Sunday, July 27, 2014

As Far as the Eye Could See

Perhaps you've had the amazing experience of coming upon these beautiful "By-the-Wind-Sailors"  quite unexpectedly at the beach, but I never had until this weekend while at the Washington coast.  Their scientific name is Valella valella and they spend their days skimming the surface of the ocean by means of a small blue float (deflated in the photos here) made of concentric circles of gas-filled tubes.  Their short tentacles hang just below the surface, feeding on plankton, and with no active means of propelling themselves, they sail along at the whim of the winds.  Occasionally, (or more aptly "seasonally") they are beached by the hundreds of thousands.  This phenomenon is occurring right now, up and down the west coast of North America, as evidenced by photos from two people I follow on Instagram; one who lives in Northern California, and the other in Southern California.   I must say, this sight was spectacular, and even more so because the day was clear and the water was a gorgeous blue.

Hope you've had a wonderful weekend!
(I'm back in the studio, mustering up the courage to slap some paint on a blank canvas.)

Oh -- and if you're interested, come join me on Instagram.  
I think it's a great platform and it's lots of fun

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pinkish-Purple (Or, Purplish-Pink?)

 Hand stitching on hand-painted recycled fabric from chef's jacket.

Last week seemed to be all about pinkish-purple (purplish-pink?).  It began with me adding pink stitches to a piece I had painted years ago, and it culminated yesterday when this dahlia began to open.  Well, of course there's a story:  The bloom is the first from six or seven tubers that I had pretty much written off.  I found them in a plastic FedEx envelope sitting on my west-facing porch on a sunny afternoon in April.   Our oldest daughter had shipped them to me as one of her last tasks before moving from Spokane.   I was impressed.  But when I opened the package, it was like a little greenhouse inside, and the tubers were all damp, shriveled, soft and powdery.  I thought to myself, "There's no way these are going to be viable."  Not that I have any experience with dahlias.  I don't.  But as expected, when I researched "dahlia care" online, my suspicions were confirmed:  these tubers didn't look like any of the photos of healthy tubers I saw.

But these were tubers from special dahlias, having been purchased by our youngest daughter to replace the dahlias she had ordered and grown for her sister's August wedding two years ago. Unfortunately, the responsibility of digging up the original tubers that autumn and fallen on me, since our youngest had moved to Hawaii for nine months, and our eldest lived in Spokane.   Well, since the tubers were not exactly right here in our backyard, and since I had forgotten about them, they remained in the ground and had not survived the wet, soggy winter.  

So . . . not wanting to be carrying around a double dose of guilt, I jumped into preparing a new place for these new tubers right here IN our backyard, and stuck them in the ground right away with lots of compost.   I marked the spot of each tuber with a cedar stake, let both daughters know they were in the ground but that they shouldn't hold their breath, and then I waited.  And waited.  And watered.  And waited.   And . . . much to our mutual delight, the tubers performed their magic!  And really, for someone who hasn't grown dahlias before, they're quite amazing -- almost Jack-in-the-Beanstalkish with thick stems and a multitude of buds ready to burst open.   And now, of course, I must remember to dig them up in the fall, and figure out how to store them, and then remember to replant them, as I believe I will be their designated caretaker for the next few years. :)

Have a great week!