Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Wearing scarves and caps to guard against the cold, Harahoge jizos look out towards the sea. These stone bodhisattvas on Iki Island are purported to protect the women pearl divers. But I also heard they were built during a period of plague to drive evil spirits away.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Our Kyushu Bus Guide

She was the stuff of legend, a dreamwoman basu gaido-san from the 1960's. Her style was ultra-proper with funky beribboned hat, pin curls, form-fitting pinstripe suit and immaculate white gloves. She had a perfectly modulated voice and a good command of the local history and culture. To top it off, she sang local songs and hit tunes in a voice that induced us to either sing along or fall fast asleep. I enjoyed her dramatic recitation of the Heike Monogatari as we passed the area where the final battles of Dannoura were fought. She made jokes that no one laughed at and asked questions that were met with baffled silence. Still, for three days/two nights she served as our erstwhile and ever-smiling leader.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Greetings from the Squid Lady!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hawks over Shimonoseki

Overlooking Shimonoseki on a rainy day. Two hawks troll for prey.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Spa Resort Hawaiians

A free hula lesson for all at the Spa Resort Hawaiians in Iwaki. This place was made famous by the movie, "Hula Girls." The former coal mining town was converted into a hotsprings/ spa resort after they ran out of coal in the 1970's. We took a free bus to the Hawaiians from Shinjuku (Tokyo). Even on a weekday, the place was packed by families wanting a cheap escape from the big city. The very reasonable price of our one-night's stay included a Japanese room (sleep on tatami), hula shows, dinner, breakfast and unlimited soaking in the baths. We could have also availed ourselves to the heated swimming pool and water slides but decided not to. We did try out all 4 bath options - a stinky steel tub (rotten pipes?) in our room, a large bath down the hall, a large bath in another wing of the hotel and the outdoors bath above the gift shops. The latter was quite charming, if one endured the cold walk from the changing area to the rocky hotsprings. There was also a smallish wooden building that served as a sauna. The water was hot but felt good in the chilly outdoors. Instead of the traditional yukata (cotton kimonos), we were all given muumuus (women) and Hawaiian shirts & pants (men). Most of us wore these outfits during our stay (see above). My only disappointment was that they didn't have any postcards of the resort or of the hula girls.
We had much of the following day to check out the area until the return bus in the afternoon. We took a free shuttle to the town of Yumoto and visited the Joban coal mining & dinosaur museum. It was a modest museum but worth the trip - the first half of the museum is devoted to dinosaur bones found in the region and the second half was a "trip" into the coal mines. One takes an elevator down and when the door opens, one is "underground." There were dioramas of coal miners from the earliest period until the 1960's when mine operations closed down. Just off the giftshop was a small exhibit of the Joban baseball teams (men's and womens). It funny to see "Hawaiian" cheerleaders. We were told that this town was once prosperous but went into decline once the coal was exhausted. Indeed, other than the Spa Resort Hawaiians, there wasn't much to enjoy here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Field Trip in Chofu

I happened upon these students on a field trip. They carried clipboards and were writing things down. It was probably a biology trip, as the teacher was pointing to the various birds in the little creek below. The wild ducks in Chofu have grown fat and lazy, finding easy hand-outs from tourists. This road leads to the Kozanji temple and to a shrine dedicated to General Maresuke Nogi (1849-1912). Nogi quelled the Satsuma Rebellion, commanded Japanese troops during the Sino-Japanese war and Russo-Japanese war, and committed harakiri, along with his wife, after the death of Emperor Meiji.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Local Train

On a local train to Nishinomiya. The trains still have the same color schemes as the 1950's - green velvet seats; beige walls, round straps, chocolate brown exterior. Nonetheless times have changed; it used to be that people read manga on trains, now it's all texting, texting, texting.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Arizona Fall Ball

Billy Parker Field in Surprise, AZ
HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa, AZ
Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, AZ
Phoenix Municipal Stadium in Phoenix, AZ

Although temperatures hovered in the 90's, it was mellow and comfortable in Arizona. My baseball buddy & I spent a week there, from October 23 - 30, taking in Arizona Fall League baseball. The teams associated with Fall League are the Solar Sox, based in HoHoKam Stadium, Desert Dogs, based in Phoenix Muni, Scorpions based in Scottsdale, Javelinas and Saguaros both based in Peoria and Rafters based in Surprise. Promising minor league players are selected by the major league teams to play in this league. During the week I saw all the teams and all the stadiums. I even saw the China team playing in 2 of the games - they have a lot of work to do to catch up with American players. But I am confident that they will become competitive in the future. The American players themselves weren't totally up to major league snuff - lots of fielding errors and pitcher changes made for a sometimes lengthy game. The balmy weather was perfect for Polaroid image manipulations. I enjoyed sitting in the near-empty stands with the scouts and enjoying the last of baseball for the year.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bluebirds at Grand Canyon

Walking back to the Grand Canyon train, I looked up to see a tree full of iridescent blue birds. As soon as I pointed my camera, the birds flew away. They didn't go far, though. They alighted in a ditch just ahead of us to bathe and drink the water. Their blue coat was absolutely brilliant in the afternoon sun.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Kachinas from Second Mesa. Back left to right: Fire, Cricket, Joker, Owl. Front left to right: Pot, Hunter.

