What Do You Think About The Politicizing of Orlando?

Gun Control v Terrorist Control

Given the horrible shootings in Orlando, Florida, my heart is wrenched as the above battle ensues politically. I am angry that there is a battle. Here’s my question.

What private citizen NEEDS an assault weapon that can shoot 50 people at a time?

Seriously, WHO?

Mountain Lion Habitat in CA
Mountain Lion Habitat in CA

I live in 2nd amendment territory. Almost everyone owns a gun or rifle of some sort, and many know how to shoot them.

I'd better get my rifle. Oh wait, the game warden already got him. Too late!
I’d better get my rifle. Oh wait, the game warden already got him. Too late!

Here in the wilds of Elderwood, CA you might need a rifle to shoot a mountain lion who comes into your yard and stares down at your puppy playing in the yard. Not that it’s ever happened at my house, but I saw a skull 20 years ago at the end of our street as I hiked with students up the foothill. My husband kills a rattlesnake once in a while with the same vigor and enthusiasm of Tim Allen from Home Improvement tried out chain saws.

Woooo Woooo Woooo

More often people shoot squirrels. My cat brings home squirrels. She doesn’t even need a gun to kill them.

dangerous squirrel digs holes - people can twist their ankles
Dangerous squirrel digs holes – people can twist their ankles.

I do not know anyone in Elderwood who espouses a need for an assault weapon to kill a snake or even a bear, should they be attacked and need a gun.

Here’s my view. The Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms. Let folks bear the same arms that they used when the Constitution was written. Get the rest of the guns off the streets, and start mass producing the rifles that American soldiers used in the Revolutionary War. That would go a long way to preventing mass shootings, and it would exactly correspond to our Constitutional Rights to bear arms.

This is what the writers of the Constitution had in mind.
This is what the writers of the Constitution had in mind.

Or maybe gun rights advocates would prefer something smaller that one can fit in a purse or back pocket?

Sure, the Constitution allowed individuals to own these. I approve. Get one.
Sure, the Constitution allowed individuals to own these. I approve. Get one.

Possibly 2nd amendment advocates would want something showier to wave in my face while they spout off their rights. Let’s see if we can find this one at the gun store.

James Madison could have. Who cares what he thought?

OH RIGHT!  He WROTE the Constitution.

Let the gun manufacturers begin producing 2nd amendment rights weapons.  Get rid of the rest of the guns.
Let the gun manufacturers begin producing 2nd amendment rights weapons. Get rid of the rest of the guns.

What do you think? Are you as angry as I am at the political battle that rages over the loss of these Orlando victims? Even if you support the 2nd amendment, do you REALLY think we need assault weapons on the street?

 

Flower of the Day – Bearded Iris

#Flower of the Day

Porterville, CA has an iris festival each year. I took these pictures mid-day, so I tried cropping them and changing the contrast in Photoshop. They had already been processed and reduced in quality, so they are not the best. One one of the pictures I experimented with some filters.

TC Iris Festival

TC Iris Festival

Porter

This next one is my favorite.

2013 Iris Festival035LCsplatterWe obviously don’t get enough rain here, so I’m wishing for a rainy day!  hehehe.

Which one did you like best?

Do you have a picture of a bearded iris you’d like to share on Cee Neuner’s Flower of the Day Challenge?

Share Your World Week 23

I enjoy Cee Neuner’s photo challenges. Today I clicked on her Share Your World Challenge – an interview. So here goes.🙂

What was one of your first money-making jobs (other than babysitting or newspaper delivery)?

I started working at Portland Adventist Hospital in the kitchen right after I graduated from high school. The head dietitian was a roller skating friend of mine. Roller skating knows no age limits. Her husband, Dave Plant, at age 60, taught my brother and me along with many of our friends how to water ski on the weekends when we weren’t skating. Lou Plant offered me a job and I took it. It was a good incentive to go to college and not to major in medicine – long hours, low pay, on my feet for hours.

What is your favorite month of the year?

Fall in Elderwood
Fall in Elderwood

November, of course, my birth month, full of holidays, voting, and beautiful weather no matter where you live.

What three things in nature do you find most beautiful?

Hawaii Maui

I love crape myrtle trees, maple trees, and water.

