Posts Tagged ‘Creative Every Day’

The Algae Woman


In keeping with my “BLUE”mood, and as Creative Every Day’s BLUE-themed month draws to a close, I have one more item to share – a poem.  After writing  The Algae Woman, it was as if my mind cleared and the mood lifted.  Writing is indeed therapeutic.

The Algae Woman


The Algae Woman


I have become the algae woman.

I’m that person out by the pond every day

As golf carts roll by and the regulars look.

I’ve become the weird one, that woman,

You know, always out in her yard.

What the heck is she doing?


I’ll tell you what she’s doing,

Besides removing algae from the pond.

She’s wondering if she’s old.

She knows she’s the algae woman and doesn’t really care.

Isn’t that a sign of getting old? Or is it just getting careless.


She goes out first thing in the morning in her nightgown

Just to see if there’s any new water lilies.

She figures if a golfer goes by, he won’t even notice it’s a nightgown.

That’s old-person thinking, but at least she’s thinking.

Or she’s careless, or just doesn’t care.


She’s noticing that everything seems like too much trouble.

Is she just old chronologically, or emotionally, or what.

Is she slowing down, or has she chosen to slow down.

There’s a big difference.

But should she care?


Plagued with questions that shouldn’t be asked,

She’s thinking, sorting, observing, saying no thank you.


She’s snipping. Cutting notices from the paper.

Tai chi, yes, she should get back to that.

Concert, yes, she wants to see that.

Drink recipes, she wants to learn umbrella drinks.

Snip snip snip.


The stack of notices sits on the table until finally,

As always, she throws them away.

Why did she cut them out anyhow?

Everything seems like too much trouble.


She stays up until midnight,

But staying out past eight sounds awful.

She doesn’t like to drive at night, but that’s nothing new.

Last year she got lost coming home after dark

On a route she’s driven hundreds of times.

It’s just a whole lot of trouble.

Is it wisdom or age?  Maybe both.

Shooting for wisdom though.

It’s supposed to come with age.

This she cares about.

She thinks about this.


So that’s what she’s doing, that woman by the pond.

She’s pulling out algae.

She’s me.


I’m the algae woman,

But removing algae isn’t as simple as it looks.


Earth, sky and water: the theme is earth


Leah gave us Creative Every Day folks a broad theme for October, because what is not of or connected to the earth?  To start, I’ve added some photos to my web page.  The first three in the Nature Gallery are from Colorado.  It’s funny how I found out about Colorado.  My son-in-law had breathing problems in Bakersfield.  We are only #1 in the country in one of the types of pollution – and he wanted out.  He searched the web for the place with the most clean air days and came up with various cities in Colorado.  So he took Karen and the kids and moved to Paonia, the town without a stop light.

We went to check it out.  I knew generally that Colorado was beautiful but I would bet I’d never have made it there if I didn’t have kids to visit.  There are so many places to see and we always tend to look farther than our own backyards.  Many of us that live in the United States look out of the United States, even though our country has some of the best to offer.  But off we were to Colorado, even ahead of the kids, and now I’ve been three times a year for many years.  Everything is beautiful in that state.  Paonia is on the Western Slope, and the skies are always – ALWAYS – amazing.  The first new photos in the gallery are Colorado skies, and then a quick dusting of snow and frost across the street from Karen’s house.

Last year I did a post – Anatomy of a Small Town Football Game – and if you go back to it and scroll down to the very last photo, you’ll see what I’m talking about.  This is a picture of Hotchkiss High, where the game took place – can you find it?  That’s the view around the high school.  Hard to even conceive of for us Californians.

The other new photos in the Nature Gallery are West Palm Beach in Florida, the sky right here in Kern County, Isabella Lake right here in Kern County, and Pismo Beach.  I’ll put one in here as a teaser.  The ocean in Florida – the colors, the clouds – speechless.

Earth, sky, and water.  The theme is earth.

Take a look at the gallery for yourself.  It’s a good feeling to get stuff going again – even if it is blog posts and new photos on the web.  There should be some amazing photos coming by the end of the month – with any luck – because we will soon be in Maui for a couple of weeks.  So stay tuned.

As long as there’s duct tape, we’re good…


The Creative Every Day theme for October is earth.  Leah, who runs this blog challenge, has a theme every month and tells us all to feel free to ignore it and do what we want.  So far this year, I’ve been outstanding at ignoring the theme.  For October, I wanted to get back into it because my creative life has been stalled for so long now.  We moved in March? Yes.  And that was the end.  So I want to get working again regularly.

Get ready for November when we are supposed to post every single day!  That’s when I joined in last year, and I did it – somehow – in spite of being in Colorado for almost two weeks.  I’ll be there again this November while my daughter has the new baby.  But I WILL do Creative Every Day in spite of taking care of three kids six and under.  Fair warning.  You will be inundated!

For now, however, I am going to try hard to stick to the October theme of earth.  Except that this post is about duct tape.  I suppose there must be a petroleum product somewhere in duct tape and that comes from the earth.  Let’s go with that.

