Just a Simple Bacon and Egg Sandwich, Please!

Not on the Menu

Since I got here/I’ve been chasing/the elusive/some say unattainable/bacon and egg/on a roll./Saturday morning at Davenport’s Cash Store/breakfast burritos/but no bacon and egg sandwiches/none whatsoever.

6 - lilies
winter lillies, davenport

Bay Area, I love you, but why can’t you just do this one thing for me? Why can’t you serve me a simple bacon egg (and cheese) on a roll? I’m willing to take any old roll. I will forgo the ubiquitous sesame seed rolls of my New York years. I will. Davenport Cash Store, your house coffee is excellent but why couldn’t you make me a bacon and egg sandwich? You offered me breakfast burritos instead. If breakfast is over, how come you are still serving breakfast burritos, huh? HUH?

Ano Nuevo

This Friday at Ano Nuevo  was amazing. There were some great big elephant seal bulls along the paths. Oh they were corpulent, rotund, big. Such fat blubbery beauties!  There were also many newborns nursing down by the beach. As of Friday (1/18/13), the count of elephant seals at Ano Nuevo was 1,086 females, plus 575 pups and 258 males. Oh what squeals and yips and bellowing took place. It was a veritable wildlife adventure.


Saturday I went exploring around Davenport, a small town near Ano Nuevo. Its Cash Store is a great place for coffee and it has the best pico de gallo I’ve had in the Bay Area. If you are passing through town on a Saturday night, stop in and see one of their shows. Last Saturday night a local group, Esoteric Collective, was the highlight of the evening.

1 -old jail
Jail Museum

Around the corner from The Cash Store is the Davenport Jail Museum. Although its Web site stated that it was open weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., it was padlocked when I showed up around 1:00 p.m. It never opened that day.

Some things to do in Davenport are:

  • Hike the beach and cliff trails along Highway One
  • Check out the art in the Davenport Gallery (address 450 Highway One) which is next door to The Cash Store
  • Walk around the town (this takes all of ten minutes!) and visit the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, at the end of Davenport Avenue. It and the old jail/museum are Spanish/Mexican-styled architecture and are the two oldest structures in the town. The church was built in 1915, the jail, in 1914.

The Davenport Cement Plant (Cemex) sits at the edge of town. Just like the cement factory in Jamaica, it is located near the water; that cannot be good for the environment.

Information on Davenport’s early history can be accessed at http://scplweb.santacruzpl.org/history/places/daven.shtml

2 -church
Church with its Mexican-style architecture from the front
5 -church
Side-view of the church, with a very New England style of architecture
12 -cement factory
cement factory

Across the tracks are some beautiful hiking trails. I couldn’t help but photograph the following bit of train track as I made my way to the bluffs above the beach.

9 -train track
graffiti speaks for itself
11 -beachcombing
beach combing along davenport beach
13 -davenport, looking towards big sur
marine terrace, view looking out towards big sur

Stupid NASA, Earth and Nature

credit: NASA

A friend sent me NASA’s earth art book and immediately, I started scribbling down place names for no other reasons than these: They are arresting names; and I wonder what goes on there. What do these places look like up close? Who lives there and how do they live in and treat these places and spaces? Are there open spaces for me to go wandering about in and exploring?

Ever since I arrived in the Bay Area, I have a renewed appreciation for open spaces that I have not felt since my childhood and my later adult sojurn in Jamaica. Just as importantly, this appreciation informs and colors my art. When I looked at the NASA pictures I thought once again, how cheeky, trying to create something, anything, when nature has already done it and done it so well. Here I am, getting ready to re-work my “the vees in picasso” sketches that I did last spring. I know not where the inspiration came from nor why it came from those particular sketches. All I know is I have a clear vision and I am going to move it from inside my head and out onto my canvas. But damned if one of the NASA shots isn’t an almost exact replica of what is in my mind’s eye!  Even the coloration and texture (hence the use of modeling clay on the canvas) are the same as what I envisioned.

I just got through experimenting with a light modeling clay and a golden bronze acrylic paint that I have been reluctant to use. The experiment was tedious and it took me a long time to master that paint. I tried working with this bronze before and it hadn’t been tactile. In fact, the wretched thing was and still is, a very heavy paint. It does not rest easily on the canvas. This is the same paint that I worked with in the “David at Yosemite” painting. Turns out this paint is truly a bitch to work with and not simply because the David painting was a difficult subject.

