Saturday, December 23, 2006

Okay, finally

Have yourself a
Merry little Christmas ...

Finally shook off the 'Bah Humbugs' in time to embellish a stocking for J. Off for a few days to visit family, then back for Christmas Day, and off for a few more days to visit more family.

The season seems to get busier with more and more stuff every year. The bustle and noise of shopping, of Christmas morning with family - enjoy it all for the cheer and company it represents. But don't forget to take the time to be good to yourselves. Have an extra holiday cookie with a warm, quiet cuppa coffee/tea. (We'll get back to eating more heathily next week! >:) )

Have a Merry Christmas. See you in a bit.
xox, -w

Friday, December 22, 2006

from the Archives

This should get your attention:


Oh man, I heard that squeal of delight. Whether for the promise of cookies or more cartoons, it doesn't matter, huh?

I was trying to tidy up my living room (yeah, I should give up). I should've known better - there are more piles of old archived art stuff from the old place. So, I found more Christmas card art, a number of oversized newsprint pads with life drawing sketches, color theory gouache painting assignments and marker sketches from UCLA (pre-dating even Art Center. Holy cow! How is that possible? There was art before Art Center? OMG!), my application portfolio. What am I s'posed to do with this stuff? The good stuff, I'll keep, but I think a very good chunk of it, I can get rid of. When I get to it. This stuff is in amazingly good shape, for having survived at least two moves. This'll be good stuff to go through and scan or photograph and share, and I found a few things that still appeal to me that would be really nice to re-execute.

Anyway, this is from 1991.

Click this image for the full card

Looking back at this, what does this say?

My haircut is the same, I've had an enduring love for somewhat involved Christmas cookie baking, and manage to find myself in the company of men who love cookies?
I figure that's not really so bad, as far as constants in ones life.

But, you know, I really ought to - - and I've been really thinking about this - - update my logo.
Or something.

Mmmmmmyeah, I dunno.

Every so often in the past 15+ years, I'd go and do little thumbnails to try and update it to where I am in life, but never followed through with finished artwork to use on my stuff. I stopped using a logo completely, actually, I think, once I started design school. There was an instructor from my application portfolio preparation days, that said I should update it; a new logo would represent an evolution, a new state in life, something more far more [ahem] refined. The thought there was that the old logo was just kind of, what?, uneducated, or something. I'll add here that I was never quite crazy about this particular person and his outlook on life. I almost bagged the whole idea of studying design based on conversations with this person... so that should say something.

And lookit me now.

Yeah, my design stuff and my design portfolio, that's something different, and I have a specific format that seems to work well, tells a bit of a story in its reflection about my design work and outlook.

But to be honest, I never came up with anything that quite spoke so clearly to the spirit of what my doodley art was about.

What do you guys think?

What about Santa?

"Okay," she started, a bit pensive, "so, if you don't have a fireplace, and you don't have a chimney ..."
"Uh hum?"
Starting to worry a bit, "... then how is Santa supposed to get into your place?"
"Oh, well, I've been overlooked for years, I guess."
Biting her lip, a bit chagrined, "Oh..."


“Hey, these are good. They’re better than I thought they’d be.”
“What were you thinking they’d be?”
“Well, you know …”

… Since we were away for Thanksgiving, we finally thawed out the turkey and made a traditional turkey dinner with stuffing and mashed potatoes. I told J I could bring cranberry sauce, home made. He said “sure!”.

So, after dinner, he admitted he sort of shrugged initially at the idea of my making cranberries.

“So, you were just humoring me and my cranberries?”
“Um, well, cranberries aren’t usually the most exciting part of Thanksgiving dinner, after all”.
“Oh, I see … Well, you hadn’t had MY cranberries…”
“Well, no. Besides, you seemed pretty excited about making ‘em. So I figured …”
“… that you’d just humor me? Uh hum.”
“… that you wanted to contribute something …”
“Uh hum.”
"But, they’re really good. You know, like they add an unexpected "
"… ‘zest’ ?”
“Yeah. Zest.”

Yeah, there’s that whole bit of adding something new to ( = ‘messing with’) a traditional dinner, especially when what people normally eat is some jelly that comes out of a can. How exciting could cranberry sauce be, really?

… This same week, I started work on a new project and sent my resume to a colleague. He emails me back and comments, “Oh, wow. I didn’t know you were a designer, too. Hm, interesting. Very impressive.”

And I think, “Yup. One of those strangely well-kept secrets, I s’pose.”

Okay, so I’m not in the habit of smacking people over the head with my credentials. Designers are typically so cool, so flashy, so hip; I’m much more demure. When you’re that understated, you tend to run the risk of being mislabeled; at worst, overlooked, I guess. Most people aren’t sure what to expect until they take the time to stop and look.

