Many colorful birdhouses in Santee trees!

Look what I spied yesterday! As I walked along the San Diego River Trail in Santee, a bit west of Cuyamaca Street, I came upon two sycamore trees that were absolutely filled with small, very colorful birdhouses!

I noticed that names and dates were painted on the base of many houses. It appeared to me some were created in May of this year. Others were dated 2018. I don’t know whose fun project this was. If anyone knows, leave a comment!

The nest boxes–some are very tiny–have been very creatively designed and are like small works of art. I’m not sure whether any birds have used them. It does appear spiders like them! These wonderful little birdhouses dangle like ornaments from branches that are a few feet from the San Diego River Trail where many people walk and ride bikes.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Handmade face masks for sale downtown!

If you need face coverings during the present coronavirus pandemic, today I discovered that handmade face masks are for sale downtown! They are being produced at Sante’s Tailoring located at 1150 7th Avenue, #1.

As I walked up Seventh Avenue, I saw a table covered with all sorts of colorful face coverings for sale, and met Luzney, who works in another of the building’s suites. Luzney’s Flowers and Gifts at 1150 7th Avenue, #2 has seen a sharp downturn in flower sales, as hotels are empty and weddings are put off during the COVID-19 crisis, so she’s helping to sew these cloth masks, too!

I learned from Luzney that the cotton, washable face masks will be for sale at this location Mondays through Fridays, from 9 am to 2 pm. If you live or work downtown, or just need some cool face masks once the countywide May 1 public face covering rules come into effect, either swing on by, or you can call their phone at 619-231-9898.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Finishing a 19th century quilt in Old Town.

Today, when I stepped into Threads of the Past in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, I found several ladies working on quilts. One beautiful quilt in particular was spread out before them, and on top of it was a small very old photograph showing two sisters from a century ago.

I asked a question or two and jotted a few quick notes. I didn’t really achieve a perfect understanding, and some of what I’m about to write might be incorrect!

I believe the spread quilt and another folded beside it had been pieced in the late 19th century by two sisters, Gertrude and Mabel Raymond, who were school teachers in National City, and who are now buried in Greenwood Memorial Park. The old quilts had been found by a family in their attic, and brought to Threads of the Past to be completed.

One of the quilters I spoke to was working on a modern “Sanitary Commission” quilt, which will be auctioned off on the Fourth of July. The fabric squares were designed by local school children. (You can glimpse a bit of their artwork in the second-to-last photograph.) I learned that there are only six authentic United States Sanitary Commission quilts from the Civil War known to exist, and was told that if you see those words on an old quilt at a rummage sale or swap meet, buy it!

Walk into Threads of the Past and not only will you see historic quilts hanging on the walls, but you’ll learn something new about that big colorful quilt known as History, and you might find skilled quilters working to preserve it!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Making beautiful candles in Old Town.

Today I watched as a father and his son made beautiful candles in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

The father, Paul, is the owner of Toby’s Candle and Soap Shop. His son is a super friendly young man named KC.

This talented family has been making candles by hand for three generations. I learned their business has been operating for about 38 years (including a period at Knott’s Berry Farm) and has been located in Old Town now for about 24 years.

For a few minutes I watched as Paul used a special carving tool to cut and curl back soft wax as he made an elaborate, very beautiful, multicolored candle. He told me he had about 8 minutes to complete the task, before the wax cooled and hardened. After carving a well at the top of the candle, he dipped his finished creation in clear wax, then a hard glaze.

Sometimes he’ll add shells or figurines to these decorative candles, to make them even more fantastic. I also learned that these fancy many-layered candles, which begin modestly as a solid mold, can take anywhere from 6 to 10 hours to create!

Outside the shop, tourists and curious passersby were watching KC dip taper candles. He’d dip each group of wicks, which are suspended vertically in a circle, about 30 to 35 times, depending on the outdoor temperature. He was careful not to leave the forming candles in the hot wax for too long. After the candles grew in girth to the correct size, he removed the excess wax for future use, and used scissors to cut the candles free, as you can see in my last photo!

