Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January-- and all I can say is what a year so far.

Farm Boss and I came home from town to see that the little cedar planted down near the creek was about to be carried away by the still raging water. I went into panic mode as I'd been worried about this since several days ago I had seen the bank crumbling away a foot or so from the small tree. This little cedar has fought for its life before with beavers gnawing it off. It's been tough, but the creek was doing what creeks do with arranging its path to suit itself.

Farm Boss was able to get a rope around it but nothing was easy or even safe. The creek has undercut the bank enough that we have had to fence the sheep out of the house pasture to prevent them walking too close and also going downstream.  Using the tractor, he was able drag it and its root ball away from the water.

When he was doing that, I walked down to be sure he didn't end up downstream himself. Right after I had walked part way, I heard a sharp crack behind me. One of the limbs on the big oak trees fell off. I was lucky when I walked is all I can say.  There was no wind, but just a tree doing what a tree's gotta do.

Besides the weather he and I have had miserable colds that led to other problems and finally a visit to the clinic to see the doctor. I hate going to doctors and put it off as long as possible, but three weeks of not feeling good was too much, and my ear was beginning to hurt. Farm Boss had to be even more convinced that he should go as he likes going in even less than I do. I feared though if he didn't also get on antibiotics, he'd end up reinfecting me; so selfishness said to get him there.

The doctor told him that he looked like what they are seeing a lot of from the university students. Since Farm Boss works with students in one of his start-up companies, he likely brought it home. They say you get it-- you think you got rid of it, and you get it again. That has been our pattern since the middle of December. Okay so... when does spring come?

Otherwise it's been a lot of work on learning how to get the word out about those indie books, figuring out what is a waste of time and what works-- not that we have just yet. I took out a twitter account last week as they say it's a good promotion tool. I don't really see how it could be; but if anybody wants to follow me on twitter, the link is in Rain Trueax. Surprising to me I do have followers already but why, that I am less sure of as I doubt these are potential writers although they could be readers maybe?

With twitter I am sticking to brief blurbs about what I am writing, with a few photos once in awhile. I really had no interest in following anyone but then clicked on a few which were all political pundits. That didn't make sense; so I cut that back. I do not have time to read what they say. I also haven't found writers, other than political ones, who I might like to follow.

Most especially, I don't know that Twitter, despite what I have read, could help on promoting the books, but it takes almost no time to mention the editing or marketing. Right now I have five books on Kindle. I am learning a lot more about what the other writers are doing and thinking. That alone has been interesting.

Originally I had planned to put more onto Nook also but it's not looking at all easy to figure out promotions there. Basically books on either site are more easily found based on purchases by customers. No purchases, and your book disappears into the wilderness to never be seen again.

Kindle does have a place for forums which has been a bit of a wilderness itself with dangerous regions into which authors must not transgress. But it does enable getting out information on the books although I am not sure if anybody but authors read the forums where authors are permitted to post. I do know it's led to me buying a few new ones which I will read whenever I have time to just read for pleasure.

And we have had our first lamb of the season. It's the ewe who always has the first one and fortunately this time the lamb is a ewe which means mama gets to keep her. ;) I will take photos when she brings her out as I hate to disturb them in the barns when the lambs are so vulnerable. Okay, I also don't want to wade through the mud to get to her...

Otherwise, I am waiting for spring with much eagerness... It is coming, right?

A few more photos from the flood. The cows look ready for spring too, don't they? We learned that our area had 11" of rain within 48 hours. Near us they got 15" in same time. Ack!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I wish all the people who talk so loosely of revolution, insurrection or civil war would see the Quebec film, Incendies. I won't say they'd enjoy it, but they'd have a lot better idea of the real cost of such wars for ordinary people, those who didn't ask for it, but end up brutalized by it.

Today we hear a lot of lose talk on the war on Christmas, the war on the rich, the war on the poor, and on it goes with blame being dispersed many different ways as to who is guilty of the problems in our country. Well one thing that is not going on is anything like what the main character in Incendies experienced when she was born into a country where there was a real, violent and very brutal civil war between Muslims and Christians. Although it's not specifically mentioned, it is likely based on what Lebanon went through in the 70s.