I finally finished this new experiment in bronze painting. It has turned into a painting called, Little Fairy Castles in the Cow Pasture (or Childhood at Belvedere Estate). When I finished it I thought, “That was really difficult but I’m ready to work on my “vee” painting. Now along comes NASA with its “Earth-observing environmental satellites in orbit around the planet”, to show me that it has already been done! They have all conspired to outdo me, NASA, Earth, Nature and those dim-witted satellites that never did anything except spin about in the skies. They never lifted paintbrushes nor tried to coax heavy bronze paint onto canvas! Adding to my chagrin, the NASA picture, shown at the top of this post, is of the desert outside of the United States that I have my eyes on. Yes, it is of the Namib area that I wrote about in an earlier article, the same Namib desert that I invited my Yosemite painting man to visit with me so we could photograph, paint and sand-board there. Sand-boarding and sand-sledding in Swakopmund, Namibia, was another of our Urban Daddy Magazine discoveries. But that is another story.

Here now are some of the place names from NASA’s earth as art book that stirred my imagination:

  • Painted Desert, USA
  • Desolation Canyon, USA
  • Lake Disappointment, Australia (childhood fairy tales and river myths come to mind)
  • Parana River Delta, Argentina (this conjures up images of piranha fish)
  • Anti-Atlas Mountains, Morocco (what does it even mean to be “anti” in a place name?)
  • Carbonate Sand Dunes, Atlantic Ocean (how do you even have dunes in the ocean??)
  • Ribbon Lakes, Russia

The following are not place names but oh, the conjuring up my mind does just thinking of these titles: gravity waves, ice waves, phytoplankton bloom, and Wadi Branches, Jordan (is this a geographical feature or a place-name?).

Oh, stupid NASA Earth as Art book can be accessed here: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/703154main_earth_art-ebook.pdf and the artworks mentioned in this article are shown below.

Happy New Year and see you in 2013!

At Yosemite (mixed media, 2011)
At Yosemite (mixed media, 2011)
2012-12-29 12.44.20
early version of Belvedere painting
2012-12-30 10.05.33
final Belvedere painting
Remembering the "Vs" i (at the de Young)
Remembering the “Vs”, i (at the de Young)

My Very Trippy List

photo 1 (2)
Young elephant seal, photo by Coastside State Parks Assn., 2012

I will be out working with the seals all this weekend so I’m getting this week’s post in early. Sorry to throw you off with my early schedule.

So, back in May I stumbled across those crazy lost and found emails, remember? Thanks to them, I started thinking about my creative side and how that part of my life was being lost or shelved. In those emails I found I had done all this writing and photography and paintings – I created much more than I realized! What’s more, if I could do all that while having fun, how much more could I do if I set goals and got serious about my writing and my art?

So, here then, is the list of goals I set to help me focus on my creative side/work. If you are wondering about the inclusion of trips to national and state parks, don’t! Some (okay, maybe all) of my earlier posts relate in one way or another to nature and the outdoors. They feed my creative side and make me happy too. No wonder I’m so creative here in the Bay Area. It turns out that I have a new old muse. Hello Nature girl.

Creative writing

*Write a short play (done)

Submit said play to x competition (done and done)

*Work on poetry (done)

Submit poems to program xx (done)

Submit poems to program y (still working on it!)

Await outcome (I won’t have the results until April; am crossing my fingers and my toes!)

*Start a blog (done)

Maintain said blog and complete one post each week (done and done!)

Visual Arts: paint, paint paint!


Take a painting class or workshop (done!)

Create at least three pieces I am totally happy with (done!)

my best and favorite painting for the year


Buy a good digital camera (done)

Learn to use and master said camera (still working on it!)

Blend writing and visual arts into creative pieces (done and done!)

Visit and overnight at one state or national park (done and done)

*Yosemite (done)

*Sequoia (done and done)

AND in 2013:

*Enter at least one art piece (a painting) into a local and a national competition

*Try to stop destroying writing and artwork that I’m not totally satisfied with (this is a work in progress)

*Enroll in a workshop at the Crucible or take a drawing class (hope I have enough money for this!)

*Visit and overnight at a state or national park outside of California (Yellowstone or Grand Canyon) and/or visit Picasso’s, Guernica, in Madrid museum (hope I have enough money for this too!)

Thank you for hanging with me. Next week I’ll give you my Jamaican Christmas cake recipe. I’ve been busy these past few nights making cakes for family, friends and co-workers. Let the festivities begin!

