Diary, musings on life, people, interests. Posting my poetry

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Location: Lacey, WA, United States

I have a Certified Artist/Teacher degree with the National Society of Decorative Painters. Taught decorative painting, color theory, calligraphy and other art related classes for 12 years. I enjoy using my artistic talents, especially to update furniture and repurpose found items. I am married to the world's most wonderful husband. We celebrated our 48th anniversary this year (2016). We have raised six children, three boys, three girls. Have 10 grandchildren. Through the NSDP I have paintings in the White House, Blaire House and Smithsonian Institute. I was given the honor of being the Chair of the Pacific NW, "Breeze and Brush" Decorative Painting Convention. What fun we had! I like keeping healthy and enjoy life. I love humor and people. God has been good to me!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Marta Rescues Baby Squirrels, 2004

Me holding the babies. Below, being fed by Marta and a custodian, everyone wanted a turn!

Here are pictures of baby squirrels rescued by the Grounds department at the school district where I work. Three were rescued. The mother had either rejected them, was killed, or they fell from the nest and were abandoned. I appreciate the efforts of Marta, Lead Grounds person, she took them in, provided a home in the form of a large cardboard box, complete with shredded paper for burrowing and a section of evergreen bough to make them feel at home.

The 'babies' were fed formula, from a small infant animal bottle, several times a day. They had no problem eating and grew at a normal rate. They quickly became socialized and enjoyed the attention and being handled. There was no shortage of attention once the word spread of their presence in the building.

They eventually began eating regular food and I discovered they absolutely loved fresh bananas and would crawl over each other, vying for position, to get their share, or more!

I had the great pleasure of holding two of them and will never forget the extremely soft, velvety fur and large, soft, eyes. They were bundles of energy and curiosity and like all squirrels, had no fear of heights and would crawl on top of your head if you let them.

When they reached a good level of maturity, Marta relinguished them to a friend who had some property where they could be released and be relatively safe. They were rambunctious teenagers and adapted well to their new surroundings.

Im thankful to Marta for having such a tender, loving and compassinate heart. She has rescued other citters in the past and it is always fun and interesting to see them and experience something a lot of people never do. Thanks Marta!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

My Grandchildren


Here are three of our grandchildren, Beau, the big brother with his sister Ashley and brother Austin (twins). They live in San Diego.

Beau is now 10 and in the fifth grade. He is a great student, gets good grades in school and is interested in so many things He is quite the conversationalist and we have had long discussions about his school and friends, where I live and what my house looks like (every room), how many books he's read and which ones he liked the best, his favorite foods and a hundred other subjects.

Beau recently started piano lessons. After the initial class he asked the teacher "So, how will this benefit my future?" The teacher answered that aside from being able to play an instrument, which a lot of people can't do, it has been proven that learning music helps you in many other areas of learning. Beau responded "That's good enough for me!" He's an intelligent and fun boy.

Ashley loves anything girly. Austin played T-ball this year and loved it. Ashley and Austin are 6 and in the first grade this year. Being twins they are very close to each other but their personalities are very individual and unique. I can barely remember when I was in first grade, it can be traumatic for some children being away from the security of home and parents for the first time.

They have three dogs, the oldest is Sammy a black Lab. She has grey hair on her muzzle and the ever-present ball is never far away (as in the picure above). Her favorite game is running to get the ball and bringing it back to you to throw again. Zeuss and Indy came from an animal rescue organization. Zeuss is a black Lab and Indy is a Rotweiller. They are wonderful dogs and great pets. The kids love playing with them and the whole family is very loving and responsible. They take very good care of their animals.

Beau, Ashley and Austin are anxious to have their new home finished. They are in the process of building now. What fun to have new rooms to look forward to!

They have a great mom and dad who spend a lot of time with them.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Nisqually Wildlife Reserve Pictures

Old wagon in the apple orchard

Canada geese up close

One of many ponds and some of the beautiful wildflowers

Canada geese in an open field, this was a huge farm at one time.

Canada geese feeding near a pond. I took this picture from the path, you can see the gravel in the lower right corner.

Geese and Basket, India Ink with ink washes

This is an India ink drawing, with colored ink washes, on coldpress watercolor paper that I did in 1989. Waterfowl are one of my favorite subjects to draw and paint.

