Jim and Shizue Baney have a spacious back yard in Burlingame devoted to Shizue's extensive and immaculate collection of bonsai and accent plants. Gesturing to the whole group she says almost all have been started “from scratch,” cuttings or seeds by herself over her extensive career propagating bonsai, about 35 years.
She holds up a darling shohin boxwood with a trunk the size of her wrist and pillows of piled up cloud foliage, tight and glossy. Shizue explains she started with ordinary nursery stock of a slow growing type, working it for many years, too many to remember exactly, to get the incredible size of the branches on a short tree with manicured foliage pads. This tree has been in many shows in the Bay Area and also was entered into the Art of Bonsai contest in 1997 for its perfect cloud foliage.
Shizue was born in 1931 in Yamagata Ken (Prefecture) which is in the Japanese countryside. Her father enjoyed bonsai as a hobby while he owned the Minato Cafe where Shizue worked and met her future husband Jim Baney, arriving in the US in 1956 and where they were married shortly thereafter in 1961. She is a founding member of Sei Boku Bonsai Kai, in San Mateo, CA.
She assures me that she once has a bigger collection with larger trees. Now she has mostly shohin, but here and there are larger trees she hasn't had the heart to part with.
In November 2010 I visited China. Here I am on the deck of the Century Star, hair blowing in the breeze of the Yangtze River. When I studied Mandarin Chinese, literature, art and history as an udergraduate at UCLA in the 1970's, who would have imagined I would finally get to visit this fascinating country full of contrasts and surprises. If you want to find out what's going on a half a world away, check out Gate 1 Travel.
Hypnagogic, Oneirism, Wake-Initiated Lucid Dreams (WILD), Sleeping with a Key
Here I am painting at Wright's Beach in Sonoma
Only new videos for 2011 are viewable in China.