December 12, 2013

Yesterday, I went to my friend Anne Williams’ Inurnment. I always carry a camera and I took pictures of the event. Loaded them into my computer and erased them from my camera last night.

I had been promising myself to get rid of 18,000 pictures I have on my computer with the idea to unload some storage space and speed up my computer. I thought I would erase the back-up file. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a back-up file.  Everything I hadn’t already loaded into a cloud album disappeared.

No pictures today, just curses, and sad regrets. That’s what happens to people like me who aren’t  technically sharp. One can never recreate an event. My apologies to Anne’s sons, Bill and Steve, Tyna, her caretaker, Mr. Donlevy from Elks Club, who often helped Tyna with mechanical problems, Steven, a friend, who played guitar and sang Country Roads, a song Anne and her husband, Fred, both loved; Lonnie and Bart, who helped Anne and Tyna with their vehicles, drove them places, and gave so willingly of their time; several friends from the Tuolumne County Museum and Genealogy society where Anne volunteered for 20 years, Mike who brought his elderly mother, a devoted friend who braved the cold, and ice to attend; and Mike, who wrote a poem about Anne. I didn’t know everyone who attended nor get everyone’s name,  but her reach to young and old was touching. She was a young 89-year-old.

Tyna brought to the site a picture board, and displayed her favorite books, some from childhood, and a favorite bracelet that had been stolen from her and returned. Some ceramics she made, a quilt she made, paintings and drawings she did. All things representing her many talents and personality. It was lovely.



December 5, 2012

Fish should be fresh but these ceramic fish are downright cheeky. On the phone, Jim talks excitedly about the unique opportunity to take close up deer photos at his current place at Thousand Trails in Texas. I’m bummed because I can’t be there, but I’ve got plane tickets to join him. And, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Jim. (Today we are the same age.) X0X0.

I really love ceramics but traveling as we do, and now, with medical problems and therapy, I have no time for ceramics except to enjoy other people’s. It is even tougher to get pictures of fresh fish, Jim. Your next challenge.

I once had a pond full of goldfish, but the raccoons discovered it and that ended that.






After that octopus and shark video yesterday, these art pieces are just too cute.


October 5, 2012

Since our accident on May 27th, I swear, I have never had so many doctors in my life. If it isn’t one thing it is another. Poke and probe and test. Since the accident I feel like I have sand in one eye and it keeps swelling.  After a round yesterday with my eye doctor and picking up records from one place to deliver to another place, I stopped at the Arts Council for an art fix. Jim has taken gallery pictures for me that I appreciate, but it isn’t the same as being able to view your own choices of things you admire. I am ever impressed by the talent in my community.

My favorite piece in the exhibit was this triptych in the photo above.  I’ve done a close up of each piece.


Simple lines, bold colors. Beautifully matched.

Many nice pieces, so if you have a chance to visit the Arts Council Gallery in San Andreas, do it. I’m working on a piece of my own, but it is not for sale. Maybe, since I’m home for an extended period, I’ll get a piece finished for the affordable arts exhibit they do before Christmas.

I don’t know why I like old, rusty, derelict cars. This worked on a ceramic piece. Tough to execute.

Homer as a pretty jolly sculpture is appealing

Trees, another favorite theme. Who doesn’t love a tree?

Bead work is making an impact in the arts/crafts world. This little bird is something to hang on the Christmas tree or not. It works anywhere.

If I have errands, I like to seize the day, and art makes me smile and eases the burdens we sometimes carry.


Before leaving Beijing, we attended the traditional Opera that is no longer performed anywhere in China but Beijing. It is considered old-fashioned, an old art. There were no pictures allowed of the opera, nor the beautiful costumes on display in the lobby.  Cast members  entertained us at our tables while we enjoyed refreshments. A teapot with a three-foot long spout was used to dramatically pour our tea into tiny cups without splashing or spilling a drop, much to our delight. On stage,  one very acrobatic act performed in slow motion, with every muscle in coordination, had us holding our breath. The performers painted faces were allowed to show no emotions;  their lips could not move, not even to take a breath. You could see their nostrils flare as they took in air during extremely strenuous moves. It put us on the edge of our seats.  The opera is part singing, part acrobatics and part storytelling. One story (all printed in English on screens at the side of the stage) involved a hateful government edict presented to the people. They conspire to steal the key and change the offensive edict. This is important because in old China, it was the only form of protest the people had, through their art. One act was a about a Shogan who falls in love with his concubine. Another “social issue.”  It was wonderful. Viki told us most people skip the Opera, but, I would certainly recommend it if you have a chance to see it.

The next morning, we flew to Xian, pronounced shy-ann. Realize that the soldiers were discovered in 1974 and they have been designated the 8th wonder of the world. Xian was once the capital of China during the first of thirteen dynasties, the Ching Dynasty. Here, underground, lay the roots of the dynasty, for over 2000 years. The photo of a  photo taken by  the archaeologists shows what the soldiers looked like as they began to uncover this phenomenal treasure.

The soldiers are displayed  in the pits from which they came and covered over by a roof. This photo shows the immensity of this pit. They carried weapons because  the soldiers were ready to do battle for their emperor when he died.   The soldiers were destroyed by the incoming faction of government after the Emperor who ordered the armies built,  died,  while inspecting the army.  The soldiers weapons were removed, then the figures were broken up and covered over.

This photo shows the depth of  one of the pits.  There is six  pits open to the public if I remember correctly. There is 8,000 soldiers, over three hundred chariots, wagons, and horses, jade armor, animals, dancer,  acrobats plus other people, statesmen or persons important to the Emperor.

A flash only carries so far and it is difficult to get  really good pictures of the soldiers. But the immensity of the task and the visible definition of the clothing, the hands, the features overwhelms. I find myself continually amazed at the wonders people crafted when given inspiration, and that I should have the privilege of seeing them.

The soldiers, when first removed had color in their faces and clothing. The Chinese government is building a new museum for the soldiers because they’ve lost their color from exposure to light and air. The roof leaks in places and since the discovery, they’ve found 73 more mounds, 16 of which they’ve opened up and reburied until they have perfected a technology to preserve the color and prevent deterioration of the figures. The rest will not be opened until they have the financial reserves and technology to care for this enormous treasure. The Terracotta Army is also a UNESCO site. UNESCO means this is a world treasure, to be preserved for all mankind and funded and preserved by shared funds. That designation carries a lot of responsibility and cooperation between countries around the world and benefits all of us.

Some of the best views of the warriors are replicas from the museum store.

You can buy one of these and have it shipped back to the United States. The replicas are a treasure as well as the man who discovered the  soldiers and had to turn his farm over to the government. He was given the official job as book signer. He is a small man, very quiet, doesn’t say much.  He is no longer allowed to have his picture taken because his eyes were damaged by so many flashes. A cute story about him:  He was told President Clinton would be visiting and he was taught a bit of English to greet the President. He learned to say “How are you?” He was coached that the Clintons would likely say, fine, thank you and he should answer, I’m fine too. But, Clinton said “Hello”.  And the farmer, who was nervous said, “Who are you?” And Clinton said, “I’m Hillary Clinton’s husband.” And the farmer said “Me too!”

The Provincial Shaanxi History Museum, adjacent to the pits,  holds this team of horses. All under glass, tough to get a decent photo of them.

And this chariot driver.  The detail in the clothing, the hands, the faces…truly awesome. All of these figures were modeled after real people. They were fired in kilns and then painted.

The horse to me has a wary expression as though aware of a stranger’s approach.

I was surprised at how little from the pits was  in the museum. Hopefully that will change as they rebuild and restore.

One of the best things about the museum was their noodle lunch. A guy on each end of a long counter holds a hunk of noodle dough like this. This cook was quickly shaving off a piece of dough into hot broth with a special tool that made wide noodles.

