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Who’s My Customer?

Well, it has certainly been an interesting day – lockdown at 8:20, a few minutes into the start of the day, seems to be a false alarm, but 30 minutes later we are evacuating the school…to the stadium – 3000 kids, mind you – and then trying to get kids to leave with parents only, moving every one to the university’s older gym, angry aprents not understanding why we can’t just let them take “friends,” and finally back to school for the end of the day….I would much rather teach than have to do this.

That said, I have some time to kill right now while I await my ride, and as I am exhausted, I probably won’t write too much tonight. I need to think about Bob and Jane, my potential art customers. They are both middle class (for those of us left in this economy…) with some disposable income. They like nice things, especially since now they are settled, almost empty-nesters, and can look at exploring the possibilities of buying/owning art.

Bob isn’t sure what to buy. He knows what he likes, he’s interested in the back story of the item, and he’s willing to pay the price if he really likes the item. He knows art can be collected, and sometimes its value increases, but he isn’t sure he wants to collect art as an investment. He is of the belief that “I know what I like when I see it.” He walks galleries for the enjoyment and likes when an owner takes the time to talk to him about the various artists. He’s not a really fashionable dresser – he likes to be comfortable, so it upsets him when gallery owners make an assumption about whether or not he can afford to buy the art and consequently ignores him. He looks at art books, not really sure about all the fanciful jargon. If he sees something he likes, he feels he is now in a position to buy it. He would really like some guidance on where to find good galleries that have interesting and unusual artists. He doesn’t just want “regional” work, like only Southwest because he lives in the Southwest. He will buy “big” in size if he loves the work.

Jane is similar. She has been a “crafter” all her life, from crochet to knitting to needlework. She loves small pieces of art and, like Bob, enjoys knowing the story behind the piece – who made it and how. She collects primarily smaller pieces, the more unusual the better. She feels uneducated about art as she had no training or art courses, so she is easily put off in galleries. She needs to be reassured that if you love the art, it’s perfectly okay to own it. She prowls craft shows, not knowing how to make the leap into other more “art” venues. She would like guidance on buying art for enjoyment, not investment. She’d love to give small piece of art to close friends.

Whoa, so I’m selling to me…..and maybe this was the whole purpose of this exercise….I want to reach out to those potential customers like me who want to know where to go for good art, unusual art, and great customer service. Hmmm….more to ponder….

Goals, and My Ideal Day Redux….

It’s a glorious day here – 63 and sunny, and great walking weather. I’ve been extremely productive with my blogging class, as well as planning our monthly arts meeting tomorrow. It’s a good thing I have found more time in my days by cutting out the television and generally having more energy to not crash at night at 7:30.

I had an interesting comment from Anne at El Milagro Studio concerning my ideal day:

Sometimes our dreams from younger ages are not our dreams at our current place in life.
I have found it is learning to separate myself from the ones from years ago and realistically look at myself and what I do now. That gives me a better idea of where I really want to head: how much can I do physically, what is involved both time and money-wise, am I truly pursuing *my* path, and—most importantly—am I enjoying this?
Because the last I don’t know how many years? I have done a lot of work that I have NOT enjoyed the process though it was good work and resulted in some income.
But the tradeoff (selling the soul for cash) was not worth it.
I’m at a deciding point….giving it time to all settle in and see what happens.
And for once, I’m in no hurry, and I’m okay with that. 🙂

So this makes sense to me, for right now, and I know that I will be valuating this “ideal day” at least once more this year, and then regularly each year.

I did work on goals and plans, so I have a HUGE list for this week, and I have to be careful to keep things reasonable! One of the things I do REALLY well is take a idea from concept to fruition, with all steps in between, so I see this working for me. I just need to be realistic about what I can get done each week in the evenings, and still have time for hubby.

1. Make a minimum income $1000 per month, with my first mini-goal of $500 a month by November 2010.
2. Plan time to create fiber and digital art.
3. Build an online community for both business and personal satisfaction.
4. Complete weight loss blog which leads to a book at the end of the year (in case you’re interested, it’s here).
5. Build the on-line art business.
6. Purchase a new laptop and software for traveling and business (first $1500 income goes to this).
7. Dedicate time to write.
8. Manage a balance between teaching, art, and the art business.
9. Create products to sell on line (already have a list of two sorta ready to go).
10. Build Mixed Media Arts Tucson into a viable entity.

