Thursday, January 31, 2019

January 19, 2019

We had no idea that Taylor, our next neighbor, otherwise a very sane person, is jigsaw puzzle addict. Took her no time at all to complete the 500 pieces from our "Buffet" series co-produced with Ocean Recovery Alliance. 

As an aficionado, she explained that the variety of colors and objects in the image made it fun and a bit easier to do. When we showed her the design with the expanse of sand, she exclaimed — ohhhh too hard. A point well taken as we continue our test-marketing. 

She was thrilled with the completed puzzle. We all agreed, it does look good and has a beautiful shimmer, as does Taylor.

Truth to Power and the Blue Wave were the themes for this years Women's March. Judith took both to heart and created two blue waves. One, a waving hand, and the other inspired by Hokusai's wood-block print The Great Wave off Kanagawa, both embellished with beach plastic. Because when ever, where ever, plastic and pollution should be in the conversation.  

In the run up to the March, there was much divisiveness — some think seeded by the Russian operatives sowing political discord. But in Point Reyes people showed up. People stood up. People were united by Richard leading the group in a chant:

The people united will never be defeated. 

El pueblo unidojamás será vencido!"

Friday, January 4, 2019

Cold Shoulder

With the clear and oh-so-cold mountain air we welcomed in the New Year at Lake Tahoe. 

“It is a vast oval, and one would have to use up eighty or a hundred good miles in traveling around it. As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole world affords.” 
Mark Twain, describing Lake Tahoe

On road trips Judith is our book-on-tape — on this drive to South Lake Tahoe she was reading aloud The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New Years Eve while out on a tear we happened upon our new-old-friend Mark Twain commemorating his many adventures in these here parts. Richard sat down with Twain to talk things over.

With Judith's sister Janis and brother-in-law Paul we wiled away some relaxing and cozy hours by the fire. Richard enjoying Consilience by E.O. Wilson and Judith working the first of our puzzles that are hot off the press. Partnering with Ocean Recovery Alliance in Hong Kong we will be offering in 2019 jigsaw puzzles in two styles that we intend to sell in museums and gift stores. 
“Littoral” — in situ images of plastic pollution in the environment 
“Buffet” — colorful, eye-dazzling artistic arrangements of plastic
Promoted as a stimulating opportunity for education, awareness building, and fun, each puzzle set is either 99 pieces for youth (5 and older) or 500 pieces for those who would like to be challenged with the plastic puzzle that literally and littorally impacts our global community. Challenge indeed — 99 pieces was fairly easy to complete, giving that weird sense of accomplishment when a piece fits into place. 

A brisk walk to the Tallac Historic Site had us all shivering from the cold and blistering wind coming off the lake, but not too cold for Janis who, always on the case, has a keen eye for trash.

and Judith who found one of those pesky fruit labels 

As we headed for Fallen Leaf Lake we spied a huge pile of colorful pieces of plastic at the bottom of a sledding hill — a mound of broken saucer sleds and plastic toboggans remnants of fun and crashes.

The pile of broken fragments should have been warning enough but Janis stood stalwart as "Safety Dog" warning us to be careful on the slick ice until she took a tumble that landed her in the emergency room with a broken humerus — that was not funny.

So as to not end with such a catastrophe we turn to the way Janis has transformed the catastrophe of the tinniest pieces of plastic into a beautiful revery on snow flakes. An avid Instagrammer, along with her great pics, she writes long informative posts. 

Here in the Bay Area, we know little about cold (excepting in the summery fog), but as Poet Antonio Machado says, "The cold is a good advisor, but it is cold." And...quoting something attributed to Twain but uncorroborated is the coolest thing he never said, "The coldest winter I ever saw ..."

Friday, December 21, 2018

Ta! Da!

As we crested the hill before the dune opens to the expanse of the beach we saw in the distance a person with bags, bending over, picking up, bending over, picking up.

WHAT THE???? DON'T they know this is our beach? We better get down there quick  — looks like somebody might be getting all the good stuff. We hurried to apprehend this interloper and lo and behold it was our comrade-in-arms, kindred spirit,  Richard James — Coastodian extraordinare.  

This week there had been storms, high tides and the super big ( record breaking 35') waves, so Richard, like us, was checking on Kehoe to see if anything or everything had washed in.

