Wednesday, December 30, 2009


"Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never knows. We guess. We may be wrong but we take leap after leap in the dark." Agnes De Mille

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Cruelty has a human heart,
And Jealousy a human face,
Terror the human form divine,
And Secresy the human dress.

The human dress is forged iron,
The human form a fiery forge,
The human face a furnace sealed,
The human heart its hungry gorge.

By William Blake

Monday, December 28, 2009


Today I have decided to post some art that hangs on my walls. This year I treated myself to other people's art---people who I have found on these blogs. I think it is a good thing to support other artists and I also think that art should be affordable so that everyone can own it and purchase it. There are great buys on ETSY, where I have found most of these pieces.
This piece is by Gina who lives in Tasmania. Gina is a very talented artist and currently she has an incredible calendar that she is offering for 2010. This piece, above, is one that I especially like because it has a special number on it: 17. My husband and I got married on December 17 because it is a combination of my two lucky numbers: 6 and 8. The number 17 is both of those numbers depending on if you subtract or add. This isn't a very good photo of the piece but I can tell you that it is very special. It has many different layers of incredible paper and it is all white and framed in a deep, black frame.
This is a section of one of the walls in my living room. Because the walls are dark redwood, I try to pick out pieces that are bright and will stand out. I have a few plates here: one from New Mexico and one from Italy (both gifts to me from my sister and my mother). The yellow piece with the four circles at the bottom is from Mary Buek. I have just recently purchased another piece which now hangs below this piece. I will post it separately on another day for everyone to see. The piece above it is from Jimmy Adamson who was a teacher at Sierra College. He studied ceramics at UC Davis and has created some really great stuff. The small piece is an acrylic painting by an artist named Kary Stickney. Kary is a California artist who exhibits some of her work at Studio 41 in Benicia, California.
This section of the wall overlaps with the photo above and it also shows two more plates which are American-made redware pottery from Pam Ambrust. They can be found in stores and museums across the United States and abroad. To the right of these plates hangs a grouping of four encaustic pieces from Crystal Neubauer. These four pieces I fell in love with and purchased at different times. They started out as a group of sixteen, I believe, and then she sold them off separately. I wish I would have purchased the entire group, they're that wonderful!
This is a photo of a piece that I did titled "Crescent City" (Excuse the camera flash-I can't figure out how to alleviate that when there is glass in front of the art). When we were up in Crescent City, California visiting friends once, we walked the beach and I picked up all these stones like I always do. As I was bending down and picking them up, I noticed a similarity between all the shapes of the stones that I was collecting and then it all made sense to me. I did these tiny watercolor pieces that represent the sand, the ocean and the sky and mounted the stones on each piece with a tiny piece of string. This piece was done in 2002 when I was attaining my Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art and was part of my final project. I have it mounted to the right of the photo above. I have close-ups of a few of the individual pieces below.
I stitched details on each piece with my treadle sewing machine. I do everything with that treadle! It has since become my signature to do stitching on most of my work if I can. I have since seen many pieces of art that have tied stones. Whenever I go someplace now I make it a point to collect rocks from the places that I visit and I also take a series of photos from each place too. Then, I come home and make a piece that has all the components of the place that I visited: the rocks and the landscape. It forms a complete memory (picture) unit for me of that place.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Today my twins and I spent the afternoon in Nevada City visiting their Victorian Christmas. We got some shopping done before the crowds and rain arrived and it was a treat to see St. Nick, dressed in his finest attire walking the streets.
People had to take a second look when they saw him walking down the street with his hand on his staff and ivy on his head. He looked beautiful and it was a beautiful day.

