Thursday, December 23, 2010

Away in a Manager

Away in a Manager

The little wooly sheep in this nativity scene belonged to my husband's great grandfather. Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus belonged to his grandmother.  One year we made the little A frame and other animals wandered into the collection.  I remember little hands that use to often rearrange the crowd of adoring animals.  I enjoyed unwrapping these but  wondered where I could place them.  I decided if they were on the wooden tray I could scoop them all up at once when room is needed for a guest.  Tonight they were like another plate on the table...and for me it was a  feast for eye and heart.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas, it's not all sleigh bells in the snow...

While I was doodling on the Paint Program on my computer tonight, this otter  decorated with starfish
floated up to help me wish my readers a joyous time of Christmas preparation.

And various thoughts floated up too...the last weekend before the 25th is often a time of pressure for many people, last minute shopping in the crowds and bad traffic in harsh weather raises the pulse of many....makes it hard to stay focused on what is really important, on the people we love and want to bless.  How to remember not to fuss about details if it is going to cause more tension than joy?

I saw a  few televised clips of Americans in the military who are serving abroad, away from their  families and our homeland this holiday season.  While their families will miss them and they will miss holiday sharing, gifts and decorations, food and parties,  hopefully they won't miss out on being remembered, appreciated, and prayed for.  And I thought too of those who have died in service this last year...Christmas is for you too.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Music, Music Music....

In the morning:
 It's a Saturday morning.  Does thinking it, saying it, writing it, deepen the impression, the preciousness of it?
Does documenting that there is morning light on the wings of a white bird over the waters of the Pacific, that the horizon has a low quilted band of gray soft  clouds and the waters that have already melted in the morning's sun are floating  up into the short blue waves of a promising sky....does that deepen the impression for me?  It is Saturday. Yes.

Our first practice....

We are practicing music much lately. It is hard to describe the mix of music...a group of people centered around an oud player... lots of original compositions from  the oudist and the guitarist...
The violin player studies Egyptian style.  I am playing my flute.  A lovely keyboardist came to practice  the other night...I hope she will come back.  We are in preparation for a December 15th event...more on that later. 
                                                                     The Afternoon:
I have soup  in the crock pot and we ate broccoli for lunch...trying to eat like grown ups once in a while to not let  too many of the Christmas sweets that keep appearing here and there  take control of us. 

We practiced at home this morn but will leave soon.  At home, we had  some of our  music taped to the hearth.  The black-eyed-Susan  is blooming  along the stairs to the laundry room.  I picked a bouquet of that today and hung some cedar boughs with red ribbon.  Pretty heavy level of decorating...huh?  But imagine how the two kitties would  enjoy swatting anything new in the room.  All ornaments would be considered for their amusement.  Trees surround us outside and they are hung with cones and birds and lichen knit right there in their limbs.

 Time to go!     Happy Saturday afternoon and evening to you.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Always Expose for the Shadows of the Subject

"Always expose for the shadows of the subject..."   so says my 1948 focal guide retrieved from storage a few weeks ago.  Somehow the advice suggests other connotations....the realms of metaphor... " always expose for the shadow of the subject."

The other day  it was the Walter T. Foster painting book, Seapower that got me thinking this way.
I had looked at the  10" x 14" teaching book  with absolutely no intentions of trying to paint the ocean or the cliffs I live above and yet I

enjoyed perusing the step by step paintings and the tips and clues to doing the same.
"If you continually think in large masses of light and shadow ..."    "Always think and paint the large masses first..."   "...pick out the lighting...then you will know exactly where you are going."
  So if you know where the light emanates from, you will know where you are going; that makes more than sense to me.

Later in the day, out and about on the land,  I found  the painting advice impacting how I saw the ocean waves, the light on the rocks, the blue of the sky.  Lessons for painters are first and foremost, lessons for the eye.

Writers must see carefully too and one's eye must be attuned to many realms.  It's good to be able to see one's own framework of understanding, to filter the light from the dark.  Every heart frames reality in its own terms, its own limits.  To have an impact it needn't be large, but there must be an intersection with other frames of reality other than one's own.

