Retirement Woelk Style

RetirementPete06

What does retirement Woelk style, look like? This World’s Best, trophy holding, Woelk just retired…. completing 31 years at Kaiser Aluminum Trentwood, Spokane Washington plant. Friday was his last workday. He has 4 weeks of vacation before his “real” retirement starts. So, he is actually “on vacation” so, this is really his first week of vacation. Doesn’t look like vacation to me, does it look like vacation to you? Hmmmmm.

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In all honesty, I am glad he is getting the tractor fixed because we need it to finish getting the garden in, but honestly, this is NOT how I picture  retirement or vacation. Not even close.

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This Machine Has Needed This

Every nook and cranny of the machine has been inspected, cleaned, greased and put back together and now he is taking apart the front-end to find the noise it made. Hopefully, it will stay fixed all season after this thorough go through. This is a Kubota we bought from Ann and Dan when they moved to Arkansas. I pray for safety and protection for him every morning. We own stock in Band Aid and Tylenol now.

RetirementPete04 RetirementPete02 RetirementPete01

Retiring Woelk Style isn’t Normal

Who Cares? I’ve never really cared much about normal anyhow. I’m Just As Guilty As Pete…I am working in the garden this week. Got the strawberry patch transplanted and spaced so they are not overcrowded. Hoping to be able to replenish the strawberry jam, strawberry syrup and strawberry juice this year. Un Huh! I will put up the before and after pictures of that in later posts.

Will get on the berry bushes and fruit tree bases clearing next so that they stay healthy and should be ready for when the tractor is back together and ready to plow and disc the rest of the garden so we can seed. We already have the other starts in the house waiting to go in.

But, I already had steamed asparagus for breakfast this morning. Yummm.  Our roses are budding, fruit trees are blossoming,  iris are getting ready to do their thing. Love the warm weather and the hummingbirds, life is great in the fast lane here in Elk. Never thought this ski bum would say that, did ya? Neener neener neener!

The Hummingbird Kids Are Back

7 Hummingbirds J1516
7 Hummingbirds J1516. 22″w x 30″h watercolor on 300lb. watercolor paper. Seven Hummingbirds surrounding a tree covered with Honeysuckle blossoms.
7 Hummingbirds J1516

Hummingbirds Arrive

The kids are back, noisy and darting around outside making a hummingbird heaven. Hence, witness the bright colored flashes of neon birds everywhere. We have already started to spend inordinate amounts of time outside watching them. Because, our deck is a buzzing hummingbird haven. How could this not be? Honestly, we are surrounded by forest and natural honeysuckle vines everywhere.

Spring is wonderful.

These birds are just amazing fliers, including abilities like; jet propulsion frontwards, backwards, sideways. They are also quite communicative, listen to them chirping, buzzing like in Start Wars, and scolding each other. Flitting in and out in a second. We do this hummingbird event all summer long, every year, check out other posts here. It almost seems like they need anger management sometimes.

Hum Bird YouTube Video

Here are some amazing clips put together already:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/dIgyLDe2CCk” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>

Okay, three quesses at what subject will be next for this old artist, now that the children are back home. LOL.

MUD season

Spring Mud 2019
Garden Spring Mud 2019

Mud

Followed by mud, and more mud is the weather prediction for today.

I walked down to the garden and can now see patches of ground peeking through the snow. This is the blackberry row and the apple trees on the lower end. How long do you think it will be before we can plant? Hello Spring! Melt down has begun, with the introduction of warmer temperatures.  I know it is practically ridiculous of me to complain when so many are losing everything, farm and ranch to intense flooding across the midwest but…. my little self still wants to moan and say, It’s a pain;

GOOSHY knee deep mud!

As the snow starts to melt into a much thinner level each day, little rivers trickle down the hill. Trickle, trickle into natural bog areas. Out of necessity, each town trip becomes a journey put off to the last minute and combined with others to decrease the amount of times up and down the hill. Each rut made becomes it’s own little stream.

Things Are Serious

When, getting up the driveway involves real work for the Subaru and chains are needed on the tractor….

  • Propane delivery is impossible.
  • UPS walks up the driveway to deliver an important package.
  • The dog smiles walking in with brown legs instead of white.
  • You realize your whole house is now a mud room.
  • So, why clean?

It’s funny, this happens every year for half a month or a whole month. I think, man we got to buy truckloads of gravel and fix this. But, that gets put off later when the roads allow heavy trucks on the road again. I’ve got an idea, maybe I should contact the Spokane Wastewater Management people and ask them to help take care of this problem for us. We are only 38 miles from the city, that should be an easy fix for them, you think? Or, is it just not a good idea to ever involve the authorities in solving real life issues? Our taxes are high enough already with no services. Un Huh.

The painter in me still loves the promise of those great bright greens, as things beginning to spring up next! Check out last years post. We have little starts planted all around the house getting ready to put the garden in below, when we quit sinking into middle earth with every step.

