Am giving you the cultural view -what struck me as a Westerner. We went the year before the Olympics for a week, so many things were more authentically Chinese. Our son lived there, and  staying at his apartment,  gave us more insight of the life of the locals.



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PandasChina 319

THE GOOD: The Giant Pandas have a den on your tour ot the Great Wall

Also Good: You barter for anything, except in Western stores or restaurants. Everything is dirt cheap and our son kept saying “You pay too much!”

There are only two traffic rules people attend to. Stop for a red light, and call the police when you’re involved in an accident. Traffic there is so chaotic that I remarked being back on 6-8 lane freeways of Los Angeles, “It’s so quiet here!”   :):)





Fence in the foreground for safety

THE RANDOM:  Hubby and son went to the Great Wall, and I went painting here, left from the bridge. One of the workers at the bed and breakfast told it’s very unusual here to paint in the street, and even more for a woman to be alone and paint, but since I obviously was a Westerner, they let me get away with it:) On the mainland, Westerners are still kind of a celebrity – yes, I felt those watching eyes.



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THE FUN:  At the Great Wall most visitors were Chinese.
Surprizingly for Asia, most women work and have a voice here. I watched a woman working in a giant mall for gadgets, blast a Middle Eastern man – no doubt wanting the special treatment, and not giving in to his demands. She spewed fire and won the half hour lasting argument.




BougainvillaChina 312




Quang Zhou 050

Only pic from Shen-Shen in this post.
China loves replications ….  and mishmash – From left to right, German Dutch, English, and in the back the Eiffel Tower:) The mainland has an unusual mix of communism mixed with  a democratic slant in their business practices. They call Hong Kong “the West.”



RoyalRobeForbDity 268

All the reflections are from Catching the Light  behind us.

Royal Robe display behind glass in the Forbidden City (that means China had a royal family before Communism took over). The Forbidden City are the former Royal palaces, and visiting is like the Louvre – never enough time!




Blue Monday  *  Randomosity  *  I Heart Macro  *   Catch the Light  * Jo’s Monday Walk *
Our World  * Wordless  * Nature Notes Trees and Bushes  *
ABCWed –   .  * Outdoor Wed.  *  Water World Wordless Wed.  * Black and White Wed. *
Little Things  *  Alphabe –  * Good Fences  * Floral Fri. Photo  *
Weekend Reflection  *  Sky Watch  *  Fri. Greens  *  Fri Photo Journal  *
Todays Flower  *  Maleviks Rosen  *  Pink Saturday  *   Six  Word Sat.  *






Now we are approaching our first year anniversary having the forest view, I am thankful!



Two of our littlest grands had the most fun on those extremely hot days:)


still, for the amazing forest view  – the most OPEN window view I’ve ever had
survived days of triple digit heat
& below zero degrees
on most days stunning sunsets

Wish I could say my studio is finished, but More permits needed than in the city for “a barn!”
We have been warned before for “some” people being difficult and resistant in this area.

YET, I am thankful for countless things …

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My ears perked up when hubby said that.

rug unevenpole_2638

THE GOOD: May sound strange to you, but am thankful for my new rug by the couches in the living room.  We had beautiful tiles throughout the condo, but it was out of my comfort zone to sit on the floor (writing, painting, reading) –  a leftover habit from my college days.
The mid-brown of the “flames” are higher than the light and dark, which I really like. It’s an extension of the forest floor, and I can still sit or walk on it, even without my flip flops.



Window View2Live_2715





The sunsets here are stunning – every day different. And many kinds of fences, usually not seen in the city




THE RANDOM: about the time I have my giant cup …
If there’s anything that helped to adjust to daily life here, it’s little things like being able to buy a coffee I like. If you don’t know it – Dutchmen AND women are extremely particular about their coffee.








Now I see these deer regularly, I can’t eat deer meat anymore. I just can’t.
One of the neighborhood gang -a group of about 6 deer, bambi and a male. This one kept looking at me for the longest time while I kept clicking (the camera) – standing higher on the deck of my house.

Also met two of the girls while I was struggling to take the hill back up to my house.
They came walking – saw me – first not knowing if I was safe – I looked away –
Smiling. Someone here told me  these animals flee when you stare at them.
I know it won’t be long before I’ll start giving them names!


