Street Art (Supply) Walk

Artwalk, Seattle, Washington

My sister invited me to join her and her friends on a field trip featuring art. It was a trip to the art supply store Blick, in Seattle. What better opportunity to combine art, street art, photography, and friends. Even a trip to buy pens and pencils can be a walkabout with the right attitude.

It’s part of the photographer’s job to see more intensely than most people. He must have and keep in him something of the receptivity of the child who looks at the world for the first time or the traveler who enters a strange land.
— Bill Brandt

It is easy to see art everywhere in Seattle. When I look at the acronym WSDOT (Washington State Department of Transportation) my brain turns it into "WHYNOT." Why not take the ferry? Why not go to Seattle? Why not write a blog about it?

 The view from the WSDOT ferry, approaching Seattle.

The view from the WSDOT ferry, approaching Seattle.

We met at the Bainbridge Island ferry and entered the city on a beautiful day. I love to watch the approach to cities from the water. The small buildings, bridges, signs, and attractions grow before your eyes as you get closer and closer.

 Street Art in Seattle.

Street Art in Seattle.

The famous skyline grows and increases until you depart the boat and buildings tower over your head. The bustle of people walking off of the ferry always makes me feel like I am on a travel trip. Pioneer Square is relatively quiet so we take some time to window shop. Shoes? Some bling? Such colors and shapes held behind glass facades.

I allow myself some child-like wonder to wander the streets of Seattle.

 The underground light rail system takes us one step closer to our destination.

The underground light rail system takes us one step closer to our destination.

 Window shopping for shoes. Bling.

Window shopping for shoes. Bling.

 If I could afford these, I would.

If I could afford these, I would.

 Colorful street bikes.

Colorful street bikes.

The Blick art supply store is a feast of color and shapes. Popular culture lives in a toy store for young and old. I was looking for only pencils and paper but enjoyed the visual treats throughout — colors, shapes, design ideas, and fun tools filled to the brim. I think that artists struggle between the acquiring of things to make art, and actually making works of art. There are so many cute little gadgets that are fun to hold and buy. I don't paint, but oh, to own those thick and vibrant colors! I want to eat them.

Seattle_Art_Walk-197.jpg

Beautiful individual sheets of craft paper call to me. Markers of all shapes, sizes, and colors ask me to take them home. "Look! You too can be an artist. Just take me with you." I want to wallow in all the potential that fills the shelves to the ceiling.

 Photo paper?

Photo paper?

 Not just any eraser, but the perfect eraser.

Not just any eraser, but the perfect eraser.

Seattle_Art_Walk-199.jpg
 Holiday shopping.

Holiday shopping.

 “I can do that!” You too, can be an artist, if you shop well.

“I can do that!” You too, can be an artist, if you shop well.

We tussle with our goodie bags and make a stop at the bookstore. Equally enticing. My sister encourages me to check out a Mr. Spock (Star Trek) version of "Where's Waldo" but I gave away so many books in 'The Great Purge.' I can't bear the thought of buying books to eventually give them away, or sell them at a yard sale for one quarter. I am trying very hard to make more use of the public library, and I only purchase used books now.

 Wishful window shopping.

Wishful window shopping.

Seattle_Art_Walk-1000965.jpg

At lunch, Pam, Janice, and Susan are intrigued by my blog "Whelan on Walkabout." They ask "what kind of blog would you write about a trip to the art supply store?"

An adventure does not need to be in an exotic location to be a source of street photography and a meaningful life experience. Photography is about seeing. Travel is about experiencing something new. Every trip can be a journey. That is what life is about! Everyday experiences like shopping in an art supply store, can be filled with surprise, beautiful colors, shapes, fun, and new friends.

"Any trip can be a walkabout if you bring the right attitude," I reply.

 Share the love with Jimi Hendrix in front of Blick Art Supplies.

Share the love with Jimi Hendrix in front of Blick Art Supplies.

So, here are my street photographs from that day and my short blog about street art and a trip to the art supply store.

Thank you, Susan, Pam, and Janice for a fun day in beautiful Seattle.

Seattle_Art_Walk-.jpg
 Doughnuts in with window, just a couple to take home.

Doughnuts in with window, just a couple to take home.

