chalk art drawing of Vincent Van Gogh starry night, Mountain View

Stroll on a chalk art walk

It’s been over a week now for shelter-in-place, and I hope everyone is still healthy and safe!

Since it is still OK to go on a walk – one of my neighbors had a great idea: a chalk art walk.

Walkway to a house, full of chalk drawings, Mountain View.

Last Friday almost 60 households participated in beautifying their drive or walkways with artful chalk drawings. 

All in this together - chalk drawing, Mountain View.

A lot of flowers and we-are-all-in-this-together messages.

A walk-by meditation chalk drawing, Mountain View

My favorite was an instruction to a walk-by meditation to stand, observe and breath.

It was really great how the neighborhood came together. There are some true artists out there!

We had a lot of media coverage for this (see the resources link below).

How are you coping with the shelter-in-place? 

Please leave a comment for creative ideas for the whole neighborhood below.

Resources:

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/03/22/us/california-sidewalk-drawings-coronavirus-trnd/index.html?f

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/22/us/coronavirus-first-week-social-distancing-wrap-up-trnd/index.html?

https://mv-voice.com/news/2020/03/23/young-chalk-artists-brighten-the-mood-in-cuesta-park


50 things to do in Cupertino

Explore 50 things to do in Cupertino

Since Tuesday we are officially ordered to ‘shelter in place’. So I like to take this time to introduce you to my series: ‘50 things to do’. I try to find 50 things to do in a city nearby. It is an interesting challenge and I enjoy discovering every aspect of a city.

Bowling balls at Homestead Bowl, Cupertino.

In my latest ‘50 things to do’ I discovered Cupertino. Most of you might know Cupertino as Apple’s headquarters, but this is not all this city has to offer. I was really surprised to see how many interesting options for sports they have. From disc golf to archery, hiking in the hills, and yoga in the park. This city also has two bowling alleys and an ice rink!

aquarium at the Cupertino library

There are some cool outings for kids, too, like the 16 feet wide aquarium in the library or the Deer Hollow Farm at Rancho San Antonio. If you like to explore local history you’ll be able to enjoy a few fascinating finds.

If you have any suggestions of places that I might have missed I’d love to hear from you!

Are you ready to explore Cupertino (virtually)?

Windows on the Past, a display of wild flowers at the Museum of San Ramon Valley, Danville.

Get informed about wildflowers and climate change

Entrance of the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, Danville.

There is a rotating exhibit in Danville’s Museum of the San Ramon Valley on wildflowers and climate change, named Beauty and the Beast. This display of photographs will run until the end of March, 2020. A docent at the museum told me that the wildflower bloom occurs earlier each year and that this messes with the rest of the ecosystem.

Picture of the 100 year bloom at Joshua Tree National Park.

“Erratic weather cycles cause more severe and longer droughts, followed by more frequent wet years and flooding. Native plants and life that depend upon them, are being crowded out by invasive species that benefit from this greater rainfall. Our beautiful wildflowers are losing ground.” (Quote from one of the panels in the exhibit.)

Dried wildflowers at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, Danville.

In my experience most wildflowers are really small and to see a large image of them is quite a treat! In fact they also show you the process of the photographers, Rob Badger and Nita Winter.  The images span from the superbloom of the California deserts to the alpine ‘rock gardens’ of the Sierra Nevada. 

To get up close with some wildflowers you can use a microscope and zoom in on some dried species.

To combat climate change you are encouraged to become a citizen scientist.

Part of a Mastodon jaw at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, Danville.

For history buffs this museum, a former train station, feed store, and a home for an eccentric artist,  is also full of local artifacts. One of the most precious artifacts is a part of a Mastodon jaw. 

Bob, a mannequin, in the caboose playing cards.

The restroom outside in the caboose is also a lot of fun with a train driving soundtrack!

Admission to the museum is $5, it is open Tuesday to Friday 1 pm – 4 pm, Saturdays 10 am – 1 pm and Sundays 12 pm – 3 pm.

Did you know about the relationship of wildflowers and climate change?



Women Pathmakers at the Euphrat Museum of Art, Cupertino

Celebrate women pathmakers

The current winter exhibit of the Euphrat Museum of Art at the DeAnza College in Cupertino is about Women Pathmakers.

Ada Lovelace and the letter about her at the Euphrat Museum of Art, Cupertino.
Irene Curie and other women scientist at the Euphrat Museum of Art, Cupertino.

I started with the portraits on my left, notable women in science, each of them included a letter that was in an envelope underneath the painting. I read, for example, about the first programmer Ada Lovelace, or Irene Curie, who discovered artificial radiation. Some of these women were cheated out of their Nobel Prize, but they were happy to do what they did best, science!

Movie poster about Qiu Jin, Autumn Gem, at the Euphrat Museum of Art, Cupertino.

I also learned about Qiu Jin, in a shortened version of the movie: Autumn Gem. The radical women’s activist who attempted an armed uprising against the Qing Dynastie is now a celebrated national heroine. The complete movie about her life: Autumn Gem will be shown March 4th at 3 pm, with director Rae Chang.

