Archive for April, 2010

How to engage all your senses


Last day of April and the Creative Every Day theme of the five senses is hours from being over. I thought, just for the heck of it, I’d do a little post about a quick way to engage all of your senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.  The quick and easy answer is – grandchildren.


Take the Davies Five to dinner at Fiesta Vallarta in Paonia, Co.

The food tasted great but there was a bit too much action inside to even think of a photo.  Looks like we have touch and sight engaged here, maybe even sound also.

Then, give your daughter and son-in-law two nights at the Redstone Inn.  Offer to watch the three kids.  Buy a special snack of jello people and give as much whipped cream on top and on the plate as the kids can handle.  I suppose jello has taste.  I think of it more as touch however.


For a pleasant image, imagine the smell of fantastic Mexican food.  Do not think of changing diapers.


Let the kids fingerpaint for the first time.  Try to get them all to sit still (ages 6, 4, 2) while  you get everything set up and try to protect the table.

Fingerpainting  apparently involves exaggerated motion.

It involves contorted positions.

It involves smiles.

Now we display the results trying not to touch the wet paint or put plates upside down on our heads.


Needless to say, all of this involved immense, mostly pleasant sound.  We also read books and Annabelle played music.  Jackson played Mario Cart.  Now (I’m not jinxing this) the three are quietly playing with the doll house and trucks.


It was all quite a sight.  But we did more art – creating piggy banks we could look at as we accumulated life’s fortunes.

Yes, I made one also.

Now, I’m sitting on the sofa writing this, watching it snow/sleet again, and thinking that Karen and Steve have been gone three hours tops.  Wow – and there’s still dinner, baths, laundry, and tomorrow.  And Sunday.

My senses have been fully engaged, that’s for sure.  And I’m already hitting on May’s theme of intuition.  My intuition to buy frozen pizzas for dinner was spot-on.  And hot dogs for tomorrow’s dinner.  Fully organic, vegetarian feed, no hormones, etc. etc. so it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Oh – one last example of sight.  The sky on the way to the store today was enough – too much really – to take in at one time.

Want a last-minute infusion of the five senses? I have some grandkids that would be glad to accommodate you while I take a nap.

What kind of blog is this? And other blogs worth checking out.


My life is a song.  Almost everything I say or think reminds me of a lyric.  Contemplating what kind of blog I have, I immediately thought of the song What Kind of Fool Am I.  I don’t expect I’m  much of a fool, at least not all of the time, but I sure wonder what kind of blog is this.  When I ventured into the blogosphere June 3, 2009, my first post was titled Waiting.  I wrote, I’m waiting for something to happen but I don’t know what it is.   Not that feeling of high expectation we get as kids – countdown to summer vacation and so on. Just as if I’m in a holding pattern even though I’m in the midst of constant activity.

Almost a year later, I’m not waiting but I don’t know if the thing I was waiting for has happened.  My life is always constant activity – that hasn’t changed. How could it be otherwise with a close family, aging parents, and nine grandchildren?  And a post-retirement attempt at an art career.  Maybe that’s what I was waiting for – to figure out where I fit in now.

So – what kind of blog is this? I know the tips and rules but I’ve just been bad at rules my whole life.  I know I should have a photography blog, or an art blog, or some sort of focus, yet I am all over the place.  Part travelogue, part photography, some art, some writing, family and children, essays about aging parents, exploring personal feelings, reporting my little news.  Can’t expect to develop a loyal and steady readership without a focus, but then comes the question, why do I want a loyal and steady readership?  I do know it all works out in the end.

I suppose one goal was to scare up some interest and sell some art and photos, but that isn’t happening.  I’ve sold a little bit on Etsy, have exhibited quite a bit in the last year, but being the person I am, I am not a money-maker.  I have opportunities for viewers to purchase photos and art on my web site, but not much activity occurs. I sell at exhibits and privately, but this online sales thing is a bust so far.  So I guess I’ll just keep on writing and see what happens next.

Meanwhile, I’ve discovered quite a few blogs that I return to over and over.  They are worth checking out.

One is unabashedly female by Julie Daley.  Her last post, Asleep in Beauty’s Lair, is a must-read.  She takes me to a higher plane, a more complex level of thinking.  She takes the “busyness” out of life and returns me to the thinking and feeling that make a life, getting down to the core.  Julie gives me the tools to savor the constant activity and value each moment.

