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.