He is an avid cleaner-upper who is not only is picking up plastic from Point Reyes beaches but he is making regular sojourns along Estuary Merritt in Oakland - that connects Lake Merritt to the Bay and the Pacific Ocean. He makes arrangements of condoms and needles and syringes and sharps, shocking displays that catch the attention of joggers and passersby.

Richard is the person you want on your side when lobbying for reducing plastic pollution and advocating for better collection of street plastic from storm drains and gutters before it washes away to the sea. As he reminds, if it gets cleaned up there we won't have to be picking it up here in Point Reyes. 

Our paths have crossed many times on and off the beach. We appreciate the playful rivalry among our fellow collectors. I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Soon we had traded our two shovels (green and blue) for his one Pelon Pelo Rico. 

But Judith won the day finding in the beach wrack of the high tide line  — a  Civil War Union bugle boy sounding taps for the ocean then later on eBay — Vintage Calvary Soldier Figures.

Richard James snapped this pic of Judith saying her photo prayers as she snapped the pic of the soldier.

On our way back to the car we met Park Rangers Jade and Mason who were out surveying the grade of the recently improved trail, measuring to make sure it is now ADA compliant. In the past the deep ruts made the trail nigh impossible to navigate especially after a good rain. Richard, identified himself to rangers as a disabled person, and proclaimed the trail accessible. First trip all the way to the beach in a year! Improved trail, improved meds for CIDP! 

Thanks NPS maintenance crew. Thanks Dr. Nandipati. Hey, Richard made it all the way to the beach. No problem! Ta! Da!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Even though there wasn't much plastic, there are many other reasons to meander the beach— sun and surf and skittering sandpipers chasing the waves. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Blue Whale

These days the The Blue Whale has become the symbol for plastic pollution and the ill-health of the oceans. Artistic interpretations are washing ashore everywhere. This form of public art, as crowd pleaser and selfie-site, is certainly entertaining, but it also offers tons of educational possibilities. A few years back we were on a whale-watching excursion near the Farallones, lucky enough to have a Blue come up for a breath right near the boat. Astounding—it took its breath and kept passing by and passing by and passing... We are thrilled that there is an upwelling of interest in this most magnificent of creatures. 

In our own San Francisco hood, the version below, commissioned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is strategically placed adjacent to the Greater Farallones Sanctuary visitors center on the lawn of Crissy Field. It's a popular destination for walkers and dog walkers, frisbee throwers, kite flyers, and tourists interested in the view—hundreds of passersby will have an opportunity to experience it. Besides its size being quite the spectacle, you just can't beat the Golden Gate Bridge and the SF skyline for dramatic backdrops. 

Kudos to Bay Area artists Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova. Here is a fascinating MakeZine story and a short video about the project and how the tiles were made. 

Although we were invited to submit a proposal, our Plastichenge—"Times Up" did not make the cut. We do have BIG ideas about how to best actualize The Blue Whale vision. Instead of anthropomorphizing it into the shape of a whale, we suggested making the size and weight in the dimensions of a real whale 80' x 20' x 25'  300,000 pounds. Imagine bales of plastic from Recology set on Crissy Field stacked like the behemoth or arranged like Stonehenge.

Or since China is no longer accepting all of our recyclables, how about a barge tethered under the bridge, stacked with 300,000 lbs. of bales.

All this whale news got Judith thinking about the whale she made in 1987 with a class of 4th graders at Westwood School in Napa so she dug out the old pics. It was big news back in 1987 (how prescient was that?) and is so glad that whales continue to be big news today.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Bend Design 2018

Bend is high desert and it's high style. Billed as the gateway to the great outdoors where winter sports abound and in the summer the Deschutes River is a fly fishing paradise. Bend is the home of Scale House the convener of Bend Design  a creative tank for thinkers both right and wrong. We were pleased to bring our song and dance, our Punch and Judy show where our Bricolage: Design For Life  mixed it up with a hearty bunch of visionaries and doers. It was our tribe gathered together for three action-packed days of talks, workshops, hands-on and kicking' it.

This creative process thing is amazing. We don't really do anything special — just pile on the plastic then ready, set and away they go. Works every time. Whether it's the field trips of 4-year-olds from the local pre-school, eighty-year-olds from Judith's classes of seniors, everyone is attracted to what we provide. Maybe it's the unified patina the stuff acquired in a long life at sea? It certainly got us going beginning in 1995. Folks do dive in with a minimum of encouragement. Everyone loves the feel of the material. At once so familiar and yet, since the pieces are disconnected from their use, they are strangely unfamiliar. We encourage participants to make arrangements of the colors and forms, free from their function and to be without judgement — to make something, sweep it away, make another something, sweep it away, then make another something.