This guy on the opposite end of the system, had the same size hunk of dough, that he forced a hole in the middle and then began stretching it.  He stretched, and stretched and stretched until it spontaneously separated into this four foot long strand of fine noodles. It was a real show to watch. I tasted both soups and they were equally delicious. I guess it doesn’t take much to impress Westerners. I loved it. Is it any wonder Marco Polo decided to bring this wonderful food back to Italy?

I fell in love with the exquisite pottery in the museum. This piece is a pillow, believe it or not.

My second favorite was a depiction of what an ancient Chinese home would look like, with animals encased in the same abode.

Notice the precisely rendered  hooves on this horse. This artist loved horses, you can tell.

And the musicians on a camel. Whimsical.

For more pottery, click the link below:


February 17, 2012

Jim spent another day, well, six hours working on the new device, getting it to talk to our router. Oboy!  When electronics get mad at you they stay mad for hours.

Sandee and I spent time on her computer with me showing her how to organize pictures. She had some other pesty problems with it her new laptop,  and Jim, my resident expert, fixed them for her. When he helps me with MY computer he always sings a little song and does a dance. “Its so nice to have an engineer around the house…”   So, I told him he had to dance for Sandee.

Sandee had therapy early in the day and her meds were delivered to her door mid morning.  She had polio as a child and has difficulties related to  post polio syndrome that comes back to haunt you when you are older.  She must have infusions. A nurse comes to the house and administers them to fight the affects of myasthenia gravis.  Life ain’t easy, but it’s a gift.

I mentioned how multi-talented she is. I  took a photo of this neat little ceramic device she made for her desk, to hide the mass of black cords that now, no longer show against a white wall.

Another ceramic piece she did is the back of this indian’s head.

When she moved to Arizona, she really got into Western art and I’d roughly estimate she has 1,000 artifacts and art pieces visible in her house and yard.

A leather wrapped Indian spear frames numerous pieces with a western hat collection above it.

We will move on to a Moose Club south of Tuscon. In fact, it was 34 degrees and snowing in Tuscon last night. I guess Jim won’t be dancing and singing if we run into it on the road this morning.

We are moving just around the bend to visit some fascinating places.

Before leaving the Terra Cotta Soldiers, one must visit the Provincial Shaanxi History Museum nearby. It gives visitors a timeline of Chinese civilization from homo erectus to modern China.  But, the real reason to visit the museum is for their fabulous noodle lunch. I’m not kidding. In fact watching them make the noodles is almost better than eating them.

The long noodles are made by a strong young man who grabs this huge rectangular hunk  of dough, separates it in the middle forming a dough circle, and then he stretches and stretches and stretches the dough until it’s about four feet long and it suddenly breaks into noodles. Then he plops the whole mass  into a boiling pot of broth.  It defies reason. The guy was mobbed and one could barely get close enough to get a picture as you jostle in line to get your food.
Flat noodles are made by another strong fellow. He begins with a roll about twice this size in diameter and rapidly slices noodles off with a special tool directly into a pot of boiling broth.

The other best reason to visit, in my opinion, was their exquisite ceramics. The facial expression of the driver and the posture of the camel-so realistic. (Click to enlarge pictures.)

In this glazed piece, the accoutrements and the horse’s hooves are particularly stunning.

Only in China would you find a dragon handled pot.  I took 19 photos and uploaded them at:

After lunch we visited the Small Wildgoose Pagoda.

This small, plain Pagoda survives  from the Tang Dynasty. The monks studied and copied manuscripts here. One monk walked them all the way from India. A monk here was starving. (They are not allowed to ask for food.) A wild goose flew into the pagoda and couldn’t get out. When it died, he ate it. Thus the name. A Pagoda serves as a temple. The grounds are very spacious and we saw people meeting here, and exercising here. Many shops line the area selling home crafted paintings, jade, glasswork and beads. Rings to tether horses are seen about the place from the old times.

Typical of China, the public areas are beautiful and very useful for multiple functions.

In this complex is a beautiful bell. We all took a turn trying to push the heavy timber to ring the bell. It barely made a sound. It takes about ten strong men to make it ring. It was used to send messages high up into the mountains and surrounding forests.

