Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Every year since I was in my early twenties, my friend at the time, Alice and I used to have a bet who would be the first to hear (or see) the birds flying south. Each year we would each try to be the first one to call the other and say "I saw them". That went on for years and years and it got to be a real competition with the two of us too.

Alice moved away to a town much farther north in California than I am located here. I would imagine being farther north one would see them that much sooner. But Alice and I lost touch years ago after she moved and I haven't talked to her since. That doesn't mean that I still don't think about her...or the competition between the two of us both Fall and Spring when the birds fly in either direction to go either north or south.

Today, as I was sitting outside on the back deck enjoying my vacation and some quiet time, I heard their distant call in the air. I ran inside and got my camera and this was about as good a photo as I could get spur of the moment. But, who cares? Just having the photo helps me mark the day...September 26, 2012...when I first heard the sounds of what has become known to me as a distant reminder of the up-coming season. These were the first of the season for me. Perhaps there have been others who arrived earlier but as far as I can tell (or hear) these were the first of many more to follow.

Happy First-of -the-Season, Alice. Did I win this year or did you? I guess I'll never know. In my mind, I won (until proven differently).

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I love this time of year!! I can feel it coming for weeks before it actually officially arrives, but Autumn and all it brings with it is one of my most favorite times of the year.

Yesterday, there were so many things to choose from I had a hard time deciding which to participate in and which to bypass. But the Pet Parade at The Flower Farm is always so special that I had to take a trip down there with my camera in hand and snap a few photos of the great animals.

Some people might object to dressing up animals but looking at most of these animals yesterday, I don't think any of these minded it one bit! There was a black cat with a chicken hat on. Cats and birds don't usually get along so well. Not so yesterday!

Annie and John Bowler's dog loves to get dressed up. Annie told me that she sits on the counter-top just waiting to be dressed and dances and parades around as if she is a real show dog.

This great black and white dog didn't mind a bit either, as far as I could tell. I never noticed her shaking her head to rid herself of the hat nor pulling on  the leash to get away. Somehow I think they know they are dressed up and "looking good". This dog is the "Honey Boo Boo" of the parade I think.

After I left the Pet Parade I stopped by the Farmer's Market that happens weekly in town and noticed this Emu in the back of a horse trailer. It was more than happy to have me take its photo. It was fun to see this great face appear out the side of the trailer just as I was walking by. It's definitely not a sight you see everyday, even if you live in the country.

Since it was the Autumnal Equinox, the Spirit Drum Circle was held at Eden Valley Cottage just down the road from where I live. It was great to get together with a group of like-minded people, chant, drum, sing songs, tell stories, and sit by a camp fire. Eden Valley Cottage is one of the most spiritual places and always feels so blessed and special when you are there. A calm passes over you as you walk, drum in hand, over the wooden bridge toward the camp fire and greet the rest of the circle. We passed around the Talking Stick and each of us was allowed to say what was on our minds and our hearts. I felt truly blessed to be in the presence of such wonderful people. I am looking forward to the Winter Solstice in December. 

This time of year---the Equinox---is certainly a special time of year. I love that the root of the word stands for equality, for balance, for tranquility of mind or mood. 

Our wish at the campfire was for equality for all human beings, for love and compassion to all, for health and happiness for all. It is good to be in the presence of people who want to celebrate the moon, the stars (campfires in the sky of our ancestors), the frogs who seem to be developing a resistance to what is plaguing their existence, the crickets whose voice was so prominent in the background, the sacred owl, and LOVE. 

"Tell me, what is it that you plan to do 
With your one wild and precious life?"

Mary Oliver  "The Summer Day"

Monday, September 17, 2012


Recently, I was looking at all the blogs that I follow when I happened upon "Art in Red Wagons" blog. And there she was...Martha...just waiting for me.

Now, back in high school my maiden name was Buthman. It was pronounced "Booth" not "But" but I rarely heard it pronounced properly in those days. My cousin, Gary, (who lives in Santa Cruz and has two boys who both surf and whose pictures I have posted here) did it right when he made the last name a nickname and spells it "Boothy". Now everyone he knows pronounced it correctly.  But that wasn't the case when I was in school.

My sister is eleven months younger than I am and was in a grade behind me in school. But we both hung out with basically the same friends or at least some of our friends overlapped a bit. I got so sick of hearing it mis-pronounced that I used to preface it with "It's Buthman...rhymes with Ruth...she's Bertha, I'm Martha". And so that last part stuck. Forever we have been known as Bertha and Martha to each other. So, when Kim posted a photo of her latest works of art (matchboxes that she hand-decorates) I just had to send away for the one that had the story about Martha on the inside.