You’re going to get on my case about not aggressively marketing myself. Well, you know, there are flashy design jobs that are really cool and hip, and the lead designer people, they’re looking for really assertive, flashy designers. I’m not looking for flashy designy work. My skill is creating really clever little design solutions for problems so damn pervasive that people just overlook and work around them. A lot of other designers don’t share my enthusiasm for my pet causes; no, they’re not glamorous, and they’re not for cool, young, hip people. The people stuck in the middle, who need that better solution, they just work around it...

I like to think there’s a zen moment of recognition, where people go, “Oh, hey …” associated with most of the work I do, and then you know this new solution really fits, doing its thing like it was meant to do it all along. It makes life better, without screaming out for attention. If the product is meant for you, you spend more time with it and really appreciate the little details, the attention. If you don’t use it, you’d give it no more than a cursory glance to begin with. [shrug

So where was I going with this?

Oh, well, you know cranberries. You slice ‘em up, lining up your cuts with the ridges from the can. Not so complicated, not so exciting.

Well, think again.

The cranberries I make, they’re fresh. And I add honey, so they’re sweet. And pears. And lemon juice and zest; that adds a real zing. You have to let them sit for a few days in the fridge to let all the flavors mix and soak in. These cranberries; they’re not going to just sit there passively on your palate - - they’re going to make you take notice. But, you have to take the time to get a serving, give them a chance. They’re yummy.

“I’m not going to win, no matter what else I say, huh?”
“No, that’s okay, honey.”
“But they’re good. What’s in ‘em?”
“Pears, lemon zest, honey ...”
“Mmm, honey ..”
“… and love.”

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Butterflies and flowers

Who says math is cold, stuffy and not a lot of fun?

Auto Show

Click to see all the photos

A few weeks ago, I went to the LA Auto show. I got entry on Media Day and into the Design Los Angeles conference, which, I have to say, was a pretty sweet perk for being an instructor back at design school. Normally, the show is a zoo; tons of people milling around, trying to get into cars and take pictures. You walk and walk and walk, get mashed into people, get separated from the rest of your group, and get really tired and hungry.

But Media Preview Day – now that’s another story!

See these photos? No people! Wow! Can this be right? I couldn’t believe it. What fun! Woo! Now that was cool.

The people in front of me trying to get photos? Professional media camera crews. You don’t feel bad waiting for them to finish up getting their shot, you know?

So I got to leisurely wander around (with my puny point-and-click goes-everywhere-with-me digital camera) and look at the shiny new batch of concept cars. I have to admit, I’m not as zealous a car fanatic as one might expect from an industrial designer, and so I’m far less methodical when I go to auto shows. I was a little pressed for time and chose not to linger too long around the trucks, larger SUV vehicles and exotic cars.

But, hey, the Mustangs.

Now, we’re talkin’ ... [Purrr]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cartooning circles

I’m finally enjoying another one of those long-awaited fully-caffeinated cups of coffee and some non-MaltoMeal breakfast. I can eat. I can almost smell. My kitchen is done and awaits all my gadgets. My Camry is all fixed up and purrs rather than rattles.

Oh man (another sip), life is good.

Gerald came by yesterday and dropped off a bunch of stuff from the old place. I was leery of what might have been left. Most of it came from my art room, so I discovered quite a few gems that finally made the move. My application portfolio to design school. Boxes of Epson color printing paper. Boxes of greeting card-sized envelopes. Odds and ends and final presentation boards from class projects.

In the pile was a large-sized binder portfolio. Flipping it open, I was amused to find a small sampling of graphic design and cartooning I’d done a really long time ago. Really long time ago. I’d do little jobs for friends, baby and “We’ve Moved” announcements, stuff like that. All before flickr, MySpace, digital cameras and Shutterfly.

I used the computer primarily for typesetting to go with my little ink cartoons. I’d get them photocopied onto card stock. For my Christmas cards, I’d add in color by hand (we’re talking about 120 cards here, people, not just a dozen), with watercolor pencils or sponged-on paint or rubber stamps. It was quite the production every year, and I did those for about 7 or 8 years, I’m guessing. When I find them, I’ll scan them and share. Since then, I’ve lost a bit of the motivation and time and inspiration to do those and have been sending photo greeting cards, which are so much quicker to produce.

A few of my old-time friends tell me they’ve kept all the cartoon cards and have missed my hand-painted greetings. And they tell me they hope: Maybe this year?

Anyway, I found this card in the portfolio last night and it made me smirk. Photocopied artwork with watercolor pencil added. This is from 1990. I’ve thought about all that’s happened since then: my mustang, the earthquake, mortgages, marriage, the dogs, my Tercel, Europe, skiing, endless DIY projects, design school, wakeboarding, divorce, running, painting.

Boy, it’s like a lifetime ago.

