Spencer Byles and Andy Goldsworthy

December 7th, 2016

Today I ran across the work of Spencer Byles. I was not aware of Byles’ work. So, I looked at all of the images of the project, A Year in a French Forest before reading about his process and checking out his body of work.

Spencer Byles Sculpture

Sculpture No 15. from A Year in the Forest. Photograph by Liza Karakova.

This is a portion of Spencer Byles’ artist statement:

Every piece I create is a different and new experience. I work with different materials, these can be ‘man made’ or ‘natural forms’. There isn’t a common link to these other than I find I am drawn to materials that lie abandoned, or discarded.

I find that one of the most interesting things about choosing materials that have been abandoned or discarded is to integrate reference of their previous life into a new context. That doing so respects the previous life of the material. It can also act as a point of access for the viewer.

While viewing the images of Spencer Byles’ work, I of course thought about the work of Andy Goldsworthy. I love Goldsworthy’s work. It is lovely and elegant, often seeming to defy gravity, but always feeling that it somehow occurred naturally.

Goldsworthy Arch

Andy Goldwworthy Woven Branch Circular Arch, Dumfrieshire, 1986. The image was found here.

Some of the materials that Goldsworthy uses include: large rocks, ice, branches, and even leaves. I have not seen any of Goldsworthy’s work in person, but suspect if you are lucky to happen on one of his works what would occur is what folks write about when they use the phrase, startles the soul.

There are several books of images of Andy Goldsworthy’s work. I only own two: Hand to Earth: Andy Goldsworthy Sculpture 1976-1990 and Wall.

To see more images of his work, check out the Andy Goldsworthy Digital Catalogue.

There is also River & Tides, a great video about Goldsworthy’s work. It is available to rent on Netflix, and to rent or purchase on Amazon.

The Unknown Plant Must be Delicious

December 5th, 2016

The plant on 2 December.


The plant on 4 December when I checked on it to see if it needed watering. Not sure who munched on it.


Moved it inside to a protected area. Still can’t Identify it. Waiting for it to bloom.

Unknown Plant

November 24th, 2016

Still unable to identify the plant. I visited one of the local nurseries and asked two Master Gardeners and they were stumped.

We know that it is not a variety of plants by ruling out what we are certain it is not.

Unknown Plant

10 October 2016

Unknown Plant

31 October 2016

Unknown Plant

24 November 2016
The leaf, while growing larger, has changed.

Unknown Plant

24 November 2016
The flip side of the leaf.

Some of the things I have learned from gardening–

Gardening teaches patience.
Gardening teaches respect for nature.
Gardening is a process.
Gardening is an adventure.
Gardens are ever changing and never finished.

Monarch Caterpillars and Milkweed

November 3rd, 2016

A few days ago I checked out my friends’s garden and was pleasantly surprised to see Monarch caterpillars living on his milkweed plants.

Monarch Caterpillar

According to the National Wildlife Federation there are 12 native milkweeds for Monarchs. None of which are the Asclepias growing in my friend’s garden.

Monarch Caterpillar

I snagged a couple of pods.

Milkweed Pods

I planted 25 seeds in 5 pots.

Milkweed Seeds Planted

Put them in the studio.

Milkweed Seeds Planted

Now I wait.

Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove

Hillary Clinton and What Should Have Been an Historic Election

November 3rd, 2016

Last Christmas I received a copy of Humans of New York. Recently I became aware of the Humans of New York website. And there was Hillary Clinton. She told the story of taking the law school admissions test.

“I was taking a law school admissions test in a big classroom at Harvard. My friend and I were some of the only women in the room. I was feeling nervous. I was a senior in college. I wasn’t sure how well I’d do. And while we’re waiting for the exam to start, a group of men began to yell things like: ‘You don’t need to be here.’ And ‘There’s plenty else you can do.’ It turned into a real ‘pile on.’ One of them even said: ‘If you take my spot, I’ll get drafted, and I’ll go to Vietnam, and I’ll die.’”

Many women have been forced to endure similar situations. It is unfortunate but, women needed to figure out a way to function in these situations.

This is what Hillary stated in the same Humans of New York story,

“But I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions. And that’s a hard path to walk. Because you need to protect yourself, you need to keep steady, but at the same time you don’t want to seem ‘walled off.’”

With each presidential debate I kept wondering how does Hillary Clinton, who is an accomplished person, share the stage with someone who claims to be ignorant by choice?

If Donald Trump had someone apply for a management position in one of his businesses and the person had no applicable experience and lied on his application or refused to supply proper documents, would Trump even consider the person for the job? No, should be the answer. But apparently Trump wants the American people to overlook his lack of applicable experience and vote for him like they would vote for the prom king.

This election should have been about Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments. It should have been about the historic event of Estelle Liebow Schultz casting her vote for the first woman for President of the United States. Why is her vote historic? She was born before the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. The 19th Amendment denied the right to vote on the basis of sex.

Women’s Suffrage Time Line

National Archives

Hillary Clinton’s Website

Why 33,000 Is Not A Significant Number

November 3rd, 2016

Never underestimate the petty vindictiveness of those in power.

33,000 emails may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t. I am self-employed and generally my means of communication with folks is by email. I am not currently working on a project so my email count is lower than usual.