Toby’s Candle and Soap Shop is located in the historically and architecturally important Sessions Building, which was designed by renowned San Diego architect Richard Requa. Learn more about it here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Christmas Around the World at Balboa Park.

Carnival mask with Christmas ornaments at the House of Italy.
Carnival mask with Christmas ornaments at the House of Italy.

Christmas on the Prado is being held today in Balboa Park. The event, while not nearly as large as December Nights, is special to many in San Diego because it is primarily religious, celebrating the birth of Christ.

This afternoon I wandered randomly about the International Cottages, seeing what I might see. Most of the cottages were open for the event and many contained Christmas trees and unique decorations.

I photographed a variety of crafts and beautiful displays, which are said to represent Christmas Around the World.

People roam about the International Cottages to get a taste of Christmas Around the World.
People roam about the International Cottages to get a taste of Christmas Around the World.
Making paper Christmas tree ornaments at the House of Norway.
Making paper Christmas ornaments at the House of Norway.
A folksy Christmas tablecloth at the House of Norway.
A folksy Christmas tablecloth at the House of Norway.
A craft bedecked Christmas tree at the House of Denmark.
A craft bedecked Christmas tree at the House of Denmark.
Entertainment at the International Cottages during 2019 Christmas on the Prado.
Entertainment at the International Cottages during 2019 Christmas on the Prado.
Beautiful holiday season decorations at the House of Finland.
Beautiful holiday season decorations at the House of Finland.
A golden Black Madonna with Christ child at the House of Poland.
A golden Black Madonna with Christ child at the House of Poland.
Season Greeting and Jingle Bells seat covers at the House of England.
Season Greeting and Jingle Bells seat covers at the House of England.
A bright little Christmas tree at the House of England.
A bright little Christmas tree at the House of England.
Kids could make holiday crafts in the patio at the House of Ireland.
Kids could make holiday crafts in the patio at the House of Ireland.
Painting pine cones in Christmas colors!
Painting pine cones in Christmas colors!
A traditional Christmas tree at the House of Germany.
A traditional Christmas tree at the House of Germany.
Father Christmas and children in a winter wonderland. Happy needlework at the House of Germany.
Father Christmas and children in a winter wonderland. Joyful needlework at the House of Germany.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Free activities and help for San Diego seniors!

Look what I discovered today!

I was walking around Balboa Park, looking at an arts and crafts sale in the Casa del Prado courtyard, when I discovered some great information. If you’re in San Diego and at least 55 years old (or if you know someone who is) there are lots of activities and services available for seniors, and many are absolutely free!

A friendly gentleman with the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department told me all about it. The program is called AgeWell Services. You can visit the AgeWell Services website by clicking here.

AgeWell Services offers art classes, senior art shows, needle crafts, poetry parties, dance lessons, talent shows, craft sales and much more. There’s free tea, coffee, water, bingo and social opportunities in the Balboa Park Senior Lounge, and easy walks around Balboa Park. There are laugh hours and free movies. There are informative talks. There is even free assistance for those 60 years or older with a variety of legal issues such as wills and renter disputes!

There are senior activities at many City of San Diego Recreation Centers!

AgeWell Services also has occasional day trips to interesting places like the J. Paul Getty Museum, Big Bear, Catalina Island and Julian. I noticed these special trips are offered for a very reasonable fee.

If you’d like to see all of these activities and services that are available to San Diego seniors, you should subscribe to a newsletter that comes out every few months called The Scroll. The Scroll is packed with all the latest information, including a Calendar of Events.

To join the mailing list for The Scroll, or to learn more about AgeWell Services, simply call 619-525-8247.

Volunteers are also needed! Call 619-236-6905 if you’d like to volunteer!

Amazing exhibition of Japanese washi fiber art.

An amazing exhibition at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park just opened!