I look at the sea.  Clouds are stretched like peach tinged taffy along the horizon. Light is scattered across the waters so white and shimmering  in areas that the eye can barely absorb the beauty without reflexively looking away.   I can change my visual perspective and for a moment the waters in front of me appear like a bowl, but I know the horizon is distance beyond my scope.

There's a boat out there carrying its own reality across the waters, but to me it is little more than a dark speck.  We are often in each other's view, but seeing eye to eye, well the eyes and the heart can take a lot training. 

Such are the topics that have been on my mind lately.  You might enjoy the essay I  wrote this week and posted on Write Purpose  "Why We do the Things We Do "

Now that I have read  my old focal guide, I want to see if I can translate it to my digital camera.   My  notes to my self need to say.."Always be aware of your tendency to just point and shoot on automatic..."   and of course that too has metaphorical implications; I'm not just talking about taking pictures.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Walk and Black Friday Reduce, Reuse, Recycle fun

A walk in the sun by the water on Thursday afternoon...

Today the frenzy of  stalking the stores' "big sales" begins for some. I decided it was a good day to recycle all the merchandise catalogs accruing, I don't think I ever asked for any of them.  It felt great.  I had looked at a few of them, briefly beguiled by the bright glossy pictures and so many things not needed and if I could afford  them I should be sending more money to orphans some where in the world. Some photos are so pretty I think of cutting them for collages, but who has that time?

I recently entered the storage unit where things from our home of many years are stored while we live in a small cabin by the sea where we work. It isn't that I have bought  much over the years, but I am sentimental about things from those I have known and loved.  I am thinking that for some things that have no real value, I mean I don't use Grandma's broken honey pot,  maybe I will photograph and save the picture?  After all it is the woman I treasured...not her things.  Still, things are imbued with memory...I am not saying we shouldn't have some keepsakes...but I am sure I could pick a few for each dear person and release the rest.  Part of the problem is that I am the trusted- to -keep- things person in my family....but....okay...will skip that subject for now. 

 I brought a few books and some cards and correspondance back with me from storage. I have some wonderful California History books  and found one I have never read.  If  The Story of Inyo ,  a 1933 history by W. A. Chalfant about the area of California, south of Bishop and east of Mount Whitney,  is not compelling enough for me to read or use for research I won't keep it any longer, but how will I know if I don't set it next to my bed or desk?  I saw there were boxes of goods that got packed to save when I did not have the time or the mind to look closely enough to see if they truly needed saving.  There are things that I brought with me when I did move that I still haven't sorted  so I will go after a few of those things today.  
 Use It
Give it Away
Recycle It  
And it seems like a great day to muster some creative energy for finishing a project or two.  And I have little a collection of fun things to pop into the mail to some little girls that do have time to play.
So I hope to  release things not needed to increase time and energy for what is important....

You've surely heard that phrase that we are to use things and love people... it is a terrible thing to get that reversed... 

Anyway, the sun is out again today and we had a fine walk yesterday and so here are a few pictures to share with you...loveable person.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Night Life in Carmel

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if you turned off the.....well, whatever it is that you turned on prior to retiring?

In my case it was a dehumidifier I had set in a closet in the main house.  I suppose the middle of the night is a subjective measurement.  I am talking three in the morning which might not be every one's middle, but it was feeling very middle to me. Once awakened by my dereliction of duty, a retinue of ancillary thoughts qued right up to dance, brightly lit, across the movie screen in the otherwise dark theatre of my now sleepless brain. First I reasoned that there was no real need to get up and stop the machine. It has plenty of capacity, it could winnow and hold several gallons of water; but I had a harder time convincing myself it was wise to leave it running. I imagined touching the electric cord and then the plug and thought of warmth, then heat, then fire. All very unlikely, but surely I should get up and trot on through the garden and the night, make my way to the lonely dehumidifier and shut it down. I was resolved, this was the right course of action, but before I put my feet to the floor, my gallant man awoke and volunteered his services.  I, of course, accepted and even volunteered to go with him, but he said there was no need for us both to get up.

