Friday, February 26, 2010

... the Smallest Act of Caring

Too often we underestimate
the power of a touch,
a smile, a kind word, a listening ear,
an honest compliment
or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential
to turn a life around.

~Leo Buscaglia
Charcoal on Paper 2009

Have a beautiful weekend!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ojai Beauty ...

I am back from Ojai again. I have been going up almost every weekend for one reason or another ... a pastel workshop, puppy/house-sitting, nephew-sitting, visiting with friends ... It's about a 3 hour round trip from L.A. The weather has been constantly changing ... overcast, cloudy, rainy, then moments of glorious sunshine where you know spring has finally arrived, then cloudy and raining again with a chill in the air.

When I am up there I do a bit of walking, which I don't do in L.A. unless I am walking to a restaurant. (You know, toward food.) That song "Nobody Walks in L.A.?" Sometimes I think it was written about me, until I remember it was written long before I ever imagined living here. L.A. seemed enormous and strange and the only reason we ever came here when I was a kid was for our yearly trip to see a musical downtown for Mom's birthday, a rare museum excursion, or an even rarer shopping trip. (The Beverly Center was a BIG deal in the 80s.)

When I walk with my camera in Ojai, I am always on the look out for beauty, which is pretty easy to find. I think it has made me even more observant in my life in general. I am happy to say it has spilled over, over the years and as I have gotten older I pay better attention to the world around me and notice the amazing views all around.

These photos are from various walks around Ojai, except the bottom two, which were taken in my parents yard.

Ojai February 2010

"Our soul is nurtured and fed
by taking pleasure
in the beauty in this world."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


This video is a slide show I made on iMovie. I finally uploaded it to YouTube!
It's set (mostly) to the music from Cinema Paradiso by Ennio Morricone ... my all
time favorite movie!

I am planning a trip to Assisi in the spring and I am beyond words! SO excited!
I love it there. Are there places where you've gone for the very first time and felt
completely at home? Assisi is one of those places for me. I felt completely

My Trip to Assisi 2008 (Let me know what you think!)

Assisi 2008

"Open your heart to receive comfort.
Learn to give it, too.
Comfort touches and heals our souls.
Take it with you like a favorite blanket wherever you go."
~ Melody Beattie
from Journey to the Heart

Where do you feel connected?
Where do you find comfort?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!!!

This is little Rosie! She was a Valentine from sister Penny, a.k.a. the Jewelry Goddess! Isn't Rosie just about the cutest thing ever? She is of course from Etsy and she was handmade by Karen Clarke at Woolcrazy.

My Valentine from my 4 year old nephew Benjamin.

I don't currently have a romantic relationship at the moment, but I thought I'd share a friendship prayer for Valentines Day, from the book Illuminata by Marianne Williamson.

With this prayer, I call to mind my friends.
I ask for your blessing on them.
May angels fill their nights and bless their days.
May they find joy and peace and harmony.
May I be a source of happiness in their lives.
May our bond be strong and based on truth.
May they always know that in me, they have support.
May I live a life that lives up to this prayer.
Thank You, God.

Happy Valentines Day, my friends!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yosemite Valley

Tomorrow is my once a month pastel workshop in Ojai and last month I didn't make it. I was hoping to have a whole host of work to show the teacher but I've only done 3 pastel pieces since then. Two I gave away for Christmas and this one below. It's from a photo I took on a trip to Yosemite with an old boyfriend, more than a decade ago. The relationship ended a month later but I am glad I got the photo!

I love Yosemite. It's one of my favorite places in California. When you are there, you completely get why Ansel Adams spent so much time there photographing it. It's a magical place that, along with it's beauty and majesty, holds an amazing energy. It's difficult to explain, but if you can get there ... get there.

Yosemite Valley pastel on paper 12/09

"It is all very beautiful and magical here -
a quality which cannot be described.
You have to live it and breath it,
Let the sun bake it into you."
~Ansel Adams

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thin Mints?

My car was towed.

I pulled my brand new umbrella out of it's box, knowing as I walked to the impound yard that it would rain. It did. I wasn't feeling so great about myself (completely spacing out, as I did. Road construction had started where my car was parked!) As it started to sprinkle I went to open my new umbrella which had just come from Amazon, and as I pushed up on the handle, it broke in my hand. I now held a tiny 4 inch handle next to my face as I walked in the rain to the impound yard 10 blocks away.

I was actually wearing gym clothes and this is shocking, frankly. Why? Because I was going to go to the gym for the first time in ... years. What was the universe trying to say? On top of it, I had two sopping wet parking tickets stuck to my windshield. Hmm.

Sometimes you have to just go with the flow, and keep things in perspective. (After a mini melt down, of course!) But alas, in the grand scheme of things these obviously are not the biggest problems and nothing that a night of great music and thin mints won't cure. I still have a car that drives, Amazon takes returns and Girl Scout Thin Mints haven't changed in 30 years.

Mmmm ... Thin Mints.
Were you a Girl Scout?

That night I listened to my friend Malaika's dad,
play jazz guitar at Vitello's.
... and it was awesome.

John Pisano and Barry Zweig

"Weather the storms.
Let them pass
Keep your balance, as best you're able.
Remember to be flexible and sway with the winds
like the tall trees in the forest.
Trust the flukes, too,
those moments when it snows on the desert.
Let destiny have it's way with you."

~Melody Beattie
Journey to the Heart

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's Raining, It's Pouring ...

I am longing for spring but trying to find my inner Gene Kelly! I don't know
if I will actually be singing and dancing in the rain today but I might be able
to pull off "a smile on my face with a happy refrain." I know I have it easy
compared to all my friends the East Coast and elsewhere, where it is
dumping inches and feet of snow!

