Earthsea — Dragons and Wizards

The Wizard of Earthsea, Book 1 of the Earthsea series, Inked illustration by Charles Vess, (color added by Carto for this review)

Sheltering at home gives me extra time for reading— I read in English some books I first read while studying Spanish: 100 Years of Solitude, Love in the time of Cholera, Death in the Andes, etc.  Now, I’m turning to other classics: Doris Lessing’s Golden Notebook, and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; maybe I’ll add Harry Potter, volume 6 and 7, to the list, but now let’s talk about Earthsea.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s young adult series— Earthsea. The 50th anniversary edition is a mammoth, 1000 page compendium of all things Earthsea. It is complete and illustrated, but heavy. It’s beautifully printed, and, as a plus, there is an enlightening afterword following each of the 6 books. The color illustrations are fun and match the story line, but are a little flat (I think they could have been brightened), and the ink drawings are Ok but one could hope for color nowadays.

Earthsea, Tehanu, frontpiece, p395, Illustration by Charles Vess, (detail w/ embellishments by Carto)

The Earthsea series tells the epic tale of how a truce between dragons and men was accidentally broken by a young boy with magical powers who unleashed a dangerous menace. The  boy becomes a magician and tries to correct his youthful mistake by sailing to the very limits of the archipelago. The story is about wizards and dragons, but along the way we learn about the ordinary folks living in the mythical lands of Earthsea. There are no wars or epic battles in the series, but tension builds as magic disrupts the uneasy truce between dragons and men.

The author has definite views about dragons; in the Afterward of the third book of the series she says:

“In The Farthest Shore I began to see them clearly. … The dragons are, perhaps above all, beautiful. As tigers are beautiful. Could anyone regret having seen a tiger? Unless, of course, they had a little while to regret it while the tiger ate them. 

“The dragons are beautiful, and also mortal, as tigers are. Long lived, but not indestructible. Terrible, but not monstrous. Fierce, fiery, careless of human life, sometimes careless of their own lives. Destructive when angry, very much to be feared, and untameably wild. Mysterious, as all great wild creatures are mysterious.  But not incomprehensible. Speech is natural to them, inborn, they don’t have to learn it as we do. Their language is the only one they will speak, is the tongue that wizards must learn, the tongue that works magic, the True Speech, the language of the Making.” 

— Ursula K. Le Guin in Earthsea, The Farthest Shore, Afterword, page 388.

Happy Reading, Carto

The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition (Earthsea Cycle) Hardcover – Illustrated, October 30, 2018
by Ursula K. Le Guin (Author), Charles Vess (Illustrator)

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Flowers on Note Cards

This year I decided to create a set of Note Cards. I printed sample cards on both Bay Photo and Snapfish and found that service was quicker on Snapfish. The 4-color printing on Bay was exceptional, but the extra expense didn’t seem worth while for note cards. The six cards I finished are shown above and in the gallery below.

The photos were taken in my garden and neighborhood, and mostly with an iPhone 7plus. The post-processing was primarily in Photoshop CC, but some editing, touchup, and background processing was done in Corel Painter 2020. I pushed the color and contrast to make the cards stand out. Hope I didn’t push to far!

The Snapfish True Digital 4×5.3 formatted cards cost about $30 for a dozen cards w/ envelops, delivery in about 10 days. I was happy with the quality.

Cheers, Carto

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An Exhibition of Paintings by Monet

Rain in May, San Francisco, 2019

Imagine a rainy day in San Francisco in May— What better to do than visit the de Young Museum, have lunch in the cafeteria and linger to see the blockbuster exhibition: Monet: the Late Years.

From the catalog of the exhibition:

Through 52 paintings, the exhibition will trace the evolution of Monet’s practice from 1913, when he embarked on a reinvention of his painting style that led to increasingly bold and abstract works, up to his death in 1926. Assembled from major public and private collections in Europe, the United States, and Asia, including holdings from the Kimbell Art Museum and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Monet: The Late Years will include more than twenty examples of Monet’s beloved water-lily paintings.

Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Here are some shots taken during that rainy Saturday in the closing days of the exhibition. (Click on any photo to start the slide show.)

