Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I would share my biscotti

Writing inspiration Click to see this photo's flickr page

I have started this post in my mind a number of times during the past few months. When I get tempted to be vengeful and strike back at what’s been sitting on me, weighing me down, I just stop. I’ve read anger, venom spewed out publicly, and, you know, it’s just hurtful. Yup.

The best I can describe the past few months is that, well, some times, you just don’t feel like sharing. Not that there’s anything particularly personally sensitive going on, but you just feel like hunkering down, way out in the middle of no where, and not have to talk about anything to anyone. Ever have a day like that? Yeah? I’ve had a good 4 or 5 months worth of it.

To be honest, I’ve considered a number of times just quitting the blog, as well. Not just stopping it, but taking the whole thing off-line. I’ve had to think on why people blog, why I blog, what I want, where this is going.

In the beginning, I recall wanting to share the silly everyday-ness with friends who had moved away. Along the way, I discovered a few of things: the friends visited my blog with decreasing regularity. And when I’d get very pensive, they’d shy away; they prefer the silly goofiness, or were maybe just more comfortable responding to it. The other thing I discovered, though, is that I’ve met people along the way, quite by accident sometimes, that would read my words and ponder along, at least for part of the way, with me. I know also that I have a deep need to be heard. I say that again: I need to be heard. The problem with being a really good, empathetic listener is that people feel even more comfortable to talk at/with you. And talk. Oh heck, they’ll talk right over you. Talk, talk, talk. And they often forget to stop to listen. So, I found and still find myself writing, and thinking, and writing more. I don’t know that I’m writing for any particular cause, other than to now keep in touch with the other strong, yet sensitive souls that I’ve connected with. I need to be heard. The naysayers, the critics, those who have lost interest, those a little too sheepish, unwilling or just plain unable to engage in deeper conversation, they persist. But, the greater truth is I have found, one by one, good, patient people who will stop and listen, share and connect. They hear, and they hear me. And, boy, isn’t that what counts?

I have kept up reading my bloggy buddies’ blogs (say that 5 times fast!), but I have missed keeping them up with me. I’ve been micro-blogging, 140 characters at a time, on Twitter. I’ve found some exceptional nice people there. I’ve been drawing and collaging, taking photos, and posting on Flickr, as well, and I’ve found some exceptionally creative, talented people there, too. I feel a bit remiss, knowing that when they click over to this blog, there’s really been nothing new here; just a long, uncertain pause.

In many ways, I hope that The FridgeDoor is successful in celebrating the everyday acts that we do, the simple acts of grace, the small steady stream of words of encouragement that we share, the thoughts we have that are remarkably great and significant, unexpectedly mixed in with all the seemingly trivial details our routines. At its best, though, I think it’s also a letter – a love letter – to those that do stop in, to read and look at the images up close, and then sit for with me, and with you, a bit and share the inspiration, or even just actively share the silence. [shrug]

So I have to keep at the blog, if not for them, for me, because I need to keep thinking and pondering and writing, scheming and sighing all at the same time. I keep at the blog because I deeply cherish the companionship of these friends, close and very far away. I can’t be there, but we can share a virtual cuppa' coffee, right? I saw a couple of you nod, “Yup”. And if I had biscotti, I’d share one with you.

Much thanks. xox, -w

Friday, September 26, 2008

Taking more time

More ginger blossoms Click to see this photo's flickr page

Being an introvert simply means that one requires plenty of alone time to recharge after being in the presence of other people. - Emily Maguire

If you are really missing the drawings and photos, you should go to view my Flickr photostream.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Some things just take time

First blossoms
20080817_ginger Click to see this photo's flickr page

I've been reading about what it takes to be a good (ie, good pro) blogger - you keep providing great content, keep the conversation flowing.
You never, ever leave your readers hanging.

I've also been reading about summers that have been spent thinking about life and direction. Sometimes there are photos, but no words. There's mostly lots of quiet filled with (what you can only know is) heavy pondering.

I'm okay with that, as long as I can get the sense that the person at the other end of the internet connection is hanging in there. I guess you can't really know for sure how these people are sometimes, people you don't actually know, but have managed to grow an affection for. You try to have faith that whatever the hopes and thoughts that you're sending out to them are somehow received into the universe, into their universe.

Maybe there are people still out there, sending out extra goodness my way. Peering over at the FridgeDoor: "Anything new? Nope. Wiped clean, but nothin' new." You knew I'd come back, right?

So, for me, there are lots travels and pondering to catch up with, stories to be told and stories not to be told. It was like an all-you-can eat orgy: all these trips, one after another, tastes of so many things, and so much of it, seemingly all at once. Some of it was very yummy and exquisite; some unexpectedly bitter, tart, or worse, spoilt. I've tried to resist the temptation to reflexively spew out what was distasteful and hurtful, get it out of me as quickly as possible and then be done with it. But with spewing, in many ways, you might feel better, but it can get awfully messy.

So, I've been sitting, digesting. ["And now you're ready to poop?"]

OMG. Where the heck did that come from? Swell.

As we head back into Fall and the new school semesters, I'm finding myself committing to things, exploring new paths that I've known I've wanted to travel on, but been unsure about for some time.

Do you hear that creak? The fridge door might need a little bit of oil, but I think it's back open.

And look at that, the light still goes on, yup, every time.

Oh yes. And as if to celebrate, some of you may remember the
ginger plant? It finally bloomed, exactly when it needed to.

Remarkably, as it turns out, exactly when I needed it to, too.

