Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Recently a friend in my book group who is a docent at The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento told me that she would be sitting in front of this painting this week. She described it as "spiritual" and I did some research regarding the painting and found some information about it. Stephen Kaltenbach was a professor at Sacramento State University and also University of California at Davis. He studied with Robert Arneson and William Wiley and "...overlapped with the conceptualist Bruce Nauman's study there." (Cindy Nemser)

"In the late 1960's, Stephen Kaltenbach was at the center of New York's avant-garde and, during the 1070's, achieved acclaim for the arcane ads he ran in Artforum....For all the success as a conceptual artist, Kaltenbach is also known for paintings such as Portrait of My Father. In a California barn, the artist labored for seven years over this testament to life, love, and the loss confronting us all. That his pursuit was spiritual is evident in the manner by which light and color permeates such intertwining arabesque and intersection with whisker, brow, and pore. The subject is returning to the light from which he came in a vision of infinity and the rightness of nature. While a phtotgraph provided its basis, this portrait is far removed from the cool detachment of the Photorealists due to Kaltenbach's prolonged engagement. Kaltenbach's sole aim was to celebrate the human bond and make a memorial to his father that only he could create."

From Cindy Nemser, "An Interview with Stephen Kaltenbach," Artforum, 9, no. 3 (November 1970): 47-53

The painting is acrylic on canvas and measures 114 inches X 170 3/4 inches. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Another one of those photos I received in my email. It says:"Balcony floor 103 in Chicago"

And this one: "From the outside it looks like this"
One of my fears (and I have many) is a fear of heights. Fear of snakes, fear of dying, fear of flying, and on and on. I know they say the best way to get rid of your fears is to face them head-on. And I am trying, believe me. The older I get, the closer I am getting to that second one: fear of dying. And that old saying "there is nothing to fear but fear itself" is so true. Yet, I'm not so sure if I would climb up to the floor 103 and stand on this balcony. Would you? Isn't Chicago called "the windy city?" And doesn't wind make buildings sway?? I'm not so sure about this "facing it head-on" idea.  But, how do I make piece with myself and my "unique expression" in this world?

In reading "Awakening Joy" last week I read a passage about Agnes de Mille relating a conversation she had with Martha Graham in her book "The Life and Work of Martha Graham." It goes like this:

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares to other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open."

If I can understand in my older age that there are many attempts in my life to run away from the feeling of emptiness, then I can repair what is in my background. Self-judgments, fears, emptiness, loneliness...these are all aspects that contribute to the fears. Things I do to compensate for them are destructive . And running away from them doesn't make them go away.

"Happiness cannot be found through great effort and willpower but is already there in relaxation and letting go."    -----Lama Gendun Rinpoche

Friday, February 24, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012


"Unique geological phenomenon known as Danxia landform can be observed in several places in China. This example is located in Zhangye, Province of Gansu. The color is the result of an accumulation for millions of years of red sandstone and other rocks."
This is another email attachment I received and do not know who to attribute the photo to. I hope I do not offend whomever has taken this wonderful group of photos that I received by posting but somehow a very artistic group has reached my email and I feel like sharing with those of you who have not seen them. Sometimes, as with lots of "forwards" they make the rounds and everyone sees them. I hope I do not bore you with this.

Isn't nature amazing? The things that are here on earth right in front of us are almost as amazing as something that is created digitally for a movie. Photos like this make me think of movies like Avatar, where the colors were so brilliant.

How grateful I am this Thursday to have eyes. It seems like such a simple thing that many people take for granted and don't acknowledge every day. But what would my (your) world be like if you could not see? Think of all the ways that eyesight impacts so many aspects of your life. It makes me think of gardening, driving, sewing, crocheting, painting, eating, dressing, writing, and on and on,.

It is a powerful thing to acknowledge things that we so often take advantage of. I have been listing 5 things each day and sharing them with my friend in Queensland. Some days it is a struggle to think of 5 things, believe me. But, if I concentrate on the small things in my life that might not be there, it is a lot easier. I am taking time this Thursday to be Thankful. For you, for me, for all the small intricacies in life that make up the whole. And the beauty that they all provide to the universe and to each person individually.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I don't know who to credit for my header photo. I received an email with a bunch of photos that were incredible and this one said that it was: "A statue created by Bruno Catalano, located in France". I wish that I could give credit to the person who shot the photo though. The is my disclaimer that I have not.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Yesterday I attended two memorial services for friends that have made their transitions. At noon yesterday, there was a standing-room only memorial for out dear friend Kelly. She was taken from us too soon, that's for sure, but she fought a valiant fight. She was loved by so many people in our community, had an infectious laugh and smile, and was a heck of a soft-ball player and coach. She will be missed greatly especially by her family. 

