Monday, November 9, 2015

"The Green Stick" by Reg van Cuylenburg

I remember meeting Reg van Cuylenburg in the 1970s in Ojai, California--he was the husband of my friend Margaret Dodd. I knew he was an artist, but I had no real idea about his origins and upbringing in early 20th century Ceylon. 

In this memoir, posthumously published by Margaret's Blue Palm Press, Reg presents a loving picture of his childhood--one that glows with fairytale light. The story is dominated by his grandfather, a true guardian angel; poetic descriptions of the historic family home in Kandy; and the rites of passage that marked his transition from young boy to young man. You will not soon forget the story of the thunderbox. 

The entire volume is illustrated with Reg's photographs of Ceylon's natural beauty, people, and places. I found The Green Stick to be a heartwarming and worthwhile read--a book I would highly recommend to anyone interested in an artfully told memoir and a glimpse of the Ceylon of yesteryear. Available at or directly from Blue Palm Press, PO Box 61255, Santa Barbara, CA 93160 (order form below)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hwy. 62 Open Studio Art Tours 2015

Rancho Mesa in Yucca Valley, California has become a neighborhood of artists, and we're happy to be part of it! Bill is showing his photographs at Studio 22 this Saturday and Sunday along with four other great artists--Kathi Klopfenstein (sculptural basketry), Paul Klopfenstein (gourd art), Nichole Vikdal (cystalline pottery) and Deane Locke (watercolors).

Above: "Council of Rocks," copyright 2015 Bill Dahl. This image is part of a new series of photos on exhibit for the first time at the tours this year, taken along Barker Dam Trail in Joshua Tree National Park. The entire series, "Mythic Rockscapes," also appears in a new book of ours by that title--each image is accompanied by a poem.

All our books are available at Studio 22--plus free bookmarks and micro-chapbooks.The books can also be found locally at Rainbow Stew and The Raven Bookshop, and online at

Bill Dahl with part of his photo display at Studio 22--enjoying his best year yet!

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year's Greeting from Margaret Kay Dodd

Photograph by Margaret Kay Dodd, from Expedition Silk Road,
The Hermitage, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, September 2014

“His people tell of a young Bushman who came upon a rock
pool in the desert. Kneeling to drink, he saw reflected in the
pool a red bird more brilliant than anything he had ever seen
on earth. Determined to hold it in his hand, he sprang up
with his bow, but there was no sign of the red bird in the sere
desert sky. Wandering from place to place, inquiring after the
vanished bird, he strayed farther and farther from his homeland.
Days gathered into months and years, and in this way,
without ever having found what he was seeking, be became
old. He had hunted the land over, and talked to the few who
might have glimpsed the bird as well as the many who had
not, and still his heart could not give up the search. At last,
on the point of turning home, he heard that the red bird had
been seen from the peak of the north mountain, and he took
up his bow and resumed his journey one more time. The
mountain was far away across a desert, and when he reached
the foothills the old hunter was mortally tired. With the end
of his strength, he climbed and climbed into the sky, and
on the peak he lay down upon his back, for he was dying.
One last time he gazed into the distances, hoping to glimpse
the splendid thing in the mountain sky. But the sky was empty,
and he sighed and closed his eyes, wondering if his life had
been in vain, and died with the sun upon his eyelids and a
vision of the bird as he had seen it long ago, reflected in the
bright pool of his childhood. And as he died, a feather of a
burning red drifted down from the great sky, 
coming to rest in his still hand."

Adapted by Peter Matthiessen from Colin Turnbull,
Tradition and Change in African Life, Avon, 1966

Many thanks to my friend, Margaret Kay Dodd, for sending the above new year's greeting and giving 
me permission to post the image along with the poem. Margaret is a photographer, publisher, 
and graphic designer who divides her time between Santa Barbara and the Netherlands.
May we all find peace within. Happy New Year to all! 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hwy. 62 Open Studio Art Tours--Visit Studio 31, Rancho Mesa Artists

The biggest art event of the year starts next weekend in the Morongo Basin--the Hwy. 62 Open Studio Art Tours. This year 10 artists in our neighborhood have banded together as the Rancho Mesa Artists. These artists are showing at 5 different studios within a few blocks of each other. Come on up Hwy. 247 and check it out!

Like last year, Bill is showing with artists Kathi Klopfenstein (sculptural basketry), Paul Klopfenstein (gourd art), and Deane Locke (painting). Their studio is #31 and they are open both weekends--Oct. 25-26 and Nov. 1-2 from 9-5 pm. Along with the art, there's live music every day plus plenty of free food and drinks. And, on Friday, Oct. 24 from 5-7 pm, there's a sneak preview.

Bill will be selling a wide selection of framed and unframed (matted) photographs in various sizes, as well as greeting cards. Above: Ryan Ranch, 2013.

Our books will also be available, including the newest, just-released Desert Dweller...which has a cropped version of the Ryan Ranch photo on the cover, as well as many more photos by Bill inside. (Also, wildlife photographer Julianne Koza's image of our desert white raven). LOTS of poetry, too--our longest book yet!