I am wishing everyone out there a joyous and wonderful holiday season. It will be here before we know it and I'm sure there are some of us who are doing last minute baking and errands before the big day arrives. Stay safe, hug your children, love your family, call your friends and family who live far away, and remember that "It's a Wonderful Life". Frank Capra believed it and so do I!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


She's getting ready for her Christmas recital with her Mommy in this picture. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family. You don't always get this lucky. What a special moment to see her Mommy curling her hair, her painted red fingernails, her beautiful velvet and embroidered snow-flake dress, her sweet smile. She sang her heart out tonight too! She knew all the words and swayed to the rhythm of the beat while the words sprang forth. Then, at the end of the recital, a quick dash to the cookie table! Yum...a frosted Christmas tree adorned with red and green "ornaments" at every tip. How could any little aspiring singer deny herself such a treat?! be four again with not a care in the world. Just singing, dancing, laughing, learning, and being loved. She's the fairest one of all.

Monday, December 14, 2009


"If I were the moon, I know where I would fall down."-----D.H. Lawrence, The Rainbow

Friday, December 11, 2009


Today my favorite mail box was filled to the brim with cards, a few bills (boo hoo), and THIS wonderful necklace that I ordered from Jen Worden who lives in Nova Scotia. Jen is a talented mixed-media artist that I have been following for quite some time and I love her aesthetic. The piece is rusted, has a heart (which I am always a sucker for!) and is titled "Love Travels". It certainly does. I am thrilled with the piece and her work.
It came wrapped up in this beautiful blue paper and was tied with a blue chenille ribbon. How absolutely perfect!. This is the time of year that we think about our loved ones, near and far, and how apropos that this is titled "Love Travels". I would have to say that, yes, indeed, love does travel.

But, love can be misunderstood also. And then that love is thwarted. Having your love thwarted hurts but not anymore than being shunned or avoided. Avoidance doesn't cure anything. It only prolongs. I am reminded that as a child I could sleep with the lights on when my sister could not. We shared a bedroom and it was our "deal" that the last one in bed was responsible to turn off the lights. Sometimes (being the older sister and also a stubborn Taurus) I would crawl into bed last and just turn over. My sister would say "you have to turn out the lights". My reply (more than once) was: "I can sleep with the lights on". And, so, to those who have thwarted my love these last couple of months and refuse to see that I was being considerate and also that I was hurt by not being included, I say: "I can sleep with the lights on".

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


When I was a little girl (and that was quite a few years ago!) my grandmother had these candles and used them for decoration. Actually, there were twice as many but I split half of them with my sister. So now, each Christmas, they have the honored space above my kitchen sink. They have never even been lit, can you believe that? I think that she got them from Woolworth's (do any of you remember Woolworth's?) and they were all wrapped up in a box and have never lost their attraction for me. Willow had a photo of some ornaments that she has and one of them has the exact same face as my choir people. Only difference is that hers is a glass ornament and mine is made of wax. Both are quite fragile though and I will assume both are quite old since she has been collecting antique ornaments for quite a few years.
These little fellas are a small collection of Santas that I have. Some have been hand-made and some are metal or resin. The one on the left was hand-made by my mother's best friend and her husband. I love primitive-looking items the best and so I gravitate toward those when I am looking for more. The second Santa (tall and skinny) is one that I hand-carved. I love to carve wood and this was one of my first attempts at a Santa.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


There will be no school today, that's for sure! We had snow here in the Sierra Nevada foothills along with power outages and lots of ice. The schools are closed as well as many businesses because of the low elevation snow. In some areas this snow fall has broken records. I always enjoy the snow at this time of the year, as long as it doesn't last too long. Because in our part of the world, now always means power outages. And power outages always mean that food will be spoiling in refrigerators, people who only have electricity will be unable to cook or heat, and those with wells might not be able to use water for bathing or flushing toilets. We, fortunately, have thought of all the alternatives and have a generator in the case of power outages. And, we heat with wood so we are always cozy and warm. so far from the main city centers we are always the last to have our roads plowed and our power restored. The roads today are very dangerous and California Highway Patrol is not allowing cars without chains AND 4 WD to pass on certain sections of the highway. This included OUR highway today so we had to turn around and drive an alternate route. Just part of winter in the foothills. It beats living in the city and having to fight traffic and noisy neighbors though.
My daughters live next to each other. They are twins who have married brothers. Is it just because they are twins that they share everything and are best friends? I think this is part of it but then I live next to my sister and we share quite a bit also. Sure, there are times when we all disagree about things but when "the snow flies" and we need each other, we are there for each other. Best friends. Sisters. Brothers. Uncles and Aunts. We help each other and are there for each other. You can't ask for anything better.
Here's Uncle Joel and Natalie with "Frosty". We all had fun making him yesterday and he will be the last remnant of the fallen snow once the rains begin to fall again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


