Monday, December 14, 2009

Anna's acoustic set for new CD

She does some interesting music - that girl of mine!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Strapped for water - you wonder why...?

I have been looking at this issue for a few years. And like everything that is important to protect - we humans neglect because, well, I have yet to understand! I have been thinking that really it has something to do with the 'peacock' in all of us. All show and no 'go'!

The peacock or peafowl is from India. I have read and heard that some Indian tigers used to hunt these birds... not very sporting, I suppose, but maybe it was because they pissed the tigers off. Being all, 'I prettier then YOU!' and 'I don't have to hide from tigers cause I am -THIS BIG-!' or 'I don't have to have a beautiful voice because I look like- voooosh - THIS! NANNY NAH NAH!' ROAR! yummmm.... And like tigers and peacocks - nature get us back.

People liked the birds and revered them. Saw their gods in their feathers and riding on their backs. People did not like tigers. They saw their neighbors and children and farm animals mauled by them. The tiger is now, nearly gone but the peacocks have multiplied and made themselves nuisances in far away places such as in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Now, if only there was a bigger creature out there that would fall in love with humans and their outrageous consumptive aptitudes and our ability to throw up our hands like the peacock and say, 'I didn't do it! It happened all by itself!' But... we don't. We try the peacock thing with each other and some folks fall for it. Most just keep eating.

So. Here we are. In a very serious drought situation. We really do know what to do but, we won't. Agencies like the CIty of Pasadena tell folks to only water their lawns once a week. I don't have a problem with this announcement - but, it is seen by the majority of people as only temporary - to morrow they will turn the streets into Slip-and-slides. Then other folks, who are the Water Problem Deniers say, that it's the water agencies fault and they are only lining their pockets and raising rates because we aren't buying enough water.

Here is a little video of our aquifer - where we store our water in the San Gabriel Valley. It is said this the aquifer under the San Gabriel River supplies only a million people... the water comes from rain and snow melt from the mountains behind it, MWD adds its water (Colorado, Owens, Sacramento Delta), and the rain the permeates the ground directly.

In 2004, we were in the last year of a six year, drought. I flew over the 'Durbin Pit' next to the 605 freeway for the video, Ya Don't Miss the Water (you can watch it by clicking the links on the right). Here is a clip showing the pit. Look at the size of this pit and realize there are several other monstrous pits in the area. The water you see in the pit is actually the top of the water table of the San Gabriel Valley Aquifer. Be aware of the depth by what you see at the sides of the pit.

IN 2005 we had a 100 year storm in the San Gabriel Mountains, which means that the mountains received more rain then on 'average years' and was near the 'record' for rain about 100 years ago. It's not really a very accurate method for measurement, but it is used by various agencies and insurance companies to mark, with a broad stroke, where normal rain fall is to 'more then normal' rain fall. Insurance companies use it to increase your flood insurance if you buy a house in areas deemed in the 50 to 100 year flood zone (delineated by marks left by older storms in soils, vegetation, rocks and/or described by records and finally, by looking the depth of the land to sea level (water flows down stream and pools in depressions).

I have been photographing the river and the mountains and looking for changes. Here is the San Gabriel Dam (north of Morris) following Route 38). TOo see differences check out my older posts.

This is what the San Gabriel Dam looked like November 26 of this year. First, looking north and uphill... Then, look at the next photo from that day and notice the ridges formed by erosion when the water was at higher levels... Can you see the grasses poking up in the center? You can see the bottom of the dam.

And now, here is a video of the Durbin Pit from a ridge looking over into the pit from the north east side...

What all of this says is that now, right now!! this time....we have REALLY created for ourselves a huge pile of doody for ourselves. One that we may not be able to fix or create work-arounds. Not watering our lawns but once a week is a really VERY pathetic reaction to this drought by the water agencies. What we need to do is re-evaluate at how all of us use our water everyday - including corporations that use the water and who decides to expose our aquifer to the air and thereby... increasing the loss of our drinking water by evaporation by the hundreds of acre-feet. (Why people are NOT screaming here is beyond me...) And, we have to re-evaluate how we build our cities here in the West (and other places now that the Locomotive, Climate Change is starting to pull out of the station). We can no longer think we can keep adding to our population without changing where we live and what we live in... no more - everyone gets a house, anymore.