We left the grounds and visited a Jade factory.

The jade was beautiful, but we couldn’t help but notice the workers uncomfortable working conditions.

Lunch was 23 different dumplings cooked in this hot pot. Meals are typically served  at these round tables with a turntable in the middle where dishes are shared around the group. Dinner at our hotel was a special Thai meal of two curries, fruits, meats, stir fry and bread pudding. We were so full we couldn’t do our dinner justice.

For more information about the Wildgoose Pagoda click the link:

Yesterday, we left Stephenson, WA and drove to Vancouver.  I spent two hours at the Maryhill Museum and thought I’d display some of their ceramics and glassware. The collection is not massive. They also have a crafts collection. The beaded vase above is the only item that “spoke” to me from the collection which had a mix of furnishings, jewelry and other objects.

One case contained a collection of antique glassware like the vase above. Some beautiful stuff worth a trip out if its your favorite “thing.” I have a friend who collects antique glass and its lovely, delicate, highly prized stuff.

Ceramics are among my favorite things. The collection here isn’t extensive and I may have snapped a picture of  every pot and bowl they had. What’s nice is they are all originals.

A sculpin fish teapot was my favorite.

My friend Donna Voorhees makes similar lidded bowls and I own one. I use it for one thing, to make bread pudding. Somehow, the bread pudding, my own recipe, turns out best when baked in this type of  bowl.

I own a yellow bowl, not as pretty as this plate. Yellow is one of my favorite colors and not all that common with ceramicists. Mine I use for pasta dishes with a cream base and a sprig of bright green garnish.

This piece has a lot of character and appears to be Adam and Eve enjoying the fruits of their table.

Glass work I know nothing about except that it takes a special type of furnace to work with it. The results are beautiful. The Maryhill collection was quite conservative. I’ve seen spectacular fused glass in galleries all over the U.S. that appeal to me.  The vase, (below) was wonderfully iridescent, fused, my favorite from the collection and I’d like to take it home.

The next couple days, I will be visiting with Damiann Kegney, a friend of my son’s.

Who would have thought a Stonehenge was located in Washington? Samuel Hill, the man who promoted and built the wonderful Highway 30, also built this replica of Stonehenge. Remember to keep the Sams straight. Samuel Lancaster was the architect and designer, it was his dream and vision for the many looped highway through the Columbia Gorge. It was his builder, Samuel Hill who performed the task.  As a business man, he claimed good roads “..are my religion.”

Hill was a pacifist Quaker; he saw Stonehenge in England where it was thought, at the time, to be a place of pagan ritual and human sacrifice. He remarked,”…the flower of humanity is still being sacrificed on the field of battle.” He thereupon chose to build a replica of the “sacrificial altar” as a memorial to the soldiers from Klickitat County, WA. who died in WWI. He is buried close by.

It sits atop a windy hillside two miles from where he built a home, Maryhill, named for his daughter. Placed with beautiful views of the Columbia River, he owned over 5,000 acres for a Quaker agricultural colony he started. He never lived in the mansion  and instead made it into a museum at the prodding of a famous actress/dancer  friend of his, Loie Fuller who is well represented at this fabulous museum. Wikipedia has a load of information about this dynamic man at the following link: .

While the museum is slightly remote, it attracts a great following and support.  Permanent collections and temporary exhibits, a yearly high tea with a hat and accessories auction, educational lectures, workshops and exhibits make this a must see for any art lover.  It is undergoing expansion because Maryhill is bursting at the seams.

One room is devoted to the furnishings of the Royal Palace of Romania. Queen Marie was a special friend of his and she helped found the museum and came for the grand opening. A replica of her crown is here, pictures and other grand treasures as well.

So perfect was this bronze sculpture of a young man that Rodin was accused of plastering the body of the live model. He was eventually exonerated.  One Eve sculpture, Rodin complained that he couldn’t get the stomach right, he kept having to change it every time the model posed. It turned out she was pregnant.

There is much here, glass…


a sculpture garden,

a huge collection of Indian artifacts of astounding quality. Beadwork,

exquisite basketry.