This little guy is one of my favorite ornaments. Whimsical. And it has one of my favorite components: a heart. I have a huge collection of heart related items. Anyone that knows me, knows that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I say exactly what I feel because really, that is all that I have: my feelings. My feelings are at the core of everything I think, say and do.

"Go to your bosom; knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know." William Shakespeare

Michael Patrick King, who wrote the Sex and the City series said it best in the episode I heart NY, 2002:
"Seasons change, so do cities. People come into your life and people go, but it's comforting to know: the ones you love are always in your heart and if your're very lucky, a plane ride away."

Here's to all the people I love. I am reminded, especially at this season, how very important they all are to me. And, lucky for me, they are either a car ride or a plane ride away. And the phone comes in pretty handy too. There is nothing like hearing the voice of someone you love on the other end of the receiver.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


This piece is one of the first pieces I ever sold. I was invited to participate in a gallery show for Father's Day and decided to make this. For me, it holds lots of special meanings. I'm not sure the person who purchased it actually knew what I had in mind when I made it. He probably just purchased it because he liked the looks of it and because it was inexpensive. Whatever the reason, it seems that I would like to talk about the meaning in this post.

Quite often I am asked (about my art) "What does it mean" or "What did you mean when you made this". Once my Aunt even said to me "What were you thinking when you made it?" Now, if that is a loaded question, I don't know what is. That question could have meant just the obvious: what was I thinking (as in what was my process, how did I come about to put the elements together, etc.) or what was I thinking, as if it took a warped kind of mind to produce such an object. (She was not talking about this piece but one that hangs at my daughter's house in the dining room. I guess it looks "suggestive".)

Sometimes after I have made something I ask my husband "Do you like it?" and most often his response to me is: "It's nice but what does it mean?" I sometimes get offended by that question because it should mean whatever you want it to mean to you. Each person sees different things in different works of art and it shouldn't have to be up to the artist to explain the "deeper" meanings. However, I am going to divulge a few of the meanings of "Daddy's Tie".

Daddy's Tie is made up of many different strips of colored fabric, torn rough and sewn down to the paper using my treadle sewing machine. Nothing like "going green" when you produce art, right? The paper background was cut from a tracing of a Chinese food take-out box. I opened the box up and traced around it on to the paper. It is easy for my treadle to sew through multiple layers of cloth and paper. Sometimes I break a needle but I just replace it and keep on peddling!

I scanned quite a few different images and picked out the ones that seemed most appropriate and ones that would fit the piece. In Daddy's Tie there is an image of my father in his Air force uniform standing in front of his plane. There is also an image of the blueprints from the house that he built for us on Henry Lane. He was a painting contractor and had lots of talent in different trades. Also, being a painting contractor he knew many different men who were in different trades themselves so I'm sure a lot of work was bartered or received in friendship. People used to do that a lot: trade labor. I'm not sure it happens as much now as it used to. Anyway, back to the images. There is also an image of a rope that has been tied in the shape of a noose. This is where the "real" meaning comes in for me.

My father committed suicide by hanging himself from the rafters in the hallway when I was seven. It was important for me to make this piece of art because it helped me work through some of the feelings I had about why he might have done this and where. That is why the blueprints are in the center of the piece and they are circled with orange thread many times. This is like "ground zero" in my mind. This is where it happened. The noose: well, yes, it was Daddy's "Tie". Only instead of looking beautiful on his neck and being beautiful in color (like the strips of cloth are) this "tie" ended his life. The life he chose to end without a second thought about what he was leaving behind. How sad for him. How sad for me. He has missed so much of my life and what I have accomplished. My husband, my house, my children and grandchildren. What a waste of a life. How selfish really.