Home is Where the Heart Is

Thanksgiving in Ashland, Oregon

Holidays with adult children are very different from holidays with babies, toddlers, school-age children, or college students.

Home is where the heart is
No matter how the heart lives
Inside your heart where love is
That’s where you’ve got to make yourself
At home.
— Peter, Paul, and Mary
Thanksgiving_Ashland (1 of 17).jpg

Keith, Patrick, and I live in Olympia, Washington and our daughter Hilary lives in Fresno, California. We have a family tradition of traveling for holidays; London, Rome, Washington D.C., New York, and with family in the Bay Area of California.

This year, we chose to drive six hours south while Hilary drove eight hours north to meet up in Ashland, Oregon for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving_Ashland (2 of 17).jpg

Ashland, Oregon is the home of a world-renowned Shakespeare Festival, and the community is well suited for visitors. The downtown is a real town center with Lithia Park, many well-rated diverse food options, and a pedestrian-friendly shopping area. The city core is surrounded by gentrified Victorian homes and re-modeled craftsman bungalows, many now bed and breakfast inns or vacation rentals. Each house is unique with an individual personality. Ashland isn't a cliche; it is genuinely cute.

We wanted a comfortable but traditional Thanksgiving where we could spend time together inside or outside. Airbnb is our go-to for a home-away-from-home, and we rented a small cottage that would fit our holiday plans.

 
 A lovely little herb garden in the back of our Airbnb in Ashland.

A lovely little herb garden in the back of our Airbnb in Ashland.

An old bungalow with a backyard garden featuring a koi pond and an herb garden, wood floors, oak furniture, quilted bedcovers, and handcrafted stoneware dishes welcomed us as our new holiday hang out. Located on a quiet side street, we were able to walk to downtown and enjoy the neighboring homes along the way.

 Street art Ashland style.

Street art Ashland style.

An afternoon fitness walk through a new neighborhood allowed for the survey and critique of the various yard landscapes and home remodeling projects. "I could live in that house." "If I won the lottery, I would buy that house." "This house is my favorite," and "That place is just waiting for someone to renovate it."

A healthy four-point buck deer walked down the street with us, then jumped a neighbor's fence. Six wild turkeys didn't even acknowledge us as we entered Lithia Park. A handful of big leaf maple trees hung on to a few final golden leaves, and there was a light dusting of snow on the ridge across the valley.

 There are live wild turkeys in Lithia Park. No worries here.

There are live wild turkeys in Lithia Park. No worries here.

 One of the best Thanksgiving turkeys ever from the  Ashland Co-op .

One of the best Thanksgiving turkeys ever from the Ashland Co-op.

 Oven instructions inside for precision baking. Turkey is in the middle.

Oven instructions inside for precision baking. Turkey is in the middle.

 Our holiday oven - “Caution, the pilot light is hot!”

Our holiday oven - “Caution, the pilot light is hot!”

Black Friday was the start of the holiday festivities in town with local businesses open and decorated with Christmas lights. Downtown was busy but not crowded with holiday shoppers. Even as adults, we enjoyed the unique chance to go ice skating together. All four of us gave it a few laps and no-one was hurt! For dinner, an old favorite, take-out pizza from a cardboard box.

 Family selfie while ice skating in Lithia Park.

Family selfie while ice skating in Lithia Park.

And together we shared a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

To keep things simple, we pre-ordered a complete Thanksgiving dinner from the Ashland Co-op. At our designated time, Keith and I drove up to the curbside pick-up location and a friendly young lady handed us a whole, already cooked, ready to re-heat, traditional Thanksgiving dinner. No messy kitchen. No grumpy faces because the gravy is lumpy. No second guessing or threats of overcooking. No dinner drama. It was easy, tasty, and we enjoyed it together without stress or anxiety.

 After dinner, chillin’ on the sofa.

After dinner, chillin’ on the sofa.

 Thanksgiving guests, past and present.

Thanksgiving guests, past and present.

It wasn't our home, but it was. We were home together as a family for Thanksgiving. I don't need a large place so my children can come and stay with me; I have a place where we can all meet and be comfortable in our unique adult style.

