Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Light and Shadows

In our anatomical drawing class we recently had an entire class devoted to light and shadow. We learned about core shadows, form shadows, cast shadows, ambient light, reflected light, and reflected cast shadows. We worked on highlights, dark lights and half-tones, and how all these different types of light and shade play out when rendering an object in a drawing. Because we are drawing the human body, week after week, we have now moved from simply drawing the shape of the body, to adding light and shadow. It is thrilling to see how the drawings jump to life once the shading is added, how they suddenly have depth and weight and roundness that they did not previously have. I've been procrastinating all week with our homework, which was to draw three eggs, paying particular attention to light and shadow. Since so many parts of the human body are egg-shaped, this is very good practice. Here's how I spent the evening.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I Am Becoming.....


Jayne Relaford Brown

I am becoming the woman I've wanted,
grey at the temples,
soft body, delighted,
cracked up by life
with a laugh that's known bitter
but, past it, got better,
knows she's a survivor
that whatever comes,
she can outlast it.

I am becoming a deep
weathered basket.
I am becoming the woman I've longed for,
the motherly lover
with arms strong and tender, the growing up daughter
who blushes surprises.
I am becoming full moons
and sunrises.

I find her becoming,
this woman I've wanted,
who knows she'll encompass,
who knows she's sufficient,
who knows where she's going
and travels with passion.
Who remembers she's precious,
but knows she's not scarce -
who knows she is plenty,
plenty to share.

Painting by Henri Matisse, 1905, Woman With a Hat

Water Aerobics - A New Love

One of the joys of my "new life" has been the discovery of water aerobics. Three mornings a week I work out with the Silver Dolphins in a warm, indoor pool. This is a "senior citizens" group, and most people there are well into their 80's, making me feel like a kid in their midst.

What's contagious about the happiness there is the huge smiles on everyone's faces. For them, this is a social occasion as much as a workout. There is so much talking going on in the pool it's often difficult to hear the instructor. I'm loving how these folks look out for one another. Many have been coming to this class for 15-20 years, and they know each other well. If someone is having a bad day, has become ill, or has a spouse who is ailing (or dying), they rally around each other in such a loving way.

They are proud of the fact that they sing in the pool every morning. Promptly at 9:30, at the mid-point of the class, they burst into song. Choices are usually "oldies", such as "Daisy, Daisy, Give Me Your Answer, Do" or "Tavern in the Town". There's a repertoire of about 10 songs that are rotated throughout the month.

For me it has especially been a blessing to be in a locker room full of naked old women, all of whom seem totally comfortable in their bodies. For the most part, they show the signs of their age, but to me they are very beautiful. There is a softness to them. Their flesh has been used until it is worn, like flannel. They have nothing to hide and nothing to pretend. They have aches and pains, but they are joyful to be able to come together and enjoy the many pleasures of the warm water and the companionship.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Odds and Ends of Inspiration in my Week

Today in our painting class we watched a film about the great painter, Agnes Martin. When the film was made, she was 86 years old and still painting. She died at the age of 92, after leaving a remarkable series of very still, very zen-like paintings. Personally, she was quite striking, and came across much like a monk. She talked about painting for 20 years before she began to get what she wanted to paint. Every year at the end of the year, she would burn all the work she had done that year and start over. Finally she got it. As she said, "I don't paint nature or what's on this earth. It took me 20 years to paint what I want. Finally I got the grid, completely abstract, no hint of any cause in this world." At another point she explained how "intellect is the servant of ego .... I gave up facts entirely in order to have an empty mind. If your mind is full of garbage and an inspiration came, you wouldn't recognize it. I'm very careful not to have ideas because they're inaccurate." Later she said "I think all agressive behavior is wrong .... With a soft attitude, you receive more. Go slower and slower and then stop. Then your mind is at rest. It's best not to try too hard. Just look around and be in the mood for the truth. When the truth comes into your mind, you know what to do."

Agnes Martin knew so much about solitude, silence, geometry, the empty mind, and how to find inspiration. She stood out as a memorable and remarkable person, especially in this culture we have where everything seems speeded up, complicated, and everyone's mind is over-full of garbage. I know that mine is!
******* Unrelated Postscript:

On Wednesday, March 1st, 2006, in Annapolis, at a hearing on the proposed Constitutional Amendment to prohibit gay marriage, Jamie Raskin, Professor of Law at AU, was requested to testify.

At the end of his testimony, Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs said: "Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?"

Raskin replied: "Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."

The room erupted into applause.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mesmerizing and Nostalgic

With all the posting going on about music, memories, nostalgia, here's one you have to watch!! Be sure to turn up the sound so you can hear the music. This guy is astounding!