As everyone in the world must be aware of now, our duct tape is not our parent’s duct tape.  One of the things my granddaughter Sophie wanted last year for Christmas was duct tape in bright colors, and as usual I overdid it.  I gave her rolls of duct tape from neon brights to tie-dyed.  And plaids.  Last week, I gave her a couple of rolls of animal print duct tape.  The duct tape people must be overjoyed as their tape moves into dimensions as yet unknown.  It seems to have no limits.

The bunk beds at the cabin now have bright blue duct tape cell phone holders.  Sophie’s made all types of wallets and such, but now she’s into clothing.  I understand there are patterns on the web, but Sophie says they’re too hard to follow, so she does her own.

The dress and belt.  Notice the hair ornament.

The shoes.  She wore them to school.

And the hat.

I can’t wait to see what she makes next.  I should be able to exploit this somehow, but being the most un-entrepreneurial person on the planet, Sophie is safe.  Except I want to talk to her about Christmas…or Thanksgiving.  I’m seeing placemats.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


Before I begin – a note to Creative Every Day participants. The theme for August is FIRE. We were on fire at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and not just because it was roasting and we were toasting in Orlando.  It was magic.

One word:  Butterbeer.  Two words: pumpkin juice.  Three words: The Three Broomsticks.  Four words: Zonkos, Honeydukes, Ollivanders, Platform 9 3/4 (I’m counting that as one word.)  Five words: Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Chocolate Frogs, sneakoscopes.

It’s all there.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then start reading the Harry Potter books instantly.  Now.  This minute. Warning – even if you think you are immune, they will consume you so make sure you don’t have any pressing obligations.

I’ve read them at least seven times.  Each time a new one came out, I started at the beginning again, and then as soon as I finished the new volume, I started it again.

If you do know what I’m talking about, then you know that on June 16th, at Universal Orlando, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened.  If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you know that we were in Florida for a soccer tournament.  Crazy stuff – soccer in West Palm Beach in July.  But since we were so close to Orlando, there was no way we were going to miss Harry Potter world!

So here we are – first evening, still fresh, not fried nor wilted from the heat.  Since we’re going into Harry Potter the following morning, not much can stop us.  So I thought. My daughter Jennifer, and grandkids Joe, Dax, Sarah and Sophie, are heading out to CityWalk for dinner.

Yep, we headed to Margaritaville and had a fantastic dinner.  This isn’t a gimmicky restaurant – it’s a restaurant with fantastic food where the margaritas really pack a punch.  Want your money’s worth? This is your place.

We took a water taxi back to the Royal Pacific Resort where we were staying, determined to be well rested for early admission to Harry Potter.

OK, the photo is from another time, but it is the water taxi.  And I’m in it.

Here we are eating breakfast in The Three Broomsticks. Right about now you should be getting shivers, to think of actually being at The Three Broomsticks.  Our excitement was off the charts.  Mine was, anyhow, and I think the others, especially Sophie, were right there with me.

We drank Butterbeer.  Whatever it is, it’s amazing.  Seems to be a creme soda-type of drink, but it stays foamy right to the end.  I’m glad they didn’t have the calorie count.  Wouldn’t have mattered – we drank as much as we could.

We also drank pumpkin juice, also amazing.  Who would have dreamed that I would be drinking butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks? And don’t try to tell me it’s just make believe.

Before breakfast, we beat it to Hogwarts for the already much-heralded ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

We wanted to beat the lines, but that had a downside – we couldn’t enjoy all the Hogwarts scenes along the way.  We zoomed straight onto that ride.  Once it started, I have no idea what was happening.  We were swooping all over the place – were we really moving, or was it like Soarin’ Over California? There was no way to analyze it because it just went too fast!  Aragog made a big (no pun intended) impression, and the Quiddich pitch was dizzying and dazzling.  The entire ride was dizzying, and though I wanted to go again to take in all the detail, it was all I could do not to throw up.  Too old for these swoopy things.  I’ll just luxuriate in the atmosphere of Hogsmeade.

Yes, we were really there.  We worked hard to appreciate the muted colors and the snow-capped buildings even though it was over 100 degrees in the shade with humidity to match.  Harry Potter World is not large.  Why did they not put it inside a climate-controlled bubble?  It would only take magic, after all.  Dumbledore could have done it in a snap.

You know, it really was God-awful hot.  I made it for most of the morning and went back to the resort.  Jen and the kids lasted longer.  But I didn’t care – I was so entranced that I took the visual image back to the swimming pool and pretended all afternoon.  The above photo is early in the morning – early admission time actually – before crowds.

I went to Ollivanders and bought a wand.  Tip: the line to get in is daunting.  But if you go early, before all the employees are in place, you can walk around back, slip in the door to Dervish and Bangs, and from there slip into Ollivanders.  Did I feel bad circumventing the line?  Not at all.  I felt clever, like Hermione.

