Archive for 2010

On closer inspection

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

[IMAGE]  lion's mane jellyfish

Welcome to my Saturday morning. The warm air of the equinox insisted that I have breakfast on the deck. Ok, I didn’t argue. Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, strong coffee, English muffin and jelly… fish. Some people get Jehovah’s Witnesses showing up unannounced at their door. I get this guy. A lion’s mane jelly, easily 16″ across; I’ve scribbled about them on these pages before because they just mesmerize me. It’s sad that I always see them at the very end of their life, but then again, given their ferocious sting, I think that’s better than the alternative.

Here’s a closer view of my morning friend for you:

[IMAGE] lion's mane jellyfish

…click to listen:

…about the music

A trio for my trio.

So, as I’m enjoying a silent conversation with this unexpected breakfast companion (good thing he didn’t have much to say; neither do I before noon), I hear a screech to my right. I turn my head, look up, and there’s one of the two mating bald eagles with a nest in this particular tree, hanging out, looking for his own Saturday brunch:

[IMAGE] eagle

Here’s a closer view of him for you:

[IMAGE] eagle

Ok, so I admit that my eggs and coffee got a little cold because I spent more time with a camera in my hand than a fork. But I can have breakfast anytime. Nature, it always seems to me, is fleeting. Catch it while we can.

Borrowed beauty

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

[IMAGE] weather over Waldron
Almost like a tornado…

[IMAGE] weather over Waldron
It leans east and there’s a hint of color…

…click to listen:

…about the music

Drama from my desk.

[IMAGE] weather over Waldron

[IMAGE] weather over Waldron

One of our fellow Kelphistos laid down the gauntlet a week or two ago, and challenged me to photograph rain.
I shall obey. Soon. When we have some.

But this… yes, this was rain. Intense rain, from afar. Borrowed from those wetter than I, for my personal visual delight. Rain that circled my island on three sides but barely landed. Sometime soon, I will explain the meaning of “rain shadow” to the non-locals reading this. You will hate us San Juanians even more.

So, lacking rain of my very own, I gazed out from my desk two afternoons ago (I am pinching myself to realize that yes, this is actually what I see while I’m aligning all those notes you hear) and watched this downpour appear to float above lovely and even-more-remote-than-me Waldron Island, with little Flattop in front of it tapped with a wand of technicolor grace.

Wow. I need not write a word more. The pictures say it all.

Everyone’s a critic

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

[IMAGE] raccoon
“Oh, please. Are you seriously going to make the French horns play that??”

…click to listen:

…about the music

Hornless here.

I get lots of visitors at my door, but few are as cute as this one, who, along with some family members, figured out quite a while ago that at the end of each day there’s still some birdseed left on the deck railing.

Personally, I just think he’s hanging around, hoping for an autograph. After all, I’m now officially a celebrity on this island, having unexpectedly stumbled across myself (ouch!) in Frommer’s Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands & the San Juan Islands.

What a hoot! Gotta get those 8 x 10 glossies ready…
But first, more birdseed!

[IMAGE] furry friends

How can you be crabby…

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

[IMAGE] Pacific coast ship wreck

…click to listen:

…about the music

Mood music.

… when you look like a parrot?

Nothing like a perfectly placed barnacle to morph one thing into another.
Can nature please attach a little barnacle to all my wrong notes, and turn them into all the right ones? Thank you.

Yet again

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

[IMAGE] September sunset

[IMAGE] September sunset

…click to listen:

…about the music

A lovely distraction.

What is it about sunsets?
Each one different, each one compelling.
Theme, and variations.
Inspiration, and distraction.
Yup. Of the most riveting kind.

I can stare over the railing of the deck of this seafaring studio, more boat than house, really, and be transported each evening. Not just to the Canadian isles which dominate the western view, but to an other-worldly place of my imagination (ok, sometimes that’s Canada, but mostly it’s more like some parallel universe populated by alien creatures who neither resemble me in their Socialist leanings nor human life form).

