Weekly Photography Challenge: New Horizon

This week’s challenge – to show a goal or resolution, a “new horizon” – brought to my mind the Robert W. Service poem with the words

“Have you ever stood where the silences brood,
And vast the horizons begin,
At the dawn of the day to behold far away
The goal you would strive for and win?
Yet ah! in the night when you gain to the height,
The vast pool of heaven star-spawned,
Afar and agleam, like a valley of dream,
still mocks you the Land of Beyond.”

I would have first read it in Douglas Bader’s biography, well over 4o years ago, but I remembered most of it still. Maybe it’s depressing that there is always more to strive for, or perhaps humbling (which might be the same thing for some people..). Service refers to the Land of Beyond as mocking, but I prefer to think it is simply there, calling us on to reach a new goal and not rest on one’s laurels for too long.

I’ve got a few “goals” for 2017, I just have to find images…A mixed media workshop for 4 days in March, with Keith Lo Bue as my teacher, helping out as grandchild 3 makes his or her appearance mid-year, and then, hopefully, a return trip to the Pacific North West in our spring. That seems like enough for now…

Here is a selection of PNW horizons from our last trip, which we hope to see again before the year is out. There are sights we missed that need to be added on my far horizon – sea stacks and beaches of the Olympic Peninsula, more time with Mt St Helens on the horizon, and big old trees in the Hoh Rainforest…

And after we get back home…another horizon to aim for, I’m sure.

Friday Poem: I +II

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This week marked twenty two years since Kurt Cobain’s untimely death, an event that sent shock-waves around the world. I wrote this pair of poems months later, after my boring life had been “changed forever”, thanks to seeing Nirvana Unplugged on TV. These were the first in a flood of poems and art that came after…IMG_7956 (Large)


A soul hung out to dry
Hangs tattered in the wind:
A song grows ragged
As the voice wears thin:
These slender hands
Knew tenderness and sin:
No sunbeam shone:
There was no hope for him:
And all alone
He let the darkness in.


His life and soul
seem tangled into mine
He robs my sleep
He fills my head with songs
And he is dead.IMG_7962 (Large)

I don’t lie awake at night wondering why Kurt did it any more, but my life is so much richer for all the songs he (posthumously) led me to. Also, I don’t think I would have gone to Washington State on The Trip of a Lifetime, if it wasn’t for the Taking Punk To the Masses exhibition (featuring Nirvana) that was at Experience Music Project in Seattle – let alone to Aberdeen and the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah (and yes, they really are…).

The images are of an Imperial White butterfly, which I found dead and took home to photograph, a detail of a lamp-shade I made from wire and eucalypt-dyed silk tulle, and wax-coated photo of a pre-school Kurt Cobain, resting in a vintage cup amongst my jewelry.

Creativity: Stamping around the PNW V

There are only two stamps left to go in my little book of PNW memories. We actually spent a couple of days in Port Angeles after Aberdeen, but I didn’t do any stamps there. The bus trip involved three buses, a porta loo (eeew) and most of a day spent travelling. We glimpsed quite a few places we want to investigate properly “next time”. Crescent Lake was a big surprise – how come we’d never heard of it, we wondered, as the road ran on and on alongside it. It was frustrating being in a bus – no chance of stopping for some considered photographs – just the gamble of drive-by shots, with Bryan eventually telling me when it was clear of trees and good to click.sept 2011 1275

We spent maybe half an hour in Forks, waiting for the next bus, without the slightest idea that the Twilight series was set there. Our motel in Port Angeles was (natch) up a hill,(thankfully my case has wheels) and it was…different. We saw the only deer of our trip when we were having breakfast there one morning – it was in someone’s garden across the road. There’s an awesome bagel bakery, and an excellent Indian restuarant, wonderful views of Mt Baker across the Juan de Fuca Striat – and a plastic horned owl on the roof of a hotel, which caused us some excitement until I looked through a zoom lens and realised the sad truth about our owl sighting!

From there we went by ferry to Victoria BC – and we were in Canada, if only just, for 3 nights before going back to Seattle and then on home. One of my “must sees’ on this trip was orcas, and so we went on one of the many whale watching tours out of Victoria. We traveled far and wide, some of the time in thick fog, before Geoff finally located a pod – and it was worth it!

We also visited the Butchart Gardens (I learned to pronounce the name properly from a Canadian who lives near us), which was a marvel, and ate at an Indian restaurant, and, just for a change, a Tibetan one.(Chocolate Blueberry Momos – I would go back to Victoria just to eat them again. mmmm)DSCF9624 (Large)

The back cover of the little book is the business card for the bead shop I visited in Aberdeen. I had plans to buy some beads, and make a pair of earrings for each place we went, but he plan fell down when I couldn’t find beads in Portland or Olympia.(You can see I still haven’t made the Aberdeen ones….) Olympia has Shipwreck Beads, but it’s hard to get to by public transport, and I’d had enough of long walks for a while – and been kicking myself since!

Have to go back – so much we missed, so much we want to see more of, so much we just want to see again – maybe carve more stamps, buy more beads, and take heaps more photos!

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?

Friday Poem: this One’s for Aberdeen

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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…

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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.

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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)

Friday Poem: Synchronous

I am in Canberra (Canbrrr), our national capital, hanging out with three cats and far better internet connection than I am used to at home. Since I have to walk anywhere I want to go, I’ve been paying keener attention to the weather forecast than I usually do. I don’t mind cold, but I like getting wet about as much as the average cat does.IMG_4823 (Large)

Checked Canberra weather
Late afternoon
Late autumn
11 degrees and fine.