Came back out to a puffy sky imitating the snow on the Hogsmeade rooftops.  I did not feel the chill.

I went into Zonkos.  Stop a minute and imagine how it felt to be entering Zonkos.  It felt real! Everyone there wanted to believe and we did.  Tinkerbell would have blown up and popped, there was so much believing going on.  I bought a sneakoscope.  I just desperately needed one. There could be enemies lurking around every corner and now I’ll get warning.

I also bought some Chattering Teeth. Don’t ask me why because I’m sure I could not answer. I just wanted them.

Did I mention the Remembrall?  Don’t want to forget that.

Honeydukes, where I stocked up on Chocolate Frogs, complete with wizarding cards.  And I got some Ton Tongue Toffee for my husband.

Since I’m not too fond of wondering if I am about to get a mouthful of vomit or boogers or pus, I didn’t buy Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans.

We came back in the evening and the following morning and evening, mostly for butterbeer and shopping.  I have many people to buy for.  If you read my post about the trip home, you will know my carry-on was not filled with useful items like nightgowns, toothbrushes, and clean underwear.  It was filled with Chocolate Frogs, butterbeer cups, Ton Tongue Toffee and Chattering Teeth.

Did I mention that you cannot get butterbeer anywhere else than Hogsmeade? And much of the merchandise is not available anywhere else.  Which is as it should be.  One should not be able to buy sneakoscopes or wands just anywhere.  I bought three large stuffed Crookshanks, one Fawkes, one Fluffy, and Scabbers.  If you don’t know what these are, pleaze read the bookz.

I do think a flaw in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is that you cannot go into the Hogwarts Express.  We should be able to sit in compartments, drink pumpkin juice and eat cauldron cakes, and change into our robes.  Another flaw was that I was unable to buy Luna Lovegood’s turnip earrings.  Or were they radishes? I was looking forward to that.  The Quibbler was available, however.

I bought 21 postcards and wrote them right there sitting in The Three Broomsticks.  They are postmarked Hogsmeade.  That’s not something you can get just anywhere.  Consider yourself very privileged, the 21 of you that receive those cards.  Not only postmarked but with a special Harry Potter stamp.

What else can I say to you?  Did I mention how delicious butterbeer is? And that I bought a wand at Ollivanders? Probably. It was just magic.  Being there was magic and real at the same time.  Because in Harry Potter, the magic is real.  The chance to live it was not to be missed – heat, humidity, rain, whatever the elements could throw at us wasn’t enough to dampen the astonishing thrill of really being in Hogsmeade and seeing Hogwarts.  And I owe it all to my granddaughter Sarah, whose AYSO soccer team went to the nationals in Florida.  But if I were you, I wouldn’t wait for someone in your family to have a soccer tournament in Florida.  I’d just go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Preferably in spring, winter or fall.

Finally. At last. Summer has come to the mountains. Bliss.


Finally, at last.

Snow is beautiful.  It’s most beautiful when you have magically been deposited into the cabin with all your stuff, so you can look at and appreciate the stillness and beauty.  It’s not so fun when you have to trudge through the snow, knee-deep, ferrying stuff up the stairs because you can’t get your 4-wheel drive car through the sort-of plowed road.


I remember that Creative Every Day Month’s thene for June is Bliss.  This is bliss – the forest in summer.  That is why I am ecstatic that summer has come to the mountains.  The best part is sitting on the balcony watching the blue jays, who ask for peanuts incessantly and I of course provide them. Once in a while I spot woodpeckers and yesterday saw a white-headed woodpecker for the second time up here.  The hummingbirds come to the feeder after trying to drink from our Chinese lanterns, and the nuthatches go up and down the trees looking for insects.

I was so excited I did an art journal collage page called Finally. At last. (click to make larger)

A walk in the woods

Went for a walk to see what was new out there.  Not much was new, so I had to do something to make the photos interesting.  I took out the color.

In the next photo, the electric and phone lines are crossed.  I used to think how ugly that was and why couldn’t it all be put underground.  Probably I thought that out of ignorance and because my parents were always so critical of anything not esthetically pleasing.  But now that we have a place in the mountains, the lines mean electricity, phones, internet, television.  Plus, I realize the difficulties of doing things up here.  Wires here are good. I like them.

I found an interesting tree- loved the shape.  What I didn’t expect was the background – it looks a little like snow in summer.

I passed a stump.  Then I went back and took three photos.  It’s a good example of point of view – everything depends upon your point of view.  The first looks like a stump, an obstacle to pass.

A few steps further, and a new perspective, it becomes a passage, a way through.

And yet a couple more steps, the same stump becomes a shelter.

The perspective of the passage narrows and you can just imagine taking refuge here.  If you were small.  I used to use examples like this when I was teaching point of view – I miss that part.  The teaching and the kids.  Don’t miss anything else about it.

Finally, I passed a little house that had so many patterns on it and a colorful barrel in front.  So of course, I took a picture.

