Archive for February, 2010

Two days until G-day/American Idol is ruined


2010
02.25

That would be Glambert day.  Two days to go until the big Palm Springs adventure.  (the Adam Lambert concert that I’m going to with my twitter friend from Oklahoma) Didn’t realize quite how long the drive was – four plus hours.  I’ll be fine if I sleep.  Last couple of nights I’ve been getting up at midnight or 1:00 am and going down to the studio to do a couple of journal pages.  Been too long since I’ve been in the studio and it’s bottling up.  Too much happening too, what with our unexpected purchase of a house.

Who watched Idol Tues. and Wed?  I had a feeling that the season would be flat without Adam.  He was so exciting that we can’t expect anyone else like that to show up.  But really – the song choices were so drippy and boring.  Out of the thousands of choices available, this is the best they could do?  Casey is the boy standout, and not just because he’s so darn cute.  He puts his soul in his work and his image fits his song choice.  Other than him, where’s the stage presence?

Girls – Crystal and Lilly were the only stand-outs as far as I’m concerned.

And yes, I miss Paula; and no, I can’t get used to Kara.  I keep trying but just can’t warm up to her.

So here are the journal pages I did the last two nights.  They don’t mean anything in particular: my constraint for journaling still is watercolor background and collage material from a few National Geographics I have laying around.

This is The Blues.  The next one is Electro Pop.

Full report with photos coming after Palm Springs.  However – the Casino says we cannot take cameras into the concert.  And how is this stopped, what with cell phones and all?  We’ll see.

Spring, as in Palm Springs; and Spring, with a Message for my Friends Back East


2010
02.25

Glambert Alert

I’m going to the Fantasy Springs Casino and Resort in Palm Springs to see Adam Lambert in concert!  It’s no secret that I am a fan – and I’ve found other fans on Twitter.  One is named daxtonsnini.  Huh?  I have a granddaughter named Daxton, so I asked daxtonsnini, “What’s up with your name?”

Daxtonsnini’s real name is Nita.  But she has a grandson named Daxton who can’t say Nita and calls her Nini.  Well, that was instant bonding.  We had Daxtons in common as well as Adam.  Turns out daxtonsnini is a teacher and curriculum specialist in her district in Ada, Oklahoma – and I was a teacher here.  She’s been married 40 years; I’ve been married 41.  And she’s the sweetest person I’ve ever met – yes, I do feel as if I’ve met her.

That’s why, when this concert was announced, I pounced and got two tickets as well as a room at the resort.  I asked daxtonsnini – I can call her Nita – if she wanted to come.  No she said, Daxton had been sick and she’d taken days off work to take care of him so she didn’t want to miss more.  Ok.

Wait – I asked her why she couldn’t fly to Palm Springs on Sat. and back to Oklahoma on Sunday.  After all, I told her, I went to Switzerland once for four days.  Next thing, she had the ticket, I added a night to the reservation so I could pick her up at the airport in Palm Springs Saturday morning, and we are set.

Almost set.  What’s a 63-year-old pudgy Glambert (that’s me) to wear?  Something totally inappropriate of course.  Black leggings rouched at the ankles, a gold sequined top, and boots.  I mean it’s all for fun, right? And in case that’s not enough, I have some antennas that twinkle, all glittery, and a black and purple feather boa.

I don’t think anyone will look too closely at me because we’ll all be in a state of high excitement, probably with a few drinks under our belt.  Heck, we’ll all look good in that state!  So let’s just go along with the fun and no one tell me I look like Men in Tights or anything.  I can’t wait for Adam and to meet Nita.  Life is such a great adventure!

I’ll report back when I return and have pictures, I’m sure.  Oh – and the resort has organized a Glamily Reunion so fans from all over can meet!  And I mean all over – there are people coming from as far away as Thailand.

For all you on the East coast and in Texas where it shouldn’t be snowing

When I posted the photos of the almond orchards the other day, (the fateful day when I found our new house without even looking), many of you said you had weeks to go before you saw any green.  So I did a journal page for you with a Japanese poem.  I don’t know the author so can’t attribute correctly, but here’s the poem:

One solitary plum blossom

and the whole world has spring.

Operation Old Age Begins with a New Home


2010
02.23

Today’s post is pretty darn close to the Creative Every Day theme of Home.  Coming at the end of February, this is the kicker.