Some things, they just take some time.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On a lighter note

... if you've been reading this via rss/atom feed, you should stop by the actual site and see the new banner and formatting.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all's right with the world.
- Ada Louise Huxtable

I might try to catch up adding photos onto Flickr and posting links to them, but, otherwise, I'm going to take a break.

Friday, May 23, 2008


20080523_hand Click to see this photo's flickr page

"Hands confirm what we see, define what we feel and allow us to touch the spirit of design." - Bryce Rutter

I've been thinking a lot about hands lately. I have my students working on mobility/medical devices projects, so we are looking at grips, walkers, wheelchairs. It goes beyond trying to figure out ergonomics; I see my students working hard to gain empathy for other people and trying to find solutions that would help people accomplish very basic tasks.

This week, I listened to an online hand ergonomics seminar. There are some nice thoughts that I took away from the seminar that really transcended the anatomy and science. I find that I really want to spend time drawing hands again (and maybe feet) and writing from my lecture notes.

But for now, do this:

Take your hand off your mouse. Stop scrolling down and Just do it.
Okay. Put your hand over your chest, close your eyes and breathe,
and know that I appreciate your visit here and send my love to you for the long weekend.

A special hello to my twitter posse. Thanks, guys. xox -w

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Portland Japanese Garden

Winding streams, Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, OR
Click to see this photo's flickr page

I visited Portland a few weeks ago and made it a point to visit the Portland Japanese Garden. It was just spectacular! All those winding streams, manicured plants, raked beds, benches, alcoves and tea rooms; I love Japanese landscape architecture and its simple - yet great - details.

I would have taken more photos, but found myself in the delightful company of a kindred spirit, content to sit and take in the scenery for long, relaxing stretches of time. That's the way the garden should be enjoyed, after all...

Click here to see the full set!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I need a pedicure

Feet by Wendee. Pedicure by Monica and Limmy
pcc_feet Click to see this photo's flickr page

Yes. I have some serious blog-catching up do to. I've had lots of adventures, photos, thoughts of bloggy words, but no great motivation to type them. Meh. I've been pretty good about keeping up with posting photos on Flickr, though, and you can see the photos here.

Tonight, my students are on my mind. They have so much enthusiasm, idealism, hope, energy and goodness. They have so many daunting real-life, gutsy challenges ahead of them. Can I offer advice? The best I can do is gently remind them that they have to make their own decisions and be at peace and secure with the choices they make. It's the best any of us can do, really. I have been sitting at my computer, thinking of them and just wishing them strength and faith.

... I have them working on "help people do something basic, better" / mobility / medical device projects. It is going slow because there is really meaningful information they are gathering, interviews and interactions that they are initiating. I hope to help them create designs as meaningful as the intent they have brought to this particular project. I'm truly humbled by the very sincere topics they've chosen.

So, we find ourselves drawing lots of hands, figures and feet. I had to share (we do a lot of sharing) my uneven toes on my left foot with them; I've wondered to what extent this affects my balance on my left foot versus my right. Does this affect the mechanics of my running? Just look at the toes on my left foot! The next class period, the butcher paper with my feet was still on the table, and at the end of a very busy class, two of my students told me they had given me a pedicure. "Go see!" It is more playful (and more orange) than I would ever go for, myself, but I like this idea. I'm not keen on the happy/unhappy face tattoos, though. My feet are, after all, happy feet.

When I can see that there is a playful creativity that we share, when we can share silly anecdotes about our lives, when we can all sit and enjoy the communal act of brainstorming and drawing together, with so much enthusiasm at the end of what I know are really busy, busy days, I know that I am very, very fortunate to do what I do.

More indulgences

'Oh! new pencils!'
20080502_moreinktense Click to see this photo's flickr page

So, yes, I went and bought more Inktense watercolor pencils. I tested the new colors and posted the little scribbles on Flickr. Get this: I got more views for that one image than anything else I've ever posted. I mean, by an order of magnitude. I thought, "Weird".

And then I picked up more colors (what? You're getting ready to waggle your finger at me. It's not like I'm buying illegal drugs or anything) a few days later and posted those colors samples (above), and, that image got even MORE views.

I'm not sure what is so much more intriguing about the little squiggley color samples, compared to all photos of the lovely places I've been visiting, or even my sketches (sigh), but there you have it. The numbers don't lie.

'Ooooo. Lookit the colors...'
20080429_new_inktense Click to see this photo's flickr page. Go ahead. Everyone else did. ;)

PB&Js travel in style

20080422_lunchbag Click to see this photo's flickr page

More from "Draw something everyday". I love my Built NY neoprene lunch bag. A nice design-y indulgence in my life. And notice it's that mint-y green that I seem to have such a preference for. Oh, I haven't mentioned that yet? I'll have to document it and share all the mint-green bags and things that I seem to have collected over the last year or two.

Draw something, everyday

20080429_waterbottle Click to see this photo's flickr page

It's a new assignment I'm trying out - to have my students draw something from life, something new (or even, the same), every day. Where have we heard this before? Hmmmm. I was going to follow along with them, since it's a good habit, this 'draw everyday' concept, but I find I'm a bit behind.

Seems like the only time I have to draw is when I'm sitting down to eat; and then I draw bits of food that I haven't scarfed down yet...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Open Stock

Retail Therapy Click to see this photo's flickr page

It was a rough day and I still had to teach class late at night, then finish packing, then get up to be at the airport by 4am the next morning. Make that: It was a rough day, and at 4pm, it was just getting started.

I decided to see if Blicks had put out the new shades of Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils, and yes, they did! I bought all the colors that I'd been wanting to enhance my basic set of 12. I left with about 25 more, each carefully chosen, but it was certainly a fraction of the cost of buying the mongo set of 72, which they didn't have anyway.

