First Day At Spiral Shaped Adobe

Last evening we enjoyed the delicate colors that the high desert uses to paint the mountains and skies.

I had a rather uncomfortable night with back spasms and other aches and pains probably from unloading the car. Artists do not travel light. However, I finally emerged from my bed-ridden state and managed to fit in a walk and some sketching.

We walked down our road toward Abiquiu Lake. It is a winding route through the mesas and we never reached the lake. I thought it  best to stop after a mile in deference to my legs and back. However, along the way we enjoyed the high desert in bloom and a memorial to someone’s grandmother.

And yes, JP, we did some drawing today. I have set myself the goal on this trip to explore line, value, color, and shape. How does one begin? How do these interact? Can one be used without the others? What is foremost? Does it change with the subject? Yesterday a particular stump of a pinon tree caught my eye as a great subject for my first experiments. I began with line, but quickly decided that I needed value to make a portrait. All of my attempts with this subject I will call Quixhote’s Ghost.

Jean entered into the fun and drew the same stump with water soluble graphite.

Next I will try shapes and colors to see what happens.

This evening we sit in our mesa-top home looking east to Lake Abiquiu and the  mountains beyond. Soon the sun will sink and we will have those wonderful colors that I showed at the beginning of the post.

Life is good.


Posted in Art, Bandelier National Monument, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, Retirement, Santa Fe, Taos, Travel | 2 Comments


We arose to clear blue skies this morning. The roses around our condo were laughing in joy.

Soon we checked out of the condo, left our car there and walked into old Santa Fe to visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

After a great visit and a quick lunch at a food cart in the square we picked up our car and drove to Whole Foods. Grocery shopping was high on the agenda because there are few stores out where our house is. After stocking up we drove one hour north to Abiquiu. Then we turned onto a state road and soon onto a dirt/gravel road that led to our temporary home sitting alone on a mesa top overlooking Abiquiu Lake. It took us an hour or two to get settled. Here are a couple of shots of this beautiful house.

After a quick dinner it is time to settle back and relax.


Posted in Art, Bandelier National Monument, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, Retirement, Santa Fe, Taos, Travel | 3 Comments

Escape From Colorado

Yes! We successfully escaped the snows of Colorado today! Here is our parting picture of Pikes Peak as seen from our niece and nephew’s house.

Last evening we celebrated Pat’s 84th birthday with a dinner of steak, chicken, or hamburger (eater’s choice), roasted brussel sprouts, cheesy potatoes, a wonderful cabernet sauvignon from Napa, and caprese salad! It was topped off with a flourless chocolate cake – chocolate on chocolate. I’ll bet you can’t guess Pat’s favorite.

Here’s a hint:  for a birthday present she also received a box of See’s chocolates from Seattle and a box of gourmet cookies (many chocolate). Jean also gave Pat one of her paintings of flowers.

This morning we enjoyed a big breakfast and hit the road at 11:00. The drive down I-25 over the Raton Pass into New Mexico was wet and windy. We saw lots of antelope and one herd of elk along the way. Once the road turned west we hit a headwind that reduced our mileage to near 15 mpg. Normally we make 25-30 mpg. Once again we were forced to act quickly to find gas about 20 miles from Santa Fe.

Dinner tonight was in our favorite Santa Fe restaurant, Casa Chimayo. I had green chile pork stew with corn tortillas and Jean had pork tamales. We finished with a goat cheese flan that was fantastic! We may have to make another trip down here for dinner in the next month.

Tomorrow we take up residence in our rented home near Abiquiu, the starting point of the Old Spanish Trail. Then it will be painting, playing ukulele, and relaxation.


Posted in Art, Bandelier National Monument, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, Retirement, Santa Fe, Taos, Travel, Ukulele | 2 Comments

What A Difference A Day Makes

This is today’s view of Pikes Peak.

Yep it’s snowing in Colorado Springs. We hope it melts by tomorrow so we can get over Raton Pass to New Mexico.


Posted in New Mexico, Retirement | 2 Comments

Pikes Peak Morning

The view from our niece and nephew’s deck this morning. Pikes Peak is shining.


This will soon end. Snow is expected Friday, the day we hit the road again.

Last night we had a great dinner prepared by Denise and Doug and conversation with Jean’s sister Pat. Got caught up on family news.

