On the Threshold

On the Threshold

We’ve been getting some much needed rain. Perhaps food prices won’t be quite so bad this year after all. In any event, this morning I’m in a liminal space. Looking out the West windows it is overcast with patches of blue. To the South is another matter: It is raining and the heavy, dark clouds covering the sky promise more moisture.

I sit here, not having to water the bonsai and other little trees, watching rain out one window and none out another, on the line between, at the intersection of both and neither, in the gap where yes and no meet. It’s pretty cool!


You Can’t Take It With You

You Can't Take It With You

Well, friends, my apologies for the hiatus.

In December, I got a part time job. Whew! The sedentary nature of graduate studies left behind for “load that barge, tote that bale” frenetic activity. There has been a bit of an adjustment period complicated by the holidays, low-grade illness lasting awhile, being props manager for a local community theater, and a brand new second illness that, considering how tired I already was, knocked me on. . . well, took a lot out of me. Last year at this time, I had been repotting bonsai and traveling through Australia, kayaking and hiking, going to weekend bonsai shows. What a difference a year can make.

I love my job. It keeps me fairly busy, and is different every day. The group of young people I work with are, overall, friendly and nice, supportive and encouraging, and a lot of fun. They’re nice to their resident “old lady.”

I ate my share of Girl Scout cookies but, having purchased in two communities, was surprised to discover that there was $1 difference in box prices. Wonder what’s up with that?

My next planned adventure is an Aikido seminar at the end of May. Not sure if I’ll be back in shape, but I’m going! A good friend is testing for san dan (third black belt).

My super-ultra-megawatt-totally awesome news is that of my four friends who last year battled cancer, all four are cancer free!!

The year has been an unusual so far. I wonder what the other three quarters will bring . . . . I hope all of you are having a fantastic year!

Trip to the Bay

Trip to the Bay

For our holiday meeting this year, my cousin and I met in Alameda, CA, and had two days in Neverland. You know, nicely packed with hardly any room between one adventure and another (JM Barrie). First a jaunt up to Richmond to see the Rosie the Riveter WWII Heritage Monument. There’s a lot more going on there besides just Rosie, as if that wasn’t enough. The sight speaks to a large area of growth in US history: the Rosies, racial and gender discrimination issues, naval mutiny and other naval history, industrial growth, and health care. We spent longer there than intended, and ended up in traffic on our way back to the hotel.

The next day we drove into San Francisco and spent hours along the Waterfront. A dream for me was getting out to Fort Point, the oldest US military site in CA. I was sad to find it fenced and bricked off. Maybe some day I’ll find a way to see the inside.

After seeing the sights and watching waves break, we headed to Oakland and the Golden State Bonsai Collection, North. It’s at Lake Merritt. The photo is a persimmon styled and donated by my friends Vince and Kathy Owyoung. The tree is about 3 feet tall. Unfortunately, we only got through about half of the collection because they close at 3. The docent was sweet, giving us an extra ten minutes.

Sadly, my cuz and I only had the two days this year, and there were lots of things on our to-do list that we didn’t get to see this time. Maybe next year. . . .

Catching Up

Catching Up

Good morning, dear readers. I’ve been a right slug about posting, but some great stuff has been happening. Early in November, I got to go to Beverly Hills to see the Martha Graham Dance Company open the new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. While I did get a few pics of the dancing, I promised not to publish them. In this pic is a bronze from the Wallis’ garden, titled “Exhaltation” (by Emmanuel Fillion, original 1996, reproduction 2013), in the image of Ms. Graham performing her piece “Lamentation.” The amazing Katherine Crockett danced this for us.

On the return, I drove a section of CA Hwy 1 between Gaviota and Pismo Beach. It’s really pretty in there, views of the ocean and I think there are some cliffs near Lompoc. I hope to drive it again and take a couple of the roads all the way to the beach. The drive only took an extra hour, so I am very happy with the exploration.

