Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fiber artist #3: Carol Bryer Fallert(-Gentry)

Yes, I know, the #FiveFemaleArtists thing was for March but life happens, no?  I'm going to finish anyway.

Carol Bryer Fallert came to my attention in the late 90's when she started her feather studies series.  I share her love of color & curves,  and appreciated the change in perception of zooming in on a familiar object.   Here's the first in that particular series.

But it wasn't until she did a large dancer piece at the same time I was beginning my dancer series that I decided to keep an eye on her.  Her work dealt with similar concepts as mine while differing in treatment enough to generate interesting ideas for me.

She not only has an extensive body of work which can be seen  at but has reached the point in her life/career where she is mentoring the rest of us with her free articles and tutorials.

I'm spending part of this week exploring what she offers at  I appreciate her offerings not only because of her decades of experience creating and teaching but also because this is a wonderful collection of articles relevant to my work in one convenient place.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Thinking of birds while doing taxes...

Norwescon was wonderful except for the walking more than 12 miles and trashing my ankles.  Then getting the flu.  And then starting on the taxes, almost done, huzzah!  But during this tsunami of life stuff, I took half a day to go to Canada so I could go to part of Washington:  Point Roberts.  Where Pauline, my local birding pal, and I got to see 36 Harlequin ducks bobbing about.  And a sea lion.  And almost a dozen eagles.  I'm thinking there were some schools of fish out there somewhere...

But the Harlequins!  They are gorgeous birds and I've never seen that many of them in one place nor heard them make so much noise before.  I particularly enjoyed the group that came up almost onto the beach and played in the surf.  My camera battery died, so this picture is courtesy of Pauline.

Waiting for the wave

These guys were riding the waves as they came on shore and playing in the surf.  One of those amazing birding experiences that keep me going out there as much as possible. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Fiber artist #2 - Esterita Austin

Continuing my #5femaleartists posts about fiber artists who have influenced me with Esterita Austin.  Esterita teaches nationally (mostly at quilt stores) and I was fortunate enough to take her class about using paint on fused applique compositions.  The class I took is no longer listed on her page as she's developed new and more interesting classes. 

For me, that class was an eye opener.  It was in the early 2000's and I had not yet discovered silkscreening or even painting on quilts.  I was doing everything with fabric and thread.  The class used a composition she had developed with rocks in the foreground and a couple of tree trunks on the right.  The fabric requirements specified multi tone and color fabric.  And I learned an amazing amount about letting the fabric carry the values of shadow and highlight and adding emphasis through paint. She was originally trained as a painter and all of her classes use that training skillfully to teach quilters to use an artist's eye. Clearly this workshop was important to me since I'm remembering so much detail 15 years later.

Workshop result with some additions

After the workshop, I was in complete love with the tree trunks.  Most of the texture on them was added by some delicate painting which really popped them as 3D.  I later added the sunset sky by printing on sheer fabric from a nice photo I had.  And there was some other experimentation with shiva paint sticks and rubbing plates done that added visual texture to the water. 

Several years later (2013/2014)  I took a second workshop from her on doing fabric self-portraits.  The piece that came out of that workshop (see below) is the only piece ever displayed in my Georgetown studio that had someone walk into the studio, make a beeline to the piece, and ask loudly "Whose is this?  How much does it cost?"  That was a thrilling moment for me but I told him it wasn't for sale. 

I found the emphasis on tone rather than color freeing and have used things I learned from her regularly in my work.  I haven't browsed her class list in a while but looking at it for this blog is making me think it's time for another workshop.  This time I'll go for the paint on sheer fabric one as I already had using sheers on my experimentation list for this year.

I heartily recommend browsing her gallery and her students gallery for some other samples of this type of colorful work.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Fiber artists who influenced me - Deidre Scherer

It's Women's History Month and the National Museum of Women in the Arts is doing a  #5femaleartists  thing on social media.  So, this is me joining in while I am in the final week of assembling work and finishing the papers for Norwescon.

I'm going to post about one artist a day from a list of 5 fiber artists who had a big influence on me.  Today's female fiber artist is Deidre Scherer whose name I can never spell right the first time. 

