Thursday, February 28, 2008


There are few places left in the world that have avoided the inevitable. Surely, the potential developer thinks, this should be a Home Depot parking lot or an overpriced, contemporary apartment complex with "green" features and a built-in california vegan bistro for the conscientious, young money makers-all with a stunning panoramic ocean view... The Marin Headlands is one of these places which has remained intact. Situated on a bare, shrubbed, and hilly outcropping of land between the Pacific and the San Fransisco Bay, this place has a humbling scale that makes one feel they might be the last folks on earth as they pass through it. If you've crossed the Golden Gate Bridge heading north, you've driven by them. Seperated by a couple of mountains from the rest of the Bay area's massive sprawl, John Muir, legendary environmental activist (along with some sorcery, surely) kept the Marin Headlands preserved and free of our consumer needs. However, it does harbor the Headlands Center for the Arts, which is a jewel amongst art residencies. Kendra, Osa, and I took a little field trip to explore what is happening in this quiet place which is churning out loud and potent and funny and thoughtful art by people from all over the world. What we found affirmed our notions that this is a special place. The bathrooms are kept bare boned and institutional yet they have video performance pieces set up in the corners and toilet installation art that would have made Duchamp himself envious. Much of the original integrity of the buildings (formerly a fort) has been left intact and therefore has a worn, layered effect where one can imagine the shoe soles striking the stairs and the countless hands pushing doors to studios open- all of which exposes layer after layer of it's history. The kitchen was designed by Ann Hamilton. There are two light filled galleries across the hall from one another. These galleries support the work of the resident artists. Some of our favorites included an ariel view of a few blocks in San Fransisco made out of jello built atop a light table which made all the colors of jello buildings glow and edges soften in the warmth. There was also a trio of life size deer made entirely out of irish spring soap, bringing to mind certain gardeners' solutions for keeping deer out of their flora. This large rainbow on the floor is the result of the artist's and friends' gatherings from one day on a beach nearby.
So much of art becomes product for sale. It is refreshing (and intimidating) to see art that is made without consideration of compensation. Instead, making something simply to communicate, which at the end of the day is the point often missed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

gray day

I am in my infancy of understanding the coastal weather. Living by an ocean brings new problems in meteorology. We set out for a nice little jaunt around our neck of the woods because, hey, its a fine day.Sun and all. Five miles later the light is blue grey, and the wipers are on. The thing don't really mind because the air still smells like the ocean and a chilly, wind-blown beach is still a beach. These shots were taken during a return trip from berkeley along highway one. There was a trio of eleven year old girls at this beach who were swimsuited and screaming in ridiculous abandon that comes only in childhood while sitting down and letting waves bowl you over. It was fifty degrees out there. It is not the meek who inherit the kingdom. It's the brave.
We came across this dairy that stole us back to the midwest. It was located in a small town built off the side of a road which was designated as a tsunami escape route.
Speaking of escape routes,
A lot of love is being sent to Fern and John Wolney of Hiawatha, Ks. We wish for John to be blessed with a speedy recovery.

Monday, February 18, 2008

typewriters writing

This is the only typewriter repair shop I have ever come across. I've often considered where I might go for parts should our trusty Olympia come up missing some letters in its alphabet. Now ,thanks to this little hole in the wall in Berkeley, I know. There's a lot of dust and a strong sense of cult in such places.
While we're on the topic of text, I will take this moment to gush uncontrollably about Raymond Carver's short stories. I feel seven years late to the prom on this one, but so glad to have finally found the shoes I needed to get through the night. I understand that his stories are filled with daily grit and down on their luck characters, but the writing is so lovingly trimmed of fat and so casually surprising that it fills this reader with a joy previously unknown in fiction. Peacocks at dinner parties, unlucky birthday boys, blind men "seeing", champagne and donuts for breakfast...if gabriel garcia marquez created magical realism then raymond carver should get credit for gutteral magnetism. Skip breakfast or dessert and read his collection of short stories called" Cathedral." Do it. Do it now.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hansel & Gretel

