Creativity; Stamping Around the PNW IV

This weeks stamps are the ones I made during our stay in Aberdeen. We were lucky with the weather, which was mostly fine and sunny – except when we took a ride to Westport (foggy), and the day we went to Ocean Shores (it rained. A lot.) That was the only rain day in the whole month of travel (we heard “Oh, it never rains in August!” several times), but it made us glad we’d brought our raingear everywhere. We arrived in Aberdeen by bus from Olympia -$3 each for an hour or so’s trip (so cheap!). We ate that night at Canton Cafe, which has along history in Aberdeen, and an, um, interesting menu.

The house where Kurt Cobain grew up is an obvious point of interest in Aberdeen. The Aberdeen Museum of History supplies a map of Nirvana related places-to-see, many of which are private homes. The Museum is definitely worth a visit whether or not you care about Nirvana – on the day we were there, they were setting up for a wedding that evening, and not all normal exhibits were on show, but there was still plenty to see. Across the road is the Driftwood Players theatre, and I’m still kicking myself that we didn’t ask to see inside. Have to go back! Bryan is a drama teacher and actor, so we had a reason…apart from sticky beak.

There was a real estate sign on the old Cobain house, which needed a paint and generally looked the worse for wear. maybe it was cheap then, but a few years later it made the news (if only on Facebook) for it’s very large price ticket – predicated on it’s history, not it’s position or condition. I believe it has come down some since, and is still on the market…

Someone we spoke to recommended going to West Port, as there was a festival on. Travelling by bus takes you down a few detours that you wouldn’t have seen if you drove yourself. Its Greylands that I remember. From what we saw from the bus (not much, admittedly) it seemed aptly named, but it’s a popular holiday place, so our impression must be wrong! We walked some distance to a beach, on the far side of the Pacific to where we usually are. Unfortunately, the fog was so thick that the ocean was little more than a rumour , but I did pick up a couple of sand dollars (both broken).

The following day we went to Ocean Shores, again hoping to gaze on the far shore of the Pacific. It had stopped raining (temporarily) when we arrived, but the wind off the sea was so strong once we crested the sand dunes, that I took a few quick photos and retreated to a cafe. Which served taffy, icecream or …I forget what the other sweet treat was, but it wasn’t lunch, and we consulted a map before walking (in the rain) to a pizza place –where we spent most of our visit, because the rain kept up…We did visit a souvenir shop before going back to the bus stop. I particularly remember a piece of graffiti that claimed that “the weed is better in Shelton”.

Ah, memories – all triggered by a tiny booklet of carved and stamped images. There were many more things I could have added (given an adequate supply of cheap erasers), but even these few are enough to bring memories flooding back in tiny detail, and I guess that’s the whole point of making them.

The photo of the pizza reminded me that we were so hungry, we ordered an appetizer, and consequently were not hungry enough by the time our pizzas came…will we never learn?

Weekly Photography Challenge: From Every Angle

I can never limit myself to just one photo, so being challenged to photograph something (or someone) from Every Angle suits me pretty well. It was just a matter of deciding who or what my subject would be…

It’s the last (calendar) day of winter, and spring blossom is everywhere, so I chose the plum tree behind our house, which is smothered in simple, sweetly scented white bloom, and, since the sun has been out, it is buzzing with bees as well.

I took pictures from every angle I could think of, short of climbing on the roof to take one from above. There’s even one of fallen petals under the tree – I’m just sorry you can’t smell it, because it smells of spring sunshine and warmer days to come, and maybe, just maybe, there’s a whiff of plum jam…

Friday Poem: O Spring

As winters go on planet Earth, ours here in Southern Australia is quite mild – where we live, snow is a rare and welcome novelty, and cabin fever unheard of. But, even though the woods will never be snowy, dark and deep, we’ve found our winter long and cold this year, and everyone is longing for Spring sunshine. DSCF9455 (Large)

Monday dawns dull and grey

Overcast sky and misty rain

Wind from the south and the icy sea

But Spring! Oh, Spring!

Cries the pink blossom tree.

Put on your coat and scarf and hat

You’ll need them all to walk in that

Take an umbrella to stroll and chat.

Run, little dog, this isn’t spring,

But the pink blossom tree

Would argue with that.

The wheelbarrow is to show you the reality of winter in our area – after the dry dusty summer, weeds suddenly germinate and over-run the garden. Every year, when longing for the rain to come, I forget that it leads to an explosion of weeds – and now we are longing for sunshine, and forgetting about the downsides of summer. Such is life!

Creativity: Stamping Around the PNW III

This week, the stamps I made as mementos of our trip around the Pacific North West are those from Olympia. poster painting

We arrived by train, and got off at Lacey, because the train doesn’t go all the way to Olympia. As there was no sign of the promised bus, we took a taxi, and that was an experience in itself, the driver being a …character.

Our highest priority once we’d booked in to our hotel was laundry – we were running out of clean clothes, since we hadn’t had access to a washing machine since Seattle. Our Olympia hotel had one, but it was broken; we thought there was one over the road, but it was only a dry cleaner; we went to the tourist information place (with our bag of washing) and asked the nice lady…she thought there used to be one near Safeway, but she wasn’t sure. Another woman, newly local and checking out things to see and do in her new town, came to our rescue, and drove us some distance to a tiny shopping centre (way past that Safeway, where a nail salon had superseded the coin laundry) and dropped us off at a laundrette, with alarmingly vague assurances that we could get a bus back to our Hotel…And so we negotiated the mysteries of the coin laundry, washed and dried our clothes, and made it safely back to town. I don’t know why I didn’t make a washing machine stamp. But I didn’t.

