Something on your mind? ? ? :-)

If you would like to leave a comment to tell me what you like or if you would like to share an experience you have had, have suggestions for new adventures, or would just like to share what's on your mind, please feel free to do so! I would really, really love to hear any feedback you would care to offer!

When you click on the comments link at the bottom of the post, you will be presented with choices for logins, if you do not already have one of the accounts listed, or you do not choose to login with that account, you can always choose the anonymous option, in which case your name would come up as Anonymous! If you choose to use one of the other log in options, your name would appear as the public name you list for that account. For example, mine would appear as Willow's Quiet Corner, and, of course, your email would not show!

Thanks! And, again, thanks for stopping by! I really hope to hear from you and to see you again soon! Let me know how you think I am doing! :-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Via Arte Italian Chalk Paintings in Bakersfield

The Marketplace in Bakersfield Fountain
I woke up to happy, smile-inducing sunshine and a beautiful day!  It was a good sign that my day trip to the Via Arte Italian Chalk Paintings in Bakersfield would be a good one!  But, that didn't last long!    ;-)      I took my leisure getting ready to take off for the day and thought I'd treat myself to a grande decaf mocha to sip and a croissant for breakfast to munch on along the way.  Everything was going well, not too much traffic, I got on the road at a fairly decent time, but I hadn't gone more than 20 miles when disaster struck!  Welllll, ok, fortunately, it wasn't a major disaster, but it did cause me to turn around and head back home.

You see, that grande decaf mocha's cup collapsed at the top and the lid popped off and coffee shot up and out of the cup and ended up all over - on my arm and in my lap.  But, it could have been worse!  Somehow, it didn't end up all over the car!  I didn't want to be walking around all day with sticky coffee residue and coffee stains all over my arm and the sky blue dress I was wearing, so I turned around and went home to change and rinse out the dress so I didn't have permanent stains all over it!

When I got back on the freeway about an hour later than my first departure, traffic was a little heavier, but still not too bad for a weekend in LA.  Then, after I got past down town LA and started heading up the grade it suddenly slowed to a crawl.  As I got further along I discovered what the problem was.  Some poor guy's car had stalled in the middle lane.  I felt bad for him, sitting there unable to get out of the way.  But, once past that it was smooth sailing all the rest of the way to Bakersfield.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was very excited to see what kind of work I would find there.  There was a special section for children and a lot of their work was really nice.  I would have liked to have gotten a picture of one little girl who was standing very proudly next to her work, but decided instead of posting her picture on the web, I decided it would be best to just snap a pic of her work.  Here are a few of the pics of the children's areas and their work.  Look for the pink and green picture signed by the proud Brandy G 9 years old.  Most of their squares were about 12"-24" squares.

The kids sections.  Lots of very nice work here!  Good job, kids!

Speaking of kids, Claydoh the Clown was on site creating magic balloons for the kids, from swords to hearts to angel wings, he twisted balloons into all kinds of shapes in just seconds!  He put smiles on a lot of young faces!

It's Claydoh! 
I got a couple of pics where I tried to capture a sense of the number of works on display!  There were actually a couple more rows for which I did not get snaps!  Most of these spots were 4' by 6', so there was a lot of ground to cover in just a couple of days!

I took so many pictures of all the artwork I can't begin to share them all here, but I would like to start with some of those that won.  It must have been tough being the judge for this competition, there were a lot of very nice pieces.  There were several that I thought should have won something, but it seems there just weren't enough categories to go around.      :-)      I'll share some of those here a little further down!  Later in the day, the shadows from the trees and the umbrellas the artists were using to try to keep from baking in the heat fell across portions of the artwork, making them a bit difficult to photograph and see, so I apologize for some of these that are a bit hard to see.  (The copyright notice is, of course, only for the photo, not for the artwork itself!)

One gentleman had brought a step stool with him to get a better shot of the work.  I must keep that in mind for the next time!  I tried to hold my camera up as high as I could and still try to get a good shot, but unfortunately, it was very difficult, if not impossible at times, to see exactly what I was getting in the frame.

At one point a couple of ladies crouched down to walk in front of me and then turned around and apologized, they said they didn't know I was trying to get a picture, they just though I was standing there with my arms held above my head.  What? ? ?  Really? ? ?  I know this is So. Cal. and people think we are pretty strange out here sometimes, but really?   Really you just thought someone would stand around with their arms held up over their head to view artwork on the sidewalk in front of them? ? ?  Yeah, I always find I can see better with both of my arms held high in the air . . .  Anyway, many of the pics got a bit of the artwork cut off here and there, but I'm hoping you'll be able to get a good idea of the stuff that was there!

