Thursday, September 29, 2011

What Fall Looks Like Around Here

Here's a slice of Americana - the pumpkin farms have started to pop up all around my town. What does fall look like around you?
p.s. Scavenger Hunt winners coming soon! And Storytelling Sunday!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Bit More About Busy Me

The days are getting shorter, and my to-do list seems to be getting longer.  So, while I try to find some time to tabulate the scavenger hunt results, here's a pretty fall sunset and a fun survey, which I found a Carrie's blog.  I'd love to see your answers.
A. Age: 50
B. Bed size:  Queen, shared with very tall husband, cat and dog!
C. Chore that you hate: Picking up other people's stuff
D. Dogs: Yes. But I admit it's an acquired taste.
E. Essential start to your day: Coffee (my husband makes it before he leaves in the morning)
F. Favorite color: Orange
G. Gold or Silver:  Gold. I especially love rose gold and white gold.
H. Height: 5’5”
I. Instruments you play: None, although I always wanted to drum
J. Job title:  Professor of law
K. Kids: Two teenagers.
L. Live: Northern California, twenty miles south of San Francisco (on the beach).
M. Mother’s name: Carmen
N. Nicknames: Rinda
O. Overnight hospital stays:  None for me; spent two nights in hospital with Clara when she was one and a half.
P. Pet peeves: Drivers who don't use their turn signal
Q. Quote from a movie: “You should've bought a squirrel." Rat Race
R. Right or left handed: Right
S. Siblings: I'm one of six. I have three brothers and two sisters. I'm #3.
U. Underwear: Clean.
V. Vegetable you hate: okra (slimy, slimy, slimy)
W. What makes you run late:  Being sucked into the computer vortex
X. X-Rays you’ve had: TMI
Y. Yummy food that you make: artichoke dip
Z. Zoo animal: river otters

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt: The End

It was a beautiful day in San Francisco:
I followed some bees:
Until I found their hive:
Which meant that I have completed the summertime photography scavenger hunt!  All 21 items!  What about you?  Did you play along? How many did you find?
If you played along this summer, please add a comment below.  Let me know how many you found and what category you competed in (photography only, snapshot- photograph with team member, or overachiever - both categories).  If you played along at all, please leave a comment even if you didn't find all (or even most) of the items, as I'll be drawing a random winner from all contestants.  In addition, there will be at least one winner in each of the other categories. The winner will be the person who found and photographed the most items on the list.  In the case of a tie, I'll flip a coin.  Also, if you get a chance, please leave a link to your favorite photograph from the scavenger hunt list (or email me your favorite, if you don't have a blog).  I'll create and post a list, so everyone can take a look. 
I think that's it! I'll leave this post up all weekend, so you have time to finish up your posting and leave me a comment.  If you have any questions, email me at
And a huge thanks to everyone for making this such a success!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Class Review: A Day with Mary Jo McGraw

As I mentioned recently, this year's Scramp Camp featured the guest artist Mary Jo McGraw. She spent the day with us, teaching two actual classes (one on collage and one on coloring and card making) and the balance of the day hanging out with us answering questions about various techniques and products.  The classes were fine. I made the canvas I posted about here and the cards posted above. I'd give the classes a solid B+ for giving good information and working with each student to create something that fit them individually. I have a recurring gripe about instructors not handing out written instructions, but that's a battle I seem destined to lose.   Mary Jo also has lots of very strong opinions, and she's going to share them with you!  Such candor may not be for everyone.
But . . . the amount of knowledge she possesses about products, stamping, art journaling, etc. is breath-taking! My favorite part of the day spent with her was when she taught us how to draw faces (see mine here) and answered questions about Ranger products and techniques. I wish I could have video-taped that portion of the day because it certainly rated a solid A for content and a willingness to share her secrets! 
Speaking of classes, I signed up for Cheryl Johnson's next photography class, "Painting with Light: The Sequel." I'm really liking her mix of photography tips and photoshop lessons. Plus, for $30, it's hard to beat! Anyone else taking any classes now or in the near future?
Just a little "squee" because I found out there's an observation bee hive at a children's museum about 1.5 miles from my work!
And a really big sigh of relief because I took Gypsy back to the vet today for a one month check-in, and my rock star vet Craig says that she's looking really good!!! We're continuing to decrease the amount of medication she's taking, and we're really beginning to think she's going to make a full recovery!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Scrapping my girl!