According to Kim, that phrase "pull up your socks Martha" is one that speaks to getting some backbone, standing up for yourself, speaking your mind so-to-speak. At least that is what I remember, maybe I'm wrong. But no matter what it actually means, I loved this little story in a box. And so it sits, on my mantle, just like you see it here next to my hand-carved little men. And I am old enough to remember having worn garters on my nylon stockings! What a pain in the "you-know-what" they were! But that was all we had. And that was just in the 60's. Not so long ago really. We had really great music but we were not that advanced on so many other levels.

So, thank you Kim for all your hard work and for sharing your work with the public. You can look at her blog at I think that you will enjoy her beautiful photography, her beautiful water-colors, and her great ideas for so many other things. She has an Etsy shop too. Talented lady! You should see today's post of some sweet little knitted crowns she made for two lucky little babies! Where do people who have small children like Kim get all these ideas AND time to make them. I must be doing something wrong! It's all I can do to post on this blog occasionally.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Recently, I became a member of "Team Brilliant", an effort to raise money for John Ptak, the husband of author Patti Digh. John had to undergo some surgery for kidney cancer and unfortunately did not have health insurance. A group was formed to raise $100,000 in 37 days and they did it...they raised that much money and more. It just goes to show you what people can do when they really set their minds to something.

Patti Digh has a blog that is titled "37 days" and that is why they chose that number. You can Google her and find out all about her. She has written many books including the one that I know best "Life is a Verb". I am proud to be a member of "Team Brilliant". John and Patti seem to be going about life-as-usual and have their same great senses of humor. I guess it is all in the attitude, isn't it!!

When I last looked the total was $102,270. Isn't that incredible? But what is sad is that they had to go about this kind of fund-raising in the first place. Where are we as a nation when someone has to go into surgery knowing that they do not have health insurance? Isn't it bad enough having to face the bad news of a diagnosis of carcinoma without the stress of worrying about where the money will come from? No one in our country should go without insurance or the ability to have a surgery if needed. No one. Yet, there are people who want to abolish Obama care. For what reason? I am flabbergasted, gobsmacked, and every other word I can't think of right now as to why Obama care seems like a bad idea to some. Oh well. Hopefully, if one of "them" has to have a much-needed surgery, they will have the resources available to them to raised over $100,000 in 37 days. They might not have the same sense of humor though. Or "Team Brilliant"!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Last Saturday my daughters and I went for a drive so that I could see the art show at Fine Eye Gallery. Along the way, we stopped in at a few shops, one of which is my favorite little garden shop. As I walked around inside, I noticed lots of things that I have at home and commented to one of the customers that I encountered. She commented that we might all have a few of these things but it's definitely the shop's "way" with staging them that makes them so appealing. I agree.

As I walked around the outside I snapped a few photos of things that appealed to me and noticed that "I have that metal rack in my yard", "I have that chair in my yard", "I have that wood cook stove in my yard", etc. Yes...but is it the same? Well, not quite, although I am really working on fine-tuning my yard and the way that I place things so that it does have that appeal to others as well.

Maybe it is as simple as feng shui in the garden. According to what I have been reading, there are eight distinct areas in the yard that will help you achieve maximum benefit from feng shui especially if you use each area for activities related to the part of your life that it governs.

But, maybe it's just as simple as having a good eye or knowing just what feels right. I overheard one of the customers tell her friend that day that this garden exhibited good taste and made junk feel chic. Some people just have a knack for making junk look and feel chic, don't you think? The stuff they collect or have in their homes and gardens is not just run-of-the-mill or trendy. It has patina or rust on it and has a place of honor in the garden. Every item is cherished and made special just by the way it is showcased. I love that old saying that I have heard repeated over and over throughout my life: one man's junk is another man's treasure. And, I find it exactly right.

There also has to be a balance of light and shade in a garden. Light isYang and shade is Yin. In order to have balanced Ch'i in your garden these two need to be balanced as well. Ch'i flows from areas of yin to yang and back again constantly so it needs to keep moving smoothly. Encourage sunlight and provide shade in your garden. I know that I like the way my garden looks early in the day, before the hot sun comes out and washes out all the color. But, it also needs the sunshine to make the flowers grow. If it were all shade then I wouldn't have the benefit of a vegetable garden or bright flowers that like to grow in the sun. I do encourage shade-loving plants on the shady side of my home and I have been planting many varieties of rhododendrons and azeleas in that area. I can't wait until next Spring to see all the colors explode.

