Did you wrack your brain to find musical chairs? A couple of antique stores in Prescott, AZ had some. Have you ever ridden on a merry-go-round?
Friends, Darlene, Jean and Mary Lou and I headed to Prescott to check out the antique stores. Musical chairs stumped me, so I scoured the stores for signs of them. See if you agree that these could be musical.
Don’t you love the old-fashioned figures riding this merry-go-round?
He looks like he’s having fun. the horse may be even singing to him.
The horses wore bright-colored outfits befitting their parts in the musical performances. Of course, the in first carousels, appearing in the early 1700s “the animals would hang from chains and fly out from the centrifugal force of the spinning mechanism. They were often powered by animals walking in a circle or people pulling a rope or cranking.” Wikipedia Germany has the oldest existing carousel made in 1779.
Platforms appeared in the 1850s, and by 1870 steam engines and organs adorned the amusement ride. The engineer Frederick Savage attached gears to the horses allowing them to glide up and down on the polls, and hoped to make the benches pitch and toss as if they were on the ocean.
This teddy bear picture reminded me of a Victorian poem, “The Swing,” that my grandmother used to recite to me.
Grandpa was crippled. All day he reclined by the front window at 1420 N. Denny Avenue staring out at the aging neighborhood. Grandpa rarely talked as my Grandmother kept a constant stream going. He stared out the window.
The only thing that has changed over the past 60 years is the color of the house and the size of the tree. He must have watched the grass growing.
One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today. Dale Carnegie
My mother’s cousin Hal, however, in September 2016, at age 91 and nearly blind, directed me to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA and where we found our Window Wonderland at Longwood Gardens Conservatory. We started our self-guided tour outside. After we passed through the first ivy covered archway, we found a creek with a wrought iron gazebo.
While the roof structure wasn’t a window, we felt like we were inside looking through a fancy window.
As we meandered by the river, we huffed and puffed past a meadow with some chairs meant for someone else who wanted to sit in the blistering sun. Unable to resist its call to my camera, I started walking towards a many-windowed house at the edge of the meadow under a large leafy tree. Hal made a beeline for the shady bench.
Did you see Hal waiting on the bench while I went inside to take pictures? The Canopy Cathedral is actually a tree house.
What you really want for yourself is always trying to break through, just as a cooling breeze flows through an open window on a hot day. Your part is to open the windows of your mind. Vernon Howard
Just so you know, even though there was a breeze blowing, it did not bear any semblance of coolness. If you have never been to the midwest and east in the summer and early fall, you may not have experienced 75% humidity.
“For example, if the temperature is 86° and the dew point is 70° it will actually feel like 91°! The reason it feels hotter is because it’s harder for our bodies to cool us off when there is higher humidity. Our bodies use a process of evaporative cooling, so if there’s a lot of water vapor in the atmosphere, it is much harder for our bodies to cool off, as compared to a day when there is less water vapor and lower humidity.
Hold onto your companion’s arm as you watch this next video. As I look at it with objective eyes, it seems like the videographer is a ghost floating through the unoccupied tree cathedral and not me. Turn the sound off, of course, and shut off the lights for added effect.
Sadly, once I got inside the treehouse, it felt like a hothouse and not a spectacular set of windows in a treehouse.
People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
It would be VERY DARK to be in the Canopy Cathedral after sunset. Who knows, the wood used to build the quaint treehouse, gathered from other locations might exude some misplaced spirits. We did not stay to find out. The mid-afternoon sun was hot, and Hal and I gravitated towards where we might find some air conditioning. I do not remember finding any.
This view and added humidity took my breath away. Even with failing eyesight, Hal enjoyed more of life than Grandpa Morris. Longwood Gardens is iconic to this area.
Wherever we looked, we saw views made more spectacular by the windows that framed them.
In spite of the window and the 83-degree day, the room seemed dark. Maybe I felt dark and sad inside after hearing the amazing two concluding minutes of the piano concert!
After missing the concert, we got lost wandering through the many rooms under the glass roof windows of the gigantic conservatory. Windows in this room filtered the light for these plants. By the way, you can find out the names of all the plants on their website IF you remember which room you were in. hehehe (You knew there would be a catch, didn’t you?)