Weekend at Dillon Beach

Went on an artists' retreat at Dillon Beach. It was a beautiful weekend - warm, breezy and absolutely clear. This child was absolutely delighted by the water, which was cold but quite shallow.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

One Autumn Day

A few weeks ago I was walking around downtown enjoying the perfect San Francisco autumn. The sunlight made the edges of buildings stand out sharp and clear. The sky was an unblemished blue, temps in the low 70's, light breeze.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shopping Bag Bracelets

My friends and I have been talking about recycling plastic bags into totebags and wallets. Most of the patterns on the internet were for crocheted bags. I can't crochet so decided to knit. And instead of bags, I decided to knit bracelets. I've knitted a bracelet a night while watching the baseball division series. Clockwise from bottom right, white bracelet from Target bags, jade/blue bracelet from Glen Park Market & Old Navy bags, yellow/white bracelet from Target & Tower Records bags, yellow/blue bracelet from Tower Records & Old Navy bags and white/red bracelet from Target and a western clothing bag. Most of the bracelets can be worn as cuffs or rolled up as bangles.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Photo from old negatives at a recycling store.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


4 mixed media paintings on canvas and admission tickets.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Send a Postcard!

Deadline: January 15 2008

Theme: Sustaining Our Environment Postcard Exhibition

Sustain our environment! The Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA), a national women’s artists’ association and an NGO of the United Nations, invite mail artists and artists of all media to support the UN’s Millenium Goal, “Sustaining Our Environment.” The Millenium Goal’s objectives are:

· Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs; reverse loss of environmental resources
· Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water
· Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020

Submit 4”x6” or Size 6 postcards made from recycled materials and reflecting the theme of “Sustaining Our Environment” by January 15, 2008 . On the back of the postcard, provide your name, address and the materials used to make the card. Submissions will be exhibited during the February, 2008 WCA and College Art Association (CAA) annual conferences at Ft. Worth-Dallas, Texas. At the exhibition, works will be auctioned to benefit the United Nations.

Documentation on No jury, no fee, no return. Postal delivery only.

Mail postcards to P. Otani, Curator, Sustaining Our Environment, 263 Laidley Street, San Francisco, CA 94131 USA

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tapas Cheese Plate

Mitch and Martha invited us to a tapas dinner at their Sonoma home. It was warm evening, perfect for al fresco dining under the grape arbor. Martha put together an exquisite Spanish feast - cheeses, cured sausages, empanadas, potato torte, marinated figs, olives, gazpacho, 3 kinds of paella, salads with fresh pears and peaches and Mexican chocolate cupcakes.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Greek Sea

Bottles beneath the sea. Mixed Media - acrylics, paper, stencil, fabric, enamel paint


Innocent Souls, Hymns in the Jungle. Mixed Media - Acrylic, Thread, Paper, Glitter

Monday, August 27, 2007


Walt, Leslie and little Will at the Giants game....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Wild Turkeys

Wild turkeys sauntering along in the Oakmont Retirement Community in Santa Rosa.

Baseball 1 & 2

I started making baseball paintings, using old baseball cards as the base. I made the white painting first. I tried to put box scores in the margins but they cluttered the image so they were taken out. I stenciled in some scoring terminology in pale yellow. The black one was simply painted and wiped. I like the simplicity of this one better.

Baseball Paintings #3 & 4

I laid out tickets as the base for these paintings. I was trying to figure things out in the red painting and thus took much longer than the blue. I am working on 2 more "equipment" paintings.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I don't know her name but she came to our skybox party yesterday.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

The Alemany Farmer's Market is full of tomatoes. We bought cherry tomatoes in a rainbow of colors, large basket of paste tomatoes, large misshapen organic tomatoes. Also appearing - muscat grapes, Gravenstein apples, mission figs. I bought some bright green okra to be chopped, flavored with lemon and soy and eaten raw, (finally) sweet blackberries, young onions, pickling cucumbers and empanadas. We came home and made salted cucumber pickles and roasted tomato soup.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Writer's Corp

I attended a poetry reading at the San Francisco Library several months ago. The poems were by students of inner-city schools who partner with Writers Corp teachers during the school year. The SF Arts Commission is behind this project and the purpose is to transform and strengthen individuals through the written and spoken word. The poems are edgy, painful, beautiful and deeply moving.