And by the way... as the video ends... notice the size of the cars on the 605 freeway and see the pile of concrete that was used by the PIT DIGGERS to shore of the side of the pit. It will not be long before the 605 Freeway will be driving INTO the pit. The mud pit by then... maybe what? next year?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Inherently Evil about this lady's job

Recently, I have been protecting my mother, who is now, not able to do the book keeping like paying bills or even to read and understand her bills. The Banks and the Telephone Companies are rapping at her door, trying to scam her of her money. Welcome to Amerika!

Here is one gal who stood up against her boss, B of A, and did the humane thing .... watch!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sketches from Dayton, Ohio

Sometimes, it is just not nice to take a picture... and also, it's wonderful to test your memory and draw what you saw a few days ago....

I flew back to Dayton, Ohio because a friend, mentor and my professor was retiring. Also, I wanted to say 'hello' to two other professors (one emeritus, now) who were also important to me as a human and a scientist.

Getting cheap tickets for flying is a chore.... not the buying but the using. Most of the time the flight is packed and I get the seat that doesn't go back... Horrible, because I can't fit in the seat. My legs rub the chair ahead of me and I usually need to get up and stretch out my body parts after a half an hour or so.

So, here we were, squashed, flying, and now it was time to offer us our dinner hotdogs.... ugh! This poor little stewardess, who at the ripe age of somewhere in her 60s, was having to look the part of the 'cutie' and push that damn cart. She newly had her hair done. The hair was bleached. The eyes were well outlined - perhaps a couple of times. The lips were smeared liberally with bright red goo. Poor little lady. The hair may have been an idea to make her look like she had lots of hair but, it really made her look ... "Bozo-esque". She never looked up at any of us. She just offered the penile formed mystery meat and then took the plastic boxes from our trays.... I hope she finds a day when she doesn't have to do this kind of work...

This is a different story... this is what has happened to Dayton, Ohio. Here is a post from a blog I read all the time.... The conversation began about Verizon attaching bill for unwanted products and 'services'. then someone asked about where does all the money from these big corporate scams.... and I said...

The easy part, really... "Where does the money go?"

Executives in BIG Co.s get many kinds of 'retirement funds'. Many in the millions. We are talking in the tens of funds way back in my day... who knows what they get NOW!!! IT's no longer the stock options any more... it's the 'special' investments' that go to the top few.

I just returned from Dayton - where the husk of NCR remains, to find a community of people either on one side or the other of the money fence. The other, I met trying out their brand new bus hub service - they are hungry. I find it interesting that the majority of long time residents, depending on what ethnicity you are - do not venture into the 'other' part of town. It goes both ways for a reason... I experienced this when I lived there. Anyone with pigmentation in their skin that drove down the Main street (the upper crusties spot) was summarily pulled over and told to go back to 'their' side of town. Now, we are talking about a town that at one time had a couple of million or more people. A town that invited George Carlin because of the 'in-grove' communities....

I don't know what happened, except that most of the big companies left for third world workers, and now after GM Truck division and NCR moving (top executives live in the more 'tony' New York... who don't want to accidently rub anything with the lower crowd). What is left is a Pepsi factory somewhere (I talked to a few folks on the bus about that)... and maybe... ??? I went to Cuba at the end of Nov. and they are hungry (lost 1/3 of their calories after the 'special period' when the USSR took a nose dive)... but, they were working and were obviously not as starved and wild for food as the Dayton lower class.

I did buy a family a month worth's of food in Cuba when I was asked. The mother and daughter dragged me into a tiny grocery store and they piled on the dried milk and soup. The little girl wanted a package of cookies.

We are looking at disasters here in the US>>> It's not just the Rust Belt anymore... I just don't understand those jolly bunch at the top who turn their back on so many.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Scrub jay that sings other songs...

I have several Scrub Jays visiting, begging for peanuts and planting my yard with oak acorns and bits and pieces of their peanuts. Two are very tame and let me sit by them and give them goodies like vanilla yogurt, little bits of dry cat food, meal worms and some of the spiders I catch from under rocks. When I go hunting for something under things they wait patiently for me until I find something to give them.

One of the bireds has taken to sing to me a different song (other then the 'caw'!). I have not heard of a Scrub Jay singing any other song... So, I finally brought out my small camera, small enough so I won't scare him/her. In this video, he first stands on top of my new chicken coop (you can hear them chuck-chucking). Then I talk to him and 'coo' at him to try to encourage him to do his special song. Finally, he sits next to me and sings.... what a wonder!

Oklahoma Anna!

It was fun but too short a visit. I got to paint with my daughter and go to some concerts with her.
Here are two little videos of her one painting away.... the other of her working on one of her band's song - 'Blood Money'.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Back from Cuba

"Wow! Cuba?"

The Society of Wetland Scientists opened up an opportunity to go to Cuba. We would be able to visit the Humedales or Wetlands for a Symposium in Cienaga de Zapata and stay at the Bay of Pigs.

Lots of information to digest culturally about Cuba and the US. The wetlands were extraordinary. Here is a little 'mov' I put together of my photos and video. Enjoy!

Monday, September 07, 2009

OH so very hot, muggy and SMOKEY

Here is the street next to my house and it is around 10 am. The smoke was blowing away from this area by this time of the day and the fires were several miles away and over a ridge of a tall mountain - Mount Wilson.

What I found interesting - this was taken last week - were the memories of how shadows looked like on the ground when I was a kid. During the really bad days of summer, where, at camp we hiked up to Griffith Park, there were never any 'real' shadows on the ground because the smog diffused the light to such a degree. Horrible!

It has been hard to sleep these last two weeks with the air so heavy from smoke and heat and humidity. I remember as a little kid (and up to high school) what it was like to look down the road when LA had the most horrible smog. It looked like the picture above and much worse. Notice the red tinge to the white cement and the odd look to the shadows from the tree just out of frame? That is from the cloud of floating ash that blanketed the San Gabriel Valley.

These pictures remind me of those bad old days, but in these pictures, these would be like the GOOD old days! When it was VERY BAD as a kid in Jr. High, we would go out on the 'play ground' and next door was the Church of Latter Day Saints - the Mormon church which abutted to its rear, Emerson Jr. High. The golden statue, the guy blowing his horn way on top, sometimes when the smog was REALLY BAD, only the pillar could be seen but not the statue above. It would be enshrouded in brown muck! And, after playing outside, our lungs would hurt to take a breath.

I remember the Red Car, because we took it around Hollywood to be with my grandfather and later, so he could look for work. Ted lost his dream to a partner that turned out to be a crook. Ted was so proud of his studio and he was just broken after it was taken from him.

After walking for hours all around Hollywood, we would go to Nick's hot dog stand near Capital Records on Vine Street. Nick would give us hot dogs and hamburgers for free or, we would buy one and he would throw in the rest... he knew we were hungry. Nick used to wave me toward the cash register, and whisper, "...hold out your had..." and he would give me a fist full of candy to tide me over. Nick was Greek - I remember how he talked and laughed... Funny how you remember things. He has been gone many decades but, he must have done a lot for other people on the down-and-out because, no matter who owns the building , the sign, Nick's Place, remains. Nick's hot dog stand was just south of the Capital records building. It's the red sigh.... if you can see it in the link above.

My grandfather knew Glen Wallichs. And after my grandfather built his studio on Yucca and Argyle, and then found Glen was building his Capital Records building he said with a laugh, "... you aren't gong to build so close to me are you?" If you look at the Google Map screen grab below, and then look at this old photo of my grandfather's studio above (he cut out the wood for that sign and the numbers ... he did stuff like that) you will notice that the Capital Record's building was not yet built.

