Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ending The Year With Love

If you're not familiar with Arthur Lee, you're in for a treat. During the the 1960s he and his group Love were making the most popular music in Los Angeles. Arthur Lee is credited with having inspired Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. The 1967 album "Forever Changes" usually shows up on lists of the best 100 albums of all time, and for good reason. As teenagers in the 1960s, we just about wore the album out. Rock and roll with soaring strings and horns, his music doesn't fit into any particular genre. These two videos were made in 2003, three years before Arthur Lee's untimely death from leukemia, and more than 40 years after he set the LA music scene on fire.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Day After Christmas

Some ten miles south of us there's a state park called Torrey Pines. Majestic sandstone cliffs rise from the beach, capped with rare pine trees that grow only a couple other places on earth. We walked there the day after Christmas.

Home to Native Americans way back when, it's a nature preserve now, crisscrossed with hiking trails that lead out onto mesas with soaring Pacific views or for the less faint of heart, right down onto the sand.

It's mostly brown this time of year, but after some winter and spring rains, orange and yellow California poppies and red Indian paint brushes will create bands of color on the hillsides.

If any of these vistas look vaguely familiar to you, it could be because Torrey Pines has long been a favorite subject of plein air painters.

We took the trail down onto the sand. That raised flat reef in the distance is called the Indian Bathing Pool, as it has a large carved out pool that captures sea water at high tide and warms throughout the day as the sun shines on it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Walking On Christmas Day

Christmas Day was bright and sunny but on the brisk side. After a morning of presents and pastries, my daughter suggested a walk on the beach. The least terns, above, have migrated back from where ever they spent the summer. They mingle with the seagulls along the waterline and stand immobile, facing into the wind for long periods of time.

We weren't the only ones who needed to get up out of our chairs and move. The lady below was using the riprap boulders at the bottom of the cliff to facilitate her stretching.

To get to the beach, we park along the Coast Highway and walk through the state campgrounds to the stairways that zigzag down the face of the cliffs to the sand. The campgrounds stretch for about a mile along the top of the bluff. The folks below had a prime spot. Mr. & Mrs. Claus were already on vacation on Christmas Day and enjoying their unobstructed view of the Pacific.

The campers in this old Airstream trailer looked like they were there for the long haul. They'd erected antennas and created a patio area with potted plants, strung colored lights and added a Christmas wreath.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Colors Of Christmas

One last look at some of my favorite colors and shapes of Christmas.

You can go to Mosaic Monday over at the Little Red House blog to find links to many beautiful compositions.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Of Cabbages And Claus

We ventured out for a few last minute errands earlier this week. The landscaping at the shopping area was festive with ruffled cabbages, dianthus and snapdragons in Christmas red and white.

Much to our delight, who should be sitting outside under the shade of a canopy but the best Santa we'd seen this whole season - maybe any season. His outfit was just right - black belt, high top boots, a twinkle in his eye and a sprig of holly on his cap.

He had enchanted this trio of youngsters, even, remarkably, the oldest one, who had to be close to 12. He took his time and spoke quietly to each child in turn.

In years to come, these children will likely remember this Santa long after they've forgotten any particular present received. We will, too!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Winter Sun

The winter sun casts extra long shadows on the sand along our shoreline on one of the shortest days of the year.

Be sure to click on Hey Harriet for other pictures for Shadow Shot Sunday from all around the world.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Tidings Of Comfort And Joy

Merry Christmas!

From King's College Cambridge in 2008, "Angels From The Realm Of Glory".

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

We've decked the halls, hung the stockings with care and the most anticipated day of the year is upon us. Wishing you and yours all the best and a very Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Local Lights During Christmas Week

My favorite neighbors came by last night and took me along for Japanese food and a drive through town to admire the Christmas lights. Above, that's the lotus tower at the Self Realization Fellowship on the Coast Highway, decorated beautifully for Christmas.

A row of candy canes on light posts and palm tree trunks wrapped with lights.

Looking up through a canopy of purple and yellow lights as we drove under.

Santa had set up shop under three open air tents and was taking last minute requests from excited children.

On this day before Christmas Eve, here's an historic carol.

Before there was "Rudolf, The Red Nosed Reindeer" or "Frosty The Snowman", there was "Bring A Torch, Jenette, Isabelle", a French Christmas carol dating back to the mid 1500s. In this video, the venerable song is performed by a high school choir dressed in English Renaissance costumes in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, in 2007.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On The Streets Of New York ~ 1904

In 1904, artist Everett Shinn made this pastel and gouache Christmastime sketch of a street vendor pushing his cart through the snow on Fourteenth Street in New York City.

It is in the collection of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cat On A Cold Tin Roof

Back in the early 1900s, dressing animals in clothes and taking their pictures was in vogue. Some of the pictures were staged pretty elaborately - cats or dogs in dresses and suits at tea parties, in restaurants, playing poker or other various domestic scenes.

This cat seems pretty tolerant, standing on its hind legs, dressed in seasonal finery, pulling a sled loaded with gifts. Might that be a catnip wreath?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Last Day Of Autumn

Taking the time to tuck some bulbs into the flowerbeds last October has paid off with bursts of color and some divine floral scents. These narcissus are blooming merrily on the last day of autumn. If you need a dependable bulb for your garden, you might consider the hardy narcissus. They're avoided by most creatures, except snails, and in most areas, the bulbs can be left in the ground to multiply. They will return year after year on their own timetable, generating numerous stalks of blossoms to enjoy outside in your garden or indoors in bouquets.

