Thursday, February 02, 2012

The winter that wasn't.

Today is groundhog day and here the groundhog didn't see his shadow, it's 60+ degrees, sunny and springlike. We've had only one brief snowfall and the grass has stayed green all season. Wintry no but very nice.

I always go into the winter with many projects in mind for those long cold dark days. Some of those projects never saw the light of day and some new ideas put themselves front and center. No matter, no one is paying for any of them so I do what I like. The happiest part of this past winter came when I realized I could make a significant change in my attitude.

But first I had a miserable Thanksgiving. I had accepted an invitation for Thanksgiving dinner with a friend and her family. On Thanksgiving day I found myself very ill with a prescription drug reaction. I was cooking my friend's turkey because her oven wasn't working. My friend's family was drunk and surly. After delivering the turkey, rolls and mashed potatoes, I fled that dysfunctional scene.

A few days later I heard myself telling this sad tale to another friend who had asked about my Thanksgiving. When he asked about my Christmas plans I heard myself say, "I hate Christmas." Now granted I've had some funky holidays in the past but really even I know it's about the reason for the season, the spirit of "peace, love and understanding." I decided that I needed to make a change in attitude and see if I could make some happy memories.

I decided then that I would embrace the spirit of the season every day for the month of December. I found that very easy to do. It was not about physical gifts but gifts from the heart. I found some way every day to let someone know they are appreciated and loved.

I cleaned, decorated and put up a beautiful tree grown by friends. I invited my family to come for Christmas and many of them did. They arrived Christmas night, taking long drives to do so. We had a wonderful time, visiting, feasting, walking, talking and just being together. Our gifts were designed to be stress free, the new socks and ornaments type. We ranged in age from 9 to 93, we treated each other with love and respect. I was so very glad they came and sorry to see them leave. It was the happiest Christmas I've know in years.

So while it's not been particularly wintry I'll remember this as a wonderful winter, one I hope to learn from and repeat. And this weather has made it easy to continue to get together with friends and cultivate good relationships.

May we all hold the blessings of the holiday season all through the year.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Messy Thoughts of Family and Friends

Most of my physical life couldn't be better! The weather is delightful, the garden is bursting with produce and much of the hard work of planting and mulching is behind me. There is lots to do that offers time for reflection while I work. The harvest is coming in, putting it up is a happy chore for me. I'm getting ready to plant the fall garden in about a week. The physical ease and time for reflection have enabled these messy thoughts.

I've had several challenges in interpersonal relationships lately. I spent a week with my blood family, my siblings, my 93 year old mother and a nephew. It was largely amicable, some real fun times and only a couple of meltdowns. All in all, a good time and I think my generation has come a long way in terms of mental health and "normal" relationships. It's wonderful that my mother is still in fairly good health. I rarely see these people, once or twice a year for some, every several years for others. Long time together stirred memories from the past while making new memories.

I spring from generations of "dysfunctional" personal relationships with a good dose of alcoholism and mental illness. Some family members ignore this legacy and pretend that no matter how cruel or bizarre people's behavior may be, such incidents should never be discussed. My father, bless him, was an alcoholic with a short temper. He was the nurturing parent, he truly was the best father he was able to be. The week with my family generated messy thoughts of who I am and from whence I've come and how far I've come. It's all mixed together, I carry the child in me, the maiden, mother and now crone. Perhaps I've acquired some distance and wisdom with age but the child in me screams to be heard. (I was a screamer, I would have attention of any kind.) The mother in me nurtures that child and the crone takes a zen, unattached approach to the volatile emotions. I am blessed to have blood family, to be a sister, daughter, aunt.

And then there is the matter of friends. I've lived in the same place for decades. I've been a fairly public person. My albinism makes me a memorial person plus I've been an artist, musician, dance caller, dancer, all of which have put me in the public eye. I have many many acquaintances. It is a privilege to have so many opportunities to get to know people. I've traveled a lot and some of my neighbors have traveled a lot. It's a fairly cosmopolitan community for being in the boonies.

I find myself and others willing and able to relate to each other in a myriad of ways from the most casual to the most intimate. I know that the younger me had little ability to be a true empathic friend, I was much too self-obsessed. Yet there was often at least one true friendship when the walls and narcissism were put aside enough to allow true communication and support.