I decided to bring the new pencils on the trip, to test out the colors in my sketchbook while I was away, winding down from days at a design conference. The days have been filled with lots of great thoughts and presentations and lots of designers; lots and lots of kindred spirits. It's 2am of day two, and it's been so full that I haven't been able to sift properly through my photos, check up on blogs (which I do so obsessively), keep up with the professional group blog to post events going on early next week, do magazine research, do writing homework. Even though the conference ends tomorrow, we have plenty planned for the day and the day afterwards.

Everyone is happy, energized, reconnected and I know that all our mini notebooks are filled with scribbles of notes of ideas and inspiration. It'll be interesting to see how this shared inspiration will manifest itself down the line. It is strangely satisfying to say that, no, I haven't even had time to test the new pencils.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. I hear it's been toasty in LA, but we've had two really great sunny days in Portland. Did I just jinx it for the rest of the stay? Ehh, it'll just make the great expresso taste even better with a hint of drizzle, I suppose. Be back soon. xox, -w

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Maloof Discovery Gardens

The Wonderful Maloof Gardens Click to see this photo's flickr page

While reading one of Sunset magazine's blogs, Fresh Dirt, I discovered that a wonderful garden was nearby. How 'nearby'? You know, like 10 miles nearby. "Cool", I thought, making a mental note that I'd have to visit it soon.

After doing more research, I discovered that the garden is designed around the Maloof Historic Residence museum. "Who's that?" I thought. Imagine my glee when I discovered that Sam Maloof is a master woodworker, a veritable national treasure, who handcrafts furniture, designed and built (?) the historic Maloof residence and the new one, as well.

When I saw photos of his work, I blinked in disbelief. Did I mention that beyond gardens, that I'm a sucker for garden details, landscape architecture, and Arts and Crafts anything? OMG. And you're telling me this is all 10 miles away from home? Could life get any better? Really, people.

So after a long week full of taxes, design details and professional events, I finally went to the gardens today.

The Maloof Discovery Garden is designed to be water-wise, low-maintenance, AND is a Certified Wildlife Habitat. I turned the corner of the walkway entering into the garden, and stood there, stunned, with my jaw gaping. There are lots of the California native and Mediterranean plants that I love, fantastically in bloom, right now. There's an Arts and Crafts feel to the entire property, of course, with lots of joyful sculptures inhabiting the garden, lots of textures both natural and crafted to please the senses (you know I can't resist petting things like this).

Didn't have time to do a tour of the historic residence today, but, gee, I'm certainly not going to wait long.

The garden and residence are open Saturday and Thursday afternoons (as the Maloofs, after all, still live and work there ...). The foundation welcomes plein air artists to work in the garden every 2nd Thursday and Saturday, 12 Noon-4:00 pm (and a few extra dates). Hello? "Plein air painting in the garden"? Are you thinking what I'm thinking? We should go!

Click here to see the whole Flickr set from today's meanderings. :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Arlington Gardens, Pasadena

Arlington Gardens, from the sidewalk

Ginny, who organizes the painting group, discovered Arlington Gardens in Pasadena, with fields of poppies! (Poppies!!) Last week (or maybe the week before? It's become a blur), my buddy Karen and I checked it out. Karen adds, "Oh, and there are lots of garden details...". Did I mention that, besides the gardens and flowers, that I'm a pushover for landscape architecture and garden details? My eyes bugged out. What a find!

I've compiled this from various articles:

The once vacant lot at Arlington Drive and Pasadena Avenue has been transformed into a California Friendly™ Mediterranean demonstration garden. Owned by the state of California and leased by the city of Pasadena, the 2½-acre property has been planted with more than 800 plants and trees including palm trees, an orange grove, olive allée, lavender garden, California poppies, pepper trees and more.

The garden is arranged into two main horticultural and stylistic areas-- Native California and Mediterranean. There is a formal Garden Room in each respective area; the Olive Allée in the Mediterranean section (western half) and the yet to be constructed Crafstman Commons in the California section (eastern half). Other important features include: Tuscan steps, an amphitheatre, an orange grove, a meadow, an arroyo, a vernal pool, desert areas and a raised-bed herb garden.

Thanks to numerous private donations from local residents, businesses and partial funding from the City of Pasadena and Pasadena Water and Power, we have added many new trees, shrubs, perennials and annual wildflowers to the original roster. In addition, we have received generous donations from local businesses and individuals which have added comfort and beauty to our garden with seating and ornamentation. Although it is still a work in progress, the Arlington Garden is already a place where nature and people rub elbows in many gratifying ways. (Karen and I also met a number of very sweet puppies that were being walked by their respective people)

The garden is maintained and supported by the non-profit group Arlington Garden in Pasadena with generous help from local residents, Pasadena Beautiful Foundation, the Parks and Natural Resources Division of the Pasadena Public Works Department and Pasadena Water and Power.

Betty and Charles McKenney, who live in the house adjacent to the lot (in the house Karen and I were both wishing we lived in, no doubt), tend the garden.

Read more at the landscape designer's website (scroll down), including how to donate or volunteer!

This poppy decided to go for a swim...
Lots of great garden details!

See the whole set of photos!

The garden is open from dawn to dusk, and Karen and I are both certain that it will continue to be a charming place to visit through all the seasons. See Karen's watercolor study; it's just lovely!

Missing my gnarly buddies

20080412_Mt Baldy Visitor Ctr
Click to see this photo's flickr page

As our school terms wind down, the weeks get more and more intense, and the focus of our weekends centers more and more around decompressing from it all.