A Bay Area Year

Ode to the Seasons

From the East Bay, to the peninsula, to the foothills and into the Santa Cruz Mountains, it has been a glorious year. Winter is now just around the corner. Let’s hope there will be lots of rain from now on in.

The Bay Area had its first significant end of year rains, a small storm, in October. This ended our normal six-month dry spell. Fire season, typically over by October, November, is but a distant memory, or at least so one hopes.

The second set of rains came along this weekend, causing M. to cancel our hike across the Monte Bello ridge. I guess she knows best. She, after all, looks into a foggy mountainside while I enjoy a sunny, no-fog drip in my corner of the Bay Area. A walk in the mist and fog would have been muddy but fun. Oh well, soap-making and a walk around the farm were equally fun and muddy.

The above photograph of a persimmon tree laden with fruit was taken today at Hidden Villa. The tree stands like a lone sentinel across from an outdoor kitchen. It is now mid-November, and it is a misty, alternately sunny and cloudy, slightly chilly, wonderfully wet day here in the Los Altos Hills. Little squirrels, why so lazy? The persimmons are beginning to rot on the tree. Why don’t you get to work and eat them up or is it that you are waiting for the interns to harvest and feed the fruits to the farm animals? Hmmm, I wonder if persimmon would be a good addition to the next batch of soap?

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A Painting for Each Season

There’s a New Palette on the Landscape!

The rains have begun. Small streaks of verdant green are beginning to show through brown and golden grasses on hillsides and mountain slopes. There’s a new palette on the landscape. Goodbye summer sounds and colors. I will miss you. But there’s new joy to be found in the outdoors.

Tick season is over. No more checking your clothing, hair and skin for ticks after a good tromp through the woods or alongside stream banks, lakes and ponds. And the bird sounds I’m hearing now are different too – less querulous – methinks. Summer browns and gold, you were beautiful while you lasted. See you again, same time next year?

Last Saturday’s swath of golden grass along Monte Bello Ridge is, I’m guessing, already becoming less brittle, less gold. Little field mouse and rabbits that I encountered on my walk last weekend, have you found shelter from the rains? Are you as happy as I am to revel in this new season? Do you see the splashes of green that I imagine are starting to color your world?

Photo by Jack Kelly Clark.

There are olives to be picked before olive fruit flies get into the crop. Little pests! You arrived here about twelve years ago. How did you get here and why are you so destructive? Maybe this year I’ll join in harvesting the fruit before you invade the crop. Perhaps I’ll even learn how to remove the tannic acid from the olives to make them tastier and sweeter.

This fall is already shaping up to be a very busy one. There are several unfinished paintings in different stages, spread out around my studio. And there is the old camera I bought that I haven’t yet taught myself to use. But who’s complaining? Not me!

Up and over the hills at Rancho San Antonio, habitat restoration awaits: We will be installing protective cages around oak trees as we try to give them a chance to grow. Along Jasper Ridge a long awaited hike is finally taking shape, thanks to a lovely, yet unseen Stanford sophomore. Thank you, Laura!

Before I go, two sobering thoughts:

My beloved New York City – along with an extensive stretch of the eastern seaboard – and my old island home of Jamaica are still trying to recover from last week’s hurricane; and it wasn’t so long ago that we were buying and selling human beings in this country. Last week an American friend sent me a copy of this 1830s “For Sale” poster. It is a sobering reminder that in another time, in this place, President Obama never could have become president and he and I would have both been slaves.

For Sale

Crystal Cave

About a forty-minute drive from our lodge (Wuksachi Lodge) is the marble karst Crystal Cave. Temperatures in the cave remain constant at about 58 degrees year round so there is no need to worry that it will be too hot or cold when you visit. A lightweight jacket is sufficient to keep you warm.

Crystal Cave consists of several large rooms with the most intricate designs. The patterns on the walls and ceilings will most certainly turn up in my paintings. The marble, the shiny crystal-like sparkles within the karst, the patterns that remind me of brain coral, all are incredibly beautiful. Look closely at the photographs below and see if you see any of the figures I saw in the formations.

