Far From Home

There were a couple of years a while back, that I was far from home during this first week in January.  The winter weather in England and Italy was pretty typical for those places, and since we are experiencing similar weather here in Los Angeles (not typical) my mind is drifting back to those experiences.  Even though our world seems a little smaller now, with easier access to information and opportunities to see more of it, I am always impressed when I stand on the ground in a place so far from my home and think of the goings on in the place I just left.  Then for a few days when I return home, I can still feel the experiences I had while I was away.  I find it pretty magical.  And although planes make travel faster than the transportation people had available long ago, the ability to see places so far away is also magical.


I took photos from my photos so these pictures are pretty grainy, but I’m going to share them anyway.  This first one is London where it rained a lot of course, and was VERY cold, and is also where I started my Starbucks hot chocolate obsession.  What a joy going from the cold outside to the warmth inside that Starbucks then holding and sipping my hot chocolate.  On the top of my list of simple pleasures.

Living in Los Angeles, I was never fond of our (occasional) rain (we are so spoiled), but after experiencing English winter weather (although yes, not for a whole winter), I came to really love rain.  And although it rained most of the time I was there, the sun came out on New Year’s Day at the place of Winston Churchill’s family “home.”  It is actually a palace called Blenheim Palace.  The picture is of some of the grounds.  I just liked the vastness and serenity of it.


The next picture is a street in Rome.  It was one of the places I really enjoyed just walking around because of its relative peacefulness.  Needless to say, there were a LOT of tourists.  Strangely I hadn’t expected that in winter, but it was the holidays.  Below the Spanish Steps there is a street filled with designer shops.  It was a sea of humanity moving down that street.  More people than at the big tourist spots.


On a day trip from Rome to Assisi (below).  Some little clay angels out to dry.


As a young child, my brother and I had a stamp collection.  The names of the places conjured up so much in my imagination.  These were places in the 1950’s that no one knew anything about except what you got from an encyclopedia.  And even then, information on “Mozambique,” “Iraq,” “Borneo,” “Bulgaria,” and others whose names have since changed, did not give you anything to really understand the place.  There are so many places I won’t have the opportunity to see, but fortunately there is so much information now that allows for better understanding.


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Cut, Sew, Paint…

My Mexican marigold plant is blooming again.  Each time it does, it stretches further out into its allotted area recreating the landscape.  Bricks I had put in as decorative stepping stones had to be removed, as well as a couple plants.  But it’s OK.  The yard goes through a continual change as some plants prosper and others are moved to better locations.


The butterfly bush in the corner bloomed beautifully, but the whole plant seems to have withered along with the flowers.  I’ll have to find something else for that corner, unless the marigold keeps spreading.


I’ve been finishing up the ornaments for my friend’s church boutique.


For the ornaments above I used tiny (2″x2″) canvases. In the picture below I used some corrugated cardboard to make a tree to use as a display.  And for the ornaments hanging on it I cut up an old Christmas carol book so each one has a line from a different carol, and then stitched on some antique Santas.



I found old tin molds in the shape of a star, bell and tree and glued in old Christmas cards.


I still need to drill a small hole in each to put in a ribbon for hanging.  Below I used a handkerchief to trim a felt stocking.



With the cutting, sewing and painting of ornaments almost finished,  it’s time to get back to my mixed media art, where I’ll do some cutting, sewing and painting.


“Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Pablo Picasso





Being Small in a Big World

My three dogs, Charley, Maggie and Lucy were in a little huddle the other day, looking intently at something.  I knew I should check it out.  They were just staring at the smallest most incredibly cute wood mouse (I found out the name later).  When I first saw it I wasn’t sure what it was because I’d never seen such a round body on a mouse.  Even though it was very small, I could see the tiny nails on its “toes” that were spaced very far apart. The dogs surprisingly were not trying to play with it, just looking on silently.  I got them in the house and moved it to a new location.


I couldn’t take a picture so I drew one.  Looking at it made me think about how huge everything must seem to such a tiny creature.  How vulnerable it is to everything. I enjoy seeing critters come into the yard.  We’ve had opossums, raccoons, skunks, and the Coopers hawk I found standing in the bird bath.  The favorite of the dogs though are definitely squirrels.


They go along the walls and from one tree to the next, never having to touch ground.  Maggie and Lucy especially will continually rush outside when alerted by the dogs next door.  Ben, my Sheltie that passed way used to run in wide circles on the ground as the squirrels darted across the telephone wires. He had a very strong herding instinct.


Now that it’s October I’ve been getting some Christmas ornament ideas together for a friend’s church boutique, the proceeds going to a couple charities.  It’s fun to be creative, no matter what the project.  I’ve got the materials, now it’s time to cut, paste, paint and sew.



A neighbor left a bag of oranges on my porch, perfect for freshly squeezed juice.  A last taste of summer.


“You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have.”

Maya Angelou


Create something.






Heat Wave

Autumn.  When I was teaching ESL to adults I would have them brainstorm at the start of each new season and list the colors, clothing, weather, activities, etc. for that season.  Then they would take the ideas from the list and make sentences, if they were beginning students, and a paragraph if they were more advanced.  And so, at the start of this new season I am reminded of their lists of ideas as fall clothing and decorations replace the summer displays at department stores.  At home as well.  My son had pulled out a tray of olive oil drizzled yams from the oven, and the color…well, autumn.


The beach and the color blue was never associated with fall, but today in Los Angeles we experienced the first day of a heat wave.  A walk along the shore this morning at 9:30 was quite warm.  Actually hot.  But the ocean was cool on your feet and the color matched the royal blue of the sky.  Gorgeous.



I saw an excellent movie with a phenomenal true story.  The name is “Pride.”  It takes place during Margaret Thatcher’s term as Prime Minister.  The miners in Wales were on strike for a year.  A small group of gay activists decided to collect money to help the families.  The unfolding story of awareness, growth and solidarity was truly uplifting, and demonstrated what can be accomplished by being open to the idea that equality is not exclusive. The characters really made you feel the struggle, the Welsh countryside was beautiful, and Bill Nighy once again showed the British mastery of the art of acting.


Besides my mixed media pieces, I’m working on a map series.  I’ve loved maps since I was very young.  My brother and I had a stamp collection as kids, and the names were so “foreign” sounding.  Iran, Mozambique, Borneo.  We’d have to look up the locations on a map.  It was always a mystery what these places were actually like.  The world seemed much larger then.  Now we are so connected to every name in a world atlas.  But the names, locations, even the different types of maps were interesting.  I remember that the ones depicting vegetation were the most colorful, with stripes resembling a rainbow.  In my map series I’m using many different mediums.  Below is one that at this point resembles a quilt, but it is only in its beginning stage.


“Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished?  Yes; work never begun.”    Christina Rossetti, Author

Begin something.