Black bear eating from my apple tree, August night, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Let it Snow

Back from Florida and enjoying a rather large snowstorm here in Colorado. If you're still holiday shopping, I just wanted to let customers know that my Etsy store is open for business, I can send art gifts directly to recipients (be sure you email me first to go over details before you buy), and a few items are up on ebay, too. Unfortunately, technical issues (that I'll try and fix after the holidays) have forced me to temporarily close my ecrater store.

A bounty of seashells gathered on the beaches of Sanibel

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Off to Birdwatch and Collect Shells

Just a quick note--I'm going to be in lovely Sanibel, Florida for a few days, relaxing, visiting "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, and walking America's foremost shelling beach, searching for treasures. While my ecrater web site/store is closed for the week, my Etsy web site/store is open for holiday shopping, and I've just restocked the shelves with art. Please note that all orders placed from 5 PM (Mountain Time) today, Saturday, December 8, through Friday, December 14, will be processed and shipped on Saturday, December 15. Shipments from my studio to the lower 48 states generally take a maximum of three days to arrive. If your order is being sent directly to someone else as a gift, please be sure to use the "Notes" field when you place the order to let me know what message you'd like me to write to the recipient.

Best wishes of the season! Will soon be hanging out with the manatees and the gators.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Westwood Cemetery Graves, Los Angeles, California.

"Caddyshack"--"Now I know why tigers eat their young!"
Creepy epitaph, and no one is sure who paid for the stone or chose this particular passage. Taken from a Hemingway piece. How weird is it, that years later,  Mariel Hemingway (granddaughter of Ernest H.) would play Dorothy in the movie "Star 80?" Dorothy Stratten--discovered at a Dairy Queen in Canada, became a Playboy Model before she hit 20. Dead the same year. Sad.
"Charlie's Angel." As a teenager growing up in the late 70s, I always appreciated her tonsentorial  hegemony.

"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's AMORE!"
My favorite storyteller of all time. I had no idea I was going to run into you.  All your "Americana" stories were about Indiana. To find you in the middle of LA. Wow.
"Family Affair." I still have creepy dreams about the "Mrs. Beasley" doll.
I must admit, in the early 70s, I had a crush on Freddie in "Chico and the Man," and  continue this crush with Freddie Prinze Jr. Good for you, Sarah Michelle Gellar. Let's hope the apple falls way, way far from that tree. The tree that says it's okay to mix loaded firearms with coke.

Half of the original "Odd Couple." Had a face like a bloodhound, but we loved him.
The most famous Hollywood grave of all--Marilyn Monroe. Of all the  memorials I visited, hers was the only one with fresh flowers (and many lipstick kisses on the stone.)
Heather O'Rourke, the little blonde girl/actress ("they're baaack!")  in "Poltergeist." Died at the age of 13 from a congenital intestinal deformity. And the other actress in the film, who played the oldest sibling, Dominique Dunne, was murdered by her boyfriend the year before Heather died, leading to speculation that all the actors in these films were cursed. Last time I checked, Craig T. Nelson is still alive.)

Hollywood Graves--Forest Lawn, (Hollywood Hills) & Westwood Cemeteries

"The Velvet Fog." (One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes ever. Kramer had Novocaine and bad shoes.)
Sandra Dee
Liberace's grave, with his signature incorporating a piano cartoon. Did you know his first name was Wladziu?
Statue of George Washington, facing (not seen in this pic) a reconstruction of Boston's Old North Church. Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, California.

No, this post has little to do with wildlife, unless you count the squirrels and pigeons I saw hanging out in these Los Angeles landmarks. But at the request of two friends and blog readers, I am posting photos from the two cemeteries I visited when in LA in September.

It was very hot that day, when we had five hours to kill before meeting family for dinner in Malibu. Extremely hot--100+ degrees. Hot for LA. And the first cemetery we visited, Forest Lawn, Hollywood, had little shade. It's one thing to go somewhere in the hot sun, and at least know your destination, it's another to be in an unfamiliar city, worse still to be trying to find a grave you've never visited. I can attest that going to find a loved one's grave--one I've seen before--can be difficult. And here I was with a few crude maps from the web, trying to find graves of some famous people I'd admired. (I never did find Andy Gibb's grave, BTW.)

As many of my friends and colleagues know, I have always been intrigued by graveyards, cemeteries, crypts, mausoleums, etc. Having never been to a Hollywood cemetery, I was thrilled to find lots of people with cameras, wandering around like I was. One couple I met in Westwood had given up a trip to Disneyland to hit cemeteries instead. We all commiserated over our out-of-date maps, trying to figure out where Roy Orbison was buried, until another cemetery buff came up to us. "I couldn't help overhearing, " he said, "but you're right, here's buried under that tree. But the grave is unmarked."

Anyway, life is short, enjoy it while you can. A visit to any cemetery will remind you of this, but in addition to the philosophical implications of a grave visit, it was nice to be as close to some of these celebrities as I'll ever get to celebrity. None of the monuments were especially artistic, like those in Europe, or in Victorian US graveyards, but many had touching, sometimes enigmatic inscriptions. Enjoy. More photos to come, as soon as I get some work done around here.

(Laurel was the skinny one in Laurel & Hardy movies)
Bette Davis
Grave of Clyde Beatty, circus performer and "the greatest wild animal trainer ever."

