Friday, November 25, 2016

37 last night, and it feels like winter has arrived. The Japanese maples in my front and back yard have just a smattering of leaves left. Soon my gutters will need a good blowout. I had a quiet day at home yesterday, working hard to be grateful when I actually felt little gratitude for the ongoing pain in my ribs. It seems so bizarre that my lung cancer is not growing and causes me no pain, whereas my broken ribs seem to hurt incessantly. I took an Alleve with food last night at midnight ad it made me nauseous, so mostly today I am just loafing and catching up with lost sleep. Were she still living, yesterday would have been my 60th anniversary with Lee. Not many of us get to celebrate 51 years together.
The photo is of a leaf I painted last week for a Thanksgiving card.
Oh yes. I am truly grateful for your friendship. dear reader.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Progress by Baby Steps

This week I have experienced progress in my journey to getting back to independence since my hospitalization. My legs no longer feel like old wet rubber bands and I can walk a little with just a cane, instead of a walker. I have cut my caregivers down to ten hours a day instead of 24, and this Sunday I'm going to try my first day all alone.. Though I doubt I can consider the one million womens march in Washington, this dab of progress helps me to focus on something else than Trump.
One day this week the thermometer on the deck measured 35, and my succulents are shivering. Today with Monica's help I went to the nursery and bought six cyclamen, which I will attempt to paint on Sunday. Meanwhile the falling leaves from the maples are making a thicker and thicker carpet. Here is a picture of some just before they fell.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A jumble....

Like the Japanese maple in my back yard my feelings since Tuesday are a jumble. Never having lived in the midwest or the South, I find the mentality of the electorate incomprehensible. My head tells me all these leaves will soon fall and next spring will be replaced by new green growth. But for me, I feel such deep personal sadness, and know medically I will not be around to see any of the changes I thought were coming. In a way I,m glad I wont see what happens to the supreme court, or planned parenthood, or the dreams of little girls.
Many of my married lesbian friends fear their marriages will be overturned. Anything is possible, I fear.
On the plus side, Hillary's, Obama and Elizabeth Warren's comments have been full of grace, a grace this writer does not yet embrace.

Friday, November 4, 2016


Still at home with full time caregivers who pamper me night and day. But its hard not to glue my eyes to the election polls, looking more and more scary. My friend Nancy in Denver writes she thinks Trump will win, even though he is not liked, because the Clintons are so lacking in trust. That's driving me crazy. Is most of the  country crazy? I wonder what Lucy would say? (photo of my friend Jan J at the booth.)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Twp Years Ago, This Date...

A dry river bed in the Sierra.,maybe taken by Jan H. Seems like centuries ago; I just got out of Petaluma Valley Hospital where I confounded the doctors and nurses for a few days. Now I am home with wonderful full time care. I had taken the magic $200.000 a month targeted pill to kill my rare cancer mutation for ten days with no problem till everything suddenly went south. I called 911 when I started vomiting blood. Three days to the ER. then three in the hospital, where my left arm looked like a huge sausage link and my right lung filled with fluid. How blessed I am to have friends here and Catherine in the wings to intervene. It was a long haul. Not sure where we'll go from here but I must be getting better because I'm getting bossy.

Friday, October 14, 2016

More Matters of Consequence

Since last week's blog much has happened in the political world. Just before the second Donald-Hillary debate, an old tape of Trump revealed him boasting about sexually molesting women which was followed a few days later by other women reporting his advances. All of this made women incensed. For me the anger churned and churned, and I have been unable to let go of it. The anti nausea pills I take a half hour before the chemo pills hardly touch my emotional upheaval. Not being a mother, I've so often wondered if mothers of boys teach their offspring to respect women? If they do, how come the boys when they become men forget the lesson? I presume Trump had a mother...I wonder what she would think? Does anyone know how Trump was raised?
Last night at a meeting (I ventured out for the first time in a week)I took an informal poll among my Rainbow Women colleagues. "Is there anyone here who has NOT been groped, hit on, or molested by a man?" The answer was no. I guess this is universal. So sad.
I thought of my own life. It has happened at least a dozen times that I remember, and I've probably forgotten another dozen. Twice a janitor at a place of employment cornered me after hours and made a pass. I was young, and it never occurred to me to report them. Among the stories I heard last night was that of a young woman who was volunteering at a farm in Israel. She stepped on a scorpion in her bare feet, and while laying on a gurney in the hospital corridor getting novacain injections a medical employee in a white coat came by and climbed on the gurney and mauled her. Many other stories, curiously enough, happened in medical settings. Apparently doctors, like entertainers, think they have special privilege.
Hillary's election will not stop this behavior. I'm not sure if anything will. I'm incensed that any woman would cast a vote for Donald after what has come out, and yet thousands will. I know at least half a dozen who live near me. They vote the way their husbands tell them to, and they tell me that "I just don't understand". Well. I don't, and never will.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Matters of Consequence

Since there are ten of us in the book club I started almost four years ago, each person gets a turn every ten months to choose a book and hostess the group. For my turn yesterday I chose St Exuperey's The Little Prince,  

This a book given to me as a gift in 1949, and I have probably read it forty times. The pages are a little yellowed and the jacket is gone, but it never fails to speak to me. For the meeting I asked each member to read a selection that spoke to them, and if so moved, to come in costume representing that part. Since my agenda was to start the magic chemo pill the next day (today) I personally chose the part about the little prince visiting the fourth planet and interviewing the business man on matters of consequence... Niece Cheari took the role of the business man counting the stars.

It was such fun. I tried to serve french cheeses and decorate with the tricolors of the French flag. You can see by the pictures that we had great fun. Another "Bonnie" in the group chose to read about the fox in the desert, and you will see that I tried on the fox ears.
So as for today, I took the pill at nine, took an anti nausea pill at 9:45, and so far have managed to keep both

down. Between my insurance and Pfizer, the pill manufacturer, all the costs of $12,000 a month are being picked up. How lucky am I.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Genetics, Stubborness and Unstuck

About six months ago, similar to the time I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I decided to fork out the money to to learn my DNA. Part of my  motivation was that I happen to have a few rare genetic abnormalities, especially in my eyes, but then who doesn't. (This was before I knew I had a rare genetic lung cancer). It took three tries, as it turned out. Either my spit was not potent enough, or I wasn't coughing up enough. Finally a month or so ago the results were revealed. To my amusement I was mostly British Isles and Northern European, but I was also 28% Scandanavian. (I guess those Vikings made merry when they invaded England). The Ancestry profile also revealed I had several second cousins. So I picked one at random, and was delighted this week to hear from him, a real second cousin on my father's side named Gary, who is a rancher and politician near Trinidad, Colorado. I've been having great fun learning about him and his family. From my aunt Celia
(his great aunt) I inherited this photo of the Cross children, taken I imagine about 1898. They lived in a rough cabin in the Rockies, and according to Aunt Celia, it was an all day buggy ride to Trinidad to get the picture taken. My dad is the one on the  left, his brother Sandy  Sr. in the center, and then Celia, the oldest. Please note my father, dressed in a skirt as was the fashion,  has a stick in his right hand. According to Celia, he was playing in the yard with the stick when his mother called him in to get dressed for the trip. He refused to give up the stick, had a tantrum, and his mother finally dressed him with him still holding the stick. Even when they got  to town, the photographer was unable to get him to part with it, so the picture was taken with him still holding it. This was an example, Celia said, of his stubborness; a pattern, or gene, or trait, I'm guilty of  displaying as well.
I'm not especially proud of it, but sometimes it serves me well.
So I've finally decided, whether out of stubborness or just plain exasperation with research and doctors, to opt for trying the "pill" for my lung cancer. I'm satisfied that the robot radiation is not an option, nor is surgery, so that leaves me with the experimental pill to alter the genome, or to do nothing. It costs $12,000 a month, but insurance and other sources will pay for it, and if the side effects are too bad, I'll just stop it. Wish me luck, and that my stubborness works in my favor.

Friday, September 16, 2016

What Color Is Stuck?

Photo by Jan Hagan of me in more carefree days.
What color is "stuck"?
For several months now, in an exhausting,  sometimes merry go round of doctor visits, I've been trying to decide on lung cancer treatment options. All of the docs kindly, yet in disagreement.
It boils down to three options: 1) do nothing, 2) targeted radiation, or 3) the pill, a new kind of treatment for my rare mutation said to treat the genome.
All have their pros and cons. This week I saw a palliative care doc who wants me to decide nothing until we treat the pain. So I've added liquid morphine to the medicine cabinet, which is already spilling over to the sidewalk.
Meanwhile my creative friend Beth in Alameda has been sending me a tanka every day, highlighting a certain color. In traditional Japanese a tanka is 31 syllables, grouped as 5,7,5,7,7. Goodness, as I tried to write one, I kept substituting words because I couldn't decide on the number of syllables. Authors please check me out.
Here we go.

Indecision drags
Sucking me down, up, sideways
The color of ooze
With occasional lightness
Mostly void of clarity
A spiral of confusion in quicksand.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Missing Objects

We all understand about the dryer eating socks, but here's a new mystery. My gardener has been putting large baited rat traps in my back yard, because the population of rodents is exploding. We don,t like to use poison because there is so much wild life here. (Last week there were even sightings of mink and river otters.) I try to avert my eyes when I see a dead critter inside s sprung trap, and call my gardener to come to the rescue. However this week he appeared on my porch with a scowling face. It seems his traps are disappearing. All he can figure is that racoons or foxes are climbing the fence and taking home the booty, trap and all.
Meanwhile, the population of rattlesnakes is also exploding. A small terrier got bit by a baby rattler a couple of blocks from here. Fortunately his vet was able to save him, but it was a close call.
The rattlesnakes are our friends, of course, because they eat the rodents. Talk about coming to terms with the balance of nature!
Among home owners near the  vineyards there is much complaint about the bird cannons going off. These are load blasts every seven minutes to scare the starlings off the grapes. I understand they don't work too well, either. My goodness. Science has got us to the moon, and a probe to Mars, don't you think they would come up with a better solution to handle the balance of man and nature?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Change of plans

Here's a quick sketch of my pears done Thursday on hot press. Kinda fun.
Well, last Tuesday I ventured to UCSF by private limo (which was a hoot) to see a Dr. who is a specialist in my rare lung cancer mutation. The bottom line is he spoke strongly against my having the robot radiation. He was convinced that the area at the bottom of my left lung which other doctors thought was fluid or infection, was indeed metasticis from the tumor at the top of the lung. You can see that I don't even know how to spell metasicis, let alone understand it. He ruled out any kind of radiation, chemo, or surgery. As hard as that was to hear, Catherine and I felt for the first time we were talking with someone whose knowledge was trustworthy. So that was a warm relief. I came home and cancelled the extensive plans for radiation and staying at the Mikado. A ct scan up here on Thursday seems to validate everything the UCSF doctor said. So the only possible treatment seems to be a drug which is not yet approved by the FDA and costs $11,000 a month. Moreover it is a drug which can only be taken for a year, as it harms the liver. At 86 I am not stressed about my diagnosis, but I do hope that I will soon get a handle on pain management. Right now it is a challenge. Most pain drugs make me loopy, and I am loopy enough without adding to my agenda.
On a lighter note, my asian pear tree is producing vigorously, and I can't give them away fast enough.

My gardener finally hauled away the summer growth of flowers and with Indian summer coming, I may get a new harvest. Yeah.
Around Sonoma county all of the grapes seems to be harvested and the tourists are pouring in to taste the latest.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Winding Down, or UP?

Summer days now are shorter, and a little cooler, which is appreciated, though the fire around Lower Lake makes for dramatic orange sunsets and moon risings.  This author with compromised lungs does not appreciate the hazy air. The authorities are pretty sure they have the arsonist in jail who started this, and seventeen other fires.
On the home front I've been pestering my gardener to prune back the perennial  plants, which he usually does in July, allowing for a radiant second bloom of everything in September, but my pleadings seem to be ignored. The garden looks forgotten. Now he is coming

next Wednesday with a big truck to haul away the dead stuff, and who knows if I'll get a second bloom. I guess in the larger scheme of things, this is inconsequential, but it bugs me.
Tuesday morning at six a.m. a professional driver is taking me to UCSF in the city for a second opinion on my rare cancer mutation, and he will hang around for the two hour appointment, before bringing me back home. A new kind of adventure. Cross your fingers that his diagnosis and treatment plan agree with the one I already have in place. Otherwise, like the flowers, I will be in a confused state.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Progress. Finally.

Looks like I will hang my hat at the Kabuki hotel in San Francisco's Japantown for radiation the week of August  29-Sept 2, and Sept 5-8, with my fifth and last radiation Sept 12.  I'm relieved to have it all scheduled, that is if the robot does not go on strike or the earth shake.
Meanwhile, in sunny Santa Rosa I have not found any more rats nibbling my asian pears or sending me indoors shrieking.
All over Oakmont the crepe myrtles are showing their stuff. They come in as many colors as in my water color palette, but I love the intense pinks the best. Some are thirty or forty feet high. but I keep my three (sample shown) at about eight feet, so as not to obstruct the mountain view for my neighbors.
Driving to Boyes Hot Springs yesterday for fish tacos, which is twenty minutes East on Highway 12,
 I noted all the grapes have already been picked. Its a very early crush,they tell me.
Excuse me now, while I catch Face the Nation. I have to see what new tricks Trump is up to.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

I Am Unique!

