Carmel Trip

May 20, 2008

Golden State; Waves at sunset north of Santa Cruz; May 2008

Mas and I drove down to Carmel for a night to visit our friends Phil and Debby. On our first day, they took us to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Debby used to be a docent there so she was our personal tour guide.

Many aquariums have a variety of fish tanks that show marine life from all over the world. The Monterey Bay Aquarium concentrates on the life local to the Bay. It is flushed daily with new water which brings with it the plankton from the bay. The exhibits are filled with small animals, such as anemones, that have seeded themselves from the outside.

The displays and tanks are all carefully constructed by someone with a restrained, artistic eye. The jellyfish exhibit stands out in my memory – it is hauntingly beautiful.

The next day we visited a couple of art galleries in Carmel, including the Winfield Gallery. The owner, Chris Winfield, is the older brother of Robin Winfield – one of the gallery artists and my high-school classmate. It was nice to see Robin and Chris, and the gallery was a treat. He represents a large group of artists, including their father, Rodney Winfield, and all three of Chris’ siblings (Robin, David, and Nancy). It also turned out that Debby and Chris had gone to the same high school in St. Louis and knew people in common!

After a lovely outdoor lunch at the Village Corner restaurant, we enjoyed the 17-mile drive along the beautiful Monterey Bay shore. A highlight of our tour was the view of the Walker Residence, designed in the 1940’s by Frank Lloyd Wright. Mrs. Walker asked him to design a small house (she lived alone) that would fit into the landscape and not block anyone else’s views. The house seems like an extension of the land it sits on. After all the grandiose mansions of Pebble Beach, this little house is beautiful in its modesty.

After saying goodbye to our friends, we drove home on Highway 1 along the Pacific Ocean, and stopped to watch the sun go down. We sat on the cliff, all alone in the quiet, and enjoyed the brilliant, golden sunset.

(click here for more pictures)

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April 15, 2008

“Crater Lake”; W 5″ x D 4 1/4″ x H 3″; Eel River Stone with walnut base

Many years ago my mother and I took a road trip around Northern California and Oregon. We started out going north on Highway 101 from San Francisco, in order to visit the redwood forests of California’s North Coast. These are wet, mysterious places where trees soar to incredible heights; their carcasses lie on the forest floor rotting slowly in the moist air. In both life and death the trees offer sustenance to all the life around them.

After joining the Pacific coast, the highway hugs the shoreline through Oregon and beyond to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. The coast of Oregon is a wild and beautiful place, with great rocks battered by the sea. We stopped in Gold’s Beach to enjoy a short raft trip on the Rogue River, which pours down out of the Klamath mountains, and then continued up the coast of Oregon until we decided to turn inland. We wanted to go see Crater Lake.

In the short 100 miles from the coast to Crater lake you pass through many different environments. Leaving the seashore behind, you go over lush coastal mountains full of Douglas Fir and Port Orford Cedar, interspersed with picturesque dairy farms. From there you drive through the rich, fertile farmland of the Willamette Valley and start the climb into the high country of the Cascade mountains.

Crater Lake was formed in the caldera left behind after an ancient volcano, Mt. Mazama, collapsed more than 7500 years ago. The rim is at an elevation of about 7000 ft, and is 1000 feet above the surface of the lake. (At its deepest point, the lake itself is nearly 2000 feet deep.) Since the collapse of Mt. Mazama, small eruptions inside the caldera have formed some cinder cone islands. Crater Lake is an amazing, mystical place and it is no wonder that it continues to be a sacred site for the local Native American Klamath Tribe.

Crater Lake; Photo by Mas Nakajima; July 2, 2005

Not too long after this trip I went with some friends for tanseki to the Eel River. I remember climbing down the long steep rock wall to the river below. Just as we were about to leave I found this tamari (water pool stone) lying face up on the ground, seemingly waiting for me to find it.

It’s a very hard stone, made of a deep beautiful black mineral – perhaps jasper. It looks a bit like an egg that has broken open. The wide snow-dusted rim around the deep lake, with the island near the shore, makes it the image of Crater Lake.

When Mas first visited my house he immediately spotted this stone outside on the bonsai bench. He says that for him the stone shows the beauty of simplicity and purity, which is the essence of suiseki. He made the daiza as one of his first gifts to me. Mas says that for Japanese people a tamari does not just represent a water pool, but also brings good fortune for your life.

Whenever I look at this stone I remember the day on the river with my friends, I think about the trip I shared with my mother, and I feel the richness of my life.

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Just Married

October 5, 2007

Mas and I were married on September 22 with our friend Morten Wellhaven officiating. It was a beautiful day – a bit of rain in the morning so not too hot, and a bit of sun in the afternoon to greet us. We had a small ceremony in our garden followed by a delightful Chinese banquet with our community of family and friends.

We are now off to Japan, and look forward to continuing our exploration of suiseki art when we return. See you then!

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Hello World

May 24, 2007

I’ve only just started this site, and already we have a few readers who have added us to their feeds. Very gratifying and I thank you! I hope that you will be interested and stick around – and join in discussion with us.

I’m still working on the site, and have been focused on the fixed pages rather than writing new blog postings. Next I plan to post photos of some of Mas’ work and also start in on several articles we’ve been discussing and planning.

The process is interesting, and by its nature slow – going through photos and getting them ready for posting, reading through Mas’ suiseki-art related diary entries to find the next articles, and then turning the raw thoughts into readable prose.

Sometime after Memorial Day expect to hear more from us. People warned me that after retirement I would be busier than ever – and they were certainly right.


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