My Etsy Shop

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Girls' Summer Lunch

Yesterday we got together for our quarterly Girls' Lunch. In the summer we like to have it at Janet's house in Marin so Linda and I can escape the fog of the city. It was toasty warm in Janet's backyard and we had a lovely afternoon.

Here's the lunch:

Janet got these great Pesto Tarts from Delicieux Fine Desserts in Fairfax. They sell them at the Marin Farmer's Market. They each contain many entire cloves of garlic, but they are cooked perfectly so that they have a silken texture and great taste. Be forewarned of having overpowering garlic breath afterwards.

Janet is catsitting for her neighbors. This guy spent the afternoon alternating between coming over for attention and crashing out in the shade.

It was an idyllic day for all of us. After lunch we had show & tell. Each of us brought our latest work to be admired and critiqued. It's so great getting feedback from other illustrators. Janet is illustrating a children's book and showed us her rough sketches. I can't wait to see the final art. Linda is writing a trio of children's books, which she will illustrate. We got to see her latest draft. They are going to be fun. I showed my Surtex images.

I'm already looking forward to our next get-together.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sports bra saves US hiker in German Alps

I really liked this news story and some of the comments that people put up. They had it posted under "Weird News"

Monday, June 23, 2008

(06-23) 12:44 PDT BERLIN, Germany (AP) --

An American hiker stranded in the Bavarian Alps for nearly three days was rescued after using her sports bra as a signal, police in southern Germany said Monday.

Berchtesgaden police officer Lorenz Rasp said that he helped lift 24-year-old Jessica Bruinsma of Colorado state to safety by helicopter on Thursday after she attracted the attention of lumberjacks by attaching her sports bra to a cable used to move timber down the mountain.

"She's a very smart girl, and she acted very resourcefully," said Rasp. "She kept her shirt and jacket for warmth, but thought the sports bra could work as a signal."

An Alpine rescue team, including five helicopters and 80 emergency workers, had been searching for Bruinsma since she went missing June 16 after losing her way in bad weather while hiking with a friend near the Austrian border.

She fell 16.4 feet (five meters) to a rocky overhang, where she spent the next 70 hours on the narrow ledge, sustained by water that she found by breaking into a supply box on the ledge.

She badly bruised a leg and dislocated a shoulder in the fall, and the cliff was too isolated for her to climb free, Rasp said.

Rasp said the cable was only within reach because the timber transport system was out of service. When a repairman restored the line on Thursday, the cable car started moving up the mountain and Bruinsma's bra reached the worker at the base. He knew of the missing hiker and immediately called police.

Rasp said his team followed the cable line up the cliffside in a helicopter and found Bruinsma standing on the ledge, waving with her good arm. After circling once, they lowered a winch to Bruinsma and lifted her aboard.

"She did so well because she is in very good shape," Rasp said. "She has been training for a marathon — her goal is to finish in 3 hours and 10 minutes."

Bruinsma told Rasp that she has scrapped plans to stay in Berchtesgaden to learn German and plans to return home to Colorado Springs with her parents. He said she still plans to run the marathon, if she recovers in time to keep training.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Advertising Claims

I guess I'm a sucker for advertising claims. The latest product I've fallen for is Cranergy. It has green tea extract and vitamins and claims to give you more energy. I like the raspberry flavor, which has only 50 calories and is sweetened with Splenda. It probably contains caffeine, but I'm not sure. I feel like I have more energy after I drink it. I wonder how much of it is placebo effect? If you click on the name, it will take you to their website, where you can download a coupon for a dollar off so you can try it for yourself and let me know if it gives you more energy.

I remember back when I was about 6, I got a pair of PF Flyers sneakers. They claimed to "make you run faster and jump higher." This appealed to me very much, since I was short and slow. (When I was around 10 the neighbor kids gave me the sarcastic nickname of "Thunderbolt" because I was so slow at running the bases in kickball. I knew they were making fun of me, but I sort of liked the nickname because it sounded a lot cooler than some of the other nicknames kids could give you.) I was really convinced that the sneakers made me run faster and jump higher. Check out this YouTube video of one of their commercials from the 50s. It is pretty hilarious. I sort of miss the good old days of wild unsubstantiated advertising claims, don't you?

