Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CornerStone, the land of Ahs

Photo above...I never saw a purple cow...or a blue tree either for that matter !
This post is about a very special place, an almost mystical, magical wonderland of delights. Driving down highway 121 in Sonoma, California it begins as a curiosity, a strange, tall landmark jutting up into a Sonoma blue sky..."Is it sculpture, or is it a tree?"

You get your first clue that you're approaching a very unique moment in space and time when you see a white picket fence that appears to be upside down and then, as you proceed further, the white picket fence becomes twisted and airborne. My first thought was; "What the heck ?", but then I saw it, a quaint white clapboard farmhouse, small, neat, with a tidy little picket fence at the front of its garden. Ah! It was Auntie Em's house and the Kansas tornado was ripping away the trim little white fence.

Imaginative ! Bold and beautiful ! CornerStone is as thought provoking as stepping across Dorothy's fabled threshold into vivid Technicolored Oz. This land of Oz (or Ahs) is CornerStone, an eclectic collection of artistic shops and galleries. Dave Allen, president of Artefact Design & Salvage, conceived CornerStone and aided by his unencumbered, cutting edge mentaility a true oasis was born within this lush Sonoma valley.

Photo below...The courtyard at the front entrance to CornerStone feature stone planters filled with recently trimmed Olive Trees .

Photo below...entering into CornerStone.

Here, in a cluster of crisp, attractive buildings, are shops that intrigue and excite ones imagination. I only wish I had more time to fully explore each and every one. There was one shop in particular that truly captivated my attention, around and within this magnificent shop where objects and sights that were sheer delights to one's senses.

Artefact Design & Salvage, Inc. was so visually tantalizing I hardly knew where to look first, it is a veritable cornucopia of beautiful architectural salvage and fantastic works of art. Outside I was instantly drawn to an assortment of precious succulents which one could purchase by the pot or displayed in a hollowed out granite rock. Unique and eye catching !

Photo below...lovely succulents and a granite rock planter filled with lush green succulents. Everywhere the eye may wander you will see architectural accents and decorations.

Photo below...Once I stepped inside ARTEFACTDESIGN&SALVAGE I was overwhelmed by the array of beautiful items and with the very grandeur of the shop itself.

Photos above and below...Absolutely stunning. ARTEFACTDESIGN&SALVAGE is art in and of itself...if I were giving out stars, this one would rate a full and perfect 5 stars.

Photo below... Almost instantly my gaze rested upon a wooden sculpture of an magnificent eagle, it seemed to be metamorphosing from a rugged burl of wood.

Photo below... I found myself transfixed, staring in awe at its beauty and the flawless craftsmanship of its artist.

Later I would learn that the artist of this fantastic eagle lived in Java and that Java's once vast forest of teak trees had long ago been decimated, cut for timber, all that remained were the stumps and the underground root burls. Ingenuously they began digging out the teak stumps and roots to use in the wood sculptors art, it proved to be a wood worthy of such an enterprise. As the ground is slowly cleared of these stumps, soy is planted to renourish the soil, after this has been accomplish there will be an attempt to reforest the land and return it to its former glory.

Photos below...a second wood sculpture of an equally impressive eagle...part bird part tree.

Photo below...the eagle didn't come out as well in this shot, however the high stack of blue wooden chairs, at the far right in photo, was photo worthy. Everything in ArteFactDesign & Salvage is art and is displayed and arranged artfully.

Photo below...a salvaged crucifix perhaps graced the back of a church's altar. A ray a bright sunlight illuminates its holy presence, like a blessing from above.

Brendan Jennings manages Artefact Design & Salvage during the week, he is also in charge of logistics & intsalls. This glorious shop of wonders and beauty can be found at 23562 Highway 121, Sonoma California 95476. You may also reach Brendan by email : or phone: 707-933-0660.

Though I've added links that one can click you may also copy and paste his website below:

Photos below...Just a small dash of some of the other features around this intriguing garden gallery called CornerStone

photo above...large agave catus stands proudly in front of a huge driftwood ball. These balls are actually many pieces of natural driftwood pinned together into an immense ball. Would make quite a conversation piece, wouldn't it ?

Photos below...Imaginative and artistic stone sculptures.

photos below...and back to the beginning...The Blue Tree and its story :

Photo above...Signage reads: Cormier gives new life to a diseased tree slated for removal, decking its branches with 80,000 sky-blue Christmas balls. The landscape equivalent of a "Photoshop eraser" saturates the natural tree with the artificial, in a bid for total camouflage. But the opposite result occurs: Blue Tree stand out against the ever-changing sky, becoming a barometer for subtle fluctuations in light.

