Archive for July, 2009

21 People at Disneyland, Future Collage Material, Memories


2009
07.28

Funny how summer always starts out as a blank slate, two-plus glorious months with nothing to do, and all of a sudden it’s packed!  Makes me think of the Calvin and Hobbes book, The Days are Just Packed. Last week was a little insane, even for me, however.  We had the four fabulous days at the cabin – the Bakersfield Six and me – came home, rested a day, and on Saturday set off for three days at Disneyland!

Just a small group of us – 21 in all.

In front of Sleeping Beauty's castle

In front of Sleeping Beauty's castle

It’s me, my three daughters, two husbands, eight grandkids (plus #10 in gestation), both my sisters, my three nephews and one niece, my niece’s fiance (wedding on Sat.). 21 in all.  In this picture, the two youngest in the strollers are not sure what it’s all about – they had just arrived, been plopped into strollers and wheeled down to a family picture in the midst of a sensory explosion!  They reacted the only sane way – by covering their heads and looking out slowly.

I suppose what possessed us is that my two nephews from Alaska, who are both in college now, have been going to Disneyland with us since they were very little.  This was the last hurrah in a way – in case we are scattered and the yearly summer visits stop.  As they become adults, we can’t expect them to come to Bakersfield every summer! So here we were.

It was horrendously hot.  Humid really. Sunday was not crowded at all but the humidity nearly did me in.  But as long as I could persevere I took photos, of course, and a couple I knew right off are going to end up as the background photos in some collages.

paradise pier resizedParadise Pier is at California Adventure, and it’s like the midway at a fair, only a gazillion times better.  California Screamin’, a giant roller coaster, goes through that tunnel thing on the top like a giant speedy caterpiller.  Look how cool it looks:

cali screaming resizedI know this will be in a collage – I love the image and the ambiguity of it also.  It’s a roller coaster, right?  Or is it?  Well, it has to be…I could go on and on, because it won’t seem so obvious when I get it into whatever I get it in to.  How’s that for an almost illiterate sentence?  It makes the point, though.

floating flower resizedThis flower was floating in a fountain in Downtown Disney.  I love the texture and the color, the yellow petals with the red flower, and I’m pretty sure this will be the background photo of a collage.

raft resizedNow this raft will not be in a collage.  I don’t think.  But it was one of the very fun rides in California Adventure.  This is me with one daughter, a son-in-law, and five grandkids.  We all got soaked!  And it was fun.

rafts resizedThere is nothing quite like water as a dynamic medium.

sun resizedThis California sun, again at California Adventure, is another image I like.  Half in sun, half in shade.  I want to use it but I can already envision problems.  It’s going to give me trouble, I know it, but I will try anyway.  This is how a collage takes shape – I have an image, and it will float around in my mind for a long time, I’ll get the texture of it, the variations, and slowly other images will insert themselves.  Then I’ll print photos, go up to the cabin, start cutting and rearranging and creating. And sometimes trashing and starting over.

ferris wheel resizedI’m not sure what’s going to happen with this one.  But it’s pretty amazing – this giant wheel, seemingly supported by two steel posts, and full of people in colorful cages.

highway patrol resizedThis is here just because I like it.  The grandkids speeding along in this “highway patrol” car.  I remember when that was fun for me – going fast, screaming around curves, loop-de-looping; now, I just throw up.  Age takes away certain pleasures.

princess resizedThe next day arrived and we went into Disneyland itself for the day.  The Colorado contingent joined us, but the little princess had a temp of 100 and wasn’t so sure how much fun this was.  Her brother, however, was taking it all in.

captn jack resizedAs I was waiting for them to arrive, sitting on a bench on Main Street with two strollers, I looked at the bench opposite me and I think I found another background picture for a collage.  It’s an unconscious process in a way, because I don’t look around thinking “collage material,”  but I see things that grab me.  Here’s the bench.

bench resizedAnd I know for sure that this next photo will be background.  Again, water.  I love water.  This is taken from the submarine porthole in the Finding Nemo ride – the old Submarines.  I love this one.

nemo resizedI’m thinking cows, peacocks, I don’t know – images are jostling around and something will settle out and I’ll try it.