We made an impulse purchase yesterday – we opened escrow on a house!  We seem to buy our houses with less than thought we give to spending $9.99 on a new can opener.  It’s not quite as alarming as it sounds, actually.  For anyone who’s been following my blog, you know that I’ve been dealing with aging parents.  Mom is 86 with Alzheimers and is starting to forget who people are; Dad is 91 and is just now repeating himself, forgetting things, sleeping most of the day, and Sunday told me he thinks his mind is declining.

That’s all pretty normal.  The problem is created by Mom and Dad giving no thought to their declining years other than a refusal to leave their home or let anyone in their home to assist.  Which puts the burden on us kids.  And “us kids” – well, we may be in our 50s and 60s, but we are still helping out our own kids with grandchildren.  The world is getting smaller and we are gravitating back to the days when extended families lived together or in a compound and assisted each other.  Only problem is, we don’t live near each other and we’re getting squeezed.  Even living in the same city is not near enough. I wrote an essay about that, Stuck in the Middle, mainly to get my thoughts square I guess.

So my husband and I concluded that we need to take whatever steps we can to ease the burden on our children NOW, when we are 63 and healthy and vital.  Because if we wait until we need to take steps, we won’t be able to.  We decided to sell our house – our beautiful house on the lake.  That was not an easy decision.  We love this house, we’ve put so much into it, and it’s been perfect for the grandkids and for entertaining.  But we thought we should have a one-story house with less maintenance, less yard, but most importantly, with a room and bath separate from the main house so that when we get like my parents are, someone can be hired to live in with us and take the burden off the kids.  And moving, while daunting and scary, can only get harder as the years pass.

We were going to wait a year and then start looking.  Just the other day I asked Mark if he’d given any thought to neighborhoods and suggested that we might want to think about areas we’d like.  Of course, it would be within a small radius of where we are now since two daughters live close by.  I said I’d always been curious about the San Trope development.

Which brings me to last Saturday.  I went out to take photos of orchards in bloom, took my usual route home which passed San Trope, saw an open house sign and on the spur of the moment turned in.  The street was Via Lugano.  Not only was Italy our favorite country, I visited William, a former student, three years running while he was in boarding school in Lugano, Switzerland.  It must be an omen.

I got to the house.

See the brown door?  That’s the front door.  This is the door to the left of the brown door:

It leads into a room and bathroom separate from the house!  I couldn’t believe it.  Some good karma was going on here.

Walking in the front door, there was a large area for a living room.

And a dining area with a built-in breakfront.  But take a look at that door you can barely see on the right.  It leads into a room with fantastic north light.  Studio, anyone?  I was getting goosebumps.

Nice big open kitchen with a giant island – something I’ve always wanted.  And the drawers have pull-outs so you don’t have to squat and search through the shelves for a bowl.  Knees work a little less well each year, so this is a wonderful feature.

A nice family room with fireplace (because we really need that in Bakersfield) and built-in entertainment center, which we’ll probably use to display sculpture.

Fantastic master bath – look at that tub!  Bathtubs are very important to me, and we can put in bars and a little staircase when I need it.  Like small dogs have to climb up on beds.

Now I was really flipping.  This closet is as big as a room, and the house is 2,800 square feet.

Next is the best part.  I was afraid we’d have to move into a smaller house in a crowded area.  But this house is on a golf course.

We may get hit by an errant golf ball, but we’ll never feel hemmed in.

The yard isn’t too bad.  Not much maintenance, and we’ll gradually replace the shrubs with cacti.  And we’ll plant a row of queen palms in front of the fence – it might block a golf ball here and there.

The front has a nice parking area, and when the trees have leaves it’ll be like a park.  And our end of the street ends with a canal, so no development there.

I drove home and said, “Mark, I’ve found our house.”  He came back with me, we went back on Sunday and made an offer, and by the close of Monday we were in escrow.  It’s a short sale but everything has been approved.  It all just seemed like fate.

Operation Old Age has begun.  Packing and moving will probably hasten the old age – Mark can hardly face it, but it would only have gotten worse.  And of course there is the matter of selling our current house.  Naturally, the next couple of months are the busiest of the year for me without selling, packing and moving.  We truly can’t afford to own three houses!  (The cabin in Alta Sierra is house-size.)

It makes us sound rich, which we are not.  In fact, I hope we have enough to get us through old age.  But compared to most of the world, we are wealthy.  We’re aware of that and quite grateful.  We’re wealthy in family, in possessions and health, in love and friendship, in self-fulfillment.  And we have the self-awareness to begin planning for the future as much as possible.  Operation  Plan Ahead, or Operation Old Age, is underway.

