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.

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“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.

South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour

#SOVAST 1

Have you ever wanted to see where an artist does all their work?  Vince and I had the privilege of doing just that this weekend. I want to thank my friend Connie Smith for the tickets she sent my husband and me to attend this three-day event. Kudos to her daughter, Carolyn, for organizing it.

T
The Secret Garden by Toni Best

We looked forward to it from the time we received the passport map, name tags and book featuring the forty artists on tour about two weeks before the event.  I particularly looked forward to the artist of the work featured above, Toni Best because I had known her as a teacher. We did not get to her studio until the last day, so you will see more her work later.

The county-wide event lasted three days.  Since the county is the size of Connecticut, Carolyn and her committee subdivided it into three regions for easier trip planning. We live in Region Three, so we started there. There are two artists within walking distance of our house, but we decided to end there, and drove up to Three Rivers first. The sunny day made the wild poppies and lavender as well as our moods on the way up to the foothill town sparkle.

SOVAST2

We only made one wrong turn, but quickly turned around and followed the well-marked signs to a husband and wife team. This was the wife’s charming studio. I do not remember if her husband built the building or just the cabinetry inside, but it appealed to me right from the start and she was a delightful as her cheerful studio and clever art work.  I loved the idea of drawers in the stairs even though I do not know how practical it would be to bend down to the floor when you needed a paint brush.

SOVAST5

The stairway leading between the two studies added to the picturesque view.

Although Martha had some realistic work, her surreal style reminded me of Rene Magritte, one of my favorite artists.  A little white horse cuddled on a little girl’s shoulder, a chair walking a tightrope were two of the many examples she displayed. Martha Widmann and I chatted like old friends. I would snag her in an instant to illustrate a children’s book for me.

SOVAST4

She had copies of some of her art clothespinned to the wall of the building outside as well as larger prints of them inside. Her husband’s chair obviously inspired her.

One of her husband's chairs.
One of her husband’s chairs.

This is one of her more realistic pieces.

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My husband was more taken with her husband’s work, Stickley furniture.

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Rick Badgley buried his unique woodworking shop under about 18 inches of soil which kept it cool in the hot summers, and grew wild grass on the roof. We have had a lot of rain this year so the grass was seasonably green. My husband and I both envied his craftsman garage doors.

We could barely pull ourselves away from this beautiful setting and interesting conversations, but we had five or six more places we wanted to see.  I’ll give you one more glimpse of this one, and tell you about the others in another post.

SOVAST14

My Plate Is Full: My Heart Sings

My friend Linda and her daughter
My friend, Kiwanis President,  Linda LaFleur and her daughter enjoy the new Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum

Two things I enjoy more than anything in the world, maybe three. Being with old friends and/or making new friends, and learning new skills. These past few weeks have been full of both. It started with opening our new museum in Woodlake and having two grand openings that drew hundreds of people together to have fun and celebrate Woodlake’s history. Even the opening days where only two or three at a time came to the museum, there’s something exciting about a new project that gets me going, and keeps me busy and excited.

Spirit of Woodlake Award Winner, Tony Casares and Miss Woodlake, Sonni Hacobian.
Spirit of Woodlake Award Winner, Tony Casares and Miss Woodlake, Sonni Hacobian.

A week ago Friday night we had a big celebration of award giving in Woodlake, and as a Chamber Secretary, I got to be part of that program, and meet tons of new people. The next morning I drove with a new friend to Costa Mesa to speak at the California Council for the Social Studies Awards Ceremony. I’ve worked the last six years or so with that organization, and it was good to see so many friends.

National History Day, Tulare County took place on Tuesday, and again I saw many old friends, including my former boss, Superintendent Jim Vidak, and the newest history consultant who took my place, and met some very talented students from our county.

Dr. Michelle Herczog, Los Angeles County Office of Education
Dr. Michelle Herczog, Los Angeles County Office of Education

Friday I drove to Fresno to attend a Civic Education Conference for pre-teachers at Fresno State to hear my friend Michelle Herczog, the keynote speaker. After the opening address, she helped facilitate a breakout session, and many people I have known well throughout the region attended.

Three generations of History Consultants for Tulare County Office of Education
Three generations of History Consultants for Tulare County Office of Education

Three of us, all who have been history consultants for Tulare County attended and had our picture taken together.  Joy Soares has been a dear friend for nearly 15 years, when she started coaching History Day, and I began working as the County Coordinator. Then she moved into my position. Now my new friend Gay Atmajian holds down the fort.

Jim Lloyd had many good words to say about Marvin, and some barbs about taking over a very packed office after Marvin retired.
Jim Lloyd had many good words to say about Marvin, and some barbs about taking over a very packed office after Marvin retired.