Emma James’ Pleasure Notes always gives me something to think about and she helps me see metaphors. She asked recently, is it more important to feel safe or to feel loved?  That in a personal way is the big question of government – should we aim for security or freedom? I like to read something that makes a connection.

Jeanne Hewell-Chamber’s The Barefoot Heart is pretty amazing.  How to describe this? Jeanne writes with a distinct voice and she masters what I cannot – saying something meaningful succinctly.  Jeanne is different.  She goes in directions that make you think, wow, why didn’t I do that?  Amazing creativity. Jeanne is unique with a unique voice.  Don’t miss her.  She gave me the image of dresses that caper, and the marvelous word flapdoodle.

Katherine Thomas. I love this woman.  I think she’s me.  Or maybe I’m her.  I love the way she does things, the way she draws, the humor that leaks out all day long, and the way she teaches.  I want to teach with her – what fun we would have together.  I think I relate so strongly to her because I just know we are the same kind of teacher.  I love her honesty.  Her tweets make me happy.  Just look at her picture.  She shines from the inside out.

Julie Unplugged, Julie Jordan Scott.  I don’t understand this woman and I know her – we live in the same town.  But do I KNOW her?  Can one?  She’s a force of nature, a hurricane, she’s here and then she’s there, sometimes across the country even.  She’s acting, directing, writing, and on and on – and doing it all well.  She’s intense and honest and does everything with intention. I’m quite sure she doesn’t sleep much.  No one could and do what Julie does.

Leah Piken Kolidas of Creative Every Day is probably the main reason I’ve discovered so many of these wonderful women.  And I wouldn’t have discovered CED without Julie Jordan Scott.  Leah of Creative Every Day is a gentle and kind soul.  I know that she’s serene and easy to be around.  Her blog keeps those of us who participate alive in our creative worlds.  She’s the spark we need to keep thinking and creating.  Knowing that every day, in something, we can be creative.

Nancy Tasker writes Nanke’s Stuff. Her description of herself could be my description of myself.  Nancy affirms the artist in me.  A funny thing about artists is we think the same way as we approach a work.  We wrestle with what we do – sometimes we win, sometimes not.  Nancy helps me with my work.  It’s nice to find out we’re not crazy.

So many more wonderful blogs out there that I read as regularly as I can.  So much to learn, so many places to go inside our heads and out.  Most of these women I’ve mentioned have lists of blogs they follow, so you will find many kindred souls.  I have links to all the sites on the sidebar.

Meanwhile, keep on truckin’. I mean bloggin’. Maybe it’s the same.

The Rhythm Changes


Visiting the Davies Five in Colorado, land of big skies, small towns.

No stop lights in Paonia.

Land of the coal trains, the bread and butter of the Western Slope.

There’s still snow on Mt. Lamborn.

Spending over a week with three children under six,

Time for thought, analysis, reflection goes into deep background.

No time to think, only time to plan, do.

Meals, groceries, laundry, dishes, floors.

Outside play, hunting for snakes, reading books, games.

Don’t frown, Jack.  Room for everyone on the swing.

Colorado.  Land of big skies, changing weather.  A storm is brewing.

No problem. Coloradans are rugged. A little wind doesn’t send anyone inside.

Just makes it more fun.

How can it be lunch time? We just had breakfast.

Where did these dishes come from? I just put some away.

Is the laundry basket ever truly empty?

Taking Abbo to kindergarten.  Late? Why is she late?

Oh. Late start day is next Wednesday.  It changed.

Getting groceries. Free cookies at the market for the kids.

Such an ugly pink.  Such a horrid taste. I don’t need a bite.

I just know. The kids love them.

Is that a new dresser in the kid’s room?

No, it’s just plastered with stickers.  It’s art.

Found art.  Art in progress.  Why not?

Our youngest used her walls like an autograph book.

The puffy paint was a mistake, though.

Jackie plays with cars.  He doesn’t need roads.

The roads are in his imagination – what a delightful word.

Like The Land of Counterpane, where bedclothes become hills and valleys

The sofa becomes a super highway.  Jack’s cars talk to each other.

