May 31, 2017

May Gray

Brings mushrooms.  May Gray and June Gloom are my second-favorite season around here.  May Gray starts with early morning coolness and dampness that sometimes fogs into afternoon and evening cool and damp as well.  Hence mushrooms.  And my favorite season here is late-autumn into winter, which is five to six months of cool, clear, sometimes crisp, sometimes sunny days, many many of them in succession, broken only occasionally by a few hours of sprinkle or sudden downpour.  My not-favorite season is summer, which for me is too warm (anything over 75 is excessive, don’t you think) and brings more tourists on the roads and in the restaurants,  and more people on the beach, and having to turn on the air conditioning, which is really silly in a climate like this!

So it’s likely there were photos of mushrooms about a year ago.  I will have to check.  Thank you for tuning in…

May 25, 2017

Campground Cliff Cactus

It’s at campsite 32 and I check on it every now and then.  Today it presented me with this lovely deep cranberry-red blossom, and it looks like there are more to come.  What a bizarre collection of shapes and textures!  The round orb-like things with their chocolate-chip centers, the prickly spines, and then the cucumber-shaped parts that are just green and bumpy.  I’m actually not sure it’s all one plant?

May 24, 2017

Armadillo Bark

We all seem to be attracted to things that look like something else, something they are not, yet something that is conjured up by the visual cortex and the associated processing areas.  There’s so much going on here: the ladder, the texture, the pebbly yet striated surface, the varieties of gray that tend toward mocha and even pink, the vertical grooves…some sort of palm tree bark.  Or maybe it wasn’t palm.  I looked at a lot of trunks on our short walk today.  Now I can’t remember.  But it doesn’t matter, does it?

May 23, 2017


Cheese and crackers; wild salmon salad; greens with avocado, tomatoes, feta, Persian cucumbers, chives, homemade light vinaigrette; fresh pineapple.  Simple. Healthy. Sometimes it’s a relief to eat something not-fancy, at home.  And then sometimes it’s a delight to eat something out, something complicated that one doesn’t have the ingredients or prep skills for.  So fortunate!

May 22, 2017

Stalking It

New growth at the top of a plant, in a pot, in the back yard.  These were cut way back because they were so spindly; now they are still spindly, but in a better way.  They look a bit like feather dusters.  I am tempted to cut them again and see if the bottoms will root, as they are still really gangly looking.  I’ve had them for ages; they’ve been indoors, they’ve been on a balcony, and now they are outdoors.  Never really been happy.  Maybe it’s my brownish thumb or maybe they just don’t belong in Southern California?

Plants puzzle me.  They can’t ask for food or more water or less water or more light or less light or richer soil or better-draining soil…how is one to know?  Yet I have friends who seem to have an instinct for it.  Ah well, I’m told I have an instinct for cooking, and I have NO idea where that comes from, so I guess I’ll just enjoy what I’ve got and hope the plants survive my benign negligence!

May 21, 2017

Must Be Flower Week

Would they be as lovely without the yellow buds and centers?  And the deep velvety green leaves?  Why should we ask, anyway?  These blossoms seem delightfully pretty and perky and sunny, like a California blonde, don’t you think?  Questions!

May 20, 2017

The Light

…was just right.  The colors, the shapes, the diagonal, the stripes, the sun on the brilliant chartreuse!  I was fortunate to be there at the right time.  This was in a neighbor’s beautiful garden.  There are probably more photos there waiting to be found….thank you, M & C!

May 19, 2017

It’s Berries!

But they don’t look edible, whatever “looking edible” means.  And they seem almost frosted, as if they belong more in December than the middle of May.  Our neighborhood plantings truly are stunning.

We have botanic gardens and the gardens of Balboa Park; we also have neighborhood and highway plantings as well as wild flowers.  No wonder I have these rapid-fire sneezing spells!  Well, it’s worth it.  The visual splendor just keeps on coming.

May 18, 2017

Doing its Thing

Orange is not my favorite color.  But somehow, when Nature does it, it’s grand!  I know I have done lilies before, probably at this time of year, but when the show stops you, you have to pay attention:  to the lovely edges, to the striations parallel to the long sides of the petals, and even the ring of darker pigment around the pistils [stamen?]  The double symmetry of the petals, three and three, is so delightfully balanced.  Nature does well teaching both color and composition!