List at least five of your favorite spices? (excluding salt and pepper)

Basil is green.
Basil 

lemon, orange, basil, cilantro, mint

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

I am grateful for friends and family, health, and a comfortable life in a beautiful location. I am looking forward to the primary election being over.

The Essence of Summer – What does summer mean to you?

#Garden Challenge

Last weekend Woodlake’s Botanical Gardens in Woodlake, CA hosted its annual Berry Festival. Berries ripen in May and June just before the really hot temperatures hit.

2016 Berry Festival171
Artichokes flower

The roses which are so beautiful in April, are just about gone. This lone bush still looked luxurious.

2016 Berry Festival175
Roses are red…
Basil is green.
Basil is green.
These sure are sweet.
Blackberries are sweet. (Well not the red ones!)
2016 Berry Festival100
And, dang, what are these? My memory’s gone along with the sign.

For more Garden photos click here.

Plucky, Hard-working Fences in the Backbone of America

No privacy here, but these fences work hard keeping your food from getting away. Where’s the beef? Right here near Woodlake, CA, behind these simple, durable fences.

Central CA agriculture fences100
leaning fences
Central CA agriculture fences101
a fenced in fence

 

Decorated fence
Decorated fence
horse fence
horse fence
fancy horse fence
fancy horse fence
prickly fence
prickly fence
Central CA agriculture fences109
antiques road show
fence on wheels
fence on wheels
rough fence
rough fence

For a peek into the history of fences, click here.

Check out more fences here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spare

Spare… What was your first thought? Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Much of the Central Valley of California drew its population from Dust Bowl migrants in the 1930s. These Okies and Arkies stayed and now many of them thrive harvesting crops like hay and alfalfa. The amount of food produced Elderwood, a community of about 120 people and thousands of acres of crops, groves, orchards, and cattle ranches, feed us and give us plenty to spare.

Central CA agriculture hay100
Even a grown woman looks small next to the plenty of this harvest.

After a season of record-setting rainfall, the cattle will have enough feed to spare.

Central CA agriculture hay101

Neat stacks ready for storage will soon be picked up and transported to a more permanent location.

High class hay
High-class hay

The stacker did not waste a spare moment moving these mountains of golden bales. Watch how it is done!

Loading finished, this hay bale machine loader, unloads at Hay Mountain and returns to fetch a new load before dark. He has about an hour to spare.

Central CA agriculture hay109

For more pictures and thoughts on the word spare click here.

How to Juggle Multiple Blogs and Stay Sane

Ooops, mistake, Can’t be done!

But it can, and yesterday I found out why and how.

Yesterday I met with blogger guru, Steve Woods, from Tulare County Office of Education. Steve has been an editor of a site that advised bloggers on how to build successful blogs. We are going to write Because of Blogging together and contacting on some of you for quotes of your opinions and advice, too.

So, why have more than one blog, in the first insane place?

Steve pointed out that this blog, Marsha Lee’s Steaming Thoughts, is like my own personal house. Vince does not live here. It’s all about me. Most people do not see the inside of my house. Well, unless I invite them in. So, the point Steve made is, that if I am going to write a book about non-professional blogs, I’d better keep this blog going. I put my feet on the couch to trim my toenails. I don’t mind if there’s a clean pan left on the stove for a bit. I’ll put it away shortly. My best friends come over and can put up their feet too.

OK, I accept that. This IS my home. It’s not a professional blog, and it represents four years of my life.

My office
My office

In the process of talking, Steve suggested that everyone who blogs probably needs a blog like this one, which is their home. This is where I write everything. Thoughts right out of my head, some not so polished. OK, I’ll correct that. All not so refined! As one spammer put it, “Your blog is rife with errors!”

Ouch! Come on, I proofread like crazy!

Since I live here, I must spend a little time cleaning it up, organizing it, repainting once in a while. I don’t have to clean every day, but Steve convinced me not to give it up. I wanted to write a post about Seder at Elaine’s. I thought I would post it on my new blog.

Seder at Elaine's 2016
Seder at Elaine’s 2016

Steve shook his head no. I talked about flirting with Ralph in Spain while I was awake all night on a long train to Portland, Oregon. He grinned. He only knows me professionally. He said to write it down, but keep it on my home blog. Some things just don’t fit on my new blog.

My new blog, Just Write, is where I work, my office. Right now I’m spending a lot of time over there, building and decorating it. It works like a business, email campaigns, guest blog posts, interview with famous bloggers, authors, and photographers – in other words, my friends from here and others.

