December 21, 2008

The Longest Night


Here we go again. A perfect winter scene for the winter solstice.

Along with pretty much all of Canada, we're buried in snow today. I'm thinking that, when Irving Berlin wrote his White Christmas, he clearly forgot what a pain it is to have to shovel snow three times a day.

Yeah, yeah, it's beautiful and the garden looks like a fairy tale. And I've been swimming in nostalgia; the cold weather has sent me tripping down memory lane, revisiting my memorized Toronto Christmases and looking back, Scrooge-like, at images of my kid self. Oh look, there's me skating on the outdoor rink at High Park and there's my dad, with his strange hat and a cup of hot chocolate waiting...

In my present reality, I finally got around to Christmas cookies yesterday afternoon, finishing my baking marathon this afternoon accompanied by CBC radio's annual "Joy to the World" Christmas broadcast and snowflakes falling outside the windows.
A cozy scene for sure except that behind, and despite, all the Christmas icons, Oliver seems to be dying: silently battling through the string of his nine lives with whatever sudden thing seized him four days ago when he stopped eating and drinking and pretty much moving.
The antibiotics and pain killers the vet gave him haven't helped; he struggles against the water and watered down food we force into him, and spends his days crouched in the corners of the house purring weirdly if we touch him and moaning if we pick him up.

This year, with the prediction of an additional 10 cms overnight, it's not a white Christmas I'm dreaming of. This year, more than ever, as I cope with a collection of minor calamities and the dying cat, I dream of childhood innocence.

December 09, 2008

Ten Thousand Miles to the Top

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
Thomas Edison
An article in the Dec. 1st issue of MacLean's magazine, entitled How to be a Success, picks up that same theme and expands on it. According to author Malcolm Gladwell:
"The idea that exellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: 10,000".
Gladwell cites the names of a number of well known people who have achieved success and offers his examples of the 10,000 hours they each put in, in one way or another.

R pointed out the article to N and me to inspire N to greater levels of diligence but, of course, it got me to calculating just how much time I've put into my printmaking (at 2 hours per day for the last 3 years) and how many days I have left to go before I manage to arrive at excellence. I figure that, at the same rate I've been going so far, I have over 10 years of practise left to get through. Hmmm. Sometimes, it's better not to think about stuff too much but just do it.

On that note though, the doing is being interferred with these last couple of weeks. As if Christmas around the corner and me with no baking, no shopping, and no enthusiasm for doing either wasn't bad enough, the hot water tank exploding and flooding my parents' suite downstairs last week now adds to my angst. Between dealing with the clean-up and then the restoration issues there's been little time for any art work.

This week it seems to be the restoration company who's striving for the 10,000 hour mark by proposing to spend the next six weeks in the basement suite, getting things back to normal. Maybe sometime between Christmas and January I'll find some time for my next print. Until then, I'm reviewing theory and reading a couple of Andrew Loomis books I downloaded and had printed.

November 30, 2008

Noel Production Line

I realize it's not the right type of attitude I should have with respect to Christmas and all but I feel a bit like a line worker today, all afternoon gone over to cutting and pasting squares of card-stock and turning out this year's batch of cards. I've managed to pull together 20 so far with another 20 to go. No, we don't have 40 people to send cards to, more like 15. The majority will go to mother and her vast social circle.

I couldn't decide which colour I wanted so I got both and did up half in gold and the other in the green.


On the plus side, it gave me the chance to go visit Jessie at her Cherish the Thought where I got the lovely paper for the backing. I haven't been to her store since the grand opening so it was great to see it a bit more grown up.
The papercraft world is a different one from printmaking but one that still draws me and I could definitely spend a lot of money at the place if I let myself go -- there's so much cool stuff there. Maybe printmaking and papercrafting can somehow be merged together?

November 23, 2008

Ivy League?


This afternoon went to printing out my X-mas card block. The image is small enough to fit two per sheet of paper and I managed to pull around 55 prints (I lost count toward the end). Plus, since I'm not particularly concerned with longevity nor obsessed, as I normally am, about keeping my paper acid free, I experimented with a few different papers, including parchment.

