Sunday, January 2, 2022

Closer to Spring than we were in September

Hello Friends. It is year end and Winter is upon us. But we are closer to Spring than we were in September. This posting comes at the 7 month mark of my move back to the Pacific Northwest. And I want to share some more places I have found and scenes I have photographed while getting settled. The months that have passed since I last posted have included family birthday parties, kids sports activities including soccer, gymnastics and basketball, as well as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. What I will share with you is mostly time spent outdoors finding new places to walk, explore and take in the sights and sounds. 

But let us start indoors at the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner. 

The artist is Dan Friday and the medium is glass. 

This school or shoal of fish, moving along together as a synchronized group was especially delightful, represented in blown glass as they are. Traveling in schools or shoaling is a social activity the fish engage in to protect the group from predators...more eyes to see danger approaching. 

October 10

Gordon's Pumpkin Patch

What says Autumn more than a trip to select the Halloween pumpkins?

It was a blustery day with a serious nip in the air. Summer was in the rear view and Fall was here.  

 Livingston Bay, Camano Island.
October 11th

Barnum Point Preserve 

Camano Island

This spot has a variety of walking trails and has become a favorite go-to for me. 

There is a trail to the beach, trails in the woods, vistas of the Saratoga Passage and a pond area pictured here. 

Mt. Baker from Fir Island on November 8th. 
I just had to pull off on the side of the road and snap this picture. 

 Mt. Baker again from Iverson Spit Preserve on Camano Island.
November 18th 

Another morning walk at Iverson Spit Preserve on the day after Thanksgiving. 

And my companions on the walk.

Snow Geese and Trumpeter Swans

During this time of year thousands of Snow Geese make their way to the fields, estuaries and tide flats of the Skagit and Stillaguamish Rivers.  In September they leave their summer home in the Artic tundra of Wrangle Island in Russia, entering the Pacific Flyway to make a 3000 mile journey to the Pacific Northwest. Some stay until April but others continue on their way to the central valley of California. 

Trumpeter Swans arrive from their summer home in the tundra of Alaska and Northern Canada in November and stay until mid-March. Trumpeter Swans are the largest native North American waterfowl with a wingspan of 6 feet and weighing in at 25-30 pounds. 

They are a sight to behold whether in flight or feeding on farmland residue crops or salt marsh plants.  
November 10th.

Atmospheric Rivers and Skagit River Flooding
November 17th

A term I was not familiar with (but I am now) is Atmospheric River. A series of this phenomenon brought serious flooding, landslides, power outages and havoc into the lives of many in Northwest Washington in November.

 An Atmospheric River is simply a narrow corridor or stream of highly concentrated moisture that travels through the sky. It is not uncommon but when the strength and duration are what we saw in November, a state of emergency is the result. I've included a couple of pictures I took of the Skagit River at flood stage in downtown Mt. Vernon. 

Pre-Solstice afternoon at English Boom Park (above and below)
December 14

What a joy to happen upon a rainbow on a windy, chilly visit to the beach!


And below, Christmas Eve at Kayak Point Park. 

In closing, a line from Mary Oliver's poem Wild Geese.

Whoever you are...the world offers itself to your imagination. 


Schack Art Center "selfie" - December 24th 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

The Journey "Home": First Season

It is now October and the season has changed from Summer to Fall. Which means I've been back in Washington for 4 months now. Much has been accomplished in the way of getting settled ~ like replacing the Indiana plates on my car with Washington plates. That seemed to make it official!

With this posting I will share some of my favorite photos taken over the summer as I've explored the area. The weather was quite wonderful in spite of one rather extraordinary heat wave and a surprising lack of smoke considering wildfires in Oregon and Eastern Washington. So I tried to get outside every chance I could to enjoy the scene - free of mid-west humidity and 90 degree temps!

By the way, all these pictures were taken with my phone with just some cropping as a means of editing. The big Nikon is sitting on a shelf for now! 

The Skagit River at dusk taken from the Riverwalk in Mt. Vernon.

One of my favorite stops is a small county park on Camano Island called English Boom Park. It is a quick 15 minute drive from where I am living and a perfect spot for a short beach walk, reading or just watching the shoreline. Here are a few favorites taken there. 

The above pictures from June and July. 

Taken on October 7th

One enjoyable (really fun!) event was in mid-July when all the women in my family gathered for "Paper Hats and High Tea". We each made a fancy hat from paper, ribbons, feathers, flowers ~ you name it. 

My sister and I got together to make "practice hats" and this was mine.

Ready for the Kentucky Derby!!!
Lots of fun that day.
Back row left: Jane, Me, Nancy, Gina & Britnie
Front row left: Harper, Hailey & June

In August a friend from Seattle and I met up in Everett to go see some art at the Schack Art Center and then walk in a local Arboretum. I concur with the sign we found on a park bench there. 

With the same friend (also named Mary), we went on another day trip to Kukutali Nature Preserve which is part of Deception Pass State Park. 

Quite a magical place from my point of view: a short hike to a quiet space of Pacific NW sights and sounds. 