I'm really tired of writing about my lung cancer, but its about all that consumes my life right now, other than the proliferation of rats that have invaded everyone's garden in Oakmont. Since the fruit of my large Asian Pear tree started dropping, two six inch long critters have set up shop in my yard. They think they are household pets, and so far have ignored the traps set by my gardener. They are so tame I could name them, and they'd probably eat out of my hand, but they give me the creeps big time. They look and act nothing like the wood rats I had in the Oakland hills, which primarily lived on wood, including my rafters. These guys are very light grey, and have white tummies. They look like they escaped from some child's pet cage.
So, there is much news on my lung cancer. Friday I saw my oncologist here, Dr. Brett. He informed me the mutation studies were back and showed I had a very rare mutation., called Met. Now all cancer is a mutation, but this is a mutation on a mutation. No one on his staff has ever heard of it. In such cases the cancer is treated not with radiation or chemo, but with a pill which changes the gene.
So he thinks in the meantime we should go ahead with the Cyberknife at Sutter, SF, and then deal with the mutation later.
On the phone I ran this decision by a therapist, Angie, who leads the women's cancer support group here. She is adamantly opposed to my pursuing the radiation, as is my neighbor, Linda, who works for a company that manufactures a   robot in competition to the cyberknife.
Yesterday Catherine and I spent four hours on the internet researching MET. Seems that there are a few places in the world, including Northern Italy, where they are seeking volunteers for clinical trials.
So don't be surprised if my next blog comes from a foreign land.
Meanwhile, Brett ordered a lung xray because I was in so much pain. It seems that the simulation for the robot two weeks ago which failed because I was screaming with pain, caused two more ribs to fracture. Thats all I needed. Previously 10, 11, and 12 were fractured in my fall last Sept. They are almost healed, but now 8 and 9, just under my diaphragm, are newly fractured. Brett gave me stronger pain pills, which help.
In a way, I'm glad I am unique. But decisions would be easier if I were a plain old roof rat. Wish me the wisdom to make the right decision.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

More Delays

Nothing is ever for sure. Twenty minutes before we were to leave for San Francisco Tuesday the hospital called and and informed me their scanning machine was down.... Reschedule for Friday.
We made the best of it and went to  lunch at Sea Thai Bistro, here in Santa Rosa. Its been a hot, smoky week, with the fires down south. Still, keeping my chin up. Cross your fingers nothing else will happen.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Waiting Game Almost Over

Three days from now (and waiting is hard) I trek to SF for the robot simulation for zapping my lung cancer. At that time many  experts will measure me, tattoo me, and make a body cast for me to lie in during the five day procedure. Its all very exciting and sometimes the anxiety of the unknown kicks in. Right now, however, my lung infection seems healed, and I am antzy to get on with it.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Hurry Up and Wait

Last Wednesday an Oakmont friend, Karen, drove me to meet with the robot doc in San Francisco where Catherine and Michelle (Lee's cousin) sat with me for a two and a half hour conference with a nice man I'll call Dr. A. Seems Dr. A has a slightly different opinion of the radiation treatment plan than my oncologist up here, whose plan (though not personality)I prefer.
They are going to confer by phone next Monday or Tuesday. And then confer again with me. Then yesterday I met with my pulminologist and got yet other suggestions. And I may seek a fourth opinion. "Anyhow" as my Canadian relatives would say,  it looks like early August is the first anything can happen. Thanks to everyone who is being so supportive.
Birthday celebrations continue. This is getting old, as am I.  

On the left, Shirley and Dolores, my freshman sorority roommates from 68 years ago, dining at Michelle Maries, a french coffee house here.
Additional bonus, my great niece, Darcie, and her husband Dave, whom I had never met, flew to California from their home in rural Wyoming to interview for a job up by Mt Lassen. By rising at four am they were able to visit with me for an hour, just before I left for SF. The job turned out to be a reject, but Darcie said they whole trip was worth it just to see me. My head is swelling.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Birthday Girls

As usual on Wednesday nights here fifteen or sixteen of us go out for dinner, at which time those who have had a birthday that week are celebrated. So last Wednesday after the cards and songs for two of us, I told the following story:
Eighty-six years ago in Seattle's Swedish hospital, a hospital that still exists, a strikingly beautiful  Canadian woman of twenty one, an illegal immigrant,  gave birth to a 7.6 oz baby girl. When Dr. Torland held me up for my mother to see, she screamed. Her baby was not perfect, for the second and third toes on both feet were webbed. She begged Dr Torland to take a scalpel and cut them through, and even though he was one of many men who was smitten with my mother's beauty and charisma, he refused.
When I was little and other kids pointed at my toes and teased me, I tried to hide my feet.
I guess I was seven or eight,
by then altogether used to my mother's romantic dalliances, that I noticed my beloved father had identical webbed toes. I realized then I was his kid, and ever since I have celebrated my uniqueness.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Seems Cancer Makes One Self Absorbed

