Floating feather

Feather (I think it is from a mallard.)

Peacock feather

I saw some unusual and incredible feather art recently at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.  Currently on exhibit is “Featherfolio” by Chris Maynard.  He uses optometry scalpels and instruments to cut intricate and detailed shapes from feathers and then mounts the feathers and cutouts to create a shadow box-like effect.  His work is amazing.  Here are some examples:

“Singing Bird 32” by Chris Maynard; uses parrot and parakeet feathers

“Pinecone Search” by Chris Maynard; uses turkey feathers

“Crane Dance” by Chris Maynard; uses crowned crane feathers

“Beauty on the Move” by Chris Maynard; uses peacock feathers

“Transcendence” by Chris Maynard; uses rose-breasted cockatoo feathers


Making Sun Prints

August 24, 2015

Sample sun print pillows from Blueprints on  Fabric

Sample sun print pillows from Blueprints on

On a recent trip to Vashon Island, my friend Carol introduced me to artist Linda Stemer, who makes chemically-treated cotton and silk fabric for sun prints.  (She sells the fabric online at Blueprints on Fabric.)



It was fun looking at samples of the blueprinted fabrics Linda had on display, but it was even more fun making our own blueprints following Linda’s super-easy instructions.  What a perfect way to take advantage of our sunny summer weather.



You can see the entire process at this link.

I framed the feather print I made.  It goes well with our blue guest bedroom.

My feather sun print

My feather sun print



“All that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity.”
— William Shakespeare

Yellow warbler

This yellow warbler flew into the glass windows on the library’s patio deck, and it died.  One of my colleagues brought it inside, hoping that it was just stunned and would revive.  But it was truly dead.

All sudden death is shocking.

Yellow warbler in death

Yellow warbler

Detail of wing and feathers

I happened to be reading a book by a licensed bird rehabilitator — The Bluebird Effect:  Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds by Julie Zickefoose.  The book is filled with stories about encounters with birds that came into Zick’s life and home during their convalescences.  She remarked on the special difficulty of working with songbirds that need feeding frequently — nestlings need to be fed every 20 to 45 minutes, from dawn to dusk!  Had the warbler survived, but with broken bones, it would have required some labor-intensive care.

The Bluebird Effect is written by a bird rehabilitator

I loved Zickefoose’s watercolors and pencil sketches of birds.

“Each day I begin with the empty page.”
— Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds

When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams

When Terry Tempest Williams’ mother died, at age 54, she bequeathed her journals to her daughter.  The beautiful, cloth-bound books took up three shelves on a bookcase.  And when Williams opened them a week after her mother died, she found that every page was blank.

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice is Williams’ attempt to decipher the meaning of her mother’s gift.  Williams is now 54 herself, the age her mother died, and over the course of her life she reflected on many possible meanings to the mystery of the empty pages.  For example:

  • “To withhold words is power.  But to share our words with others, openly and honestly, is also power.”
  • “When silence is a choice, it is an unnerving presence.  When silence is imposed, it is censorship.”
  • “Empty pages become possibilities.”

This book prompted me to think about what legacy will I leave my daughter.  I actually don’t want to bequeath her too much material stuff.  I want her to be free to acquire and collect things that reflect her own values and lifestyle, and not be burdened with my things, valuable or not.  What’s most important to me is leaving memories — of times shared, family recipes, etc.  This blog, in some ways, could serve as a legacy of my life, at least the parts I am willing to make public.

All legacies are incomplete.

“I thought I was writing a book about voice.  I thought I would proclaim as a woman that we must speak the truth of our lives at all costs.  But what I realize . . . is that I will never be able to say what is in my heart, because words fail us, because it is in our nature to protect, because there are times when what is public and what is private must be discerned.  There is comfort in keeping what is sacred inside us not as a secret, but as a prayer.”
— Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds



“He slept
with his long neck
folded, like a letter
put away.”
Jane Hirshfield, from “Hope and Love”

The curved neck of a heron

Detail of heron's head and neck

I wish I knew the poetic words to describe the feathers of this Great Blue Heron.