When I got back to the cabin, I found Tiger and Lily doing what they do best.  (I brought the cats with me this time.)

Yep.  Sleeping in the sun.  For the cats, a blissful activity.

And – since the theme of Creative Every Day month is Bliss, I think you could call these photos bliss.  In fact, just the whole adventure of being here.  Bliss.

Blogging the Bloggers


Lovely day today up at our cabin.  I love being alone – most of the time.  That’s when I get creative.  That is, if I don’t get sluggish –which is always a possibility too.  Today I spent checking in on blogs I enjoy.  I don’t often get the time to do that, which is a ridiculous statement because I’m retired. But still.

Blogging is interesting.  Many say it is a sign of self-absorption.  Maybe for some, but not for the ladies whose blogs I follow.  And interestingly enough, they all seem to be women.  Yes, I pour out my soul with total honesty, throwing details of my life all around the universe as do they.  I’d like to know sometimes who is receiving these scraps of my soul because I get over 1900 unique visitors a month – small in blogging terms, I’m sure – but who are they all?

So my details are flying through the air colliding with other bits of other lives.  Some of those others stop in, then think, I’m not really interested in this, and go back to colliding with other scraps.  Some stick.  The ones that stick often come from shared blog challenges so we already start with a mutual interest, in my case, in art and life.  Is there anything art and life don’t encompass?

These women sometimes read what I have to say and I read what they have to say.  I always, emphasizing always, come away with something to think about.  Sometimes an insight, sometimes an idea or a new way to approach something.  Once in a while I come away with an enormous emotional upwelling.

That happened to me today.  I was visiting Emma James at Pleasure Notes and encountered her poem The Bench.  Would I always react as I did today? Probably not. But today, I felt the entire circle of life through her poem, the enormity of a life, a single life.  And the possibilities for change that go unnoticed.  I wanted to sit right down on that bench and think.

I headed over to see Julie Jordan Scott at Julie Unplugged, who most recently has written about permission.  In short, giving oneself permission to be oneself.  Sounds so easy.  But as women I think we exist in a web of expectations, imposed from without and within.  Our inner lives are complex and they have to be woven into our public lives.  The web is strong, as is the web of Black Widows, and sticky, and if we’re not careful, we’ll be ensnared with no escape.

Julie is coming to terms with giving herself permission to live as she chooses, even if unconventionally, and why shouldn’t she? As long as we care for those entrusted to us – i.e. children – and do no harm to others, we only answer to ourselves.

We find this so HARD.  I’ve been retired two years and I still have trouble picking up a book in the middle of the day, or watching a movie. I should be gardening, or cooking, or doing something for/with the children or my parents.  I’m having a hard time getting out of the web.  I look at my husband, who works part-time and doesn’t seem at all bothered by taking a nap, sitting on his bed reading, or watching political stuff on television.   And he certainly is not judging me and what I’m doing.  I need to give myself permission, and recognize that I don’t have to be useful to others every second of the day.

Another Julie over at Unabashedly Female wrote about divine robes of feminine flesh.  She talks of our bodies, how This feminine flesh is divine. It robes a home where Spirit and matter are brought together in a miraculous way. Creation has made this humble home for life to come into being by way of this womanly body. I just copied in a part of her post because I cannot write as eloquently as she can.  And she talks about being ourselves, not making apologies for who we are.  Which in a way takes us in a circle back to the other Julie and the topic of permission.

Julie Unplugged has given herself permission to love her body, even if it is a bit too abundant and curvy.  My body is certainly abundant – but my curves are sinking so all that abundance ends up around my waist.  I am not a pleasing sight naked.  But – why not? Can’t I give myself permission to look like I do and see the beauty in a body, even one outside the norm of “attractive” or “beautiful” which usually means appealing to men?  Actually, I gave myself permission to look like I do long ago.  It was a waste of time and energy to bemoan what wasn’t going to change.  It was more productive to acknowledge who I am and be me.  Not that I still don’t have moments.

And, you know, my body is beautiful.  This flesh has carried and nurtured three children. It’s carried burdens and known joy.  Maybe that is what the standard is – not the appearance. The crystalline microbrains in episode 17 of Star Trek, The Next Generation, called us (and the most conventionally beautiful among us) “ugly bags of mostly water.”

It’s one thing to know something, and another to give yourself permission to live what you know.  Which, I believe, means abolishing guilt.  Giving yourself permission.

I cruised over to Jeanne at The Barefoot Heart, who is always entertaining and straightforward.  She wrote about a blog challenge involving yoga and writing and how she enthusiastically embraced it, went out to buy a yoga mat and CD, and counted down the days until the challenge began.  And then proceeded not to do it at all, while thinking about doing it all the while.  Why, she wondered?  I think I know.  It’s about that permission thing again.  Permission to be who you are.