So, up again to Mt Baldy. The winds were whipping around, and it might have been okay for J to tough out going up the trail, but knowing that I'd be sitting still, trying to draw, I opted to stick around by the Visitors Center. I'd drawn there one other time, and to be honest, I missed being up the trail, where all my gnarly buddies are. Because I had picnic tables to work on, though, I got to play with some pan paint that I carry around, along with the watercolor pencils, and that felt good.

Three hours later J returned and we had lunch at the Lodge across the street. Yum!

20080412_Mt Baldy Visitors Ctr

20080412_Mt Baldy Visitor Ctr

Sunday, April 06, 2008


When two violins are placed in a room
if a chord on one violin is struck the other violin will sound the note
if this is your definition of hope ... this is for you
the ones who know how powerful we are
who know we can sound the music in the people around us
simply by playing our own strings
for the ones who sing life into broken wings
open their chests and offer their breath as wind on a still day
~ andrea gibson

I occasionally visit Boho's blog and really enjoyed this quote that she posted last week. I'm passing it along to my buddies that are in need of that sweet, gentle spring air to fill their hearts with hope and peace, renewal and conviction. xox - w

Icehouse? Icebox?

You wish you could feel the gnarlyness..
20080405_gnarlytree2 Click to see this photo's flickr page

Yesterday we got out and went to Mt Baldy to get above the cloud-cover. So, I had the chance to sit and draw gnarly trees at Icehouse Canyon, not too far up the trail (hello, this is Me we're talking about). I keep thinking "Icebox" because after about an hour, the fog rolled up the mountain and into where I was sitting by the stream, and it got really cold. And who wants to be sitting still in the fog and the wind, trying to draw? Not me. My fingers get all stiff from the cold and then, well, where's the fun in that? Note to self - yes, bring the mittens no matter what the weather looks like. Okay, fine, yes, it's So Cal, and you (no names) can say I'm a wimp, but at least my wimpy drawing fingers won't be cold, and they'll stay nimble (wiggling my fingers) enough so that I can keep drawing.

When the HikingBear came back down to where I was, we headed for some Chinese food - good warm hot&sour soup. Yum.

And maybe this gnarliness, too

 liquid gnarliness?

Arty note: I'd gone through the assorted brands that I have managed to collect over the years ... to find additional colors to supplement the set of 12 Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils that I have. I think I've settled on at least this much - I like how the Inktense pencils feel going onto the paper while I sketch, and BOY, does that pigment just melt in such a lovely way when you add water. Woo! When I run into where I've used a different pencil with my watercolor brush, I can SO tell. I'll be trying to get the pigment to flow, unsuccessfully, going, "Eh! Eh! Eh!". I've been so good, trying to fight the lusty urge to cave in and get a new, expanded sets of 36 pencils (if 36 would be indulgent, 72 would be so unnecessarily decadent) that Derwent has now. But gee, life would just be so much more enjoyable with them. Oh wait, Blicks finally carries more of the new colors in open stock. Mmmmmm >:)

Zion National Park

20080330_zion_2 Click to see this photo's flickr page

Last weekend we went to Zion National Park in Utah. It seems like forever ago already.

Zion is a smaller park and I think this is its charm. There are lots of trails to go wander about, and when you need to get back together with the rest of your group, you don't have to worry so much about any prolonged trip to get to your meeting point, like you would for the larger parks. We got in three days' worth of long hikes. Well, yeah, I got two days in, and one more mellow day to ramble and sketch. There's plenty of that climbing uphill stuff, if you're inclined to do that, and a good deal of walking along the flat, as well. We discovered an unexpected grotto and saw mule deer and wild turkey up close and personal.

More from Zion National Park Click to see this photo's flickr page

On the way back, we swung by the Grand Canyon (now that's a detour) for sunset and the next morning's sunrise. Drove back to California and stopped for a break at a marina in Needles. And then the next day, we were back at work!

More photos and sketches of red rock, here.

Time flies

Two years ago I met the most delightful man. And look at us now!

Looking pretty perky for that early!
After sunrise at Grand Canyon Click to see this photo's flickr page

You'd think we could pose for more photos together, and eventually get one that's actually really nice. But we're havin' too much fun rambling about...

Monday, March 31, 2008

More gnarly trees

20080324_EatonCyn Click to see this photo's flickr page

I'm behind posting about my adventures. If you're following my additions to Flickr, you're caught up. No one's commented about the bigness of that cookie, though, so who knows.

On Easter Sunday we went back to Eaton Canyon, and after pondering the "steep, narrow, dusty, shadeless, winding" qualities of Walnut Canyon, I decided to go with "No, you go on up. I'll sit and draw". It was about mid-day, and a lot of the photos were pretty washed out by that screaming Southern California sun. I had a tough time finding a spot that was left me both in the shade and in the quiet.

The one reason we keep making that long drive out to Pasadena (the steep, narrow hikes? I don't think so) is to get more yummy curry at Hurry Curry.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My plate

Click over to Flickr to see how BIG the cookie was! OMG!
What's left Click to see this photo's flickr page

is full!

With life and sunny days and good food and creative friends and flowers and dusty shoes!
and pollen (achoo!)! xox -W

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Patio, 1

I'm working on something different. - W

I choose to sit here because I need to make my peace with this spot, embrace it as home. I have always loved the early morning, and the morning works for the patio. No matter the season, the morning shade keeps our patio cool and serene. I can hear different birds chirping, each to its own tempo. The neighbors go about their errands, grousing loudly at each other in Spanish, efficiently, directly, but not angrily. The anger and exasperation usually comes later in the day. But the mornings have a calmness that we all seem to share a respect for.

