Offerings

The offerings are the woman’s domain‚ÄĒas stated to me several times by balinese men and women. Below, you see the grandmother and another woman beginning preparation of the morning offerings¬†at my week-long homestay called Nirvana Pension in Ubud.
(Please excuse the crappy photos. My camera lens stopped working and I’m now limited to my iPhone camera. Plus for some reason, these photos aren’t enlarging).

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At Nirvana Pension, they create something like 93 offerings each morning. The volume of offerings is dependent on the number of areas you are protecting or giving thanks. A basic location would be the entrance to your home. If you have a business, you would also put one there. If you have a car, a bike, a motorcycle, a home office, you will want to create offerings to place in or on each of these things. I can’t say I ever saw an offering on a motorcycle, but there was a fresh offering on the right-hand side of the dashboard of every taxi I’ve ridden in.¬†(Here, see the reflection in the window on the right near the driver).

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Here is an example of an entrance offering. This particular day, a coconut husk was being burned along with the offering and incense.

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To create the offerings, coconut leaves are fashioned into boxes or flower-shaped containers. I’ve seen some people use staples, and others use small toothpick pieces to hold the edges together. The boxes then hold bits of various things… petals, grass, perhaps whole flowers, and sometimes I’ve seen dollops of rice and even small baggies of what looks like coffee (as a liquid, not as grounds) placed on top. Leaves may be spliced and twirled into various shapes to decorate the finished piece.

When the offering is placed, I’ve seen some people dip a flower that looks like a cosmos or daisy into a bowl and then flick the water in the direction of the offering. I was told that they must get the water, which has been blessed, from their priest.

Most of the places I’ve stayed, I’ve had offerings placed for me at my entrance (I’m in a regular hotel now – so no offering). In this photo, that is my door in the background, and this little checkered, decorated tower seemed to be assigned to both my bungalow, and the one across from me. It received a new offering every day.

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Here are examples of some of the offerings I’ve seen. Old ones aren’t necessarily discarded so they seem to pile up at times.¬†

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These can be found all up and down the street in front of houses, on the sidewalks in front of businesses, and anywhere someone felt it was appropriate to place an offering. Given the narrow sidewalks and their location underfoot, it is quite common to see where someone has accidentally stepped on one (or several). As one balinese woman said

“No problem! The prayer is made when the offering is placed; then it is done. What happens after that is of no consequence.”

These offerings are on the ledge just prior to crossing a bridge.

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This woman, below, is presenting offerings at the morning market. I asked our guide about this as it was my assumption that someone was taking responsibility for making offerings in lieu of others because it seemed like the place would overflow with offerings given how many stalls were there. I was told that EVERY business in that marketplace would make an offering if they worked there. There was one other location we passed that was more near the entrance.

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Offerings have created a small industry. Here you see people providing bulk product for offerings (leaves, petals, flowers, small food items) or,  you can buy the entire offering as a done deal. Our guide said this would be a last resort as one would feel guilty if they relied on pre-made offerings too frequently.

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The women here carry things on their heads and they’re extremely skilled at it. I’ve seen the most lopsided things perched on heads that somehow are carried hands-free. These photos show women carrying offerings for ceremonies. The first and third photos are examples of offering boxes which are sold in all kinds of markets here.

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Although these are not offerings, I love how the practice of the offering seems to spill over into a different type of awareness. Intentionally placed flowers, or even bits of colorful petals enliven a tiny location that would otherwise go unnoticed. Here are some examples:

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Artistically, I love what the offerings bring to a space: little touches of color,
the smell of incense, and you know someone offered a prayer of thanks.

Thanks for following ūüôā

Quick Post: Bali Life

The internet has been very temperamental where I’m staying recently. Since I’m not sure when it will recover, I’ve wandered down the road to the hotel where I’ve taken cooking classes the last 2 days. For the sake of a quick post I’ve chosen some photos that highlight what seems to be ‘normal’ Balinese life.

Motorcycles are the major mode of transportation here. The unique aspects are:
1 – without helmets is the norm
2 – more than 2 people isn’t unreasonable. If you’re a woman, you commonly ride side-saddle
3 – if you can strap it on¬†the motorcycle or someone can carry it,¬†it’s fair game to transport.

I didn’t manage to get a lot of photos with children, but it’s very common to see. If they’re small they’re probably squished in between the mother & father. The day I shot a lot of these was a ceremonial day so a number of riders are dressed up in traditional clothing. Some of the women are carrying offering boxes. If you look in the 2nd photo, the woman in the gold shirt and red cumberbund has a little leg hanging behind her on the left: child sandwiched in the middle. In the last photo, you can see a man with a child coming toward the viewer on the right.

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Below are a bunch of photos of rooters under baskets. This caught my eye because we have a chicken issue in Key West and all I could think when I saw these was, “Is it really that easy to get a chicken under a basket?” In Key West, people pay a “chicken man” $20 per chicken. He sets traps that may, or may not catch chickens.

A little more inquiry was needed to understand the situation‚ÄĒalthough I think chickens may still be able to be captured under baskets.

These aren’t just any old chickens getting basket for cages … they’re fighting roosters, specifically for cock fighting. I can now verify that every ‘chicken’ under a basket has been a rooster. According to the Balinese driver that filled me in on the custom, putting the rooster under a basket helps the rooster to conserve energy and it also calms them. They become passive and more like a pet so the owner can handle them. Cock fighting is not actually a sport that is supported in Bali but for certain ceremonial situations, the offering of blood is necessary. The Balinese allow cock fighting for these particular ceremonies but the ‘fight to the finish’ process is sped up by attaching knives (somehow) to the roosters’ spurs. This is viewed as a compassionate custom as the fight could be long and drawn out were the knives not utilized.

The Balinese driver did admit that cock fighting as a sport is actually alive and well.

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Finally, taking off one’s shoes before entering a home, or almost any establishment (except for most restaurants) really is a normal tradition here. The following photos are taken:
1) Outside of a store along a main street in Ubud. The balinese let tourists leave their shoes on, but the Balinese take their shoes off while working in the store and even when they’re working at a hotel’s reception desk.
2) At Sari Organic, a restaurant situated out in the rice fields just outside of Ubud. Everyone removed their shoes prior to entering the restaurant. By the way, this place had excellent food!
3) Outside a childrens’ school.

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Hope to get my internet back soon. Thanks for following!

Gaya Ceramic & Design

Gaya Ceramics (www.gayaceramic.com) can’t really¬†be summed up as a ceramic ware company. Their booklet explains that it is part of a larger organization called the Gaya Fusion Group. Located west of Ubud, it could be described as a small campus. I thought the interior of their factory space was quite interesting with it’s tented roof.

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Here are two workers in the factory. The words of the day are patience, and steady hands. The person working on the sea urchin vessel is poking tiny holes into the small bumps on the surface. A live sea urchin would have had spines, and these are lost once the urchin dies. This replication of the detail made for a very realistic urchin skeleton (I think called the test?) The person on the right has the small cup lightly affixed to a turn table and it is rotating at a steady speed. The worker loads their brush with glaze, then carefully positions their hand to touch the edge of the cup at one point. As the cup turns, the entire rim is coated delicately and evenly‚ÄĒone hopes!

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Across the road was a workshop where people could take classes, see demonstrations, have access to studio time, and even take a 3, 5, or 7-day retreat that blended yoga, meditation, journaling, and chanting with the goal of creating a deeper interaction with clay. (For anyone interested, please see http://www.fivelements.org) The third image below that shows the ceiling & loft area of the workshop was intended to show you the elaborate detail that is surrounding the loft ceiling area. However, it was carved detail, not painted, so it doesn’t really show up here.

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A short drive down the road brought us to this temple looking structure. The top part is an open air restaurant. On the right is a small coffee shop that sells baked items like biscotti, and they also had some amazing gelato. Everything I’ve had here in Bali has been so incredibly fresh and the gelato was the best I’ve tasted. My choice? The pistachio gelato… and it was not green.

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This pendant light fixture hung throughout the restaurant. I had seen something similar at the factory, coils stacked and holes punched in the sides. Marilyn and I both had been trying to figure out what that could possibly be once assembled. And here it was! The coffee shop also carried some of their ceramic ware like these bowls and the cupcake foils (which are actually ceramic).