I have done this kind of planning when it came to directing a theater production. I would start with opening night and then work backwards, what I called “back-planning.” By the time you get to the current day, everything seems very do-able.

My policies to make this happen:
* Write each week, a minimum of three times a week.
* Respond to comments and customers every time, within 48 hours
* Stay focused – no excuses!.
* Keep school in perspective.
* If it legitimately doesn’t get done, LET IT GO and don’t obsess!

And most importantly, BELIEVE.

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is in town! Two weeks of prowling wholesale and retail dealers throughout the city, from the small hotel rooms of treasures from India to the major wholesale shows with semi-precious and precious stones from around the world. It is a truly amazing experience. We lived in Tucson for probably 8 years before I experienced my first gem show. After all, they’re just rock….right? My first show saw me dropping my jaw at the colors residing in the dirt of this planet. You have to experience the show to appreciate the wonders from this earth. So here ya go – pictures to delight! The above are stone vases – don’t remember the names of the stone, I just love the colors!  Bought one two years ago.

Crystals and quartz and geodes – you name it, you can find it.

Amazingly delicate little stone bowls.
Don’t know the stone, but these colorful balls could become my next bad habit….
Amber galore – the whole area just glowed.
  There’s something about malachite that just makes me drool….

And I am a sucker for all things onyx….

No clue as to the stone, but I love the veining on this table. I could own this easily….

Milled or not, just amazing.

In the rough state….

These are where I get into real trouble – the center stones look like snakeskin. I love to look for texture and unusual veining in stone to use in my fiber art. I am always looking for water and “landscape” stones.

The texture in these stones is absolutely amazing.

My friend Alison covets this bracelet. Here’s the complete set –
Just amazing carving! In town for the next two weeks – be still, oh plastic of mine!

My Ideal Day…

I have been busy this week with an online course on landscape quilts through Joggles, with Judy Alexander. I also am working on a marketing class that I hope will lead to some new work and some additional income as I approach retirement. I’ve done loads of reading on marketing, and when I had my non-profit learning center, I was very good at what I call “shoe leather marketing” – what you do when there’s no money for marketing. But I am getting very serious about my art, and I want to be able to sell it in the next few years. So this is one avenue I am pursuing.

Now most courses always have exercises for you to do, and I tend to read them and then move on to the next bit of information and not do the exercise. Not this time. I am going to do this full-bore and see what happens. So, one of the first exercises is to look at your ideal day. No barriers, just imagination. I can see the value to doing this already, as it will begin to help me focus on who and what I want to be in the coming years. I also can see myself doing this exercise again in three and a half years when I officially retire. But it seems practical to do it for now, as I am committed to teaching for the next three-plus years – unless I REALLY do well with all of this, and who knows!!!

I see a day where I get up refreshed and not exhausted and have a light breakfast. I’m off to a job I really like and enjoy. I usually head out early so I can get some things done before kids start coming in for conferences. I want to try and get out and walk at lunch to continue my plan of increasing exercise during the day. I would like to take the bus in to work at least once a week to save on gas and the environment. I hope to have a bit more time during the school day to get papers corrected and lesson plans done. Next year I will be going back to a regular contract of five classes, instead of my current schedule of six classes. It means losing a considerable amount of additional income, but I need to consider my health, my physical abilities, and my growing art interests.

I leave school with minimal work for the evening, preferably nothing, so I am free to pursue my art and my writing and marketing. I walk to the bus stop, adding to my exercise plan. This is really important for me to continue, as I need to monitor my body for its health. Once I get home, I want my time for my blog and my art. This is where I see myself developing the ideal afternoon/evening….

I see several paths. One is licensing my art designs, so I will plan at least an hour each day for reviewing emails concerning prospective sales, bookwork tracking existing and new contracts, and some Photoshop work as I prepare new samples and designs.

A second path is my fiber art, so I will always have handwork available for downtime in front of the television with hubby. I will take three hours each day of the weekend to do sewing, design, cutting, planning patterns so that on the weekdays I have small projects.

A third path is my art group, Mixed Media Arts – soon to have its own Word Press site. I will spend an hour on this, marketing, writing, getting interviews and connections. This is where I see the BlogMasters coming into play. A last path, but certainly not the least, is my marbling. At least twice a week I want to marble paper and fabric for the small quarterly orders that we have established.

