Sunday, December 28, 2014

Scattering The Grains

“You should go see your mother!”

I took my wife's advice and have driven 931 miles, (1,498 Km) from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Santa Barbara, California. When I left, the temperatures were very cold and snow was on the ground. Arriving in southern California, I could drive with the windows down.

It is always familiar coming to Santa Barbara, but this time, something felt missing. As I came to my parents neighborhood, I realized my father is not to be seen again. He died last February 26. I also have strong memories of my daughter Naomi while she lived the last months of her life here. It is strange that these two intimate ingredients of my Santa Barbara associations are missing. Nonetheless, my mother welcomed me heartily and with gratitude. I spent Christmas with her.

My younger brother Brent lives nearby my mother. He lives alone with his dog, Purdy. I made a painting of Purdy, who in animal years, is 105. She still can hop into Brent's car and sit on his lap when he drives.

I don't know why, but I have been feeling like I want to hold onto something in life, but nothing satisfies my longing . . . it all is like shifting sand and wind is blowing over everything, scattering the grains into oblivion.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Greatest Pleasure

Santa Fe Winter, oil on canvas, 26 x 23 inches
Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.
 - Camille Pissarro (French: 10 July 1830 – 13 November 1903)

Perhaps the greatest pleasure for an artist is to have an idea, and then start from nothing and using his body and senses, create from inert materials something meaningful and inspiring. The more talented and skilled the artist, the more likely is a great outcome. Even the best artists suffer failures along the way. Passion keeps them trying.

Last week, I wrote about a vision I had of making a painting based on an old wall and gate that I have painted in the spring. This time, it is winter, and the scene is changed. The two paintings are the exact same size and it is interesting to see how nature can drastically change the mood. 

The beginning is the most important part of the work.
Plato (Greek: 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BCE)

Santa Fe Splendor, oil on canvas, 26 x 23 inches

Sunday, December 14, 2014

An Old Wall

During the night, a winter storm rolled over Santa Fe, and left a blanket of snow covering everything. 

My Sunday morning ritual is to go to a local shop that is known for magazines, newspapers, art on the walls, coffee, tea and pastries. It is usually bustling with people, sometimes in groups, sitting at tables and having animated conversations. I buy a New York Times newspaper, a pastry, and cup of dark roast coffee, then find a place to sit. Amidst the cackling conversations and background music, I begin pouring over the substantial newsprint. The NY times is so rich in content, especially Sunday, that it takes me all week to go through it. The following Sunday, I buy another.

This morning, I went to find an old wall that I made an oil painting of in the spring. My thought is to paint it again, this time in winter. It will be the same size and shape. 

A French artist by the name of Claude Monet famously made impressionist paintings in a series, depicting changing times of day—and seasons as well.
Click to see Steven Boone artwork

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Light That Pours

The natural light that pours in my kitchen window each day is like vitamin to my soul. I can't imagine being without it in the morning. Just outside is an old wood slat fence, with a few tangled vines intertwined throughout. It obscures my neighbors house that sits twenty feet away. Tree limbs are scattered above with ample sky visible. 

A ledge over my sink always has plants. The coleus in a pot comes from a plant that was on my patio and knocked over by the wind. I discovered it late, when it was dying. I took a sprig and stuck it into some earth and now it is about to make little purple blooms. The orchid is not mine. I am watching over it while a friend is out of the country. 

Lately, I have been growing sunflower sprouts. They are delicious and nutritious to snack on, and available almost all the time because I start them in containers every four or five days. I use bird seed to start the seedlings.

All this life—thanks to the window, and light that pours in to bless existence.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Between The Eyes

While preparing to show photographs at an exhibition, I have come across pictures I took in Kashmir. They are among the finest in my collection. Something marvelous must have been occurring that day while I visited the remote highlands of northern India near the Himalaya Mountains. I was in a village that held a loosely clustered group of maybe a dozen families. The autumn weather was getting colder each day, and from what I learned, the people were planning to leave and go to lower elevations before long.

I had set up an easel in a communal gathering place in the midst of wooden homes and started an oil painting. Folks came around to watch, while a wood fire blazed. Especially the children were entertained. Several times, I stopped to take pictures of them as they watched me. Although I was not using a tripod or posing my subjects, a remarkable clarity and beauty came through the lens and as the shutter clicked, all the elements were in my favor. The pictures came out superbly.

