a fungus among us

Posted in Cooking, Family, Michigan, Nature, back yard farming, flash back on July 21st, 2014 by Cheri – 2 Comments

MI morels 5Though we are well into summer, in Seattle and Port Townsend, my mind wanders back to this past spring and looks forward to the next. Living in a more rural setting, I need to get back to my mushroom hunting roots. Technically, the morels I so dearly love are not a mushroom but another type of fungus. Regardless, they are yummy!

MI morels 1Though there are many other edible mushrooms in Washington State, I’d never hunt anything except the familiar.

We tried growing chanterelles and shitaki in our backyard this winter (we still have the oak logs with the sawdust plugs filled with spore) but got no where.

MI morels 4With the cold weather, it was impossible to keep them damp and at the right temperature to produce. A backyard is just a poor facsimile of a forest.

Growing up, we found morels in cottonwood “forests” in Wyoming. They grew in and around dry stream beds and areas that had been burned at one time.

MI morels 2It was a more arid setting than here, but I know there are morels to be found throughout the Pacific Northwest and I’ve read that it is legal to hunt them, for personal consumption, on public land.

MI morels 3I’ll need to get some pointers from my brother, who has an instinct for where to find them. He sent these photos from their home in Michigan in May. The array of morels on the back of a pick-up truck takes me back (and I’m jealous!).

I would imagine our season may be later, but who knows. Since we are a short walk from woods, I need to do some hunting next year.

MI morels 3 croppedThey are not easy to find, as you can tell by this photo. But, like anything you grow up with, I know I’ll be able to spot them. Perhaps it will be like riding a bicycle?

When my brother sent these pictures, I emailed him back and asked (begged?) him to send me some of the actual morels. He said he couldn’t – they’d eaten them all.

My sweet husband came to the rescue.

We occasionally buy slice pizza; Peter has treated me twice to a seasonal speciality from Pagliacci Pizza – black morels, chicken sausage and other mushrooms.

Yummy!

morel pizza 003Though the cheese doesn’t really agree with me, I suffered through it, for the sake of fungus.

Sadly, that seasonal flavor combo is gone, but at least I know that if my hunting is unsuccessful, I can enjoy morels on pizza next year.

(Of course, I could just buy them at Whole Foods, but what fun would that be?)

morel pizza 002

slowing down

Posted in Aging, reflection, things I love about Port Townsend on July 13th, 2014 by Cheri – Be the first to comment

Driving to the gym yesterday, I discovered I was driving 27 MPH – in Seattle! Fortunately, it was so early that no one was behind me, honking to tell me to speed up. Or worse yet, passing me on the residential/arterial street. Yes, they do that here.

Certainly, I’m not as sharp a driver as I once was. I accidentally ran a red light a few days ago. Could be age, could be fatigue, but could it also be that I’ve already grown accustomed to the slower pace in Port Townsend?

Sometimes several days go by in PT where we never even see a traffic light. It’s sweet, and I don’t miss them at all.

The contrast is more than I expected – I can’t go anywhere from our Seattle home without going through a light, more likely several.

Our lives are very, very busy, more so than they’ve ever been, which hardly seems possible. And sometimes, it is quite stressful. But deep inside me, the transition has started.

It’s a good thing, but I need to be a bit more diligent. Instead of watching for casual bicycles and deer on the road, when I’m in Seattle, it’s other drivers, and lights, and hard-core bikers, and pedestrians, and motorcycles, and … that I need to be aware of.

The challenge will be to maintain that vigilance, while still enjoying inner peace.

new neighbors

Posted in Deer, Port Townsend, in the neighborhood on July 6th, 2014 by Cheri – Be the first to comment

deer 002Deer are a common site in Port Townsend. They must not be hunted nearby – they are far too comfortable. We see them all times of the day, in all parts town. We’ve even happened upon them during our neighborhood walks.

deer 004Does, last year’s youngsters, this year’s fawns and young bucks in velvet abound, but I’ve yet to see a really large buck. These pictures were taken in our immediate neighborhood, on three separate occasions.

