Archives for category: art and the artist

I’m enjoying the quiet moments before the work day begins. For about an hour I’ve been just sitting quietly, reflecting on this-n-that, mind adrift – it’s a favorite way to start my day slowly that can often result in a workday that feels like a weekend day, and a work week that moves purposefully toward the next weekend without agita, stress, or drama. It’s lovely. So, I’m sipping this decently good cup of coffee, breathing, and being. Not much else, really.

Spring is here. This morning I stepped out into a light misty rain, and felt the kiss of droplets on my cheeks without the sting of morning cold temperatures. The thermometer told me it was 44 degrees. Pleasant. I spent the short drive to the co-work space thinking about the young blueberry bushes that arrived just two days ago – they’ll replace the dying hedge we cut down last summer, and those unfortunate shrubs along the walk that I dislike. It’ll be really handy to have blueberries in the garden. 😀 I’ve got 6 bushes to plant, and 3 different varieties for good pollination and for disease resistance. Seems the wise long-term thinking…

…Thinking long-term, I’m expecting to get those blueberries into the ground this coming weekend, and getting the shrubs cut down and removed, and beds prepared, this week. I should stop by the local nursery for any needed soil amendments, and some blueberry-suitable mulch. I add that errand to my list for the week.

I sigh and sip my coffee contentedly. I love this quiet time, alone with my thoughts, uninterrupted. I breathe, exhale, relax. My heart is filled with love and enthusiasm, which is an enjoyable state of being. I sit with it awhile, thinking about my Traveling Partner, sleeping (I hope) at home. Beyond the windows, dawn begins to turn to day, and the white building across the street is a pale blue-gray that merges with the blue-gray of the dawn sky. The sun hasn’t yet risen. Another deep breath, and with this one I pull myself more upright, and give my posture and physical experience of self some attention. My pain today is a very commonplace “5 out of 10” – more or less “normal” for the season. I’ve already taken pain management steps, and there’s nothing more to do about it for now. I get up and stretch, anyway; Tuesdays are “long” in the sense that once the day begins, it’s more or less back-to-back meetings until late enough in the afternoon that I’m already thinking about calling it a day. I don’t even mind; most of my weekly meetings are on Tuesday. I can plan for that (and do). It’s convenient.

Before I went to the coast, my Traveling Partner (seeing my enthusiasm for making the shower steamers) sat me down at the computer with him and designed a simpler press (hoping for better finished results) than the inexpensive mooncake press I had purchased online. That one works pretty well, and creates a lovely steamer with a fancy very detailed top surface – but the result is unreliable and often doesn’t come out of the press cleanly. I had beefed about that a bit, and said I’d love a simple round puck with a flat surface. Boom! He designs one for me, and while I am away, he printed it on the 3D resin printer. (Wow!) I can’t believe I haven’t taken a picture of it yet… weird. (I definitely thought I had taken a picture of it…) That very day (that he designed the round press for me) he designed another that produces a hexagonal puck. So cool. He went a step further and added one additional design detail – the monogram with which I sign my paintings. The thought makes me smile so hard my face hurts. lol

One of the “Violet Forest” shower steamers, showing that I clearly need more practice getting the consistency and pressure just right. lol

The new presses are much easier to use than the mooncake press is, and they both produce an appealing result. I definitely need more practice getting the mix just right, and getting the press filled to just the right amount (about 50g), using the right pressure, and building a reliable process that is efficient. I think I’ve got a recipe I like sufficiently well to just keep at it with the same recipe, varying the fragrances and colors for fun. I greatly enjoy using the shower steamers I make; they are to showers what bubble bath is to a hot bath. 😀 Pure delightful luxury.

Another breath. I exhale, relax, and look at the time. The morning is now more blue than gray, and the clock says the work day is due to begin in mere minutes. I guess it’s time to begin again. lol I guess I’m even ready for it. I smile and finish my coffee.

Feels good to be taking better care of the woman in the mirror.

Feels good to begin again.

I suppose I could have (more appropriately?) written about Spring and the rites and rituals of Spring observances, and the Equinox, and all of that on the very day… would have been Monday.