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I don’t want to definitively say Gaya makes these table & chairs, but there were 4 or 5 sets in front of their coffee shop and I loved them! The seats are a simplified version of the chinese garden stool, complete with carrying handles. Smart.

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These last two items are for fun. The chicken chair was one of the dining chairs in the restaurant, and these op-art chairs were in a seating area.

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Thanks for hangin’ in there! Still more to come…

Artisan Tour: artiles & Seni-Man

I should have taken a good photo of my tour guide, Marilyn, but I completely spaced it. She appears in one or two shots in my tour so that will have to suffice. She arranged this custom tour of artisans for me, picked me up at my hotel in an air conditioned car with a driver, and entertained me with varied stories the entire day. Should anyone else be interested in creating their own tour‚ÄĒwhether for silver jewelry, art, clothes shopping, import/export or whatever you can dream up‚ÄĒMarilyn is the person to contact. She knows these artisans personally and chatted with all of them about their families and lives as we got the behind the scenes tour of their particular industries. ¬†You can find Marilyn at http://www.retailtherapybali.com

Before leaving Sanur, we headed to the showroom for artiles where we met with artist Philip Lakeman. His showroom featured some super interesting tile I would sum up as ‘textural’. The tile would¬†offer fantastic options for creating a wall that is like 3D artwork. I particularly liked his use of soft, low-contrast tones.

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He also took us to his office where showed us the toys he promotes through his name Seni-Man (Seni means ‘art’, I believe). ¬†Here you see Marilyn, my personal guide for artisans in Bali, and Philip, with some of the small brightly colored toy statues he creates. Multi-colored buddhas, pigs and elephants sat on top of the boxes with his Seni-Man logo.¬†http://www.seni-man.com/index.php

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These vase-like sculptures were quite tall, maybe 3 feet?

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Another example of his creativity overflows into what seemed to simply be their break room. That countertop is all one piece, not separate tiles (there is a single grout line between the sink and full length of the counter). For those of us who have had tiled countertops and cursed the grout lines and tile edges, Philip makes a single, smooth surface dream into a reality by create one super-sized painted tile! This style isn’t for purchase, but if you are a tile maker and have the means to create a painted ceramic surface counter, why not!?!

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This last image made me realize just how small the world can be. Philip showed me published photos of one of his previous homes in Bali. As soon as he opened to this page I said “I know this place!” I had one of the same coffee table books on Bali homes and this one I remembered because of it’s distinctive entrance. In this thumbnail image it may look like a fireplace, but if you enlarge this, you see this is the doorway to a home. The entire entrance is surrounded with a verdi-gris tile, designed by Philip.

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There is more to the tour‚ÄĒstay tuned.

 

Wrapping up Sanur

I left Sanur 3 days ago, but I must still show you the cute little hotel where I stayed. It scored really high in TripAdvisor much to the frustration of some Australians I spoke with who wished it were still their secret little find.

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Above, you’ll see two signs: Flashbacks and The Porch. Flashbacks is the hotel; The Porch is the restaurant that occupies the front of the hotel (owned by the hotel). The owner showed up numerous times to eat there himself during my two-day stay. They had GREAT food, and even made fresh fruit and vegetables juices. Lunch my first day was this fresh watermelon juice. Another morning I had fresh pineapple & orange.

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This little dude was so peaceful looking, he set the perfect tone for walking back toward your bungalow.

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I loved this happy looking little green man. I put a flower on his belly before I left.

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This was the perfect dipping pool. It was salt water, not chlorinated. I tried doing laps – you can only do maybe 3 strokes and you’re across. But it was great for cooling off, watching the birds hide in the thatched roofs or watching the butterflies that always seemed to be fluttering around.

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This 2-story was two separate bungalows (bigger than what I stayed in). The upstairs has an enclosed area for sleeping but the living and dining areas are completely open.

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This cheery yellow offering totem with an umbrella seemed to be the protector of my bungalow and the one across from me. Fresh offerings were put in daily.

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My door is showing (above), and here is a clearer shot, Bungalow #2.

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And finally, my little private sitting area. So cute!

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Next up… the artisan tour on my way to Ubud. I expect to post that very soon ūüôā

Sunrise: Sanur, Bali

Where’s Jody?

I always like to understand where I am, so I assume you do too? I still don’t know how to make photos come in larger. Please click this to see it full size.

