Monday, April 27, 2009

African Hall & Japanese Garden

This is part II of my trip to the California Academy of Sciences on Saturday. (Part I is here.) The African Hall features dioramas with mounted animals from Africa. These are life-sized taxidermy animals in scenes that represent their natural habitat. They look like paintings, don't they?

I would love to tell you what these animals are, but I don't know ... except for these in the next picture. They are zebras. I'm fairly certain.

And these are African penguins. Guess what? They are REAL. As you walk toward them, it is surreal to see these penguins moving about in their display, surrounded by dioramas of stuffed animals. I thought I was looking at digital imagery until I got close. They are ADORABLE and quite playful-- they would swim right up to the window and interact with the folks watching them. It was a highlight of the day.

After the African Hall, we sat and rested a while by an exhibit of hissing cockroaches (no, I didn't take any pictures-- you're welcome!). Then we moved on to the Japanese Gardens, which isn't part of the Academy of Sciences, but is located close by within Golden Gate Park.

It was quiet and cool ... so relaxing to just wander about, taking in the miniature trees and what was left of the blossoms, pausing to sit on a bench and absorb the silence and beauty.

Prior to visiting the garden I gave my sister her graduation present-- the Robert Pattinson Album, Twilight magnets, and a pin with a photo of Edward and Bella with a line from the movie. "Say it out loud. Say it." The perfect gift for the new MBA graduate.

She and I sat on a bench near a pond and looked through the album, giggling like teenagers. I tried to convince my mom Rob is gorgeous, but she made a face and said he needs to brush his hair.

Rob was looked at, Twilight was discussed, gardens were admired, bodies were rested. Time to head toward home.

It was truly a wonderful day.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rain Forest

I spent the day in San Francisco yesterday with my family. We were celebrating both of my parent's birthdays and my little sister's graduation from an MBA program. Most of the day was spent at the California Academy of Sciences, which is billed as an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum rolled in to one. We'd never been there before and I'm glad we went because it's fantastic.

My favorite part of the museum is the rain forest . You start out in the understory and slowly walk a circular path to the top of the forest. It's hot and humid in there, just like a real rain forest. Among the sights are gigantic butterflies, colorful free-flying birds, and lush tropical vegetation.

One interesting sight that I couldn't get a picture of was leaf cutter ants marching in a line down a vine carrying pieces of leaves upright on their back. It was amazing to watch.

When you reach the top of the rain forest, you have to check to make sure there are no butterflies clinging to your clothes before taking an elevator down to the aquarium located beneath the rain forest. (I was pretty freaked out by that time because it was so hot and butterflies were flitting uncomfortably close to my face.)

The aquarium is incredible-- you start out in a tunnel with acrylic walls, and inside are huge catfish and small-ish sharks.

As you meander about the aquarium , there are several rooms with acrylic walls with different types of fish inside, along with smaller displays of creatures like sea dragons, shrimp, and eels.

One of the big attractions at the academy is Claude the albino alligator. Yes, he is real! He is on display in a mini-swamp with fake mist. I feel bad for Claude because the swamp is tiny and there is no place to hide from the hordes of people and their cameras. But I read that he is 13 years old and would never have survived that long in the wild, so I guess that makes it a little better.

The academy is known as the greenest museum in the world. It was built with recycled steel, is insulated with recycled blue jeans, and is powered by solar panels. It has a living roof with undulating hillocks covered in native plants. The living roof keeps the building 10 degrees cooler than a standard roof, saving on energy costs.

I'll post pictures from the African Hall and nearby Japanese Gardens in a day or two.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wholehearted Giveaway

Brene Brown is giving away five limited edition prints (shown above) by Kelly Rae Roberts . All you have to do is leave a comment stating:

1) Who/what are you trusting today?
2) Who/what are you grateful for today?
3) Who/what is inspiring you today?

The print was created for the wholeheARTed movement.

Hope you have a good weekend. I'm going to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco tomorrow, so I should have some great photos to show you on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

I ask all blessings,
I ask them with reverence,
of my mother the earth,
of the sky, moon, and sun my father.
I am old age: the essence of life,
I am the source of all happiness.
All is peaceful, all in beauty,
all in harmony, all in joy.

-Anonymous Navaho

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

-William Blake

You ask why I make my home in the mountain forest,
and I smile, and am silent,
and even my soul remains quiet;
it lives in the other world
which no one owns.
The peach trees blossom.
The water flows.

-Li Po

Moon and clouds are the same;
mountain and valley are different.
All are blessed; all are blessed.
Is this one? Is this two?


Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.


Watching the moon
at dawn,
solitary, mid-sky,
I knew myself completely;
no part left out.

-Izumi Shikibu

One instant is eternity;
eternity is the now.
When you see through this one instant,
you see through the one who sees.


(Poetry from the book The Enlightend Heart, edited by Stephen Mitchell. Photos taken by me around my neighborhood on Earth Day.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


When I moved a few weeks ago, I stayed within my apartment complex, just moving a few buildings over. Last night I took Charlie, who has been walking on a leash since he was a kitten, for a walk to our old place. From the weird look on his face, I don't think he understood how close we live to our former apartment. He walked right up the stairs, sniffed around the patio, and then began pawing at the door and crying to go in. Oh, I felt so bad. I had no idea he would react like that. I tried to explain that we don't live there anymore and I don't have a key, even showing him the empty room through the window, but he didn't understand and protested as I tried to carry him home. Poor guy. We won't be doing that again.