Of course we just had Thanksgiving. I took green salad and a pumpkin pie to a friend’s house. She roasted a turkey and some yams. After a tasty meal I helped her pack. Then on Friday, I joined a small group to schlep. The move went fairly quickly so there was time for hanging out with friends and the new grand daughter (my friend’s – though apparently I do look rather grandmotherly when I push my glasses to the end of my nose. Guess it’s time for bifocals.).

This week is “cover the bonsai” week. It’s a good thing I recently bought new sheets, or I wouldn’t have had enough material. My little trees are a bit crowded; not ideal for growing but good when the temperature drops.

Let’s leave things here for now.
I hope everyone has (has had) joyous and blessed winter holy days.

Mondo Burley 2

Mondo Burley 2

On Sept 25 this year, I posted about Mondo Burley, a relatively large yamadori (yah-mah-doe-ree) olive burl with some new growth. (Yamadori are collected rather than grown from seed or a cutting. They are usually on the larger size, say, greater than 12 inches/31 cm tall with a proportionate base.)
Last Sunday I showed the burley tree to a local bonsai friend who is known for his olives (no name, as I haven’t asked permission yet). It felt pretty good hearing him suggest the same design ideas that I had been considering. He gave me tips on how to accomplish these ideas, too – a topic for another day. My friend also said to remove the bark from the dead areas of the burl. This is good because bugs can get underneath old bark and ruin the nice wood or affect the health of the tree. It also exposes the swirls and grain of the wood and improves aesthetics.
Today I did some work on the bark. You can see the autumn coloring of the newly exposed wood. Truely, though, I did get a better photo showing the colors. Why, then, show this photo? JRR Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” The top of Burley looks like Barrad-dûr, location of the Eye of Sauron. There are also some cool faces in the wood. . . .
Thank you, everyone, for reading, and welcome! to the all you newer readers.

Capital City Bonsai Show

Capital City Bonsai Show

This weekend, 26 & 27 Oct, is the annual Capital City Bonsai Show. Hosted by all four bonsai clubs in Sacramento, it raises money to support the Golden State Bonsai Federation collection at Lake Merritt, Oakland (pictured above), housing some of California’s oldest bonsai trees (http://www.gsbf-bonsai.org/lake-merritt/NewHome.htm).

Saturday, the show runs 10 – 5 with a social afterwards, and Sunday from 10-4. There will be club hosted demos each day at 1:30. I am fairly sure this is a FREE event. For more information contact Gary Judd at 916-622-8048.

Admission to see the Lake Merrit collection is free, and the SoCal collection is at Huntingtion Gardens.

Bonsai clubs in Sac’to:
American Bonsai Association
Bonsai Sekiyu Kai (tree and stone lovers)
Sacramento Bonsai Club (oldest club in CA)
Satsuki Aikokai Association (Azaleas only)

See you there!

Mondo Burley

Mondo Burley

Last night American Bonsai Association Sacramento had their annual auction. Wow! There were some amazing trees, most of which quickly lept out of my price range. I had a chance at a rare kind of Japanese Shimpaku juniper (shohin) and let it go knowing I probably cannot care for it where I am currently living . . . a combination of the water and the sun exposure. This little guy needed TLC that my current “yard” can’t offer. Sure was purdy tho’.

What I did get was a nifty olive, a tri-trunk dwarf Alberta spruce, and a swell pot. Today, the olive:

I’ll call it “Mondo Burley” because it is both. Mondo because of the size, burley because the old trunk is: One. Big. Burl! It will need a pot that is at least 11″ (28cm) by 8″ (20.5cm), and is strong enough that it will be able to hold its own, very well thank you, in a larger pot. I’ve got one in mind that you’ll see when Mondo Burley gets repotted. It stands 20″ (51cm) tall. Yes, lots of bonsai are larger, but it’s no mame (bean-size). I picked the burl photo figuring you all know what an olive tree looks like. (Someday I’ll figure out how to post multiple photos.)