The Wonder-Cut lino proved to be ok in printing but was, as I expected, a bit grainy. I had to lay on more ink than normal and that made it somewhat gloppy, with some of the finer lines being lost, though I'm not sure that would be an issue if the image were larger. Overall, I think the cards will be close to what I envisioned. I will be cheating, and adding in some hand-colouring with ink once the prints are dry, then cropping them and mounting them onto some special card-stock. Lots of work for idle hands still ahead and I really have the sense that Christmas is flying at me with supersonic speed this year. I realized with horror today that I'd better begin thinking about gifts and baking and soon.

November 16, 2008

Misty moisty morning.

Even though the day, misty and gray, is perfect for staying indoors and indulging in creative past-times, I haven't been able to gather enough momentum for printing today. I'm fighting a war with some virus that's going around and I think the virus is winning.

So, a pot of soup simmering on the stove and my ambitions set aside, I'll content myself with tidying up some loose ends and waiting until next week. It's probably a good idea anyways since the Eve and the Serpent prints hanging in the kitchen aren't fully dry yet and I'll need all the room I can get for my Christmas cards.

I've got the matrix done:


I finally got around to using the piece of Wonder-Cut lino I ordered out of curiosity two years ago. It's been well wrapped in plastic and is still fine, but I've been hesitant to try it until now. The texture seems rougher than either the Battleship Gray, or the Golden Cut and I wasn't sure how much detail it would take. Happy surprise: it was actually pretty good to work with, cut easier than the other two types and didn't crumble (my main fear). For an image as fast as I wanted this one to be, it worked really well. The true test will be how it prints up but, so far, I liked it.

Next time I'll have to try a larger image; this one is only 4" X 4".

November 11, 2008

Lest we forget

Car un enfant qui pleure,
Qu'il soit de n'importe où
,
Est un enfant qui pleure;

Car un enfant qui meurt
Au bout de vos fusils
Est un enfant qui meurt.
[Because a child who cries, where ever it may be, is a child who cries;
Because a child who dies, at the point of your guns, is a child who dies.]

Barbara, Perlinpinpin

I'm not generally one for making speeches; that's R's role in the family. But last night, as N and a handful of friends were getting ready to go out on the town, all of them feeling lucky to have a day away from classes in the middle of the week, I took it upon myself to remind them just why they have the day free today. There are so many people for whom Remembrance Day is "just that day off in November" and another day to shop. I didn't want N and her friends to fall into that category.

Four pairs of teenage eyes sat fixed on me as I delivered my speech about remembering those who fought and died for the sake of peace and about honouring those who still do. I believe it went over fairly well although I know it's hard for someone to comprehend hardship if they've never known it.

Today the rain fell heavy outside, pretty much non-stop all day. I sat at home working on sketches for my Christmas cards, thinking about the people marching to the cenotaphs in today's ceremonies. I didn't want to go out in the rain, to stand in the cold and damp. Yet the men who died in the trenches of WWI and in the battles WWII endured much worse things than the weather. And the men and women who fight in modern-day conflicts endure much greater ordeals than a couple of hours in the rain.

Today, the issues which conflicts are based on are much more complex and murky -- much less black and white. But regardless of how we may feel about our troops in Afghanistan, our soldiers there take on their roles with the same conviction and the same selflessness as the men who fought and died to make Canada safe all those many years ago. They deserve our respect and all the blessings we, in our safe and bountiful lives, can muster.

November 09, 2008

Some prints turn out to be potatoes...

The last colour done on Eve and the Serpent and I hate to confess that I don't like it. I was so excited about this print about three colours ago and now I want to turn my back on it and forget it at the bottom of some drawer somewhere. Then, one day, I'll stumble across it and be happily surprised. Maybe.

5.5" x 8.5"
My problem, I think, is that the first few layers that went on were very subtle. The finished product now seems too "comic-book" and so not subtle enough. In my striving for simplicity and stylization I went too far and I've managed to lose the essence of the driftwood in the process. Damn. One more for the experience box.
Yeah, I know. Stuff happens; that's part of the whole learning thing. But it's always frustrating because each print takes me so many weeks to put together. Nevermind, back in the saddle tomorrow.

November 04, 2008

Witnessing History

I suspended work on my blocks tonight and sat glued to the TV and CNN, fingers and toes crossed that Americans would do the right thing. And they did, thank God.