I never tire of looking at the faces. They are bright with natural goodness and show a rugged lifestyle close to the earth. The confused, glazed look of modern life is absent, and instead, candor and curiosity are apparent.

On closer inspection, I see that between the eyes, on the brow of some of the young people, a slight furrow exists. They seem intense in looking at me. What is this concentration that gives depth of expression to their face? It is a forthrightness that lets me know that I am being watched as much as I am watching. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Go With The Magic

A current of cold air has swept down from the arctic to announce winter has officially arrived in Northern New Mexico . . . and is here to stay. Snowflakes are falling and a blanket of white covers everything. It happens every year, and for some it is almost unbearable, but for others, it is magic. I go with the magic. 

A few photos to share the mood . . .

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Patrick's Light

A young man with something wrong and a big spirit, he filled the corner of the restaurant with an ebullient gayety and light. He seemed too open and forthright, unaware of his disability. I was working as a waiter while trying to get my art career going and for a moment, we looked at each other, and he positively gleamed. Later, another waiter remarked privately that he noticed something unusual in the young man—almost pitiful. On closer observation, the fellow could not use his right hand, and lacked full brain function . . . as if damaged very early on in life.

Kathleen and Patrick, circa 1967
Later, to my surprise, I learned that this person, Patrick, was the brother of the young woman I was marrying, Kathleen. The marriage lasted five years and produced my daughter Naomi, who died at age nineteen and whom I wrote a book about; A Heart Traced in Sand, Reflections on a Daughter's Struggle for Life. And now, just over a week ago, Patrick died at age 69.
A couple weeks ago, when I learned Patrick was in the hospital in critical condition, I was surprised, and then after he died two days later without many friends or family, I offered Kathleen to write the obituary. It appeared in the newspaper, and a small but interesting group of people showed up at the graveside memorial when Patrick's body, in a simple wood casket was lowered to its final resting place . . . only a few yards from Naomi's grave. 

Among the comments heard from mourners, a simple thread of testimony developed; how Patrick's unassuming sincerity, humility, and lively good humor meant a great deal to those he touched. A former Santa Fe City mayor was present, and remembered how Patrick would often arrive unannounced at city hall and walk straight in to the office with a big smile to say hello. This was when he had a job standing on a nearby street corner selling newspapers. The local paper he sold ran his obituary for free. Another man at the ceremony, a fellow paper vendor, was hit by a car, and when Patrick, who never drove a car, showed up at his bedside, he asked with surprise how he had arrived at such a distance in the dark. “I walked!” 

Another man tearfully remarked that Patrick was the truest human being he had ever met, and had a special inner light. And to this, I added, “Unlike most people who's light flickers on and off depending on if they are happy or sad, frustrated or angry, Patrick's light was always on.”
Patrick lived alone all his adult life, and when his cousin, a lawyer in nearby Albuquerque who arranged the funeral, was cleaning out his apartment, she said that among the memorabilia, were volumes of notes, written on scraps of paper—sometimes paper napkins—detailing the days events when he had been out walking and in stores, including the hour. Especially, Patrick wrote about people he met, friends and strangers, and noted them and how they touched his life. 

Now Patrick, I am writing for you, to say, you touched my life too.

This is the obituary I wrote:

Patrick White, age 69, passed away at St. Vincent Hospital, Wednesday, October 29. He was born in Panama, August 18, 1945, and came to the United States with his mother and sister in 1968—first to Florida, and then to Santa Fe in 1972. He was born with disabilities and did not finish high school, completing the eleventh grade. During the past two years, he took courses to get his GED but couldn't pass algebra.
Patrick worked as a janitor at De Vargas Mall and Paper Tiger, before working as a New Mexican newspaper street vendor.
Mr. White was a true lamb of God, without negativity, anger, or ill will. He was cordial, genuine and friendly with everyone, and had a child-like innocence that uplifted the people he met. He did not drive a car, so could often be seen walking in Santa Fe. He never had material riches but in spirit he was always full—never complaining and cheerful until the end.
He is survived by his sister Kathleen White of Santa Fe.
Graveside services will be held on Monday, Nov. 3 at 10 a.m. at the Santa Fe Memorial Gardens at 417 Rodeo Rd.  