Losing a Home for What You Believe In: Sick and Tired of Being Invisible


2010
02.22

The final week of Creative Every Day’s HOME-themed month is also the final week of Black History Month.  I can’t think of a better way to honor a woman who did sacrifice her home for what she thought was right than by copying this column by Dr. Julienne Malveaux, president of Bennett College for Women.

SICK AND TIRED OF BEING INVISIBLE:  A STATUE FOR FANNIE LOU HAMER

BY JULIANNE MALVEAUX

As Black History Month draws to a close, it is interesting to ponder the many ways we have (and have not) commemorated the month that evolved from Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s 1926 inception of Negro History Week.  In the nearly 75 years since the Harvard-educated historian asserted the importance of African American History, African American people have moved from the outhouse to the White House, and many would argue that we are better off than we have ever been.  Others would point to the disparities in income, employment, education, and opportunity to suggest that much more must be done before we have attained social and economic justice.

One of the glaring inequities in our space is the difference between the ways whites and African Americans are represented in our nation’s statuary. Every city sports statues of war heroes and politicians, with an activist thrown in here or there.  Most of the statues are of white men, with a few white women thrown in for good measure.  Every now and then there will be a bust or statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Black women are mostly invisible in the public statuary.

There are statues of Sojourner Truth in Battle Creek, Michigan and Florence, Massachusetts.  Last April, thanks to the work of the late C. Delores Tucker and the National Congress of Black Women, a bust of Sojourner Truth was installed in the US Capitol.  She is the first African American woman to be so honored, and it took a decade and the focused work of the women of the Congressional Black Caucus to make it happen.  These committed Congresswomen have started a Sojourner Truth Movement to empower women in leadership, employment, and federal service.

There are also statues of Mary McLeod Bethune in Washington, DC at Lincoln Park and at Bethune Cookman University, which she founded.  And, there is a wonderful statue of Harriet Tubman in Harlem.  This list is not exhaustive – Oakland is to install a tribute to Ruby Bridges and Dr. Maya Angelou this spring.  Still, black women are woefully underrepresented, virtually invisible, in the public statuary.

This is why I was excited when Dr. Patricia Reid-Merritt asked me join the Fannie Lou Hamer Statue Committee that will erect a statue to the civil rights leader in Ruleville, Mississippi.  Fannie Lou Hamer is a heroine, an icon, a role model, and an inspiration, a woman who deserves to be lifted up, commemorated, and memorialized.  She was born in 1917 and died of breast cancer when she was just shy of 60, in 1977.  As the eulogizers often say, it is not the beginning or end, but the dash that really matters.  Mrs. Hamer managed to cram a lot of living and giving into her dash.

She joined the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1962 and was the first African American in Sunflower County, Mississippi to register to vote.  She was so badly beaten on June 9, 1963, that she carried the effects of the beating (including kidney damage and an injured eye) for the rest of her life.  Still, she stated that her goal was “to register every Negro in Mississippi).  She challenged the Democratic Party on the representation of African Americans in its delegation during the 1964 Democratic National Convention, and challenged both Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey on the righteousness of her position.  She was a delegate to the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Fannie Lou Hamer dropped out of school in the sixth grade, but her pithy wisdom has informed generations.  She was “sick and tired of being sick and tired”, and exhorted black folks, “with Ph.Ds or no Ds” to remember “we are in this bag together.”  She reminded Christians “we serve God by serving our fellow man,” and railed against hunger and poverty.  She spoke to the way freedom movements are intertwined, asserting that “nobody’s free until everybody’s free,” and was one of the founders of the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971.

Can the sister get a statue?  She can if enough people support the cause.  There is information about the statue effort at www.fannielouhamer.info.  Check the site out and, if you are so moved, embrace the project. As Black History Month winds down, consider the fact that our public spaces only scantly reflect an African American presence in our nation, either historically or contemporaneously. In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, we are sick and tired of being invisible.  Helping to erect a Hamer statue will commemorate the legacy of a powerful woman and enhance the public visibility of African American women and our contributions.

Julianne Malveaux is President of Bennett College for Women.  She can be reached at presbennett@bennett.edu.

If you agree that this woman is worthy of commemoration, please visit the website and donate – $5, $10, whatever you can.  We won’t succeed without your help.

Check out the  post about this woman I wrote last month for more information.

#CED2010: It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood; and a New Handy Gadget for Painting


2010
02.20

Creative Every Day’s theme for February is Home.  Today I took a few minutes to look over one of my homes.  We all have so many: the walls that surround and contain our house is what we most often view as home.  Yet our homes go deeper as well as wider.  We can be at home in our bodies, spiritually home in our souls, comfortable in our own skin – but we can also be at home in our neighborhood, our city, our state, and so on up the continuum. Today I took a little tour around the neighborhood I call home, and it was indeed a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

We have rural areas about a mile from our house.  The almond trees are in full bloom – so beautiful!  Obviously, Saturday morning traffic was light.

