Friday, May 29, 2009


I find it interesting that to me, there is art where I least expect it. While walking to the Oakland Museum, I looked up and saw this modern building but that is not what captured my eye. Instead, it was the image of the older building reflecting in the glass of the modern structure that was the most intriguing for me.

Then, while on our return from the walk to the museum, I glanced up and across the street and saw all this great laundry hanging from a building, right there in the middle of the city. I LOVE hanging laundry and what it says about people: who lives there, their style in clothes, are they doing it to be economical and "green" or out of necessity, and myriad of other social commentaries.

The other image is what I think that I remember from my Art History class in college as being Della Robbia. The entire building is covered with these images which look to be made out of terra cotta and glazed. I would have loved to talk to someone regarding where they were made and by what clay artist.

When we were sitting eating dinner in the Brew Pub across the street from these images I noticed that so many of the buildings in that downtown area were made out of brick. Imagine all the workers that it took to lay all the bricks and mortar for ALL these buildings. And, this street was just a sampling of what the entire city has in terms of bricks buildings. I know that there are many cities across our country that have brick buildings and I am amazed at how labor-intensive they must have been at the time. At ANY time for that matter. I can't imagine that they are very earthquake friendly yet they have withstood many, being on active faults in the Bay Area. Maybe that says something about how things were built long ago. Maybe it is just luck and location.

During the Depression FDR's New Deal provided initiatives to give work to American artists. At the time the "Federal Art Project paid a generous average salary of about $20 a week (a salesclerk at Woolworth's earned only about $11), allowing painter's and sculptors to devote themselves full-time to art and to think of themselves as professionals in a way few had been able to do before 1935" (Art History--Stokstad--Second Edition).

Whatever the case, these objects have found themselves located next to, across from, and around the corner of each other, despite their disparate building materials. Whether made from steel, glass, terra cotta, cloth, brick, or wood, each has its own appeal and importance. Each makes a statement of multiculturalism "without regard to...differences in age, sex, ethnicity, race, religion, or socioeconomic class" (Stokstad).

Thursday, May 28, 2009


This week we went to Oakland, California, which is a departure for us from the country. City life is certainly different than living in the country. It is hard not to compare and contrast the two. Unless I stay in a place longer than one night, I just don't sleep well. I am a creature of habit and need absolute darkness to sleep well and even though I pulled the shades and the curtains, the light from the street still seemed to seep through and land in my eyes. it normal for the garbage collectors to start their rounds at 4 AM? Here in the country they do not arrive until around 6 AM, which seems early to me, especially if I have forgotten to take the can down to the road the night before. If you snooze, you lose, so to speak.

On Tuesday we walked down to Jack London Square and saw the USS Potomac that is in the water there. I have included some photos of it and a small picture of Elvis Presley, who purchased the Potomac at one time. There was also a huge container ship being loaded by a crane operator. What skill it must take to operate that large crane and manipulate the containers (fully loaded and very heavy) on to the ship. They are all stacked up, one on top of the other until the ship is loaded to capacity.

Lots to see in the city, that's for sure. But, I came to realize during this visit that I really don't think that I am cut out to live in the city. I need at least a small plot of land to get my fingers in the dirt and plant living things. I think that I would tend to get bored, even if there were lots of things to see around me. I really don't understand it. There is not much to do here in the country. There are no amazing restaurants within walking distance, there are no art galleries filled to capacity with young, cutting-edge art, there are no stores within walking distance either. But, for some reason I feel comfortable here. I don't mind driving to go see all these things. I guess it makes my life in the country more exciting because I have a really fun destination and I get to return to the peace and quiet.

We have always talked about buying a small townhouse or loft in the city as an alternative place to live. But, I think that I have to be realistic about it: I love the country. I could feel the tension of driving on the freeways in the city dissipate as we got closer to trees, open fields, and watersheds devoid of houses. Who am I trying to kid? I don't think that I am ready to live in a city full of people, cars, and buildings. I need quiet in my life. I need the noise to stop occasionally and in the city, it NEVER stops. There is activity 24 hours a day.