Her husband read a poem that he found in her wallet and the first and last lines are as follows: 

If tomorrow starts without me,
And I'm not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
all filled with tears for me.
When tomorrow starts without me,
Don't think we're far apart,
For every time you think of me,
I'm right here, in your heart.

There wasn't a dry eye in the building. And you will always be with us in our hearts!

At 4 PM I attended another memorial service for a friend that I worked with while I was attending college. Sandy was such a talented person and so intelligent. She had a love for creating and at one point her clothing was picked up by Nordstrom's to be sold in their stores. She made beautiful greeting cards and isn't it funny that we worked at Hallmark together. Sandy's garden was always a showplace too. I think that I loved her talent in the garden with her flowers the best. She had such a lovely view from her backyard of a far-away place. Sandy...you too, will be loved and missed by friends and family. I know that wherever you are the gardens will be well tended.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"I AM" - Official Trailer

Friday night we watched this movie. I highly recommend it. It will change your focus.

Friday, February 17, 2012



Thanks to my granddaughter, Natalie for making this. Her Mom sent it in an attachment so that I could view it and I forgot to give her the credit. Thanks, C, for reminding me!!! Natalie is only 6!!!

Emmanuel Kelly The X Factor 2011 Auditions Emmanuel Kelly FULL

Today, a friend sent this to me in an email. It brought tears to my eyes and really made me think about what is important in life. I hope that Emmanuel Kelly will do the same for you! Please watch!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Here's another art quilt that I took a photo of. You can see that this person received a ribbon (there on the bottom right almost out of the photo) so clearly it was really appreciated. Being a quilter myself I realize the hours that go in to making something like this. I'm never sure if those who do not quilt realize how much work exactly goes into creating these kinds of works.

First you have to have the idea, either a photo or a painting or drawn free-hand. Then, you have to make the pattern and usually each piece has many, many patterns. In these trees for example, there are many shades of brown and each shade represents a pattern piece. Some are hand-sewn, some are machine stitched but each represents hours upon hours of time.

And, on top of the actual picture that is created, there is quilting done to enhance the work itself. It is really quite an art to accomplish.

I am always quite impressed by the compositions of the pieces themselves. Good quilting skills are absolutely necessary to creating a good art quilt but more important is the composition. Without proper placement of the objects themselves the interest would not be there to draw in the viewer. And that takes a special eye to see what works. An artist's eye.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Last week The Folsom Quilt and Fiber Guild held their annual quilt show in Folsom, California. I was most interested in viewing the "art quilts" that the guild is quite famous for and so as I walked through I snapped a few photos of things that I was impressed with. My header is an example of some of the quilts that I photographed.

The header is inspired by Wayne Thiebaud's painting of the Sacramento Delta. The group that made it had "a slice" challenge which meant that they had to cut it into three pieces and each person created one "slice".  Amazing work, especially if you are familiar with Wayne Thiebaud's work. He is quite an extraordinary painter himself. There was another one that was inspired by "River and Farms".

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Today, I received this poster along with a newsletter of sorts from Patti Digh. Patti is the author of many books including one titled "Love is a Verb". Patti lives in Asheville, North Carolina, a place close to my heart. And because a verb is "an action word" what a better way to make something happen than by taking this action: loving.

It's always easier to put the blame on someone else for what has happened in ones life but today, I am doing what Patti says and taking action in regards to love. I am reaching out to anyone in my past that I have harmed and not asking for forgiveness or to fix things; I am only saying "I love you." I think that the Beatle's had it right when they said in their song "All you need is love". And as Patti says here: "When in doubt, love." Because in the end all the cars, all the money, all the clothes and jewelry, all the land and homes, all the boats and trailers, all the fancy wine in the fancy wine cellar, all the steaks in the freezer won't matter. All we are left with is LOVE. So, I am taking advantage of this day where love is honored and money is spent showing others by buying cards and flowers. I am taking this moment with all I have really: my words. And I am saying "I love you." "Forever".


Today, Valentine's Day has more of a special meaning to me than in past years. Valentine's Day is a day to express love to those you care about and let them know how much they mean to you. Valentine's Day is celebrated with red and pink boxes of candy. You will see lots of red roses and flowers in all shades of red too. When you think of Valentine's Day, the color red comes to mind.

But this year, when I think of RED, I will think of my friend Mary and the peach tree that I planted in her honor the day of her Memorial Service.