Today we are doing some chores in Pat’s condo.

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Jean and Paul Are On The Road Again

Yes, we are on the road again. This is another road trip without our beloved Picasso. We have covered 1100 miles in two days. (That would take 4 days towing Picasso.) Our destination is New Mexico where we intend to relax, paint, and soak up the sun.

However, as happens on the road we have learned a few things our first two days:

  1. Pay close attention to the gas gauge, particularly when driving into a headwind.
  2. (Related to #1) Our 15 gallon tank has a very accurate gas gauge. We put 14.7 gallons in after driving with the fuel warning light for 10 miles and later put 14 gallons in just before reaching our destination. Yes, tempting fate!
  3. We now can experience gas pump television! More on this later.
  4. The deer and the antelope really do play! We saw them!

Okay, some of you are asking what is gas pump TV. It is a television screen built into the pump.

Gas Pump Television

In three gas stops I have seen an ESPN NBA recap, CNN news, and a hockey game – all while pumping my gas! One station even boasted big screen pump TV with 8″x 10″ screens! Admittedly I am not a marketing professional, but I have to ask who thought of this idea, who sold it to gas stations, and who bought it? In my naivete I thought the idea was to get in pump your gas, pay, and get out in the least time possible. Of course some of us also want to go into the attached mini-mart and buy something. So why don’t the gas pump TVs tell us about great things for sale inside. “Hey come in and check out today’s special on deep fried Twinkies!” Instead they show us news and sports. What is one to do when there’s an interesting story? Put the pump on the slowest setting and stop it every once in a while so you can see the entire game. I can see lines of cars waiting to get at the gas pumps while the game finishes.

As you can see road trips provide quite a cultural education. Subscribe to our blog to learn more in the coming weeks as we stay near Ghost Ranch and visit Bandolier National Monument, Taos, Santa Fe, and the surrounding area.


Posted in Art, Bandelier National Monument, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, Retirement, Santa Fe, Taos | 5 Comments

Art and High Tea


This morning we were leisurely in our approach to the day. The snow had melted over night, the Olympics were in view on the horizon, and a heron watched for stray fish on the rocks below our window. Why hurry? However, after a small breakfast and some conversation the four of us went out into the city once more.

Our first stop at about 11:30 was The Bateman Centre, a museum/educational center dedicated to Robert Bateman. Jean and I have visited several times, but this was David and Marlene’s first visit. This eminent wildlife painter, environmentalist, and educator has spent his life getting people closer to nature in a personal and philosophical sense. His art combines abstract shapes with strict composition and muted colors to create portraits of things in the natural world. These images evoke a sense of the individual creature and the niche they inhabit. Bateman says that if someone comments on the detail of his work it is not a compliment. Although from a distance these works appear life-like they are in no way detailed. Each tells a story about the life of the subject and gives us a sense of that life.


Perhaps my personal favorite is the portrait of a Spanish pig. Bateman writes of encountering this pig behind a 2,000 year old cafe in Spain. The boar lounged in the midday heat, slowly munching on specially grown acorns (to make the resulting ham succulent). He reflected that although this pig’s fate would be similar to his caged, force fed, medicated brethren in factory farms, his life will have been well lived.


As you look at these other examples from the collections squint your eyes a bit to see the abstract shapes of the image.

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Jean and Marlene stopped to study some pieces at length.



Leaving The Bateman Centre we walked a block to the Gatsby Mansion and the Pendray Restaurant for high tea. A couple of hours spent talking, sipping delicious teas, and eating savory as well as sweet delights! What more could one want on a cold winter afternoon? Soon it was time to get David and Marlene back to the Victoria Clipper for their return to Seattle. Only time for one Christmas photo in the mansion’s parlor.




Posted in Art, B.C., Friendship, Retirement, Uncategorized, Victoria BC | 4 Comments

Christmas Season in Victoria

It has been a quiet week in Victoria. We have read, played ukulele, watched some movies, and walked in the city each day. Yesterday we were joined by friends David and Marlene who arrived by the Clipper in the morning. They arrived a bit late to our snow dusted city due to a stop for a pod of orcas and a sighting of a submarine! After a brief stop in our condo we went out on foot to explore the city.

