Friday, September 30, 2016


Ever since I met my husband Bill, I've known him as a person who takes risks. When we were dating, he came to my parents' home, donned a paint smock, and went to work on a painting on our back porch. He said he hadn't painted since grammar school, but he stood in the yard of a family of artists, and painted away. Bill used to send me hand-drawn cartoons. Again, a risk since he was sending a card to a young woman whose dad drew comic strips for a living.

Gus is one of my many nicknames.

He's not afraid.

Bill has not been afraid to put aside all of his business acumen to take on the challenge of photography. He takes photos with the same single-mindedness as he does with all of his activities. And the proof you will find in these photos of birds.

As I have said before, all of us are creative and can acquire artistic skills. It just takes practice, and  the willingness to take risks and to fail.

Enjoy his photos. Let me know what you think of them!

Friday, September 23, 2016


Here's the advice I wasn't going to give (from last week's blog):


         YES opens doors
         NO closes them




Last week in Carmel, I watched two instructors, Cindy Briggs and Theresa Goesling, use this advice in their watercolor workshop, Make Every Day a Painting. We painted in downtown Carmel, at the Mission, in Big Sur, and at the beach. Each day Cindy and Theresa filled us not only with good watercolor techniques, but with life lessons as well. In the middle of the day, Carole Frazier, a songwriter, gave us thought-provoking prompts to write in our art journals. The first question she asked, "What Did You Come For?," made me pause. My response: to learn more watercolor techniques, and more importantly, to be with other like-minded creatives.

We did exercises and quick studies that began to fill our journals with memories of Carmel. So many people, even well-trained artists, are intimidated by watercolor. We tried to relax with the medium. We didn't create masterpieces. We did what all artists do: practice. During each session, we encouraged each other and learned to feel more confident with the medium.

At the end of the week, I felt I had a break-through with my pieces. These are a few of the paintings I made. Remember they are art journal pieces, not masterpieces. They all are unfinished and could use  more work.

Remember that art in any form takes practice. 
No one is born with paint brushes, paper, and paint in hand.

Check out Cindy Briggs and Theresa Goesling's website,

Friday, September 16, 2016


One of my biggest thrills in the last ten years was attending a cycling/hiking camp for women. I was one of the oldest ones there, but I didn't deny myself any activity. At the end of the week, one of the 30-years old piped up in our last get-together and exclaimed, "I want to be just like Martha when I grow up."

I just celebrated another big birthday this month, which made me ponder age and hope. I missed a memorial service for a high school friend who matured into a much-admired woman known for her activism and her love of other people. Instead of the memorial, I attended the wedding of one of the daughters of friends.

At the wedding, I spent an evening observing young people in their twenties -- bright, kind, sophisticated, ready to take charge of the world. I admired their self-confidence and their willingness to be outspoken in their beliefs. I enjoyed listening to them speak with their newly acquired knowledge and to express their own vulnerabilities.

Do I have advice for them? No, I realize that I don't. My advice is out-dated, like asking my grandmother how to use a new washing machine when all she had used is one with a wringer. My experiences helped to make me who I am today, but I am from a different world than the people growing up now. All I can do is present a model of growing old with grace and intention.

At the reception, I sat next to a woman who just turned 90. She participates in a Spinning class three times a week and does stretch yoga as well. We carried on a lively conversation. Late at night, she was out on the dance floor with everyone else. I thought to myself, "I want to be just like Eidee when I grow up."

Friday, September 9, 2016


We've been watching a mourning dove pair for a couple of weeks from our dining room as they patiently sit on their nest. The birds reminded me of a story written by my friend, Christy Myers, about a similar experience. I hope you enjoy reading her piece!


My husband Ken and I sit at the end of our dining room table next to the window, reading the Sunday paper and having our tea, eggs and English muffins. Next to the window, house finches are building a nest in a handmade bird feeder that looks like a miniature gazebo. The tiny birds investigated sites throughout the garden and finally decided the gazebo was not only the most elaborate birdhouse on the block, but they could see themselves hatching their young and giving flying lessons from its railings.

