The double ughs of new beginnings

There is no truer truth than “growing old is not for sissies” and I am a sissy. However I have not been given the sissy’s way out which I guess is either death or complete dementia and so, with a solid “ugh,” over the weekend I accepted a new set of numbers. This set of numbers, my friend tells me, when added together is 10 or 1 which in numerology means a new beginning. Double ugh. I’m too old for new beginnings. Can’t all my old beginnings join together for a beautiful ending? However, over the long weekend I found myself drawn to a blank canvas sitting in the hall.

An artist with a blank canvas is like an addict craving drugs

For most of my life I’ve balanced my spare time equally between art and writing. And then ten years ago I decided to focus primarily on the writing. I had some nutty idea that I could write a best seller! HA!! And so for the last decade I have only gotten down to my studio when the weather was too nice to stay inside. Once there I would throw some paint on a canvas and make a mess. Really a mess. I won’t show you some of my messes because I’m too embarrassed (given the amount of time I spent in art school).

I’ve always been partial to this photo my father took when I was probably four years old. He had a real eye. But to do it justice I decided to discipline myself. Yes, discipline. Believe it or not, most artists – even those far out artists – have to discipline themselves.

First I drew the image on graph paper and outlined the form. It needs a few adjustments but those I hope can be made during the painting process. Then I transferred the rough shape onto the canvas.

Whoops – the baby is too big. My brother was a chunkster but not that chunky. But I think it’s close enough for a start. Now to the hard part for me: the pallet. I am not good with colors and so I decided to open the original image in Photoshop and do my experimenting there.

First I decided to cut the figures from the picture and place them against different backgrounds.

I made eight “layers” to experiment with. This is all eight layers combined. I kind of like it. What do you think? Sigh, I’ll probably get so involved in Photoshop antics that I’ll never get to the actual painting. Oh Lord, stuck in new beginnings again.

Mystery Door #ThursdayDoors

On a recent walk through the park near my house I was pleased to note that the Starlight Players are preparing for their Summer Season. Although it is an outdoor only event, the last couple of years can’t have been easy for this group. If it wasn’t the pandemic, it was the smoke from all those fires.

Who knows where this door will lead? To Mrs. White’s kitchen where she’s busy spiking Colonel Mustard’s tea with arsenic? Or perhaps the boudoir of the sexy but devilish Deanna Del Doorbell, Duchess of Dimwoodie?

What about this one? Perhaps it will a window through which the audience can glimpse the sloops of the Alps as passengers on a disabled train plot revenge on an evil baby killer. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Below are stage doors in progress from 2016, arguably the last decent summer for outdoor theater we’ve had. The play they eventually put on was Death on the Nile. I saw it with my buddy Jude and we ate popcorn and had a blast.

This image is from Bing Images – the players respectfully ask the audience not to film their productions and I complied.

To see other doors from around the world check out Dan Anton’s place.

I dare you not to smile

I have to admit that I’ve been depressed lately. Nothing personal. Just the general state of the world. So when a lovely lady I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for many years posted this video of the students at her middle school (I believe she is the vice principal), my hope level went through the roof.

I hope these kids know how lucky they are! My junior high school days were more like prison. Enjoy! And I dare you not to smile.

Homemade cards and rosebuds, irises and smoke trees

Flowers, candy and breakfast in bed … well, they’re all very well and good but I prefer a handmade card! Believe it or not, the artist of the above card is only twelve years old! Miss Audrey Gould, artist, actress, dancer, and just about anything she sets her mind to be.

This is a bittersweet day for those of us who’ve lost mothers over the past few years. Whether or not you were close to your mother, it’s like losing an anchor.

Mother and her lifelong friend

Logically challenged

When I was in high school my English teacher introduced us to the study of logic. We spent about a month going through various exercises –“If A=B and B=C then A=C” sort of stuff. Nothing too deep. Kind of fun actually but for the most part my fellow classmates moaned and groaned. They just didn’t get it. At seventeen they knew exactly how to think.

I was thinking of those logic exercises the other day after listening to the governor of Texas. Here’s what he said broken down as a logic problem:

  • Mass shootings are caused by anger
  • There are more angry people today than ever
  • Therefore the solution to mass shootings is to make guns more readily available

I’m almost certain Miss Bauer would have given him an F. What will be his next great leap of logic, do you think?

  • To mandate Christian prayer in classrooms, in legislative sessions, in shopping malls – heck, why not take a cue from the Muslims and require mandatory prayer five times a day facing east?
  • To force women to start being wives and mothers as God intended. Pop out babies hither and yon whether you can afford to care for them or not. Learn to accept rape as God’s great purpose.
  • Shut down libraries and ban more books. We all know mass shooters tend to hang out at libraries and read too many books.

The lovely thing about logic is it isn’t partisan. I don’t care what side of the political aisle you’re on. If anger and hatred are on the rise, the logical solution is not to hand out more guns. It just isn’t. Of course, logic alone can’t be used to solve problems but it sure can highlight sloppy thinking.

When dealing with people. remember, you’re not dealing with creatures of logic but creatures of emotion.

Dale Carnegie

And aye, therein lies the rub. Are we capable of anything but sloppy thinking?

The stars they come stealing at the close of the day

There’s an event pavilion on the slopes of Mt. Diablo about forty-five minutes from my house.

You can either pay extra and sit under the canopy or bring a blanket and sit under the stars. I’ve done both and prefer to spread out on the grass and take my chances with the mosquitos. The sound is the same and maybe even better.