For more information, and to view or download the studio tours catalog, visit See you there!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Desert Dweller by Cynthia Anderson

My new book of poems, Desert Dweller, is now out--available on (where you can preview the book by clicking the Blurb icon on this blog's sidebar),, and locally at Rainbow Stew (as well as directly from me for $15 plus $4 shipping and handling--just send an email through my website,

The cover photo is "Ryan Ranch" by Bill--there are more photos by Bill inside, and also Julianne Koza's photo of our rare local white raven.

Thanks to Steve Brown at The Sun Runner Magazine for reviewing the book in the current Desert Writers issue. He says, "If you love the desert, you will love this book."

Here's what the back cover blurbs have to say.

Cynthia Anderson’s Desert Dweller is spare and unsparing, a desiccated cholla lattice framed by an eternal sky, poetry on the edge of the ineffable. Anderson provides keen observations and a sense of solitary wonder – a trickster coyote’s unheralded death, a woman’s walk at daybreak, the last camel spotted in the wild, stones left on a miner’s grave. I love this collection of poetry and the desert it presents.
– Greg Gilbert, Trustee and Professor Emeritus, Copper Mountain College

Anderson’s language is as stark and spellbound as her subject, rising from the land itself, its alchemy of silence and time, from arias of beauty and melancholy the wind sings. Walk with her through arroyos and canyons, through quicksilver light out past the creosote and lava flows—let her show you how to know the desert with new senses. Desert Dweller is radiant, alive, waiting…
– Marsha de la O, author of Black Hope

Desert Dweller wounds your heart with an animal darkness and heals it with the Mojave sunrise. Her poems are the real deal, an authentic voice exploring and mapping territory where “if you want to be baptized / in the place of no water / humans are not the center.” The poetic intelligence on these pages moves gracefully between human mind and natural world, carrying feathers and songs, dancing with fear and joy. I urge anyone who loves poetry of place to read and learn in Anderson's spirit-bird language how “the desert rests on giants / whose bones hold up the earth.”
– Michael Dwayne Smith, publisher/editor of Mojave River Press & Review

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rainbow Falls

Nine years ago, we took the shuttle from Mammoth to Devil's Postpile. We didn't go on to Rainbow Falls, though. This time, we hesitated. Would it be worth it? Would there be enough water in the falls? Would we see the rainbow? Yes, yes, and yes!

We got off at Stop 9 on the shuttle and hiked about 1.2 miles to the falls. (This is the shortest hike to get there--the hike from Devil's Postpile is much longer.) Everything we read said to show up around midday to see the rainbow. That's what we did, and we found that the rainbow effect started around 12:15. At first, the rainbow wasn't in the waterfall itself, but across the pool--see above.

Over the next hour, the rainbow moved steadily into the falls and then higher within the falls. It's faint, but you can see the rainbow across the falls in the picture above. When we were there, the best vantage point was from the first overlook. We tried the middle overlook, too, which wasn't as good. We didn't try the lowest viewpoint--the base of the falls--as getting there involved negotiating a steep and long stone staircase.

The chipmunks have this place wired. They're fat and sassy, stuffing themselves with trail mix. They eat the nuts first and leave the raisins til last. (We didn't feed them, but many others did.)

We heard from several people about how the water level was much lower than a normal water year. But you have to remember, we live in the desert. This is the most water we've seen in forever. It was totally worth it, even the hike back (which was uphill, in full sun--whew)!

Eating and Staying in Bridgeport, California

This trip was the first time we have ever visited or stayed in Bridgeport. It turned out to be a positive experience. Bridgeport is tiny, quaint, and old-fashioned, not to mention convenient to both Bodie and Mono Lake. We stayed at Walker River Lodge, which had everything we needed--the Jacuzzi came in handy after our days of too much hiking. Above: the town's main landmark, the Mono County Courthouse, ca. 1881.

The town is just a few blocks long, but there are a few good places to eat. We had a delicious dinner at the Bridgeport Inn--pot roast for Bill, salmon for me (with a side of blended couscous/ quinoa--unexpected and very good). It was a Friday night, and the place was packed with locals.

The "Most Fun" eating award goes to J's on the Corner, home of the Kaiser Soze sandwich: pastrami, grilled onion, peperoncini, bacon, pepper jack cheese, spicy mustard, and BBQ sauce. On a Kaiser roll, of course. Bill loved it! I wonder if Kevin Spacey has ever had one. (I had the grilled chicken sandwich, delicious but ordinary in comparison...)

After we checked out, we decided to take a drive up to Twin Lakes, past all the Harris Ranch beef cows, looking happy and lolling about in the grassy pastures. The first lake was our favorite--less crowded--there's a resort at the second lake. My camera was acting up, but this photo of the first lake gives you the idea. Quiet and peaceful, clear water, tall Jeffrey pines. Would we go back? Yes we would!