I often wonder if the man and woman who bought this piece ever look at it really close and try and imagine what I meant. Would they have bought it then, being so full of sadness and death? I am not sure. My mother couldn't understand why anyone would want something so personal to me. But isn't that the point really? Shouldn't we paint from our hearts? Shouldn't we paint from what we know and feel? If we don't then in my estimation we are just empty shells.

There are other meanings to Daddy's Tie that I haven't divulged. An artist can't give it "all" away. But, we can encourage and mull around different deeper, hidden meanings in our work. Is it only artists who have angst about things? I would say not. But, we have the ability to make into a piece of art something that we feel. This is a wonderful gift, don't you think?

Life is not always filled with happiness. Sure, we can paint happiness too. And we do. But we also paint the unhappiness that we see, feel, or think. We have the ability to make it cohesive.

Do you look at things differently than others? Is there "hidden meaning" in your work? I tend to not use the phrase "hidden" when I speak of my work though. For me, it is just meaning. Everything I do or say or think has a meaning. That is probably what gets me into trouble with everyone that I know. I think too much. And, I speak my mind. My mind is going a thousand miles an hour always. It doesn't allow me to shut down at night much, hence the long, wakeful hours. Am I the only out there who is like this? I tend to think not but who knows. I'll wait for a few comments before I make a final decision on that question.


Saturday, November 28, 2009


I have often said, in my blog and to my friends and family, that words are everything. When you say something, you have to be sure that you are saying what you mean because people have a way of not actually hearing the words but reading into the words something that they think that you have said. I have often cautioned my own mother of this because she says something, I refute it, and then it sounds like it was a falsehood; a lie. It's not so great to accuse your own mother of telling a lie.

So, when I was looking at some of the blogs that I like to follow I came across Kim's blog. Her blog is aptly called: Words on Paper Scraps. She has such a poignant quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. there that just spoke to me exactly of what I have been feeling/saying. It says:

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

That's it exactly. THINGS THAT MATTER.

This has been a really difficult holiday season for me. I have been very emotional too, crying at the drop of a hat and when I read that one of you has suffered a loss. I find myself missing people more this season and wishing that they were here with me. Some of them will never be here again; others have just gone away for a visit. But, nonetheless, I am without them in my presence and it makes it hard for me, experiencing that loss this year.

These people, these things: they MATTER to me otherwise I wouldn't be so upset. I feel the loss and it hurts me deeply. Will it ever be the same again? I wonder. To me, some of the losses are forever. They have gone on, passed "over". Some of the losses are only temporary. I have to share (unfortunately) my daughters, their husbands, and my granddaughter with the in-laws. That is understandable and something that can't really be changed. It doesn't make it any easier for me though. I still feel the loss; experience the sadness that I am left with here at home. Some of the losses are new to me this year. Invitations not being proffered despite what the outcome might be. These MATTER. They sting.

Words. Words are all I have at this time. Words are my friends right now. Words express what I am feeling, what I am experiencing. When I look to see the definition of the word poignant it tells me "words" but these "words" express exactly what is going on inside of me right now.

So, thank you Kim from Words on Paper Scraps. Had I not seen your blog today, I wouldn't have seen the great quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It gave me the opportunity to not be silent about things that matter. And, it gave me a great opportunity to use the photo I took in Grass Valley of the storefront that has the same title. Any other day, I wouldn't have noticed the storefront. But, that day, I did! Because: words matter. Words are everything. And, like I have said before: everything is connected in life. The point is to know it and understand it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009



Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I like finding the similarities in objects--organic and man-made. I also love the shadow-play that happens and when you just focus on the negative spaces, you see a whole new arrangement of elements. In life, everything is related.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Over at The Altered Page there was a posting on Monday, November 16 that caught my eye. It was titled "Face Time". I loved the images that Seth posted and realized that I had a few somewhat similar images of faces myself. Excuse the unprofessional back-drops of muslin curtains and a portion of the television. It was late when I read his post but I wanted to take the photos and download them before I totally got wrapped up in something else. You get the idea, I'm sure. .Another group of heads left over at the end of a semester at Sierra College. There
are no markings on the back side so the artist is unknown to me. I love them though.