And of course, Monstro, what fun it will be to make a collage from this!  I have always loved this – from the scary thrill we had as young children entering the mouth of the whale – with the scary teeth yet! – to the remembrance of that thrill.

monstro resizedIt’s pretty thrilling to look at this even now.  Again, water.  Love photos of water.  And  I just used the word “thrill” or a variation three times in a row.  I would not have let my writing students do that!  But of course we learn the rules only to break them.

So we had a pretty awesome three days.  And an incredibly draining three days, what with the activity and heat and humidity.  But is it all worth it?  Of course, and this is why:

abbo resizedSeeing my granddaughter on her first trip to Disneyland – entranced by Minnie Mouses’s house (even though she had a temperature and wasn’t  feeling tip top), is all the reward I could want.  What I am really doing, I hope, is building memories both for me as I get older, for my kids, and mostly for my grandkids.  In an imperfect world, I’m giving them what I can of perfection.  Who knows what my granddaughter is thinking here, where her imagination is taking her, and when it will resurface in the future to help her on her journey.  It’s all about the journey.

P.S. It’s been pointed out to me that I did not take the photo of the flower in the water.  My granddaughter took it while holding my camera while I went in the restroom!  Dang, now I can’t use it!

Canadian Snowbirds and a new collage, with special assistance from Beverly Crusher and B’Elanna Torres


2009
07.23

During the fun-filled four days with The Bakersfield Six, aka The Six Glamberts, I actually managed to do a collage.  It came together in a matter of hours.  That is, after thinking about this particular photo for months – and having cut out the soldiers from the asparagus crate label months ago – I finally knew what to do with them.

By the way, I’m being assisted in this typing by Beverly Crusher.  I’ve been away for four days and I think she missed me.

Beverly Crusher

Beverly Crusher

The background is a photo I took at an air show in San Francisco last October during Fleet Week.  The Canadian Snowbirds were awesome.  Of course, there are a few more Snowbirds in this photo than there were in the air.  The seal is a very old metal wind-up toy my 91-year-old father has in his collection, and it ended up in a photograph with my grandson the last time we were at Great-Grandpa Ed’s house.  The light blue scallops, the asparagas soldiers, the sailboat, and the Good Luck sign are from vintage fruit and vegetable crate labels, and the red robin is from a scan of a collage I made using the robin from a crate label.

Now B’Elanna Torres has arrived for some affection.  Kind of hard to type with a cat on the keys and one in front of the screen!

B'Elanna Torres

B'Elanna Torres

So what does this collage mean?  You tell me.  Is that a cop out?  Not really. This is from the “About Art” page on my web site susanreep.com.  There’s no right or wrong interpretation – according to Chinese artist Liu Chun-Hau, “Artistic creation is not mere decoration. The artist has to convey his inspiration to others while allowing them freedom of interpretation.”

Seriously, I’d like to know what you all make of the collage.  Leave comments on the blog, ok?  Instead of my facebook or twitter.

And – here’s the collage.

Part of the Altered Landscapes series

Part of the Altered Landscapes series

Glamberts, Treasure Hunts, Jean Luc Picard and Tie Dyed Shirts


2009
07.22
A happy Gramser
A happy Gramser

This is me.  Bursting with happiness and also caught on camera by surprise.  Why am I happy?  It’s the third day of being in the mountains with six of my grandkids – just me and the grands!  We’ve been having so much fun that when we return we’re all checking into Laughter Anonymous.  As one grandson says, we need a laughter 12-step program – sometimes we laugh so hard it’s almost dangerous!  In a bit, I’ll explain – no, I’ll show you – why my Bakersfield Six have become my own six little Glamberts.  But first…

How can I be so lucky?  Three days, six kids, no disagreements.  Highlight of the morning was washing and drying the shirts we tie dyed yesterday and seeing how they came out.  I’m wearing mine – the least creative of the bunch.  Here’s the array.

tie dyeFantastic, huh?  We just followed the directions in the Tie Dye kit I bought at Michael’s.

sarah sophie tie dye

The Jackson Smile

The Jackson Smile

When I ask one of the Colorado Three (my grandson in Colorado, who is three) (the Colorado Three becomes the Colorado Four in March) to give me his very best smile, this is what he does.  So we are all doing The Jackson Smile.

