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The finished product

For anyone who has spent any time in Chico, the mural on the side of Taylor Hall, a building on the CSU Chico campus, is iconic.  The mural has been there since the early 1980’s.  The mural, “Academe”, was created by John Pugh; a Chico State art student at the time.   The original painting took 5 months to create.  John has since become a world famous muralist, well known for his large trompe-l’oeil murals.  His murals can be found all over the world.

A few years ago Taylor Hall was torn down and has been replaced by a new, more modern building.  There was a lot of discussion as to what to do with the mural.  As the painting has become an important symbol of the Chico State campus, the university felt that it was important to have a new version of the same mural, placed in the same location on the new building.


Putting the pieces back together. Look closely and you can see blue tape where the pieces join.

I had a chance to talk with the artist as he was working on the project.  I found the explanation of his process of recreating the same mural quite interesting.  The artist described his process as such: he traced and took many pictures of the original painting; then he spent about a month in his studio (in Truckee, CA….my hometown, coincidentally) recreating the parts of the painting, like a bulletin board; he brought all the pieces back to Chico and put the painting back together like a big jigsaw puzzle, using a particularly strong adhesive material and touching up the places where the new pieces join.  John explained that the new painting is much stronger and will have a longer life than the old version, as the products and colors he is able to use today are much improved.


My view every morning.

I am by no means an artist.  But I have an appreciation for art and those that make art, whether it be music, paintings, ceramics….the list is long.  I love that, every morning when I walk to work, I have the privilege of seeing this amazing piece of art.





A Weekend in the City

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I am one lucky girl.  I don’t work in the summer.  I get to spend time with my kids having some summer fun; my husband and I try and squeeze in some time for the two of us.  A few weeks ago, we had a weekend together in San Francisco.  San Francisco is not a new place for us.  It is a short 2.5 hour drive for us to get to the City.  So, we find ourselves going there often.  Fortunately for me, I also have family living in the City and have spent time there since I was a young child.

When arriving in San Francisco,  I always park my car in the Sutter-Stockton parking garage, and I leave it there for the duration of my stay;  parking is a premium in SFO, and I have found this garage to be one of the best deals in town.  One of the fun things about San Francisco is that it is a very walkable city.  Yes, there are the famous hills that you have to go up and then down, but the hills are part of the charm of the city.

On some visits, I stay with family or friends; on this trip, we decided to stay in Union Square.  I have stayed in numerous hotels in this area.  It is a nice, central place to be.  As usual, we parked our car and left it until Sunday.  Upon arrival, we decided to walk to Valencia Street, in the Mission. My husband and I weren’t very familiar with this area and we wanted to experience something new; I had been there once before and liked the feel of  it.  I  recently read that this area hasn’t been gentrified, but hipsterfied.  There are a wide array of restaurants and cafes to choose from and interesting boutiques to browse.

To get to Valencia from Union Square, we found ourselves walking through the Tenderloin.  This area is well known for its crime and drug problems, but it also has an interesting history of art, music, and culture.  It is home to amazing street art, numerous theaters, and wide array of restaurants.

Another fun adventure we had was the Union Street Festival.  We hadn’t planned on attending this event, and it turned out to be a great time…..especially for people and puppy watching.  Of course, we didn’t drive, but walked to Union Street, from Union Square.  This was a fun walk, as we found ourselves going up and down the famous hills of SFO, through the Russian Hill neighborhood.  It was a particularly beautiful, clear day and we could see the entire bay and Coit Tower, fog-free.  We stumbled upon a mini-neighborhood park, called Molinari Mana Park.  Typical of our adventures, we stopped and chatted with a man that was tending the gardens of this little gem of a park.  He told us to walk down the steep stairs for an amazing view of the bay…..and what a view it was…….

A fun time is had by all at the Union Street Festival.  The festival has been going strong for almost 40 years.  The street is closed off for about 6-8 blocks, with tents set up.  There are many different vendors, selling their wares and numerous places to taste wine and beer and eat a multitude of different foods.  All the bars and restaurants on the street are in full swing.  It seemed like an excuse for many to have some drinks; every bar had a long line going out the door.  My husband and I found ourselves at one such establishment, watching people.  It was great, as this is one of my all time favorite past times.