Thankful for One Year Forest Life
(Six word Saturday)

Thanks to All the Hosts

Blue Monday  *  Randomosity I heart Macro  *  Catch the Light *
Our World  *  Nature Notes  *  Trees & Bushes  *  Wordless *
ABC Wed.- G   *   Outdoor Wed. Wordless Wed * Black and White Wed.  * Water World *
Little Things  *  Up Down View * Good Fences * Alphabe –  O  *
Floral Friday Foto  *  Sky Watch  * Fri. Greens  * Weekend Reflection * Fri. Photo Journal *
Maleviks Rosen  *  Pink Saturday  *  Sat. Critters * Six Word Sat.  *









Lucca, even though small, has city walls, and is an hour either way between Pisa and
Firenze (Florence) close to the marble mining sites in Carrera in Tuscany. One of the
paradise places for painters, for the light they want to catch in their landscapes.

Went from Amsterdam two years ago with Transavia (a smaller plane co. our US travel
agent couldn’t find!) to Pisa, so we booked it ourselves and saved several hundred dollars:)



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THE GOOD: Leaning tower – not in Pisa, but still in the area (W Italy)
where we were.  Easy to see that the building styles are simple and sturdy.
Also, many towers and many gates (below).









No travel without some brushes, paint and foldable water bucket! Italy is famous
for Fabriano watercolor paper – oooh- in 3 1/2 x 5 inch postcard size
in downtown Lucca’s art store
sent the Tuscany plein airs with an Italian post stamp to a few art lovers




So simple …but not! I was hanging over the balcony five stories high while standing on tiptoes on a chair to catch this view. In the process of painting  had to come back from
my opinion that the long tall cypress in the van Gogh’s paintings were exaggerated –
there’s no other way to paint with the sun shining on them!





The plants and flowers made me feel at home – similar to California. Oleanders in a simple vase




Old arched bridges –  notice the way they trim these cypress trees (like on my postcard)





Have never passed so many tunnels cutting through mountains in a 4 hours. drive.
This one we went through –reflecting the sun– at time of sunset when leaving
Nice (pronounce niece), France.






The famous Mediterranean coast between Italy and France. My honest opinion:
don’t go in the summer, when tripping over the people laying on the beach!


Tuscany’s warm breeze and distant mountains
(Six words Sat.)
inviting the morning into my room
they are indelibly written on my soul


Thanks to All the Hosts

Sunday in my city
Blue Monday Randomosity  * I Heart Macro  *  Catching the Light * Flowers in a Vase *
Our World Nature Notes  *  Trees and Bushes  *Wordless *
ABC– F  *  Waterworld  * Outdoor Wed.   *  Wordless Wed.  * Black and White Wed.  * WedAroundWorld  *
Little Things  *  Up Down View * Good Fences  *  Alphabe– N  * Floral Friday Foto  *
Fri. Photo Journal  *  Sky Watch Fri. Greens  *  Weekend Reflection  * Todays Flowers *
Maleviks Rosen  *  Pink Saturday  *   Six words Saturday *





Bloom Bracelet_2123

BLOOM! I say TO MYSELF – finally put the parts of this bracelet together

You would think that living  in the 4th country on the globe, I would have cultural adjustment down,
but … it’s no secret – our friends in Northern California view us after a year still as suburbians with a Southern Californian Style and a city mentality. That label will probably still stick to us for a while!

The following may make you chuckle (if you have gone through the same), or puzzled (when you have lived all of your life on the country side), or you can’t relate, because you live in a different country.

I drive 1 1/2 hrs. or more to Trader Joe, Michaels, Sams, or clothing stores at least a few times a week. For Northern Californians a drive longer than 20 min. is “a day trip!” Really??

To the coffee shop in my (decent) shorts and sandals. How can I relax if I need to put on a suit (a little exaggerated) with high heels? Yet when I’m “casually dressed up” in the latest trend, I catch “the looks” .