A dog shakes, jingling his collar. How could we forget about him? Even he seems to be lazily enjoying his morning.

The patio has a concrete pad, and beyond that another five feet in three directions, covered with bark. Along the periphery, along the fence, we have plants planted. Jan’s, which I haven’t identified, are in the ground, first in view out the patio door. Mine, in pots, a hodge-podge of displaced Hawaiian natives and miniature roses. There’s new growth breaking through on everything. The prospect of continued growth and promise of blooms later in the summer. What will it take to get the ginger to bloom?

The dog runs across his patio, alerted to a large truck, sliding its doors open for a delivery. I hear Mexican music playing. There’s something remotely soothing about it, unsynthesized ballads, mariachi.

I try to make peace. Wednesdays I go to yoga. I like to exercise in the mornings, when I can control the pace of my activity, and not be pummeled by the noises and impatience of people all insisting on their own agenda. The yoga comes at a good time in the week for me, in between the two days that I teach late into the night. Yoga gets me off to an easy, balanced start, and it’s a calm that’s hard to shake in favor of work and active problem-solving responsibilities. I need to associate the patio with this kind of calm and nourishment.

I left a patio far closer to the coast, overlooking large fields and open parks. This patio has always felt small, boxed in, like it yearns to be more. The neighbor opens her window upstairs and peers down across the walkway, glancing into our space, as we do when we’re upstairs. It’s never felt completely safe, completely quiet or secluded; never completely like home. I can continue to resist the patio or come to accept it and nurture it. There are, after all, new buds and sprouts to take care of, if we want to ensure continued growth and flowers in a few months.

Alto wind chimes next door start to keep time to the Mexican radio. You can hear the rustle of the breeze in the trees through the rest of the walkway, and it finally reaches our patio, causing the plants to sway back and forth.

I hear a lawnmower. Wednesdays, the gardening crew comes.

I know it’s approaching noon, but the sun hasn’t reached the peak of its arc, so we can all linger in the relative calm. I find myself unable to resist the temptation of the calmness of the morning, the coolness of the concrete under my feet.

The plants are all sturdy, but are a bit heavy with worn, brown leaves. The leaves of Jan’s plants, so broad, show the strain of the changing season and warming days. I find myself making check-lists: I need to water the plants more often, trim back the old growth, repot my plants, give them more room to grow. I see cobwebs in the corners of the fences, mud splatters, little burrows where the neighbor’s cat comes in and out. I hear someone else watering their garden on the other side of two wooden fences. The weeds are feeling hopeful, sending up new sprouts. Wispy clouds pass by. Even the sky is light in its blueness; morning not ready to yield to the staggering heat and blinding brightness of the midday sun.

My mind pauses and I start to become very aware of how it has lead me to see the plants as representations of our lives. The permanence of Jan’s plants here and the implied impermanence of mine in their pots. Where do they really belong? Against the south fence? Or the North fence? I just don't know. I haven't taken the time to figure it out. It’d be great to set them in soil and allow them to take root, but I can’t be certain that they’ll flourish, stay permanently, no better than I can know for certain how well I can flourish here. Jan’s been here for almost 20 years and has roots. Even though he’d like to move and is tired of the lack of space to breathe, he is sturdy and strong and confident in this life here. Me, I’m not quite so sure. What old growth do I still need to prune off to let the air of this space breathe around and through me?

I look over and sigh. The ginger has been the tender jewel of the bunch; faithfully growing soft green leaves, but never flowering, secretly keeping the heady sweet blossoms to itself, curled tightly, codes hidden somewhere deep in its miniscule cells, waiting, waiting, waiting.

The gardener starts his mower and the rumbling sound of industry and work has finally reached out walkway. I need to finish my daydreaming and my coffee and get started with my day as well.

What will it take for the ginger to bloom?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More PB&J

20080318_more_pbj Click to see this photo's flickr page

Another late night at school.
Another PB&J.

Note that unlike the biscotti, I'm willing to spend the time to finish the drawing of my sammich before eating it.

Monday, March 17, 2008


20080317_zucchini Click to see this photo's flickr page

This maybe-a-sketch-a-day and collage painting effort is being pre-empted by Season Four of "24".

And who am I to pre-empt Jack Bauer? Oh, no, not me. Not gonna cross Jack Bauer.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Not quick enough

20080314_biscottibag Click to see this photo's flickr page

After obsessing about sushi for a bit a week ago, the end of this week I've been thinking about biscotti. Or, more accurately, virtual biscotti. Or, even more accurately, sharing (virtual) biscotti and a cuppa coffee with internet buddies. At the virtual, internet coffee shop.
It's good to spend time catching up with your buddies over a coffee and a cookie. Or maybe you just want to bring over a bunch of poppies. But all you can do is send over the sentiment, because, well, they're just ... far away. But, you know, it's the thought that counts.

The coffee shop around the corner has nice chocolate-covered biscotti, but I guess you'll have to just take my word for it.

Have a great weekend. xox -w

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Cherry blossoms at Descanso

Around the house tonight: "Daylight savings? What? We spring forward tonight?! Hey, can't we get some kind of heads-up, here? Maybe a time-out from politics? Hello!
[Both checking different calendars] Oh ... wait, it's here. Argh. But, still!"

Cherry Blossoms Click to see this photo's flickr page
Arty note: watercolor pencils. I removed the label from the sketch book, so I can't remember the brand or type paper, but, yes, the paper is toned, maybe even recycled, and not too rough, like normal tan craft paper typically is. I've been enjoying working on the toned paper lately. I sure wish my arms were toned. But I digress.