The Vernal Equinox as seen at Siletz Bay, Oregon, 2023

I didn’t do that. I did make it to the coast early enough in the day to get some decent photographs, rest, meditate, and watch the tide come and go. It was high tide when I arrived, at midday. My room wasn’t yet ready, but soon would be, so I enjoyed a short walk along the tide-narrowed beach, and made a quick trip to the grocery store for easy-to-prepare “real food” items.

Why grocery shop? So practical. It was simply that I did not go with the intention of dining out for every meal; that gets expensive pretty quickly, and I went on this coastal getaway planning to also do a bit of a “reset” with regard to foods and meals and my relationship with with those practices. I had in mind “healthy calories”, portion control, and necessary fuel vs consumption-beyond-satiation. I wanted to be easily able to grab a quick meal in my hotel room without needing to cook or do a ton of preparation, and without having to fall back on heavily processed foods – and still eat well. Salads were a big win for my intention. Hard-boiled eggs. Roasted (unsalted) nuts. Blueberries. Goat cheese. All of which could become part of a salad, or eaten by measure on their own. The most expensive ingredient? No surprise; the salad dressing. I shopped with great care for a dressing that was very basic, made from healthy ingredients I’d actually want to ingest, no HFC – no sugar at all if I could find one without it – I was looking for a basic vinaigrette that didn’t have sugar or preservatives in it. Simple. Well… not ideally simple; I had to check 3 different locations in the grocery store before I found what I was looking for hidden away in the “keto” section. Still… it made the 3 days of solitude less costly, and also less… “people-y”, since I did not have to go out for a meal unless I actually chose to. This also forced me to think about meals very differently, in general; if I went out, why, and where would I go to eat something truly worth going out for?

There isn’t much to share about the trip to the coast; I spent most of it in my own head, whether I was in the room, or down on the beach walking and taking pictures. It was time well-spent, and I got a lot of much-needed rest.

The tide was quite low when I departed from the coast, eagerly heading home. The rain was falling steadily by then, and my final walk on the beach was a short one. 3 days away. I had watched the tide come and go several times. I had listened to the rain fall over hours and days, intermittently.

Siletz Bay at low tide.

It’s lovely to return home to home & hearth, and my Traveling Partner. I do miss him when I’m away – and it seems we both benefit from having that opportunity to miss each other now and then. I know I need the solo time once in awhile, for me, it just surprises me how much that also seems to support good love and our relationship with each other. I reliably come home happy to be home and eager to be in my partner’s embrace once more.

So… Spring, eh? It’s not what I expected. lol I returned home thinking “spring”, but found that winter hasn’t yet truly departed. lol Yesterday, a quick trip to the store turned snowy.

Spring Snow in Newberg

With Easter on the way, the stores are loaded up with colorful sweets of the bunny and egg variety. Gets weirder every year. This year, I spotted “Hot Tamales” peeps. I don’t know why those need to exist, but there they were. 0_o


Returning home also let me return to projects in progress, like learning to make “shower steamers” (I’m definitely not done learning all I can to do the thing really well). I smile when I think about the progress (and steamers) I’ve made…

Assorted fragrances: cucumber-melon, lavender, chocolate-orange, autumn walk, and violet forest. 😀

I sit here now, in my comfortable studio, surrounded by the trappings of a life well-lived, and I am content with life as it is. Funny place to be, for me. No yearning. No restlessness. No dissatisfaction. No particular frustration or feeling of being “held back” by circumstances. Just me, this room, the sound of rain falling, and the quiet sounds of the household around me and my partner in another room – and every detail is quite lovely exactly as it is. I smile and sip my coffee. It could all go sideways unexpectedly at any moment… but… it could also simply persist for some unmeasured time. It’s nice when that’s the case. I roll with it when it isn’t; non-permanence being what it is in life, it mostly doesn’t matter whether the next minute to unfold comes with joys or hardships – it’ll pass. The moment that follows may be quite different. That one will also pass. Life continues. I make choices. I practice being the woman I most want to be. Progress is sometimes (often) slow – but there is progress. It’s enough.

