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Showing posts from September, 2011

Six years of blogging

On September 27, 2011, I will celebrate six years of blogging at Blogspot. Prior to that, I had a travel blog in the now defunct Yahoo Geocities where I took my baby steps into travel writing. The first article I published here in 2005 was about my visit with my friends, Klara and Sonya in Berlin. It was called Berlin - a Tale of Two Sisters.  I have not gone back to Berlin since but I keep in touch with both Klara and Sonya who are now octogenarians. They don't travel anymore and live in a senior home. Both of them have had health issues but have survived them. I'm hoping I'll be able to see them again soon.

Yesterday I watched this video of the Sing-Off contest on NBC where the contestants sing a cappella. I really enjoyed the group Kinfolk 9 singing "Secrets" by One Republic. I kept replaying the video. Couldn't get the song out of my head. Let me share with you this beautiful music on my blog's anniversary.

Here's part of the lyrics:
"I need …

The Allied Arts Guild Gardens

The Court  of Abundance
A super find in my neighborhood are the gardens in the Allied Arts Guild  in a quiet part of Menlo Park, California. They are as beautiful as the Alhambra's Generalife gardens after which it they were planned. The Guild is an organization that raises funds to support the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital. All its profits from the shops, restaurant and private events held onsite go to the hospital.

Fresco Painting by Maxine Albro
Maxine Albro learned the art of fresco painting in Mexico with Paul O'Higgins, an assistant to Diego Rivera. Later she painted side by side with Rivera while working on some projects in San Francisco.  Notice the woman carrying a heavy basket laden with fruit. It is reminiscent of Rivera's The Flower Vendor series where the vendor is carrying a basket of calla lilies on her back. The little girl to her left is holding white lilies which further alludes to The Flower Vendor. This mural with a Mexican motif complements thi…

A Museum in the Middle of an Orchard

The Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture is unique among its peers. It has an unlikely location in the middle of a vast orchard in the small town of Hanford in the Central Valley of California. Which makes it all the more interesting.

The Four Elegant Pastimes by Shibata Zeshin
The Center boasts of a considerable collection of nealy 250 woodblock prints, 500 scroll paintings, folding screens, sculpture, kimonos, baskets and ceramics. Unfortunately only a tiny fraction of these are on display at any given time. When I visited the museum this month, there were no woodblock prints at all on display. There was one beautifully preserved 6 panel folding screen, some baskets and ceramics and two scroll paintings from the collection. The museum is small so it would be impossible to show the full collection. It's best to check first before going so you are aware of what is currently on exhibit.  The two-part exhibition, Woven Identities of Japan, will be on display through January 28,…

Woven Identities of Japan - Ainu and Okinawan Textiles

Bingata kimono
In the first of two rotations, Woven Identities of Japan highlights the Ainu and Okinawan textiles from the late 19th c to early 20th c. Now on display at the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture in Hanford, California are kimonos and robes worn by these two distinct ethnic groups. The contrasts in the types of fabrics, ornamentation and color used by the Ainu and Okinawan people speak of their traditions, beliefs, social divide and geographical influences.

In  Okinawa, textiles were embellished with a stencil dyeing technique called bingata which was for the exclusive use of the Ryukyuan court. The Ryukyu Kingdom was established in 1429 and was a maritime power in Asia. Cotton, silk and banana leaf textiles were solely for the use of the upper classes  The kimono shown above is light and transparent, appropriate for the tropical climate in southern Japan. In contrast, the robes of the Ainu from Hokkaido in the north were made from elm tree or nettle fibers which …

Sweet Gums

It was such a delight to see this stall of "vintage" gumball machines at the Hanford Mall. It's been a while since I saw one and had to stop and check them out. As you can see, there's no shortage of flavors.

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Image by Charie

Trees and Treerooms

This is such a beautiful and evocative poem by Joyce Kilmer. Can't help but love it.
Trees I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree. A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed Against the sweet earth's flowing breast A tree that looks at God all day And lifts her leafy arms to pray A tree that may in summer wear A nest of robins in her hair Upon whose bosom snow has lain Who intimately lives with rain. Poems are made by fools like me But only God can make a tree.
Bird's Nest (photo courtesy of Treehotel)  In Northern Sweden, about 60 km south of the Arctic Circle, a new breed of hotel rooms are sprouting in the wilderness. These are the treerooms that are suspended 4-6 meters above the ground. You can choose to feel nurtured in a Bird's Nest, or hide in the Mirrorcube or perhaps bunk off in a cabin in the woods, and for the ultimate in travel experience without leaving earth, sleep in a UFO. More of these "green" rooms are planned for completion in 2012.
The Mirrorcu…

The Sunset Magazine Garden

"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly.
"One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower." Hans Christian Andersen


The Sunset Magazine garden is uniquely organized into five defined areas representing different climate zones in the Western United States. These areas are the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Central California, Southern California, and the Southwest Desert. There is also a Test Garden where Sunset employees evaluate plants, devices and projects for coverage in its magazine.

 The Lawn
The Lawn is a sprawling 1.2 acre expanse of short cut Astoria colonial bent grass. It is sometimes used for company and special events. The buildings in the background house the offices of the magazine and is in the early California style.


As you step out of the Reception area, a riot of colors greet you in this floral display of gold and red celosia surrounded by summer perennials like coneflowers and marigolds and anchored by a grapefruit tree in the…