He was fine once we got back to our new place.

* * *

I was bummed out on tax day because I had to pay more than expected due to working as an independent contractor last year. But that evening I received some good news. In my mailbox was a letter from the district attorney's office along with a court order stating that the man who wrecked my car in a hit-and-run a few years ago must pay me the total value of the car. It was an older car, so it isn't a tremendous amount of money, but I've been trying to collect it for a while and had just about given up. It was funny (and wonderful) that the letter arrived on the same day I had to pay a painful tax bill.

I celebrated by buying the little tables I had my eye on at a secondhand shop.

Also picked up this April Cornell throw pillow at the secondhand shop, along with some solid color cushions at Wal-Mart for seven dollars each.

And I bought this frame at Michael's for the vintage print I got at Goodwill. I love how it looks hanging over the couch.

* * *

Poor Apollo. He always seems to play second fiddle to Charlie, who is a bit of a rock star with his sweet personality and gorgeous looks. Apollo turned two recently and didn't get a mention in this blog like Charlie did. So, happy birthday Apollo. You are every bit as beautiful and special as your brother. (Yes, my cats read my blog, have emotions, and understand every word I say. Yep. They really do.)

* * *

Here is another musical street theater video. A girl working at the corn dog booth in the food court at a mall bursts in to song, and soon others join in. It's a kick. I sure wish something like that would happen while I am out and about-- I would LOVE to see that. I'm sure I would start crying, because everything seems to make me cry these days.

* * *

kelly rae is having a giveaway. Three chances to win! All you have to do is offer a phrase in four or less words she can use as an affirmation in her art. Mine is, "say yes."

Friday, April 17, 2009


I'm planning a mini-vacation at home this weekend. This has been a busy week and I am seriously in need of some down time.

On the agenda:

-Lay in my lounge chair out on the patio and read Eclipse . I am totally hooked on the series. I won't even tell you how many times I've watched the Twilight DVD in the last two weeks.

-If my Amazon order arrives, start reading The End of Your World and I Thought It Was Just Me .

-Watch my Netflix movies, Little Children and Ice Princess.

Oh, and Twilight again, most likely.

-Knit. I'm making eyelet wash cloths so I can post the pattern as a suggestion for a Mother's Day gift.

-Cook Salmon Florentine using a recipe from the American Heart Association website.

And ... go for walks, do housekeeping, play with the cats, and continue to work on decorating the apartment. I went shopping again last night for furniture and should have some pictures to show you soon.

Hope you have a great weekend. What are your plans?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stuff I've been wanting to show you

I've been preoccupied with tax preparations the last few days and haven't been doing anything particularly fun or crafty. Hopefully that will change now that the returns are in the mail. In the meantime, here is a short list of stuff I've been meaning to show you.

This is a picture of a Matisse made of fabric. It's from the blog sventso , which is written by the mother of my friend Martha Alderson . I have never met Martha's mother, but I can see from her blog that she is an incredible artist with a great sense of humor. Her post about how this picture came about is delightful.

* * *

Have you ever wanted to knit a blanket made of individual hexagons? I didn't know I wanted to until I came across a pattern for hexagons on the blog Knitty, Vintage and Rosy and saw this picture on the blog. Is that cute or what?

* * *

I have to insist that you take a few minutes to watch this YouTube video of joyful street theater in a train station in Antwerp. Hundreds of dancers "spontaneously" perform to a song from The Sound of Music. It will make you smile. Widely.

* * *

Did you watch it? Are you smiling? I thought you might be. Now please go back and watch this TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson about whether schools kill creativity. He's funny and his talk is thought-provoking.

Hope you're having a great week.

Monday, April 13, 2009

San Francisco

I had an excellent day in San Francisco on Saturday. It was sunny and fairly warm, and my friend Dogwood was a fabulous tour guide, taking me to out-of-the-way places that are more familiar to locals than tourists like me.

We began by browsing the boutiques on Portero Hill, and then went to Goat Hill Pizza for delicious clam chowder and a slice of pizza.

Next we saw a book art exhibition at the San Francisco Center for the Book , and then went yarn shopping at ImagiKnit . I bought four balls of Mission Falls 1824 cotton, and later picked up this colorful bowl and pot for pocket change at a secondhand store.

We stopped in at Goodwill in the Mission District and Dogwood bought me this lamp. It’s perfect on my new (old) bookcase.

Earlier in the day she gave me this gift of an aged bottle with the golden bird image on it, and even put the name of the artist who drew the bird, Giuliana Lazzerini , on the back.

(the cat artwork is by the amazing artist Yoju )

We ended the day at the community garden on top of Portero Hill.

Oh, I almost forgot. For Dogwood’s birthday, I gave her a
gift bag with a knit flower that I made using a pattern from the book Vintage Hearts and Flowers .

Inside the bag was the
miniature tote with a fabric collage I made a few weeks ago, and inside of that was a bundle of fat quarters …

... as well as this tiny picture of a birthday cake that I painted for her.

All in all, a most excellent day :-)