The blossoms are so delicate and lovely, and the fallen petals look like snow.  If you check out this link, you can see last year’s orchards, which I used in a collage, Burro Love. You’ll have to forward through to picture 32.  And if you stop at picture 24, Grounded, you’ll see the background is just almond petals.  I used that as the background for the lotus flowers and the Buddha, photos I took in China.  The background is enigmatic: no one was able to recognize just what it is – almond petals.

The almond trees whisper  to us that Spring will once again visit this corner of the earth.  It won’t be here long – in Bakersfield Spring quickly turns to Summer – temperatures in the hundreds, dirty air – but for now, Spring is so hopeful that it doesn’t seem to matter.

The grapevines, however, remind us that we do have a ways to go yet.

We have this to look forward to – leaves of the newest green, deepening as the grapes grow, and finally ending with blazing fall colors, only to go dormant again.

So it was a beautiful day in my neighborhood, a place I call home.

New find for the studio

I became aware of these dish drying mats at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I’ve been using them in the studio to wipe paint brushes on, etc. and I just pop them in the washer from time to time.

They’re about $10 each – but they sure save on paper towels.  I use them for the dishes, too.

The State of My Union: A Week in the Life


2010
02.19

It feels like it has been so long since I’ve been connected to a routine, to my home, to myself, that I barely know how to begin.   So the title of this post doesn’t refer to the state of my marriage, which is doing just fine after 41 years, but to the state of my union to myself.

I’ll start with a deep breath.  And a pretty view.  I looked out the window at just the right moment last week and caught some beautiful late afternoon light.

I think February is the very best month in Bakersfield.

So – my last post was on a home devolving back to a house as my parents lose their grip on reality and day-to-day functioning.  That post was like projectile vomiting – it spewed out.  This one is harder, not just because I don’t have an emotional bombshell sitting on my chest right now,  but because it has to do with putting myself together.  Sort of vague – how to put oneself together when you haven’t come apart.

I had a full calender over the last two weeks.  Lots of lunches, evening commitments, and then with my sister visiting, lots of daytime lunches and visits at my parent’s house.  All the activity reinforced something I know but sometimes ignore.  Sixty-three isn’t fifty-three; it isn’t even sixty or sixty-two.  Every year my tolerance for being on the go declines just a little. I have to pace my activity.  I can only handle so much.

All tuckered out

Let’s just take this week, starting with Sunday: we had a lovely Valentine’s lunch at a great restaurant in town, appropriately named Valentien.  (The link gives you the menu which says Saturday but it was the same lunch on Sunday.) Then we had dinner at The Orchid (Thai fusion)  that same evening with my two sisters and brother just to make sure we are all on the same page regarding my parents.  My husband is restoring a Model A Ford that’s been in his family for ages, so he joined the Model A Club.  Monday night was their monthly dinner outing, this time at Moo Creamery, and I had to be social and interested in dozens of people who come together because of a common interest in cars.  Which I have no interest in whatsoever. But if my husband wants to do this activity, be in this club, I’m doing it with him.  He does an awful lot for/with me that he doesn’t want to.  He demands very little, is very low-maintenance, and I’m thrilled when he’s interested in something.

Tuesday I spent time at my parent’s house, (my father is definitely extra-high maintenance as you might expect from a nationally-known artist), went to lunch with my sisters, Target and Ross, and then went to Fat Tuesday at a local club called Fish Lips.  I didn’t really want to go but BECA (Bakersfield Emerging Contemporary Artists) was doing face painting to raise money, and I volunteered to help.  I have to contribute somehow to these organizations I benefit from.

So I put on my festive purple hat and went out after dark.

Corky Blaine was there also, painting away, and the belly dancer is Nyoka, our BECA leader. (I want to call her the Goddess, she’s such an amazing person.)

Ok, that was Tuesday.  Already I was zonked.  But we had Wednesday, and I had a coffee meeting with John Harte, a free-lance photographer whom the newspaper had hired to take photos of my Altered Landscapes show last October, and he was giving me a disc with the photos.

This photo is from the show at Metro Galleries and it’s me, my husband, and my parents.  My parents look so fine – you would never know from a first meeting that my mom has Alzheimers and is forgetting who some of the great grandchildren are and that my dad sleeps most of the day.