I sometimes worry that I don't blog or scrapbook my children equally. Clara would certainly say that I pay more attention to Henry.  As a 16 year old boy, he wouldn't notice. LOL! So, just to make sure everything is even, here's a few layouts I made today with Clara.  The one up top features a photograph taken when we were "performing" at the Experience Music Project Museum at Seattle Place. Love her expression!
And here's one I made about her running track last season. You probably can't tell, but I started with this Starting Point from Shimelle.  All paper is from Club Scrap. Embellies in the second one from Heidi Swapp.
Do you ever have to worry about scrapping about people in your life equally?

Monday, September 19, 2011


Last weekend, I went to a crop organized by a group of friends who met online and who all belonged to Club Scrap.  We meet every couple of months for an all day crop, and once a year we hold a longer retreat called "Scramp Camp." This year, we had a guest artist join us - Mary Jo McGraw. She spent the day with us, teaching two formal classes (one on collage and one on card making). In between classes, she gave us a lesson on drawing faces.  To me, this was the most rewarding part of the day. I've always been afraid of drawing faces, but she took the mystery out it. And I drew the face above. I'm really happy with it, and I'm looking forward to drawing more of them in my art journals.
Here's another face. This one was drawn by Mary Jo:
This face reminded me of an experience I had earlier this week. I was in a meeting of the hiring committee on which I sit. We're hiring, but we're not entirely sure what the position will be. Usually we look at our various needs and then look at the candidates and then decide whether to go with the "best candidate" out there or the the "best fit" for our needs.We go back and forth, trying to figure out a place, but never really being able to do so until after we interview people. It's a free flowing process which can be a little nerve-wracking. One of my fellow-committee members said "the process is organic." That made me giggle because I feel like my life right now is very organic! And Mary Jo's face seems organic, too.  Don't you think?
Have you ever drawn faces?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Finishing the Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt

Summer is officially over in one week, and the start of autumn will also signal the end of the Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed finding items on the list and how thrilled I have been to see so many people participating!
Here are instructions for finishing up.  If you would like to be considered for fabulous prizes, this is what you need to do.  On Friday, Sept. 23, I will put up a post asking you to tell me:
1. that you participated;
2. the category in which you participated (photography, snapshots with team member, or overachiever/both); and
3. the number of items which you found.
I will leave the post up all weekend. If you have not emailed me your photographs, please don't do it until I ask you to (as I'm trying to figure out the best way to handle them). If you have posted your photographs to your blog or placed them in a an online album, please do let me know where they are located. On Monday morning, California time, I will sort through the responses and figure out who the likely contenders are for the win and contact them to verify the number of their entries. 
Prizes, prizes, prizes! A wonderful prize will be awarded to the person (or team) in each category who has found and photographed the most items on the list. If there is a tie, I will draw a random winner.  In addition, I will draw a random prize from all participants, so please respond to the concluding post, even if you haven't found all the items on the list.
Questions? Let me know. 
Also, if you happen to know of a bee hive in my vicinity, please let me know!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


My mom was a beautiful woman, and she had great legs. So did I for most of my life.  My nickname on the adult women's basketball team on which I played in the mid-90's was "legs." Partly because I had good endurance and could run forever, but also because I had great legs.  Credit ballet and modern dance classes taken all the way through high school (and even the occasional class in college). Credit the generally active lifestyle in my adult life. Credit genetics. Whenever anyone complimented my legs, I would always say, "Thanks. I got them from my mom."
But in the last two years, I noticed that I had lost my shapely legs . . . a result of poor diet, lack of exercise and gravity.  A result of getting old.
Until this year . . . when I decided that turning fifty was not an excuse for poor health and fitness. Fifty was an opportunity to be fit and fabulous.  And, so, I've been working out.
This morning, I went to a make-up workout - a special class organized by my trainer Diana for anyone in any of her classes to attend. As a result, I found myself working out with some new people. One of them told me that she used to hire body part models (you know, hand models and the like) and asked me if I ever did any leg modeling because I "had perfect calves" and she would have totally hired me as a model. As you can imagine, her comment made my day!
Thanks Mom (for my legs). And thanks Diana (for helping me find them again).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A few layouts. . . belated ten on the tenth