May Sunset in Elderwood, CA
May Sunset in Elderwood, CA

Actually, having another blog, and still keeping this one frees me up a little. Yes, I’m going to spend more time there for a while. But I have this place where I can still come home and relax. I’m going to learn a lot because I have to, so that should make maintaining my home a little easier. I’m going to be trolling the reader to visit more like-minded people and inviting them over to my house.

Because of Blogging is not about the professional blogger, but in the process of writing it, I’m learning how to be a professional blogger. Steve suggested that if I am writing about the non-professional blogger, I’d better not let my main blog, the one I love dearly, fall into disrepair.

Sometimes I love being told what to do. It takes the pressure off. So this is what Steve suggested to me.

  1. Treat your blogs like a hobby. Spend money to get the right equipment. You spend $30 for a lunch out with your friend, do not be afraid to buy a premium theme and get WP support. That just saved hours. If you go self-hosted, buy the plugins you need to make it work effectively.
  2. Treat your blogs like a job. Work on them regularly. You do not have to work every day, but you need to develop consistency.
  3. Treat your blogs like your home. Repair them, weed them out, organize them. They represent you.
  4. Make your blogs unique. Do not repost news posts, food pictures, or flower garden posts just to fill up your blog.
  5. Keep notes for a future blog post along with the pictures to go with it in a Google folder. Note also how you felt on that occasion about the activity or the post. Then you can pull it out on a rainy day, and create a new post.
  6. Calm down! Do not blog every day for the wrong reason. Recently, I read this advice from Dries Conje from Smart Blogging,

“But posting daily just doesn’t work for you. You don’t meet your traffic and income goals, you don’t get a flood of visitors, and your subscriber numbers stagnate. Now you’re doubting your ability to be a successful blogger, and you feel like a sweatshop worker, working super-hard with no real reward. The post-every-day strategy takes all the fun out of blogging. Deep down, you suspect this strategy is downright dangerous.”

If you do those six things, you blogging life will get more manageable. You will see other bloggers in their homes. You will build meaningful relationships, and you won’t wear out. Does that sound sane? Do you have some advice for us? Beware, we may contact you and ask for permission to use it in Because of Blogging.

Meanwhile, if you’d like my free book, So You Think You Can Blog?, click on Manny, and I’ll send it.

Ralph taught me everything I know about Blogging. He even took this picture.
“Ralph taught me everything I know about Blogging. He even took this picture.”

 

Website Moving and Expanding

March marked the beginning of my fourth year of blogging. This site has brought me many friends, fun and opportunities. It’s like the cartoon says.

 

I love my computerMore than that I love my blog because my friends live in it. Not only do my friends live at tchistorygal.net, but my memories are here too. I remember all the times that my friends stuck with me when I got stuck in their spam folders.  I panicked because for weeks I could not solve the problem, so I wrote about it, and eventually it worked out.

I'm going in again!
I’m going in again!

Another time I completely lost my site. Blinded I wrote to WordPress and told them I was not a spam site. I was not even selling anything. I did not use bad language, or show naked or violent pictures. A picture of Manny, my teddy, taking a bubble bath is the highest level of adult content as this site ever reached.

I love this site, and it will continue for a year because I just paid for the domain name and service with WordPress. This is the site on which I cut my teeth experimenting with blogging, and making friends around the world.

However, most of my personal efforts are going into developing a self-hosted site called Marsha Just Writes.com. My experiment needs to step up a notch because I have turned many of my blogging posts from this site into a book, called Because of Blogging, which I hope will come out in June. Last week I published an e-book, So You Think You Can Blog? which I am using to jumpstart  my email list for a regular newsletter. I’d love to have you sign up for it. A few of your comments are featured in it.

Besides being able to promote books and other materials I plan to publish, the other reason I signed up for a self-hosted site is to take experimenting to an all new level. I may have a new, very exciting job building a blogging community of over 100,000 teachers, depending on whether or not a colleague of mine gets a grant approved. I’ll keep you informed when I know more. Because of that, I need experience growing a professional blog. As usual I’m experimenting with my blog, and I hope you will join me on it. If I can pull in all of my sites – except Manny’s site, it will make it easier for me to manage everything.