I was going to go to the Random Writer’s Workshop Wednesday evening, but my sisters and I took my parents out to dinner instead.  We went to California Pizza Kitchen, which my dad forgets that he hates – so it’s his new favorite restaurant.  My mom was looking at the wonderful photos on the dessert menu and she said she wanted one.  Which one, Mom? No, not a dessert, she wants to take the menu home so she can keep reading about the desserts.  It’s a good thing my natural propensity is towards laughter instead of frustration!

Thursday morning started with Starbucks – I was having coffee with Chris McKee, the mother of my former student who died a couple of weeks ago.  When I had asked, during the week of the funeral and preparation, what I could do, she said I could have coffee with her in the coming weeks, when all the relatives had left, and there she and her husband would be to face the emptiness.  That was an easy request since I’ve always liked Chris, a fellow artist.  We’re going to make coffee a weekly event, which will be good for both of us.

Zonked for sure

And then I was zonked for sure.  Picked up my granddaughter from school, came home, and called it a day.  I was supposed to go to a mini-reunion of the Vaudeville Express Melodrama, a local theater I used to be involved with, but I just had reached my limit.  So I stayed home and worked on the photo-sorting project.

Today, Friday, I had lunch at Enso with Wendy Wayne, my dear friend who had the stem-cell replacement last year for non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and my oldest daughter joined us.

This photo is from the October opening of my show at Metro Galleries.  That’s Wendy in the middle.  She’s getting her hair back.  On the left is her husband Gene Tackett, and on the right John Hefner, my former principal at Fruitvale Jr. High.  We both retired the same year.

I’ll allow that trying to keep up with the Olympics, not to mention American Idol and Survivor, robbed me of what little free time I had, but a person has to have priorities.  And if you DVR the Olympics, it’s possible to zoom through them pretty fast.  I mean no disrespect to any of the sports or athletes, but how many people can you really watch leaving the starting point of the Nordic Combined?  And a couple of minutes of Curling seems adequate.

Friday

So it’s Friday evening and I am HOME and glad to be here.  The state of my union will solidify with some quiet time at home.  I have nothing on my schedule for the weekend, although that has a way of changing.  The parent situation is always a bomb waiting to explode.  In fact, when I got home from the Model A Club dinner on Monday, there was a phone message.  It was my mom, who didn’t understand she was talking to the machine, telling me something was very wrong with Dad – that he was shaking uncontrollably and she didn’t know what to do.  She ended the message in tears.  I called immediately and Dad answered the phone sounding just fine.  Whatever it was passed quickly and wasn’t as severe as Mom thought, if it was anything at all.  It was kind of scary that she didn’t call my sister or my cell phone, but at least she can still dial a phone.

The Photo Project

The best news and probably most helpful in getting the state of my union back to rights is that the massive, multi-week photo organization project is finished. Almost.  If you haven’t read this blog post do so – because you do not want to find yourself sorting decades of undated photographs!

So here it is – 14 cases full of photos divided into 12 compartments per case.  And inside each one is an excel spreadsheet with the contents of each of the 12 compartments, organized by month and year.  I am so relieved to have not only the photos organized, but the cases off my bedroom floor and out of the studio.  That alone is helping put order in my union.  But – there’s always a but, isn’t there?

I’m not entirely done with photos.  About 1/3 of the albums on these shelves contain family photos from high school years, college, our marriage in 1968, and our children’s lives until 1981, when the photo organization project started.  And the photos in these albums are deteriorating and fading badly so they all need to be scanned.  And then there’s this:

I found a box of really old family photos – both Mark’s and my parent’s families and early years.  So they have to be scanned for sure – and there are more photos than it looks like spilling out of this box.  Including the stack of photos under the box.

But that’s for another day.  I can start this project soon, but at least there will be nothing taking up space on the floor, so as long as my surroundings are ordered, my mind will be ordered.

So the state of my union is tired, basically.  Last week proved to me what I already knew – I have to keep my activity closer to home if I hope to get back in the studio and keep my mind clear.  None of these multi-meal out weeks – which are killers of balanced meals as well as expensive.  Going out nights and being out late (um – 9:00 pm is late)  is especially hard, and I need plenty of down time.  Home is the anchor.  Home is February’s theme for Creative Every Day, and it’s an important theme, because for most of us, if we are lucky, it all starts and ends at home.