I moved to Canada when I was ten and, from the first moment when I actually started thinking about such things, I've been proud to be Canadian. Specifically, proud to be Canadian in contrast to, and distinct from, being American. Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I think it must feel pretty damn good to be American. Kudos to all those who got out there and voted.

This is a day of great significance and magnitude in so many ways and on so many levels.

November 02, 2008

Making choices


Sometimes, most of the time actually, I have a very clear idea of the exact colours I'll be using in an image, from start to finish. And then there are the exceptions. This time, having arrived at the final colour stage for the Dragon Maple, I still hadn't decided just what that colour would be. I knew that, for maximum contrast with the rest of the image, it would need to be dark. But in what shade? Thank God for Gimp II; it really came through for me.

A few mouse strokes and a parade of backgrounds in all kinds of colours came and went before I finally chose the one I'd go for. I had so much fun with it that I even called R into the room to see just how cool the process was. Ah the wonders of Technology!

Here's the one I went for which, ironically, isn't showing well here; it's actually a nice dark chocolate brown:


5.5" x 7"

This was the first print I ever printed on Masa paper. It's a lighter weight than my normal BFK Rives and I had some concern about how well it would stand up to multiple layers of ink. It held up very well, the only issue being that a couple of the prints curled a bit as they hung up to dry but this is a minor thing.

And here's the second to last layer of Eve and the Serpent. Moving into countdown mode now...


I'd better start planning that Christmas card.

October 26, 2008

Fall's Gold

Forest paths, all damp and mossy,
maple leaves smother hidden trails,
and that's where you're going to find me,
gathering wild mushroom with my girl...


With summer gone, as soon as the days begin to feel cooler and damper, R and I morph into hunters. But while the guys I work with prowl the woods for deer and moose, our hunting adventures are much more pacific. Our forays into BC's wilderness focus on something that is maybe a bit more prolific than wild game and yet is, often, just as hard to find. Wild mushrooms.

I can smell them in the air as soon as the temperatures drop and the damp sets in and I become driven to head for the forest. I've been hunting wild mushrooms since I was a kid in the Czech Republic, where it's something close to a national obsession, and I've continued doing so through the years until now. Luckily, although looking for wild edibles was something R never did until he met me, he embraced it readily. And why not? There's something authentic and grounding in moving through a silent forest, eyes to ground, scanning for hidden treasure.

These days, we pretty much only pick Chanterelles. Bugs don't seem to like them much, they're never worm-eaten like other wild mushrooms can sometimes be, and I like their texture: they're almost "meaty" and have a great flavour. They also dry well so I can keep them through winter for adding to soups and such. R did find some Pine mushrooms years ago in Squamish and we'd be thrilled to find some more here, but they don't seem to show up in this area. Even Chanterelles are elusive enough. We can sometimes spend hours and find nothing and then, other times, we hit the pot of gold.


The last few years we've been lucky. R found a hidden spot we return to each year, where we always manage to gather enough for a couple of suppers and for drying. Today we even had a special treat: a red-headed woodpecker, hard at work above our heads, bits of wood flinging around us as we walked.

* * *

We were back in time for me to print the next two colours for the current prints. Eve and the Serpent is still looking sort of weird,


but the Dragon Maple is nearing completion. One last colour left to do on that one.


That's just as well, seeing as it's almost time to start thinking Christmas cards again SIGH. Not my favourite thing for sure not.

October 19, 2008

Fall Blues?

I'm not sure why, but my mood for the last couple of days has been totally blah and I've had to drag myself to virtually everything I did.

Is it Fall melancholy settling in? Colder, damper, darker mornings to wake up to and signs of Christmas showing up in the stores might have something to do with it. Normally though, I don't mind that all that much; less to do outside means more time for my printing. And yet, I had to really push myself to print the next colours for my two blocks today and it seemed like a chore.

It really didn't help that I had a hard time getting the right colour mix I wanted and in the process managed to get ink everywhere. Twice. By the time I was done, I was feeling ridiculously sorry for myself and frustrated with the world. And the reward for my efforts:

Just a patch of new colour in Eve and the Dragon,


and a misleading field of green (of which very little will stay) for the Dragon Maple. At least the raggedy edges are gone.

October 13, 2008

Giving Thanks (aka: Turkey Day)

We interrupt Printmaking 101 for a brief digression...

