Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

Just taking a moment to note the change in seasons and wish everyone a Happy Winter Solstice.

I only want
Myself to be
As silent as
A winter tree,

To hear the swirling
Stillness grow,
When all the world
Is full of snow.

~ from "When All the World is Full of Snow" by N.M. Bodecker

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Since we're a little busy around here and I'm sure you are too, I just want to take this opportunity to say Merry Christmas to all of my blogging friends across the globe. Wishing you safe journeys and the best of times with family and friends.

There's more, much more, to Christmas
Than candlelight and cheer;
It's the spirit of sweet friendship
That brightens all year.
It's thoughtfulness and kindness,
It's hope reborn again,
For peace, for understanding,
And for goodwill to men!
~ Author Unknown

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Spirit

Just something fun to get you in the mood...

Amazing Grace Techno - Computer Controlled Christmas Lights from Richard Holdman on Vimeo.

If you never did, you should.
These things are fun, and fun is good.
~ Dr. Seuss

Sunday, December 13, 2009

After the Rain

Life is like a rainbow.
You need both the sun and the rain to make its colors appear.
~ Author Unknown

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Photo by Pat Brodie

I thought I would share an interesting project I have underway right now.  First, a bit of history.  My parents have a Hachiya persimmon tree and spend quite a bit of time each fall picking and delivering the crop to friends, neighbors, and even a couple markets.  This is a long tradition for my mom, as she helped my grandparents do the same for many years (my parents now live in my grandparents' house, so it is the same tree).

Last year, my mom's friend Janice wanted to try making dried persimmons the traditional Japanese way, so she collected some from my parents.  Japanese dried persimmons are called "hoshigaki" (hoshi = dried, kaki = persimmon, the k changes to g to form one word).  When I got my hands on some of Janice's last year, I was hooked!  They are wonderfully chewy and dense (more so than dried apricots), and the persimmon flavor is intensified and sweetened.  So this year when I heard she was going to be doing it again, I said I wanted to learn how.  There are now a handful of us with hoshigaki "in progress."

Here's the process.  Hachiya persimmons are picked before they're ripe...

Chief Picker (dad). Photo by Janice Cook Knight.

Mom, two other hoshigaki converts Kim and Pat, and our mentor Janice.

The persimmons are peeled, tied by the remaining stems on each end of a string, and hung over a bamboo pole...

Photos by Pat Brodie

After 7-10 days a skin forms.  That's when the massaging begins in order to break down the pulp inside.  This continues every 3-5 days. 

Eventually, the natural sugars come to the surface of the skin and the pulp sets.  We're not there yet...

I have to admit to being spoiled a bit... Janice started the process for me.  She did the peeling, hanging, and initial massaging and then my parents brought my persimmons when they came to visit for Thanksgiving.  (I didn't realize how beautiful they would be in the initial stage, so I was glad to receive photos.)  Mom passed along the massaging technique and they have continued to get regular massages.  If only I were so lucky!  As you can see, they have taken up residence in the shower of our extra bathroom where they can dry in peace.

There is, of course, much more to the history and tradition of hoshigaki.  I've done a bit of poking around.  The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program at UC Davis has posted online a very informative paper called "Hoshigaki: Preserving the Art of Japanese Hand Dried Persimmons" (clicking on the title will open the PDF).  There are a few people in California carrying on the tradition.  Here are some links for those of you who would like to see and know more:

Otow Orchard - scroll down to watch the beautiful slideshow of the process, then click on "What's New" to read the blog and especially to see photos of the orchard in snow (be sure to scroll down)

California Country article about Otow Orchard's hoshigaki

Penryn Orchard Specialties "how to" with photos

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'Tis the Season

Or at least Mother Nature seems to think so...

Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration
is being wreathed in smiles.
~ Author Unknown

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ria Harboe Art in Washington

Because I like to buy art and other handmade things for gifts and love reconnecting with long-lost friends, I am posting this information about a showing by artist Ria Harboe in Bellingham, Washington.

Just in case anyone peering in here lives in that area or will be visiting. (And doesn't the restaurant itself sound wonderful?) You can also check out her beautiful paintings and sculpture at her Web site.