In Thought

It's not even that her work inspired me altho her use of thread to create line and shadow on fabric opened up possibilities for me.   I was at my in-laws house for Thanksgiving and Dr. Doug was talking about a trip to the east coast and a museum.  He started describing these amazing detailed stitched portraits but couldn't remember the artists' name.  I looked at him and said "Deidre Scherer".  And he was amazed I knew of her.  This was in the late 90's when I was just starting to exhibit so it really made me feel like I was truly an artist.  Because even if I wasn't producing lots or exhibiting lots, I knew my field and the fellow artists.

She's added paper and lino prints to her work since then and you can see all of her work at her webpage,  The work displayed is still focused on elder portraits regardless of the technique and I find both her woven paper pieces and lino-cuts intriguing.  Looking at the variations she has done gives me some ideas about ways to vary my dancer pieces while I experiment this year.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

destashing my studio

"Money doesn't buy happiness, but money buys fabric."  And here's your chance.  Or at least, your chance is coming later this week.

I'm in the final, I swear, really truly LAST,  bit of decluttering my studio and this time I'm ditching lots of patterns and fabric.  It will all be posted on my etsy store, link here.  I thought it only right to let the people who follow my blog get advance notice, so that's what this is.  Here's the current stack of stuff that needs to go.  Patterns will go first, Folkwear patterns first of all.

And here's the closeup of the Folkwear patterns that I have left and that I don't plan to use in the next 12 months.  (That's my ruthless criteria for this final purge.  Will I use it in the next year?  If the answer isn't an absolute Yes, it goes.  Because I get ideas faster than I can do them.) 

Last time, I sold these for $9 a piece and that still seems reasonable for the uncut ones. (Brand new from the webpage prices are $15-20.)  The cut ones may be somewhat less.  I plan to have them up today but we're off to an Oscar party at 4pm so I'll have to hurry.

I'd really love to finish the purging by the ides of March so please send good thoughts, energy, etc my way that I don't have yet another bout of the flu before then.  And may your projects go well too.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Craving Spring

There are 2 reasons why I'm really craving spring:  first, more birds.  Of Course.  And second, I really want to be past the tree pollen & sinus infection time of the year.  I'm going to visit the doctor later today to try and take care of this years' sinus problem which should improve my life considerably.  But to enjoy the birds, I'm going to have a wait a bit.  For now, I'm going back over recent bird photos and here's one I took on a walk to a local park. 

I particularly liked the hardy fuschias in the foreground.  Here's hoping I see more birds soon and am finally over my marathon of flu, colds & sinus crud.  Because all of this illness has made it really hard to get much of anything done.

Up later this week:  photos and descriptions of the destashing going on in my studio.  Fabric and patterns will be going up for sale on my etsy store as I feel better in the near future.  Here's hoping you and yours have made it through this flu season with ease.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Reifel Bird Sanctuary (Delta, BC) where chickadees eat from your hand

After a severe allergy reaction to dental molding compound (Jan 22) and a small sinus infection caused by the congestion from the allergy, I was *finally* well enough to actually go on the local Audubon trip to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Canada on Feb 1.  Reifel is famous among birding circles as having a large variety of birds but I'd never been before.  Now that it's a daytrip,  I felt it was time to rectify this problem.  And it was definitely worth the effort. 

One of the secrets to the sactuary's appeal to birds is they sell bird seed at the visitor's center.  This means there are wandering groups of ducks who gather around if you stand still for any length of time.The groups we saw included mallards, wigeons and wood ducks.  I was particularly pleased that I got such closeup views of the wood ducks as I love their plumage.  Here's the best shot I got of one duck.

In addition to the roving bands of ducks, there are flocks of small birds including chickadees, towhees, sparrows of all types and red-winged blackbirds who will gather if you stand on the trail with seed in your hand.  The chickadees are the most fearless in grabbing some food but if you stand long enough, all but the towhees will venture onto your hand too.  It's amazing to feel how light the birds are and to be that close to them.

There are several bird species seen at Reifel that are not easy to find here in western Washington.  Black-crowned night herons and sandhill cranes are 2 of them that we saw.  The night herons were roosting with their heads tucked under their wings so not that photogenic but the sandhill cranes were right out there with the ducks grabbing the free food distributed by the school field trip there at the same time as we were.   I usually have to go to Othello in eastern Washington to see them and even there, it's not as close a view as we got at Reifel.

The black bird with the white beak to the left of the crane is an American Coot and the bird on the right side of the photo in the background is an American Wigeon.  The white stripe on their forehead is the giveaway.