In early September there was an outing to a Sculpture Park and Gallery on Camano Island. It was a beautiful early Fall day for my niece, Jane, her family, my Sister and I. 

We had a picnic and then strolled the grounds of the Sculpture Park. 

My grand niece, June and Sister, Nancy. 

Below: an early morning shot of the Skagit Valley traveling to La Conner. This was the moment that I knew it was Autumn and the seasonal change was upon us. 

I hope this post finds you well. 
Signing off with a Micronesian word for "Being, Not Doing". 
Take some time to practice this word and the freedom it brings. 
Until next time:


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Journey Continues...

but originating from a new location. Here is an update on my recent move back to western Washington state. Specifically I am living in Stanwood, WA which is north of Seattle where I grew up. 

This blog is really to share with you a few photos of the trip from Bloomington to my new environs. My new apartment is a work in progress and more will be revealed on that! 

A friend (co-pilot) and I left Indiana on May 23 and arrived here on May 28. We landed at the home of my sister and brother-in-law just before the Memorial Day weekend. 

We took one day during the trip to stop grinding out the miles and enjoy the sights. First stop:

Located in South Dakota...a landscape we encountered under clear blue skies. 

Next stop was Devil's Tower in NE Wyoming.

Such a presence under changing skies.

The next day we began the journey in earnest again, but still with an eye for the beauty of the western landscape. Below photo was taken on a scenic byway on the way to Butte off of I-90. 

And Mica Bay at Lake Coeur d'Alene

I'm not in Indiana any more and here is one photo from a day trip taken to Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island, a half hour away from where I am living. 

Thanks for looking. I wanted you to know that I arrived and am busy getting settled here (no small task). More to come. 
June 23, 2021 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Idaho Artist Residency - June 2019

Healing Hospitality
Grateful Simplicity
Creative Peacemaking

In this posting I will share with you my experience as an Artist In Residence at the Monastery of St. Gertrude in northwestern Idaho. I was there for six weeks from the beginning of June until July 15th. During June I was provided with an art studio and dedicated time to focus on my art. At the same time I joined in living with the Sisters, Oblates, volunteers, other artists and staff, all who make up the Community of the The Benedictine Sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude. It was a unique experience and I hope to give you a taste of it here. 

First, a few words on the history of the Monastery. The presence of the Benedictine Sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude dates all the way back to 1882 when 3 missionary sisters arrived in Gervais, Oregon from a cloister in Sarnen, Switzerland. Led by Sr. Johanna Zumstein, they converted a run down building into workable monastic quarters and began service at a local Indian mission. 

The pioneering Sisters increased in numbers as more arrived from Switzerland and they served in Oregon and Washington before establishing themselves near Cottonwood, Idaho. They established and staffed schools to meet the needs of children in Uniontown and Colton, Washington and expanded the educational ministry into Idaho as well. 

By 1907 the Benedictine Sisters were provided a piece of land near the prairie town of Cottonwood, Idaho as incentive to establish themselves in a permanent motherhouse there.
The Camas Prairie directly across from the Monastery. (June 7, 2019)
"Three miles from town, the new site, with a frame house and chapel, provided a view across the prairie of the Clearwater and Bitterroot Mountains, glimpses of the rocky Seven Devils mountain range and a permeating aroma of pine which reminded the Swiss sisters of their homeland." (quote from the Monastery website)

The lasting "home" for the Benedictine Sisters of St. Gertrude was built during the 1920's. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The monastery was built with a stone called Blue Porphyry which was quarried from the hill directly behind it.

Always pioneers wherever they established themselves, the Sisters extended the hand of education for over 50 years after they settled in Cottonwood. They started and served as staff in schools at different educational levels throughout Idaho. 

The ministry of the Sisters expanded into the area of health care starting in the 1930's. They established and operated award winning hospital facilities in Cottonwood, Wendell and Jerome Idaho over the years. Although no longer operated by the Sisters, their spirit of quality care for those in need live on to this day. 

As times changed their ministries have changed and continue to this day in Idaho, Washington and California.

Early Sunday morning on the Camas Prairie. (June 2, 2019)
I will be taking you on a tour of the Monastery "campus", both inside and out, as we go forward. I will alternately share a series of photos I took of the Camas Prairie under all sorts of different weather conditions that came and went during the 6 weeks I was there. The ever changing landscape just across the 2 lane road from the Monastery was a constant source of joy, beauty and preoccupation for me and I want to share that with you too.

Just after sunrise on Camas Prairie (June 7, 2019)

The Historical Museum at St. Gertrude's is a first stop for visitors to the Monastery campus. The exhibits preserve and present the legacy and the heritage of the Sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude.

The Mission Statement: Through the ministry of our Historical Museum, we and our visitors are made more aware of and are grateful for the accomplishments and lives of our ancestors.

I have a special appreciation for both the Museum AND the benches that are available to visitors for rest and reflection. The benches offer a peaceful view across the road to the prairie and became a go-to spot for me.

On many mornings I could be found with a cup of coffee, camera and reading/writing materials at the bench outside the Museum. What a memorable spot from which to start the day!

I wish I could provide you with the audio of the birds giving their excited commentary on the beginning of the day!


