calligraphy, desert landscapes, odd animal portraits


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.



My Friday client called to say the painters are almost done, and I sussed it that it was better if I don’t come and stir up dust and leaves near the fresh, new, wet paint.  Mr A. has gone to a guy’s-party-induction-afternoon in the canyon.  I suppose it entails drinking expensive whiskey.  Very great! that he is spending quality time with his neighbors.  He has been doing a lot of work on the foundation of the building that will be his home, and someday, maybe, my studio, in a remote pocket of wilderness over the hill.

I decided to stay home and untie some of the knots that are keeping me in a state of confusion.  I repaired the extension cord to the hall closet and moved the clamp lamp, rearranging clothes onto one-rod-only, which has opened up a clear space in the back.  I have been very slowly sorting and rearranging things, which often results in an increased level of clutter for a good while.   I can never seem to find an optimum arrangement for paints and things.EPSON DSC picture

The proximity of urban neighbors impinges on my sense of free access to outbuildings and what I have in each of my many hidey-holes.  I wish for a better arrangement, although I know that nothing external will make a difference in my personal behaviour.  I like to be reclusive, secretive, I hide myself from myself.  There is an incredibly long arc of creative intent.  I repainted the red leg of my turquoise stool a lupine blue–very satisfying and calmer–but to do so I  opened up the cupboard where I keep tubes of paint in a suitcase, begatting  a wild reshuffling of magazines and calligraphy notebooks between armoire and book case.

I have many collected boxes for art supplies that often replicate each other.  Pens dry out, blades corrode from neglect.   There are five open receptacles on the round table now, none of which have a clear purpose, except to be lovely useful objects in their own right.  Last week after smoking some weed I found myself in the kitchen working over a sketchbook like in the old days when this was my studio and we cooked in the kitchen in Steve’s apartment next door.  I suddenly decided it would be perfect if I moved the calligraphy toolbox into the cupboard where the tool-toolbox was, but now that seems a futile exercise.  Have I DRAWN anything in ever so long?  I can’t despair, though.  I always make some headway, somehow.


October is blastingly hot this year, with rare and spotty rain days.  It is normal to have Indian Summer in October here in the Bay, but the unrelenting heat is something new, i think, and the drought is deepening.   I have made a couple of trips to the Framing Garage, not sure what to call it.  Last week I spent most of Thursday afternoon, an hour or so indoors, an hour trimming the roses and clearing dead wood out of the hedge, then back in for an hour or so.  This is a good procedure, so I get some fresh air.  The subtle stink and dust are still limiting the amount of time I can spend there,  with or without a face mask.  Ew. 

Visually, though, it is a lovely space, and with the sun moving southward, the light is intense through the big window.  There is a paper-bark Eucalyptus trunk right out the window, which I find meditative.  I got quite a lot done, and really have a new approach–I have a select array of supportive audio clips, KPFA archives and New Dimensions shows, to keep my monkey mind distracted.  I am listening to an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert and Caroline Casey on creativity, and it has finally made a dent in my woe-is-me routine.

Painting is a communication, writing is a magic spell.  Ugly paintings are healing, revealing places where work needs to be done.  I know all this, but I still approached these crates of frames and glass and scraps of paper as an outsider, as to a foreign language.  Today I realize it is a collaboration, and began by pulling out a crate to SEE WHAT IS THERE.  Some cut glass, some frames with glass, some frames without glass.  I added a few more sheets of small cut glass I found in other boxes, and marked the sizes on them.  I pulled out frames in odd formats.  Labels on the drawers of hooks, pens, small nails, tags, etc.  I sorted two boxes of clippings, paper, drawings, prints, so that one has original art and archival paper, another has 8.5×11 copies and prints.  All sorts of clippings and articles are filed into folders, stacks of magazines sorted, and a sheaf of recipes! well, they go back home, to the kitchen.  The last thing I did was to put work-in-progress into a large drawer with sketchbook and supplies, so when I return I can pull them out and continue that project.