Soften a shed with plantings; paint it a pale blue or green to diffuse its functionality. Is a garden structure just ornamental? If so, take care to site it correctly on your property and possibly leave the roof open to let the ch'i flow in and out.

These are all new concepts to me but I am going to take them to heart when I continue to plan my garden in the years to come. I noticed from reading that ch'i likes to move in curves and bends rather than in straight lines. Perhaps this is why I love the maples that I have planted. And the oaks, with their curvy leaves, seem to be situated just right in my garden. They also provide that much needed shade when the sun is at its hottest mid-day. And I just read that I shouldn't leave large areas of flowerbeds empty for several months during winter as this will have a deadening effect on the ch'i in that area and also the part of my life governed by that part of the garden will suffer too. So very interesting! I will plant things have have some winter interest in those beds and allow the bed to have something living instead of remaining empty.

Each day I learn something new. Each year I learn even more. For me, that is the secret to life and what keeps things interesting to me. I never want to get to a point in my life where I feel like I know it all. I want to continue learning new things and growing younger as I am growing older. Is that a paradox? Perhaps to some it might be. But not to me. If it weren't for this grey hair (of which seems to be getting more grey and more thin the older I get) I would swear that I was still 18...OK...maybe 40...but isn't it all relative?? And isn't 60 the new 40?

Saturday, September 1, 2012


The above photo is of a collage from a series entitled "Mandalas" by Douglas De Vivo. I had the opportunity to visit with him today at  the Fine Eye Gallery in Sutter Creek and he described to me his process. We also talked about attending school, what his studio was like, what materials he uses to make his collages, and what his art means to him. In discussing his art we both agreed that there were lots of hidden meanings in our art and underneath the multitude of layers there are also hidden meanings too. Some he remembers, some he doesn't. It's a process. He layers and layers until it feels right. The post card I picked up at his opening says this: 
"My collages are intended to hit people on different levels causing one to be drawn in, engaged, constantly surprised and never able to see it all." "Like the ancient symbols for which they are named, these collages are a metaphor for the complex levels of conscious and unconscious within each of us."

In a book I am reading (The I of the Storm) I found a correlation with what Douglas De Vivo says and this quote: "Quantum physicists assert that in any given moment, infinite possibilities are present. Some go as far as to say that there are infinite universes coexisting. The moment you act as if something is so, the universe of infinite possibilities collapses into one inevitable happenstance. When you look at something and say, 'This is what it is,' you are pouring your creative energy (attention and awareness) into that specific perception. The moment your awareness locks on to one possibility, all other universes collapse."

How we see things comes from what we believe. We live in an unlimited universe where everything is possible. We just have to believe that it is so. When we find ourselves believing in the lack of possibilities, we need to shift our beliefs. It is only difficult because we don't have what it takes at that moment to manage it differently. On page 112, the author (Gary Simmons) offers this advice: "What do I need that I don't have (or didn't have) which would permit me to be present to the judgment, without needing to be right or make the other person wrong? " not reacting to the judgment to make the other person wrong, you have the opportunity to create greater cohesiveness or intimacy when your focus shifts from self-protection to mutuality and shared purpose." 

I am constantly amazed at how I can read something one day, go to an art gallery and see a piece of art and discuss it, and then find some sort of common thread that runs from one thing to the next. And I am always aware that when it is happening it is never by accident. There is always a Higher purpose for what comes "through" for me. I think that is one of our purposes in see the connection and the thread that runs through each one of us. "You live from wholeness when you are connected to life." (p 102) 

Douglas De Vivo's collages display that place "where the viewer can visually peel away layers revealing new and ever-changing stories and perspectives." Simple, isn't it? This complex life we lead is really that simple too. We only need to peel away all the layers in our life that cause us conflict in order to see the situation clearly. We need to understand that "there is nothing that is without movement, without change. Every single thing is either coming into existence, developing, decaying, or going out of existence. Change and movement are the heartbeat of the universe." (p.55)

As I mentioned at the beginning, everything happens to me for a reason, as it does to everyone. Today, I woke up, attended a Tai Chi class for the first time where I was being taught how to find my balance and energy. Then, I drove over to the gallery where Douglas De Vivo's collages had a lesson all their of exploring life in layers on paper. I came home and received a phone call where I was told about "The Four Agreements" based on writings of don Miguel Ruiz. Then, I picked up my book. Again, to quote the book: "Any worthwhile endeavor begins as an idea and ends with an outer accomplishment."
Embrace the possibilities!!