Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden

Since we have been home from sabbatical, we have not IMG_0783yet made it back to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens. While scrolling through my Claremont photos, I ran across these that I took before we left, and it occurred to me that we should get back up there soon.

I am not sure of what sculptures or art is there now besides the photo display, but in the past visitors were treated to these large insects and hummingbird.

In the Container Garden I enjoyed this display. I really need to go back and see what’s new.

IMG_3273 IMG_3272


Fire Recovery at the Bernard Field Station

IMG_4455Route 66 cuts through Claremont’s midsection as Foothill Blvd. Just south of the 4-lane road, the Claremont Colleges occupy roughly a square mile with the colleges adjoining each other at their borders, making it easy to walk, bike, skateboard or unicycle from one to the other.

North of Foothill Blvd., the Bernard Field Station provides an outdoor classroom for biological and environmental research with its indigenous coastal sage scrub and transplanted drought-tolerant species.

The future of this land is uncertain as the original intention was for it to be held in trust for future colleges. That is another blog post.

In September 2013, the water company sparked a fire while cutting metal along the edge of the Field Station. While 17 acres burned, the fire was put out in under two hours with no damage to surrounding buildings.

In the days following the fire, I walked along the fence and took these photos.

IMG_2035 IMG_2036 IMG_2043 IMG_2044

Last week I returned to the same spot to see what has grown in the past two years. Although we are in a drought, and the plants are rather brown, you can see that nature (and people in charge of trash cans) have been working to recover.

IMG_2326 IMG_2327 IMG_2328 IMG_2331

Instrumental Music Education

Back in the day, in Kansas, I started playing violin at school IMG_0688in the 4th grade. The school district offered free lessons and loaned out instruments to students.

Now, some XXX years later, I am on the teaching and loaning end of things. In fact, I started teaching strings in the CUSD 20 years ago. Not every school district in our area offers string instruments (many do offer band at the elementary level). Some districts offer string classes once a week for 30 minutes, but we are fortunate to have a district which offers two 45-minute classes each week, and at every elementary school.

Music lessons start next week, and students who qualify for free loaner instruments will be picking them up soon. Teachers have been going through the inventory, replacing missing accessories, throwing out old, dysfunctional cases, and waiting to see the happy looks on faces of students, thrilled to have the chance to learn an instrument.


James Turrell – Dividing the Light

IMG_2495The art of James Turrell could span a week’s worth of blog posts. The prolific artist installed one of his Skyspaces at his alma mater here in Claremont, at Pomona College.

Enter the courtyard about 25 minutes before sunset. Notice the square pool appearing shallower than it actually is, and listen to the constant water trickle. Take a seat on one of the granite benches surrounding the pool, tilt your head back, resting on the back of the bench. Even though you notice that the hole in the ceiling is square, no matter how you photograph it, it appears many other linear shapes, but not square.


Almost imperceptibly, the color projected onto the underside of the roof gradually changes hues. In doing so, the perception of the sky color changes through the square aperture. Soon the night sky appears black as you see it through the hole, but it might appear a deep blue when you look out through the side.

IMG_2532 IMG_2519 IMG_2292 IMG_2283

Perception is the medium.

Masonville, Colorado

Well, it took me seven whole weeks to get out of CaliforniaIMG_2304 since I got back from sabbatical. This weekend the plane took me for a short visit to my family in Fort Collins, Colorado. Since it is always fun to see something new, and knowing that I like to take photos, my folks took me on a lovely drive through Poudre Canyon and stopped along the way in Masonville.

Across from the Masonville Mercantile is a wide spot in the road where someone has put a collection of statues, old farm machinery, a windmill, and other odds and ends.

Friday Nights Live!

It’s Friday, and that means that there will be live music in the IMG_2094Claremont Village. May through October finds local bands entertaining passers by as well as fans in chairs in front of the Chamber of Commerce, City Council Chamber and in the Plaza.

When we moved to Claremont almost 30 years ago, the downtown Village rolled up its sidewalks at 5:00, and you could maybe get a meal in a restaurant, but not much else. Now it’s become a hopping place, especially on Fridays.

Drought and Rain

IMG_2100It is no secret that California is in the midst of a drought that started four years ago. Recent findings from tree rings suggest that this is the driest it has been here in at least 500 years. We returned to Claremont in August warned that grass would be brown and lawns were being replaced with other things, or just sitting dormant or dead.

This is the fountain in the Village Plaza. Children still climb on it, parents still keep a watchful eye or hand nearby in case of a tumble, but no one is getting wet here.


Here is a former lawn at Pomona College. It’s not clear what the designs on this plot of land will be, but it certainly won’t be sod.

The big El Niño (or La Niña) predicted for this winter is not supposed to bring enough snowfall to the Sierras. So even with record-breaking rainfall, the drought will still affect us all. If you eat any food grown in California (and you probably do), this impacts you, as well as us.

Knowing that did not stop me from enjoying yesterday’s rain, at times a short downpour, and admiring the puddles in the gutter.