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What I learned.

I thought I’d let you join in the craziness of the indonesian rupiah (IDR). When I cash in $100, I am given back almost 1 MILLION rupiah. That translates as 10,000 IDR is about $1.00. This really messes with your mind for a while. You find yourself staring at a 5,000 IDR bill thinking it’s worth something, and it’s barely two quarters. So I took photos of a couple of the notes with the intent of using them in my blog for education.¬†When I tried to pull the photo into Photoshop, I was reprimanded by the software with this message:

This application does not support the editing of banknote images. For more information, select the information button below for Internet-based information on restrictions for copying and distributing banknote images or go to http://www.rulesforuse.org.

I won’t be showing you the notes. You’ll have to Google them yourself.

I Need My GPS

Thanks to a tip from a couple of ‘local’ australians in the restaurant the night before, I not only found out where the ocean was, but I found the fastest way there. Had I been left to my own devices I never would have made the trek to get a sunrise shot. My hotel is technically across the road from the beach, BUT, all the resort hotels on the beach side have property a good quarter-mile deep. So the trick is to figure out where you can get through so you don’t have to go clear to one end or the other where a street provides access. I was told to just cross the street, and then slightly to the right take the large driveway. Follow that to the beach and just act like I’m supposed to be there‚ÄĒ

So, the guys were right. It’s a big, wide driveway thing. The gate threw me off though and I hoped I wasn’t wandering somewhere I shouldn’t.

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Then came the green carpet. Kinda cool. But the paths kept getting smaller until I found myself in a maze of bungalows with tiny footpaths. Thank goodness ¬†a guy just ahead of me was walking like he was ‘supposed to be there’ too.

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He lead me right to the beach.

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I’ve zoomed in here so you can see two things: 1) Rinjani Volcano in the distance,which is actually on Lombok, the island to the east of Bali, and 2) the boiling water in the distance. I can only assume there is a big drop off there because the water’s surface is totally different compared to the foreground.

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A-ha! Those fireworks I heard last night? Now I know they came from waaaaay across the street.

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These boats were all over the beach. Later in the day I saw this red sail boat – love it with those men fishing in the foreground with funky striped hats and poles.

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Do YOU get what this sign means? Me either.

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There is this brick walkway that runs several kilometers along the beach. I happened to walk behind these two men briefly and they were trucking along like anyone does who is out for their morning walk. If you look closely, I was attempting to show you that the guy on the left is shoeless.

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Tomorrow is a busy day. I’ll be picked up by the Australian woman at 9AM and taken to meet numerous artisans‚ÄĒthen on to Ubud! (Oo-bood)

 

Welcome to Bali

The Airport

I was surprised to see this huge gate at the airport. It is seen from the area where you buy your ‘Visa on Arrival’. I was prevented from going out the door to try for another angle, but the smiling guard had no problem with me taking a photo just inside the door.

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Road to Kerobokan

These decorative creations were lining the streets along the road from the airport to my final destination in Kerobokan. I asked my cab driver about their purpose. Bali recently celebrated a holiday, which I believe was Galungan (had to Google that). My cab driver explained that these decorations are created by each and every house for the event. Other than Christmas trees, I can’t think of anything that is mass created by all households for an event in the US. (And in some cases those Christmas trees are off-the-shelf, lights and all.) I asked him if a family would be embarrassed if they didn’t make one. He seemed to think it would not be a problem. I found a bit more info about the holiday on someone else’s Bali blog from 2010:

  • Galungan is a holiday that celebrates the triumph of Dharma (good) over Adharma (evil.)
  • The holiday happens every 210 days.

For anyone noticing the surgical mask on the person riding the scooter, the masks show up on a lot of people. There was an entire family on the plane coming over who all wore masks, including their baby. By the way, these photos will open up larger if you click on them – I’ve imported them a bit bigger this time.

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My Hotel: Abian Biu Mansion

If you’d like to see some professional photos of this hotel, please check them out here: http://abianbiubali.com/ ¬†My photos were grabbed without much thought other than what I wanted to highlight.

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This first shot is from the front of the hotel, as much as I could fit in anyway. I am in the street to capture this much. The restaurant is to the left.