Details to note
  • There is a half mile walk down to the cave. (Give yourself plenty of time to stop and enjoy the waterfall on your way down.)
  • Crystal Cave is open from mid-May through November.
  • Tours last around 45 minutes and tickets sell out fast. You must purchase your tickets in advance. (We bought ours at the Lodgepole ticket office.)
  • The last tour of the day is at 4:00 p.m.
  • Tours cost $13. (There is a candlelight tour that costs a few dollars more. These are offered from the end of June until mid-August.)

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Art, Seen?

The word, “Seen” with a question mark (as used in this title, “Art, Seen?”), in Jamaican vernacular translates to “Art, do you understand/agree?” I first heard the word used that way as a small child growing up in the eastern Jamaican parish of St. Thomas. It was used by the Rastafarians that I encountered on my way to and from school as I wandered along Lyssons Beach. Later on, the word caught on with many in the general population. The use of the word as a question means that you are always questioning and contemplating, seen?

Seen, June 2012
Nigerian Art at the Cantor Museum, Stanford University:

“Art” from the 650-mile long Benue River valley in central Nigeria recently opened at The Cantor. I say “art” in quotes because most of the pieces in the exhibition were created for utilitarian purposes. The more art I see, the more universal the creative process seems to be. Take for example, Munch’s, The Scream and Gaultier’s pointy bustiers — representations of both were seen in these early 20th century creations by the Benue River valley peoples.

“scream”, spirit vessel, clay, from the Ga’anda Spirit Pantheon
another scream, clay vessel
screaming, again

The objects presented are drawn from international collections, most of which seem to be from either Paris museums or private Parisian collections. I couldn’t help but wonder if Gaultier had seen these works in Paris and maybe, drawn inspiration from them. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Does it even matter?

doll-like leather figure, by the Tiv peoples

One of the two artists represented (who created art for others) was Soompa of Mapeo. He was of the Chamba peoples and was active during the 1920s-1940s. He created beautiful male-female double figures in wood.

Both of these figures were in the exhibition. The one to the left is owned by UCLA’s Fowler Gallery and the one to the right belongs to a private collector in Paris. Both photographs are courtesy of the Fowler. (https://www.fowler.ucla.edu/exhibitions/benue/)

Two of my favorites from the exhibition are:

  • a male wooden figure by the Yungur/Mboi/Bana peoples, believed to be created in the 19th century, or before. It too, is from a private collection in Paris. Its highly eroded surface suggests that it predates the 20th century; and
  • the rainmaking wands made of iron, used in, you guessed it, rainmaking ceremonies.
eroded wooden male figure
Rainmaking wand, iron, Mumuye peoples, mid-20th century
Of  Interest

In the video montage, “Introducing the Benue River Valley”, and also in the exhibition, there were photographs of people dancing in masks and wearing scarecrow-looking clothes of grass and various materials. These figures in all their regalia would be quite frightening to a child. I saw these same figures as a young girl, growing up in Jamaica. They were the Junkonoo that paraded around the Morant Bay town square at Christmas time. Even more fascinating was the mention of the Idoma and Jukun populations who were separated by the Tiv, relative strangers to the Benue River Valley. I wonder if the Jukun had anything to do with the transfer of Junkonoo customs to Jamaica? Hmmm.

Face mask on metal pole, probably by the Tiv peoples

For more on the Benue River Valley exhibition, visit: http://museum.stanford.edu/news_room/benue.html. The exhibit runs until October 14, 2012.

A good informative article on the Jamaican language is Hannah Appel’s, “Jamaican: Language.” http://www.globalexchange.org/country/jamaica/language

Still Life, La Honda Creek

photo-collage, “Oh, the finds you find!”

Turret spiderwebs, fantastic vistas, faces between trees, oh my! These are some of the things I saw as I recently walked along the trails and spaces of La Honda Creek.

The feathers and leaves, the patterns and colors, may all wend their way into my art. Oh! The things you find when you look, listen and smell along a walk.

At La Honda Creek there were the smells of: coyote brush; a fading whitish plant giving off the scent of maple syrup; pine and other evergreen trees; and scorched summer earth and grasses.

Still life, i (What is this animal?)

On the forest floor I came across this little guy, truly a still life for he was dead. I know not what this creature is but I am guessing it and others like it are responsible for many of the holes I saw along the paths. Its little snout is probably good for ferreting and making holes. Then too, there were the spider holes from the turret spiders, so ethereal in the sunlight. These I encountered before I entered a grove of mixed evergreen and oak trees.