I haven't seen Ria in over 20 years, but recently found her online. She worked with me at my family's lodge in the Sierras in the early 1980s and we had some great times together. She is a lovely lady, sweet and quick to laugh, and it's fun to see where her love of art has taken her.

"Life gives us brief moments with another...but sometimes in those brief moments we get memories that last a life time."
~ Unknown

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cactus Monday

Happy Cactus Monday!
Be sure to stop by Teri's Painted Daisies.

What is this life if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare?
~ W. H. Davies

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

A special thanks today to all of my blogger friends who bring beauty, laughter, and wisdom into my life every day. I hope all of you are enjoying time with family and friends.

Friendship isn't a big thing -
it's a million little things.
~ Author Unknown

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

How could I not be thankful for glorious fall weather,
Laguna Beach sand and skies,
and these two characters?

"Look at Daddy..."

", the other way..."

"...there you go!"

Have you ever noticed how easily puppies make human friends?
Yet all they do is wag their tails and fall over.
~ Walter Anderson

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The End of the Line

The theme for this month's Picture This Photo Contest at Gardening Gone Wild is "The End of the Line."  I haven't participated recently, and wasn't planning to make the effort this time.  But often opportunities are handed to us when we're not expecting them.  Every day when I have walked the dogs this week, I have marveled at the delicate white roses blooming on the corner down the street.  We go for our walks in the late afternoon, just before dusk starts settling in, so there is a gentle light illuminating their white petals.  Yesterday I realized I had forgotten yet again to take my camera along, so when we got home I grabbed it and went back to the roses.  Up close they were even more beautiful, in all stages of growth.  There were a few at that oh-so-fragile point when their petals begin to wilt and droop before dropping off to the ground below:  the end of the line.  Rather than looking forlorn, this one had a dignified grace about it, a softening before the final fade.

So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls,
why don't somebody wake up to the beauty of old women? 
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

Psst.... I thought I would also share one at a younger stage, for comparison:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

dried ocotillo blooms

As promised, here are photos from our weekend camping trip in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (in Coyote Canyon, for those who might know the area).  I'm including a handful of my favorites and you can see more in the slideshow below.  I enjoyed the cacti and other plants, as they differ from what we are used to in the east Mojave desert.  I have always loved ocotillo, but this is the first time I've ever seen them up close.


As you can see, we had amazing weather; absolutely clear, mid-80s during the day and mid-50s at night, and an occasional,just-right light breeze.  The sky was an unbelievably deep blue.  We were serenaded by an owl as we lay in our cozy tent to go to sleep, and the desert was aglow all night from the light of the nearly-full moon.  I serendipitously awoke at 4:30am to witness it slip silently behind the hills.  Simply magical.


(not sure what this is?)

And more...

(I apologize if there are any issues with this slideshow - experimenting with Flickr)

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cactus Monday

There aren't many hours left on this Cactus Monday, but I'm squeaking in with this barrel cactus from our trip to Anza-Borrego over Halloween weekend. Will have more photos to post this week. Happy Cactus Monday, everyone! For more Cactus Monday delights, visit Teri's Painted Daisies.

The empty vessel giveth a greater sound than the full barrel.
~ John Lyly

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cactus Monday

We went camping in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park over the weekend, so I'm sharing this cholla with its appropriate bit of spider web decoration for Halloween. As the deep blue sky (not Photoshopped) indicates, we had absolutely gorgeous weather, and the almost-full moon was spectacular. I'm hoping to find the time to share more photos later in the week. In the meantime, Happy Cactus Monday, everyone! Visit Teri's Painted Daisies for more cactus beauty.

A wisp of gossamer, about the size and substance of a spider's web.
~ Monica Baldwin

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fun Wins!

I just had to share this...  

(Sorry - can't figure out how to make it fit the space properly - if you right-click on it, you can choose to view it in YouTube so you can see everything.)

Live and work but do not forget to play,
to have fun in life and really enjoy it.
~ Eileen Caddy

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ah... Autumn

I noticed the leaves in our neighborhood had started to turn, so I took my camera along when I walked the dogs late yesterday afternoon. Thank goodness our neighborhood planners were kind enough to include some trees and vines that change with the seasons; otherwise we might miss out on Autumn's wonders here in the suburbs in Southern California.

Are you finished yet, Mommy?

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.
~ Elizabeth Lawrence

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Cactus Monday!

Silver cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)

I'm still knee-deep in book editing (I never knew how much work goes into creating an index until I first worked on one myself), but it's been so long since my last post I wanted to pop in and say hello to everyone.

Since it also happens to be Cactus Monday, I'm sharing these silver cholla blossoms. This is one of the photos I included in my 2010 calendar, "Mojave in Bloom," for sale in my Zazzle shop. The calendar includes cactus and desert wildlfowers, all found in the East Mojave.
Mojave in Bloom 2010 Calendar calendar

There's also a second calendar of East Mojave desert scenery and I've also been working on one of garden flowers as well. There are simply not enough hours in the day for all the things I want to accomplish.

I hope all of you are enjoying this change in season we're experiencing. We here in Southern California are enjoying a bit of rain and I know many others are already experiencing snow. Time for soup and sweaters!

You can check out other cactus delights at Terri's Painted Daisies.

The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly
changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools.
~ Henry Beston, Northern Farm

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

I had a special surprise waiting in my inbox this afternoon.  Gary Keimig, Wyoming artist and gentleman, has awarded me the Kreativ Blogger Award!  I am so honored!  Thank you!  And yes, I am putting aside other tasks because acknowledging this and passing it along just cannot wait.

Here's what Kreativ Blogger Award recipients are supposed to do:

1. Copy the award to your site.
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.
4. Link to those sites on your blog.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominate.

There's also something about listing 7 things about yourself, so I'll dispense with that first:
  1. I was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California.
  2. I also grew up in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, where my family owned Rock Creek Lodge.  I spent every summer there until I was 21.  The mountains and my experiences there shaped who I am.
  3. I majored in English at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.  (Yes, I love to read.)
  4. My husband is my soul mate.  We like to say we share one brain.  We're one of those couples who completes each other's sentences.  Sickening, I know.
  5. We chose not to have children, but do have two rather spoiled dogs who think they're people.
  6. I (we) LOVE to travel.  I get depressed when we come home from trips, even just day trips.  Life "out there" is just so fascinating and exciting.
  7. The thing I am most grateful for these days (aside from all of the above) is this world I now inhabit online.  I know there can be negatives - I think we have all complained about being tied to our computers - but I have met the most creative, inspiring, friendly, warm-hearted, REAL people here.  You make my day everyday with the things you share on your blogs or in the comments you leave on mine.  Thank you!
Now, let me introduce a mere handful of the aforementioned people.  I hereby pass the Kreativ Blogger Award to these lovely women (in no particular order):

Suzanne Berry - LOVE her bugs and everything else she does - and certainly her friendship
Camilla at bloom - her photography frankly takes my breath away
Sarah at Bee House Hives - I came for the bees and stayed for the everyday beauty she shares
Kim at Bella Della Farm - she shares her most wonderful farm - and her charm
Diane at Sabino Canyon - her photos and stories about her desert home always educate and delight
Karen at Beelieve - she reminds me to be silly, free, feminine, and perhaps a bit wild
Akiko at Art by Akiko - her ability to capture animals on canvas is simply beyond words

Now, I must say that this is a very short list!  There are so many more I wanted to include.  But many have already received this award, so I wanted to share it with those who have not (as far as I could tell).

Ladies, thank you for the wonderful things you bring into my life through your blogs.  You are truly Kreativ spirits. 

(And please don't feel that you have to pass this along if that's not your "thing" - it is given without obligation.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Virtual Visit to the East Mojave

First, let me confirm that I am still here.  I apologize for neglecting my wonderful dedicated followers.  I have been so busy with other things that I simply have not had a spare moment to post anything. 

What has kept me away?  Well... it all relates to the desert.  My husband and I are knee-deep in the final editing and layout of a book being published by the organization we volunteer for (the Mojave Desert Heritage & Cultural Association, for those who might be interested).  I have also been busy pulling together some of my desert photos for two calendars to sell (I hope!) during the annual get-together for the organization's membership the first weekend of October.  One is scenes around the East Mojave and one is wildflowers and cactus flowers that are found there.  You can check them out at my Zazzle store.  All of this is very fun stuff, just time consuming.

Anyway, since I finally had a moment I thought I'd share one of my favorite places in the East Mojave.  This is a photo of Ford Dry Lake, taken in early October 2004.  The plant on the left is catclaw acacia and that's cholla on the right.  The mountains in the distance are the Woods Mountains.  Ford Dry Lake is named after the Ford family, who homesteaded there in the early 1900s.  It's a particularly quiet, peaceful part of the desert, as not many people wander that far off the main roads.  It's a beautiful valley and would have been a really nice place to live.  I know a lot of people find the desert to be rather desolate, but I think the silence and scenery are divine.

And on that note, I bid you adieu until I find the next opportunity to reappear.  Also, please be assured that I am keeping up with reading your comments and am trying to respond as much as possible.  I do always love hearing from you!

Not merely an absence of noise, Real Silence begins when a reasonable being withdraws from the noise in order to find peace and order in his inner sanctuary.

~ Peter Minard

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday's Sunset

Clouds come floating into my life,
no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add color to my sunset sky.

~ Rabindranath Tagore

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Cactus Monday

Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia basilaris)

For more colorful cacti, visit Terri's Painted Daisies.

The more ugly, older, more cantankerous, more ill and poorer I become, the more I try to make amends by making my colors more vibrant, more balanced and beaming.

~ Vincent van Gogh

Friday, August 28, 2009

Flower or Fairy?

Kangaroo paw

And as the seasons come and go, here's something you might like to know. There are fairies everywhere: under bushes, in the air, playing games just like you play, singing through their busy day. So listen, touch, and look around—in the air and on the ground. And if you watch all nature's things, you might just see a fairy's wing.

~ Author Unknown

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gardening Gone Wild: Down on Your Knees

The subject for August’s Picture This Photo Contest at Gardening Gone Wild is "Down on Your Knees." Garden photos must be taken from knee level or lower. There are some fantastic entries so far. As judge photographer David Perry says, "too many of us take the majority of our pictures from standing height, which really limits both our visual understanding of a garden and the sense of intimacy we can capture." Amen! One of my favorite things to do these days is get right into the middle of a flower, much like a bee might, to get to know it more intimately.

And so my entry for the contest is this Euphorbia milii. It sits in a pot right outside our sliding glass door, which means I walk past it every day. I tend to give it a wide berth to avoid getting snagged by its huge thorns, but stopped one day recently to take a closer look at its flowers. Look how beautiful and intricate they are when seen from this vantage point (you can click on the photo to see it larger). I guess all those thorns are intended to protect this treasure.

For those of you not familiar with this plant, each flower is about a quarter to half an inch across. The photo below shows more of the plant. Did I mention it has thorns?

Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns,
be happy that the thorn bush has roses.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Bit of Color

Orange Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus)

I captured this beauty when we wandered through the demonstration garden at the fair. Mother Nature sure knows how to play with color.

Speaking of color, if any of you live in or near Orange County and enjoy art, the exhibit "Illumination: The Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Pelton, Agnes Martin, and Florence Miller Pierce" currently at the Orange County Museum of Art is exquisite. I have always admired Georgia O'Keeffe's work, but Agnes Pelton is now my favorite artist. She was an interesting, very spiritual woman and her paintings truly define the word "illumination."

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.

~ Georgia O'Keeffe

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sierra flowers

I experienced a couple new flowers during my trip (and please let me know if I have misidentified them)...

Nevada goldenrod (Solidago spectabilis)

Oregon checker mallow (Sidalcea oregana)

They make a nice meadow bouquet!

This one I always liked when I was little...

Ranger's buttons (Sphenosciadium capitellatum)

And let's not forget this treasure I stumbled upon in the garden; the good old daisy knows how to compete for attention.

Every tree and plant in the meadow seemed to be dancing, those which average eyes would see as fixed and still.

~ Rumi