This man was made at Sierra College by a student when I was working there. At the end of the semester I was allowed to take anything that I wanted if it wasn't picked up. It was always like Christmas at the end of the Fall season. I have lots and lots of "seconds" now. This guy is actually faceless---just the mere shape of his face exists. On the bottom it says: mystery. I'm not sure if it refers to the glaze he/she chose or if that is the title of the piece.
These heads came to me from an antique store in town. Mark A. Smith, who runs Jeep Jamboree, USA here (and they are all over the world too) brought these back on a trip he made to The Darien Gap. I think that they might have been Colombian in origin, I'm not sure. But, I love them. You can read about Mark's adventures in a book he has written called "Driven by a Dream". Mark and his team drove 400 km (250 miles)in 1978-1979. They drove this stretch of the gap in 30 days using five stock Jeep CJ-7's. They traveled many miles up the Atrato River via barges. He brought back a huge collection of artifacts from his trip. Mark in in his mid-to-late 80's now. What an exciting life he has had.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Just because today seems to be such a sad day for so many of my blog friends, I feel that it is necessary for me to write this evening. Nina, over at Ornamental is missing the home of her childhood and the eventual loss of her parents. My blog friend, Melanie "Heart" at Secret notebooks, Wild Pages is missing her Mom and her eventual loss.

It seems to me, more and more, that a common thread seems to run through these places we frequent called Blogs. These people become our friends, our kindred spirits. We love with them, we celebrate with them, we take them into our homes and into our hearts.

Tonight, I too, am feeling the sadness that many of you are feeling, only in my own way. Two years ago my very dearest friend since I was 13 years old, passed away. She was the mother of my friend and she was just as close to me in many ways (and sometimes more ways) than my own friend. We had a common bond; an understanding.

She was a tough person, surviving cancer for many years and hardly ever complaining about it either. She lived into her 80's, a very long life but it was a struggle. Her husband died when I was in my early 20's and she lived all those years as an independent woman. She was self-assured and knew what she liked and didn't like about things and people. And, she was usually "right on" about her feelings about someone. She had a way of zoning in on the very heart of a person and could read them well. I trusted her instincts about people. I trusted her.

Lela was a wonderful cook, often sitting up into the wee hours of the night reading cookbooks if she was having difficulty sleeping. She was always trying new recipes and sometimes would surprise me by sending me a copy of one of her latest "finds" in the mail. She knew that I loved mail and would always send me things. Sometimes they were filled with a surprise, sometimes I knew what was in the envelope. But, all the same, I knew it was from Lela and I was going to enjoy it.

Lela also loved to laugh. Sometimes, after she would call me up about something that was bothering her, we would end up talking about old times and we would get to giggling so hard. It didn't take much to rustle up the old memories and get us laughing. I would listen to her and try to offer her comfort but really what helped the most was the giggles. Have you ever laughed so hard you peed your pants? I can't tell you how many times that happened to us. And not always in a place where it didn't matter, let me tell you!!

I know it is a part of life (and eventually death since basically the moment we are born we are headed for dying) but you can't help but miss someone so much once they leave this place we call earth. I can feel that she is with me whenever I need her but there is nothing like actually being able to dial the phone and hear her voice. I talked to Lela at lease once a week (and sometimes more) for years. I lived over 3 hours away and couldn't always get away to visit with her in person, but we spoke on the phone all the time. She would have something bothering her and she needed to talk. I was always there for her and tried to work it out as best as I could on the phone. One time she was mad because her daughter wouldn't answer the phone over the weekend so I called her and relayed the message. It wasn't anything to really get worked up about: she just needed some bananas from the store! But, her daughter wasn't there, she had tried another friend to no avail, and then she called me. I guess she did without those bananas that weekend. We got a big laugh about it in future phone calls. Funny how something that seems so critical at the moment can dissipate after talking to a good friend. I wish she were here more times than not when I need someone to talk to. She understood me. I understood her. It was just that simple.