The Spirit Center is another ministry of the Monastery of St. Gertrude offering a year around schedule of group and individual retreats. The Center also offers certified spiritual direction in support of individuals of all faiths on their personal spiritual path. It is a beautifully designed green facility, partially solar powered, with 22 guest rooms and a variety of meeting spaces. 

The Mission Statement: Spirit Center draws upon the core values of the Monastery of St. Gertrude — Healing Hospitality, Grateful Simplicity and Creative Peacemaking — in its role as a center for the exploration and promotion of the arts, spirituality, history, and social justice. We offer contemplative space for learning, renewal and crucial conversation as we partner with others for a better world. 

The Inn at St. Gertrude

Opened in May 2010, The Inn offers a traditional Bed and Breakfast opportunity to visitors. It offers a quiet retreat and a home base from which to enjoy all that the region has to offer.

Back to the Camas Prairie

Fair weather cumulus (June 19, 2019)


Care for the Land

The Sister's devotion to caring for the land is evident in the way the grounds are kept. In 1991 they wrote their Philosophy of Land Use which includes the following: 

"Through the years our community and this land have been bonded together. With humility we recognize the earth (humus) as the source from which we (humanity) receive our life and our sustenance. Our inner spirits are renewed by the contemplative environment it provides."

Currently the Monastery has ownership and responsibility for nearly 1,400 acres of land. Most of it is forested. But the pictures here show land that includes gardens, orchards, and farming land.

Oh! and did I mention RASPBERRIES!

Raspberry Bushes! - Raspberry Jam! - Raspberry Festival!
The raspberry crop is awaited by the entire community with much anticipation every year. The bushes (above) are tended with great care. Raspberry Jam (really good!) is available in the dining room and sold year around at the Museum Gift Shop. And the Raspberry Festival draws crowds to the Monastery each year in early August. 



Below are The Orchards beside the path that goes up the hill behind the Monastery.

Monastery Orchard in evening light. (July 10, 2019)
 And up the hill from the Orchard:

On the way to the Monastery Cemetery



Back to the Camas Prairie 
This time during a remarkable and damaging thunder storm:

Late afternoon storm: 4:00 PM (June 13)
4:04 PM (June 13)

4:11 PM (June 13)


The Chapel of St. Gertrude's Monastery
In June of 1979 the Monastery and the Chapel were entered onto the National Register of Historic Places.  Construction of the Chapel began in 1919 and was completed in 1924.

The 97 foot tall towers house four bells named in honor of The Sacred Heart, St. Joseph, St. Michael, and St. Gabriel.

The High Altar was commissioned and built in Germany. In 1927 it was shipped to Idaho by way of Belgium and the Panama Canal. It arrived in Cottonwood by freight train in 1928 and was pulled by a four horse wagon to the Monastery. The man who created it, Otto Kieber, came to Idaho from Germany to erect the Altar in place.

The painting above the Altar is one of eight which can be changed for various seasons and liturgical occasions. The tabernacle is flanked by two bowed gold leaf angels honoring the Blessed Sacrament.
Wooden choir stalls have a place of great significance in the Chapel.

The practice of morning and evening prayer takes place in the choir stalls. The Sisters come together twice a day to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. This form of prayer is an essential part of Benedictine spirituality. All visitors are invited to join with the community in this twice daily coming together.

And below a few details that add to the character of The Chapel.


Rainbows on the Camas Prairie

Quite a night! (July 8, 2019)

More inside the Monastery

Art in the hallway going into the dining room.

Why share pictures of the dining room? 

In a word - Community. Meal time is another opportunity to come together and share the day. 


Camas Prairie in early evening.
(June 23, 2019)
They were very curious! (June 23, 2019)

Fellow Visiting Artists and Volunteers: 

 During the month of June there were two of us 
at the Monastery as Artists in Residence.
Writer Susan (left) and Sister Teresa (right) 
on a visit to Pine Flat on the Snake River.

During the month of July three more artists brought their talents to the Monastery.
Left to right: Daniel (volunteer), Karla (Oblate and Artist), Jamie (Artist), myself (still an artist), and Nate (Writer)

Art Studio - Can't say enough about how much I enjoyed the hours spent in this space. Plenty of light in a space that had been used and enjoyed by others who came before me and will come after me.

I will soon be posting some of the work I created during my month as Artist in Residence. That posting will be found at:


And now, the morning of July 15th. 
On the day I left the Monastery to travel back to Indiana, I was out early to catch the sunrise on the Camas Prairie.

4:42 AM (July 15, 2019)
4:51 AM (July 15, 2019)
4:57 AM ( July 15, 2019)
5:07 AM (July 15, 2019)

The monastic community at the Monastery of St. Gertrude is a unique, friendly, forward thinking place where work, prayer and community are highly valued. The intelligent and meaningful legacy of their 130 years of work and ministry in Oregon, Washington and Idaho is inspiring. I am grateful for their Hospitality and the opportunity to spend this month of focus on my art.  And grateful to you for taking the time to share the experience through this blog posting. In closing I leave you with words from The Rule of St. Benedict: