Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bearded Lady's Secrets

I realize I have a way of spending way too much time examining things in way too much detail. I also realize that there's something a little "otaku" (nerdy) about gathering leaves from different plants and making a little notebook on all the plants on this ranch. But this land is my new lover and I want to know all her secrets, stretch marks and scars.

I've been taking pictures of blossoms, tiny fruit buds, unidentifiable bugs…

Look at these gorgeous irises!The Bearded Lady holds a secret, wrapped in gossamer tissue. I felt I was violating her somehow when I peeled back her petals to see what was inside.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Between 4/20 and 4/22

I've been completely immersed in working the land all week even though my body is resisting all the way. ("Noooooo! I can't bend down anymore! I can't crouch! I can't, I tell you! I just can't!")

Time passes differently when you are so single-mindedly absorbed in manual labor. I'm not sure if it's faster or slower. Just different. It was a bit of a surprise when I glanced at the calendar and noticed it was already April 21st.

A few years ago, I was up in Arcata, Humboldt County (way up at the northern end of California.) We got up there on the 13th of April to the annoyance of our CPA buddy who let us crash at his place ("But who would have thought you'd arrive two days before TAX DAY!") no doubt. April 20th that year was a drizzly, soft, kitten-grey kind of day. But a few blocks from our Victorian, at the Redwood Community Park, hundreds of people gathered to celebrate 4-20 Day, bundled up in parkas and rain ponchos, smoking and laughing. Los Osos isn't quite the Stoner Town that Arcata is, so it was easy to miss 4/20 this year.

Tomorrow is Earth Day and you know I will be celebrating it in style -- with my hands deep into this rich, dark stuff.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

B-Hole Ranch

We have returned. To the ranch with the "blue hole" above it, always. Well, almost always. It was a bit overcast and a little drizzly as we came into Los Osos Valley, but we DO need the rain this year. Normally, the hills would all be raging a vivid neon green, but this year, they are a bit splotchy.

Big Dog and I goofed off a bit yesterday, taking our little Stridas down to the beach. It was the perfect day for it, too. Our techy looking bikes got their fair share of stares and questions. ("No, it's not a Japanese bike. It's designed in the UK." "No, it's actually not very comfortable." "It's really only good for puttering around flat, smooth streets -- like the bike route here!")

Good thing we took some time for play, because I can see we have our work cut out for us here. EVERYTHING IS OVERGROWN! And although my jaw did drop a few inches at the initial shock, I am happy that the life force is so strong. It would be too depressing if everything were dead, right? And it IS gorgeous! We missed the plum and peach blossoms but some of the apples and pears are still in bloom. And then, there are dozens of plants that I see flowering for the first time. Irises, daffodils… The calla lilies have come back and so have the cannas… The big lemon tree looks very dead as well as one of the oranges (two seem to have survived the freak frosts) and one of the roses might be goners. The geraniums look dead but aren't really -- I can see new growth trying to come out -- and there are lovely yellow flowered trees and bushes I haven't identified yet. But first, I need to deal with all the Giant Weeds -- rising up to my waist, stalks as thick as my wrist...what planet are we on??

The chickens are laying eggs again, the dogs, cats and horses look happy and although Big Dog can only see the mess, I am happy to be back in Paradise.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Cornflower Blue Skies

It's Friday the Thirteeeeeeeenth! The colossal winds have died down and it's another cloudless day in El Lay. The sky is a shade of blue you can only see here -- it must be a combination of chemicals, dust and humidity, or lack of -- somewhere between cornflower blue and Dodger blue. (Did you know that the cornflower is one of the few really blue flowers and that most "blue" flowers are really a shade of purple?)

It's been a good couple of days, despite being back in this city, despite never having enough time to get everything done, despite having to go get my mammogram yesterday. I finally got DVD Studio Pro to render my movie in its proper size and I finally got my little bike up and rolling.

At one time, back in Tokyo, I had three road bikes and one "mama-chari," one of those big boofy single speed clunkers that the moms all ride in Tokyo, loaded down with grocery backs and a toddler in a rickety seat in the back. (Maybe it's Tokyo's answer to California's SMV, Soccer Mom Vehicle. Let's see you shuttle your kid from practice to practice on one of those!) I gave one road bike away, got the "mama-chari" ripped off, sent one road bike up to the ranch and still have my best road bike in Tokyo, where it's THE only way to get around. Here in LA, Big Dog and I have matching Stridas. They are little bikes that fold down to something the size of a golf bag.

You can't expect too much from such a small bike, but it's still better than nothing, and although I was buffeted by the gusts and trying to maintain stability, it got me to the UCLA Medical Plaza in no time at all. I just wish LA were a more bike-friendly town.

No bike lanes on Wilshire means having to ride on the sidewalk, and even where they did have bike lanes near UCLA, some yahoo in a giant car yells at me to "use the sidewalk." "This is a BIKE LANE, you moron!" I shouted back but doubt he heard me.LA's not a smoker-friendly town, but now you can't smoke on the beaches either!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Building Blocks

Easter Sunday is just another Sunday for me, but I couldn't help thinking about the millions of Christians celebrating the Resurrection today. That must be cause for a little more positive energy, don't you think? Maybe if there was a day in which the whole world thought only spiritual and positive thoughts, we could all be blanketed in good energy, even if it only last that one day.

Meanwhile, I am going through a Resurrection of my own. I often stop at my friend's blog site and last week came across this entry. It's a little art project she got from another blogger. I thought it would be fun, too. Instead of Post-Its, I decided to use half a normal US letter size paper for each day's artwork. I like the size and I had just gone through printing hell in which my printer munched up dozens of sheets of paper before I could print out the 6 invoices I needed, so I had lots of unusable sheets that would still be perfect for my daily drawings. Besides, I'm terrible at following other people's instructions, so I'm making it up as I go.

So this is what I do… I just draw something that represents how I feel that particular day. And add the date. It was already days after April first when I began this exercise, but I backtracked and began my "picture diary" from the first of the month because that's just the anal retentive Virgo I am. Well, I am fully caught up now and can do a picture for 8 April, later today.

Well, this is what I have discovered in doing this exercise: that it is a really, really good exercise similar to the one that was in the book The Artist's Way. I was given this book by someone who thought "the artist" in me was "blocked." One of the exercises it recommended for removing the "block" was to write a page a day in longhand. I did this for several weeks before realizing what that exercise was about. Writing -- or drawing for that matter -- stimulates a certain part of your brain. In both cases, it's really not about content at all. In The Artist's Way, it tells you not to be thinking about what you are writing and to never re-read it. That's because the exercise is not about what you write, but that you do it -- by hand. In fact, I think you could perhaps get the same results by doodling. The point is to do it every day, make it part of your routine. When you take a pen or pencil in your hand and make the motions that put something on paper, you are stimulating a part of the brain that is different from the part that gets stimulated by typing on a keyboard. I am guessing that it's also different from using an electronic tablet, though I'm not sure about that.

By the time I realized what the exercise was about, it had worked its magic on me. I went through a burst of creativity. Unfortunately, like exercising at home, without the discipline, the social reinforcement, the support system, one day you don't do it and then it's all over.

But I don't think creative blocks are a negative thing. In order to "create" you need time to "absorb." Can't have output without input, you know? In that sense, a "block" is a part of the "building block." Unfortunately, if it's your job to be creative, you don't always have that luxury and then it becomes a problem, but since I am not trying to make art a commercial venture now, I can take all the time I need, so I take the non-productive times in stride. Or at least, try to.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Time vs Speed vs Distance

We went "back" to Los Angeles, but are now "ahead" of Honolulu…and further away from Tokyo, but closer in time… Hmmmm.

3 hours is not that big of a time lag, but still it kept us up long into the wee hours last night, pondering the issues of time vs speed vs distance and watching the news.

There was a story on a monorail system that seems to be (finally!) coming to LA. Big Dog has always been a big promoter of the monorail/light rail system.

"All they need to do is look at Sydney! The rail system leaves the most minimal of footprints and weaves through existing structures," he would educate anyone willing to listen. Or anyone willing to read Letters to the Editor.

Naturally, he was excited about Los Angeles (finally!) making steps towards what he considers the perfect solution to its rapid transit problem.

"I am so far ahead of my times!" he crowed.
"They're just now catching up!" I echoed. "From your ideas on transportation to the environment, everyone seems to be following you!"
"And when did I start talking about global warming?"
"Long before I knew you."
"That's right. It was probably 1971…no, maybe 1975. 75 degrees in January in Humboldt!"

Now, while Big Dog is excited about how far ahead of the times he is, I was just as excited to read today that Socrates also said "Everything is a miracle. Pay attention." That's something I've been saying for years! But, wait. Socrates said all of this thousands of years ago. Which makes me really, really behind the times. Or does it? Maybe I'm so far behind, I'm actually incredibly ahead.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Moving On

After Mom left Hawaii on Wednesday, we slowly got back to our Teen Dogs mode. Fortunately, the very dead surf picked up over the weekend and we were able to get in two fantastic days of bodyboarding before moving on…today.

But what now? Where to? Sure, there's our flight back to LA and then Easter with the Dog Family, but then what?

"To the ranch for the rest of spring and early summer? I'll bet it's beautiful now," I suggested.
Big Dog said nothing, so I kept throwing suggestions out.
"Arcata? You also mentioned wanting to get to Arizona to pick up some of your stuff…"
"With gas prices what they are, I don't really want to be driving around the States much," BD interrupted.
"Okay… why not go to Mexico and then keep traveling south and maybe we'll get to Rio in time for B & G's wedding in August."
"What, and travel overland to Brazil?! I did that. 30 odd years ago when I was 30 odd years younger and it was tough then. I'm not doing that again. Not at this age."
"So, I guess if I want to do that, I'll just have to do it on my own?"
"Guess so."

We are still tossing around locations like "Guatemala" "Cuba" and "Baja" but who knows. It's funny. I never knew where my life was going, even when I was stuck in Tokyo. I knew I had to get out and always had one foot out the door. If people asked me "where do you see yourself 5 years from now?" I would have had to answer "I can't," but now, I don't even know where I'll be in two weeks! Don't you love this adventure called LIFE?Gonna miss the fantastic flora of this State, like the sexy hibiscus above!