Mostly I want my late afternoon and evenings to be art-related. I want to relax with my husband, talk about art, read about art, go to galleries and add to our own art collections, small though they may be. Money is not an issue, and neither is health care. We are together, we enjoy a small circle of friends, and if we want to go out to dinner, buy some books or art, go to the movies, or be spontaneous and get out of town suddenly, we can do that.

I do see some of this changing in three years – primarily with planning for our travels and seeing how to make the new art business fit a new schedule. It might seem as though I’m “settling” for the immediate future, but I don’t think so. I think it’s more realistic than anything else. I have been more productive over these last few months, and I see this continuing. Last year’s goals were to enter and be accepted to two shows, and that happened. This year I have a show to prepare for in March, and several licensing opportunities to explore. Plus I am doing more writing, which I really love.

I look at this and wonder where the dreaming went. Have the last few years (well, two decades, actually) been so tough that the dreams of the 20s and 30s are totally gone? Is it realistic or is it what I really want? I think I’m going to have to really ponder this one….


I have really been busy these last two days, made much better by the fact that I have no school work – no lesson plans and no papers this weekend, so that’s a real treat. Last night I stumbled upon the idea of taking a whole bunch of UFOs and getting them ready for the March show, since we will have a considerable amount of fiber in our booth. These are mostly pretty sad UFOs – been around a LOOOOONG time, way before skill sets improved considerably. The challenge now becomes how can I improve on them. Plus, if I work at bindings and things like that, I will have handwork to keep me busy at night in front of the television – anything to keep me from eating!

Before the reveal (too much HGTV…) a note about the Joggles button along the right side. Yes, I am an affiliate, but I gotta tell ya, I am really enjoying the landscape class I am taking right now, plus the store can make a real dent in your plastic – lots of ideas and lots of goodies to experiment with – so give them a peek.

Now, this first piece goes back to the very first Journal Quilt project, first announced on the QuiltArt list some many years ago. At the time I was running a nonprofit learning center, and one of our specialties was working with dyslexic students. I decided to do a series of journal quilts on the Orton-Gillingham method of learning to read, which starts with vowels, the key to decoding English. I managed to do three months, and then hit the wall with my execution of “silent e,” or “magic e.” Man, it looked like crap. So they didn’t go anywhere, but I still have them. The vowels are still around, and they seriously need a new binding. So here it is in all its unfortunate shape, with a new binding about to be attached. I do have a soft spot for this one.

Next is a landscape I started in a class with Jennie Rayment from England, about 10 years ago. She is a master of fabric manipulation. She had a fashion show for us of these amazing garments, all these nips and tucks…ALL made from muslin. The class was wonderful, and I own her books, but I haven’t really done anything with them. So this piece needs some more thread work and then a decent binding. Yes, I know there are composition problems, but I am hoping as I take my landscaping class, I will discover some ways of “fixing” them, like toning down the water.

Next is a mandala, in my series of mandalas. You can see two others here. This yellow one just radiates heat, and I want to do more with beading. The little pieces of masking tape are hubby’s attempt to spread out the beads, and mark where they will go. I tend to use some wild yarns braided for the edging. I do love doing free-motion quilting on marbled fabrics.

 Now two of my favorites, also started as part of the second year of the journal project, but I only got three done, and I learned that just because you CAN stitch it, doesn’t mean you should. I am really partial to the one on the left, my “Monet” piece, again lots of free motion on marbled fabrics. I think it needs to be mounted on foam core, and I want to continue with the beading on it. The other piece needs something, I’m not sure what, so I want ideas, people! Let me know what you think would make the piece pop (again, too much HGTV….)

This last is unusual. This is my current table cloth, rescued from the art room a couple of years ago. This was the cloth the students would wipe their paint brushes on. I fell in love with it, as it reminds me of Provence, France – never been, have no idea what Provence actually looks like, but I can see it in this cloth. Some day I will quilt this.

I’ll leave you today with some pictures of our snowstorm – we don’t see much snow in the desert, and this week’s ending storm did a great job dumping feet on the mountains. As a New Englander, I do enjoy snow, but I would much rather just LOOK at it!

A Very Busy Saturday…..

