Monday, March 14, 2011

Cala Lillies are the dependable presence each spring in my overgrown garden. Their white, architectural curves opening from the straight, green shoots add spots of brightness to the various corners of the yard they inhabit of their own accord. 

But it is the hellibore that speaks to me most emphatically of renewal each spring. I take note of the spikey leaves growing too big and brittle during the fall as I walk from my back steps to studio each day, and then stop noticing it altogether during the wet winter as it disappears. But in spring it surprises me. I noticed the new bush today, with its full crop of young heads, bowed, showing just the outside blush of their lavender petals with delicate veins of deep purple mixing with pale green. To see the full flower one must bend down and lift up the blossom as if lifting the chin of a teen-ager and saying “here, show me your wonderfulness that you are so reticent to present to the world.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blog to Facebook

Could it be this blog has outlived its relevance and optimum life as a forum for updates on my studio and general thoughts? My limited resources are perhaps better spent keeping my Beach: A Book of Treasure Facebook Page active and interesting.  I would rather put the thoughtful design energy into my e-mail newsletter (despite it being relatively sporadic) and the books themselves, while Facebook can post the more spontaneous thoughts and comings and goings of the studio.  I welcome feedback from my readers on this transition either here or on Facebook.

Our current state of affairs -- with zillions of platforms for communicating on -- is not conducive to "paring down," but this advice is never out of fashion. With limited time resources I am slowly winnowing down to a system I think best fits the material.  Of course this is liable to change at any instance.  (somehow I feel like I have been here before...)

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Work Table

My Studio Worktable at work

I have been receiving items from a wonderful array of sea glass lovers to put to work for my next little book.  I went to visit Katie Carron in Walnut Creek on a foggy and mysterious day.  I arrived at her boyfriend's house and there, laid out on his dining room table, was her entire collection of seaglass -- two hundred pounds -- sorted by color.  It was spectacular. Much of it is from a beach in England below a long-shuttered glass factory.  Many of the shards are the discard from the "end-of-day glass" the workers were given to do whatever they wanted with.  I could not resist the yellow:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Coralline Algae

As a native Easterner most often on Western beaches, I am fascinated by the delicate bony seaweed that is so commonly found strewn along the wrack line of the rough and tumble beaches of Northern California.  This is the articulated coralline red algae.  When alive, its joints -- the flexible, noncalcified genicula ("knee" in latin) --  bend with the tidal flow.  When dry, however, coralline algae is delicate and breaks easily into its calcified pieces.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Power of Love

I received a mysterious e-mail the other day from a reader of my Heart Stones book named Jill.  She mentioned a miracle she wanted to relay to me.  I waited and waited and then finally received the story of her heart stones.  I include it here because it is inspiring and hopeful.  It also makes me realize the importance of opening up eyes and hearts to looking around us...really looking and paying attention. This can run the gamut from how we notice the stones at our feet, the hearts in our dogfood (a follow up e-mail informed me that Jill had just received her first "dogfood heart") to how we think and react to news or events. This is Jill's story:

 In the fall of 2009, an opportunity opened up for me to go to a new school and teach art again.  I was hired on a Friday and started that following Monday.  This school was a challenge for me.  I had only taught in a wealthy area before where the students had everything materialistic they could ask for and most came from happy healthy homes. My new school was low income, Title 1 school.  Many parents were in jail and education was not a priority to many.  Many of my students were homeless, living in shelters and 75% of the school was on free lunch.  I saw behavior I was not accustomed to.  What I learned was that these children needed love more than anything else. 
    I shared my collection of heart rocks with my students, telling them that there is love all over, all you have to do is look.  The next day, to my surprise my students began to bring me heart rocks.   They would pull them out of their pockets and backpacks and tell me  where they found them. Instead of keeping the rocks for themselves , they would give them to me.  Soon they came in in bags, buckets, old McDonalds wrappers, anything they could find to bring in the heart rocks.  This became an afterschool activity for them.
    On the last day of school, my student named Stormy, a little kindergarten girl, who was bald (mom shaved her head because she had lice) brought me the biggest heart rock ever.  My tiniest student brought me the biggest heart rock.  We painted it hot pink, and it now is in the collection outside of my art room door.
     The heart rocks continue to pour in everyday.  I put the children's name on the hearts and display them in the window sill.  Our count so far is 880 heart rocks.

My students have learned the act of giving.  It gives them something to do and something to hope for when times are tough for them. They have learned that a gift can be free and they don't need to "buy" anything at the store to make someone happy.  The joy in their faces is indescribable when they run to me with their new found heart rocks. They feel loved and special just holding a rock.
    This is a story about hope, inspiration, and miracles. 

What more need be said.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Bardo is what I call this place of hanging--in between projects, in between knowing what will come and what won't, in between the kids being self sufficient and needing plenty of assistance.  It is a floating uncertainty that can feel extremely uncomfortable.  It takes concerted patience and humor for this state to feel ok to me.

Bardo is from the Tibetan words "bar" meaning in between and "do" meaning island or marking point.  I certainly am in between islands, making the journey by small rowboat.  Perhaps I am a stuck in an eddy right this moment.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Remembering July

July 14, 2010 Fox Island Thoroughfare, 7:15 am, tide -1.57 feet

I was out at the Dumplings this morning at the turn of the tide.  The moment hung there in the raking light, neither coming nor going.  The mudflats hissed gently and ducks gaggled on the exposed rocks.  The wind tried to fill in from the bay but the tide said, "let's wait a bit."  The day was on hold; the water was flat as steel and the seaweed silently draped. Everything waited. I walked around the tiny island almost holding my breath.  When I returned to where I had begun, my little boat was exactly as I had left it on the muddy shore, half in the water and half on the beach.

I rowed back to the dock and by the time I got there the day had begun.  A whaler buzzed, the wind had filled in and the ferry went by.