Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas in Bishop

Lights on my trailer, the darker it gets, the brighter they burn.

Baby in a Sock? Found this odd creature in a basket at the Cobwebs Antique Shoppe where I was hunting for an angel ornament to give to my bowling partner, Carol. It seemed very weird to me at first--kind of a gnomic figure from Scandinavia, or a representation of Jizo, a bodhisatva who especially protects the souls of children. Googling around in the Cloud, I found sets of these molded heavy glass lights from the 20s era for sale on eBay. Here there is a toddler with a Japanese haircut that resembles the Baby in a Sock, but I prefer to keep the windows open on what else it could be.

My most fabulous present ever! Barbara Cortese, who sewed my parasol curtains last July, sneaked some scraps of that yardage and stitched them into a lap quilt with bright orange fleece on the backside. I have been bragging it around at the Senior Center and in the trailer park. I am going to get new cushions for my dinette in that aqua color framing the edges. 

The Senior Center offers a gift-wrapping service during the two weeks before Christmas. I volunteered several afternoons for this fund-raiser, and had many happy chats with its main organizers, Rachel and Betty. I went to free Christmas Day Dinner at this worthy establishment which serves about 600 Xmas dinners every year to anyone who sits down.

Local Color:  Santa and sleigh hooked up to motorcycle reindeer.

Monday, November 28, 2011


November I moved into J Diamond Mobile Ranch in Bishop. I am hooked up at a site by the canal, another branch of Bishop Creek that runs across the trailer part, down through an adjacent motel, under 395, and flows inside Bishop City Park, before hooking up to the canal that runs past Shady Rest, and finally joins the Owens River east of town. My neighbors in the park feed the wild but resident ducks, so they have ceased migrating.

I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner by a young couple who have recently settled into Bishop from Arkansas, leaving all family behind for an adventure in California. She cooked a turkey in a crockpot, and dinner was very good and fun. They have a sweet old dog that's a spittin' image of my childhood family dog. The young woman told me that although small and unimposing, Flash had once treed a bear in Arkansas. I was impressed.

Since I took these photos, the wind has blown all the colored leaves out of the trees and we are wintry, cold and grey. I am becoming more fascinated with pools of water seen through winter thickets and have started winter-colors paintings. Here's some of the photos:

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Fishing Story

Drove down to the Lone Pine zone to visit a couple of road buddies (we met and became friends in Horton Creek, summer of 2010) dry camping in the Alabama Hills behind The Face in the Rocks (see photo--note the lips behind the teeth). They had spotted trout in the creek nearby and felt we should hook up.

I arrived and found many mottled green fin-wavers holding steady in the stream, and tossed in my line. Since I had brought the bucket but forgot the net, when a thrashing rainbow had swallowed my worm, my friend dove for the bucket to scoop it up and in that fumbling catch the stringer, stashed in the bucket, splashed deep into the creek. I returned to my truck to get my net and a short bungee cord. We rigged a stick-and-bungee-hook recovery device and, after about fifty tries, she fished out the stringer. Then she informed me that the stringer was not the only item of mine lost in the creek -- my dimestore spectacles had also sunk out of sight, without which I can't see the tiny trout hooks to bait them. 

So I switched to power bait, a smelly cookie dough stuff easy to smoosh onto a hook by feel alone, but my friend was despondent over the loss of the glasses, which no amount of bungee dredging could salvage. Meanwhile, I had kissed off the cheaters because the power bait was working real well and I was busy reeling 'em in. When I was just one trout short of my limit, a young man who had been lure fishing (as soon as they feel a nibble on the line, they whip the pole up and backwards so as to yank the fish out of the pools, no reeling-in) from the bridge nearby yanked something shiny out of the water onto the shady bank, and called out: "Hey, are these your glasses?"  And indeed they were.

True story!  I have witnesses!

I spent a few end-of-the-summer days in the newly refurbished BLM campground, Tuttle Creek, on the way to Mt. Whitney. Didn't catch any fish there but had good times with friends. Living in a tent in the sand, at the foot of the mountains and surrounded by space and sagebrush, made me remember what it was I came out here for and why the place has such a hold on me. 

The amenities of town life are good, but I need to return to camping in the near future, as soon as I outfit for solar power (and some other drycamp needs), the cost of which explains why I have taken a new job: Part-time assistant to the manager of J Diamond  RV Ranch, another trailer park in Bishop, of the same vintage as Shady Rest but larger, busier, and slightly more elevated in tone. I get free rent and a small stipend to answer the phone, collect fees and direct guests to their lots and hook-ups, three days of the week. Easy.

Winter has arrived with snow in the mountains, cold days and freezing nights.  Fishing season closes soon. Cooped up inside my trailer, Mr. Heater keeps me toasty, and now I have electric light.  It's time to paint again.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Local Color, Bishop

This ramp and sign are at the corner of Hanby and West Line Street in Bishop. There are no sidewalks on Hanby Street. No comment on the comment.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Good Housekeeping

Goodhousekeeping Blog

This trailer park was built in the 1950s as a fisherman's park -- complete with a little brick "hut" dedicated to fish cleaning. Two sinks, fillet boards, light bulbs, stacks of old newspapers. Bring your own knife and plastic bags. 

