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?


Doug, I Lost Your Email!


pencil drawingpencil drawing from the upcoming book The Cabins of Wilsonia

This is a personal note to a friend, but you are welcome to read it. Duh. I posted it on the internet!

Dear Doug,

Thank you for using the Contact button on my blog. I was delighted to hear from you, and meant to set your email aside for a thoughtful response later. Instead, I deleted it. My excuses are that it was at the end of a long weekend away from the computer so there were many emails to read and sort AND in spite of continually changing my password, my email is being messed with by some unknown entity which causes me to manically delete messages (or maybe the unknown entity is deleting them. . .?)

Excuses aside, thank you for contacting me! I have been so curious about that little A-frame – is it Doug’s family cabin? Does he ever go there? Will he be up here when I am? Will he be disappointed that I only drew the funny lounge chair? Will he be pleased that anything from the cabin appears in the book?

My choices about what appears and what doesn’t are not based on historical significance.  The book is about cabin life today in pictures (276 of them) and quotes by cabin owners and visitors. Not all cabins are included, because the goal is to show an overview album rather than a cabin-by-cabin directory. It is meant to show a balance of the typical and the unique.

I chose your chair, void of cushions, because it tells me a story about cabin life.

In other news, thank you for sending me a customer named Roger. He is gathering photos of a barn in Michigan for me to draw. (I’d rather he gather me a round-trip airfare, but no one does that.) Receiving a recommendation from such a fine artist as yourself really does my heart (and ego!) good.

Blessings to you, my old (as in long-time, not aged) friend,


Special Price Extended

extra deer

It is looking more and more as if the book The Cabins of Wilsonia will be here in October rather than in September.

The printer’s delay means 2 more weeks of a deal for you. The special pre-order price of $70 (including tax and mailing) is now extended until September 15. 

All along I have said this book is a look at cabin life and the cabin community as it is today. I’m beginning to change my mind – there are new cabins, remodeled and rebuilt cabins, and suddenly, my book shows a look at cabin life as it was in 2011-2013, not as it is today. That makes it a history book.

Guess that means we will have a collector’s item on our hands!

This is the way to buy a book for $70 using Paypal:

Special pre-order price has expired.


Wishing us all a cool autumn with lots of rain,

Jana, the exhausted artist and book publisher

Cabin Life in Squares


quilt square

When I was in Wilsonia recently, there was a fun new thing happening. Quilt squares!

quilt square

One of the parts of Wilsonia cabin life is a quilting group. There are a number of women who just love to quilt, and they even have a week or a weekend (can’t remember) when they all bring their sewing machines and spend days just quilting together.

quilt square

This summer they each painted a 2×2′ square with a quilt design of their choice. Then, each one of the participating quilters hung the square on her cabin. My friend and I really enjoyed discovering these bright patches.

quilt square