The weird squishy yellow ball with stretchy yellow protrusions

Talks to the cars.  Jack counts the protrusions.  Hundreds he thinks.

Jack can count to one thousand.  He taught himself.

Hundreds of homes across America, the same scene plays out.

In this home of course, the scene plays a cut above.

How could it not?  These are my grandkids, being raised by

My daughter, who was raised by me.

How does she do it so much better? She’s a kid herself.

A pregnant 37-year-old in the kitchen singing “jelly lelly lelly lelly” with Sponge Bob.

Note:  One of my beloved twitter/blogger friends said she was looking forward to more of my art after the last post I made – Life is OK.  Almost all of my art is on my web page in the Art Gallery – the Altered Landscapes series, the Chinese Lantern Series, Muse, some journal pages, and various collages on canvas.  Feel free to visit.  I am going to update the gallery soon to include sizes since William recently, who had only seen these online, was surprised at how big some of them were.

Life is OK


Finally, yesterday, last night to be specific, I made it into the studio.  I was seized with such excitement to get back to work on something!  Anything.  I just wanted to hold brushes, feel the paint.  I knew it had to be fast because tomorrow before the crack of dawn I fly to my daughter’s in Colorado.  That means no studio work for another couple of weeks.  It’s OK.

But I had to do something, anything.  I picked up my art journal – it felt so good.  I got out the watercolors, shut my eyes, and picked three tubes.  A brown, yellow and blue.  So be it.  That would be my background.   I got out my art papers and picked one blindly – it would work.  Did my senses guide my hand to colors that worked? Then I grabbed the vintage crate labels.  What did I want to use? I needed some sparkle…my glitter eye shadow.  Why not? What statement was I making?

Turned out it was a simple statement – life is OK.

P.S. I added lots of photos to my ETSY store, SusanReepPhotoArt!  And new ones coming soon on

The Bellmore – Bakersfield’s new uber-cool art gallery. Plus, another camera mishap.


The Bakersfield art scene is exploding!  Artists Deon Bell and John Moore have opened The Bellmore, a gallery with a cool vibe.  It’s underground – literally, in the basement of a turn-of-the-century building that once was a bakery.  Check out what Deon and John have to say about their new venture in this vimeo by Gabriel Briano.

Mark and I went to the opening last night, and being us, we went early and left early.  Something about getting older I guess.

The entrance is suitably cryptic – and the stairs are very steep.  VERY steep.

Caught a musician scurrying down.

DISCLAIMER: If these photos don’t look too good, it’s because I’ve had another camera mishap.  Remember the last one?  I dropped my purse in the driveway and we ran over it – twice?  And my favorite little Canon Power Shot SD550 was inside?  This time it’s not quite so bad, but I took my new Canon Elph last night instead of the 5D – thank goodness! – and almost before I took a single photo (I took these as we exited) I tripped on a raised part of the floor and dropped the camera.  With the lens out.  And that’s where it landed.  I could take photos, as you can see, but the lens is a little crooked and won’t extend or shut properly, so it’ll be off to Canon tomorrow.  I just love to spend money on technology repair.  You might think it’s my fault and not the gallery’s, and you’d probably be right.  I just thought those little white lights outlining the sitting area were to be pretty, not to mark a change in floor level. But then again, I’ve been known to trip on nothing.

So.  Into the gallery.  It has a cool, cement-like basement vibe.   D’oh, it’s in a basement.  But it feels good.

That’s John on the left, and Deon.  I’m not familiar with John’s work, but Deon is brilliant.  Such an impressive artist with a determination and hunger to make art available to everyone and raise Bakersfield’s art IQ a few notches.  He has grand plans.  I’m too tired for grand plans but Deon will probably achieve his.  Cool guy.

This is a studio area and I believe they’re going to rent out space.  In fact, I think space is already rented out.

Fantastic space.  Wish we’d been able to stay for the music.  I can only imagine the sound.  There will be lots of chances, however, and moving fatigue will have left us and I’ll be up to the challenge of later nights.  Right?  At least I’m ever-hopeful.

On the way in, we passed a couple on a bus bench.  They said, “You going in there? Don’t bother.  It’s not worth it.”  I wanted to go grab those guys and say, “Are you crazy? This is so worth it.  One of the coolest spaces in town!” I guess they were too cool for themselves even, her with her blue hair and him all in black.