…”Move along”, “nothing to see here”… it’s time to begin again. 😉

I am drinking a glass of water between housekeeping tasks. I already know I won’t easily relax on my planned coastal getaway if I leave the house looking untidy, or if I just don’t do all the things I knew I could have done to make my absence easier on my Traveling Partner. He made a point of gently reminding me that I “don’t have to go, if you don’t want to…”, immediately followed by his reluctant awareness that I’m genuinely looking forward to this. I definitely need the break… from everything. People. Work. Chores. Routines. Agendas that are not my own. Errands. Did I mention “people”? Yeah… I for sure need a real break from being surrounded by other consciousness, and some real quiet time to listen to my own thoughts for a little while.

…I’m ready…

The chores didn’t take long. I’ll run to the store a little later and pick up a couple things for my partner (I check the list; ice cream, hamburger buns. Yeah. Ice cream and hamburger buns. lol) and enjoy the moment of awareness that the pantry is actually pretty well stocked, nothing to be concerned about. It’s a tiny reduction in background stress, and added up with other similarly relieving details, I keep feeling my stress level decline as my departure time (tomorrow) approaches. Feels good.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I contemplate the upcoming days away. My intention is a “silent retreat” aside from the minimal civil interactions required between myself and hotel staff, and wait staff at restaurants. It’s likely that other than check-in/out, and meals, I won’t exchange words with another person for 3 days. Damn that sounds good. 😀 I’m also looking forward to a “digital detox”. Minimal time logged in or connected – hell, I’m even on the fence about whether or not I’ll do any writing. Probably will, but I’m for sure staying off my phone, the internet, games and apps, aside from that bit of morning writing, I think.

I think about how much my partner will likely miss me while I’m gone (I’m only an hour away, and it’s only 3 days). Maybe I should invite him to a Zoom call or something and enjoy a few minutes remotely on Tuesday…? I know I can. He’s likely to be busy with work, while he misses me, but everyone needs a break now and then, right? I think about it until my thoughts move on.

No fancy vacation agenda. No event planning. Just a woman and a camera, and a couple days on the chilly Spring beach celebrating the changing of seasons. Should be everything I need to rest and reset and return to life’s busy routine recharged and ready to start a bunch of new projects for Spring. I’m looking forward to it.

It’s definitely time to begin again. 😀

Another day. Specifically, another Monday. I’m not feeling blue about it, but I’m also not facing the day eagerly. I’m tired. Another night of marginally shitty sleep. I sit quietly at my desk in the empty co-work space, listening to artificial rain fall in the background. The sound of rain mingles with the sound of the heat and ventilation. Together, the sounds let me forget my tinnitus for a little while, which is pleasant. The coffee is… ordinary office coffee brewed by way of K-cups – not my first choice, honestly, but it’s here, convenient, and hot. It’ll help wake me up and get the day going.

It was a strange weekend. Not bad. Not great. Just … a couple days off. Nothing much really stands out about the weekend, aside from the shitty sleep I had (and that my partner also had). I’d very much like to move on from that.

I did get some studio time later in the day on Sunday. That was nice. Good weekend for it. Most of the rest of the weekend is a blur. Unremarkable, and little to say about it. And that’s 100% okay; most days (and experiences) are rather average, and may not be all that noteworthy. The persistent struggle to create notable events to discuss out of utterly mundane experiences that are entirely adequate (even pleasant) exactly as they are is not a helpful, useful, or positive quality. Maybe let that go? lol It’s a lot of work to try to make everything in life sound “amazing”. Some of life’s events (most of them, probably) aren’t all that exciting or share-worthy. Let that go and just enjoy the moments as they are. Easier.

I sip my coffee, reflecting on the incomplete work left drying in my studio. It’s nice to know it’s safe sitting there, ready for me to come back to it… whenever. Soon the work day will begin, and then it’ll be routines and meetings and agendas and task processing and reports. More mundanity. I don’t need any of that to be “exciting” – it has other valuable qualities in my experience of being human. 🙂

Pain was a bigger deal this past weekend than I’d have preferred. It got in the way of long walks (well, so did the cold morning temperatures, just wasn’t a great weekend for walking or hiking, in my opinion). It got in the way of romance (it’s hard even to want to cuddle when my pain flares up beyond a certain point). My Traveling Partner was hurting, too, having wrenched his elbow painfully on… was it Friday? I think so. It was still bothering him yesterday.