I think our parents were right about the warnings that tv would rot our brains. Although I often forget my own cell phone number, I can still remember advertising jingles from the 50s. This one still rattles around my brain, "Look both ways when you cross the street so you'll be around to live and eat Waleeco, Waleeco, coconut bars are the best I know!"

They still make PF Flyers. I did not know that. I wonder if they can still make me run faster and jump higher?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Please Don't Eat the Sunflowers

I went out to water my sunflowers this afternoon and found that 4 of them were merely stumps. The other day, one of them was broken off. I assumed it must have been the wind. But now 4 in a row were mowed down at about the same level and they were the ones closest to our neighbor's yard with the low fence. And someone ate most of the plants. I suspect varmints!

A quick trip to the hardware store later, and I put up shields for the remaining 6 sunflower plants. The plan was to grow these sunflowers to flowering stage and let the birds harvest the seeds. I grew these suckers from seeds, so I am not pleased at seeing them chomped less than a week after getting them planted in the ground. The possible culprits are:

a. squirrels
b. raccoons
c. rats (ewwwwww...)
d. possums
e. gophers (but there are no mounds, and don't they eat the roots?)
f. Wilhemina bunny who disappeared from next door months ago.
I know we don't have deer in the city...

Which do you think it is?

If it's rats, the aluminum screening may not deter them. They can just climb inside and chomp away. Stay tuned for the answer to this mystery.

These are my seaside daisies that I got from the Strybing Arboretum plant sale.

My red elderberry, which I bought at the same plant sale, has some red berries on it.

The toyon also has berries starting to grow. These are a few of my native plants. Maybe the sunflowers are getting chomped because they are not native?

The cotoneaster, which has been there since before we owned the house, has tons of flowers on it. I've never seen it flowering like this before. The flowers have a slight fragrance, which is sort of pleasant. It's loving having the Monterey pines gone. It will be covered with red berries in the winter.

Here's a shot of our panoramic view from the top of the yard. It's a little hazy today, so you can't see the Pacific Ocean in the right hand corner. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Kurt Elling

Luckily I finally had time to read the paper this past weekend, and I saw that my fave, Kurt Elling was playing at Yoshi's this week. I got tickets for the 8:00 show on Tuesday night.

Steve met me in Japantown for dinner. He got there before me and scoped it out. He decided he wanted to try this new place, O Izakaya, in the Hotel Kabuki. Steve's bud, Michael Bauer, had given it a good review. It is a pretty fun atmosphere. The place is decorated with these huge blowups of old Japanese baseball cards. Sort of gives it a retro Lichtenstein feel. They have a Happy Hour menu with a few selections discounted. Some of the small plates are pretty small. Just about everything on the menu is pretty spicy. Even the dessert had black pepper in it, kumquat beignets with black pepper creme fraiche. We tried the braised pork belly with housemade kimchi. Hint: this is not a Weight Watchers dish. The menu has a lot of different cocktails made with very unique ingredients. This would be a good place to meet a group of friends.

After dinner, we walked over to Yoshi's and got our seats for the show. Kurt played with his usual musicians: the brilliant piano player and arranger, Lawrence Hobgood (shown in the photo above with Kurt,) bassist Rob Amster and a new drummer, Kobie Watkins. Lawrence was featured on Marian McPartland's piano jazz show, but I missed it, being back east at the time. But we can listen to it now online at that link.

Kurt's a very hip guy. He likes to read poetry. He read Carl Sandburg's Prairie and a poem by Kenneth Rexroth that I didn't catch the title of.

The new drummer is good. He really has the "making faces" part of playing jazz down pat. I enjoyed watching him during his solos. I wished I had brought something to draw with. Kurt thanked us for coming out on "a school night". The show was only about half sold...lots of empty seats. So once the 8:00 show was over, they announced that everyone was invited to stay for the 10:00 show. Steve surprised me by saying he wanted to stay. We were so glad we did, as the second set was better than the first, and they didn't play any of the same songs. Kurt said, "Now we're warmed up." when they came out for the second set.

Kurt and Lawrence are working on a new CD, which will be a tribute to the Johnny Hartman/John Coltrane legacy. They played a couple of selections from this new project. I have to say, they weren't my favorites. I preferred the songs from his last CD, Night Moves, like Body and Soul and Tight. The guys seemed to be having a good time, and so were we. They did an interesting version of Stardust with a very long intro.