Caravaggio's dramatic light is one of our prime influences. The cellphone flashlight illuminated these masterpieces by Tracy Tindle:

If you want to see the Caravaggio light in acton, here a theater company is enacting a series of Tableaux Vivants:

Over the years, it's been our lucky, good luck to have gotten to know some of the most remarkable people on the planet. In Bend, we made many new friends plus were surprised to see and hear about several old friends.

Judith, Richard, Tracy, Shannon

Tucker Nichols ingenious work with Sodastream was presented by John Bielenberg in his talk When Wrong is Right. As just one of many examples John's Project M Think Wrong took the phrase I LIKE PIE to extremes that resulted in the creation of a PieLab in a dilapidated storefront and the rejuvenation of rural town in Alabama. Electric Works studio photographed the illustrations for Tucker's latest book with Dave Eggers This Bridge Will Not Be Gray. 

San Francisco designer Martin Venesky was featured in the screening of Beautiful then gone. He is a raconteur par excellence who covets every font and typestyle and has filled his home and office with common and precious items that he enlivens with tales of their origin and their placement. Talk about covet!!! read our blogpost about when we took Martin and his partner Steven to the beach. 

Allison Arieff, whose column about design and architecture graces the opinion page of the New York Times, posed the timely question: with all of the problems in the world, do we really need an app that lets us brew our coffee from anywhere?— As a friend of a friend, in way less than 6 degrees of separation, her best friend is our neighbor Molly Giles.

Miwa Matreyek, MFA, 2007, Experimental Animation and Integrated Media, California Institute of the Arts has forged a new genre of performance video, live dancing with her own made animations. Although Judith attended Cal Arts back in the olden days of 1970, they share appreciation for the encouragement and the influences that helped to shape their lives as artists.  

Thanks to Tracy Tindle, Pitzer '82, and her husband Paul we were hosted royally and who introduced us to fine dining Bend style — a world-class James Beard Award winning restaurant: 5Fusion. 
Sushi in Bend? Really! 

We give a big "High Five" to René Mitchell and Martha Murray who made us feel so welcome in Bend and added a new layer to the meaning of high desert style.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


The Panther

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly--. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

Rainer Maria Rilke

It may seem strange to begin a Plastic Forever blog post with a poem about a panther but it offers perfect insight into this day and this walk to Kehoe Beach.

In 1905 Rilke moved to Meudon, France to take a job as sculptor Auguste Rodin's secretary. When Rilke told Rodin that he was suffering writer's block, that he had not been writing lately, Rodin's advice was to go to the zoo (the Jardin des Plantes in Paris) and look at an animal until he truly saw it. Rilke began to study the caged animals displayed behind bars, observing the endless pacing and the confines of their captivity. He was not just looking he was seeing deeply into…

Heading on a road trip to the mid-West, Victoria Sloan Jordan, poet and film producer, wanted one last longing look at the Pacific before driving inland all the way to Kansas. Richard recovering from MOH'S surgery was unable to join us, but Victoria's old wonder-dog Rilke, blind and deaf, was ready for the terrain of new and exciting smells.

These days we spend so much time focused on our screens that the expanse of the ocean horizon is a welcome respite from the close-in view in our computers. Plus there is the great pleasure of using our eyes scanning, looking for the tiniest slips of plastic poking out from the sand. 

How great to spend the afternoon in the companionship of Victoria who has devoted years of her life observing the albatross on Midway Island and being on the team that brought the story of those magnificent birds to the big screen.

Our conversation was as wide as the horizon as we enjoyed the beach and beyond. We talked of poetry and plastic, watching for whales and the waves.

Imagine Tokitae (Lolita) an orca whale who has spent 47 years swimming round and round in a concrete pool in captivity at Seaquarium in Florida. Imagine her possible retirement being returned back to her pod in Puget Sound. We recently learned about the amazing work of the Whale Sanctuary Project and their efforts to establish a seaside sanctuary where whales can be safely relocated to an ocean environment as close as possible to their natural habitat.

At dinner with Richard we read The Panther aloud and marveled at Rilke's observational skills. Thanks to Rodin's sage advice, he overcame his writers block and became, as he described, “to be a real person among real things” and thus cure himself of what he wonderfully called his “breathing difficulties of the soul.”

At the end of a big day, who's a good dog?