The Two Boys - Geordi LaForge?

The Two Boys - Geordi LaForge?

Look at the great job these two guys did on their shirts.

Here's some tie dye with attitude

Here's some tie dye with attitude

So – the TREASURE HUNT.  I had given the kids supplies they could use to make clues for a treasure hunt through the woods.  I also supplied the treasure, which I found on clearance at World Market.  The first team set out to plant their clues.

Why walk when you can run - uphill?

Why walk when you can run - uphill?

The new motto:  Why walk when you can run uphill? Why indeed?

Oh no...

Oh no...

Is there really a clue near this forest service bug trap?  Only one was brave enough to get it.

We see another clue!

We see another clue!

Follow the arrow.

Follow the arrow.

Could there be something up there?  Everyone's looking up.

Could there be something up there? Everyone's looking up.

By gum, there is treasure up there.

By gum, there is treasure up there.

Where do we go next?

Where do we go next?

Found something marked "Boy."  That's me.

Found something marked "Boy." That's me.

Hurry up.  Remember the motto?  Why walk?

Hurry up. Remember the motto? Why walk?

Into the ravine.

Into the ravine.

Treasure hunt successfully concluded with girls getting scarves and boys elephant banks.  I know my kids will love that – something else to sit around.

So what was left after a short rest?  THE GLAMBERTS!  Adam Lambert, move over.  (Well ok, no one can out-Lambert Adam) but the Bakersfield Six put on a show that anyone would be proud of.  Remember what I’ve been listening to hour after hour for the last two days?  “To the right, to the right, to the left, to the left…” and so on.  And on with the show!

This dance was intricate and entertaining.

This dance was intricate and entertaining.

I couldn't believe how great they were - six kids from 8 to 15.

I couldn't believe how great they were - six kids from 8 to 15.

Ok ok, I know what you are thinking.  They can’t be THAT good.  Well, you’re talking to a proud grandma here and in my eyes, they were perfection.

circle

Have they been watching So You Think You Can Dance?

Have they been watching So You Think You Can Dance?

Fantastic.  We’ll be announcing tour dates soon.  Tickets will be available…ok, shake off the daydream, no tour.  No Glambertmania.  But I was so proud of my six little Glamberts.

Moving on to FOOD.  Food is always good.  The two biggest girls were chefs tonight.

Chefs du jour

Chefs du jour

They made a terrific beef stew.

Secret recipe.

Secret recipe.

Cow Patties

Cow Patties

It was a “Cow” themed meal and for dessert we had cow patties.  Yum!  Made from chocolate chip cookies and Reece’s Peanut Butter ice cream.  Do you think this was a big hit?  A big hit with me was how efficient these two girls were – they cleaned, cooked, and cleaned up.  It was amazing.  I have to say I got off easy in the meal department.  I first decided that they should make the dinners because I thought they’d have a lot of fun planning and doing it, and indeed they did.

What would Jean Luc do?

What would Jean Luc do?

Jean Luc would clean up, pack up, and go home as scheduled because we go to Disneyland on Saturday.  They’ll  be 20 of us – all family.  So stay tuned for news from the Magic Kingdom.

I don’t think life could get any better – really and truly.  I am blessed.

P.S.  The laughter part came from playing Catchphrase after dinner.  I don’t believe anyone could laugh as much and as hard as we did.

And tomorrow I’ll talk about a new collage I did these last three days.  Where did I find time?

The Bakersfield Six Plus One, or a Grandmother’s Dream


2009
07.21

The Bakersfield Six Plus One, or a Grandmother’s Dream

the bakersfield six

The one is me – Gramser, and the six are the grandkids who live in Bakersfield.  And right now the seven of us are in Alta Sierra at my cabin.  Amazingly, all six of the grandkids get along fabulously – they keep themselves entertained and do things together and have fun.  The ages range from eight to fifteen, and all six have been doing activities together for two days now.  The biggest blessing for me is that they all want to be with me!  And each other.

