The Key to Everything



Yesterday was Kitty’s birthday! She’s one of my favorite people on this planet. A true adventurer, world traveler, gardening homebody, volunteer, friend, etc. etc. 

She gave me the key to everything. How? I think by teaching me to observe. 

Close observation, when I remember to practice it, leads me to understand what people are saying, what things really look and feel like, and how to make sense of them.


wormKitty observing me through the camera, observing a worm.  I remember that lovely walk in the woods very well, even though I was only seven.

Thanks Kitty!



Ultimate Regifting – Artist’s Notebook



Fourteen years ago, I gave my mother a little sketchbook.  This year she sent it back to me. Regifting, she said.

Miraculously, it had been transformed.


One of the first drawings, and also one of my favorites. There are many of hands, some of feet. They are just like her.


The Bug Island schoolhouse, already in disrepair in 1997, now gone.

When I was very little an elderly woman named Mae lived there, across the road from our house. She put candy canes and malted eggs in our mailbox on the appropriate holidays. There was a big slate blackboard on the wall in her living room. I had the idea that she was the last teacher and that she never left, but now I don’t think that was true.


Mae’s barn, also now gone. Kitty drew and photographed this place many times over the years. I played in it as a child. I took photos of it, and so did my nephew, DBeans.


Detail of Mae’s barn.


Alcazaba, Malaga, Spain.  Kitty told me that she missed this entirely when she walked past it the first time, on her way to Pablo Picasso’s house. This is the view from the bus stop back to Puerto del Sol. I love the sure, straight lines in this.


Sometimes, it’s choosing what not to draw. “gulls off my balcony – Spain 2-18-98”


“My courtyard, Nanchang, China, 10-31-2000.” She said there was a little hole in the door, which didn’t make her feel very safe. Notice the shadow of the palm tree on the wall?  This is from one of two times she lived in China.


The view from our living room window in Acton, less than two months after we moved in. We bought the house while she was in China and she stayed with us for a couple of weeks on her way back home.

This view is now hidden behind a couple of trees our neighbors planted. It was part of the reason we bought the house, but we still love it here anyway.


Our back yard, same visit. Wow, it’s so different now. The chain link fence is covered in honeysuckle and the apricot tree is very large and shady in summer. I’m pleased to be reminded that we started right out inviting the wild birds to our place.

I could keep posting till the whole sketchbook was online. There are more drawings from each of these places, as well as from Florida and Mexico. Notes from a trip to the south of France with my brother and his son, colored pencil tests for a drawing of a relative’s house in Montana where she visited a few times.  Sketches from waiting in airports, out the window of the train at an unexpected stop, from the Union Stations in Chicago and Los Angeles.

I have already paged through it several times, once on the telephone with Kitty.  Yay, there are two more volumes in the set, so far.

You can just imagine how much I love this gift.

Valen-Tiny Update

Gorgeous roses from Hydra.  Carrying them around the house putting them in whatever room I’m in.  The dining table can’t have all the fun!

Valentine’s Day hike around the neighborhood.  Lovely clouds across the valley.  Chilly but not too chilly.

Pair of ravens that let us get quite close before taking off.

New top shelf in the pantry!  Quel romantique!   Now Happy Together keeps running through my brain!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Sugar Pies!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody! DAR brought this in along with a big tin of popcorn and popcorn hearts from The Popcorn Company. Thought you might enjoy it too.

For some reason I’m all into goofy Valentine’s Dayness this year.   Not some big fancy pressured thing to have fun or prove to my darling spouse that I love him.   Like he says, “Every day is Valentine’s Day around here.”

I always get to the office hours before everyone else.  This morning I had fun creeping around to everyone’s desk leaving silly little Valentines cards with Hershey’s Hugs and Reese’s Peanut Butter hearts.   We work on the Pixar films, so the theme seemed appropriate.

Loving everyone today!

Edit :   So this is what I received for Valentine’s Day at work.   Small conversation hearts and some sound gift-giving advice from OneL.

I’m not sure this is going to go over well with everyone on your list…