Monday, October 27, 2008

Finally, some beach action

well... after 11 days here in Florida, I FINALLY got to the beach. WHAT a beautiful place it was too! We stayed at Danielle's boyfriends parents condo on Anna Maria Island... We slept in, ate breakfast and went to the beach. I was amazed at how many shells there were on the beach. They were literally everywhere... TONS of them. I filled TWO plastic grocery bags with them. I had so many, I was afraid they would make my suitcase overweight so I left them with Danita to mail to me. She was complaining that the surf was too rough and the water was green... I thought it was beautiful. She said normally it is very calm and the water is a beautiful turquoise blue... The shells are not usually so plentiful either... apparantly all of the swells and shells were a parting gift from Hurricaine Ike.. Watching the sunset and drinking pineapple juice and captin morgans parrot bay rum was the final touch to the ending of a beautiful trip. I have to thank Danita and her family for the awesome hospitality. I had a great time, the BEST time I have ever had on a business trip.

I left the next morning for home, sorry to leave Thelma and our most excelent road trip adventure... but I know there will be many more of these to come.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More reuse centers

Our next road trip was to northern Florida. We stayed in Gainesville with Danita's kids Danielle and Milo, both students at the university there in Gainesville. We toured 4 centers in between Gainesville and Jacksonville. The directors there were awesome and again let us take some stuff for Danita's class at the YMCA. So far the weather is holding, sun wherever I have gone and lovely tropical humid weather. I have given up trying to straighten my hair... and just let it doing out as it is want to do in humid weather. I actually like my hair better in humid climates... but that is another story...

The Jacksonville center is HUGE... and old high school converted into a reuse center. They are not open to the public either. You MUST be a teacher to get in. They open once ever quarter and there is a line around the building to get in. Their opening was the day before we arrived, so some of the shelves were bare, but still, a TON of cool and useable items there. Chris and John gave us a tour, and let Milo get some things for some art projects. Milo plans on going back and working with them to create murals around the building in exchange for materials. He is an incredible artist, who inherited him mom's art gene... I have rarely seen this kind of talent in a person so young.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dodging Ike

Since a lot of the reuse centers were in southern Florida from Melbourne south, and since Ike was headed for the Keys, we decided to go south first, and so after going to visit Casey in Ft. Lauderdale, we headed on down toward Miami to visit my friends Ray and Maritza and their son David. They were in the process of moving, and so we hung out and swam while they worked on the house. In the evening, I made cheezy garlic bread with the San Francisco sourdough I brought, and us gals sat in the jacuzzi while Ray brought us drinks... Maritza was calling him the butler all night. We chatted about life, marriage, kids and just being women, and happy to be visiting each other. I missed Pascual a lot while we were there... He and Ray get along so well, and they were so happy Danita and I were there, but we all wished he could have been with us. They are such fun... what is it about the latin people? Pascual and I met them on a sunset booze cruise in Aruba... we sat down and started talking before boarding the cruise, we visited the whole time and had a great time, and then we went to dinner at a brazillian restaurant afterward. They told us if we ever came to Florida, we were welcome in their home... So when we went back to florida in July to take Megan for her graduation present to Disney World, we stayed with them for a weekend and became great friends. They opened their hearts and their home to us with such love and generosity... Danita was amazed and so tickled at their warmth and hospitality... and so unused to people being so kind to strangers... She is starting to see, that if you look for the good, and see the good in all things, they rise up to meet you... and your experience is a great one... Ike was threatning the entire state...and yet we were unaffected by weather at all, and had beautiful sunny skies wherever we went the entire trip...

