Friday, May 27, 2016


When we moved to Tokyo, I noticed immediately the small plastic bags filled with refuse stacked together on the sidewalks, covered by a green netting to keep the ravens away, waiting for the trash collectors to pick them up. At first, I looked at the heaps self-righteously, thinking what a better recycler I was. We separated our trash into recycled and throw-aways at the time. Then I noticed each family left out just the one small grocery bag in comparison to our two large kitchen-sized trash cans of garbage and recycling that we put out each week. So much for my pride! The Japanese tend to reuse what they have until what is left fits into a small plastic bag at the end of the week. They also have strict rules regarding separating trash and different types of recyclables.*

I've talked with many creative people who are great recyclers too. When we do a lot of projects, we end up with an assortment of projects that are good practice, but not ready to be in a portfolio. With all the workshops I've been taking this Spring, I have a collection of pieces ready to be turned into something else.

What to do with them?

Cut them up!

Use them on the outsides of envelopes. 

They make great cards. 

Part of a watercolor cut up and made into a card.

Pieces from a calligraphy exercise that didn't work very well as a large piece. Cut up and glued into an embossed piece of paper -- much better!

Or glue them down to another substrate, gesso over them, and make another mixed media piece altogether.

This is an original painting that I like. I made a copy of it to use in this mixed media piece.

Practice pieces ready to be turned into something else.

Artists have a hard time throwing anything away. My postcards I mentioned in last week's posting are perfect examples. What is no longer precious, can be used again!

Remember to send a postcard or a repurposed piece of art to a friend this summer! Keep in touch.

*If you would like to know more about Japan and its recycling techniques, check out Todd Jay Leonard's blog at,_Blog_Archives.html

Friday, May 20, 2016


Do you send your friends postcards when you travel?

A text on your phone with a photo attached is almost as good, but the joy of receiving something handwritten still pleases me. Postcards in the Air seemed a perfect name for this blog. The art pieces or short narratives that readers send me in response to a Postcards posting remind me of postcards from friends.

Some of my collection of postcards from friends from long ago.

Here are two stories that came my way in response to two different blog posts.

From my posting titled What Touches You? came this memory from Jan. H.:

Sunday Dinners at Ma and Pa's Farm in Oklahoma

My maternal great grandparents, Ma and Pa, lived on Route 4 about a twenty-minute drive from the town of Shawnee where my grandparents lived and where we stayed when we visited them from California. My sister and I would crouch down in the car so that we could surprise Ma when we rolled on to the dirt road up to their house (as if she didn't know we were coming). She always obliged with a surprised whoop! After the family hugging and kissing, the men gathered on the covered back porch to smoke, talk politics, and drink a beer.

The women were seated on stuffed chairs in the living room shelling beans and talking. My sister, Jonnie Kay and I visited both groups but stayed with the women who allowed us to shell beans as well. We loved shelling beans. The air was warm with laughter and love. Ma took the beans into the kitchen and in a short time called everyone to be seated at the big round oak table that had been set with her Sunday dishes, silver, iced tea goblets, and home sewn napkins.

Everyone gave thanks to God and then Ma brought out the friend chicken, mashed potatoes, beans and salad. My grandmother poured the iced tea from a pitcher and we all dug into an incredible feast of fine cooking. Seconds were offered as well as warnings to save room for dessert. Then came the fresh homemade pies and coffee. That Ma sure knew how to cook.

I wish I could go back in time and enjoy those days again.

In my post, Three Sides of Green, I asked the question:

"What plants did you play with when you were a child?"

Here's Joan S.'s reply:

In the summer we lived in a cottage on a lake in Upstate New York. Our home abutted an Iroquois Reservation, the first place oil was found in the country. No one lived there any longer so we were free to roam. Queen Anne's Lace lived in stately wonder in a field of wild raspberries. One of my many aunts suggested that we dye them and sell bouquets by the side of the road. My brother and I thought that was a great idea and pooled our limited resources to purchase bottles of ink in various colors (remember those?). We diluted the ink in water and placed the stems in the 'dye' vats hoping the color would rise through the stem. This experiment had limited success so we dunked the flower heads in the colors and let them dry. The sale of our bouquets was not robust, but the aunties came to our rescue and bought all the stock we had left over. Still never pass a cluster of Queen Anne's Lace without a smile.

Thank you, Joan and Jan, for sharing your stories with us.