We have no television at the cabin, cell phones are spotty, but we do have a television screen so we can watch DVDs and play wii.  And I have an iHome for the kid’s iPods.  I once had an iTouch, which I lost, but my music wouldn’t have suited anyway. Amazingly, no one has turned on the wii yet.  And I can’t even do my wii fit because all the furniture from the dining room area is in the living room.  The dining room has become a dance floor.

dance floor

For hours – and I mean about five hours now, I’ve been hearing “to the right to the right, to the left to the left” as they choreograph some big number.  I’m not supposed to be watching rehearsals, but I sure am hearing rehearsals.  And the kids don’t want me to know that the song is called The Cupid Shuffle, but it’s a little hard to miss it. The floor is thumping and the walls are shaking.

I did snag a sneek peek.

I did snag a sneek peek.

So it’s Tuesday at 3:19 pm.  I’m typing this with blood red fingers, but I haven’t become a vampire.  We’ll get to that later. Here’s the visit so far:

Monday: Ride up, 1½ hours from Bako using my daughter’s car so I can fit all six kids.  Stop along the way for pictures pretending that Ali is driving and the kids are all over the car.  Great fun. Daughter later emails to say don’t let kids climb on car again.  I probably will because I’ll forget, and it is her oldest that gets the idea anyhow.

kids and car

Realize I shouldn’t be wearing my Adam Lambert tee shirt and my two sizes too big pants because I look short and square and squat.  Then I remember I am short and square and squat.

lambert shirt

Unpack, go to Vons in Lake Isabella: the kids are divided into pairs, each pair responsible for one dinner.  It isn’t easy to shop in three groups, keeping the groceries secret from the others!  But we manage. The two boys, ages 8 and 12, wonder if watermelon goes with pizza.  But they do have a great idea – do-it-yourself pizzas!  A pizza bar bistro. As far as I am concerned, since the kids are doing dinners, anything goes with anything.

Cabin – afternoon movie.  The four smaller ones watching the Incredibles with the two older ones upstairs watching Trading Places – rated R!  Parental permission is obtained.  Then we play Catchphrase.  And dinner prep starts.

mashed potatoesfruit salad

The two middle girls make Monday dinner – orange chicken, mashed potatoes, fruit salad, brownies with ice cream.  Yum.  Really good.

dineer

Then more catch phrase, and the dancing begins.  Tons of fun.

listening tomusic

woohootoo much funlet the fun  begin

To calm down the kids play Haha.

haha

If you laugh, you are out.  They are all, almost instantly, out.

Bedtime comes but sleep eludes me until about 2 am.

Tuesday: The kids are up early and five of them go out for a run.  One reports that running up hills at 6,000 feet elevation is hard.  I struggle downstairs, have two Starbucks doubleshots (from cans), a diet pepsi and some iced tea to no avail – still very very tired.

And besides a break so we can tie dye some shirts, the kids are dancing all day!  Finally, I want my rooms back, I don’t want to listen to Cupid singing “To the right to the right, to the left to the left,” any more today.  So the rooms are put back together and the Bakersfield Six zoom upstairs to play card games.

Looks like moving day.

Looks like moving day.

Ok, the blood red fingers.  I still have my black Glambert nail polish – it survives, but my hands don’t survive the tie dye kit.  Really, I am expected to open the very small dye packets and pour the dye into the small bottles while wearing one-size-fits-giants gloves? I don’t think so.  And in a frenzy of activity, after I explain the steps and ask that we please proceed in an orderly fashion so nothing gets spilled, trash bags are spread on the balcony, covered with paper towels, and the damp shirts are arrayed on top; designs are planned and rubber bands placed in strategic positions.  I am still mixing dye.  Somehow it all gets done, and besides my hands, the only other casualty is my shirt – it’s definitely an around-the-cabin shirt now.  The yellow spots on the orange stripes can’t be considered intentional by any definition of bohemian or hippie or hip clothing.  And despite repeated applications of lotion, I may shed a layer of skin.