What a busy Saturday, and it’s not even over! Awoke late (like 8-ish) as Hubby was finishing marbling fabric in our small tray (cookie size). Decided to finish the rearranging in the living room, moving the desks, trying to get the printer to fit in a small area, dusting and eliminating the armies of dust bunnies hiding in all the computer cords. The move opened up the living room dramatically, and we’re still pretty organized. And then…I marbled my papers for today…very productive day!
Two of the bookcases went into the studio – no longer a spare room, sold the guest bed because we need dedicated studio space. And right before dinner I finished up organizing the studio, so now I can attack the many projects, especially the ones needing to be done for the March show.
This first is my sewing table, in  a remarkably clean moment. The best purchase I ever made (actually hubby did for me for a present) was the acrylic table extension. The design wall is to the right, and when needed, the card table serves as additional table space. Left storage is all fabrics, right storage is thread, beads and stones, assorted yarns, and other miscellaneous stuff. You can see my needle-point tiger, who needs a new roost.

This first bookcase is by the arcadia door to the back yard. You can’t see all the bears on the top shelf – presents from hubby, since I never got stuffed animals growing up. A whole shelf to store current projects, plus assorted books and scrapbooks.

This next is the cutting table, open to use for work, with all the marbling trays and paints and combs on the shelving. It is amazing how much use we get out of this table. It was well worth the purchase…and you can’t see what’s stored underneath – stool, rubber floor mats for standing, more fabric (of course), racks for drying, and so on. The sheet is up because this serves as our wet space, and we tend to splatter when marbling.

This was the first rack that got moved in here. This rack is older than our marriage; it even survived our house fire. It has been inside, outside, and repainted, and it still is useful. CD player, semi-precious stones and beads, fabrics, clothesline for fabric bowls, trays of rulers, and probably lots more stuff. I have actually gone through every container and sorted the stuff.

Inside the closet – our easel for displays, the large marbling tray, large ironing board, and containers of more fabric, all sorted by color, so I know what to look for.

The other side of the closet has my beginning dye supplies, more fabric, boxes of patterns, and caning supplies – hubby still canes chairs and does repairs – the guy’s been working with fiber for 40 years without even realizing it!

And the last bookcase – with more bears – all art books, marbling, books, current projects, and the like. You can see the other tiger – lots of spirit protectors around for us. The shredder and the ceramic vegetables, which will hang back outside when I know the wind is done with its gusts. Now that I know where everything is, there are no more exucses – it’s work time for me!

Geometry and Quilts

I work with a really wonderful geometry teacher, who is trying a new project with her students. Now those of us who quilt are well aware that quilting is just lots and lots of geometry. I wish when I was struggling many years ago (Ms. Foglio….I do not have fond thoughts of you….) that I had been able to do something beyond proofs to see all the cool things that shapes do – and how you can work with them. This is what Lisette brings to her students.

This project is to make a quilt block, but there are a whole bunch of steps needed before the blocks get assembled. First, students had to design a 4-inch block with squares, triangles, rectangles, and trapezoids. Then, with a trip to the computer lab and the help of a wonderful piece of software called Geometer’s Sketchpad, students recreated their block and then had to rotate it and reflect it to look at additional designs. Once they saw how the design would look in its new forms, they were to choose one they liked and print out their now-8-inch block.

This is where color selection now comes in. Lisette  bought red, white, and black fabrics, plus some muslin for the base. Our school colors are red and white, and students could now look at color placement for their block. They had to carefully (which with teenagers means a lot of things…) cut out all their pieces and use a glue stick to adhere them to the muslin sheet. At which point several of us with sewing machines would then begin to satin stitch everything into place.

I completed three blocks this evening, and I think the students will be pleased. There are a lot of secondary patterns that show up once everything is stitched into place. Now I discovered, as I fixed my bobbin, that I had absolutely no regular white thread in the house, so I did all the blocks with red. Kinda like them!

And forthwith – here they are…

Dontcha just love all those trapezoids? One of life’s truly unappreciated shapes…..

Licensing, San Diego, and Other Loose Ends ….

Lots going on it seems, and there are times when my head just feels so full and I don’t know where to begin. I do have some upcoming deadlines, but there are so many things to do….it seems that making lists isn’t even helping. So I have to go step by step, until I get a handle on everything happening.

First up is this fat quarter of silk, up on ebay this week. We aren’t doing a lot of marbling in our large tray, as we have just been enjoying the small work, but we are trying to set up the big stuff at least once a month, as we have some steady customers on ebay who buy regularly. You can check out this piece here.

