About the Blog

Welcome to my blog. Ancestral Bird includes mixed media art (collage and fabric art), journals, musings on birds, gardening, nature, healing, art history, literary novels and memoirs. I am very interested in the connection between healing and pursuing our passions. Other interests include anything Steampunk, Doctor Who, dogs, vintage fashion, medieval art, and knitting.

The name Ancestral Bird relates to my family heritage. My great-grandparents were ornithologists. They lived in a double-wide trailer so they could follow the migrations of song birds across America. Great-grandmother Topsy also painted birds. I am the proud owner of many of her original watercolors.

Topsy 1Grandma Topsy

About Me



I was born in Cornwall, New York but seem to have deep roots in England. My father’s side of the family goes back to 12th Century England! We also lived in England on two separate occasions. I have one sister, Christina, who resides in Healdsburg, California where she directs the Pacific Coast Air Museum. She is also an artist. Our teen years were spent at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Panama hat 2 Now….

My career path has been in the visual arts. I have taught art history for many years and have served as an arts administrator and curator. Art is my life-long passion!

Susie & David 1971

I love these photos of me and my husband David  in 1971 (before we knew each other). If you notice the similarity of posture and place, you’d have to admit to a synchronicity. We didn’t meet until 1997- better late than never to be with the love of your life. Now we live with David’s daughter Keira in a cozy, rustic home on the banks of the Snoqualmie River in Washington.


I count my blessings every day- I can’t imagine living in a more beautiful place. The trees across the river are over 100′ tall and provide an amazing screen of green uninterrupted by man. In the spring we witness the arrival of merganser ducks and a huge variety of birds. Once I saw an osprey flyingover the river with a salmon in its talons!  You can read more about the river on the nature page.

David and Keira July 2014

About the Blog…


You probably noticed my middle name is Bird. On my mother’s side of the family, my grandmother’s nickname was Bird. Her actual name was Bertha Zachary Raines. Need I mention how glad I am to not have been saddled with the name Bertha? The Raines side of the family were loggers in North Carolina before relocating to Snoqualmie. Grandma Raines was pretty handy with pies, sewing and hunting wild game! My grandfather was a foreman with the Great Northern Railroad. Don’t you love the photo of them on top of the train?

Bird ZacharyTrain photoErnest and Bird Raines

My Father’s Side of the Family

birds of paradiseBirds of Paradise in Hawaii



Grandmother Eloise and her sister Stephanie


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