We attract birds to our garden with flowers and a stone birdbath. Fat sparrows stop by and test the water before jumping in and flicking water up over their heads and wings. They puff up and bristle their feathers. More water, more fluffing, then they hop to a neighboring branch on the lemon tree and clean their beaks by rubbing on each side of the branch. The garden is filled with oranges and pinks, which beckons hummingbirds. In the spring, they flit through the white blooming apple tree and sometimes land on top of an iron trellis that the clematis climbs.

Last spring a male house finch crashed into our bedroom window over and over until I went out on the porch to investigate. He and his wife had built a nest in the vine that grows up our second story balcony. The nest was at eye level so I peered in and discovered five tiny aqua eggs. I showed Ken; he was visibly moved by the sight. As the day wore on the male flailed himself at the window, warding off the intruding male that he saw in the window's reflection.

I'm sad about what happened next. I didn't want the male to kill himself against our window so I interfered and moved the nest. As I had the nest in my hands, I remembered, "If you touch the nest, the parents will abandon it." I quickly put it back as best as I could. The bird parents circled the garden, calling out upset warnings, then flew away. Ken was upset with me, especially the next day when I found remnants of blue eggs on the patio. Some other bird had raided the nest.

Ken and I inspected the nest and blinked back tears as we saw how intricately it was made. There were sticks on the outside. To cushion the eggs inside, the birds used soft material including white dog hair from our terrier Piper and our own dryer fluff. We mourned for two days the loss of the eggs. I kept thinking of the five potential babies and their eventual offspring. I'd squashed a dynasty of birds. I vowed never to interfere with nesting again.

Meanwhile, today as we finish our breakfast, we can hear the symphony of birdsong outside. The finch couple takes a break from nest building and rests on the back of the weathered grey teak bench. A fluttering of mating, then they're off to the birdbath for a well-deserved drink. Their heads dip up and down to scoop up the water with their beaks. A big black bird with chartreuse and red on its wings stops to share a sip.

As Ken and I watch, the female finch brings some fuzzy garden debris and places it in the nest. Then she gets in and wiggles herself to test the softness for her future eggs. The male finch perches on top of the bird nest gazebo, puffs up his brilliant red chest and sings his heart away.

...Christy Myers

These are quick sketches while watching our mourning doves on the nest.

Friday, September 2, 2016


Two words, thresholds and recalibration, helped me understand a question I had been grappling with for several weeks. My question: to grow, what do I need to let go?

A friend said that she envied artists because we have so many choices, which can build one on top of another. She's right. Every day I am grateful that I have the choices I can make to be creative. In the last dozen years, I've experimented with first, botanical illustration, then, letterpress, mixed media, book arts, calligraphy, drawing, acrylics and watercolor, and now etching. And yes, these are wonderful choices. At times though, I regret not focusing on one of these since my twenties (just think how more skillful I would be by now). On the other hand, I'm more ready and open to explore these areas as much as my heart will take me.

My quandary is choice now. In order to produce in one area, I need to concentrate and hone my skills. In the process, I need to back away from other creative outlets. I've already pushed aside letterpress, though I love the quiet meditation of putting lead type together one letter at a time. I have several reasons. A press costs thousands of dollars. I would need to become a commercial printer to justify the cost. The presses are not made anymore and require expert maintenance. The classes that I've taken have presses available, but all the classes are at least one to two hours away.

I'm having the same doubts about etching. Should I continue in this area, which requires so much knowledge of techniques that I am just beginning to understand? Last week I had almost decided to give it up. I was discouraged by the prints that I had made.

Last week etching.
Some of image disappeared when I developed the etching plate.
A day's work.

Then, just like a little demon nudging me, this past Sunday, after redoing the plate, I pulled a print that made me jump for joy. Here it is:

This week's new version.

Have you hit a new threshold in your life recently? What choice did you make?