This is what I mean.  I would love to go to the gym and do all the wonderful cardio and stretching exercises my daughter and her family do.  I’ve joined gyms numerous times over the years, only to stop going.  I realized I don’t like to get hot and sweaty and have to change clothes to do something and then change back, and if I have to drive there to do it, I don’t want to.  And I’m not a morning person so I just can’t do it first thing and then come home and shower.  But when Jennifer was describing the wonders of her gym, I thought, wow, I should join.  But really, I shouldn’t join and I give myself permission not to.  I know from experience it isn’t going to work for me.

So it’s like wanting to do something you know you ought to do, and loving the idea of it, but knowing yourself enough to not do it.  Maybe that was what Jeanne was experiencing.  Maybe not – after all, it was her experience.  You can go visit and read for yourself.

So that was my journey around the blogosphere today along with a few visits I made to blogs new to me that I found on Creative Every Day. There’s so much out there and I can’t find and follow every fantastic blog even though I WANT to.  In the circle of what I read today, there seemed to be a synergy.  Maybe it was just me finding what I needed to find.

And that’s one of the joys of blogging.  You might help me, I might help you, and we all might understand a little more.  If we understand a little more about ourselves and our world, maybe we can stay out of that web and weave our own lives as we wish.

So that’s it for Blogging the Bloggers.

Bliss: The Highest Degree of Happiness


The Creative Every Day challenge for June is Bliss. (To learn more about this challenge click on the button on the sidebar.) Leah, who runs this blog, tells participants to completely ignore the theme, touch on the theme, adhere to the theme – lots of possibilities.  I frequently ignore the theme, but it’s a good mental exercise to think about these things once in a while.

I started thinking about bliss.  My first thought was it’s a scary word.  BLISS implies something big, something huge.  I think of Buddha, in the highest state of being, unruffled and untroubled, in a state of bliss.  The highest degree of happiness.  But in that happiness, you are so serene that you don’t need to define your state as bliss.  And it’s a constant state.  If you are always at that high, sustained level, the need to define the concept at all is irrelevant.  You are.

I know bliss as a small word, a lower-case word.  I don’t want to worry about achieving this elevated state of being; I just want to live with CSI – something I talked about in the post on courage.  And no, it’s not the crime show – for me, CSI is continuous self-improvement.  Maybe with enough of it, I’ll be in a state of BLISS, but now, my bliss is simpler,  composed of moments.

Being in a state of bliss may be akin to a state of grace.  I felt I was in a state of grace a few times, and I’m quite sure I can’t describe it.  I just knew it. It’s a sustained high level.  Maybe my bliss is just moments of happiness.

I pulled a few photos out of recent albums to illustrate what bliss is, at least for me.  Part of my bliss is being able to take photos.  Pictures tell the story.

Going outside today to take a look at the pond (I think I look for frogs as much as the cats do), I saw our first water lily.  It was incredibly exciting – a very small but very blissful moment.  You can dig deeper into it, however, extracting the pure bliss in seeing the wonders of nature – the complexity of flowers – shells – trees; the intrigue of the forest; the stillness of the desert.  Sometimes, when I’m in the mountains or at the beach and see something of extraordinary beauty, it’s too much to contain and I well up inside, shedding perhaps a tear or two.  Or more.  My dad understands this – it happens to him also.

My daughter sent this the other day.  Finally, in Colorado, it’s warm enough to bring out the wading pool.  Just seeing my beautiful, innocent, happy granddaughter is blissful.  The innocence hurts, but I know she’ll be ok when the day comes – that day that she discovers all is not well in the world.  But for now, what more can you ask for? Family, children, the blossoming of hope and love – it’s just doggone blissful.

This grainy cell-phone photo is on the top of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.  The bar revolves.  That’s me, two of my grandkids, and my dear friend Michael.  That’s bliss – being able to have friends like Michael, share experiences (we’d all been at the Black Eyed Peas concert).  Out of everyone I know, Michael is the closest to reaching the state of BLISS.  He truly is one with the universe, and I’ve learned much from him.  It’s also amazing and a little surreal that we can do things like stay at the Bonaventure, go to concerts, head out to Las Vegas for soccer tournaments, and order seven desserts for five people at a Japanese restaurant.  Food IS bliss.

The big sky days we’ve had in abundance this year in Bakersfield leave me in a state of pure, unadulterated bliss.  In fact, I’m thinking how to describe the feeling and I can’t – it approaches BlIsS.

This is a moment of bliss.  It’s my youngest daughter and her children with Jose, her ex-husband.  Lots of unpleasantness led up to their divorce, but it’s nothing less than blissful to me that they can come together as a family for Dax’s graduation, all smiles for the photo.

I gave a graduation party for Daxton.  The surprise guest was her eighth-grade language arts teacher, who had to stop teaching for medical reasons and couldn’t finish the year.  Pat and I have been friends forever.  Look at Dax – if that isn’t bliss, we’ll have to redefine the word.

This is my oldest daughter and her husband.  She earned her Master’s Degree last week.  But the smile isn’t just for that.  She and Matt are so in love that it’s almost painful.  He’s so tender with her and she with him, as they attend endless soccer games and raise great kids, that they are in a state of bliss – whether they know it or not  Which makes me feel overwhelmed with happiness.  Bliss.