tie die

A few more rounds of Catch Phrase and it’s time for the boys to start dinner.  They use Boboli crusts, sauté yellow peppers and onions for toppings, slice tomatos and olives for more toppings, get out the sauce, pepperoni and cheese, and voila!  A pizza bar is born.   For dessert – milk shakes with four kinds of ice cream to choose from.  The piece de resistance is a roll of Mentos for everyone – that they buy with their own money.

pizza bar

Then Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which still entertains me mightily and my own children once had memorized.

The kids are tired - or are hating Bill and Ted.

The kids are tired - or are hating Bill and Ted.

My two youngest girls, when teenagers, actually dressed up in trench coats, took a video camera and microphone, and went to the Circle K, stopping patrons outside and asking them things like, “When did the Mongols invade China?”

So my nerves are frayed but I’m still holding it together, and suggest rather firmly that perhaps an early bedtime, or at least quiet time, is in order.  No disagreement there, and this second day in the mountains with the Bakersfield Six is full of adventure and fun.

What I want out of this more than anything is, of course, that the kids have fun, but that they build good memories of times with Gramser and each other, and that we keep childhood as idyllic as possible for as long as possible.  It’s a dream for me, to have these wonderful children and grandchildren.

Angela’s Ashes – RIP Frank McCourt


2009
07.19

images (1)

“When I look back on my childhood, I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: The happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.

“People everywhere brag and whimper about the woes of their early years, but nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty; the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father; the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire; pompous priests; bullying schoolmasters; the English and all the terrible things they did to us for 800 long years.”

Those words are on the first page of Angela’s Ashes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Frank McCourt, who died today at age 78.  When I read those words I was galvanized and knew that the pages to follow would be mesmerizing.  And they were.

Were I to pick out one sentence from that passage, it would be “The happy childhood is hardly worth your while.” Is that true?  I’d say yes, in essense.  I don’t think it means you must have a miserable childhood, but certainly, without adversity somewhere along the line, whether internal or external, you could hardly become an adult.

McCourt, and thousands just like him, qualified in the miserable childhood category.  But he had the gift to write about it in a way that brought it alive.  I could feel myself in the lanes, dealing with a certain class of people, and I could feel hunger.  His subsequent two books did not have the same impact, but his brilliance burned so brightly in Angela’s Ashes, that we really didn’t need any more.

imagesRest in peace, Mr. McCourt.  You’ve earned it.  And thanks for opening up your childhood and life to us so we could better understand our own lives.

Adam Lambert, Glambert, and the American Idols Tour


2009
07.18

adam resizedThe day arrived!  My daughter driving, me riding shotgun, and four teenagers (three of my grandkids and a friend), we’re off to the Staples Center in Los Angeles for American Idol.  A van with six Glamberts inside.

On the road again.

On the road again.

Four beautiful girls – Ali, Sarah, Daxton and Katie.  Last year when we went to the Idol concert, we stopped to visit a friend in the hospital first, then we got lost because although I grew up in Los Angeles and knew we were heading the wrong way, the navigation system said we were going the right way.  The electronics must be right, right? Wrong.  This year, no problem.  We weren’t rushed and got there to have dinner at ESPN Zone – right before the crowds hit!

My daughter on the left.

My daughter on the left.

As we headed to Staples Center, I got a tweet from Michael Sarver. (Ok, he wasn’t tweeting just me, but I felt important anyway.)  He said some of the idols were outside greeting the crowd, so we zoomed over there and saw Danny, Kris, and Matt Giraud.  No Adam, boo hoo.  I guess he had too much media to do.  Everyone is interested in HIM.

Kris Allen

Kris Allen

Kris was totally cool – so relaxed, so nice, very laid back.  Danny signed item after item with great patience.