Deer are notorious for eating gardens. Living in a rented house, I’m not so concerned, but I’ve vowed that when we finally do buy I am going to garden so that we can peacefully coexist. None of those tender plantings, none of that crazy deer fencing for me. Enjoying them close up takes me back to growing up in Wyoming when, outside of hunting season, we’d enjoy watching deer, especially in our yard.

deer 005With mild temperatures and a typically Northwest amount of rainfall, the environs around here are very green. Locals tell us the lawns eventually go brown as we are used to in Seattle but it still seems much more lush (we are on the Olympic Peninsula, though not quite in the rain forest). As a result, these deer are fat, healthy and well-fed.

We’ve seen a small buck who walks with a limp several times. Perhaps hit by a car, his presence is a reminder to slow down, especially early and late in the day.

In any normal setting, he wouldn’t make it. But here, in this progressive bastion of live-and-let-livers, he might just make it.

deer 009deer 010

deer 008They do a good job of keeping the trees pruned up to just the right height and seem to have an affinity for fruit trees (then again, so do I).

This little one decided it was going to munch on a woody bush in our front yard, though it seemed like there were much tastier morsels nearby.

After shooing it away, I reminded myself to just let them be.

deer 006I asked Peter recently if he thought the novelty of having deer around would wear off.

He said, no, that I’d never tire of them.

It’s one of the many charms of living in Port Townsend.

giving thanks

Posted in Deer, Ferries, Port Townsend on July 2nd, 2014 by Cheri – Be the first to comment

SEA vista 01MayWhat better title for this post, written to reflect how I feel about my new home town. This is how I used to see the Olympic Peninsula from Seattle, in my car, looking across I-5.

It’s hard to believe I live there now (at least part-time).

Leaving my house ~8:15 yesterday morning, I managed to grocery shop, drop off the rent check, grab coffee and a bagel (Metro Bagels – yum!), shop at Goodwill (buying nothing), draft this post, call Peter to share my joy and make it to a 9:30 yoga class. All this bounty while still observing the 25-mile per hour speed limit, well mostly.

PT deer 002That speed limit is warranted though, as we have a large local deer population who seem to enjoy a predator-free existence.

They are casual about humans, seemingly unconcerned as we share their home.

Getting to Port Townsend was relatively easy, given the upcoming holiday.

view from car (on ferry)Despite heavy I-5 traffic and long lines, I barely made the 5:45 ferry. It was my fastest trip yet, ~2 hours and 15 minutes door-to-door. Squeezed onto the very back of the boat, mine was the last car to depart in Kingston. This was my view on recently sailing where I was one of the first cars on.

Ahhh. Can you see why I’m thankful?

happy dog-dad day

Posted in Dogs, Marriage, reflection on June 15th, 2014 by Cheri – Comments Off

1Buddy and RiverFor most of the past ~15 years, Peter received a Happy Fathers’ Day card, from one or two dogs. Speaking for them allowed me to express gratitude for how well he took care of us all.

2dogs in one chair3dogs in car

4side yard with dogsContemplating continuing the tradition this year, I couldn’t see how to do so without being maudlin.

Instead, having more pictures of River and Buddy to share on-line, a blog post was a better option.

It’s likely not my first Happy Dog-Dad Day post (I can’t look it up as I’m writing this offline, to be posted later) but it may be the first one to draw tears.

It’s been a sad year for us.

Saying goodbye to both of them in a 9-month period, on top of a few months prior of health issues for both, was almost too much to bear.

5dogs opening Christmas giftsThrough it all, Peter and I were a team. Both there for all appointments and decisions, we were calm, thoughtful and resolute when making the most important ones. Working to understand severity, treatment options, outcomes, quality of life issues and cost, we engaged many wonderful veterinary advisors. The outpourings of sympathy and support for River in April of 2013, then Buddy this past January, was a testament to the love we poured into the end of their lives.