Here’s some of the grandkids and friends in the casita, their little hide-out at our new house.  It astounds me that they all get along all the time and actually have fun together.  I think this makes me happiest of all – having the family love and like each other, through hardship and happiness.  It’s bliss.

More bliss – Jennifer’s graduation party.  How amazing is it to have a house like we do, be able to have abundant food, abundant laughter, fun, friends and family.  Bliss.

My parents at our house.  Mom’s 87, Dad’s 92.  Mom may repeat the same thing five times in a row, and laugh when she can’t remember the name of something (not realizing she can’t remember the name of almost anything), and Dad naps more than he’s awake.  But they are alive, healthy more or less, happy, and in love.  Married I think 68 years, they love each other more than ever.  This, to me, qualifies as bliss.

It’s total bliss to see something unexpected that takes your breath away – like this moon.  It’s blissful to not lose the sense of wonder.

That’s Jennifer, me and my friend Wendy. Wendy’s more than a friend, really – she and her husband and kids are family. We almost lost Wendy.  A couple of years ago she developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and our world collapsed.  Life without Wendy was inconceivable to all of us.  She calls her experience with lymphoma and a stem-cell transplant her journey to the 8th continent.  The bliss in this story overflows into gratitude, happiness, thankfulness – for Wendy, for medical care, for the sheer will to live.

This is bliss – four generations: three on the couch and the fourth behind the camera.

This, too is bliss.  Not just the visit from my wonderful friend William, but just being able to have a friend like William.  There’s 43 years difference in our ages.  But because of Michael, who taught me to be open to what crosses my path, and Ray Bradbury, who told me he didn’t consider it odd at all to have a friend so much younger, and because of my family who understand and don’t draw borders and boundaries to fence people in or out, I can have a friend like William.  All of the above are reasons for bliss.

Bliss.  Blissful and happy that we can afford vacations, bliss induced by the ocean, sand and sky, and bliss that we’ve been married 42 years.  We were laughing tonight, watching an ad for eHarmony.  I said we should register and see if we came up as matches for each other.  Mark said we probably wouldn’t, and he’s right.  But – we share the same values, and they are what keep us together.  Commitment, trust, respect, caring, and truthfulness.  That’s what love becomes, after all.  With both sets of parents as examples, I think we were destined to stay together as a couple, and it hasn’t been hard.  Hasn’t always been easy -we’ve had bumps and it hasn’t been pure bliss, but the concept is – the concept of a committed marriage.  With love.

I suppose my idea of bliss comes from family, friends, and nature.  If I can have this many moments in just the last four months or so, I may be closer to BLISS than I thought.  For now, I’ll take it in the lower case.

One last source of bliss – art.  Tonight I did a couple of still lifes – set them up and photographed them.  They came together quickly – by all appearances – but so much of the preparation is mental, running in the background, figuring it out, thinking, contemplating, that just the doing of the piece is almost incidental.  In fact, I was reading an article in the tub (I always read in the bath tub) about a retrospective of the artist Yves Klein.  Klein believed the idea behind the work was more important than the execution, according to TIME art critic Richard Lacayo.  Klein said, “My paintings are the ashes of my art.”

I had done the collage in the background but wasn’t entirely satisfied.  So today I put this rooster in front of it and photographed it.  This I like.  It’s called Rooster.  For now, anyway.

I jumped up to make this still life because of a beautiful purple turnip.  The turnip may not be evident in the finished product, but it was the catalyst.  You’ll all be glad to know that all the produce in this photo is organic and local.

So that’s it -moments of bliss that are compounded by the abundance of it all.  Little bites of bliss.  And now, I am in a state of blissful fatigue, and I’m going to bed.

Confessions of a Photo Junkie


You know who you are because your camera is your fifth appendage.

You have a running battle with yourself when you consider leaving the house without it. It’d be nice just to take a quick walk through the forest without the camera around my neck.  But what if I see a bear? I’ve never seen a bear, why should I see one now? Actually, my chances are probably better without the camera.  And I leave the house with my camera around my neck.  And walk through the forest, and I don’t see a bear.

But you DO see a red-breasted nuthatch!

You decide to drive down the hill to Kernville for lunch.  You’re tired of being cooped up in the cabin working on art, which is hard work.  It’s a scenic drive, so of course you take the camera even though you’re not in a picture-taking mood.  You stop once because it’s an incomparable view, but it never looks the same out of the car.  You even know the picture won’t be any good.

Of course, you completely forget your small ladder is in the back just so you can regain the height you lost stepping out of the car.

You have the realization, which you’ve had before but you’re having it again, that all your photos are taken from the perspective of someone 5’ 2”.  You decide to recruit people of all different heights ( i.e. family) to take the same picture at the same time and then compare perspectives.  You can’t stop thinking pictures.