I told Nina at "Ornamental" that for me, it wasn't the many houses that Lela had that I miss so much now that she is gone. Sure, she had some great houses but what made them great houses was the fact that they had "her" in them. Her furniture could change, her address could change, but we were always comfortable no matter where Lela lived. I wish that there were some magical formula that we were privy to that would "put her in a pumpkin shell and keep her, very well". Peter knew the secret. Why didn't he pass it along to us?

Life is such a mysterious thing. I think writing a blog enhances that mystery, at least for me. I "connect" with people I have never met. I see photos of things that touch them deeply: their art, their families, their animals; the streets and flowers and trees that surround their homes. Yet, I do not know these people personally. I really don't think that matters. We are kindred spirits, on the same quest (or somewhat similar) otherwise we wouldn't be "connecting" to what they are writing about on their blogs.

Is it sad to lose someone? YES! It is very sad. What keeps me going and striving for as much life as I can squeeze out of this sad body is the fact that there are people out there who remind me that just by "connecting" via their blogs I can laugh again. I can cry along with you, too. And, you are there for me in a supportive way. I can feel it. I hear from some of you daily. Some: not so often but I know that you care because you tell me so.

This mystery of life is a strange one. I am happy that I am on the journey that I am though, at this point in my life. There are very few people that understand me the way that Lela did. Very few people that I can laugh with or cry with at the drop of a hat. I feel lucky to have found those of you that I have. I am happy you have invited me into your homes and your lives even though it is a "virtual" visit. That still counts, doesn't it? This virtual visit?? I sure hope so because I need to know that it does. I have come to count on you, as weird as that sounds. You are not too busy to sit down at your desk and write about your problems, your celebrations, your loves and losses. And, I am not too busy to not "answer your phone call".

Lela: I hope that you are listening. I hope that you can hear me thinking about you and writing about you. I miss you very, very much. I think of you always and constantly ask myself: "what would Lela say/do about this?" You made a huge impact on my life and still do. You taught me that it didn't matter what I had, as far as material "things". What mattered most to you were friends and being comfortable with what you chose to do. You were generous to a fault. You once told me all I needed was one GOOD friend. Well, I had that in you, that's for sure! Thank you for finding value in me, too. I was a teenage with no self-esteem and still struggle with that. But, you made me forget that. You praised me for what was good about me. You made me feel important. You made me feel loved and comfortable and always safe. Thank you for being you.

(Please read the next last post where I posted a photo of Lela with her husband Neil when they were very young and in love. This photo sits in my bedroom and is the last thing I see before I fall asleep at night.)









written by Henry Van Dyke, a 19th Century clergyman, poet, religious writer, and United States Minister to the Netherlands.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


When walking out in my yard the other day, I found these pomegranates dangling from the tree. I was surprised because that tree has never had fruit before. This is the second season and it just produced this amount. Not good but still exciting. The little ruby-red morsels are great tossed in a salad or just eaten alone. Granted, they are not easy to get at when you eat them and they have that hard center left after all the juicy goodness is gone, but it brings back memories of my childhood every time I eat one.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday I had to make a dessert for the Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department. They were having an open house and showcasing their training facility which has been built with the help of many local people and their donations. SO...what to bake? Cookies sounded good and then it hit me: WILLOW'S WORLD FAMOUS BIG SOFT GINGER COOKIES would be perfect! So, out came all the ingredients and before I knew it these wonderful cookies were cooling on the rack.

For those of you who haven't tried this recipe: DO! They are soft, chewy, fragrant (but not TOO fragrant) and wonderful. This recipe is a part of my collection now Willow. Thanks so much for sharing it all with us. Isn't the Blog world incredible? It's like reading a magazine except that you don't have to look at all the ads if you don't want to.

If you'd like to try these, here is the recipe for you. Willow said that hers made about 18 large cookies. I used an ice cream scoop for each cookie and they were indeed the size of a golf ball but my recipe made approximately 38. Maybe it was a typo? Anyway, happy eating. I hope that the people touring the training facility are enjoying them but not too much: I'd like my sister to bring back any that weren't eaten!