I feel really fortunate to have gotten this tree for the price. There were three other olives this size and a dwarf Greek kalamata. They all came up for auction late in the evening. The kalamata soared in price – an unusual tree in this area, maybe (???) brought from Greece as its former care taker is Greek Orthodox. The other biggun’s were auctioned first. They all had trunks with saw cut surfaces that will be great for carving. (I’m still focusing on styling.) Mondo Burley was last on the block and the olive enthusiasts must have been worn out or had gone home. Sold! for a single Andrew Jackson!!

Today, was mostly clean up work, removing leaf fall, spider webs, and what I think is Alaskan Malamute fur. I snipped a few dead branches and took a little time to get to know the tree and appreciate the bark and dead wood. I’m wondering how it would look to rub the dead wood with olive oil instead of using lime sulpher. Maybe too shiny? My idea is that it will renew the original color of the wood. But then, maybe it will attract bugs. Time for more research!

Thank you for reading and subscribing!

New View Too

New View Too

Here is the revamped Korean hornbeam. The main difference is in the apex. What used to be the apex is now the left branch. The new apex was the upper right branch. It and the lower right branch each had a little shaping done with wire – pulling the branches closer and adding character through movement. There’s a long way to go. The tree needs to be more compact either through more bending or by pruning. The lower right branch will definately get more attention! I’m holding off doing anything more for the moment because the former apex cracked in the process of bending it; it was a fairly intense change considering it used to be almost straight up. I want to know if the branch will make it before deciding what to do next. The styling was a few days and things are looking good so far.

New View

New View

For those of you who don’t know, I like bonsai, and earlier this year began to learn how to do it right. They say you’ll kill a lot of trees, so I guess I am learning. In fact, for awhile I stopped posting about bonsai because nearly every tree I wrote a post about – ok, half – ended up dead. The korean hornbeam in this pic, and tomorrow’s, has been pretty steady since a beginner’s workshop in early March, so hopefully it will survive.

The tree’s shape shows just how much a beginner I am, or at least was in March. I don’t feel like I understand the shaping of trees yet. Just look at this one: basic “S” shaped upright “A” frame triangle. A valid style, but highly over done; every beginner does at least one tree that looks like this. I have two. Still, you’ve got to start somewhere. And some the ones that have had years to grow look really great.

I follow a few bonsai blogs [see right sidebar]. Two of these guys, Adam’s Art and Bonsai and eschmidtpabonsai, post fairly regularly and I see more of their trees-in-progress than others. Both of them are fairly aggressive, compared to me, with their trees, especially Sir Adam. I still cringe, but watching what they do has made me somewhat braver.

Back to this vict . . . tree. I just revamped it from what you see here. Having watched posts on the blogs listed above with morbid fascination, looking at some of my trees and being completely at a loss for ideas, knowing I really ought to do something to save my upright S curve A frame trees from mundacity. So I checked out some bonsai blogs, put on some great ’80s rock, looked at my tree, approached this little guy with intent, and suddenly saw something new that I hadn’t seen before.

Voi la! An idea! Action!
Check again tomorrow to see what happened. . . .

While We’re Down Under. . . .

While We're Down Under. . . .

My last stop in Australia was in Melbourne. It’s a beautiful city with lots of great art, great public transportation [with both trams and buses – that is, the motor coach], a harbor and ocean shore, a renowned . . . the list goes on.
Anyway, shortly after I got back to the States, I came across a bonsai blog “adamaskwhy@wordpress.com.” Adam is in Melbourne, all his blog photos of himself are in shorts, and there were a few comments about consuming alcohol while working on trees. Sounds Aussie to me! I made a comment on his weblog about the cow tree in his fair city and that I wished I’d known about his bonsai club while I’d been there. It would have been fun to meet some Aussie bonsai folk! Guess again. . . . Yup, Melbourne, Florida, USA.
So, Adam, here’s a pic of “your” fair city’s cow in a tree art.
Oh, and the photo is not mine. I picked it up off the internet. Photo credit goes to ichibansean.wordpress.com.