We spent the night with them, and most of the day. we drove to the Ft. Lauderdale airport to add Danita on to my car rental policy, so she could drive us home in the dark. (I don't do night driving) and the GPS wanted to take us through Alligator Alley, which Danita refused to drive at night... so we relocated ourselves on to a main highway, and off we went into the dark night... Along this one long lone stretch of highway, she stops the car in the middle of the road and switches off the lights so we can see the stars... well, I FREAK out... because the night before, I had a dream that we did the same thing, and a car was driving behind us doing the same thing, they didn't see us stopped with no lights in the middle of the road, and they were driving with no lights looking at the stars also, and BANG they hit us and it was a really bad accident... as I am sitting there feeling the sense of deja vu. I am having a major anxiety attack, telling her to get off the road at least, and pull into the dirt road on the side... almost hysterical.... It didn't happen like in the dream, but I was so shaken up... it took me quite a while to calm down. We got back to Danitas house after 2 am, and were up and on the road early the next morning headed to Gainesville, Jacksonville and surrounding areas...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Walter the Reuse Guru

We went to Melbourne to meet with Walter the Re-use Guru... And little did we know... but he IS reuse in Florida. He has helped many of the centers get started. He has consulted and helped many people with their programs. His background is in early child development and education.

We went to lunch at an organic restaurant in Melbourne, where we talked about our program, picked his brain a bit and he shared a bunch of information with us. We went back to the center and he did some work while we went to Kinkos to copy some of his paperwork. When we got back, he put on some soft music and started making art kits with open ended materials for us to play with. Danita made something for him to display, and she looked to be having so much fun, I want to make something too. The energy in the room just seemed make you want to make something!

The music he played provoked creativity. It didn't distract with lyrics, but generated a highly focused creative space that felt nurturing. I quickly slipped into the "zone" he spoke of and time seemed more fluid. I felt myself rushing around within a timeframe that seemed expansive. I remember asking him if he needed to leave, and him saying no because he were getting things done, and I dove right back into it again. I don't allow myself to just play and be creative much anymore, because I have so many more "important" things to do. I learned in this session, that play IS important, in fact it is vital to the human spirit. Making the time to just let your imagination run wild while you create something with a pile of stuff is very liberating. Having no set structure, rules or guidelines was fun. I could make whatever inspired me... I knew I wanted to make a shadowbox, and was pleased with how it turned out, but the real creativity began when I decided what to put in it... I wanted it to be like a stage, and I couldn't find any people, so I made the harvest sprites out of a fall floral spray that he had there. It turned into the harvest sprite ballet theatre, and I was really happy with how it turned out. My only regret was that I didn't have time to really finish it the way I would have liked... The internal critic in me started overanalyzing it and wanting to pick at it and tweak it and make it perfect. I just had to walk away at that point or I would have been there all night. I learned that when I jump into creative play, the critic in me is silenced until the end process... so learning to walk away, and actually hand it over to him was a new experience for me... I would usually take it home unfinished, and then never finish it because I can't turn that critic off... It was a very healing process for me to just let it all go and create. I LOVED it, and will be sure to schedule more time like this for myself, and together with my children as well.

Unfortunately, we were so busy having fun. we forgot to take a photo with Walter. He is the only one we forgot to photograph... I guess that just means we need to take another trip there to visit with him. I encourage anyone who is a teacher or works with children to take his play coaching workshop. You will be amazed at what you learn.

I urge you all to go out into your studio, randomly pull things from the shelves and put them in a pile, and then PLAY with it... let your imagination run wild as you glue and twist and stamp and paint... I would love to see some of you post your creations here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cars, Planes and Hurricanes

And a crazy British GPS lady who gets me lost every time. That is how the Florida trip went... I arrived at midnight in Tampa, went to pick up my rental car, and was almost knocked over by the heat and humidity, the likes of which us Northern Californians never experience. I have been to Florida a few times before, but I don't remember it being so bloody hot... and sticky. You need to run the air all night long. The closest I can compare it to is a trip I made to Hawaii and there were no trade winds for a few days and it was miserable hot... but even that doesn't really compare. It took me a few days to get used to, and I still couldn't stop commenting on it every time I went outside...

I had this wierd rash that got itchy during the night, and was putting some natural remedy on it that gave some relief, but not a lot... I arrived at Danita's house at 2am after some lovely detours from the airport where I ended up in a construction zone, and a nice dumptruck driver with a southern accent showed me the way to the highway.

