calligraphy, desert landscapes, odd animal portraits

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Culinary Fiasco

Last Friday I came home to a dark digital clock- the whole electric circuit of kitchen wall outlets had gone out.  I unplugged the reachable appliances, excluding the post-rat digital/gas stove which is too heavy for me to move.  Flipping the breaker and GFI did not restore the power.  I am, as usual, loathe to call the landlord until I exhaust all possible, personal attempts to solve the puzzle.

Likely the problem is rat/raccoon damage in the wall, or a failure or short in the digital oven controls.  (It could also be a function of the apparently shoddy installation- but I don’t think that is the case.)  I looked up the owners manual for the Kenmore range-  almost impossible to read the tiny number on the door, which luckily turns out to be the model number.  Someone mentioned that there might be a reset button on the back of the unit, so we can look at that, too.

My neighbor, from whom i got the stove- another story- loaned/gave me an electric convection oven which I installed on the small enamel table with a heavy power cord strung around the corner from the bathroom GFI.

Today I got out my electric toolbox- turns out the continuity tester I had in there (it was Steve’s) is missing one leg, so into the electronic recycling bin it goes.  I pulled the 2 USB port/power outlet I installed last year which looks fine.   I am again shocked at how poorly the box is installed, jammed way back into the original wall, crooked, behind the layer of sheetrock.  It took some jiggling and adjusting to get the outlet mounted straight, but now it is better than I had it before.

Meanwhile, a couple of culinary fiascos, including two enormous potatoes that would not bake, after which I bought an adorable small magnet/hook/stand oven thermometer and tested the convection oven, right to 350 in ten minutes, then hovering at 300 throughout the baking of a Trader-Joe’s-mix cornbread–too sweet, but a somewhat-successful baking experiment.


Sometime last month Ann Lippe told me she and David were working to get a family of raccoons out from under her house across the street.  A few days later I saw one of them heading across our front yard; then, sounds in the false ceiling over the bathroom.  Mandy messaged me that Pat was hearing loud scratching coming from our wall next to their driveway, and I did hear what sounded like scraping noises around the bathroom pipes and overhead.

This had gone on for a few days when one evening (8/21/18, Steve’s 70th birthday) I heard a thump, squealing, and furious scratching- a critter had fallen between the rafters and into a space between the walls.  After a few minutes I realized I was not going to be able to sleep with such screeching and scratching going on, so I high-tailed it over to the pub to tell Gary there were screaming critters trapped in the wall, and I was going to Canyon for the night.

By the time I got home from the pub things had quieted down a little–some chittering and scratching, but not insufferable.  Also, there was a note Gary had put on the door earlier announcing that the plumber was coming by and water would be turned off for a couple hours at 9:30 AM the following day.

Around 10 AM on Wednesday 8/22 Gary and the fix-it guy/plumber showed up- they were unable to turn the water off at the street.   We assessed the situation- I could hear chittering right next to the light switch in the bathroom, so after the guy and I crawled under the house and saw how they were getting in, through a hole they had chewed in the outside wall, and up through the old chimney hole to the porch roof, the decision was made to cut into the wallboard and pull them out.  We had to move my locker away from the wall, and open doors and back window so the emerging animal could make a run for it.  When he opened the wall, there was just a void- dark, quiet, no sign of crittur (Thoreau’s spelling).  We shined a flashlight in to take a photograph, but our cellphones wouldn’t focus.  Their contention was that there was no one there, but I kept trying until I got an image of a little face–very hard to see deep in the 20″x4″x9-foot space between the studs.  So a decision was made to cut another hole at the bottom of the wall.  We all stood back, again, waiting for the frothing wild beasts to come shooting out–when he pulled the cut piece away, there was the furry back of one small raccoon kit, and the face of another–TWO! little guys, quietly huddling in the bottom of the void.  After peeking out and seeing- perhaps for the first time- the light of day, they were having none of it.  Fix-it guy sent me to get a cardboard box- Gary put on a leather glove and tried aggressively pulling one of the kits out by the leg, which made them huddle deeper into the corner.  I suggested he pick them up by the scruff, like a mother cat, or perhaps raccoon, would do, and he pulled them out and dropped them in the box, where they crouched, quietly, until he dumped them out on the deck, then gathered them back into the box and put them out in the yard.  I ran with my drill and deck screws, calling Pat to open the gate to their driveway, to get a bit of screen over the hole she had chewed in the wall before the mother raccoon could come around and get the kits back under the house- She came and took one, and about an hour later the other, and posited them under Pat and Mandy’s deck, to the relief and satisfaction of all involved.