I made a point to meditate regularly and to do my PT stuff reliably. I figure either of those things have some potential to mitigate pain, so why would I not do them? I can’t report any major success, though I suppose it could have been much worse than it was. Hard to know how much good the meditation or PT really did me. I know it does help some, though, and more over time, so best to stick with it until I get those more lasting results. Sometimes that’s really what it’s about, you know? Patience, persistence, and practicing what we want to see become our default, until it does. 🙂

…What are you practicing?…

My Traveling Partner pings me about a package that hasn’t arrived. His ability to complete a work project is impaired by lack of a tool he ordered with expectations it would be delivered more than a week ago. He has an alternate solution in mind, and asks for my help. I eagerly agree to run an errand a little later that will help get him back on track in the shop. I like feeling useful, and my mood is a bit lifted as a result, in spite of my lack of restful sleep. Win! I “fill my tank” on the feeling of being there for my partner in a helpful way, and find myself hoping it will similarly boost his mood to have that support. We’re in this together, you know?

I sigh and look at the time. The work day commences (based on my calendar and planning) in just about two minutes. Enough time to finish my coffee, before I begin again. 🙂

I’m tired. My Traveling Partner is tired. Neither of us slept well last night. It is what it is. I am working my ass off to avoid taking it personally (because, frankly, it isn’t at all personal). I’m tired, though. Cross. Less than ideally clear-headed. Struggling with pain and with “brain fog” (of the fatigue variety). I rather carelessly add chocolate to my second coffee, muttering something to myself about “dementors”, and take it into my studio to “do things with art”.

The recent snow is already mostly gone. I got some quick snapshots of it while it was fresh…

Just a picture of snow and trees, and blue skies.

I have this picture on one monitor, and on the other, I write, and listen to a video – some other artist, talking through how she does her thing. Fascinating. Inspiring.

…I’m so tired…

My Traveling Partner sticks his head into the studio and checks in on me. He’s kind and supportive, and maybe a bit “careful”. I’m okay with that; it’s evident that he does care, very much. We hang out for a few minutes. He asks how the art is going. I talk about an artist whose work I’m finding very inspiring today. He tells me he’s glad I’m in the studio, and that he sees how good it is for me to be working creatively. I feel visible and “heard”, in spite of my fatigue, moodiness, and potential irritability. I feel loved.

It’s unfortunate that we both have PTSD complicating our life together. It’s shitty that we each have sleep challenges – my own lifelong challenges, his challenges mostly to do with how mine affect me (and my snoring, just being real). When we both have a bad night, on the same night, it doesn’t much matter how good recent other nights have been, or that we were well-rested immediately prior – it’s just fucking hard. It’s easy – too easy – to be angry about it, and for that anger to become directed at this human being we love. Hard to “let it go”. Hard to stay confident there is no element of willful behavior to it. Hard to maintain a position of “non attachment” and to remain aware that it’s temporary. I sip my coffee – I’m already over it. The coffee, I mean. The rest of this shit still plagues me in quite a persistent human way.

I have headphones on as if I were listening to music. lol I’m not. I’m just… wearing headphones. I don’t think I’d even meant to put music on at all. I’m just quieting the world around me as much as I am able to do. It helps. Some days, particularly when I am fatigued or irritable, my noise sensitivity is just… ridiculous. Like, literally something I feel compelled to ridicule. It’s bad on this whole “how is this even a thing??” level.

I breathe. Sip my coffee (which I’m over, and wishing I had just poured a glass of water). Pull myself upright again, having noticed I had begun to slump. Fatigue nearly always also means heightened physical pain. I’m not sure it’s actually worse, or if I just lack the resilience to disregard the same pain I routinely push into the background. Pain sucks. You know what though? It’s not just me. My Traveling Partner too. Probably you, too, or someone you love. Eventually definitely you, too. All of us. We are mortal creatures. lol

I sigh out loud and call this “good enough”. My Traveling Partner asks me to give him a ride to a place. He doesn’t really need me for that, so I figure he’s just inviting me along. That’s sweet. I breathe. Relax. Begin again.