At the cash register of  a store, I sense the person want to start a conversation, “How are you guys doing?” or “Are you going to make cookies tonight?” Etc.
My reply is a smile, looking her straight in the eye, “Thank you.”  Her eyes start darting in every direction, not knowing how to continue. When I tell this to my city friends, the reaction is “No time!” Someone else claims, “None of their business.”
You get the drift ….:)  Am posting this, so I (and people who know me closely) can look back on it later and laugh, “Silly me. What was I thinking?”


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Vineyard BrightSkies_1808

Took this pic in spring when everything was green

THE RANDOM: On our way to have  breakfast. We have seen the weirdest cloud formations above the vineyards, but who knows, that makes the grapes grow faster … wink wink





Easrly ToastBrunch_0463

THE FUN; I chose sausage, Mushrooms, and spinach crepe at the brunch
from Early Toast (restaurant)




Yellow rose and buds






Above the rocks you can see a metal fence

THE FUN: The wind with sun are in kahuts to make Fountain Spray a spectacle of Exquisite light.



 my tentative conclusion:
(Six Words Saturday)


Sunday in my City  *
Blue Monday  * Randomosity   *   I Heart Macro  *  Catch the Light Wordless *
Our world  *  Nature Notes Trees & Brushes  *
ABC Wed– E *  Outdoor Wed.  * Wordless Wed.  *Water world  * Black and White Wed.  *
Good Fences  *  Alphabe– M *  Little things  * Up Down View  *
Sky Watch    *  Weekend Reflection  *   Floral Fri. Foto  *  Fri. Photo Journal  *
Fri Greens  * Todays Flowers *
Maleviks Rosen  *Six Word Saturday  *


My life is far from hum drum, but like everyone else I have to work at it – DAILY :)
In my previous job, the strategy in helping my clients was to look with them
for a different “frame of mind” (like a picture frame)
Here, I look for “life,” “new things to discover,” “persistent practice,”and “beauty”
All these shots were within an hour’s drive from my home –


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my first decent  bird pic with a Tamron lens- these Blue Jays are the chatterboxes
of the yard – they can be very loud:)
Next project will be one of the squirrels, and hoping for one of the humming birds
I see regularly at the feeder by the kitchen window





Any time groceries need to be done, I drive on LaTrobe Road for about half an hour,
a super windy road with farms and vineyards of all sizes





At Peets Coffee every day! – I wish:)


Amdoing It_7684

Peach started drawing and coloring  daily, before she was two years old.
First it was to imitate her older brother.
When he moved on to Legos, she stayed with it.



Black&Wh sunsetsky_1524





Miss Hydrangea is much sturdier than she looks:)

So surprised this Hydrangea survived the move from So. Cal, was well as freezing
temps in North. Cal, and the bright hot sun on the deck. Her luscious blooms  require
a daily check for enough water in the summer.




Driving over the bridge
(Six Words Saturday)


Sometimes I miss the view of the ocean at the horizon, but smaller bodies of water can be beautiful too!



Blue Monday  *  I Heart Macro Randomosity  * Catch the Light  *
Our World Trees and Bushes  *  Nature Notes  * Wordless *
ABC Wed. -D *  Outdoor Wed. * Black & Wh. Wed.  *  Wordless Wed.  * Water world  *
Little things  * Good Fences Up Down View Alphabe – L  *
Sky Watch  * Weekend Reflection Fri Greens * Floral Fri Foto *
Fri Photo Journal * Todays Flowers * Best Fri Shot *
Sat. Critters  * Maleviks Rosen  * Pink Saturday  * Six Word Sat.  *


Some friendships we have for a short period in life, others for a life time.
Some friendships are to be likely to happen, others unlikely.
Some friendships we keep because one thing we have in common, in others there are multiple things that bind us together.

Jammy (see comments) gave me this idea – you may know a lot of people, but it does not mean they are all friends. A friend I can call at 2:30 am to bring me to the hospital. I can cry on a friend’s shoulder, without he or she losing respect, or viewing me differently than before.

Something to think about: Some friendships bring well-being, other friendships may be toxic

This turned out to be an unlikely, life time friendship with multiple things we have in common.
Unlikely  because they are the age of our own adult children. Life time,  since we have known and kept up with each other for more than fourteen years. Our love for books we have in common, discussing things, healthy food, love for people, etc. etc. have enriched my and hubby’s life.