These friendships are nurturing, they allow for growth. Real communication happens and both people feel heard. They share the truth as best they can. They share the highs and lows, the mundane, the extraordinary, and the confusing. True friendship creates a safe place where one can confide one's fears and celebrate moments of clarity or triumph. Fortunately, I have real friends.

I've lately found myself very short with people I see as incapable of such friendship. I've little patience with others "failings" I'm feeling very judgmental of what I see as poor moral choices. I've no tolerance of narcissism. I've easily bored, a rarity for me, by people who stick to platitudes and refuse to actually reveal anything about themselves. I'm becoming quite the curmudgeon and I don't much care. Well, there goes my contemplative Buddha nature.

A friend pointed out that I needn't give energy to a friendship that doesn't nourish me. Sometimes personal boundaries made sense, like good fences make good neighbors. I keep reminding myself that people's weaknesses do not make up the sum total of the person. It's easier to "love" people when I don't actually have to deal with them.

Then there are the virtual friendships. You dear readers who take the time to read this. And the writers who share their thoughts freely through the internet. I treasure my time with these people, I feel privileged to have glimpses into their lives. These are easy "friendships" much like the pleasure we can find in books, music, the other arts and hobbies.

Once again, I've no real neat conclusion to this post. Perhaps by putting my thoughts in words, my mind will clear a bit. I know that I am privileged to not be dealing with more dire questions. I am blessed and I am grateful. And I'm off to mow the grass.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Reading/Bears/Blogs and Simple Things

Been reading about bears. Yes, they are shy, so more singing when walking alone I say. I heard there are thousands of black bears in VA and there has never been an unprovoked bear attack. My friend Vera saw one the other day, it skedaddled as soon as they saw each other. She commented about how so very black they are, like they absorb all the light hitting them. And how fluid and fast they are, far faster than any dog, bigger than dogs too.

So I've calmed down about the bears, maybe I won't see any more this year, maybe I will. But I'm adopting the attitude that they are my friends, and I am blessed to see them.

One could spend a lifetime reading blogs written by older artistic women who have led interesting lives and are making astute comments on all that they see. And some of these people, usually women, see a lot. I began following the blogrolls of some of my favorite bloggers and quickly found enough fascinating writing to wear me out. These are the people you would have as neighbors could you pick your neighbors. I'm thankful for the internet for introducing me to these people.

But by comparison, and there's the rub, comparison usually not a good idea, my life seems so very simple. It is simple.

I often feel like my day is made by something as simple as noticing that the little green and white ground cover that came into my perennial bed from my mother's garden with another plant, has spread and is blooming it's little head off. It makes a lovely cut flower that stays nice for days. So what in the grand scheme of things does it matter if I notice this thriving ground cover? It matters to me that in that moment I was present to that moment. Is that enough? Enough for who?

You see why I don't post often. This is how many of my musing go. I have questions, not so many answers.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I've had three BEAR SIGHTINGS in the last month. The first time I saw two, the second time I saw one and today I saw the BIGGEST BEAR I have ever seen.

The first time I was walking down my neighbor's driveway to meet my ride to an art session. I always sing loudly when I walk down this driveway because it just seems like a good place for bears to be. It's wild and shaded and rocky, with small streams running down both sides of the quarter mile drive. I was loaded down with portfolio, easel, paint box and purse. I was about to the end of the driveway when I saw two young/yearling bears run across the driveway about 100 feet in front of me. I was startled, they came and went so quickly. I stopped and considered what to do. I soon continued on my way singing to the bears, loudly, making up pleasant lyrics about how they were all happy to be where they were and were equally startled to have seen me, I hoped.

So that was on a Wednesday, 4 weeks ago. The following Friday I was in my living room. My dog Mollie barked her guard dog/warning bark. I looked out the window and my other dog, Grace, was plastered against the glass dog, head and tail down and very quiet, terrified. Beyond Grace, and just beyond the gate to the yard, was a bear, again a yearling, not so big, but plenty big enough. The bear was on his was down the driveway and quickly disappeared. It is truly amazing how fast they move, with a fluid, effortless looking roll of a walk. .

