Before and After Hat


This morning in my writing,  I remembered the old hat I found in Mom’s closet. It was one of her mother’s old church hats.

She let me play with it,  but it didn’t take long for me to see that it wasn’t really my style. I think I was nine or ten. With permission,  I deconstructed the hat and wore it for years,  till I lost it somewhere in the field between the woods and our house.

It fit perfectly with my idea of myself as an explorer, with my radioactive Army watch on my wrist and my eyes on the horizon.  Dad found that watch in one of the used cars he sold and I begged for it; it was my first timepiece.

Random memories from a feral childhood. Maybe one day I’ll be good enough to draw the faces under those hats.

Blue Cream

In which she realizes she can use a colored pencil to shade a ehite object.

I love pitchers. I have more than makes sense.  I use the larger ones as vases. I have several shapes of white porcelain creamers, including this souvenir of my walk through Rome. It was €1.95. How could I leave it in Italy?

Bright Star


I also purchased a little black notebook during our visit to the Keats-Shelley House in Rome. The lettering is actually white.

I carry a little notebook with me most of the time. It’s great for shopping lists, measurements, addresses of places I need to go (though these are migrating to my smart phone), and flashes of brilliance. (ha!)

Right now I’m using a little notebook with Apocalyst embossed on the cover. It was a crew gift from the kind of sweet show No Tomorrow that I worked on. (It’s streamable on Netflix right now).

Clickety Bird Mug


I don’t really need another mug, but we had a nice chat with the owner of Recordis Barcelona and I liked this image a lot. Recordis Barcelona is a fine gift shop with locally sourced wares.  The owner would rather sell books and antiques. He said he turns on the music in his shop when he comes in, and when it stops 8 hours later he closes up.

I went back another evening, because the shop was just around the corner from our hotel,  to tell him about Ex Libris Anonymous because I figured he’d be charmed by the idea of making sketchbooks from old books. He gave me a vintage Spanish postage stamp.


“It’s only from the 50s or so,” he said when I was thrilled with it.

It gained a crease during the next week of travel, but now I’m going to mount it in my journal using photo splits.

Tender is the Night

Yeah,  when I visited the Keats-Shelley Memorial House in Rome I bought a tee shirt imprinted with this quote from “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats. What would he think, I wonder, of us traipsing around in our underwear?

Big John Keats fan as a teen. I transcribed the opening lines of one of his poems onto butcher paper and hung them on my bedroom wall. 

“… I have fears that I may cease to be, Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,  Before high-piled books in charact’ry,  Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain…”

Ah tragic youth! There was also a quote from a play about Joan of Arc. Ego much?

Olives & Chocolate

Spanish Olives

#1 in a series of drawings I’m making of the souvenirs I brought home from Europe.  The olives we had in Barcelona had such a delicate, deep flavor…not too briny.  We especially love the anchovy stuffed olives.

I know, it sounds weird, but trust me, they’re amazing.  We’ve been putting off opening these, but their time will soon come!

The chocolate is almost gone.  Luckily, it was another of the first things I drew.  The hazelnut creme eggs from Barcelona were the BEST.

It’s a very small sketchbook, about 4″x6″ to fit in a camera bag or purse.

Pining Away


Here’s our Aleppo pine in all her glory in September, 2011.  I loved the sound of the wind in the needles and the cool shade she provided.  It’s only been a week since we had her cut down, but I already miss the sound of the tree squirrels landing on the roof above my home office. The doves who nested there are bewildered.


Last fall, after Dana started deep watering by sinking pvc pipe into the ground at her base, we tried having the dead parts cut out by an arborist.  When we came home from vacation at the end of March, it was clear that this tree was beyond saving.  There’s still some green on the left side of this shot.

I’m guessing she was planted at the same time as our manufactured home, in 1989. The average lifespan of an Aleppo pine is 80-90 years, but up to 150. That’s without a long, deep drought and bark beetles.


We kept some slices of the trunk. They are astonishingly completely dry. No sap at all in them.


Post-pine view. We miss it a lot. We left a big stump to play with. We can always cut it, but we can’t get it back. We’d like to plant something shady and better suited to the climate in that part of the yard. Admittedly, I won’t miss having to clean sodden pine needles off the porch roof after a storm.


Maybe the first signs of trouble, back in October 2015, when I took a picture of our newly-completed terracing.

When I first heard that this is an Aleppo pine at the beginning of this century, I didn’t know where Aleppo was. I presumed it was from Italy.



One of the three babies Dana transplanted on April 5, 2010.


The Aleppo offspring are doing fine at the opposite end of the yard.  Note the deep watering pipes beneath them.