Friday, February 24, 2017


Postcards are back. We inundate our representatives in Washington, D.C., by sending small postcards with pithy messages and a call to action. I've started sending my reps cards from the National Park System as a reminder what great people of other times created when they set aside their personal gains to designate land so that we all could enjoy the natural wonders of the United States.

A group in a recent calligraphy class plan to mail postcards using their calligraphy skills to draw attention to their messages. Just as the Tea Party grew at the beginning of the Obama presidency, opposition to Trump has reawakened a new group of people who are banding together to make sure their voices are heard. One of their first actions has been to flood the hallways of government with postcards. Such a simple, yet powerful, act.

Postcards used to be part of our travels around the country. When we stopped along the way, we picked out favorites, wrote a short message and sent them to friends. I still have boxes of them in my workroom from other people's travels. Sometimes I use them in a mixed media piece; but mostly, I turn them over and re-read the message on the back from a friend.

A postcard printed by Lantern Press.
They produce beautiful art postcards that can be found
at Amazon, Zazzle, and

In my Wednesday Writers group, we challenged ourselves to send each other postcards over the summer vacation. I sent cards to my fellow writers and to other friends as well. From this small action several years ago, I came up with the name for my blog, Postcards in the Air.

postcards designed by Beth Wheeler & Misako Osada

I continue to send postcards, not just to my representatives. Recently I've subscribed to online postcard exchange groups and have 'met' some new people across the country.

Jennifer Belthoff, a writer and blogger, leads a group called Love Notes. She says, "Opening our hearts & sharing our stories is the key to connection.We shine brighter when we stand together."

Kat Sloma of Kat Eye Studio offers the Liberate Your Art Swap to encourage you to reproduce your own artwork as a postcard.

Louise Gale coordinates The heART Exchange to encourage self-care, gratitude, and creativity.

Here are some of the postcards I've received from these groups:

by Lynda Fishburne at
postcards by Chandralynn and Sharon Minchuk

You can find these exchanges at these links:

Jennifer Belthoff:
Kat Eye Studio:
The heART Exchange:

Good places to find  quality postcards:

Syracuse Cultural Workers

Max & Co. Post   (a Lantern Press dealer)

Friday, February 17, 2017


My answer to that statement?

Life is a challenge
Life is a test or a series of tests
Life is wandering from one thing to another
Life is difficult
Life is beautiful
Life is so daily
Life is finding authenticity
Life is full of unexpected surprises
Life is open to suggestions
Life is the quiet time between busy activities

What is your answer?

My favorite choice: life is a series of challenges.

Grab a pencil and join me in a new challenge. I've signed up for the Sketchbook Project hosted by the Brooklyn Art Library. Over 35,000 people have submitted sketchbooks to the project run by the Art House Projects. They digitize the books so that you can view them on line. You could also visit the library in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to see the real work. 

Remember that all of us has an artist within. Drawing and writing out your ideas helps to develop your creativity. Go for it! Take a chance and accept my challenge.

Some of my favorite pencils. I've had the mechanical pencil since college. My new favorite is the fat pencil, second from right.

Your sketches, doodles, and words on paper gives you 
a quiet, yet effective way to be an artist
and to reach out to other people with your ideas.

Brown sketchbook from the Sketchbook Project

I just received my plain brown sketchbook from the Brooklyn Art Library and I've started filling it up with sketches and writing.
Come and join me. Grab a pencil and begin!

As you can see, I have several sketch ideas going on throughout my book. The top line consists of words. The second line is full of faces from places that I go. The third line is random items that I see or witness. And the last line is trees, so far. If you feel stuck for an idea, go outside, find something that interests you, and describe it. What color is it? What is its shape? What size? What kind of shadow does it make? Is it smooth or does it have texture? Try a contour drawing of it: look at your object while your pencil is moving slowly on the paper. Look at your drawing only when you come to a corner. Draw just the edges. Don't do any shading.

Anyone who wants to complete a sketchbook needs to buy one from the Sketchbook Project website. You will receive a small brown book with 32 pages, just enough to do one sketch a day. Fill it up and send it back to them by the deadline. Mine is April 15. Yippee, I have a little more time to fill up all those white pages that I have just started on!

Friday, February 10, 2017


Images by Bill Slavin
 Walking up the street, I see the flowers of our early Spring: daffodils, camellias, primroses, and the tiny pink flowers of Manzanita and Sweet Breath of Heaven. These flowers keep coming back each year, even though they are buffeted by wind and rain, their petals turn soggy and brown, and they fall and become mush in the mud. I marvel each year at their persistence against such adversity. They are a reminder how fierce and gentle Nature can be.