Things tend to come full-circle, though. A few weeks ago, I started doing thumbnails for little cartoon drawings in my moleskine sketchbook. Seems I have a really good dose of inspiration that’s gotten me kicking around a few ideas, personal, individual greeting cards for a few holidays and celebrations that are coming up. I don’t think it’ll work for (this) Christmas, although I guess you never know.

I doodle and doodle and think, “Hmm”.

And then the little peas showed up, and I found myself thinking, “Yeah...”

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Happiness is

Peanut butter and Huckleberry jam! Mmmm.

So who was that whiny, cranky person that wandered through here last night? It’s like they were seriously under-caffeinated or hadn’t eaten normal food in days or something. Yeesh! [Shrug]

A note on Huckleberry:
We were driving through Big Sky Country, going way North (yeah, past Santa Barbara) this summer, and I started to see road signs for Huckleberry Ice Cream.
I perked up (just as you just did, Tony) and went “Huckleberry?”

J thought it was the promise of ice cream that did it.

You know those things from your childhood that you hear about but never get to experience first-hand? They’re familiar, but you just don’t quite understand. So, given this tidbit of huckleberry info (courtesy wikipedia) …

In the Pacific Northwest of North America, the huckleberry plant can be found in mid-alpine regions, often on the lower slopes of mountains. The plant grows best in damp, acidic soil. Under optimal conditions, huckleberries can be as much as 1.5-2 m high, and usually ripen in mid-to-late summer; later at higher elevations.

The Huckleberry is the state fruit of Idaho.

... How does a school in Hawaii (no state fruit) have a cheer that involves Huckleberries? I’m guessing there aren’t many indigenous huckleberry plants in the Aloha State.

Have I asked this already?

I think the cheer goes way, way back. I’m thinking, hoping, before the cartoon characters, at the very least. I can’t quite find the history on it.

Anyway, so there I was, in Montana, in the drizzly grey cold, swinging my feet back and forth (short legs), contentedly scarfing down huckleberry ice cream with my guy, idly thinking,

“Strawberry Shortcake,
Huckleberry Pie!

V - I - C - T - O - R - Y

Are we in it?
Well I guess … “

“Mmmmm. So this is Huckleberry. Mmmmm.”

Getting back to painting. Did some research on what huckleberries look like.

I found this online:
“Hawaii offers perhaps the most unique blend of culinary history and flavors of all the 50 states. Geography, people, history and evolving local tastes combine to create a cuisine that merits detailed study.”

'Merits Detailed Study'


Monday, December 11, 2006

I think it's done

If I were you, I’d be wondering.

Okay, I’ve been sick: stuffy/runny nose and some kind of stomach flu thing. I’m hoping to get better in time to enjoy all the smells and foods of the holidays, let me tell you! And, this cuts into my motivation to bake holiday cookies, too. Doh!

I haven't been drawing or painting! Double doh!
[weary sigh]

Every time I’ve gotten sick since May, to where I’m, you know, passed out on the couch, I’ve noticed that several things happen. Every time.

(1) My landlord calls to tell me he’s miraculously managed to get the next kitchen repair construction guy available, that day! Don’t I appreciate how hard it is to schedule these guys? I can’t possibly understand what an inconvenience it’s been for HIM, trying to schedule and coordinate all these people!
It's a long, long story, this bit with the kitchen.

I think to myself, “Uh, that inconvenient unfinished construction zone? I’ve been living in it, dude.


Since May.”

and ..

(2) Something goes wrong with my car that requires leaving it in the shop for the whole day. Or for even longer.

The painter guy was the nicest of the bunch - - apparently the world decided to save the best for last, thankfully. And he was done pretty quick. So when I unpack my stuff back onto the kitchen countertops this time, I'm not going to have that nagging wondering in the back of my head of when I'll need to pack it all back up to prepare for the next construction step. I just hate drywall dust all over my cooking stuff, you can't even imagine.

So, I'm looking forward to that cup of coffee that I’d been hoping to make earlier this morning - my first in about two weeks.

The frustrating part is that I’d scheduled a few hours this morning to sit down at the kitchen table to get into the nitty gritty of WORK that I finally felt perky enough to do since getting sick. I smirk at the irony that in exchange for getting that work done this morning before class, I was also going to get my stuff out to paint tonight. The acrylics and gouache and maybe the tube watercolors - - goodies that have been stashed away, also since about May. Guess it could all still happen, but you know, this is how the whole kitchen thing has been. Tentative starts and jolting stops. Again and again.

I know. In the grand scheme of things, these are all pretty insignificant blips.

Can I say it now?

I think it’s FINALLY done.

Didn’t I say I wasn’t going to get bogged down in complaining? This is the holiday season after all. [Sigh]

Looking forward to being able to:
Have that cuppa coffee
Drive my own car (maybe later tomorrow? One can hope)
Smell, eat, and bake (in what order, I don't care)
Enjoy life without construction interruptions and with a little more comforting peace for myself
Draw and paint a little bit at my kitchen table

and put the postcards of Bellows Beach and all the other good stuff ...
back up on the Fridge Door.

