Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jack Knife Wedding

Prairie style rusticity, with a back story.  You know things that seem different have a story that explains why they are together.  Go see my listing on Etsy.  https://www.etsy.com/listing/130891431/jackknife-wedding?ref=shop_home_active

Just a little time traveling, my dears.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Jack Knife Rich

When I saw a listing on Etsy for 70 miniature jack knives, I just about got all sweaty and broken out with yearning and then a little thought drifted by, noticing that Darlicious had also favorited this hoard, that she might like to go halvsies.  Sho nuff, of course she did!  In fact, she did the transaction through her account and listed half the haul for me.  Now I am rich beyond my wildest dreams, in little, teeny jack knives.

Aren't they cute?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Very, very light and fluttery, like wings ...

I ordered some 22 ga. wire from Unkamen Supplies, on Etsy, custom anodized in black, just for my own designs.  It arrived in a coil, which at first alarmed me, and since I usually use 20 ga. for ear findings, it looked thin, and I was a tad put off.  Until -- ta dah! -- I discovered a handy way to make the findings without having to measure and cut the wire to length.  Round nose pliers turn a small loop in the free end of the coil, then cut free, just next to the small loop.  It looks like a closed circle, until you turn back the end, which makes a gap.  You'll see below.  And no waste of the good niobium stock, either.

I just listed these summery beauties -- they are very mobile and quite long, three and half inches, but so light weight, especially the birdie ones, that they are super comfortable, especially with those thinner, non-reactive metal findings (niobium doesn't irritate the sensitive ear because it doesn't form oxides at normal temperatures; I think that's how it works, anyway).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Heaven on Snow Shoes

We had another weekday escape.  The blue skies, pure air and beauty around us lifted our hearts and cleared our minds.

The original plan was to drive down to Mt. Rainier National Park and snow shoe around there, but Jena suggested we take a look at the Pacific Crest trail, leaving from Snoqualmie Pass, only 40 minutes away.  This saved us about 5 hours of driving and gave us more time out there, brilliant!

Here's Jena with Guye Peak photo-bombing
the view.

This is a pose, but the smile is genuine.  I love snow shoe travel to distraction.  Even when the snow its packed and firm enough not to post hole, having those snow shoes on makes me perfectly silly with delight.

You know it's a pose, because, where's the jacket and the big pack with water bottles, lunch, camera, 10 essentials, guidebook, sunscreen, etc., etc.  I usually carry things that will help me survive a forced overnight.

The crossing log, in spring condition.

The creek, in spring condition

Just below the water fall, gleams of sunlight
 through the canopy light up the creek bed

About the width of my palm, no claw marks, hmmmm, cougar tracks?

One of the great joys of snow shoe travel is tracking and guessing who else is out there.  When the snow is fresh and the day is yet young, you can see a drama unfolded just before you passed by.

The snow pack took us closer to a sapsucker dining area.  This evidence will be about 8 feet off the ground after the thaw.

A last peek at the peak, Guye, and a struggling thin cloud.

What a day!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Day in the Coulee Wrangling Rocks

Wednesday, I rode over Snoqualmie Pass, east, into increasing brightness and clarity, with friend Jena for a spot of peaceful rock climbing on a weekday, when the basalt columns at Frenchman's Coulee would not be crowded, and we could climb low fifth class rock routes in relative privacy.

Jena and me in da coulee

It's a desert gem, just over the Columbia River in the glorious terrain sculpted by ancient lava flows and scoured by continental glacier floods, named "The Channeled Scablands."  Floods of stone and water.  It is a unique and precious ecosystem, where soil, plants and animals tell the story of relentless hardship and victorious adaptation.

It's also a mecca for rock climbers, where my friend Jena has a route or two of first ascents.  Our goal for the day was simply to overcome our spring jitters and reclaim our chops for one more summer of baked rock and steep slopes.

Talk about wabi-sabi.  My rock climbing skills have fluttered away like spring petals, and to find joy again in the risk and problem solving took more than one pitch.  But I found it again on a very sweet little 5 bolt route that Jena led, I followed, cleaned and rapped off.  When we pulled the rope down, I felt pretty good.

It was a long way down.

Jena calls this "rock wrangling."

This morning I woke up a little sore in the triceps and for a sleepy hour or two, was certain today is Sunday.  (All those years before retirement, climbing meant it was Saturday.)

Lessons learned:  today is the day, let go of the past, enjoy what is before you, let nothing take your capacity for love, neither death nor disaster.

The desert is a very rich place; the longer you look, the more appears.  Keep looking!

Columnar basalt, left from a Miocene event, eroded by glacial foods.
There's beauty on scales both intimate and grand; the air is scented with sage and flowers and very clean, like food for your lungs.

Balsam root, phlox, sage and cryptogamic soil, topped with lava.

We always end a day with a short drive downhill to a view of the mighty Columbia and distant horizons.

Roll on Columbia, roll on.

Even the smallest rocks tell a powerful tale of the long life of our Earth. And just in time for Earth Day on the 22nd; many happy returns, Mom!

Vesicular basalt -- the pits were formed by escaping gases as the lava slowly cooled.  You can see that moving even one little stone affects the life of plants and animals in this place where they seek shelter to survive and reproduce.
And here are some more interesting bits.

PS:  Friends, life is on the sharp end of the rope.  So says the desert sage.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Drift Seeds: the Ojo de Buey

The seed called "Ojo de Buey" ("Eye of the Bull") floats from Central and South American rivers to sea and then drifts to the beaches of the Gulf Coast, where, when found, it is considered a lucky charm. It has evolved a very hard shell just for that style of dispersal, and yet more interesting, the plant that produces it, a climbing woody vine, or liana, twines through rain forest trees, producing flowers that are pollinated by bats.  For some fascinating reading on drift seeds, or sea beans, their lore, curious facts and natural history, visit http://waynesword.palomar.edu/mucuna.htm.  You'll probably want to bookmark that destination, which is just loaded with botanical information and great links to explore.

And for no particular reason, except that she is the Best Dog That Ever Lived, heeeeere's Abbie!

She rescued me in January a year ago.  We are soul mates.  I confide all my deepest inner thoughts to her, and she listens without comment.  She's my canine confessor and debriefer, that's right. Works for me!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Counting Crows

One for sadness, two for mirth;
Three for marriage, four for birth;
Five for laughing, six for crying:
Seven for sickness, eight for dying;
Nine for silver, ten for gold;
Eleven a secret that will never be told

I finally got to the point I could sacrifice my treasured 3 Black Crows tobacco tag.  It must have been when I remembered the wonderful old Oaxaca pottery crows stashed away in the corner of a box; everything seemed to flow from that point.

Tobacco tags were used at auctions to mark the purchases of agents, and since it was tobacco, you know it had to be a southern thing.  The name "3 Black Crows" may indeed come from an old Appalachian song, "Three Ravens," a descendant of a medieval Scottish song, "Twa Corbies."

That's just a small example of the fascination of working with sweet old things like tobacco tags -- they come with a story to tell, if you can suss it out.