Last week, I shared some photos from a recent tour my husband and I took of the property owned by internationally renowned artist, James Hubbell.
When I booked the tour, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was confident there would be a lot to see and tons of photo opportunities. At the end of our 1 ½ hour tour, we were happily tired, and I had taken over 100 images.
Since I wrote a bit about the compound’s history in last week’s Thursday Doors post, I’ll skip right to sharing more of the marvelous doors, windows, and art that we saw.
I hope you enjoyed the tour. If you’d like to learn more about the artist and his amazing property, visit ilanlaelfoundation.org.
Dan Antion hosts door lovers every Thursday on his blog, No Facilities. Check out this week’s Thursday Doors submissions from around the world.
Several weeks ago, I saw an announcement about upcoming tours of a local artist’s compound. After closing the property to outsiders for two years due to Covid, they were once again opening it up to a limited number of visitors. In the past when I had read about these tours, I was interested but, for whatever reason, hadn’t gone. There was always an excuse, however, if I’m being completely honest, it boiled down to “Maybe I’ll go next year.”
If Covid has taught us anything, it is that “next year” isn’t guaranteed, and that things can change seemingly overnight. Even though this is true for everyone, at every age, it is especially true for those of us with more years behind us than in front of us. With this in mind – and not wanting to risk my inner procrastinator taking over – I went straight to my computer to reserve two tickets. I am so glad I did.
The compound, designed and built by James Hubbell, sits on a 40-acre ranch near the mountain town of Julian, California. An internationally renowned artist, poet, and architectural designer, Hubbell is widely known for his organic-style buildings which are works of art. His hand-crafted doors, stained glass windows, gates, and sculptures using wood, stone, metal, glass, and clay can be found throughout the property. Although most of the structures were built in the 1950s and 60s, several had to be rebuilt when a wildfire raced through the area in 2003. Now in his 90s, Hubbell no longer lives on the property, but his sons and the foundation he created, carry on his vision and his legacy.
Here are a few of the fabulous doors and windows I saw during the hour-long tour. I will share more next week.
I hope you enjoyed this peek at James Hubbell’s compound. Please come back next Thursday to see more of this incredible artist’s work. In the meantime, check out Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors post and see the doors that others have shared.
This short story was written for Dan Antion’s (No Facilities) Thursday Doors Writing Challenge. It was inspired by a painted door I saw at a local artists’ village. A little warning, this story is a bit darker than the other ones I’ve shared.
Under the Rainbow
Dorothy shifted uncomfortably in her hard plastic chair. The air in the room was stale, smelling of early morning coffee breath. She looked down at her watch and was irritated to find that she still had 15 minutes left of this slow death.
Edmond, the insufferable little English prig was droning on and on about his brother and sisters, a closet (or, as he called it, a “wardrobe”), and some people who were turned into stone. We all have problems, Dorothy thought, why should I care about yours? She was about to fake a heart attack just to get out of there when Edmond said something about a lion and a witch. What the heck? Had he been there too?
When the group leader ended the session with his usual feel good, namaste BS, Dorothy made a beeline for the door. As soon as she stepped outside, she lit her fourth cigarette of the day and inhaled the fumes as if they gave her life. Scanning her surroundings, she felt as flat, dusty, and depressed as the landscape. “I flipping hate Kansas” she mumbled under her breath.
“What’s that?” Damn, it was that new girl. Pretty, blonde, and another English accent. “What did you think of the session?” Miss Priss asked smiling.
“I’ve been coming for three years and still haven’t gotten anything out of it,” Dorothy answered, hoping to cut the conversation short.
“Alice, my name is Alice,” Miss Priss said, extending her hand. “I feel like I’ve been chasing down rabbit holes my whole life and would really like to stop. I hope these meetings can fix me.”
“All of us are here for the same thing but I’m starting to wonder why we would want to leave those other worlds and exist permanently in this one,” Dorothy replied. “They might have contained dark magic and evil forces, but at least they were interesting.”
“You’re right,” Alice replied. “It wasn’t all Red Queens and madness. I had some opportunities for personal growth too.”
“Well, good luck,” Dorothy offered as she stubbed out her cigarette on the side of the building. “I hope you find what you need. I think this will be the last Rentering Reality support group I’ll attend.” Dorothy walked away without a backward glance.
As she headed home, she thought about her sad, miserable life and how everyone she loved was now gone. First, Auntie Em wasted away from cancer, then Uncle Henry drowned in bottles of cheap gin. Toto One—her only witness to her adventure—was dead. Even Toto Two had the good sense to run away and never come back. Why bother sticking around this god-forsaken place? she asked herself. Why exist in a black and white world when you can live in color?