May 17, 2017


I am attracted to these partially opened blooms.  This one was especially intriguing because it looks as though it will have both purple and white flowers.  The star jasmine is super-fragrant and everything else seems to be riotous with growth and color.  I keep forgetting that “spring” in California is a long and abundant season. It was pleasant to enjoy on an evening walk!

May 15, 2017

A Wonky Photo

I depart from the usual to tell a brief story about the “I should have known” phenomenon.  People like to ask artists (and writers and dancers and engineers…) how they happened to realize their passion.

Well, I should have known.  My first grade teacher kept an easel and tempera paints in the back of the class, and once a month it was your turn to paint during recess.  When my turn came — oh wow — I was so excited I knocked over the easel, all the paint splattered over the floor, and it was hard to say if I was more afraid (what had I done?  would I be punished?) or upset to lose my turn.  Neither.  She was a wonderful teacher, comforted me, and bought new paint for the next day.

It took me 37 more years to figure it out and go to art school, meanwhile pursuing the “edges” of art with sewing, interior design, and other similar activities.  Everything I did in between feeds my art, though!

I should have known.

May 14, 2017

Just Enough Rain

To bloom for Mothers’ Day!  In a huge planter in my little back yard, which I consistently neglect.  I swept the patio and failed to notice this until it was pointed out to me later.  Don’t need sci-fi plants; the earthly ones are bizarre enough, eh?

May 13, 2017

Out of Focus

Yep.  And I am too.  I am also running short on focus.  Un-focused.  Maybe even ill-focused.  Off-focus.  Off-kilter?  Kilter, now that’s a curious word.  Means ‘balanced.’  It hints at funkiness, wonkyness.   Ah, that’s not a word either.  Reminds me of the feeling I get from Suzanne Vega’s “Left of Center.”  Sort of.  Not surprising these days, eh?

May 10, 2017

Driveway Denizen

Well, briefly, anyway.  Her mate was across the street and kept calling to her.  Probably didn’t want to play hopscotch with her right now.  Does she seem a bit disappointed, resigned?  Ah well, another day, another driveway.  She was not timid at all, letting me get within six feet of her.

We also seem to have at least one pair of ducks who appear to live in the grocery store parking lot.  California has an amenable climate for many species!

May 8, 2017


The tree was ginormous, too.  This was only a small selection of these gnarly, biomorphic (well, of course, tree roots are!) forms. They seemed almost sculpted in clay, and nicely textured surfaces at that.   I think Georgia O’Keeffe would have liked to paint or draw them — a charcoal drawing, perhaps.  I’m reading a biography of her.

She saw the world with new eyes…

May 7, 2017

Like Straw

What color are they?  I find that color wistful, on the edge of dying.  These were out of reach, so I couldn’t touch them to determine whether they were soft and silky or dry and poke-y.  They look rather dry, and yet…that center of dots and the many many thin blades of flower petals seem very much alive.  Defiant?

May 4, 2017

Star Jasmine

In all its glory.  And its scent is just amazing, sweet and potent and slightly spicy and lingering.  Walking along the sidewalks here, it’s plentiful and enveloping.  Yum.  Well, not quite yum, I don’t like jasmine or any floral teas; but it’s delightfully heady during an evening walk.

May 3, 2017

Another Skyline

Outside a restaurant.  Palms may not be ecologically sound, but they sure are photogenic.  How about that leaning one?  It appears to want to whisper a secret to the tree, perhaps?  Rumors of rain this coming weekend; maybe that’s what they’re discussing!

May 1, 2017


You can see how dry it’s been.  The drought may be over, but this one is blooming because of stored water from the January rains.  We had a bit of mist the other day, but have had no rain of consequence for many weeks.

It is indeed a treat to see *green* rolling hills and canyons instead of brown ones.  I hope we are treated to more rain again next winter.  Doubtful there will be any over the summer, although we experienced a brief July thunderstorm the summer we were deciding to move here, almost seven years ago.  The locals apologized profusely, as if they had let us down.  Compared to a Kansas storm, it was nothing, and we laughed!