Our first stop was The Empress Hotel. One feature here each Christmas season is a display of Christmas trees, each designed and sponsored by a local business. The decorations usually have something to do with the business. Imagine a tree from a construction company decorated with toy bulldozers and traffic cones! How about a medical supply tree decorated with vials and such? Of course there also are shops to explore and art everywhere.



Then we were off to visit as many Native art galleries as we could fit in before dinner. Our first stop was Out of The Mist Gallery and we felt we had hit the jackpot. Owner, Tom Stark, kept us enthralled for over an hour with his knowledge of native art and culture. His collections span several centuries, but there is a great deal of mid-20th century work. Beautiful baskets, a collection of india ink sketches by an unknown artist, and much much more. David and Marlene came away with a bent wood drinking cup. We highly recommend this as a stop for anyone visiting Victoria.

Eagle Feather Gallery features contemporary decorative native art. This is art made for the market place. We enjoyed the colorful and bold works on display. Alcheringa Gallery blends aboriginal art from Canada, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and the Pacific Islands. It is very interesting to see these cultures’ art side by side and compare similarities and differences.

We were on time for our dinner reservation at Ithaca Restaurant, one of the top rated dining spots in Victoria. This family restaurant features a Greek menu created by Mama Marie and managed by her two sons. The food was outstanding, the sons danced for us and Mama personally greeted us, allowing David and Marlene to practice the Greek they learned on their honeymoon. There’s a good reason Ithaca has won so much acclaim in a city with many good restaurants. This is exceptional!

We walked the two miles back home through the downtown area where Christmas lights adorn everything.

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A superb bottle of 2011 Syrah from Kerloo Cellars in Walla Walla, Washington complimented chocolates for dessert in front of the fireplace. A wonderful day.




Posted in Art, B.C., Friendship, Retirement, Ukulele, Victoria BC | 3 Comments

Jean’s Birthday


I woke Jean up this morning with a rousing ukulele accompanied happy birthday sung with a Caribbean rhythm. Our resident sea gull joined in the chorus.


Jean’s request for a birthday activity was a walk to and around Beacon Hill Park. Therefore, we bundled up (it was in the 20’s) and headed uphill.


Beacon Hill Park is one of our favorite parks in all our travels. It combines sweeping views of the Straits of Juan de Fuca with ancient trees, lakes, fountains, flowers, and many birds. We love the ducks, gulls, and ravens, but the icing on this birthday treat is the large flock of resident peacocks. They seemed relatively unfazed by the frigid temps.

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A new sculpture caught our eye. Moss Lady was created by artistic parks department employees in 2015. She’s enchanting.


The shadows lengthened as we headed back to our condo.


A stop at our neighborhood wine shop secured a bottle of prosecco to celebrate Jean’s day. Some sweet treats from the local bakery will cap off the evening.

Happy Birthday my love!


Posted in Photography, Retirement, Travel, Victoria BC | 5 Comments

Victoria B.C.

Yesterday we escaped Seattle’s rainy morning and headed north to British Columbia where the sun always shines. Okay, a bit of hyperbole there. After an hour and a half on the ferry we arrived to a drizzle, stopped to do our shopping at Whole Foods, and checked into our condo. Home sweet home!

After an evening getting settled, watching a bit of Canadian TV (very interesting), and a good night’s sleep, we awoke to snow blowing sideways across the harbor out our windows. The natives tell us that the last two weeks have been colder and had more snow than they usually see in an entire winter.

Morning Snow

Morning Snow

However, it stopped soon after we rose and soon there was blue sky and sunshine. (See, I told you the sun always shines in B.C.!

Fishermans Wharf

Most of the day was spent drawing, playing ukulele, reading, and watching the gull who seems to have adopted us. He returned to our deck every 30 minutes throughout the day.


No, we did not feed him. One foot seems to have a tendency to get cold because he always folded the right foot up into his feathers. Never the left foot!

When it warmed above freezing we took a walk along the waterfront to downtown Victoria, about a mile one way. There I took the obligatory picture of The Empress.

The Empress

We will be having high tea at another establishment next weekend, but one simply cannot visit Victoria without seeing The Empress. As usual it is swathed in scaffolds and sand blasters. It seems every time we come renovations are underway.

We returned to our snug home where Jean cooked up a kettle of chicken lentil stew that should provide food for a few days. Life in the slow lane.


Posted in Art, B.C., Music, Retirement, Travel, Ukulele | Tagged , , | 4 Comments