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The black and white checked cloth (called poleng) is represented here on the offering area outside the hotel. I found a more detailed explanation of it on http://www.murnis.com, a site dealing with Balinese dress and textiles.

Every visitor to Bali notices very quickly the black and white checked cloths, wrapped around guardian statues, pavilions, people, kulkul drums in temples and even trees and stones wherein a spirit dwells. It is dazzling and powerful and has a special meaning for the Balinese: it represents the cosmic duality.

The Balinese see the world in terms of opposites, good and bad, day and night, mountain and sea. This duality forms the whole: one cannot exist without the other. Poleng [fabric] is the perfect representation of this view. The squares are of equal size, black and white, and are not parallel. The grey squares contain strands of both and show that you cannot have one without the other. White represents good, the gods and health; black represents evil, the underworld and disease. Poleng comprises them both, and so the whole.

These photos below show an area that doesn’t yet seem ready for visitors. There is a pool and several buildings that are under construction. When I booked, I was believing it had been renovated, and in some ways it seems to have been. But, I think they are not done.¬†It’s currently quite noisy during the day.

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This open-air gallery is on the interior of the hotel. These photos show opposite ends of the same area. In the first photo, my room is on the left, the second door in. It’s hard to see details here, but the far end is a wide, flat wooden bridge that crosses over some ponds with fish. In the second photo, I’m standing on the wooden area so my room is the first door on the right.

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The Road to Circle K

I flew carry on baggage only, so I arrived without razors or any liquids larger than 3 oz. I also read that the faucet water is not recommended for tourists. Additionally, I had 1 mosquito in my room last night so I knew mosquito repellent was going to be needed soon. All of these were reasons to seek out a grocery store. However, I had purposely chosen a hotel ‘out in the sticks’ for my first couple of days not realizing the only grocery store would be a Circle K about a kilometer away on narrow roads without sidewalks. So here are a few of the sites on my brief walk:

  • cows
  • a building that took real advantage of their rooftop
  • an example of a home’s temple area
  • a fancy residential gate

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This offering platform wearing poleng was at the Circle K! There was no residence here at all; the recycling you see against the wall was an area just outside of the store. You can see an offering at the base of the structure, and there was also an offering at the cash register inside the store.

Tomorrow I head to Sanur for 2 days, on the southeast coast. Thanks for following!

Jody

Santa Ynez: Wine Tasting

This first image is misleading as it’s not in Santa Ynez. The Oceana tasting room was only a bike ride away from our hotel in Santa Barbara, The Presidio. They had a great port.

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Hey Wisconsinites! Did you know Carhartt’s‚ÄĒthe maker of rugged-wear clothing‚ÄĒhas their own tasting room in California? They are such a small outfit (400 cases/year) you won’t be finding this in any stores or restaurants. But if you make it Los Olivos, CA, you won’t regret a stop here! They had a great little patio area shaded by HUGE red peppercorn trees.

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Above are Laurie & Alex relaxing on the Carhartt patio, and Alex and myself outside a deli in Los Olivos.

Next up, the Fess Parker Winery. Remember Davy Crockett, and Daniel Boone? Did you know those parts were played by the same actor, Fess Parker? Here I am sporting my Daniel Boone look. The baby coon cap on the wine bottle was available for sale too.

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The photo (above) shows a picture of Fess Parker, and the other is of the FP vineyard. Laurie said she & Alex were there several years ago when Fess Parker was there signing bottles of wine.

Third on the list: Babcock Winery. Wines were good, but what caught my eye the most were these PENCILS – how fun! I bought some for my trip, now I just need a pencil sharpener. I also enjoyed this energetic, colorful painting on the wall.

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Last, but not least, was Curtis Winery. Their tasting room was in high ceilinged warehouse/garage space. Laurie pointed out that it was set up like an Anthropologie store: candles, cards, unbleached dishtowels, fun sayings on things, old cool wooden furniture. Wine tasting and shopping!

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Arrival: L.A.

What is it?

I wasn’t the only one I saw in the airport that looked like this!

DAY 1: ¬†Santa Barbara Marina, tile on a State Street restaurant –

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coin belt on a mannequin, passing a window full of cool wigs…

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the cutest tricked-out trailer with fins, and a sculptural bush trying to be an octopus.
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Stick around for Day 2 – wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley.