A Few More Quilt Squares As a Means of Distraction


The Wilsonia quilters have about 25 painted quilt squares hanging around the community.

I showed you about 10 or 12 so far. Here are the final 3 to distract you as we all hang around wondering when The Cabins of Wilsonia will arrive.

painted quilt square

The colors are not true here. It is actually purple and teal, and teal is my FAVORITE color. So, as much as I love blue, I’m sorry you cannot see the accurate colors of this square. It was the first one I saw on my last visit, courtesy of my hostess.

painted quilt square

I can’t believe I missed this one on my travels! (Thank you, Gus for taking these 2 photos for me.)

painted quilt square

I want to sit beneath this square (diamond?) and knit. The originator of this square and owner of this cabin has a wonderful sense of style!

NOW is the book almost here??

Waiting for Wilsonia Wearing Worrying Wondering

Wilsonia cabin drawing

This cabin looks worn out. I thought it belonged to the Park Service, because many of the neglected cabins do. It doesn’t. It is in some sort of family dispute.

I am in some sort of delivery dispute. The book The Cabins of Wilsonia WILL be delivered, but no one can say when.

Here is what I’ve been told:

1. It went on the press on the night of September 11. (Don’t know how long on the press)

2. It will go to an outside binder, but no one can say how long that company will take. No one is saying where that company is, so there is no information about shipping to and from them either.

3. There will be work done to finish up the cover back at the printer. No one is saying how long that will take.

4. It will take about 5 days in a truck after that.

I spent 3 years making something, and then turned it over to strangers far away who will turn it over to other strangers even further away. I don’t remember the stress, angst, and flat out anxiety of this part from my other book. But, my other book was printed in California, it only took a year to do, and I had a partner to share the burden with.

Am I beginning to look like the cabin in the drawing above? Don’t answer that, please!

Fancy Drawing of a Plain Cabin


There is a very sweet woman whom I have never met, but we seem to have become pen pals. We write notes to one another about Wilsonia, particularly about the upcoming book and about her cabin.

She asked me to draw her cabin, and let me know that it is very plain but means very much to her.

Because it is so plain, and because there are more cabins than I could possibly fit into the book and have it be interesting (that is for another post), I opted to not include hers in the book.

She is gracious and kind and honest. She bought 4 books in spite of the fact that her cabin is not in it, and then asked me to draw it for her.

You can see it doesn’t have many details architecturally:

wilsonia cabin photowilsonia cabin photo

I photographed it at 2 separate times of day, looking for the best light and best angle.

She asked for a collage, which shows different angles, views and details, all in one drawing.

I came up with 2 ideas, both quite pleasing. Now the ball is in her court!

Wilsonia cabin sketches

Do you have a preference?

Nothing to See Here, Folks


Several cabin folks in Wilsonia have asked me to draw their cabins. One wasn’t built yet, one is very plain, and one is almost impossible to photograph or see.

Today I’ll show you the one that is almost impossible to see because of the wall of cedar trees. I tried and tried to find the right view for the book and finally said to myself, “Never mind! This is too hard, you cannot include every cabin anyway, so just move on.”

wilsonia cabin photo

wilsonia cabin photo

Just move on, folks. There’s nothing to see here.

But wait! There must be something. I did several sketches from different angles, scanned them, and wrote to the cabin owner. No word back yet.

cabin sketches

You can see these are just sketches as opposed to drawings. Scribbly, loose, lots of trees pruned or removed, missing detail. . . good thing the owner knows I can draw.

Now, I just need to hear from him so I can begin the actual drawing.

There is one I like the best and hope he picks. Do you have a favorite angle?

Full Price

Pull up a chair.

Pull up a chair.

The pre-order price for The Cabins of Wilsonia expired yesterday. The new price is $86, which includes tax and mailing (within the USA). If you are someone I see regularly, deduct $5 because instead of putting it in a fancy-pants box and taking it to the Post Office, I’ll simply place it in your hands.

This button will take you to Paypal. Or, if you prefer, you can write an old-fashioned check, put it in an old-fashioned envelope, address to my old fashioned P.O. Box, and put an old-fashioned stamp on it. That’s P.O. Box 311, Three Rivers, CA 93271

And no, I still don’t know when to expect the books! Thanks for asking, and thank you for your patience. I could use a little bit of that myself.

What It Is and What it Isn’t


pencil drawing of Wilsonia cabin

What it is:

The upcoming book The Cabins of Wilsonia is an album. It is a collection of pictures designed to show the overview of a cabin community. It is pictures of the typical, pictures of the unique, word pictures of cabin life expressed in stories from cabin folks. It is designed to show the many architectural styles within the community.  It is a medley of little details, such as the way the sun lands on something ordinary and makes it beautiful. It shows things that are ordinary to cabin life that may be unusual in “normal” life. It is a picture of cabin life in the 20th century. It is pencil drawings made from photos that I spent days and days shooting, editing, cropping, choosing, and three years putting together. It is the celebration of a very special treasure of Tulare County and Kings Canyon National Park.

wilsonia cabin photo

What it Isn’t

It is not a directory of cabins. It is not a comprehensive, all-inclusive list of every cabin. It is not a history book. It is not a complete representation of every one of the 214 cabins in Wilsonia. It isn’t photos. It isn’t a list of cabins that used to be there. It isn’t a collection of cabins that currently belong to the Park. It isn’t a hastily thrown together piece of work.