If you are out in this area it is well worth a visit, give your senses and your imagination a treat. If you're planning a trip to the wine sure to save a day or at least an afternoon to stop in and marvel at this garden of ahhs. CornerStone on 23570 Hwy 121 (Arnold Drive) in Sonoma, California.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mystery Thing...What is it ?

Just a hint of mystery...have you seen this "thing" in the photo above? If not, What do you think it could be ? Your Comments are truly most welcomed.

Please be sure to check back and find out what the big blue/green thing is all about.

If you know what it is, or where, then please come back and read about a really fantastic place. Right now I'm still in the process of writing about this fantasy spot and working on posting the photos.

Until then...What is it ? The "Swamp Thing" from 20,000 leagues under the bog ?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Toto...I Think You're Back in Kansas !

Photo above...Kansas prairie land, big sky country. Field of freshly mowed hay are scattered about in picturesque rolled bales.

The past couple of days have been busy with just trying to catch up: catch up on emails, snail mail, appointments, business, laundry and so on. It seems to be the rule that if you're away for a certain amount of time you will return to at least twice as many "things-to-do" when you return.

You may have noticed that I've not featured any photos of our trip through the state of Colorado. I have nothing against this lovely state, however our drive through it was met with dark and ominous skies and a great deal of rain, making photographs impossible to take. I feared we would have the same bad weather into Kansas but fortunately the gray clouds dispersed and we had a lovely day for Vada's funeral. Such a wonderful feeling to place her remains next to her beloved first husband, John's father.

The prairies of Kansas offered me an opportunity to witness big sky country, where as far as you can look in any direction you will see the horizon of the earth and above it a vast expanse of sky.

Photo below...High prairie lands offer wind blown vistas and a perfect spot for a Wind Farm.

My hubby, John, is a Kansas boy, born in Wichita. As we drove past miles of cornfields, acres of Sunflowers and fields of hay, I couldn't resist the temptation to say; "Oh Toto, I think you're back in Kansas !"

Photo below...Rolls of hay dot the freshly mowed fields, pretty enough for a painting.

Photo below...We've traveled a long way just to get here. The little cemetery in Ferdonia, Kansas, quaint,quiet and charming.

Photo below...Here, close to this attractive shade tree, our dear Vada's ashes will rest.

Photos below...Vada's urn of ashes will be place in the middle of her burial plot, below the granite headstone. Her beloved first husband, John E. Yoakum, is immediately next to her.

John has now fulfilled his promise that he would place his dear mother alongside his father. It has taken us 3 years to accomplish this, to remove Vada from her niche in the Deschutes Cemetery in Bend, Oregon and carry her across several states back to her homeland. By the anyone interested in a lovely niche for single or double cremation urns in the Chapel of the Deschutes Mausoleum ?

Photo below...Our task complete. Our prayers offered, respect and love given. Flowers now adorn their graves and we bid them fond adieu.

I haven't quite finished with my travel photos just yet, still have a few left to post and write about, but perhaps later this week. Until then, I thank each and every one of you for stopping by, I truly appreciate your visits and your comments. Blessings to you all.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Crossing the Continental Divide...

Road trips can be a fascinating source of knowledge, almost every area has its very own piece of history, landmark or glorious landscape to offer the adventurous traveler. The Lake Bonneville signage, is an example of such...this photo was taken at a rest area on Interstate 84, near Idaho's southern border. Many of my photos were taken at rest stops as there were very few specially designated View Points or Scenic Turn Out areas that one could stop at. It would have be impossible to stop and marvel at each of nature's splendors or pull off to stare in awe at every wonder that we passed on route.

Photo above...Learned a great deal on this trip.

Though I had heard of the Bonneville salt flats and knew of the Great Salt Lake in Salt Lake City Utah the archaeological history had been a blank to me. One of the reasons we stopped at this particular rest area was that I longed to get a snapshot of a beautifully colored desert hillside, unfortunately this rest area was surrounded by a thick grove of Juniper trees and the desired hillside was obscured from view and the lens of my camera. Had we more time, and my hubby more patience, I would have hiked out the quarter mile to clear the Juniper trees and get a clear shot of the colorfully straited hills that adorned the horizon.