Even had a nod to American Idol but I’m pretty sure there was another meaning here.  I liked this painting.

This was another dramatic painting.  Those brick walls are a brilliant background.

I remember when the trend began to leave pipes exposed and give an industrial feel to a space.  Everyone was very impressed with this out-of-the-box ultra-modern thinking.  Of course, when you set up shop in a basement, it comes that way already.

The poster for the show made a nice contrasting statement to the space.

Splendid Life.  The all-American Cleavers would have been horrified to set foot in The Bellmore, this basement art gallery.  But I hope Bakersfield embraces this venue and keeps things percolating downtown.  We have arrived.  We’ve come a long way since Ward, June, Wally and the Beave.

Web page

I’m going to be putting some new photos on my web page soon, so watch this space!   Plus, I’m getting more up on Etsy.  That’s tomorrow’s task, should I choose to complete it, and I do.  I shipped some photos to Tanzania recently and they arrived just fine, so go ahead and order, folks!  I’ll get gorgeous photos to you wherever you are.

More Bakersfield Galleries

For up-to-date information about another new Bakersfield Gallery, The Micro Gallery, check out  Terry Telford’s article in Bakersfield Express.

Odds and ends and follow-ups


Review of Painting World War II: The California Style Watercolor Artists

The art show we went to recently, in which one of my dad’s World War II paintings was exhibited, got a wonderful reivew.

Check it out here.

Weedpatch Camp

I posted not too long ago about the Sunset Labor Camp, or Weedpatch Camp.  Here’s one of the wonderful things about the internet.  I received a comment from Judy Anderson, a woman who lived in that camp as a child.  We’ve exchanged a few emails since and she has helped bring history alive.  For example, here is one of her emails.

“In reminiscing about the past I remembered a few things you might find interesting about the history of the camp. There used to be tents instead of houses. At least the front part was tent and the back part which was the bathroom and one bedroom was build very crudely with scrap wood. It rented for $10.00 a month. The one room wood shelters were $12.00 a month and the better built wood structures were from $15.00 to $20.00 a month. There was a general store strictly for the residents which had the absolutely cheapest prices anywhere. You were issued a card when you moved in and had to show that card to prove you lived there. You could buy a loaf of bread for 5 cents. It was not the best grade of food but it did keep people from going hungry. It was upgraded as time went on and lost some of the stigma of being poortown. Hope you find this interesting.”

Without the internet, blogging, and so on, we could never make these kind of connections.  And I was able to put our local Dust Bowl historian Doris Weddell in touch with Judy.  Wonderful.

Alice Walker and the Fannie Lou Hamer Statue Fund

You know that cause that I keep begging people to donate to?  Even $10?  We got a big boost the other day when Alice Walker (The Color Purple) made a $10,000 donation.  Gloria Steinem is on board as an honorary board member and she will make a like contribution.  It’s so easy – just click on this link for; click on the NBUF button, and donate even a small amount.  Then feel good that you’ve honored someone who was willing to die if need be so everyone could exercise the right to vote.

If you want to learn more, click here.  Take ten minutes and watch a documentary my granddaughter made when she was in 7th grade.

Besides, as a committee member, I have to be bringing in some donations.  Help!

The first party in the new house

More like a lunch than a party, but I had my parents over for lunch today so they could see the house as it’s shaping up.  My husband went and picked them up.  My sister and her husband came also, and we had a lovely lunch in the backyard.  Beautiful day.

Stay tuned for more thoughts about moving and pictures from The Bellmore, a new underground (literally) art gallery in Bakersfield.  Plus – I damage another camera.

The theme is senses, and mine are certainly full; plus I have a studio – finally!


Remember Annie’s Song by John Denver?

You fill up my senses
Like a night in a forest
Like a mountain in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again.

It’s a love song, but as April wanes, so does Creative Every Day’s theme of The Senses.  Nature fills up my senses as well as love – the song is perfect.  Anyone reading these blogs knows I’ve been slightly possessed by clouds this year.  The places clouds can take you! On our drive home from L.A., there were clouds aplenty.