Have you missed me? Ooo, I've missed you.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Distraction to Share

I typically don’t intend to write posts that are just links to other places. I figure you’re curious when the heck the darn cookie-baking is going to start, where we’ve been, and if it involves hiking or painting.

But sometimes, it’s just fun to share.

This photo is from my first 5K, last year, the Nike RunHitWonder run. I haven’t been training very hard since Spring (injuries and general distraction), but how much fun is this? For next year: More running!

Steph’s post about her running the New York City Marathon and the little adventure that followed inspired me to dig up this photo. If you smirked at all reading the details of my last 5K, I think you’ll really enjoy the details of Steph’s story. Steph and Jim's HumanBeingCurious website is great, too; What a great premise.

While I was going through the guide brochures we got when we entered Yosemite, a postcard that announced a photo exhibit fell out. My personal, private Yosemite guide is quite knowledgeable and, so, yeah, we didn’t think to go through the brochures. We missed what looks like a great exhibit while we were there - - whoops. Here’s a link to some samples, though, of great landscape photos taken by Stan Jorstad of all of our National Parks. Beautiful! This is what my J ought to be doing!

Okay, I have to admit:
I have a folder for links that is called “Distraction”. Here’s a sampling.

- When your day has been too long, and traffic’s made you crazy, maybe you need to spend some quality time with something really cute and cuddly. They don't call it 'Cute Overload' for nuthin'.

- It’s a little late, but you can always carve a pumpkin. You know I have a thing for carving pumpkins ...

- A little more timely:
Line Rider – The little dude will bravely ride whatever you can dish out, and then some.

- And, the ever-popular Snow Days.

Fun, huh?
Now, get back to work! :)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving in Yosemite

She said, swinging her feet back and forth, "You know what I want to see?"
He said, "No, what?"
"I'd like to see Yosemite. With a light dusting of snow. Someday. And the Grand Canyon, too. With snow. [wistfully] Someday..."
"It'd be cold, you know."
"I know. That's what I have you for."

Well, it was chilly, but not quite cold enough for any snow to 'stick'. The first few days were a bit grey and dreary, and the colors of the mountains and trees were just flat. It was a bit disappointing in that respect ... nothing we really felt compelled to photograph or paint, but the mild weather meant that we could spend our days outside without having to worry about being too hot or too cold. We got in one nice long hike ("No really! I think we just finished the worst part of the hike! We're almost to the lookout point!" "Hmmm. I've heard that before.."). The next afternoon we spent biking all around the valley floor, with long, long stretches of road through the trees, all to ourselves. Oh boy, how great is that?

We woke up on Thanksgiving morning, when we'd planned to drive back home, to a day that finally promised blue skies. We decided to stay another day and got in one last, perfect day. J got in his nice long hike (vertical gain), and I got to paint and ramble along (very flat), traipsing along the river, looking at the rocks in the water, the leaves, and all the gnarly trees along the way.

We'll have to cook up our Thanksgiving dinner some other time, but it was a great week to get away from it all, be outside with the conifers, say hello to all that majestic granite, and breathe in all that crisp, fresh air.

The 'light dusting of snow' ... will have to wait for another trip.

Lots of hiking and walking ...

... and a little bit of painting ...

Click this image ...

...for the rest of the photo set!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cobb Estate

and Robin have posted great paintings/sketches from their visits to the Cobb Estate in Altadena. I finally had a chance to go see. It's rustic, overgrown, bright, with great views no matter what direction you face. What survives of the pavement is great for hiking, walking your pooch, mountain-biking, drawing and painting.

We all agree: The spring, with everything abloom, will be well worth a return trip ...
Oh, so lucky we live in SoCal.

Almost Thanksgiving

mid-November in Southern California / the Cobb Estate, Altadena. Off the very top of Lake.

[I can’t believe I let you guys sit with that OSU/UM post for a week. Yeesh.]

I know, it’s not ‘almost’ Thanksgiving anymore. It’s hard to even think of Thanksgiving, with the holiday/Christmas rush on, seems like it came and went in a hurry! But, still, no matter where we are on the calendar, it’s good to stop and give thanks.

We just got back from a nice long trip to Yosemite (photos to follow, be patient), and so we were away (on the trail, actually) for Thanksgiving Thursday. We did get roast turkey dinner the weekend before we left, though, not to worry. And yes, pumpkin pie. I like the idea of Thanksgiving - - the idea that so many people have this craving for turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and Dallas Cowboy football, wherever they are in the world. The other thing is that, I’m going to guess, that most people say grace. No matter who or what higher power you might believe it, it’s nice to think that we also share in a national moment of pause, of reflection, to give thanks for all that we have, all the food, all the goodness.