We had such a good time that we got tickets to go back and see Karrin Allyson in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Duded-Up Barn Swallows

Link to nice Barn Swallow illustration
I saw this article in last Wednesday's San Francisco Chronicle about a study some biologist did with barn swallows.

They caught some male barn swallows in mist nets and used a marker to darken the breast feathers of lighter colored birds to match the naturally darker colored birds. Female barn swallows find the darker ones more attractive, trust me on this one...

They measured the birds' hormone levels and weight before releasing them in their new more colorful duds, er...feathers.

After one week sporting their colorful plumage, the biologists trapped these guys again and re-measured. The birds' testosterone was up 36 percent after only one week! They also gained weight (which is a good thing in birds.) The birds that didn't get the marker makeover experienced a drop of 50% in their testosterone levels.

The theory is that the makeover birds felt better about themselves because they were getting more attention from the female barn swallows, which caused their hormone levels to go up.

Interesting. What will these scientists dream up next?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Memorial Service/Reunion

I attended the memorial service for Barbara Bradley last night. It was a fitting tribute to her life and work. So many alums and friends were there, it was like an Illustration Department reunion. They gave away these framed sets of cookies featuring some of Barbara's famous kid illustrations.

Here's a closeup of one of the cookies. Gordon told me that that Society of Illustrators had them made up last year when she received the 2007 Distinguished Educator of the Arts award. They contacted the bakery and ordered more of them to give away to people who attended the reception after the memorial service.

I wish I had brought my camera so I could post some photos of my art school buddies here. It didn't occur to me to bring a camera to a memorial service.

They started off and ended with bagpipes playing in St. Brigid's. First they showed a slide show with photos of Barbara from baby years up through school, marriage, her own family, to grandkids. Barbara's oldest daughter, Lauchlin, delivered a touching eulogy. Elisa Stevens spoke briefly, followed by Chuck Pyle, who now heads the illustration department. Next up was Craig Nelson from the Fine Arts department and finally Bob Walker. A film tribute by David Oliver Pfeil ended the service. They showed footage of Barbara teaching clothed figure in Bradley Hall, which was moving for those of us who were her students.

Then the bagpipe player lead all the people in a procession out the door and downstairs to the reception, where they had a show of some of Barbara's illustrations and drawings on display.

I recognized many faces there. Sometimes it took me a few minutes to figure out "who the heck???" but for the most part, I was able to determine who they were pretty quickly. We all talked up a storm. There were people there who were my instructors, classmates, friends and colleagues from SFSI.

Here's a partial list of people who were there, including links to their work if I could find one:

Robert Steele

Kazu Sano

Rae Ecklund and her daughter, Julie Ecklund

David Grove

Keith Criss

Shannon Abbey

Pete McDonnell

Jim Pearson

Gordon Silveria and Merle Devault

Randy Berrett and Lisa Berrett

Tim Sunderman and family

Diana Thewlis

Vivian Wu and Eric

Sharon and Dan Morris

Joel Yau

Sara Mordecai

Sherrie Sinclair

Craig, Melissa and Gabriel Marshall

Melinda May and Alan Mazzetti

Paul Kratter

Andrea and Dan Tachiera and sons

Spence Snyder

Robert Hunt

Barron Storey

Robert Evans

Lourdes Livingston

and lots of other people I did not have a chance to see or speak with and maybe some I forgot I did see or speak with. It was a great night. I'm only sorry Barbara wasn't there to see the fruits of her labors.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Lynda Barry Rocks!

I've been a big fan of Lynda Barry for a number of years. We used to read her comic, Ernie Pook's Comeek every week in the Village Voice. I love Marlys.

So when I heard on the radio this morning that she was going to be on Talk of the Nation, my little ears perked right up. It was a short interview, but classic Lynda.

I have to say that this woman stole my heart when we went over to a book reading/signing she was doing in Oakland a few years back. The first thing she did was start to throw candy out into the audience. She bonked Steve on the head with a little box of Nerds. That did it for me. Nerds are Steve's favorite.

She's promoting her new book, What it is. It's about creativity and the creative process. We stopped at our local bookstore this evening, and they had a copy...and it was 20% off, so I just had to get it.

We also went to see the Sex and the City movie tonight. Highly entertaining and fun.