Sunday, November 02, 2014


I wondered if I could draw the figure—it has been so long since I last was in a drawing group. I went Tuesday night and the regulars at the studio were surprised to see me. Our model was a young woman named Maribou, who I have drawn many times. Without much effort, the artwork came . . . as if my brain had been longing to get back to it. I have been drawing for four decades and made a thousand figure sketches.

It is the same when I go skiing in winter—I wonder if I will fall on my face going down the slope . . . because I had not been practicing.

This group likes to mix up the poses in short bursts of time during the three hour session. The poses range from 2 - 45 minutes. The participants are evenly divided between women and men. Most models are female, but men model too. 

Some groups follow a strict code of silence during work, but these people carry conversations while drawing; about art and culture, and occasionally personal stuff. I usually chime right in, it is part of the fun.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Murmuring Sweet Nothings

Cottonwoods at River Edge, oil on linen, 14 x 18 inches, by STEVEN BOONE
To be a landscape painter is is to marvel at the beauty of nature and be its lover. An artist can stand in one spot for hours, looking fondly at his subject . . . caressing endlessly with his eyes, and murmuring sweet nothings.

There are two spectacular fall happenings here in Northern New Mexico. The first is the changing of aspen trees. Aspen are known to be one of natures largest phenomena, since many trees are in fact one—they are a one root system, spreading and sprouting up out of the earth in mass, covering mountain terrain. The “quaking aspen,” are called that because their small heart-shaped leaves tremble and shimmer in a breeze. They turn vibrant gold in the autumn. Here in Santa Fe, entire mountainsides blaze with their color. The show lasts about two weeks. 

About the time that display ends, another is beginning. The mighty cottonwood trees that need more water and grow along the Rio Grande River turn bright yellow. The cottonwood is one of the largest hardwood trees in North America, with thick, fissured bark, and leaves that are flat and diamond shaped. I love to listen to the leaves when they have turned dry and brown, and some remain on the tree. When a breeze blows, the leaves bump each other and make a pleasant clacking noise.

 Yesterday, Heidi Of The Mountains worked half a day at a local art gallery, then came home and we packed up the car to go out painting. We drove north, toward Taos, and at one point the two lane road enters a narrow canyon that follows along the Rio Grande River. And this is where cottonwood trees live. They make a breathtaking display in the brilliant New Mexico light, especially on clear days when their boughs form a fan shape of golden leaves that shout with glee against the deep blue sky. The canyons, purple and grey, and spotted deep green with low lying juniper and pinon trees, lurch downward toward the blue Rio Grande River—and this completes the scene. 

Heidi's River, oil on board, 9 x 12 inches

We found our spot, set up our easels and painted. My wife had never painted a river before. I have thirty years of practice. Once started, she went non-stop until I looked behind and saw that she was half done while I was only beginning. This is her enthusiasm that makes her throw herself into something with all her weight. I relaxed, and let myself be led by pleasure and the dance of my nervous system playing with the paints and making song with colors and brush.

The air temperature was perfect, and the gurgling river accented the silence. Nature blazed all around, giving itself to seed and glorious sight—swooning at the end of gay summer and the entrance of frosty winter. Before long, the shadows had lengthened and the sun was setting behind the plateau. We stood back and examined our efforts, gave thanks for a satisfying adventure and headed home.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Deserved Praise

“Welcome everybody, and I am glad you are here today. We are going to have fun!” And with that greeting, I began the three hour session called, Palette Knife Painting The class was offered at a four day art expo, occurring at a sprawling resort and casino complex called Buffalo Thunder, on an Indian reservation outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Oil on canvasboard, 16 x 20 inches
Twelve people participated, and took chances exploring territory they had never been before. I insisted that they not judge themselves, but let the creativity flow and experiment. In front, elevated so all could see, I put one of my paintings—a simple composition of a sunset, with a bit of landscape at the bottom and the greater portion of the canvas, swirling, flaming sky, in a sea of blue.

I demonstrated and talked as the class proceeded.

