New Potentail Art Materials

January 25th, 2015

My neighbor trimmed his palms. The cuttings were on the way to the dump. Instead, some will become art material.

Large palm nuts:

Large palm nuts

Stored in my greenhouse:

Large palm nuts bunches in greenhouse

Small palm nuts:

Small palm nuts

The palm nuts will be a great new material that I can use for coding.

Lichens found on an olive branch:

Lichens on Olive

Interesting information found here:

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Corporate Document Repository: Date Palm Products

Brain Injury and Donation

January 21st, 2015

Yesterday The Fussy Librarian and BookGorilla had an offer for a book written by a person who wrote about their brain aneurysm experience. I read the chapters posted on Amazon. Then I read the reviews. One reviewer recommended My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey. Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. is the author.

The first person I knew who had a brain injury was my nephew. He was 18 months old and while in a diabetic coma sustained brain damage. The second person was a woman I worked with who had a brain aneurysm. Members of my family have been diagnosed with dementia. Whether it is an unexpected injury or the gradual loss of function with dementia, brain injury does change the person. Their family and friends are altered by the injury as well.

Last night I started reading Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey. In the introduction she stated,

Within four brief hours, through the eyes of a curious brain anatomist (neuroanatomist), I watched my mind completely deteriorate in its ability to process information. By the end of that morning, I could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of my life.

That scares the hell out of me. The thought that people can be aware, but not to be able to do anything about it.

Scientists are researching how brain injuries occur, how to reduce the effects of the injuries, how to treat the injuries, and perhaps even how to prevent them. Brain donation, as part of organ donation, gives scientists the material they need to conduct their research.

In an interview with Jill Bolte Taylor, she was quoted as saying that when one becomes an organ donor the brain is not included. Special arrangements need to be made. The Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center was mentioned in the interview.

There is a list of brain and tissue banks available on the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website.

Two members of my family donated their brains for research–one was for dementia, the other was for restless legs syndrome.

Vegan Replacement Boots

January 17th, 2015

It is often difficult to find vegan friendly footwear. I have been wearing the same vegan Garmont boots since 2002. Recently the soles began to crumble and fall apart. I would have purchased a new pair of vegan Garmont boots, but a replacement does not exist.

I was unable to find someone to replace the soles of my Garmont boots, so I gave Shoe Goo a go. After the adhesive cured I noticed that the areas around the adhesive began to crumble. I suspect Shoe Goo would be great for making certain types of repairs, but it is not really intended for making new soles.

I went on a search for replacement boots. It is easy to find hiking boots, but not vegan hiking boots. Finally, I found a pair of Merrell boots that are vegan friendly.

All of the reviews that I read stated the Merrell boots were true to size. I ordered a pair from Title Nine. Unfortunately, the pair that I ordered was a tad snug.

The boots were on sale and when I checked the website for the larger size, many of the sizes were no longer available. I phoned Title Nine customer service. The person I spoke with was quite helpful. I placed a new order for a half size larger, and then I packaged up the original pair for shipping back. The new pair arrived in a few days.

Merrell Boots

When I slipped them on they fit great. I wore them around the house for a couple of days. Yesterday I wore them on my first hike.

Yeah, they really have bold and bright colors…

While on the hike I noticed this cool bark. At first glance it appeared to have been deliberately attached to the tree.

Cool Bark

Regret Quotes

January 11th, 2015

“Regret. It piles up around us like books we never read.”

…is a great line from the movie, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recuit.

A few other regret quotes I have accumulated–

“…stained dark with regret and long-time abandonment.”

from Painted From Memories by Barbara Forte.

“…anger dissolved in a sigh of regret…”

from Deceptive Cadence: The Virtuosic Spy by Kathryn Guare.

“…time of early evening when the world seems trapped in melancholy, and all its regrets for all its mislaid plans for the day spelled in the fading clouds…”

from Where She Went  by Kate Walbert.

And from The Gray and Guilty Sea-An Oregon Coast Mystery by Scott William Carter.

“…no room for even a sliver of regret”

New Year’s Traditions and Rituals

January 3rd, 2015

Apparently, part of my NY’s tradition is to wear my gray vest and favorite hat. It is the hat my brother gave me at our sister’s wedding. The vest was a gift as well.

NY 2014 and 2015

I was even wearing the same scarf this year, but removed it before walking to the beach. It was too warm for it.

What does that say about me? Two years, two photos, nearly the same?

