Monday, December 31, 2007

Brand New Year

"The tradition of using a baby to signify the new year has roots in ancient Greece.

Early Egyptians also used a baby as a symbol of rebirth.

Early Christians tried to stop the tradition of using a baby to symbolize the new year, but its popularity as a symbol of rebirth outlasted the church's attempts to change the tradition.

Using an image of a baby with a New Years banner was brought to early America by the Germans.

The myth associated with him is that he is a baby at the beginning of his year, but Baby New Year quickly grows up until he is an elderly bearded man like Father Time at the end of his year. At this point, he hands over his duties to the next Baby New Year."

During 2007 many new babies entered the world and I was lucky enough to meet a few of them. Here, in the order I met them are:

****** Sam ***** Tessa ***** Satchmo ***** Lucy ***** 2 black lambs

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The (temporary) Pen That Pa Built

several months last year I lived part time back 1838. I researched one of my new books, The Pen That Pa Built by David Edwards,
by twice visiting Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts ( and taking many photos of how a colonial family lived and worked. I painted the pen and the sheep in every season. One of my favorite images is of the pen and sheep in typical New England December weather.

This Christmas Eve, while spending a few days over Christmas at The Sea Ranch on t
he Northern California coast, I saw a different kind of sheep pen built. This one only lasts a couple of days each time it is erected. It is much bigger than the one in the book.

It has to be.

It has to contain about 500 adult sheep and goa
ts, as well as an uncounted number of lambs. This hard working herd are 4-legged lawn mowers whose job is to eat all the invasive shrubs and to keep the native grasses short and neat. When shepherd Leland Falk, built his new, solar powered, hot wire pen across the street, the sheep all rushed over into the fresh grass but left several new-born lambs behind. I was lucky enough to help ferry them back to their moms.

That was my favorite Christmas treat.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On Solstice Eve

Even here in mild Northern California, I have trouble dealing with the darkness and cold at this time of year. I know that sounds wimpy, but I think I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and need more hours of daylight to feel like my usual cheerful self. This year hasn't been too bad. I've been helped by the bumper crop of persimmons on my backyard tree.
Many of these have been picked and eaten like apples or given away to friends. Still, dozens hang stubbornly, high in the branches, serving a host of birds who squabble loudly over the ripest, mushiest fruit.
Today in the rain, birds were sheltering in more protected roosts, but the orange globes glowed in the dark day, cheering me up as I looked down from my studio window.

Tomorrow is the winter solstice: the shortest day and the longest night of the year. From then on the light will gradually lengthen each day and I will feel my heart lifting with it. The persimmons will help.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

all I want for Christmas...

In these days approaching the solstice, the twilight comes early. By 4:30, when I walk Lucy in Holly Park, the sun has set and the crescent moon is tagging right along behind.
In the darkness I am drawn to light. There are not many decorated houses in this ethnically and religiously mixed neighborhood. Maybe people think lights are tacky or maybe SF Greens are just saving kilowatt hours. This juxtaposition of lights and moon perfectly captures my only wish for Christmas 2007... PEACE.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Heather School Rocks!

SAN CARLOS must be proud of Heather Elementary School-a lovely, small school with a million dollar view and some of the happiest teachers and students I have met anywhere.
I spent a busy and fun day talking to the K-4th graders and we drew a lot of pictures together.
Thank you for the invitation to visit!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Congratulations Rick and Mary Ann!

MARY ANN AND RICK Labadia supported a great cause by buying my Kachinas Bearing Gifts snowflake, inspired by The 12 Days of Christmas/A Pinata for the Pinon Tree.
Here is the news directly from Rick: "but such good news for us...we did win your wonderful snowflake from Robert's Snow...we just can't believe it! Now the book will be even more special!"

I am happy for them and for Robert's Snow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Robert's Snow-flake Auction on NOW

My 3rd Robert's Snow-flake is on the auction block right now. The inspiration for this one is my new book The 12 Days of Christmas/ A Pinata for the Pinon Tree. It is the last in the series of 3 books I did with Philemon Sturges and is dedicated in fond remembrance to the late author.
My snowflake, depicting Kachinas Bearing Gifts on one side and the Pinata on the other can be viewed and bid upon at the Robert's Snow Website. Click on the 2nd auction, running from 11/26-30.

Please help fight cancer by supporting this great cause.

1st Grade Artistic geniuses

FOR the past 4 years I've had the honor of being invited by Susan Faust, Katherine Delmar Burke School Librarian and book reviewer extraordinaire, to present an assembly to the 1st graders.
This year I was excited to receive my audience of 6 and 7 year olds in the gleaming new library. There is a sweet presentation area with half round seating, cute stools, a pull down screen and great acoustics.
The girls and I had our usual great time, looking at slides and making up an awesome story, starring many of them as "humanals".
I believe that 1st graders everywhere are natural artistic geniuses. They are uninhibited, love color and movement and draw freely from their imaginations.
The artists at KDBS are no exception. Here are some of my favorite images from their thank you notes.