Detail, heron feathers

Detail, heron feathers

Detail, wing feathers of Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron at Green Lake

Heron and small waves

“. . . the unbegrudging concentration of the heron”
— Seamus Heaney, from “Drifting Off”

I see this heron feeding near a culvert at Green Lake nearly every morning between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m.  Isn’t it wonderful to see wildlife in the city?  The last time I saw it, I noticed that one leg was lame.  It had been injured by fishing line, that was still entangled around the leg.  I called a wildlife rescue organization to report it.  Don’t know what will happen.

Heron on the dock at Green Lake

Such a small head viewed from this angle!

Leg injured by fishing line

The difficulty of capturing a heron in flight -- blurred feathers

Great Blue Heron and its reflection in the water



Peacock, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

“And so it is that most people have no idea how beautiful the world is and how much magnificence is revealed in the tiniest things, in some flower, in a stone, in tree bark, or in a birch leaf. The grown-ups, going about their business and worries, and tormenting themselves with all kinds of details, gradually lose the perspective for these riches that children, when they are attentive and good, soon notice and love with their whole heart. And yet the greatest beauty would be achieved if everyone remained in this regard always like attentive and good children, simple and pious in sensitivities, and if people did not lose the capacity for taking pleasure as intensely in a birch leaf or a peacock’s feather or the wing of a hooded crow as in a mighty mountain or a splendid palace. What is small is not small in itself, just as that which is great is not—great. A great and eternal beauty passes through the whole world, and it is distributed fairly over that which is small and that which is large; for in such important and essential matters, no injustice is to be found on earth.”
     — Rainer Maria Rilke, letter to Helmut Westhoff, Nov. 12, 1901

The magnificent peacock my friend Carol and I saw this past weekend at the Point Defiance Zoo is worthy of a post of its own.  We were so fortunate to be in the right place at the very moment the peacock spread its fan, shaking out its long feathers a bit, before it strutted and preened and posed as we oohed and aahed.   It was a spectacular show, surpassing anything you see on Project Runway.


Detail, peacock feathers

Iridescent feathers, shimmering eyes

Patterns of eyes


Proud as a peacock


The rear end of the peacock has its own beauty.

Rocks, feathers and shells


Cardinal feathers, Sanibel Island shells, sea-smoothed rocks


We Alone
by Alice Walker 

We alone can devalue gold
by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.
Wherever there is gold
there is a chain, you know,
and if your chain
is gold
so much the worse
for you. 

Feathers, shells
and sea-shaped stones
are all as rare. 

This could be our revolution:
to love what is plentiful
as much as
what’s scarce.

Jack Frost

November 16, 2009


Frost on the windshield of my Pathfinder


Frost patterns like feathers


Morning frost on my windshield

Jack Frost
by Helen Bayley Davis

Someone painted pictures on my
     Windowpane last night —
Willow trees with trailing boughs
     And flowers, frosty white,

And lovely crystal butterflies;
     But when the morning sun
Touched them with its golden beams,
     They vanished one by one!

It’s cold enough these mornings for frost on the car windshield.  The icy patterns are exquisitely beautiful.  I remember Jack Frost visiting our old farmhouse in Minnesota.  When I was growing up, the upstairs was unheated, so our bedroom windows were often decorated with frost.


Mother duck sitting on brood of ducklings

Mother duck sitting on brood of ducklings

Mother duck puffed out trying to cover ducklings

Mother duck puffed out trying to cover ducklings

Detail of beautifully patterned feathers

Detail of beautifully patterned feathers

Every spring I watch for the arrival of baby ducklings at Green Lake.  This year I’ve noticed two families with babies, and they are now a couple of weeks old.  This mother duck sitting on her brood of ducklings made me smile.  The babies are getting too big to fit, and they hid their heads under the mother while their little butts stuck out.  They reminded me of gangly kids on the cusp of adolescence who sit all arms and legs on their parent’s lap.