Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Pumpkin Patch ~ Boccali's in Ojai

My favorite thing about October, outside of seeing my nephew dressed in his costume, is the pumpkin patch. I love a pumpkin patch. And my favorite thing about a great pumpkin, is a great stem.
And if it has little curlycues ... that's the best.

I went to housesit for my sister in Ojai a couple of weeks ago and I was so excited because this was my opportunity to head to Boccali's pumpkin patch. Boccali's is actually a pizza place out on the east end of Ojai, at the end of the main road. They have a farm out back and in October they have a pumpkin patch! I headed over in the afternoon to go hang out with pumpkins, squash and tractors, amid oak trees and haystacks. The weather turned out to be glorious while I was there and just as I left, the clouds rolled in. My timing was perfect!

It turned out that they have "Haunted Hay Rides" there at night, so my friend Lynn and I decided to go last Saturday night. It was fun and pretty hilarious with ghosts and ghouls jumping out of the cornfields. Well, fun except for the traumatized 3 year old sitting near us. Poor thing. Oh, and the scarecrow hanging from a tree overhead with a rain-soaked wet sock that hit me on the back of the head! (which was not exactly scary - but kind of gross.)

The great thing is we laughed a lot and with grins on our faces, felt like teenagers again.

"Life is available only in the present moment."
~Thich Nhat Hanh

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
but sometimes your smile
can be the source of your joy."
~Thich Nhat Hahn

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ojai Day & The Ojai Raptor Center

Last weekend I was in Ojai again to house/dog/bunny/fish-sit for my sister. My Mom was off at her 50 year high school reunion so my Dad and I decided to head over to Ojai Day on Saturday. Lots of booths in the park and downtown with food venders, people selling jewelry, paintings, pottery and other hand made items. Bands play throughout the day and there are also various organizations there to help the community and the environment.

The Ojai Raptor Center had a booth set up in the park and my Dad and I spent the better part of an hour talking to the volunteers, meeting these beautiful birds and of course, taking pictures. The Center rescues different species of raptors with the goal of returning them to the wild. Most of the time they are successful but in the cases of these educational birds (below) they were either too injured or had been imprinted to humans and would be unable to survive in the wild even though they are otherwise healthy - which is so sad.
Riley - Eastern Screech Owl

Bob - American Kestrel
Imprinted to humans

Tito - Barn Owl
He is 4 years old and came to ORC with some head trauma, bi-lateral cataracts and both wings had improperly healed fractures.

Lucky - Red-Shouldered Hawk (Red tailed hawk is behind him)
Imprint - Non-releasable

Lucky's close-up

Hope you have enjoyed being introduced to these beautiful birds. They are incredible and so are the people who take care of them. It inspires me and gives me hope that people are out there doing this work, giving of themselves and their time. I miss volunteering and am feeling the need to get back to it, especially now.

Libby Park - downtown Ojai

If you are interested in more information about the Ojai Raptor Center, in donating or getting one of their awesome t-shirts or calenders you can go to ojairaptorcenter.org

"Unselfish and noble actions

are the most radiant pages

in the biography of souls."

~David Thomas

Monday, October 18, 2010

Artist Studio Tour and Artists for Peace

Just over a week ago (I am a little behind on my posts!) I went to the Ojai Studio Artists Tour and as always it was an inspiring weekend. There are so many things to get inspired by on the tour and one of them is meeting and talking with the artists.

This was the first year my Mom and I visited the studio of Marta Nelson who is maybe one of the sweetest people you could ever meet. She actually started the Ojai Studio Artist Tour 31 years ago, with fellow artists Gail Childress and wonderful Bert Collins, with whom I take my pastel workshops!

Marta explained to us that she took Balinese dancing 7 years ago on a month long trip to Bali and the dancers below were inspired by that trip. I so wanted to get a picture of her to share with you but she laughed and said "being over 80 years old you don't really want your picture taken!"

Painting by Marta Nelson Acrylic on Canvas

Painting by Marta Nelson

You will notice in her work there are doves that are hidden and not so hidden. (click to enlarge!) It started with a print class she'd taken. A few days later she felt the work needed doves (which she added) and when telling this to another artist who had been in the workshop, the other artist said "When was this Marta?"
"Oh, last Tuesday."
"That was the International Day of peace."

So it got Marta thinking about artists and the energy we all put out there and what would happen if that energy was focused on putting peace out into the world. (I am paraphrasing here.) So, a few years ago they had an art show in Ojai where all the artists that were asked to participate were to show art that had a dove somewhere in the piece. Hidden or not, but you had to show it was there. The artists were also given a white paper mache dove to paint for an auction to charity. I love this idea!

This is the "monotype" that started it all ... Isn't it beautiful?

Monotype by Marta Nelson

She signs her work with AFP, after her name, for "Artists for Peace" and if there isn't a dove in the picture (or even sometimes if there is) she will add the little dove next to her signature ...

She absolutely LOVES the idea of spreading this message of peace to other people and especially other artists who might do the same, spreading the message of peace with their art.

So if the inspiration takes you ... sign AFP after your name or hide a little peace dove in your picture.

Saraswati by Marta Nelson

It was a magical visit with Marta. You never know what will happen on the Studio Tour and what inspiration you will receive if you stay open. An obvious metaphor for life ... staying open to the beauty and messages that are just waiting to come to you.