That day when we visited my grandfather before he lost his studio, we took the Red Car. I remember making a connection in front of my grandfather's (I called him Teddy) studio. My grandmother said that the Automobile Club and General Motors wanted to take out the Red Cars, and that this might be the last time will ride it ever again. She said that the companies wanted to take away the ugly electric wires so we can see the big beautiful blue sky. Not soon after the Red Cars were gone and the wires were taken out, my grandmother told me to come out on the porch. "See that line of brown? That is called 'smog' it is getting worse and worse. It will make us sick." If you look at the old photo and compare it to the new one from Google, you can SEE the fuzzyness of the encroaching bad air.

It's truly amazing what and how much we will believe in when companies tell us a bunch of lies and fabrications so they can make billions from our health and lives.

A side note about why my grandfather lost his studio - his partner forged his name on the papers of ownership. He bought the judge, too. He had done this several times, apparently, to other small studios from what my grandmother told me. Then he tried to do this to one of the big studios, like Columbia or...????. The big studio had enough money to hire lawyers to put him away for ever. I guess "Berger" (what I remember of his name) after years of successful theft, he finally found a studio too big to swallow.

My grandfather was hired finally by the Nelsons. He worked on and off for them until Ricky Nelson died. That was a very sad time.

Maybe someday I will turn some of the film Ted shot into video and post it. He was an artist. That is all he wanted to do - his art.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Mugu and it's tigers on the run....

Going to visit the insects on Monday!

I took some time to view some restoration sites in the Central Basin mudflat. The area was scraped of the ice plant last year. Ice plant was planted maybe 40-50 years ago, to protect the sand of open dunes and marsh from erosion... except, the natural plants are far superior and offer the animals that are adapted to Souther California, food and shelter... (Why do people think we can do better then nature?) Now, Disticulus sp. (love that name... reminds me Bugs Bunny), Salicornia virginica, Frankenia salina are coming in and... so are the tigers. They were running and jumping and 'freezing' in mid-spin! They stared me down like the ferocious beings they are!

My work at Mugu has allowed me the chance to follow the various species of Cicindela. One tiger, Cicindela gabbi, was thought to not be at Mugu - too far north of its Mexican home. I found it to be the dominant species in the Central basin at Mugu. But, as I was surveying the newly restored site two weeks ago, and watching what I thought were lots of C. gabbi, I was wrong! They were intensely green morphs of Cicindela trifasciata sigmoidea . I took pictures of several... and tomorrow, I will bring some home.

It is hard to catch the tigers on camera - they are very fast.

There is one salt panne in Mugu where I met my first tiger. It contains a small population of C. hemorrhagica hemorrhagica and occasionally, C. oregona. Walking carefully through the panne, the tigers were quite small - smaller then the smallest I have ever caught. Beetles emerge as big as they will ever get. Their growth is dependent on the quality and the quantity of prey they catch and eat as larvae in the soil. I am wondering if this group just did not have enough good prey food last year (numbers or poor quality)..... Here is a shot of one of the tigers in the small panne. Beautiful, just the same. I will bring some of these home, too, and compare these new tigers next to my older specimens.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Touch the Water - a play about and at the LA RIver

To see more photos go to....

I learned a lot about Frog Town playing Jade Kenten-Denton green in Cornerstone Theater's environmental justice piece, 'Touch the Water'. This small community, because of its strong sense of... 'this is ours!' ..... kicked butt and took names when Joseph T. Edmiston, Executive Director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy came and said, "I'm a white guy who likes to stand and look at the river!" He strutted around and yanked mikes out of peoples' hands and shook one man by both arms just to bully them into submission. He has millions of our tax dollars and power and proudly states "You can't vote me out!" and everyone can just lick his shoes! The community was shocked at first and then they finally pulled together and told the L. A. City Council, Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation, and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy where to go and what they wanted to have built. WAY TO GO!!!!

You can go to the Conservancy's website but you won't read much of how this community was treated by the State agency. But isn't that the way?

I wish more communities were as head strong.... but then, the folks in Frog town were thrown out of two other communities before they learned you have to FIGHT CITY HALL!

And as I was driving home from rehearsals downtown Los Angles, where I have gone to many meetings of Los Angeles City Councils and Los Angeles County Supervisors trying to stop unwanted projects cooked up by public officials and their friends.... this is what I would see before getting on the freeway ....