The trick with palette knife painting is to be able to mix proper colors and then apply them on a drawing, keeping fresh and not muddy. It is a great way to show texture, and flare in handling of the paint. 
Each person had something in their work that warranted praise. I could see sometimes that they were lost, and in some case the colors had been muddied, but then, I could find some marks that showed resolve and freshness. So I gave praise. 
In some instances, the person was more adept, and the creation was more pleasing and harmonious. 

Everyone deserved praise for stepping into the unknown with me, and learning.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Died and Gone To Heaven

Occasionally I make an acquaintance and they ask me, “How many children do you have?” I always answer two, although only one is living. My oldest, Naomi died of cancer when she was nineteen, and Sarah is a young dancer. I know that one child is ahead of me, and the other behind.

I visited Naomi's grave this morning and after praying and remembering her, I took a step to leave and had the sudden realization that I would also be laid to rest before long. I thought of my body in the earth, and wondered could I be buried near Naomi? But no, that area is filled. Then I wondered, where? I do not know, especially since I am Baha'i and Baha'i law requires that a person be buried no more than one hour distance from the place of death. Since I love to travel, I cannot know where I might be when I die.

Just the realization of passing into the spiritual realm brought a surprising feeling of relief. I imagined the time of death; feeling great satisfaction of having lived fully, completed a cycle, and then entering a vast spiritual domain that has been my goal all along.

In a small way, I had similar feelings recently when I returned from five weeks of arduous and concentrated traveling in Egypt, Morocco and England. I had tremendous adventures, endured many discomforts as well as joys, was transfixed and dismayed, lived high and low, and in sum, felt the broad swath of life in a short time. It satisfied my wandering urges and reinvigorated my imagination, while fulfilling my soul. When I returned home, the first day felt like I had died and gone to heaven and now could start anew.

Sunday, October 05, 2014


Destiny is turning me in the direction of home. A steady hand guides me as the compass turns west, from London, England to Santa Fe, New Mexico, Unites States of America.

Looking back to when I left on my journey, five weeks ago, I realize there are many layers of experience that have been added to the pages that make up the volume of memory that archives my life. It is because of living intensely that the annals of one month can fill the pages of a book.
A magic carpet ride whisked me to Egypt, settling me at the foot of the Great Sphinx next to the pyramids. I touched the stones that were carried to the tombs of Pharaohs five thousand years ago. The teeming, dirty streets nearby are crowded with restless men, struggling with a poor economy amid political unrest. Nevertheless, I found friendship and cordiality that took me into homes.
Further south, in Luxor the Nile River calmed and refreshed my spirit, even as the sweltering heat limited my daytime activity. New friendships were struck, and old friends emerged. The simple life dazzled me like a poem from the hands of a great writer—Rumi comes to mind. I floated on the timeless river and broke bread with the best of humble company, while seated on nothing but earth and straw.
The wings of flight took me onward, east across Northern Africa, to Morocco, where French is spoken as companion tongue to Arabic. I speak neither, so maintained my silence amid the changing episodes and kaleidoscope, flickering pictures that continued to beguile my senses. I rented a car, and drove across the north of the country, from Atlantic Ocean, over mountains and plains, through towns large and small, to the border of the Mediterranean Sea, and back to Casablanca. Always the readily available cup of tea, fresh orange juice, olives, spiced foods—and bottled water, except when I felt assured of drinking from taps that would not make me sick—like in Chefchahouen, the mountain city of ancient narrow passages and blue walls and gates.
Along the Atlantic coast, I dove headfirst with joy into the onslaught of unending waves, clearing my pores, flesh, and bones of the weary effects of travel. 
When I could, I painted, and always photographed, using my camera as a third eye. 

At the end, my wife arrived in Casablanca and we continued as a couple for five days. I had someone to talk to again, and hold. We flew to London, a major outpost of world civilization, and found entrancement in the well organized bustling streets and attractions. We visited art museums, and became full of ideas and possibilities to take home. And so we will arrive from where we began, in the course of this one day, traveling eastward with the sun.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Worn Tracks Of Common Man

It seems ages ago that I left the United States. I wonder if I have died and entered a dream landscape that has turned generations of pages. First, the land of the Pharoahs and pyramids put a spell on me, and now Morocco with its Kasbahs, and life straddling the old world and modernity. Arab societies are culturally quite different from America—mosques replace churches and the call to prayer wails out from loudspeakers at regular intervals throughout the lands. Most women are covered in dress from head to foot, and in Morocco, often it is the way females play in the ocean at beaches; covered in clothing. 