Much as I'd like my focus to be on the world, you, nature, ect. it seems when one has  cancer one can only think of themselves.I very much dislike that, but that is how it is right now.
I am in a fair amount of pain, which my new doc thinks is from the cancer, not from the broken ribs yet healing.
As of Wednesday morning I have an oncologist Dr. Brett and he rules the roost. He wants me to go to Sutter hospital in SF for one to  four days for treatment with the cyber knife, to radiate away the tumor in my left lung. Even though we don't yet know much about the nature of the kind of cancer, he wants this done immediately. It could be anything from stage one to four, or even a mutation, but he insists on immediacy. So I am waiting for insurance approval. You can read about the cyber knife on Goodgle.
Then I will stay in a hotel in SF that has shuttle service to the hospital. All of my friends and family in SF have houses with stairs, which I'm not up to at this juncture. So I may leave as early as tomorrow or it could be a week from tomorrow. The holiday complicates things. How lucky I am to have the means and friends and family to accomodate this.
Cousin Michelle who lives in SF has familiarity with the cyber knife and will accompany me the first day. Wow. A lot to digest.
Its better not to phone as there are so many hospital calls, but I can still get and send emails with ease.
Love you all.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Standing In

My niece Cheari and hubby Alvey from Arlington, Wash. are holding Oakmont together for me as I'm still fighting off this bug that wants to hold court in my left lung. I need another CT scan of what's going on in there but it has to be delayed till the infection is healed, so right now its a waiting game.
The Raineer cherries from Washington are about to say bye bye as is my favorite flavor of frozen yogurt, Mango Sorbet. Not sure I will survive these major losses.
Today is an exciting day in the news,  Cheari attended Current Events for me while Alvey smoozed in a deck chair. So I'm going to let her tell you about it.
Here goes ... it was my first current events session and interesting subjects were discussed.  Climate change, Trump and more Trump, the pull out of England from the EU, organic farming and the use of GMO's, the recent verdict concerning the sentence of a woman in Oakmont who killed an elderly woman and badly injured another while driving by accelerating rather than braking.  There were others that don't come to mind at the moment, but will trickle into my head and consciousness in the next couple of days.  I understand the draw of all the clubs, social and educational opportunities and everything else Oakmont has to offer, and am so happy that Aunt Bonnie found and moved to this stimulating community that has given her pleasure over her years living here.  Best wishes ... Cheari

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Another Moment in Lavender

Its a challenge to catch the lavender in bloom at just the right moment. When I scouted out to Matanzas winery last Tuesday I determined I was a week too soon for the peak. Last year when I took the picture of the tourist I was three days late; they had already started to harvest. Anyway, I had fun taking pictures and Wednesday I finally finished revisions on the painting I started a year ago. Can you see what she is staring at so intently?
Many memorials around Santa Rosa this week for the 49 shooting victims in Florida.
My days seem filled with medical appointments so I have been saving my energy for that. Pet scan tomorrow, which means a weird low carb diet today. For breakfast Im having a cheese and spinach omelet----no fruit or toast or coffee. Seems weird.

Meanwhile in Washington DC we are filibustering to change the gun laws. All of my heart and energy and will are attached to this effort.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

NOW Every Little Girl Can Be Whatever She Dreams To Be

With joy and relief I celebrate Hillary's nomination. Now we can all breathe a bit deeper. Except me, maybe, for right now breathing becomes a challenge, at least deep breathing.

I am ambivalent about reporting that I hope I will be around for her inauguration. Day before yesterday my lung biopsy of the previous week confirmed what I suspected, lung cancer in the left lung. Thats about all I know for now until I see the oncologist June 29. Meanwhile I'm continuing my usual activities and enjoying the support of so many friends here.

What tickled me yesterday was my petite housekeeper, Kelly, arrived with a Hillary tee shirt. Kelly is a treasure. Not only did she make my house spic and span, she found a ring I thought I had lost for sure, nestled under the cedar chest in my bedroom. It would have been so easily vacuumed up. The ring was my Aunt Celia's from the First World War in France, where she served in the trenches as an army nurse. It was originally from her beau, a soldier and patient who loved her, but sadly died.

When I inherited it I had it remade, adding a lapis stone, my favorite. Thank you, Kelly.
Along with other Albany high school girls, in "42 and "43, Lee was a Rosie the Riveter at the Richmond Ship Yards, so the image is especially precious to me.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Try, Try Again

From a stunning best of show photo of Jan Hagan's I fashioned this abstract in Dale Laitinen's class. Will I ever get the concept? Abadstracts as I call them make me nauseous but
seem to be the vogue these days. Quite ugilly.
To me it looks like a burned moldy sausage. Or worse. Oh well, I'll keep trying.
Last night finished Deep, Down, Dark for book club on my ipad. Though I am especially interested in Chile and the psychological aspects of the coal miners confined in the mine for 37 days, I found the book tedious. Has anyone else read it? Today the free movie here is Bridge of Spies. I liked it so well at the theatre last year I may go again.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Election weary