The tropical room may have been one of the hottest. You can see that birds have dropped by this room hoping to swoop down to enjoy a bit of banana heaven. I doubt that birds like windows very much.
I’ll end with this chenille plant. I know you should not shoot into the sunshine, but the sky smiled it’s bluest grin and captured my heart.
Hal made sure I saw every exhibit in the conservatory. Exhaustion made my sandals feel like they had steel weights embedded in the soles by the time we went full circle and exited the conservatory.
or a hubcap! Eighty degrees and sunny, a perfect day to walk through an artist’s market set up in downtown Visalia. Vince walked straight down the street, but I veered right immediately. Shirley Keller picked my favorite color for her art.
The least expensive horse in the West is right on this table, and you are welcome to him! or welcomed by him! 🙂
These critters must have been at a hoedown. They might have been down on their luck. They could have used a lucky horseshoe. I thought I saw a saw. I did see a saw!
So many talented artists, this was just a taste.
For more of Cee’s Oddball Photo players click here.
Visalia Taste of the Arts has grown to ten times the number of vendors it had three years ago from 10 to 100 under my friend’s daughter, Carolyn Koontz’s administration. She now moves to a new job at Tulare County Office of Education. Congratulations, Carolyn!
Here are some of the more interesting Taste of the Arts.
Anyone could participate. Kids dug out holes for eye placement, attached all types of hair, legs, and other body parts. Interesting that most shapes ended up being some kind of “animal.”
Green teeth – no problem. They’re bound to fall out anyway.
This gives all new meaning to “We’re having octopus for dinner!”
“Who’s coming for dinner?”
Steps to a Masterpiece
Grab a big veggie.
Grab a carving or poking tool.
Stick veggies on sticks.
Poke sticks into veggies.
Attach little veggies to bigger ones with a toothpick or by stuffing into holes.
Display your artwork at the front table when finished.
Do you have Towne Hall Lectures in your area? Fresno hosts six programs each year at the Saroyan Theater downtown, so a friend and I decided to buy season tickets. Leon Panetta spoke today, the season’s first presenter.
Our moods were cheery as we drove up to Fresno in perfect 75-degree weather, light traffic, and good company. My two friends had never met but quickly learned that their daughters were the two newest employee hires at TCOE, where Connie and I worked for many years.
After hiking up to the balcony, we realized that we had arrived early enough to get third-row seats. So we traipsed down and slid into the best seats in the auditorium.
What a privilege to listen to the former director of the CIA, and Director of Defense for President Obama. Son of an Italian immigrant raised in a walnut grove in Carmel, they used to shake their trees by hand, Panetta and his brother gathering the nuts as they fell. His dad told him that he was well prepared to work in Washington.
“You’ve been dodging nuts all your life.”
A renown physicist presented all over the country. His chauffeur, who traveled with him, complained that he always gave the same speech.
“I’ve heard that speech so many times, I could recite it word for word.”
So, when they went to Fresno. The scientist said, “OK, they don’t know me here in Fresno, you give my talk tonight.”
They exchanged clothes and the chauffeur made the presentation. It went over perfectly. After the speech, someone from the audience asked a detailed question involving formulas.
The chauffeur responded, “That’s the stupidest question I’ve ever heard. In fact just to prove how stupid it is, I’m going to let my chauffeur answer it.”
Most Vulnerable statement
“I’ve worked with nine presidents. No, I don’t want to do it again. I don’t want to kiss that much…” (paraphrased)
The government is there to lead, to govern. Leaders have to take risks. The best thing leaders can do when they have a problem is to make the right decision. The second best thing they can do is make the wrong decision. The worst thing they can do is nothing.
There is some low-lying fruit that the president (this one and the next) could pluck and actually accomplish something.
Entitlements – Will it involve compromise? Yes! Will it be popular with everyone? No! Does it have to be done? Yes!
Approve the Supreme Court Justice appointment now. It’s the law. It’s their job.
In a Democracy, you have nice guys, and jerks, the lazy and the ambitious, crooks and honest members of the government. That’s life. Deal with it. You (leaders) have a job. Get it done.