Since it is almost summer, keep your eye out for postcards wherever you may be and send some to people you know. A great way to brighten someone's day!

Friday, May 13, 2016


I grew up in a suburb of LA, marched in the Rose Parade in high school, learned to drive at 75 miles an hour on someone else's bumper, went to college in Claremont below the mountains, and lived through the blinding smog that covered the grand Tehachapis that rise next to the LA Basin from Ventura to San Bernardino. We saw the mountains in the winter and after a rainstorm back then; but once the temperature rose, they disappeared in the smog that blanketed LA for many years. I beat it out of LA as fast as I could. Northern California is home. I return to the LA area occasionally for family visits, but I try to go when the temperature is no higher than the 70s because of the smog. I don't dream of moving back.

A watercolor I called "Nearsightedness"

This last weekend opened my eyes to a new LA. I could see the mountains. It was 85 degrees out and I could still see the mountains, even as far inland as Claremont where we went for a memorial for my husband's college baseball coach, who died at 91, and had an auditorium filled with people who had been touched by him. We sat in front of 5 white-haired men who reminisced about their times together on the baseball field. We looked in the crowd for Bill's former teammates, but didn't recognize anyone until the reception when people tentatively came over and asked, "Hey, is that you, Bill?"

We drove to the memorial from Burbank on the old Arrow Highway, one of three ways (Arrow Highway, Route 66, and Baseline) to reach the Inland Empire before the freeways. The sites along the way had changed, but remained the same too: auto repair shops, fast food stops, and discount stores. We drove past the gravel pits, which were huge and deep when I was growing up, and continue as work sites. We drove past the Santa Fe Dam, Irwindale, San Dimas, Duarte, Azusa, LaVerne, finally reached Claremont, an oasis in the middle of what LA really is, a desert, which is evident as soon as you see the natural landscape of the area.

One of the few buildings that hasn't changed

We didn't have time to visit family or old friends after the memorial. We drove on Route 66 to Pasadena, returning through the same towns, but on the more upscale sides of them. Though the buildings had changed from my youth, the inner memories of these towns had not. Arcadia, where I am from, was a white upper middle class town. Now in Arcadia we saw signs in Chinese kanji displayed on many storefronts. I remember a time when Asians were discouraged from living there. Next to Arcadia, other towns, unofficially designated as African-American or Latino, clustered close to the main drags between San Bernardino and LA.

I realized once again how much my opinions about race and economic differences had developed from living in this area. When you talk of white privilege and prejudice, you are talking about living in one of the LA suburbs. Driving between Burbank and Claremont, the old distinctions between the towns aren't as obvious as they were then. I am sure they are still there, under the surface. I had scrutinized my own beliefs a long time ago, seeing the prejudices in myself that I didn't like. I worked on them, being mindful to question my erroneous assumptions. I hope that I come across as someone who is accepting of others.

As we drove back to the airport, I kept looking in wonder at the Tehachapi Mountains. They are desert mountains formed by an earthquake fault, sculpted by water run-off and covered in chaparral.   Rugged, not like Mt. Diablo in the north, which is graced with soft grasses and oak trees. Last weekend the Tehachapis stood majestic and ever-present above the human-caused sprawl that lay around them from one end of the LA Basin to the other. They spoke of endurance and as a reminder that human concerns are small in comparison. I was glad I could see them clearly on an 85-degree day.

Friday, May 6, 2016


I'm reading The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg, one of my favorite writers and teachers. She starts right off with a joke, which is now my third favorite joke right behind these two:

What is another name for Thesaurus?

What is a one-syllable word called?                                                  


What has seven letters?
Is impossible to do?
If you eat it, it will kill you.

Jokes are not my forte. I remember my childhood favorite was about a parrot, but that's as far as I can tell you about it.  The answers to joke three:   Nothing.  There is no answer to number one -- just groan.

I am now relearning to play the computer keyboard like a piano. I have tennis elbow on my right side (I'm left-handed, go figure), and I discovered this morning after not using the hand for writing, walking, Pilates or at the gym, that typing on the computer was a contributor. Hard to remember to hold your hands in the correct position without practice. Oh, the dreaded word from my piano-playing days: practice.

Natalie Goldberg's best advise for writing:

Keep your hand moving

Don't worry if you write the worst junk in America

Be specific: say Cadillac, not car

Lose control

Mostly, practice.

Good advice for a lot of life, don't you think?

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>