And if you're in the mood for a Christmas carol, here's "What Child Is This?" by the Moody Blues.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Jumbo was an African bush elephant, born in 1861 in French Sudan. He arrived at the London Zoo, via Paris, in 1865, and was soon widely known and beloved throughout Britain. In 1882, when P.T. Barnum sought him for his circus, 100,000 English schoolchildren wrote to Queen Victoria, begging her to stop the sale. It was to no avail. Their precious pachyderm crossed the Atlantic, was paraded up Broadway, and melted the hearts of Americans. He stood 11.5 feet tall and the public was urged to see him while he could still fit through the tunnels on the route of the circus train. And see him they did. He was the biggest draw for "The Greatest Show On Earth".

In 1885, a runaway locomotive struck and killed Jumbo in St. Thomas, Ontario. A life size statue there commemorates the tragedy, He stood 13 feet tall at the time of his death. Some say Jumbo sacrificed himself to save his closest companion, Tom Thumb, a miniature elephant whom he flung from the tracks just before he was struck.

Jumbo's influence on our culture survives to this day. At the time, "jumbo" was not a word in the English language - his name was a combination of two Swahili words: jambo (hello) and jumbe (chief). The word "jumbo" has come to mean anything large, thanks to a big elephant, with an even bigger heart.

Jumbo's story was first told here in April, 2008.

For more Sunday Shadow Shots, click Hey Harriet, our hostess in Australia.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Low Tides And High Spirits

We get extreme tides at this time of year and yesterday was no exception. A high surf warning coupled with warmer than normal weather meant a walk on the beach made a good plan.

A tangle of seaweed glowed gold in the afternoon sun.

The sandstone cliffs are colorful down along the shoreline.

A pearly shell with a band of blue.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On The Streets Of New York ~ 1903

Above, a Christmas tree market outside the Barclay Street Station of the New York Central and Hudson Railway in 1903.

That same year, below, near the elevated train elsewhere in New York City, the Salvation Army, ringing bells for the poor. The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 in the United Kingdom. Its mission remains to serve people's physical and spiritual needs, which it currently does in 118 countries in 175 languages. The second largest charity in the United States, the Salvation Army is the world's largest provider of social aid. If you contribute to a bell ringer in your town, you can be assured that the vast majority of your gift will go to help someone in need.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Down Along The Shore

The way home from errands yesterday afternoon took me along the Coast Highway. The tide was extremely low, the sun was out and it was just too beautiful to not pull over and get onto the sand. That pond above, is between the highway and the beach.

There aren't any cliffs along this particular stretch of beach, so the wind whips along and forms little dunes.

With the Pacific Ocean at my back, this is the view looking due East. Those mountains in the back country will have snow this winter.

The colors of the pond had changed just in the short time of my wandering. It started to get more golden as the sun got lower. The plants you see are native Californian coastal chaparral.

You never know what you'll see on the beach. Sometimes even a passing blimp.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hand Me Downs

By the time my dad's people made their way from Canton Glarus, Switzerland to California in the 1840s, my mom's family had already been in New England some 200 years. That's a photograph of my great great grandfather, above, on my mom's side. His name was Dr. Fayette Royce. A physician, he became a preacher who manned the pulpit at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Beloit, Wisconsin, below, for 29 years, until his death in 1897.

My grandmother was his granddaughter. When thought of that way, it doesn't seem that long ago. The photograph below shows the interior of his church, decorated for Christmas. The church still stands and is the oldest remaining church in Beloit.

The pewter bowl and compote, below, were passed along to me by my mom. They're both dented and out of round from long years of use. The compote held the baptismal water and the bowl was the collection plate in my great great grandfather's church.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Odd Rocks

Some bluff top dwellers have put year-round riprap boulders across the sand at the base of the cliffs, hoping to slow the inevitable erosion. During a recent beach walk, my daughter photographed these boulders from an interesting angle.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

20th Century Barbershops ~ #20 In A Series

Of all the barbershop pictures, this is my personal favorite. Taken by Walker Evans in Atlanta, Georgia, in March, 1936, it brings to mind the saying, "If only these walls could talk".

This closes out the barbershop series that included the states of California, Illinois, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Ohio, Montana, New York, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Oregon, North Carolina, New Jersey, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Maryland, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. The rest of the states will be forthcoming, eventually, when barbershop pictures of them surface.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Women In Art

This video had pretty wide circulation several years ago. If you missed it the first time around and you've got a few minutes to spare, you might enjoy seeing this montage of how artists have depicted women over the years.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Red, Green & White

Our favorite fruit stand was looking festive this week, with big, bushy Oregon Christmas trees and red chili garlands and wreaths from New Mexico.

Last evening, our visiting cat friend, Thomas, stopped by. He likes to go behind the Christmas tree and let his tail bump into ornaments. Next month will be 5 years ago that he first jumped in through our living room window and made our acquaintance.

He's really filled out over the years. After he had his usual bowl of cream, he let us know he was ready to mosey along.