There was time for questions after his speech. He actually answered the questions! That was refreshing. Monica, Connie and I had a great time discussing what we heard. Then we went home and waited for the last presidential debate.
Thanks, Monica, for suggesting that we do this.
What interesting events have you attended recently?
It was a beautiful September day outside in San Jose, though a little warm. I had a few hours to kill before Leanne Cole’s plane came in from Australia. We planned to meet up at Starbucks. I was so excited to finally meet her in person.
I stayed at the Hilton next to the McEnery Convention Center in downtown San Jose. It was less than a half mile so I walked to the Tech Museum of Innovation. but it was closed for remodeling.
Dang! It was closed for remodeling. Sounds like my house.
Almost across the street near the San Jose State University campus on 110 S. Market Street sat the San Jose Museum of Art. It cost $8.00 admission for a senior, which I thought was pretty expensive, but I love museums, so I paid and walked in.
I walked over to Radio Man’s glass case and stared at him trying to convince myself that this was really an art museum. I had just passed the blue room, which was just a room with a room-sized box lit with a blue light. hmmm.
“First of all, art does not HAVE to make sense,” Radio Man instructed me.
“You just don’t want to analyze how beautiful and artistic I am. You’re a lazy aficionado,” he continued.
I looked down and shuffled my feet. I wanted to turn away, but Mom always taught me to compliment people – no matter what. I stood there staring at his shoes and duck beak hands.
“OK, ok! You are shiny. I’ll give you that!”
“I had braces as a child.”
“You need to try Invisalign. Your bite is off.”
“What do you know? Most people like my smile.”
“Looks more like a grit to me.”
“A grit? It’s a smile. Don’t I have pretty eyelashes?”
I am not usually mean to robots. What’s the use? I moved on, nodding that I liked its eyelashes.
Have you ever opened the door to a shop and it took your breath away, it was so …. odd?
My friend Sally Pace and I got in her car and drove east on Highway 198 toward the big trees, Sequoia National Park. Our mission, as we chose to accept it, was selling advertising for Kiwanis magazine, “What’s Happening in the Foothills.”
We’re volunteers, you know.
You can’t keep a volunteer on the straight path without them turning their work into an event.
“Hey, Sally, look here. The Doll’s Nest. Ever been there?”
“It looks like someone’s house.”
“Let’s check it out anyway. If they’re not there, oh well.”
We almost did not open the door. It WAS someone’s house. We heard a little voice inside, “It’s open. Come on in.”
We pushed open the door and sucked in our breath.
I’ve never seen so many dolls in my life.
Most, like 99.95% of them, are imported from Russia. Many of them are decades old and were very difficult to get because of international relations between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Bertha and her sister Marilyn started the Doll’s Nest as a hobby. The name fits the shop perfectly. These nesting dolls nest in their living room. See the little guy at the bottom middle of the picture? That’s my husband with blue eyes.
Little Vince is one of the few dolls who doesn’t nest.
According to Bertha, “nesting dolls are hollow wooden figures, with the top portion of the doll coming off, revealing another figurine.”
The Beetles live here along with other famous figurines.
Some of the dolls have their nesting companions laid out beside them like you see with Mr. Walrus. My favorite was the stressed woman whose mood gradually lightened as she thought cheery thoughts.
Ginny dolls caught my attention on the left side of the shop.
Ginny dolls were my favorite dolls when I was seven. Here is why. We had a bond.
I was born with a double harelip or cleft lip. I had to go to the hospital to have my inner lip separated from my gum where it had been sewn when I was born. At age seven, I could smile normally.
No worries, I came out just fine with Ginny by my side.
My smart momma took me shopping to pick out a new doll. We made a day of it. She took me out to eat at L.S. Ayres & Co. at their fancy rooftop restaurant where we watched a fashion show. I also got some new baby doll pjs.
I was soooo excited to go to the hospital. I know, weird, huh?
The hospital had a huge bright playroom, so Ginny and I went right there as soon as I got there. I could not wait to make new friends and show them my new doll.
Ginny and I together had no fear.
If you guys ever need a place to spark happy memories, drive up to Three Rivers and visit the Doll’s Nest. hehehe
Don’t tell, but my brother loved my dolls, too.