Like most of us, I am totally election weary. Not that I don't find it exciting, nail biting, joyous, painful, and a dozen other adjectives. Since Catherine pinned a Hillary button on my bosum two weeks ago I have hardly been without publicly clarifying my position, and yet I find a yearning to go hide in the bushes and be done with this. Pull some nettles over my head and declare "Leave me alone". Are you just as exhausted with the rhetoric?
Last Thursday night my book club had dinner at Bistro 29, a lovely old French restaurant on 2nd St here. The food and service was almost as good as in France, and the price fixe menu ($29.) was bearable. I was getting into the spirit of the cuisine when, to my horror, someone (a Bernie person) brought up a cell phone picture of Hillary ogling Christina Aguliere's boobs. "Photoshop"several screamed. Who knows and who cares, I thought. The spell was broken, and the next three courses were consumed with election stuff.  I don't know if I can stand this till December. I may find an island retreat and reread old classics.
Im looking happy in the picture because Im just going into a great concert with Holly Near, Barbara Higbie and Jan Martinelli and 300 fans. It was an evening to be remembered and we raised 14 thousand dollars for scholarships. Whee. Perhaps if the electorate were better educated we wouldn't have all this drama and name-calling. Dream on, Crosse.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Open Studios Wrap Up

For a week and a half my living area has been the display gallery for my watercolors. I could have taken them down a week ago when open studios was over, but I found myself studying them a lot each day, finding things I liked, would change, or would eliminate all together.
What if our life was like that? We could spread out our successes and failures and attempts to change them, and have the leisure to study them, getting new insights? Tossing the bad choices in the garbage and trying over a new way? I like that concept a lot.
Here are a few pictures of the open studios. The weather was misty, so the turn out was not grand. What folks liked were small abstracts. I might add this was to my horror. I usually toss them in the garbage, and fast. I guess I need to rethink that. Or do I? Since I only sell enough to pay for my classes and supplies, maybe I should just stick with what gives me joy?
On the last day of open studios a   candidate for county supervisor came by. She was just walking the precinct. Finding twenty or so of her constituents inside, she stayed for an hour and a half, munching persimmon cookies. So politics rather than art took center stage. It was a hoot.
Ever since then I have been sporting the Vote Hillary button Catherine pinned on my left boob.
There is a best seller book right now touting the concept. of only keeping what gives us joy.  And in life, maybe its just the same way.
If one does what feels good and authentic, then parts of our life do not have to go in the garbage. Maybe. I'm evaluating that, as I think about the earth, climate change, and the political drama going on.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Mother's Day Weekend

Difficult and crazy as she was, I miss my mother deeply. She rejected the name mother, preferring to be called Bunny, even when I was a child, She also mostly rejected the role of mother. But she was generally so much fun, it was hard to hold her craziness against her. I've given up trying to understand her, for it only makes me crazy too.
After three conversations with my car insurance agent I decided to pay (out of my pocket) the owner of the Ford pickup $558.38 for repair of his car bumper which I hit two weeks ago following being hit myself by a huge bird, probably a red tailed hawk. It was a learning experience. I was still in shock after being hit myself, and I realize now I should have stopped a while and soothed myself rather than driving on. Insurance would have paid it fully, but then if I had another accident in three years it might have gone over the limit and I would have lost my good driver discount of 20%. Its all a matter of mathematics, I guess. But at 89, will I be driving (or even breathing) in three years?
When I spoke with a local naturalist he explained that the birds of prey are fledging right now. They are huge and wobbly and don't know yet how to gauge their lift, so accidents like mine where a bird crashes into another object are common during the months of April and May.
This weekend is Open Studios up here, and along with 25 other artists I am showing my works in my home. My housekeepers are coming this morning to help set up for the show. The persimmon cookies baked yesterday are waiting on the counter for frosting, and ten volunteers from Oakmont are lined up to help me, as the rules say one should not be alone in the house. I'm excited with all the activity.
Meanwhile, covering all contingencies, my cousin Ed in Vancouver says he will sponsor me for immigration to Canada if the election goes badly, that is if I promise not to bring Trump with me.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Wonders of My World

How fortunate am I to live in a community where learning is built in. Last Sunday's Morning Symposium was a lecture on the Seven Wonders of the World. The scholarly video presentation informed me that there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of lists of the seven wonders. The first list was all man-made edifices in the area of Turkey. Of them, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are the only one to have no actual witnesses, although there is evidence they once existed. Today even the Chinese have developed lists, only their's has 20 wonders, most in China of course.
I wonder what your own list would contain?
I keep trying to make my own list, but always get down to things in nature. Memories, mostly, and not listed in priority order. Among them, a tidepool on Samish island, the night sky over the Grand Canyon, the glow of copper in a black pit in Arizona, a dewdrop in my Oakland garden., the clouds in gathering thunder storm in New Mexico.