An Egyptian family, Luxor, gypt

I often as not find I cannot speak with people because of language barriers. In Egypt it is Arabic that is spoken and in Morocco, Arabic and French. Since I speak neither, hand motions and charade is the best understood language.

Mostly, I have not sought to buffer myself with exclusivity but walk the worn tracks of common man. I get lost, and chance sometimes is not in my favor. Perspective and consciousness is everything. I replace frustration with wonder, fear with trust, bewilderment with amazement. Because I do not have barriers of belief or feelings of superiority and privilege, the world is open and I pulsate with life on many levels. Being open to roaming and surprise, I have found myself in places where I was asked into family homes. In Egypt among the earthen homes on back roads, I was made to feel like a brother—part of the family, with a place of honor at the table. Yes, the table was a simple piece of wood with short legs brought out and set on the dirt with a straw mat to sit on, but I felt perfectly comfortable and the food was delicious, and freshly prepared. Animals roamed about, children came and went, and the simple life satisfied my spirit and calmed me.

Where but in Morocco could I live in a city of blue? Chefchaouen is such a city. Built on the peaks and hillsides of the Riff Mountains, the moorish architecture is clustered amid narrow passageways that weave throughout the town. The walls and doorways are a traditional blue color. I found myself walking through the village as if in a dream of azure. When I painted, I had fewer colors on my palette—blue predominates.

Now I am in Assilah, along the Atlantic coast and have been here before. I like the relaxed atmosphere and the old medina that is perched along a seawall. It is known for an art festival each summer, and many of the walls are hand painted with artwork. I feel at home.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Unexpected Destinations

I have been traveling for two weeks—first Egypt and now Morocco. The experience has brought me to THE DREAM, where surprising pictures transform, and situations are often unpredictable and lead to unexpected destinations. I have awakened and opened my curtains to see the Sphinx gazing back at me near the pyramids in Egypt, played with children on earthen floors along the banks of the Nile, been made sick and dizzy by traffic snarls in Cairo. I have at times been lost, bewildered, confused—and also content, happy, and have felt deep love among people. I have walked the ancient, narrow passages of the old medina in Casablanca, Morocco and smelled the spice, fish, bread and fruit. I've thrown myself in the cold Atlantic Ocean and reveled in the surf, with my bedroom just steps away. At night, sleeping in strange places, sleep sometimes does not come easy. At least once, the noise was loud downstairs, and when I complained, I was asked to join the party—and did, dancing until 3 AM amid the raucous laughter and fun. Now, I find myself in a village of blue walls clustered on steep mountainsides, with a maze of passages that zigzag and twist in all directions . . . like THE DREAM.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Brothers Of The Nile

Karnak Temple
I am now a “brother” of the Nile. It feels as though this grand, lengthy and luxurious river is a vein in my own body. It will always share its life with mine. 

By now, I am quite familiar with Luxor, a major Egyptian city that straddles both sides of the river, and the home of many important historical sites from ancient civilization. I have visited most of the key locations, and especially like Karnak (founded 3200 BC), with its massive ramparts, scores of tremendous columns, inscrutable, exotic hieroglyphics carved in its walls, granite floors, and immense totemic sculptures of human forms and guardian beasts. Over thirty Pharaohs contributed to its formation over scores of generations. It is the second largest ancient religious site in the world, after Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia. 

On my first visit in 2008, I made friends with the captain of a felucca, a traditional sailboat now used primarily to take tourists on Nile River sailing jaunts. Abul Ez and I became friends and I often visited with him and his family in their humble home of earth on the West Bank of the Nile at Luxor. After a week, when I left to continue my world travel, he said, “Do not forget me and my family!”
During the years since then, I often thought of Ez, his family, Egypt and the Nile—so I returned. I did not seek Ez immediately, since I needed some time to unwind from a busy two days in Cairo, and Egypt is very hot and I am easily drained of energy while outdoors during most sunlight hours. So, I avoided the extremes and stayed indoors working on writing, painting and correspondence. Then, as I suspected, it was easy finding Ez, especially with the photo I brought with me to the West Bank. 