It does give me pause to see them so close to the house. I like to work outside a lot but I assume they really don't want to mess with me. Some days this spring the dogs haven't wanted to leave the house. They go out, sniff the air, do their business and ask to come right back in, regardless of the weather. Other days, they are happy to hang outside. I think bears are close by on the days they don't want to leave the house. Bears are the only thing I know of that the dogs fear.

So today was the clincher. And since things often come in threes I truly hope this is the last for a while because today I saw the largest bear I have ever seen. And I was more scared than I've been in ages. I think it was the sheer size of the bear. Or the fact that I've already seen bears this spring. Or maybe I was just feeling emotional or the moon was in.... or whatever.

I was upstairs in my studio, getting ready to walk down the driveway for an art session. My dog Mollie was downstairs, she gave a warning bark. I lifted my head just in time to see a HUGE bear go down the driveway. It was noon, a bright sunny day, I had a good view from that second floor window. The bear was right outside my yard gate and in no time at all, maybe two seconds, had disappeared down the driveway. I'm not sure why I reacted with such fear. I called and asked my ride to meet me at my house. I wasn't in the mood to walk down the driveway just after the bear. I wasn't feeling that brave.

I know that these black bears are shy and not at all likely to want to have anything to do with me. I also know that my fence and large glass windows would not stop a bear but I can't imagine one wanting to come in. I would never suggest that anything be done to any bear.

I'd love to have pictures but the sightings have all been so quick that unless I'd had camera in hand..... I talked with a woman today who'd had a lot of experience with bears in her work as a forest ranger. She assured me that these bears are very skittish and not aggressive.

I feel so privileged to have been granted these sightings. I've seen bears before, but always from a much greater distance. I've been hearing of many bear sightings around the county this spring. In all the sightings the bears left as soon as they heard the people. The closest encounter was a bear on someone's front porch, just on the other side of a door, now that's really close.

Some days feel like a Russian folk tale. Perhaps there will be interesting dreams tonight.

PS Heard today that there are many black bears in VA and there has never been an unprovoked bear attack in VA. I hope I get to see them again.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I have been writing, just not here.

This past July, I attended a NOAH conference in DC. NOAH stands for the National Organization for Albinism and Hypo-pigmentation. I have albinism and that condition has impacted my life in many ways since birth. Attending the conference brought up many memories and emotions about my life to date. Just preparing to attend started the process.

When I came home from the conference, I wrote for days and days. I poured out everything that was on my mind and created a diary of the conference, from my view. It's become a fairly large piece, a memoir. Every time I read it, I add more. It's so open and personal to me that I can't see publishing it in it's current form.

I don't tell you this to tease you. I do hope to some day incorporate some of that writing here.....just not yet. I just didn't want you to think I was a slacker.

But then I could tell you about the BIG vegetable garden I grew and put up this year. I could tell you about the tomatoes that wouldn't quit, a good problem to be sure. I'm still eating gobs of fresh greens, we are having a lovely fall.

More later. Thanks for reading.

Back by popular demand!

It was so nice to get comments from folks encouraging me to post "something!" here goes. It's a sad tale, and I'm not surprised that I start with a sad tale. I play guitar and sing and I've got one of the biggest "bummer" tune lists. But I sing them because the lyrics touch me, like singing the blues to deal with the blues. Or experiencing a near death experience that reminds you in a big way of the sweetness of life.

I commented on Beth's blog post of lovely pictures and words of a couple of doves. Her pictures inspired this memory. It is a sad story, you were warned.

I used to have a clothing shoppe at Scarborough Renaissance Faire in Texas, in the spring. Down the lane from my shop was a rose sellers shop. The rose seller had a cage with two doves in it. They were a mated pair, named Romeo and Juliet, bad idea those names.

Anyway, one fine faire day, there are thousands of patrons about the lanes, I’m doing business as usual when I hear a blood curdling scream. Seems a snake has made it’s was into the doves’ cage and is swallowing Romeo. The cage door was opened and Juliet escaped. Romeo oh Romeo, dead and gone.

For several days after, poor Juliet sat around in the trees and mourned, singing the saddest dove songs. She avoided capture, didn’t seem to be eating, she only sang her sad songs. One morning she threw herself on the ground in front of a bird killing cat who promptly put her out of her misery. Thus ends the tale of Romeo and Juliet.