I've actually been writing this blog installment in my head for awhile and I'm finally sitting down to type.So a couple weeks ago we went to the beach. On our way home we saw this truck with the strawberry sign parked outside a small building. I thought it was strange that it said "open" when I knew it couldn't quite be strawberry season. We investigated....walked through the door to find a simple yet inviting space. There were counters holding trays of pies, cakes and scones. Jars of strawberry jams with little biscuits to sample. Glass cases full of macaroons, truffles and tarts. A cooler with a glass pitcher of strawberry lemonade. Boxes of organic kiwi, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and other winter produce next to a scale. On top of the counter was a cash drawer with a sign that said to help yourself and leave the money in the box. Also, another sign that said if you arrived on a bicycle to take 10% off. We felt like Hansel and Gretel except that no wicked witch emerged to shove us in the oven. It was such a magical wonderful discovery. As we drove away with bags of veggies and chocolate treats we felt a sense of true gratitude for having discovered this place. Being open to discovery is paramount at this point. What a gift.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

beach party

This is the beach that is 15 minutes from our house. To get here we drive a curvy forest road that passes a winery. We learned the hard way that the monstrous black birds that lurk all around the area love to eat fresh baked pecan sandies that are left unattended. damn...
The mussels pictured completely cover some of the rocks and the tide pools atop those same rocks are teaming with life that usually goes unnoticed by the likes of us.
There's a berry farm 2 miles down the road from here that I know Kendra is dying to write about...

thoreau revisited

Yesterday Osa and I went for a walk. A walk in Henry Cowell Redwood State Park to be exact. It is about 5 miles from our home, and I'm trying to get a grasp on our stompin' groups. Besides, yesterday was absolutely beautiful...sunny and 62. Sorry to our midwestern friends. I am truly not trying to rub it in as ya'll sit under inches of snow.anyway...
The sound of the wind moving through these giants sounded like the white noise of the ocean. The wind and the sounds of birds was all that was heard in hours with the exceptions of me talking aimlessly to our dog about the mysteries of man and beast while she rode shotgun in my Love Garden satchel. Osa got her first taste of mountain spring water and I got my first taste of the California backcountry. There were areas with white sand, blazing sunlight, and Ponderosa Pines which would quickly transition into dark, damp forest with a humus floor created from all the redwood droppings. Tremendous shards of afternoon light split though the branches while we stopped for a snack of oranges and peanut butter and honey sandwiches. I have found peanut butter to be for pups what catnip for felines or crack for the disillusioned must be like.
Even in the throws of it's winter sleep, I could hear growth at work-reaching toward the warmth of spring and it's high sun- beneath the floor of last seasons remnants. Thoreau walked.I walk. Thought through movement. What's next? Civil Disobedience?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


While the arrow of winter is striking the midwest, Santa Cruz farmers respond to the rain and chill with color and enough vigor to seduce one into giving the shirt off their back for some meyer lemons or fresh cut asparagus. Since it's technically winter here too, we're told we are dealing with a scaled down version of the market. This fact does not stop us from behaving like giddy schoolchildren as we run from one booth to the other trying to one up each other in the quest for most unbelievable. The farmer's market each Wednesday is to us how the true believer must feel about church on the sabbath. We all need to find our reasons to believe the world isn't populated solely by money grabbers and climate controlled fat asses. The Santa Cruz Farmer's Market is ours. Today's finds go as follows: broccoli, oranges, cauliflower, garlic, shallots, radicchio, parsnips, cabbage, narcissus flowers (that filled the air in the market with such an intoxicating scent that one could see people following their noses like puppies to the source), lemons, leeks, chard, locally made tofu,dates (Barhi-a variety that came to cali in 1913 from Iraq has become my favorite and one I've seen nowhere else) and last but not least, a pound of walnuts. The fact that everything is certified organic and costs roughly half of what we were paying for similar food in Kansas makes us feel like yes, we have yet another reason to believe we needed to make this move.
The hot food vendors are devastating as well. Each item was split between us:an Indian samosa with cilantro chutney, a true chalupa-taco bell should feel shame- with fresh ground corn shell and spicy chicken, and lastly naan bread made in a wood fired portable oven which we smeared spinach and eggplant across and then washed down with a darjeeling chai tea. Needless to say, Wednesdays we eat out at the farmer's market. Next week: we hit the oyster bar. No kidding...


Just a reminder.