This is a spreadsheet of the number of emails on my new computer that was purchased in April and my old computer that I am primarily using in my studio.

Email Spreadsheet

I use the family private server. Yes, there have been attempts to break into it. We have protocols in place to update the security on the server on a daily basis, track hacking attempts, and monitor logins. While you can never be absolutely positive that your server has not been hacked there are no indications that ours has been.

I suspect that Hillary’s server has more sophisticated security than ours, since it is an obvious target for hackers. And if it was hacked, where is the evidence?

Those in positions of power should be using their time and our tax dollars on issues and policies that benefit all of the people of our country, not for their power-mongering pleasure.

The quote at the top of my post is from the BBC series Pie in the Sky. It is fiction, but the statement comes from a more rational place than most of the reasons used to support the never ending attacks on Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately Hillary is probably accustomed to attacks, as are many women.

What the power-mongering people do not seem to comprehend is while they are trying to hurt Hillary Clinton, they are harming all of the people of our country.

Unknown Plant Update

October 31st, 2016

Seedpods Unknown Plant

Seedpods Unknown Plant

Seedlings, Seeds from Seedpods of Unknown Plants

October 10, 2016 Seedlings from Unknown Plant Seedpods


October 31, 2016 Plants from Unknown Plant Seedpods

What Happened?

October 31st, 2016

I was looking through some work in progress and thought this looked odd.

Casemaking Moth Damage

The last time I saw this piece the stitchwork background was completed. The plan was to add another layer of stitchwork with fiber and seeds with the code, A Fragment of Memory.

When I opened the graph paper I found this–
Casemaking Moth Damage

And this–

Casemaking Moth Damage

So what caused the damage?

Casemaking Moth Damage

Casemaking Moths.

I have a weird fascination with the critters. They totally creep me out. And yet they are rather interesting the way they become active with a bit of light. And how they carry their shelter with them.

It is frustrating to have work destroyed. Even if it is work in progress.

This is a image of the damaged alpaca lace piece and a piece that is stitched with bamboo.

Casemaking Moth Damage Comparison

They were on the same shelf, right next to each other. Does this show a fiber preference? Or maybe the difference was the alpaca piece was partially inside of a piece of folded paper. That would make for a darker more protected environment for the casemaking moths.

I have written about casemaking moths in the past here, here, and here.

The first time I wrote about casemaking moths was March 2012, the last time was in September 2014, well until now.

Unknown Seed Pods

October 10th, 2016

I like the challenge of growing plants, shrubs trees from seed and cuttings. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes not so much.

A couple of months back, a friend gave me a small plastic bag filled with potential plants.

unknown seed pods

She said that she had saved them years ago, but could not remember what they were. I looked at the pods. They looked vaguely familiar, but I could not identify them.

I planted them 19 September. I placed the pot on the back of a shelf in my greenhouse.

unknown seed pods planted

This image was taken 24 September.
unknown seedlings

It did not occur to me that the seed would respond so quickly to a bit of soil, warmth, and water. I was surprised to see growth so quickly. Unfortunately the seedlings are leggy.

I moved the pot to the front of the shelf. After a few days of morning sun, I moved the pot to a protected location amongst some potted plants.

Over the weekend I noticed the plants developed their second set of leaves.

unknown seedlings second set of leaves

Now I wait for the plants to reveal their identity.

Squirrels in the Garden

September 15th, 2016

If you are seeing plants eaten to the ground and holes in your gardens;

Squirrel Hole

and if squirrels are vacuuming up birdseed in and around your bird feeders;



you might have a squirrel problem. How do you solve the problem?

Past Squirrel Problem
We had a problem with squirrels several years ago when we lived in New Jersey. I naturalized the backyard with a variety of bulbs. It was fun to see the bulbs peak through snow and the buds begin to develop. Just as the buds were beginning to bloom, every one was bitten off and left next to its plant.

We talked to gardeners and folks at nurseries. We tried everything that they suggested. Eventually we gave up and accepted we would not see hundreds of flowers blooming in our yard.

Now we have at least five squirrels living in and around our gardens. I will admit they are fun to watch. They run up and down the wisteria that covers our deck, stopping for a taste of a Norfolk pine. I watched as a squirrel sat in a pot of mums eating every leaf. That may sound strange to watch, but it is amazing how they use their wee paws, to see their dexterity.

We decided that we must relocate the squirrels. We tried this trap, but the squirrels could snag the bait and run out. And a larger trap can capture larger animals. We forgot to close the trap one night and found this critter–


We purchased a smaller humane trap and again forgot to close it one night. And found this critter–

opossum in Trap

opossum in Tree

After we released the opossum it ran up the bottle brush and eventually disappeared.

What have I learned? When you make gardens that are woodland-like they are inviting for all kinds of critters. Also the drought conditions have forced critters to find food and water for survival and we offer that in our gardens.

Perhaps one day we will be free of squirrels. Actually that is rather interesting. We live in an area where you just don’t see squirrels. Ground squirrels typically are seen in the surrounding fields and on and around the mountains. But in the our neighborhood it is rare to see them. The 20 plus years we have lived in SLO we have seen two squirrels in our neighborhood. Five squirrels, together is definitely unusual.