You stop one more time on a wide pull-out  because, be honest, it’s hard to pass a pull-out and not stop because if you don’t you’re always fighting the battle with yourself.  Maybe I should have stopped.  Should I go back? What did I miss?

This time, though, you see a dead skunk.  Yes, you actually consider whether or not to take a picture of it.  But then the skunk moves.  It’s alive, and it’s dying.  You know now that taking a picture is completely out of the question.  You watch as the skunk tries to move, raising its head and trying to pull itself forward with front paws.  You realize that its back end is injured, by a car of course (and you fervently hope it wasn’t on purpose), and you watch as that little animal valiantly tries to live while life is slowly ebbing away.

All you can think about on the rest of the drive is that skunk.

Finally you get to Cheryl’s Diner for the cheeseburger you’ve been thinking about.  You leave the camera in the car.  How could you possibly need a photo of Cheryl’s Diner?  (Except that driving home, you wish you had a picture of Cheryl’s Diner for the blog.) After lunch you walk along the Kern River, and now it’s all over.  The photo junkie takes over.

And after that first picture, that first click of the shutter, you’re doomed.  Doomed to take photo after photo of the same thing just in case one is better than the other.  You think, how many river pictures do I need, anyway, as you click away furiously.  You say I absolutely will not take a picture of the sky and clouds because I’m becoming a cloud freak. You say, there might be sky in this picture but really, it’s a picture of the river.  I know people are starting to laugh at me.  My 15-year-old granddaughter texts me when it’s a good sky day.  It’s out of hand.

But, you tell yourself, clouds are like deer.  No matter how many you see, the next one excites you.

So of course you take a picture.

And of course you take more than one.  Because you probably don’t have a picture of the clouds just so.  The shade of the blue sky might be slightly different.  That’s a different pattern.  You’ve never taken that photo that causes everyone to gasp when they see it.  Plus, you haven’t been in National Geographic yet.

You pass some yellow flowers thinking, I don’t think I’ve seen those yet this year.  But I have zillions of flower photos. You stop.

When you get home, the first thing you do is upload your photos.  You can’t wait to see them, although you just finished seeing the real thing.  You scrutinize each one, deciding which ones to discard, and you keep them all.  You just never know…

Yes, you’re a photo junkie, and for the photo junkies out there – you know exactly what I mean.

New Theme, New Photos, New Frogs, New Lilies, Same Old Toe


It’s all about new, meaning change.  Confucius says this about change: They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. Isn’t that an interesting idea?  That to remain constant, change is necessary?  As most simple statements go, this one is complex and I can’t pretend I understand it completely.  On the surface, it says to me that if we don’t change, we don’t grow, and if we don’t grow, we won’t be happy and surely won’t gain wisdom.

So I’ve changed things.  As if moving, changing our entire house and focus wasn’t enough.

Blog theme

I have a new theme.  What do y’all think?  I love change, then I get tired of change, then I want change.  Probably we’re all like that, but as I get older I think change will be confusing so I’ll have to find a way to confound Confucius.   Found a wordpress theme I like, changed over with a little help from my friends (well, my son-in-law at Webjacks Design).  He’s great if you need help.

New photos

Added new photos to some of the galleries and we got it fixed so you can access the gallery from the menu on top of the blog page.  So on the drop-down menu third from left that says My Photos, just choose the gallery you want to enter.  I think I put new ones in flowers, nature and misc.  Also, second from left is a tab for My Art.  Select any of the galleries and they will load without you having to go to a separate web page.

New Frogs

We had to have the pond redone at our new house, so I can’t say these are new frogs exactly.  But they’re new for us.  We know there’s at least nine and tonight I tiptoed out and saw three splashes.  But yesterday we saw a big ole guy and he sat there so I could take his picture.  He wasn’t wearing a top hat and tails – darn.  More about that later.

New Lilies

Talking about water lilies here, and water iris.  I bought some water plants and some day we hope to see frogs sitting on the lily pads.  I suppose frogs do that – they do in stories anyhow.

In fact, if anyone’s as old as me you’ve read the Thornton Burgess nature stories.  Oh how I loved those.  I read and re-read the adventures of Grandfather Frog in the Smiling Pool.  See him?  He always wore tails and had a top hat.  I cherished that image.

It’s only a little after 10 but I am zonked.  This whole toe adventure has really taken it out of me this week.  It hasn’t hurt today so that’s progress.  Oozed blood but that’s because I poked holes in it to relieve pressure.  No pain meds today – thank goodness.  Those meds, though critical when needed, sure rob you of time.  It’s like a lost week.

So I’ll just sit here for a while listening to the frogs peeping and croaking and get to bed. Need energy tomorrow – gearing up for more change.  Or more moving, at least.  Can you believe we’re not done yet?

Connect the Dots – an End to Strange Days


Can you do great art, or even good art, or any art, while waiting in an airport? You can do the “any art” category with sticky things from an American Girl  polka dot book and watercolor pencils.   You can connect the dots.

