Color For A Cause!


You can Color For A Cause wherever you are!

This is the second year we’ve put on Color For A Cause. You can participate wherever you are! All you do is draw (or print out and color) cards to be distributed at a local hospital or nursing home. We even have free artwork you can download, print and color (available for any non-commercial use, meaning no money changes hands), on our Facebook page,

This year, we’re donating cards to the local Shriners Hospital, to be given to kids who’ll be in the hospital over the holidays. Coloring makes a good break from holiday stress, and it’s also a good way to keep kids busy. Charities like Girls Love Mail ( ) love cards created by kids (even toddlers — you can always print the artist’s first name on the card).

White cardstock (available in any office supply store) works great, and you can fit two on a page. Envelopes aren’t necessary, but if you want to include them, size your cards 3.5″x5.5″ and add a box of 4″x6″ envelopes.

Messages? The basic guidelines are: nothing obscene, nothing overtly religious (you don’t know the recipient’s beliefs), and keep it positive. Short messages are just fine.

Thanks to this year’s participants, Sarah, Micaela, Eva, Mila, Harper, Patti, Antonia and Mark! The cards will be going to the hospital in a day or so.

There’s still time to do this wherever you are — a fun break for you and a nice surprise for someone else!

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New shows to end the year…

This work is currently on exhibit.

This holiday season has been “beautifully busy,” a nice way to end a year that started in heartbreak. Mom used to say, “Better is always coming. The trick is to hang on until it gets here.” She was right. Nothing is permanent. The secret, I think, is to convince yourself to remain open.

A very good friend, who we lost earlier this year, started each day open to whatever good there was available. That point of view informs Sotapanna: Up From The Ashes, on exhibit in the gallery at WAL Public Market, 1104 R Street in Sacramento. The show runs from Dec. 1, 2017 until Jan. 3, 2018. The theme of it is regrowth after trauma.

It also ties into the “Me, Too” movement of women who have been sexually assaulted telling their stories. Abuse was a part of my life for many years. Forgiving my abusers and rebuilding my life was, and is, a growth process. Even after horribly traumatic events, it’s possible to grow and go forward. Not easy — possible.

I also have jewelry being offered for sale by Blue Line Gallery in Roseville, CA (405 Vernon Street, Roseville, CA). They have jewelry from local artists on display in the small gallery, and available for sale. If you buy a set of Love Bead Safe Harbor Pins, a portion of the sale goes to charity. The pins have never been for sale before, but Women’s Wellspring, a center for women in crisis, recently sold them to raise money for their charity (with our blessing — women who come to the center learned to make them in a free workshop we just gave, and made pins to sell to raise money for their art therapy program), and they’re for sale at Blue Line, raising money both for the nonprofit art gallery and for other charities. We may offer them online as well, with part of the money going to charity.

Lots going on here, most of it good, so we’re tired, but happy. Hope this finds you happy, even happy-tired, storing up the energy of good moments to sustain you.

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Social Art, or The Love Bead Safe Harbor Pin Project Rides Again!

Remember when I announced that we had finished The Love Bead Safe Harbor Pin Project?

Turns out we weren’t done — we just didn’t know it yet.

This project really began in late November of 2016. By the end of the election that year, we’d had over a year of arguments, name-calling and accusations All of that comes with an election, but this was particularly virulent. Many of the people we knew had stopped speaking to friends, colleagues, family, us…

We heard stories from friends who had been threatened or who had friends or family members who had been attacked for being different, for not fitting in to someone else’s idea of how people should be.

When I first heard of Safe Harbor pins, safety pins worn to signal your belief that all people should be treated with basic human decency and respect, I loved the symbolism of it. True, no symbol solves a problem on its own, but using the symbol requires a choice on your part. Do you agree with the idea it represents? Are you willing to make that belief part of your identity? That’s not a meaningless thing. Human lives are saturated with symbols that represent how we think the world works, or ought to work, indicate our commitment to ideas, tell the world who we are. Most things carry at least some symbolic meaning. I donned my Safe Harbor pin, knowing perhaps I’d get some push back from people who disagreed with me. Mark put on his pin and wore it wherever he went.