The story begins in modern times as a brother and sister, twins living in Canada, discover, when their recently deceased mother, Naval's will is being read, by her employer, their family benefactor, and a notary, that she wants them to contact their father and brother and deliver a letter to each.

Jeanne and Simon not only didn't know they had a brother but had thought their father had been killed. Jeanne feels an obligation to find the truth of her mother's past and travels to her homeland for the answers. If there is a father still alive, she wants to find out. Simon doesn't want to open this can of worms and only reluctantly joins her after Jeanne calls him begging for his help as the story she has discovered is more complex than she can bear alone. Lebel, the notary, comes with him as a help that likely without the mystery would not be able to be unraveled.

The sub-titled film is brilliantly done but violent and about subjects that many of us would rather not think as in the complexity of life, the consequences of actions, and sometimes how things beyond our control can mark us for life. I do recommend it; but if you are already convinced civil wars are bad, if you cannot tolerate facing how brutal life can be (it's not graphic but emotional in the impact of the violence), it probably is one to skip.

I am glad I saw it as once in awhile I think I need such reminders for why it's important to speak out for peaceful solutions to our own national problems. It is also a good reminder of how fortunate we are to have been born into countries without such vicious, government-led violence. Oh I know our police sometimes hit those they consider out of line or breaking the law.  The violence these people experienced was on a whole different level. Let's keep it that way.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marketing-- 'From Here to There'

Whatever you do in life, you are involved with marketing if you expect to get money for it. Sometimes you are marketing yourself, sometimes a product, sometimes something someone else made. The exchange of labor for money or some object of value is about marketing. Most of the time people forget that as a regular job can seem as though it's not involved with that-- right up until the company downsizes, and you realize if you can't convince them you are contributing something of value, you are done for.

Now I knew when I got into eBooks that it would involve marketing them myself. There is no publishing house behind me to do it. I did not come in through an organization like Smashwords which has a marketing arm that can help with many aspects of getting the books out because they have been paid to do it. Many such companies have motivation as they receive a percentage of whatever the book gets.

So this has been a learning experience to say the least (although we run into marketing problems with our beef and lamb too). I'm still in the process of learning more ways to reach possible readers with these books-- some seem to work for me and some not so much.

One thing my publisher (Farm Boss) and I opted to do is put one of my books into what Amazon calls Prime which means someone can rent them for free with it being possible to rent one book a month for a yearly fee which also enables the user to access streaming of DVDs.

I did this not because I thought my books would particularly attract renters that way. I pretty well figured those renters would opt for more expensive books than mine, but it enabled some other promotional features-- the main one being free days which don't involve being in Prime or paying any money. In short, $0.00 purchase for the reader. So we finally figured out how to use that feature (we being him), and I wanted readers here to know ahead of time in case they'd like to try out one of my books (which I consider to be a hybrid between romance, suspense, pop fiction, with sometimes a western or metaphysical topic) without any cost to themselves.

If you don't have an eReader, you can still read any of the Kindles by adding a free app to your computer and reading it there. Anyway on January 26-27, 2012, From Here to There will be available free by going to the link below. Always be sure when you do that with any special offer that the price is correct before you push click for purchase.

More about this contemporary story, set in the west, is on blogs- Rain Trueax and From Here to There.

If you have been curious about what it's like to read a book this way, have wondered what I mean about my indie (what they call books not coming through a publisher) romances that are but aren't just romances, you can give it a try for free on Thursday or Friday.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The reason for life?

This is more a time of questioning for me than one of having answers. Some of that might've been due to having had one cold after another and then maybe a dose of salmonella following Farm Boss having one.  When you don't feel so good, you tend to lay around more, be less eager to run around outside; so ruminating happens.

I have thought recently (again that is) about what life is all about. IF I only live once, then what are the things I am doing right now really about? Do they have meaning or  just filling space? The skills I have developed, the things I know, the experiences I have had, if it's all over when I die, what were they for?

