What Shakes in Bakes

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One of my favorites from my visit to the Bakersfield Museum of Art yesterday. This is an untitled piece by Samuel Hyde Harris. He came from England and painted in California quite a bit.

The Bakersfield Art Museum has such interestingly curated exhibits. Sometimes you learn about the community as much as anything else. This was part of an exhibit of works collected by locals, Local Visions,  which included stories of how the owners found the art. One painting (not this one) was bought just across the Texas/Mexico border in 1957. The couple had crossed to buy $35 worth of booze, but came back with art work instead.

One of the most interesting exhibits was of art collected by East Bakersfield High School. Decades ago, a principal at the high school began a tradition that the senior class would donate 1-3 works of art to the high school as a parting gift. How amazing is that?!  They don’t say that the tradition continues today, unfortunately, but the school collected some wonderful work for a while.

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Sweet display of vintage kids’ clothing in the window at the old Woolworth’s building which is now an antiques mall.

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The shop across the street from the Woolworths featured some fun murals on the walls, including this one in the basement. There was also a mock theater display in one hall, with a set of silk curtains that led only to a wall inscribed with, “What made you look?”

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Hydra indulging in 100 year old ice cream at Dewar’s. One of the places we found years ago thanks to Huell Howser.

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The drive there and back was breathtakingly gorgeous!  Green hills, blue sky, even some rain. It was all good.

 

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Friend of the Library

Books

I did something new today! I rearranged my schedule so I could volunteer at our local branch of the County of Los Angeles Public Library.  I’ve been a member of the Friends of the Library for several years, but this is the first time I’ve been able to do more than pay a membership fee.

A dozen or more volunteers showed up to set up for this weekend’s used book sale. It was a lot of fun, really.  We set up tables, labeled them with some broad categories, and started opening boxes of donations that have come in over the months. There were a couple of boxes that, if they came from one household, made me think I’d like the people who gave up these books. People criss-crossed the big room pondering categories and giving each other advise as to whether something was general fiction or a classic, etc.

When I saw that the non-fiction table was getting too full, I started organizing it into subcategories like military history, politics, science, film, etc. Some subcategories moved off to their own tables, like animal stories, biography and business.  I also organized the cookbook section and had to keep myself from picking up some of the older titles, like a couple of vintage books issued by the Mushroom Council or on party foods.

Our reward was snacks and beverages, and a big order of pizza at noon. Also the opportunity to take a couple of books home. I didn’t go looking for trouble on the other tables. I brought home two books with a promise to myself that I can donate them next time around: The Name Above the Title by Frank Capra and 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Women’s History by Constance Jones.

I was so happily busy that I forgot to take a picture. This shot is of the books that Hydra donated. I added some more. It’s funny how unpacking his books and shepherding them to the science fiction table or elsewhere tugged at my heart. I almost sneaked Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell–a book about a man and his relationship with some Scottish otters–back home. I hadn’t seen it in years.

Really nice break in my work week.  I’m looking forward to doing it again.

AWP is People!

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Sam, at the Call Me Ishmael booth.

This was my first time at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference.  I’ve heard about it for years, but in not enough detail to realize what an amazing experience it would be. I only went for the final day and I spent it walking around in a state of bliss. Like everyone else, I could walk into any of almost 30 panels or readings being held each hour and a half from 9:00 a.m.-5:45 p. or cruise the Bookfair floor meeting book and magazine publishers, creative writing program representatives, etc.

The people at AWP were amazing. I arrived very early and sat and talked with an undergrad named Agnes who had only decided to attend the day before when her professor encouraged her to go. While we waited for things to get going, I also met a woman who has been an English teacher all her life and was there doing some life research: looking for a place to retire based on the literary community in her new city. It was so easy to start up conversations with people…we had the essentials in common.

One of the most surprising things I encountered was the Call Me Ishmael booth, which was manned by the welcoming Sam, pictured above. I listened to a heartfelt message about a book I’d never heard of.  Check out their site where you can listen to messages, and leave one yourself.

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Thanks for the photo, and for organizing this reunion, Noel!

One of the highlights was meeting up off site for breakfast with these fabulous humans. As Noel so aptly said, “In 1998, we met as ‘Emerging Voices’ at PEN Center USA West. We haven’t met as a group in 18 years.” It was great catching up with Noel, Jenoyne and Ellery.

I went to panels on creating a workshop for women veterans, writing as a “woman of a certain age,” creating storytelling projects, and making your passion project come to life. I wandered the aisles of the book fair and made a point to visit some booths I have a connection to, like PEN USA/West, Hedgebrook, Counterpoint Press, and The Sun, where I met Derek, Caroline and Sy!  Pretty thrilling.