So there is "something" and I plan to wander back here from time to time. And next time I won't copy and paste half the entry. :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Box Lunch Forum, 10/9/09

Warning, this is a very long post. It is a copy of the speech I gave at the box lunch forum at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, VA on 10/9/09. I was asked to speak (for 45 minutes) of my experience as a blind artist. I spoke and projected 100 images of my artwork.

Speech, Taubman Museum of Art, October 9, 2009

Thank you for coming. Thinking of myself as a “blind artist” has put me in touch with my own history; and what a long stange trip it's been. ;) Though I didn't begin doing visual artwork until I was in my 40's; I feel that eveything that came before contributed in some way. But I'l try and limit it to the most germaine. ;)

A word about the artwork here. Some are old, some new, all were done in the last 15 years. Some are quick sketches. Many are not finished. Some are finished. I rarely remember to sign my work. There are some nudes.

Since this is blind and low vision month and I'm speaking as a “blind artist” I'll tell you about my vision and my artwork. “Blind Artist” I think it sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? Blind musician sure but blind visual artist? I'm definitely not alone in attempting visual art with low vision. There have been blind or low vision artists in history and if you google “blind artist” you'll see many blind or low vision artists working today.

I am very grateful to have the vision I do have, even though I know it is far less than most people's. I think there is a profound difference between having no sight and having low vision, between never having had vision and having little vision.

I am “legally blind” I have been since birth. I am an albino; my low vision is caused by the albinism. About 1 in 17,000 people have albinism; it's caused by a recessive gene that is inherited from both parents.

I have multiple eye problems, a few are astigmatism, myopia, extreme farsightedness, nastagmus, lazy eye and more. I have an article here that details the sight problems associated with albinism if you are interested.

At my birth, my parents were told that I was blind. They soon realized I had some sight and took me to eye doctors. At 18 months I started wearing thick, dark glasses. I had severely crossed eyes. At 8, I had an operation to improve my crossed eyes.

I use my left eye primarily, that's my better eye. My left eye is 20/200, my right eye is 20/400. So with my good eye, I see at 2' what a person with 20/20 vision sees at 20'.

My parents were told to raise me as a sighted child. That was OK in that I learned to get by, but my low vision did handicap me. It was confusing for me and for others. No one could tell what I might see and what I might not see. For many years I tried to “pass” as sighted. I wanted to be normal, like the other kids.

But I wasn't like the other kids, I looked very different, I didn't see well and they tormented me a lot. There are many social and emotional issues involved with looking different, with having albinism. The uniqueness of albinism often leads to separateness and isolation. Social attitudes towards albinos are similar to those experienced by other disability and minority groups. People, especially kids, will often make unwanted and unkind comments about different appearance. If your are curious about this I have an article here that speaks to the social and emotional aspects of albinism.

By and way, the TV show “20/20” just did an interesting show on people living with albinism. I saw it online.

Albinism has colored much of my life. Between my mother's discouragement of artistic pursuits and the energy it took just to try and fit in, it took me years to allow myself to do art. I've lived much of my life alone and I think the solitude helped to foster my artistic pursuits.

Only in the last few years have I been able to tell people that I have albinism, and that I'm legally blind. I was fiercely independent and have had to learn to ask for help when needed.

I've learned to cope with my low vision pretty well. I love the computer's ability to enlarge and I have a large screen monitor. I'm so grateful that I live in the information age and have a computer and Internet access. I use a special magnifying glasses for reading and I use binoculars for looking at things outside.

I don't drive. I have no depth perception; that really makes driving difficult. I also can't tell the difference between a shadow and a hole, nor can I read street signs. It's very inconvenient since I live in the country but it's OK. I'm grateful for friends who are willing to transport me. Some of my artist friends drove me here today.

Anyone who has seen me read has an idea of how blind I am. I printed these notes in a size I can read without putting the paper to my face. I normally read with the paper a few inches from my face. I am grateful that I can see to read.