We learned that a home can be anywhere where we can get together. It can be Christmas in Barcelona, or Thanksgiving in Oregon. I know we won’t be together for every holiday, but we have learned how to be at home with ourselves. Home may be where we live, or where we want to live, or wherever we can get together.

I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.
— William Shakespeare
 I love you guys. Thank you for a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I love you guys. Thank you for a wonderful Thanksgiving.

All Mushrooms are Magic

When declaring my excitement for going "shrooming" in my new backyard, I was asked, "are you looking for magic mushrooms?"

 Not poisonous, but you wouldn’t like to eat it, unless you are a squirrel.

Not poisonous, but you wouldn’t like to eat it, unless you are a squirrel.

In college, I had my magic mushroom experimentation experience. My then boyfriend (now husband) thought we would try the “magic” (Psilocybe sp.) mushrooms his roommate gave us. They tasted bad, so we downed them with a bottle or two of wine.

 At lunch: “Waiter, waiter, there is a shroom in my soup!” “Quiet, the other guests may want to identify it.”

At lunch: “Waiter, waiter, there is a shroom in my soup!” “Quiet, the other guests may want to identify it.”

Why not?

It was fun to see new colors all around me. My hands and feet stretched out for what felt like miles. "Here kitty, kitty..." looking for the cat was an Alice in Wonderland adventure as we swam through the house.

Things were spinning a bit too much, and I became aware that I wasn't in control anymore. I saw a serpent dragon dive through the bed covers.

 These mushroom cupcakes are safe to eat, but they look like a trippy  Amanita mascaria  (not good to eat.)

These mushroom cupcakes are safe to eat, but they look like a trippy Amanita mascaria (not good to eat.)

I lay in bed knowing that my breathing was slowing and my heartbeats were gradually getting farther apart, weaker, fainter, and fewer... I was convinced, "I am going to die."

But I didn't.

I woke up the next morning just fine. Well, maybe a bit hung over, but alive none the less. I decided that my husband's wild mushroom stroganoff and his chanterelle mushroom turkey stuffing were the extent of my mushroom experimentation.

But, to make stroganoff and turkey stuffing, we had to go out collecting, and that is where I fell in love with mushrooms.

One of the downsides of living in the great Pacific north-west is the rain. But with the showers come one of the benefits: mushrooms.

I want to learn more about our local mushrooms, so I attended Puget Sound Mycological Society (PSMS) Mushroom 201a mushroom identification class at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Agriculture. And last month, I spent a fun fungus afternoon at the 55th Annual Wild Mushroom Show sponsored by PSMS.

I believe that all mushrooms are magic.

IMG_7046.jpg

Mushrooms of all shapes, sizes, colors, and textures were on display and grouped according to the way the bear their reproductive spores. We toured the trays remembering a few old friends. Agarics (gilled), Boletes, veined mushrooms, puffballs, cup fungi, polyspores, jellies, and clubs were gathered and available for our inspection.

 Ask an expert. My mushrooms weren’t anything special, but they were my discovery.

Ask an expert. My mushrooms weren’t anything special, but they were my discovery.

It was busy at the Mushroom Identification Table. I had to wait in line to have my specimens examined. I brought four different mushrooms wrapped in wax paper. Three from my backyard and one from my sister’s front yard - Yard Shrooms.

"This is a bolete because you can see the tubes under the cap, and it is dark on the top..." Danny, the Volunteer Mushroom Expert at the Mushroom Identification Table evaluated the qualities of my samples. "This is Zeller's bolete," he declares with pride and confidence. “You can see the dark leathery cap, and the pores on the underside… and the color of the stem…”

I had a Zeller’s Bolete (Boletus zelleri), a honey mushroom (Armillaria sinapina), a hard to identify species of Clitocybe sp., and a pear-shaped puffball from my sister’s house (Lycoperdon pyriforme).

It was like the "Antiques Road Show." I brought my goodies for assessment, but their only value was a good time.

fungus-1000864.jpg
fungus-1000800.jpg

My mushrooming partner and I checked out the tables with crafts and how to dye fabric with mushrooms. There was a "Mushroom Haunted House" were musky smelly mushrooms were displayed in the dark under UV lights.

