Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


2017 Miscellany

‘That packaging of time is a journalistic convenience that they use to trivialize and dismiss important events and important ideas.’ Utah Phillips

Hello, 2018, goodbye, 2017. I don’t always embrace the packaging of time into tidy calendar years — as Utah Phillips said, time is a river and we are in it — but I would like to wrap up and put away 2017. It was not an easy year; that seems to be the general consensus and it was my experience as well. But it wasn’t all bad, there were some good times to look back on. I’ve done these sorts of retrospective posts before, and it seems to be a healthy exercise; I’ve been feeling better as I look back at some of my photos and watercolors from the past year. I especially liked looking at Anita’s watercolors. We painted together pretty consistently throughout the year, and it was one of the main things I’ll remember. It’s been a long time since I posted any of her watercolors on this blog, but I like seeing them mixed in with mine. She’s been working with pattern this year, really nice in my opinion. A very incomplete collection of photos and drawings from the past year is below.

At the start of the year, I spent a month in Oaxaca. I saw ruins and cathedrals, painted watercolors, hiked in the mountains, swam in the ocean. I also saw one of the world’s great trees.

Soon after I was back our dog Carla had knee surgery to repair her ACL. She had a hard time for a while but she’s fully recovered now.

Instead of a garden these days, we have our landlord’s cows. At one point Anita tried to start a vegetable garden, putting down cardboard and straw to control the weeds, but within a couple of days the cows broke in and ate both the straw and the cardboard. They also kept taking stuff out of the back of my truck whenever we let them into the upper paddock. They ate a broom, all sorts of irrigation parts, and the cable to our internet. Living with cows had some novelty value at one point, but we’re well tired of them. Though it is kind of fun when they start galloping around trying to steal Carla’s soccer ball or frisbees.

Much of the year we rented a place in the Bay Area to stay when we were overseeing or installing gardens. I didn’t like all the driving but I liked the contrast between the two places.

I drove a shameful number of miles but some of the miles were on back roads that were new to me. The flooded fields and orchards in the spring made a big impression.

A lot of my projects emphasized wood and steel instead of stone this year. There were a few reasons for that, though mostly it was just the way it turned out. Many of the gardens had a bit of stonework, but usually more to resolve an issue at the fringe of the design rather than as a featured element. We did a lot of plantings. Quantities for our workhorse plants such as Westringia, Lomandra, Deer Grass, and the Manzanitas, were all in the hundreds.

My family went to Sea Ranch for Thanksgiving again. Anita and I taught my niece and nephew to watercolor. Her paintings reminded me of the sharpie drawings I posted about earlier in the year.

This abstract one was by my nephew and Anita working together. He started it and she finished it. Obviously, her skill was key but he made some interesting shapes and colors for her to play with.

We went to Sedona for the first time. I found it interesting that the infamous vortexes were all easily recognizable without anyone calling them out for us; the new agers in Sedona seemed to have some of the same ideas about power spots as the Zapotecs in Oaxaca.

Those were a few of the things in the files from last year. I had some good times, even if I’m overall glad to put the year behind me. I hope 2018 will be better. Happy new year, cheers to all.

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