Today was a gathering of a different kind. I helped a friend who organized a celebration for our friend Marvin Awbrey who passed away February 2. He would have loved it, and I actually did love meeting so many of his friends old and new and hearing wonderful stories about Marvin.

In the process of taking part in all these celebrations, I’ve had a part to play and learned some new skills. Today I learned how to turn a Powerpoint presentation into a movie – which isn’t difficult unless you have added music, which I did. Even then it is not difficult, but I had to head to Google to see what steps I left out because I the first time I tried it there wasn’t any music. I finally figured it out this afternoon, and posted it on YouTube.

Just as I finished  publishing the video, in walks Taliah, my almost nine year old neighbor. She watched my video, then together we and made a quick video out of some pictures I had taken of her about five years ago. She chose the pictures and the captions, and I negotiated the software. Her mother loved it even though I covered up some of the captions on the first attempt. This is my second attempt.

I know most of this might not be exciting to everyone, but I feel so blessed that I’m about to explode. Between enjoying the excitement of all these events, emailing and chatting with special friends online whom I love to bits and pieces, creating flyers, postcards, presentations and movies to use for these events, I feel so fortunate. My plate is full.

Special homemade treat at the Grand Opening.
Special homemade treat at the Grand Opening.

How has your life been recently?

So You’re Starting a Blog, What Comes Next, the Post or the Page?

I’m writing a book about blogging, so this is the start of Chapter 10. The idea behind it is that you, the reader, have a blog account, and you’re in the dashboard for the first time – NOW WHAT?

Clothes in HI002

I activated my WordPress blog account, and stared at my a dashboard, which takes me where no one but WordPress genies are allowed to go. The blog itself is a blank page except for the name I gave it and a couple of tabs, About Me and Home. Home is there the posts go. It changes every time you post something new. Pages are different. You write them just like you do a post, but they stay put.

First, I played around with themes and colors, trying to figure out what fit me best. I changed tons of time, and I’m still not sure I have the right theme, but at this point it is what it is. I clicked on all the links on the sidebar of my dashboard and filled in the blanks as best I could, including creating a gravitar profile. Making all those little decisions made me think and further define myself and my goal for blogging.

2015 BV March149
The sky’s the limit.

Since I started a random blog, and experiment, I started out journaling what I was doing when I did something I thought was fun or interesting, and posted my way into the blogging world before I did anything else. Of course, no one was listening and watching, so it didn’t matter what I did first, second or in whatever order I wanted to do it.

I waited until I got the hang of posting for a while before I started in on my About Me Page. For one thing, I had to decide who I wanted to be to the rest of the world. I think I rewrote my about page three or four times, but again, no one was really looking, so it didn’t matter. If you are famous, you will not be doing this yourself, so you do not need this advice. If you are like me, it’s amazing how much thinking it takes to decide what to and what not to say about yourself.

A lot of people like lists, random, usually. I like lists, but I can’t think of enough cute and interesting random facts about myself. I struggle with my about page. Over the years it’s accumulated nearly 100 likes. That works out to about 25 likes a year.

Here are links to just a few of the well liked About pages belonging to people who I like.

http://leannecolephotography.com/about/

http://tricksterchase.com/about-2/

http://ceenphotography.com/about-2/

https://anotherday2paradise.wordpress.com/about/

https://elainemcnulty.wordpress.com/about/

http://wheresmybackpack.com/about/

http://kurtbrindley.com/about-2/

https://bopaula.wordpress.com/about/

Sally Pace BD941
Sorry for the nudity, but you can’t get too much newer than a baby doll!:)

After reading a post I read on Twitter about the necessity of having another page called “New Here.” Here is the post I wrote when I created that page. I have about 11 likes on that page – definitely not worth the time and thought that went into it, if you measure success by the number of people who interact with your page. There are other reasons to develop pages, though. One of which is to keep track of things for yourself, like, did I read that book, or not?

And the chapter continues with one of my blog posts, Good Morning World about a page you’ve probably never seen called New Here. This is not an advertisement for the best page you’ve ever read, for sure, but you might be curious to know what an unpopular page looks like.:)

Be part of my new book about blogging, and leave me some responses, please. What pages do you have on your blog, and how are they doing? Why do you have them? Are they worth the time? And finally, can I quote you on that?

Eyeing the Needle

This January Vince and I had the amazing experience of traveling to Maui with a blogging friend from Australia, Ms. Eternal Traveler, Carol, and a good friend of mine from work, Connie Smith. Carol is posting a series of travel articles about our trip. Her pictures and descriptions are fabulous, and offer the fresh perspective of a first time visitor. This trip was her and her husband’s first trip to the “States.” We chuckled – like Hawaii is similar to ANY PLACE else in the States! There’s NO place like home, but it’s not like Hawaii no matter how many palm trees we plant by the pool.:) You’ll love this post.