We're celebrating our Canadian annual day of thanks, Thanksgiving, and I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's colouring my approach to food and how I prepare it. Not that the book is a total revelation, I've been convinced for many years that what we put into our bodies to nourish them has a relation to our health and well-being. And I'm already a label reader, I stay away from processed foods, I opt for foods that come from my own region, in season, I don't buy strawberries in January or asparagus in August.
But reading this book reinforces those concepts some more. As a result, I gave even more thought to where the food I put together for Thanksgiving came from, and just who was involved in putting it there. And, even if the only sacrifice this year were those peeled little baby carrots from California (local regular carrots took their place) it felt right to be more conscious about the decision I made.

Our feast: potatoes from the garden, a medley of veggies grown by local farmers (bought at the farmer's market) and seasoned with my own herbs, and a "happy" turkey: free range, no meds, no steroids etc. The turkey was one of our few departures from a vegetarian diet and due mostly to peer pressure. I think R and I would have been happy enough with a stuffed squash but don't think my dad would be. I was assured that the poor bird received humane treatment and wasn't one of those beakless, medicated, half-crazed beasts of the mass production farm, but still. I guess what it comes down to for me is if I'm going to eat meat, I should be prepared to actually kill the creature who provides it and I'm just not convinced I'd be able to do that. It's easier to just evade the issue and keep our meals vegetarian as much as I can.

Anyway, that was yesterday's news; today I printed. First, Eve and the Serpent, which is finally beginning to take some shape:

I added some transparent medium to the ink mix to allow for some of the earlier layers to come through a bit and I'm pleased with the result.

Second, Dragon Maple, which is not looking like anything new happened. You have to look really hard to see the darker red added today. Next week will hopefully be the big AHA moment for that one:


It's still a bit ragged around the edges because today I found it easier not to use a mask, but the next layer will take care of the fuzzies.

So it's been a very productive weekend and, yes, I gave thanks for so much: for Family, for bounty on the table, for the time and the ability to do my artwork, for good music to warm the soul, and for a warm house to hold us all. What more is there, really?

October 05, 2008

Striving toward Patience

Sometimes the hardest thing about doing these prints of mine is the patience it takes to wait for the image to develop. No instant gratification here, that's for sure. But maybe that's also one of the good things: the contrast to the fast track so many of us seem to be living life on.

I was watching the dog sleep today. His day, with little breaks for eating and walks and play time, is pretty much a string of naps, taken in different places around the house. This is followed by more sleep at night. How can he sleep so much? He seems happy enough; a bit of raw hide to chew on is all it takes to send him spinning in circles of ecstasy.

Wouldn't it be great to be like that? Were we ever? Satisfied with just laying around in the sun and siesta-ing? There are still cultures where the pace of life is slower, where people don't chase around all the time like we in the west seem to do, and yet they don't seem to suffer any for it. On the contrary, they're probably happier than we are. Anyway, the whole point of this is that having to carve an image out of a piece of wood, a little bit at a time over a period of weeks, is my way of tuning into a different speed of living. It's taking time to listen to whatever music is playing on the radio as I work, taking note of the little swirly curly wood shavings collecting on my work bench.

All of this is a lead up to the story about my printing efforts today which are, moving along slower than slow; visible progress is limited: the darker tone I added to Eve and the Serpent barely shows up at all and will need the later more contrasting colours to set it off,



and, although the Dragon Maple has advanced more, the next stage for this one will not change much. I have a long way to go for both still.

September 28, 2008

The Serpent and the Dragon

Indian summer and a gorgeous day; warm and sunny and excellent music on the radio to keep me company.
I got the next layers printed on both the blocks I'm working on. First, this is the second layer printed in Eve and the Serpent. It's hard to tell where it's going at this point. But that's actually the fun part of this whole process for me: watching the image unfold slowly into definition.


The Dragon Maple print on the other hand, is already more suggestive of the final image.
I made up a foam board mask and it worked great. Up to now I've used mylar to make my masks from and the foam is definitely superior.




When I'm done the finished print should look something like this. This is the first sketch and I've made a couple of minor changes to the block itself and added in another leaf, but it's pretty much true to what I'm hoping to finish with. In colour of course.