I stopped over at Descanso Gardens Friday, since I was in the area. I knew the cherry blossoms (I want to type "cheery") were in bloom and wanted to see them - the ones by the Tea House are just about finishing up, a little tired-looking. But certainly worth sitting and sketching for a little bit.

I walked over to the Rose Gardens, but, the roses aren't in bloom yet. There was, though, one cherry tree just bursting with glorious, delicate white blossoms. To stand underneath it and look up into the blue sky with layers and layers of endless flowers was just heavenly. I would have stayed even longer, lingering in this reverie (yes, I know: you can imagine) taking pictures and soaking it all in, but the bees were out, enjoying this all, too. I know well enough to share.

What you can't hear: 'Bzzz!'
Cherry Blossoms Click to see this photo's flickr page

The rest of the set, including a few of a clump of very perky poppies (I worry that I will type "puppies", or perhaps, worse, "poopies") in the parking lot, here.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sushi on the brain

Hey, keep your pointy cursor fingers away from my sushi!
20080304_sushi Click to see this photo's flickr page

The hard thing about coming up with assignments is trying to make sure it can be interpreted universally enough to engage all, or hopefully, most of my students. The fun thing about coming up with assignments is obsessing about them before I actually give the assignment and thinking of ways I'd approach the project, to help out with an example to get them all going. Well, it's fun, except when it's, like, food.

"Tell me your three favorite foods", I sez. "You should be able to do this without thinking. Here, I like ... sushi, jello and cookies". I lied. I said jello because it would be a good challenge to design around. But I do like Jello. I wouldn't list it as high as one of the top three, though. So, anyway, I'm going with sushi. I actually did a sample sketch ahead of class to show our favorite foods as a roughly geometric shapes. We were busy with other things and didn't even get to the geometric shapes part of it all.

So I'm left to ponder my sushi drawing. Sushi.
Why is that one chopstick so bent? Sushi. Sushi. Sushi.

Oh boy, HAD to have sushi...

I grabbed a container, premade at the supermarket. I know, so not authentic. Yeah, yeah, whatever. Who wants to wait at a sushi bar and all the niceties of eating at a restaurant when you really need a sushi fix?

I couldn't even wait to get home. I had to have it. Right there in the car.

Nomnomnom nomnom!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Poppy Angels

20080303_poppyangels Click to see this photo's flickr page

I'm not sure why, but this spring I'm really enjoying watching the poppies bloom. We're hoping to be able to go to the poppy fields at about the right time to see them all... I don't know why, but I have this image in my mind of making poppy angels. You know, like snow angels. My favorite type is bed angels, but I digress.

For whatever reason, I'm just really very happy to see the poppies this year.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Things that Make my Day

Karen gave me this award. There's been a lot of that going on, and it's a nice opportunity to see what blogs inspire other bloggers. Karen says she thinks I'm a philosopher at heart, that I make her think. I didn't intend to; although I've always figured that whatever message - - in words or in art - - is inside of you tends to come out, one way or another. The best is when you find a conduit that works well, even if you stumble upon it, unexpectedly.

It would be really great if I could find a way to make this part of my creativity - the daydreamy pondering of it all - generate money, of course (I'm playing with ideas, trust me). I don't think of philosophers as being content because of the money they make, sadly, and often, I imagine them being content more because they enjoy the wondering and writing about it all, in their fuzzy hand-knit wool sweaters, smoking pipes and going for long walks...

Really, the important thing that I see in the booming of blogs is the telling of stories, and they are all told and compiled in the day-to-day. The daily sketches, the questioning of faith, the yearning to be a parent, quitting a bad habit - the struggle and triumph to be who we are happens in the everyday. There is strength and resilience in the blogs I read; humility, humor, defiance and lots of good humanity. Maybe, Karen, I just have a knack for distilling some of it. Maybe I have the patience or an obsessive need to get it all down. I don't know. All I know is that I'm so glad to know that someone is reading the words. I've suspected that people are just looking for the new photos or drawings, scrolling scrolling scrolling past all the words, rolling both their eyes and mouse scroll wheels. I know it happens.
I enjoy getting the words out as much as getting the drawings on paper. So thanks, Karen, for reading. xoxox. You, and all of you, with your stories, you make MY day.
Do more than exist; live. Do more than touch; feel. Do more than look; observe.
Do more than read; absorb. Do more than hear; listen. Do more than listen;
understand. Do more than think; ponder. Do more than talk; say something. —John
H. Rhoades

Rainbow over Palm Springs

Rainbow over Palm Springs Click to see this photo's flickr page

It's been a very long week for both me and my boo. I don't remember having much of a weekend last week, either. And there's still today left, too. I'm behind on sketching, all sorts of work, garden-tending, cooking, working out, missed yoga this week, behind on getting down thoughts for school and for fun, and behind on sending thoughts to my bloggy buddies. [sigh] I think sometimes that I should rate my posts with the number of times that I sigh.

I'm going to dash out for another appointment, but wanted to leave you with this -
We went out to the desert last Saturday and took some time to get in another long hike, to balance the sense of being there out of obligation with getting something relaxing and rewarding out of it, as well.

We got to see the beginning of what is probably a short blooming season out in Palm Springs - little wildflowers and grasses. I saw one cactus in bloom, as well, and moss. Moss. In Palm Springs. Looked like healthy moss, at that.

More clouds rolled in and it threatened to rain, but we were close enough to a peak that we figured we'd keep going. It never really let loose, and we got to see the rainbow that appeared.