My mother had a Calvinist upbringing, bless her heart, and she never encouraged any artistic pursuit. Artists to her were lowlife, the demi-monde and usually impoverished, not an acceptable career choice. However my father was artistic; he painted, he was a poet, a musician, a real bon vivant. I'm not sure how those two got together. It was wartime, stranger things happened. I certainly received mixed messages from them about the artist's life.

I don't remember when my appreciation for art began. It seems I've always had a love of all the art forms. I'm fascinated by what artists show us about our world. Art has shown me things I wouldn't otherwise see. For instance, with my low vision I don't see birds except as a dark blur. But because I've seen birds depicted in art I know what they look like.

But art can convey so much more. I love that art evokes an emotional response in the viewer. It focuses our attention, it moves the eye and the spirit. It shows more than what is seen on the surface. It can simplify a subject, it can elaborate on a theme, it can describe the microcosm, or the macrocosm.

Art shows us gesture and expression, it expresses a moment in time. Art has always interested and inspired me and allowed me to “see” despite my poor vision.

I was born and raised in Washington DC and was exposed to many of the arts. We went to concerts, plays, museums, parks, galleries.... My father's office was in the Capital building and I was allowed to explore downtown DC. I spent many, many happy hours looking at the art in our public buildings, the Capital, the Library of Congress, Foldgers Library, The Smithsonian, in all it's many permutations, the National Gallery of Art, the Corcoran, the Freer, the Frick, the National Portrait Gallery, Dunbarton Oaks, the parks, the list goes on and on. DC is a treasure trove of free art. I'm happy to have grown up there. Two of my earliest jobs were at the National Gallery of Art, and at the Corcoran.

I went to college although my low vision always made classes difficult. I studied dance and art history at U of MD. I envied the studio artists but I was too shy and intimidated to take studio art classes. I assumed that my limited vision prohibited me from being a visual artist. I took my artistic expression in dance.

I lived in DC and briefly in NYC. I was in the SF bay area in the late sixties. There was so much creativity happening there, it was exciting. I saw many artists, young and old working in many different media. I also felt very accepted there for the first time in my life. I had been born a freak of nature and had suffered from that. But being a freak in San Francisco in the late sixties was accepted as normal. It was the first time I considered I could do artwork too...but...

Then I got married, I had children, I moved to the country and practiced homesteading and country crafts. I made quilts, dolls, baskets, gardens. I raised sheep, sheared them, spun and dyed the wool and other fibers. I wove, knitted and crocheted. I feel that many of those crafts taught me a lot about art.

It wasn't until my children were grown and had left home that I started practicing visual art. I did have experience with being in the right brain, artistic mode through music, dance, meditation and practicing crafts. These gave me experience with working with composition, form, color, line, positive and negative space, etc.

I made my living as a tie-dye artist for fifteen years, it taught me a lot about color.

I did some silk painting, abstracts and landscapes mostly. I found silk painting an extremely demanding medium technically. The technical difficulty was off putting but the paintings were beautiful and I loved working with silk.

I've had very little formal art training. I imagine my approach to painting is similar to many artists; though every artist has their own way or seeing and creating.

We all know that there is a difference between looking and seeing. It's what you do with what you have. I've always felt that my visual limitations have forced me to be very observant, to pay attention to what visual cues I was getting, and to use all my other senses.

While I have difficulty seeing line or detail, I do have very good color sense and good light and dark perception. Much can be indicated without great detail. I have no depth perception because I primarily use my left eye. For me photographs have as much depth as reality.

I started sketching in earnest in the 80s, I enjoyed it very much. People were always my favorite subject. I think partly because drawing someone gives me license to look at them.

Having low vision I don't see many of the facial expressions that give us information about people. I know they exist. I see expression up close, in photography, and in art, but my inability to read them is a social handicap. However, drawing people is an opportunity to stare with impunity. :)

Soon after I began drawing on my own, I joined the Floyd Figures Art Group and I have been drawing with them almost every week since. We do a life drawing session every Wednesday afternoon, in Floyd.

We draw together in the Wintersun performance hall: we share the cost of the model and the room. We have drawn hundreds of people over the years. The models choose to wear clothing, or a costume or to be nude, however they are comfortable. The sessions are open to all. If you think you might like to draw with us, please take our card.