In addition I accepted the challenge of building a new website for San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies. I’m moving the old site off and the new site into its location with a launch date of May 12th, what would have been my mom’s 90th birthday.

I hope you all will move with me. You will automatically receive the posts on WP reader, but to continue getting email notifications, you will have to sign up for emails on that site. Thank you all so much for your support. Hope to see you on the other site!  :)

 

Color My World Violet

Purple looks good on flowers.

Hawaiian sunlight shining through
Hawaiian sunlight shining through

Purple looks good on quilts.

Best of the Valley Quilt Show
Best of the Valley Quilt Show

Purple looks good in gardens.

Color My World Pruple101
Petunia purple

It’s a color that never wilts.

Hawaiian ceremonial dancers keep their cool in purple.
Hawaiian ceremonial dancers keep their cool in purple.

Purple glows at sunrise.

Purple skies in morning
Purple skies in morning

Promises nary a drop of rain, but sky-bound blooms grow wild.

fragrant lavendar bloom wild
wildflowers near Three Rivers, CA

A mysterious woman waits for the train.

Best of Valley Quilt show
Best of Valley Quilt show

Have a happy purple day, and y’all come back now.

Ceremonial dancers
Ceremonial Hawaiian dancers
Porterville Iris Show
Porterville Iris Show

Two Last Art Studios

SOVAST #5

Vince and I enjoyed our art studio tour sponsored by the Arts Consortium, artsconsortium.org. Our last studios in Visalia, CA have fewer pictures, which is why they come at the end of the series, not because we went to them last. Although fascinating, Hilary and Dave had few items that were easy to photograph. Their beautiful home sprawled on secluded part of Visalia, and we took the yard tour along with the studio tour.  Hilary Williams, a calligrapher, quickly designed a new name tag for me. Having studied calligraphy a few years ago, Her speed and accuracy awoke jealous pangs from a graphically-challenged teacher who has to painstakingly print to even be legible.

Another couple was with Dave Williams when we arrived, so after about ten minutes we traded places and traipsed into Dave’s small office. He works from home designing animated story boards for Disney Television. On his computer he pulled up a story board he completed. He discussed the difficulty of interpreting the script and turning it into animation. As he told us, most of the visualization comes, not from the wordy descriptions in the script, but from the mind of the illustrator. This requires much more problem solving than most of us would realize.

Dave William's work on Batman.
Dave William’s work on Batman.

Story board artists imagine the rooms and outdoor spaces, place the characters in the space and work out a line of movement for how they cross the virtual stage. They build and operate virtual replicas of never-before-seen-machinery and gadgets.  How does a world pressure cooker blow its gasket? How big is it? How does the gauge look? It all flows from the story board artist’s brain. From there the basic sketches go to a finishing artist who adds details and color. We watched the video of his storyboard, and gaped with our jaws hitting the floor instead of taking pictures of the video. For more information, visit this site.

Dave does most of his work from home, which avoids long traffic jams driving from one part of Los Angeles to another. They love living in the Central Valley.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
See the large crack that separates further and further, the higher it goes up the brick building at 107 S. Church, Visalia, CA?

We missed printmaker, Kevin Bowman, Martha Gaines leather and silver work. We skipped Marzi Jalipour’s display of mixed media and ended with Phet Khamsaysoury and Ray Mejia’s photography and videography. We passed the haunted office building in which my friend Jean practices law, and headed next door to another old brick building at 107 S. Church Street, in the heart of downtown Visalia. You can see the ever-widening crack where ghosts might find easy entrance to the drafty building. What impressed me most was the simplicity and modernity of the Mejia’s photos.

South Valley Artists Studio Tour
Ray Mejia photographs spray can artists at work in the back alleys of Visalia.

Along with the photographs, his displays included the cans and the masks.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
How casually she stands as her green spray can squirts a stream of green vapor into the night air.

All in all the artists seemed to love their work, whether they had a collection that rivaled the number of pieces in the Louvre or they had just gotten started.

 

Nutty Diet for Steady Weight Loss

Three months ago I realized that I was on an ever upward spiral of weight gain that I had to put to a complete and permanent stop – or else. I’ve been working with a local trainer, Melissa Deitz, for about six months, and I thought that would help me lose weight, but in the first three months I didn’t budge – literally and figuratively. She gave me this crazy diet trick that is working.