Willow's World Famous Big Soft Ginger Cookies

4 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup shortening
1 stick (1/2 cup butter), softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup extra sugar for rolling

Combine all dry ingredients and set aside.
Beat the shortening and butter until blended the add the sugar and blend.
Add the eggs and molasses and beat well.
Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture. (I just added to the wet ingredients that I blended in my KitchenAid and continued to blend on low.)
Shape into 2" balls and roll in the sugar.
Bake on an ungreased pan for 11 min. at 350 degrees (I left in about 12 and the cookies cracked nicely. Maybe a difference in oven temperatures.)
Cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes and then transfer to a rack and let cool. Makes about 38 cookies.

Happy eating. I know that you will thoroughly enjoy these. I don't think that you will be able to stop at just one either!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Welcome to our hilltop abode. It is a modest home tucked into the forest and it's cozy. We still have many leaves to rake up but why bother until they have all fallen, right? Oh, I go out occasionally and rake a few but there really is no sense in trying to do it every day. Most days it looks as if it is raining yellow leaves as they go floating down to the damp green below. I often wish that I could capture one of them in the process of falling. The red door is one of three on our house. This one goes to the workshop and the front red door is hidden currently by the storm door to the right of the greenhouse glass. I wish that storm door could be painted red too. Maybe one of these days...B? Could you?
Step into the front yard and look at a few things before you have to leave. I've left the gate open for you. You are welcome to walk around my cottage garden and take a peek. Up there on the deck is a ceramic pot filled with a corkscrew willow. you have one of these at the Manor? If not, you need one. It has the most wonderful, crooked branches that create winter interest once the leaves have all fallen off.
This wonderful hand-made bench was a gift to B and me from our friend Dennis. He makes all sorts of benches and furniture and loves to use old recycled wood. This one has legs made from cedar and the seat is made from redwood slats. I could have more than one of these in my yard and be quite happy.
Here is my green house or sun room. It is in the front of the house and gets southern exposure so all winter long it is cozy warm. Soon, it will be filled with all the plants that are not winter-hardy. I put them outside in the spring and they get a good dose of sunshine and vitamins before having to winter-over.
This guardian woman came to me from an artist at California State University at Sacramento. I love how she is perpetually looking for something. Reminiscent of me. She sits in the front yard and watches over the plants all summer long and in the winter I bring her in to the greenhouse where she has the same job. I bring her in to the safety and warmth of the greenhouse so that she won't crack from freezing. She occupies the same spot in my garden each year. It's as if that space in the yard is just not "right" unless she is there. When I finally bring her inside it is as if I am finally admitting to myself that winter is here.

There are things I enjoy about winter (the sound of the rain hitting the roof, the smell of the wood smoke in the air, the pile of heavy quilts and comforters on my body, the ability to finally wear clothes that are cozy and cover my legs and arms, the warm foods that fill my tummy and warm me from the inside). But then again, there are things that I don't really look forward to. Some of these things are power outages, earlier darkness, rain and gray skies for weeks on end, slippery ice, and my inability to stop eating when my tummy says "full". It is much easier to eat and eat, especially when there are "clothes that are cozy and cover my legs and arms".

I bid you adieu, adios, but not adipose. No-----never adipose. Not unless you have "clothes that are cozy and cover [my] legs and arms".

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


"Now I see the secret of making the best persons-------It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." Walt Whitman

I opened up one of my old books today titled "Rustic Retreats" and in the introduction there was a good description of the rustic retreat. It is written by David and Jeanie Stiles and they say: "The appeal of a rustic retreat or hideaway is universal...It is a refuge where you can meditate, dream, clear your mind of worry, and achieve a degree of tranquility. Today, more than ever, we need to have a place to escape from our high-powered electronic civilization with its hectic pace. A rustic retreat can be a temporary escape from cell phones, fax machines, computers, and beepers."

"...All of these rustic retreats, whether deep in the forest, in an open meadow, high on a mountain or on the water, surround you with the magic of nature and help you to escape from the pressures and tension of everyday life."