He returned from the task, cheerful and full of praise for the glory of the last hours of the night. The sky was clear, stars visible, the air soft with warmth from the previous day of unseasonable heat. Then the phone rang. Our daughter was to catch an early morning flight to come to see us, but she had been woken with a call that her flight was canceled due to fog.   San Diego faces the same ocean we do; true it is a little further south, but fog enough to ground the plane?  After various communications back and forth and calls to the airlines, it was determined that the flight was reinstated and we, lured by the warm coastal air, decided to abandon our bed, dress and wander out into the very early morning.  After all, our girl was already up and being ferried to the airport by a kind friend, we might as well get ourselves in sync with her.

We thought we'd walk a little but the talk kept returning to where we could find a very early breakfast. We drove past the 24 hour Safeway and headed into the sleeping village by the sea.  As soon as we parked on Ocean Avenue we knew the cock had not yet crowed in Carmel.

Fantasies of  bakers who rise before dawn and create delectables worthy of every extra calorie that the pastry envelopes, coffee wafting hot and fresh cream chilled to keep the goodness captured...these were the ideas that had really driven us out into the morning.  And then we spotted, out in the dark, the real walkers.  There was a serious woman in a reflective tape vest, her arms pumping as energetically as her legs. Another denizen of the streets appeared ardently talking on her speaker phone as she powered down the middle of the empty traffic lane.  On the path above the beach we saw a small group of walkers with a cadre of dogs in graduated sizes each connected to their mistress by imaginary leashes. The shopkeepers may sleep in but the lean and fit were already on task. 

We walked a little, I think, but perhaps it only qualified as strolling.  Two women strode past us, "Look, they are walking lots faster than we are," I said by way of friendly greeting. 

"You need to get your hands out of your pockets," I heard in response.

Of course it was my camera I had in there...we sauntered over to one of the bakeries...the window display didn't help our state of mind any.  But we knew that in the long run, we'd grab a few things at the store and

go home and make our own breakfast.

While at the grocery our cell phone rang.  It was our daughter calling to let us know that she had been dropped off at the airport only to learn that  the flight had once again been canceled due to fog...

We tried to stay sunny about use getting upset about these things, as long as she is safe.

And so we returned  home and ground and pressed our own beans, and toasted our favorite no flour bread.

And while my gallant husband went back to bed I let kitties in and out the door and quieted the dog and downloaded these pictures of  beaded birds and sugary treats and electric flowers in the shops of the little town that won't wake up for hours.   Next flight arriving sometime before nine this evening....a nap may be in order.
Or wait, is it too late to just go back to bed?

Wednesday morning P. S.  
~Last night was a safe and happy landing~
Now tonight we await word of our first daughter's return from  her two month artistic work visit to Austria.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

After the First Rain a Gardener's Fancy Turns to Seed

I probably have a better picture of the flowers I got from sprinkling a package of  flower seeds in a little oval bed on a west facing hillside but the flowers are gone now...and  it's time to plant more seeds.

I cut the drying plants and sat and made a big bag of mixed seeds.

These are godetia.

And I remembered a little can of red poppy seeds I gathered this summer.

And then I dug out the old packets of things I used partially and bags, jars and tins of seeds I've gathered here and there...

but that didn't stop me from  getting some new seed packets too...

So here's hoping they germinate happily in the few spots of sun I can give them
 and that there will  be more flowers ablooming next year...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Who Weeds the Ocean?

Who weeds the ocean?  We have a friend who grew up in the deserts of Jordan.  One day, sitting together above a cove filled with floating kelp and seaweed, he asked if anyone ever cleans up the cove waters.  It makes me smile to think of his question and yet...someone does...last week on the sands in Carmel, the autumn currents had tugged up the roots of the weeds of  the sea and, once loosed, the tendrils of the deep were beached.

Friday October 10 was a cloudy calm day...just ask these birds.

or this child...

~on the cusp~
~cross currents~
~carpe diem~


Monday, October 11, 2010

The Butterfly Circus happy I saw this short can too.

It is easy to miss opportunities and we just barely became aware in time of a free filming of a series of short movies in the Carmel Art & Film Festival...
 What a fun way to see new films...on a bluff of sand on the Carmel beach just after sunset.

                  This is the blow up screen set up on the beach  at this point only partially inflated...

and this is the view to the west...

One of the films, The Butterfly Circus, received the Clint Eastwood Filmmakers Award.  That is a link to part one (10 minutes on you tube)...and here is the link to part two, but once on you tube you should  see the part two link there as well.