Truth Hurts
Raised in a world with hate and violence.
Isolated in my room and wait in silence,
little scared child, parents are violent.
Teary eyes in abandoned space, and silent.
Didn't ask for life but that was given
in the back, in pitch black.
Not adapted to living, innocent infant
but yet still guilty.
Project Housing Living Conditions filthy.
Entrapped in this hell, asking who sent me,
stomach full from the food
but the heart is empty.

Diante J.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ray King

Ray King of the Nationals pitched to just one Giants player yesterday. Despite his imposing presence, his pitching was quite hittable.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Gulls overhead at Stinson Beach

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Bank of America

Walked all over downtown yesterday. Chinatown was filled with a Yiddish youth group, all boys, who were throwing cherry bombs and annoying the Europeans. Took a coffee break at the Stella Bakery, which has converted itself into a sidewalk cafe. Then walked by the BofA building towards Union Square. It was overcast and breezy all day.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Series of Six

The painting assignment for Wednesday is to paint every day and end up with six paintings. I decided to paint ballplayers I photographed this year. I used pencil, then charcoal to draw the figures, then acrylic paint. I had several pieces of balsa wood that I picked up from SCRAP so I cut them up into 9x11 inch sheets and use them as my canvas. I painted the back dark green and the front, a creamy white. The players were painted after the background coating was dry. The wax smeared some of the charcoal outline but the smears didn't bother me that much. I coated the paintings with cold wax medium. After it dries, I will try to polish the wax.


Went to Stinson Beach to celebrate Dr. Mironoff's birthday. The marine layer was thick today and the sun never broke through. We ended up grilling oysters in front of the house and eating them inside. Too cold for a picnic on the beach but perfect for bird-watching. After oysters and champagne, I staggered to the beach and watched a single fishing boat and a row of pelicans trolling for their dinner.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Tigers' outfielder Maglio Ordonoez had quite a game today, getting on base 3 out of 4 times with a RBI in the 6th inning. Cute hair too!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Empire Grill

This diner is in Skowhegan, Maine. Had lunch here one day and was greeted by the effusive owner (show at far left wearing cap). It was a beautifully restored diner, partly thanks to the shooting of a movie here called Empire Falls based on a book of the same title by Maine resident, Richard Russo. Next to our booth was a group of 8 people, part of a tour, enjoying the diner that was featured in the movie. The menu was standard diner fare, featuring breakfast all day. I don't enjoy breakfast so ordered the grilled cheese sandwich. After a very long wait the sandwich arrived. It was toasted on the outside, the 2 small slices of cheese was unmelted.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Embden Pond

Morning view from our cabin at Embden Pond, Maine. We had a nice cabin a few yards from the pond, very close to the boat dock. Birdsong in the morning woke us and the sound of the wind in the trees was soothing.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Blueberry Ice Cream

Maine had a lot of great ice cream. At Frosty Delite, Mom & I had fresh blueberry ice cream and Mike had maple walnut. I loved the retro look of this ice cream parlour, especially the black and white linoleum floors.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lancaster, NH

We came across this charming covered bridge in Lancaster, NH. We stopped in this town on our way to Maine. We visited the tourist information center and saw a quilt with this bridge sewn on it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Interleague game between the Oakland A's and the Mets. The Mets won, which was a big relief to most of the guests in the skybox.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Grand Reading Room

Afternoon shot inside the NY Public Library. It was nice to spend some quiet time among the stacks in a light-filled reading room.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New York, New York

Waiting for the light to change on Times Square
Nuzzled near Wall Street and World Trade Center.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Library Walk

We stayed at the Dylan in New York, very close to the main NY Public Library. The two blocks leading to the library are called Library Walk and there are plaques every few steps with quotes from various authors. This project was co-sponsored by the NY Plublic Library and Grand Central Station.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Street Tango

This painting is based on last week's assignment. We did some fast sketches of the street below our classroom. Then we had to use one of the sketches and make a painting. While I was doing my classroom sketch, I saw a man pushing a cart with 3 chairs on it. It was a portable shoeshine stand. I decided to do a painting based on him. Because none of my other sketches were interesting, I went back to the classroom and photographed the street below. I also took some streetsite pictures. I then sketched the cars and people in ink, then colored them with acrylics. I had layered a lot of papers but they all were covered by the grey paint. I used an old wallpaper for the crosswalk. The greenish windows of the building are Japanese tissue paper.