It's hard to believe that an entire year has gone by since Jade suggested we celebrate her retirement by joining a local crew rowing club.  It's even harder to believe that I agreed.  For my first lesson I traveled thirty feet from the dock before flipping my single-seater into the January waters of Lake Casitas. Quite a baptism!

     Still, we kept at it and by year's end, Jade was ready for the Christmas Regatta at the Long Beach Marine Stadium, as pictured at right.

     Our health improved as well as our skills.  Although I didn't enjoy getting up in the small hours of the morning, I found that I missed the experience if I dodged the class.  We made many new friends. 

     So, the theme for this year's card was pre-ordained.  My original idea was to make a simple, cartoon rendition, perhaps in silhouette.  I quickly found that although I am skilled at manipulating photographs, building anything more complex than a circle or square resulted in an image that looked as though it had been sketched by a five-year-old.


     I began by rummaging through my photo library, and I found a shot of Ojai's Topa-Topa mountain that I'd taken for the Ojai Wine Festival.  I dulled it to make it appear as though it was under moonlight. I found a black-and-white Olympic rowing sign and used that as a template for constructing the boat and oars.

     I filled in the colors and shaded outlines to give it depth.  Then I constructed one reindeer rower and repeated the image four times.  For the last, I overlaid my own head, copied from a card we made two years ago.  The image of Jade's head came from the airbrush card of 2001.

     The wake below the boat is the product of Photoshop's Ocean Ripple filter. The color of the shirts and the boat is accurate for our club.  I haven't figured out why Jade would need a headset and a megaphone, but as the Navajo say, Only the Gods are allowed to be perfect.


     Casitas is always changing, but remains spectacularly beautiful at sunrise. We hope that the coming winter rains will stop the severe depletion of the water there before we have to take up crew walking.


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