Look at these colors.  From the bluest of blues to the whitest of whites, with shades of gray.  Even some brown. The clouds express such turbulence, but I find them exciting and beautiful. They don’t leave me feeling turbulent, but full of possibility for the unexpected.

As we headed up Interstate 5 and over the summit, we had this view of hills with wildflowers, a cloud sitting on the mountain, and blue skies.  What could we expect?

I was hoping for storm.  I hate missing weather! And during the day, there had been a humdinger of a storm in Bakersfield.  My sister said she walked out of her hair appointment and the skies opened up, negating the effects of the beauty salon.  My daughter said she was on yard duty where she teaches and the sky was blue.  But in the blink of an eye the sky began disgorging buckets of water.  And the wind was ferocious.  So I hoped these clouds spoke of a storm in my near future.

It was looking ominous and hopeful at the same time.  Storm, yes, but driving in the rain? Not so fine.  We, however, were not in control.

Here comes the rain.  Wow.  As we got to the bottom of the hill (I say “hill” but it’s more like a very steep downgrade that has two runaway truck ramps), I saw the most stunning rainbow of my life.

Look closely and you can just see that it’s a double rainbow.  And if you click on the photo to make it bigger, you’ll see that the pot of gold for this rainbow is a patch of pink wildflowers. We pulled off the road as fast as possible so I could get a photo, but it sure doesn’t capture the brilliance of this rainbow.  Talk about filling up senses.

This is the only photo that isn’t “car” photography.  All the others I took from the car.  My husband was driving so it’s not as bad as it sounds.  I love taking photos from the car.  Have to be so fast and sometimes the pictures are better than if you’d taken plenty of time.

I really do feel rapturous when looking at scenes of such great beauty.

And then we passed the other end of the rainbow – obscured by clouds but so intense in color.

I’m thinking, if I’m not careful people are going to start calling me the Cloud Lady.  But look at these – the light on the hills, the rain streaks, a hint of white, and then the layers of gray overlaid with puffs.

Almost home, and this was the most spectacular sky yet.  Wow!!!  As an English teacher, I wouldn’t let kids use more than one exclamation mark per essay, but these clouds deserve at least three.  They look like spooks.

After we got home and unloaded the car, the heavens emptied once more.  How could all that moisture be up there? Rained hard most of the night.  And at our cabin?  Ten more inches of snow.  There’s been so much snow this year we’ve not been able to get to our street.

A new studio

My studio is operational.  Now, for the time to work.  I’m going to Colorado on Tuesday to visit my daughter and family – so will I get anything done before then? Doubtful, but it’s ready when I am.

I have my work table set up, a place for the paper cutter (always hard to devote so much space to the paper cutter but it’s necessary), and even stuff on the walls.  Ok, art, not stuff.  I’m missing the drafting table – no room – so I’ll have to learn not to spread out so much as I work.

A place for my easel.  Technically, it’s William’s easel but the chances of him reclaiming it are slim so I might as well call it mine.

And we bought this nifty bookcase at Ikea for me to store paintings and photos in.  Most of my photos are still at the other house and this’ll fill up pretty quickly, but it’s so much better than what I’d been doing – having framed photos sitting in closets all over the house.  When I needed something I’d have to think – hmm, Altered Landscapes are in the studio, I think Italy is in my bedroom closet, Alaska is in the office cupboard – it wasn’t very efficient.

I should mention in case you are a new reader, that on my web site you can see my art and photographs.  I’ll be adding some new ones soon, as well as more items to my Etsy store.

Finally, my “office” is operational too.  Enough room finally for the computer and printer, the Epson 2200 photo printer, and my flatbed scanner.

So life is good.  My senses are full and not quite as tired as they were.  The worst of the move is over.  We’re not done – still stuff at the other house – but what’s left is mostly my husband’s business:  the garage, his office, etc.  He’s helped me so much that he is much less settled.  I have a pretty special husband.  We’ve been married 41 years – I think I’ll keep him.  He fills up my senses too.

Another day at Cedars Sinai, plus a plug for colonoscopy and a perfect ten


Creative Every Day’s theme for April is The Senses.  I haven’t written to that specifically because after all, everything impacts the senses.  For some people, though, colonoscopies penetrate (sorry) far more than the five senses, and that’s what this post is about.