If it's crowns in heaven, then there is a supernatural reward (or punishment) attached to all actions and even thoughts. Therefore what I do or didn't do is judged by a deity and not even myself. Although supposedly there is kind of a reckoning where the soul could look at it all and agree with the deity since the deity would always be right. That could be very depressing or uplifting depending on what we saw.

If there is reincarnation, what we do here will carry over with us-- positive and negative. Depending on your belief of whether it's a corporate or individual continuing on (corporate meaning your tribe breaks up the pieces and part of what you did might go to this one or that but not stay with you as a new individual).

Either of these beliefs that there is more to life than biology gives motivation to see your choices as either making a next life better (hopefully) or gaining crowns (whatever that means).  Dust to dust means we must find a different meaning to it all-- assuming we think having one is important.

Especially where it comes to reincarnation, I think about what it'd be like to find myself again a 20-year old with the talents and insights I have today. I'd make such different choices, I think. Not to say that I wasted my life, but I knew so little in comparison to now (which means if there is reincarnation, not sure I carried much with me for this lifetime although I did have natural talents maybe that could have come from prior lives... or then again).

It's not as though at 68 I am suggesting I cannot continue to use the skills  or knowledge I have gleaned from living so many years. But there are certainly less years ahead to use them. Some choices are behind me forever. With increased aging, options will begin to shrink. Abilities deteriorate. It's just reality. Not depressing because those last years do still serve purposes but the question I am asking myself now is what is the purpose of life period? This is especially true if this is all biology.

If there is one lifetime and when we die, it's over, then all we can leave behind is what we taught and inspired in those who are coming after us whether family members, friends or even strangers impacted by something that was impacted by us. Accumulating money or wealth, things, even education for ourselves, it won't matter except in that context. And the fact that we accrued wealth doesn't mean it will benefit our descendents' lives. Giving them dollars or fancy homes alone doesn't insure them better lives for it. What does if anything?

So back to what I was asking myself and Farm Boss as we drove back from a lovely family outing at Sunriver over one of the snowy Cascade passes-- What is life really all about? How do we decide one was well lived and another wasted?

One answer for me is to feel I have lived life fully, experienced what I could, done both my duty, and understood my own dream, doing the things that were possible for me. That doesn't mean a race around the earth for instance to see the 1000 things somebody else decreed everybody should see, but rather what was it that I should see which might be a microcosmic look at a pond on my own property.

A satisfying purpose to a lifetime might be keeping a set of journals that records a whole life and is burned when the person neared the end except one that was passed onto one relative (I explored the results of that in one of the stories I wrote).

The thing I was thinking about on that drive home, before photography took my mind off in a different direction is for my own life what has been its purpose and have I achieved it or is there something still out there that I missed?

Don't tell me I think too much (I've been told that all my life and if it was going to change, it likely would've years ago). Just tell me what you think life is about-- if you have also found your mind wandering that direction and maybe come up with an answer that helped you. Maybe you accepted the answer from a religion, and it works for you. I'd just like to hear what you think this life is really all about. Then, of course, comes the next question to be answered personally once one has decided on the purpose.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?  
from poet Mary Oliver

Saturday, January 21, 2012

mid valley flood from the air

I saw this YouTube from the air showing what was going on with the flooding places other than where I live. I've seen it this high before but fortunately it doesn't happen often that we get 7" of rain in just a couple of days.

Regular blogging will resume tomorrow... I think :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Flood watch

Most of the time living on a creek is a major plus; but every now and again along comes a weather reminder that it's not all beer and skittles (where that expression came from, I have no clue). This is one of those winters and when I least expected a lot of flooding as the usual conditions to make it happen weren't there as in lots of snow that melted rapidly.

This is also, in my 35 years here, one of the more unusual floods I have seen in that our creek isn't just backing up water from a nearby river but it's got a lot of its own current. The photos are amazing. A little scary too as I am not sure how much higher it will get. Theoretically the crest was supposed to be this morning but now they are saying this evening where we live.