Approaching her house, Dorothy fully grasped the property’s decay for the first time. The garden, once Auntie Em’s pride and joy, was covered in weeds. The barn and livestock pens—where the terrifying pigs had been kept—were almost as flattened as the Kansas topography. Her house was headed in that direction too; missing roof shingles, rotted siding, and dangerously uneven front steps. The sudden wash of guilt Dorothy felt nearly brought her to her knees.
Once inside, Dorothy knew exactly what she needed to do. Before she could change her mind, she headed for the cellar. As she descended the steps into darkness, she could see a faint red glow in the corner.
The ruby slippers were waiting for her, just as they had been for many years. Dorothy carefully put them on, not surprised at all that they fit perfectly, despite her shoe size changing over time. Looking down at her feet, Dorothy started to click her heels together: one… two… three…
“There’s no place like Oz, there’s no place like Oz, there’s no place like Oz.”
One of my favorite times to scroll through the photos on my phone is at the end of each year. I find that it’s a great way to remind myself of things that I’ve done, the fun I’ve had, and what I’ve accomplished (and, if taking a lot of pictures is an accomplishment, I’m a rockstar) over the past year.
For this week’s Sunday Stills theme, Rear-View Mirror, I chose one picture from each month in 2021 to remember what brought me joy – and there was a lot – during this very strange year.
Our first vaccinations! It felt monumental… like we were really, really going to beat this thing.
Despite some activities being curtailed, we still enjoyed getting out to explore our beautiful city.
Less actual grocery shopping and more experimentation with kit meals shipped to our home.
Good times and interesting conversations when friends Kathy (SMART Living 365) and her husband Thom came for a visit.
Our blueberries begin to ripen.
More good times and interesting conversations when we visited Kathy and Thom at their mountain get-a-way.
Sunflowers and bees with pollen booties… is there anything better?
We crossed the Canadian border the first day it opened. A month of blogger buddy meet-ups, hiking, and experiencing the beauty of Vancouver Island commenced.
After our stay on the Island, we ferried over to the city of Vancouver for more exploration and fun.
Our local Dia de los Muertos celebration. Maybe not as elaborate as in Oaxaca, but very colorful and no plane trip required.
The picture in the Airbnb ad was the first thing that caught his attention. While most hosts feature the home they have for rent, this ad only pictured a dry desert landscape. Perfect, Greg thought. As he scrolled through the reviews, he become even more intrigued. Many were in a language he didn’t recognize but the reviews in English were positive. “This place is out of the world!” one gushed. “You’ll never want to leave!” said another. The review that finally convinced Greg to book the house read, “If you are looking for an environment that is both peaceful and life-changing, this is it.”
There had been little peace in Greg’s life since he and Lydia had broken up three weeks prior. After four years of living together, she told him it was over. No yelling, no tears: just, “I don’t love you anymore and you have to leave.” Even as Greg felt his heart being squeezed between her well-manicured fingers, he couldn’t help admiring her calm composure. Lydia dumped him as if he was one of her underperforming employees.
There was no question about who got to stay in the apartment and who had to leave. Lydia’s name was on the rental agreement and, ever since he lost his job back in August, Greg hadn’t contributed to the rent.
As he gathered his things under her watchful eyes, he was shocked at how little he actually owned. The furniture, TV, and kitchen appliances were all hers. Everything he had thought of as “ours,” really belonged to Lydia. When he had taken what was his, the apartment looked the same, as if he had never been there.
Now that he was essentially homeless and had to rely on friends to put him up, Greg tried to convince himself that being able to travel light was a good thing. He only needed his beater car and a small backpack to carry his possessions from sofa to sofa. Even so, he couldn’t help but think a man his age should have more to show for himself.
Greg knew that he would have to find a job and more permanent housing soon – two things that weren’t easy to come by in the current economy. He also knew that he needed to have a clear idea of what he wanted his new, post-Lydia life to look like. As much as he appreciated his friends’ generosity, he had very little privacy and craved quiet and solitude so he could figure things out.
A few days in the high desert was just what he needed. While many people sought vacation rentals at the beach, Greg longed for the peace and quiet of the desert. He also knew that he could afford to rent a house there for a few days. Unlike at the coast, the prices in Morongo and Yucca Valley wouldn’t make too much of a dent in his meager savings. Ignoring Lydia’s voice in his head telling him how irresponsible he was being, Greg booked the desert house for a three-night stay.
As Greg drove out of town, the lush green lawns, imposing security gates, and faux lakes of Palm Springs started to give way to natural desert landscape without the injection of imported water. He could feel his shoulders relax more with each mile, and the pain of Lydia’s rejection began to ease. He knew that he was spending money that he should be saving, but he also knew what he was doing was the right thing for him.
