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.