Spokane Watercolor Society Meeting

a vibrant landscapeArtist Date Night

Went to the Spokane Watercolor Society Meeting last night and had a great “artist date” night. The SWS meeting is the second Wednesday in the month downtown at Spokane Art Supply on Monroe Street 6pm. This artist group is a truly worthwhile organization to join, with lots of information on the web and Facebook if you want to check it out. If you’d like to get some real inspiration, by coming to one of the meetings, let me know. I’d love to take you with me. This organization spurs me to keep improving my skills.

Monthly Challenges

Each month at the Spokane Watercolor Society Meeting, we are asked to paint something in a specific theme of the month, or challenge. We bring it in and are able to show and tell with everyone, getting positive feedback and tips. I just love “hob nobbing” with fellow artists. Our challenge for this month was “Challenge”.

Hey, is there an “Echo” in the room? 

In line with my newly established goal of perfecting winter snow scenes in my painting *repertoire, I brought my First Snow Walk winter scene (image was shared yesterday).

Loving KindnessAlso, I brought-in the painting done for the previous month. Unfortunately, I was snowed-in and had to miss last month’s meeting. The challenge for the February meeting was “Love and Kindness” and that subject produced, a *plethora of ideas flooding my mind. I was trying to choose the best subject and it was impossible with so many ideas flowing through my brain. After a week of fiddling around, I noticed that one set of images kept populating the parade. Kids and dogs. Yep, that was my love and kindness entry. Always, I have always, felt the best of love from my woofie dogs! They want to be with you no matter what, loving you through the good, the bad and the ugly.

*2 NEW WORD USAGEs! Had to look them up to spell it right here. All that study is increasing my vocabulary.

Don’t forget our show coming up, on First Friday, April 2019, is the opening reception for our Member Show at the Inland Northwest Conservation Lobby, I posted info about it earlier. Please come down and see some really phenominal work! You have got to see Kelly Knouff-Burk’s wetland painting, it will take your breath away! There is so much talent in this group!

 

 

Walk in First Snow Through the Woods

first snow woods photograph

Almost every day, I get to see scenes like this as I walk outside the studio. My camera is a real happy camper. Luckily, I captured this picture during the first snow of the season. There was a small accumulation of snow and the day was warm. Sometimes, it feels like I live in paradise with the nature right around me.

There are tracks from our neighbors who had just ridden their ATV’s through it. There are a lot of Bambi tracks and Gobble Gobble turkey tracks too! Max and I are not the only ones enjoying this area.

We all love the outside up here in Elk, WA.  Our neighborhood is the one that started the, “You might be a redneck if……” craze. Checkout Jeff Foxworthy, the comedian here.

My goal right now is to conquer a fear of painting snow and get good at painting winter scenes. I figure the more I paint, the easier it will get. Hmmmm. We’ll see.

walk first snow WC washHere is the first study I painted of this view, as a horizontal presentation. After finishing the study, I am able to see areas to improve. Standing back a way gives me a good view to ponder how I want to proceed with the larger painting.  I’m not so sure I will go with horizontal, I think I like the vertical better.

Walk First Snow
Watercolor study complete for horizontal layout.

I will try a vertical layout next.

Photograph Memory Treasures

I found some birthday memory treasures while going through old photographs. We have been loving the outdoor skiing sports for a long, long time.

PeteVal1Pete and I were married the year before, and I remember that wonderful soft beard of many colors? In January of 2000 we were the parents of two young teenagers.

It was my daughter, Rachel’s 16th birthday, so, where did we do her party? Why, up at the ski hill of course! Skiing, what better way is there for a teenager to spend birthday energy? With a total in attendance of eight people, we had three newbies with us; Allison, Sarah and Colleen. Then there were the old-timer ski hill bums Cody, Patrick, Peter, Rachel, and myself. You classify as a ski bum if you go up on the hill every day off you get.

Newbies

AllisonPat
Allison skiing with Pat boarding by her.
Sarah
Sarah falling only a few times.
Colleen1
Colleen snowplowing
Colleen2
Colleen conquering the bunny hill.

Old Timers

Then there was the rest of the gang…

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Allison, Rachel, and Sarah

Not a lot of money but good food, friends and laughter.

AllisonRachelCody
Allison, Rachel, and Cody

Expressive body language…

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Rachel and Cody
Cody
Cody

Lunchtime had soup sandwiches and birthday cake at our table. Cooler and thermos experts we were and still are. Remembering these days and your friends bring a warm chuckle to my heart. I wonder how everyone is doing now. You guys were a really fun group to hang out with, and I treasure these memories brought back by a small packet of photographs taken in January of 2000. We know that is the date because of the irritating red neon date on the bottom right corner.

Snowshoe Peaceful Walk

snowshoe02We have had some usage of our snowshoes here in Elk WA and I am loving it. Max and I went for a snowshoe break after lunch and found some really beautiful views. I can’t believe how he loves to jump and run in the snow. Endless energy to say the least.