Hoping that wherever you are, you are staying cozy and warm!

"What a glorious feeling ...

I'm happy again.

I'm laughin' at clouds

The sun's in my heart

And I'm ready for love..."

~Arthur Freed

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thai Hill Tribes ...

As you can see, I got a bit on a roll with Thailand and started on a photo scanning rampage from my old photo albums. Pre-digital, you know!

These photos are from a trip we took in 1987 from Bangkok North to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. We visited elephant camps, went up to the Golden Triangle, took a long tail boat on the river between Thailand and Burma and visited some hill tribes. The Hill Tribes were my favorite.

Hill Tribes, Thailand 1987

It was another world, especially for a me, a Southern California girl who, before my parents moved to Thailand, had only been on a cruise ship to Baja. (However fun it was, drinking virgin frozen daiquiris and baking in the sun sans SPF wasn't exactly a deep soul expanding cultural experience.)

Being in Thailand opened me up to the world. The beauty as well as the suffering. I had wanted to travel since I was little girl drinking tea and listening to my elderly neighbor tell her stories of traveling to Europe and Asia on steamer ships between and after the world wars. I was completely fascinated. I wanted explore the world and meet different kinds of people and in Thailand the world was just as fascinating and wonderful as I had imagined. I wanted to share it with everyone I knew. I guess I still do!

Hill Tribe Child oil on canvas 2006

"Travel is more than the seeing of sights;

it is a change that goes on,

deep and permanent,

in the ideas of living."

~Miriam Beard

Friday, February 5, 2010


Sawadee is the Thai version of "Aloha," or at least that is how I translate it! I really miss Thailand. The smiling people and beautiful temples, lovely silks and spices with colorful orchids everywhere ...

I lived in Bangkok for a short time with my family when I was a teenager and spent time there on and off for almost 5 years. What got me thinking about it was that I found one of my friends I met there on Facebook last week! Social networking can be a crazy time-sucker but when you are able to find an old friend (in Israel, no less!) it's pretty wonderful.

"A journey is best measured in friends,
rather than miles."
~Tim Cahill

Sepia Ink on paper

I took a photo of this man during my first extended stay in Bangkok. He was standing completely still in a huge crowd of people, eyes closed, as if he where meditating. I caught the moment in black and white with my old manual 1970s Minolta. Unfortunately the photo was a bit overexposed so I decided to do a pen and ink drawing of him. I actually love this drawing. I say "actually" because I don't often say that about my own work but I think this piece just brings up so many wonderful memories of a city and people I love.

"Once you have traveled,
the voyage never ends,
but is played out over and over again
in the quietest chambers.
The mind can never break off from the journey."
~Pat Conroy

Thursday, February 4, 2010

San Buena Ventura

Last Sunday I spent the day with old friends in my hometown of Ventura. We walked around downtown to the San Buena Ventura Mission and down to the Ventura Pier and Surfers point.

The 9th and last of the California Missions was founded in 1782 by Junipero Serra. We heard his name a lot in elementary school, growing up that town. The last time I was at the mission was during my senior year at Ventura High School, when my partner in crime Lynn and I decided to take an advanced placement photography class at the Junior College. I still have a photo Lynn took of me sitting on the fountain with my asymmetrical zipper jacket, pegged pants and crimped hair. Getting credits had never been so fun!

Eric Ericsson's on the Ventura Pier

You must have been warned
against letting the golden hours slip by.

Yes, but some of them are golden only
because we let them slip.
~J.M. Barrie

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gorgeous Jewelry ... by my sister!

Penny Herring is an artist who lives with her beautiful family in Ojai, California. She also happens to be my sister, and has always had ridiculously great taste! I mean, even in high school in the 80s she looked amazing! Seriously, not too many people can say that. So, it stands to reason that when she started making jewelry that it would be fabulous. She was a fine art major in college and was one of the first people doing "Green" interior design.

At my prodding she finally has a blog. (She is the one who got me going on mine last summer!)
AND she finally has her jewelry on ETSY! She makes most of her jewelry with PMC which is basically silver clay that is fired in a kiln until all that is left is a beautiful pure silver design. I think she explains that on her blog.

She has always done these groovy drawings and it's so fun to see them as wearable art! She also uses Afghan dies that she brought back from Pakistan, when my parents were living there in the late 1990s. (The bottom 3 are from the dies.)

I love this first piece so much. It looks so fantastic on!

All jewelry by Penny Herring at PK Studios

Congratulations Penny on your blog and Etsy!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I love orangutans.

Zoos are tough and sometimes sad but now necessary for breeding programs for endangered species. My nephew loves animals (actually obsessed is more accurate!) so we take him to the zoo. I saw a woman once, reading a picture book to an orangutan at the L.A. Zoo. She sat on one side of this huge acrylic window, and the orangutan sat on the other. (The rest of the enclosure is open air.) Though they had a window between them, they sat on the ground, only a couple of feet apart.

She told me that she went at least once a week and sat with a book at the window and this same orangutan would see her, come over and sit and watch her and the illustrations in her books. They have this relationship going. As she told me this, the orangutan looked at me and then back to her reading buddy, patiently awaiting the rest of story time. If I didn't already love orangutans, this sealed the deal.

Orangutans are found in two places on the planet ... Borneo and Sumatra. With the destruction of tropical rain forests (both legal and illegal), fires, as well as using them for bushmeat, these beautiful creatures have become endangered. To find out more, you can go to Orangutan Foundation International.

Orangutan graphite on paper 2007

"Only if we understand can we care.
Only if we care will we help.
Only if we help shall they be saved."
~Jane Goodall