If you are NOT a guy who loves dolls, think of it as pure history. Maybe there is somewhere to sit down and play video games on your phone while you wait. 🙂
I hope you enjoyed my trip to the oddball shop.
If you liked this post, PLEASE share it with your friends. If you have a doll-loving friend, you KNOW what to do….
This post has all the clickable links to get back to Cee and see other odd pictures or enter for yourself.
Car shows are still the rage in Central California. They attract car guys and gals with everything from new Mustangs to old beaten-up trucks decorated with suitcases. This was one of my personal favorites.
The Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce Car Show is one of the last shows of the season in the valley where temperatures soar into the 100s by mid-summer.
As participants drove into the western touristy looking town, new downtown sidewalks, streetlights, flags, and a round-about leading into the town welcomed them.
Unlike most shows, this venue is in the middle of the city park right on the grass not on the hot asphalt street. The shopping center across the street from the park provided parking for all the non-exhibiting guests, so streets were clear for registration, which ended at 10:00.
Such a family friendly atmosphere! Everything in the park has been upgraded and is beautifully maintained.
Here are a few tips to make your day more fun that I gathered as I made my way around the park visiting with all the car guys and gals.
Pre-register. The pre-registration line went faster and because it was about 10 cars shorter. Woodlake Valley Chamber volunteers had bags of goodies packed with names ready to go.
Show up early! The best spots under the large trees in Miller Brown Park go fast! On-site registration officially opened at 7:00, but they let us in as soon as they got set up.
Bring a shade canopy, comfy chairs, cooler, and a spray bottle. One woman misted herself as I walked by her trying to grab a corner of her shady spot. Other guests offered me cold water. It was such a friendly crowd.
Don’t forget cash! The Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce had a 50/50 drawing and this year a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Maui, HI. Donations go for a good cause. The Chamber is raising money to rebuild the sign on Highway 198 that points the way to Woodlake and the many activities sponsored by other service organizations during the year. They also sponsor the Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum which opened in February of 2016.
Come with your friends. Groups can park together at the Woodlake Car Show and not by category if they want. Car entries came from Bakersfield, Fresno, Visalia, Porterville, Tulare and many of the small towns in Tulare County. The youngest participant I talked to was a seventeen-year-old cyclist from Woodville.
Leave your pit bulls at home. We did not seem many dog strollers and no doggie messes in the park. The Woodlake Chamber allowed small carry-on dogs in the park.
There were so many prizes. Not only were there about 28 categories of vehicles with three winners in each one. In addition, Miss Woodlake picked her top three winners, and so the did the Chamber of Commerce.
Guy Fieri made diners and dives famous across the United States but does he know about the Woodlake Drive Inn? It’s thriving in the tiny town of Woodlake, CA.
How is that possible? What’s the secret of their success?
Ali credits his success to extending a helping hand and giving back 200% to the community.
Owner, Ali Mohamed impressed me with his devotion to Woodlake.
“Whatever you do for the community, it comes back. If you’re stingy it doesn’t work.”
It was about a half hour before our scheduled interview when I drove down Valencia Boulevard in Woodlake, CA. Hungry from my morning workout, and not able to cook while our kitchen is being remodeled, I looked forward to this interview for more than one reason.
Chicken Strips & Fries!
It was about 12:15 when I arrived, and there was a long line in front of me. I knew from experience it would go fast. However, I was not counting on Ali coming out to greet me. He asked what I wanted and put my order in for me. While I waited for my food, I took pictures for my blog and talked to customers. Everyone in one family liked the same thing I did – chicken.
Out of over 100 items, that was not the consensus. Other top ranking meals were #8, the BIG MEAL, the hamburger special, the pastrami sandwich, grilled cheese, and, of course, sodas.
Waiting on a constant stream of walk-up customers and answering the phone kept the window clerk busy. Several men bustled in the back filling the orders. Guests sat down under the cover of an awning visiting with each other across picnic tables while they waited for their food.
Just like any fast food, it came in a styrofoam container, but it was hot! The fries may be the tastiest I’ve ever had, with just the right amount of seasoning and the perfect crispness. The woman in blue informed me before my meal arrived, that Woodlake DriveInn has the best fries. They visit frequently, and she was right.
When I finished eating, Ali came out to join me at the table.
