who are you?

PT owl - Peter photo -origThis past weekend found us enjoying some of what the Quimper Peninsula has to offer (that’s the tip of the Olympic Peninsula where our new home of Port Townsend is located).

Actually, part of our time was spent on Marrowstone Island but that’s a topic for another post.

We visited several stops on the Jefferson County Farm and Fiber Tour, including Amity Fibers, WSU’s Twin Vista Ranch and Rosebud Ranch and Fiber Studio.

We were so immersed and enjoying our time that our cameras made few appearances, except at the latter, where I spotted this owl high up in the trees, watching us.

PT owl - Peter photo -zoomCan it be that we saw an elusive Northern Spotted Owl? Revered by tree huggers and reviled by the logging industry, these medium sized owls were a hot topic a few decades ago and the symbol of the tension between extraction industries and conservation.

It’s more likely that this is a common Barred Owl, like the owl who visited our Seattle neighborhood a few years ago.

It’s hard to tell since the owl was far away and in the late morning shade of the forest. I can’t see the distinctive lined pattern created by the feathers of a Barred Owl, but it’s really unlikely (perhaps wishful thinking on my part) that it could be anything more exotic and rare.

PT owl 008But after a weekend spent discussing heirloom seeds and livestock, one can always hope.

Alert and concerned initially, the owl eventually relaxed in the presence of humans, llamas and alpaca.

P.S. Thanks to Peter for the above two pictures. Mine were noticeably less successful.

I’ve been lamenting for a while that my camera doesn’t consistently let in the right amount of light in outdoor settings. It’s a problem I’ve had since I had it cleaned and serviced a while back.

Fuzzy photos make me crazy! It may be time for a new camera.


back to blog

I am an admitted creature of routine; I thrive on it and love the feeling of keeping to a regular schedule. A list-maker as far back as my recollection goes, the order of doing things, as assigned, gives me a feeling of accomplishment.

So, these past few years, with illnesses (human and canine), surgeries (also human and canine), and our recently embarked-upon process of moving nearer to the sea (prompted by the deaths of both dogs – so sad – we miss them), have disrupted all my routines.

We keep a set of monthly lists; each time I update for the next 4-week period, I am reminded of the lack of comforting routine in my life, as I transfer scheduled “to dos” that simply will not get done. As a result of my recent professional development workshop, that is changing. On the last day, discussing goals with a classmate as one of our final assignments, I made two commitments (to her and to myself). Most importantly, I committed to spending at least 10 hours per week in my studio working on art (in addition to a minimum of 5 hours per week on the business of my art). The latter has been easy to achieve – we had several pressing homework assignments – but the former has been more of a struggle than I imagined.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, since I’ve never had a consistent art practice. There, I said it. Despite having had five different spaces I have called “studio” I am a practiced procrastinator, either not actually working on art while there or just avoided the space altogether.

In order to keep myself honest this time, I start the timer on my iPod as I begin working in the studio, keeping a running total through the week to know I’ve made my goal. With the back-and-forth between Port Townsend and Seattle, those hours are precious and have to happen while I’m in PT (where my studio is now located). Once I’m back in Seattle, other tasks prevail (plus I’ve never been one to work on my art on the go): house projects, looking for a condo to buy, looking at other people’s art, etc. keep me busy in the city. Our lives are still crazy busy but it’s a great feeling to have some of my focus back to art.

Now, if only I could find the same discipline for blogging!

Just writing down these thoughts, and posting them quickly, without the studio pictures I wanted to use for illustration, is a good first step. Watch for pictures of a current project (actually the realization of a very old project) and my studio space, in the next few days.

all wet for a good cause

ALS ice-bucket-challenge graphicAt 8am on a crisp 53-degree Saturday morning in Port Townsend, we dumped buckets of cold water on our heads, and had ourselves filmed by my dear friend Melissa on her iPhone, becoming part of almost important social media phenomenon. Cheri & Peter – ALS ice bucket challenge

Of course, it was the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for, and awareness of ALS, a cause close to my heart…

I first heard of the challenge a week ago when our friend Rachel made a contribution to the fund we established in 2012, honoring my mom. Busy with my EDGE class, I didn’t click on the link she sent me until Wednesday. A few more contributions and links in emails and I finally started exploring. I was already in tears from having watched this video (skip to just before 2 minutes to watch the important part), but really lost it when I realized that Rachel’s link included a video of her 11-year old son Ethan accepting and issuing his own challenge.

When I called them, still in tears, she told me how he’d asked about the disease and she’d shared stories about Mom. It must have been a hard conversation when she had to explain that people don’t get better when they have ALS.


I can’t even type those words without crying; I miss my Mom so much and feel robbed of the years we should have spent together in her old age. It just isn’t fair. This past Tuesday would have been her 77th birthday. We’ve worked hard for the past 16 years to raise money and awareness for ALS, then this miraculous thing happens and, suddenly, this orphan disease, that gets little attention and little funding from industry or government, is in the nation’s consciousness. As Anthony says, you can all go back to watching cat videos soon, but, for now, the ALS community has the spotlight.

We’ve met our goal for our Norma Fruchey Promise Fund (www.alsa.org/NormaFruchey) and had retired from active solicitation. However, given what’s going on, I need to make one last “ask”. We’ve enjoyed great support over the years, raising ~$130,000 since Mom died.

I was tempted to challenge all our past donors, but Peter said we should keep it simple.

So, we called out my brother Lyle Fruchey and his family, our friends the Jensen family and Sara Avery (a Fruchey family friend who created this video about Mom for our fund website).

Unofficially, I invite you to douse yourself, if you like, and help in the fight against ALS.


on the EDGE…

362014EDGE_PT_FinaleEviteIt’s been a month since I last blogged. I’m not sure I’ve ever let that much time go by without a post. I have a good reason.

Since last weekend, I’ve been buried in Artist Trust’s EDGE professional development program (here in Port Townsend, at Fort Worden). It’s been an incredible week of artistic and personal discovery: exhilarating and exhausting, affirming and terrifying, I’m honored to be in the midst of many artists and arts professionals.

It’s been just exactly what I needed.

Leading up to this week, we had pre-work that occupied some of my time. But I was also possessed (obsessed?) with the need to get completely settled in to our home and my studio space here in Port Townsend. EDGE was a great motivator to get my house in order, and now it motivates me to end my long “sabbatical” and activate my new studio (and clean up my artist statement, website, etc., get on Facebook, etc.) The latter will keep me busy for the next 6 months or so; but, the MOST IMPORTANT thing is that I get back into my studio and back to creating art, finding a balance between doing art and addressing the business of my art. It’s been too long.

We had a pot luck at my house last night. It was a great way to blow-off steam and enjoy one another’s company outside the classroom. Now we are back to work, halfway through and anticipating the culmination of our formal experience here with final presentations:

  • Saturday, August 23, 2014
  • Wheeler Theater – Fort Worden – Port Townsend
  • 1:30 – 5:30pm

a fungus among us

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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.