Monday, November 30, 2020

Spending An Afternoon With An American Painter

One spring weekend in 1983, I drove up the California coast to the turnoff for the Santa Ynez Mountains. After a gorgeous drive through the mountains, I arrived in the Santa Ynez Valley and the small town of Solvang. 

Solvang was founded by three Danish immigrants in 1911, with plans to create a community for other Danish immigrants. By the 1980s, it was visited by large throngs of tourists so I would go there off-season. 

On this May weekend, as I was exploring the town probably intent on buying Danish cheese and Swedish herring, I came upon an art gallery. 

I stepped inside and was greeted by an older man who introduced himself as John St. John, a painter and the gallery owner.

I walked around and enjoyed the paintings and sculptures that were on display.

As I was about to leave, Mr. St. John offered me a cup of coffee and a chair. I accepted and thus began a lovely afternoon that I have never forgotten.

We must have talked about a wide variety of subjects and I know we really enjoyed each other's company. I don't remember any details of our conversation, only that I spent the entire afternoon with him.

Before I left, I knew I had to buy something to remember this afternoon by. I chose a small painting of a gray and lavender mountain shrouded in a dark mist. I remember it cost $80.00, about all I could afford at the time. 

I have it to this day, here in my bedroom, not too far from my purple cottage painting. 

As I was leaving, Mr. St. John took out a book, called Visions of Reality in oil paintings, a book about his life and his art. He wrote something in it and told me he wanted me to have it. To remember the day by.

There was something attractive about this older man, except I felt he was perhaps not entirely well. Checking now, he was  actually in his early 70's, but back then I had of course a different perspective on being 70 than I do now. And, as I found out, he died in 1986, so three years later.

How strange, I thought when I got back to my motel room,  opened the book and saw this photo of him as a much younger man. 


As it were, I had an interesting and pretty unforgettable experience meeting this man and sharing an afternoon with him. 


President Reagan's ranch was located in the Santa Ynez mountains.

And Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch is situated in the Santa Ynez Valley. 

This may not be of interest anymore. At the time is was, since Reagan was president and Michael was very much alive and frequently stayed at his Neverland Ranch. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sunday Morning Reflections


On this first Sunday in Advent, I will light the first candle in my Advent candle holder and think of friends and family with love.

This morning I woke up early and actually lit the candles. This is enough for me to feel the spirit of Christmas. And I'm so glad that the child in me never quite disappeared. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Train Graffiti

 I never mind getting stopped by one of the many trains that come through our town every day. The other day I was first in line and had a prime seat for graffiti viewing. 

I have no idea if there's anything not kosher depicted here, but then I suspect neither would you, my blogger friends. I'm often delighted by the talent I see in these artists. And it somehow makes the trains more interesting and time waiting for them to pass less boring. 

This post was inspired by Ginny at Let Your Light Shine
who always notices and takes photos of the many fun and interesting things she and her hubby encounter on their outings. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Monday, November 23, 2020

Morning Mayhem With Faith

As I'm getting dressed in the mornings, Faith comes in the room and looks around. If she doesn't see the wonderful objects she's after, she may sit down and look disappointed, or she may just leave.

If she spots them, just sitting there on the floor, I get a tentative look and a hopeful smile.

When I pick them up and start to put them on, sheer madness ensues.

Faith runs in crazy circles, the way happy dogs do. Round and round in the small space between the bed and the cabinet.

She jumps up in my lap, paws dig into my jeans. I tell her it hurts and to get down and sit quietly.

She sits quietly for a minute and looks like she's thinking about it.

Then decides this is a good idea, because the faster I can put the boots on, the faster we'll go for our walk.

Faith is not like Samson, she's not by nature a patient dog. But she for sure knows how to be extra good if there's a reward for it.

And she just reminded me that she's dog number 12. And when was I going to write about her here? 

I had planned to write about her in November, but then completely forgot about it because I had a break. So I tell her not to worry, the month isn't over yet. 

And then I can write about my kitties in December. Six very much loved cats have shared their lives with me and their stories should be told as well. I ask Faith, "maybe one cat a month for six months, what do you think?"

For this, I get a look of disbelief that says: "I don't know what a cat is, not really, never met one, but to write about one every month when I've had to wait for 12 months to have my story told? Don't think so."

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Sunday Morning Reflections


“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.”  

Nelson Mandela


Friday, November 20, 2020

Canine Breakfast At Our House

 There are some fuzzy pictures here. As always, there was a lot of commotion and also a bit of staging, since Samson eats outside and Faith eats in the kitchen. 

Me: OK guys, breakfast is ready.

Faith: Let me squeeze by, you big furry thing.

Me: Sit!

Me: Samson, sit!

Samson: I don't think so.

Me: Samson, did you hear me, sit! 

Samson: I heard you all right, I just don't see the point.

Faith: The point is there's no point, us dogs are just supposed to do as we're told. Haven't you figured that out yet? And the faster we do it, the sooner we get our food. So will you sit?

Samson: I don't think so, she'll give in sooner or later. Probably sooner. 

Me: OK, I don't have time to stand here all day, so enjoy your food, you stubborn old dog. 

Samson: I'll do what you want me to when it makes sense, you know that mommy. 

Me: I just ask you to sit so you can take a moment and calm down before you eat. I don't like you to inhale your food. It's much better for you to slow down and not eat too fast.

Faith: Lots of luck with that, mommy. See, look at me! Look at me! I ate slowly and chewed my food good.

Samson: Did not!

Faith: Did so!

Me: Both of you, go outside now that you're finished. 

Faith: OK, mommy.

Samson: I think I'll go and lie down inside, on my slate floor.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Back From My Break

On November 8, the first snow of the season arrived in the canyon. It wasn't much and it melted as soon as the sun came out, but it was snow and it made me smile.

It was good I took a break because I've been busy with a sick dog. After presenting horrible and messy symptoms, Samson was diagnosed with roundworm. Both dogs got medicine and he seems to be well now. I felt like I lived in e-coli hell here, but it's now over with. 

My blogger friend, Diane from Welcome to Lavender Dreams, sent this journal to me. A lovely gift at a time when I felt a bit down. I find it interesting how these things work. No way Diane could have known how I was feeling, but there it was, a gift that made me so very happy. This is just not a regular journal. No, it's a journal full of surprises! I will show you and post more about it later. Thanks again, Diane.

In my pre-diabetes days, I used to like to bake. This was back in the days of banana/nut breads, something I used to bake all the time. But I had a few different cakes or cake breads, not sure what to call them, on my repertoire. Cakes that seemed a bit healthier than the fancier versions with whipped cream and sweet toppings. But alas, as I baked the oatmeal cake above, I was amazed at the amount of sugar it required. Two kinds no less, white and brown. A cup of each. 

I was shocked and glad that my type 1 diabetes at least has made a healthy eater out of me. 

This cake may be a one-time thing for me, but I enjoyed creating it. Eating it too, of course. 

Winter brings beautiful clouds to the mountains. I love them and will share more as I catch them with my camera. 


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