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At the end of the day, I was reluctant to leave, so I sat in the lobby and took pictures of people walking out. I asked the lovely Geeta from Washington, DC, about her experience. She’d been there all three days and seemed to feel the same way I did.  That it’s a very heady experience to be around so many writers, so many people who share this desire to create and communicate. Our tribe had gathered and it was good!

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Yes, I bought some books! This is my haul, minus the one I found for Hydra.  It was the only one I saw with an airplane on it. This pile is a fun mix of literary journals, fiction and non-fiction.  So exciting to have all this ahead of me.

My friend Antipasta went on Thursday and talking to her on Friday was great, from the practical to the philosophical. I took a rolling computer bag to avoid a back ache…best decision ever. She said that there was a good mix of ages and that the younger writers weren’t dismissive–which, you know, isn’t always the case in the general population–and she was right. I talked to people from 18 to 80 and felt happily connected and mutually respected.

We Emerging Voices fellows from 1998 talked a little about aging. Being the most aged, I was able to honestly say that once you get past a certain age that’s buried in your particular psyche, it gets easier. At least, that’s been true for me.  At 55, like the women on the panel, I just don’t care as much about what other people think of me as I used to (or I can talk myself out of caring more quickly!)  It’s not that I’m more easily pleased, but I have a much better idea of what’s satisfying to me.

The women-writing-over-fifty themed panel was the most empowering for me.  I love Laura Orem’s (Women’s Voices Mentorship) message that our writing lives do not have an expiration date or a specific time frame. Some writers take a decade between books. We aren’t athletes or models. We can write our whole lives long.

The writers of AWP gave me a much appreciated boost.  I’m still floating!

 

 

Windfall Oranges

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Here’s a cool way to share oranges. Kathy & Ron brought several 5 gallon buckets of oranges to the concert to give away. They were blown off of their trees and are sooo ripe.

I’m following my friend Renata’s lead here. You cut the peel from the whole orange and then slice them and place them on a plate or in a container.

I’m taking these to my writing group this afternoon. Yum!

Color Play

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Playing with color in my sketches.  I have mixed feelings about using color.  I like basic pen sketches a lot, but you get so much more subtlety with color, or by using a pencil. The sheen of the metallic blue tumbler in the upper left is so much more subtle than in the drawing of the Ganesha statuette two panels below it, which I didn’t think I was going to use color on.

These are really tiny drawings in a 5×7 sketchpad. I like the constrictions of these small places. While these are mostly objects in my home, these little drawings are fun to do while out and about.

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Full page drawing of a little wine stopper I bought at a yard sale a few years ago. The original is more charming.  Should have relied on the colored pencils more!

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I walked around the Pomona College campus a couple of weeks ago before a Harmonistas concert.  Then sat in a little park next to this house and thought I’d try something different. I would love to see the inside of this house.  All those windows, the dormer and the big front porch make me think I would love to live here.

 

Sundry and the Rather Blustery Day

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Snow was falling on the mountains across the valley, in the Angeles National Forest as we took off for a run into Lancaster.

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The Antelope Valley was stunning from the vantage point of the 14 North.

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On the way back, the weather front moving in. Taken from the 14 south at the western edge of Palmdale. That ridge is deformation caused by the San Andreas Fault.

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As we hit the pass, snow mixed in with the rain!

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And it had an immediate impact. The guy in the black truck was out, on his cell phone, helping the woman in the spun out vehicle by the time we passed. I love people sometimes.

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Sunny skies at our place. That’s our community to the left of the hill. Snow just a couple of miles away, to the right, on the other side of the 14 from us.  One of the great things about living in the foothills is getting these views of the weather as it moves around us.

It

Herbie Sunshine

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Today would have been my dad’s 88th birthday. In this photo, I see how much my brother, Brian, took after him.

I still miss Dad sometimes. I was 29 when he died and a year away from getting my B.A. (Easily distracted, late bloomer, yada yada.)  I didn’t get to spend enough time around him as an adult.  He and Mom lived in Germany from fall of 1983-summer 1985, and Hydra and I moved to California a few weeks after they came home.

I think he would have liked the way things have gone for me in the past 26 years.

The caption on the back says, “Herb & his Scout, April 16, 1981. Leveling off back yard after septic work.” You can see the roof of the old Noble Township one-room school house in the background, across the road.

Yeah, some people called him Herbie Sunshine. Ironic?  I dunno.  He had a great sense of humor and was a great anecdotal storyteller.