Sunday, September 9, 2007


It’s Sunday night and I finally feel almost normal. The trip was actually very nice -- too hurried, but memorable.

DAY ONE- WEDNESDAY: My first flight arrived in NYC on time and the flight to California was uneventful. I really like Jet Blue.

Getting out of the airport, picking up our car, grabbing some tamales and fish tacos and driving to Carmel took longer than expected. We didn’t arrive at Sue’s house until after 4pm.

I was a little star struck, as I have been a fan of Sue’s artwork for many years. Sue is Susan Wallace Barnes, an artist known for her illustrated calendars, notecards and dozens of other household items emblazoned with coastal scenes and seasonal sketches.
Sue welcomed us with a table filled with cold drinks, bowls of fruit and scrumptious cucumber shrimp tea sandwiches. I felt as if I had stepped into one of her illustrations.

After chatting a bit, Dan and I photographed the view from her bedroom window, her bathroom (I barely had the energy to iron out the creases from the linen towels) and a few close-up shots. There wasn’t time for more, as we were very tired.

Sue insisted that we head to the beach to catch the tail end of sunset of the Carmel Point. How could we refuse? About 200 yards past Sue’s house, a narrow trail led down to the shore.

At 9 pm Pacific time we arrived at The Holiday Inn Express® Monterey Bay in Seaside, California. I was expecting the usual motel room but this one was really stylish. The chairs and fabrics looked as if they had been borrowed from Starbucks® and the freestanding wooden sink vanity was downright chic! Since we’d nibbled at Sue’s and it was already midnight (our time), we decided to skip dinner and pass out.

DAY TWO - THURSDAY: We left the hotel a few minutes earlier than necessary so we could walk along the beach before starting the day’s shoot.

Since we need to send the art director at Gibbs Smith portraits of ourselves to publish on the back flap of the book, we decided to snap photos of each other sitting on the rocks with the sea in the background.

The waves were gentle, but one surprised us, splashing my back and soaking both of our shoes. At 9 AM, showed up at Sue’s door with soggy and sandy shoes.

The shoot went great. Each room is filled with personal treasures.

Whether living in Maui, Nantucket or on the California coast, or traveling in Nova Scotia or Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, Sue has gathered treasures that speak to her. There are abalone shells, unique rocks, original paintings of the sea, carvings of water birds, vintage glass floats and books about her favorite subject – The Oceans.

From the number of books in her cottage, it was obvious that Sue is an avid reader. Throughout the day, Dan and I jotted down dozens of titles we plan to add to our own bookshelves. Her library includes books on life in general, coastal topics, wildlife, nature and especially whales.

Images of whales – whether in one of Sue’s paintings, on a Claire Murray hooked rug (see below) or hanging from the ceiling of the living room -- appear in almost every room.

Even before we met, I knew that Sue was very active in several organizations to safeguard the environment. However, I hadn’t realized the depth of her commitment to educate young people about our ocean’s fragile ecosystem. An active member of Whale Trust (, Sue has also collaborated on several projects with National Geographic photographer Flip Nicklen.

At the end of the day, Sue sent us off with nibbles for the plane and numerous other gifts. Getting to know her was the most precious one of all.

*** BLOG DU JOUR ***
For more California dreaming visit Lisa's My California Cottage. Her shell crafts are simply gorgeous!


FrenchGardenHouse said...

Oh Barbara, Carmel is one of my most favorite places. It has something magical about it. Whenever I get there, I instantly relax!

I bet you had a great time, it sounds like Sue's house will be another wonderful addition to your book.

Penny Carlson said...

I just spoke to a customer on the phone the other day, who said if I ever was in Ca again, I must go to Carmel!

It looks beautiful and I love that Sue is a protector of the earth and ocean.

Susie Q said...

Oh Barbara. Carmel is one of the most beautiful spots on this entire Earth.
As Lidy said in her comment, there really is something magical about that city.
I know you are just exhausted but I still bet you had a wonderful time...I look forward to seeing this home in your book.

I am so pleased when I hear about someone as dedicated to the environment as Sue is. Bless her.

I was tickled to see you had stopped by my blog...I really am not that silly all the time (smile) but so glad it made you grin.

I so enjoyed seeing your photos and reading your I am leaving your blog with a grin.


PAT said...

Absolutely gorgeous post! Looking forward to seeing more of Sue's home!


Deserae said...

I just discovered your blog....I loved seeing all the beautiful places you have traveled too! Gorgeous pictures!!!

Cindy ~ My Romantic Home said...

Barbara, you inspired me to go to Carmel on Saturday. I only live about 1 hour away and I hadn't been there for a few years. I took a lot of pictures which I put on my blog today. It is such a beautiful place! said...

Sounds like a tough trip, but such a nice place to be working hard in! Aren't you glad it was Carmel, not Topeka?

Tara said...

What a lovely shoot that was! Susan's work is amazing, I have always loved her style and have some of her collections. I especially love her "Pink Woody" collection that has the quote, "Do what you Love, and Love what you Do". This shoot certaintly shows you living that quote! Thank you for sharing, so inspiring. The photo of you on the beach is perfect for the book flap (pre-soaked shoes!)~ xo

Sofia Barao said...

Hello Barbara,

What a lovely way to start the day (with your lovely comment on my blog), thank you for passing.
I can see that you have been to Giverny which is really not far from where I live, I love to live in this area, not far from Paris and in by the countryside at the same time.

And your posts about Honfleur are going to be a big help, because in 3 weeks I'm leaving for a trip around normandy and brittany :)

Lucky you to have such an interesting job and for being able to see such wonderful places for your book. I've been working on 2 book proposals for months, hope I'll lucky with at least one of them one day.

Love to read your book adventures.


shabby.susie said...

Barbara, looks like you and Dan had an awesome trip to Carmel it is so pretty there, Thank you for sharing it with us. And Thank you and Dan for the beautiful gift I just love it, anytime you are back in town our place is yours. Susie and Mark