We do have a plan for such a situation if it reaches the driveway in front of the house which we have never seen, but the former owners told us happened once. My part of the plan involves getting out the cat carriers and rolling up the Oriental rug-- just kidding, I think.

A lot of the roads on the way to out here are already closed as we are a land of many small rivers and creeks. For today, cross out the small :). Unless people do something stupid, like try to drive through running water on the road, there is no danger in this kind of situation. It's just-- let's say different for how you get around and what you have to do-- like in create dikes out of plywood (the other part of our emergency plan for our creek and us.

As a reference for anyone not familiar with what our creek is supposed to look like, I took this photo January 3rd right below our house. When the water finally goes down, thanks to all this current, it won't look the same for probably years as trees will have been swept away.

Pineapple Express

When temperatures turn abruptly warm up here (for a winter) and then a storm with a lot of rain arrives from the south, we call it a Pineapple Express. So in hours, my part of the country has gone from this--
to this
and this (latest photo of the barn when it's too dark for photos would show the creek right below it-- as in two feet below it).
Our creek is obviously way over its banks which is no big surprise as are many other rivers in the Willamette Valley with more heavy rains due.
The question is where is this storm heading and how high will our creek be before it's over?
 The garden is likewise drowned as water runs off the fields.

Definitely makes for interesting weather. The only thing good I can say about it is-- I have had a miserable cold where I don't feel like doing a lot anyway. Well, the creek had been pretty low; fortunately leaving it a lot of space to absorb more water-- for awhile.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nature is an energy builder

Without a doubt, nature is one of my stars, moments with it bring energy to me. During the month of January when we had problems with our plumbing and bad colds that were hard to knock, as in they'd go away and we'd either get a new one or they would not really have gone away, being out in nature, cold though it was was the main energy builder.

One morning, the alpenglow was all around our valley as a rosy glow ringed the horizon just as the sun was rising. To see the setting moon above it, just before 8, was the cherry on top of the sundae.

Then there was a visit to our favorite wildlife refuge one Sunday as we watched the geese and ducks, with an extra treat of a coyote hunting in one of the meadows. He was at a bit of a distance for great photos but to watch him hunt, how he worked a field, that was interesting and enjoyable (unlike when it's watching them go after our sheep).

 It looked like he/she got at least one meal while hunting as we saw him jump and then appear to eat something. Maybe a frog as he was near a small pond.

We were actually there to take photos of the geese but sometimes they simply don't cooperate with where they land and take off. The sounds though of them and being there, was restorative with or without photos.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


From a symbolic perspective, besides black holes, space has stars. They give energy to all around them. Sometimes a little too brightly as in burn up what is too close; but like with the star that is our sun, they send out energy that we can absorb to build our own energy.

Stars in our own lives are those things that bring us joy, teach us, bless our lives, and lets us help others. Some of the brightest stars will be what we do for others as that energy bounces back on us. That is why politics is not all a bad thing. Bad if it's a black hole that we let suck our energy but if we are out working for the causes in which we believe, it becomes a star that not only can shine on our lives but that of others.

When I was thinking about 2011 in my life, reliving the events, I read an encouragement to think over what you could remember of the year and then look at your journal to fill it in more of the year. Well my journal wouldn't help me much as when I counted up how many pages I wrote last year-- it was eighteen-- and they weren't even all the best moments of the year by a long shot.

The camera did a better job recording the stars in my life. It was many wonderful trips with our kids and grandkids, the whole family together at the beach or in the mountains. Those kind of things don't come all the time but last year they came more frequently than they might in the future or even had in the past. Those moments were stars without a doubt.

Then were were my manuscripts that I worked on editing for becoming eBooks and a new one I began. Writing was a renewed joy for me to be working on them, improving them, creating digital covers. The stories pulled me back into them and whether they work out to be successful sales wise (look back on black holes for that), they have been among the stars of my 2011.

To bring that to life, I did digital images from many of the special places; which I then put into a slideshow with music and a song that seems to totally say it all about how I believe about living. The songs speaks of the secret of making every moment into a star-- loving it, relishing it, but not trying to hold onto it.