Cheers, Carto

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Twisted — An Arizona garden in California


Cactii twist toward the Sun, Arizona Garden, Stanford University, 2018

The restored Cactus Garden at Stanford is in full bloom this year. The twisted plants thrive in the new warmer California climate. (Click on any image below to view in full screen.)

The garden is open to visitors every day of the year:


The ga was first planted between 1880 and 1883 for Jane and Leland Stanford to a design by landscape architect Rudolph Ulrich. It was planned to be adjacent to their new residence, and part of the larger gardens for the Stanford estate. However, the home was never built. The garden was regularly maintained until the 1920s after which it fell into great disrepair. Volunteer restoration work began in 1997 and is ongoing. Notwithstanding decades of neglect, some of the original plants remain.
Wiki: Arizona Cactus Garden, Stanford University

Cheers, Carto

Check out the twists of bloggers trying to me the Weekly Photo Challenge — Twisted.

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The Thinker Waits


Thinker and guard face the South entrance to the Museum.

One of my favorite places to visit and take photos is the Cantor Art Center, home of the Rodin collection.

Lets walk around the museum:

Cheers, Carto

Check out other WordPress bloggers favorite places, here.

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Weathered — Church Bells in the Tower


Weathered Bronze Bell; Nuestra Señora del Valle, Catamarca, Argentina

Nothing weathers quite like bronze, and bronze church bells are no exception. This bell, exposed to the elements since installed in the 19th century, is lovely in it’s rich patina. But, if you want to see it you must climb to the bell tower. Take the guide with you and don’t fall.

These photos were taken on a textile tour to Argentina’s Catamarca province. The bells are in the Catedral Basilica del Santisimo Sacramento de Nuestra Señora del Valle in San Fernando del Valle in Catamarca, capital of the province of Catamarca, Argentina. It dates from 1869.

Cheers, Carto

Lots of weathering is being shown on the WordPress Daily Post, here.

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Favorites 2017 — Transition to Winter


Transition to Winter, 2017

First, here is a photo of our flowering cherry as it transitions to winter dormancy.


Winter Visitor, 2017

The second photo is the silhouette of a sparrow that is wintering in the brush at Windy Hill Preserve.

Cheers and Happy Holidays, Carto

Follow this link, favorites, to see WordPress Blogger’s favorites for 2017.

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Transformation — Land’s End turns chilly


Watching the waves on the old seawall of Sutro’s Bath

It’s always a pleasure to visit Land’s End where San Francisco meets the Pacific, but you never know what weather you will find. In these shots we see Summer turning to Fall when the haze and fog fill the air, and it was chilly.

Cheers and happy Thanksgiving.


Follow this link, transformation, for bloggers responses to the Weekly Photo Challenge.

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Peek — Halloween in Palo Alto


Traffic Cone – Halloween in Palo Alto

Take a peek at this figure hiding behind a traffic cone. What’s going on?

It’s all a part of Halloween in Palo Alto — four blocks were closed to traffic and most of the home owners prepared special effects (one home had a haunted house, another a rock band, yet another was showing movies), and all were passing out candy.

Here is a gallery of iPhone snapshots taken during the festivity.

This is how to celebrate a family event. We had a great time.

Cheers, Carto

Take a peek at the other entries in this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: Peek.

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Stanford at Night


Hoover Tower from the roof garden of the McMurtry Building, 2017

I’m taking a short course in the History of Photography at the new McMurtry Building adjacent to the Cantor Center for the Arts. The class is held in a projection room that is just off the 3rd floor roof garden. The above shot was taken after class — the Hoover Tower beacon is reflecting from the smoky sky from the brush fires burning North of San Francisco.


Sunset from McMurtry Art and Architecture Building, 2017

Ten minutes late because of traffic, I caught the end of a smoky sunset. Below, the nearly empty art and architecture library is a quiet place to study in the evening.



Art and Architecture Library (2nd floor) and Art Studio (1st floor), McMurtry, 2017

Hand held photos, processed in Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop and Aurora HDR, please click on any photo to enlarge.

Cheers, Carto

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