A half-hour later, Greg’s GPS indicated that he was close to the address of the rental. He carefully followed the prompts up a narrow, dusty road, doing his best to avoid the large ruts on either side. When the GPS told him that he had arrived, Greg slowed to a crawl and started to look to his left and right. No house. Crap, Greg thought, I hope I haven’t been taken. Not willing to give up and hear the Lydia living in his head tell him what an idiot he was, he considered his next move. He remembered passing a small convenience store a few miles back. Maybe they knew something about the house or owner.
The bell over the door announced his arrival but the man behind the counter continued to stare at his phone. Greg picked up a bag of chips, hoping a purchase would help break the screen’s spell.
“Hi. I’m looking for a house up the road, but I can’t seem to find it,” Greg said as he slid the chips and a piece of paper with the handwritten address towards the clerk.
The clerk looked at the address and smirked. “Yeah, that’s the Martin place. It’s not visible from the road; you have to park and walk up the dirt path. Once you clear the hill, you’ll see it.”
Feeling much better, Greg thanked the man and paid for his chips. As he walked out of the store, the clerk called out, “Look for the blue door.”
Greg carefully retraced his route and, once again, found himself where the GPS insisted there was a house. He parked in a little dirt lot he hadn’t noticed the first time and looked around until he saw the path the clerk had mentioned. He opened the trunk to retrieve his backpack and, as he slung it over his shoulder, wondered again how he got to the point where most of his worldly possessions could fit in such a small bag.
The path leading up the hill was partially overgrown by shrubs and covered in loose rock and dust. When Greg reached the top, he looked around for the house. Still nothing. Then, over to the right, nestled among some trees, he saw a door. No house, just a door.
Greg walked over to get a closer look. The door was set inside a frame and stood straight up with no visible signs of support. The robin’s egg blue paint looked new, but the brass doorknob was tarnished and showed signs of wear. As he slowly circled around the frame, he could see that it was no thicker than a typical door that might be found in a normal home. But, there was nothing normal about it. At all. Feeling a little ridiculous, he cautiously knocked. When he heard footsteps approaching from the other side, his first instinct was to run.
Before Greg could turn away, the door was opened by a small man whose bald head barely reached the middle of Greg’s chest. Although the man’s unnaturally small mouth held no hint of a smile, his large eyes looked friendly.
“Are you Mr. Martin?” Greg asked cautiously. “I’m Greg Trent. I have reservations for your Airbnb.”
“Oh, yes! I have been expecting you. Come in.” The little man opened the door fully to reveal black and white tile covering the floor of what appeared to be a large room. Greg quickly stepped back from the door and looked behind it. Nothing. He looked inside the room again and saw that the space was so vast no walls were visible; he could only see the checkerboard floor stretching off into the distance.
Greg hesitated to step inside and tried to stall for time as his mind worked to find the logic of what he was seeing. “Um… my reservation is for three nights. What is the check-out time on Wednesday?” he asked, even though he knew the answer.
“Oh, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave,” the man replied.
As Greg drew a startled breath, Mr. Martin let out a laugh. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said, “I couldn’t resist. It just cracks me up to see people’s expressions when I say that. Check out time is 10 a.m.” Then, he added, “But, really, you may not want to leave. Many have chosen to stay. Let’s see how you feel on Wednesday.”
As the man spoke, Greg noticed a wave of peace flowing throughout his body and he realized that his stress from the last few weeks had disappeared. He had sudden clarity that there was nothing behind him to lose and endless possibilities ahead. He hitched up his backpack and, after taking one last look over his shoulder, crossed the door’s threshold and followed the odd little man towards wherever the black and white tiles led.
This story was written for Dan Antion’s (No Facilities) Thursday Doors Writing Challenge. The door that inspired my story can be found here.
I have had a photograph sitting in my archives for a few years, with vague plans to share it in some future Thursday Doors post. When I read that Dan Antion (No Facilities) had created a Writing Challenge based on door images, I figured this would be a good time.
Writing Challenge, you ask? Yes – Dan, the keeper of all things Thursday Doors, came up with the brilliant idea of having door photographers provide inspiration for writers.
I found this door about three years ago while on an artists’ studio tour in Southern California’s high desert, not too far from Joshua Tree National Park. It was on property owned by artist Snake Jagger, who often includes a door very much like this – standing slightly ajar, alone in the distance – in his whimsical surreal landscapes. I love that he built a three-dimensional door that looks just like the doors in his paintings. The structure is no deeper than a sheet of wood. The illusion of depth is created with perspective.
Please join in!
If you want to participate as a photographer: create your own Thursday Doors post and share your images. Be sure to link to Dan’s post.