I had a lot of time in the Denver airport, so I fooled around with a journal page I started at my daughter’s house.  It was idle time, which lets my brain sort, file, and process.  After all the mess of moving, during which I went to the soccer tournament in Las Vegas, the art opening in Oceanside, and Colorado for 10 days, I felt rather scattered.  Travel time helped me connect the dots.

I came home feeling settled, unhurried, and interested in connecting with family and friends.  I felt like, although we still have boxes and boxes to go and lots of little details, that I can be part of real life again.  It’s been like having a cold or the flu – you know you must have felt well at one time in your life, but you can’t remember what it felt like and can’t imagine feeling like that again.  And then, one day, you are better.  You remember.

Life was feeling surreal to me, and by writing I can process.  I’d written about how the moved affected me and called it Strange Days.  The move had been so disturbing.

April 15, 2010

I’m having the oddest feelings lately and it’s all connected to moving.  Having made the conscious decision to move, making sure that we chose the kind of house we think we should grow old in, every single thing I put away, every picture I hang, takes on a new meaning.

My bedroom is now in its satisfactory state of clutter.  The only thing in the room indicating it’s a bedroom at all is the bed.  That’s a pretty strange and unconventional approach to a bedroom, but for me it’s functional.  Mostly it’s an office – I have two printers and a scanner, a computer, all my photo supplies.  Large bookcase.  I have a new curio cabinet full of all my little collectibles – the enameled boxes in the shapes of animals, the little glass animals, old metal monopoly markers, my Planter’s Peanuts salt and pepper shakers, an old skate key, a metal ice cream spoon that used to come with those sundaes in the freezer case, etc.  So many of the objects are rooted in the past.

As I put the objects in the cabinet, I think, what will these objects mean to me when I’m 73, or 83, or 93?  Will they be a comfort to me and I’ll still enjoy them? I have this odd desire to render everything sterile right now. But at the same time I plan to buy cabinets so I can finally display my Star Trek action figures and my Harry Potter action figures.  Then my mind fights a battle with itself – you’re 63 and you collect action figures?  You want to display them?  Well, why not?  Why can’t I do what I want?  But is it going to matter in 10 years?  Then I wonder why I’m thinking about it at all.

I feel kind of removed from things.

I look at the wall across from where I’m sitting – I put up pictures today.  There are five objects on the wall opposite.  My Bright Eyes Buddha poster, the birch tree photo I took in Alaska, the green leaf photo William took, the map William drew in 7th grade, and the beautiful leaf and fruit he drew for me the first year I came to Lugano.  Then on other walls there are two posters Michael gave me from shows he was in, two mirrors he made for me, lizards William gave me for my birthday the third year in Lugano, a special horseshoe Michael brought me from a trip, and on and on.  Nothing is fantastic art but it’s all precious.  It’s personal.

Over my desk I have the autographed photo of Jonathan Frakes (William Riker on Star Trek), the autographed photo of BB King, the poster of the Titans signed by so many of them (from a history day project), a photo signed by all the old 5th period lunch bunch from Fruitvale, and something Jeff Johnson made for me after I organized my first film festival at the Fox.  And my two Arthur Rackham book plates from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

I’ve pared down the photos.  I have quite a few of me with people who’ve died.  AIDS.  Michael Barrie, Ron Aiello, Charlie O’Malley, and then Dell Allen.  Cancer.  Then photos of family, William and Michael.  William and Michael qualify as family.

I could go on describing it all but I guess the point is I’m looking at it all from the perspective of being 80 or 90.  And I can’t even imagine what that will be.  I suppose that Mom and Dad’s current state is mixed into this strange feeling.  I really hope I’m not watching my future.  And I’m not even expressing the feelings I’m having with accuracy.

I like my clutter.  I’m happy with my things.  But I wonder about the feeling of removal.  I think it might have to do with the newness of the house.  Getting familiar with the area and getting it all arranged.  It may be less than a mile from our old house, but it feels isolated.  I didn’t think it would feel like that.  Being in a small, gated community on a very quiet street without much happening feels isolating.  Yet I know it’s just because it’s all new, and it’ll be a neighborhood like any other once we’re established.  I mean, the people from next door brought over homemade cookies to welcome us.  They have seven kids!  Wow.

I think what I have to do is start going to things again – openings (missed one tonight), gatherings (missed the writer’s workshop last night), get back in public and mingle.  But maybe what I really need is for my studio to get organized and for all the paintings to be hung, etc. so we feel like we are living, not moving.

I suppose this ill-defined feeling will pass of its own accord.  Hope it doesn’t take too long.

Of course, the feeling passed.  I’m home, things look and feel like home, and we love this house.  We’re thrilled with it.  The whole process of calling this move “Operation Old Age” in light of what we’ve learned from and about my aging parents, put a new slant on the idea of moving.  Psychologically, it was working a number on me that I didn’t even recognize.

Thankfully, I’ve connected the dots and it all feels right.  I feel like me.