When we arrived at his home in the early evening, it felt familiar. I brought gifts to his wife and children and once everyone got over the surprise of my visit after six years, we settled into a happy feeling. I took note of how the four children had grown and also, the new addition of one boy, Yusef. As we sat in his tiny front room of earth and he smoked flavored tobacco in his water pipe, he smiled at me and said, “This is your home!”

Since my last visit, Ez has traded his felucca for a motorboat with canopy that seats a dozen people. He has more business, since he can quickly and easily ferry local people across the river and back. He has a motorbike, and now there is a television in his house. Otherwise, he looks much the same and has hardly aged . . . being robust and with vigor. The family still live humbly. Today at lunch, the meal was so delicious, and a flavorful soup was spicy and my nose began to run. I asked for tissue, but there was none in his home, so his wife tore a cotton rag and this is what I used for my nose. I am so comfortable here, and he reminds me that we are brothers, and I feel the same.

Monday, September 01, 2014

An Open Heart

My hotel in Cairo is so close to the Pyramids, that when I wake up in the morning and open my curtains and stand on the balcony, the Sphinx is looking at me with its imperturbable gaze. The face is that of a man, the hair of a woman, and body of a lion. Close by, three pyramids are prominently in view; Cheops, Khufu, Khafre. Six more are in the vicinity. 

The streets bustle with chaotic activity, and as I walked yesterday I realized that Heidi Of The Mountains would have no taste for walking with me through the grimy avenues, full of the stench of cars, garbage, and animal waste; camels, horses, and even sheep. It reminds me of other cities I have visited that are disheveled and crowded, and without beauty—like Calcutta, and Nairobi. Local people are oblivious of the mess, never having known anything different, and have a gritty determination. Be that as it may, there are many gems in the coal pile, and I find them. Adventure calls me forth, and with an open heart, THE DREAM unfolds marvelous circumstances. I have met AbdĂșl, a man in his fifties who speaks good English and has befriended me. After consideration, I accepted his overtures, and went to his home near the pyramids and had dinner with his family . . . even dancing with his little grandchildren while Arabic disco music played from the popular television station. At night we sat on his roof and watched the fantastic light show that plays every evening after dark at the pyramids. It is complete with dramatic music, narration, and shifting colors of lights that play on the Sphinx and pyramids.Today, in a barber shop I had the best shave of my life. I had asked my friend where I could buy a razor to shave, and he said no, “I take you someplace much better.” Sure, the place was rundown and grimy, but the shave was perfect—better than I do to myself.

This afternoon, I fly one hour down the Nile to Luxor, and when I return to Cairo in one week, I will stay with AbdĂșl and his family.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Let Go

In one week, I will be in Egypt. The first time I went was at the beginning of a trip around the world in 2008, and I had some trepidation because of Muslim fundamentalist hatred toward America. 
Yet, when I arrived, I found abundant love. 

This time, I also have a few doubts, but I am called to go and explore again, and hopefully, re-connect with friends I made and have lost contact with. ( See: Abu Ez )

After Egypt, I return to Morocco, the land of spices, mosques, mountains, oceans, camels in the desert, and Berbers. I will be mostly in the north, above Casablanca and will explore Chefchahoun, a mountain town where walls and doorways are painted a royal blue. 

Before leaving to travel in 2008, a dream foretold that I would enter a vessel and it would be a “grand confusion” between my world and the world outside of me. Hopefully, I will be able to let go, and happily dive back into a wonderful confusion of worlds.

For more, see:  
Welcome To Egypt

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Nature's Bountiful Harvest

One of the great pleasures of summer is partaking of nature's bountiful harvest in all its fresh vitality. Here in Santa Fe, two days a week, local farmers bring their fruits, vegetables and flowers to a farmer market. It is in a good location in the middle of town, near a train depot and shopping district. 

Especially Saturdays, the place is bustling with people wanting to buy the freshest food available. Meanwhile, musicians play for tips, the smell of fresh baked bread and roasting chile peppers fills the air, and the sight of flowers and fresh fruit and vegetables in fantastic variety dazzles the eye.