I learned something about myself this week and it was good to finally figure out that the loft experience is just a dream AND that I can go visit that environment any time I feel the urge. That is what is called a vacation. I can VACATE my house for as long as I need to, fill myself up with stimuli, and then come back home and release all that stimuli. It's good to get away yet it's good to come back home.

Dorothy was right: there IS no place like home...there's no place like home...there's no place like....

Sunday, May 24, 2009


When we were on our road trip up north a few weeks ago, we drove through McCloud, a small town that sits right up against the river. I guess someone that really appreciates the gifts of fish that the river gives decided to put a sculpture of a fish in their front yard. It kind of looks like it is upside-down to me, but then again, I don't fish so I wouldn't know right-side-up or upside-down. I just know that I saw it, stopped the car, and shot the photo. I really couldn't even tell you what "kind" of fish this is...trout, salmon? Someone out there probably knows the anatomy of a fish and the variety that it is. Me: I just know that it was a great sculpture and I was happy that I took a detour off Interstate 5 and happened upon it.

When I worked for the County one summer I always took my camera with me because I found so many things out there that people did and unless I had walked up to their yard or driven past their house, I would never have seen any of it.

Here are some of the photos I took of yard art I found out and about that summer. I hope that you enjoy them. (I have even been known to mail the photo back to the owner so that they know how much I appreciated the gift of their art).I think it is important to always carry your camera with you. I kind of feel like I can't leave home without it now because just when I do, I miss a great opportunity.

Did you know that Travelled can be spelled either this way or Traveled? Hmmmm.....I guess it is just one of those words like Gray or Grey. Both are correct. You live and learn!

Friday, May 22, 2009


It's Friday, it's sunny and not too warm outside, and I just scanned this colored pencil drawing that I did once as an assignment in art class. It is not easy to represent clear glass using just colored pencils and ink pens for depth and shadows. But, it was a good assignment and fun to do. Just how do you "draw" a clear bottle or vase so that you can see through it? I think it is all about what you "don't" draw in the piece. You have to be careful to represent the shadows and shading that is there without doing too much and obliterating exactly what it is that you DO want to represent, which is the clarity of the glass and what you can see through it. Like I said: it was a good assignment and fun to do. I really love drawing with colored pencils. There is something soothing about all the layering that you can accomplish with just 3 or 4 colors.

I once had to draw a white egg using only 3 colored pencils: a yellow, a red, and a blue. I noticed over my shoulder that quite a few of the students were actually DRAWING the egg using these 3 colors. What I did was draw AROUND the egg, representing only the shadows and the edge of the egg with these 3 colors. That was also a fun assignment too.

Sometimes I think that it is what we DON'T see that is most important. The lesson comes from observing and experimenting in life. I have a small little book written by Celia Thaxter entitled "An Island Garden". She says: "Like the musician, the painter, the poet, and the rest, the true lover of flowers is born, not made. And he is born to happiness in this vale of tears, to a certain amount of the purest joy that earth can give her children. Joy that is tranquil, innocent, uplifting, unfailing".

So, it is not the destination but the journey that seems important. And, to have your eyes open during the journey takes practice. Some of us have the raw talent and we are born with it but I do believe that if we keep our eyes open we are certain to find the joy that Celia Thaxter speaks of.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Let's Voyage into the New American House"

There are doors
that want to be free
from their hinges to
fly with perfect clouds.

There are windows
that want to be
released from their
frames to run with
the deer through
back country meadows.

There are walls that want to prowl
with the mountains
through the early morning dusk.

There are floors
that want to digest
their furniture into
flowers and trees.

There are roofs
that want to travel
gracefully with
the stars through
circles of darkness.

Richard Brautigan

Saturday, May 16, 2009


These images are all from the Museum in Ft. Jones, in the Scott Valley. Someone went to a lot of work to build this wall with all sorts of rocks and stones. Since I absolutely LOVE rocks and stones (I pick them up everywhere we go and bring them home--I have a huge collection of heart-shaped rocks that I find in my travels) I found it very interesting to look at this wall closely. I don't ever remember this building being there when we lived there, but then, I was younger and probably not interested in walls or buildings then. Funny how your interests change (refine?) as you get older and the simplest things are the things that you can get most excited about. I like that about getting older.