At this upper latitude (48.4 degrees, if you’re interested, and yes, I can claim that I’m north of Canada), the sun still sets pretty late even as autumn nears, and the penumbra of color and glow lasts for a very, very long time. Long enough for me to think about all the things I should be doing instead of gazing mindlessly into the sunset. And long enough to think about how really, there’s nothing else in the world that’s more important to do. I like rotating around this elusive flaming star year after year: age improves my sense of priorities!

[IMAGE] September sunset, photo snapped by Dan or Lisa Kubiske,

A moment from my day, while sitting at my desk

Monday, August 30th, 2010

[IMAGE] Bald eagle

“Hey you! Cool lookin’ eagle-dude over there! Your fly is open!”

[IMAGE] Bald eagle

[IMAGE] Bald eagle

That was SO not funny.
Dumb human…

…click to listen:

…about the music

Don’t mess with nature. Especially when it has a sharp beak and even sharper talons…

[IMAGE] Bald eagle

[IMAGE] Bald eagle

“Uh oh…. uh, sorry… um… wait! I didn’t mean it… I was just kidding!… ack!… composers really don’t taste that great… all those sour notes… help!… HELP!… aaaaacccckkk!…”

Found art

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

[IMAGE] beached log

[IMAGE] beached branch

…click to listen:

…about the music

Found, even if lost.

I grew up in Manhattan, and thanks to being plain dumb lucky enough to be born to parents who loved art, I spent more time than most kids you’ve met absorbing the contents of some of the world’s greatest museums. I lived walking distance from most of them, and practically lived in them: The Metropolitan. The Guggenheim. The Museum of Modern Art. The Frick. The Whitney. I had to take the subway down to the then-just burgeoning SoHo district and its mind-bendingly alternative galleries, and I grabbed the crosstown bus to my two Westside favorites, the Museum of Natural History, and the Hayden Planetarium. I’m certain that my deep interest in amateur astronomy stems from all those afternoons I spent enraptured, staring up at the ceiling with its swirling display of little lights that showed me something I never once saw as a city kid: the night sky.

[IMAGE] beached rock

As an art-immersed adult, I still find that my favorite installations come not from the intention and brilliance of a human, but from the random, insouciant forces of nature. If I weren’t a musician, in addition to my fantasy-career of being a marine biologist, I think I’d love to be an artist photographer, out in the elements every day, capturing the stuff that the Universe provides effortlessly, and that humans, no matter how gifted, can only hope to mimic. I’ve been fortunate to experience so, so, so many Things Put in Specific Places (aka, “art”) on the formal, polished floors of Designated Observation Sites (aka, “museums”). And still, always, it’s the serendipity of an unschooled, un-hip, unselfconscious power greater than me or even the coolest person I know, that gets my attention and my heart.

[IMAGE] beached driftwood

Someday, when I’m not so busy scribbling all these musical notes, I’ll learn what to actually do with a lens in front of my nose. For now, I’m shamelessly happy to offer several years’ worth of snapshots on this little, watery blog, because they serve to share with you all the art that I find compelling in my daily life. And hey, like a dog dancing on its hind legs, no one expects me to do this well, and so the fact that I do it at all becomes tolerable, and maybe even amusing. Well, at least, I’m keeping myself amused!

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

[IMAGE] sea star

…click to listen:

…about the music

From the depth.

And perhaps I too shall sleep
happily exhausted from life
my body
splayed atop rocks and memories
of where saltwater ran
and tides crawled
a sprig of kelp
to my thigh like an eager lover
and you to my psyche
ashore by the push of the unseen
and at peace.

Moon shot

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

[IMAGE] moon jelly

…click to listen:

…about the music

Music from another planet.

This is actually an x-rated photo and should be immediately censored.
We are looking at this moon jelly’s gonads.
And they are oh, so beautiful!

Now, comment-prone readers: behave yourselves.

All wet

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

[IMAGE] dry bald eagle

…click to listen:

…about the music


Sometimes the subject in one’s lens is far more wonderful than the technical abilities of the fool behind it, and my posting today is a fine example. If ya want slightly better bald eagle shots, try this earlier entry. Regardless, I offer these pics, taken in a rare moment of ingenuity as I precariously held my camera tight up against the eyepiece of my telescope, only because they made me laugh. To wit: yesterday this island enjoyed, and I do mean enjoyed, the first rain we’ve had in well over a month. Contrary to popular myth, it actually does not rain cats and dogs here, nor even mice and gerbils (shhh! don’t tell anyone!). In fact, no mammals fall from the sky in the San Juans, period (unless you are these folks, who miraculously survived their harrowing experience in the woods, which occurred very close to where I’m typing this).