For my life, my daily life here at the farm, the following are black (and black and white), but they are not black holes. They give me energy and much joy. Our new cat is such a pleasure with her interesting personality and how she is adjusting into our family. With the three of them, it's off and on rather like having toddlers again. Little by little though they are all accepting each other.

Well BB has the hardest time as he is alpha cat and he evidently feels the need to establish that fact with her (lots of luck on that one) or feels she is challenging him by her being here as she moves into the mainstream of the home. He doesn't really attack her but just follows and gives her a look that has her yowling and running back to the bedroom.

Our dignified, Blackie has a more casual attitude toward the whole thing; in fact he has actually protected her the first time BB seemed to be about to attack her. Blackie jumped over him and got between them; but then Blackie is our peacemaker. If Farm Boss and I are having an argument (yes, we have them), he will come to me to try and make peace.

I don't know if there is reincarnation, but this little cat was born about the same time my little buddy, Persia, died. She is so much like her in personality and looks that sometimes it's hard not to wonder. She is usually right near me somewhere and she has filled a hole that has been there since I lost Persia 2 1/2 years ago. Her name is Pepper. For awhile it was impossible to get a photo of her as she'd see the camera and run. She is much more relaxed... well kind of... about the flash.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Black Holes

 Warning: After writing this blog and rewriting it and realizing my mind is not only in hyper-drive these days but has a bit of a chaos issue going on with too many issues roiling around, it may not flow well or make a lot of sense to you. I know the subject makes sense-- black holes.  Explaining them, well that's a whole other story; but if the blog is ever going to go out, it has to go-- as is.

The other day Parapluie and I were talking as I mentioned waking up at 3 AM and feeling depressed about the black holes in my life. She asked what that meant. As we talked, I thought how I had mentioned black holes earlier in this blog, and it would be a good topic to explore more deeply here.

In space, a black hole is a bit of a space mystery. They are part of the energy continuum, at least as best I understand them. They are a region which can suck energy into them, and it cannot escape. Scientists, with better telescopes and able to look from further out, are learning more about them; but in general they appear to take energy for what seem to be unknown purposes. They are sinkholes, quicksand, suctions that draw into them energy but never (apparently) release it. Black holes continue to grow by absorbing energy through taking what is around them. When something goes into a black hole, science can no longer see or measure it. The term is obviously complex and my simple explanation doesn't do it justice but for my purposes, it explains how I use the term for my own life.  Wikipedia on Black Holes.

Okay so that's the science end of it. My end of how I see my own black holes. They are energy gobblers, and there are several types. My dividing them that way leads to what I try to do about them. Black holes to me represent those things that are not all I want them to be and that fact is bothering me.

When a black hole is just about worrying; but I can't do a thing about it, I try to eliminate them from my mind. This can especially be politics when it's in regions I have no influence at all. Other black holes seem more positive as they show me there is a problem and I can fix it if I just want to enough. Waking up at 3 AM and fretting over something is good motivation to do exactly that.

So maybe in our lives, black holes can have a purpose if we recognize them as sucking our energy and then break them into piles. One pile for those where we have no control. These are good ones to list on a piece of paper that is then burned. Whenever they come into our minds, we push them away. If we have no part of being a solution, weren't part of the problem, then they are sucking energy away from us for no purpose.

Politics can be that way. When politics start reaching a level where I am not just learning what is going on but actually worrying about it, I know I need a break. Politics is one of those areas that can though be a negative but also a positive where it comes to energy. When we can write about it, talk about it to possibly influence others, donate and volunteer, it's a positive. When it's just worrying, it's a black hole that needs to go.

There are other things in a person's life that are the kind of black hole you want to eliminate from any time. One example is relationships you cannot fix. If say you have a parent who did wrong by you, but you cannot fix it; you didn't cause it; it's past being repaired, then what is the point of letting it suck energy? These make for great books but not necessarily good in our lives as they can ruin what we can fix.