Melissa and her friend, BobMy appetite overwhelms me. I ATE as much as most men my age, and more than my husband on most days. Since I walk daily, I used to keep it under control pretty well, including the sweets, but sixteen pounds crept on over a year’s time, and I had to take action. Beating Bob up wasn’t doing it for me. (Bob is a dummy, you know.)

Bopping Bob.
Bopping Bob.

This is how I looked when I started working out – about a month into it. When I started I could barely last 20 seconds beating on Bob. Now I can wail on him for a minute without feeling pain. But that is another story. Back to the weight loss. Here is Melissa’s secret.

Nutty diet that works
Nutty diet that works

That’s right – a breakfast of protein. Four or five nuts and a huge glass of water, about 20 oz.  This is the real crux of the diet. First thing when you get up eating a few nuts starts your metabolism. Sometimes I don’t get to it first thing, but I try.

Before lunch another 20 oz, which I attractively guzzle. It’s the only way I can get it down. For lunch I eat pretty normally. Sometimes I split with Vince. I enjoy bread, potato chips, whatever we happen to have. At dinner I watch it, but it runs the gamut. Sometimes I have a normal meal – if we are going out for an event.  I skip the desert. At home I may just have a protein shake or some more nuts, and one more big glass of water sometime before bedtime. I do watch my sweet intake, but it hasn’t been hard – for the first time ever I do not feel deprived. I have probably only eaten sweets on four or five occasions, and I can keep it down to just a little. That’s a miracle in itself.

That’s it.

My goal was to lose 3 pounds a month for 12 months. I’m not overly heavy, but my normal weight for my entire adulthood before I turned 50 was 30 pounds lighter than I was when I started on my lifetime diet. After three months on this regime, I have lost 10 pounds, and other than a cold, which I’ve almost licked, I feel a lot better.

I’m not a weight loss guru, but I told my FB group that I was starting this, so this is my quarterly report. I do not know what your weight goals, but if you want to lose weight, this can help. Let me know what you think.

 

Out of the Blue, This Is Not A White Lie

Today is blue and white day at Cee’s  Fun Foto Challenge. I have invited a special guest to accompany us on this blue and white tour I’ve planned out today. First, let’s take this stairway. Unless you have been to Elderwood, CA, you might not see one of these every day. It looks like you could climb all the way to heaven, but you really end up at the top of a wind machine overlooking an orange grove.

wind machine in orange grove
Stairway to heaven

Oops, maybe I was wrong. Look where we ended up!  Once you’ve been to heaven, where can you go from there? If only we had wings. We could fly anywhere.

Blue & White114

Heaven is a vast place, so let’s just roam around a bit.  Maybe we will run into our special guest host this morning. Ahhhh yes, here he is.

Misplaced moon
Misplaced moon

“That’s weird. I thought I put the moon in the night sky,” God mumbled just loud enough for us to hear. “Oh well, it looks good there.”

Hi God,” I greeted him. “These are my friends from WordPress.”

“Hi Marsha. Wow, you have a lot of friends.”

“I really do. I promised them you would go on our blue and white tour with us. Got a moment?”

God winked.

Blue & White 200crgr

“Marsha, you used a  strange filter you put on this picture.  Didn’t you like the gray I used for the sky?”

“I actually did, God, but this is a blue and white tour, and I thought I could make it bluer with the filter.”

“It looks too purple to me. I still have a lot to teach you about Photoshop. Those  orange blooms in Elderwood are bursting with the most glorious smell. This is good. This is very g…… Achoo.”

I guess God has allergies, too.

“Let’s get out of here for a bit, what do you say?” God suggested.

“Whatever you want, God. I’m with you,” I answered.

Taking off at Runway Cafe
Taking off at Runway Cafe

God and I headed to Runway Cafe and hopped on a helicopter to head for clearer air.

Whale watching in Maui
Whale watching in Maui

We landed on a whale watching boat with CA friends Connie and Darrel Smith and Australian friends Carol  and Glen Sherritt  in Maui HI.

Blue & White101

“Now this is the life,” breathed God. “Wonder where all the whales are today? Ho hum… I think I’ll make a rainbow for everyone instead.” So he did.

Blue & White in Maui

“Ok, Marsha, what else do you have that’s blue and white. I could stay in Maui forever, but I know you need to get back.”

