Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oregon Coast Redux

I hadn’t been to beach in months, yet I found myself in the surf a second time on Monday afternoon. Hubby had business in Newport in the afternoon, so I rode along and parked myself at a local Starbucks. I was able to sit outside (and so was Oliver), where I sipped a grande two-pump cinnamon dolce soy light foam latte and got caught up on some writing (blog posts, too) and reading (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan). When Hubby’s meeting was over, we took Oliver down to historic Nye Beach (after a quick stop at one little shop: Toujours) for a romp in the sand.

This is the pretty necklace Hubby bought me at Toujours:

I knew I would get a dinner out of it by tagging along and Hubby didn’t disappoint. We decided to eat at Blackfish, where I had a meal I’m still thinking about. Gnocchi was the base, then it was loaded with roasted garlic and greens and I can't even recall everything else, but it was so good, I would be willing to drive to the coast just to have it again (if gas weren't so expensive!):

And here is Hubby’s beautiful cioppino:

We drove home in the dark, feeling satisfied and rested.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Sunday was one of those devilishly fun days. Hubby and I had spent several days in Warrenton and Astoria visiting our friends Dave and Vicki and my parents. We left for home at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. Little did we know we wouldn’t actually reach home until after 9:00 p.m.!

First stop was Fort Stevens State Park, where we found one of the smaller day use areas to park. We took Oliver over a few grass-studded sand dunes and down a steep path to the beach – Oliver was in doggy heaven (and so was Hubby).

Oliver soon discovered a couple other dogs out playing on the beach and joined right in with his new found beach buddies.

All the while and Hubby and Oliver were running on the beach, I was beachcombing. JACKPOT! I started finding sand dollars littered along the pristine beach. Some perfect . . .

. . . some not.

(except for one unfortunate dollar, who had a run in with a tire)

After a nice long walk to the end of the beach, we began our walk back to the car. A beach fairy had written me a message in the sand, which I discovered on our return walk.

Next up: The Astoria Sunday Market, one of the best on the west coast. While there, we had not one, but TWO vanilla soy lattes from the Astoria Coffee House. Their Stumptown coffee makes the best lattes: so smooth and delectable!

While sipping our FIRST latte, we strolled the booths of the Astoria Sunday Market and I bought some earrings. (Hubby actually encouraged me to purchase a pair of larger-then-what-I-usually-wear green beauties). We chose to eat Greek food from one of the many food booths and I ate my salad and pita bread while listening to live music.

Sated on food and shopping, we found ourselves back at the Astoria Coffee House for our second latte, this time choosing to sit at one of their outside tables. We had Oliver at our feet and we met two fellow poodle owners – both had black standards like Oliver!

We eventually moseyed to our car and headed east on Highway 30. We got as far as Svensen, only to be lured into a right hand turn (Hubby’s suggestion) so we could stop at the (drum roll here) Svensen Grange for a FLEA MARKET!

Here are some of my treasures:

After a quick romp in the grass (for Oliver or Hubby? not sure), onward we went.

We made it as far as Clatskanie and the lure of yet another flea market, this one a permanent one (and with a brand new sign announcing its presence).

It was here that I discovered my prized adding machine/cash register, marked AS IS – not to worry, I told the seller, I was buying it for the keys and the handle:

Hubby wanted to drive through the heart of Clatskanie and there on a little fingerling of a river in the middle of town was an antique/collectibles store. It was a gem of a store and I found a small bag of goodies:

Back into the car and we made it as far as Jones Beach. We drove away from Highway 30 and toward the Columbia River – the only requirement for these agricultural plots: a minimum of four junker cars parked outside and covered with overgrown blackberry branches. Cars on blocks? Optional, but worth two hundred bonus points. We eventually discovered Jones Beach. It was not a quiet, quaint, out of the way beach, but home to four-wheelers romping and rolling all over the sandy dunes. Not the beach if you're looking for peace and quiet.