On day two, we walked from our hotel to Plum street, to another Japanese garden. It was very pretty, with lots of maples, and koi carp in the pond. It would have been a beautiful, quiet oasis, except that someone was whipper-snipping around the boundary! From there, we made our way to Pear St, which seemed to go forever, and Bryan was almost ready to call it quits, when I saw the State Lottery building, and knew the house we were looking for was just across the street.

It’s the house where Kurt Cobain lived, 20 years before, and where much of Nevermind was written. There are two apartments in the house, and one of them was available for rent. From there we went in search of coffee, and found Cafe Vita – so good that we went back again before leaving Olympia. Choc Mint Grahams, and excellent coffee. It is my dream to find a source of those Choc Mint Grahams closer to home!

On another day we visited the Capitol campus, with its cluster of neoclassical buildings and beautiful gardens overlooking the Capitol Lake.

From there we took the (free) bus to the Farmer’s market at the other end of town. The vast array of beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables made me wish we could stay much longer, and with a kitchen to cook and eat as much of it as I could. We made do with a few pieces of fruit.

I only carved two stamps for Olympia, but so many memories are evoked by those two images! Fruit and forest, Tumwater Falls and Australian wine in Safeway, the old movie theatre, fountains, mountains…can’t wait to get back there!

Next week, we visit Aberdeen and carve out a few more memories.

The image at the top is of a tiny watercolour I did during out trip – based on a photo of a torn poster of Kurt.



Weekly Photography Challenge: A Good Day

The challenge this week is to make a gallery (with or without MESH), and tell the story of a Good Day. Most days have at least the potential to be good days, although we don’t always think to record them. I had to choose between searching out photos of a past Good Day somewhere exciting, or to get out the camera and record an average, stay-at-home Good Day.

I chose the latter.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Good Day at home includes sunshine, some gardening and arts and crafts, a comfy chair, and chai tea and something tasty served up on pretty vintage china. Some Nirvana and photography is always good, and today I made a miniature Japanese moss garden in an old fish tank. And spring is coming – blossom on the trees and birds outside annoying the cat, who isn’t…

I’m not sure if this Mudhoney song is quite in the same spirit, but I like it anyway. Hope you do too…

Today is a Good Day

Friday Poem: this One’s for Aberdeen

sept 2011 1188 (Large)

Four years ago on this date, we were in Aberdeen, Washington, for a few too-short days. I’ve been sharing some of my artwork from the trip in my Creativity posts, for which I had to pull out a box of mementos, leading inevitably to floods of memories of the trip.

Which led to this poem…

sept 2011 1049 (Large)

The rainy road from the bus
and the rainy green pine trees;
The logged clearings, forlorn,
and tiny sawmills, silent.
The muddy brown river
lying slack in the sunshine,
and the blue sky so big
and the turkey vulture in it.
Ragged fringes of trees
and Think Of Me Hill
on watch over Aberdeen.
Broad streets, empty lots
and a quiet desperation,
French toast at Maria’s,
“For sale” on the mansion.
The sidewalks are cracked,
There are weeds in the flowers:
but I fell in love with you
and your odd little houses,
with fondest regards,
I am missing you, Aberdeen.

sept 2011 1075 (Large)

In the process of transferring photos from one computer to another, they became very muddled, and my efforts to organise them made matters worse. So I haven’t managed to find my photo of that turkey vulture, unfortunately – a tiny speck in the big blue sky over Aberdeen.sept 2011 1067 (Large)

Creativity: Stamping Around the PNW II

I made these stamps, and the tiny book of the images on our big trip around the Pacific North West in August 2011. This week’s stamps are those I made in Portland, Oregon.

We caught glimpses of Mt Hood as the train from Seattle wended its way through goods yards. Our nearest mountain – Mt William in the Grampians National Park, is 1,167m, and sometimes has snow on it in winter – in some years. Mt Hood, on the other hand, is 3,429m, and gleams with pure whiteness even in summer. Big snowy mountains were novel to us!


On one of our too-few days, we took the light rail out to the Arboretum, and walked from there to the Rose test garden, via forest and the beautiful Japanese Gardens. All of these places were probably worthy of a day each, but we couldn’t spend that long. I took photos of roses that appealed to me, plus their tags for the name, but I doubt whether any are actually available in Australia. I drew the images on the stamps from photos I’d taken – remembering to reverse the image in the process, if necessary.

I didn’t do any images of food on our trip (although I have at other times), but I can’t write about Portland without remembering the taste-bud wonderland of TartBerry, and the Violetta cafe, where we ate twice, but I wish it could have been more often. Organic Blackberry Soda – with actual blackberries in it…divine! Nearby was the art supply shop where I bought a stamp pad to go with the stamps I was making. I would have bought much more if I could have carried it – so many lovely papers, pencils, brushes, inks, dyes….IMG_5568 (Large)