Things that I’m thankful for:

- The endless blues of the sunny Southern California sky and of the ocean, that, in spite of all of its moods, still holds its arms open to welcome and soothe us, without question, without fail.

- The sweet, gentle kisses of mauve at sunrise and the vibrant… sweeping… passionate embrace of gold and peach at sunset.

- The golden splendor that bathes the leaves in late afternoon.

- All the greens of the trees that never fail to stop me in my tracks, to look up and lose myself in the wonder of color and texture.

- Pancakes and scrambled eggs, chocolate-covered caramel, popcorn and Heineken beer.

- The pictures, pencils, paint and brushes that let me capture so many fleeting moments, let me tell my stories. Even though I may not record it in words, the memories of the day and my mood are locked into each painting, as each layer is added, memories stored in both the painting and my memory, slowly, stroke by stroke.

- The people in my life who hug, in person, or with warm thoughts from afar.

- Steve and Ken, who told me to just go for it already.

- The Internet, high-speed access and wireless networks. And all the people at the other end.

- And of course, my big ol’ hunky man. He just lights me up. [Sigh]

It’s hard to believe we’re a month from Christmas (oh man, my Christmas cards are SO gonna be late..). Well, I guess it's not that hard to believe. Time flies when you’re off having great adventures. Thanks for keeping me company. Let’s go out and make each day a good one.

xox, -w

Friday, November 17, 2006

Don't 'gotta'

It's true: I love college football.
And, make no mistakes about it, I love BigTen football.

The rest of you wish that your conference was duking it out, undefeated, One and Two.

A few years ago, when one of the local teams played in the National Championship, some of my relatives commented, "Oh, gotta cheer for the home team, 'eh?".

Cheer for one of the PacTen teams here in town?

Uh, no. Don't 'gotta'. I don't think so.

For all the years that I had to read through the Sunday sports pages, flipping flipping flipping to get the weekend results ("Let's see. Okay. USC. UCLA. Northridge. Local High Schools. Hm. Okay, any day now. Oh, here. Next to the last page. Next to ... uh, fishing conditions. One stinkin' paragraph for the whole BigTen? Great."), I'm going to admit that I've enjoyed knowing that all this coverage has spared me all the hype that normally goes along with sunny fall football Saturdays in Los Angeles.

I close my eyes and think of mid-November in the midwest, walking to football games, the crunch of leaves, the cold wind off Lake Michigan. It's cold and grey, and you know that the dirt on the field is cold and damp. Brrrr. But there's marshmallow free-for-alls. And you jingle your keys for kickoff. And when it's over, there's the smell of fireplaces being stoked along the walk home, and the promise of deep dish pizza and more beer.

Now that's college football.

So, Saturday, I'm going to put on some purple (hey, the 'Cats play, too), park myself in front of the TV, settle in, and get my fill of some big time BigTen football.

Go Blue!

And Go Cats!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sitting still

From our last trek up Mount Baldy.

The weekend before, I bunged up my ankle (the bad one), and decided that perhaps hiking on uneven, loose rocks so soon wouldn't be such a good idea. J went for his hike, and I hung out at the visitor center at Mount Baldy, where they have a bit of an exhibit trail with historic dwellings...

And a campfire pit (no fire, though).

The weather was a little chilly that weekend; tough to twirl my brush to get the bristles to be nice and pointy, to get in nice clean thin lines. J and I decided that I'll need to get fingerless gloves, so I can keep my hands warm, and still paint as the weather cools more and more.

This watercolor is the first in my watercolor moleskine notebook. You know how things are, when the blank page stares at you, daring you to make that first mark? Better make it a good one. So, the same applies to a nice, new, clean sketchbook. You want that first page to be something really good. So you never start in on it, because you want to wait until something so great inspires you to paint wonderful things worthy of that new notebook.

I finally got tired of trying to do watercolor paintings on the regular sketchbook. I'd tried pre-treating a page each with water and alcohol (rubbing, not the Heineken variety). You might notice in the painting of Jan's kitchen, that there are white blotches. The ivory color actually lifted off, and the page texture got all scratchy - ick! So, I'm not going to force that issue anymore; I'll sketch in the sketchbook and paint in the paintbook. And besides, the watercolor paper really takes the paint the way you want it to. Why keep fighting it?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Getty Villa photos

This one is just a preview ...

Here's the link to the images from

the Getty Villa!

Jan's kitchen

Complete with the mysterious, floating, humongous mango.
Things that make you go, "Hmmmm". :)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hey there!

This is a watercolor painting from about, mmm, a year and a half or two ago. Actually, this is the first watercolor painting I did, at a workshop. It was a blast! There's something very zen about how you have to let the paint, water and paper just do their thing ... I really would like to take more classes ...