Aging: When a Home becomes a House


2010
02.13

We talk about houses becoming homes: a house is just a building until the people that occupy it bring it to life.  It becomes a home.  The structure is alive with activity, its inhabitants laugh, cry, learn, and grow.  They eat and sleep, and they decorate.  The house is festooned with bits and pieces of its owners:  kids draw on walls, put keepsakes on bulletin boards,  measure themselves on a wall or door jamb near the kitchen; parents put magnets on the frig, pin up their kid’s artwork, add mementos, posters, paintings, and other decor.  Everything that adorns the house tells a story about making that house a home, making the memories.  However, the objects tell the stories only as long as the inhabitants can interpret.  What we don’t now know about my parent’s home, we aren’t likely to learn.

My parent’s home is becoming a house again.  Dad is 91 and while his short-term memory is starting to fail him, he’s articulate and mentally with it.  My mom on the other hand is 86 and her memory has ceased to function.  Mom is a shell of her former self and her home is a shell for her.   My parents have been married 67 years and are very much in love still, but mom isn’t the same companion, the same woman who just a month ago would sit on the sofa with dad holding hands.  So my dad’s home is taking on the identity of a house, simply a structure, also.

Mom doesn’t do any of the activities that keep a home functioning anymore.  Dad knows that.  But so much worse than losing the care that makes this house a home, his wife, the woman who kept the home functioning, is slipping away from him.  And as Dad’s memory slips away, so too do the stories that animate the objects.  Everything slips away from us, the children.  The stories we forget can’t be retrieved. The family history that isn’t already recorded is lost.

The process that robs the house of life is mystifying, upsetting and poignant.   People are starting to slip away.  Just today my mom wondered who that cute little boy Jackson was.   Jackson is one of my grandkids – he lives in Colorado, but he is talked about unceasingly in my parent’s household.  Why? Because my father thinks Jackson is the most remarkable child who ever lived.  Which elicits another “why?”  Because when Jackson was barely two years old, he ran up to my dad, hugged him, and said, “I love you, Grandpa.”  Mom doesn’t know Jackson anymore.  She won’t know Cooper soon, or Annabelle, or my daughter Karen. When she looks at the pictures on the frig she wonders who those cute little children belong to.

It’s funny, isn’t it? That is comes to this?

Mom can’t learn anything, and familiar tasks are quickly becoming unfamiliar. Cooking no longer happens.  My dad, who surprisingly has never operated anything in the kitchen, has tried to help in small ways.  For example, he wanted stew and laid out the ingredients on the counter – meat, carrots, onions. But Mom had no idea what to do with them.  She tries and says she’ll try harder, but she’s losing the concept of trying even.

You find out things you never knew as the home devolves.  I never saw my dad cooking, but it never occurred to me that he couldn’t – or never had.  One of my sisters remembers, in retrospect, that whenever Mom went anywhere out of town, she left food in the frig with labels – “Friday dinner, heat for 30 minutes at 350.”  I never saw him operating the washing machine but I didn’t realize that he couldn’t.  He’s lost in the household without Mom and he realizes it’s too late for him to learn.  He’s in that tricky stage when he knows he’s not remembering and learning – and watches Mom, seeing what may be in store for him.

So my sister who lives in Alaska is here for a week to see for herself the deterioration that has occurred since her last visit at Thanksgiving. She, my sister here in Bakersfield, my brother and I will talk.  There’s nothing we can do at present, but we want to talk and make sure we are all agreed.

My parents have always been adamant that no one will be in their house – there will be no live-ins, no home health, no assistance.  And at this stage, until Mom begins to wander, they do have to stay in their home, or the remnants of their home.  Moving to any type of facility is certain death – Mom is existing solely on patterns and familiarity, the little bit that she still has.  So we have to make sure the house is stocked with food they don’t need to cook.  Nuts, fruit, bread, crackers, peanut butter, milk, cereal, tuna.   We have to evaluate how important bathing is.  Things like that.  And all the while we watch the home slip away.

All of a sudden I realize I need to bring this to a close.  It’s getting a little too close to…to home.  I have to fight to maintain  perspective. I have to remember the long, full, vital lives that built the home.  And I have to remember that while the home slowly returns to the objectivity of a house, a building, a structure, it still lives within us – the children, the grandchildren, the great-grandchildren.

#CED2010: Welcome to the Hot Padre!


2010
02.08

We have a new old hotel in town and Bakersfield is all atwitter.  The Hotel Padre has been remodeled and is open for business.  Why is this a big deal?  Do check on this link and read the colorful history of the Padre.  I’ll add a couple of things –  Spartacus Miller didn’t want to comply with the building code that fire sprinklers be put on all the floors, so he simply closed them.  For many years, no one went above the second floor of the 8-story hotel.  The “EL” on the hotel sign was burned out, so we always saw the Hot Padre rather than Hotel Padre.

Here’s a look at the old Padre:

You can see the Alamo sign on top and the “ston” of tombstone.  Also note that this Hot Padre offered television!

I wish I had a photo with the missile on top, but then back in the 80s or 90s, when I took these pictures, using actual film, I never thought about the Hot Padre without the missile and the Alamo Tombstone sign – they were just always there!

It’s pretty cleaned up today.  (We had a nice sky today when I took these photos.)  See the blue and the striped awnings on ground level?  This is what they looked like in the old days.

Like the article I linked to says, the Town Casino was quite the place.  I loved that bar.  If there was ever a place where everyone could be comfortable, this was it.  You could come in wearing a business suit, or a man could come in with a bra on top of his shirt (I saw that one), and no one blinked an eye.  The fake girl in the bathtub was on kind of a shelf-type thing up near the ceiling.   Ernie was playing the piano, the place was full of smoke (which, somehow, that was the only place I could tolerate that), and you could just relax, have a drink, and maybe another drink.

Talk about dated – here’s a photo of the tile work in that photo above.

I love it.  I adore kitschy things from that era.  But that is gone and today we have a brand new Hot Padre with some equally interesting decor.  It’s being established as a boutique hotel with character.

Not as much character as the Hot Padre or the Alamo Tombstone, but nice enough.  Ready to walk through the doors?

The doors on the other side have valet parking!  That’s probably how they got around the decided lack of parking spaces for guests.  The green arches in the back are windows of the Belvedere, a restaurant.  Want to be a guest?  Let’s check in.

Gotta say, I love this cowgirl. While we wait for our room, let’s have some coffee in the Farmacy and enjoy the ceiling.

Have to go downstairs for the restroom.  But men and women use the same sinks which makes so much sense.

Women are on the side you can see.  Then if you’re hungry you can grab a quick snack at the Farmacy, get a meal in the Belvedere, something more casual in Brimstone, or a drink in Prospect.  Come spring, you’ll be able to enjoy the Prairie Fire – a patio with fire pits.

It’s great to have the Padre open again.  It’s a beloved Bakersfield landmark and we’re so excited that we’re actually staying there on Saturday night!  A group of Bakofolks have booked rooms and will be having dinner together.  I expect a few martinis will work there way in – gotta try the new specialty – something with the words blue and lemon in it I think.  I’ll report back after I’ve had one.  Golly it’ll be cool.

On Saturday night, we’re going to put the HOT back in the Padre.

#CED2010: Home is Where the Art Is


2010
02.07

Thinking about home.  Thinking about art.  Realizing that for so many of us, home is where the art is.  Yesterday I wrote about chasing the cobwebs out of my mind by getting the space around me in order.  I spent lots of time ordering the studio and I posted pix of that yesterday.  Whollyjeanne made an interesting observation about that post – she says she has a notion that physical space is often a reflection of inner space.  I’ve never thought in those terms exactly, but it makes sense of course  – because if we are lucky, we arrange our physical space to be that in which we are comfortable observing and existing.  It goes even farther than that however, because I think our physical space can be a reflection of what we would like our inner space to be – or perhaps how we would like our outer life to reflect our inner space.

Our house has always been full of art – my dad’s art (he’s actually a famous artist), my mom’s art (quilting), and then whatever we could afford.  Which wasn’t a whole heck of a lot.  But honestly, our walls have no blank space – art is everywhere.  Yet there was none of my art because I wasn’t making any.  I was generating an income however I could for years, then teaching seventh-grade, and when I was 60, I retired. (Thank goodness my husband is still working because becoming an artist is expensive.).

That’s when my inner space synced with my physical space.  The art was always in me I guess.  Photography always, for sure.  But all of a sudden my inner space started erupting with creativity and I started creating collages from my photos.  The whole art thing is so exciting that I ran off in all directions at once, but recently realized I have to pull in and create using my photos, which is where I am strongest and where my “artistic” roots are.

So, yes, home is where the art is.  Here are two of the latest things I’ve done.  When I was snowed in at the cabin I finished these, but with the sadness of the last week I haven’t had time to post them yet.  At least I’m pretty sure I haven’t since I came home to all that turmoil during which photoshop decided to quit, etc.  In fact, these are not the best scans of these canvases because I have been having scanner problems, photoshop problems, computer problems, phone problems (not that that has anything to do with art), missing tripod-part problems – in other words, it’s been a messy week.