We visited for a bit, went to sleep for a few hours, and it was time to wake up. I met her daughter Ciarra and her husband Mark, and we took off for a bit to go shopping. We returned and she had to go to work, and I went and did some shopping around the area, and got back in time to go to dinner with her family for her mother's birthday.  Her family is my kind of people. Nice, and friendly and very easy to know... or maybe it was all the parrot bay rum and pineapple juice I was consuming...

In the summer in Florida, apparantly you don't do anything without watching the weather channel and getting hurricane updates. I arrived right after Hannah hit land, and was on Ike watch the main portion of the trip. We had scheduled many visits on the east coast of Florida from Melbourne to Miami, but with Ike making his way toward Southern Florida, we decided to mix it up and head south first before the storm, and do the central and northern parts after Ike passed, all of this depended on what Ike would do, as he seemed to change his mind every hour.

We spent the first weekend visiting the center Trash to Treasure in Fort Lauderdale. Casey, the director there is such a sweet lady. She gave us a tour of the place, and we filled a bag of goodies to take back for Danita's art classes at the YMCA. Their center works with teachers and the public. They were the only one we toured that looked like what I am accustomed to here in California... Lots of great materials for art and assemblage, with some great environmental messages to some of the pieces... Here is Casey holding up a reuse art doll she made.


Hey there everyone! Wow it's been a long time since I posted. Sorry for that. I have been traveling and moving and packing and moving, and rearranging and moving and clearing out and moving... Oh, did I mention I am moving? Every time I say I am moving, I state emphatically that I will eliminate all the CRAP from my life... and I take several loads of things to charity. But still, it is not enough... My house, that felt so new and clean when I moved in, now has a crowded, cluttered feeling... So I am on a mission to box things up and take them to the Hall Closet. I am learning that things come back to you in ways you wouldn't expect when you let them go. So much stuff comes in that store, that I have learned, if I put the thought out there that I need something, usually within a few days, it shows up at the store, and I get it for a few bucks, instead of the new department store prices... Got a digital camera, bedding for my king sized bed in a color I LOVE and a laptop, all with this same flowdreaming stuff... It really works. You tap into the universal flow, and direct the energetic flow of your own life, and things start to HAPPEN...

So we have moved to downtown Martinez to be closer to the schools for the kids. They can both walk, and love it. The kids have friends in the neighborhood, and we have met many of the neighbors already. We have been hoping for a neighborhood where the people are friendly and we got one. We love our new place, and the house is amazing...!

I have been compiling a post about my trip to Florida... It is LONG... so I will break it up into sections... We visited Several reuse centers out there, and on the last day I went to the beach and had a GREAT time... My new BFF Danita is an awesome person and fabulous tour guide... We had a real Thelma and Louise adventure minus Brad Pitt and the Cliff... (we did have a convertable!) and I can't wait to tell you all about it and show you photos of all the centers we visited...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The AMAZING Art of Greg Brumfield

You know what a reuse and repurposing nut I am... I was in Starbucks about 2 months ago and saw this really COOL art made with cups and straws and cup sleeves from Starbucks. I asked who the artist was, and wanted to talk to him. He called me back a few days later, and we chatted for quite a while about his art and creature building. Let me tell you, his pieces in Starbucks are NOTHING compared to what he entered at the Marin County Fair. He entered 8 pieces and all 8 of them won awards. A true renaissance man, who has a visionary gift to turn garbage into amazingly intricate art. The things he does with a glue gun will fascinate you. Making ships rigging and chain links from hot glue. Balls and braids and sculpting faces and people also entirely out of hot glue. His work is on display at the Pittsburg Civic Center for the Month of August. In September, the exhibit will move downtown for the Annual Seafood Festival. If you are anywhere near the Bay Area and want to see a truly incredible show, check out Coffee Break at the City of Pittsburg Civic Center! Don't forget to go upstairs to the third floor to see the other pieces.