Turret spiders are only to be found in California, in moist woodlands. They almost always make their homes along north-facing slopes. Look for them as you walk the hillsides and trails and as you walk alongside rivers and creek banks. Although their webs are easy to spot, they are not. The only time I ever saw one is when I was on a night hike at Monte Bello Ridge. It was up by the headwaters of Stevens Creek. A fellow hiker, using an infrared light, pointed it out as it nested in its hole. That picture may also find its way into my paintings.

Here are more photographs from my hike. I hope you can see the  outline of a face between the tree trunks. A perfect end to the day was a stop at Alice’s, in Woodside, for a Laguanitas. California has such interesting beer names: Laguanitas, 21st Amendment, Old Dirty Bastard, A Little Sumpen Sumpen (not sure of spelling but it’s good!). Check out Alice’s if you are ever up Woodside along Skyline Boulevard and Sky Honda/La Honda way. If you are not a vegetarian, try their Kawasaki burgers and their Teriyaki Skirt Steak. I also recommend their sweet potato fries. Here is Alice’s Web link: http://www.alicesrestaurant.com/.

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France’s Last King was a Pear

A show focused entirely on political satire – in the form of caricatures – is currently on view at Stanford University’s Cantor Museum. Looking at the lithographs, I couldn’t help but think of the current troubles caused by various representations of the Prophet Mohammed.  At issue, then, as now, is the notion of freedom of speech.

The Stanford show, “When Artists Attack the King: Honoré Daumier and La Caricature, 1830–1835,” is political satire at its best. Its equivalent today would be the television shows, The Simpsons, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The Colbert Report.

Louis Philippe I was the last king to rule France. (Emperor Napoleon III was the country’s last monarch.) Louis’ reign began nearly forty years after the French Revolution and coincided with the end of the July Revolution of 1830. At first Louis Philippe seemed to be on the side of the people but later he became fat with power, siding with the wealthy. He was lampooned by various artists in the weekly Paris journal, La Caricature. Foremost of these artists was Honoré Daumier, who Artble.com calls “the Michelangelo of caricature.” Some of the exhibition’s funniest prints are those in which the king is depicted as a corpulent, bulbous la poire (pear).

Why la poire?

the body of the king

Not at all happy with the press’ wicked sense of humor, the monarchy passed a law banning all depictions of the king’s image. Under French law the king’s body became sacred. Not to be deterred, Daumier savagely caricatured the king’s appearance. Through his art, Daumier laughed at the king and his government and in so doing, urged the public who read his journal, to do the same. Daumier’s art, the power of his images and the journal, La Caricature, were quite influential. He and fellow caricaturist, Charles Philipon, both landed in jail on at least two occasions for their satirical lithographs of the king and his government.

The Stanford exhibition is divided into four sections:

  • an introduction to the July Monarchy and its politicians,
  • examples of La Caricature’s response to censorship,
  • samples of Daumier’s caricatures of Louis-Philippe (the prints on view are part of Stanford’s art collection), and
  • images depicting the king as La Poire.
The Pear King

Some personal information about the king (unrelated to the exhibition) is that he was in exile before becoming king and so, traveled quite a bit. During his travels, he lived in Germany (in the 1790s) where  he taught at a school. There he got the cook pregnant and their child was put into an orphanage. The pregnancy ended his academic career. A year or two later, at age 22, while living in Scandinavia, the housekeeper at the rectory where he was living bore his child, a son name Erik. Later on in his travels, before he became king, he spent four years in the United States. Here he stayed first with his brothers, who were in exile in Philadelphia, and then in New York and Boston. In the latter city he lived above what is now the Union Oyster House, Boston’s oldest restaurant.

An Aside

This [Daumier] lithograph from the exhibition is reminiscent of the workers that Diego Rivera later depicted in his murals.

The following excerpt is from Purdue University:

For more information on the exhibition, visit http://museum.stanford.edu/news_room/daumier.html

Janis Joplin’s Pants

Art Seen

janis’ pants

The 1968 exhibition at the Oakland Museum is pretty kitschy, very Hollywood, a spectacle. It wasn’t what I expected. No real analysis, an everyman show, I guess. But here are some pictures of what I took away from it and a sketch from my art journal. It is amazing to see these pants, realize how small they are and wonder what was Janis bawling about being fat for??? (Okay, okay, so she was a little overweight later on. Big deal!)

my sketch, “Janis’ Pants”
better than, “I have a dream” speech
Brown Berets


Listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, Riverside Church speech (1967) here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5VhCvrEcPY

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