Be prepared for a very fine is a lovely little film starring Nick Vujicic, a man who is sometimes described as having no hands, no legs and no worries...

I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sierra Mountain Cabin Visit

I have been living at sea level for four years.  Well maybe a few feet up, because we live on a granite cliff, not a beach...but still not too high up.
*Note to Grandma Beth: Click the photos to enlarge them, then use your back arrow to return to the blog.

This last week a lovely woman kidnapped me and took me to the mountains for a few September days.  I have beautiful pictures, or perhaps I should say I took pictures of beautiful places.  My photos are but a faint reminder of the beauty in it's fullness, but come along and I'll share what I can.  Here's the area where we headed...a cabin in Courtright Village near the southern tip of this map. This picture I took of the sign at the Le Conte Divide...but I better not get ahead of myself.

Leaving the Monterey Peninsula , the central coast of California, we crossed through the hills that lie between  coast highway 1 and the inland 101 and then headed east through the mission town of San Juan Bautista past the golden grasses, brown soil and green crops of  California's central valley.  The Pacific Ocean now behind us, the air grew hot and hazy.   In the air conditioned car I had a sack of  raw almonds to munch and cold  bottled water.   We passed almond and  fig tree groves and dusty vineyards, as well as many field crops and always there were people, working in the fields. 

 I was delighted in catching up with my friend ( I just found out she linked to this blog, so I've added a link to her blog at the longer anon she is Gretchen) and watched mile by mile the environs change.  At the town of Madera where you can access highway 41 to Yosemite we turned to Highway 168.

This neighborhood of  redwoods, sunflowers, and grasses is in downtown Shaver Lake in the Sierra National Forest, elevation 5500 ft. It's the town of last supplies.
We already had everything, and then some, that we needed for our four nights, 
so we didn't stop in town.
                  We kept heading up the tree lined  roads ...

past little roadside rocks...

     ~And stopped to look back toward the valley from whence we'd come~

      One day we checked out Dinky Creek. I am not kidding, that is its name.

  " Bark," I have read, is not a technical term.

                                ~ what small part of this tree I pictured ~

The foot of a large tree in the McKinley Grove where the biggest Giant Sequoia currently measures  20.3 feet in diameter.

   As we made our way up the road the moon rose in the sky.

 ~young trees on the edge of the road scramble down roots for a spot~

 A wonderful tree that made me read trees books in the night.   While I do know the basic distinctions...
some of the trees I met reminded me that is all I know.

      I did remember that the cones of a true Fir Tree are always upright.

Rocks of immense dimensions roll and slide and slam their way to where they come to rest, the angle of repose.  So many of the rocks on the uphill side of the road demonstrate this law of physics, but other laws could as easily be on display if given variables change.
 Angle of Repose   is the title of a Wallace Stegner novel that takes place in California terrain.  The term lends itself  to much metaphor.

After considering many possibilities

              We decided that the species of small coned pines are Lodgepole.

      This is the southern end of Courtright Reservoir but we aren't quite yet where we are going. I took this picture the second or third day of our visit...that first afternoon we had to keep moving but already snatches of  the American poet Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha", which he wrote in 1855's and that I memorized in part in 7th grade, had been triggered in my memory:     
                                      Dark behind it rose the forest,
                                      Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
                                      Rose the firs with cones upon them;
                                      Bright before it beat the water,
                                      Beat the clear and sunny water,

During our visit we had clear sunny days and

beautiful clouds too.
This is subalpine country...we were at about 8200 feet  elevation.

         Just before nightfall we got to the cabin...we turned on the water, started warming up things up and made our beds.  No fancy cooking the first night. We didn't exactly have to rough it....this is my room as I left it the last morning.

       The first morning in Courtright this is the view I woke to and what one can see from the deck.
                                                          It's a real fine place to be.

                Of course as soon as I got home to the cool coast
I had to take a picture of  the last light of that day on the sweet blue sea. It too, is a real fine place to be.

I took lots more pictures in the mountains...153 to be exact...but I'm not going to show you all of them. But just imagine... rocks and trees and water and sky and trees and rocks ....there's lots of them "up there"and I am glad for that, and glad for a friend that shared her family's special place with me.

Gretchen took pictures too and here's one I took of her.