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The view of fountain and patio below ground level is where we met each other after a year ….





THE GOOD: From the railroad museum in Old Sacramento, sauntered on the board walk of the harbor
I taught their momma knitting. You can see both of their daughters have a lace scarf:)




THE RANDOM: Fences and Reflection

Then walked  back to the streets with the shops ….




THE yummy FUN: while friend was purchasing strawberries on our way back home, I sneaked in a few pics of organic produce








SunsetColored Pencil_0726

We came home LONG after this gorgeous light



(six Words Saturday)



*Blue Monday  *  Randomosity Wordless * Jo’s Monday Walk  *
Our World  *  Nature Notes  *  Trees & Bushes *
ABC – C   *  Outdoor Wed.  * Water world Wordless Wed.  *
Alphabe – K  *  Little Things   *   Up Down view   * Good Fences  *
Floral Friday Foto  * Sky Watch Fri Photo Journal * Fri Greens * Weekend Reflection * Todays Flowers *
Maleviks Rosen Pink Saturday * Six Word Saturday *



Still remember sitting in my parent’s living room, as a twenty something and mother of a newborn, wondering why my parents were all of a sudden so concerned about things happening in the news!
In this aspect I am living their lives now.
A few months ago my son who does”European Studies” (that is an actual major in college!) in the Netherlands, had not kept up with the news, went to his advisor, asking what that all was about terrorists (ISIS), and puzzled commented, “My mother has never talked about terrorists! Now she has mentioned it twice!”

This anecdote is my introduction for why I also  paint news events. Art is known to affect history. One of my pastel paintings was about the bombing in London, a few weeks after the tsunami in South East Asia, with the (big) caption “People are missing.”


To recap: this painting that I started this Valentine, is more subtle, and the reason for this intro.  Valentine’s Day, known for the day of “love” and the book “Fifty Shades of Grey” coming out the same week, in which love turns out to be physical abuse and porn. So you know this painting is not just a story line.
It is about something happening right now in our society.

I was as curious what those ripped out pages represented. It came to me that they might be things everyone knew, but with time was forgotten. These kind of paintings begin as a seedling. It takes the sun to shine and the rain to grow roots, until it becomes a big tree (below).





THE RANDOM: Also, I forgot to mention that I painted two poppies on the cover of the book  on the beach. In the USA each state is represented by a flower. Poppies are the flower of California (where I live). Goes without saying that Hollowood produced mega movies about “love.”


redWhiteCrop poppies_0614


THE GOOD: I was not satisfied with the shore line. It did not point toward the focus of interest: the book. Asked one of my friends from FB permission to post her pic from the coastline of So. Calif.
Some weeks later, I should have jotted down what scary event it was, that jogged my memory.
Something I had not thought about for a long time.

Book of 3 LoveGlass copy

THE FUN: For the post, I put the text on it and used a glass filter. Am half way done:)

The first that came to mind was that PERFECT LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR. It’s one of those difficult concepts – hard to wrap your brain around them …
Most of us love conditionally. It’s pretty scary to love unconditionally and takes a lot of maturity. Fear controls and intimidates. “Fear wreaks havoc” (quote Gene Simmons)
As fas as I’ve seen this is how it works: the more we can give out of our love, the less we fear.
Can I achieve this?
Like anything else you like to find out if it’s true, just start doing it.


(Six Words Sat.)

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Blue Monday  *  Randomosity   * I Heart Macro * Wordless *
Our World  * Nature Notes *   Trees and Bushes *
ABC– B   *  Water World  * Outdoor Wed.  * Wordless Wed.  *
Alphabe  – J * Up Down View  * Little things   * Good Fences *
Sky Watch  *  Floral Friday Foto Fri Photo Journal  *  Fri. Greens * Todays Flowers *
Maleviks Garden  *  Pink Saturday Six Words Saturday *



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Change of scenery gives me a blank canvas – great to get the creative juices flowing! A breath of fresh air when you live in the city (I did back then)  – big landscapes, wide horizons, fierce, almost uninhabitable
mountains, unforgiving  hot  temperatures. Unforgettable and addictive!

