It’s Tuesday and I’m still lit up from spending Friday and Saturday at San Francisco’s biggest music party, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a free festival hosted by the late, great Warren Hellman estate.
We love this wonderful free festival in Golden Gate Park. I’m always impressed with how well organized it is, from the stages to the graphics to the mobile app; it’s top notch. Over the years, we’ve developed a drill—arrive early while it’s still uncrowded and comprised almost exclusively of old futs like us. I always feel buoyant then as I anticipate the promise of the day’s events.
Friday’s lineup mostly featured bands that were new to us but I’d prepped by previewing them online. Jake Blount’s group played at the friendliest locale, the Bandwagon: an RV outfitted to serve as a stage. The group was smokin’ hot and I experienced the first of many perfect moments as someone blew bubbles through the audience, shrouded in fog.
Saturday started with another perfect moment as we arrived; Jerry Harrison’s roadies performed their sound check by playing one of the songs from Remain in Light. They executed the piece extremely well and before I knew it, I was dancing at the foot of that stage.
I further entertained myself by sketching some of the characters and styles at the festival. This guy with the eyebrows…
Other perfect moments
Randomly running into friends
Talking with the dad of Drive-by Truckers’ bassist from Alabama, who was happy to remark that the festival was so “wholesome.” Indeed, babies, toddlers and dogs roamed freely. This year seemed to be devoid of assholes and drunks.
Traveling light with our backrests to discover new acts; being delighted by Rayne Gellert and Kieran Kane who were great and funny and gob smacked by the appreciation of the audience.
Hearing Elvis Costello clear as a bell from way up the top of the ridge, above the din of concert-going talkers (the many conversations)
A little girl’s unicorn bubble machine showering me in hundreds of small bubbles
And THE highlight dancing madly with those young San Francisco pixies and leprechauns to the electrifying music of Talking Heads and the Remain in Light album, played by Jerry, Adrian Belew and their funky African rhythm band.
We’ll be back again next year. Thank you, Warren Hellman and family for throwing us this kick-ass party each year. You bring so much joy to the City that you loved. XOXOXO
My previous post was from the first couple days of our six week sojourn in Hawaii. Here are more photos and sketches. Our first stop: the Big Island.
We stayed on the Hilo side of the Island. One night, thunder boomed and the rain came down in buckets. Otherwise, we were blessed with fine weather.
I was determined to body board at Honoli’i but terrified at the same time. After a couple of days, I became more comfortable there and caught some sweet rides.
The walk around Honoli’i included waterfalls, bridges and some beautiful flowers.
We drove up to Volcanoes to see the latest lava flow. This included a short hike with chairs and a picnic at sunset. There was a bit of a crowd but it wasn’t hard to see the fountaining lava.
I don’t know exactly how I managed it, but I lost a slipper/flip flop, fin sock and water shoe all within one 24 hour period.
It’s a talent, I know.
Suzanne hosted a holiday party and invited her hui of kids and parents from their school in Hilo.
Bananagrams were a big hit!
Our last Big Island day, we lolled around in the tide pools near South Point, waves pounding the rocky shore. We had such a nice time there, we stayed a bit too long and had to board our plane without the luxury of showering beforehand.
We spent the next month in Kailua and Waikiki. I had thought that December and January would be cool and rainy. To my surprise and delight, this year it was neither (with the exception of a few days around New Year’s). We were more social than we’d been for the last two years; catching up with old friends, hiking, mostly enjoying meals together outdoors.
I discovered a SWEET, flat walkway about a block from our Home Exchange. The Kawainui Marsh trail goes along the wetlands and provides an unobstructed view of the Koolaus, Olomana and the hills between Kailua and Kaneohe.
On a previous trip to Oahu, parked at a trailhead, our rental car was broken into, the window smashed and our gear in the trunk stolen. I didn’t want to risk that again so we parked in easier access/less obvious spots. I had no argument paying $10 to park at a golf course to get access to the Old Pali Road trail.
We spent New Year’s Eve in Wahiawa with our friends the Osorios. The pouring rain didn’t put a damper on the fireworks, which we watched from their covered lanai.
For the first time in years, we stayed up until midnight!
The Pu’uma’eli’eli hike isn’t difficult, it’s just a steep, gunky, muddy trail which made it hard after all.
The view at the top is worth it, though. We hit the peak on a glassy day.
Waikiki has changed radically in the last 20 years from an Asian flavored honky tonk city to a mini Rodeo Drive, with stores like Louis Vuitton and Harry Winston.
I prefer the Kapiolani Park side for its proximity to restaurants and markets on Kapahulu, the less crowded beaches, little waves at the wall and even some snorkeling. Mitch saw an octopus right there where everyone was walking all over the reef.
What to do after a day at the beach? sketch the scene from our condo. I loved our (obstructed) view of Diamond Head and Kaimuki, especially in the late afternoon sunlight.
The northwest end of Oahu is Ka’ena Point. You can get there by hiking from the West/Makaha side of the Island or from the North Shore.
As we drove up toward the coast, I could clearly see waves breaking from miles away–they were humongous that day. We met our friends Azeema and Kuhio at the northern trailhead. It was clear and we started out at 7:30 am to beat the heat. By the time we reached the tip, the sun had risen above the mountains and it was HOT. We had our lunches in the shade of some rocks. The hike out was kind of brutal but worth it!
Our last week was what we’d dubbed the “wild card” because we hadn’t made any reservations for that time. I had been hesitant to commit to Kaua’i because it’s always so wet in the winter.
But not this time.