Our rain gauge shows four inches of water since last Sunday. After five years of drought, we have rain.The creek in our neighborhood, fed by water coming from the hills around Mt. Diablo, wanders behind the houses across the street. This year we can hear its roar from our house. Slides and fallen trees result from the heavy downpours that saturate the ground. We have the deluge of rain that was promised last year. The Sierra Nevada snowpack measures over 435 inches in many areas. (The average is 450 inches for the entire year.) We enjoy winter sports again.

California cycles between drought years and rainy years. It is so easy to relax and return to old bad habits. I find myself leaving the water on too long already and I have to remind myself to conserve even with the rain. If you are like me and grew up in California listening to the stories about the Owens Valley (watch the movie Chinatown), the first Gov. Brown's Peripheral Canal, the continual tension between North and South about water rights, and the struggles between farmers, city dwellers, and the fish and animals that also live in California, you know that we are all intertwined, dependent on each other. That's easy when we have abundance. Then it is easy to share. Water makes us feel clean and when it runs out of a faucet, easy to waste. Some people want to lift our current stiff restrictions on water use. Instead, we need to step back and work together to change our mindset permanently to use only the water we need.

Friday, February 3, 2017


First we needed chains.

A trip to Yosemite reminded us how seldom we ventured into the wild. We had to dig through our drawers to find our winter wear, shop for new sturdy boots, and we needed chains. We used to ski at Squaw Valley almost every weekend in Winter, often stopping during a snow storm to put on chains. The snow sometimes piled up 20 feet against the houses, we skied through 40-to-60 mile an hour blizzards, our faces bitten by the cold wind, our eyelashes and facial hair thick with ice drops, and our fingers and toes burned from the cold. Those times were as wild as I've ever been.

I've been reading The Wild Places by Robert MacFarlane, who set out over a couple of years to find the wild places in Ireland and England. He swam in icy waters, hiked and slept through blizzards, trudged to the tops of mountains where he felt the indifference of the natural world to his solitary existence. Yet, everywhere he went, he walked where others had been walking for centuries. He finally discovered a truly wild place when he looked down a gryke on the Burren in Ireland. A gryke, a word I had never heard before, is a crack in limestone. Lying flat, staring down into the gryke, MacFarlane saw a wild world where seedlings had drifted and competed for space in a miniature rain forest. His glimpse of that world reminded me of a valley near Mt. Herman in the Santa Cruz Mountains. On one side of the steep hills was a camp bustling with people. But walking down a winding trail, I emerged in a rain forest filled with a rushing creek, tall redwoods, ferns, and other vegetation that grew with vigor under the tall trees' canopy -- a wild place.

I have friends and relatives who often seek the wild: women who ride motorcycles, hike along the Pacific Coast trail, climb Half Dome, kayak in deep water, and walk in Shackleton's footsteps in Antarctica. They push themselves beyond their anxiety. Skiing in the Sierra often reached that deep spot inside me where fear originated. Each time I ventured out on a blustery day, my subconscious would conjure up the image of a 5-year old girl stranded in the middle of an ice rink, ripe with dread, not knowing how to move with grace, expecting to fall and hurt myself. After what seemed a long time, with the help of a kind stranger, I made it over to the rink's edge. Skiing was like that. I had many miserable times out in the snow, standing frozen in fear until the cold would force me to turn down the mountain. But I didn't stop skiing either. I kept practicing. Eventually, with great joy, I could shimmy down moguls as tall as I am and could ski down all the runs at Squaw except the West Face of KT22. I tried that once. I stood at the top of the run and looked down. My skis hung over the edge, the mountain leaned in on itself underneath. That first step was too much for me and I turned and went down the easier East side. Sometimes you have to know when to back away.

We often live in fear: fear of the other, fear of the unknown, fear of the wild and fear of our own shortcomings. Being out in the wild, in the snowstorms, on steep mountain trails pushed me as far as I am ever likely to go, but I am a better person for trying.

Some people have destinations on their Bucket List. My list includes this first one: being in the wild once more. So, we trekked to Yosemite in our car equipped with chains (that we didn't use), with our new boots, our ski hats and gloves, and warm coats. We were greeted by the sunset on the top of El Capitan, by the quiet, snow-laden valley, by a managed wild place that is enjoyed by so many that there are signs to stay off the meadow to protect the native grasses from being trampled. Another sign stood tall to indicate the height of flood waters in the valley. Away from people, we could hear the crash-boom of huge blocks of snow that cascaded down the sheer cliffs. The sound echoed through the valley like an explosion, reminding us that we were also standing in an unmanaged wild place.

Does the wild tempt you?

This week's post is dedicated to Fred Korematsu, an American of Japanese descent, who challenged Federal Order 9066 during World War II. He wasn't afraid to stand tall in his beliefs.