Food Focus


So yeah, I was cutting up fruit for a big fruit salad, and this happened.


 And then this.


It reminded me how Silvina, the still life teacher I’ve been taking a workshop with, talks about choosing a focal point for our compositions, something that we want to make pop, that will draw the eye.  I’ve become instinctively aware of this in photography, especially in close ups with this 1.8 lens.

Somehow, the concept sunk in while cutting and shooting fruit.  It’s wonderful how different creative endeavors play off of one another.


I took shots of this with both more and less of the bowl included. I liked the one with no bowl showing a lot, but somehow the context is important, too.

Context and focus happen somehow  in literature, too.  How else is it that the tiny detail we need to remember at the end of the book springs back to mind when the author conjures it? A touch of light in the phrase, a touch of color?

Moving on to Vegetables

P1010348For the first time, I really like the colors I made.

I will readily admit that I had a lot of help from Silivina, but I am, after all, trying to go from zero to sixty without a class on color theory in my engine. 

These are leeks. Short stubby leeks that don’t really celebrate the sensuous curves of the interweaving leaves. But, like I said, I am pleased with the colors, and that’s a big deal for me. 

I worked from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and was tired when I left for the workshop. Artistic endeavor always lifts me out of the day to day world, though, and I was invigorated by the conversation around the table and the opportunity to bond with some really nice vegetables.


Sometimes the Sky

P1010335Sometimes the sky just demands that you stop and look. 

Hydra and I stood in the driveway and watched the color fade away from this big dramatic light show. The air all around us felt infused with pink.

I recently reconnected with my (terrific!) high school Spanish teacher via Facebook, and he’s been posting photos of the sunsets over the pond behind his house in Indiana. I always enjoy them, and the great shots of birds and flowers and family he’s taking. He has a good eye.

 ¡ Éste es para ti, señor! 

P1010343The hillside behind the house. Gives you a hint of the glowy feel of the air.  I love that juniper tree up there. Must be decades old to be that size.



Tomato Love



That moment when you’re making lunch and you have to stop and photograph it….




 You just don’t get tomatoes like this from a grocery store. I missed putting in a garden this year, so I bought these from Blum Ranch, right across the valley from us.

I was looking for another batch of peaches. Sadly, they are very small this year, and they were selling lugs for under $10.00. Good price, but not the big beauties they usually have. Not the sort of thing I usually enjoy taking everywhere I go all summer. I bought a small basket of their O Henrys.

“We need rain, huh?” I said to the family member behind the counter.

“Yes, we do,” she said, smiling apologetically. It’s going to be a long summer.



The rest of my lunch: black beans with pico de gallo salsa mixed in and steamed cherimoya squash.  I like spice, but it’s also nice just to experience the veggies as they come.

My sister, Pegerty, gave us these sweet little bowls for Christmas and not a day goes by without us using at least one of them.  They are the perfect size… a little over a cup.


Tehachapi for a Day


We drove about an hour northeast to Tehachapi today to go to an estate sale and just poke around the town. This landscape is, to me, quintessentially Californian: hills dotted with trees and exposed rocks. The sale was in a gated community called Bear Valley Springs. It’s the biggest, most sprawling gated community I’ve ever seen.  25,000 acres!

P1010310We both kind of fell in love with the estate sale house. For me, it was mostly because of this indoor pool. The whole outside wall is huge glass doors that open onto a hillsiide view of live oaks and scattered boulders. Wow. I could see music happening all over this place.

P1010327Cool vintage sign for a vintage motel that has apparently given up (according to the Trip Advisor reviews) in the face of competition with the three new hotels a short distance down Tehachapi Boulevard.

We talked to a couple of the artists at Gallery & Gifts where we both liked a lot of the pieces on display. We entered a raffle for some cool ceramics and might go back for their next art walk at the beginning of September. No further than LACMA, but the traffic’s better!


We were impressed with the way Tehachapi has handled its recent growth. The last time we stopped was at least five years ago, and it was kind of dismal. But they’ve revitalized their downtown without making it over to look fake or over glossy. There are all kinds of choices for food, including Mediterranean, Italian and Vietnamese.

There are murals around town, like the one above, that celebrate local history. Pretty cool. Here’s a link to more photos of Main Street Tehachapi Murals


We drove back through the wind farms on Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road. More interesting than the freeways. It was interesting to see how many more big turbines and solar farms are popping up. Not great, but better than strip mining. I wish we’d invest in putting more solar in urban areas. Lancaster, CA has a great program of putting up public car ports with solar panels on top of them. That’s the way to go!

Peachy Keen!


Maybe I shouldn’t have given you a hint. This is my still life of a bowl with peaches in it.  Hydra guessed it was a pomegranate when I brought it home. 

I have a lot to learn about mixing color and managing my palette, but it’s also fun to just jump right in with Silvina Day‘s help. 

I tend to make these really big blotches of color spread out all over. A more experienced person in the workshop worked from smaller blotches. I keep thinking I’m going to need a lot of one color. Not so much, most of the time.

I kind of want to go back to black and white. Or, then again, to do something kind of bold and almost cartoon-y on my own. What’s stopping me?  I have the supplies and even a cool travel tabletop easel I could set up in the house, but what about the potential mess.  Last night I knocked over my whole jar of Turpenoid (a less smelly turpentine replacement) on the workshop table. Silvina was grace personified. It really didn’t matter and we cleaned it up.

That wouldn’t be the case in my carpeted studio/office/guest room. Hmmm…maybe the table out on the deck, though!

Map Happy – Thomas Guides Live!

P1010303We were about to leave Barnes & Noble yesterday when Hydra pointed out a display of Thomas Guide map books next to the door. My mouth dropped open. Joy!!  

I thought these had gone the way of the dodo, but they live on! When I searched for new ones just a few months ago, they weren’t available.

I turned right around and took this to the register. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, these map books are amazing. My brother gave us one when we first arrived in California 29 years ago this month (yipes!) and it was invaluable. Wonderful system of map pages, very user friendly. It was our favorite state-warming gift to newcomers for a long time.

My love of maps was born somewhere on the road in the late sixties, heading out on vacation, watching Kitty’s finger trace the possible routes through the Smokies or the Blue Ridge Mountains on our way to South Carolina and the ocean. 

I told the cashier, probably in her early twenties, how excited I was to find this. 

She hefted it over her shoulder, “Wha?  What is this?” she joked.

“I know, right?” Then I told her how when I was in middle school I was into maps, and finding out about other parts of the country, I wrote to chambers of commerce of different cities and they’d send me brochures and free maps. For a while I had several of these on my bedroom wall. (Including the home town of an actor I had a crush on.)

That’s how you do it!” she exclaimed. “I just moved into a new apartment and my roommate and I want to have a wall of just maps.”

See, so my goofy chattiness pays off sometimes. I hope that chambers of commerce still do that!

Yes, I did unwrap it in the car and we did look up our town on the map. I love being able to really see how the geography works. It’s easy to forget in this GPS-world that Acton lies right before the 14 freeway makes a basically 90 degree turn from due east to north. 

We used to get a new Thomas Guide every time we bought a new or new-to-us car. 

“New Thomas Guide,” Hydra said, “Does that mean we get a new car?”

I’m not sure it works in reverse… I’m so happy to have this updated, not-tattered version! The old ones are marked up a bit with people’s names at the top of their pages, and their homes marked with an X.  

I think that some of the maps for unincorporated and less populated parts of Los Angeles County were omitted in the the new one version because it is smaller and lighter. No matter.