Palm Springs hike Click to see this photo's flickr page

I guess there's plenty to catch up with, but all the same, I'm looking forward to a lazy couple of days (or at least slower) and hope you all have a great weekend.

Monday, February 25, 2008

More about me

I’m so embarrassed. I can tell I've been putzing around way too long when I got tagged to do a “5 Things About Me” post by TWO different people, and then get the “Lists of Four Things About Me” email from two additional people, as well. I’m just trying to be coy; If you keep making me tell you more things about me in these lists, what secrets will there be left to keep? Really, now.

And then, Dianne gave me this award, and it became clear that it would be so terribly ungracious of me to let that sit as well.

Here are a few things you might not know about me yet.

Four jobs I’ve had, that proves that higher education pays:
- Pineapple canner (Dole)
- Census taker
- Toxicology lab tech
- Rocket scientist (moved up the food chain after college, huh? All this, but what I really wanted to be as a kid was a cartoonist).

Four T.V. Shows I watch:
- Man vs Wild
- Mythbusters
- The Dog Whisperer
- 24 (worked through the first three seasons on dvd with my guy)

Four of my favorite foods (no, PB&J is not one of my favorite foods, just happens to be one of the more frequent):
- Sushi
- Cookies
- Zippy's Zip-Pak plate lunch
- Chips and Salsa (nomnomnomnomnom!)

I love college football. Big Ten football. The worst thing about living in LA isn’t having to hear the endless hype about that football team. Ahem. The worst thing is having to hear that football team’s endless, mindless, brass-laden fight song. Over and over and over and over and over and over again (no, I'm not even going to link to the song. Over my dead body).

[Geh! Okay, wait. Let me get that yucky taste out of my mouth. Gaaack-Pf!]

My favorite colors are soft tints of blue-violet and yellow-orange (I'm wondering: What does it say about a person that specifically lists tertiary colors as their favorites?)
Are your eyes tired of all these excessive color changes? Yeah, too much extra html programming for me, too.

Okay. I’m not going to tag anyone to do anymore “Five things” lists (Mr NerdGuru and Mr Mom in FL are going, “Whew”). But I will list a few of the many lovely blogs that I’m visiting often... Besides the people who tagged me in the first place.

- What is love? Love is what you pack into your kid’s lunches, every day. Look at these amazing and terribly cute daily bento lunches that this mom makes for her young’uns. You thought you packed some pretty great brown-bag lunches? OMG. Go look: Bentoblog

- Yes, I love Cute Overload and happiness is indeed a warm puppy. And there’s a certain charm to ICHC, too, but this is even more precious. Love is in the company we keep, which sometimes, is unexpected.

- Love is sharing recipes from your family with the whole wide internet; food that tantalizes the eyes and promises to warm your soul

- Since we're sharing the love, I want to send hugs and warm thoughts to Roma.

Share some love, why don’t you? Let us all know a few blogs that make you smile, inspire you, and fill you with hope, warmth and love.
1. If you get tagged (or, if you just want to play along), write a post with links to blogs that you love,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dreamy gardens

I walk in the garden, I look at the flowers and shrubs and trees and discover in them an exquisiteness of contour, a vitality of edge, or a vigor of spring, as well as an infinite variety of color that no artifact I have seen in the last sixty years can rival... each day, as I look, I wonder where my eyes were yesterday. -Bernard Berenson

I spent some time in the library this week to look for books with good reference images of plants, trees, shrubbery ("Bring me a shwubbery!"). To daydream about a future garden. Or to paint. But mostly to daydream (you can imagine this, yes?). Flipping through, I realized that I have gardening books with great photos. And then I realized that I have plenty of really super images (or, nice images of super memories) from a class I took in school. It was an elective, The History of Gardens. There were lectures, but the field trips were the real treat. We toured a number of local Southern California gardens, both private and public. It was just fantastic.

The Lummis Home / El Alisal
The Getty
Huntington Library
Norton Simon
Hannah Carter Japanese Garden

One assignment of the class was to keep a garden notebook, with images, trimmings, thoughts from the gardens and notes on several of our design assignments. I found my notebook and flipped through the pictures, thinking, daydreamily, "Oh, now these are what I should paint."

I managed to find and salvage the digital photo files from archive CDs and lookit, it’s just so much fun and so much from a bright sunny Southern California summer, that I had to share.

Drat! They're so small here!
Click here
for the Flickr photo set.

Sending dreamy thoughts of the first bursts of color of spring and the warmth of summer to you all. Have a great weekend. xox -w

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Eaton Canyon Gnarly Trees

Yes, this one did look like a figure arching back..
20080215_eatoncyn2 Click to see this photo's flickr page

Last week I met my art buddy Karen to trade some arty stuff and to get out, take photos and paint. We met at Eaton Canyon, lured by the thought of seeing the stream running and some new growth from the rains the week or two before. We decided, quite daringly (cough), to cross the stream and settled in after that treacherous adventure in a shady grove and painted. The trees were all so very lovely in that gnarly-tree sort of way. And, of course, you know how I love drawing gnarly trees.

I hadn't been on the trails at Eaton Canyon before, so was curious about them. And the weather was just too pleasant to pass up a return trip. So, a few days later, my guy and I went back to hike. No strolling around in the park, uh-uh! We took the trail that looked most like it would head UP and HIGHER (For the record, this would not normally be my first choice. I'd be all, "Whew! Hey, look at these gnarly trees! Why don't you go up, and I'll sit here and draw!"). I think it was the Walnut Canyon trail. The painted text on the signs have all worn off. The description on the website ("...This is the "equestrian trail" notorious for its steep, narrow, dusty, shadeless, winding path...") sounds like what we hiked. It was over an hour round-trip; we stopped at a somewhat unexpected grassy picnic area just below where the Toll Road starts and decided that was plenty ambitious for the first hike of the spring. The nice thing about steep hikes is that you gain altitude so much faster and get quicker rewards in the views, as you go higher [Right. That made sense]. And of course, now, all sorts of parts of our legs are feeling so much more toned than before.