Bill and I did not attend her Memorial service. We chose to stay at home and honor Mary in our own way. And that Saturday morning from 10-2 our thoughts were with her family and friends that chose to attend and celebrate her life.

During the hours of ten and two I was at our local Home Depot purchasing the peach tree called Red Haven. I loved the name of it since the word "haven" means a place of safety. Red has always been one of my favorite colors and has a feeling of warmth and intense emotion. Every time I pick a peach from this tree in the future, I will remember my friend Mary. The tree will also serve as a reminder to me of my friend Lela's birthday, Feb. 3. Lela too, has made her transition.

So, all wrapped up into one wonderful tree I have Lela's birthday (Feb. 3), Mary's Memorial (Feb. 4), and Mary's birthday (Feb. 5). Haven: A place offering favorable opportunities or conditions. Just in time for Valentine's Day and LOVE.

Monday, February 13, 2012


This is a photo of my desk. It sits in front of a window that looks out to my front porch and the meadow and trees in the distance. I love this view. I love sitting here and looking at all the wonderful blogs that I follow (and sometimes new ones too!). And, it was sitting at this desk that I found the blog Art in Red Wagons. You can see the package that I ordered from her and received in the mail this morning. Was I overjoyed! There is nothing like receiving a wonderful package in the mail...

And it's even all that much better when it comes wrapped and decorated just like this! I have been collecting art from different blogs for quite some time. I love going over to their Etsy sites and seeing what they have to offer. I feel like it does a few things (and maybe even more)...it allows me to decorate my walls with wonderful, handmade art and it allows me to support my fellow artists. Artists work long and hard for what they do and never receive the proper amount of money that they really deserve. But, most do it out of love. And you can't put a price on love!

Here's the watercolor that I received in the mail along with her card tucked up there in the corner. That card is a work of art too! This piece was produced at Stocker Farms Produce Stand in Snohomish, Washington. Apparently Kim goes there in her car and does a watercolor each day. I'm not sure if she sits in her car and does them or if she sits inside the produce stand. But, I just thought it was so wonderful. I love the trees and the sky. And it's going to look spectacular on one of my walls as soon as I get a chance to frame it. You can visit Kim at three different blogs. (1) milepost7@comcast.net (2) artinredwagons.blogspot.com and (3) wordsonpaperscraps.blogspot.com  And this is a young mom with children!!! How does she have time to garden, to make art, to contribute to three blogs that are fantastic and creative,  to run children around and still do what needs to be done the rest of the time? I am in awe!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I had a different perspective on what a grandmother was then. I was a young child; everything was play. Swimming, running, digging in the dirt...they were all part of my days as a child.

My grandmother was a wonderful woman. I never remember her EVER yelling at me. There were always just moments of happiness; of feeling safe. She loved to cook, to garden, to sew (although her cooking style was not gourmet it always tasted good.) She was the only grandmother I ever knew. My paternal grandmother died in childbirth so not even my father had the advantage of growing up with a mother.

Memories are funny things aren't they? They take you back to that exact moment in time. When I look at this picture I remember what the sun felt like on my skin. I remember what the sand felt like under my toes. I remember that I was frightened of the giant body of water (an alpine lake). I remember camping and getting dirty, the smell of the wood smoke, the taste of the food, the smell of the canvas tent.

I love all those memories, just like I love the memories of all the other moments I spent with my grandmother. She lived right next door to me and I spent lots of time with her. When she moved up to "the country", I spent every weekend with her and my grandfather. Sweet childhood memories. Safe memories. Happy memories. There was never a moment where I did not feel safe. Ever. I always knew I could trust her to be there for me, to guide me, to show me what was important to her.

That's me peering out from that towel, knees bent, leaning slightly to one side, happy smile on my face. That's me feeling loved, feeling safe, feeling warm and secure. I wish that I could go back in time some days. Just for a day. Just for the opportunity to tell her how much she meant to me and to show her that she paved the way for me to be (hopefully) the kind of grandmother to my grandchildren that she was to me.

I guess I do get a second chance. I get to pass these feelings on to another generation, create new memories in someone Else's minds eye, keep someone else safe, teach someone else what I have learned and what I think about things. Life is such a wonderful thing! It offers us such blessings over and over each day...there for the taking, there without even having to ask. When we are mindful, each single moment of each day becomes an opportunity to share the wonders of our lives.