If you want to participate as a writer: plan to post your door-inspired writing on your blog anytime between now and May 29th. (I’d be thrilled if you used my door as inspiration but, if space aliens or portals to other worlds aren’t your thing and you’d like to select another door, there will be plenty of others to choose from.) Include a link to Dan’s site and attribute the door image to the photographer.
If you want to participate both as a photographer and a writer: get busy!
Back in the day, when we could travel without worry, my husband and I spent part of our Christmas holiday in the beautiful city by the bay: San Francisco. One of our favorite things to do in San Francisco is to walk and, if you’ve been there you already know, that means hills… lots of hills. In fact, I read that San Francisco is considered the second hilliest city in the world, next to La Paz, Bolivia.
The wonderful thing about hills, besides the great cardio workout you get, are the views they often provide when you arrive at the top:
With its sweeping views, vibrant downtown, bustling waterfront, historical neighborhoods, and eclectic architecture, as long as you are in decent shape, the city is best observed on your feet (preferably shod in sturdy walking shoes). By walking rather than driving, you will also be better able to appreciate the Victorian beauties, especially when their doors are dressed up for the holidays. No blow-up plastic Santas here; the decorations are elegant and understated. It just takes a bit of bling to make a grand impression.
It has been a couple of years since we’ve been to San Francisco, but it’s a city that will always call us back. Even though we’ve been there many times, there is always more to see.
Thursday Doors is a weekly celebration of doors hosted by Dan Antion at No Facilities. Head on over to see his collection and to see what others have shared from around the world.
Wishing you and your family a safe and happy holiday and a wonderful year ahead!
The colonial era of Mexico, when it was known as La Nueva España or New Spain, stretched on for 300 years, from the 16th century into the 19th. During this period, the Spanish destroyed many of the original sacred temples and religious sites, replacing them with buildings that reflected the style of architecture found in Spain.
Examples of its colonial past can be found all over the city of Oaxaca. Many of these buildings have been restored and are still in use today, the churches providing daily services, and monasteries and mansions repurposed as museums, galleries, shops, and hotels. Sadly, other colonial buildings are crumbling, victims of time and neglect (not to mention several substantial earthquakes that have rattled the city over the years).
Grand buildings often have grand entrances. This week’s Thursday Doors post features some of the doors leading to Oaxaca’s colonial history.
Behind the doors of Iglesia de Santo Domingo, a wedding ceremony is just about to conclude. The performers are waiting for the doors to open so the celebration – often lasting well into the night, and even into the next day – can begin.
The Basilica de la Senora de Soledad – built between 1682 and 1690 – featured grand doors leading to other grand doors.
A side door of the Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco. I was tempted to remove the little white sign before I took this picture, but was afraid I’d be struck by lightning.
This church was rather simple compared to many of the huge stone churches in Oaxaca, but that’s probably why I liked it so much… that and its lovely iron gate.
The magnificent Teatro Macadonio Alcala hosts performances ranginging from operas to plays and classical concerts. My husband and I attended a performance of Madama Butterfly, which is set in Japan, live-streamed from the Met in New York, sung in Italian with Spanish subtitles. What a world.
Thursday Doorsis a link-up of fellow door aficionados generously hosted by Norm Frampton. Head over to his blog to view all the amazing doors he and others have posted.
Last week, I shared photos from our recent trip to Oaxaca, Mexico of doors that were bright and colorful. Although I am drawn to vibrant colors and bold contrasts, I also appreciate doors that aren’t quite so pristine. Some are fashioned from a hodgepodge of materials, some show the natural patina of time and weather, and some have been sealed off, no longer used for their original purpose. (I’m pretty sure an analogy can be made to our human aging process, but I won’t go there.)
Like so many gates and doors we saw in Oaxaca, I really wanted to see what was on the other side of these:
This next one is for Dan, who likes his Coronas served with a wedge of lime:
Although the actual door isn’t visible, I love the aging art that surrounds it:
Doors that no longer open:
Thursday Doors is a link-up of fellow door aficionados generously hosted by Norm Frampton. Head over to his blog to view all the amazing doors he and others have posted.
Just as it was two years ago when we first traveled to Oaxaca, a good number of the pictures I took on our recent trip were of the beautiful and varied doors we saw. Colorful doors that hint at equally artistic interiors; grand doors of churches and historic buildings; decaying doors that wear the patina of time; iron gates and open portals that invite you to step inside. The doors found in Mexico are rich in color, diversity, and history – just like the country itself.
The first set of doors were among the most colorful ones in my collection. Either the door itself was painted a vibrant hue, or it was surrounded by colorful frames and walls.
Thursday Doors is a link-up of fellow door aficionados generously hosted by Norm Frampton. Head over to his blog to view all the amazing doors he and others have posted.