Santa Claus Beach, photo by Donna Greene

Beachin’ it

Santa Claus Beach

My broth­er and sis­ter-in-law came to San­ta Bar­bara to drop off their ‘baby,’ Sarah, who is attend­ing UCSB. While they were here, we got some good time in at the beach, one of the things they miss most about mov­ing away many years ago. Here are a few cap­tures of the day.


Passengers loading a jet

40 Genius Travel Tips That Will Change Your Life Forever

School has start­ed, and that’s when a lot of peo­ple pre­fer to trav­el… when the sum­mer vaca­tion­ers go home and it’s less crowd­ed out there.

I don’t trav­el all that fre­quent­ly, but I found these trav­el tips real­ly great. Some are com­mon sense, but oth­ers I would­n’t have known. For one, I like #20 since I tend to get motion sick, and I did­n’t know that the tur­bu­lence fac­tor dif­fers depend­ing on where you are in the plane. We sort of fig­ured out #22 last time we were on a trip and dri­ving from place to place with­out wifi or data turned on. #31 is cool. And #35! I use Pho­to­shop, but I had no idea about that one. There are some excel­lent tips here. See what you think.

Designer not artist

The difference between designers and artists

I ran across this arti­cle this morn­ing and have to share. It hits the nail on the head. There is a large per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion that does­n’t know the dif­fer­ence (and a few design­ers I’ve run across that don’t seem to get it either). Most peo­ple don’t under­stand that we are, first and fore­most, prob­lem solvers. Not on some mis­sion to ‘leave our mark’ with every job we take on. It’s about pre­sent­ing the best solu­tion in each indi­vid­ual case for each indi­vid­ual client.

If you’re unsure whether or not you know the dif­fer­ence, please take a minute to read this short arti­cle…

Your design­ers are not artists and you need to stop think­ing that way.


Awhile back, I signed up with Thumb­tack as means of adding new busi­ness. They have lots of cat­e­gories for peo­ple look­ing to have work done, and I think it could be a fruit­ful part­ner­ship. As an design­er, I bid for jobs that Thumb­tack sends me as pos­si­ble job match­es. I input my rate or an flat fee esti­mate and my bid is sub­mit­ted to the cus­tomer. It also works for pos­si­ble music/band-relat­ed gigs. I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing what comes of it.

My Thumb­tack pro­file

Hiking Edwards Crossing, South Yuba River

Edward’s Crossing, South Yuba River

My daugh­ter moved to Egypt two years ago and had­n’t been back to vis­it since. But that changed this month. She was­n’t able to bring both kids — imag­ine two hyper kids on an 18-or-so-hour trip — but brought her youngest, Abdu. We trav­eled up to gold coun­try to see fam­i­ly and took the most amaz­ing hike. We even had my mom with us, who turns 80 in Octo­ber. It was a very spe­cial time spent togeth­er, for all of us.

Trea­sure time spent with loved ones. We can’t be with them all the time or always.



Isle sur la Sorgue

Isle sur la Sorgue

Catapault at Les Baux

Cat­a­pault at Les Baux

Cheese vendors

Cheese ven­dors

Taking a nap on the barge

Tak­ing a nap on the barge

Life in St. Remy

Life in St. Remy

Well, we did it. We went back to France this year. I think it’s start­ing to become an addic­tion.

We stayed in the south of France, main­ly Provence. I had­n’t real­ly been to this part of the world before, so it was a real adven­ture and we cov­ered a lot of ter­ri­to­ry. To the left is Isle sur la Sorgue, where they have a ‘bro­cante’ or flea mar­ket every Sun­day. The items for sale on one side of the riv­er are nice antiques, sil­ver­ware, linens and the like while the ven­dors on the oth­er side sell inex­pen­sive cloth­ing, bags, food, and basi­cal­ly cheap stuff.

One place I high­ly rec­om­mend if you’re ever in the area is Les Baux. Plan to spend most of the day explor­ing this his­toric site, then catch the Car­rières de Lumières after­ward in the near­by quar­ry. ‘Klimt and Vien­na’ and ‘Invis­i­bles Cities’ were play­ing when we were there.

We went to the out­door mar­kets in sev­er­al towns and they sell the most amaz­ing local fruits and veg­eta­bles, olives, soaps, hats, cloth­ing, and laven­der. The sights, smells, and sounds are so invit­ing. The French real­ly know how to live. They would gath­er around lit­tle tables at lunchtime for a glass of wine and share some food. Very friend­ly and warm.

Then there were the many cas­tles, vine­yards, laven­der fields, and roads with cir­cles just about every time you blink. And the food. Oh, the food… We stopped to get gas one after­noon and found a place serv­ing food. Real­ly good food. At a gas sta­tion. And espres­sos. Real­ly good espres­so, not your 7–11 crap. How great is that?

We were hap­py to be able to stay with some friends, which was the real high­light. We also stayed sev­er­al places that we found through Airbnb. It was an oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet some new friends. We even stayed on a barge one night and met some real char­ac­ters who we hope will come vis­it us one day.

We made a road trip, which by Cal­i­for­nia stan­dards isn’t a big deal. It was only about three hours. We drove to Nice and met an online friend who has a music stu­dio he built there. It was great to final­ly meet up in per­son. The ocean off the coast of Nice is an amaz­ing shade of aqua. It was a windy day, and watch­ing those waves crash­ing and the palm trees blow­ing was a mem­o­rable expe­ri­ence.

Barn owl nesting box

Helping out the owl population

In ref­er­ence to my post in Feb­ru­ary, I decid­ed that to keep the rodent pop­u­la­tion under con­trol, it would be nice to have a barn owl nest­ing box on the prop­er­ty. Luck­i­ly, ‘I know a guy’ who was will­ing and able to build it. We hope to have many owlets born in this cool lit­tle pad.

If you are look­ing to build one your­self, here’s a great resource that has all the info you need: You can also buy them, but I can’t guar­an­tee that they will be fur­nished with all the right accou­trements need­ed for the sur­vival of the barn owl pair and owlets.

Dead wood

Dead wood

One of the chal­lenges that we’ve tak­en on around here is the clear­ing of our prop­er­ty. Cal­i­for­nia is suf­fer­ing quite a drought and liv­ing a bit out-in-the-sticks, in a canyon no less, can be a bit scary to say the least. So clear­ing dead wood and brush is always a good idea. It’s been quite a project.

One of the ben­e­fits is that the hawks and owls have been hang­ing around more since it’s easy pick­ins’… there’s basi­cal­ly nowhere for the rodents to hide.  I cer­tain­ly have no objec­tion, since the varmints have eat­en most of what I’ve plant­ed. Yes, what the gophers don’t get from under­neath, the chip­munks, squir­rels, rab­bits, and an occa­sion­al deer take care of. There are also mice and rats around these parts. And they’re all pret­ty cute until your invest­ment in time, effort and mon­ey is wiped out basi­cal­ly overnight. And fruit trees ain’t cheap, I can tell ya!

And of course, oth­er ben­e­fits are fire­wood and wood chips. And those cer­tain­ly come in handy.

Loon Point, photo by Donna Greene

New beginnings

Hap­py New Year! I took this pho­to on my walk New Year’s Day. I try not to go over­board on New Year’s res­o­lu­tions, but I do love a new begin­ning and the hope and promise that it inspires. Here’s to new begin­nings and being our best selves.