Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Winter is Upon Us!

Seen on the Avenue of the Stars on the Beach Drive beach south of Alki Point

The shortest day of the year is right around the corner. The Winter Solstice occurs this Friday, December 21st. Then we will begin the new cycle of lengthening days. On the one hand, there is relief that the worst of the dark days will be behind us. On the other is the knowledge that we still have a season of cold weather ahead.

Today is rainy and stormy - and that is all right. I love all that water in the air. The Wall Street Journal published an article about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) yesterday. It said that walking by, in or around water is the latest therapy for the Winter Blues. Technically, the scientists call it "negative air ionization" therapy. Well, I could have told them that. I have been using that therapy all year and haven't been depressed one bit.

Happy Winter Solstice!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Carpe Diem

Well, the fact that there is now a new park bench installed right in front of my favorite sitting rock means I have lost a lot of my privacy. When there were only rocks to sit on, I didn't have much company. Now, however, I have often been forced to move on and find my solitude elsewhere.

In spite of that, I really like the plaque embedded in front of the bench. I'm not sure I understood the significance of "Carpe Diem" ("seize the day") until I saw the Dead Poets Society last night. Yes, I am behind in my movies.

Here is the quote by Henry David Thoreau read before each meeting of the Dead Poets Society: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived … I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms..." (Walden, 1854). Thank you to Wikipedia for the quote.

You now know the location of my rock. But there are so many similar rocks there, you will never know exactly which one I sit on.

Rainy Days

My little Alki neighborhood had over 5 inches of rain on Monday. I confess, I didn't go out for a walk. We got rain again today. Which is ok with me. I rather have this than a drought.

You know I love the winter Tangles that are exposed when the leaves fall off the tree branches. The rainy landscape was so dark this morning that I couldn't take this photo without the autmoatic flash on my camera activating.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday Churchgoer

I still go to "church" on Sundays. It's just a different denomination than the one I attended when I was a kid.

Friday, November 23, 2007

What a Beautiful Day

It doesn't get much better than this around here. At least not in the winter. (I know, I know, we are in the middle of autumn. But anything past November 1 seems like winter to me.) I love these bright, sunny cold days. I'd be happy as a clam if we got sun all winter. It wouldn't matter to me how cold it got. Wasn't it author Tom Robbins who likened the Northwest winter cloud cover to a damp, dirty washcloth?

The only thing that would make me happier right now would be to get a good look at the orca whales.

Here is a patch of now dead frosted leaves lying in the shadows. I love their furry coat of ice crystals. Just a few weeks ago these leaves were bright as the bell of the ball. How quickly their fortunes fell.

I posted a photo of this feathered phone pole the day I first "saw" it. I had been walking by it for weeks before I noticed it. UGH! I'm posting it again not so much to highlight the phone pole itself as much as an example of how stunning the light was this morning. Light as subject matter? We artists understand what that is all about.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Have You Heard?

About Artist Shirley Scheier? She is the University of Washington art professor who was detained by police for taking photographs of electrical wires. She was planning to use the photos as reference material for her art prints. Unknown to her, the wires were attached to an electrical substation identified by the Department of Homelad Security as a "critical infrastructure" target. For more details about her story, click the linked Title above.

I know a lot of you out there probably have no idea why an artist would be interested in power lines. I for one love the intriguing negative shapes formed by the stark black lines when viewed against a light field of skyscape. I'm attracted in the same way to the black lines of tree branches that are exposed in autumn when the leaves fall from the trees.

So, I'm out there walking in a residential neighborhood early Sunday morning. And I start to see all these beautiful branches and twigs and pieces of sky that weren't there a few weeks ago. I just had to record them. I whipped out my camera and started snapping away. But I got this paranoid feeling that the neighbors wouldn't like it. That they would be suspicisous of some stranger in a sweatshirt and baseball cap taking random photos of their territory.

A part of me kept wondering (truly not seriously, but the thought did come up) if someone would call the "authorities" who would then come and take me "away." We are living in such a different world these days.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Singing By Water

This is one of my favorite "beach" photos. These women were singing and dancing together in the cold breeze out on the point this morning. One of them had taken off her shoes and was standing on the rocks in her bare feet. I blurred the photo because I felt as if I might be invading their privacy by posting a picture. I'm so curious about what they were up to. Was it a ritual of some sort? Or were they just having fun? Maybe they were singing to the newly arrived orca whales. Right after I took this photo they walked away and the moment was was gone.

More "Stars"?

Or are they Fall Leaves?

More Leaves
I can't remember the Autumn leaves ever being prettier than they have been this year. A friend thinks it is because of all the rain we got this summer.

No Orcas Yet
I'm so excited to hear that the orcas have arrived. I was disappointed that I didn't see any last year at all. Hopefully this season will be different and I will get lucky.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Starry Night

The sky was so pretty the other night. Crisp and clear. Twinkly stars against the black sky. This morning on my walk as I'm looking toward the ground, I see the starry skies repeated in the fallen autumn leaves. Nature does that, often.

On one phone pole there is bubble gum (see Installation Art on July 20, 2007). On another, feathers.

I have seen the graffiti in Alki and I too will not post it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

November Sunset

Now that the sun is setting an hour earlier, the winter darkness is closing in for real. For me, the antidote has always been to get outdoors. The more I can get outside, the better I always feel.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A New Leaf

Okay, this is Green Lake and not Alki............Sometimes I need a change. I had almost finished walking around the lake and enjoying the fall foliage, when my eye was snagged by this rather odd "leaf" perched among the branches. I didn't really think of it as litter. I think it was hoping to be retrieved by its owner. The juxtaposition of the natural with the unnatural made me laugh. I have a very odd sense of humor.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

I was so shocked the other morning when I spotted this evidence of frost on the leaves. I remember in New England by Halloween there was usually "frost on the pumpkins." So we get frost here this year as well.

Here is a shot of one of my sitting rocks. I guess it is totally frivolous and self indulgent to spend time just sitting on a rock doing nothing but looking out at the water. Oh well. That's what I like to do. Especially when it is cold and windy and there isn't another soul around. I was a bit miffed the other day, however, to discover that a park bench has been installed just a few feet away. So do I sit on my rock or on the bench? I will admit that this rock is not on Alki Beach. I've been expanding my walking routes.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Big Wind Party/ Photo Shoot

I have always loved the wind. Whenever we have a big wind storm, I am one of the first people to get down to the beach. I love to sit by the water and let the wind blow in my face.

Wow, were there a lot of people at the beach doing the same thing yesterday. And so many cameras!

It looked like there were lots of nice SLR digital cameras as well as "snapshot cameras," video cameras and cell phone cameras. Of course there was a KOMO TV camera. The TV stations always send someone out to cover the wind storms.

One guy had a HUGE telephoto lens on a tripod. The tripod was supposed to stabilize the camera. But I was wondering how he was going to stabilize the tripod. The whole setup seemed to be blowing all over the place. He must have been using a really fast shutter speed.

I had brought my "old style" Kool Pix digital - the kind that has a lag time between when you press the button and when the shutter opens. I still haven't figured out when, during that time, the photo is actually "taken." The camera was pretty useless since no matter what I did I couldn't stop it from moving for the amount of time that seemed necessary to shoot the photo. I finally decided to just point and shoot and hope for the best.

Then I took out my cell phone camera and decided I couldn't do any worse with that.

See the video posted on the West Seattle blog and the great photos at the Beach Drive blog - linked to this site.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Different Kind of Walk

Alki Beach from the Ferry

Augusta Asberry

I got to see a different perspective today - both of Alki Beach and life. I took the ferry to Bremerton early this morning to attend the funeral of my friend Augusta Asberry. Augusta was a nationally renowned artist who specialized in paintings of dancing African American women in their traditional native clothing. Her figures were colorful and dynamic.

Augusta was the oldest of 10 children from a family living in Louisiana. Most of her childhood was spent taking care of her brothers and sisters. Later on she had three children of her own and helped raise three step sons. The chapel today was full of relatives and friends. The City of Bremerton declared today "Augusta Asberry Day."

Among the things Augusta's family said about her during the service was that she was an artist who worked for 35 years as a nurse. During that time in the Bay Area, a painting of hers had won first prize in a prestigious art competition. But when the organizers discovered she was black, they refused to give her the award.

At the time of her death, Augusta was the President of Women Painters of Washington, the oldest art organization of its kind in the nation. I am so proud that the group was able to give her the validation she deserved. Hopefully it made up for some of the unfairness she had encountered during her life.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Memorials set up for the victims of last year's spectacular car crash off the Duwamish Head sea wall. That explains yesterday's bouquet of flowers as well.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pieces of Summer

Now that summer is gone I have a few leftover photos that I never got around to posting. So I guess you would say this is a "clean up" post.
Blind Runner
I've seen this blind runner being guided by his friend a number of times.

Does anyone out there remember Norm Bright? He was another blind runner who used to stand in the middle of the Green Lake running path yelling for help until someone, anyone, would volunteer to guide him around the lake. Someone always did.

Wild Roses

Although evidence of the changing seasons is everywhere, there is a particular clump of wild roses that acts as my "season barometer." In the winter the plants are nothing more than bare brown sticks. In the spring, after the sticks sprout bright green foliage, I celebrate the unfolding of the bright pink flowers. Slowly, as the summer passes, the petals fall away leaving huge, red rose hips. And the seasonal cycle starts again.

Every time I walk by that clump of flowers I am reminded of the wild roses of Martha's Vineyard that I used to pass while I bicycled along the Atlantic shore. I was 16 years old then and the world made sense.

Wild Ninja
One morning I spotted this Ninja star lying in the sand. It was only about two inches across and made of cardboard. It couldn't have hurt anyone. But I found it during the time when Alki Beach was having all that supposed gang activity during the long summer evenings.

During one week this summer my son was working in Magnolia and I had to forego my morning Alki Beach walks and drive him to his job. It was a great opportunity for me to walk the dog in Discovery Park. Years ago when my husband and I first moved to Seattle, we rented a house in Magnolia just a few blocks from the Park. I don't get over there often anymore and it was nice to get back. I hiked along the cliffs and out to the Lighthouse where I sat on a rock for a while - one of my favorite activities.

The beach was great but I was rather disappointed at the state of the outbuildings. At one time they had been occupied and well maintained with fresh paint. Presently, they appear abandoned and in disrepair. Truly, it was disheartening for me to wonder about a country that now seems to take no pride in the state of its commons. Obviously our priorities are elsewhere and we just aren't willing to put the effort into keeping up what we once cared about. Sure enough, as I was standing there in disappointment, one of the doors fell off its hinges with a bang. You can see the door lying on the ground in the second photograph. It was as if the building was actually talking to me saying, "Do something, will you?" I guess these buildings are so far out of the public eye that the people making these decisions figure no one notices or cares. Well, I do.

The Painting Twins
On my way out of the park I ran into these two men who had set up their painting easels. Being a painter myself, I couldn't just walk by them without a conversation. Turns out they were painting landscapes of Puget Sound with Alki Beach in the distance. So I asked them, "Where are you from?" And their answer was, "West Seattle." I said, "I live in Alki." "So do we," they replied. We had a good laugh. Three artists from Alki randomly meeting across Elliott Bay in Discovery Park. My Magnolia hiking trip had an Alki connection after all.

Bird With a View
Sometimes I think it would be great to live life as a bird. Well, if there is such a thing as reincarnation, maybe there is still a chance for me.

More Mystery Flowers
I found these flowers left on a spot near Duwamish Head this morning.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Shades of Gray

It's really stating the obvious that most of us in Seattle become sensitized to the many nuances of the color gray - whether we are artists or not. I'm always inspired by the varieties of gray I notice when I walk the beach on a cloudy Sunday morning in September.

A view of the beach just about 7am as I started my walk. Although the fall and winter can be dreary, there are often spectacular natural views early in the morning which are created courtesy of the distant edges of the cloud cover. The gaps of clear sky visible off toward the Cascades or Olympic Mountains allow the sun to shoot across the horizon, bouncing off anything in its path. (This is why artist Mike Burns would get up at 4:00 am during the summer months to capture images for his paintings.)
And if the edges of the cloud cover close up, there is also the possibility of "sky holes." This morning the sun made a direct hit on one of them.

I got to thinking about why the tide seemed especially low just about the time I rounded Duwamish Head on my way back to Alki. (Sure enough my tide table said low tide was at 8:44 this morning.)

One clue might be that the Autumnal Equinox was at 2:51 this morning.(Autumnal Equinox Info) So, summer is officially over. Apparently one man hasn't gotten the message because I spotted him at 8:30 am in his shorts actually wading in one of the tide pools. Brrrrr........

I started wondering if the equinoxes really have any impact on the tides since they only mark the point where the sun crosses the equator. Since I really don't know much about this tide business, I did a bit of online investigation.

I found a hint from this website: tide info which states: "During the time of the Vernal Equinox and Autumnal Equinox, around March 21 and September 23, when the Sun crosses the equator, very high tides will occur. These high tides will occur during either the Full or New Moon nearest to the Vernal Equinox and Autumnal Equinox."

Hmmmmmmmm, which means I needed to find out when the next full moon is. See Moon Info. Apparently the closest full moon will occur this Friday night. Sure enough, according to my tide table we will see a 12 foot high tide on Friday evening at 6:17 pm.

Makes sense to me, I guess, but the truth is that I really don't know what I am talking about here. Most of my nature knowledge is experiential. The tide comes in and the tide goes out. And I notice that.
Not everything around here is idyllic. I passed one gentleman, still asleep, who appeared to have spent the night on a park bench using a knapsack as a pillow. Another was eating his breakfast out of a garbage can. Shades of gray to be sure.............

The title of this gray painting is "Don't Hold Your Breath." For many reasons. It will be on display at the Alexis Hotel from October through December.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Glad She's Back

"With the faith and courage of
their forefathers who made
possible the freedom of these
United States


dedicate this copy of
the Statue of Liberty as a pledge
of everlasting fidelity and loyalty."