Indian Summer

I drew out a plan for my tiny studio so that I can arrange to have an area (a 5′ x 8′ space I call the Annex) to use as an office/drawing space.  Currently there is a shelf behind the table with things I can’t really reach, which would be a handy receptacle for boxes of pens and paints and whatnot if it was under the window, and the desk,  right next to it, on the other side of the table.   The supro amp and printer shelf are currently switched, the desk and commode (a pine cabinet I use as a file cabinet) are also switched.  The table is where it is pictured, and my armoire and bed are off to the right, just past the commode.  I am not sure the wiring will work, but it can hardly be worse than the way it is now.


Two or so hours most every Tuesday night, three other people plus me come together here for band practice, crowding in from the door and sitting around the table.  Over time, I have figured out how to arrange things so I don’t have to do a major rearrangement every week.  What has happened, though, is that things get jammed up into an impermeable pile so that i am always searching, or climbing over STUFF to get to what I need, often without success.

I am reverting to a state I was in about a year ago, when my tag line was I CAN’T FIND ANYTHING!  Madness.

I have been playing music three or four nights a week, plus working at my gardening business, and then there is the new Love in my life, crowded into my very small studio apartment.  He has his own tiny space, in a large room that is 1/4 full of a stack of boxes he used to have in storage.   I don’t have the luxury of having put much of what I own into a discrete space, and I find it very distracting and confusing to have four different places where I have belongings that I don’t really need or use packed in boxes.  No, make that 5.


Ok, that took six weeks.  One thing I appear to be very diligent about is acquiring new objects to lose, unused,  somewhere in the clutter.  I finally got a nice new glass cutter with 6 wheels.  I just have to get it over to the framing studio, but now I can’t seem to find it.  There are a great many sheets of glass that I could use to fill odd-sized frames I have there.  I plan to drop by to look for my very small Cotman traveler watercolor box to take on our trip to Iowa-  I have a beautiful valise filled with stuff for watercolor class, but neither of my paintboxes is in there.  There are other options if I can’t track them down.

Last week at a bookstore in Santa Cruz (right by the Saw Festival jam) I bought a book on hand lettering, so I am putting together a set of pens and stuff to use in my daily journal– hoping I can sit still long enough to do some drawing.  I seem to always have enough time to write almost every day, but even then there are long stretches without entries.  I got a subscription to the S.F. Chron, thinking I could emulate a friend who copies a photo from the newspaper every morning, but I usually can’t find a thing i want to draw.


03 jack-daniels

Back to the framing studio

I am so conflicted.  I don’t know why I can’t go get a glass cutter and make some frames usable for prints TODAY.  This is a period of shuttling back and forth with a few objects I think I need here, there, here again, back and forth.  I don’t have any sort of system–random crates of things organized by vague shape and size.  Multiple objects redundantly filed, insufficient to the task.  No clear outcome.  Not a great pull to get there, then psychic overwhelm and subtle stink of stale raccoon pee.  Hmmm, what’s not to recommend this?  I used to draw more when life was more difficult.

peyote button 1972.jpg

Peyote button, from life, Tucson 1972


Silver Kittens dsc_0231.jpg

silver kitten 2014

After a long hiatus, Fluffy is back writing songs and playing again, and we have reformed the Silver Kittens (without Steve).  So now it is Fluffy, Muffy and Possum.  We decided to shoot some photos at Ann’s Failure Farm, a beautiful location, and Art offered to do the camera-ing with my Dx40 (Thanks, Dave!)  of 378 shots, at least 70 were suitable for reproduction.  It’s a shame we didn’t do some costume changes, the series would have stretched much farther–although Muffy and I got in some test shots at the beginning.  What fun, we are a fun band on so many levels, and very close friends, having gone through terrible losses and fun adventures together.


Wrong Book

Bauerpots in color.jpgLast week I ordered a book from Amazon-  I had been planning for a long, long time to give it as a gift, but could not let go of the copy I have for sentimental reasons.  I had earned two $25 gift cards from my credit card after paying off the overdue hospital bill of my now-deceased life partner.  Imagine the conundrum.  The package appeared at my door Monday, almost instantaneously.  When I picked it up and felt it, I was already disappointed, because it was too small.  I tried to bend it–paperback?  No, hardcover.  So, I tore the envelope open and there was a different book, SexDeathEnlightenment, by Mark Matousek.  What the hell?  I checked the invoice.  The book I ordered was clearly described, and there was an email address to contact in case of error.  So, I did.