Up In The Attic

I remember the terror I felt as a child standing at the bottom of the stairs leading up into our attic. Darkness at the top, strange shapes, a musty odor. We pulled a string above our heads about half-way up the stairs to get the light on up there. Getting up to that step, where we could reach for the string, was truly frightening. So much darkness. Monsters undoubtedly waiting. Who knew what would get us? Once we were up there, with the lights on, things were OK. But the terror began again coming down the stairs. I’d pull that string, and then, heart-pounding, race down the remaining stairs in the darkness, never daring to look back, until I slammed the door behind me. Phew, that was close!

For me, memories of our attic are inextricably tied with another memory from childhood. One Christmas morning, in the 1950's, my mother was waiting for her favorite moment - opening the gift from Dad's millionaire friend, Norman Woolworth, a great practical joker. Often Woolworth's gifts were something elegant and luxurious, and this one - packaged in a large hat box - looked wonderfully promising. My mother was down on her knees under the tree, with the whole family gathered around. She was breathless with anticipation. She tore off the wrapping paper, lifted the lid, and out of the package, like a springing jack-in-the-box, popped a hot-pink, foam rubber bath mat. It was covered with realistic life-sized pink breasts, topped with erect, cherry red nipples. Mom shrieked "Oh Tom!" and stuffed that thing back into the box, clapping on the lid. We had all see it, and couldn't believe our eyes. We begged to see it again, but it disappeared after that one tantalizing moment. For years afterwards I searched the attic for it, convinced that it must be stored away somewhere up there, but I never found it. I think my father must have taken it to the dump. Mom would have insisted.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Savage Beauty

This weekend has been breath-takingly lovely. Walking this morning, we had what I think of as a "mockingbird symphony". Those are the springy mornings when the bird song fills the air with one lilting melody after another, and the mockingbirds turn summersaults of joy in the treetops. After the weeks of rain and cold, the happiness was almost too much! I was thinking about a line from a poem: "Lord, I do fear Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year".

I recently finished reading a fascinating book, Savage Beauty, by Nancy Milford. This is the biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, a tortured genius whose life story is a total page-turner, as described by Milford. She came from a childhood of poverty and deprivation, yet somehow pulled herself up through her enormous gift for poetry and self-promotion, until she became perhaps the most famous poet of her generation. Her books were best-sellers, and she travelled around the world in the company of many of the brightest artists and writers. The dark side of her world was her increasing alcoholism, and eventual drug addiction. I was especially struck by what must have been her enormous personal force and magnetism. Even when she was in poor health and dark disposition, people fell in love with her to the point that many of their lives went completely off the track in pursuit of her. She lived with such passion and intensity.

Here is the poem I was thinking of this morning. It also speaks volumes about the life of the author.

God's World
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this:
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Fruit Room

In the years 1966-69, my (then) husband and I lived on campus at UC Santa Cruz, as preceptors in the dorms (translation = house parents). We were in our mid 20's barely older than those crazy young students we were supposed to be watching over. The late 60's on the West Coast was the apex of the hippie era, and Santa Cruz was definitely on the map for the flower-power generation. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll was the mantra of those years. Cowell College had an amazing mixture of creative and eccentric intellectuals. Living in the dormitory next door to us were Philip and Beatrice Terzian Thompson, and we four became the closest of friends in those years. Philip was an amazing poet. (A book of his brilliant work, Dusk and Dawn, has just been published by Cowell alumnus, Gideon Rappaport.) Beatrice is an artist, and taught students how to draw - first at Cowell, and then for many years at the Brearley School in New York. She also is the author of a book about Drawings by High School Students. We entertained each other wildly, cooking huge Italian and Armenian meals, reading aloud to each other, looking at art, socializing with the faculty, and marveling at the student world swirling around us.

During spring break, 1969, when all the students and faculty had vacated the campus, the four of us got a notion to undertake a fun project. The college had an unused room underneath the Cowell Dining Hall. For some reason we decided to decorate this empty room while everyone was away, and then throw a surprise party there when they all came back again. For two weeks, we barely slept. We drove all over 3 counties going from super market to super market begging for the colorful food advertising that, in those days, was common throughout grocery stores. Sometimes we scored big - whole rolls of oranges, for example, that we used to cover the ceiling and floors.
For days and nights we cut and arranged and glued our food art onto the walls, ceiling, and floor until every inch of the room was completely covered in colorful food. It looked so terrific, but lacked a certain finishing touch. So we bought a large piece of green astro-turf for the floor, and hauled a couple of large rocks into the room, to complete the artificial "dejeuner sur l'herbe" effect.