3rd Place - Original Work - Heros

2nd Place - Original Work - La Muerta

1st Place - Original Work - 6 squares of Bakersfield locals

3rd Place - Reproduction - A Pilgrim's Progress - Norman Rockwell

2nd Place - Reproduction - Salvador Dali

1st Place - Reproduction - Snow White's Sonata - Mia

Visiting Artist Award - Snails

I really liked the ones selected for awards, but there were so many more that were really good.  Here are some of my favorites (Unfortunately, I did not get the names of the works or the artists who created/recreated them!).

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribean

I believe this is Judith beheading Holofernes by Artemisi Gentiles.  
A little gruesome, but I thought very well executed!  No pun intended!

King Kong

I loved the way they made the pavement look like a lake.  The blue was so beautiful!

M.C. Escher's Water Drop

I tried to get a photo of the entire work, but it came out
better when I just tried to isolate parts of it.

Here is a little video of some of the others! Music: Tu Vuo' Fa' L'Americano by Quadro Nuevo from Putumayo World Music's Italian Cafe'.  It may take a little while to load!  I hope it will be worth the wait for you!

The trip home was a long one because of all the traffic coming back into the LA area from all the weekend jaunts out of the city, so it was pretty slow going.  It's the thing I dread most about taking weekend trips.  (my cousin on her cute little 9 Acre Farm should be very glad her town, population 24, does not have anywhere near the traffic to contend with that we have here!  :-)

But, I am very happy I made this trip!  It was definitely worth it!  Next year, I would love to spend more time there.  Apparently, some of the artists get started Friday night and are still finishing up when the awards are announced.  I would love to be there from the beginning to see how they get their work set up.  It looks like most of them have a team to work on the painting and they start with a grid overlaid on the picture they are working from.  Then they put a grid on the pavement to keep things proportioned correctly.  Sometimes I saw three or more people working on one painting at the same time.  I heard a few of them mention it was very grueling, hot work and hard on the old back!

It appears I now have another project I want to try to tackle!  I may end up with a very colorful driveway one of these days!      ;-)

Well, that's enough for now!  Maybe I'll see you at the Kinetic Sculpture Race in a couple of weeks!  Unless, of course, we meet up at the Festa Italiana in Riverside next weekend first!

Arrivederci!  For now, anyway!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Newport Beach Sand Castle Contest

Castle Repo won the best overall
I have always been intrigued by pictures of sand sculptures and well executed sand castles and have always wanted to see them "up close and personal" and to see how they are brought to fruition.  A few weeks ago I went up to the Hueneme Beach Festival to see the sand sculptures from their contest, but there weren't very many to see, so I still felt the need to investigate further.

I recently saw that there was going to be a sand castle contest in Newport Beach, but there was also going to be a big kite festival in Seal Beach the same day, during the same time frame.  What to do?  What to do?  Such a dilemma!  Both sounded like they would present great photo ops and I was really torn as to which I should attend.  In the end, I opted for the Newport Beach Sand Castle Contest.  I marked my calendar and hoped there would be a good display.  (There is a list of the awards given out on the above link as well.)

So, this past Sunday was the big day and I headed down to Corona Del Mar's Big Corona Beach.  Unfortunately, it was an overcast day and I got there about an hour or so into the building stage and started snapping pics of all the works in progress.  Then, once they were completed I went back through to get snaps of all the final works of art.  My apologies to the youngest team (under 12 years old), as I somehow missed getting pics of their work in progress!  Congratulations on your honorable mention, though!

I am posting the pictures of the in-progress snaps side by side with the finished masterpiece snaps!  :-)  Some of them required multiple shots of the finished product, so there may be more than one "after" pic for some of them!  It seems everyone, or most everyone, ended up winning some type of award, which made it all worth it, I'm sure, for all the people involved.  I enjoyed seeing all the ideas they came up with and thought they did a great job!  It sure made me want to grab a bucket and give it a try myself!  Maybe one of these days I'll get a chance to! 

It is difficult to see this one, but it is an archaeological dig, complete
with skulls, bones, a treasure chest and  shovels.

Since the pics display so small here, you can't see the jersey
 for Favre in the back.  You sports fans will get it!

Master sandcastle builders in the making!  These boys
won the junior division!  Great job, guys!