Spurred by our wonderful spring rains this year, the California poppies continue to go  mad. Acres and acres of them almost burn the retinas. Around every corner is a new display. I have never seen such a proliferation.  Its a new wonder to add to my list. I tried to paint last week's blog photo but I could not do it justice. Maybe I'll try again, but not this week.
Next weekend is Open Studios here, and along with 25 other artists I will be showing my watercolors in my home. Its a great time to meet and greet other Santa Rosans.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Biorhythms Messed Up

Do you believe in biorhythms? I remember when they were the "in" thing, and with my friend Eva , after a distressing day teaching school, we would go to Altas Bates Hospital in Berkeley, where in the basement they had a biorhythms machine the public could use. One could punch in their birthday and like a horoscope out would come one's predictions for that day. It also seemed to confirm our worst suspicions for our bad luck that day.  Then we would go out for frozen yogurt, which was always soothing.
Yesterday my biorhythms must have been bad, for no sooner had I entered the hiway 12 traffic heading to my personal trainer appointment than I saw a large flying object to my right heading directly for my car. No, it was not a drone. It was probably a turkey or a turkey vulture, although it had the coloring of a red tail hawk. WHAM it smacked into my car roof, like a hunk of concrete. There was no safe way to stop, so feathers flying I kept on to my destination, quite shaken up. "RIP, my feathered friend. "
Upon arriving at my destination I misjudged the distance for parallel parking, and banged into the front bumper of a new model blue truck. Was this my retribution for ending the life of a feathered friend? The kindly disabled owner did not admonish me. He now has white paint on his dented bumper and I have royal blue scratches on the right side of my Malibu, and we.ll see how much the charges are before I decide to let insurance handle it. Oh yes, I also have talon marks on the roof of my car. I hope today will be a more serene one. I'm off to paint California poppies, which should also be calming to my slightly shattered nerves. The poppies near my house are exploding right now. More gorgeous than any fireworks display.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Blissed OUT

Last Thursday afternoon I had an hour an a half massage which was so intense I came home and forgot to watch the Bernie\Hillary debate leaving me speechless at Current Events the next day, so I talked instead about the N. Carolina trans/bathroom discrimination issue. Men's bathrooms which have no waiting line but are always so filthy on the few occasions I have resorted to using one I am sorry. I guess unisex bathrooms are the answer, but there would surely be a long line of them to accomodate us all.
When friend Beth from Alameda came up to paint last Sunday we were invited to another artist's garden to view her iris. Beth's eyes got so big! There must have been a hundred in bloom. I don't think Beth had ever seen my iris garden in bloom in Oakland. Just as large, but spread out over an acre. The kind men who bought the property gave me a few of my own bulbs, having no idea which colors they were. Last year only two came out, but this year it looks like I'll have half a dozen. A couple of them are posted here. It soothes me to see them.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Comes Change

An unseasonal and significant rain has descended in the night and this morning the new limbs on the Japanese maple in my back yard are  bumping their arms on the  ground. Yesterday on the way to the Art Board meeting (where I declined, reluctantly,  to serve another term)  I snapped these pictures of a pink dogwood making an enormous statement.  I imagine it looks dejected and weather beaten today today.
Change comes when we least expect it. Last Tuesday seeing a new opthamologist I got shocking and scary news about my eyes. Seems I have vitelliform dystrophy, quite advanced in the left eye. It is a genetic disease caused by lack of nutrition to the macula, not macular degeneration but in the same family. (How can anyone as well rounded as me be lacking in nutrition?) Im taking special eye vitamins now to try to slow the process. The condition has not affected my vision so far, but I could loose the vision in the left eye in a twinkling. Then on Thursday I got unexpected good news about my heart. Seems that when one has had a pacemaker and an ablation there is a tendency for the heart muscle to get lazy at pumping Well, mine isn't. Yeah. I guess life is always full of checks and balances. Certainly nature is .

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Accepting Differences

Friday my friend Karen, who grew up in a Mormon family but is not Mormon, did me another favor by explaining that if one truly believes abortion is a crime, it follows logically that the mother is a criminal and deserving of punishment. She had to repeat it in five different ways for me to finally understand, but now I do, though it contradicts everything both of us believe. Thanks, Karen.