As I entered the garden’s Exhibit Hall this afternoon, I and other visitors were welcomed by the smile of accomplished Japanese fiber artist Maki Ishiwata. On display in the nearby glass cases were many of her stunning creations!

Take a look at these photos and you can see how exquisite this art is. Maki told me a little about her craft, and showed me briefly how she assembles washi–traditional Japanese handmade paper–into delicate, subtle pieces that resemble natural flowers and plants. I learned that some of the larger creations can take eight hours to complete.

According to the Japanese Friendship Garden’s website: “…like many crafts, washi is facing a decrease and disappearance of its makers. For washi culture to survive, greater appreciation for the durability, purity, beauty, and versatility of this paper is essential. Through Ishiwata’s art work, she hopes to be able to connect traditional washi and Japanese aesthetic sense to global context and provide a unique experience for people to see an amazing transformation of one sheet of paper through one person`s hands.”

In the following photographs you can see some of the materials that are used, and a poster describing the complex process used to make washi. Kozo (Paper Mulberry) is harvested, the bark is scraped, boiled, snow bleached, wind dried, then soaked and softened…

The beautiful calligraphy in one photo was produced by Maki’s grandmother. Another unusual photo includes a reflection from the glass display case of a tree outside the Exhibit Hall.

This fantastic exhibition at the Japanese Friendship Garden will continue through January 26, 2020.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Creativity at a museum helps to mend lives.

A wonderful new project is underway for the summer at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. To Do: A Mending Project can be enjoyed by the general public at MCASD’s downtown location in their Danah Fayman Gallery, right next to the America Plaza trolley station.

Artists Michelle Montjoy, Anna O’Cain, and Siobhán Arnold offer a unique workshop environment where people in the community can come together, talk, relax, create, and enjoy a tranquil safe space free of the many societal tensions and stresses in our contemporary world. With simple thread divisions are mended, and people feel whole once again.

As I walked into the gallery, the artists were sewing bags, and smiling and enjoying themselves thoroughly. They gave me a friendly welcome!

I poked my nose around and learned that To Do: A Mending Project has its own website, listing a wide range of activities that anyone can join through the summer. There’s the mending of clothes, knitting, poetry collage, yoga exercises, pasta making, a silent reading group, painting, and a whole lot more!

Check out all the activities by clicking here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Art from the Mingei at Central Library gallery!

Belly Warmer, 1973, sterling silver, leather, wood. Arline M. Fisch.
Belly Warmer, 1973, sterling silver, leather, wood. Arline M. Fisch.

While the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park undergoes it’s monumental renovation and expansion (read about that here), select pieces from their permanent collection are on display at the San Diego Central Library’s Art Gallery.

The title of this exhibition is Crafting Opportunity: Mid-Century Work from the Collection of Mingei International Museum. Head up to the Central Library’s 9th floor gallery and you’ll discover unique and experimental pieces by noted artists and craftsmen, many of whom are from the San Diego region. You’ll see beautiful ceramics, fashion, metalwork, furniture and a surprising variety of other objects. Some of these pieces, representing the post World War II designer-craftsman movement, are on public display for the very first time!

I walked to East Village early this afternoon to see for myself!

Make sure you check this exhibition out before it ends on July 28, 2019.