We have a beautiful nature reserve not more than a couple of miles from our home where you can enjoy the sights of a great variety of birds and wildlife. It is in the Nisqually Valley with the Nisqually river running through, a perfect home for local animals, birds and migrating flocks.

There are many marshy areas, trees and bushes, large open fields dotted with trees, bushes, marsh and ponds, a beautiful place for wildlife. It is open to the public for a small fee. You can walk the trails, picnic and spend an entire day sightseeing. My favorites are the Canada Geese but there are also Mallard ducks, Gulls, Heron, Eagles, Terns, Swallows, Robins, Sparrows, Hawks, Cinnamon Teals, skunk, squirrels, rabbits, raccoon, coyote and deer.

To walk completely around the reserve is a five mile trek, half of it along the saltwater marshes as it borders on the southernmost fingers of Puget Sound and the the other half bordering the Nisqually river where the gravel pathway leads onto wooden walkways where you can view cattails and Skunk Cabbage, depending on the time of year.

On the saltwater side there is a marker in the trail pointing to the large evergreen trees on the far side of the marsh where you can spot an Eagle aerie, using binoculars. I have seen Eagles nesting with the male sitting on a branch not too far above the nest. I have had them launch into the air and fly directly overhead toward the open fields looking for prey. Large Heron also nest in these trees. The first time I saw them I was amazed, it just didn't seem right for such large birds to be in a nest high up in evergreen trees. I guess I had always thought they nexted on the ground like geese.

You can sometimes spot a seal, Otter or other water loving wildlife. I have witnessed the awesome power of Canada Geese, in a territorial fight, beating their large wings against the water, honking, hissing and chasing each other. It amazed me how fast they traveled across the surface of the water that way. They have come flying across the water, up the embankment and onto the path, within a few feet of where I stood, oblivious to my presence. I didn't stay long.

There is a small path that wanders off in the direction of a marshy area in an open field, it turns into a wooden walkway hovering over the wet marshy ground and eventually reveals a duck blind where you can sit and watch waterfowl on a small pond. It is so quiet and restful I have often thought it would be a great place to nap.

As I was leaving the reserve after a day of observation, sketching and taking notes, I was headed down the straight portion of pathway that is about 400 feet from the parking lot. The reserve closes at dusk. The sun was at the end of it's journey toward the hills and the sky was pink yellow and amber. There were hundreds of Canada Geese hunkered down in the fields on each side of the path.

There was a honk here and a response from another and then another and another. The noise level rose and suddenly, as if on cue, the geese began rising into the air and in a giant swirl of feathers and noise they circled not more than 30 feet over my head (keep your mouth closed I thought) They continued to circle for about five minutes, necks outstretched, honking and floating overhead with the setting sun reflecting it's rays off their feathers. I'll never forget that beautiful sight and the sound of their wings beating against the air.

They began to rise higher and higher and eventually with a few closing honks landed further into the field where the marshes, ponds and tall grass were located, seeking the safety of the tall grass and bushes in preparation for the oncoming night.

There isn't a more peaceful, beautiful place for relaxation and fresh air. The aroma of fresh grass, flowers, salt air, the sounds of geese, gulls, frogs and birds is a wonderul experience. A bonus is the apple orchard where, in the fall, the apples have ripened and start falling to the ground. They are a sweet, crisp treat for the deer, racoon, birds and people. I don't know what kind they are but they fill up my bag and make the most wonderful apple pies, cakes, tarts and applesauce.

You can exercise, read, write, draw, picnic and sightsee as well as resting. I hope you enjoyed the pictures I posted. Isn't it a beautiful place?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Buckboard Restoration Pictures

Here are some before and after pictures of the buckboard I restored. The owners said that it originally came from Wisconsin and they were pretty sure the advertisement was a local lumber company in that area.

"Oh, I denounce the buckboard bounce and the cactus hurts my toes..." remember that old western song? "And I'll be yours in buttons and bows!" That is a real oldie and the buckboard was too. I wonder how many years it sat in that shed before someone discovered and salvaged it. It was covered with dirt, faded and full of worm holes.

The first step in the restoration was to analyze the colors. They were very faded and faint so I had to use my own judgement for a lot of them. That's the fun and excitement of working on something like that, you are bringing something old back to life and also putting something of yourself into the experience. I determined what colors I would use, wrote them down and in some instances, when the painting began, changed my mind and used something else.