And à propos of something...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Trash and Trashing our Home - Earth

The shot above is looking north towards the San Fernando Valley.
This is looking south towards Down Town Los Angeles

On May 9th Lots of folks came out from behind their weekend lives and helped remove trash from the Los Angeles River, supported by Friends of the Los Angeles River (FOLAR) and other volunteer groups and Governmental Agencies. It was wonderful to see people get involved in making their part of the River cleaner. It was estimated that about 3000 people dipped in and near the River - from north to south - to remove the nasty junk that flows down the river and out to the sea.

Cleaning the 52 mile stretch of the concrete covered Los Angeles River possed a daunting task but, many local groups supplied water (some in plastic - we will learn someday) and music. The Western Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) butterflies were alight in Atwater and that was a joy. The man in the turban is looking right at it.... click on the photo and see if you can find the yellow spot.... that's the butterfly.

I suspect, that most of the plastic that gets wrapped around the trees and brush are not there just because 'someone' threw it there. People are absent minded about the junk in their lives. People do not recognize the mess they live in - the mess they create by buying all that stuff. Their homes are filled with stuff that they never use. They spend most of their life either at uninteresting jobs, going home to a house filled with things they never use or wear, and then, when they go outside.... stuff just 'flakes' off. They/we never see it because, trash is in all of our lives. People - we - are used to seeing things trashy.

Here are two of my bags of trash (normal sized large garbage trash bags provided by FOLAR). I picked up about five bags and helped pull off plastic from a few trees. As you can see, the plastic - the REAL TRASH - is knotted in the branches, leaves, soil, and shreds into tiny and tinier pieces. (For comparable sizes, those are my flash drives.)

The pieces of plastic from dry cleaning, are really nasty. They shatter very easily. The plastic bags from grocery stores stay flexible longer and cause trees and brush to knot into huge sheets of dead vegetation. The bags which has mylar bonded with a thick plastic for potato chips and other greasy perishable fast food, is really bad because it stays in its shape and form much longer and is resistant to UV light degradation.

Eventually, the plastic breaks apart and is taken to the sea ..... into the large trash heap in the Pacific Ocean.....

SO..... Los Angeles, (specifically its Rivers even with folks trying to clean it up) is one of the main sources of the trash that is killing our ocean. Thank a lot guys.

AND... The San Gabriel River is another mess. But FAR WORSE because it has the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. "WHAT!??" A Conservancy with billions of tax dollars, which has spent lots of money on studies does not clean up the San Gabriel like the folks at the Los Angeles River? - WHY...Yes, because the RMC has other things on its collective minds..... and it has nothing to do with conservation of the rivers and the mountains......CHECK OUT the trash in the San Gabriel... THANKS A LOT RMC!!!! ....Thaks for NOTHING!

Pictures of trees in the San Gabriel River....

OH.... and Ms. Rivers-and-Mountains-Conservancy, are those QUAGGA MUSCLES in the River???? What are you planning to do about THAT!!!??? Oh yeah... nothing....

(UPDATE: June 28... These are actually, Asian Clams, Corbicula fluminea, which are invasive but have not been mapped in the San Gabriel River. Maybe I should do something about that...)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Movable Murals

One favorite murals to make (the collaboration with the clients) was one for a friend who left science to go into the coffee house biz. My friend needed something that was unique and had a feeling of being old. She and her husband lived in Santa Paula, they called their coffee house the Santa Paula Coffee House.

The area is beautiful with mountains, trees, and framing. So, she wanted mountains, trees, farms, and coffee beans, all in a Craftsman style. Sounded like one of those wonderful orange crates from the turn of the 20th Century... With lots of ideas back and forth over the internet we came to a design, pallet of colors and style.

Lettering is always a bitch... but they wanted something homey....

Here it is at the opening of the shop....

Monday, April 27, 2009

Still in progress...

It can take a long time to finish a painting. OR, it can come in a snap. My stilt painting is taking a while. That is ok. I kinda liked the first version but now I am liking this new view much better.

