June 30, 2014

New cactus
New cactus

New to me, that is.  I love the spiraling columns interspersed with thorns.  Prickly.  I get pretty prickly sometimes, especially when I am afraid.

There is a lot to fear.  Supreme Court decisions that erode choice because of falsely equating corporations with persons; situation in Ukraine; situations in Iraq and Syria…I can’t bring myself to watch/read about the news these days.  I catch snippets on the radio and wince — or despair.  I wish World Cup Soccer were a distraction for me!

I will read, I will write, I will notice and make photos, I will cook and share my cooking, I will knit, I will make art.  Later this fall I will get to help someone with reading and writing.  I will vote.  I will conserve energy.  I will walk wherever I can.  I will not let the water run.  I will combine errands.  I will use nature’s own air conditioning in the summer and dress more warmly in the fall and winter.

The speaker at MIT said we need to “go out there and get angry.”  Would that really make a difference?  What would it take to make a difference?  Getting prickly isn’t enough.

June 29, 2014


I didn’t write yesterday, apparently; I find that disconcerting.  I have been making extensive travel plans — or is that plans for extensive travel? — and it has distracted me.  The availability of an overwhelming amount of information on the computer becomes really difficult to navigate, decipher, compare, digest!

So, back to bark.  I find this texture compellingly complex, and love the copper gems in the lower left.  This complexity is enticing and satisfying as opposed to the frustrating complexity of the online experience.  Simplicity is lovely and so is this intertwined collection of textures.  The gray/brown/silver/rust are almost gemlike in their depth.

I took this photo with my camera phone, as usual.  I wonder what a high-quality lens and sensor would do for this image.

June 27, 2014

Another pink
Another pink

That’s my second pink-y purple flower this week.  And I’m wearing the only hot pink item of clothing I own.  I must need pink, somehow!

It’s funny how color choices work.  I’ve been making some quilt-like objects, and I’ve been using colors that appeal, for some reason,  but that I wouldn’t wear.  One’s wardrobe reflects not just what colors are attractive, but what is flattering combined with what is available.  I remember a summer in which I’d walk in and immediately out  of one store after another, seeing only pastels.  Another summer, everything was navy.

But all colors are beautiful.  It’s hard to have a favorite.  I have even mixed up the “ugliest” colors of paint and then deliberately created something harmonious from them.  That’s because there are no “ugly” colors.  Really.  (Yet another post I ended with the word “really!”)

June 26, 2014

Leaf patterns
Leaf patterns

I am confounded by that bright sun against the dark leaves.  Not sure it’s what I intended when I took the photo, but intent is usually irrelevant anyway.    The image is what it is.

This is another experience of the botanical gardens, proving to be a generous visual source.

I went to my writing practice group this morning.  Each of us writes in response to a prompt and then can choose to read aloud what we wrote.  When I read,  the group laughed at several points and then said they were eager to hear more.   It is not usual to give the writer/reader any feedback at all!  That is the first time I’ve had that kind of response from the group.  It was more than satisfying.  It makes me want to write more.  And then I wonder why that is so.  Is not the writing, both the process and the resulting existence of the words, the forming of the ideas, enough?

My artist’s statement says that the work is completed by the act of looking.  Perhaps it is the same with written work; it is completed by being read/heard.  Yes?

June 25, 2014

It's the colors
It’s the colors

Amazing to me that this is a June photo.  These deep rich red burgundies look like autumn.  So much for profiling, even colors!

The botanical garden is our new walking place for the summer, some days at least, and this photo was taken there.  I don’t remember quite what the plant is and I guess it doesn’t matter.

It is also amazing that day after day is sunny and around 70-75 degrees and gorgeous.  No humidity to speak of, no black flies, very few mosquitos.  No snakes or creepy-crawlies to worry about in most of suburban beach life,  no impending thunderstorms, and you can plan your picnic or outdoor wedding without hesitation.  Every time we eat a meal outdoors — all three today — I sit up and take notice.

We have food and clothing and medical care and schools and houses and dishes and books and electricity and running water, and cars and airplanes and trains that let us *travel!* and friends and family and book clubs and writing groups, and art galleries and gardens, and wonderful berries and bok choy and tomatoes from the farmers’ market if not our own plot/plant, and churches and mosques and temples and meeting houses, and libraries and music and theater and dance and computers and we even have


June 24, 2014

Tidepools revisited
Tidepools revisited

It’s not tide pool season until late fall but sometimes it’s good to look back and see what has been missed.

