Crown of Thorns

black and white photo of a thorny succulent plant

I seem to be attracted to the lines and curves of cacti and other succulent plants these days. Not sure why. I’m not particularly fond of these plants. But I guess it’s because they don’t move and are easy prey for my camera.

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Desert Sherbet

Close-up photo of Flapjack Succulent plant
Close-up photo of Flapjack Succulent plant

Southern California landscapers have always embraced xeriscaping (landscaping with drought-tolerant plants). Sometimes it’s a challenge for them to add to color to their desert landscaping. But the Flapjack Succulent is a surprisingly colorful option. It’s quite sculptural, too.

I photographed this one in front of a Mexican restaurant. When I cropped in tightly, the plant became a natural work of art.

It also reminded me of rainbow sherbet in summer.

Inspiration: Jake Weidman

(Via Kinley Bennett via Uproxx’s post)

When I was in grade school, good penmanship was still a requirement for students. Why? Because a writer wants the reader (especially the teacher) to understand the message.

Today, no one really gives a thought to penmanship. Even everyday writing with a pen is uncommon with younger people, who grew up with keyboards. Many of my peers say that their own writing is terrible. I can vouch for a few of them; I can’t read a word of their writing. But I’m also guilty of this. My cursive writing sadly reflects unused hand muscles.

So I’m happy that there are people like Jake Weidman. He not only achieved great penmanship, but also creates beautiful calligraphic pieces of art. In today’s fast-paced world, craftsmanship is something to relish. In this 5-minute video, you’ll once again appreciate the beauty of great penmanship.

Thanks to my friend Kinley Bennett—an art director, stylist, and pottery-maker (she likes to get her hands dirty)—for sharing this video.

USS Midway Museum

black and white photo of the USS Midway aircraft carrier up close

Yes, it’s a ship and a museum. The USS Midway Museum in San Diego’s harbor is a must-see. The aircraft carrier, USS Midway has a rich history. According to Wikipedia, it’s “America’s longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century, from 1945 to 1992.”

black and white photo of the aircraft carrier, USS Midway. Viewed from the side.

Even if you are not a history or aircraft buff, it’s pretty amazing to tour the inside of the carrier and imagine being a sailor during the Cold War. Or a sailor serving our country today, as so many are.

black and white photo of a plane on the deck of the USS Midway. The plane has folding wings.

The museum also houses over two dozen restored aircraft that you can see up close.

These photos were taken awhile back. The weather has been so unusually hot and humid that being outdoors is too uncomfortable. So I’ve been organizing my photos and came across these.

The Infinity Dreams Award

Mutsumi at Sakura Junction has nominated Art At Hand for the Infinity Dreams Award. I’m very appreciative for the recognition.

Mutsumi is Japanese and is living in London, England. Her blog, Sakura Junction, is a Japanese food blog. I love her presentation and her recipes. Her content reminds me of my mother’s cooking. And because of her heritage and her English home, Mutsumi injects a unique perspective into her blog.

As part of this nomination, I have questions to answer. Here they are:

What is the best thing about the city/town where you live now?
If I had to pick one thing, it’s the weather. San Diego is known for its enjoyable year-round weather. The temperature is usually between 65°-80° F (18°-26° C), and sunny and clear (except for May Gray and June Gloom when it gets some overcast). Being a seaside city, San Diego has a big bay and plenty of beaches where you can enjoy the weather. Sailing, surfing, swimming, bicycling, whale watching, golfing, and shopping are visitors’ favorite activities.

What is the best way of spending time for you?
Because I don’t get home util 8:30pm on weekdays, my husband and I don’t eat dinner together until the weekends. So having a Saturday dinner and a bottle of wine at a bistro with my husband and watching the people walk by is my favorite way to enjoy the moment.

What was the best food you have eaten?
Oh, that is a tough question. I love all foods. But if I had to choose one type of food/meal, I’d have to say the best food I had was at a little family restaurant in Perugia, Italy.