So a positive use of a black hole, for those things I cannot change, is two-fold. One is stop letting it have any airtime if I really cannot do anything regarding it. But supposing what I need to do is not external but internal as in forgiving that person, even though they are no longer in my life? Than the constant awareness of this energy sucker is actually a warning to do something about it because it is bothering us and could pop up as a physical problem next. Often when a black hole has been bugging me like this, there is something I need to do. When I do it, it disappears.

In the let-it-be category, right now for me, would fit whether my books ever sell on eBook sites. That's obviously not easy to do.  I have things I can do like get places where people, who might like stories that aren't a standard genre, actually would find them. But in the end, I can't impact what others choose to buy. Worrying about it would be a pointless black hole but working to get the books to be all I can make them as well as to find the places I can do promotions, that's a positive use of a black hole.

I think my attitude toward this, which is do the best job I can while releasing the results, that comes from years of doing creative work like painting and sculpting and having to face the same issue-- control the work and let how others see it be their thing not mine.

The best use of black holes is when I let them alert me to things where I can change it but am not. When I lie awake at night thinking-- I am not eating right. I am not exercising enough, it sucks my energy and why? Because I won't do what I could do. Waking at 3 AM and finding it hard to go back to sleep because of fretting over something I can change alerts me. I then recognize not only do I have something I am not being healthy about but I could change it. My awareness they are bugging me in the middle of the night increases my motivation to deal with them more effectively when daylight comes.

Black holes can be the same kind of warning signals that pain is. They are an alert that energy is draining away and we can either stop letting it or fix the problem.

Next is a blog on an example of positive energy from the skies-- and closer to home.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Mao's Last Dancer

When I have seen a particularly good film, I ask later what made it so exceptional? I mean I watch quite a lot of movies, many of which I enjoy; but only once in awhile does one move me so deeply that I am in tears. Mao's Last Dancer, based on the autobiography of world ballet star Li Cunxin, is one of those.

What makes a film so moving? This one is very beautiful which alone can touch emotions. It is well done as it tells the story of Li Cunxin from his childhood in China where he was chosen from a poor village to be trained in ballet, his teen years as he began to perfect his skills and develop his emotional strength, and finally as an adult when he comes to America to perform for three months with the Houston Ballet Company. Three different actors portray the dancer through those stages of growth-- the beginning, the development and finally the reward.

To go back and forth in time, as Li remembers his experiences while he is in Houston, is certainly the sign of a gifted director when it works. Australian director, Bruce Beresford, fits the criteria and he brought it altogether beautifully for viewers. To understand from where Cunxin has come is to understand what comes next when he announces at the end of his three month time in Houston that he does not want to immediately return to China.

This was in 1981 and our relationship with China was still back and forth. Although Mao had died in 1976, China was working out who it was, who it wanted to be in the world. Tienanmen Square was eight years in the future. This defection was something the Chinese leadership had feared in allowing him to go to America, and they would do what they could to stop it happening. His defection would be bad publicity for them in the world and among their own people. Li wanted freedom but really not to lose his connection with his own people.

However, the reason this film is so moving goes beyond a wonderful story to the deeper elements that lie within it. Tears come from realizing the price someone pays for greatness, for understanding the value of freedom, and how important family and culture are to our life. Besides being so moving, it is the kind of film that leaves a person thinking long after it has ended.

In the last few years the term American exceptionalism has been much touted. Anybody who doesn't say that Americans are the best must not be a true lover of country. Well what this film brings out, I think, is that it's human exceptionalism  that so awes us, and it can be found many places and among many peoples.

Most of us live lives that really leave us with no clue of how difficult it can be to rise to our highest potential. We either don't even try or our highest potential is not that much of a challenge for us-- perhaps we never even discover what it is. What Li Cunxin reminds us is what it takes to rise to the top in a world where there are not many, the price that is paid, but also the sacrifices of those who love us and whom we love.

The illustration that inspired him of a man learning to draw back a bow, the strength required to do that, and how it applied to dancing, that his muscles would let him fly, that is true of so much in life on many levels.

The film (and probably his book which I now want to read) also emphasizes how important freedom really is. It illustrates what we can sometimes be asked to sacrifice to attain it and why we should not easily give it up-- especially not in the name of security. It is secure in a cage. Want to live in one? Yes, in a culture, we do need rules. We need some protections, but we should be wary of those who ask us to give up our individual freedoms without a very powerful reason because often what they really want is to grow their power.