By now it was edging toward dinner time and our tummies were rumbling. We found the perfect place in St. Helens, a tranquil and pretty little town (and the county seat) right on the Columbia River. We discovered an Italian restaurant on the main street, which had sidewalk seating (so Oliver could join us) and jazzy music on the outdoor speakers. We shared a quite tasty veggie pizza, then climbed back into the car for the final leg of our trip.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Estate Sale Booty

My daughter Amy drove to Salem last Friday and after a trip to Bush's Pasture Park with Olive and Oliver (oh, and the two grandkids), we parked the little boys and the dogs with Papa and Amy and I headed out to two estate sales, both less than three miles from home. We scored at both sales. My favorite finds were a big old atlas, a word game with huge dice (“Rolling Phonics”), an anatomy book, and lots of plastic toys. My very favorite was an old LC Smith & Corona typewriter that I got for only $10!

Olive and Oliver at Bush Park:

My booty:

Visual Journaling: A Life Collage

I’ve been silent about a class, Visual Journaling: A Life Collage, that I’ve been offering for the past eight weeks and the last session was on Thursday night so I decided to break my silence. I’m not sure why I haven’t shared about this class before this, or why I haven’t shared weekly like I do with my Artist’s Way Creative Clusters. I think partly it was because we got off to a bit of a rocky start, but that settled down and the group took off and flourished. Maybe because I didn’t post right from the beginning I decided not to jump in mid-stream. What is important is that I got to work with four amazing women and their spirits and work energized me weekly. They were open and receptive to whatever new techniques I had them experiment with. We also focused on a different visual journalist each week, which was a great introduction to the process. The artist's we explored included:

Judy Wise

Sabrina Ward Harrison

Julianna Coles

Dan Eldon

Teesha Moore

Randi Feuerhelm-Watts

During the eight weeks, we played in our own journals each week, following the format I had learned in my Phenomenal Women’s Group with Diane Havnen-Smith. Each week in addition to looking at a particular visual journalist/artist, I shared art and journaling techniques I have gleaned from a bevy of wonderful teachers: Diane, Katie Kendrick, Julianna Coles, Judy Wise, Suan McKee Reese (an English professor at Portland State University), and Melanie Sage. I introduced the women to various resources, including two fabulous mixed media magazines: Cloth, Paper, Scissors and Sommerset Studio.

I will let some of their pages say what words can’t . . . . here is a sampling of some of the pages created during our eight weeks together:

Flowers as Communication

Last Monday night Hubby and I presented our three-hour communication workshop at the Albany Serenity Lane, a workshop we do up and down the valley in three of the Serenity Lane facilities. It’s a lively presentation and includes a lecture by Howard, a DVD clip of Defending the Caveman, an introduction to the primary tools of good communication, a little role-playing to practice the tools, and then finished off with information from a book by Gary Chapman, “The Five Love Languages.” After sharing about the five languages (I’ve included an outline of our lecture below, and the love languages are listed), one woman spoke up and said that she doesn’t really like it when her husband brings her flowers, it’s enough that he just “TELL” her that he “THOUGHT” about bringing her flowers (her love language is obviously Words of Affirmation, and not Receiving Gifts). I piped up: “Not me. My husband better not be telling me he thought about bringing me flowers because that wouldn’t do anything for me. I would want the real deal.”

The real deal was waiting for me when I got home from work on Tuesday afternoon. Now that’s communication!

In case you are a little rusty in the communication arena or are just curious as to what we present, here is the handout we use when we do our three-hour workshop:

Communication and Relationships
Dayna J. Collins, BS, CADC II, NCAC I
Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law

Communication is:

7% actual words
38% voice
55% body language

Why Relationships Break Up*:

1) Controlling Personalities
2) Lack of Communication
3) Alcohol, Drugs, Gambling, and other Compulsive Behaviors
4) Financial Problems
5) Loss of Trust
6) Selfishness

*Based upon personal observations of Howard Collins, attorney in practice for 26 years.