Then white supremacists started wearing safety pins, co-opting the symbol and turning it. I wasn’t willing to relinquish it and have a symbol of decency and kindness come to stand for the opposite. So I started beading pins. I work with wire a lot in sculpting, so I figured out how to bead the pins so I could take them on and off without losing beads. I hung charms on them. I started giving them away.

Honestly, I didn’t know what would happen. I’m an introvert, for one thing. Talking to strangers isn’t my strongest skill. I didn’t know how the idea would be received. They’re inexpensive, humble little things. The first time I did a large giveaway, I told Mark, who was parking the car, that I had no idea if it would take me hours to give them all away, or even if anyone would want them.

Within fifteen minutes, I had none left. Hundreds of pins. Hundreds of people who consciously chose to adopt a symbol. I explained briefly what the pins stand for when I offered them. Each person made a conscious choice to affirm his or her belief that people, all people, should be treated with basic courtesy and respect. Even people they might not understand, agree with, or even like.

We continued giving away pins. Even just giving them away casually in multiple cities, more and more pins found homes. Then we saw that the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco was coming, and decided to be part of the celebration. There was a specific part of the celebration we wanted to honor. When scores of young people, most without jobs, housing or money, descended on the city of San Francisco in 1967, the city was overwhelmed. There was no infrastructure to take care of hundreds of homeless, jobless kids. Something like that, on that scale, just hadn’t happened before.

So some of the residents stepped up. They set up soup kitchens. They distributed clothing. They helped kids find places to stay and health care. Confronted with a horde of hungry kids, those people chose to take care of them. They did urge them to return home to where they had some sort of support system, but in the meantime, they fed and clothed them.

That was the legacy we wanted to honor.

So we set about making over 1400 pins. We stood on street corners and walked through parks, we stood in front of a museum. Over and over, we offered strangers the following choices:

  • Will you interact with a stranger?
  • Will you listen to a brief description of an idea, Radical Respect, the idea that all human beings should be treated with basic courtesy and respect?
  • Will you accept a symbol of that idea?

Accepting the symbol after the explanation means accepting the idea, and making it at least a small part of your identity. It was a public decision and affirmation.  We also tried to keep track of our results. The overwhelming majority of people we encountered chose to talk with me, listen to the idea, discuss it with me, and accept the pins.

All in all, so far, over 750 people have made that choice. People from every economic level, from different cultures, countries and educational backgrounds have stood up in public and affirmed their commitment to supporting human decency for everyone.

On days when the cacaphony of argument and accusation makes me want to become a hermit, I remember some of the people we met and talked with.

We had planned to end the project after the Summer of Love anniversary. It consumed a lot of our lives for almost a year. But we had some materials left, so I offered a free workshop at a program for women and children in crisis. It seemed like a good way to wrap up the project. The workshop went so well, and I had so much fun making pins with some of the women there.

On the way out, the art therapy coordinator introduced me to a member of the Board of Directors of the center. She accepted a set of pins, and asked if they could make pins to sell at an event to raise money. She and the art coordinator were so respectful, asking if what they wanted to do would fit into the goals of the project. I really appreciated their courtesy, and yes, while it’s true that we gave away pins, selling them to benefit a charity, especially one helping people who aren’t often treated with the respect they deserve, is in keeping with the project’s point of view. Anyone who buys a set of pins will get the pins mounted on a card describing Radical Respect, and will also  be making a choice to support people who could use help.

So the project isn’t quite over. And I may make a few to sell as a separate-but-related project to raise money for other charities.

Perhaps it’s not consuming my life as it did, but almost a year later, the Love Bead Safe Harbor Pin Project goes on.

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Imperium Neptuni Regis… The Shellback

Neptune and Naked Women

Imperium Neptuni Regis: The Ancient Order of the Deep

Another certificate from WWII, again from the USS General Harry Taylor (for more about that ship, see the post on The Domain of the Golden Dragon). Here, the certificate a sailor got when he became a “shellback,” a sailor who had crossed the equator. Before that, he would have been a “tadpole.”