Pittsburg Community Art

I went to the Pittsburg Civic Center and got caught up in appreciating the beautiful floors and tapestries in the building... Blue Lapis and another type of blue and gray stone with irridescent veins flowing through it. These pictures don't do it justice. They have these amazing fabric collages hanging on the walls that are called tapestries, but they are not woven... they are pieced together with different textiles. Some of the photos didn't turn out too well... I will try to shoot them another time in better lighting.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Recource Area For Teachers is a COOL place... You have to be a teacher or non-profit organization to shop there. You need a membership or a day pass... they have TONS of projects and kits for teachers to teach math and science based art projects. Go check them out. Their Website has a lot of project ideas. Here are some photos I took of all the COOL stuff they have. I bought 2 shopping carts full of stuff for $28 !!! They have a die cut room with 19 machines and every die Ellison makes. You can bring your own paper or buy theirs by the inch. They have a laminating machine, and all kinds of projects displayed. Make sure to allow a few hours to really browse. You an get great yarns and fibers for 50 cents a ball, and used computers for $50 to $85 donated from local Silicon Valley Companies. I bought 8 oz liquid watercolors for $3 each. I got a recipe for making sidewalk chalk with the watercolors and plaster of paris! Check them out for more project ideas....

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Hall Closet

Many of you know I am one of the managers at the Hall Closet Thrift Store in Martinez. It is a very cool store, with tons of great stuff at prices like a thrift store should be... Here are some photos of the store I took recently. We are closing soon for 2 weeks to prepare for Halloween. Ruthie, our resident costume expert has been compiling the BEST selection of funky stuff for halloween! Come check us out... Open Monday and Tuesday from 10-2 and the first Saturday of every month.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Been MIA

To my 5 fans out there in blogland... sorry I haven't posted in a while...

I am up to my eyeballs in stuff for the center... business paperwork, networking, getting ready for the Peddler's Fair on Aug. 2nd... Thanks to my pal Mel and a sweet volunteer Bonnie for helping me with all the sewing on the bags..

I have some COOL stuff I am making for the PF out of vintage fabrics that are looking quite cool. I will post photos.

I am off this morning to RAFT to meet with the director about their program and to network with another center... If you live in the Florida area, there are TONS of reuse centers... I found the Mac Daddy of reuse centers in Florida, and I am flying out there in September to meet with him and learn the ropes...

My computer is on the fritz and I can't load photos right now, so sorry for the text only posts... I will give a full recap of RAFT this evening with photos... I will figure this out,... I swear.

Friday, June 27, 2008

East Bay Depot for ReUse...

Another reuse center located here in the Bay Area... The East Bay Depot is AWESOME!!! The director Linda Levetsky is so nice, and so supportive of the community. We (Shannon and I) went in there and talked to her today. She donated a bunch of fabric to us to be used to make reuseable shopping bags. The girls at the girls center will help me make them, along with some sewing experts. We plan on selling them at the store, and at Art in the Park in August. The proceeds will go to help fund the art program. We are also starting a recycle drive. Collecting cans and bottles from friends and family and companies. The money from the recycle program will also help fund the art program.

So check out the East Bay Depot, and see what treasures await you. I always find such cool stuff there... But if you see it, buy it, because it will all be new stuff the next time you go...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Smoke and San Francisco

Southbound on 101 heading to S. San Francisco. You can see me in the reflection on the back of the truck in my white Yukon
Shot on sports mode by holding up the camera and pressing the button. This was the only shot of Coit Tower that turned out.
The name on this truck just cracked me up... no significance beyond it made me laugh.
This was also shot on sports mode and was the only one to come out with the Transamerica building centered between the cables, and with a decent shot of the skyline. Hey, I DID have to watch the road... I just pressed the shutter button and took like 30 photos... I think these photos are not bad, considering I didn't once look in the viewfinder.
These were all snapped while driving (don't tell anyone) across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco... Looks like a normal day in San Francicso, right/ WRONG... it is not fog, but SMOKE you see there... (with a little fog mixed in) from all the fires we have burning up and down the state... I drove with the top down on the convertable and my lungs hurt from breathing in all the smoke... It didn't seem that bad just looking at it, but I did get a lot of soot in my eyes as well... So no going topless for a while... The air feels like when I go to LA... We are not used to air we can see up here like they are in LA... The fact that the valley we live in is like a bowl surrounded by foothills and a mountain doesn't help, all the smoke stays trapped in the valley... We have had cooler temperatures and winds, which are helping... Now if we can just get the fires to stop... We might actually have clean air again by maybe Labor Day Weekend...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fashion Shows and Bonfires....