I do some abstracts, landscapes and stilllifes but people are endlessly fascinating and inspiring to me. The human form is an endlessly varied landscape. We can use the same words to describe a landscape or a person's body; bald, lush, bare, sparse, softened, bony, curvaceous, simple, complex, familiar and exotic, the spirit's home.

In these life drawing sessions I usually work in charcoal, pastels and pencils on colored paper. I try to “Plan and Work and Work the Plan” I begin by looking for what will make a good composition; the moving and repeating lines, the humanity and the expression of the face or the pose, the drape of the clothes, the gesture, what the pose may suggest, what might interest the viewer.

I also try for a composition that would make the piece work if it were purely abstract. The composition viewed upside down or sideways would still be interesting.

I think about what color of paper and pastels will work with the mood of the pose, or the coloring of the model or costume.

I plot out, measure, and design the page. I spend time getting the composition in my head and placed on the page. This is somewhat left brained work, plotting and measuring, and I think it's good to give my left brain something to do so it will be occupied and get out of the way of my right brain.

Once I've got the composition mapped out, I try to get a quick gesture down with the most significant lines placed.. Around this point my left brain stops chattering and wordlessness takes over. I enter the right brained, meditative, intuitive state.

As I work I try to retain the freshness of the original gesture drawing. I put down the broad strokes first, the darkest darks and lightest lights, then refine the work with gradations of color and tone. I use the color of the paper, usually in the mid tones.

As I work I find the lines in stages. I use what I know of the figure, combined with what I'm seeing of this persons uniqueness, with the foreshortening and the gesture. I try to draw what I see as opposed to any preconceived notion of how it should be.

I work the whole piece at once, keeping the overall gesture and the abstract quality. I allow myself to get lost in the work. Details around the focal point are usually left until near the end of the session.

As I work I imagine what might enhance the pose, what the context and background may be.

Sometimes I spend much of the time looking at the model, while my hand works “automatically” only glancing at the picture occasionally to make sure I'm in the correct place. By necessity, I have to work close to my paper but I'll often move back to get the overall picture. No matter what the lighting on the subject, I need stong light on the paper to see what I'm doing.

I call my method “finger painting” because I hold the pastel or pencil so that the end of the pastel is at my fingertips. I think my low vision is directly responsible for my use of my fingertips as much as possible. The brush feels like a distraction to me, I have to spend too much energy seeing where the end of the brush is, but I can feel where the ends of my fingers are. I'll often layer on colors and blend them, push them around, and soften edges with my fingertips. My fingertips are a direct sensitive extension of my eyes and brain.

I think of artwork as a problem solving and decision making process. Is that shape round or triangular? What are the colors in the shadows? What do I want to leave out or emphasize? It's a place where I have some control and there is no “wrong” outcome.

I love the process of creating, the satisfaction of problem solving, the challenges and happy surprises. In the drawing sessions, I enter that lovely right brained state of mind and the three hours pass quickly.

The piece may end up being what I had envisioned it to be or it may be not at all similar to it's beginning. Usually it's somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Sometimes it's a happy surprise, occasionally a complete failure. Sometimes I erase whole sections or start over completely. I've learned it's good to just erase what I know is wrong, and take another shot at it. I'll be happier about it eventually.

Every piece of work is an exercise... flexing those art muscles. The outcome is secondary to the process. It's being in the creative mode that brings me back week after week.

I've learned a lot from watching other artists work, their process, their choices, their technique. During the model's breaks, I walk around and look at the other artists work. Occasionally someone will ask for or offer constructive criticism.

I often take digital photographs of my work as it progresses. The photos give me a different perspective. They teach me, in hindsight, about my work, it's strengths and weaknesses. I can see if and where I lost the spontaneity of the first gesture sketch I can see how I developed the piece, and what works and what doesn't.

At the end of our life drawing sessions, we put up our drawings for a few minutes of gentle critique. It's interesting to see what we each took from the model and how we interpreted what we saw. As a group, the Floyd Figures Art Goup, we have mounted several exhibits of our work.

I take my artwork home from the sessions and put them up on my walls. Favorites make themselves known to me and visitors comment on them.

Over time, looking at them, I figure out how I might finish them, what I can correct, or elaborate on, and what backgrounds might add to the compositions.

