Monday, May 31, 2010

China Gardens

The weather was gorgeous yesterday. We decided to try to find the elusive China Gardens off of USFS Road 4612 in the Siskiyou National Forest. Touchdown! China Gardens is listed as an old mining site but when we got there we discovered what looked like an old homestead. There was evidence of mining, probably by Chinese immigrants, hence the name. Here is what looks like an old barn: The throne room:And evidence of mining: There were majestic Doug firs surrounding the area. You can see me, barely, to the left of the base of the tree:This is a marker on one of the Doug firs indicating the presence of an active red tree vole nest:Old shakes (Shakes are hand-split, shingles are sawn) covering the barn roof:
The California Ground Cone (Boschniakia strobilacea) is popping up all over the forest:We are happy to report that we did not get eaten by a bear. There was fresh bear poop in several locations but we made it out without any canine/bear encounters. Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Friday - Letterboxing Edition

First I was curious. Then enticed. Then driven. Then absolutely in the thrall of my new found hobby- letterboxing. I don't think there has ever been something more perfectly tailored to suit me (except maybe lasagne). Treasure hunting meets art. Is there anything better (except maybe a chocolate raspberry milkshake)?

At this point my enthusiasm is trumping any actual expertise I have about the process but I'll do my best to explain: you go to this website (or this one) for clues. You arm yourself with a nifty trail name, a hand carved stamp and a journal and then you go forth and seek out a letterbox. Actually finding one is exciting. Some stranger, somewhere unknown, went through the effort to put together and hide this box for you to find. Inside the box is a journal and a stamp. You stamp your journal with the box stamp and you stamp the box journal with your stamp. Capiche? Many of the boxes contain handcarved stamps so you're finding a little piece of artwork in an unexpected place. And you get to take it home. Isn't that enticing? Here's an example of a stamp:

If you have kids, they will love this. Each family member can have their own stamp and their own journal. For more concrete information check out About Letterboxing.

Here I am in close proximity to a letterbox. Shhhhh. Don't tell anyone.Hope you all had a happy week. Tell us about it in a post and link it to The Next Chapter: Happy Book Mail Around. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ode to Unfinished Projects

From the two unfinished books To the color studies not completedWhy do you taunt me with your incompleteness? Why do I abandon you? Why can't I follow through?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sunny Side Up

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend.
Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. Groucho Marx
This is our sweet Sunny boy. Not the brightest torch but he has a big heart. Good boy!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thrift Share Monday

It's time for Thrift Share Monday sponsored by Apron Thrift Girl.

Years ago I worked with a woman who found the ultimate treasure (to me) at a yard sale - a personal journal written by someone from a different generation. The journal she found was written by a woman who wanted a career but in 1920s society was being pressured to marry. Much of the journal was about this woman's struggle with her desires and her role in society.

I've spent years looking for old journal of my own. I love personal journals. I can't say what ignites me so much but I've been keeping my own for years and I love blog posts abut journals and journaling - sketchbooks, color studies, art journals, diaries- I find them all fascinating.

Saturday we stopped at an estate sale. It was in a trailer park so I figured there probably wasn't too much of an estate. There was a box of notebooks in a corner looking forlorn and untouched. Kelly found it first and then I went through the whole box looking for paper ephemera for my journals. As a was looking through the box it took a while for it to sink in - I was looking at years of someone's personal travel journals. Long entries of handwriting with maps and brochures and pictures taped in. The one on top is a log of a travel trailer journey undertaken in a Dolphin in the late 80s. The orange one is from 1982 and the black one (the only one written in German) is from 1954 - the year the author came to America. There were quite a few more binders and notebooks but I ended up taking just three - the ones that really spoke to me. At the bottom of the box were these:About 40 pre-war German postcards. It looks like they were glued into some kind of family album and then pulled out. You can see in the upper left corner where she labeled some of them. The cards are in excellent condition except for where you can see the glued paper in the back. I think I might be able to remove it without destroying the postcards. Here are few I especially liked:The last thing that I had to have from this estate was this picture:It's about 13" x 20", mounted on thick cardstock and says Gossip 303, Hans Comotio on the back.

The estate seller explained that the woman died and all her heirs are in Germany so no one was interested in taking any of this stuff. From a wartime teenager in Germany to a senior in Brookings, OR with bountiful road trips in between. No one interested? Hard to believe.

All of the above (plus a book) is in great condition, no musty smell, no damage and I paid $1.25 for all of it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

God's Eyes

These are called God's Eyes (Ojo de Dios):I've only ever seen simple popsicle stick versions of these until our local favorite restaurant, Nacho Mama's Cantina, started carrying them.They are made by local artist Alan Laurie and are quite stunning. They are bigger than they appear in the photos - about 14' across. The colors! I just love the colors. Someday I hope to own one of these.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another Porter Moment

Brought to you by Donna. Isn't he a handsome devil?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happy Friday - Good Mail Day Edition

Happy Friday! I really want to thank Jamie Ridler again for sponsoring the Happy Friday blog. When Friday rolls around I start thinking about all the bright spots during the week that I can include in my Friday post. There are always bright spots.

This past Monday there were three pieces of mail in mailbox that were all for me and they weren't bills or junk mail. This is what is meant by a Good Mail Day. I didn't want to be distracted so, instead of ripping them all open on the spot, I waited until I finished my dinner. OK, I rushed through my dinner while the pile of envelopes beckoned.

The first letter was from Apron Thrift Girl(ATG), who sponsored a pen pal swap awhile back. The ground rules were simple - use a recycled envelope & vintage or recycled paper. ATG paired up with me. She used a junk mail envelope and added collage elements to it. Inside that little wrapped package (above photo) was this: A vintage card, sequins and a hand written letter on a recycled catalog page. When was the last time you received a hand written letter?