I traced the design and took pictures for a reference. Then I brushed, scraped, washed and dried thoroughly, sanded and sealed the piece. I base coated the entire buckboard in the dark green, giving it several coats, sanding between each coat and tacking. I let the piece cure for about a week before I started painting.

I applied the design by sliding a light colored graphite paper between the tracing paper and surface and drawing the design with a stylus, just the basic outlines. I tend to paint from back to front so backgrounds were painted in first. I worked on the girl and did the lettering last.

When the paint had dried and cured for a week I gave the piece several coats of Satin varnish and hand rubbed the last coat after it had cured.

The owners had the springs sand blasted, primed and painted. When they were reattached to the buckboard it was very nice. They used it as a bench in the entryway of their home.

It was an interesting project and took me about 30 hours to complete. It was an honor being able to bring such an old piece back to life again. I wondered as I worked, who had sat on it, where had they traveled and how did it end up in an old shed unused and long forgotten. I wonder just how old it was?

Hope you enjoy viewing the pictures as much as I enjoyed restoring the buckboard.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Carolyn Delores Carlson O'Neall

In memory of my mother Carolyn Delores (Carlson) O'Neall. She was born August 28,1914 and died July 9, 1999. Here is a picture of her as a teenager at Cleveland High School, Seattle in 1929. She had a role in one of the school's plays. She had wanted to be a dancer.

Mom had Multiple sclerosis and was in a wheelchair most of her life. She spent the last 19 years at Judson Park Health Care Center on Marine View Drive in Des Moines, WA. They were wonderful caregivers and loved her.

I have also included a picture of myself with my two daughters, Amy on the left and Monica on the right visiting with Mom on Mother's Day after we had taken her out for lunch. She loved to go out with us 'girls' and had a great sense of humor. We shared a lot of conversations and humor over the years. I miss her!

She told me to tell my friends that "my mom lets me borrow her silver Rolls-Royce with baby blue upholstery, it gets great mileage!" She had a silver Rolls-Royce wheelchair with baby blue upholstery.

I wrote this poem for my mother in September 1997.


She's had her share of skinned up knees,
Reminders to children of "Eat your peas!"
Everyday, every week, every month, every year,
Tender mother I love.

Scrubbing, polishing , dusting and such,
Making things sparkle and nice to touch!
Cleaning the house, she taught me well,
Tidy mother I love.

Peaches with syrup, in a jar piled high,
Dill pickles with garlic, not the kind you can buy!
Toiling each summer to put up a good store,
Hard working mother I love.

Agitating to a beat, the wringer type machine,
Washes whites, then coloreds until they are clean.
Put clothes through the wringer, rinse and repeat,
Spotless mother I love.

You reside in my heart in a special place,
My thoughts caress your precious face,
My memory cradles the lessons you taught,
Loving mother I love.

Thoughtful and tender, thank God that you cared,
The knowledge of Jesus, our Saviour, you shared,
Protective, loving and always there,
Faithful mother I love.

Struck with M.S. in the prime of your life,
Still struggled to be a good mother and wife,
Gave so much and received so little,
Precious mother I love.

Mural Pictures

Here are some pictures of different sections of the mural I'm working on in the entryway of the driver's lounge. They are unfinished in the pictures but it gives you an idea of what they will look like. The school bus on the way to McCartyville, John Brown's farm, the mountains and pond. They are now all complete and I'll post them when I have them.


Jenny came to our home as a puppy in June of 1976. She was a little short legged ball of black, white
and tan fur. A friend of one of our children had found her abandoned and couldn't keep her, of course one of our children said we would be happy to take her in.

In retrospect I'm so glad that we did, it turned out that Jenny was such a blessing to our family. She was well behaved and one of the most faithful and loving companions any family could ever have. She was born some time in April of 1976 and lived with us until her death in August 1993, 18 years of love, play and devotion.

As a pup she came to us very lethargic, full of worms and fleas, needing a bath and veterinary care. It wasn't long before she was healthy, had her shots and was spayed. She was full of the usual puppy habits, chewing, crawling all over you, hiding under the bed, as pictured above when the kids played hide-and-seek with her. She would always find them.