On a whim
Checked Aberdeen weather
Late evening
Late spring
11 degrees and fine.

For Canberra-
a stronger breeze.
In Aberdeen
Higher  humidity.

Next day- 1pm Canberra
12 degrees, cloudy;
8pm Aberdeen
12 degrees and cloudy.

The fact remains
– almost the same.across the Wishkah (Large)

If you’ve read much of my blog before, you’ll know we visited Aberdeen Washington a few years ago. This is the now famous Wishkah River, she of the muddy banks. Although Aberdeen is famous for rain, what I remember is a blue summer sky (it was mid August). Aberdeen is 46.9 degrees North, while Canberra is 35.3 degrees south – I guess Aberdeen being on the coast accounts for it’s milder (and wetter) climate.evening galahs (Large)

In a month or so, the weather north and south will be wildly different (presumably!). Today we had sunshine, although the temperature only reached 16 C. These young galahs were enjoying the last warmth of the day, and providing me with a fine photo opportunity as well.

Friday Poem: Ubiquitous

I wrote this late at night in a hotel room in Melbourne, after seeing P.J. Harvey perform at Hamer Hall.  I don’t remember the year, but I do know it was February 20, Kurt Cobain’s birthday. I couldn’t get to sleep, and lay awake in the small hours, composing in my head. I guess I must have slept eventually, but I was awake early, and went into the other room to record the words in a notebook.DSCF8009

They said he was ubiquitous –
but I knew he was just everywhere.
His face
on a million magazine covers,
five million bedroom walls.
His face,
his smile,
his fingers,
bulldozed into landfill everyday,
for toilet paper and cereal boxes.
And still it wasn’t

Never has one person
been wanted by so many.

Never has one person
felt so utterly alone.sept 2011 180 (Large)

In 2011, I traveled to Seattle, Portland, Olympia, Aberdeen,  Port Angeles, Victoria BC and back to Seattle. Before we left, I printed copies of “Ubiquitous”, in simple sentence form, on business cards which I tucked inside small seed envelopes. I added no ID, or clue to where they came from, since I thought it would be more interesting to just release them and not know what happened next…I left one in every hotel room we stayed in, plus other places we visited, such as the Nirvana exhibition at EMP in Seattle, and under the Young St bridge in Aberdeeen (sadly, next to syringes left by someone else). sept 2011 1054 (Large)

Sometimes I wonder what became of them all – did hotel cleaners find them, and toss them in the bin unopened, or did they stir someone’s curiosity – and if they did, who did they think I was writing about? At EMP or Aberdeen, it would be fairly obvious, I guess, but otherwise…?

If I was doing it again, I think I’d make feedback possible, like with a message in a bottle.

Creativity: Escape XVI


This week, I bring a few more pages from my altered book, “Escape”, with it’s theme of creativity – and the freedom and joy that go with it. This page was covered in pink and yellow acrylic paint, with a touch of ‘Kirkwood’ over the top, picked up from the opposite page. When something like that happens, you can either think “Disaster!”, and try to fix it, or “Serendipity!”, and go along with it – I generally choose to go with it, as I like to have some randomness and surprises popping up as I work.  Coloured pencil and stickers add a bit more colour, while the text is a ‘note to self’.Escape44

I took  photos of a back lane in Aberdeen Washington some years ago – I like the balance of the regular shapes of buildings and power lines and the down-at-heel look of the backs of buildings. The page on the left has a copy of a drawing I did from one of the photos, and opposite that is a print, from a carved stamp, of the same scene. Being the last page of a chapter, there was very little text, so I printed directly on the page for once.

While I was editing the pics of pages ready to post, I had a play around with some of the images. Here is the Aberdeen alley-way drawing again. In the first image, I have increased the saturation so that what colour there is is much stronger – I then inverted the colour for the second version – day and night, perhaps! I haven’t used any copies like this in a book, or not yet, anyway…It would will be fun to make a series of variations like this on a set of images, and make or alter a book to hold them.

Creativity: Escape XIV

More pages from my altered book, “Escape”. This double page spread has a theme – Bliss! Being creative brings bliss, as does the cello playing of the late Jacqueline du Pré.

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I’m not sure where I came across this quote from sculptor and artist Henry Moore, but it’s an interesting idea. I’d quite like to go back to Washington State and live for a while, which is something I could possibly do…Not that is actually a task as such.
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The original text is obliterated with a mix of acrylic paints, with coloured pencil framing the quote. Paper pieces are pasted in, and I’ve used commercial stamps, plus the hand carved key stamp.
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Creativity: Escape III

Ararat Regional Art Gallery, where I work as a volunteer, shares a building with the Performing Arts Centre, which has just hosted the annual Eisteddfod. Which means lots of dancing girls in spangly costumes passed through the space. This morning I collected some of their lost sequins and a bead, to add in to my altered book.sequins 1

Sewing a few sequins onto pages adds a bit of sparkle and glamour!sequins 2

Other small found objects can be added randomly to pages, using thread, glue, fine wire or staples eg metal washers -shiny or rusty- safety pins ( I found one today on Barkley street), also feathers and dried leaves.

Of course you can plan these kinds of inclusions, and buy what you want to use, but I think it’s more fun to use whatever you find with your beady magpie eye!sequins 3

And here are the pages before I added the bling –

somewhat less exciting, don’t you agree? The print is of a (grungy…) laneway in Aberdeen Washington.