We stayed with our friend Tracey in Wailua and enjoyed a week of sweet visits with good friends and spectacular weather!
One day, we tripped up to Koke’e. I can’t remember the last time that I was there in the bright sunshine. Wow!
When I lived on Kaua’i, I would hike to Kalalau whenever I had a three day weekend. I came to know the place and the trail well and I still love and dream of it (though I haven’t been down there for ~15 years). It was such a pleasure to hike the rim and get fantastic views of the valley.
A quick stop at Anahola Granola headquarters in Hanapepe. This photo sent as an Aloha to the founder, our friend Becky who is healing from a badly broken leg.
Louise said that her halau’s weekly get-togethers kept her sane over the last two years of Covid. We were honored to join them for some songs. Mitch played along with his guitar. I sketched.
Our last day was also glorious. We snorkeled at Anini Beach with my old friend Robin, who runs Reef Guardians.
And we ended up at Hanalei Bay, which never ceases to astound me with its expansive glory.
Through the fires of this year, we’ve occasionally considered moving from the Golden State. However, our trip to the coast reminded me how incredibly beautiful it is here in California.
The weather was glorious and clear. We saw whale spouts out in the water, shooting stars in the clear night sky and ate fabulous food.
We were treated to a tour of the Mendocino Stone Zone, a place where host Peter Mullins brings in stonemasons from Scotland, Ireland, France and New England to create art within his property in the hills. Peter is a font of knowledge about stone and informed us of a seam of basalt in Windsor, not far from where we live.
We stayed at Roseman Creek Ranch, which provided a fantastic, huge kitchen. We paid a little extra for the big wood oven to be fired up so we could make pizza and other yummies. What a treat it all was!
When I can’t go out, I go in. And usually, that means making art.
I discovered the fabulous Esté MacLeod on Instagram and she quickly became my favorite artist on the platform. She starts with letters or numbers and turns them into beautiful paintings. When I saw that she was offering a free course on playing with shape and color, I was all over it.
The first part was to draw numbers 1 – 9 and turn those digits into leaves, real or imagined.
When I tried to think of ways to do this, I got stuck. But when I just let my pen move and got my head out of it, I ended up with some interesting patterns and shapes.
The next step was to put them into more plant-like formations and paint them with watercolor. She encouraged the class to use a dip pen with the watercolor applied by using a brush as well as brush painting. I’d never used this method before and was delighted by the effect.
The next step was to employ potato, carrot, toilet paper roll and other items found in the house, to create flower shapes and then embellish them. Once again, I had trouble because at first they all turned out looking the same and I kept thinking about how I could do it. But when I tried not to think and just moved my hand to draw and paint lines, curves and shapes, the results surprised and delighted me.
The incredible show at the MET will only be there until mid February. My sister Tobie encouraged me to go since the drawings will only be shown this one time. We jumped on a plane and had a wonderful long weekend in the Big Apple. It even snowed all day on Saturday and accumulated 7″—what a treat!
March and April were busy. I went to the town hall to hear my Congressman Jared Huffman answer questions. I made calls to Georgia voters for Jon Ossoff in Georgia, marched for 45 to reveal his taxes, went to a climate rally and a Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN) meeting. Sketches were created.
Down in the Baja
Año Nuevo State Park.
We saw a few of the famous Elephant Seals. They’re pretty funny looking. We learned that the Grizzly Bear and the Elephant Seal have a common ancestor. Pups are “weaners.” Elephant Seals spend most of their time way out at sea (3000 miles) They came to Año Nuevo Beach in California, to shed their skins and later, to give birth.
And we hosted a birthday party at our house for our friend Seth.
I have become a big fan of Instagram. Through that app, I’ve found wonderful sketchers, illustrators and artists and I’ve been sharing my work (@susanstanger5995—when I picked the handle, I didn’t know you were supposed to pick something more descriptive—I’m still learning). In early March, I learned about a challenge to sketch 100 people in a week. You might have noticed that I love to draw people so this was a no brainer for me. But it wasn’t easy. It was really 100 people in 5 days and by the end of the week, I was pretty much burnt out on drawing people.
On the other hand (so to speak), my drawing became more facile and quicker. I also started using other media, like a sharpie pen and colored pencils. One day, I banged out several sketches that way in just half an hour. Really quick and half from memory as my subjects moved through and out of eyeshot.
I posted on Instagram every day but the drawings were out of order and sometimes incomplete. I knew that eventually I would post them here so I could show them all in order (somewhat—though it seems that I’m missing a couple) and write more details about what I was doing, if I wanted to. So, here they are, my sketches of 100 people…
These first few sketches were done at the Mill valley Community Action Network meeting
These first sketches were done during a meeting of the Mill Valley CAN (Community Action Network) meeting. A group that is doing fantastic political action!
The ferry is a wonderful place to sketch people because they seldom see me drawing them. Most are reading something, as this sketch shows.
Here’s where I start doing those really quick sketches with the Sharpie pen and colored pencils. These were created in the lobby of the building where I work, 201 Mission St. on the corner of Beale in SF.
Back on the Ferry
A few of my colleagues:
More quick sketches with a sharpie. I sketched first and colored in later.
Finally doing a few just with paint. It was really fun and interesting to mix it up and do things a little differently.
I miss my wonderful former colleague, Dominique. She’s a talented illustrator and we used to go out to sketch in the financial district of San Francisco at lunchtime on Wednesdays. She’s freelancing now but I’m trying to keep the tradition going on my own.
This week, I did a quick sketch of Coit Tower (minus the traffic, trolley lines and streetlamps) from the Embarcadero.