Sunday, August 27, 2017

Birthday Cruise

Friday was my birthday, which included a long chat on the phone with one of my brothers and the arrival on my doorstep of this.

Aren't they beautiful? And the card said "Enjoy your special day. You deserve it." And so I did.

A cold front had moved through the previous day dropping our temps into the high 70's and clearing out the most recent influx of smoke. I double checked the air quality ratings, then made my reservation for this Sunset Dessert & Eagle Watching Cruise by Lake Pend Oreille Cruises. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect evening for being on the lake.

Here's our boat, The Shawnodese, docked at City Beach. I've been on it before for a different cruise starting on another part of the lake and later in the year, and have always wanted to try one of the other cruises. Birthday bucks in hand, I made it happen.

While we waited to board, we watched a boat and a jet ski being taken out of the water next to us, and people enjoying the beach just beyond, in spite of the fact that it had gotten a bit overcast and cool.

There were less than 20 of us taking this cruise, a collection of long-time residents of the area, newly relocated, and a few bonafide tourists. This is a popular thing to treat your visitors to and at least one group was that. Any excuse to get out on the lake if you don't own a boat of your own. You might be able to spot the railroad bridge that crosses the lake next to what we call "the long bridge" for vehicles, the dark line in the center of the photo.

We settle in and are soon pulling away towards the other side of the lake, taking in the view of this end of city beach.

And turning our gaze more or less eastward down the lake. Lake Pend Oreille is huge and deep, and we will be cruising in the northern part of it before it angles to the south.

We are scouting along this side of the lake for eagles that have been nesting in the same place for years. Along the way, we get views of some of the pricey homes clinging to the steep terrain. We also notice how dry much of the vegetation is. We've had only one brief bit of rain since the end of June and the forests are tinder dry.

Success! The first area where eagles are known to roost produces and we get a fairly good view of an eagle perched and no doubt watching us. I took my good camera with a fairly good zoom but didn't expect to be able to capture a good picture. To be honest, with the pitching of the boat and the distance to the eagle, I am amazed this shot is this good. Not much detail of the eagle itself so you'll have to trust me that the white blog in the middle really is one.

There was one passenger who brought a camera with a super long zoom lens - maybe 24 inches long, and he did get some incredible close-ups. I did wonder how he managed as he wasn't using any kind of tripod. He must have managed to brace himself against something, and no doubt had much experience shooting with this lens. Yes, a bit of envy at his results. I got more of the body of the bird in this shot but still pretty pathetic next to his. Not to worry, plenty to view besides eagles.

Yes, this really is where I live, and even after eleven years I find the need to pinch myself at times to be sure I'm not dreaming.

Among the different styles of homes along the lake is this oddity. Apparently a master stone mason has been building this replica castle himself. Here's a little bit about it: And even more info plus close-up pics of interior and exterior, plus the selling price. Yes, it's for sale!

We mere mortals can only dream and gaze across the lake through the haze at the interesting knobs of a variety of peaks to the north. Oh, and enjoy our desserts. I opted for a root beer float, something I remember vividly from my childhood summers.

This is one of many tiny islands on the lake and there's an eagle's nest there too. But as we circled the island, it was too much in shadow and too far away for us to capture. The resident eagle did fly in and roost on a snag but it was not a good opportunity for a photo op. Sometimes you just need to forget about capturing for later and enjoy the view.

Another even smaller island next to it. By now the overcast of earlier was clearing out and the lowering sun lighting things up.

By the time the sun was in "sunset" mode, there were no clouds near it to provide that promised sunset.

And the clouds elsewhere in the sky, while interesting, were not colorful.

And then it happened, looking east not west, we got our sunset colors.

Other boats on the lake were heading back to port as the evening turned dusky.

And so did we. What a pleasant couple of hours.

 Good night moon. It's been a lovely day.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Signs and Other Oddities

The last time I'd been to the library, I noticed a change in one of the display cases in the foyer. Upon closer inspection, I discovered it was a grouping of things left behind in the building or the parking lot. I was wishing I had a camera with me mostly because of one particularly amusing item, and so when I returned this week, my camera came along too.

There are eyeglasses and sunglasses. I get leaving behind sunglasses, but what are these people doing without their readers? Can they pick up replacements so cheaply that they can't be bothered to track down where they left these?

There are baseball caps (though no "Make America Great Again" ones) and since my last visit, a bright red plastic fireman's hat.

Lots of water bottles, a jacket, backpack and bicycle helmet. How do you NOT go back and look when you get out to your bicycle and realize you have no helmet to don?

And how do you not notice your child is missing a sparkly shoe when you walk out the door with her?

Many items were found abandoned in the children's section. Surely someone is missing these two. And really, how rad a dad must the dad be that was given that baseball cap that now awaits claiming?

I have to wonder if that book with the beautifully and artfully fold pages was not left for the librarians to enjoy. Thank goodness it was not done to one of the library's books in circulation.

But this was the item that amused me the most, a package of catnip, organic of course. People in this area are really into natural and organic things. But why would you have a package of catnip with you that ultimately gets left behind here? A staff member cleared that up for me. Apparently, a patron had been using it as a bookmark and forgot to remove it before returning the book. Wonders never cease...

I applaud the clever librarians who, tired of the growing number of items in their lost and found bin, put together this display.

As I turned to enter the library proper, I discovered more clever signs. The library has just begun an expansion project, so exciting to know how well-used and important it is to the community that they just have to have more space, and because of careful planning, they can afford to do it without a great ask of money.

But as with any remodeling project, it will cause a bit of disarray, as pointed out by this sign on the entrance door. Be sure to read the fine print on this and the following signs.