AT  HOME: we are dealing now with building permits for that forest floor hubby leveled (seen in post Major Markers) – so far so good:) I am back to finishing up(hopefully!)  that pastel from some time ago The Love Book.



Water is scarce here – not many big rivers  or lakes … a faint reflection of the sky





THE GOOD: Sure you might need a fence here in  Zion Nat Park …
waiting to go through the tunnel with only one lane,
so it’s the other side’s turn now.
Here they record your ( license plate?) car!





Also plenty heights and tight spaces on our walks and hikes:)
With these temps. over a 100 degrees F
ice cream and cool drinks are on these kinds of days definitely popular!




A mountain goat makes an appearance … Can’t I have a quiet day…
without a whole row of cars looking at me?



Flower Utah_2976







THE FUN: The weather changes every few hours (at least while we were there in June-July! We only planned this as a one time vacation. But when the next year two fires were burning close to Yosemite Nat. park, we went back to Utah’s Bryce Canon and Zion Nat. Park.

Love A Big Thumb Print Sky

(Six words Saturday)


Thanks to All the Hosts

Click on the meme to bring you there directly
Blue Monday  *  Randomosity  * Jo’s Monday Walk  *
I heart Macro *   Our World  *  Nature Notes  *  Wordless  * Trees & Bushes  *
ABC Wed.-  A *  Outdoor Wed.  * Black & White Wed.  * Wordless Wed.* Water World  *
Alphabe– I*  Little Things  *   Up Down View  * Good Fences*
Sky Watch  * Floral Friday Foto  * Todays Flowers * Fri. Photo Journal  Fri. Greens  *
Maleviks Rosen * Sat. Critters  * Six Words Sat.  *  Sky Images  *


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Really fun to see our grands grow up and watch where they’re heading in life!
Some pics of two of the seven grand kids, and hubby’s accomplishments give me
two Z’s for ABC Wed. -the end of high school and the end of a prepping the soil for a building




From the non-digital era – Already as a little girl – having a way with  animals,
like my son (who is her uncle)
Interestingly only green reflections came up, while the Fall colors of the trees not.




Started with art, the way I did –  drawing a Head portrait
(no photo edits!)
a few weeks ago we went to her (high) school art exhibit.
A few weeks later  she was a very happy graduate.



My oldest first grand daughter

THE GOOD: The same gift, but unlike moi she is reserved
and too shy about her talents, has a sharp wit, no interest in
dressing up, loves babies, is sensitive.






While waiting for the Junior high school choir to begin, checking the bow tie he inherited
Already as a toddler he loved dancing with his mama to the music.
Now he has also a flair for comedy. With 3 sisters he’s holding his own!




BackYardFlower_4878 copy





BEFORE – when we moved here: the top of the fence,  at right end
reveals that it is a slope downward – not good to put any building
or barn on.
Also seven trees (on the left) about 50 feet high were in the way-
yikes, I didn’t want to lose them, but I wanted space to paint:(





But maybe …my deck won’t look like this after the wind blows
and the rain comes





AFTER: Hubby’s marker of a wheelbarrow turned up as a sign that  clearing and leveling a 50 x 60 feet  field is DONE (you see/read about the whole process two posts below this one, in “Trees ‘n Things”)
That was 7 months of hard work. Neighbors came by, shaking their head,
“I don’t know if I could do this…” Super proud of hubby, who now can go back to photography (like the yellow flower above) and other interests.






THE FUN: It looked like glowing gold … don’t need photo edits here! the sunsets seen from the road we live on, are amazing views!


 major markers are rampant this year
(six word Sat.)


Blue Monday  * Randomosity I heart Macro Wordless  *  Catch the Light  *
Our world  * Trees & Bushes Nature Notes *
ABC Wed. – Z  *Water World * Outdoor Wed.  * Black & White Wed.  * Wordless Wed.  *
Little Things Good Fences  *  Up Down View Alphabe – H * Floral Friday Foto  *
Sky Watch  *Fri Green  *  Weekend Reflection  *  Todays Flowers  * Fri. Photo Journal  *
Maleviks Garden  * Sat. Critters * Six Word Saturday * Saturday Silhouettes Sunday in my City * Scavengerhunt *