A look at the current exhibition in the San Diego Central Library's art gallery. Crafting Opportunity: Mid-Century Work from the Collection of Mingei International Museum.
A look at the current exhibition in the San Diego Central Library’s art gallery. Crafting Opportunity: Mid-Century Work from the Collection of Mingei International Museum.
Vase, c. 1959, glazed stoneware. Harrison McIntosh.
Vase, c. 1959, glazed stoneware. Harrison McIntosh.
Owl, c. 1960, glazed stoneware. Marg Loring.
Owl, c. 1960, glazed stoneware. Marg Loring.
Untitled, c. 1965, mosaic and enameling. Ellamarie Woolley.
Untitled, c. 1965, mosaic and enameling. Ellamarie Woolley.
Plate, 1979, stoneware, porcelain. Peter Voulkos, who was drawn to the Zen notion of looseness of form and unpredictability.
Plate, 1979, stoneware, porcelain. Peter Voulkos, who was drawn to the Zen notion of looseness of form and unpredictability.
Bowl, 1954, glazed earthenware. Laura Andreson.
Bowl, 1954, glazed earthenware. Laura Andreson.
The Superior Masculine Mind, date unknown, glazed stoneware. Beatrice Wood, whose work often contains a playful feminist angle.
The Superior Masculine Mind, date unknown, glazed stoneware. Beatrice Wood, whose work often contains a playful feminist angle.
Weed Pots, c. 1965, glazed stoneware. Wayne Chapman.
Weed Pots, c. 1965, glazed stoneware. Wayne Chapman.
"Happiness" Yardage, 1967, machine-woven, hand-screen printed linen and wool. Jack Lenor Larsen, whose signature pattern remained in production for decades.
“Happiness” Yardage, 1967, machine-woven, hand-screen printed linen and wool. Jack Lenor Larsen, whose signature pattern remained in production for decades.
LCW (Lounge Chair Wood), c. 1946, molded plywood. Charles and Ray Eames, who famously revolutionized industrial design by introducing molded plywood.
LCW (Lounge Chair Wood), c. 1946, molded plywood. Charles and Ray Eames, who famously revolutionized industrial design by introducing molded plywood.
Untitled, 1969, enamel on steel. Kay Whitcomb.
Untitled, 1969, enamel on steel. Kay Whitcomb.
House of Cards, c. 1960, printed paper. Charles and Ray Eames.
House of Cards, c. 1960, printed paper. Charles and Ray Eames.
Helmet, 1970-71, silver, leather, rosewood, moonstones, rabbit fur. Marcia Lewis.
Helmet, 1970-71, silver, leather, rosewood, moonstones, rabbit fur. Marcia Lewis.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Photos of Manzanita Mountain Man Rendezvous!

Have you ever wondered what it was like to live as a mountain man? Trekking through the wilderness as a trapper or frontier explorer? Journeying through the untamed American West as a trader, prospector, scout or pioneer?

What would it be like to leave the comforts and routine obligations of a civilized life behind? To go where few had gone before, finding your own way over rugged mountains, across uncharted rivers, living on the land, camping beneath the stars?

Today I learned a little of what that was like. I drove an hour east of San Diego to Northcote Ranch to enjoy the 26th Annual Manzanita High Mountain Rendezvous!

This modern reenactment of an historic Rocky Mountain rendezvous takes place in the beautiful countryside near Lake Morena. It attracts reenactors and visiting history buffs, school students and families from all around the Southwest. Every single participant I met was extremely friendly. They showed me and other visitors around with enthusiasm.

I observed many participants in period costumes camping in canvas tents and tepees across a broad field and among shady trees. Many of the campers create their own leather goods, jewelry and other Old West artifacts.

As I walked about, I listened to frontier music, visited a gunsmith, looked at the wares of different traders, and stepped inside a couple of the largest tepees. On several outdoor ranges I observed people throwing tomahawks, shooting arrows, even shooting authentic black powder muskets. I even enjoyed a good old hamburger and tater tots at The Hungry Dowg restaurant tent!

Other rendezvous activities, which happened to be idle during my visit today, include blacksmithing, candle making and woodworking. There is something intriguing everywhere one turns!

I photographed some of the informative signs, including one that concerns San Diego’s early history–particularly the 1820s to 1840s, when Fur Trade goods were sold to merchant ships that traveled around Cape Horn. Back then a wandering trapper would occasionally come into Old Town. Click those photos and they’ll enlarge for easy reading!

If you’ve never been to a mountain man rendezvous, make sure to put the Manzanita High Mountain Rendezvous on your calendar for next year. Kids absolutely love it.

This fantastic event is open to the general public and admission is free!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!