Moi - with Matt Giraud

Moi - with Matt Giraud

Matt Giraud turned out to be the big surprise of the night.  We all knew he was good – but wow, he rocked that arena!  Could have listened to him forever.  He was one hot tamale.

Ok – time to go in.

Inside the Staples Center

Inside the Staples Center

The kids had seats away from ours which probably led to greater enjoyment on their part.  And I actually bought an Adam tee shirt!  What was I thinking?  Will I have the courage to actually wear it?  Ummmmm – YES!

So WHY WERE WE HERE?

adam resizedI have to take a little detour here into the Adam phenomenon.  When I was in school, I was madly in love with Bobby Rydell!  But my big crush was Don Drysdale.  That’s right, a baseball player.  While the other kids were swooning over Fabian and Frankie Avalon, I was stuck on Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax.  Right there, that should tell you that I am not quite mainstream.  I’ve never joined a fan club, never been gaga over movie stars or entertainers (I did have a picture of Harrison Ford in my closet however).  But here comes Adam Lambert.

I don’t think it’s a matter of adoration, crushes, etc.  But we are, so many of us and yes, so many of us in my age group, completely mesmerized by this man.  We scream for him, we watch the performances on youtube over and over, and look for any mention of him on the news or the blogs.  Why?  Of course, he is completely good-looking, handsome, dashing in a slightly dangerous sort of way, but we might get bored looking if he just stood there.  But – he moves!!  Boy does he move.  I really can’t think of anyone else who can draw you in by his movements, his sexiness, his hint of danger and wickedness, and that indescribable voice.

For me, maybe that’s the crux.  I so ardently admire anyone who is at the top of his game, who is brilliant, who is supremely talented, and Adam is all this.  And he also happens to be, from all accounts, just very nice, considerate, helpful, and kind.  So I am hopelessly devoted to Adam.

I do laugh, however, at all the statements on blogs and twitter and facebook reacting to the fact that he’s gay.  No one seems to mind that much – but so many of the girls say, “Oh well, I like him anyone, but too bad there’s no chance for me.”  That cracks me up.  As if there were ever a chance for any of them!  Or any of us old enought to be his grandmother!

And there’s one other facet to this.  It’s so much fun to have fun!  And to think about Adam rather than Iraq or Pakistan or world hunger.  It’s a release.

So – the concert.  Everytime a picture of Adam showed on screen, or in a Ford commercial, while we were waiting for the concert to start, the arena went wild.  It was pretty clear who people were there to see.

Allison Iraheta

Allison Iraheta

Everyone was good to watch – not thrilling, maybe, but entertaining enough while we waited.  The crowd reacted well but not with terrific enthusiasm until Matt Giraud rocked us all out and left us wondering, where did he go during Idol? Was it  judge intimidation or the song choices?  Because THIS Matt was worth seeing all on his own.

Then after intermission, Allison came out and took over the stage.  She owned that stage.  Her energy was so dominating and infectious and her voice was so commanding that there was no doubt that we were looking at a rock star to be.  Next was Danny and he was ok.  He did a Latin number that was really fun and cool, but then he got into a combination of motivational speech/preacher speech and left I think at least half the crowd puzzled.  But it didn’t matter becasue excitement was building for…

ADAM who exploded onto that stage singing Whole Lotta Love.  Could hardly get a photo there were so many bright lights exploding all over the stage.  From second one, he was not a rock star, he was a Rock God.  WHY had no one discovered this guy before?

Mad World or Starlight

Mad World or Starlight

Next he sang Starlight by Muse.  I’m pretty sure this is the Starlight picture.  It was amazing.  Just soaring and indescribable.  After that Allison came back for Slow Ride – those two rock together.  They are magic together.  And clearly admire each other.

Life on Mars

Life on Mars

Adam did Mad World and the audience actually sang along.  That was so cool!  How can he keep singing that song over and over and over and make it fresh each time? And then a David Bowie medley starting with Life on Mars.

He was wearing an incredible leather black/blue spiky jacket with tails, but during the next number he took off the jacket.  You know the trite old expression “The crowd went wild?”  Well, the crowd went wild.