The tradition, in addition to boosting morale, may have also indicated to other sailors that this one could handle long sea voyages. That’s something you need to know during times of war, when voyages can end up being far longer and more dangerous than expected. There can be an initiation ceremony to go with the certificate, although not always. Conditions didn’t always permit it. Some of the ceremonies described sound like the more benign college fraternity hazing rituals, with tests of strength or endurance, and a fair amount of rough-housing.

Note the women on the certificate. This being WWII, women served primarily in medical services, administration or training. They weren’t part of the ship’s regular crew. These young guys could go a long time without seeing many women, or any. So no wonder the certificate features lots of naked women. The mermaids in the upper corners you would expect to find in a certificate featuring Neptune, but unlike the Golden Dragon certificate, there are also human women swimming around naked (how are they breathing?), including two who are about to get in trouble with an octopus and a crab.

I could chalk up the representation of naked women to the era, but let’s face it, what else does a young, straight, healthy guy dream of? Well yes, food… the only thing that would make this a more complete fantasy would be if the women were naked and holding trays of steaks and baked potatoes.

The sailor who earned this (whose name has been removed for the post) was a big fan of steak and potatoes. He had his problems with women.


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Prepped to Go

Bowurrr! Who’s a good boy? I am! Keep your pets safe! ~ Moby the Dobish

I confess, I’m mystified by reports I keep seeing of pets tied or chained to trees or fences and left to the mercy of the weather during the recent hurricanes. What are the people responsible thinking? What scenario do they envision — that somehow the dog will ride out the storm from his safe spot anchored to a tree, battered by gale-force winds and driving rain, unable to get away?

While I do try not to be judgemental, no animal found in those conditions should ever be returned to the people responsible. No. Animal. Ever.

The heartbreak of having to flee and being unable to take your pet with you is one I can only imagine in my nightmares. There must be situations where that is true. But.  Even in that last-case scenario, tying the animal down is unbelievable cruel. Mind-numbingly heartless.

And a reminder to the rest of us before we judge — what plans have we made for our own pets? There are a lot of things that can happen besides hurricanes. Earthquakes, wildfires and other natural disasters. Man-made disasters such as gas pipe ruptures and overturned freight trains. Wherever you live, there is the outside chance that you might have to pick up stakes at least temporarily and go. What plans have you made for the pets who depend on you?

A therapist once explained to me that the worst stress she knew of was the feeling of helplessness. Doing something, however small, about a stressful situation reduced the stress. With that in mind, why not make plans for your evacuation, and your pets? Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. What’s your evacuation plan? Following a suggestion, I looked up where we live and work, and what the likely evacuation routes will be for the most likely problem (here that would be flooding). I picked a rendezvous point for our family members that is likely to stay above water. Communications may be out, or jammed, during an emergency. Have a place to meet in case you’re separated.
  2. Get those kits ready. Go to a thrift store or  yard sale and find a backpack. Put basics in it like matches in a tin, a can opener, a first aid kit, and other essentials (like a couple of pairs of underwear and socks — if you have to evacuate, put them into a ziploc plastic bag). One for each family member, including pets. Backpacks are good in case you have to walk somewhere.
  3. Have an evacuation packing list in the backpack you can follow if you need to. This can remind you to include medications, etc.
  4. Have a gallon of water per person (or pet), per day, for at least 3 days on hand.
  5. Have a spare leash in your pet’s evacuation kit, and a copy of his/her microchip information, license info and health record, in a ziploc plastic bag.
  6. Do you have a crate or carrier for your pet? In an emergency, you might have to crate your pet. Some hotels will be more willing to allow a pet in an emergency IF you have a crate and old sheets to cover their furniture.
  7. Don’t wait until the last minute! If your area is under evacuation, get out while it’s still safe to do so! I have had to evacuate. It’s scary. It’s difficult. It’s also your best chance for survival. And if you leave promptly, you will have time to take your pet with you.
  8. What’s your “Survivaversary?” Pick a date and put it in your calendar. Every year, check your kits, replace things that have expired. We use the expired jugs of water to water plants in our garden. Update information and be sure your kits are good to go.

More info on preparing your evacuation kits:


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