Saturday was a busy day. In the morning we got up early to prepare for the Girls Center Fashion Show. Both my daughters were in the show. We started hair and makeup at 8am, arrived at the center at 9:30 and it was a frenzy of curling, pressing, hairspray, quick changes and giggling. I have been working with the girls for a few weeks altering dresses, and helping with the other Auxiliary ladies and the Soroptimists in fitting and finding clothes for all the girls. We had 12 girls from the center, and 7 extras, the librarians at the Juvenile hall, my girls, an auxiliary volunteer, and a couple of girls of the other volunteers in the program. Megan was slow to get on board with the idea, but she was really glad she participated. The head of Volunteers in Probation was impressed with Megan and wants her to be a Jr. Volunteer, until she turns 21 in a little over a year. She will be a peer counselor with the girls. Kayleigh was thrilled to be able to participate. She chose all her outfits with such thought and care. I only have these photos because cameras were not allowed for security reasons. The girls are all protected under the juvenile offender privacy act. I wish I could show you the pictures of these young ladies, and what a boost it is for them and their self esteem. It is also good for my girls to see the difference that having active, involved parents in your life can make. They appreciate me more. The girls at the center see my girls as an example of what they could do with their own lives if they made different choices.

Dress rehearsal Wednesday was so cute.. All of them with their hair in various stages of being done... Some with weaves hanging half done in the hair, some with little ponytails all over their heads, and some with do rags and shower caps on... all in formal evening gowns with their high heels... They were so excited, all the primping and preparation was so worth it. These are girls who come from difficult situations. They are wards of the court for various reasons, and sentenced to serve 6, 9 or 12 months. They all have mentors, who coach them on positive life skills, encourage them, and help them with the transitions from life on the street to completing high school, getting jobs, and graduating from the program to be productive members of society. It is amazing to see these young women blossom and grow under this program. I feel so honored to be a part of it.. Here are my girls after the fashion show. It was over 100 degrees and they were roasting in the sun, but humored me enough to snap these two pictures at least. I am so proud of them.
Then in the evening, it was off to a San Juan party at our friend Juan and Neves' house in Sunnyvale. We met them through the Catalan Society here in the Bay Area. Many people from the Catalonia region of Spain and also other parts of Spain all belong to the group. Many Spanish festivals were originally pagan celebrations, that were changed to religious festivals when Spain was christianized. This festival is a summer solstice party. It is in celebration of St. John the Baptist. In Spain, people gather (usually at a beach) and cook a big Paella, and dance and drink and sing all night. They light the bonfire after the food is done, and you write the things you want to be rid of for the year, throw it in the fire, then you make a big wish, and jump the bonfire to make your wish come true. In Spain, the parties usually start at 10 and go until morning, when everyone runs and jumps into the ocean to cleanse themselves (the St. John Part)

Last year, a neighbor wished for two children, and within a few months, they found out they were expecting.... twins!!! We saw the babies, 8 weeks old, at the party, living proof of the power of these rituals. The kids have the most fun, lining up over and over to jump the fire... at first it is all about the wish and throwing the paper in the fire, then two dads will help each child jump the fire... After one little girls 15th trip, one guy asked "Aren't you out of wishes yet?" she just smiled and said, "Yeah, but I like the jumping part best.." After, the guys get out their guitars and play music. We had all kinds of songs played, from I been working on the railroad to You are my Sunshine to Flamenco songs and Boleros and Spanish campfire songs and even Baby Beluga... After each song, you must shout "Ole" really loud... Much Cava and Sangria and Mojito's later... we didn't get home until 3 in the morning... which by Spanish standards is WAY too early... It was fun. I love exposing the kids to other cultures and sharing other customs with them.