Today I got a reply, keep the book, yours was right here, I already gave it to the postman!  Expedited shipping.

So I opened it up, it is a story of life with Andy Warhol, with a blurb by Ram Dass  “An extraordinarily articulate account of how the sicknesses of our time can spawn spiritual awakening and compassion.”

Parking Dilemma–15 minute story

Set the timer–

It has been a week since I found the note from LL on my door.  He had dropped it in the mailbox of the wrong apartment, as if he was ashamed, or didn’t want me to see it, really, for some reason, Cowardly, Nefarious, Idiotic.

White truck and Lynn's Mustang 1997

Steve’s truck and Lynn’s Mustang 1997

He had dropped it in the mailbox of #1–the site of our contentious 15-week battle–now Amy’s apartment, Steve’s old place for 35 years, where we lived together for 22 years, anyway.  THE NOTE WAS IN ALL CAPS, WHICH LOOKS LIKE YELLING, particularly in that the address and salutation were in Normal Writing.  He had signed it “Manager”, and threatened me with towing if I park in the driveway (at my expense) and stated that I was told before moving in to Apartment #2 that there was no parking provided on the property, and I should “REFRAME” from parking there.  After I read it (and freaked out!) on that Thursday night I sealed it back up and put it back in the (wrong) mailbox.  The next day Amy left it for me, standing up on my doorknob, against the door frame.

I have been parking in the driveway since at least 1995, before we parked my 1957 VW van there.   .

My first move was to write a long, long, frantic, angry reply in longhand.  Then I typed up a WARNING PRIVATE PROPERTY THIS VEHICLE IS LEGALLY PARKED DO NOT TOW WITHOUT EXPRESS WRITTEN PERMISSION OF VEHICLE OWNER  with my name, signature, cell phone number, printed and taped to the inside front and back windows of the Westfalia.

Betsy and Datsun 1995

My VW van Betsy and Steve’s Datsun 1995

Then I wrote a simple reply to the LL and edited it, printed it out, edited it further, further, printed it out, and emailed a copy of the original yelling NOTE and a copy of the reply to my “Lawyer”  Jeffrey.  Then I took the van on vacation for a few days, to chill, relax, “reframe”.

Meanwhile, Amy is cool, frantically apologizing, wants to park so everyone is happy–but she is paying extra for the space.

It’s terribly stressful coming home to a sense of attack and dilemma, wondering where to park, listening for a tow truck, and not knowing what to do, or what YELLING letter of weirdness will pop up next.

No Clear resolution.


Moody Ridge–15 minute story

We had such a great time Tuesday night at the Monte Vista Lodge, playing with the band Moody Ridge.  I sat in front of the Christmas tree, right next to the fireplace, where I could easily plug in my bass amp.  It is so warm, there is no snow, so the Christmas trees and snowflake decor are still up, giving some sense of Winter.  Wednesday we did some thrift-and-gift shopping- Helen gave me a teapot with lovely prints of comfrey on one side and camomile on the other.  I found a fabulous white jean jacket with fluffy fur lining, a possumy thing to wear to gigs, it does still get chilly at night!

Everyone is so friendly, and hungry for human contact, and good cooks, too.  People in shops and restaurants launch into conversation at the slightest provocation, it’s almost annoying.  I am a recluse by comparison, having come from the densly populated, over-stimulating  SF Bay Area.  But then, so did many of them, years ago.

I came out to the van to rest last night after a big dinner of  spaghetti and meatballs and beer and birthday cake and ice cream.  I fell asleep just after eight o’clock–woke up hours later and, as is often the case, missed the party.  It’s well after 9 AM now, no one else is up yet.   I am settled in my Westy on a flat spot up near the cabin, making coffee.  This is a breakthrough, one of thijngs that I couldn’t imagine doing but is the easiest task possible.