Jamestowne 170

“I thought this monument was pretty, God. Do you remember 1607?”

“How time flies,” He mused. “Seems like it was just yesterday that those English folks drug themselves off the boat here in Jamestown, VA. Of course no one called it Jamestown or Virginia then. It was sure touch and go for a while, but a few hardy souls made it.”

Blue hair
Blue hair

“Times have changed. Now all kids worry about is if their hair is the right color. Wonder why I didn’t think of blue hair?”

God smiled. I smiled back at him as we shook our heads together at kids today.

Blue & White119

“You humans, always so preoccupied with time. You’ve made some pretty nice timepieces, though.” God complimented the builders. They were standing nearby on the clouds watching.

Blue & White123

“Well, it’s been a calming blue and white tour today, and here we are right back where we started. You humans are always in my thoughts.”

“Thanks for joining us, God.”

“My pleasure, Marsha. Just remember, I’m always close. I will never leave you or forsake you.”

And with the twinkling of an eye, our tour ended, and God disappeared from sight.

Hope you enjoyed it. For more blue and white photos Visit Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. Click the icon below.

CFFC runs weekly challenge starting every Tuesday.
CFFC runs weekly challenge starting every Tuesday.

 

 

Shooting Spree in the Storm: Forecast for Healthy Future

It was a dark and stormy night. I crept out of the house, weapon in my right hand ready to shoot.  My sunset shooting spree had begun in Elderwood, CA.

oak tree
It was a dark and stormy night. I waited, lurking above the creek bank.

Woodlake Valley lies in the semi-arid fertile Kaweah Delta in Central California. It has suffered one of the worst droughts of recorded history with aquifers being depleted at an alarming rate.

Cottonwood Creek
The winding creek bed waits for rain.

Without rain, the world will lose thousands of acres of oranges, peaches, walnuts, grapes, dairies, rangeland, cotton, and all the food products it takes for granted that come from the Central Valley.

The Woodlake Valley grows thousands of acres of oranges as well as other fruits and nuts.
The Woodlake Valley grows thousands of acres of oranges as well as other fruits and nuts.

Our valley predominates in oranges. These stormy sunset shots foretell a brighter future for the life we love. Pray for rain.

Here are the rest of my futuristic shots. Some are taken looking away from the sunset. That ominous vista first attracted me. I think these need to be darker to show what I actually saw.

For more on the future click below.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

Basketweaving with an Unusual Twist

SOVAST #5

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
Toni Best weaves a backdrop for one of her wood sculptures.

Sunday  my husband and I toured visited artists in Visalia, CA Region One of the South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour. At the home of another acquaintance of mine, Toni Best, we had no idea gourds could look so fabulous. Her front door was open so we walked in. Her voice led us to her living room display studio where she wove a backdrop for one of her gourd projects.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
Gourd and basket weaving combined

Unlike any other baskets I have seen, Toni’s have gaps and dips.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
Each gourd inspires a different shaped basket

After we looked around her living and dining room she stopped working and led us to her studio – the garage. She starts by cleaning and staining her gourds, which she purchases in bulk.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
Pick a gourd, any gourd.

She wears a mask to protect herself from mold as she cuts a hole in the top of the gourd and grinds out the inside.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
Toni demonstrates the process of preparing her gourds.

Then she stains them. This table is set up for a class she will teach in June. She does the gourd preparation for her students because it is so time-consuming.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
Toni’s class is ready to go.

Now I understand the difference between the eye of an artist, and ordinary eyes like mine. In a million years my eyes would not have projected the beauty Toni creates from these raw materials.

Toni holds exhibitions all over the country including, St. Paul Minnesota, and at Harvard in Massachusetts. She has been invited to teach at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN this summer. If you do not want to travel to Tennessee, Toni holds classes in her Visalia studio every other month.

Here are additional pictures from her studio.