I highly recommend this film. It's on Netflix. After we saw it, I bought it from Amazon as I know I will want to see it many times if for no other reason than the marvelous dancing. There is nothing more awesome than watching gifted ballet stars at their height. Awesome doesn't begin to describe it. Li Cunxin was that kind of dancer and so was the actor who portrayed him, Chi Cao.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Three new pots from Westwood Gallery

 For quite a few years I tended to buy pottery every so often. Not that it was an addiction, but it might have come close as I just love pots. I love Hopi, Zuni, Acoma, Navajo pots, some of mine still reside in Arizona, as well as the ones various artists create sometimes with unbelievable glazes.

I have bought them to use as serving pieces for a meal, to hold flowers, or just to sit in the house and look beautiful. But I had enough or so I told myself and I broke the purchasing habit a few years ago. Then last year we saw Walter Ruston's work at his gallery, Westwood, and I really did hanker for buying myself one... or two or... Well I resisted-- at the time.

Because on that visit I hadn't a camera with me, I told the potter that I'd like to do a blog on his lovely gallery but would have to come back. Life tends to get in the way where it comes to such plans.

Finally, on the second day of the new year, we decided to wander around the hills, checking out the backwoods (further back than us even). I love owner built homes sometimes hidden in narrow canyons, along creeks or under big fir and cedar trees. Days like this one, when it's raining and the mist hangs heavy in the air, it pretty much is as good as it gets for me. I think that comes from being a native born Northwesterner.

Farm Boss and I talked about how we had always wanted to build a home like the one above with lots of natural wood and various wings sprouting out different directions. I have books full of the stories and photos of people who have built ones like that. We are iffy about whether that would be a little too much work at our ages; but the yearning for it hasn't lessened even as much as we do like our home and land.

One of the things on my mind this drive was to revisit Westwood Gallery, and I came both with a camera in hand and in the mood to buy. I am very happy with the three pieces I added to our farmhouse. The stoneware bowl is microwave and dishwasher safe which makes its practical for serving meals.

The other two are fired in a pit, not the kind of process that enables them to be flower vases but they sure do look pretty. The first one he calls horsehair for the process which means horsehair is laid into the glaze to cause the dark patterns by reducing the glaze from a clear oxide to a dark pattern.

On our mantle, they join a Navajo wedding vase and a sculpture we bought some years back when in Nogales, Sonora.
I do admire those owner built type homes, would enjoy having more space in this one for a studio; but I also love the feel of my house which is much enhanced by the many works of art we have collected over the years. I am happy for the new additions for 2012. I had mentioned we have two Navajo rugs. The first one we ever bought, when our children were small, is at the top of this blog.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Westwood Gallery

Most galleries are in tourist locations or the center of downtowns; but some are sprinkled into the forests and wild places for their artist owners to have the inspiration of nature around them as they work and then share that energy with the people who drive up a gravel road to find them. Westwood Gallery is one of the latter.

Potter, Walter Ruston built his own gallery as an adjunct to his home and studio. The gallery is a delight with high ceilings, good lighting, lots of shelves to display his creative stoneware, raku and pit fired pots. I was really taken with the horsehair pots and remembered them from the year before when I thought I'd come back sooner but didn't make it until the second day of a new year.

Perhaps it's because I was born in Oregon, but a day like we had when we revisited Westwood Gallery was absolutely perfect, deep, misty forests, rain falling, owner built homes set back in the hills, and lovely surprises which we received the first time we saw the sign for [Westwood Gallery].  If you live in Oregon or are traveling through, and someday go roaming around the Coast Range, definitely look this one up (driving instructions on the link).

The following photos are from Westwood Gallery.

 Below are photos of the exterior of the gallery and water features. This setting is beautiful by itself but the owner has obviously gone out of his way to build a creative environment to showcase his life's work.

 The three pots I purchased will have to wait for the next blog to share.