View of part of the exhibit pieces at the Euphrat Museum of Art, Cupertino.

Women Pathmakers not only memorializes the women of the past, this exhibit shines in its diversity of art forms, like sculptures, quilts, posters, wood, and also the diversity of the artists themself.

The exhibit is part of the Silicon Valley Reads 2020 “Woman making it happen”. It runs till March 12th, 2020. The Euphrat is open on Monday – Thursday 10 am – 3 pm during exhibits. Admission is free. 

How do you celebrate women pathmakers? 


The iris garden at the Three Creeks Trail in San Jose.

Bike by some irises

The water tower with the 3 indicates the entrance to the Three Creeks Trail in Willow Glen.

The Three Creeks Trail is a relatively new addition to the paved trail system in San Jose. It connects to the Los Gatos Creek Trail and the Guadalupe River Trail.

I love to find these small, hidden gardens. When we recently checked out the Three Creeks Trail in San Jose we came by the Iris Garden.

Snow Flurry, a white iris, in the iris garden on the Three Creeks Trail in Willow Glen.

This is a tribute to Ruth and Clara Rees who successfully crossed varieties of irises in the Willow Glen neighborhood. ‘Snow Flurry’ was created as a white iris with “broad, ruffled paddles, clear hafts, several buds in each spathe, good branching and excellent blue-green foliage.”

After some more research I found out that Clara really hit the jackpot and in 1939 grew “the most important iris ever created”.

Snow Flurry became the parentage of all modern TB irises. The iris garden used to be a much larger development in Willow Glen, and this little strip is all but an homage to them; honoring the botanist and flower lover Clara Rees.

Have you noticed the iris garden along the Three Creeks Trail? 

Resources:

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/07/18/iris-gardens-return-to-the-reopened-three-creeks-trail http://www.historiciris.org/photos/snow-flurry-lm.html

https://www.historiciris.org/articles/notable-clara-rees.html

https://cbris.org/

https://theamericanirissociety.blogspot.com/2018/12/clara-b-rees-queen-mother-of-iris-world.html

https://theamericanirissociety.blogspot.com/2012/02/clara-and-ruth-rees-san-joses-iris.html

http://wiki.irises.org/Main/Bio/HybridizerReesClara

Clive McCarthy's painting at San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.

Get inspired by art

It’s always great to go see some art. If the admission is free and the art contemporary what holds you back?

Stephnie Syjocu, Total Transparency Filter at San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.

The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ISA) is located in the hip SoFa district. They regularly participate in the South First Fridays Art Walk, a self-guided nighttime tour through downtown’s art institutions.

Currently there are four exhibits running till the middle of March. 

Sense of Self – Bay Area photographers explore the subject of self. Artists are Marcela Pardo Ariza, Tammy Rae Carland, Erica Deeman, Jamil Hellu, and Stephanie Syjuco.

Electronic Paintings – by Clive McCarthy.

Chimera – by Stas Orlovski

LGBTQ+ Youth Space – a continued discussion about self and identity by the LGBTQ+ Youth Space. 

Mark your calendar: March 6th, 2020, First Friday will be co-hosted by the LGBTQ Youth Space and will feature performances, activities, and workshops around topics of identity, representation, and empowerment.

Clive McCarthy's painting at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.

Clive McCarthy’s electronic paintings were my favorites. Large computer generated images, newly invented with each brush stroke of the pixel palette, creates a movie like assemble of an image. To mix up his generative art – art created by a computer algorithm – he will change the image sets every two weeks. You can even review his code in a separate room across from the lobby.

ISA is open every day of the week except on Mondays. Admission is free.

Where do you go to be inspired by art?

Antique bottles filled with essential oils, at the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.

Treat yourself to a smelling adventure

I usually try to find inexpensive things to do in the Bay Area. So I was reluctant to go to this little museum with a $20 entrance fee. But the sensory experience was totally worth it!

Little labels on the flasks tell you to Smell This, at the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.

I’m talking about the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents in Berkeley. You can get tickets for this museum of scents online but they also welcome walk-ins. We were greeted warmly by Devon, who equipped us with some instructions, some strips to sample our own smells, and a wool cloth to neutralize our noses. 

Apothecary cabinet with elemi resin, dried roses, at the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.

There are two apothecary cabinets with dried resins, woods and flowers. We spent most of our time here rubbing things and putting others up to our noses. The Elemi Resin, a dried tree sap, reminded my husband of the smell in an art studio. 

Book aficionados will enjoy the hundred year old books on fragrances and creating perfumes, and the window bench to relax and carefully turn the pages.

Not all smells are pleasing here – some Hyrax poop anyone? – but you learn that to create a perfume you have to have three levels of depth.

Perfume organ at the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.

The centerpiece of the archive is the perfume organ, hundreds of little flasks filled with natural essential oils. You can dip your three strips into some oils to take home. 

The last experience is Mandy Aftel’s creation of edible essential oils that you spray onto chocolate, e.g. raspberry. These create the most amazing burst of flavor from the dark chocolate that is the baseline to the more floral or fruity oil.