The second package contained journal pages from another swap. In this swap each participant made 11 signatures modeled after Mary Ann Moss's Remains of the Day journal class. I received this beautiful little bundle:And here's what was inside:Ten 8.5 by 11" sewn, scrappy pages from various participants unknown. I can't wait to make a journal out of these pages. The host of the swap, Gathering Up Bits of the World, also sent a package of delicious paper goodies. What a treat!

The third letter I received was from Carmen at Writing from Life. She sent me a pack of my favoritest tea in the whole world- Green Jasmine. Thank you so much for thinking of me Carmen! For those of you who haven't indulged, the smell of jasmine tea is heavenly.

This getting mail thing is so much fun that I guess I'll have to start sending letters and joining more swaps. There's nothing like personal mail in one's box.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bearik, all done and ready for the mean streets of Grants Pass.

Here's Bearik, astride his Harley and sporting a fresh layer of automotive clear coat. The bike rests on a custom built trailer for use in the up-coming Boatnik Parade on May 29th.

For the holster I crafted a fake gun made of industrial A/B putty and painted with acrylic. As a final touch I decided to customize the handle with a grizzly bear like the one on the California state flag.

A Porter Moment

We'll be taking a break today from our regularly scheduled blogpost to bring you a Porter Moment:This post was sponsored by Crafty Snark Donna. Without her generous support these pictures would not be available to the public. Thank you for making the world a better place, one dog at a time. And, quite frankly, the spider post below is kinda freaking me out so I need to bump it down the page a bit. Thanks Porter!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Here there be (wee) Monsters

Last weekend, while hiking at Cathedral Hills park, I encountered a spider wasp (family Pompilidae) hauling away a large female Trapdoor Spider. At first glance it would seem that a wasp would want nothing to do with a big, fierce spider such as a trapdoor which has a body length of one inch, a leg span of 1 3/4 inches, and outweighs the wasp 4 to1. In fact spider the wasp is the real predators in this matchup. Female spider wasps hunt down spiders, paralyze them with a well placed sting, then haul them to a nest site where they then lay eggs in the victim and bury it. The wasp pupae then emerge to slowly feed on the still-living spider. And you thought you were having a bad day.

If this trapdoor spider reminds you of a small tarantula you wouldn't be far off. They both belong to the same infraorder called Mygalomorphae. This group also includes the very nasty and venomous Funnel Web Spider from Australia. I sent these pics to a spider specialist at Southern Oregon University who confirmed that this was a rather uncommon Trapdoor, but was unable to key to species. Apparently the four species of trapdoor spiders in our area can only be identified to species through the males. Ah well, food for another generation of wasps!

Happy Friday - Collections

Welcome once again to another edition of Happy Friday. I was reading Paul Murray's post yesterday about his collections and was enchanted by his odd assortment of obsessions. Why do some of us stockpile things that we really have no use for? At least with my piles of buttons, fabric and yarn I can justify to myself that these items will come in handy for projects that I might someday do. But what about the things that I hoard for reasons I can't explain other than that they make me happy in some undefineable way? Things I don't need or have more of than I can ever use, like these straw trivets:I had to impose a moratorium on purchasing these. They're available at yard sales in droves and usually cost less than a dollar. I would buy dozens of these things if my space were unlimited. Why? I have no idea. What would I ever do with them all? But everytime I see them I smile.

The other thing I'm a sucker for is little plastic toys. I pull them out of free bins and buy them by the bag at garage sales. I like hiding them around the house and tucking them in drawers and on the bookshelves.

I really don't like clutter but I just can't resist certain things. Somehow these small items make my life feel less hectic and more full - the opposite of how true clutter feels. What odd collections do you have? What can you not resist hoarding because it reflects some part of you?

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Since I sit at a desk all day and commute an ungodly amount of time I decided to add regular walking to my workdays. I walk 3 x a day – 2 ten minute walks on my breaks and another 10 to 15 minutes at lunch time. It helps tremendously. Sitting in front of computer all day is really hard on one’s body and psyche. The walking really lifts my spirits and gives my back a chance to stretch.

Rural would be the word that a real estate agent would use to describe the community surrounding my place of employment. There is a general store a block from where I work and a little cluster of stores and a school on the other end of town. Not much else. No ethnic restaurants. No cute little shops or thrift stores. Nothing to part me from my money. So walking I go. This little lane provides the perfect 10 minute stroll:All the fenceposts along the lane have been excavated by Acorn Woodpeckers. The weather is so amazing right now- ranging from the 50s to the low 70s. I love these cool spring days. I dread the coming of summer. It gets very hot during the day. But for now, I'll enjoy the perfect weather.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Belly 'O thy Beasties

This one's for you Donna, Baby.Can you guess the brew, based on this emblem? No ? Amateurs!
C'mon Donna Baby, I know you dig the Mexi Pilsners, but you gotta remember this patriotic brew. For old time's sake?
That's right, we took a tour of the brewery that distributes to 11 western states. Inside the belly of the beast, we stumped our brewery tour guides with so many nerdy brew questions, they just started pretending not to hear us or see our raised hands. "When did Budweiser introduce screw top caps?" "What is the weighted average alpha acid of the hop blend you use?" "When did rice become an ingredient in your beers?" Don't know? I didn't think so!Yuck! Too many samples, I need a Brandistani beer to calm my nerves!College kids across America, this one is for you. Yes it might taste delicious now, but start home brewing, and then you'll know the magnitude of your fermented sins! When you die, leave it to the yeasts, coyotes, and ravens to determine your fate!That's right, cuz if it ain't brewed at home in the US of ain't worth imbibing!
Unfortunately all those horses from the commercials are kept in a horse prison.
For all you wonderful folks back home:Now crack a Bud, and praise the lord for fermentation!