Sketching while watching the inauguration.
Parked in the front garden


Hello from sunny California. Watching this historic inauguration so far from home but still in this country is a good experience. We finally have two adults in office.. and one is a woman. Hooray!

We left Portland, Oregon six days ago, after four weeks parked in the my brother-in-laws driveway. We enjoyed quality time in masks with James’ family, and particularly his mother Laurie. James was able to accompany her to the hospital for the surgery to insert her pacemaker successfully. We left with a heavy heart, but happy that we were able to spend an unprecedented amount of time there.

Everyone is struggling in the pandemic, and there are those who suffer so much more than others. That said, I want to send a shout-out to the teachers who have had to “pivot” into the online world. Patrick and Felicity my afore-mentioned brother and sister-in-law are teaching in this weird virtual space, trying to connect with children and adults. It takes un-precedented planning, creativity and psychological balance to keep going forward. Patrick teaches Principals, Felicity teaches second grade. She works weekends and stays up late creating daily online content and coming up with clever bait to keep second-graders magically motivated until the end of the school day. Bait includes an end-of-the-day celebrity profile of the classroom guinea pig (who unprecedentedly pivoted from the classroom into Felicity’s home office. (Both Patrick and Felicity have expressed in strong language that if they hear the overused words “un-precedented” and “pivot” related to their jobs again it will be too soon.)

We left the rain and mud of flooded Tenino Street (with our waterfront property on Lake Tenino, NB Portland DPW) and headed south on inland Route 5. Initially we thought about taking the beautiful rainy coastal highway but we were not in the mood for more water. Ashland, Oregon, home of the Oregon Shakespeare festival, was our first stop. Beth and Torsten’s house is a beautifully preserved older home in a charming historic neighborhood. They have wonderful neighbors and were able to bring up their children in relaxed and safe environment next to unlimited skiing, hiking and culture.

What is left of parts of Talent, Oregon

However, Ashland nearly missed being destroyed by fire last fall.The neighboring town of Talent, Oregon was not so lucky. (Remember? That was three or more national disasters ago.) We drove through the ruins of Talent wondering why some areas burned and others did not. It looked extremely random. In many cases one side of a street was standing and the other side was in charred ruins, chimney flues sticking up through rusted metal. Mobile homes and vans proliferated, all parked on the edge of town. I imagine they are trying to make the impossible decision of whether to rebuild in a fire plain or leave. They are not in vans by choice, as we are. How will our new president address global warming and its effects?

Traveling down Rte 5 into California down the Sacramento valley the weather got warmer and by the time we reached our friends’ house in the Bay Area we were in tee shirts. Sadly my Artist’s Residency in Petaluma was cancelled due to Covid.  The silver lining is that we will be staying in nearby Saratoga for awhile, soaking up the sun and working in their garden. What a gift!

Thanks for reading and stay safe, Julia

Downtown Ashland

Beth and Torsten in Ashland.  The fire came close but spared the town.

Saratoga, CA

 Tor’s Sculpture

What’s better than hand of Monopoly Deal and Tea….