Painting Update

Well, I'm also slow at getting the painting started this year. I only got around to a second painting session today. I spent some time penciling.

This year, I'm trying something different. Usually, I work from back to front, as if painting the foreground over the background were some sort of 3D exercise in my 2D painting. This year, I'm starting with the important details and will try to fill in as I go.

Here, I'm talking about the first three flowers' petals. I'm not sure if this will work for me, but that's what experimenting is all about.

Birthday Tree 2017

Wow, I'm behind on everything.

Generally, I buy a tree every year for my birthday. I'm rarely on my birthday when I do, but this year has been particularly slow. And then I've been slow to document it. I got the tree over a month ago. Now it's time to show you.

But first an update on previous trees planted here in Cayucos.

Last year's tree was a wee lime tree. It looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

The poor thing lost all of its leaves in the sun last year, so I moved it behind the fence for a little protection and a good number of leaves grew back.

2015's tree was an olive. It looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

Everyone talks about how the weather on the Central Coast is "Mediterranean." i think the fact that my most successful tree so far has been the olive kind of bears that our.

My first tree was back after I moved in in 2014.

It was a happy little tree:

And I killed it.

I was trying to move it from the whiskey barrel to a nicer spot with a little shade, but I think I hacked at its roots. Poor thing went quickly.

Since I've had the most success with the olive tree, this year I kept to the Mediterranean theme.

I planted another stick! This one is a fig tree. The nursery said the fig is the only tree it won't guarantee for a year, so wish me luck.

And So It Begins

This year's painting has been started. 


Halcon Days

It was another gorgeous day today, so I thought I'd go try the Rocky Canyon Trail in the sunshine instead of in the rain.

Unfortunately, part of the road to the quarry was missing. This is Halcon (sic) Road. The hike starts from the other side of the river and goes up hill. Driving there is still possible, but I think it would have taken another half hour to get there. So, I took a walk around on this side of the river.

This is the first year since I've moved to the Central Coast that I've seen the Salinas River actually have water in it.

There were a lot of signs around warning about Trespassing and Parking and other disreputable things a man can do in the wilderness. But I have to say, this sends a bit of a mixed message:

Still, I guess folks around here have an opinion about Good and Evil:

For The Birds

During my weekly stop at Schooner's Wharf...






Carrizo Plain

I drove out to Carrizo Plain today.

This is Soda Lake. Last time I was here, in December two years ago  the lake was drier and surrounded by white deposits left behind by evaporation. 
We here in San Luis Obispo County are still in drought, but the rain has been better of late. It is a wonder to see the land get green. 
I think I had it in my head that seeing the pictographs -- ancient paintings on rock -- would serve as a metaphor this weekend. That in spite of everything bad that can happen -- changing climate, displacement and conquest, bad presidents -- some things survive, creativity endures. 

You're not allowed to take pictures of the pictographs, to show respect. And they seem to be fading, to be honest. So instead I took pictures of graffiti. 
And old farm equipment. 
And I decided it's silly to look for metaphors. 
It's more important to keep creating, to keep making, to keep supporting each other. 


Addendum: I did find a metaphor of sorts: 


I don't think barbed wire is going to hold them in. 

Cow-a-fornia Cow (39)

So I was driving out in the country somewhere east of San Miguel. I was on a mission. I was looking for a cow. 

"I don't think you're looking in the right place," Bertie said and I nearly drove off the road. I carefully pulled over into a driveway and stared at him. 

"Where did you come from?" I hissed. 

"I mean this is all vineyards. Cows live on ranches to the west."

"Not this one. Why are you here?"

"To help you. Now let's get back on the road before it gets dark."

I learned years ago that it was a waste of time to argue with my imaginary friends and family. It's just that it has been so long. I thought they were gone for good. I swallowed my argument and pulled back into the road. I've forgotten what it's called at that point. It seemed to change name every three driveways. 

"We've gone too far," Bertie said after a bit. 

"What? But google maps says..."

"The road name has changed. You wanted something on that last stretch."

"Look, Bertie, I think I'll trust --"

"Your destination is on the left," google piped up. We rolled to a stop on the shoulder. To the right was a steep hill. To the left was nothing but a creek and a field. 

"See? No cows."  I ignored him and looked at the little flag on my phone. "You should go back to the last driveway. I'll bet it's up there."

"I'm ignoring you."

"Not very well," Bertie observed as I carefully turned the car around then turned down the driveway of Ranchita Canyon vineyard. The driveway seemed to go on and on forever, but eventually it came to a small parking area near a building with a deck. There were people on the deck drinking wine. 

"Quite shocking at a vineyard," Bertie remarked as we got out of the car. 


It was there. The first cow of my journey. 

"Seriously? Why not just call it Cowabunga?"


The plaque read "Cow-a-fornia Cow." The artist was Kerry Donlon-Bowen. 

"I think it's pretty," I said. The flag and the monarchs particularly caught my eye. 