In these photos you will see a Geo cache inside of the millstone. I actually took it out and signed it since I have heard about these Geo caches from people who have GPS instruments in their cars. Also, you will see a big round stone that looks like a bowling ball. Maybe it even is. I'm not quite sure what it is even though I tapped it with my finger and it felt and sounded like a rock. You will also see grinding stones and implements. You can tell I was very interested in all the different stones and the shapes they took via someone's hands. I think it really is a work of art to fit all these stones in and to make an interesting arrangement of them all.

Friday, May 15, 2009


We have returned from our road trip and I am just getting around to posting some of the pictures here. It was a wonderful, spur-or-the-moment trip where my husband woke up and said "Let's go someplace". So, we packed a bag and jumped in the car. We talked on and off about things that seemed important to us. It is good to get in the car and not be interrupted by chores at home or appointments that have to be kept. Best of all, it was spontaneous and we hardly ever do anything spontaneous. It felt good.

So, here is the picture of Mt. Shasta which was in view practically the entire time once we hit I-5 heading north. They say that you can see it from 100 miles away from many different highways. We drove on at least three different highways during our time away (Highway 3, Highway 5, and Highway 89). And, yes, we could see it from all three of those highways once you had a clear shot and the view was not obstructed by a large mountain getting in the way.


There are many myths about Mt. Shasta. Some include stories about the Lemurians, some include stories about Big Foot. The American Indians have their own myths and stories regarding Coyote. I just find the mountain absolutely beautiful and to me it is a spiritual place. Perhaps it is just because it is such a large mountain or perhaps it is because it is a dormant volcano but one cannot help to "feel" something when you look at it.

We used to live over the pass from Mt. Shasta in the Scott Valley, which Highway 3 runs through. This valley is so lush and beautiful and there are many farms that grow alfalfa. You can also find a winery and dairy farms there too. The Scott River flows right in the middle of the valley and is a source of water for all the irrigation that takes place during the growing season.


I remember the first time I saw this valley. I wasn't married yet and my boyfriend at the time was moving there from the San Francisco Bay Area. I followed him in one of his two vehicles. When we arrived at Yreka, I wondered to myself "what does he see in this place". It was high desert and was very brown. There were not many trees, except close to the bottoms of the hills. But, when we drove up over the pass and got to the summit I could see what it was that was calling him there. It was absolutely spectacular! The valley was green far below, there were snow-capped mountains in the distance, and it had a very sleepy atmosphere. I was hooked.


I still find this place beautiful and when I rolled down my window or exited our car on this trip, the smells that I smelled all those many years ago were still the same. I could hear the same birdsong: red-winged blackbirds sitting in the willow trees calling to each other. When I got home and downloaded my pictures, I saw again why we loved it there.


That was many years ago. Things have changed for us in so many ways and we have made a home for ourselves here in the Sierra Nevada Foothills yet something about that place still calls to me. Seeing it again made me want to purchase a small piece of land or a run-down cabin (with or without electricity, I don't care) and just go there for a month at a time. I wonder if I am just nostalgic for my past or is there really something magical about the mountain that is calling me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


B and I each packed a suitcase this morning and loaded them up into the car and hit the road. We are way up north in Yreka, California, land of Mt. Shasta and a place dear to our hearts since we both lived here before we got married and then settled down in the Foothills.

It was good driving around and looking at all the familiar sites although most stores are shut down now and some of the places that we used to know have fallen into disrepair. I guess you "can never go back" like the old saying goes. But, it's good seeing the beautiful scenery and just getting away.

So, no pictures tonight as I forgot to bring the cord to download photos to my computer but I will post some when I return home (if I ever do!). I just might decide to stay on vacation forever. Not a bad idea really. That was supposed to be the plan when I heard the word "retirement" but it simply just has not materialized. And, it was YEARS before what most people consider the time to do that. The best made plans of mice and men, right?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sunday we had a wonderful day at "The Flower Farm Inn and Coffee Shop" in Loomis, California. I had the most wonderful cherry pie, homemade by Patty, and filled with two different kinds of cherries! Delicious! My daughter had a salmon bagel and some potato salad, also homemade. And, to top it all off the weather was beautiful, we were with family, and ended the day at Hanami Sushi in Auburn. I don't think it could have been a better day really.