September 21, 2008

New season; new efforts

In honour of the first day of fall and a farewell to summer, I printed the first stages, the backgrounds, for two new blocks today: Eve and the Serpent, and a study of a hibiscus type plant in the garden.

Not much to see yet but my big delight for today is the new drying rack (based on ideas borrowed from a couple of other on-line printmakers - sorry, I can't find the original links) that R finally assembled and hung up for me. It's very basic; a long strip of what used to be a one by two but is now narrower and some clothes pins:


It holds 21 prints which is, for my efforts, plenty. And, if I really need to, I can still hang some more on the line along the other window (my old method). It already looks much neater than when I had the prints drying one next to each other along both windows and can easily be taken down when not in use, by unhooking the eye-hooks on either side.


As for the printing, I didn't do any work on the blocks last week and therefore didn't get the background sections ready to go. I got around that by cutting foam-board to the exact size of my carving area, tacking it to the blocks with tape, and printing the backgrounds from that.


Now I'll have to get busy and start carving.

Finally, this is one attempt at adding in some colour to the Village Church print I did a month or so ago.


September 14, 2008

Eve and the Serpent

Although I've prepared two different blocks for carving over the last couple of days, Eve and the Serpent won as my next project. I've reworked the sketch somewhat, transferred the image to the block, and did up a colour sketch to try and get a grasp on the layers.

I didn't get a chance to print today and that's too bad; the first layer is going to be done with the block completely uncarved so now I have to wait until next week before I begin carving. It's always hard to get back to routine after the summer. Hopefully I can jump into it now.

August 28, 2008

Images in Wood and No Psychedelics!

I had moments, while we were on Texada Island, when images appeared in driftwood shapes and rocks and boulders, suggesting other things. R hardly ever saw what I did in the shapes though N did at least a few times and even managed to embellish on my vision. I tried to capture some of them for use later but distances and lighting didn't always cooperate.

A fairly decent example (I think anyway), were these logs on the beach, seen from the deck of the cabin.



I saw a woman with long flowing hair and a serpent like creature with her and "Eve and the Serpent" jumped to mind.

My sketch looks cartoony I know, and my serpent lacks the grimace I was hoping to capture. Plus I employed some artistic license and added in some shrubbery and random pebbles. But if I can get it right, it just might make an interesting print.




August 24, 2008

Texada


maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)


and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea
e.e. cummings

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
We pretty much lived out e.e. cummings's poem last week.

Vacation time, Texada Island. OK, no one was chased by a horrible thing blowing bubbles and racing sideways, but everything else really fit. And we did find a dead jelly fish washed up on the shore and clinging to the rocks -- my first sight of one ever, in real life anyway -- that was somewhat horrible.

We rented a small cabin perched among the trees and overlooking the water, and spent the week not doing much more than reading and



watching the changing moods of the ocean. It's amazing how the same part of the sea can change in colour and motion in a matter of hours sometimes, from calm:



to temperamental:



Nor were we alone in our ocean watching:



On the human scale, with only 1,000 residents, the social scene on Texada is pretty low key but we managed to catch the annual highlight: the sandcastle festival.



We also got around to a bit of exploring around the island. I've read that parts of Texada's shoreline are supposed to be almost Mediterranean-like and, though I can't really confirm or deny that, I loved the groves of arbutus trees here and there:



Inspiration pretty much at every turn of the head here. I found images in the rocks and driftwood where ever I looked and managed to do some sketching, hoping to capture enough of what I saw to trigger a future memory to translate into a print one day.



Finally, at the end of the day, some pretty fantastic sunsets:




August 04, 2008

It's in the Proof

Blessed with a four-day weekend, I found time to proof and print the church block. Proofing is not something I normally do; I find reductions don't really lend themselves to it. But this time it definitely helped me with the carving process because the proof clearly brought to light some areas that needed changing.

Here are both the proof and final print side by side:


Apart from the difference in inks and paper, Speedball vs. Daniel Smith, I didn't like the lines in the church tower and found the tall grass in the center of the image too dark, so I did some more clearing in those areas. The bummer is that I also carved away a line that should have stayed and now a portion of the roof looks like it's just hanging in space. I'll have to cheat in a fix somehow.

Also, the image maybe busier than I'd like it to be, even with the grassy area lightened, so I'm going to experiment with adding in some water colour in select areas to add some distinction.