I missed Shimelle's Ten on the Tenth blog hop because I was busy preparing for and going to a crop.  If I hadn't missed it, this layout would have been perfect for it! It's called "Ten Things I Love About You," and I made the layout (without pictures) in a Rusty Pickle class at a scrapbook expo about eight years ago! It's been sitting in my stash ever since, and I decided these various pictures of Gypsy fit it perfectly.  There are ten little tags scattered throughout the layout, and I wrote various reasons why I love my dog. I encourage you to click on the picture (or any of the other layouts) to see them more clearly.
Here's a couple of other layouts I did.  The first one was inspired by Amy's challenge to scrapbook a current event. It includes pictures from the day we experienced a tsunami warning and evacuation after the Japanese tsunami in March:
A layout about my son's sixteenth birthday (which we shared with his Godparents, Molly and Jack, whom I wrote about on 9/11):
And, because Clara doesn't get featured as much as Henry, here's a layout about her basketball team last year:
Over the weekend, I made 14 pages, two cards, a collage and learned how to draw a face.  The cards and face will show up soon, when I review the class we took with Mary Jo McGraw.  It felt great to get some pages done and utterly fantastic to usefully use something eight years old. How about you? Done any scrapping lately? Want to brag about something you used up?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dreams Don't Turn to Dust - Canvas Board Collage

Yesterday I posted a composed photograph that I took quite a while ago. If you look closely at the photograph, you will see that it includes three marriage milagros - including two same sex couples. It's a political photograph about the power and value of love and my belief that everyone is entitled to it. I've been wanting to incorporate the photograph into a collage and last weekend I took my first crack at it.  I was inspired by this album artwork challenge at Abi's blog, Creating Paper Dreams.  Although in the end, I only completed a part of the challenge, using a song lyric from her chosen album.  I say I took my first crack at it because I'm not completely happy with the collage. I hope to redo it on canvas (this is on canvas board) and make the following changes:
*straighten the focal image (snort!)
*move the focal image (along with the supporting elements) up about half an inch 
*make the line of people holding hands fainter
*make the background color more vibrant and luminous (using higher quality paints).
Any other feedback or thoughts before I start on the next version?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Which do you prefer?

Photograph #1
Photograph #2
This week's assignments in the on-line photography class I'm taking included a nature photograph. We were encouraged to consider featuring something besides mother nature in the photograph. I took this heart ornament (look familiar Deb?) outside to see what I could create with it. These are my two favorite shots.  I can only submit one for this week's critique, and I'm wondering which one your prefer.  Please let me know.
Often when I ask a question like this, people will respond, "it depends on what you're going to use it for" or "it depends on what feeling you're going for," and that's helpful too.  I do have some thoughts for how I will use these photographs. I will either use them on a card or as part of a collage. Something I want to do with my art as I go forward is to stage or compose photographs and then embed them within a collage.  Although I'm happy with the collages I've done with my regular photography, I think I can take my art to the next level if I start composing photographs, in addition to simply capturing life as it occurs around me.
The only other photograph I think I have ever composed is this one:
If you come back tomorrow, I'll show you a collage I made with it over the weekend!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflecting on 9/11