If I had had the sense to stop after lunch instead of going back out, my feet & calves would have been much happier.  I walked over 5 miles during the trip and after essentially a month of inactivity due to flu, allergies, etc, this was not a great idea.  To prep for spring birding, I'll be doing more frequent but shorter birding trips.  And I'll try Reifel again later on when the migrants are coming through.  Because I expect it will be amazing.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Norwescon: my spring art show

I'm starting a new group of dancer pieces using the phrase "Dancing with the Stars" as my theme.  While I'll be talking about them and some of the pieces will have silkscreen prints in my etsy store as I make them, the new work will debut at Norwescon at the end of March.  Norwescon is a volunteer run Science Fiction & Fantasy convention that's held on Easter weekend every year in SeaTac.  It's very popular with artists so I was only able to get one panel this year so I'll have a 4ft by 4ft panel of new art to show.   I'm basing the new work on older pieces and doing variations on these pieces shown below. 

Original 'Space Dancers'

This piece was my first combination with the dancers and astronomy photos.  That worked somewhat but I'd like to simplify the composition by reducing the elements and not have as many textures and colors going at once.  One of my other pieces that sold almost immediately has that simpler color palette.

Infinity & beyond

The problem with this piece was the funny size.  This was 20" wide and 10" high and was a pain to frame.  I'm going to try this piece with a more square finished size and we'll see how that goes.

And finally, the piece that got lost in transit while I had 2 studios, one public and one at home. 


I really like the central figure with the marbled fabric streamers swirling around the globe, the dancer and then off into space.  I was so sad about losing this piece that it's been hard to do another one but it's definitely on my list for this year's work.

Things I want to combine in these new pieces:  glow in the dark paint, some new celestial fabrics I just ordered this morning,  and using paper to work out the compositions before doing the textile pieces.   I'm excited about the ideas I'm getting as well as finally having the studio set up so I can work easily.  I got in some studio time every day this week which is also a good thing. 

I'll be posting as I make progress on these and I look forward to sharing them with you all. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

My top ten blog posts of all time

I seem to mostly be over this horrid flu, having lost at least 3 weeks to it. This post, about my top 10 blog posts ever, was intended to be done around Jan 1 since that's when lots of folks look back on what's been accomplished in order to help plan what's coming up.  So, almost 2 weeks late, here it is.

Top of the heap with 1096 views is Quilt labels.  I wrote about how to use word and clipart to make pretty quilt labels in September of 2008.  This is one of the posts I'm planning to redo sometime this year as I think it needs updating to what I'm doing now which uses gimp and my photos instead of Word and clipart.  Still getting lots of views, mostly due to links from other blogs and websites. 

#2.  The most popular of my non-art blog posts.  Because who doesn't love cookies?  Especially for the winter holidays.

This is the other blog I'll do an update on.  I did much more stamp carving after this article and I'm planning on using some of those stamps this year for etsy store products.  The photo below shows the large size of the carved stamps that I used to make several pieces of art so I'll talk about carving those stamps and show my new uses of them. 

#4.  The first blog post about news sources and where they sit on a spectrum of ideology and accuracy.  It was done recently, 12/1/16, and has been viewed 192 times.  (For context, I get 300-400 views per month so that many in essentially a year makes this a very popular blog post.)

#5.  One of my most technical artist business posts is still very, very popular.  And I'm still using the same system so I am confident in its utility.

#6.  The second blog post about news sources, done 12/14/16.  Some quibbling about exactly where sources rank but in general, very similar to the earlier one.  

#7.  I am still not sure why Virtual Vacation in Chiliwack was so much more popular than my other virtual vacations posts but it was.  It's been 7 years (and a bit) since I went to Chiliwack and now that I live closer, I'm planning to go much more often.  

In 2012 I did several art experiment posts.  #8 was about experimenting with discharge paste and #9 was some dye experiments.  I was looking to do a fabulous gray and tried some things out.

#10 was about upcoming shows in Edmonds which is pure history at this point.

So what did I learn?  Six out of the 10 were art related which is a little bit higher than the percentage of posts I do about art.  So I guess people like hearing about my art, at least the experiments and how-to's.  I had already decided to do more of that type of posting so I'm happy to have the data to support that decision.    

Some other things I got by looking at the statistics blogger provides is that regular posts mean higher traffic.  (All together now "Duh".)  And links to other blogs/sites matter.  Again Duh.  My goal for this year is to focus & practice in my studio and part of that will be blogging about what I'm doing.  So here's for meeting goals in 2018!