Curiosity bubbled out of me. “How did you end up in Woodlake, CA of all places?”
Twenty years ago Ali and his brother moved from Yemen to Dearborn, MI and went to work in a factory in Angola, IN, 20 miles south of Dearborn. In their spare time, they worked in restaurants as they picked up English.
Ali’s cousin, Sam, had moved from Fresno to Farmersville and told the brothers that CA was the land of opportunity. They bought the Drive Inn from an Arabian in 2001 and settled in with a plan to succeed.
“This country is amazing. You can be who you are in a free country. In the United States, if you believe you will succeed, you will.”
“We just noticed what people liked and that’s what we served. People order lots of sodas and soft-serve ice cream. And we were friendly. We came out and shook hands with everyone that came.”
The Drive Inn was old in 1961 when it was Floyd’s Drive Inn. He did not know the history of the business, but Ali told me that he had an 80-year-old customer who had worked at the Drive Inn when she was in high school.
When we started, it was just my brother and I and one girl. We worked hard. Now we have six or seven employees.
“My brother wanted to enclose the font, and air-condition a seating area. I wanted to keep it old-fashioned. The community needs something original. We added the awning.”
One customer said, Ali is very friendly. He’s got a great personality.
Her husband added, “And the food is GOOD.”
Ali believes in being generous. A Chamber of Commerce member, he donated a large amount to the Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum, run by the Chamber. His generosity reaches to other organizations as well. He has a soft spot in his heart for lending a helping hand, especially for the schools. He doesn’t always know why the kids are collecting money, though.
“You can never go wrong giving. It always comes back to you.”
It pays off. A few years ago I did a civics exercise in a high school class. Kids had to list ten things they liked about Woodlake, and ten things they would change. Woodlake Drive Inn was always at the top of their list of things they like about their town.
Ali paid for my lunch and then offered me some soft-serve ice cream for desert. It was so tempting. Even the pictures looked good.
Are you proud of my self-control? I may go back tomorrow, but I’m not telling.
Woodlake is friendly. Woodlake Drive Inn is the place to network.
Yesterday I made a new Facebook friend while I waited for my food.
Today Vince insisted on trying Woodlake Drive Inn after I told him about the food. A cool breeze blew through the shaded area. A couple sat down across from me at the picnic table while we waited for our lunch. They looked vaguely familiar. After talking to figure out why we knew each other, she gave me her card.
Ali left me with this quote before he got back to work.
“If I didn’t work here. I’d still live here. I walk down the street and people don’t turn away. They say hi. I love Woodlake.”
So next time you come to Woodlake head for the old-fashioned burger shack, Woodlake Drive Inn. Guy Fieri would be proud.
What is the favorite local restaurant in your town?
If you enjoyed this article, please share it on social media or email it to a friend who might enjoy visiting Woodlake Drive Inn.
Sunday my husband and I toured visited artists in Visalia, CA Region One of the South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour. At the home of another acquaintance of mine, Toni Best, we had no idea gourds could look so fabulous. Her front door was open so we walked in. Her voice led us to her living room display studio where she wove a backdrop for one of her gourd projects.
Unlike any other baskets I have seen, Toni’s have gaps and dips.
After we looked around her living and dining room she stopped working and led us to her studio – the garage. She starts by cleaning and staining her gourds, which she purchases in bulk.
She wears a mask to protect herself from mold as she cuts a hole in the top of the gourd and grinds out the inside.
Then she stains them. This table is set up for a class she will teach in June. She does the gourd preparation for her students because it is so time-consuming.
Now I understand the difference between the eye of an artist, and ordinary eyes like mine. In a million years my eyes would not have projected the beauty Toni creates from these raw materials.
Toni holds exhibitions all over the country including, St. Paul Minnesota, and at Harvard in Massachusetts. She has been invited to teach at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN this summer. If you do not want to travel to Tennessee, Toni holds classes in her Visalia studio every other month.
The South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour attracted visitors for three days, Friday through Sunday. Saturday morning could not have been more springy: crispy cool sunshine, pink peach buds lining Millwood Drive, and hillsides blanketed in flowing green and yellow robes. I opted to walk to a studio near me at the home of Linda Hengst.