Shirt off

Shirt off

If you squint and look close enough you can see bare shoulders.  So hard to get photos from where I was.  I swear, if I do this again, I’m taking a step-stool.

adam resized twoKris came after Adam of course – Kris was the winner.  And his set was great.  People sat down but did fully appreciate him – the ones who didn’t leave after Adam.  I liked him better than I ever had on the show.  I wonder if he has moments when he feels a little left out – the press wants to interview Adam, the people scream for Adam, it’s Adam Adam Adam.  Kris is a gentle person, though, and I would guess he is genuinely happy for Adam and doesn’t mind the excess of Glambertmania.

Which reminds me that this Glambert got black nail polish for the show!  No eyeliner though.

adam finaleSo the finale.  And it was done.  And we were trending toward tired.

after concert resizedGetting ready for the 2-hour ride home.  I gotta tell you, Friday was wasted.  Home at 1, bed at 2, can hardly do that anymore.  You feel a little bit different in the sixth decade of life.  But it was so fun and my guess is, we’ll do it again if the next Idols are good.  There will never be another Adam, that’s for sure.

So this Glambert is signing off for now, still entranced by all things Adam.

Short Stories


2009
07.15

 

Funny thing, but since I’ve retired and no longer teach writing, I’ve started to write myself.  Writing is the flip side of reading – the more you read, the better you can write.  And if you write, you have something to share for others to read.  If you have something worth writing and write it well, the rewards multiply.  In this photo, two of my grandchildren are clearly captivated by what Michael is reading to them.

A close friend reading to my grandkids in Colorado.

A close friend reading to my grandkids in Colorado.

I always told my students to begin by writing what they know.  In a way, I was forced into writing by my need to sort out this business of aging and know it better.  My dad is 91, my mom 85.  Between them, they make up almost one person.  Neither would be able to live independently alone; together they are barely managing.  My dad knows how close it is; my mom is pretty much unaware of their limitations.  So I started writing.  Can I make more sense of what is happening?  Maybe, maybe not.  Mostly, I’ve come to realize it just is what it is.

I do know that many people my age are facing these same problems with their parents, and that’s another thing about writing: It can help others and shed new perspectives on what we are facing.  Writing and reading – the connection is so much deeper than the obvious, that we read what is written.

I’ll start posting the stories little by little.  First one, Sunset, today.

Meanwhile, here’s an interview with Patrick Rothfuss, a fantastic author of a not-so-short story, talking about his book The Name of the Wind and the writing process.  It’s fascinating even if you never intend to write something!  It’s from my son-in-law’s blog.


Harry Potter and Adam Lambert


2009
07.14

Preparations are underway.  I reread all the Harry Potter books and they are just as good the 5th time as the first.  Tomorrow at noon – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!  I wonder if it will turn out the same as the books?  You know how you can reread a book or see a movie again and again and still wonder if it’ll turn out the same?  Feel the same suspense?

Also, getting a manicure and pedicure tomorrow – black of course – to get ready for Thursday’s American Idol Concert at Staples Center.  I have a feeling it’s going to be a long evening of waiting for Adam Lambert.  Allison should get the crowd going but Adam is going to rule!  I feel a bit sorry for Kris Allen, because wonderful guy that he is, he has to be feeling just a little bit uneasy about following Adam.  I can’t wait to hear Adam’s gorgeous tenor and soaring voice in person.  He’s not bad to look at, either.

Getting Old…er


2009
07.13

This morning the entire health section of the Los Angeles Times was devoted to aging.  It brought back memories of an essay I wrote in 2007, so I thought I’d post it.  I wrote it on the day I realized I was getting old and couldn’t fool myself anymore.  I know 62 (or am I 63?) isn’t old, but it’s not young either.  No matter how much I tell myself that I can expect wrinkles, I probably shouldn’t dye my hair, and that gravity eventually wins, I still fall prey to our constant desire to look young.

Here I am as a kid.  Now, I don't expect to look like this the rest of my life.

Here I am as a kid. Now, I don't expect to look like this the rest of my life.