There’s something about the colors here — and also perhaps the composition — that pulls me in.  The path of the water, the two bright white shells nestled in close harmony, the bit of pink-purple in the corner, and the ever-present kelp pods: they are the essence of the shallows.

I’ve been missing the shore; haven’t been on the beach since May.  I’ll have to try out the new bad-chemicals-but-it-might-work bug repellent soon.  Then I can ponder some of the current magic — from this season.

June 23, 2014


There’s something about looking up through a screen of branches and leaves, at a sky peeking through as if a shy child who’s not supposed to be seen, a glimpse of heaven if you could believe it, a gentle poke at eternity, at infinity (here it comes again…and again!) and at all the dreams you could have dreamed if you weren’t interrupted by pain and confusion and heaviness of spirit, or heaviness of lack thereof, actually?

It’s the spirit of the trees, now, isn’t it, that makes us look up?  It might be that we want to reach with them, have their faith, their certainty, their hardiness, their brash branches that spread and twist and gnarl in shrugging defiance, in a complete lack of time, no sense of hurry, of yesterday, of tomorrow, just nowness of growing?  Yes, it might be.

And I look out at the ocean, the sea, the water, the more-ness, the ever-ness, the always-ness, in the very same way.

June 22, 2014

Whoopie pies
Whoopie pies

From a while back.  Back to food.  When in doubt, come back to food.

Wish I could offer one to my Dad.  It’s been ten years.  So much I could have offered.  And him to me, too.  I never made him a whoopie pie.  I hadn’t made them then.

What else will be missed in the next ten years?

June 21, 2014


It’s somewhat freeing to write whatever and use whatever photo.

This just jumped out at me from my array of old photos.  That achingly sharp yellow juxtaposed with the almost-fuschia is pretty striking.

We walked in a county park today, along bark-chipped and/or dusty trails.  It wasn’t nearly as lovely as the beach or the botanical gardens.  It was hot, even though it wasn’t.  I seem to get less and less tolerant of weather extremes as time tramples on.  A weather wimp, I call myself.  A comfort addict.  I hope I don’t let that confine me.  Even if it’s a strong preference!

I made some art today.  A small piece, and a card.  The to-do list is enormous and I need to lose it in the pile and put art on top.  ART ON TOP!

June 20, 2014

In the frame
In the frame

The trees of New England seem even greener than those of Wisconsin.  Or perhaps the sky was bluer and that provided more contrast.

In the botanical gardens in Encinitas today, the greens mostly seemed…dusty.  Although the sun was warm, the air is just so much dryer that the warmth has a different quality.  The ocean meets the desert here in paradise.

So the next posts will have some botanical garden notes.

June 19, 2014


We’ve done math and ceramics — why not food?

These are the glorious results of daughter Lucy’s efforts.  They tasted as wonderful as they looked.  Asparagus and scallions and good Wisconsin cheddar.  Yummmmm…

June 18, 2014

Lots of pots
Lots of pots

I had a minor “procedure” today and am feeling a bit potty because of the *drugs* — ooooh.

So here’s a photo of pots waiting for their glaze firing.  Wisconsin.  Aren’t they gorgeous?

June 17, 2014


Not exactly infinite.  There is something both grand and sad about Frank Lloyd Wright.  He was brilliant with light (windows, views, sight-lines, recessed lighting!)  But something always feels a bit off-kilter to me, a bit heavy, a bit not-quite.

And thinking about infinity can do that to one’s equilibrium.  Warning: very long post.  A complex idea is coming.  Go slowly.  Ponder it all.  Life is amazing.  Ideas are amazing.  There aren’t an infinite number of tangible objects (previous post) but I think there are an infinite number of ideas.  And perhaps language-symbolic sentences to express those ideas.  Maybe next post on linguistics.  But back to mathematics.