I think I am getting hooked on marbling paper. I set up a small tray this morning and did half a dozen papers. I finally was able to improve on a traditional moire pattern, which turned out great. I am trying to do more with flowers, as some of the traditional Turkish marblers do, and I had medium luck. But the piece did turn out pretty cool, with some adaptation on my part. That said, take a look –

These are available for sale. Paper 9 x 12 inches. Four sheets $10.00. Email me for more information.

Licensing is moving along. I realized today I need to start a list of what I have done so far so I know exactly what to follow up on. I am thinking that Zazzle will give me a chance to play around with images and items to prepare a portfolio for presentation. I am going to try and attend the licensing conference in June in Vegas, so I need to be prepared.

I’ll close with a couple more of the photos from our San Diego trip. I love this one – like a sentinel of Bird of Paradise – which was the main flower in my wedding photo.

We spent a morning at Point Loma, taking in the views and visiting the light house. What a gorgeous spot – and it was a perfect blue sky, although a tad brisk first thing in the morning! This is looking at North Island Naval Station on Coronado, with the skyline of San Diego in the background.

This is taken from the light house, with the Cabrillo Monument in the center. The lone person standing there is hubby – the light house is considerably higher – in fact, it didn’t really work well as a light house, because it was higher than the fog, so ships weren’t able to see it.

What is like about this one is the cactus on the edge of the cliff. We usually assocaite cactus with desert, and it just seemed very strange.

More on the Mingei Museum next time.

Let Me Zazzle You!!

Ever since Anne over at El Milagro Studio posted her extremely cool coffee mug, I have been revisiting the folks at Zazzle. I set up a store there probably four years ago, but could never quite figure out what to do. Fast forward to this weekend – I spent three days reading documents about Zazzle, viewing other sites, and then playing around with some of my marbled patterns – spent yesterday evening scanning our marbled patterns so I would have some really good stuff to work with. Had some quirks in Photoshop – seems like it quit after scanning and manipulating three sheets of paper, so I restarted the program 5 times…checking today to see it never actually saved some of the papers, so I need to rescan them.

Add a few more hours today, a lot of thinking while walking today, and I have a store set up, and my first product completed. Hopefully new products will go a whole lot faster!! The above image is now available on a coffee mug – I have to figure out how to get the pics on the blog, but at least you get the above shot. You can also click here to go to my beginnning efforts.

I think as I approach licensing that this might be a good way to start, as I explore the field. I’ve been doing lots of reading, as that is usually how I approach something, so stay tuned as I explore and no doubt learn lots more!

Giveaway Alert!!!!

Ya gotta go here – Tristan’s blog Enchanted Revelry is not only an amazing piece of work – the images are incredible – but he has a giveaway of goodies any artist would die for – me included!!!!

I’ve read Tristan for months now, and I am constantly amazed at the man’s talent. He’s the one responsible for the string of classic movies now arriving on a regular basis from Netflix. 300 followers (I can only dream), 200 posts, and 40,000 hits. Go, Tristan!!!

Playing Around for the Weekend

I haven’t had much time on Photoshop these days, and I have been missing it, especially since I have some “ideas” to pursue during this year. So I decided to take one of my really scrumptious pieces of marbled paper (see the post below) and play around with it. The pic on the side is the result of a couple of filters – this one is the “conte crayon” with colors picked from within the original piece. I wanted something new for the blog posts, as the headings have been the same for going on two years now.

I also did a rendering of the full sheet of paper in black and white, through the “blur” filter. I had forgotten how to do that, and I really like the “deconstruction” to a basic line. I can see lots of possibilities with this one – I want to look at some gradients the next time. There is such texture and movement within this piece in the black and white – which you know from previous posts I really love. I think I’d like to drop bits of color into this one just to see what would happen. I also did loads of other filters, just to see, but I am quite taken with this one.

We have a couple of new pieces up on Ebay this week, including this scrumptious piece of linen. You can find us here on Ebay.

We had an enjoyable day yesterday down in Tubac, a small arts community south of Tucson. Dontcha just love this bird house? And how about winter in the desert? All in all a nice weekend!

Our First Show!

So we have officially decided as a mixed media group to participate in our first art/craft show in March to get a feel for what it takes. Monday was a great time as we determined some basics about our operating together. We decided to all have our own individual business licenses, rather than trying to create a new entity entirely. I’m thankful our jewelry-maker is a great accountant!

Now the work begins for the next two months, as we determine what product goes, and what we still need to produce. Talked to Brenda tonight, and she is weaving up a storm. Alison already has a great inventory of jewelry, and Betty has started some really exciting digital work with architectural images she has taken over the years.