Okay, so here's what I'm thinking ...

(you, sitting there in the back of the room, you should be thinking, "Uh oh")

Between now and the end of the year, we should do this:

We should all reach out across the blogosphere and say, "Hey there!" I read requests from bloggers that their readers (repeat, occasional or even chance), post a comment to just check in. Some people have really great readers that have become an extended support system. Some people ... just the sound of crickets chirping. [Sigh]

I figure, you know, the holidays are coming up, and it's a friendly kind of thing to do. Between now and the end of the year, why don't we all post at least one comment to each of the blogs we visit, just to say, "Hey! Thanks!"

The feedback and support people get from their blogs, it's really inspiring. I mean, it can be and, in many cases by intent, is a pretty anonymous task, which is okay. Sometimes, maybe it's better to be cathartic without getting the response. But, for me, well, it's nice to see who I'm reaching, maybe by the glow of your moniter, way out, who knows where. Otherwise, you know, it's like I'm just talking to myself, and, let's be real: I do plenty of that when I'm stuck in traffi- ...

Oh wait. Was I talking out loud there? I meant to just think it. Whoops. [snicker]

Anyway, there are these little dots all over the world that I see on my ClustrMaps map. I wish I knew how you found me. Drop me a line. I wish I could have that holiday Open House, with all those cookies Joy and I meant to bake last year ... so you could stay for a bit, mix and mingle, and have some nummies.

(Tony's thinking, "Ohhhh, nummies")

I'm going to go off and let all the people I visit .. know that I visit them, and to just say "Hey". Wish I could drop off some cookies for them, too.

... But do say Hello, won't you? :)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dusty boots

After a few days of early morning fog, we got a nice clear morning that lured us out early. I went further uphill than normal, but still got to sit a bit to capture a few more trees... A nice break from all the driving and technology; and an excellent excuse to pig out on Chinese food afterwards.

Here's a photo of the scene.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Oh wow

My original post got bunged up. [sigh]
I think this is what it originally was.

Make sure to watch Part Two, too.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hook, line and ..

There is a strange convergence of sorts going on in my blogosphere. A bit of something-something in the air.

Here in Florida and
Here with the Other Wendee and
Here (listen to the the song - really pretty) and
Even Here on the FridgeDoor

(I dunno. Really unrelated, I guess, and yet somehow, in my brain, it comes together.)

How the world tries to get the best of us.. In the unrelenting din, we’re tempted to lose our way, lose faith in ourselves and in the people and things that mean the most to us. We forget to listen and let their sweet words into our hearts; forget to acknowledge the blessings that we have; forget to give thanks for the clean slate we get, each day…

The traffic, the bills, the weather, the work.
The people, the people, the people.
The stupid kitchen.
The maddening commute.

I was tired and hungry and cranky. Don’t you hate when the argument rages on; both sides in your head:
Stay? Go?
Be selfish? Have faith?
What the heck was I thinking?

I figured I’d sit at Starbucks, get a cuppa decaf and enjoy whatever music they had on - - go brood in someone else’s music and atmosphere for a while. I noticed that they had a Mitch Albom book on display, the tagline just staring at me:

What if you had one more day with someone you’d lost?

I thought, “Oh, well. Gee.”

Being a sentimental sort (you figured I was otherwise?), I picked it up and started reading the dust jacket.

Then I sat down, started reading.

And read.

And read s’more.

I felt sheepishly guilty about getting to read a significant portion of it there in the shop for free and finally had to get up and pay for it, because I could see I’d end up leaving with it. After writing most of this post, I go to the book website and find that they noted: The book was chosen from hundreds of candidates to be the first ever featured by Starbucks in its stores nationwide. Well, okay, yeah. Somebody did their homework, and did it well; Nice work.

The book: For One More Day by Mitch Albom (you know, author of Tuesdays with Morrie).

It’s a short book, a very quick read.
It distracted me, quieted the noise.

And I remembered some things that I really hadn’t been doing much of lately:

Be grateful.

So you and you and all of you:
Extra hugs. Keep the faith out there.

Obligatory Halloween post-script:

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hanabata days

The weeks are long. Even with one ‘extra’ hour of sleep thanks to the time change, the weekends are just too short.

We drove up to Santa Barbara - - a little earlier in the day than we normally do. Traffic cooperated all the way up, so it was a nice drive up, and the day was bright and beaming, the ocean endlessly blue. The Channel Islands off in the distance were as clear as I’ve ever seen. It all helps to give me a bit more hope, a bit more peace. We so need the weekends to recharge and buoy our energies and hopes, to prepare to do battle during the week that awaits.

