Happy Birthday, Dear Rowan!

24 years ago I was waiting.


I was expecting another child, sex unknown. I knew this one was big and strong.


The kicking and rolling were constant. Working on a long, circus mural on the only available flat surface-the floor- was a huge challenge.


But it was fun wondering who would arrive. I decided to design a new birth announcement print to celebrate.

I loved this excerpt from A Poem for a New Born Baby Girl, by Grace Hazard Conkling.

“Now from the coasts of morning pale
Comes safe to port thy tiny sail.
Now have we seen by early sun,
Thy miracle of life begun.”

Birthday Sail Blue med res

And soon, I was able to fill in the details:

Rowan Wolff Russell

 born September 25th, 1990

 in San Francisco, California

8 pounds, 12 ounces,

21 inches


Happy Birthday, Rowan. You were SO worth waiting for.

I love you!

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2013

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a free music festival started in 2000, and entirely funded by Warren Hellman, is a joyous annual event in San Francisco.


I’ve been attending, more or less, for many years, and this year’s highlight was the Kate Mcgarrigle Tribute with many of her family and friends singing her songs and clowning around.

The set was kicked off by Martha Wainwright, Kate’s daughter, singing Matapedia and Sloan Wainwright, her sister-in-law, singing NaCl.  The guest stars that crossed the stage were some of my favorites, and all friends of the McGarrigle Sisters:

Maria Muldaur, Emmy Lou Harris, Buddy Miller, Steve Earle, Kate’s ex Loudon Wainwright, and Richard Thompson. Her songs were as extraordinary, funny, poignant and beautiful as ever, and the one non-Kate song was sung by Loudon Wainwright, about her!


Here is Emmylou and her Red Dirt Band from 2008


and Ricky Skaggs


And now for a gallery of those who have passed to the giant Banjo Jam in the sky! 

Earl Scruggs


Hazel Dickens


Ralph Stanley


Thank you, Warren!

Spring Fever

March winds nearly blew me off Bernal hill last night–flapping my scarf in my eyes and doing a very bad number on my hair. But this beautiful butterfly kite couldn’t find a decent breeze. Despite the efforts of 2 parents and 4 kids, the butterfly bombed.kiteflyer_3

His owner was left with nothing to do but hold him as Mom and Dad turned their attention to a much less attractive Angry Birds kite.kite


March is also wildflower month in Northern California, so Maria and I took our annual hike on the Ring Mountain.

We hoped to spot the rare Tiburon Mariposa Lily, found only on Ring Mountain.


photo by Tom Hilton


Instead, when we first arrived we were greeted by numerous Oakland Mariposa Lilies. They are prettier in some ways–pinker and not so hairy- and also considered rare. tiburonlily


Ring Mountain’s other joys are wide open views of the Tiburon Peninsula and San Francisco to the South.  From a picnic spot at the base of a jumbled rock pile, this was my view. Maria kindly posed to add scale and some St Patrick’s day green.



St Patrick’s Day, 2013