Natalie was fascinated with the cow mannequin (life-size) that still had her lipstick on from Valentine's Day. This place was filled with families enjoying the day, eating yummy food, and looking at all the beautiful flowers. The chickens were busy laying their eggs in their "gypsy wagon" (former post). We made a day out it and also visited their Koi pond. Any child (and her grandmother!!) would be happy to stay for hours at this wonderful establishment. They must have a sign posted at the roadway that reads: "leave all your troubles behind" or better yet: "happiness awaits".

I am convinced that there are just some places that exist on earth where only good vibes and happiness can exist. A sort-of "happiness vortex" if there is such a thing. I think that I am going to make it my mission to seek out every place I can find that exudes this quality. And in so doing, I will be spreading that feeling exponentially to everyone that I meet and on and on...

Friday, May 8, 2009


I was reading in a "Body and Soul" magazine today that flowers can hasten healing. Apparently a study of patients recovering from surgery discovered that those who had plants in their rooms had less anxiety and fatigue, as well as other benefits such as lower blood pressure and less pain medication. It said that since we evolved in natural settings that a lack of contact with nature "may create tension". This is according to John Davis, Ph.D, Naropa University professor of psychology.

So, it is not just that they look beautiful but they are passing on a healing benefit to us as well. This makes sense to me especially at this time when I have been experiencing tests regarding my thyroid. I have found myself very emotional where I can just break out in tears at the drop of a hat if I allow myself to dwell on the "what ifs". I received my biopsy results on Monday and it looks as if I will have to have surgery. An appointment in being scheduled with a surgeon and I am hoping to postpone it until after I return home from my vacation to the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State. This trip has been planned for over a year and I just do not want to miss it. My doctor seems to think that it will make no difference at all if I wait and so I am taking him for his word.

Anxiety can play havoc on your system, that's for sure. Perhaps that is why I have been focusing so much on flowers, trees, and scenery of late. I knew that these items where making me feel better; I just didn't know that there was a study showing me WHY. Louise Hay, a self-help teacher has a theory that she lives by which is "If it doesn't make her feel good, she doesn't do it anymore". Great advice. And that got me to thinking about blogs in general.

There are some blogs that you go to and they are simply self-promoting and narcissistic. I hate to be rude about it (and I suppose it is also up to the individual to choose which blogs they enjoy and which they don't and certainly, there is room for everything) but they just don't appeal to me. I seem to follow those people who have their pages filled with nourishing thoughts and ideas; they are my "flowers" in the fields of blogs. The good mood that I get from reading these blogs creates a positive flow through me that I take with me throughout my entire day.

I never really gave conscious thought to writing a list of five things that I had noticed that enhanced my day. Sounds that I hear, things that I see, smells that remind me of present and past memories. And taste and touch? Well, those too were always so general to me. Sure, I am aware of how all these senses affect me personally but I never thought about writing them down, as a sort of devotional, a "book of thanks" so to speak. I am so thankful to have found people who have made me more aware of what I should be thankful for each and every moment. It is, most often, the insignificant small things that we take for granted. By giving ourselves these simple, daily pleasures we feed our souls and nourish ourselves.

The photos that I view on a daily basis, the words that I read, allow me to become more in tune with what is really important to me. I think that I am slowly enabling myself to take part in Louise Hay's philosophy of "if it doesn't feel good, don't do it". Pleasure should be a priority, right? All too often, we put ourselves last on the list. Remember back to when we were children? Each day was a discovery of sorts. We never worried about what we were going to do tomorrow or how things would work out. We LIVED TO PLAY. Remember how summer used to feel like it could go on forever? These are all things that we did before life got too hectic and filled with responsibilities.

I say, on this up-coming Mother's Day, we should vow to write a list of things that put a smile on our faces and then do at least one of them every day (if not more). I know that one of the things that will be high on my list is checking in to all my favorite blogs and getting my "fix". After all: it is one of my pleasures that doesn't cost anything, is not complicated and takes up just a bit of my time. This, I think, is time well spent. It is an investment in my sanity and I owe it to myself. Thank you all for making my "happy account" filled to over-flowing. And, Happy Mother's Day to all those women (even if they are not mothers) who create beauty and joy in other's lives. You are giving birth to something so vitally important and for that, you should all be commended.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Down in Loomis, a sleepy country town about 45 minutes from where I live, is a wonderful Bed and Breakfast Inn owned by friends of ours. It is owned and run by a group of three couples who were all school teachers at the school that my children attended grammar school. This has been a dream of theirs for a long time and it finally came true. This place started out as a vacant B&B when they took it over and after many hours of refurbishing and building, it is now up and running and quite an incredible place to visit.

They have built an events center on the property that is always booked for weddings. They also built a coffee shop and re-built the existing nursery where they have not only plants but also gifts. What is really special about this place is that it is community oriented. They host artists there monthly, they have bonfires outside in the evenings, they host Halloween hayrides and Christmas functions, and they have a boccie ball court outside and host "competitions".

This place has really started to catch on with the locals. You can see people there at all times of the day eating big "slabs" of carrot cake (as told to me by the person actually eating the cake!), drinking coffee, sitting outside enjoying the pond and ducks, the flowers that are abundant, and just the warm atmosphere. I can see why this place has caught on: when you are there you feel as though you are family.

I have never lived in a big city town and there are things that I enjoy about both the city and the country. But, I think of either place, if I had to choose, I would have to say country. I miss the family atmosphere that I find lacking when I visit the city. People don't seem as apt to want to engage in conversation when I am in the city. This B&B is someplace in between the two. It is definitely not in a BIG city but it is not totally out-of-the-way in the country. From this place, you can actually GET someplace within fifteen minutes of leaving. Not so where I live. It is a major ordeal to find vegan foods or good yogurts in our local market.

Living here is a bit of a push and pull for me: I love the serenity and quiet but I would also like to be able to get to a Whole Foods Market at the drop of a hat. What the Flower Farm attempts to offer is a bit of both feelings: they have cozy rooms that remind you of yesteryear. They even have chickens (The Gypsy Chicks to be exact) running around the grounds. They have fresh-picked flowers and organic vegetables and a beautiful Koi pond (it used to be a swimming pool but has been filled in with gravel and beautiful plantings and now houses HUGE Koi--quite impressive). You can still sit out by the pool and dip your toes in (if you dare)---you just can't swim! That sure takes care of the pool maintenance, doesn't it?

So, I guess the best thing is to "bloom where you are planted" as I've heard the saying. Enjoy what you have in your own backyard and take advantage of those times that you can get out of town for a day or two or even a week and really soak up all that the place has to offer. Because life is so short, I have to stop wishing that I had something other than what I do and really appreciate what I DO have. There are people worse off than me, certainly. I feel so fortunate to be able to have what I do and also to be able to enjoy what other people have and are willing to share with me. How lucky I am!

Monday, May 4, 2009


In honor of M. Heart from "Secret Notebooks, Wild Pages" I have posted a "self portrait" that I took last summer on our way to our camping trip in Tahoe. I have long been an advocate of the philosophy that "there are no accidents" in life and when I saw her post a few days ago, it so reminded me of mine. I thought that I would post it so that she/others could see the happy accident---the same philosophy I feel---that comes from everyone that I seem to follow daily via their posts. I LOVE SEEING THE COMMON THREAD that runs through all of our posts and I DO believe that there are no accidents in life. We are drawn to a certain person, a certain philosophy, an attraction to a certain type of art, a life-style, a color, and on and on.

It doesn't matter what our ages are, that we live in different parts of the world or different states...we are all the same inside and we are attracted to similar things. This is what keeps me coming back for more. In fact, I think it is precisely our DIFFERENCES in these areas that bonds and attracts simultaneously. We are drawn to people that we can learn from, don't you think? And, I refuse to believe that I am ever going to be too old to learn! I will go "out" kicking and screaming that I have not learned enough yet, have not seen enough yet, have not done enough yet. I think that there will really NEVER be enough time.