The Dreaded Colonoscopy

There’s supposed to be a double meaning in the title of this post because a real plug is not what you need for colonoscopy.  You need to run free and clear.  My husband is running free and clear in more than one way right now. We’re at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles today because my husband had a colonoscopy.  This was the dreaded test, the medical event that would never occur.  How could it?  My husband doesn’t get sick and he doesn’t go to the doctor.  I had a few things to say about that.  Mainly, if you get colon cancer that could have been detected and treated had you undergone a colonoscopy, I’ll take care of you, but it’ll be begrudgingly.  If you have a colonoscopy and still get colon cancer, I’ll do anything I can for you.

Does that sound mercenary? I meant it.  But Mark got the face-saving opportunity to have a colonoscopy when our doctor retired about 18 months ago.  I said, “Mark, if you want to see Dr. Newbrough again, this is your last chance.”  So he did, and he had the colonoscopy, and he had a carcinoid tumor.

Before I talk about that, I wonder how many of you out there have avoided having a colonoscopy? Or have a spouse who refuses?  Because they are not that bad.  I’ll give you the secret.  During the prep, when they tell you to drink this humongous amount of fluid – don’t.  Just drink until you run clear.  Then stop.  My first one I drank it all and threw up.  The second and third, I stopped when I was clear and it was fine.

We got lucky.  Mark’s colonoscopy turned up a carcinoid, which is a neuro-endocrine tumor, not colon cancer.  Lot’s of things went right: he got the colonoscopy, the doctor took the right tissue, the lab made the correct identification.  Then it went wrong – the interim doctor (we hadn’t found another family doctor yet) called my husband in to tell him he had carcinoid, which wasn’t cancer but it wasn’t not cancer either.  I got busy on the internet and said, “Mark, you have cancer.  Carcinoid is cancer.  There’s no in-between about it.”

I’ll talk about luck again in a second, because it’s an interesting concept.  Meanwhile, luckily, we found a carcinoid specialist a few hours away at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles.  We found out some interesting things.  Most carcinoid tumors occur in the small intestine – a place colonoscopies don’t go.  Seven percent occur in the sigmoid colon, where Mark’s was found.  Carcinoid is a rare cancer.  Yes, I know, you’re thinking, every time someone has something they think it’s rare, or there’s something special about what they have. But it is rare – a general oncologist MIGHT see two or three cases in a career.  It usually isn’t found until the patient has carcinoid syndrome, and then it is misdiagnosed repeatedly because carcinoid syndrome mimics many other diseases.  So here, too, we were lucky.


Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who integrated baseball by hiring Jackie Robinson, had a favorite saying: luck is the residue of design.  It is.  Usually when we say, “Wow, that was lucky,” it’s the result of some sort of preparation.  Where we WERE lucky was having parents who were able to provide us with an upbringing that left us with the resources to be lucky.  So many people, intellectually, educationally, economically, don’t have enough resources to plan luck through no fault of their own.

Those resources in turn, made us lucky enough to have health insurance.  Insurance that enabled us to have the colonoscopy in the first place and then seek out the best treatment.  I’m grateful for that insurance, for the ability to have those lovely colonoscopies that have saved my husband’s life.

That’s why I’m sitting here in the Cedar’s waiting room yet again, while Mark has his follow-up blood work, MRIs, CTs, etc.  We’re 18 months from diagnosis, and two follow-ups into the three year regimen of six-month follow-ups.  Mark was tired of them on the first go round and asked Dr. Wolin, “Do you think I really need the follow-up?” To which he replied, as you might expect, “Yes.”  But Mark remains a medical system holdout even while immersed in treatment. We did get a new family doctor, and upon Mark’s first visit, Dr. Nichols examined his very slim records and remarked, “I see you’ve been living on the fringes of medical care.”  True that.

The First McDonalds

SO – we headed up here yesterday from our weekend in Carlsbad so Mark could have his sigmoidosocpy.  We drove through Downey and I had just that morning read on facebook that my friend Laura Wolfe had just the day before been at oldest existing McDonalds, which is in Downey!  So I said, “Let’s see if we can find it – we have time.” The oldest existing McDonald’s, you know, is far more than what it seems.  McDonalds revolutionized the food industry and for that alone it’s historic.