Occasionally I finish and frame pieces for showing. I've shown my figure work mostly in Floyd.

So while it may seem incongruous for a person of low vision to practice visual art, and I didn't make the attempt for a long time, I'm very glad that I have. I know that my low vision limits me but I don't think that should stop me from trying. Doing art has enriched my life enormously and I hope others have gotten something from my work.

Thank you for inviting me. It's a pleasure to be here. I'm happy to take your questions.

I finally saw a bear.

I was reading, 2am, cold night, curtains closed. I heard a ruckus out in the veggie garden. I knew it was a bear because the dogs were at the windows but silent. I turned off the light, pulled the curtain aside and there it was in the moonlight, nosing around the compost pile, knocking boards off the compost bin.

I watched for a couple of minutes, then went downstairs, got the camera and stepped outside. The bear ran, making yet another big hole in the deer fence. Boy can they move fast; I stayed next to the door. I didn't get any pictures, too dark and too far away. But I did see it!

That was a couple of weeks ago and have not seen or heard a bear since though there have been sightings in the neighborhood. I think it nice to know they are out there; I assume they are as scared of me as I am of them. Lions and coyotes and bears, oh my!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Oh I admit it, I'm addicted to facecrack. If either of my loyal readers isn't my "friend" on fb, well let me lure you over to hours of wasted, uh fun, time. It seems I may only use this blog for ridiculously long posts. But I do post pictures and links and thoughts much more frequently on fb so......

another bear "sighting"

Monday, a week ago, a bear tore up a piece of the deer fence, ripping up some of the webbing and pulling over an 8' t-post. I didn't see it happen but because it pulled over a post and shredded the fence from the middle (as with it's claws), and since there have been several neighborhood bear sightings lately, I felt sure it was a bear.

Then, a week later, this past Monday, I'm pretty sure my dog Grace had a bear encounter. First, an aside about Grace. She is aptly named Goodness Gracious, she hears that a lot, along with scamp, rascal, diva, leader of the pack, clown, you get the idea. She is the most fun and most aggravating of my dogs. She is the smallest of my 5 poodles, she is the only "blond" she's always looking for fun, the first to shoot out the door, a real poser, usually fearless, very independent, smart and a smart a**. Here she is showing how big she is :).

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So back to Monday and Grace's adventure. I let her out in the middle of the day. I watched her leap over the still torn up fence. About five minutes later, she comes roaring back at top speed and hits the door hard to be let in, totally unlike her. She ran frantically around the house, panting hard, a couple of times, totally unlike her. She collapsed on the floor in front of my chair, still panting hard, prostrate, and put her head on my foot as if for reassurance, again totally unlike her. I checked her over, found no visible wounds, but she continued to pant as if she'd been running for hours, not a few minutes; she lay prostate with wide eyes, tongue lolling. She recovered after about a half hour but kept very close by for a couple of days following, not leaving the yard or spending any more time outside than necessary, again very unlike her. A bear encounter? I think so especially from her behavior on Tuesday when.....

I was outside working in the garden. The dogs were all out, some free, some tied. The sun had just set, the sky a beautiful pink/grey/blue. All of a sudden came a loud, deep, guttural animal noise. It seemed to be coming from downhill on the far side of the driveway. I thought that it was a bear, having only heard them on film. Also because none of the dogs barked, they don't bark at things they are afraid of; when we saw a bear last year they didn't bark. Grace was one of the dogs tied out and she lay flat on the ground whimpering quietly, again very unlike her.

I quickly put the dogs in; they gladly ran straight for the house. The noise continued, loud, long, modulating. The dogs remained silent but alert.

The light was fading as I searched through binoculars and listened fascinated until the sound stopped. The area the sound came from is brushy with small trees and lots of blackberries, difficult to see into. I never saw the bear but I heard it for about fifteen minutes.

Later I googled bear sounds and was assured that was a bear I was listening to. I;m sorry I had nothing to record the sound. I felt fascinated, moved, respectful, privileged, a little scared. I do love living in the country, I do, I do! I'm glad that bears live among us!

Post Note: I just learned that another bear, a few days earlier, was killed about a mile away. The "hunter" took only the head.