The Eternal Traveller

Holiday in Hawaii #7

The rugged West Maui Mountains form a dramatic backdrop to the never-ending beaches and tropical gardens of Maui.

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To get a closer view of the grandeur of the mountains, we venture inland to ʻIao Valley State Park, where ʻIao Stream has carved a deep valley between the densely forested slopes.

Most people come to the park to see Kuka‘emoku, a volcanic ridge which ends in a sharp bluff rising 370 metres from the valley floor. Also known as ʻIao Needle, this volcanic formation, sacred to Hawaiians, is best viewed from a lookout at the end of a 300 metre walking track.

We begin our ascent to the lookout up a staircase cut into the mountainside before crossing ʻIao Stream. Icy water tumbles down the steep slope over large volcanic boulders and, although there are signs warning of the dangers of flash floods, daring swimmers try their luck.

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Grand Opening for a New Museum

I stepped out of the museum yesterday with Mr. Tom Sweeney, a Woodlaker whose family has been in Woodlake since the 1870s, who had come in so I could record his oral interview for any future books and for the museum archives. We struggled to get the chain strung across the new driveway.

A stranger drove by, rolled down his window, and asked, “Are you ever going to open the museum.”

“Tomorrow,” I told him, “is our grand opening from 12:00-4:00.”

“It’s a date!” he called back smiling as he waved then rolled his window back up.

I love Ben Reynoso's hat. He monitored everything at the VIP opening.
I love Ben Reynoso’s hat. He monitored everything at the VIP opening.

Few people have any idea how much time it takes to gather artifacts and pictures, sort them into some kind of an order so that together they tell a story, and then arrange them in the space provided.

Marcy Miller explains to the donors the work involved. They will soon understand why it took two years to open the museum.
Marcy Miller explains to the donors the work involved. They will soon understand why it took two years to open the museum.

Trust me it is a momentous task. Marcy Miller, almost single-handedly, set out to do this work to honor her parents and the other families that had come to Woodlake to make this a community. She had the help of one friend,Debbie Eckenfel. I went in to help once or twice, but I was clumsy, and was just in the way more than I helped. They were precise, and my eyes prevent me from doing anything exact – even with glasses.

Each case represents hours of thought and work.
Each case represents hours of thought and work.

They trimmed pictures, mounted them, put them in frames, arranged tables, brought in the big displays, went to Woodlake Hardware and picked up more antiques that had hung on the walls for probably fifty years.

Where did they ever skate in Woodlake?
Where did they ever skate in Woodlake?

Morris Bennett, owner of the store for over fifty years, retired from Woodlake Hardware at age 92 and donated them to the museum. Marcy and Debbie rearranged them on large display boards. They set a pair of skates on a pupil’s wooden desk from the same time period. They stacked and separated, stood back and examined, and rearranged. They recorded each item in a spreadsheet, first writing each entry by hand as they handled it.

Rudy Garcia could hardly contain his excitement. His enthusiasm is so contageous.
Rudy Garcia could hardly contain his excitement. His enthusiasm is so contagious.

It has taken two years after the museum building was completed before it was ready to open. People got impatient. They wanted to see inside. Marcy and Debbie kept working. Rudy Garcia, President of the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce, added some farm equipment he had received from folks in Red Banks. Agriculture is the major industry of our county, but in Woodlake, “We R Agriculture,” my own new name of us. We grow oranges and raise cattle. Our major claim to fame is the Woodlake Rodeo, which is famous nation-wide. Slowly people donated money to build the building and items to display inside.

Cool cars admired the beautiful new Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum.
Cool cars admired the beautiful new Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum.

Monrovia Nursery donated all the plants outside the building. There was no fence around the building and kids skate boarded over the plants destroying all of them. Cruz-ta-Welding donated a beautiful fence around the building so kids couldn’t do that anymore.

Andrew Glazier and his wife admire the inside of the museum too.
Andrew Glazier and his wife admire the inside of the museum too.

Andrew Glazier doesn’t have a lot of money, but he loves Woodlake. He is a local landscaper who believes in using native materials. He donated all the materials to redo the landscaping. He comes when no one is looking and puts in more bark, and evens out the land. He sweeps the new parking lot so not a single piece of bark remains, then he locks the chain so cars can’t drive and leave dirty marks on the new cement. He gets everything ready for the Grand Opening.

Carl Peden, so vibrant at the Museum VIP opening, passed away two days later on President's Day. We all mourn his passing.
Carl Peden, so vibrant at the Museum VIP opening, passed away two days later on President’s Day. We all mourn his passing.

The museum was not alarmed. Some people, like me, were afraid to bring items of value to put in the building.  Now the building is safe and alarmed. Mr. Peden donated the jacket he wore to pilot Air Force #1. Took it off right after he spoke at the VIP donor opening event.