"Are you going to marry it or take a picture of it?" 

"Shut up!" I hissed and took a picture with my phone. 

"Excuse me?" The voice came from the deck. It belonged to a large, grumpy looking man. "Were you talking to me?"

"How can you be grumpy when you're out tasting wine?" Bertie asked. 

I put the phone to my ear and said, "Hold on."

To the man, I said, "Sorry I was on the phone." He grumbled but sat back down. I scurried back to the car. 

I started it up and turned around as quickly as I could without looking like I was running away. Soon we were on our way back down the long driveway. 

"See? Told you I was here to help."

"How in the world did you help? You almost got me in a fight."

"I helped keep you from dillydallying.  You have a lot of cows to see."

I groaned. I might be making a mistake trying to see every cow in the SLO Cow Parade. 

"Are you going to bother me for all the cows?" I asked. 

"No," said the kid whose name I can't remember from the back seat. 

"We are with you as well," said his friend Prasad. 

And I knew for sure I was making a mistake. 

EOY: Reading

Happy New Year!

28 books. 1 more than last year.

Authors 19:9 (count by book)

A Walk in the Rain (Rocky Canyon)

Rain is so infrequent here, that it's a special event. Sometimes I like to lie in bed and listen to the drops on the roof, sometimes I claim a seat at the window of a restaurant looking onto Morro Bay to watch the otters play, and sometimes I sit on the porch and breathe in the moist air.

Today I decided to walk in it.

The Rocky Canyon trail is near Atascadero. It might be the best hike I've had so far in this area. It had everything except the beach. It had woods:

and fields

and hills

and cows

And in the middle of all this, there was even an operating quarry. The path winds through the operation, where you can see the machinery of rock harvesting

and piles of gravel.

Presumably, the chosen route is safe.

(Or possibly not!) I look forward to coming back on a sunny day. That was about 5 miles in the rain, where I learned that water resistant is no the same as waterproof. My jeans were still wet three hours later. Luckily, I had a sweatshirt in the car so I could dump my drenched tshirt and overshirt.

California Poppy #1

So I started a painting 28 days ago. Generally speaking, it takes me a few months to finish a painting.

And if I'm honest with myself, I think it's because I overwork them. So this time, I'm stopping as soon as I can.

Today, in fact.

The lighting isn't all that great because the lighting in my little shed is just one bare bulb. I think the painting's lighting, at least as far as the background is concerned, is better than the picture shows. I'll see tomorrow after the sun comes up.

As I stare at the picture, I'm seeing soooo many flaws, but I'm going to ignore them as best I can.

This Year's Painting

Well, I've started this year's painting a little later than in the past. And so I've had to deal with the early darkness! I paint out in a little shed behind my house. It has a light from which I can run an extension cord to the house. So this is my evening tonight:

I actually started last week. This time I'm roughing out everything in shades first. Then I'll add color.

Sadly, I used too much slow-drying medium. It was so slow-drying that I had some of the paint run during the week:

So tonight was about cleaning that up and starting on the background (you can see the glass I had for a Godfather to help me tonight):

So far so good. Let's see how long it takes to finish this one. Wish me luck in my little shed.


I looked up this recipe because I read a character eating it in a book. It came across as a good comfort food.

I made this with Pennsylvania Dutch egg noodles because the local grocery doesn't carry the appropriate square cut noodles. I used purple cabbage for the visual effect, and it turned out fine. The sausage is cut from Louisiana hot links, so this is likely a spicier version of the meal!

Though it's an Austrian recipe, the cabbage and sausage spoke to my Polish soul. This was good stuff.

I just wish I could remember which book had this meal mentioned.

First Rain

It doesn't rain here often, but when it does, it's generally between October and February. It's been so very dry, and the fires have been bad this year.

So it was exciting to wake up to the sound of rain this morning. It wasn't heavy, but it did a good soaking. And even later tonight it's still coming down.

I just feel bad for the for the figures outside for Cambria's Scarecrow Festival. Some have been given a little bit of protection.

Goodnight Moon

Reservoir Canyon

In what has become a recurring theme, I'm trying to make myself get off my butt more often. Except for the last two weeks, I've been hitting 15 miles of hiking/walking a week since the fourth of July. But you'll notice I mentioned two weeks there. Work has been horrendous; now it's time to get back on track.

This is truly the hike of arches. For the most part, the hikes around here are treeless, but this hike had a nice mix of trees and bushes and open land. There were a lot of plants that seemed to decide to grow around the people who hike through. This tree looks like a frozen picture of how I walk:

There was water on this one. Something I don't get to see a lot of (unless it's salty). And this bridge was a little wobbly:

There was also a good hike upward. And the view was fantastic.

There was a bit of "art" along the way. A few stacks of rocks that echoed Goldsworthy. And I'm not sure if these used to be something or are truly art made from found metal or what.

The path continued up for a bit after I turned around, so I'll have to go back again.