As I write, I am midway through a watercolor class with Dale Laitinen which I arranged here. Dale is a prominent California watercolorist and a seasoned teacher. He is pleasant, but not vibrant or personal. Perhaps he is depressed because his house and paintings burned in last summer's fire. Anyway, after scheduling several classes here with prominent male teachers I think I am ready for a woman's touch. (Any suggestions?) Friday night Dale  he did a live demo for the public which was enthusiastically received. Yesterday I painted on a full sheet for the first time, a goal I have had for years. Contrary to my taste, I followed his color palette and technique. Certainly not my cup of tea, but learning is extending boundaries. Others in the class thought mine was the best, but I thought it just a step above ugly. To the left is the abstract I did on a full sheet of a Bali waterfall. In the postcard photograph which inspired me an almost naked Bali girl is sitting bathing on the edge of the pool, but you wont find her here unless you have a vivid imagination.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Somewhat Nostalgic Parting

Since neither friend Karen nor I can quite bring ourselves to personally toss our own theses or dissertations we are doing for each other what good friends services. So tonight on the way to Peruvian dinner with my book club I will say goodbye forever to "The Role of the Miller-Unruh Reading Specialist, '71" and "Search for a Confluent Model to Improve Curriculum in an Inner City Elementary School, '76' and Karen's recycling will be a bit wordier by over 400 pages  next week.  Yeah. There will be a little more room on my garage shelf for flower arranging stuff.
If I were contemplating research now it would be on cures for blood cancers and/or what makes so many thousands of angry Americans believe in an incompetent braggart and bully like Trump. Surely they never learned to read effectively or ever took a class in civics.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Irish Eyes Are Smilin'

According to my mother whose stories were more apt to be fabricated than truth, I had a six foot red headed great grandfather, pure Irish. Could this be? I'll probably never know, but I have always had a fondness for old Irish ballads. I recently sent in my saliva for genetic testing, so maybe I'll find out.
One thing I'll say about my maternal family is that they were all poor, but they had a great time singing, especially after a few beers. And they grew and cooked great potatoes. Last night Rainbow Women had a lovely program of Irish music put on by great musicians. I so looked forward to singing along to the likes of  Long Road to Tipperary and Danny Boy, but it turned out to be more original celtic music.
Lovely in its own way, and definitely peppy. But driving the short way home I found myself singing
the songs from childhood memories, and feeling nostalgic for a simpler life (though not a potato famine).
The photo above is from a book club dinner party a couple of years ago. Whether I have Irish blood or not, I do love the merriment.  The photo below goes with next week's blog. Just a hint of what's brewing.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Wet, wet, wet and wetter

The monsoon seems to have arrived. Wowie. The little creeks in Oakmont are roaring, and there are more toadstools in my yard than I have ambition  to count. Seasonal allergies much relieved, because no pollen could survive this drenching. It feels like Seattle, only warmer. I'm ready for some sun.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Big Blow Coming In, Not Named Trump

February producing not enough rain to jiggle an angle worm, today's predicted storm is supposed to be a make-up whopper. Parched Sonoma County will be smiling. Just hope the trees don't blow over but I'm sure my tulips take a beating.  I' ll be staying home painting, in readiness for class I'm setting up with watercolor artist Dale Laitinen next month. I'm experimenting with his color palette, which is quite different than I'm used to. To me it almost looks like pastels. Maybe subtle is good....but I have a rain barrel full of practicing to do.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mustard Mania

My breathing being so labored by last Tuesday, I popped right into the doc, expecting  a referral to the cardiologist or a hospital bed. Well, I got diagnosed with severe asthma caused by my allergies. I suppose it is the tree pollen, which is thick up here as of now. But the  doc gave me a magic inhaler, which he predicted would clear my stopped up bronchial tubes within one hour. Guess did. The side effects make me a bit dingy, but I can live with that.

Right now the mustard is competing with everything  for eye-popping attention in the valley of the moon. Soon it will be waist high and the throngs of tourists visiting wineries will be more intoxicated with mustard than with the juice of the grape. In these pictures taken last Sunday it is knee to thigh high. As soon as it hits waist high it will magically disappear, either by special tractor that goes efficiently down the rows, or by herds of grazing sheep, who do the job with equal proficiency. It seems like it is there one day, and gone poof! the next. I've yet to catch a sheep in the action, but I see lots and lots of tourists exercising their knees and special lenses.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Shelves Of Memories

About five months ago I asked Ralph, my handiman, if he could make me a bookcase similar to the bright  purple art deco type that stands on the left of my fireplace. I was skeptical when he said "sure" and more doubtful as the weeks rolled into months with no product. Twice in the ensuing months he brought his wife over to inspect the decor on the existing one. About six weeks ago I spent an hour at the paint store choosing colors. Well, to my shock and delight Ralph showed up with the finished product last Saturday, and it fit exactly in the space designated. It took me three days to decide what to put where, and a couple of nights I got up at three to rearrange things. So here's the  finished product, though the artifact arrangement is still in transition. Many of the objects have serious sentimental value, special just to me. The clock on the next to bottom shelf was in my Berkeley therapy office for 25 years, reminding clients of the fifty minute hour. Many of the Chinese figurines were Lee's mom's. The china cat and kitten were my aunt Celia's. There is a story about almost everything. Countries of origin include Peru, Egypt, and Norway, and the rocks used as bookends came from all over the world. I love them all. Each month I make efforts to downsize, but will I ever succeed?