 

Art Studios Come In All Shapes and Sizes

#SOVAST 4

The South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour attracted visitors for three days, Friday through Sunday.  Saturday morning could not have been more springy: crispy cool sunshine, pink peach buds lining Millwood Drive, and hillsides blanketed in flowing green and yellow robes. I opted to walk to a studio near me at the home of Linda Hengst.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
Artist Linda Hengst

All the artists we visited had prolific displays, and Linda was no exception. Her house can not hold all the art that she displays for the studio tour. She creates palette knife oil landscapes, watercolor stills, pencil drawings, collages, and like many artists turns her favorites into cards and prints.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
New studio building

Her studio inside where she paints overlooks stunning foothills decorated with orange trees against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in particular Saw Tooth peak. Her new display studio features outdoor seating and an open concept kitchen.  The setting can neither distract nor inspire her inside the new studio building.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
Hengst’s display studio

The homey outbuilding did feature some of my favorite paintings. I love water, boats, and bright colors so you can see my favorite in the left corner sitting on the floor. This room features some of her travel paintings from Alaska and the Netherlands.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
Hengst patio display

As always, I had a wonderful visit with my friend, Linda and left wishing I could pick up the brush or knife and work the magic she does on a canvas.

Thanks again to my friends Connie and Darrel Smith for the tickets and to their daughter Carolyn for organizing the event.

WordPress Photo Challenge: Landscape

“If one tries to think about history, it seems to me – it’s like looking at a range of mountains. And the first time you see them, they look one way. But then time changes, the pattern of light shifts. Maybe you’ve moved slightly, your perspective has changed. The mountains are the same, but they look very different.” Robert Harris

Spring at Running PRanch
Spring at Running P Ranch

Living in the Woodlake Valley could not be better in the spring. Colors of blossoms contrasted against snowy mountains that are crisp and clear, not obscured by dusty air make spring my favorite season here.

Spring at Running P Ranch
Moving around the tree searching for the perfect angle.

I drove home from Visalia on this day admiring the view of the mountains and the red buds along the road. I could not stop on the freeway and shoot a picture, but luckily my friend Sally had both the tree and the view right in her front yard. I stalked around her yard changing angles trying to get just the right spot to capture both the mountain and the tree before I even announced my presence. Both of these pictures pleased me, so I hope you enjoy them, too.

Sunset in Woodlake Valley
Sunset in Woodlake Valley

A couple of weeks later, from a mile north I stood at the edge of an orange grove overwhelmed by both the smell of orange blossoms and the beauty of the sunset bouncing off of snowy Saw Tooth Mountain. This time my cell phone couldn’t catch the contrast of the landscape as clearly. Even less fortunate, my cell phone could not transmit the fragrance.

Wish you were here. We’d go for a walk in our beautiful landscape. Click the link below to see other landscapes.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

Do You Hate Graffiti? Take Another Look

#SOVAST 3

 

South Valley Artists' Tour
Erik Gonzalez and I in front of one of his works in progress

On Sunday afternoon, the third day of the South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour, we headed to THE big town in Tulare County, Visalia, CA.  Visalia is the first town established in Tulare County in 1852. One of the “studios” we visited exhibited in the location of Fort Visalia, forgotten except for a plaque to remind us that it existed. Ft. Visalia, built in 1860, protected the townspeople from raids from the Yokuts Indians whose land they occupied. It also made a statement in favor of California’s position supporting the Union in a town settled mostly by Confederate sympathizers.  In more recent years Copeland Lumber Yard owned that prime property, but on this day artist Eric Gonzalez used it to display many works of spray artists from all over the state.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Since I don’t know the real title, I’ll call her Jungle Princess.

Erik has done a lot of work in Woodlake with the students, and we published an article about him for the “What’s Happening in the Foothills” magazine a couple of years ago, so it was great to meet him in person. Erik has a passion for youth. Here is a bit about him.

As a professional graffiti artist, Erik has been successful in utilizing his work for alternative marketing that appeal to young generations. In addition to recreational painting, Erik is also passionate about delivering positive and meaningful messages to young people through his work such as, education, youth empowerment, risk behavior prevention, awareness, and more.

In recent years Erik has been working in partnership with groups such as Faces of Prevention www.facesofprevention.org and Youth Centers of America www.youthcentersofamerica.org, implementing vandalism prevention programs.  He recruits students taking interest in contemporary media with an objective to identify graffiti/urban art as a contemporary art form and to expose his participants to the urban art career opportunities that exist in current advertising and design markets.”

Most of these paintings were done by other artists who work with him around the state.  I think he and his students and colleagues are doing a great work changing the look of graffiti art.