Friday, January 5, 2018

National Bird Day - share and enjoy the birdiness

I'm so glad it's National Bird Day.  This gives me a really easy thing to blog about as I go down for the third time with this blasted flu.  So while I curl up with my iPad and look at birds online, drinking ginger tea and opening yet another bag of cough drops, here's some of my favorite local birds that I am quite pleased to share space with.

2009 - Langley beach flyby
This fav great blue heron shot was taken during an early morning walk on the beach while at a quilting retreat in Langley.  I only wish I had had a better camera so the picture would have more pixels.

2005 - bushtit babies

This great shot of a group of young bushtits was taken through the greenhouse window in the kitchen from at least 25 feet away.  I got very attached to the bushtits in my yard because they would come perch on the holly bush outside my studio window, lining up in a row and peering through the window like a group of toddlers asking "Whatcha doing?"

2005 CA trip - cactus wren

Another favorite old shot of a cactus wren.  I love the light hitting him, the spot of red, the shadows on the cactus.  A friend and I did an intense birding trip to various areas of Southern California in 2005 and that's how I discovered I really like traveling to bird.  It reminds me that all birds are local somewhere no matter how exotic they seem to me.

2009 - Lake Sammamish SP - eagles

And what look at Western Washington birds would be complete without Eagles?  It's so funny to go to, say, Louisiana or the Texas coast and have the local birders want to show me the bald eagles that have shown up unexpectedly.  Yea, thanks, backyard birds for us....  How bout a grackle?

May 2018 be healthy and birdy for all of us.  

Friday, December 22, 2017

Hummingbird heater and photobombing

I got a new heated hummingbird feeder which I like mostly because it means I can sleep in during the winter without worrying about my hummers.  I hung it up last week and so I've been spending more time checking on the backyard during the current cold snap to be sure the hummers have adjusted to the change.  Yesterday, when I went out to the backyard to check, I noticed this really peculiar icicle sticking up out of the bird bath and decided to take a picture of it.  Apparently, Bob, the primary hummingbird, noticed me and decided to keep an eye on my activities.

Bob photobombs for the win

I didn't see him in the shot when I took it but I also got a couple of good shots of him in the plants in between the bird bath and the unheated feeder.   He's apparently fending off multiple other hummingbirds so he spends a lot of time buzzing about the yard.  

Here's the daytime shot of the heated feeder.  A feeder this size holding 16 ounces of sugar solution costs about $20.  The heated one was $32 with shipping.  And 2 days after I put it up, someone shared their DIY solution on FB in the Western Washington Bird group.  They used a large red solo cup, carabiners, and paper clips to put a small lightbulb inside the cup and attach the cup to the bottom of their feeder.  

The wiring on both the purchased one and the DIY one is not weatherproof so that's why it's hanging under the porch eave.  And it seems to be working pretty well, judging by how fast the level of sugar solution is going down.  I gotta admit, the best part of it was seeing it at night, when the little bulb lights up the whole thing.  "Look, Ma, it's a UFO!"  

Here's hoping your winter holidays are happy too.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Birding BC: Englishman's River Estuary

After two days of heavy fog, we finally got a clearer day.  Still overcast and cold but much better for birding.  And since this is the last birding day for this vacation, we headed for Englishman's River Estuary at high tide.  This meant the river birds were further up the river and there were lots of birds at the mingling zone.  The drawback to the weather was that lots of the birds were sleeping in or waiting for it to warm up.

I did get excited about seeing a whole group of Northern Pintail ducks.  Their breeding plumage is elegant and distinctive with the male having a white streak extending from the breast up the neck and then curling forward on the head.  I got some nice close shots of one who was doing some preening and morning bath stuff.

Both sides of the river have public park access so we started with the further side (off of Shelly).  It's mostly forest and has more of the marshy part of the estuary.  Apparently the cold kept everything but ducks, gulls and geese from being out although we heard a couple of birds in the woods but didn't pursue them because of the mud.  The walk back was unproductive of birds and fairly chilly so we took a small side trip to Tim Horton's in Parksville which does not have lattes in decaf.  So I had hot chocolate instead.

Fortified by our trip to Timmy's, we proceeded to the Plummer Road access side where there were many more birds and a viewing stand which gave me excellent views of gadwalls, wigeons and the already mentioned pintails.   It was a good finish to this vacation and now I can turn my birding attention to the reported Painted Bunting in Bellingham.  Here's hoping the bunting hasn't moved on yet and I can find it easily when I get back.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Birding BC: condo day 2

I had all kinds of plans to join a local birding group on an outing this morning, but apparently my back disagreed.  So, after appropriate amounts of aspirin, heating pad and sleeping in, I went out to check out the bay just a few feet from our condo.  Again, I missed the high tide but got another shot of a female merganser fishing close in and since she was apparently trying to drown it, or wash it really well, I got several good shots of her with her fresh caught lunch.  But first, I have to share the new bird for the year, a small red-breasted sapsucker.  I heard the pecking on the tree and spent a few minutes trying to find him.

Once I found him, I had to try and get the camera to focus on the bird, not the branches.  As you can see above, there are a lot of branches.  I threw away about a dozen bad shots before I got the technique I needed down pretty well.

And here's a nice one of the merganser having lunch.  Once I figure out how to crop my photos in gimp, I'll probably do a post with the series of photos of her fussing with her fish before she eats it.

I'm hoping to add a few more birds to my year list while we're here.  I'll be doing some research on ebird and see what the group saw today and see if there's any birds I'd particularly like to see.  Right now, I'm going to go search through the scoter pictures and see if there's a black scoter lurking amongst all the surf scoters.  Here's to getting lucky on vacation!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Birding in BC: Parksville area

Having left our house and cats in the capable hands of our son, Jeff and I are off on a week in Canada.  Just outside Parksville, BC to be exact.  This is one of our favorite spots because the condo we use is right on the water.  So I got to walk down to the water and watch lots of birds.  Unfortunately, I missed the high tide this morning so most of them were too far away for a good photo.  But not this red-breasted merganser.  I snapped several shots to help identify him and was lucky enough to catch him with a fish in his bill.

There are more pictures, lots and lots but I have gimp instead of photoshop and I'll have to figure out how to crop the pics.  Zoom in on this guy to see the fish.

The restaurant on site has changed their menu again.  We decided they must change chefs and let them redo the menu but they keep the name.  This year, the menu features tapas which seem to be entrees without the sides.  For example, 5 shrimp wrapped in bacon on a skewer with bbq sauce for $14.    We also got the seared scallops with a nice sauce and the cheese plate.  There are also full dinners on the flip side of the menu so I'll be trying one of those later this week.  

And tonight, we go out to try the steakhouse restaurant in Parksville, Kalvas the Loghouse.  The grocery store manager recommended it as having good food and a nice fireplace so we'll see how the food and ambiance are in a couple of hours.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

exploring PDF patterns for sewing

A friend of mine for over 30 years sews her own clothes.  She's a definite pear shaped plus size so finding clothes that fit is a significant challenge.  And she's a lawyer so she pretty much had to learn to sew her own clothes to have professional clothing that fit and wasn't just a boxy suit.  She often shares patterns she thinks I'd like and that led to me looking at some websites and then joining a couple of FB groups because of the free patterns.  Now that my studio is mostly functional, I'm starting a couple of projects using these PDF patterns.  One is the Relaxed Raglan shirt from Patterns for Pirates and the other is a wristlet wallet to replace my teal leather one I loved that was stolen in June.  

I've of course continued to buy patterns and some fabric even tho I haven't made my own clothes in decades.  One of the fabrics I bought is the lovely feather print next to the patterns in the photo below.  I'm going to use it for the sleeves on the raglan top and go get a nice blue knit in a similar weight for the body.  

So, what's a PDF pattern?  It's a PDF file that you can download and then print out on printer paper or have printed at a plotter shop if you don't want to spend the time taping/gluing the pages together.  Some of the newer ones are even done in layers by size so if you don't need to modify the fit, you can print just the one size you need.  Here's a shot of the sleeve for the raglan top after I glued all the pages together.  I printed all the sizes since P4P has no problem with people selling things made from their patterns and I have an etsy store and some plans to make fabric and sell both the fabric and clothes made from it.

So once I buy the blue knit for the body of the shirt and wash it, I'm ready to cut out the shirt and see how long it takes to sew.  The general comments on the FB group are that the shirt is really easy so the only issue I should have is remembering how to sew knits.  