I spent the last two days at a crop, and I have lots of stuff to share, but I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on September 11, 2001, that terrible day, ten years gone by. . . .
I had just started my job at the University of San Francisco. Paul was working for the California State Public Utilities Commission in downtown San Francisco. Henry was in kindergarten, and Clara was at the infant toddler center.  My boy was a clingy child - he liked me to wait on the playground with him until after the morning bell rang, the kids lined up by class and then walked into their rooms, before I left. So, on that beautiful morning, I stood there hanging out and chatting with other parents. I was puzzled by what people were saying was happening on the East Coast (remember, it's three hours later here).  I frankly didn't believe the stories of terrorism. I assumed that the news reports had been blown out of proportion. 
Of course, I was wrong. Terribly, horribly wrong. I returned home, turned on the T.V. and followed the news reports all day. I called Paul, and we decided to leave the children in school. At three and six years old, normalcy seemed the best we could do for them.  He was sent home, as were all non-essential downtown employees. They worried that his building - adorned with a giant seal of the State of California - could be a target. Our neighbor Ed, who worked in the TransAmerica pyramid, was sent home for the same reason. I called my parents, and we talked about Pearl Harbor. Soon, several of our neighbors came over, and we watched the coverage together. It felt better, safer, to be together. As I heard more and more stories of the day, I related to the passengers on the airplanes. I flew a lot in those days and often took those early morning flights home. I had dreams of being herded to the back of an airplane, from which I awoke in a cold sweat. 
At some point, I realized that one of our best friends - Henry's Godfather - was in New York. I called his wife, Molly, and she said that Jack was in midtown and okay for now. I just kept saying to myself - he's in midtown, that's blocks away from the Twin Towers. Jack and Molly had been in New York for the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament (an annual tradition for them). Molly came home a few days before Jack, to get the kids ready for school, and Jack checked into the Cornell Club (his home away from home in New York City). On September 11, he checked out and went to conduct some business, planning to fly home later that day.  After the towers collapsed, Jack joined thousands of people walking across Manhattan, trying to figure out where to go. He said he followed his instinct to walk West - toward California and home.  Eventually, he returned to the Cornell Club in midtown. When he got there, he told the clerk he wanted to check in and stay until the airlines stated flying again. The clerk told him that there would be no rooms, as they had many new guests scheduled to check in that day. Jack laughed and tried to explain to the clerk that no one would be coming into New York that day.
Jack told us that story on Friday night of that week. He had returned to San Francisco a couple days earlier.  He was on the very first flight which United Airlines flew from New York City to San Francisco. He was able to get on that flight because he has so many frequent flyer miles! We were glad he was able to get on that flight and touched that they called us to come spend that first Friday night with them. 
Ripples from 9/11/01 continue to this day. When my parents passed away, it turned out that the broker's official records for their financial instruments no longer existed. The originals had been stored in Texas and destroyed in a fire; all the back ups had been in the Twin Towers. When I fly, I pass through elaborate security.  Today, I want to remember not the destructive ripples of the event, but the ripples of friendship and community, the ripples of patriotism and hope. So, today, I will fly my flag and call Molly and Jack. I will hug my children and enjoy the freedom which I enjoy and which makes my country such a target. And today, I share my story with you - the first time I have put it in writing. I'd love to hear your story of 9/11 and how you remember it today.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Elements ATC Swap: Curium

JJ (organizing the elements swap): "Rinda, do you know what other element you want?"
Me:  "Can I have 96 Curium?"
JJ: "Sure. Why?"
Me:  "It's named after Marie Curie, and I have a stamp with her image?"
JJ (shaking her head): "Of course you do."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Element ATC Swap: Beryllium

Henry (while studying chemistry): "Mom, do you know anything about the element Beryllium?"
Me: "Sure. It's element #4 and it's abbreviation is Be. It's the major compound in emeralds."
Henry: "How do you know that?"
Me:  "I'm doing an art swap with friends. 
We're making little cards about each of the elements."
Henry (staring at me; sighs): "Of course you are."

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011 Resolutions - Track the Books I Read

I'm keeping three different art journals to track my progress on my 2011 intention, resolutions and one little word. My "resolutions" journal focuses on twelve specific things I want to accomplish in 2011. Here's a page for something I finally accomplished today - find a way to track the books I read.
I'm not a big reader, but I do read about ten books a year, and I buy books all the time! I had considered a little journal but the idea of writing down books I've already read seemed daunting, as well as the whole problem of trying to decide how to organize it (alphabetically, by genre, chronologically, etc.). The idea of using a blog gadget was very appealing, since I'm on my blog almost every day. But, I couldn't find one that seemed easy to install and would do what I wanted.
So, in the end, I settled on an app for my ipad.  I chose "Book Crawler," and I'm really happy with it. All you need to do is put in the title of the book, and the google search engine will give you a bunch of choices for the correct edition of the book in a drop down menu. You choose the one you want, and it fills in all the other information (author, genre, etc.). There's a way to rate the book (from one to five stars) and a comment box (into which I put a little mini-review). You can also "tag" the book (the only tag I'm currently using is to note the books I read as part of my book group). You can sort how you display your books (I have mine list my unread books first and the list the books I have read by rating).
It was really easy once I got started. And, that's the lesson I learned today. Starting is always the hardest part on a project. I've put this project off for nine months because I was worried that I would have to gather all the books I read this year before I got started cataloging them. Ha! I embraced the old Creative Memories motto "Start current, stay current" and dove in. It was easy to remember and catalog the books I read over the summer. And then I kept adding, until I felt like I had made a credible effort at getting started.  I have 23 books on my list (9 to be read; 14 reviewed and rated), and I feel confident it will be easy to add as I go along. As my journaling says, "you can't reach the light at the end of the tunnel until you take the first step . . ." So, now,  I'm considering that resolution completed!
What's on my to be read list? Three books I started and want to get back to (Await Your Reply, The Lacuna, and Lark and Termite). Two books to read in October because of their Halloween theme (The Lace Reader and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). My current book group book (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) and our next book (Swim Back to Me). Finally, two books I'm interested in and will try to pitch to my book group (When God Was a Rabbit and Into the Beautiful North).
What did I read over the summer?
Blind Your Ponies by Stanley G. West (two stars; could have been great was only so-so, but it still held my interest for 500 pages, and I get bored and give up easily)
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (three stars; more plot than I expected; a very fast read; I liked it because I love my dog, but found the device of telling the story from a dog's point of view just a little trite)
Bangkok 8 by John Burdett (three stars; Thai detective mystery. Locale and Buddhist philosophy lifts it above generic detective literature, but felt a bit dated)
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (four stars; story of an English town surviving the plague. Excellent writing and great main character; ending feels a bit contrived)
What books did I rate five stars?
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Love in the Driest Season by Neely Tucker
So, what books have you read lately? Do you recommend them? How do you track your books?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Single Word Captions - what say you?