Along with the really great trees, there's lots of foliage and shades of green goin' on right now. When the blossoms start, it'll be worth another trip back.

Another gnarly tree:
All sorts of layers of branches, crisscrossing behind each other
20080215_eatoncyn1 Click to see this photo's flickr page

and more photos here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wouldn't that be nice?

20080211_venicelibrary Click to see this photo's flickr page

Killing time at the library in Venice.
Venice, California, not Italy. [sigh]

Friday, February 08, 2008

One too many

20080208_bottleopeners Click to see this photo's flickr page

... bottleopeners, people. [What were you thinking? OMG!]

In combining our two kitchens, all these different bottle openers have taken refuge in one of the drawers. Or, maybe it was just a few, and they've multiplied without any sense of shame or self-control, nasty little buggers.

And don't even get me started on the corkscrews that are lurking.

It is SO Friday! Sounds like we're in for a sunny, warm weekend out here. Yeah! Have a good one out there. xox

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Stringing you along

20080207_string Click to see this photo's flickr page

The thing about every day things, for me, is that every thing - - EVERY thing - - that is manufactured or assembled, had to be designed. It might not always be elegant, but these things had to be mindfully and deliberately designed, so they could be manufactured (can you hear it?: Ka-Chung! Ka-Chung! Ka-chung! The big, loud machines of industry, churning out stuff..).

You have to remember that I'm a product designer, so all the little details are things that I know someone, possible another designer or engineer or artisan, had to consider and create. Every once in a while I get lost in reverie, spending the time to look at the little details - zipper pulls, knobs, hooks, fasteners - and get lost in looking at someone else's work. My guy says I read more labels (especially food. Hello?! Counting calories?!) and get lost in details more than anyone he knows.

Of course I do. It's what I do.

Little rubber stamps

20080206_rubberstamps Click to see this photo's flickr page

I'm nothing if not consistent. I found a duplicate box of these little lettered rubber stamps, exactly like another set that I have on hand. I must have really liked the idea of them, huh? The letters are about 1/4" tall.
Does anyone want these?

Saturday, February 02, 2008


20080202_seeds Click to see this photo's flickr page

There's a saying that good gardeners are real optimists. You have to have faith that something you plant will eventually grow and blossom, or decades later, bear fruit.

In going through things from the last move, I discovered a squishy envelope. I rolled my eyes and thought, "OhGod, more swap fat-quarters that I never got to" (a fat-quarter is, basically, a quarter yard of fabric that quilters use and often trade). I checked inside and discovered these seeds! I'd had plans to grow poppies (corn red), Bachelor Buttons and blue flax, in the garden in spring of 2003.

Well, 2003 was five years, one divorce, one 40th birthday, two 5K runs, and two moves ago; a fairly good chunk of life. The envelope says the seeds are viable for a few years, if kept in a cool, dry place, which I think they were. I'm not inclined to use the seeds, actually. For the $5 I spent, I think I can spring for new seeds (no sense in setting myself for possible disappointment if these old ones never germinate! Aiee!). But, it's a good reminder and nudge to get some planters and some potting soil, repot the old plants so they can grow deeper and stronger this spring, and go through catalogs for some nice flowers and herbs and who-knows-what-else (did your eyes get wide with the possibilities, too?) to hope for, for the spring and summer. So, I'll get new ones, but doesn't the texture of these look great? Yum.

The promise of new sprouts and growth ... mmm

Simple wishes

20080202_blocks Click to see this photo's flickr page

We had a set of these wooden building blocks when we were little. We'd build things - roadways with ramps, race our HotWheels on 'em, knock our buildings over, drew on them with crayons and threw them at each other. They were cut from 2x4 hardwood, so warm and sturdy.

When I was looking for reference geometric forms to use as models in my class (and nice ones are oddly hard to find), I thought of these. I'd like to see 'em in person to make sure I could get the shapes that I want, but I'd really like to get a set. For class and to set up little settings to draw ...


Friday, February 01, 2008

Cleaning out the Fridge

Cleaning out Leftovers Click to see this photo's flickr page

I'm thinking of planting pots of herbs and leafy greens for the summer, to eat and draw.
I'm thinking I miss the design and painting gals.
I'm thinking there's just too much doubt rattling around in my head.
I'm thinking the runs are getting easier. Finally.
I'm thinking that teriyaki burger was damn good.
I'm thinking, "Pete moved?"
I've been thinking ... "Why blog? Maybe it's time to stop."

But mostly,
I'm thinking that the doubt ... and all it's dark, shadowy friends ... have been really getting the best of me.

So, I'm thinking that it was very serendipitous that I found this:

I managed to find the exact clip that I didn't even realize I was supposed to be looking for.

I'm thinking that there are people that I missed seeing last June that I hadn't expected. This is one of 'em. I really missed you guys; See you in June.

BTW - Duane owes me a luau t-shirt. Yup. Still.

Time to chuck all the ick that has been sitting around for too long, getting stale.

Red pens reappear

Red pens reappear Click to see this photo's flickr page

I'm disappointed; apparently just a few of you really appreciated the whole alien squid attack thing. Great. [Dramatic Sigh] I'm just another artist, destined to be misunderstood ...