The drive up was a bit melancholy for me. I’d heard that a high school classmate of mine was killed in a small plane crash along with her husband and kids. I can’t help but stop and take stock, realize that we need to try to live our lives on our own terms, but also balance that drive with acceptance and a sense of peace with what we do have. I think of other classmates that we’ve lost, all too soon, and the silent struggles that I know my friends are going through, the strength that people are asking and expecting, the reservoirs that sometimes run so low. These may not have been people that I’d been in close contact with since graduation, or even in school, but I remember the smiles, the youthful spirit, and the promise of a future that we all boldly shared.

At graduation, our principal proclaimed our class ‘piquant’.
We all went, silently in unison: “Huh?”.
After Grad night, we all had to consult our college-bound dictionaries:

1. agreeably pungent or sharp in taste or flavor; pleasantly biting or tart: a piquant aspic.
2. agreeably stimulating, interesting, or attractive: a piquant glance.
3. of an interestingly provocative or lively character: a piquant wit.
4. Archaic. sharp or stinging, esp. to the feelings.

I think they were trying to tell us that we really were a feisty bunch, a real pain in the #$&%, but that they still liked us. At least, that was my take on trying to put a positive spin on it. It was certainly more descriptive than being a ‘together’ or ‘discerning’ class. I think ‘piquant’ was actually quite appropriate.

In the years since, I’ve found our piquant class to be unusually caring, in our own distinct and separate ways. We keep touch through emails, normally passing along, unfortunately, sad news, as was the case this past week. I was on campus last year and ran into the College Guidance secretary, Mrs. Y. It took a while for her to place me and my class and classmates. She commented that while we were in school and in the years since, she’s had the impression that our class was really, really close. I said, “Oh?”. We always seemed to be at odds with one another. Mrs. Y said that, yes, there was that. But, she also observed that if one of our classmates was down or needed support, even while we were in high school, that the class would converge and rally around each other, very fiercely protective - - something she said was pretty clear and also unusual. She was heartened to hear that time had softened the sharper edges, and that the feeling of support and affection remains strong and grows, still. Some people are still a bit distant, standoffish, and I shrug. The memories and ties that have remained strong, they go far, far back; and I am thankful for them.

Yeah, Hanabata days.

So I sit, while J drives us up the coast, closing my eyes and enjoying the warmth of the sun, driving along the long stretch of open blue ocean. I sigh to myself: I don’t remember agreeing to letting life get so damn grown up.

So, I miss you guys; whatever part you played, it’s all very much a part of me, layers that give depth and texture to my life. I remember things that surprise me. Who spoke at Graduation? Did Elke get to say, “Tough times don’t last. But, tough people do.”? See? The things that stay with you.

So, you. Yes, you. And you, too, if you can imagine:
Think of the days we spent cutting mangos during the summer for mango chutney,
being at Bellows on any one of those perfect, suntanned days,
listening to Chris Campbell’s cockroach haiku,
that first bite into a fresh, hot malasada,
ah, the smell of ginger, pikake, and maile.
Got that set in your mind? Yeah. :)
I send you that kind of aloha and wish you that kind gentle sweetness for your days ahead. Hugs for the little ones and, boy, I hope to see you in June*.

xox & aloha,

* For the record, Marla and I, we want to call dibs for working in the beer tent.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Just a pinch


Have a great weekend out there.
xox, w

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Piglet, 2

Piglet slid up to Pooh from behind,
“Pooh,” he whispered.
“Yes Piglet?”
“Oh nothing,“ said Piglet, taking Pooh by his paw, “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
-A. A. Milne

Piglet, 1

Piglet had got up early that morning to pick himself a bunch of violets; and when he had picked them and put them in a pot in the middle of his house, it suddenly came over him that nobody had ever picked Eeyore a bunch of violets, and the more he thought of this, the more he thought how sad it was to be an Animal who had never had a bunch of violets picked for him. So he hurried out again, saying to himself, “Eeyore, Violets,” and then “Violets, Eeyore,” in case he forgot, because it was that sort of day, and he picked a large bunch and trotted along, smelling them, and feeling very happy, until he came to the place where Eeyore was.

“Oh, Eeyore,” began Piglet a little nervously, because Eeyore was busy.

Eeyore put out a paw and waved him away.

“Tomorrow,” said Eeyore. “Or the next day".

- A.A. Milne

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Every photo tells a story ...

Not because of the pretty frame.
Not because of the inscription, "with love".
Not because it adds a refined touch to the rest of the mess.
Not because of the beautiful blue water, the crisp white sail, or the little yellow flowers.

And not because it keeps watch over me while I'm typing away...

... but, because I have this photo, too:

ilyb + you know the rest

Engineering sketching

In the design process, drawing is the act of thought. - Richard MacCormac

This just goes to show you that some engineering/techno-geekiness remains, no matter how hard you might try to gloss it over.. with berets*, with funky designer eyeglasses, black turtlenecks [snicker], or paint-/bondo-stained fingers, or...