Spent the last few days in Chowchilla, CA (approximately the middle of nowhere; filled with orchards and farmland, I kept looking for bee boxes!). It was not the best soccer tournament Henry and his team have had, but I'm actually quite happy with the emotion I captured in these photos. A different perspective than my typical sports shots which look more like these:
It's good to take a different perspective on things sometimes. What do you think?

Strong at Fifty (Storytelling Sunday)

Here's the story behind my page for August in my 2011 Intentions Journal. It's part of Sian's Storytelling Sunday. Click on this link to read more stories.
We left Stewart Island early for our 11 mile kayak paddle back to Friday Harbor and civilization. We had spent the last three days camping and exploring the Island, one of many in the San Juan Islands, off the coast of Washington state. While we hadn't seen any orca whales, we did see bald eagles and seals. More importantly, we had spent three days together as a family - playing hearts, shooting baskets, exploring tidepools, hiking trails , talking and laughing - without distractions from electronics and teenage friends.
The weather on our trip had been wonderful, but the guide was worried that the wind was coming up and the seas might turn. By leaving early, we hoped to paddle with the current and avoid having to paddle into a brisk afternoon wind.  And, for the most part, we succeeded.  But the last 45 minutes of the trip were rough.  We had already been on the water for five hours. Henry, my kayak partner in the front of the boat, was pretty beat. Although he can run forever and his thighs are starting to resemble tree trunks (the result of hours of playing soccer), his chest, arms and upper body (the things that would be useful for paddling) are still thin and boyish.  So, I knew that most of the work of those last 45 minutes - paddling against the current and into the wind - would fall onto my shoulders. 
Or, actually, fall onto my "core" - those wonderful muscles in the center of your body which define your abdomen.  Paddling a kayak, you see, is not really about how strong your arms are (although it certainly helps to have strong biceps, triceps and forearms). To paddle a kayak effectively, you twist ever so gently and use your core muscles to propel yourself. As we were gazing across the last long expanse of open water and Henry was wondering whether we would ever make it to our take-out point, I told him not to worry. Because I knew I could do it. All those hours I had spent at the gym this year, all those planks and push ups, all those miles run had made me not just "fabulous at 50" but also "strong at 50."  So, I dug in.  I admit it was tough. I sweated. I grunted. I made those little "I.G.N.'s " (Involuntary Girl Noises). But I dug deep and paddled us home. I treated it like a work out . . . telling myself that this is the part of the work out (the last part, the hard part) which really builds muscle, burns fat and reshapes your body. And it's true.
When we at last reached the beach and dragged our kayak out of the water, I lay on the grass in the sunshine. And I laughed. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Enchanted Forest: Two Views

Two photographs of the Enchanted Forest.  One in color:
And one in black and white:
Which do you prefer?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Kind of Brush - A Lesson about Beauty (and a give-away)

I'm a minimalist when it comes to beauty products. I consider myself a master of the "five minute face." I use a bit of powder, some blush, a brush of eye shadow, a light coat of mascara and lipstick.   All my products are from T.LeClerc and are in very subtle colors.  Today, I realized that I'm also a minimalist when it comes to my hair. I can sum up what I learned in one sentence: "A handful of DevaCurl Gel scrunched into my hair is all I need !" I do much better with paintbrushes than hair brushes!
My daughter Clara, on the other hand, spends hours on her hair every morning. She would love to have one of these:
That's an Instyler, which can curl or straighten your hair.  If you would like an instyler, check out my friend Sonja's blog at this link.  She's giving away two instylers, and there's lots of ways to enter her give-away.
What kind of beauty are you? A minimalist? Or one who's more involved?