I thought it needed a place to walk out from. I felt it needed other animals. I outlined a tiger beetle near the mud bank on the right. Can you find the crab?

I also felt the Salicornia needed more life.

Also, I started another painting. I can't help myself. This is also along the San Gabriel River but, at the Whittier Narrows.

Have yet to finish the burned trees. I will do some more before I up load it.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Way back in Ohio, when I was on the Board at what had been the Dayton Museum of Natural History (now it is the Booshoft Museum of Discovery)~(as an aside.....any museum with 'Discovery' in its name ...should ... uh...well... this over used word, 'discovery,' now sounds like a corporate buzz word. 'Discovery Museum' 'Discovery Center' 'Museum of Discovery' all sound like a place to sell junk to the innocents.)

ANYWAY.... I painted murals for the museum. I had a wonderful time. I grabbed these old shots from my old website which lives in the Wayback machine.

Sometimes we had smaller shows... this one was about artifacts from Mexico.

My friend, who was the director, asked if I could do something to help display some of their materials from the ocean that had been in storage for years. So, I did this...

Dayton Museum of Natural History needed images of a time when the earth and moon separated as molten globs. I loved the illustrations from my children's Life books. I would stare at them for hours and hours. I am deeply influenced by those artists. So, I re-created the birth of earth for them.

Dayton was the birth place of CFCs.... there was this celebration.... and I got to paint the mural. This is really my vision of what the molecule might look like... fun to imagine!

Prior to working and living in Dayton, I lived in L.A. and worked at the LA County Natural History Museum in their Discovery Center (sigh...well, when they named the Hall, it - 'that word' - was not over used - yet). I built hands on materials for children and their parents to learn together. One of several boxes of materials was called 'The Eyes Have it!'. Kids learned all about how other animals saw their world. I even built a camera obscura from two white plastic spheres, which together. looked like an eye ball. Kids could hold the handles on each side of the 'eye' and see that the world was projected on the back of the ball, upside down. I also wrote materials explaining optics and the biology vision for all ages, which were all in the box, too. Here were a couple of illustraitions.

I also got to do some stuff for their members' booklet.... all so much fun!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Oklahoma Anna

This is a year old. Almost. I will put up some other songs by my daughter.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lost a friend.

These are just some pictures. My daughter took some and so did I.

This was where Flo Itkin lived, in Mandeville Canyon.

My friend, Flo, and my children's great aunt, died the first week of this month. She had been ill and fighting Parkinson's. My son and I went to see her just the week before. She wanted to be at home and not at the hospital. We visited her. She was so little. She had been so big so vital so important to us all. I held her hand for a short while until that became too hard for her.

Flo loved her backyard with all of its visiting birds. She adored hummingbirds.

She was a friend when no one else would be. She would listen when no one else would. She loved no matter what. Thank you, Flo.

The Ceanothus was in bloom. Flo loved plants and gave them to her friends and family. And at this time, they were in bloom and fully fragrant. She would have loved them.

She understood how much I wanted to go back to school to get a degree. She knew how much art was part of me. It was Flo who sent a letter to me telling me of the scholarship in art at Mount St. Mary's College. Thank you, Flo.

My daughter, trying to be 'together' while walking about the 'empty' house, needed to go up the side of the canyon just above her house.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Visiting over the Holidays...

Taking the train out to Oklahoma this time, my son will be coming with me. We will share the small room-ette and I will take the bunk... I may regret that decision, because my back has been killing me, but if Russ wants to read all night he can and I won't notice.

Looking out the windows is very relaxing... and it is striking how different so much of our country looks from this vantage point. The trees are different. The soils are different.

These two pictures were of Texas, which is most of the trip going to Oklahoma. It is not a straight shot. The train follows the outline of the state and then makes a bee line through the center to Chicago, stopping along the way in other states' cities.

My daughter's group was playing, at the restaurant where she works, on my birthday - the day after Christmas. Here she is setting up two hours before her set.

My son and daughter are special people.Very talented. Anna's mural at the restaurant where she works.

Russ stayed for a week but they got to talk. Good things.