Carl Peden talks to John Wood, the builder of the Museum.
Carl Peden talks to John Wood, the builder of the Museum.

Marcy and Debbie want everything to look just right for the Grand Opening. They come and mop all the floors and dust all the displays.

Native basket weaving won't become a lost art. Jennifer will be teaching classes to preserve it.
Native basket weaving won’t become a lost art. Jennifer will be teaching classes to preserve it.

Jennifer Malone comes with her family to lovingly place baskets, valuable as collectables, into the glass cases so the public can see the amazing designs from the Yokuts Indians who lived in Woodlake for centuries before American and Mexican people ever saw it. I heard laughing across the hall coming from the basket room.  After most of the guests had gone,  I had to go investigate to see what had been so much fun.

Everyone crowds around the basket room door to play Marie Wilcox's dice game.
Everyone crowds around the basket room door to play Marie Wilcox’s dice game.

Jennifer’s mother, Marie Wilcox, brings her walnut dice with sparkly shells embedded in the center so we can play Wukchumni games. If you roll five with the center up, you get two sticks. If you roll seven, you luck has changed and you have to give up sticks. When all the sticks are gone, you take your opponents sticks, and they take yours. It’s a do or die game. I won!  I jumped up and down and cheered. Everyone looked happy for me. No one brushed all the sticks and walnuts off the table. We laughed and laughed and hugged and hugged.

It looks heavenly, doesn't it?
It looks heavenly, doesn’t it?

Our Grand Opening is today. I can’t wait to see who will come.

 

Unforgettable Show

Foggy night in London

It was a dank and foggy eve,

A perfect night for London theatre.

The stairway couldn’t have been narrower

And farther up than you’d believe.

Voilá, a view seat – “Hey, qui vive!”

Plopped in front of me a beehive coiffure!

It was a dank and foggy eve.

A perfect night for London theatre.

beehive

Phew, a ton of spray in her upheave!

A smoke to cope, I lit the tobacco cylinder.

My lighter – a torch, and I the unwitting emblazoner.

Her hair ablaze, I quickly took my leave.

It was a dank and foggy eve.

 

A friend told of his Navy days during a break in England in the 1960s. He remembered this night fifty years later. I hope someone extinguished her fiery hair before any major damage took place.

I wrote the poem as a rondel, a thirteen lined French style poem begun in the fourteenth century writing in northern France. It follows a strict rhyming patterns with only two sounds.

Thought you all might like a break from my blogging blog posts for a minute.

Exciting things in my life this week:

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Grand Opening of the Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum on Saturday.

Donation Drawing Maui

Donation tickets (we call them) to win an all expenses paid round trip to Hawaii for two. If you would like to support the Woodlake Museum, by purchasing a ticket, email me tchistorygal@gmail.com

 

 

 

Blog Management Solutions

HELP!  I want to blog, but I’m out of time! My life is a roller coaster!  What can I do? There is hope, and I’ll share not ten, but eleven ideas that have helped me.

SFW Santa Monica155r

Passionate bloggers have something to say to the world. The world, or at least a very small fraction of it, wants to connect and interact, increasing the desire and commitment to blog. Experts convinced me that I needed to write daily, or at least consistently, to attract my fair share of people to my blog. V calls that market share. SO TRUE!!!

When I started blogging, I drove myself to do publish daily, and life became a balancing act, not to mention some of my posts were kind of cruddy, Yeah, I own up to it! Not to mention the bags under my eyes were becoming scary.

Even so, I am passionate about blogging because it has changed my life, but what do I do when the rest of my life dictates that I spend my time in other ways? Just like I did when I worked full-time, I struggle to maintain a balance between blogging and the rest of life. AND SO DO YOU! There just are not enough hours.  So here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years.

  1. Shop for the best and fastest internet service. Poor Internet service can discourage your blogging quicker than any other obstacle. I’m happy to report that ours has improved over the years.
  2. Prioritize, unless blogging is your job, not just your passion, it sometimes has to take second or third place.
  3. Write shorter posts. Write about what you are doing.
  4. Publish your to-do list so people will feel sympathy. That’s the ugly side of my personality. I crave praise, and blogging changed my life because a small group of people continued to support me in that need.
  5. Blog (reading and writing both) as a reward to yourself after you complete tasks.
  6. If you can’t read all the blogs to which you subscribe, visit those who have troubled to comment on your blog.
  7. Scroll the reader, scan articles, and at least press like on blogs you enjoyed.
  8. Blogging is you. Write when you can, and do not beat yourself up when your life interferes.
  9. Write several posts when you have time, and schedule them spacing them several days apart.
  10. Keep a to-do list handy so you can cross off what you accomplished and celebrate.
  11. Make draft posts of your ideas, instead of writing your ideas on a scrap of paper. Then you’re ready to go when you start writing again.

How are you keeping up with blogging and life?