Home is where the art is

The home. The abode. The domicile. The dwelling. Our place is a quarter of the size of our Rhode Island joint, but since we have about a quarter of our possessions it feels just right. We are learning the advantages of minimalism. This is quite noteworthy for those of you who know our collecting tendencies. As for the studio...I'm convinced if it weren't for Kendra and Osa I could live out there with a cot and space heater. For food I could run out and grab the unconcious squirrels who've just fallen the 200 feet down from the redwoods in the yard. They would be battered and pan fried on my hot plate(one final luxury) before they ever knew they had hit the ground...or I could just stay in our cozy home where Kendra cooks up inspiration in each attempt. Far, far away from those squirrels.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Okay, so let me just boast a little about our lil' pup Osa. We became proud parents on New Year's Day. "OSA" is short for MIMOSA, the classic New Year's Day beverage. She's also named after Osa Johnson the admirable Kansan who was a stylish young pioneer who explored the wilds of Africa and beyond in the early part of the 20th century with her wildlife filmmaker husband Martin. Other "Osa" references are the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica which is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet, and of course "Osa" in spanish means female bear.
Osa turns 3 months this week, so she's still growing and changing and learning a lot. She's getting longer and more hot dog like. We've got her potty trained. She rings a string of bells hanging from the doorknob when she needs to go out. Now we need to figure out how to determine whether or not she really needs to go out to do her thing or to just gnaw on branches, sniff around and explore outside. Not that she shouldn't do those things, but she needs all her shots before we can relax about that a little more.
We took her to the vet today for a shot and heartworm pill, the vet runs his office out of a biodiesel fueled bus next to a solar powered biodiesel refuel station. Only in California. So we've been bit by puppy's crazy. Having a puppy is one of the most demanding yet rewarding things ever. Now I'm even more in awe of people with children. And parents with dogs? wow.

Monday, February 4, 2008

P.O. Box 504 Brookdale, CA 95007

Living in the Redwood forests of California changes one's sense of scale. You start to become used to living in the shadows of these giants. You even begin to get used to the amount of rainfall they require to exist. The dwarfing of all man(and woman) related things becomes common. Brookdale has a haunted lodge harboring irritable spirits thanks to a recent remodeling. There's a stream running through an old barroom. There's a mysterious neighborhood called Huckleberry Island that isn't really an island but rather a peninsula, and you can go to a little Italian restaurant down the way and the owner will work the dining crowd in platforms and the waitresses drop everything for song and dance. The mountain roads are windy and only the experienced and the brave ride their bikes along shoulders the width of a thigh bone. vegan terminal degrees who practice yoga and drink herbal teas mix with speed poppin' leather clad 4x4 drivin' freedom aint free chainsaw wieldin' types to create a sentiment that's pulled in two very different directions.
However, the overriding theme seems to be something along the lines of "Let me do my thing. whatever it is..."
Each morning we take a walk with osa around our fair village. We take pictures. We meet neighbors. Some of whom give us eggs from their chickens. There's a whole network of canine owners fraternizing around here that we have been given access to thanks to our wiener dog. Californians are given a bad rep, but everyone we've come into contact with has been generous and welcomed us with gusto to their state. Rain, rain go away. come again some other day...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

wigwam warmth

"Have you stayed in a wigwam lately?" was what the sign read. My sorry answer to myself was "no" followed by a quick "and why not?" The most obvious reason being because I've never been to Holbrook, AZ. And to be honest had I not missed the first exit because of yapping to my brother on the phone, I would never have truly known a night's pleasure in a concrete teepee. This place was unbelievable. The fading neon signs and old lodge-like feel to the front lobby followed by the sweetest owner, Carol, reminiscing about robert redford staying across the way while a movie was being shot on the very grounds we were about to sleep on. Junked out '57 chevys , classic station wagons, and worn tow trucks were strategically placed around the gravel parking lot. The rooms were octagonal and still furnished(thankfully) with the same objects that were placed in them at their conception. All was well for the road ragged trio(don't forget our pup, osa) as we sipped from a bottle of belgium brew and watched the most psychedelic musical I've ever seen staring james cagney and a slew of dancers and synchronized swimmers all being choreographed to make us feel a bit beside ourselves. the little heater ticked away as the temperature outside dipped to near zero and a crew of photographers and models prepared for a german magazine shoot on the cold grounds the following day.

Rain and Redwoods

Aaaaaah. We've finally landed. 2,200 miles later, we are unpacking and settling into our new little nest in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz mountains. We totally lucked out. I was at a coffeeshop poring over Craigslist rentals while Aaron and Osa went to get stamps. Our puppy Osa is a magnet and she attracted the attention of a woman in the post office whom coincidentally happened to have a place she wanted to rent. Long story short, we seriously scored an amazing place. Its a one bedroom cottage in the redwoods, tons of trees as well as gardens, patio and landscaping. A separate art studio just 15 steps out the front door with an orange tree in front of it. We are sinking our teeth into art making and its so exciting to feel the new inspiration of this place. The town we live in, Brookdale is tiny. Its 10 miles north of Santa Cruz and about 70 miles south of San Francisco. There are lots of quirky things to explore as well as the NATURAL is overwhelming how these trees make me feel. The air is so fresh and wet and it is just GREEN everywhere you turn. We went to the beach the other day and had a terrific little picnic on the sand. It was cold and windy but we had to celebrate our arrival to the western edge of the continent.