I inherited three tubs of tomato and squash plants from two vegetable-and-pot-growing buddies (one of them has a prescription) who left Shady Rest and moved out of town to Benton. Scraggly, the left-behind tubs are farmed by ants who use them to pasture aphids. I have gotten gorgeous yellow squash flowers (no squashes) and delicious sweet tomatoes. The two buddies pulled out after a full-throated, foul-mouthed shouting match with the trailer park owner, over a shed. Since most residents have a storage shed in their trailer spaces, the buddies demanded to also be allowed to install one. I didn't understand what the fuss was about until their new shed arrived on a flatbed truck; bigger than my trailer, with a floor, windows and a double-plated door -- a proper cabin -- put to use as a sunlamp-powered greenhouse for cannabis plants. 

Winford feeds cats, racoons and skunks ("aren't they pretty?") outdoors on his screened front porch, or decking area, running the length of this single-wide trailer. Recently there was a midnight shoot-out between the racoons and the skunks. Hard to say who finally held the floor, but for the next seven days Winford's deck reeked from skunk spray. He stamped around the porch swearing he'd never feed them ungrateful critters again. It seems to me the cats won--now they get fed indoors. 

Upgrades to trailer sanctuary:

New Curtains! thanks to dear friend Barbara Cortese, who helped me pick out the fun Japanese parasol retro motif fabric and sew them together, complete with lining! -- in a marathon session at her home during my birthday visit there in July. Thank you, Barbara.

Shiny new screen in my screen door, thanks to Winford's expertise.

"Shed" for my painting frames and materials. the vertical file inherited from Inkworks Press, from the old pre-digital copy camera dark room. An antique!

It feels like it's been a short summer. The trees are beginning to turn at the higher lakes, and noontimes are cooler.   hope to have pictures of fall color for my next blog.

Fishing Update: Grand Total Trout caught and et: 15

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Tonight we cooked the ten rainbow trouts caught yesterday out of an aluminum rowboat at Little Virgiinia Lake in Mono County, just north of Mono Lake off of 395, five apiece, the limit. Baked on a gas grill, wrapped in tinfoil, stuffed with basil and butter.  OK, I'm hooked.

My first fishing lesson: Up at 5 am to meet Winford at his truck, loaded rods, worms, tackle, snacks. Got breakfast in Lee Vining.  I was fine with the casting (I'm good at throwing things; bocce balls, darts, frisbees....) but flunked hooking worms,  mostly due to the superior squirm capability of Eastern Sierra nightcrawlers, and somewhat due to my squeamish feelings about sticking hooks in them. I'm fine with the cleaning thing, but need to develop greater hand strength in order to rip out the guts quickly and cleanly.

This happy adventure was generously financed and supported by:

Steve Skaar, who, upon hearing of my impending move to the Eastern Sierra last year, immediately donated a fishing rod and reel.

Bill and Judy Valladao, who bought me a fishing license for my 62nd birthday (July 21 this year).

Winford Flud, who fixed the broken-off tip of the fishing rod, advised me how to get new line wound on the reel, took me shopping for the various bits and parts, gave me a tackle box he won in a derby raffle, fixed my line when I tangled it up, tied up a second hook when the really big fish got away with the first one, refreshed my bait, and netted my catches when I was half-hysterical with excitement while hanging on to the jumping splashing energetic wild life form trying to yank the pole out of my hands.

Many, many thanks!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Painting Update: SOLD

Yes! A very nice, highly intelligent, and generous Eastern Sierra Land Trust supporter from the Hollywood Hills bought two of my winter trees paintings. Me and the ESLT shared the revenues 50/50.  Hilda's real appreciation of my unusual pictures (unusual when displayed next to more naturalistic landscapes) was a jolt of joy for me — and the cash came at a good time. Below are the two paintings that sold. The winter blue cottonwood trunks is a personal favorite of mine.

The fundraiser art show was housed in a large retail business suite between a movie theater and a chocolatier in the Minaret shopping center in Mammoth Lakes. It was well done, and I admire the organization and hard work by the folks at ESLT that made it happen.  I was too dizzy from success to check out the chocolate, but may yet do so if I return around Thanksgiving for a similar show to be sponsored by Mono Council for the Arts. 

Here's a horse from a new series of dusk paintings I've just begun. Actually this one is based on photos I took during late evening strolls through Point Pinole in Richmond during the early nineties. Yeah, the moon does rise like a little white ping pong ball. I'm developing my palette colors to capture scenes from my  twilight walks along the canal here in Bishop. 

BONUS PHOTO:  When smoke from Sierra fires loads the air with particle, the sunsets mix it with light and use it for paint (looking EAST along the canal)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shady Rest Trailer Paradise

After a pleasant visit to Venice Beach area in Los Angeles, house-sitting and gallery-cruising for two weeks, I returned to Bishop and moved my trailer into Shady Rest Trailer Paradise in the northeast corner of Bishop, between City Park and the Canal. I have a concrete slab for a front porch and am hooked up to electricity, cold city water and sewer, with showerhouse privileges and a small storage shed. It's the Ritz!