I thought, "Ooooo, this is just too cool." :)

* Yeah, the day I break down and wear a design-y beret, oooooh boy...

Mechanical Engineers:
The world does revolve around us:
We choose the coordinate system!

Monday, October 23, 2006

A fall hike

The days are supposed to be getting shorter, yet they seem endlessly full of work, commuting, stress. We got out to Mt Baldy, to enjoy the fresh air, the endlessly blue sky, the blankets of golden fallen leaves, gurgling streams.

I moved as each sunny spot I'd chosen shifted. I sat for a while and watched a wasp sun itself, clean off its legs and antennae. It would flex its wings, back and forth, as if it were a jet fighter being put through a final checkout by mechanics. It was much less organic and fluid in its motion; more mechanical than one would expect. The wasp would flit back and forth, checking its footing on the branch it had settled on, then return to its cleaning, flexing its wings up and down.

This continued for quite a while.

Ladybugs scurried back and forth, hopping over worn out strands of glistening cobwebs. The wasp continued, without distraction, seeming to enjoy its sunbath.

J got back, found me and called over, "Watch'ya doin'?"...

"... Oh, just watching this wasp ..."

Another small respite.

More photos and sketches here.


Another early morning dealing with unannounced construction guys. The details aren’t worth relaying anymore. Suffice to say, the kitchen reconstruction lingers endlessly on. Long story -> short: I went off to paint for a few hours with Karen.

We wandered (see Descanso) and settled on a spot with great views in every direction in the middle of the rose garden. It was a glorious, sunny, cloudless day, and the gardens were lush with vibrant color.

We drew and painted (smeared paint around), and caught up with each other. As the sun dropped lower and lower, the sunlight bathed the trees, the leaves and blooms with a warm, golden glow. The shadows grew longer and longer, and took on an even more lazy purple tint.

Here are my sketches and a few postcard paintings:

I started with some watercolor postcards. I want to play with the media more, to better control the intensity of the pigment and to start working on larger paper. I went back over these with w/c pencils later to work in darker colors.

I’ve been doing this modified contour-drawing thing - - if you quilt, it’s roughly in the spirit of continuous-line quilting. I’ve been playing with it for a little while, trying to get different textures to read. I think it’s starting to make a little more sense in this drawing; yet another gnarly tree!


This is the last sketch I did. The watercolors frustrated me a bit, and I wanted to be able to more clearly and succinctly depict some of the textures and work in some darker values to show more dramatic contrast.

Here's the updated Descanso 10-2006 flickr photos

It was a great afternoon, such a perfect escape from the insanity, even if for just a few hours. We should all remember to get out, enjoy the sunshine and all the beauty that Fall has to offer.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Uncanny skills

Think you can distinguish between fake and genuine smiles? Hmm!
Take the test to see!

Me? Got 18 of 20. Guess you can't hide too much from me.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

fANSI dims

Some days, separate scraps of paper cross paths, and the relationships between them become crystal clear. So then, how’s about this?

don't ask

It’s as if separate thoughts that have been gestating fitfully finally take form and emerge, clear and purposeful. You may have felt unsure, uncertain; but the truth is, really, always inside of us.

Just go out there and do what you have to do. - Martina Navratilova

It’s been a tough week; think I’ll call it early. You guys have a great weekend out there.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Carnations for breakfast

I’m finally trying to do more painting, bit by bit. I got these carnations (you thought they were daffodils, huh?) last week, intending to paint them, and now they’re starting to wither a bit. I’d sit and have breakfast with them, and think, “Gee, couldn’t have picked flowers with fewer petals, huh? Maybe something a little easier to paint?” [sigh]
The flowers are about spent, and I figured I’d better just sit down and paint. The paintings, like the flowers, look much more charming from across the room. You could get the same effect by squinting at your screen. Or stepping back about five feet (besides, you shouldn't be sitting so close to your moniter, to begin with ;) )

These are sketches #2 and #3. Like anything else, it all works better when you’ve kept up practice, or at least have warmed up. We say it to ourselves over and over, and yet are amazed when we actually experience and see it in our work. Watching my students sketch incessantly during class, I realize how much drawing we did in school. I miss being that practiced and know that my wrist and elbow aren't as loose and confident as they could or should be. Yet, I also can tell that my style has evolved, and I'm happier with where it is today, than back in school.

As an aside, though, the frustrating thing to know is that most of this work, even the early phases, is done digitally, less by hand. I think, "Doh". The demons of doubt and insecurity, I tell you, they never quite go away.

Um, yeah. That's the sketching that I'd do for work, which I post very little of here; It's not like you've missed something.

Anyway, I had an extra piece of paper, and you know, the beach just called. There’s something to be said for letting go and not getting involved in super-detailed sketches before drawing.

I really need to do more of this.