She was a smart dog, very gentle and quiet yet energetic. It didn't take long for her to learn that she was not to leave the yard. I would put her in the driveway and tell her to stay then return to the house and watch her from the kitchen window. If she headed down the driveway to the street I would go out with a piece of rolled-up newspaper and lightly hit it against my hand and say "Jenny, come back!" I would tell her to stay and go back inside. I never hit her, she didn't like the sound of the newspaper. It took a little over a week of repeating the procedure three or four times a day and from that time on she never left the yard, there was no fence. She would either lay on the driveway or walk to the front yard and lie on the grass under the tree.

She loved to play with the kids and was ecstatic when they were all in the back yard with their friends playing ball or just hanging out. Von and Amy were her buddies. She was walked every day, went to the vet for her yearly booster shots and checkups, had her teeth cleaned and like most dogs, didn't much like the trip there.

Jenny loved camping, she went through her teething cycle at the campground chewing on small branches. She would walk with the kids through the campground, go hiking with us, loved the water and would swim even when it was cold. I especially remember a time at Sun Lakes when Amy was on her float and Jenny swam out to see her and almost dumped her in the lake.

She would see a squirrel or Chipmunk and take up her position under the tree with one leg raised, looking up, her ears perked up and absolutely still. Of course the animal would have been long gone but Jenny would maintain her position forever.

Mushrooming was a favorite time for her. We would be hunting and cutting mushrooms and she would be sniffing and meandering through the brush in her own little world.

She loved the beach and would run like the wind across the wet sand with Amy and Von. She would lay patiently while Amy and Von buried her in the sand, except for her head. They would finish and then take off running down the beach. She would squeal and dig herself out, run after them and be so excited when she caught up.

We had a cat named Ernie, he and Jenny had a special relationship, they would nuzzle each other and Ernie would groom Jenny by licking her head and ears. Ernie would lie in the middle of the livingroom carpet on his back and reach out to Jenny. Jenny would lower her front quarters and make small barking noises as she would move in a circle around Ernie. Ernie would rotate, on his back, in a circle. They would play this game every other day.

When the kids had a rabbit named Pepper we would put him inside a small wire fence in the back yard to give him a little freedom to move around and have some fresh grass. Jenny would hop into the enclosure and lick him. She would lie down on her stomach and babysit him. We would sometimes find them just laying in the grass next to each other.

When Jenny was five years old we took in a pregnant calico cat that the neighbor was going to dump, we called her Mama. I had the flu and pregnant Mama and sick me would lie on the couch together and commiserate. Jenny seemed to sense that this cat was pregnant, she would lick her.

We bought a book on cat pregnancies, prepared a 'Queening bed', a cardboard box with a clean blanket in it, cut down on one side to enable the pregnant cat to get in and out easily. We placed it in a spare bedroom, that was unused, where it was quiet. Amy, Von and I brought Mama into the room and put her in the bed so she would know where it was. She sniffed around and left, not too interested.

When mama's time came to deliver Amy was home with a cold. It was early morning and Amy and I were sitting in my bed while I read to her. Mama came into the bedroom and was emitting low 'meows', I lifted her onto the bed and she layed down between us. I continued reading and reached down to stroke her and I could feel the hardness of her abdomen. I told Amy that she was in labor and would have her kittens that day. Amy was excited and I think a little scared. I think Mama was also a little frightened, after all, this was her first experience with birth. Mama got down from the bed and went to the door of the spare bedroom. I opened the door and she immediately went to the Queening bed, got in and laid down. She hadn't gone near it since I had brought her there a month prior.

She had four kittens and was such a good mother. We moved the litter box, food and water into the 'nursery'. As the kittens matured and began moving around other arrangements were made to contain them with a very large box lined with papers. I was sitting in the living room one day reading and Mama came in, jumped up on the end table and behind the couch. I didn't pay much attention to her until she did it a third time. When I looked behind the couch, there were the kittens, it was time to move out into the world.

I didn't need a second reminder. I blocked off the cold air intake holes of our fireplace with cardboard (the openings were small enough for the kittens to enter and get caught) I placed an old sheet on the carpet in the livingroom and placed the kittens on it. Mama layed there content and happy to be out of the room. You're probably wondering what all this has to do with Jenny?

Jenny would lay down on her stomach with her front legs outstretched so only the pads of her front paws touched the edge of the sheet. She would watch the kittens and shake. Mama wasn't sure if she should trust her, these were her babies and she was protective.