"You are my wife! Good-bye city life! Green Acres. (Coincidentally, saw Eddie Albert's grave the same day.)

Will always remember Marty Feldman as "Igor" in "Young Frankenstein."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Road Trip Photos, 2012

Joshua Tree National Park, California
While I enjoy all kinds of vacations, there's just something about a road trip that's special to me. Being in control of the vehicle, being able to stop where and whenever you like, and watching the scenery change as you drive this great country of ours is so thrilling to me. I recently put 3500 miles on my Toyota Matrix travelling from my home in Colorado to the Channel Islands nearVentura California. Along the way, I was able to visit many National Parks and Monuments, the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, cool towns (like Sedona, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas), and was able to catch up with family and friends I haven't seen in years. Here are a few photos from my trip. If anyone's interested in learning more about my itinerary and the routes I took, send me an email. The entire adventure took me two weeks.

Kiva at Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Here I am inside an old dwelling, Wupatki National Monument, Arizona

Montezuma's Castle National Monument, (cliff dwelling) Arizona

Elephant Feet, Navajo Nation, Arizona

Norma Jean's crypt, Westwood Cemetery, Los Angeles

Sea cave kayaking, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, California

Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, California

Red Rocks Park outside of Las Vegas

Does this really need a caption?

Super campground just west of Las Vegas--Red Rocks

Tarantula seen while walking the dogs in Vegas

My cousin's dog Simon in the pool, Las Vegas, Nevada

Lehman Cave, Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Pine nuts collected (yummy!) in Great Basin National Park

"Shoe tree" at the terminus of Highway 50, "The Loneliest Road in America,"

Fall foliage, Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Colorado National Monument, Colorado

Elephant seals (over 300) on a beach near San Simeon, California

Joshua Tree National Park, California

At the science museum in Los Angeles, California

Lizard on Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands 

Pelican (?) skeleton on a Santa Cruz Island beach

Enjoying the boat ride back to Ventura, California, after exploring Santa Cruz.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Back Home with Sweet Road Trip Memories

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Well, I am home again after a two-week road trip through Colorado, Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. Had glorious weather the entire time (except for a heat wave in LA) and saw at least 7 National Parks/Monuments (I need to doublecheck). And once I got back, I immediately came down with an illness that's going around Fort Collins. While I don't like being sick, I'm glad this didn't happen while I was travelling. Hope to post some of the more interesting sights along the trip soon. Meanwhile, I just put up a new "half off" coupon code (see right-hand column) for Etsy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Heading out west for a wildlife experience in the Channel Islands of California. My Ecrater and Etsy stores will be closed until October 12th, but check back to this blog then for new coupon codes in the right hand column. New ebay items will be listed for auction on October 12th as well. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Art (and Artists) in Cemeteries.

Perhaps one of the most interesting graves I've ever seen, that of the artist Tristan Tzara. He was a founder of "Dadaism," a literary and artistic movement based on nonsense and found objects. I love that a fan took the time to grab a few pebbles and spell DADA on this plot. Quite fitting! (Montparnasse, Paris)
Here lies the body of brooding, tormented artist Chaim Soutine (Montparnasse), one of my favorite painters. Sadly, he died of an ulcer that could have been treated if he'd not fled to the countryside during World War II. In another pathetic and ironic twist of fate, he is buried beneath a Christian cross. Chaim was Jewish--his lover at the time didn't realize this when she had to make his final arrangements. Soutine was always a pessimist, so this is probably what he would have expected.
The dual grave of both Gertrude Stein and her longtime companion, Alice B. Toklas. Gertrude's modernistic writing has always flabbergasted me, but I appreciate that she kept a wonderful salon with the likes of Hemingway, Matisse, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, in 1920s Paris. The actress Kathy Bates played her marvelously in the recent Woody Allen pic, "Midnight in Paris."
The grave of sculptor Henri Laurens, famous for his bulbous figures. This one is especially moving--a person bent over, prostrate in grief. (Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris)
Before I bore you to death (pun intended) with my blog posts about hanging out in cemeteries, I'd like to remind people that cemeteries aren't always solemn. A cemetery may be the place you go to in order to feel closer to a loved one who has died. I understand that, and I mean no disrespect. But sometimes, visiting a grave of someone you connect with is a pilgrimage of sorts. This is why so many people visit Jim Morrison's Parisian grave in droves, and why Marilyn Monroe's crypt is so popular in LA. It's one way, the only way, in fact, that you will ever be physically close to that person again.

I love this ceramic cat grave in Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris. Look at all the surrounding, somber gray headstones in comparison to this delightful, colorful sculpture. I know nothing about the person in this grave, just that its cat made me smile on a dreary, overcast afternoon.
A few of my readers asked me to post more graves that I have visited. Because I am biased, most of the graves I sought out in my short time in France happen to be those of artists. It's kind of sad that today's cemeteries are so boring. Everyone seems to have the same flat granite stone. We've lost the sculpture, statuary, and interesting stories left behind for future generations.
The grave of Polish composer Frederic Chopin. Note that his stone reads, quite humbly, "Fred." Supposedly, Chopin was never haughty. always approachable, and the rock star of his era (late 1800s). It's rumored that strains of music can be heard in this section of Pere Lachaise cemetery, a division famous for the many musicians interred there.