We ended our day with dinner in the North Beach neighborhood.  This neighborhood is historically the Little Italy of San Francisco.  This is also the area where I have many fond memories of my childhood; my great aunt and uncle lived here and were part of a big Sicilian family.  One of the many interesting things about the North Beach is that you can go from Italy to China in a few footsteps, as the two areas overlap.  You can have great Dim Sum for lunch, walk a few blocks, and have amazing Italian food for dinner.  The North Beach is also the area where some of the famous characters of the Beat Generation hung out in the 1950’s and 60’s.  Vesuvio’s Cafe and City Lights Books were the places to find them.

Chinatown in San Francisco is the oldest and largest in the country.  It dates back to the Gold Rush era in California.  When walking through the streets of Chinatown, I feel as if I am in Hong Kong (where I have spent a lot of time). Every time I am in Chinatown, I have to go to the Eastern Bakery to buy Char Sui Bow(steamed pork buns) for my kids.  On this particular visit,  there was Mexican music playing loudly and the usual Chinese lady was there to help customers.  She doesn’t speak much English and she is often a bit grumpy.  I think that she is starting to recognize me and we had a little chat.  I even got her to smile….

Next time, I need to take my husband to the great cinnamon toast/coffee shop my daughter and I found last year.  The nice thing is that I know the next time is soon and there are so many new places to explore in San Francisco.





Carnegie Libraries

11031040_10206829525807497_6299490668037490125_oLast week, as I often do, I drove from Chico, CA to Monterey, CA.  I am accustomed to this 4.5 hour drive, as my father lives in Monterey.  As I mentioned in a previous post about elderly parents, my father needs a lot of help.  I won’t go into specifics here, but he is becoming less and less independent as the months go by.  Anyways, the route I usually drive takes me through the rice fields of the northern end of the Sacramento Valley.  It is really a beautiful area; an especially rural area of Northern California, filled with rice fields, dairy farms, orchards, a few houses, and lots of farm animals.  Right now, the rice fields are full of water and the area feels as if you are driving through Southeast Asia.

Along the way, I decided to stop at a little library in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by agricultural fields.  I have driven by this library hundreds of times and never stopped.  The library is called The Bayliss Public Library.  On the front of the library, there is a sign stating that the library is “a point of historical interest.”  A library, in the middle of rice fields-a point of historical interest?  On the other side of the door there is another sign, explaining that this particular library is a “Carnegie Library.”  The library was built with funds donated by Andrew Carnegie.  The name is quite well known throughout the United States;  it is attached to famous buildings, schools, and libraries.


Andrew Carnegie was born to a poor Scottish family in 1835.  He immigrated, with his parents, to the United States in 1848.  By 1861, he was a wealthy steel tycoon.  In 1901, he sold his steel company for $480 million dollars; this sale made him the richest man in the world.  Carnegie decided to give all of his money away through philanthropic projects; he invested his fortune in education and science research, global peace, museums, and……libraries.

Between 1883 and 1929, Andrew Carnegie donated the funds to build a total of 2,509 libraries in 11 different countries; 1689 libraries were built in the United States.  California was home to 142 of these libraries.  Today, 85 of these library buildings are still standing, and only 36 are still being used as a library.

So this leads me back to the little library standing out in the middle of agricultural fields – The Bayliss Public Library.  This particular library is the most rural of the Carnegie libraries built in California.  It was built in 1917 for $4 thousand dollars.  It is only open on Tuesdays from 10-6.  So, if you ever find yourself driving on Bayliss-Blue Gum Road, stop by on a Tuesday and check it out!

For further reading about Andrew Carnegie and his libraries, follow the links below:

Carnegie Libraries of California

Carnegie Library

How Andrew Carnegie Turned His Fortune into a Library Legacy