Friday, August 18, 2017


What does being a friend mean to you?

This is a week I need to be with friends, 
a week when I want to remind myself of the value of friendship.

A friend, who spent some time in Paris recently, managed to stuff one more item into her suitcase on her way home. She brought me a tin of Lipton's Russian Earl Grey tea, a version of a familiar tea that is only available in Paris. Her thanks, she said, because, "We referred to your list of Paris Sites every day." Her small gesture joins a list of kindnesses that I have received from other people. I hope I am known for kind gestures too.

I have taken a lifetime to learn to be a better friend. Along the way, I have met many good role models who have shown me how to be more open to other people and to be a good friend.

I've been in many groups where friendships have developed over projects, over children, over common perspectives, work assignments, or because we all lived far from our homes. Our friendships made us better than we are by ourselves.

This week, when we all need to reconsider what we value most, 
I put at the top of my list the value of friendship.

"Some people come into our lives and quickly go....Some stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same."  Flavia Weedn

Friday, August 11, 2017


I've been trying to find Robin's Egg Blue. In the natural world, of course, it is the color of a robin's egg, which protects the egg from heat better than a darker color and from light penetration better than a lighter color. In the printer/computer world, the color is called cyan, a blue-green shade that is one of three primary pigments, the others are yellow and magenta, that create all the other colors for printing full color photographs and prints. Cyan is also called turquoise (darker) and aqua (more green). They are all different from Sky Blue.

I looked at photos of robin's eggs. They vary in shade from lighter to darker, some more blue, some more green. By itself on a swatch, robin's egg blue looks green to me. Does it to you?

courtesy of Wikipedia

Is this Robin's Egg Blue?

Or this building?

Do you see Robin's Egg Blue here?

courtesy of Google play

I decided to answer a challenge to use robin's egg blue in a piece of artwork. I'm painting a nest on a circular sheet of handmade paper. I plan to add drawings of robin's footprints, eggs, and some of the feathers. Feathers are so beautiful that I find it hard not to pick them off the ground when I find them and carry them home. But the American Robin is on the list of birds from the Migratory Bird Act of 1918 that makes it illegal for you to collect any of their particulars. The Act, which is updated periodically, was approved because at the time hunters were killing masses of birds to feed women's desire to decorate their hats with feathers, nests, and other bird parts. An exhibit about Degas at the San Francisco Legion of Honor showcases hats from the Impressionist era, which use a plethora of bird feathers and even an owl's head as adornments.

When I find a feather on the ground, I take a photo where I find them, check more feathers on the Internet, and try to draw their exquisite formation as closely as I can.

I've assembled most of the pieces of the painting. I'm not finished. After I submit the painting to the challenge, I am going to send it to the Treewhispers site so that Pamela Paulsrud can add it to her collection of tree stories.

Why robin eggs are blue...

Science Daily, May 27, 2016,

Migratory Bird Act list

SF Museums of Fine Arts:

Pamela Paulsrud, Treewhispers blog:

Peace be with you, James.

Friday, August 4, 2017


The middle of summer, 95 degrees for the last week. Hot enough that the artificial grass outside a local business is wilting. I'm hiding in my workroom, the coolest room in our house, thinking of past summers back in my childhood slurping popsicles, swimming in a lake, soaking in a tub of cold water in the backyard, trying to find a cool place in a house without air conditioning, waiting to hear the crickets at night.

Occasionally, I receive on my Facebook page a nostalgic essay reminding me that when we were kids we didn't use seat belts or wear bike helmets, we sat in smoke-filled rooms, didn't wear sunscreen and we survived. Every time I get one of these messages, I cringe. I understand that whoever sent the message is trying to recapture a gentler, more carefree time, one that made us supposedly tougher than today's children.Yes, looking back on my childhood, I remember having lots of free time, lots of friends who lived several blocks away. Yes, I crowded into cars without protection and sailed around the streets on my bike with no helmet. I also lived a privileged life.

I lived in a safe suburban neighborhood (though Communists supposedly lurked around every corner). I wasn't restricted where we could live or even walk because of the color of my skin. I rarely saw people walking down our street (there were no sidewalks), strangers just didn't come through. But I also remember the accidents: teenagers joyriding and playing 'chicken' with trains, boozed-up college students driving down two-lane roads and crashing into other cars, and adults thrown out of car windows because they weren't wearing seat belts. Some of those people didn't survive the crashes, some have gone through life with terrible scars.

That's why I cringe. I think back on my childhood with fondness, but I am glad we have enacted government protections so that kids ride more safely in cars and wear helmets when they ride scooters, bikes or skateboards. I'm glad I can 'buckle up.' I'm glad I don't have to sit in rooms filled with someone else's smoke. I look at the slight scars left from skin cancer treatments last summer, slather on sunscreen, and don my hat. I'm glad I made it through those years alive.