We’re looking at some small, medium, and large fiber art pieces already finished. We have some digital images already framed, and I want to start planning for some smaller digital ones that will be mounted on foam core and simply wrapped. We’re going to take a dozen or so hand-marbled silk scarves, smaller pieces of silk, remnant packages, marbled papers, and stationery. I’m sure a few other things will crop up as we start seriously planning.

This I think will provide us all with good momentum. One of the things we all emphasized on Monday is that we don’t want our group to be solely a business group; we like the fact that we motivate each other to create new work for each of our meetings. Karin is going in some interesting directions with her water colors, and Suzan is absolutely amazing as a digital artist, quilter, and potter. We should get some good photos to share as we get closer.

It has been a sparse week creatively for me personally. I think it’s because I’m getting back into the swing of school after two weeks to do whatever I want. I don’t want to waste time sitting in front of the TV – too much I want to do! Brenda dropped off our order of crepe silk scarves – some for marbling, but I want to try dye painting on them.  I need to find something for my hands to stay busy so I don’t eat!! And I want to continue quilting the salmon sunrise piece to get it finished up.

Tomorrow is Friday, planning to see Fantastic Mr. Fox after school, with dinner out. Haircut and a power walk on Saturday, and another walk with the trainer on Sunday. Got to make time for art!

Student Artwork – Slope Art

This first day back to school I wanted to ease the kids easily back into working with slope, so we viewed some videos about practical uses of slope – roof lines, ski slopes, and the like. Then I introduced them to zentangles and talked about doodling using ONLY straight lines. Most of the kids got right into drawing and got lost in the drawings pretty quickly. A few were like I used to be, worried about what the final product would look like. Overall some nice art was created. We will move from this into an actual art project with straight lines, with the equations for each of the lines used. But that’s for next week….

In the meantime, here’s their work (taken with my new digital camera that I can carry around in my purse):

A Fabulous, Glorious, Absolutely Magnificent Day!

What a perfect ending to the year – we started at 7:30 this morning getting ready for a photo shoot for our small group of mixed media artists. Got the table set up, brought out the easel, found the black velour bought 8 years ago to make pants to cover the table, and we began the first round of photos. We needed to take individual photos of work, plus a group photo that would represent what our group booth might look like as we prepare the paperwork for a show entry in March. Three hours later, after our combined efforts, we had some great shots. It was such fun, taking everyone’s input, rearranging our work, commenting, making suggestions. Our pictures are better for the group effort – once everyone got comfortable, each jumped in with suggestions, leading to some nice arrangements of textures to show off all our work. While on the one hand we are hoping to become business-like, on the other we don’t want to lose the camaraderie and encouragement we give each other.

This is a sample of the work we will bring – marbled fabrics, stationery, marbled papers, fiber art, marbled scarves, and digital marbling (TN) with Suzan.

Brenda is a weaver and just getting into silk painting. Her scarves are so incredibly soft.

Karin is our water colorist, and we fell in love with her fairies. Those should definitely sell.

Betty is our author and digital artist, and Suzan is one of our potters and another digital artist.

Alison is our jeweler, and she works almost exclusively with semi-precious stones. Her work is really unique.

Yvonna is our other clay artist, with a very unique style.

And finally, the group of us….

We then went out to lunch and saw “It’s Complicated” – and laughed till our sides hurt. I wonder if Apple realized all the details about their “product placement”….

And on the way out of the theater, we were treated to a spectalular moonrise – sunset turning the sky orange to the west, and the moon slowly peaking over the Santa Catalina Mountains, a beautiful yellow-orange – took our breath away!

Happy New Year everyone!!

San Diego Part 2

We were down on the Embarcadero, where the ship used in Master and Commander was anchored. Walked all over it, and I was left with the thought that making those voyages across the seas was quite fearsome and heroic.

Two cruise ships were in, both unloading at the same time. The traffic was pretty intense – seems like you may want to go first class, but you are still left with facing the crowds getting on and off the ship.

Walked the top only of the Soviet sub – now that’s a serious case of claustrophobia!

Loads of African Aloe – looks like it’s ready to eat the next passerby. This stuff really is amazing. We used to have some in our yard, and it was great to break off a piece and use the liquid to sooth a sunburn.

Lots more texture –

I just want to draw faces on all those gnarly knots!

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