Even though I was not able to photograph that very special hillside, I was fortunate that my hubby had made reservations at a hotel in Green River, Wyoming. Green River has a plethora of straited hills and fantastic red rock outcroppings.

Photos below...Some of the many interesting rocky formations in Green River, Wyoming.

Photo below...These formations stand just behind the hotel where we spent the night.

Photo above...the huge formation directly behind and above our hotel has an unusual spout-like shape...reminded John and me of a teapot. Perhaps it is named "Teapot Rock" ? or "Tea Kettle Rock" ?

Photo above...close up of the teapot shaped formation.

Photo above... Since one side of the street shows the red in the rock (and the sun is to my back)

while the other photograph, Photo Below, is more brown (with the sun to the right of my camera)
I think the difference in coloration is due to the position of the light source. Or at least that's my theory and I'm sticking to it, lol ! The photo below was really much redder, like the rocks in the picture above.

At some time, during the next segment of our journey, we drove across The Continental Divide with an elevation of 7,000 ft. However I can't remember if this plateau came before or after our crossing the Divide. Next time I'll bring a notebook to help keep track of the names, sequence and pertinent points of interest.

Photo below...Beautiful Plateau !

3 photos above...a wonderful plateau in the high desert. Had to snap these shots focusing through one of the small holes in a chain link fence.

And then there was SNOW!

Wasn't long after reaching elevations over 8,000 ft. that we were greeted by an awesome sight, a snow covered landscape and snow capped mountains. Yes, we had to pull into the first rest stop we could find so I could grab my camera.

It felt like winter, the wind snapped at my face, my fingers were numb and my nose felt like an ice cube. But it was worth it just to get these photos.

Photos above...Amazing what a bit of elevation can do. Ice and snow everywhere and a foreboding dark gray sky.

Photo above...Wyoming...Snow covered mountain. This was truly a beautiful spot for a rest area.

Photo above...Close up of mountain...was able to get the auto out of the picture by using my zoom lens...not much I could do about the light posts, and since I was wearing Keds sneakers my feet would have been soaking wet and frozen had I gone traipsing off into the snow.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Out of Washington...

photo above...A gaggle of Canadian Geese following the leader through a parking lot. This was taken from our hotel balcony on a very overcast day. It was early evening and the parking lot is in deep shadow. Also my wee little camera only has 3X magnification zoom lens and this shot required at least twice that...maybe my next camera...I wish !

At the moment we are in America's heartland, Kansas. Land of cornfields, grains, cattle, and sunflowers (to name just a few). However, as has been the case from the start, my blog still lags behind my present location.
My hubby, John, had his 50th year high school class reunion just a few days ago in Issaquah Washington. The reunion went well, though I must admit I knew no one there and was swamped by too many new faces and unfamiliar names. I had thought about bringing my camera to the reunion but as I reached for it, John gave me an expression I have long ago grown to know, after almost 40 years of marriage I would be hard pressed not to understand that slight tilt of his head, the raised eyebrow and the almost imperceptible roll of his eyes. A look that says; "You can't be serious ?" or "Oh no ! Please tell me you're not really going to do that !" In short the camera remained in our hotel room.

photo below...The geese gaggle as they proceed across the parking lot.

photos below...As we start on our journey out of Issaquah, Washington, we stopped to purchase some bottled water. The sky was dark and thick with clouds, except for one small opening in which the morning sun was shining a brilliant shaft of sunlight through. Wish the camera could have captured it as well as the human eye does.

Photo below...At the Selah Creek rest stop in Yakima, Washington. The Cascade Mountain range showed us two tall snowy peaks but were too far apart to get them both into one photo. We think this peak might be Mt. Rainier...but we could very well be wrong!

photo below...and looking to my far left is, perhaps, Mt. Adams

Photo below...This is the bridge we crossed that broaches the gorge of the Selah Creek. Once we exited to enter the rest stop I was wowed by the splendor of this lovely structure...and it's big! The bridge accommodates 4 lanes of traffic and by looking at the 18 wheeler truck on the bridge you get a perspective of the size.

photo below...An interesting bridge throws an interesting shadow into the deep gorge below.

photo below...Steep canyon walls drop abruptly into the gorge of Selah Creek.

photo below...View of the valley with the mountain range behind. A wonderfully photogenic rest area. Oh and the facilities here are nice and well maintained also.

Next posting will be of Idaho and Wyoming and hopefully I'll be home by then and have the use of my own computer and our own dependable Internet connection. Hopefully!

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