Friday, April 29, 2016


Are you a deliberate, mindful person? Do you pay attention to the small details of your daily actions?

I tend to be a deliberate person (some people might say obsessive). I arrange my spice drawer so that the herbs and spices I use for different dishes are clustered together: tarragon, rosemary, and thyme for chicken dishes and salad dressing; bay leaf, basil, oregano for Italian dishes; turmeric, curry, and chili powder for spicy meals.

I have indoor shoes and a set of shoes at each door that I can use when I garden. I have a set of shelves to store my shoes by type of shoe.

I am careless about one very small thing with my shoes. When I go outside to garden, I take off my shoes and leave them as they fall. When I come back inside, I look at them, and for an instant, I cringe. I don't cringe because I didn't put them away. Instead, I think to myself, "I don't want to be the kind of person who takes off her shoes so that toes of one shoe curves around the tip of the other." Why does this small thing bother me? Even for a moment?When I look at the shoes, they seem to represent the traits that used to be encouraged in little girls: coyness, child-likeness, and sweetness, traits that I disliked as a girl and vowed not to adopt. My shoes seem to be telling me otherwise.

I am amazed each time by my reaction to such a simple display. Why does this small action make such a powerful statement? Once I realized the hidden meaning, I decided to cure myself in the same way that people with phobias do. I exposed myself to my shoe placement by taking pictures of my shoes. I hoped to help myself to get over this feeling and to tame my inner critic down.

Once I started taking pictures, of course, my shoes no longer were so casually kicked off. What is the lesson in all of this? I'm not sure yet, except to have a good laugh at myself. My one thought is that deep, hidden feelings can surface from very minor images. Even kicking off your shoes without care can change the way you visualize yourself.

What does this drawing say about the owner of these shoes?

Friday, April 22, 2016


Many shades of green in a garden in Albany, CA

What a thrill to open an email and find your response to a question that I pose. I've received some awesome examples of Green that I want to share with you.

Deborah Hansen, a friend, fellow blogger and artist, sent me these:

Deborah uses an iPad to design much of her work as well as taking beautiful photographs.
You can see more of Deborah's work at her website:

Bill Slavin, a photographer as well as my husband, gave me these:

So many variations of green!
If you like Bill's work, send him some encouragement by leaving a comment on this posting.

Another aspect of Green appeared while I was driving home today. The last four years of drought wrecked havoc with my community's intention to have serene green lawns. Many lawns became brown or patchy when we turned off the sprinklers in the dry heat last year. No one bothered with the usual weed killers and other 'additives' that we often use to get a perfect green lawn. The rains this winter brought our green lawns back. But to my surprise, dandelions popped up in the grass all along our street. I haven't seen a dandelion growing in the lawns in our community for a long time. Now with a little neglect, our yards turned more natural with the yellow heads of this tenacious flower dotted across the grass. Dandelion leaves make good salads too! Maybe the appearance of dandelions will push us finally to find alternatives to the green lawns we love.

Do you remember picking the fragile Dandelion seed heads and blowing them into the wind? I also remember what we called 'scissor plants'  and pulling petals off of daisies. What other plants did you play with when you were young?

Friday, April 15, 2016


A good friend asked me recently how I come up with ideas to write. I strongly believe that all of us are artists, and all of us have stories inside to write. Ideas float around us all the time. We might hear a conversation or see someone that sparks an idea. I once saw a young girl riding in a car, her head leaning out the window. She looked at me with a mischievous glint. I thought she would be a great character for a novel. Finding dropped children's toys and clothing while on a walk led me to write a blog about my findings.

I keep a deck of index cards in my car. When an idea starts to germinate, I grab a card and start furiously writing (only at stop signs, I promise!) I also have a small sketchbook in my purse so that I can jot down notes or quick sketches. Many of these ideas never get past the sketchbook or note card, but they are still good practice. If I don't write or sketch them, they get lost in some other life problem.

I wanted to be a writer as early as sixth grade. I was brave enough to send my attempts to magazines. I still have the stack of rejection letters I received, but I also have copies of one piece that was published in a children's magazine as well as a fashion idea that appeared in a Katy Keene comic book. I stopped doing artwork in my 30s for various reasons. High on that list: too many self-expectations and a desire not to encourage my perfectionism. At that time, I turned back to writing. I joined a women's writing group called Wednesday Writers led by Elizabeth Fishel. Elizabeth's prompts, such as "I remember..." and "describe your childhood bedroom," seemed simple, but they also opened up memories that grew deeper on paper. In that group, we encouraged and supported each other, and published two anthologies of our work.