A  major amenity is Winford Flud, general manager and Vietnam Vet (for real), pictured here watering flowers. He has planted flowers all over the park and keeps the place green. He encourages potted gardens and tomatoes, corn, lettuce and cucumbers  flourish amongst aluminum sidings. One afternoon when he returned from a fishing expedition (note sunburned legs) he fried up the new trout with all the other trout stashed in his freezer and handed it out to everyone in the trailer park. It was delicious. He told me he'd teach me to fish for trout if I bought a fishing license. I told him that if I sold a painting I'd buy a fishing license ($50). 

Winford scrounged me a small fridge, a fan, extension cords, and some frames to fix up for my paintings from his extensive holdings in converted container storage lockers down by the airport.  I bought parts at ACE and he fixed my interior water plumbing, gratis. He runs his giant TV and air conditioning all day for anyone who cares to walk in and sit for awhile. When the temp bakes up over 100, I look for a movie in his cabinets and flop on his couch drinking his gatorade. We share watermelons.  
Typical conversation-in-passing:

Winford;   HEY. YOU. whattayathinkyerdoin'?

Inna:  laundry.

Winford:  goddam.

Owens Valley is very green this summer, hot and green and the canal is running high from the last snow melting fast. I like to walk along the canal in the evening when fish jump, air cools down, and sunset colors sky and hills.

NEWS FLASH: Apparently I have in fact sold a painting at the ESLT fundraiser art show in Mammoth, so I may have a fishing blog soon. . . .Next blog will be about the paintings.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tossup and Seven-come-11 Throwing Blank, Round Dice.

Thickets bristle from rooted centers. Spikey, thatched, like bottle brushes or porcupines, but instead of sea urchin forms, I saw kimonos and reed-capes hatch across my page, throwing down round blank dice at the edge of an autumn field.

Painting about Kanzan and Jittoku (Japanese), or Han Shan and Shih-te (Chinese); they are characters from the Buddhist tradition.  

Read more at:

Remember drapery?
Flowing swirls and tucks, swathing bodies, piling up on chairs and floors?  Cottonwood bark sheathes white cottonwood core wood in rough draperies, flowing along branches and around burls.

Prismacolor pencil on watercolor underpainting. Easy to scratch up on a dinky, wobbling table in a tight-squeeze trailer dinette, jolting in blustery late winter weather.

Having fun!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fixing My Trailer with Big Jim

Jim is a nice guy trying to recover from his most recent nasty divorce by camping out on LA Department of Water and Power land, picking up odd jobs and putting bicycles together out of dump junk and spare parts. Last winter when it was freezing I bought him some propane and gave him an old tent, and he figured he owed me. So he stayed a few days with me in Pleasant Valley campground, fixing lots of stuff on my scrappy old trailer, showing me how to scour the dump (photo) for parts, and being a fun companion. 

A buddy of his gave us some venison and he cooked it in the coals of our campfire, telling me rambling stories about great road meals: once he traveled with a woman who pinched an entire prime rib roast from a market, wrapped it up tightly in 25 feet of barbed wire borrowed from a fence, and just tossed it onto a big log in the middle of a campfire -- said it was the best roast beef he has ever eaten.  We scrounged for free firewood  from the constantly rotting and renewing willow and cottonwood forests in all the pasturelands. He grabs huge half-rotted willow logs and then smashes them up on the roadway to break them into pieces small enough to stuff into my crate. (photos)  He has a slingshot and one night chased a racoon around my trailer for awhile until it swam the river. He slept out on riverside grass wrapped in three sleeping bags stuffed inside each other with a thick fuzzy little girl's hat on his balding head.

In the dump we found replacement louvres for the windows, a grill to use cooking on the fire, a broiler pan for my dinky trailer oven, a picture frame, and a huge stash of perfectly OK canned food in one of the trailers -- lots of canned fish especially.  He checked out the wrecked bicycles, and found the stripped-out and smashed van of someone he had known on the street:  "Cat Lady." He said the civil authorities took her away to an "institution."  She was old and had 22 cats in that van. He warned me not to open the doors, but I did anyway and the stench was sickening.  I found an 18ft aluminum boat with just one dinged side that I really wanted to take home -- but he said it was beyond his powers to fix. We have a tentative plan to visit the Motherlode RV Dump in Benton out on Hiway 6 and find me a new rock shield--if he doesn't move to Gardnerville in the warming weather.

The river is rising as the Big Snows melt. I now have two of my recent paintings hanging in the Inyo Council for the Arts Gallery on Main Street (395 thru town). I hope to move back into Horton Creek for May, back home to the wind, the rats and the fabulous views.  
Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

NEW PAINTINGS: Winter Trees, Mostly Cottonwoods

New paint-drawings done end of February into March, mostly while camped in Baker Creek Campground west of Big Pine. Cottonwood trunks stand shabbily in clouds of sucker shoots stripped of leaves, or carrying a few dried ochre leaves from the fall when they were deep yellow. New shoots sprout and slowly turn colors of magenta, brick, purple, graygreen. Now April and these gray trees are sprouting clouds of soft pale greens. 

(double-click to enlarge)