Oh dear, here come my tears.

6River and Buddy WaterSad as my words are, pictures of our sweet boys will bring back good memories. One reading of this post is all I want for you, Peter, with many happy returns to look at their joyful faces and remember them with love and a smile.

7hiking with dogs 003Whether sharing a dog chair (when two were available) or the back seat of the car (where Buddy always sat on River – for comfort?) or the side yard, they were (mostly) content to be in close contact. They could’t be trusted to share toys, but Christmas was a big event, with both dogs happily opening their own packages (and ours sometimes).

8Football Dogs 111In the right moment, and with a strong stick, a tug-of-war might ensue, whether in water on one of many beach outings, or on a hike in the mountain foothills. Lacking a stick, an old football, mysteriously found in our back yard (perhaps lost by some neighbor kid?) became the toy of choice, bitten through and deflated before humans could intervene.

9dog photo shelf 2

9dog photo shelves 1Setting up our new home in Port Townsend, as I unpacked boxes of family photos, I reserved several shelves for dog pictures (and a cookie jar to ply those in our new neighborhood).

Commemorating all the wonderful canine members of our family, River and Buddy got a shelf of their own.

One day we will visit this tile installed in a wall at a community center in our old neighborhood.

10green leaf tile

11Sunny, Peter and Cheri with treeUntil then, this photo and the memories of the funny ordeal of getting good footprints of both dogs on a single slab of green clay (while keeping River from playing with, and Buddy from growling at, other dogs) will bring smiles.

Happy Fathers’ Day Peter – you had my heart at our first meeting when you brought dog treats for Sunny, the golden retriever who preceded Buddy and River in our lives.

I joke that my biological dog clock is ticking loudly these days, but I’m patient and know we’ll invite another furry member into our family once we get settled into our new routine.

I love you.

Thank you.

a bee to see

Posted in Critters on June 12th, 2014 by Cheri – Comments Off

29bee on porch 005With all the dire news about the demise of pollinators, I’m always happy to see them in my long-time pesticide and herbicide-free Seattle gardens.

This fellow was hanging out on the front porch on a recent morning.

We’d had a cool, damp overnight and I think he was just drying out in the sun.

Tempted to move him to a safer spot, I opted to leave him be (bee?), and stepped around him and as I came and went.

Eventually, he was gone.

29bee on porch 004I assumed he was out visiting blossoms, filling those furry legs with large clumps of that yellow and orange stuff that makes my nose itch and eyes water this time of year.

Just writing about it makes me want to sneeze.

my (im)perfect memory

Posted in Artists I Know, Family, Friends, reflection on June 5th, 2014 by Cheri – Comments Off

2007 Melanie SchoolWith the recent news that our good friends, Mary and Mark, are coming for a visit this summer, I was reminded of a blog post that I did in 2011 to celebrate their daughter Melanie’s graduation from high school. Chronicling her life with pictures from Christmas cards, I was missing one special shot. As I remember it, she was a little girl, performing in a local production of the Nutcracker with her Dad playing a role.

2007 MMM NutcrackerWhile packing my studio this morning, getting ready to move it, I was excited to have found the missing picture. Sorting, boxing and taping, my thoughts turned to what I’d say in this post.

Set aside until now, I just discovered that it’s not the picture from my memory (is my memory flawed?). Still, there she is, almost grown, from a 2007 Nutcracker production with Mom and Dad (in a co-starring role). Now I only need to find the missing photos from 2008 and 2005 (maybe that’s the one I think I remember?).