I am reminded of a story of Thich Nhat Hanh from a book called "Peace in Every Step" and how he tells of his experience of washing dishes. He says that "once you are standing in front of the sink with your sleeves rolled up and your hands in warm water, it really is quite pleasant." Perhaps this is what I feel when I do laundry or spend time cleaning the floors. I do it because it is necessary but there is also a part of me that enjoys the process (most days...I admit some days I am a bit resentful of the dirty dog footprints!) I used to watch my grandmother hang out laundry on a line between her house and mine...sheets white-as-white could be, everything lined up in order...socks with socks, sheets with sheets, shirts hung upside down so the sleeves or shoulders would not get creases. These were things that I remember fondly, just like all the rest of the moments spent with her.

Perhaps that is why I called her GRAND mother...she was the BEST!



Time was enough
(at least then).
Now, time is just

Holding up
crystal shining
Love waits
frozen in time.

Where is it that
there is time for
"loafing or balderdash"?

Did I pause to notice?
Wondrous experience!
It's time...NOW!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


"Forgiveness does not change the past, but it changes the present. Forgiveness means that even though you are wounded, you choose to hurt and suffer less. Forgiveness is for you and no one else. You can forgive and rejoin a relationship or forgive and never speak to the person again."
                                          ----Dr. Fred Luskin, Author of Forgive for Good

Saturday, February 4, 2012


A while back, I was looking at Sharon Lovejoy's blog post about what happiness was. Sharon is an artist, a gardener, a wonderful cook, and and all around wonderful person. She hosts The Grimy Hands Club that you see on my sidebar. I am always inspired by what I read at Sharon's blog, both when she is in California, and when she is in Maine. I love her design sensibility, her lovely studio where she creates wonderful books, and I especially love her gardening ideas. Living in southern California she is lucky to be able to have things blooming right now that I have to wait a few months for, living in northern California where it tends to be a bit colder.

But this post, in particular, appealed to me and was a bit of synchronicity once again because my book group is studying the book "Awakening Joy" which I have mentioned several times in the past. In there, on page 72, is a section that is titled "The Benefits of Gratitude" and the author quotes UC Davis psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough in their research regarding this topic. Sharon, by coincidence (or maybe not???) received a journal from a friend and inside was the above paper. I find it so interesting when things link up like this for me. There are no coincidences in life; I am positive of this.

Last week, when I was having a bad night and unable to sleep because of some deep emotional pain I was going through, I stopped and picked up the book and read the entire chapter "Finding Joy in Difficult Times". A quote that resonated with me was this "No one can escape death and unhappiness. If people expect only happiness in life, they will be disappointed." And this quote: "Trying to avoid or deny an emotion locks it in. Not resisting the pain of negative states of mind is an act of bravery that allows them to dissolve." So, I got up from reading the chapter and typed an email to the person to whom I was experiencing the pain from and wrote all the things that I was grateful to her for. I hoped it helped her. I know that it helped me.

But, getting back to the topic of what happiness is and synchronicity, here again, I was reading one of my friend's blogs "Life is Like a Box of Chocolates". and she had posted that she had chosen the word "Live" as her word for the year 2012. And not because she wasn't living or didn't have things in her life that she was thankful for, but because she wanted to change some things in her life and she wanted to be more grateful for the small things in life that go unnoticed most often. (I am paraphrasing here...I hope that I got it correct. If not, correct me Kim.). Anyway...I wrote to her because in the book "Awakening Joy" James Baraz suggests  that every time you find yourself complaining or worrying, you should add on this simple phrase: "...and my life is really blessed." He also suggests employing an ally to keep you on track..."Your partner, child, or Joy Buddy."  Aha!!! This rang true to me. And so, I contacted Kim and asked her if she would be willing to write out 5 simple things each day with no pressure, no expectations to do it or not, just a person to check in with that is unconditional.

And guess what? She thought it was a great idea and we have been sending 5 simple little gratitude lists to each other (almost) every day. There have been days when you are so busy that you just fall into bed and forget to zip off the email. No problem. No expectations. Just joy! 

And, as James Baraz says on page 75 "If appreciation and gratitude feel so good and lead directly to joy, why aren't we going around all of the time counting our blessings? Because, as with other wholesome states, it takes practice to get in the gratitude habit. But even putting a little time into it can have a significant impact on your level of well-being." The choice is ours!! 

Kim: I am so grateful for your friendship and your willingness to walk with me on this journey. I am happy to call you my "Joy Buddy" and I look forward to all the benefits that this will bring the both of us at the end of the year. I am grateful that you and I have committed to do this and grateful for the ability to look at the end of the day and find the small things that really make the difference in my life. (sometimes just the fact that I have ears to hear the blackbirds in the trees!!!)  AND MY LIFE IS REALLY BLESSED!!!

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