While my family and I lived in Japan, I took a botanical illustration class, which reawakened my artistic desire. I loved the careful exploration of a flower and the detailed drawing/painting that resulted. I hadn't forgotten the art school foundation that I learned at an earlier time.

Another friend of mine commented recently that I have 'exploded.' I am testing all kinds of waters, including writing a blog, while trying to catch up with all that I missed when I set aside art. I still am awed by artwork by other people, who are much more talented than I am. Now, though I can let competitive feelings go. I am having fun mixing writing and art in many ways.

The paper on the left was made on a Gelli Plate with acrylic paint and stencils.

Today at the library I sat in a class full of people. In front of us was a professional illustrator who showed us his technique for drawing fish. * Some of the people in the audience were experienced artists, but the brave ones came without an art background. They simply wanted to know how to draw.

Thanks for asking that question, my good friend. I hope you too are having fun exploring and trying new things.

Check out John Muir Laws' website if you are interested in Nature Journaling:

Do you have photos of your favorite shades of green? Please upload them to Instagram #postcardsintheair, email them to me, or upload them to GREENS on my Google page.  Thanks!!

Friday, April 8, 2016


Spring is here when the snails arrive and just before the deer come back to prune our plants. We can enjoy the wonders of the new flowers and other growth, listen to birds calling to each other, and to the frogs croaking at night as we stomp on snails and spray aphids off the roses with insecticidal soap. (Gardeners are not necessarily kind hearted!)

We've taped off an area of our back porch because we have two birds building a nest under the spider plant in the corner. They tried this spot a couple of years ago, but I poured water on the plant not realizing they were there. They flew away in a fury. Now, they are back and I'm reminded not to sit in my favorite chair on the back porch for a few weeks.

A gardener is a natural observer. I look at each plant to see the difference in growth from one day to the next. I listen to the bees that swarm around the Japanese Maple and Liquidambar blossoms each year, I count and record the number of bees and varieties of other pollinators on the plants in the garden, and I watch the sun bake out the moisture from the ground. Spring is a good time to watch the stages of life. I sit on a stool in our backyard and draw the flowers as they change from buds to full flowers. As I sit this morning, raindrops land on my page and I hurry to finish the cally lilies before I get wet.

As a gardener, I notice we live in a micro-climate. The weather at our house is different from the weather in downtown Danville, which is 7 miles away. Our flowering fruit trees and spring flowers appear later than town because we are slightly elevated and close to Mt. Diablo. Now I think even our backyard has various micro-climates too. How else to explain the five plants in this planter box?

One is just hanging on to life, one has died, and the other three are in various stages of flourishing -- differences in the amount of sun, water pooling or other possibilities? Another good experiment to determine what went wrong. Gardening is a series of 'what went wrongs' followed by an occasional great success because a blooming plant is in the best possible place for growth. Consider these roses from our backyard.

What do you do to enjoy the best of Spring?

Friday, April 1, 2016


The white light of the full moon every March shines through our uncovered windows and wakes me up. I think to myself, "Theo's Moon." The moon kept me awake many of the nights before Theo was born. Every year since then, the March moon casts its light on me as I lie trying to sleep, and fills me with memories of my thoughts and feelings just before Theo was born. Since March is also the beginning of Spring, I think this moon represents birth and rebirth. "Theo's Moon," for me, is a fitting name for March's moon.

I've been working through the exercises in The Curious Nature Guide by Clare Walker Leslie, who suggests naming the full moon each month after a personal experience. The date of the full moon each month varies because the moon rotates every 29.5305882 days, but some time during each month there is a full moon. How many other events in your life occur with such consistency?

Here are some Moon names I've been thinking about.

No wonder we are attracted to the moon. Circles are one of the fundamental forms that connect us together. I find myself using circles frequently in my artwork as a way to complete a picture. The circle seems to tie everything else together. 

Since the beginning of the year, we have been through three moon cycles. January, to me is "Lemon Moon," not because of the color of the moon, but because we harvest our abundant Meyer lemons in January. I call February's full moon, "Love Moon," not just because of the obvious Valentine's Day reference, but because Bill asked me to marry him on Valentine's Day.

Remember the Blood Moon last August? My name for the August moon is "Obon Moon," a reminder of our time in Japan. During the Obon festival there, people stretch out blue plastic tarps all over the parks and celebrate with moon-viewing parties into the night.  Last August so many people I know did the same thing when the huge Blood Moon rose. Do you take photos of the moon? Share them with us.