All the artists we visited had prolific displays, and Linda was no exception. Her house can not hold all the art that she displays for the studio tour. She creates palette knife oil landscapes, watercolor stills, pencil drawings, collages, and like many artists turns her favorites into cards and prints.
Her studio inside where she paints overlooks stunning foothills decorated with orange trees against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in particular Saw Tooth peak. Her new display studio features outdoor seating and an open concept kitchen. The setting can neither distract nor inspire her inside the new studio building.
The homey outbuilding did feature some of my favorite paintings. I love water, boats, and bright colors so you can see my favorite in the left corner sitting on the floor. This room features some of her travel paintings from Alaska and the Netherlands.
As always, I had a wonderful visit with my friend, Linda and left wishing I could pick up the brush or knife and work the magic she does on a canvas.
Thanks again to my friends Connie and Darrel Smith for the tickets and to their daughter Carolyn for organizing the event.
On Sunday afternoon, the third day of the South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour, we headed to THE big town in Tulare County, Visalia, CA. Visalia is the first town established in Tulare County in 1852. One of the “studios” we visited exhibited in the location of Fort Visalia, forgotten except for a plaque to remind us that it existed. Ft. Visalia, built in 1860, protected the townspeople from raids from the Yokuts Indians whose land they occupied. It also made a statement in favor of California’s position supporting the Union in a town settled mostly by Confederate sympathizers. In more recent years Copeland Lumber Yard owned that prime property, but on this day artist Eric Gonzalez used it to display many works of spray artists from all over the state.
Erik has done a lot of work in Woodlake with the students, and we published an article about him for the “What’s Happening in the Foothills” magazine a couple of years ago, so it was great to meet him in person. Erik has a passion for youth. Here is a bit about him.
“As a professional graffiti artist, Erik has been successful in utilizing his work for alternative marketing that appeal to young generations. In addition to recreational painting, Erik is also passionate about delivering positive and meaningful messages to young people through his work such as, education, youth empowerment, risk behavior prevention, awareness, and more.
In recent years Erik has been working in partnership with groups such as Faces of Prevention www.facesofprevention.org and Youth Centers of America www.youthcentersofamerica.org, implementing vandalism prevention programs.He recruits students taking interest in contemporary media with an objective to identify graffiti/urban art as a contemporary art form and to expose his participants to the urban art career opportunities that exist in current advertising and design markets.”
Most of these paintings were done by other artists who work with him around the state. I think he and his students and colleagues are doing a great work changing the look of graffiti art.
My husband gravitated towards one of his son’s paintings, and thought I should write a children’s book about monster kids and use him as the artist. I told him monster kids are more up his alley. I would rather write about a Jungle Princess. 🙂
What do you think about the new look of graffiti? Do you prefer the monster kids who can’t control their urges to cause mischief or a jungle princess who charms snakes, gossips with the birds and rides a tiger?
Would you expect an artist’s studio to be spotless on a visitation tour? Please don’t! Would you expect their display areas to look like an art museum? Read on to find out for yourselves.
The day was magic, perfect temperature, warm sunshine bathing the mountains highlighting the California poppies, a few wispy clouds against the clear blue sky. A drive to Three Rivers, CA at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains never disappoints, but some days thrill more than others. This was one of those days.
We visited five artist’s studios, signed up for art classes, made design notes, and met some incredibly talented individuals. This studio sits atop a mountain overlooking the Kaweah River as it flows from the mountains on one side, and Highway 198, which is pictured above.
Art students pounded and molded clay projects this studio, even on tour day. One student had to thin her brick when she found out that thick pieces explode when put in the kiln.
We met two of the three artists, Christine Sell-Porter and Bill “Hopper” Sullivan. To take us on the tour, Christine stopped working on her orchid pot that has holes throughout to let the orchid roots breathe.
My husband chatted with Hopper, and signed up to take a class. Christine displayed her paintings and her new experiments with clay, including the ones that did not work. You can get an idea of the beauty of the spring wildflowers from her paintings. She points out another pot she made with the orchid starting to grow.