And it isn’t yet in our hands.

Possibly The Most Interesting Cabin Owner in Wilsonia

Wilsonia Cabin

A cabin owner wrote this as a comment. At first I thought it was one of those long spammy things. Then, I read it and realized that I have drawn the cabin about which he is writing. I’ve done a little editing –please forgive me, Professor Dirks. I’m guessing that since you put it in as a comment, you don’t mind your story going public.

“The Last of the Log Cabins” on Laurel Lane at Hazel was built with 53,000 lbs. of lodgepole pines from Twisp Mills on the Canadian border in Washington.They lay on the ground but with the help of pioneers Harold & Naomi Hansen (Jana’s note: I changed the spelling from “Handsen” to match what I’ve seen in Wilsonia) we built it to celebrate our Bicentennial in 1976.

But we had to get congressional and county approval in hearings in Fresno. (Note from Jana: Wilsonia is in Tulare County.) They said we had to prove that these logs met the heating standards in California. We found there were approved log cabins near Shasta.

In 1975 after we bought the two lots, we found the Lincoln Log design in a lodge on the Athabasca Glacier in the Colombian Ice fields, moving down the mountain, which meant it could withstand California earthquakes.

As a Eagle Scout who ran the John Muir trail every summer, and as a professor of Biology and History, I wanted the cabin to fit the ecology of Wilsonia. I built schools in Kenya, a year before Obama was born during the bloody Mau Mau rebellion, after I’d climbed the snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro, speaking Swahili in 1960. The next year I was in JFK’s first Peace Corp, and built schools in Ghana and Guinea. Then I returned and used the Peace Corp spirit, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!” As President of the AFT I built LASW College after the Watts Riots, then founded LA Mission College in a poor area of NE San Fernando Valley in 1975, being named by CA Senate, Assembly & Chancellor as “The Faculty Father of LA Mission College” for the LACCD “The only Faculty (nonAdmin) ever to build a college in California.

We built the roof stretching well beyond the cabin so it is sheltered even in deepest snows, based on our observations of other Wilsonia cabins. A draft portrait of Woodrow Wilson hangs above my desk, with the other one in the White House, painted by my cousin who knew him before he was elected in 1916 by S. Seymour Thomas. (Jana’s note: Wasn’t Wilson elected by the voters?)  Thus the Wilsonia tradition will stay alive with your book. Thanks from our hearts. (You are most welcome, Professor Dirks!)

I met my wife Xiaoping Liu, when I was the only college professor to get into forbidden Tibet in 1988, taking my students through Lhasa and the Dalai Lama’s Palace and to monasteries above 16,000 feet behind Mt. Everest. I met her during the “Democracy Movement” at the University in Xian, in the Chin Kingdom (Chin – China) where she’d been Presidents’ Carter, Reagan and Queen Elizabeth’s doctor in China. A year later when the leader of the Democracy Movement died, a million people gathered in Tian An Men Square in April and in May when Gorbachev had the summit meeting but couldn’t go to the square because of the millions still there, (Jana’s note: I’m confused!) so Dr. Liu left thru Hong Kong the week before the Tien An Men Massacre. She came here, became a professor of Microbiology and Napa, (Jana’s note: What is a professor of Napa?) then came down here to find that mad professor (Jana’s note: by “mad professor” I think the author is referring to himself) from Mission  (Jana’s note: I think he is referring to LA Mission College) who predicted the massacre if they pushed democracy too hard. She found me, we became friends and then family and our son Darwin evolved, East meets West and 1/2 + 1/2 is twice as smart.

75 year old teachers talk too much, sorry…Charles Please forgive me, a proud historian. Thanks!

And thank you, Professor Dirks, for sharing your most interesting life and cabin story with my blog readers! (I removed many personal details about your son to protect his privacy, which I also would have done if this was published as a comment on my blog.)

Who Wants a Book About Wilsonia?


commissioned pencil drawing

When someone wants to self-publish a book, one of the biggest puzzles to solve is who will want to buy the book. If someone wants to publish a book traditionally, that is probably the most important question too.

Let’s answer that question about The Cabins of Wilsonia, an upcoming book about cabin life in a mountain community, told in drawings and quotations from the residents.

1. People who love Wilsonia

This could be people who have visited, who have a cabin, who used to have a cabin, who have friends with a cabin or who wish they had a cabin.

Surprising fact: many cabin folks have asked if their cabin will appear in the book. If it doesn’t, or if it doesn’t appear in the way that they think it should, they are not shy in letting me know they will not be buying a book!

2. People who love cabins

Did you know there is a website of beautiful cabin photos called “cabin corn”? (Not really called that, but I didn’t want to type the second word which actually begins with the letter “P” – you figure it out!) There are people who just love cabins and small homes and mountain living.

3. People who love pencil

This book will have 276 pencil drawings. There are people who love to draw, people who love pencil drawings, people who love detail, drawing students past and present.

4. People who love local information

There are people who buy all books of local history. The Cabins of Wilsonia is not yet a history book, but it will be some day. It is a look at life today in a cabin community in Tulare County. The folks who collect information about this place we live are likely to want this book.

5. People who love me

Ahem. This last one is a little embarrassing. However, my friend Mark used to tell me (because his Dad used to tell him), “If your friends and family won’t do business with you, who will?”

And now you know who comprises the market for the upcoming book, The Cabins of Wilsonia. Do you fit into one of these categories?