Yesterday I took a hike with the dogs and got spooked–wasn’t sure where I was.  Today Doogie came to see if I would go again, but i had just made my first! cup of westy-coffee and settled in to read a book.  When he showed up and barked, I poured the coffee into an insulated cup and changed my shoes.  By the time I got ready, he had gone.  It was cold and a wind had come up, dusty and gusty.  I decided to stay in the van and read–but as soon as I leaned back on the bed, the thermos cup tipped and the whole thing ran over the ocunter and onto my stack of papers, files, journal.

So, start again.

Joe Bynes’ Trees–15 minute story–

I’ve done this before, set a timer for 15 minutes and draw–or write. Today, a story about the house next door.

just a trim, thanks

just a trim, thanks.

My friend Joe Bynes bought it in 1960 or so.  I’m not sure– a lot of people bought houses in this neighborhood then, and Black people, like Leola and Ollie and Bruce, during or just after WWII.   Joe owned a lot of houses in Berkeley, five anyway, and a ranch with a Spanish colonial style house that had an intact speakeasy in the basement.  In front of all his houses, Joe planted redwood trees.  At this house, he planted at least eight; three in the verge, one in the front lawn, two (or three, I think one died) by my back fence, and twins in the far southeast corner. >

The woman who bought the house from Joe’s  brother Harold after he died ($120,000 I think) had  rented it out (after kicking the cool neighbors out by promising them $500 cash they never received) to a series of okay people–she was okay, too, not a bad absentee landlord as far as I was concerned, otherwise.

So the trees, anyway, have been there for 40-some years.  I imagine they were planted in 1974, I don’t know if I heard that or if it was just the frenzy of redwood planting then, in the newly built Bart stations etc.  I have been fortunate to have a view of a stately redwood and its attendant fauna, squirrels and birds, at possibly every place I have lived in Berkeley and Oakland.

Well, a Flipper has bought the house, cash, because it needs so much work and is not up to code, you can’t get a loan.  The guy who redid the house next to Doug and Dean over the back fence bought it with what he cashed in off that house.  We are looking forward to a less-than-horrific experience since he did that place in record time, from a junkyard shambles, and it looks great.

The trees are coming down.  The two snags by the fence are gone, and the sun is blazing on the deck this morning.  They took the big beauty in the front yard, too.  At least they used the lumber.  In back today I saw them going up with ropes to the two in the corner–I had to go out and ask, but no, they are just giving them a trim.  It’s kind of bare out, but I’ll get used to it.  Once the beech leafs out again I will have shade on the hot days.  Things change.


Winter Trees

At last I have begun to sketch a bit, with my morning pages of ritual journaling, I left pages blank so something drawn will find its way in.   I have a clear plastic lunchbox with my Prismacolor and Derwent pencils, and an electric pencil sharpener on the dining table.  I have been spending every morning in bed because it is too cold to get up–I read, I journal, I drink coffee and eat oatmeal there.  I was watching dvd’s on the laptop until it slipped off the little stool and crashed–opening up hours of my life, so 15 minutes to half an hour of a simple sketch, starting with my wonderful new dark-color uniball pens.  I especially like the purple-black for laying in silhouette trees or shadow stuff.  Also there is writing on the back.  If I had posted it in reverse could you read my journal? Winter Trees“It is the wind that brought the cold I got, the loss of Jean that put me into prolonged illness and exhaustion.  Friday 10 PM:  Mollie gave me 2 beeswax candles.  She lit a white candle for me and Steve at the U.U. church on Christmas Eve.  I am burning a candle now for him, to conjure his help.  The table is arrayed with art photographs and inspiration + a journal + the book The Artist’s Way.   After I cleared the clutter of Christmas and travel there is a clear message of creativity there.”

Gerstle Cove Nov 13, 1992


Here is a trip where I vividly remember Steve catching a Rockfish, vivid red-and-black scales and pale turquoise flesh that turned white when cooked, delicious.  I stayed in camp and drew some mushrooms growing under the trees in color pencil, adding india ink later.