Stay open to messages that are meant for you
They are waiting to come to you
if you are open

Be open to peace
Be open to share it

Blessings and light for a beautiful week!

Monday, October 11, 2010


1. The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to to do something creative.
2. A sudden brilliant or timely idea.
3. The drawing in of breath; inhalation.
origin: Middle English (in the sense of divine guidance): via Old French from late Latin inspiration(n-), from the verb inspirare

Just got back yesterday from the yearly "Ojai Studio Artists Tour" and as always I got my creative shot in the arm! It's wonderful to see so many different kinds of artists expressing themselves in ways that are unique to their own creative spirits. (And of course seeing where they live and work!) I will be posting about them later in the week but until then I thought I'd share something Martha Graham wrote and a piece I worked on in my last pastel workshop.

I worked from a photo I had taken on a nature walk last Christmas Day with my family. The sun was going down and the light was amazing.

Ojai Christmas Pastel on LaCarte paper 2010

From a Letter to Agnes DeMille
from Martha Graham

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique.

If you block it,
it will never exist through any other medium
and be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is;
nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly,
to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
You have to keep open and aware directly of the urges that motivate you.
Keep the channel open.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fall Beginnings ...

I love fall and this week it finally felt like it in L.A.

I realize spring is supposed to be about renewal and everything, but autumn always feels like a time to start new things, new projects, new adventures .... I guess it's ingrained from childhood, since the new school year always began in the fall. It just feels right to me.

So yesterday, after having talked about starting a yoga class for the last 5 years, I finally went. I sat there awkwardly cross-legged on my old, partially eaten, green yoga mat that my parrot had gotten to and waited for my new beginning as yoga master extraordinaire. Then the door opened and the instructor who had been teaching the step class entered.

"Laura," (the yoga instructor) "had a car accident. She is fine and is not hurt but her car wasn't so lucky and she won't be here for class. So it's cancelled."

Poor thing, I have total empathy. I have had 8 accidents since moving to L.A. in 1992!

I climbed on the treadmill (since I was already paying 2 bucks for parking anyway) and then my mind started going ... Crap. Was it a sign? Am I not supposed to take yoga? Maybe I'm not, because, I mean seriously after 5 years I finally made it to a class and then...

And then I thought of this quote ...

If you find yourself spinning your wheels,
be gentle with yourself.

Slow down, get a nice rocking motion going,
one that's rhythmic yet powerful enough to free you,
then put the car in gear, step on the gas
and gently drive out of the muck.

Sometimes we need to spin our wheels.
It helps us get unstuck.
~Melody Beattie

So ... I will be going back next Thursday.

California autumn in Ojai - My sister's yard

Hope you enjoy a beautiful autumn weekend!

Staring any new projects/adventures this fall? :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Feast Day of Saint Francis

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Francis, when children around the country bring their animals to church for prayers and blessings. (Francis is the patron saint of animals, ecology and environment.)

"Until one has loved an animal,
a part of one's soul remains unawakened."

~ Anatole France

Statue of Francis - Courtyard of the Bishops Palace - Assisi, Italy

"A bird does not sing because it has an answer.

It sings because it has a song."

~ Chinese Proverb

From Hotel Fontebella window - Assisi May 2010

Umbrian Sunset

Have a wonderful week!
Blessings and light!

Ojai Studio Artist Tour - 2010

It's that time again! Time to get inspired, meet some wonderful artists, see their creative spaces and explore beautiful Ojai! I usually cruise around, map in hand, with my Mom, my sister, or both and have a yummy lunch break at Farmer and the Cook to talk about the artists and all the things we were inspired by.

It's the annual Ojai Artist Studio Tour this weekend, so if you happen to be in the neighborhood (in the Ojai Valley - Southern California and inland between Ventura and Santa Barbara off the 33!) come on by!

Imagination is the true magic carpet.

~ Norman Vincent Peale

Ojai Studio Artists Tour

October 9 & 10, 2010, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Our annual studio tour is a entertaining self-guided tour spanning the Ojai
Valley and nearby surrounding areas. With ticket purchase, you will receive a map
of the participating artists' studio locations. Visit our "About Ojai" page for links to informational sites about the Ojai Valley. Please note, while you will be driving or bicycling from studio to studio, walking shoes are recommended.

TOUR TICKETS are $31 for advance ticket purchase and
$36 for tour weekend ticket purchase.
(ticket price includes the reception and a $1 ticket handling fee).
Student tickets (must be under 23 years of age) can be purchased for $21 at the
Chamber of Commerce with student I.D. Children 12 and under are free.
Tickets are good for both days. All tickets are final; no refunds.

TICKETS BY PHONE: Call (805) 646-8126,
10 A.M. to 4 P.M. or fax (805) 646-9762 for assistance.


On the website


These beautiful pastels are by my wonderful teacher Bert Collins who is one of the studio artists on the tour! Isn't she amazing?

She creates these beautiful and magical worlds with her pastels. She is also a genuinely sweet and amazing woman. We love her. She will hang about 20 pieces in her studio for the tour and most, if not all, will be sold by the time the tour starts. (People show up at 6 am that morning and draw numbers and pick out their pieces!)

These below are so much more beautiful in person and I shot them during class when they were leaning on the floor in bad light!

Bert Collins - pastel 2010

Bert Collins - pastel 2010

I don't believe in an art
that is not born out of man's need
to open his heart.

- Edvard Munch