I posted a small study I did in my art journal but I knew it wouldn’t be the final form, and indeed it wasn’t – this is.  Most people don’t like this.  I do.  I forgot to put a second coat on the background (acrylic) so I rubbed pastel all over it and then put omni-gel over it all.  I took the photo of the cans in a little country store, the Twin Oaks General Store, in Twin Oaks – a very small community on Caliente Creek Road in Kern County.  Had never seen Popeye spinach and it just captured my fancy.  The orange circle, the bowl of peas, and Plenti Grand are from vintage fruit and vegetable crate labels.

The background photo for this collage is a stop along Interstate I70 – and the giraffe I actually took eons ago at the Santa Barbara Zoo.  I found this photo during the infernal and still unfinished photo-organizing project.  So I thought I’d move the giraffe to an unfamiliar location – his inner space and physical space are no doubt suffering a  disconnect.  Perhaps he’s longing for the familiar.  Then I added some art paper embellishments but I don’t like the way the pink meets, or maybe I do, so I’ll either fix it or I won’t.  How’s that for decisiveness?

So that’s it for Home is Where the Art Is – and I made a completely ungrammatical decision to capitalize the last I!  This construct of Creative Every Day and monthly themes is proving most productive – nice to give a direction for thoughts to roam.

Cleaning out the cobwebs – from my mind, from my studio, from my home


2010
02.06

I feel as if the last week didn’t exist.  From receiving the news of my former student’s death until today, my mind feels like it’s been stuffed with cobwebs.  It’s like I went through the motions: I had a couple of lunches out with friends, did a post or two, perhaps I even cooked a meal here and there.  Probably not, actually.  Went to my granddaughter’s soccer game, visited my parents, had lunch with my sister, coffee with my daughter.  None of it felt real. I felt like I was in the lyrics of that song from Midnight Cowboy, Everybody’s Talkin At Me.  Just substitute the word “cobwebs” for “echoes.”  I wasn’t hearing echoes, everything was getting trapped in cobwebs.

Everybody’s talking at me.
I don’t hear a word they’re saying,
Only the echoes of my mind.
People stopping staring,
I can’t see their faces,
Only the shadows of their eyes.

Yesterday was the memorial. The hall was overflowing, SRO for sure, everyone from parent’s friends to a slew of young people from Santa Barbara, where Mike went to college, and former high school and junior high buddies from here.  Former teachers, his junior high principal, neighbors, relatives.  Overwhelming.  (I was so glad I’d reviewed my yearbooks from those junior high teaching years – really helped me recognize kids I might not have otherwise.)

Three people spoke formally – the close family friend who also served as MC, Mike’s sister, and me.  Then it was open mic.  Some strong messages came through from all three of us who spoke formally – actions have consequences, serious ones.  If you need help, get it.  If you know someone who needs help, then help them get it if you can. I have a feeling that this message got through to a number of young people there.

I made a photo board of Mike’s jr. high years.  Lucky I’m a picture taker – and lucky I am organizing my photos!

It’s been rough.  But I get to move on, unlike Mike’s parents who will never be the same.

So today after I got it together, which did take a while, I put my mind to home.  Moving on to the next verse of the song.

I’m going where the sun keeps shining
Thru’ the pouring rain.

Strangely enough, we did have pouring rain today. To get to that place where the sun keeps shining, I needed order around me, so I organized.  Sometimes getting one’s surroundings ordered does a lot to order the mind.  I hadn’t unpacked yet from getting home from the cabin last Sunday, so I started in the studio.  Feels so much better to have everything back in place.  Took a few photos of the studio.  My husband helped me hang the Chinese dragon I bought last year in Paonia, CO when visiting my daughter there.  I really needed a Chinese dragon, didn’t I?  I thought so.  It’s in the back right corner of the room.

It was the grandkid’s playroom but now it’s my playroom.  We’ve got a “mini playroom” going for them in another room.  Those are the grandkid’s names stenciled on the wall.

Notice the name Daxton in this photo.  I’m going to write about the adventure that name is about to take me on!  Maybe tomorrow.

Maybe in a couple of days I can get back to work.  Catch up on my journal.  Finish that dratted photo-organizing project.  Get a routine going.

So I did shake some cobwebs loose in my mind just by getting stuff cleaned up around me.  Perhaps my posts will be a little more inspired from now on, but at least I’m doing one.  Getting back into a routine of sorts.  Routine is important.  I think the fact that my mother always had good habits and regular routines has helped  slow her descent into dementia.  Didn’t stop it, but I know it was important.