While I'm cutting, I may also cut out the fabric for the wristlet.  Again, this is a possible item to go on my etsy store besides being something that I want for myself.  The fabrics I'm using for the wallet are to the right of the pattern picture.  I also have some scrap turquoise leather that I may use for the next one once I've done one and decided if I like the pattern.

The batiks I've picked are a different color than my beloved teal wallet but these are certainly colors I have a lot of in my wardrobe.  I'm planning to get both of these projects done over the long weekend so maybe I'll show the finished pieces in the next post.  

Happy Turkey Day to everyone and I hope you're doing something you enjoy as much as I am.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Totally treehugger life is now possible

I've been furiously working on the unpacking and simplifying going on after our move in my attempt to get it all done by Halloween so you might have noticed I haven't been blogging about my art, or my reading or even sharing some very green post I've spotted. made that come to an end today.

I have to admit the lede alone made me LOL.  I have such a weakness for Greens with a sense of humor....

"What more can we say; here is a single post on TreeHugger that has  a tiny house that is powered by solar panels and a big Powerwall battery, and it is clad in wood, and it is towed by a Tesla. We will just say that there is a folding e-bike in the trunk of the car to make it TreeHugger perfect. Dress up the vegan driver in ethical clothes and we have nothing more to write."

Here's the link to Tesla's tiny home, totally solar powered.  You have to go to Australia to see it now but I look forward to the caravan making it here someday soon.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Gluten free apple fritters, oh yea...

My plans for this weekend got derailed by a major allergy attack (and those new GF crackers went in the trash, pronto) so after using up 3 boxes of tissues and taking double doses of anti-histamines, I fell back on cooking to let me feel productive.

Last of 10 fritters only 3 hours old

Someone posted a link to a recipe on line for Amish Apple Fritters.  I love apple fritters more than any other fried pastry thing so I printed it out and put it on the make list.  First, we bought some apples.  The organic Gala's were on sale at the co+op so I grabbed a bag of them even though the recipe calls for Granny Smith or Gravenstein. Jeff reports they're meh as hand fruit but they worked just fine in the fritters.  

And I subbed some things out:  the Namaste brand of GF all-purpose baking flour from Costco, and 2 duck eggs from my daughter's flock of ducks instead of the chicken eggs I am allergic to.  More notes about how it all went below with my current version of the recipe (the original can be found at


For fritters:  

3-4 cored, peeled and chopped apples to give a heaping 2 C of apples in my pyrex measuring cup
2 tsp lemon juice, drizzed over apple pieces after chopping (I used the bottled frozen lemon juice)

Vegetable oil for deep frying, enough to come halfway up the pan ( I used a cast iron skillet with about a pint of  organic sunflower and canola which was strained and stored after frying to be used for the next time).  Put on high on the stove top to reach at least 375F by the time you mix up the batter.  If you have an electric skillet or deep fryer, of course use that.

Cream in stand mixer for 1-2 minutes: 

2 eggs
2 TB sugar (organic granulated from TJ's)

In a small bowl, combine:
1 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I buy organic cinnamon sticks and grind them myself.)
1/2 tsp salt

Add dry ingredients to the mixer along with 1/4 C milk.

Mix well.    Take the paddle off the mixer and watch the rock, paper, scissors match for who gets to lick the beater.  Add the apple chunks and stir them into the batter with a spoon.

Set up a paper towel lined tray (I used 3 layers) to put them on as they come out.  Set up a good way to sprinkle powdered sugar on them when they're hot.

Now you are ready to fry.  Check the oil temp.  Once it hits 375F, scoop out a full spoonful of batter, flatten it slightly with a small scraper and scrape it into the oil gently.  My skillet took 3 or 4 at a time but I did them a little too big to start.  When they get to a true golden brown color, flip using 2 spoons and brown well on the other side.  You might need to flip them again to be sure they cook all the way through.  The whole process should take about 5-6 minutes.  (I should have done a test one to be sure my size wasn't so large that they wouldn't cook thoroughly.  I'll do this next time and maybe increase the oil level.  This is why I say to flatten them slightly so they aren't a big mound.)  Remove from oil to paper towels and sprinkle with powdered sugar unless you plan to glaze them later (see original recipe.)  Repeat until all the batter is fried.  Share and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Scudder Pond: appreciating the common birds

I did my approximately weekly trip to Scudder Pond yesterday, early in the damp & chilly morning.  Unfortunately for me, the birds aren't used to fall yet, so they took the chill and cloudy skies to mean it wasn't daytime yet so they slept in.  Fortunately for me, one of the birds there was a female mallard who was taking her time doing her morning bath and breakfast quite close to the trail.  She was so close that I had trouble not cropping off her beak or tail when I zoomed in to get lots of detail.