South Valley Artists' Tour
More Jungle Princesses. They abound in the Wilds of India

My husband gravitated towards one of his son’s paintings, and thought I should write a children’s book about monster kids and use him as the artist. I told him monster kids are more up his alley. I would rather write about a Jungle Princess.🙂

What do you think about the new look of graffiti? Do you prefer the monster kids who can’t control their urges to cause mischief or a jungle princess who charms snakes, gossips with the birds and rides a tiger?

 

 

Where Imagination Happens – Glimpses of Artists’ Studios

Would you expect an artist’s studio to be spotless on a visitation tour? Please don’t! Would you expect their display areas to look like an art museum? Read on to find out for yourselves.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Foothill near Rick Badgley’s studio in Three Rivers new St. Anthony’s Retreat

The day was magic, perfect temperature, warm sunshine bathing the mountains highlighting the California poppies, a few wispy clouds against the clear blue sky. A drive to Three Rivers, CA at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains never disappoints, but some days thrill more than others. This was one of those days.

Outside the Louise Fisher Clay Studio in Three Rivers
Across the highway from  the Louise Fisher Clay Studio in Three Rivers

We visited five artist’s studios, signed up for art classes, made design notes, and met some incredibly talented individuals. This studio sits atop a mountain overlooking the Kaweah River as it flows from the mountains on one side, and Highway 198, which is pictured above.

Art students pounded and molded clay projects this studio, even on tour day. One student had to thin her brick when she found out that thick pieces explode when put in the kiln.

Art Tour - Clay studio
Budding artists work with clay.

We met two of the three artists, Christine Sell-Porter and Bill “Hopper” Sullivan. To take us on the tour, Christine stopped working on her orchid pot that has holes throughout to let the orchid roots breathe.

South Valley Artist's Tour
Clay orchid pot before firing

My husband chatted with Hopper, and signed up to take a class.  Christine displayed her paintings and her new experiments with clay, including the ones that did not work. You can get an idea of the beauty of the spring wildflowers from her paintings. She points out another pot she made with the orchid starting to grow.

South Valley Artists Tour
Christine Sell-Porter’s paintings and clay pot

We also visited a popular painter and photographer across the highway named Nadi Spencer. You can tell artsy people by the fact that the junk in their front yards looks impressive and not like the country dump. My eyes went immediately to the bike, but my husband, who is artsier than I am, noticed the paint cans with matching flowers, and the chairs with matching sweaters draped across the back. You can see the aqua one in this picture after you quit focusing on the bike.

South Valley Artists Tour
Outside Nadi Spencer’s studio in Three Rivers

Nadi sells most of her paintings on Facebook by joining groups that love the kinds of things she paints. She paints a lot of dog portraits. Her realistic paintings look like photographs for a high quality restaurant or brochures with just enough artistic touches to make them fun.  She sold both cards and paintings at the show.  You can see her self-portrait on the top right.

South Valley Artist's Tour
Inside Spencer’s gallery

People came and went the entire time we visited her gallery. One woman came in to pick up some 40 year-old teddy bears she had advertised online. Only a half-door and a huge dog separated her studio from the gallery.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Spencer’s color packed studio

It was getting near closing time for the artists so we headed back home to Elderwood to visit our two neighbors. Not that the Sundstroms and I are unfriendly, but I have walked by this studio several hundred times in the last 15 years, walked with John Sundstrom’s wife, and never met John nor seen the inside of his work area.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Artist John Sundstrom’s studio driveway

John may well have been the most prolific and diverse of any of the artists we visited. He taught for 25 years or so at the Creative Center in Visalia for disabled adults. He said that having the same students for years pushed him to explore many artistic mediums.

South Valley Artist's tour
First impressions at John Sundstrom’s two-story solar-powered studio

The front and center of the studio featured his sculptures out of stone.  He showed us the hand chisels and files he used to carve. Being a former dental assistant, I had visualized a power tool like a dentist’s drill that he might have used on these hard rock. He told us that only the company that sold the stones used a power tool to cut the rocks into flat-bottomed chunks. My favorite sculpture glowed from the inside out when illuminated.

South Valley Artists' Tour
The glowing stone

Reluctantly we headed upstairs away from the sculptures, but the diversity of his fabulous drawings and paintings quickly captured our interest. He accented this Japanese kimono with gold leaf.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Japanese Kimono by John Sundstrom

After visiting until after closing time, we left for home, saving the tour of our friend, Linda Hengst’s studio for the next day, and our Visalia artists for Sunday.