On the way home I decided to swing by Seal Beach to see if there were any kites still in the air.  As I got to Huntington Beach, I found myself slipping out from under the overcast skies to clear blue skies.  When I got to Seal Beach there were still a few kites in the air and I saw some HUGE kites on the sand.  I'll bet they were wonderful to see in the sky.  I was too lazy to try to find parking and walk down to get some pics.  And I was worried that if I did manage to find parking and get down there, by the time I did, the kites that were still flying would have been reeled in and put to bed already.  But, the little taste I did get driving by made me realize I need to make sure to watch for and get to the next Japan America Kite Festival!

So, my friends, my next planned day trip will be to the Via Arte Italian Chalk Paintings in Bakersfield.  Hopefully, I'll have a little something more to share on that soon!  Another upcoming day trip I have in mind is a trek to the Kinetic Sculpture Race.  Now there's something you don't see everyday!  I hope you'll stay tuned and come along to see what I find!

I'd love to hear about some of the interesting or unusual events in your neck of the woods if you'd care to share!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dragon Fruit Flower

Darn!  Darn! Darn!  I missed it!  I was really looking forward to watching my dragon fruit cactus flower!  It only happens one night and that's it.  As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, about 4 weeks ago I noticed a little bump at the end of one of the arms of my cactus and a week later it was about the size of a large pea, the second week it was a little larger than a shooter marble.  By the third week it was about 3-4 inches long and last weekend it was probably 7-8 inches long.

This morning when I went out to harvest some seed and dig up some basil plants for my cousin I looked over and just couldn't believe it!  I was very sad to see that I had missed the bloom!  Judging by the looks of things, it would appear that it probably bloomed Friday night, although it could have been last night.  I was very disappointed.  The flowers are absolutely huge, probably 8-10 inches across, and so pretty.  As you can see this flower has gotten extremely droopy and doesn't even look like a flower at the moment.  :-(

Well, now I can look forward to the big fruit.  Last time the ants got to it before I did, but I won't let that happen this time!  Of course, I'm going to have to be much more attentive than I was about watching for the flower!

Ok, well, I have some writing to do and some photos of a sandcastle contest to edit and get ready to post!  Talk to you soon!

Julian Apple Days Festival

I went online last night and found that the Julian Apple Days Festival is going on this weekend and decided I wanted to go check it out.  It had been a while since my last trip to Julian and I was anxious to go back and to check out the festival.  The only problem was going to be the weather.  Normally Southern California flatlanders are not used to getting rain between May and December, but yesterday I was sitting at work in front of full length floor to ceiling windows being treated to a little bit of one of mother nature's pyrotechnic displays.  We don't get thunder and lightning very often, so I do enjoy it when I can.  But, being out in the rain for the festival didn't sound like a lot of fun.  So when I woke up this morning, the first thing I did was peek outside.  Hmmmmm, overcast.  Should I or should I not go . . . 

I decided to go ahead and get my breakfast and get ready to go and see what things looked like then.  When I was ready to leave, it looked like it was at least thinking about clearing up, so I decided to go ahead and make the 3 hour drive up the mountain, hoping I was making the right decision.  I got on the freeway at 9am and within a few minutes it began to sprinkle. . .  And then it began to rain. . .  And then it began to pelt the windows so hard it sounded like rocks hitting the windshield. . .  And that's when I started to get the idea that I had made the wrong decision.  But, I like driving, so I thought I might as well see it through, enjoy the ride and hope for the best.  And as it turned out, I'm sure glad I didn't turn back.  By the time I got to Oceanside, it had stopped raining.  And by the time I got up the hill, the sun was out and the sky was a beautiful blue with big gorgeous puffy white clouds.

The hills were covered with straw-colored vegetation that has been baked in the summer heat until it was completely dried out, and here and there were bits of green that somehow managed to survive all these months without water.  There were broad swashes of a rust color that looked like someone had taken a giant brush full of water-color and swished it over some portions of the hills.  There were orchards and vineyards, oaks and evergreens, chicken ranches and horse ranches and sheep and cows.  And I might have been dreaming, but I thought I saw a sign that said Oasis Camel Dairy.  Hunh?

Anyway, along the way, in the distance I saw a big, big balloon in the sky, but it didn't seem like it was really going anywhere.  It didn't look like the typical hot air balloons we are used to seeing floating around so peacefully, so I was curious to get up there to see what it was.  When I got close enough I saw it was tethered at the entrance to the San Diego Wild Animal Park and stopped to snap a picture.