My sister and I traveled all over Europe in college. We stayed in Perugia for a few days. We dared ourselves to go out and eat at a local sit-down restaurant. I don’t remember the name but it was a tiny, intimate restaurant inside an old stone building along an alley. We were nervous. No one spoke English. But we managed to order a 4-course meal. I remember ordering pizza (I think it was the third course). “So this is real Italian pizza!” I thought, as I admired the 6-inch light, thin crust with just a hint of savory sauce and a large wild mushroom and herbs on top. After we finished dinner, my sister and I felt glorious for having eaten as a local. But more than that, we experienced eating in a different place and in a different way. And we communicated without using English. So that meal has a special place in my memory.

What was the best book you have read?
It’s a toss up between Gone with the Wind and The Agony and the Ecstasy. Even though I read a lot, my books are mostly non-fiction. Most of the non-fiction I read wouldn’t qualify for Best Book Read.

What was the best film you have seen?
I enjoy all movies, but for my choice of best film I’ve ever seen, I’d have to say Amelie was amazing. Very unique and artistic and funny.

Where was the best place you have visited?
Florence, Italy. It’s my favorite place. It’s romantic. It’s rich with art and history. I saw Michelangelo’s work everywhere with my own eyes, and I couldn’t believe it!

What was the best/most useful thing you have ever bought?
My iPhone. I can’t live without it.

What was your best memory in your childhood?
Going to visit my mother’s family in Japan when I was eight. My grandmother lived above a neighborhood market. It was a quaint two-story wooden home. I remember the bathtub, which was a huge wooden barrel that you soaked in, as if it were a jacuzzi. The toilet was a raised box with a hole at top. It was a working toilet, but it was different from any I ever saw. During the day, I spent time with my cousins. We’d run through the outdoor markets. Then we’d watch the adults play pachinko, an arcade game where you sit in front of lots of silver balls cascading down a maze and then falling into various holes.

One day, we got the whole family together and visited a temple sitting high atop a mountain. Another time, we went to a public bath for families. I remembering I had to wash and rinse before getting into the hot aqua pool of water that had a waterfall at one side. At night, we sat on cushions on the floor and ate at the low table. Then we slept on tatami mats which were also on the floor. The experience was so unusual for me that I can remember it well.

What was the best decision you made for yourself?
Going to Europe in college. I think all college students in America should travel to some other country to experience how other people live. It was such an eye-opening experience. Americans can easily isolate themselves from the rest of the world. I hope to spend some time traveling in the near future. Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and India are at the top of my list.

What was the best dream you had? (If you remember any)
I have lots of dreams. I keep a dream journal because I get a lot of insight about my subconscious. I think of dreams as my subconscious self playing Pictionary—the game where you communicate only through drawings—with my conscious self.

My best dream was about flying. In it, I’m a small bird learning to fly. At first, I’m trying to get a running start on a grassy field. Then I’m clumsily hovering above the ground for a few minutes. Finally, I am flying high over the landscape with ease. I was a young adult at the time. I probably felt my life was coming together.

What was the best piece of advice you have been given?
To let go of things that don’t add enjoyment to your life and to let go of people who don’t support your purpose in life. A lot of people have told me this when I was young, but I didn’t listen. Especially about letting go of certain people. But as I got older, I took heed of that advice and am forever grateful to those who have advised me.

Photography links

Now, in lieu of nominations, I’m adding some links to other photoblogs/websites to enjoy:

Michael McKenna
Michael creates beautiful zen-like black and white photographic images. Most are of natural settings. I’m attracted to his work because it reflects many Japanese artistic qualities of minimalism and elegance.

Andrea Gentl and Martin Hyers
I read about Andrea and Martin in an article from Click Magazine, a small local magazine geared towards women/mom photographers. They are professional photographers who work together and happen to be married to each other. Their work is stunning. Andrea also has her own blog called Hungry Ghost, which focuses on food and travel.

Dana Gallagher
I saw Dana Gallagher’s work in Martha Stewart’s magazines. Her work is a mix of studio, portraiture, and lifestyle. I like her work because her images exude optimism and joyfulness.