July 29, 2008

Inspiration / Respiration

I've been thinking about the word inspiration lately. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, inspiration can be traced to the Latin:
inspirare "inspire, inflame, blow into,"
from in-"in" + spirare "to breathe"
Inspiration figures a lot in the book I'm currently reading: floor sample. It's the autobiography of Julia Cameron, best known for her the Artists Way, which I read years ago and totally bought into.

I, along with the millions of others who are Cameron devotees, love the concept of creativity being linked to spirituality, the idea that we, as artists, are linked to something greater than our selves and egos, and that if we allow the creative process to be a spiritual process, our work will be more powerful and fulfilling as a result. We will be inspired and will inspire in turn.

On that tangent, I picked up the chisels again and began carving. Just "showing up to the page" sort of, in a different way. I decided to try and not worry about each line so much, to try and be a bit more instinctual about the process of carving, and I'm feeling pretty good about the results.



I was actually hoping to have the block done enough to be able to pull a proof this past Sunday, but we ended up at the Reifel Island Bird Sanctuary instead, wandering down marshy lanes and listening to bird song. Can't really complain about that either.

Here's some photos from the sanctuary. It's hard to capture the sense of space or the classic oil painting quality of the sky:








July 18, 2008

The Lives of Others: Stephen Alcorn

Still feeling blah and unmotivated so I'm revisiting the sites of some printmakers who really inspire me, in hopes of taking a ride on the coat tails of their creativity for a bit.

I came across Stephen Alcorn's image of Neil Young:



That led me to Stephen's pages and all the amazing, amazing work he'd done through the years. His style is so uncomplicated and yet so rich. Nice tribute to old Neil too.

July 16, 2008

Carvers Block

Lazy days of summer?


The dog and I seem to have one thing in common these days: lethargy. I'm suffering from a disconnect between a mental desire to work on my next block and the physical motivation to do anything about it.

Maybe it's because the days are warm and sunny and the garden, and all the plants in pots, are thirsty ALL the time. By the time we're done with watering each evening, any creative spark I may have been entertaining before dinner is gone. This is not helped by the fact that although I did start carving the block, I screwed it up and carved away the wrong thing, so now what should be black will be white and vice versa. Can I blame it on a dehydrated brain?

Thank God for the reversible, flippable nature of the shina block. I transferred the image to the other side of the block and can begin again but for the last few days I've pretty much just been staring at it. Working up the motivation I guess, the lack of which is all the more pathetic given how much I missed carving while I was working on the website.

Oh well, to quote Scarlet O'Hara, tomorrow is another day...

July 06, 2008

Reconnecting

I did begin carving my next print but don't really have much to show yet. Most of my time last week went to planning R's Birthday adventure.

I figure that when a man hits the half century mark, the day needs to be celebrated with some panache and I really wanted to do something he'd remember. So, I planned a surprise trip to Whistler where nature's just on the back doorstep and the air is mountain clean, but there's lots of amenities and comforts to be had. We headed up on Friday morning, making sure to pack our hiking shoes for the forest, city shoes for the restaurant, and a bottle of Taboo for the panache.

The first afternoon went to playing tourist: the must-do hike around Lost Lake (where, amazingly, we found the wild sister of a perennial vine we've had in the garden for years),




and the hike followed by a stroll through Whistler Village: cruising the shops, sampling a couple of the many many restaurants.

We stopped in one of the galleries and discovered the work of an amazing BC artist: David Langevin. No, he's not a printmaker but who cares, his work totally spoke to us.




On our second day, rain at our heels, we did the hike we really went there for, a 4 km climb leading to a grove of ancient cedars, some as much as 900 years old.




The following pictures were all taken en route. We met only a couple of other hikers and were alone for most of the time, except for literally hundreds of ravenous mosquitoes that forced us to keep our jackets on and forced us to keep moving.







The boulder in the picture below looks like a giant turtle head or something. Is there a print in that one? The lichens themselves are amazing: a landscape all on their own.






Finally, the cedars were incredible. Nothing like standing in the midst of hundreds of ancient trees that have stood in the same spot for centuries.




The burl in the picture below makes me believe the fairy tales I read where bodies were turned into trees:




How fortunate we are, to have such wonders within reasonable access to us.