We all understand, at some level, that the counting numbers (integers) can go on and on and on…forever.  You can always keep adding one more…forever.  (If you had forever, another mind-boggling notion.)  We call that “infinity.”  There is an infinite number of counting numbers.  Let that notion settle a bit.  (Not being able to personally count forever doesn’t mean the numbers don’t go on forever.)

But there’s more than integers.  There are the “real” numbers.  The ones we usually think of with the decimal points (in base 10, we’ll stick mostly with that just for now) and the zillion digits after them.  Like 1/3:  0.33333333333 etc.  The threes there go on forever, as it were.   Other real numbers are:

0 (zero),  19,   1.6,   pi,   461. 8192947, and 238,996,428,778.0034827.  You can make up a zillion real numbers.  And more…

Here’s the amazing thing.  The SIZE of the set of integers (the group of them) is infinite.  They go on forever.  The integers are part of the reals (I named zero and 19 there, which are integers), but the set of integers is SMALLER than the set of reals.  The set of real numbers are a BIGGER infinity!  I’ll show you how/why.

Here is a proof using a technique by a 19th century mathematician named Georg Cantor:

Say you had “forever” and you made a list of real numbers, here in base 2 (which uses only 1s and 0s.)  If you haven’t used base 2 (computers do), here’s how you count  from 1 to 7 in base 2:

1,  10,  11,  100,  101,  110,  111

The usual columns that you think of as 1s, 10s, and 100s are now 1s, 2s, and 4s, etc.  (If this is confusing, ask a computer or math nerd to explain further.)

So, let’s suppose you have made what you think is an exhaustive list of the real numbers in base 2.   But you haven’t!  Here is the beginning of your list, just the first 11 numbers you happened to come up with.  (You need, as it were, a very big forever for this!)

Cantor's Diagonal
Cantor’s Diagonal

The upper chart is the beginning of an infinitely long chart that purports to list all the real numbers.  First real number, any old one you came up with,  is called s1; the second one  is called s2 etc.  There are 11 real numbers listed here in base 2.  You claim to have listed them all, in a ginormous chart that goes on forever.  You can keep listing them…it doesn’t matter…because:

In the separate box at the bottom is a BRAND NEW number  (s= 10111010011… in blue type) that doesn’t appear ANYWHERE in the list!  It was formed by choosing the opposite digit of each of the red digits in the big chart. The first entry is changed in the first position, the second entry in the second position, and so on.  This new number demonstrates that the list you thought was complete — ISN’T!

Think about it.  It’s beautiful.  It’s why I thought I wanted to be a mathematician.  Are art and writing easier?  More poetic?  This is the poetry of ideas!

Just incidentally, this sort of argument, called Cantor’s diagonal, is used in other proofs.  You can check it out in Wikipedia:


Whew!  I’m tired.


June 16, 2014

Even small lakes can be moody
Even small lakes can be moody

Sunset in Madison.  Not as dramatic as Carlsbad, but still.

I think it’s the noise and the movement even more than the difference in air quality that I miss.  I grew up around lakes, but they seem to lack the presence, yes presence, of the ocean.  Now I have been to the shores and on the waters of some larger lakes: Tahoe, Como, Winnipesaukee, Superior.  And those lakes even create their own weather. But they are contained, not expansive seemingly into infinity.

That brings me to that extraordinary concept, infinity.  Nothing tangible is infinite, not even atoms or sub-atomic particles or “empty” space.  Infinity was the topic of a lovely conversation with my 10th- and 12th-grade math teacher on June 9th in Concord, NH.  Next post.

June 15, 2014

Wisconsin lilacs
Wisconsin lilacs

For a few months this will be something other than an ocean blog.

I have been away, and may not get back to the beach for a while.  Our travels have been an opportunity to see other natural wonders, like these gorgeous flowers that speak to me of spring in New Hampshire.

Their appearance in Madison was a special treat.  Many, many suburban yards have multiple bushes, especially in older parts of town.  I find the scent heady and am returned to being ten years old, in the front yard of our tiny cape with its attic bedrooms, open yard, and a single gnarled peach tree that fruited voluminously (200 pounds!) in alternate years.  We canned and made jam, somehow always on the hottest of summer days, with no air conditioning to relieve the stickiness of the air and the task.  And it was so worth it.

What do we do these days that speaks of nature’s bounty, our own labor, and simple processes?  I really don’t know.