The family business is only open Saturdays 10 am – 6 pm.  Admission is $20.

During the week Mandy Aftel is a perfume composer. You can buy her creations online or on your visit.

Have you been to the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents?

Gingerbread house, Los Altos

Find the gingerbread houses

The 32nd annual gingerbread exhibit in Los Altos had to relocate from its usual location, the now demolished Hillview Community Center. (It will be rebuilt). This year you can stroll through Los Altos downtown in search of the gingerbread creations. From December 10th to the 22nd of December, eight businesses and City Hall are showcasing locally made gingerbread houses. 

Gingerbread house, Los Altos

In each location, you can pick up a passport that lists all locations that have the gingerbread houses. But you have to find the first one! Once you find one, you can have your visit stamped. Some places let you hunt for it; some have multiple houses to show off; one had a little quiz.

Gingerbread house, Los Altos.

On December 19th, 2019, from 4-6:30pm, all participants, their families, and hosting businesses are invited to a Gingerbread Exhibit Crawl in Downtown Los Altos followed by a special reception at the Los Altos Youth Center. 

While I started out looking for the exhibit I stumped a few businesses asking for it. A lovely helper at Linden Tree bookstore called the city to ask where they were, I went to my first place, received the passport, but no edible house to view. It turns out the distribution wasn’t as smooth. (With such fragile deliveries, all needed to be done carefully, and hence ran a bit behind.)

Also the  Linden Tree store keeper referred us to a two-story, life-sized gingerbread house in the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. I’m sure that one is hard to miss.

Gingerbread house, Los Altos.

The four gingerbread houses at city hall are right by the entrance. I wasn’t able to get my passport stamped, as everyone was busy helping customers. If you can get all the stamps you can show your completed passport to the Recreation and Community Services desk (400 University Ave), you will be entered to win a gift card. 

Have you seen gingerbread houses around?


Rows of gifts at the Family Giving Tree warehouse.

Master your gift giving

If you belong to a church group, your kids are in boy scouts/girl scouts, or some similar groups, you might have your volunteer schedule for the holidays covered.

If you are still looking to give back this season I might have an idea for you.

Holiday Wish Drive cards from Family Giving Tree.

Have any of your coworkers displayed Family Giving Tree wish cards? Please grab one of these cards and give the gift of giving. I know that some large companies in the Bay Area have cards like these in the reception area and you would drop off your purchased gift with them.

You can also lead a drive. This means you will pick up these cards from Family Giving Tree and post specific wish cards in a well-traveled area, or give them out to your coworkers, friends, or family members . Then you would collect the gifts and drop them off at the warehouse. I don’t know why they don’t call it something like elf helper? 

Little girl wrapping a gift at the Family Giving Tree warehouse.

Since 1990 the Family Giving Tree (FGT) has provided more than one million gifts for Bay Area children, low income families and seniors. Their promise is to give an exact gift. If a person only gets one gift in the Holiday season, an exact gift, something he or she really wanted, can make all the difference.

Little boy playing with the gifts while his dad is wrapping gifts at the Family Giving Tree warehouse.


Last year I answered the call of FGT to help out at a warehouse in Santa Clara to wrap gifts. This was a two hour shift in a cold warehouse, but you just joined some people, made new friends, and shared some scissors and wrapping paper and off you went to beautify these gifts.

It was amazing to see all these volunteers; the volume of gifts warmed my heart.

Please consider volunteering this Holiday season.

Timeline for Seeing Picasso at the Pace Gallery, Palo Alto.

See Picasso

Seeing Picasso is the title of an exquisite exhibit at the Pace Gallery in Palo Alto. I urge every art lover to drop by and see the collection. 

Front window of the Pace Gallery in Palo Alto.

Currently the windows are covered up at the Pace Gallery. Only the front door is announcing the opening hours. It feels like some mysterious, secretive place.

iPad for the audio tour at Pace Gallery, Palo Alto.

When you enter you are greeted by the friendly staff. If you like, you can borrow an iPad and a headset to enjoy an audio tour for a “chronological survey of Picasso” led by Alexander Nemerov.

The audio tour was fun and informative. The poetic explanations definitely point you in new directions while admiring the artwork. 

My favorite painting was The Dead Casagemas (1901) which is considered to be the start of Picasso’s Blue Period. Casagemas, Picasso’s best friend killed himself; he obviously left Picasso in sorrow. 

After seeing a huge Picasso exhibit once in Berlin I highly recommend taking your toddler. Mine, at the time, had a blast and sometimes a better access to the art. 

Timeline for Seeing Picasso, Pace Gallery, Palo Alto.

I liked the timeline in the foyer, starting with Picasso’s birth (1881) till his death (1973). Picasso’s milestones are interspersed with inventions and other important events at that time, putting Picasso in the context of his generation. 

Seeing Picasso will be shown till February 16th, 2020 at the Pace Gallery, 229 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto. Admission is free.

Have you seen Picasso?