Pretty sure it has something to do with loving my hat and always feeling comfortable wearing my gray vest.

Both have been with me for nearly 14 years. Why replace something that works so well?

And there is a high probability that at least day a month I will be wearing the vest, and more often wearing the hat.

2015 January 1

January 1st, 2015

One of my few traditions is to visit the beach on the first day of the year. Today was a great day–sunny, warm, and no snow to be seen.

Looking for holey rocks–

New Year 2015

Holey Rock

It was low tide so critters could be seen–

Critter 1

Critter 2

The sea grass would make a great art material–

Spice Finches

December 31st, 2014

New to our gardens–

Spice Finches

They are Spice Finches or Nutmeg Mannikins. The scaling on the chest is so beautiful.

Spice Finches

Spice Finches

Spice Finches

Some Spice Finch information can be found here–audublog.

Fire Starters Then and Now

December 31st, 2014

Two years ago I made fire starters for folks who have woodburning fireplaces. I used pinecones from my garden, cedar shavings (result of running cedar planks through a planer), wax, twine, and cinnamon sticks.

Firestarters 2012

This year I thought I would try something a bit different. I have boxes of dried plant materials from my garden. I collected and dried them to use in my work. I haven’t found a need for them. I had thought about tossing them in the recycle bin, but decided to use them for fire starters.

Firestarters In Progress

I lined some old muffin tins with cupcake papers and filled them with dried materials and cedar shavings. Then used cotton twine for wicks. The wicks are bound around cypress pods. Then the lot was topped with paraffin.

Firestarters Detail

I also made a few pinecone fire starters.

Firestarters In Basket

Placed the fire starters in baskets lined with tissue and filled with cedar shavings. Everything can be used for starting fires, including the baskets.

I was curious how the fire starters would work, so, I set some alight.

First a cupcake fire starters–

Firestarters Cupcake 1

Firestarters Cupcake 2

Then a pinecone–

Firestarters Pinecone 1

Firestarters Pinecone 2

Firestarters Pinecone 3

I had more fun watching them burn than making them!

Some Great Pods

December 28th, 2014

While visiting family on Christmas, I scored some great pods.


Apparently the large pods are from a type of Cassia tree. It is also known as the Golden Medallion tree. It was nearly dark when I took the photo so difficult to tell what it really looks like.


This is an image from the Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute site at Cal Poly.

Cassia Tree

Detail image of the pods–

Pods Detail

The pods are beautiful! They have little woody shelves for the seeds. And according to the Urban Forest Ecoosystems the Cassia seeds are poisonous. That is so great. Another material to use in my work!

I snagged these Cassia pods during Thanksgiving. When I hung them in my studio they were green then, now they are not.

Pods Studio

I also collected some pods from a vine that grows on the wall around the pool.

Pods Vine

The flat interior piece brings to mind an African shield.

In the process of completing a series using these pods. “Change” is the working title of the series, but that could change.


Leaning toward constructing concrete structures for the pods to live in.

I have been making concrete tests to determine if that is the correct direction.

These are a few of the test results. I used concrete and hypertufa mixtures. Then cast them in silicone molds.

Concrete Cups

My hope is to find a nice concrete mix that works for me. Then to use some of my ceramic aggregates and oxides to add texture and color.

Also constructing mixed media panels that will be coated with concrete, then aged. If I find materials that work well with a concrete mix I will construct a structure for each of the pods.

Panels for Concrete

This is just a fun thing that I noticed in my studio. I had been using wax to made fire starters and candles to give for gifts. A seed from the pool pods landed next to a drop of wax.

Wax and Seed

Black Bamboo and Other Finds

December 21st, 2014

This morning I went to visit a friend who offered to let me take some cuttings of his black bamboo.

Black Bamboo Detail

The cuttings are nearly 9′ long.

Black Bamboo

I found loads of cypress pods.

Cypress Pods

I found a piece of mesh that has pant parts growing through it.


And a piece of twisted wood.

Twisted Wood

I also found some cuttings from a cypress that sustained storm damage. I am thinking that it would be fun to shred the wood and bind it to the exterior of a box.

New Materials

Then I noticed a cypress was weeping. It was sad, but lovely. And a bit sticky…

Weeping Cypress

On the way home, stopped by to see the goats. They are working goats. They have been tasked with clearing a field near the airport. Apparently it was break time.


One of the goats wears a bell.

Goat Wearing Bell

Today there was even a watch dog. He gave a long deep howl.

Watch Dog

Now it is studio time.