Maybe that is exactly what I love about these blogs: that they seem to capture time for me. They show me a brief glimpse of time in someone Else's life that captures my attention and piques my interest. Richard Schilling's "Land Art" does that for me in a different way entirely. In his art, I see pieces of nature that have been altered and his art is there for whatever amount of time it takes for it to be altered again, whether by human force or by nature itself. Time is postponed, however briefly, in the name of art. Isn't that remarkable?

I can find art in the simplest of places. And in so doing, I find art in all of you. Not just the manifestation of the art that you put down on paper, canvas, wood, stone, or whatever medium you choose to use, but the very art of YOU. Each and every one of you are works of art to me. I look at your blogs and get inspiration. I get emotion. I see color and life and love. And that to me is what art is all about. The fulfillment of an idea that has come from deep inside, from "The Bare Bones" as depicted in Leslie Avon-Miller's blog "Textures, Shapes, and Color" (literally and figuratively). You mirror me. I hope I mirror you.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Now, I'm not sure if Michaelangelo meant his David to be viewed like this or not but it certainly is "enlightening" isn't it? It is definitely better viewed from the side and certainly that much better when in the "on" position! I hope it doesn't offend anyone. You never know where you find art...or not!

Friday, May 1, 2009


"In The Line of Duty" is a monotype that I did a few years ago. It speaks to me in more ways than one. I'll let you decide for yourself just exactly what it says to you. That is what art is supposed to do: elicit a response from people; make people question and wonder "why". Not all art "says" the same thing to each person. Some people see things that others don't. Perhaps even the artist never really thought about some of the responses.

Do people still wear aprons I wonder? I have a few but always seem to forget to put it one before I start baking or frying something on the stove that invariably creates a spill or a splash and then...whoops! too late...the stain is there. And sometimes it NEVER comes out. I should remember to put the apron on before the spill or splash but most of the time I am in too much of a hurry. I bet there are ways to get those stains out. Lemon juice and sunshine on a wash line? That's another thing: how many people have wash lines still?

When I was a child we had a wash line that extended from the house porch all the way over to the garage and was attached to a pulley system so you could hang something up, pull the line, and send it out toward the garage. The line was huge so it always would handle an entire load of laundry. Laundry in those days (at least it seems that way to me) was more methodical. Sheets were done on Thursday. Nothing else...just sheets, hung out to dry and came back smelling fresh and clean. Towels were done on another day as well as socks and underwear. Today it seems that everything is either done all on the same day or when I need something in a hurry. No time for the laundry line.

We used to have a line here at our house. I loved seeing all the clothes hanging out there and doing the laundry has never been a chore for me. I find it kind of soothing and actually get in a rhythm about it. I actually could say that I "enjoy" doing laundry. Most people consider it a chore but there is something very zen about it to me. I enjoy the process but miss the fresh outdoors-y smell of my childhood. My Grandmother was even known to iron her sheets. I can remember slipping into one of her guest beds as a child and the pillow slips and sheets were so crisp and cold. You wouldn't find a wrinkle in sight. Maybe she even used starch! It wouldn't surprise me one bit.

Things were different years ago. Now we have washing machines and dryers that offer steam so that the clothes don't wrinkle. I wonder if they can infuse the fresh smell of sunlight on clothes as they do their job? I highly doubt it. Women in those days didn't work outside the home but they sure did work. Does anyone remember wringer washers? I had one once that I bought at a yard sale. It sat outside as a reminder of days gone by. It was white with bright red accents. I used to love to look at that machine. My friend borrowed it once to actually USE and she never returned it. I somehow miss having that piece of nostalgia here but it has long been thrown away.

All these memories remind me just how much my ancestors used to do in their daily routine just to exist. They certainly knew the meaning of "in the line of duty". A part of me wishes that things were less complicated in today's world. Yet, less complication equates to more work wish in turn equates to less time to do the things that I truly enjoy. I guess there are compensations for everything new we choose to embrace. My grandmother certainly never thought about writing on a computer or having her own blog. She barely finished high school. But, she sure knew how to make a great cinnamon roll and she drew up the plans for her own house. She was an incredible gardener, quilter, and seamstress. She just didn't have a diploma to prove how smart she was. She kept a spotless house and I know darn well that she NEVER forgot to wear HER apron!

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