This got me to thinking about my own choice. Granted, I call it "rustic" because it is built mostly of wood, with the outside all shingled and the inside almost entirely made of wood too (redwood and pine). But, despite the fact that I call it rustic, the general appeal of living here, from the very beginning, was exactly what the Stiles' speak about in this introduction.

It was always supposed to be an escape from city life. It was always intended to surround us with nature and give us a feeling of tranquility and peace. We love the quiet here. We love the darkness. There are no street lights here. We hear all sorts of creatures here, morning, noon, and night. They are not drowned out by the sound of sirens and cars and the noise that comes along with living in a city. I enjoy my life here in our little corner of the world. It offers me the solace that I need and the ability to be me, in what ever manner I choose.

A side note: I noticed when I opened up this book that it is a Storey book. Melanie of Secret Notebooks-Wild Pages works at Storey books. I love their mission statement:

"The mission of Storey Communications is to serve our customers by publishing practical information that encourages personal independence in harmony with the environment."

No wonder Melanie works there ! What a great thread to be woven through your entire company and employees. If all companies had this mission statement perhaps our country would not be in the shape it is as far as the environment is concerned.


"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I took a Sunday drive with my twin daughters today to one of our favorite spots a little east of where we live. It is an old mining town called Dutch Flat and it has long been a favorite place of mine. I love the unique buildings and the quaint neighborhood there. Today it was even more spectacular because we got to see lots of Fall color. Here on the west coast we are still having mild weather so all the leaves have not coompletely turned yet and we have a long way to go until the trees are bare.
The railroad tracks that run east/west run right along Interstate 80 and you actually have to cross the tracks in order to get into Dutch Flat. If there is a long train making its way toward a destination, one might have to sit at the intersection for quite some time. I got a chuckle when I saw this glove that someone had positioned at the top of one of the signs. I don't know what the "D" stands for but I'm sure there is someone that works on the railroad that could surely tell me. I think it looks like a hand that is waving to someone. Remember the hand signals that we used to make as children when the conductor drove past? There still is something comforting to me in the sound of a train. I guess if the trains ever stop running we will all be in a huge mess.
Here's where we sat while we waited for the train to pass. I walked along the tracks for a bit and found a bunch of railroad spikes that had been tossed aside. My granddaughter was thrilled when I brought one back to her. She had never seen a spike before. I imagine that there is a machine that puts them in now instead of a human being. What hard work that must have been. The history that can be told regarding the railroad and what it has done for our country and the sacrifices that men (and women) have made are incredible. There have been many lives lost building the railroad.
This engine says it all: "BUILDING AMERICA".
I know that this looks like just a bunch of sticks or stumps sticking out of water but maybe if you click on the photo you will be able to really see what it is. Dutch Flat was a huge mining area and this pond is an area that had been mined and then filled up with water. The "sticks or stumps" are the tops of trees, if you can believe it. We were standing way up on the top of a hill and looked down at this vast area, completely filled in with water and could not believe our eyes but when we really looked, we could see complete trees "buried" in the water. What an eerie feeling.
This was the greatest totem pole! Click on the image and you will see just about in the center of it, a hand that has grasped the throat of one of the faces. The expression on the face is not so pleasant either.
This house is one of my most favorite "modern" houses in Dutch Flat. Whomever built it took great pains at making the metal siding at the bottom look as if it has been there forever and has rusted. Actually, it has only been painted to look like rust. The top section is all shingled and then painted this light green color. It almost looks as though it is a house on top of another house because of the roof lines. It is located in a wonderful little open space and there are the most beautiful trees surrounding the open fields.

I can only imagine the wonderful towns, buildings, and people that I could see if I had enough time in my life to travel on the back roads of America. I think that much of the flavor of our country is tucked away in some remote area, just waiting to be viewed. Our country is so rich in history. It would be incredible to be able to hear the stories that go along with these wonderful places from the past. They still live on, just waiting for someone like me to take a Sunday drive and discover the hidden beauty.

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