I liked the smell of the mushroom cooking demonstrations, and there was a room where people could make their very own mushroom growing kit. I bought some cultivated Italian pioppini mushrooms to top our homemade pizza.

 Inside the Mushroom Haunted House, the shrooms were all a ghostly glow.

Inside the Mushroom Haunted House, the shrooms were all a ghostly glow.

 Yarns, died with mushrooms.

Yarns, died with mushrooms.

At the Puget Sound Mycological Society’s Mushroom 201a - Beginning Identification Class, we had piles of mushrooms, all gathered by eager students, arranged in take-out food containers for us to attempt to identify.

APC_0004.jpg

The curriculum included “what is taxonomy?” and “what is identification?” We practiced observing and describing mushrooms, identification methods, and (the big one) how to use dichotomous keys.

Like most biology classes, there is a lot of mushroom jargon, a.k.a, “technical terminology.“

Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, then comes Family, Genera, and Species. A neat and specific structure to all things mushroom.

Then things get messy.

 First question in keying mushrooms: Gills or no gills? This one has gills.

First question in keying mushrooms: Gills or no gills? This one has gills.

 This mushroom does not have gills. That was the easy part.

This mushroom does not have gills. That was the easy part.

Gill attachment, decurrent? Shape, pulvinate? Spore color, pink to salmon? Surface, floccose? Stem, saccate? Partial veil, doubly-flared? Habit? Habitat?

Luckily, Mycology Expert Steve gave us an “Easy Guide to Mushroom Descriptions” with little cartoon drawings to help us visualize terms used by most mushroom guide books. “Ha, there it is…” Not so easy.

IMG_6970-0.jpg

Aminita, agarica, gilled mushrooms, truffles, crusts, morels, earthstars, cup fungi; some slimy, some veined, some blue, some pink, all little gems that pop when conditions are just right. Hidden in the ecosystem, they grow in the damp quiet substrate waiting for their time to reproduce. When all factors are in alignment, they make their presence known to the world. Like Dr. Seuss's "Horton Hears a Who" they shout "We're here, we're here, we're here!" awaiting discovery.

Squirrels, insects, and birds eat mushrooms. The remains turn into a slimy, messy unidentifiable pile of muck. Fungi decompose leaves and forest litter and help trees absorb nutrients. They are nutritious, therapeutic, and an integral part of all ecosystems.

I think they are beautiful.

Mushrooms appear from nowhere, they live their life, then disappear into thin air. That's magic.

I don't need to trip-out on hallucinogenic mushrooms. Been there, done that. But a walkabout in the woods looking for hidden gems?

Give me a moment to grab my camera and my collecting basket. Let's go.

 “And who’s been nibbling on my mushroom?”

“And who’s been nibbling on my mushroom?”

Hello, Olympia Camera Club

New Member Profile

The Olympia Camera Club Newsletter editor asked me to fill our their New Member/Member profile for the November newsletter. Here is my Whelan on Walkabout response.

 New to Olympia, my husband Keith and I take a selfie at Tumwater Falls.

New to Olympia, my husband Keith and I take a selfie at Tumwater Falls.

Pam, First, I want to thank you for allowing me this member profile for the Olympia Camera Club. The OCC members made a great first impression. I’m excited about participating in OCC activities this year.

What or who brought you to the club?

In June, I moved from Clovis, California (near Fresno) to Olympia, Washington. I was actively entering photos in the Big Fresno Fair and showing pictures at the Fresno City Hall, and I wanted to find ways to share photos in my new community. I was nervous about being in a new venue, but I entered two images in the Thurston County Fair, and at the Fair, two of the fair exhibit volunteers were very friendly and helpful. They gave me a brochure and encouraged me to check it out. I was impressed. I love my social networking venues, Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr, but nothing beats meeting with people face to face.

 The photography room at the Thurston County Fair, 2018.

The photography room at the Thurston County Fair, 2018.

 Selfie with one of my two, honorable mention awards at the Thurston County Fair.

Selfie with one of my two, honorable mention awards at the Thurston County Fair.

How did you get interested in photography?