Compare a couple of weeks ago to today.

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The snow was up to my knees and Max’s belly, so with each step there was deepness and spillover on the shoes making it was a real workout. Beautiful and sparkly white blanket over the ground feeling like I was walking in a quiet winter wonderland. There were deer tracks but no others to mess up the views. Except we can really see where we were, maybe I should apologize for marking up the beautiful white blanket with snowshoe tracks and dog playing leap tracks all over the place.

No, I don’t think so.

snowshoe01I usually sit here and rest but I could not mess up this perfect layer of snow on this old log across our track. The MapMyWalk app says I only went 1.13 miles in an hour and 20 minutes. But, my legs feel like I have been marching with the Nazi army soldiers for miles. You know what I mean, lifting my legs up high for each step. Either that, or I was doing lunges repeatedly… wow.

 

 

icicles grown in Elk

Nature is so amazing….

It is cold here in rural Elk Washington, winter is definitely not over. Walked out on the deck this am and made a discovery, There is quite a crop of icicles hanging down from our roof. We have a steep slope metal roof so usually snow clears hard and heavy, but not so this past week.

It seems that just the right amount of snow and warming have prevailed. We have snow on the roof extending slowly over the side. The end result is lots of icicles hanging from a sheet of snow. A great specimen of what icicles look like.

At any moment a huge dump of snow will let loose.

It almost looks science fiction, kind of creepy crawly rows of fingers reaching over the edge of the roof.  These icicles are great reflectors of light, now I see where the inventor of those christmas icicle lights got their idea from. 

Pirate Birthday Cake

Jake the Pirate Birthday Cake

The request is for a birthday cake with “chocolate!!!” and Jake the Pirate from Disney. After looking up the kids animated series and found the cutest characters. I need to make a real quick sketch to verify if this is the correct series, then I do a pencil sketch for Henry to have of his own.

Jake the Pirate sketchJake the Pirate Drawing

Bake and Fill the Cake

First, I bake four layers of really rich chocolate birthday cake.

four chocolate cakes

Next, quickly whip up a special secret “flavored” cream cheese  filling for between the layers. Finally, I finish up by cooking a batch of real fudge frosting to ice it with.

Birthday Cake Fondant

Now, comes the hard part for me on this birthday cake. I have never made fondant before, so I looked up how-to on the internet and get to making it. I wanted to make the cartoon characters and his name out of this fondant instead of using frosting. You know, always trying something new.

fondant topping

The recipe made up a lot of fondant, actually it was too much, so I covered the top of the already frosted birthday cake and decided to paint a little scene on it.

 

More Than Just Sticky

I know the recipe said it was sticky but there should be a stronger word to describe how sticky fondant really is. Wow.

The next process for me was experimenting with my food coloring and cake decorating glitters to see what they would do on this fondant top coating. It is a very different glowing kind of coloring. It almost seems like a glaze after you coat it a few times. Hmmmm. Here is the background sand, water and skyline.

Pirate, 6, bird characters on cakePirate and number 6 on cake

The little characters took longer than expected due to the stickiness and getting the paints to work on them after cutting them out. This is Jake the pirate on the cake and the number six on the counter with the parrot with the paints. Whew! Frosting seems much easier all the time.

Henry's name on cake
Finishing up you can see that I have made Henry’s name in the same style that they use on the series. Which kind of looks like shipwrecked lumber nailed together. After getting it all assembled I went ahead and sprinkled some more shredded chocolate on the top.
finished birthday cake

Chocolate Birthday Cake 

I am really sure that this cake will not be mistaken for anything but chocolate.

 

My Heart and I Are Back…

You may have noticed the lack of blog posts lately. Well, I have a cardiologist doctors note for that.

I went into the hospital on Wednesday last week having chest pain. It was scary and sudden and I was dreading to possibly have to go through open heart surgery again. Went from ER to Advanced Care Unit at Holy Family Hospital on IV’s managing the pain for two days, trying to avoid a massive heart attack. It seems there was a waiting line for beds at Sacred Hospital, so we had to wait. If you know me then you know that patience is not my best trait, so this was not good.

Transferred to Sacred Heart Hospital on Friday when the chest pain worsened, and the surgical team met us at the door and took me right in. I got a stent put in my heart.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stent

When I woke up I felt much better right away and was able to come home on Saturday afternoon. Way better than the open heart surgery I had in 2012 which took quite a while to recover from. Dr Katz gave me a picture of what they did and I thought you might like to see what a stent looks like. The “Pre” picture shows shat the vein looks like with a only 10% flow. The “Post Stent” picture shows the vessel opened up and flowing like a trooper.

Radiology image of heart stent

I never knew much about hearts or heart procedures until I became a heart patient. Am very thankful that the medical field is making so many advances, or I may not be posting this message today. The people in medical professions are so talented, caring and wonderful, thank you to you all!