It was so thorough, I believe every western Indian tribe was represented in this huge collection.  But for me, the real stars of Maryhill are those unusual things you see nowhere else.

Theatre La Mode, a collection of miniature French designer mannequins is staged against wire backdrops of famous Paris icons.

This display is from 1946 and the art and craft of building them is no longer done.

The faces are made of wax and hair is made from real hair, string and other fibers.

A second collection, chess pieces and boards, was unusual. It’s common to find a chess or game board in a painting or a set belonging to some famous person. Here are multiple sets of unusual variety.

An unusual contemporary set of pieces unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

If chess is your game, don’t miss a collection such as this one with over 30 different sets.  I took way too many pictures. I’ll organize them in segments for later blogs.  Maryhill-such a find!


December 2, 2010


Every year at Christmas time, the Calaveras County Arts Council encourages artists to provide affordable works of art. The Arts Council Gallery is located on Main St. in San Andreas and I’ve peeked inside to give you an idea of what is available.

Here find a variety of ceramics, vases, teapots, mugs, planters, a painted wall hanging and whimsical decorations.

Affordably priced, something original and exciting, makes for a great gift.

You will find all manner of paintings, large and small. Much to choose from and this is just one wall.


Original cards and jewelry.

The gallery is open all year long.  Throughout the year, the staff hangs special exhibits featuring various talents. Their gallery/office hours are 9-4 Mon. through Fri. Sat. 11-3.
The arts are alive and well in Calaveras with musical events, shows, dinners and seasonal programming. For instance, right now tickets are available for a Christmas special, The Nutcracker. Tickets can be ordered by phone. 209-754-1774.  Visit their website at:  /
for more information. A strong arts community is a healthy community.

Two large paintings by Giles, normally sell in the $1,700 range. They are affordably priced at $700 each during the Christmas Boutique. Not exactly affordable for most people, but certainly a bargain for this artist.


November 15, 2010

The dragon is not always a symbol of fierceness. The Lakota people consider the dragon a symbol of retreat; to journey inward to your own center of peace and quiet. Sharon Armstrong is a psychologist who does art work with her patients. Her strength is in mask making. For years she has taught people to make their own faces in a mask.  It helps people clarify who they are and where they are going. Working on it provides them a kinship with themselves and others. But, for the Burning Man, held the Monday before Labor Day each year in the desert, Sharon built a 23 foot tall dragon. Sharon returned home and erected it in her mother’s garden at the Center for Creativity and Community in San Andreas.

The dragon’s name is Uncegila and is surrounded by a labyrinth. The unveiling was held Sunday and people came to walk the labyrinth and visit the Center, the Gallery, housed in a 100 year old restored barn, and the Garden.

Sharon, on the left, with Madalaine Krska, showed everyone around the Center which came about in an unusual way. Her mother, Floy, heard Sharon on a television interview comment that she wished she could found a Center for Creativity and Community. Floy decided right then and there that she could make that come true. Floy took her rental at 23 West St. Charles Place in San Andreas, and is helping her daughter  transform the building into a non-profit Community Center. There is space for art work, teaching ceramics, photography, creative writing, video, painting, drawing, mask making and music.  Their vision is to provide a gathering place for people of all ages to explore and express their unique creativity regardless of their ability to pay.

The Center is just getting started, but classes have already underway. Nanette Klass teaches drawing.

Ruth Nicols teaches harp and Tai Chi.

Floy’s vegetable and flower garden was planted by area children.

Sharon teaches mask making; and her husband, George, teaches landscape painting.

But you don’t have to be an artist to enjoy the center. My brother Bill, above, joined me and walked the labyrinth around the dragon. Eventually, the gazebo with a fountain and picnic area will be open to the public. The lovely Victorian House can hold an audience of 30 people for performance events. Two sound proof rooms allow people quiet space for writing or music lessons.

Or, like me, you can lie in the hammock and relax and contemplate the dragon from afar. The website is:  http://www.center4creativity


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