We also visited a popular painter and photographer across the highway named Nadi Spencer. You can tell artsy people by the fact that the junk in their front yards looks impressive and not like the country dump. My eyes went immediately to the bike, but my husband, who is artsier than I am, noticed the paint cans with matching flowers, and the chairs with matching sweaters draped across the back. You can see the aqua one in this picture after you quit focusing on the bike.
Nadi sells most of her paintings on Facebook by joining groups that love the kinds of things she paints. She paints a lot of dog portraits. Her realistic paintings look like photographs for a high-quality restaurant or brochures with just enough artistic touches to make them fun. She sold both cards and paintings at the show. You can see her self-portrait on the top right.
People came and went the entire time we visited her gallery. One woman came in to pick up some 40 year-old teddy bears she had advertised online. Only a half-door and a huge dog separated her studio from the gallery.
It was getting near closing time for the artists so we headed back home to Elderwood to visit our two neighbors. Not that the Sundstroms and I are unfriendly, but I have walked by this studio several hundred times in the last 15 years, walked with John Sundstrom’s wife, and never met John nor seen the inside of his work area.
John may well have been the most prolific and diverse of any of the artists we visited. He taught for 25 years or so at the Creative Center in Visalia for disabled adults. He said that having the same students for years pushed him to explore many artistic mediums.
The front and center of the studio featured his sculptures out of stone. He showed us the hand chisels and files he used to carve. Being a former dental assistant, I had visualized a power tool like a dentist’s drill that he might have used on these hard rock. He told us that only the company that sold the stones used a power tool to cut the rocks into flat-bottomed chunks. My favorite sculpture glowed from the inside out when illuminated.
Reluctantly we headed upstairs away from the sculptures, but the diversity of his fabulous drawings and paintings quickly captured our interest. He accented this Japanese kimono with gold leaf.
After visiting until after closing time, we left for home, saving the tour of our friend, Linda Hengst’s studio for the next day, and our Visalia artists for Sunday.
Have you ever wanted to see where an artist does all their work? Vince and I had the privilege of doing just that this weekend. I want to thank my friend Connie Smith for the tickets she sent my husband and me to attend this three-day event. Kudos to her daughter, Carolyn, for organizing it.
We looked forward to it from the time we received the passport map, name tags and book featuring the forty artists on tour about two weeks before the event. I particularly looked forward to the artist of the work featured above, Toni Best because I had known her as a teacher. We did not get to her studio until the last day, so you will see more her work later.
The county-wide event lasted three days. Since the county is the size of Connecticut, Carolyn and her committee subdivided it into three regions for easier trip planning. We live in Region Three, so we started there. There are two artists within walking distance of our house, but we decided to end there, and drove up to Three Rivers first. The sunny day made the wild poppies and lavender as well as our moods on the way up to the foothill town sparkle.
We only made one wrong turn, but quickly turned around and followed the well-marked signs to a husband and wife team. This was the wife’s charming studio. I do not remember if her husband built the building or just the cabinetry inside, but it appealed to me right from the start and she was a delightful as her cheerful studio and clever art work. I loved the idea of drawers in the stairs even though I do not know how practical it would be to bend down to the floor when you needed a paint brush.
The stairway leading between the two studies added to the picturesque view.
Although Martha had some realistic work, her surreal style reminded me of Rene Magritte, one of my favorite artists. A little white horse cuddled on a little girl’s shoulder, a chair walking a tightrope were two of the many examples she displayed. Martha Widmann and I chatted like old friends. I would snag her in an instant to illustrate a children’s book for me.
She had copies of some of her art clothespinned to the wall of the building outside as well as larger prints of them inside. Her husband’s chair obviously inspired her.
This is one of her more realistic pieces.
My husband was more taken with her husband’s work, Stickley furniture.
Rick Badgley buried his unique woodworking shop under about 18 inches of soil which kept it cool in the hot summers, and grew wild grass on the roof. We have had a lot of rain this year so the grass was seasonably green. My husband and I both envied his craftsman garage doors.
We could barely pull ourselves away from this beautiful setting and interesting conversations, but we had five or six more places we wanted to see. I’ll give you one more glimpse of this one, and tell you about the others in another post.
Vince shocked me a few months ago when the announced as we drove to lunch in Visalia one beautiful October day that I didn’t like to cook. I had my defense ready.