Like many, I started at a young age with film, but through school, college and family pursuits, I set it aside. That all changed when I used my first digital camera. I was working for the U.S. Forest Service, and we bought a digital camera for the documentation of issues out in the forest. It was a Sony, it used a floppy disc, and you could only take eight photos at a time. But, when I found out those photos could be downloaded directly into a document, or edited on the computer, I remembered how much I loved photography. No waiting, no darkroom, no worries, just photographs.

 From my photo set “Who Will Take Out the Trash,” cleaning up illegal marijuana grow sites in 2007.

From my photo set “Who Will Take Out the Trash,” cleaning up illegal marijuana grow sites in 2007.

 “We crawled on our hands and knees, following the black pipe from one abandoned campsite to another. Volunteers gingerly picked up rotting trash, rolled up irrigation pipe and gathered bags for California Highway Helicopter H-40 to haul away.”

“We crawled on our hands and knees, following the black pipe from one abandoned campsite to another. Volunteers gingerly picked up rotting trash, rolled up irrigation pipe and gathered bags for California Highway Helicopter H-40 to haul away.”

Pot Clean-up - 15.jpg

I started my re-discovery by taking photos of the people and places I visited for work and became interested in storytelling with images. I really enjoyed my job and loved my co-workers. So in appreciation, I would take photos of a project or activity, print and frame 12-15 images and hang them in the office hallway. I created an impromptu art gallery, and I changed it every month or two. The reaction was so much fun, I kept up the hall gallery until I retired in 2013.

Cones2017 (13 of 23).jpg

What kind of photography do you like to do?

I have fun telling stories with photos. I wanted to keep in touch with family and friends, so I created my website “Whelan on Walkabout” www.whelanonwalkabout.com where I show my photos and write about my travels. Without intent, I have become a travel photographer. Mostly, I take photos up close and personal.

I am almost always outdoors, and I rarely take photographs of people. Lately, I do have a thing for experimenting with post processing photos of seeds and pine cones.

 I became a travel photographer while enjoying cocktails at a bar in Rovinj, Croatia.

I became a travel photographer while enjoying cocktails at a bar in Rovinj, Croatia.

What equipment is in your camera bag?

 “It was a very cold night in Iceland. At first you just feel it, then, it takes shape, gradually the colors – green, yellow and distant violet shades. Elusive and only found when the weather is just right.”

“It was a very cold night in Iceland. At first you just feel it, then, it takes shape, gradually the colors – green, yellow and distant violet shades. Elusive and only found when the weather is just right.”

I had a very large pelican box full of Nikon equipment; two Nikon bodies and lots of beautiful Nikkor glass that I drug around for a month photographing Iceland. I’m not getting any younger, and I want to keep taking photos and traveling, so I sold all my Nikon gear and purchased a smaller, more portable micro four-thirds mirrorless system. Although larger sensors have their benefits, I find the ability to carry a lightweight system to be invaluable, especially for my travel photography. I now shoot an Olympus OMD- EM 5MKII with only two lenses, an Olympus pro-40-150 mm 1:2.8 zoom and an Olympus 25mm prime that functions very much like my old Nikon 50mm prime. But even that is sometimes too big to take along. If I'm shooting in the streets of Panama, or hiking Olympic National Park, I like to travel with my Lumix DX-100 and my iPhone (which is becoming my new favorite camera.)

What post processing programs do you use?

I’m a mac person. I am using Lightroom Classic CC on my iMac computer, and for special projects, I use Topaz Studio. I find Photoshop is too fat, slow, and cumbersome. For my iPhone photos, sometimes I just use Apple’s Photos app, but I don’t love it.

 One of my favorite photos, the hill town  Gordes in the Provence Region of France.

One of my favorite photos, the hill town Gordes in the Provence Region of France.

What do you want to learn from the club?

I am really looking forward to finding new places to visit and seeing what and how and what other photographers photograph. Photography is about having a good time sharing with people. To me having fun is being in a new place, taking pictures, learning about others, and sharing.

On a side note, I'm thinking OCC needs a location to exhibit and hang our favorite photos. Maybe the library, or City Hall, or a bar, someplace we could start something new in Olympia. Who knows?

Thank you for asking me about my interest in OCC. It is going to be a great year!

Cynthia A Whelan, a.k.a. Whelan on Walkabout

Cones-11.jpg