So when an unexpected mid-summer shower comes along, the dry grasses and the even drier people get a blast of invigorating negative ions that just feels great against the warmish air. Well, great to us. I’m not convinced this fellow shared our glee:

[IMAGE] wet bald eagle

To go from being the nation’s most distinguished and imposing icon, to, well… this kind of indignant embarrassment… sigh… well, we all have bad hair days, don’t we?

Size 6 1/2…

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

[IMAGE] sunset

…click to listen:

…about the music

Jam for toes.

…but actually, one size fits all.
Greetings from this evening, on the Salish Sea.

All muses on deck

Friday, July 30th, 2010

[IMAGE] The Algae Princess, photo by visitor pal Rick Kvistad

…click to listen:

…about the music

Suite, for something extraordinarily sweet.

Greetings from your hostess de la kelp, the Princess of Algae herself.
As my toes (see prior post’s video below) and I have mentioned only in passing until now, Her Highness of the Low and Other Notes, who might have been a marine biologist had she not has sunk into the happy muck of a musical life, has finally found the perfect throne. Not just near the sea, but ON it.

(Yep, that’s me above, with a Washington State Ferry emerging from my neck).

No longer able to contain my musical chaos in the small den right off the kitchen of the lovely little home I own, this spring I rented an additional home on the island to house my studio, and give all those notes in my head more space. “More space” is a bit of an understatement, since the place is on hundreds of feet of waterfront, with 30 gorgeous acres behind it. Remember, folks: I grew up in a modest sized apartment in Manhattan that didn’t even have a balcony.

The house, built almost as long ago as I was, sits directly on the tide pools. Ebb tide means exploring and communing with the sea critters. Flood tide means living on a boat, as I did in Santa Barbara just a few years ago: the water rushes in under the deck. I have found heaven, and it is right here and smells like kelp.

The expanse in front of me in all directions correlates well to expansive, multi-directional thinking. And, to daydreaming, imagining, conjuring, laughing and many other happy gerunds. In fact, it’s so dynamic and distractingly awesomely incredibly unbelievably strikingly heart-wrenchingly beautiful here (there go those happy adverbs), it’s amazing that I get any work done at all. Otters, seals, deer, raccoons, bald eagles, oyster-catchers and the occasional Orca whales… ferries, sailboats, container ships, yachts, dinghies… currents and rip tides and wind and waves and an inescapable sense of not only being on a planet, but on the apparent edge of it, all pull at my attention. I pick up my camera or video about as often as I pick up my composing score pad, wanting to somehow capture this fascinating bliss. Looking out from Sidney, British Columbia, across many Canadian Southern Gulf islands, to the U.S. San Juan Islands, there’s always something going on. Always.

One word is worth a thousand pictures:
Outrageously stunning.
What? That’s two words?
Well that explains why I just write the notes and don’t play ’em, since I obviously can’t count.

Ok, so here you go: a few pictures I took today, in sequence from my deck, worth thousands of words that fail to adequately describe anything. Frankly, the photos fail, too, because you can’t get the 200 degree sweep nor the sweet smell of the saltwater nor the wonderful sound of the birds and the waves nor the sound of the lucky person with the house key going “Oh. My. Gawd.” But these’ll tide you over, for now.

To the west:
[IMAGE] Deck view

Looking at Canada:
[IMAGE] Deck view

To the north:
[IMAGE] Deck view

To the north-northeast:
[IMAGE] Deck view

And since you can’t see Canada’s Coast Range very well in the tiny photo above, here it is from the same place on the deck, closer:
[IMAGE] Deck view

To the east:
[IMAGE] Deck view

Which look like this when the sun hits it at the end of the day:
[IMAGE] Deck view

And the end of the day looks like this. Ahhhh….
[IMAGE] Deck view