Communication Tools:

1) Listening vs. Hearing
2) Body language (eye contact, nodding, etc.)
3) Using “I” and “You” statements
4) Paraphrasing to make sure you understand
5) Perception checking/reflective listening
6) Making appointments
7) Stick with present issues, not past or future

Five Love Languages from The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman:

1) Words of Affirmation
2) Quality Time
3) Receiving Gifts
4) Acts of Service
5) Physical Touch

Habit #5 from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I love Gretchin Lair and Scarlet Star Studios! I spent Wednesday evening creating a full-sized self-portrait, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. It was every bit as fun and fulfilling as I expected! Here is Gretchin’s description of the class:

You have a life and vitality that is yours alone. Honor your autonomy by creating your own life-sized, full-body portrait as a symbol of your artistic freedom, independence & self-reliance! We'll help you find a pose that expresses the core of your being, then we'll trace around you and let you loose with paints & brushes. I'm very much looking forward to this event: as a form of creative Self expression, it will be both unusual & uniquely relevant!

But before I share photos or say more about the evening, I want to digress. . . .

I spent the afternoon in Portland on Wednesday, first picking up my grandson Jackson from school, then heading across the street to Grand Central Bakery for a treat. My daughter, Amy, met up with us at the bakery, then the three of us drove the short distance to N. Williams Avenue where we had the pleasure of a double delight: Pix and SCRAP. At Pix I was urged by Amy to try their Rosemary Mocha, which was yum yum yummy! The scent of rosemary was intoxicating and the chocolate, well, we were at Pix, for heaven’s sake. Sipping our treats, we walked next door to SCRAP, where all three of us found treasures we couldn’t live without. Next up, dinner at Blossoming Lotus, one of my favorite eateries in Portland. Blossoming Lotus is located in a yoga studio, Yoga Pearl, and you have to talk quietly and remove your shoes to even use the restroom. Every time I eat there, I order the same thing: the Monk Bowl, a hearty mixture of brown rice, beans, steamed kale and topped with a lovely sweet ginger sauce.

I share all of this because it set the tone for the rest of the evening: getting to play at Scarlet Star Studios with five other people, and one of those people was my daughter Amy! After a few warm-up exercises and introductions, Gretchin had us striking various poses: open, closed, action, prayerful . . . we then divided into two groups of three and took turns tracing each other in a chosen pose. Then the fun began: the paint! We only had 40 minutes to do our painting, but I work better with a time deadline because it doesn’t give me as much time to think or dwell on what I should or could do: I just have to DO! And do I did.

That's Amy's "Jump" self-portait on the right . . .

Day Two With Katie: Play Returns

“When I create, I never have an end in mind.” Katie Kendrick

The second workshop last weekend with Katie, Free Spirit Journaling, was more comfortable for me. Perhaps because I had sweated out all my fear the day before, perhaps because it didn’t involve faces. Although interestingly enough, when asked to add a large image to each of the pages we were working on, I added a face on one of them – and no collage was involved!!

On both days, Katie had us begin the day with an exercise to get us loosey goosey. Both exercises involved using our non-dominant hand, always a boost to the ego. We were given plenty of time, just enough direction, and it was freeing and set the tone for the rest of the day. The materials we used were oil pastels, black paint, and gesso – later we added other colors, but the simplicity of the exercises had my inner critic running for the hills.

The bulk of the day was spent preparing backgrounds for journal pages: layers and layers of paper and paint. Katie suggested ideas for adding texture, had us create a large simple element to work around on the page, and gave us demos on distressing, dripping paint, and extolled the virtues of using gesso in every way imaginable.

The very beginnings of five loose journal pages:

I came away with the beginnings of several pages. I was once again feeling confident and cheerful . . . also a tad exhausted after two full days of creative play.