It looks like holly leaves, but the berries are blue?
Do they start out blue and then just turn red for Christmas?
Once you are off the freeway, it is mostly just a 2-lane winding road with very few places to pull over.  I kept trying to stop to get some photos of the clouds, but could never find anywhere it would be safe to pull over and where I wouldn't have phone or power lines in the way of the shot.  But, fortunately, there were still some great cloud shots to be had once I got to the Menghini Winery where the festival was being held.

Tink was soooo cute, I had to snap a pic!

There were several vendors at the festival offering everything from decorative items to food and pumpkins, pony rides to jumpers, jugglers to face-painters, panning for gold to bands and musical entertainment and tug-o-war contests to pie eating contests.  I got a chance to taste hard cider for the first time.  I thought it was like a cross between beer and wine.  It was very refreshing and the vendor was extremely nice.  He pointed out that Julian Hard Cider had just been featured in the latest issue of Sunset magazine.  I picked up a local apple recipe book that looks like it has quite a few tasty treasures to try.  While there, I also managed to score a piece of apricot apple pie and it was delicious!  It looked like everyone was having a great time!

After I had made the rounds at the festival, I headed into town to wander around the streets there for a couple of hours, window shopping and trying to chose a place to eat.  It looks like Mom's is THE place to go for apple pie and apple dumplings.  Every time I walked by, there was a long, long line to get in.  Since I had already had a piece of pie at the festival, I didn't want to wait in line for another piece of pie, but I definitely peeked in the windows every time I walked by and did a little drooling each time.  It sure looked delicious and now I am really wishing I had gotten in line anyway and brought some pie home . . . sounds heavenly with with the vanilla ice cream I have sitting in the freezer.  Darn! ! !

Mom's always has a line.  Next time,
no matter what, I'm stopping here for a treat!

Delicious meal at Soups and Such Cafe.

I finally decided to try Soups and Such Cafe for my late lunch/early dinner and I think it was exactly what I was looking for.  It was a nice, clean little place, the service was extremely friendly and helpful and I liked that they also ran a little bit of a flower shop in there as well.  Made it seem especially cheerful with all the brightly colored flowers around.  I chose the half-sandwich/soup/salad combo and got the roasted red pepper sandwich and broccoli brie soup.  The soup had little slices of almonds in it also.  The salad was a mixed greens with a very tasty vinaigrette.  Yum!

The town cemetery is just a block or so from the main part of town and I thought I had seen something about some of the older tombstones from the beginning of the town, so I decided to take a stroll over there.  I didn't find the headstones, but I didn't search very hard for them either. 

On the way back down the mountain, I stopped at a little, and I mean little roadside stand to pick up a few apples.  He was down to the last bit for the day and it was pretty picked over.  I selected 3 apples that didn't look too bad and he just said enjoy and didn't charge me for them!  Thanks! 

As I got further down the mountain, I realized that I should have stocked up on . . . well, . . . something.  I mean, how could I have gone all the way to Julian without picking up some fresh something.  So, I also stopped at the Wynola Valley Orchard Peaches stand and picked up several more peaches to eat and to dry.  I do wish I had picked up more apples while I was there!  But, I think I was afraid to because I knew I wasn't going to have any extra time over the next few days to do anything with them and didn't want to waste them.

So, finally, I am ready to head home for sure and I am driving along and look over to my left and then have to do a double take.  Remember on the way up I said I thought I was seeing things when I thought I saw a sign that said Oasis Camel Dairy . . .  well, I now think I must have really seen that sign, because there were camels grazing along side the horses over there to the left!  Yes, camels, with their big humps mixed in with all those horses.

I got back to the freeway just as the sun was going down.  And just as I got to San Clemente, I found myself driving under some very thick cloud cover that extinguished the last dredges of sunlight that had just been grazing the horizon.  It was a very pleasant end to a very pleasant day.  I had the sunroof open and the air felt deliciously cool.  The cloud cover seemed to help concentrate the scent of the ocean and the residual heat from the sun on the dried vegetation was causing their scent to rise into the night air as things started cooling down and it all mingled with the scent of the bonfires on the beaches.  Awwwww . . . .

Well, I need to scoot for now!  I have an early morning planned.  I need to harvest some seed and baby basil plants for my cousin and her little 9 acre farm before I head down to the Newport Beach Sandcastle Contest tomorrow.  Stop by her place and check it out if you get a chance!  And, hopefully we won't get rained out and I'll be able to share some photos from the Sandcastle Contest soon!  Stay tuned!