Every day Jenny would lie in the same position and I noticed that every other day she would get a little closer to the sheet until her paws were resting on the edge. She would stretch out her neck and try to smell the kittens, and she would shake. As I sat watching one afternoon Jenny went through the same routine only this time she was able to come in contact with one of the kittens. Mama was watching intently. Jenny sniffed the kitten and then gently licked it's head and back. For the first time since the kittens were born, Mama got up and left them. It was as if she said, okay, you'll make a great kitten sitter. Now I have some freedom.

Mama wanted out, it had been weeks since she had been outside. Do you know how hard a decision that was letting her go outside? I was so afraid she might not come back or something would happen to her. Everything worked out just fine. Jenny would kitten sit and Mama would always come back after her outing and take over again.

We found good homes for three of the kittens and kept the little striper, named her Samantha and had many fun years with her in the family. Until the day that Mama died she aboslutely loved that spare bedroom. Don't tell me animals don't know anything!!

We took Jenny on trips with us and once stopped at a station to fuel. The kids went inside to use the restrooms and buy a candy bar. I took Jenny into the vacant lot next door to relieve herself, she was casually sniffing and walking around. The fueling was done, the kids were back in the car so I said "Hurry up Jen!" She immediately did her job, headed back, got in and up on the seat, one of the kids put their sun glasses on her and she sat calmly looking out the window at the attendant. He commented "Man, that dog minds better than a lot of kids I've seen!" We all laughed - Jenny didn't see what was so funny.

Jenny has a special place in our hearts and memories, we loved our Jenny, she was a special dog.

Our youngest daughter, Amy, and her husband named their dog Jenny in honor of the original gal.

God Bless!

Von's Mom

Let me introduce my youngest son, Von, 11 years old in the picture, he is now 39. He's in his Cub Scout uniform adorned in badges, pins, neck scarf and epaulets that he earned. The Eagle cake with 'Happy 1977' I made for a scouting event and he is excited, not only about the event, about eating the cake.

Von was a boy who has always been full of enthusiasm, creativity and fun. He was a joy and made life interesting. He and his friends would scavenge the house for any 'goood' things to eat; cookies, cake, candy, grapes, bananas, chips, pop. They would make sandwiches and stuff (boys don't pack) everything into their backpacks, jump on their bikes and head out into the world for an afternoon of exploring and fun.

He would come home happy, dirty, sweaty and hungry. At dinner we would hear stories of where they had gone and what they had discovered. After dinner he would bathe and head for bed where he would put on his record of Bing Crosby singing "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas." I know! It was the middle of July but that was the music he loved to fall asleep to. I would tiptoe into his room to turn off the record player because most of the time he would be asleep before the second verse.

Von loved Speed Racer, Hong Kong Fooey, J.P. Patches (Seattle children's show), the Adams Family, to name a few. He had a Hong Kong Fooey lunch pail. He was an inveterate drawer and would create masterpieces and pin them to his bedroom wall. He was very big on Star Wars! When I eventually removed the wallpaper I was amazed the walls were still standing there were so many holes from pictures and posters. He was unknowingly honing his craft.

Von would use all of the empty tubes from toilet paper and paper towels, scotch tape, electrical tape, masking tape, medical tape, gauze, plastic bottles and lids, glue, tons of paper, colored pens and pencils and anything else he could see a use for when creating a project. With three sisters and two brothers it was common to hear "VVVOOOOONNNNNN!!" when things were missing or depleted, nothing was safe.

Von would raid my sewing drawer for supplies he needed. He used my paints, brushes, stylus, palette knives, drawing tablets, graphite paper and once used a $25 sable brush to apply glue to some construction paper, letting the glue dry in the brush. He removed the linoleum liners from all the bathroom storage shelves because the underside looked like leather, perfect for a Roman Centurion's uniform, sigh! (with gold chain, embossed buttons, purple satin material and red polyester with gold rick rack from my sewing drawer)

Von spilled glue on his bedroom carpet and covered it with a small rug so it wouldn't be seen. I discovered it when I vacuumed his room and couldn't move the rug - surprise!! There was India ink, paint, glue, tape and colored pen marks throughout his room, no amount of scrubbing, shampooing or bleaching would remove them.

The ideas were unending and the creative gift flowed endlessly.....I'm so glad and so blessed!

He now has a graphic design business and the ideas are still flowing. Check out his design site at Vonster.com

Love you Von!