Well, of course they will help. They always do!

And my favorite, perched above the "new arrivals" display. Someone had a lot of fun with this.

As I wandered through the downstairs, I arrived at the place where a wall has come down and construction has started on the other side. This will take awhile, but it will be so lovely once it is finished. Can hardly wait!

Clever signs did not end inside the library. Someone has been having fun with a couple of stop signs nearby. Never have a camera with me when I've passed these before, but this day I rectified that.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Meh Results

I've had my first real "fail" using old dyes. Not that these yellows aren't lovely, it's just that I was going for darker versions of each step as you can see from my worksheet swatches. My first warning came as I dug into the bottom of the big jar of mustard yellow and found it was not "powdery". It was acting as if moisture had gotten in but I forged ahead and scraped away until I'd dislodged enough for my dye stock. Everything looked dark enough in the bath, but obviously the dye did not react with the soda ash to produce full strength color. I think ProChem's mustard dye has some red mixed into it, and I've read that of all the dyes, reds are the ones that lose their strength the fastest, while other dye colors continue to produce true and deep colors for years. Don't think for a minute I haven't been questioning my process (did I measure the dye stock correctly, was there enough soda ash in the solution?) but it has to be the dye powder, and I'm wondering if I made up dye stock using a lot of it, would I get the deeper values in an overdye. I'm probably dreaming and wasting my time if I try it. I should just buy a small jar of fresh dye.

This was not an old dye fail as much as that what I think of as lavender must not be the same as what ProChem does. The lighter steps do shade less reddish purple than the other purples in my stash, but the darker steps look too much like the purple that I already have too much of. Plus the mix of dyes in it struck quite differently, leaving some very blue areas and some very purple areas - this even though I was giving the bags extra mooshing to create more even coverage. I had hoped using a premixed lavender would save me time but I can see that I'd be better off using my own recipe (worksheet swatches on the right) that mixes fuchsia and indigo.

I always have about a quarter cup of dye stock leftover, so used it to dye a half yard piece in a "double dip" method. First it went into the bag with the leftover mustard dye stock for about an hour, then it was removed, squeezing out as much liquid as possible, and placed in a separate bag with the leftover lavender dye stock. The results are quite a puzzle, certainly not what I thought might happen. Even the camera doesn't quite know what to do with it. It has a washed-out faded look to it, kind of a greenish yellow with plum undertones. Should I stamp over it or overdye it? Can't decide, but am pretty sure I don't want to use it as is.

I did the processing over several days and left that vat of black for last. I'd used a ton of black dye powder plus chino dye powder per a recipe Judi and I had developed that seemed to give us a deeper black with less of the blue overtones. I used hot water as recommended. I place the bucket in the hot sun for hours. But when I rinsed out the two 2-yard pieces and ironed them, I did not have the dark black I was going for. Perhpas that black dye is too old too? Would using what's left in the jar to re-dye one of the pieces get me closer to the black of the piece I'm running short on? Would using a different black dye powder work any better? Oddly enough, one length is slightly darker than the other length, (and yes, I'm reviewing my steps to see if this is my fault) and both are very usable as is, but that's not the point. The point of dyeing up these two big pieces was to replenish the dwindling black fabric in my stash, and this wasn't doing it. You can see from the photo the difference between the newly dyed fabric and the darker fabric from my stash.

Well, this all sort of turned me off to proceeding right away with the remaining 4 yellow gradations I'd planned to do, so I turned my sights to something I've been wanting to try for a long time - making paper from paper headed to the recycling bin. I've been lugging around my old blender for years knowing I would need it for this if I ever got around to it. After watching a Design Matters video on paper making, one that took the mystery out of it for me and made it look so simple and doable and confirmed that paper run through my shredder would work, I decided it was time to just do it! I won't go through the process - if you are interested in the steps, you can watch the video here.

I didn't really know what to expect of the finished product but I didn't expect it to be so stiff. I played around a bit with how much pulp ended up on my screen but even the ones with a thinnish layer were anything but "delicate" like is talked about on the video. Plus each piece picked up the texture from the cloth recommended for use between sheets. Wool felt is the standard, I believe, and now I know why. Perhaps the British version of American "Handiwipes" is smooth and I need to find a different kind of reusable cloth. Or find me some felt...  My papers reminded me of recycled paper towels and my questions of how I would use handmade papers increased as this obviously could not be used to write on. If you click on the photo for the larger version, you will see some bits of paper that didn't get totally pulped, which is not a mistake. I was hoping for this but in the dim light of the garage where I worked, I thought I'd over-pulped my shredded paper.

But when I took some sample sheets outside to photograph, I could clearly see lots of places where larger pieces had embedded in the sheet, some with color as in this example. Now we can start thinking use with art journaling.

I wasn't going for perfectly square sheets during this learning phase, although I got a few that were close. At least one of the 17 sheets struck me as complete enough and heavy enough that it could be used as a cover for a small handbound book. And after making a few test sheets, I sprinkled in some tea leaves I'd saved after brewing to add some brown specks of interest. I should have run them through the blender too, at least some of the larger pieces from some herbal teas. Those larger pieces bled more brown into the paper around them than I would have preferred.

The video points out that, just like true batik fabrics, the back may look different from the front and boy, is that the case especially with these tea leaves. This is the back of the sheet in previous photo. And because I started separating the stack before completely dry to help speed up the process, most of the sheets are distorted in one way or another. Supposedly they only need to be weighted for awhile to flatten them out, which is where they are right now while I continue to ponder how they can be used. I think I will try more of this.