“I don’t mind cooking.”
Needless to say I lost that argument before it even got warmed up.
Actually I’m a good cook, but Vince is right, if I have a choice of filing, making the bed or writing, I’m not at the stove.
So tonight, inspired by my friend and esthetician Carrie at Creekside Day Spa in Visalia, CA, I decided to wine and dine my husband. Here’s how she explained it to me. First you relax, and don’t expect to have everything done at the same time, and drink wine with every course. All my life I have not been a wine drinker, so my sophistication level 0. The upside to that is that I have a strong liver and not as many dead brain cells as I might have had otherwise. But for this evening we started with a glass of wine while I serve a delicious appetizer.
There is no recipe for this, and I don’t know what you call it, but the ingredients are chopped vegetables fried in olive oil until some of them are crispy. I used brussel sprouts – usually not anyone’s favorite, but trust me on this – you will eat more than you should. Along with that I added in onions, red cabbage, canned corn, broccoli,celery, topped with kale. I sprinkled the mixture with chili powder, salt and pepper and served it topped with romano cheese. I toasted an English muffin topped with the same cheese, and we spooned the vegetables onto the bread, and downed it with a pink moscato. This process was somewhat messy and took about 20 minutes, so I had everything started before he came home. I think Carrie’s idea was to have both partners working together in the kitchen. It’s taken us twenty years to work politely together in the kitchen. (He’s bossy, and I leave if he irritates me too much. Then he leaves, and I come back and do it my way. We are working on our social skills, but today I did it my way.)
We ate course #1 then went out into the yard and did a few chores while the soup heated in the crock pot. I used most of the same vegetables in the minestrone soup, so that meant that I didn’t have to chop twice. I added canned tomatoes, black beans and carrots to the soup, which I didn’t use in the appetizer. I have never made minestrone soup because I don’t usually like it, so I looked online, and discovered a recipe, and altered it to match my groceries. It called for white beans, but I didn’t have them. In my older age, I have no compunction about substituting. I can remember being tied to recipes thinking that if I didn’t follow them to the tee, the kitchen god would kick me out of the kitchen, and I’d never have to cook again. The soup cooked during the entire appetizer process, then I tossed in the penne pasta for about 10 minutes. We topped the soup with Romano cheese too, and let it drip down our chins. A little wine, and who cares? We chose a red moscato to go with this course. While Vince worked in the yard a bit, I finished cooking the meat sauce for the lasagna. That was the joy to this process. We didn’t rush through dinner. In fact it wasn’t even dinner time when we started.
I make lasagna at Christmas and Thanksgiving because my Italian husband prefers it to turkey. Can you imagine anyone preferring anything to turkey at Christmas?
When we shopped this week, he snuck some hot sausage into the cart. He wanted it chopped up and mixed into the hamburger. (blick, blah) I can see it here because it’s a little more orange, but I hope I can’t taste it.
I love this little recipe book. The women at our Nazarene Church in Cottage Grove had a going away party for my first husband and me when we went to Bible College in Colorado Springs, and this was their gift to me. (Even though they knew I didn’t like to cook – pastor’s wives HAVE to cook, don’t they?) This recipe came from one of my best friends, Jan Norris.
See it looks pretty good. I didn’t follow the recipe perfectly, though. It has sausage and onion in it, but no garlic, and I don’t measure. The cheesy stuff consists of sour cream, cream cheese, and I used cottage cheese, too, but the recipe doesn’t call for that either, and it does call for green onions, which I never use. I sometimes use ricotta cheese because it’s more Italian, according to Vince. Once you get the cheese mixture combined you just have to layer it with the noodles. There are two layers of each.
Finally you add the cheddar cheese. This is the most time-consuming of the process. I don’t like to use a food processor, but I don’t have a good reason for that.
The only problem with Carrie’s great idea is that now Vince and I are way too full, to eat the main course tonight. But it’s done now, 4 hours after I started cooking.
So, you want to come to dinner? I have plenty. 🙂 I also have a mess to clean up. Hmmm maybe that’s why I don’t “like” to cook. 🙂
Wishing you and yours the merriest Christmas. Love you all, and wish you were here to taste my dinner. 🙂