Lick Observatory, Mount Hamilton

photo 4
The Lick 36 inch refractor beneath a closed dome

If you haven’t been to the Lick, here’s something you should know — To get there you will have an 18-19 mile, predominantly uphill climb along a winding road. The vistas are breathtaking, but there are many, many sheer cliff drop offs, so it’s best to keep your eyes on the road. And too, bicyclists love this road; they come tearing around corners at breakneck speed, sometimes, half way in your lane. Yes, you’d better keep your eyes on the road and keep a look out for them too.


I’ve cycled my share of mountains but this road (California 130) is madness for a bicyclist. Yesterday, I was barely 4 miles up (about 2 miles before Grant Park) when I found a cyclist down. It looks like he took quite a tumble descending the mountain. The poor guy was in need of medical attention though I don’t even know where a helicopter could land near where he happened to be. His fellow bikers were helping him and wrapping him up to keep him insulated. A good samaritan ahead of me was directing traffic around the spot. I sure hope he is 2a


The building to the left in this photograph looks like it has eyes and a mouth. (This is a side view of the main building where the 36 inch refractor is.)

photo 5There were some really nice 18th century door hinges in a display case but I couldn’t get any good photographs of them. Oooooh they’d make lovely rubbings for an art piece.

This tube-like glass gadget is/was used in photography. This sample is from around the the 1930s. The Lick Observatory itself, was built in the 1880s. This tube will probably show up in my art. You never know where your inspiration might come from!

Below is a slideshow of Lick Observatory postcards:

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Feeding the Soil: Dig, No Dig Gardening

silent hareFor years I’ve been trying to get my hands on Esther Dean’s, “No Dig Gardening” book. I finally located it via the Internet in Esther’s home country of Australia. The shipping cost was exorbitant so I never ordered it. Then it recently showed up on Amazon. Whuu huu!

If you are interested in the concept of no dig gardening, you can watch this 6-minute video about the process. I’ve also included a  link to the gardener, Charles Dowding’s site, Home Acres in England.

Foggy, Windy, Point Reyes National Seashore

4 lighthouse Point Reyes
Point Reyes Lighthouse, view from one of the 300+ steps leading down, down down
Point Reyes National Seashore

Here is a wild, windy, foggy side of California. The lighthouse at Point Reyes is closed when it gets too windy. This part of California is said to be the windiest, foggiest area in all of the Pacific. It is also a great place to whale watch. When I visited several days ago, I saw grey whales (in the waters below the lighthouse), elephant seals (at Drake’s Beach and Chimney Rock), birds (everywhere!), native wildflowers (along the Chimney Rock Trail) and tule elk (down by Drake’s Beach and out by Tomales Bay). What a trip!

5 light house point reyes #2
Finally, an upright photo of the lighthouse. Still foggy though.
 Jamaican Connection

An old name from my Jamaican history books surfaced here; it is that of the old English buccaneer (pirate), Francis Drake. Drakes’ Beach, where I saw elephant seals, and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, the main thoroughfare leading into Point Reyes, are named for him. I wonder, do they know here in California, that he was an old pirate and slave trader and not simply, “the English explorer who landed off the Point Reyes coast and claimed California for the Queen?”


Check out the Chimney Rock section of Point Reyes Seashore to learn about America’s early Coast Guard program. You can also see elephant seals here. If it is a nice enough day and the fog lifts, you can see the Farallon Islands from the tip of the Chimney Rock Trail. (You will also see a lot of birds and wildflowers here.)

2 boat house pont reyes
Historic Life Boat Station at Chimney Rock



1-boat dock at Point Reyes, looking towards Drake's Beach #2
Boat dock at Chimney Rock, looking towards Drakes’ Beach










tule elk2









I saw several tule elk down near Drake’s Beach and an entire herd crossing over the hills by Tomales Bay near sunset. (This sunset crossing may end up being translated into a painting!) You can learn about tule elk by watching this short video. Something I learned is that the tule elks’ mating behavior is very much like that of the elephant seals’. Who knew?


Some Kind of Adventure This

UntitledSeal Adventures draws many visitors to Ano Nuevo State Park but there is a lot more to this park than the carrying-ons of elephant seals. Just the other morning as I walked towards the Cove Beach area of the park I came across the following scene:

2-oh boy, somebody's dinner

Oh boy, I’d say somebody had a lovely meal. Who? My guess is the bob cat who lives near the pond above Cove Beach, Here he is below. I wonder if he thinks he is camouflaged and we can’t see him? Nice try you; we see you.

Ano Nuevo bob cat, photo credit: D. Cruz

1/31/2015 – Update

Here is another photo of our Ano Nuevo bob cat. I think he’s saying, “What are you looking at?” And then, with real New York City attitude he is saying, “You lookin’ at me? Huh? You lookin’ at me, punk?”Untitled

Bob cat on Cove Beach trail, December 2014. Photo credit: Joan Teitler, Ano Nuevo Docent Naturalist

If you’d like to see some seal adventures online, visit Ano Nuevo’s Facebook page and watch this one minute video of an elephant seal in “the wallows.” Awww, look at his flippers!

Seed Pop

seed pop
“Non-native Breadfruit” (from the Jamaica Series), Pen and inks on paper. 4 x 4 in © 2015

Recently I’ve been doing research on the plants of Jamaica. This is for a series of artworks that I’m working on. Many plants that are now on the island were actually introduced by its two colonizers, the Spanish and British. This drawing is of the breadfruit; it was brought to Jamaica to feed the slaves. The plant has no nutritional value whatsoever. As a cheap food source, it served its purpose of keeping the slaves alive at little to no cost.

On another note, there is a Bay Area company that is doing its part to save the bees. It creates and sells seed bombs. The idea of seed bombs comes from Guerrilla Gardening,  a method of planting begun by environmentalists who would simply throw balls of seeds and fertilizer into fenced-off neglected spaces like brownfields or land that was in zoning limbo. Hmmm, I’m looking at you, fenced off lands near BART stations! Read more about seed bombs and saving the bees here: Save the Bees With Seed Bombs

Jamaica, One Love/No Love

Jamaican Iguana, from the Indigenous Fauna series, watercolor on paper 2014

I have learnt the warmth of the sun
A million adventures not yet begun

Heartbreak and poetry
…deep blues …

Now i know this is lonely country
It leads me only back to the sea

… Once there was beauty here for me
Once there was magic here for me ….

-words from Dido’s, “Northern Skies”, from the Safe Trip Home album-

I’m working on a series of artwork inspired by Jamaica, its history, its present. That includes reading the early texts and drawings about the island. My readings and research take me from the cave drawings of the Tainos to the writings of the Spanish, based on Columbus’ arrival in the “New World,” on up to the present. So many things, are done in the name of the church, the holy trinity, god and nation. 3 -in the name of the holy trinity

Video – Jamaica, a terrible place to be gay:


Fishing for Plastics

(Photo credit: The Ocean Cleanup)

Did you know that there are plastics in many of our face washes, tooth pastes, shaving creams and shower gels? If the products you use contain microbeads, more than likely, these microbeads are made from plastics, not natural materials. These are not the only common household items containing microbeads. Microbeads can also be generated in your washing machines. All of these, end up in our water systems and make their way out to sea. Interested in learning more? Read on: Plastic Soup

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