I don’t know how many concerts I’ve seen at the Concord Pavilion over the years but without a doubt, this guy and this song made the biggest impression on me.

For one thing, Lightfoot had a mini-orchestra on stage behind him and when they ignited, we were all on that doomed ship, thrown about in the merciless waves and counting the last moments of our lives.

The other song that electrified the crowd that night was “Canadian Railroad Trilogy.” It tells the story of the men who built the railroads across Canada, the men now “too silent to be real.” But also of the “green dark forests” that covered the wilderness “long before the white man and long before the wheel”… also too silent to be real. It felt like, in the dark hills surrounding us, druids watched and wept.

He’s gone, dammit. Another chunk of my soul just chipped away. He wasn’t a young man (84) but then, like Leonard Cohen and so many of the legendary poet/folksingers, he never seemed like a young man. They came to earth as old souls, flawed old souls who made mistakes just like the rest of us but were able to confess in word and song.

Fella, it’s been good ta know ya!

#ThursdayDoors: Bee Heaven

“Door” to picnic area for the employees of a large business complex

Looks like a lovely spot for an alfresco lunch doesn’t it? That’s what I thought while waiting for a friend but guess what? Wisteria in bloom attracts the nastiest, most aggressive bees I’ve ever come across.

Yes beautiful but I soon got chased away by a bee the size of a hummingbird. I swear!
The wisteria in my backyard are a bit fluffier I think, don’t you?
The door to fun!

And finally a real door!

I spent many happy hours behind these doors learning how to sculpt: heads, busts and full figures. Sadly my instructor passed away and the class is no longer offered.

Check out other doors on Dan Anton’s planet – prepared to be amazed.

One of my first heads – he’s now a body-less garden gnome, poor dear!

A Letter

tin hats

Dear Richard,

I thought of Pete as I watched White Mischief and the movie is all about the White Kenyans and Happy Valley before and during WWII.  If you don’t know, it’s the story of how the cuckolded Jock Broughton murdered Josh Erroll.  Erroll was somewhere in the succession line for the King of England.  

The ghost of the Happy Valley crowd was still around in the early 1990’s and it was something to behold.  Pete was mostly dismissive of the whole bunch, but they knew their way around and were ready to go off somewhere difficult and Pete liked that.  Some ended poorly, caught up in the dream of being a White Kenyan in Africa. They thought they could do pretty much anything they wanted.  It used to be a thing, Richard.  Don’t know if it still is, but in the movie the character played by John Hurt…

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Miss Judith and Double L

While most of my friends are ready to watch that final rodeo from a comfortable easy chair, my friend Jude (Miss Judith to all those writers she successfully schooled in the finer points of grammar back in the day) has gotten hitched again and set off with her buckaroo on a series of adventures. The lucky gent, known as Double L, is a successful architect and landscape photographer. So I thought in honor of Green Day, I’d post a few of his photos for you all to enjoy. With his permission, of course.

Photo by Larry Lewis, aka Double L

The above photograph was taken near their home in Visalia California. You can still see the snow on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range.

Only Miss Judith could attract such a glamorous looking cow!
Photo by Larry Lewis – can you spot the cow grazing?

All great and precious things

Lately my eye has been drawn to images of loneliness. Like this guy who sits on our railing and coos all day long. For a long time I thought I was hearing owls but then I caught him in the act.

According to the experts, owls hoot for a variety of reasons but the mourning dove, well, he’s just horny. According to my husband, who also loves to postulate about animal behavior, this guy’s beloved mate was chased into a window by a hawk. She broke her neck and died and he’s not horny; he’s in deep mourning and will be for the rest of his life.

North by Northwest – probably my favorite movie by Hitchcock

These two guys are not cooing at each other. The man on the left is wondering if the man on the right is the person responsible for upending his well-ordered life. Not on purpose but as the result of poor timing; the wrong word said at the wrong time. In the above scene, for over four minutes there’s no dialogue or music. Just scenes of a wasteland through the eyes of a doomed man. And then Cary Grant (as Roger Thornhill) crosses the damn road and the action begins again.

Next to our house is a vacant lot with a lone birdbath. When we first moved in there was a teepee village next to the birdbath only we never caught a glimpse of any children at play. But we had nine to five jobs and teen age children to keep us hopping and thus no time to get to know the neighbors.

Then one day I was gardening when I heard a child’s voice: “You’re not supposed to go barefoot in the garden.” I looked over to see a girl of about eight draped in the fence. “Where’s Betty?” she asked. Betty was the previous owner of our house. I explained that Betty had remarried and moved away. “I liked Betty,” she said in a way that made it clear she could never warm up to someone stupid enough to go barefoot in the garden. I didn’t find out until years later that the little girl’s mother was dying of cancer and that Betty was someone she could confide in.

I never saw her again. She abandoned the teepee village. Years went by, the teepees fell apart and someone started dumping tree trimmings on the lot. The swimming pool behind the house next door filled with algae and the property became run over with weeds and overgrown bushes. However every summer someone comes by to trim the weeds around the birdbath and where the teepees once stood.

At some point this little maple will probably grow large enough to disguise the rather odd architectural feature behind it. Right now, it just looks lonely to me. Which is okay. Far by better to be lonely and know you have a purpose than surrounded and lost.

All great and precious things are lonely.”

John Steinbeck