I remember when McDonalds began expanding, but my mother would not let us go!  There just had to be something bad about a 15 cent hamburger.  Whether there was or not is a matter of debate, but I think my mom’s concern was how could it be real beef?

McDonald’s had other visitors that day besides us – that’s my husband in the foreground.  These visitors, however, didn’t stop for food and I have no idea what they were doing in the parking lot.

Test Time

Arriving in Beverly Hills, having checked in at the Sofitel, Mark went for his sigmoid while I spent that time in the Apple Store at the Beverly Center playing with an iPad. Oh how I long to have an iPad so I can feel like Jean Luc Picard with my tablet computer.

We stay at the Sofitel, a lovely French hotel right across the street from Cedars and the Beverly Center.  They are expensive but they have a Cedar’s special rate, and you can’t beat the convenience.  We’ve found convenience counts for a lot.

After the sigmoid, Mark expressed a desire to visit that wonder of wonders, IKEA.  What an amazing place – I am in love with IKEA.  Where else can you buy a well-designed, attractive and functional floor lamp for $39?

Dinner?  Dar Magreb on Sunset Boulevard.

Having spent two years in the Peace Corps in Morocco, we like to eat in Moroccan restaurants where we find them.

We entered the very large door and found decor that was exactly right.

The only inauthentic touch was that all the cushions on the banquettes matched.  Usually, they are a hodge-podge of colors.  I want lanterns for our house like those in the restaurant.

So here I am, waiting in the imaging center for Mark to finish his MRI.  Then we’ll have lunch and see Dr. Wolin at 2:00 before heading up to Bakersfield.  Mark will ask Dr. Wolin if he really needs to come back in six months and Dr. Wolin will say yes.

A Perfect Ten

And the next time we return, we’ll be grandparents again – here in the waiting room I got an email from Karen, our daughter who lives in Colorado, saying she’s pregnant!  That’ll be number 4 for her, grandchild 10 for us.  We’ll have a perfect ten.  I’ll be visiting Colorado next week and keeping the kids while Karen and Steve get away for a two-night stay at the Redstone Inn, which we bought them for Christmas. (The two-night stay, not the Redstone Inn.)  Good thing too, as their get-away times will again get more difficult with a new little one on the way.  And I’ll rest up for November and the arrival of 10 of 10, when no doubt I will be in Colorado taking care of numbers 7, 8, and 9 of 10.

The day in the middle and a two-martini night


Saturday we went to Oceanside for the opening of Painting World War II: The California Style Watercolor Artists.  Today, Monday, we came to Beverly Hills for my husband’s follow-up appointments at Cedars Sinai (for his carcinoid, a neuroendocrine cancer).  Sunday was the day in the middle.

We started by going to the Flower Fields in Carlsbad.

Armstrong Nurseries grows ranunculus here and when they are in full bloom they open the fields to the public – for a charge.  It’s like a pumpkin patch but with ranunculus instead of pumpkins.

In May I guess they let the flowers die down and they harvest the tubers.  It’s an interesting enough deal if artificial.  The flowers are beautiful.

After eating lunch at Norte in Carlsbad,

we headed to the San Diego Botanical Gardens.

These were really cool.  Since we are going to be redoing the yard in our new house, we were interested in looking at plants.  We have several goals, or requirements:

  • no lawn
  • easy to maintain
  • drought tolerant
  • plenty of patio
  • an orange tree
  • a variety of color and foliage types

We like cacti so were particularly interested in those gardens.  Here are some interesting plants.  Or photos.

Yes it’s me.  Not that I’m particularly interesting, but I’m sitting in a cork tree.  Thinking of Ferdinand the Bull, one of my favorites from childhood.  I love how Ferdinand didn’t want to fight, but just sit under the cork tree and smell the flowers.

This isnt’ a plant, true.  It’s a lizard.  But I like how he’s intently reading the sign.

This is a Dragon Tree.  Wow, do you think I can get one of these in my yard?  Love this.

Now we do want some Queen Palms but no date palms.  However, I loved the way these looked – Rapunzul, Rapunzul, let down your hair.

I didn’t take a picture of the sign on this plant because of course I was going to remember what it was.  Hmmm.

This is a bunch of bananas waiting to break out.  I promise it’s not Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors.  Feed me.

We were confused here because it looked like the sign said this plant was dormant.  It looks pretty alive to me.

Finally, the most beautiful bamboo I’ve ever seen.  We know better than to plant bamboo, however.

Fun day which we finished with a two martini night.  We drove to Del Mar and had a basil martini (Opalescence) at L’Auberge, then dinner at Pacifico where I had a wonderful ginger martini.  Mmmmm lucky I wasn’t driving.  Can’t take too many two-martini nights.  I’d like to, though!

Painting World War II: The California Style Watercolor Artists


Wow.  It was so worth it to drive down to Oceanside for the opening of the WWII art show at the Oceanside Museum.  It’s a long drive from Bako – five hours in traffic, which we had, but as with most events, the payoff is not always where you expect it.

The Oceanside Museum of Art is lovely.  All year and on all floors of the museum they are exhibiting art related to World War II.  Glen Knowles curated this show of California watercolorists who painted WWII, either at home from the perspective of the home front, or as my father did, on the battlefield.  Knowles teaches at Antelope Valley College and he has invented something that may be of interest to you artists out there.  Check it out on the link – it’s the Colorwheel Palette.

We arrived at the museum and it was packed – SO MANY PEOPLE!  Wow.

Of all the artists whose work appeared in the show, my dad is the only one still alive.  That made me the object of some interest and many questions about if he was going to be coming to see the exhibit.  Sadly, my dad can barely made it across town, let alone a five-hour car ride away.


I told the story of this painting in a post a couple of days ago.  It focuses more on the soldiers themselves that many of the paintings and really captures the gritty feel of men in trenches.  I’ll tell another story now that I recounted several times at the opening.  It arose when talking about memories and if they became embellished as time went on.  In the case of my father, I know everything he said was as it was.  He would not talk about the war until he wrote a book called A Combat Artist in World War II. I think that is the case for most vets – they don’t want to talk about it.  Then the PBS documentary was made, They Drew Fire, about war artists in which my dad was featured.

In it, my dad recounts how the underground theater in Anzio was bombed, killing many soldiers, but dad was too scared to come out of his fox hole.  To atone for what he saw as his cowardice, in a subsequent battle, one of his fellow soldiers was hit.  Dad ran out into the battlefield to retrieve him while his commander yelled for him to stay under cover.  Dad didn’t listen to the commander, retrieved the wounded soldier, put him in the back of a jeep, and sat with him as they headed off to the medics.  Dad said that at one point in the drive he looked at the soldier and said, “He’s dead.” The soldier responded, “The hell I am.”

That man’s son watched the documentary, tracked my dad down, and said that the soldier dad saved was his father.  The son said that his father told that story using almost the exact same words that my dad used right down to “He’s dead” and “the hell I am.” The son thanked my dad for saving his, saying that he wouldn’t have been born if it weren’t for my dad.

I knew then that the stories my dad told, and probably all other soldiers, were as they happened with no embellishment.  There was no need to embellish war.

War is hell, World War II was as bad as they come, and Anzio and Monte Cassino were the most hellish of battles in that war.  The fact that my father, that any man or woman then or now, fights a war and returns to live a “normal” life is the biggest act of courage I can imagine.

It seems sacrilegious to stand next to a painting depicting something so terrible – and smile.

Someone points a camera and we smile.  But I’m happy that I could loan this painting, that the exhibit exists, and that the viewers can remember and honor all the men and women who served so heroically.

Afterwards, we set out for dinner, found a great Italian restaurant, had a wonderful meal, but before leaving I decided to order a limoncello – our new favorite liqueur after discovering it in Sorrento, Italy in 2007.  (I linked to my travel journal of Italy, but for some reason wordpress would not let me insert photos so if interested you’ll have to go to my web page to see pics.)  As we got up to leave the restaurant, we sat down again with Glen, his wife, and an art collector that loves my father’s work.  Here’s where those unexpected payoffs come in – this gentleman made a wonderful offer to bring this show to Bakersfield after it closes in Oceanside in October.  When we go home I’ll talk to our museum or others if the museum’s schedule is too locked in.

Tomorrow – The Flower Fields and the San Diego Botanical Gardens.  It was a two-martini day.