This is Brodi, our friends' Portuguese Water Dog. We just spent ten days with him (and his beach house), and he's amazing. Funny, friendly, smart as a whip. I took this photograph for his best buddies, Bill & Mary.

I think the face says it all.


Texture Tuesday... minus 43 eDition

I'm having fun with something new:  Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday. You can read more about this fun weekly activity by following the link at the bottom of this post. Kim  is an artist and Photoshop expert who designs beautiful textures you can apply to your own photos. I thought this week's texture was a perfect match with this photo of the inner workings of an antique Seth Thomas clock. I used a single layer of Kim's texture, using the multiply setting @ 100% opacity.

The clock is one of the many antiques that decorate the old Cumberland Island Inn in Georgia, where we spent a few stormy winter days in 2009.

Linked to Texture Tuesday

The beach with Brodi

“The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”   --Jacques Cousteau

It's so amazing being here, right on the beach, with Puget Sound stretching out in front of us. The beach is a constant draw, calling me to come walk and see what washed up in the last high tide. I don't even mind that it's been raining for days. I just pull on my raincoat (over my down coat; it's cold!), and we head out. There's just something so satisfying about walking along the water's edge, listening to the sounds of the water, staring at the rocks and sand while trying to keep my feet dry.

We just got back from a low-tide walk with Brodi. He runs up and down happily, tennis ball in his mouth, while we look for rocks and beach glass and shells. One of his favorite games is to drop the ball into a pile of branches or seaweed, cover it up, then pretend to search for it. This game is endlessly fascinating for him, and endlessly amusing for us! It keeps him occupied until we call, then he instantly finds the ball, snatches it up, and runs after us.

He also likes to bury the ball in a hole, then frantically dig for it. I've never seen a dog dig like this. He'll start out digging by alternating his front paws, scratching at the surface. Then he goes for it with both front paws at the same time, and makes a big hole in an instant. Usually the bright green tennis ball is right next to the hole, which makes it easy to "find" it.

Another favorite game is to bat the ball between his front paws as he runs toward the water, lets it sail into the surf, then jumps in and rescues it.

It's been years since we've spent so much time with a dog, and I'd forgotten how entertaining they can be. I'm pretty sure that one of my retirement goals will be satisfied this year... adding a puppy to the family!


A new view

For the past few days (and for a few more), we're getting away from our familiar routine, taking our lives to a completely new place.

It's been fun cooking in a brand new gourmet kitchen, with a restaurant-style gas range and a very cool Gaggenau steam oven. Four flights of stairs are more than I'm used to, but the exercise is great (and I can always hop into the elevator if I'm hauling something more than a couple of flights). The Crow's Nest, our fourth-floor retreat, has amazing views, especially from the big covered deck overlooking Puget Sound.

The view changes constantly. When we arrived, we were still socked in by the fifth day of fog in a row, and it was cold, down in the 20's at night and not much warmer during the day. When the weather began to change, a storm blew away the fog, but also brought clouds and wind and rough water. But we've also had two days of sun and peek-a-boo blue skies, warm enough to walk on the beach without a heavy coat, and warm enough to go barefoot on the deck.

And we've had one of the most beautiful sunsets ever, punctuated by a couple of brave stand-up paddleboarders. Every time I looked outside, the sky had changed, and I grabbed the camera and snapped more pictures. The water was nearly flat calm, and the reflections were endless.

The water views are what make this retreat so spectacular. Even when the skies are grey and unchanging, the water is always fascinating. The wind churns up the waves into breakers, then it all changes to flat calm. I'll hear pounding surf, and a while later, there's no sound at all. I love watching the container ships and tugboats moving between Tacoma and Seattle, but there's been no private boat traffic at all, even on the calm days.

The beach is a constant temptation, calling me to come out and walk along the water's edge. Every day we take Brodi out for a romp on the beach, and I collect beach glass and jasper. On Wednesday I found a big chunk of carnelian agate, brilliant red and orange. The beach glass is abundant, green and cobalt blue, root-beer brown and pale aqua, and I've even found a few pieces of red. The prize was a rare piece of orange glass. I've got a project in mind for the glass, and although I've collected almost two and a half pounds so far, every day there's more.

It's started to rain again, but low tide is coming up soon, and I'm anxious to get out on the beach.


Catching up

I've been struggling with the best way to catch up on my blog. I have photos to post from September, trip/vacation entries, musings about winter and cutting down trees, and my projects of late: designing tote bags and making walking sticks.  So writing has taken a bit of a back stage for now, but I'm ready to get back to it. I have a list of ideas, many photographs, and finally, I have time to write.

Dave & I are taking a brief vacation at Three Tree Point for ten days. We're house sitting for friends who flew the coop for warmer waters, and have left their beach home in our hands... and also their Portuguese Water Dog, Brodi. I'm rediscovering my love of wandering a Puget Sound beach, looking for treasures like beach glass. I'm also rediscovering my love of dogs. Brodi is an amazing dog, smart and free-thinking, with a huge love of walking the beach, and an equally huge dislike for black birds. I will be writing more about these recent projects and rediscovered loves... soon. I promise.

I just have a bit of catching up to do first.


No longer in my vocabulary

On first day of each new year, I spend a bit of time thinking back on the year gone by, and the changes in my life. I usually pull out last year's journal and read through it, thinking about my work and projects, time off, time spent with friends and family.

This time it struck me how many words are no longer in my vocabulary, now that I'm not working. It's not that these words and phrases have no meaning, it's just that the meaning is different. At any rate, I'm liking this.

Let's face it, the Commute is just gone. It only has meaning if I'm trying to get somewhere on the freeway during everyone else's commute. Which is just bad planning on my part.

I still have a Daily Driver, but since I don't have to drive anywhere on a schedule set by someone else, I need another term for my favorite car. Maybe my "where should we go today" wheels?

What do you call a Vacation when you're retired? I've given this a lot of thought over the past 9 months, but can't come up with the right catchy term.

Sick Leave is irrelevant, and not just because I don't need to take time off to be sick. Since I quit working, I haven't been sick once. Nada. Not at all. No flu, no colds, no sinus infections, no stress. No taking my co-worker's "sick" home, because they aren't smart enough to stay home when they're sick.

Hump Day is no more. Wednesday is Wednesday, just another day of the week.

Lunch Hour. Since I retired, I don't usually eat lunch. And if I did, it would last as long as I wanted, thank you very much!

Day Off. See Sick Leave above. The concept is the same, minus the germs.

My new Career is being a homebody, a traveler, a gardener.  I am still, and always will be, a writer and photographer.