose quartz eye in snow
“When snow-sprites round my attic window flew, Your hair disheveled, eyes aglow with light.”


And suddenly my thoughts then turned to you
Who came to me upon a winter’s night,
When snow-sprites round my attic window flew,
Your hair disheveled, eyes aglow with light.
My heart was like the weather when you came,
The wanton winds were blowing loud and long;
But you, with joy and passion all aflame,
You danced and sang a lilting summer song.
I made room for you in my little bed,
Took covers from the closet fresh and warm,
A downfall pillow for your scented head,
And lay down with you resting in my arm.
You went with Dawn. You left me ere the day,
The lonely actor of a dreamy play.

About These Photos

This poem was in my e-mail today, so appropriate with last night’s new snow fall. The content inspired me to include the idea in one of https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/lawrynn-stories-fantasy-and-celtic-lore/ .

I looked for a scene to illustrate the poem, a small hill that could be “frail” snow fairies “huddled together in a heap.” Three large chunks of Montana Rose Quartz, each about the size of a football, rest on my deck rail, sending love energy to our home and surroundings. They appealed to me as a nurturing place for the fairies heaped upon them and I wanted to see how the pink would show against white in the overcast sky. One photo looks like an eye peering through the heaped up snow fairies. I got as close as I could with my Olympus E-10 for some shots, and I practiced using my new macro for others. They all turned out good enough. I liked these two for the post.

About This Poem

This poem inspires me to illustrate it and to use it in children’s theater for kids to choreograph creative movement with music.

“The Snow Fairy” was published in McKay’s book Harlem Shadows (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922). Claude McKay was born in Jamaica, on September 15, 1889. His debut collection, Songs of Jamaica (Augener Ltd., 1912), was published when McKay was only twenty years old. He died on May 22, 1948.

You can get a poem a day sent to your e-mail from  http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem-day?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Poem-a-Day++December+28+2014&utm_content=Poem-a-Day++December+28+2014+CID_3db5aadebcc44de8a6abdfe9f3b98bbe&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=Poem-a-Day Poems in this site are in the public domain.

Filtered memory

B & W tree & gifts

I’ve been working on this vintage photo, late 1950s, for a couple of years to make a Christmas card. Haven’t settled on it yet. I decided I can’t eliminate the flash reflected in the window and that’s OK. It shows the technology and amateur nature of the moment. I’m trying some photo filters to see how they effect the mood of the photo. Our memories are filtered, coloring some pieces more than others and holding out unneeded or missing chunks, highlighting and projecting forward other ideas and feelings. Only some parts remain and we have to choose to keep them or modify them until our reality shifts and rests where it will, still pliable. Memories can change over time. Maybe that’s why I keep returning to this photo. It shows in black and white a moment in time.

My parents no doubt made this shot before we got up and discovered what Santa left. One of those sets of wooden skis is my first pair, just a strap over the boot, dangerous and exciting. They decorate my home now, one with a tip broken off. My grandfather made the doll bunk bed cribs for his daughter, my aunt, and now they were handed on to me. I handed them on to my daughter when the time was right. My uncle crafted the spotted horse for my little brother. Notice the springs that attach it to the frame; it bounced magnificently! We didn’t care that the paint ran on the spots. The giant shiny red wagon was for my older brother. In summer we caught multitudes of wiggly tadpoles and put them in it, with water and a great big toad. Mom called us to lunch and we pulled it home and parked it in the shade of a willow tree. When we came back to it only the toad was there. We always had maps on the wall and I still do. Living in a small rural town we were curious about the rest of the world. My grandparents brought the maracas for Dad when they went to Mexico. Mom played that huge upright grand piano. It’s in my music room now. Our living room was small, but the piano belonged there. We belonged there, cozy together in a time when everything was right for the children and we hadn’t a clue what our futures would be like, and it didn’t matter. We made our dreams and they evolved as we grew. We lived in the moment then. I try to live in the moment now, too. I realize many people don’t have pictures from their childhood and many did not have an extended family, active in their upbringing. I know I am lucky beyond measure.

Peace on the Range

Every year I torment myself for months trying to compose a unique card and print it to mail to family and friends for the winter holidays. For a couple of years I haven’t created a new holiday photo to mail. It might not happen this year either. December brings many traditional festivals to celebrate the season’s changes and religious events so I try not to get too tangled up with just one of them. Peace and love is the most important message I can think of. So today I share some photos I have used on cards in the past and wait for this season’s inspiration to strike. This is a good time to be a little goofy. I hope you get a chuckle and a moment or relaxed humor.

peace sing in field
Peace on the Range
peace sign on bare ground
Peas on Earth
line of crabs
Feeling a little crabby this year? Sandy Claws is coming to town.

The Peace symbol in the field is the most popular photo. Not really in the goofy category. People have framed it and keep it on their walls, they still talk about that card. Their visitors ask for a copy. As my husband stepped on the gas to gain momentum for the steep Midvale Hill I saw the shot and Brian slammed on the brakes. (He loves me!) Look closely and you will see the strands of barbed wire are not the same on both sides of the circle. The rancher hung the roll of wire on a corner post and hadn’t finished his fencing job. I like the irony of barbed wire creating a peace sign.

Peas on Earth came to me in desperation for a card. I grabbed a bag of frozen peas and ran out to my garden. I had already prepared the ground for the winter and I arranged the peas into the peace sign on the beautiful earth. Goofy and I like it. I used Photoshop Creative Suite to make the dry brush effect.

The poor Dungeness Crabs (oh how tasty!) were lined up for slaughter (boiling) at High Tides Seafood plant in Port Angeles where my husband worked. I photographed the whole process and this line generated silly ideas, too (among pathetic notions). I used the same Photoshop program to give it the water color effect.

Tree house, garden house, round house, out house, all at Lake Ozette

The tree house that sleeps four, the round house with 2 stories, the garden house, the outhouse. I love the little houses at Lake Ozette in the Olympic National Forest on the Washington state coast. My friend, Don who played bass in my husbands band in Port Angeles, arranged to be the caretaker for the only privately owned dwellings on the lake. He pays rent at $99.00 a year. The owner can never sell to anyone but the National Park. It’s a win-win for all. And I love to go there with him and the band for days at a time in late summer.

path to Lake Ozette from the tree house

I showed you in a previous post https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/edge/ part of the board walk,  about 20 feet above ground, that gets you from the tree house to the lake. In the rainy season, anytime except summer, the lake is up to the boards. Otherwise tall brush grows alongside. You can just see 2 canoes in the brush in the bottom of the photo. Here’s the tree house cabin. I stood on its porch to make the crooked path photo looking at Lake Ozette. tree house and canoestree house east side

The cute little bunny looking out the window at us was left there by Don’s niece. I love the bay windows that look out to the lake. Inside are two sets of bunk beds, a chair, a wood stove, and something sort of like a kitchen.

tree house back door

This is the back door to the tree house, the way we get in after a long trek. Standing at the lake you can see the big old Spruce that supports the cabin.

path through the forest

boardwalk to tree house

It takes about an hour to walk from the garden house, at the lake’s edge around a bay, and most of the walk is high above ground on narrow planks. Don and his brother reconstruct parts of the board walk every year, not an easy task. It’s sometimes more sensible to canoe from one house to the other. Once is rained so hard when they were sleeping in the garden house they had to canoe to their car on the dirt road.I don’t have a photo of the garden house. It’s called that because the garden grows there. Its easier to get to, being near the road and having a little lane to drive on. We have to pack our food and bedding into the tree house, balancing on the planks and snapping at my German Shepherd, named Ozette, to keep her from running an knocking into us. Sometimes she jumps off and runs beneath the boardwalk until the dense brush confuses her.

round house

From the garden house I can walk along a creek back to the bend in the road to the round house. That little house doesn’t belong to Don’s property. It’s quite imaginative, having 2 stories and only as big around as a giant ancient Red Wood tree. There is a bedroom upstairs with a double bed. Down stairs is a sweet round cabin room with a stove, chairs, table, and kitchen. I’d like to sleep here where I could hear the creek.

new out house

The round house has the best out house, the newest one in the community of little houses. Even here we use a board walk. The rain forest has so much decaying ground that it’s easy to fall through the forest floor and land knee deep or even 20 feet below where you were standing. And the ground is almost always wet, often running in small streams. Isn’t that a comforting dry porch outside the door?

If you visit the Washington coast in Olympic National Park, I hope you will drive to the Ozette trail head. You’ll pass these sweet little houses but you won’t see them from the road. At the trail head you can hike 3 miles to the beach and the site of Ozette village which was covered several times by mud slides and rebuilt in the same spot for centuries. Then you can turn around and hike back, or walk 3 miles down the beach and take a different trail back, making a nine mile hike, easy to do in a day. I’ll tell you more about that hike in another post.

I feel lucky and grateful to have a friend like Don who takes me to such interesting cabins.

Slow it down

The stage is set for open mic night every Wednesday at Crusty’s Pizza in McCall, Idaho. Last night I had the opportunity to slow my shutter and let my Olympus E-10 show me its stuff while professional and amateur musicians shredded the floor. A tripod wouldn’t help much here where feet tapping players keep the floor in constant motion. Given the slow shutter speed, my motion, and the bouncing floor, here’s what the E-10 put out.

The Leibster Award


Thanks so much http://photographywithwords.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/photographywithwords-the-leibster-award/ for nominating my blog for the Leibster Award! They thought my photography is awesome. Ah, gee. Goes to show you never know who is watching your blog and how your posts effect them. Leibster is German for lovely, appealing, nice, that sort of thing. I was asked to respond to 11 questions and then nominate other blogs for the award. Here are my responses and my nominations for more wonderful blogs.

1.) Why did you decide to start to blog?

I missed writing features articles for a newspaper and I wanted to share the culture and environments of both fabulous places where I lived, one in Idaho Rocky Mountains, and one on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula at the coast. I wanted to move beyond journal writing, notes. I have 45 or more journals. Like performing music, writing needs to have an audience some of the time.

2.)What is your favorite memory?

So many wonderful memories collage in my mind. I’m sure the outstanding ones place me outdoors skiing or at a lake or beach. Or maybe cruising the San Juan Islands on our boats. And doing everyday things with family like shucking huge open tubs of corn in my grandparents’ garage with my extended family.

3.) Who inspires you?

Uncle Clarence. He began writing letters when I moved away in 7th grade and we exchanged letters from then until he passed at age 90. He typed his letters on a Royal from the 1920s. I started keeping his letters in the late 80s and I have a wealth of his concise writing style and stories to share on my blog.

4.) What is your current goal in life?

I want to learn to say no to working except for small contracts that relate to my art and writing. I want to commit to stay focused on my art and writing. I want to clear out the clutter in my studio by using all the “found objects” and fabric until I have space to collect and use more. And to get some projects ready to sell.

5.) How would you describe yourself?

Calm, energetic, sincere, balanced.

6.)How much wood could a Woodchuck chuck if a Woodchuck could chuck wood?

Enough to stay warm all winter and share with others in need.

7.) What do you do for Fun?

Ski, kayak, hike, write, draw, photograph, lead kids in children’s theater, landscape and garden.

8.) What is your dream vacation?

I want to spend some weeks or months exploring Montana and really catching a fish with my fly outfit.

9.) What is your favorite Quote?

Anywhere you are, there you are.

10.) Do you enjoy running a blog?


11.) What do you plan to do now?

After I finish the post I will read some other blogs, knit a while on a scarf, organize my studio for a while, and write the next piece for the Cat Rock letters on my blog.

Now it’s time that I nominate blogs that I think are fantastic, but they must have less than 500 followers. I scoured the earth for the longest time and found these unique blogs:

http://thecraftyladyincombatboots.wordpress.com/ A retired Air Force lady, her blog really came alive for me when she took up the photo a day challenge. Wow!

https://dwaycrafts.wordpress.com/ His crisp photos always surprise me. He makes a point quickly in his writing and photos. He shows me an urban nature I had not expected to see in a huge city. He makes me think. He makes me feel.

http://whiteoakcottagedotcom.wordpress.com/ I love cottages and cottage gardens. Hers are beautiful, and her photos and posts appeal to me on a deep level. She writes about sensitive issues and enlightens me.

http://cookingwithawallflower.com You’ll like her professional photos of food and recipes, plus her down home talk about her travels and her life. Waiting for a job as a dental hygienist, she might as well write an on-line cook book. Yum.

http://thestorytellersabode.wordpress.com/     A Fairy Mind lives in this blog. Quite creative and a photographer who posts photos of intrigue.

 https://cartervail.wordpress.com/ says she’s one wicked writer, dark and twisted. She has a love for the strange and unusual, as well as a curiosity for the unknown. She believes anything is possible. She blogs about sci fi, macabre, and fantasy.

http://behindthewillows.com/ I connect with her posts and photos about rural life. She can tell a story efficiently with appeal.

Arise from decay

small drooping sunflowerbee on echinaceabee on big sunflowerwilted tulip

Gardening gives me opportunity to look closely at worlds around me. I like to watch the changes as plants and animals interact with the soil, air, and water. The declining stage fascinates me more even than the perkiest part of life. That’s when new life is beginning, That’s when everything begins. The old life generates and nurtures new growth. I need to ponder that process today, to let something new arise from decay. It’s the creative process.



Big bright summer sunflowers!
Big bright summer sunflowers!

Triumph is the color of summer sunflowers in river bottom topsoil given me by friendly neighbors.

dog in creek
Sweet Jane wades in our creek her  first week home in March at 93 pounds.

Triumph is Sweet Jane, the German Shepherd we adopted after 15 months in the “no kill’ shelter. She’s getting old, has thyroid issues, skin allergies, and forever ear infections. She lost weight from 140 pounds when her previous owner surrendered her to 71 pounds with good care. That she is alive and in a loving home is triumph for this animal. And she really is sweet!

Dog in river.
Sweet Jane wades in the mouth of the Elwha River.

Triumph is freeing the Elwha River from 2 dams that prevented historic 100 pound salmon from spawning. Sweet Jane romps in the briny water and on the sand spits created by the river.

2 dogs in van
2 dog car alarm – Sweet Jane and Ozette.

Triumph is just getting up in the morning for many people. I like this post about Triumph.


Edge: Walk a crooked path.

path to Lake Ozette from the tree houseThe path from the tree house to Lake Ozette is a board walk built about 20 feet above the ground. In the rainy season the lake rises so water comes up to the boards. The edge of the lake changes with rains and drought. I don’t know that anyone has fallen off the edge of the path.

Watch for another post in which I will show the board walk from the dirt road into the tree house, and the adorable cabin built in a Sitka spruce tree. It sleeps 4. Lake Ozette is in Olympic National Park on the Washington state coast. The tree house is on the only privately owned property on the lake.