That much zoom made the patterns in her feathers very clear.  At a distance, through the binocs, she would normally look like a brown duck with some shading.  Here, her patterning is clear and now I understand why the female gadwall is described as looking like a female mallard only smaller and with white secondaries instead of blue.

Next up was a loud red-wing blackbird perched most of the way across the pond.  I'm  still figuring out the camera and I'm not sure why the back of the blackbird is purple but the camera was very consistent about this as I saw later with other shots of the mallard.  He's black, like a crow not purple.  

On the way back out,  I got to focus on practicing with my camera and appreciating the textural beauty of the mallard's feathers especially against the log and leaves in the water.

Other local birders are reporting warblers and shorebirds migrating through so I'm hoping next week's trip will give me some more camera practice with more birds.  For now, it was nice to have the artistic exercise of seeing all the textures in play in an ordinary scene.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Scudder Pond birding delights me!

Since it's been sunny and warm here in Bellingham, I decided to try out some other birding spots for my morning walk.  And last week, I went to Scudder Pond (connected to Whatcom Falls park by a lovely trail) not once but twice with fabulous birding experiences both time.  And I added 3 birds to my 2017 list bringing me to a total of 85.  New birds for the year:  Wood Duck, Pileated Woodpecker, and Black-throated Grey Warbler.

Scudder Pond is a wonderful birding experience.  The trail starts with the pond to the right and a wooded area to the left that sits between the trail and the water flow from Lake Whatcom to the falls.  So there's lots of habitat for birds and lots of water.  It's also a great place to see wildlife other than birds as I know from previous encounters with a beaver and a couple of deer this time.

The Wood Duck was my first bird of the trip as he was at the end of the pond hanging out on a log and doing his morning bath routine.  His breeding plumage is not grown in yet so I had to identify him mostly by the partial white outlining of the non-breeding plumage plus I got a really good look at his lovely red eye.  Checking my field guide just now, I am happy to realize that the breeding plumage comes back in September so the fabulous wood duck markings will be seen soon.

Least blurry shot of preening wood duck

Next up was the wonderful time spent watching the Pileated Woodpecker work his way up a snag.  The photos I took of him on the trunk of the snag are too blurry to show the bird because I'm still learning how to work with my new camera.  It insisted on focusing on the branches in front of the bird.  Once he got up to the top, I got some great shots but the sun was so bright that much of the brilliant red crest was washed out.

Pileated on his way up to the top of the snag

Here's one with some of his crest.  

I had Pileateds as regular visitors to our backyard in Bellevue and this is one of the birds I've missed seeing regularly so it was nice to watch him for a while.

Other birds seen at Scudder Pond last week (2 trips total):
  • 3 hummingbirds
  • goldfinches
  • Stellar's Jay
  • American Crow
  • Black-capped Chickadee, many
  • Cedar Waxwings
  • Spotted Towhee
  • Black-headed Grosbeak
  • Red-winged Blackbird, many
  • Bushtit
  • Robin
  • Orange-crowned warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Black-throated Gray Warbler
  • Junco
  • Song Sparrow
Unsurprisingly, I got no photos of the warblers.  I was lucky to id them all and to have a 3 warbler day on my second day at the pond.  All in all, it was a great week of birding and I look forward to more as we head into the fall migration.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Making orcas happy by going green

I'm struggling with some health issues so no new art stuff this time.  Instead, I'm spreading the word about changing some of the ferries in Washington to hybrid or electric.  Norway has already done this successfully and here's a couple of articles about current plans to go that direction here.

In Skagit, there's this about an all electric ferry.  Again, we see the initially higher upfront cost to convert to electric and the compelling significantly lower maintenance & fuel costs.  The big bonus is lowering the noise level for the orcas.

Norwegian electric ferry, photo from Nor-Shipping

Even closer to home for me, our local shipyard has landed a contract to build a hybrid ferry for Red and White Fleet of San Francisco.  Read about the details here.  Lots of progress going on and I am glad to see it.