They’ll be in Seattle so Mel can take dance classes at Pacific Northwest Ballet. I’ve long hoped that PNB would be on her short list after her outstanding college dance career. Fingers crossed!

buena vistas

Posted in Peter's photos, Photography, things I love about Seattle on June 1st, 2014 by Cheri – Comments Off

After 15 and 25 years in Seattle, respectively, you’d think Peter and I would tire of the views of mountains and water. But, these photos taken in the past few weeks prove otherwise.

cruise terminal on a rainy day - Peter 23May

Rain or shine, Seattle is a pretty place to live. The seawall project has taken Peter to the waterfront on Elliott Bay recently – these very large ships were docked at the cruise terminal.

view of Olympics near our house - Cheri

With a fence bordering I-5 in the foreground, I took this picture of the Olympic Mountains (near our new part-time home on the Olympic Peninsula) from near our Seattle home.

luxury yacht moored at Westlake - Peter 28May

Another big infrastructure construction project has had Peter near Lake Union, where he took this picture of luxury Yacht, the Vava II when it was moored along Westlake Avenue.

Our recent increased proximity to water in Port Townsend has Peter talking about boats, but of a more modest variety. Kayaks may be in our future.

three days of erotic art

Posted in Artwork, Assemblage, Cheri's Work, Shows on May 30th, 2014 by Cheri – Comments Off

SEAF preview 001Opening this evening, running through Sunday, is the 12th Annual Seattle Erotic Art Festival. We attended the preview party last night and got to see my piece, Peep Show, in action. I’m pleased that is was hung at the front of the show, where it is visible as you walk in. She shares a wall with several other mixed media and fiber pieces. I was happy to see several other works that had humorous themes.

Though tempted, I respected the “no photography” rule so Peter only took pictures of me with my work.

The art work is far ranging in its explicitness. Photography definitely dominates and I saw enough penises and breasts to hold me for a while.

A fellow artist commented that there was too much pornography – it gave me pause to think but I’m not sure if I agree. I knew what I was getting into, in entering this show. The sponsoring organization is the Foundation for Sex Positive Culture and the show has a reputation for pushing boundaries.

SEAF preview 003

While I prefer the more abstract, stylized art, many in the audience admired the more explicit work.

The art was professionally curated and the show very well displayed and presented. It is one of the most professional settings in which I’ve shown my art. We had hoped to disrobe my piece last night, but they were still hanging the considerable collection of art at 9pm, so it didn’t work out.

With a busy weekend planned, I don’t know it I’ll be back but hope they “reveal” her to the audience at some point. This fellow, Nick Easterday, one of the docents, did get an eyeful though.

Peep Show (naked) - Cheri Kopp (Mark Frey photo)Peep Show

mixed media

35” x 13” x 5”

2011

A close study is rewarded with this message:

The Siren
She has the gift.
Mysterious.
Hidden.
The unveiling of the unexpected.

mixed media – 100% repurposed cast-off materials: lace, ribbon, trims and buttons leftover from sewing projects, curtain, slip, bridal lace and trims from Wright’s Trims (obtained when I was a girl for the price of a label and a stamp), tissue paper, fabric lining from floppy diskettes, embroidery from found Halloween costume, found earring, used display mannequin

at-home facial

Posted in Aging, selfies on May 27th, 2014 by Cheri – Comments Off

While I can’t be sure, I feel like everything about me has aged since the cancer. Or it could just be that I am, actually, getting older.

Strength exercises and sleeves help with that cursed flappy skin under my arms. But the lines on my face are tougher; I can tell that my skin is losing it’s elasticity and, the regret I feel over being a young cigarette smoker for ~15 years weighs on me.

facial at home 012Twice daily cleaning and moisturizing isn’t enough. My regimen also includes a smoothing of shea butter on my damp, lotioned skin to retain the moisture.

Looking through old blog posts during the conversion to my new computer, I came across this series of facials. I tried them again, over the course of a few of weeks (instead of days), and out of sequence (I must not have been very busy back then).

I liked the way my face looked and felt after each, but the results weren’t as long-lasting as I would have liked. This selfie shows the egg mask.

Oh well, we have most of the ingredients, generally organic, on-hand, so it’s not hard to duplicate them.

In fact, I’ve got over-ripe strawberries and papaya awaiting me as I finished drafting this.