Two! huddling in the dark void


No, not interested


On the deck

Lost summer

So wasted- embroiled in a petty karma battle, confused, spinning my wheels.  It took up a great deal of my time, until it became public- then crack!  it was over– i think.  What was the gift?   Where did the time go?  I did get a lot done in between, had a lot of adventures in the process.



I am dipping back into watercolor, searching for a palette that will inspire me.  First I put together a color-wheel palette of Winsor Newton and M.Graham tube paint on a glass deviled egg dish.

.deviled egg palette.jpg

Also did a color chart from an online class, 144 colors from three primaries– I used Winsor Lemon, Winsor Blue (Red Shade) and Permanent Rose.   At some point I want to redo it on watercolor paper- this version is in my PAINTING journal/scrapbook.144 color.jpg


today’s prompt–bitter.  Version 1

7.9.18 bitter.jpg

Random scribbles


Now and then I dig out an old sketchbook- I have saved these pages, and reference images, for such a moment, which comes rarely.  I don’t know why, but it seems to take enormous moving of planets to get me out of my rut and seated at a table with the materials for a small sketch like this.


“To cultivate that fearlessness, watching PP set up the stage, while we continued to play–that obnoxious command of canvas, string, and poles!  To know what I want, and push every living thing aside! to get it.   But not to be a total Ahole.”

That was my dream for 2011.  Has anything changed?


copied from an unattributed online image in Pilot G-2 pen, acrylic white pen, watercolor

This should be my art blog!  Aren’t the concerns much the same, for music or art? The need for fearlessness, the necessity of going vigorously after what you want?

Here’s an idea…from Ann:   “Why not write as though you were going to write a book, to be published when you are famous.  Just a thought…  And since you would want a balance between art and music, you might be motivated to push your art out there into the world more vigorously.  As you are(?) doing with music.”
And fearlessness!  Me too, it’s my dream , but not yet seemingly a GOAL cause I’m not actively enough going after it.  I know what I want, but don’t move much toward it!
And it seems I can’t even push a chicken aside…”


More sketching


Perhaps less chatting and more posting of process.  A watercolor bouquet of three of five sunflowers Art brought me after Rick’s death, with the original sketch.  IMG_2316


IMG_2653Well, how long has it been since I posted ANYTHING here?  A very long time.  Here is some recent stuff I have done.

A sketch of the moon, white and black Prismacolor pencils and white gel pen on 7×7″ sketchbook paper–January 12, 2018.  Updated Feb 11, after removing a little too much snow up top.






Great Amerivan Eclipse

Drove the van up the coast to see the Steve’s birthday eclipse.  Starting with dinner at the Samoa Cookhouse, and camping at Emerald Forest, we broke 80K on the odometer in Bandon, Oregon, just short of 500 miles out.   Up the dunes and Florence to my sister’s house, Totality from her traffic-free back patio in Willamina, Oregon.  Up to Hammond to visit my cousin, then started back on 8/24, camping down the coast and home to a rat invasion on August 31.

Possum cakes

Art has a fondness for buying me cakes, particularly after I told him about Birthday Month, which begins a month before your birthday and ends a month after your birthday.  For me, this means cakes can appear anytime from approximately April 4 to June 4.  I am sorry I didn’t get a photograph of the first Possum cake, which had a rather hideous large gray rat-looking creature made of frosting.  Delicious, nonetheless.

From then on, just lettering.  Also, the 13th Anniversary of the Polka Cowboys at the same venue.

For Art’s 73rd birthday I made a large sheet cake and with the help of a hand-drawn chart laid out the candles, with a gardenia in the center.  It took four people to light the candles, and Art, Missy and Ed blew them out before I could get a photograph, or burn the building down.


May 20, 2015–random birthday cake


October 23, 2015, my return from Seattle

Last Birthday cake, June 5

June 5, 2015- last call


May 31, 2017–cakemeister


Jan 26, 2017

Pinnacles overnight

April 2017–I packed for the cold, wet rain, but this morning it is fresh, clear and sunny, about 60 degrees by the backyard thermometer.  Extra leggings, socks, fleece, down jacket for the cold overnight.  The first day we hiked the East side of the Pinnacles, where the campground is, site #65.  Two caves, scary piles of huge boulders (earthquake zone) and waterfalls!  I brought chili fixins, mostly made.  I cooked it up on S’s stove and Art did his tortilla magic on his camp stove.

In the morning I got hurried out of my not-yet-awake complacency.  Our hiking companion was packed and ready to go when I was just up and making coffee; knocked my bag and bed-roll over spilling Art’s raisin bran to the ground.  Then, instead of sitting with my coffee and cereal and having a civilized morning repast, I rushed to pack up the stove and pot and spilled half the coffee on the table and bench.  No real harm done–while Art packed up the tent I wandered off to decompress by the creek.  Bonus, vanilla cappuccinos at the Supermercado in Hollister.

Discoveries:  S. does not drink coffee;  1/2 the little jar is plenty for an overnight trip;  the green and yellow percolator works great;  S. smokes cigarets.  Art does not want help with the tent.  S rushes ahead, Art likes to wander and dawdle.  I am somewhere in between.  I love sitting in the car reading and writing, somewhat sad to Arrive anywhere.

I had a lens malfunction on Steve’s Canon–it is a signature, it is what I do.  I switched out the batteries to see if  it would reset–my iPhone battery is dead because I used it for light in the caves, as my flashlight was left in the tent–so no photographs today.  The West entrance, perfect hiking weather and high puffy clouds.

What an amazing place!  Pinnacles!  So happy I came, so happy I brought so many comforts and necessaries.  I don’t think we felt a drop of rain after we got into the park.

The trees are oxygenating, the sky is clear, the air cool.  Everything is Green, with tiny flowers, and several species of TINY butterflies—a black and white!  a checkerspot or fritillary, an off-white but similar to a blue.  Not skippers, but that small.

Soledad, mucho comida, 3 PM and homeward.

Joshua Tree and Anza Borrego

Wonderful spring wildflower trip in the Westfalia with Art, and art supplies.


2016 year end review

A quick delightful spurt of journaling with pens, watercolors and lovely sketch paper quickly gave way to incessant journaling.  I spent a lot of time coloring and painting highlights and entries, but really, non-verbal art-making is just elusive.  The Year To Clear What Is Holding You Back has not resulted in very much being revealed as I had hoped– but I am still 45 or so days away from the end, or re-start.

Here are some scribblings from Mid-August.

I signed up for three online watercolor and acrylic painting courses, and was following a couple of art blogs that inspired these three images, executed from the safety and warmth of my custom-made semi-loft bed.  In November I began a new journal which I have lost somehow, and in the missing journal there are some pages of color mixing, using a split palette of warm and cool primaries.  This is very fun and has refreshed my excitement about using color–Pantone 15-0343 Greenery is the color for 2017.

I play in three different bands a minimum of three days a week, one of which is on the Mondays I used to reserve for painting and drawing.  Also, I am on facebook pissing away two or three hours a day, and had spent a lot of what could be creative time shopping for jewelry on Etsy.  I am pretty much sated with that now.  Also there are still six gardening jobs that get me out of the house a few days here and there for creative and exercise purposes. Also, I have plans to engage with my friend and neighbor Jean W. for some arting and tea.

The studio on Howe Street has issues that hold me back from utilizing it: barking dogs, bad air, no insulation (too hot/cold) 2-hour parking restriction, interruptions from the homeowner, who is a dear friend and likes to chat, and for now, the immobility of the rolling door over the cracked and lifting concrete floor that makes it nearly impossible to get in and out.  The fact that it is within walking distance somehow doesn’t  register.  I have begun clearing there, and brought in some electrical cords and tools that will focus me more on things I cannot do at home.  With the new year and returning light I will be going there at least on Fridays, after my weekly trip to my Oakland job.  


Clearing in the Studio

Eight months ago, I began almost exclusively using my brother’s laptop, a mac book Pro.  I never used it for blogging, and I am not sure why not.  I don’t know the password  .  .  .  haven’t even tried.  Since this computer has a no-longer-supported operating system that I am loathe to change, for the most part I have kept it offline.

Nov 2016 studio.jpg

still needs some sorting here

watercolor mix 5.17

mixing split primaries with watercolors


In January I began an online course, now on Day 143 of A Year to Clear What is Holding You Back, and have been emptying out my storage under the house, the crawl space, and the stuff from the shed that we tore down at the exact wrong moment–there were a couple cease and desist and emergency clean-up letters from the landlord’s lawyer, and Paul B, Ann and Art came and helped me clean up the yard–there is now a pile of wood debris that has been settling on the property line since mid-April, with no indication that it will ever be taken away, unless I do it.

mixing green 4.17

mixing watercolor greens

I have a long list of stuff I have gotten rid of–I have made huge changes in my life-.  A lot of big change in what I am now calling the studio- the rat-shit-garage framing shop, much cleaned, and updated.  Art helped rearrange the tables and I brought in my red rug,  gradually moving most of my art supplies from home. I have adjusted my view, spending more time there than when I thought of it as the Frame Shop, and the stink and dust was so bad.

re studio

May 2016, more spacious after moving tables

studio rug

June 2016, a little paint, a rug over the cracked floor

3 years

Since I lost Steve, sold the shop–and moved my stuff here.  Is that what it’s about?

Just did a big redo of the “Frame Shop”, or whatever it is.   That dog never did hunt.  Just a space, a few blocks from home, that I dedicate to leisure and puttering, but still had been avoiding  .  .  .  .  why?  Barking dogs, confusion and lack of purpose, pesky neighbors, bad raccoon pee stink, dust, funk, a myriad of reasons.  Never mind.  Hunkering like a recluse in my little bed-sit is much more pleasant.

Jude wanted her stuff up near the door, so Art and I moved the big sideboard, and some other heavy things. I have been unconscious of working around two dozen gallon paint cans and milk crates of mysterious old stuff and parts stacked in corners and under the bench in “my” half of the half of a two-car garage.

I have been finding projects and materials that may come together in this little sunny space.  The #1 change is my approach, experiencing and enjoying process instead of judging it, the root of my lack of “output”.  There has been an avoidance of adding more “stuff” to my cluttered life, but in shutting down two storage spaces and giving almost everything away, I have come across enough unfinished panels and canvases, and unused materials, that I could paint for months without adding a molecule to the pile I have already.  The plan is to transform the garage into my Painting Studio.

green bird painting

Green Bird-  acrylic on panel 2003

Grief again

Having just returned from my deceased brother’s house and environs in Bothell, Washington about 72 hours ago, I am in a state of delayed reaction.  This is the first chance I have had to spend time at home alone for more than a week.  I spent all day today cleaning out old files and clippings.  I recycled a shopping bag-full of paper.  I also had already gone through my Old Magazine Collection, and put out stacks of (1940’s and 50’s) National Geographic, Arizona Highways, and Artist’s magazines I had stacked and shelved and never sorted.

While clearing out all this paper I started seeing all the dross, great ideas and sketches mixed together.  Last Thursday in my hotel room i pictured all my paints, how my art supplies are all nearly hidden, put where I can almost reach them.  and thought about consolidating and bringing them all together, somewhere.  I used to have my painting studio in the kitchen of this small apartment.  It was a pretty good arrangement that I just now realize I lost when Steve died.  His kitchen was for cooking, his front room for eating, visiting, band practice and watching TV.  My area was for sleeping, my quiet space, office, and painting.

Dealing with my grief for my brother has opened up the unhealed wound of Steve’s sudden death and the turmoil of everything that followed.  I am able to delete his out-of-focus digital photographs for the first time in 2 and a half years.

Kind of sad, looking at what I took photos of, and the bare walls–realizing this was during the time I had the shop.  Many of my paintings were there, too.  I think maybe I will move back into my painting kitchen now.

Dave's Nikon 024Dave's Nikon 0305.27.12_00


It’s so sad, my baby brother has passed away.  I see now a photograph of him, taken just last fall.  Gaunt, haunted.  I had looked away.  If I had only known the pain, but yes, I did, I lived it.  I couldn’t stay in it with him.  This is me- haunted, but less so.  I am so sorry Dickiebird.

self portrait 2012

Canyon weekends


It appears as if I am doing absolutely no drawing or painting, although I am doing a lot of Art.  I am seldom at home, or in front of a computer, so the timeline has broken down somewhat.  Art and I spend a lot of time in Canyon.  He moved out of El Cerrito the day before we left for the festival in Iowa.  There was still some furniture and instruments that he finally got moved by the end of September.  Much of his stuff is still in boxes, rare instruments and treadle machines- one for sewing, one with bellows for accordion tuning- are in my storage space.

A friend gave me an iPhone in August, and my photo collection is mostly there now.   To get an image for posting I must email it to myself.  This weekend I drove to Canyon after work on Friday and came back to Essex before going to work Tuesday.  While there I helped Art dismantle the roof of the wood shed.  It will be leak free and cosy on a rainy afternoon, with maybe alternating clear and brick red corrugated panels.


Art, the big truck, and Good Cat

My brother died unexpectedly on September 21, the Autumnal Equinox, but it is numbing, and affecting how I spend my time.  It hasn’t quite hit me yet.


Now that I have spent a little time there, I see my vision for BSPco here, a community effort, alternative press, local projects, artistic, politically involved people.  It is somewhat of a miracle.  So valued there already, I was asked to oversee the “benefits” program, where I would coordinate resources for members who want to do their own printing projects.  What could be cooler than this?  Maybe staying at home, reading in bed with a cup of tea?  Or gardening, for $40 an hour in the fresh air and sunshine and weeds? We shall see.

On the other hand it seems a little cult-y, and like so many things I jump into, I wonder if I will need to jump out.  Like the Dharma Publishing volunteer gig, there are skills to learn and quantities of nutritious food.  Unfortunately, the big-screen TV news is on at meals, very bad for digestion   Last night, though, intending to leave early, I stayed for the movie, Cradle Will Rock.  I had seen it before but hadn’t focused on all the theatrical twists and turns.  I really enjoyed it, and there was a good bit of interesting discussion of context and WPA history before and after.

Sort of feels like high school.

I got to use the letterpress to score covers for the book of poetry they designed and published, then tape and put the covers on the bound poems Nate had done the layout for.

Also this weekend I did a little painting, and now I feel like I have a watercolor kit that works for me–the design colors, Kolinsky brushes, watercolor pencils, a bucket for water, and a brush pen.  Throw in a couple of random pens, one waterproof and one not, and a clear zip bag, and I am set.

cactus painting5kb.

Well, this is from a bad photograph of a painting, pastels and ink, that I gave to Jean Hooker some years ago.

UPDATE Summer 2016  I quickly lost interest in this project when, like Dharma, like BSPCo., I found myself working with solvents and toxic substances.  That was the limit–the TV at lunch was intolerable, and really there was nothing there to do.  The cult atmosphere was undeniable, and after Dickie died I just lost interest.

Print Shop!

Well, last weekend at a festival I happened upon a booth that caught my attention-  Bay Area Alternative Press.  What caught my eye was an illustration of a man running a printing press.  So I signed their list, and Art and I walked around the corner to look at the physical address on Alcatraz Avenue. I went over on Wednesday, then again today, to volunteer, and found myself printing posters on a giant Canon plotter, and cutting edges–this is what I do.  There are offset printers, binders, typesetting machines, computers, cutters, all sorts of professional equipment. It got me to thinking about my history and experience in the industry, and I decided to list what it is I have–it’s astonishing. I learned process colors from my Dad, a cameraman at his own Litho Shop–CMYK, as well as red, yellow, blue, green, before entering school.  In first grade I got an F in coloring for trying to make purple from red and blue crayons. In high school in the late 1960’s  Akron Ohio, I was involved in underground press layout and mimeograph printing. In 1970 I was a stripper at my dad’s shop Summit Litho Process Company, Akron Ohio. Tucson Arizona, 1972-4  I did cut and paste layout for the New Times newspaper.  In  Oakland CA, 1975-1984  at the Peralta Colleges– Laney College, I studied drawing and photography. At Merritt College, pastels and acrylic painting At Amsterdam Art: classes in painting from photographs Somewhere in here I took classes in Framing, and cutting mats for art.  1984-1985 CCAC, I studied watercolor, anatomy, textiles.  At  Dharma Publishing in Berkeley, volunteer hand bookbinding, case binding, signature sewing machines Independent study: botanical drawing, lettering, acrylic painting, photography, photoshop, color printing, editing, writing, layout, publishing. 2002-2008, editing, formatting, printing many articles and letters from prison, for Sara Olson.  2008-2011 Calligraphy studies at Albany Adult School. Owner, Berkeley Screenprint Co., 9/1/2011-4/4/2013

Seven Months Later

I haven’t been here blogging in seven months–well, who’s counting?  Just me.  A lot of time spent in Canyon (  which is all the way over in my Travel blog.  I may have to sort that out, drag it over here with a copy function–which isn’t available there, it appears.

I have begun a practice of drawing or painting–only once, actually, last weekend in Hayfork.  I am still searching for my watercolor sets and Kaweco and other fountain pens.   It doesn’t matter how many boxes and types of art supplies I have if i don’t use them.  It turns out what I really want to do is sit in bed and read.  I used to spend so much time in front of the TV just to be next to Steve, all that time is now my own.

Posting here a photo of less than half of a 4×5 foot canvas that is stored next to my bed, a painting that I call Dark into Light, sort of a self-portrait of me (off-camera) embracing the darkness–which is another post

big painting

4 day wkend+

What happened to Verteran’s Day?  Well, I’ve already had a 4-day weekend, so I am going back to work tomorrow.  Blasphemy!  But I’ll post a shot of my dad with his war injury (motorcycle accident) if I can find it.Bill in cast--Texas

Big change, though, hope it worked.  We moved the Furniture today, as per the drawing below–(Oct 7 post)– a little snug over here with 2 printers, but maybe that means more room on the other side of the studio.  i am pretty exhausted.  But also happy I am finding things I didn’t know I was looking for.  Consolidating the sewing stuff in the acorn dresser.  Didn’t move that, though.  It’s crowded enough here without moving it, and leaves room in the far south west corner for guitars.