One article in particular was interesting because it was about anti-aging products and the fact that despite not being proven to work at all, women will not give them up, even in the recession.  I had to laugh, because I am cutting back wherever I can, and I was debating not buying the Lancome products I use, but finally realized that I was going to buy them.  Somehow, psychologically, I need to feel I have that little edge (even if I know I don’t).

High school senior - I don't expect to continue to look like this either, but...

High school senior - I don't expect to continue to look like this either, but...

2006 - not bad, but here's where you can't take a close look.

2006 - not bad, but here's where you can't take a close look.

So I thought of my essay.  It’s humorous – but true!  I look pretty good for 62 – at least that’s what I’m told all the time.  My response, however, is, “What is 62 supposed to look like?”  And really, I do look good – just don’t look too close!  Because closer examination reveals that you can only hide so much.

2007 - my 60th birthday, with my oldest daughter and my mother.

2007 - my 60th birthday, with my oldest daughter and my mother. Now I have to try to avoid full body shots. Stick to head shots only.

2008 - Discovery!  Hold the camera higher than your head and you look better!  From now on, anyone who takes my picture has to climb up a ladder.

2008 - Discovery! Hold the camera higher than your head and you look better! From now on, anyone who takes my picture has to climb up a ladder.

2009 - at a race.  Ok, so it's not a great angle.  Who really cares, anyhow.

2009 - at a race. Ok, so it's not a great angle. Who really cares, anyhow.

Because, really, this is reality.  I do have mascara on, but this is when you really have to take just a cursory look.  And I'm pretty sure I'm 62, not 63.

Because, really, this is reality. I do have mascara on, but this is when you really have to take just a cursory look. And I'm pretty sure I'm 62, not 63.

Thank God for lipstick, flatirons, and hair dye.

Thank God for lipstick, flatirons, and hair dye. But they can only do so much. I must accept the lines and the bags. And get a haircut.

Here’s the real clincher.  I already posted this essay!  But I didn’t really blog about it.  So the very last line in the essay just proved itself.

Bakersfield CA Art Scene is Hopping


2009
07.12

I think Bakersfield is hitting the big time after years of effort.  The arts district downtown is lively and fun.  Saturday I walked around downtown in spite of temps in the 90s and dropped in to the Surface Gallery across from the historic Fox Theater.

SURFACE gallery

SURFACE gallery

One of the co-owners, Yvonne Cavanagh, turns out to be the daughter of someone I have known for a long time!  She is also a wonderful ceramicist and heads the art department at Bakersfield High School (Once a Driller, always a Driller).  As I walked through on Sat. morning, the joint was jumping.  Liz Sherwyn was conducting a very well-attended class, and I took a look at the new show featuring Portland artist Michele Maule.

michele maule works on exhibit

michele maule works on exhibit

Tonight Mark and I went to an opening at Valentiens – Bakersfield’s premier restaurant.  They don’t have a web site but you can check out the reviews on yelp.  So we went to see the work of Jen Bowles, which was very exciting.  Also, enjoyed the great wine and cheese hors d’oeuvres!  And found Yvonne Cavanagh there with ceramics and purchased a bowl.

Jen Bowles

Jen Bowles

So this was pretty cool.  Lots of art in two days and all of it good.  How refreshing!

Valentiens also had a couple of works on display by Brent Eviston, the art instructor at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. They, too, were very exciting.

Plus – yesterday morning I had a nice chat with Don Martin at the Metro Gallery, where I have a show opening on the first Friday of October – Altered Landscapes.

Metro Gallery

Metro Gallery

I’m pretty excited to be showing at such a beautiful gallery.  In addition, Don holds many events there, so the art is seen by all kinds of people.

Metro Gallery

Metro Gallery

Besides all this, the Bakersfield Museum of Art, the Younger Gallery, the Arts Council of Kern, and The Basement are all fantastic.  Bakersfield, I’m proud of you!  We’re more than a place to stop on the way to somewhere else.  If you are passing through, stop – eat at Valentien and check out the galleries.  You can check out my gallery too – right here!