When spring break was over, we sent invitations to the whole of Cowell College to come to a party in THE FRUIT ROOM. Nobody was allowed in until the party began. Meanwhile, we had set up huge bushel baskets of fresh fruit as our only refreshment for the party. In the photograph below, Philip and Beatrice Thompson, our co-creators, sit along the wall at this party.
Page Smith, founding Provost of Cowell College, below, has a piece of fruit.
Jasper Rose, art historian, joined the party.
In the photo below, Mary Holmes, Professor of Art History, sits with Professor Jasper Rose.Below, Sara Holmes Boutelle (author of the book Julia Morgan, Architect), with Philip Thompson.
Philip and Jane, with Keith Christiansen (now the Curator of Italian Art at the New York Metropolitan Museum, but formerly a Cowell College student and pal).
A writer from American Artist magazine came to view the room soon after it opened. He was very excited about it and wanted to do an article for the magazine. However, once he determined that we had not been using any drugs while we created the Fruit Room, he declared that it was "not significant" and went away! It didn't matter that we were high on the creative process. The late 60's were all about hallucinogens, and we were not!

Several years later, long after the four of us had left the college, Cowell covered up all the fruit in the FRUIT ROOM and painted it white again. No trace of it remains now, except in the memories of those of us who were part of it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Happy Birthday, Annie

Our friend RD, of New Dharma Bums, posted a very moving tribute to her father, this morning. I realized that I, too, have a special reason to commemorate today. Thirty three years ago, in 1973, my first child, Annie, was born. She was a baby who was very much wanted and longed for. At the time we were living in Alberta, Canada, on a huge cattle ranch. It was snowy and (of course) freezing cold on March 14. My labor started at 6:30 am, and continued all day until she was born at about 9:30 pm, no anaesthesia for us! Hinton, Alberta, had a tiny hospital. My doctors were a married Scottish couple, very old-school, who enforced the hospital rules rigidly. They insisted that mother and newborn stay in the hospital (mom in bed) for 5 days after the birth. Baby was brought every four hours for feeding, then returned to the nursery immediately. There were only 2 babies in the neonatal unit and I quickly learned to recognize my daughter's crying, vs. that of the little Canadian Indian boy next to her. I begged the nurses to bring her to me when she cried, but - doctor's orders - they refused. I remember myself sitting in bed crying, furious at the whole scene, and tortured by the knowledge that my new baby was crying and I couldn't comfort her. Well, we finally got out of that place and things went better from then on.

For the first year of Annie's life, we continued to live on the ranch in Alberta. All her grandparents (and Anne Sliker, for whom she was named) made trips up to meet her, and she was the light of all of our lives. She was a happy, precocious baby - walked at 9 months, talked very early, had a huge vocabulary, and a playful, easy-going disposition. In 1974 the ranch went through some changes, and we decided to move back to Santa Cruz. We lived in a couple of rental places here, and in 1975 bought our current home. A few months later, Annie's first brother, Philip, was born. She was 2 1/2 years old. A couple of years later, in 1978, a third child, anoather boy, Tommy, joined the family. Along the way, her dad and I divorced, a time that was hard on all of us.Annie grew up as an active and creative little girl. She did well in school, had a large group of friends, helped with her little brothers, loved animals, was very artistic, and especially loved helping other people. In 1989, when the huge earthquake ripped Santa Cruz apart, and we were all camping out in the back yard, stunned by what had happened, Annie organized a group of high school kids to go around the city helping people clean up their losses. She was not one to sit still and feel sorry for people. She volunteered in nursing homes, babysat for countless children, sang in choirs. Most notably, in her teenage years, she became a peace activist and travelled to Russia on three separate occasions, learning to speak a fair amount of Russian along the way. She was involved with Peace Child and other international youth organizations. It was not unusual to see her making speeches at peace rallies, singing solos with the Peace Child choir, and leading marches and demonstrations. She was really somebody to be proud of!After high school, Annie chose to attend UC Santa Cruz. Here she became active as a peer educator in the AIDS prevention program. She put on "rubber-ware" parties in the dorms, worked with the campus health officials, and even did a radio broadcast about her work on AIDS prevention. In 1992, one night, she was swinging on a rope from a redwood tree, out over a ravine, at UCSC and she fell and shattered both wrists. It was mothers day, and I got a phone call at about midnight that she was going into surgery - ugh! This ultimately forced her to drop out of school for that quarter, and instead of returning to campus she moved on to San Francisco.

Up there, she continued to work as a sex educator, several years as a high-end nanny, and eventually as an AIDS specialist. In her current job she works for the University of California, San Francisco, Medical School on an AIDS research project. Her responsibilities include being a resource person for newly diagnosed AIDS patients and their families, as well as running the research protocols for her boss's project. She recently moved out of the city, with her partner into a beautiful home on a creek. I will see her in a few days to give her a big hug in person. The two photos above are both old ones - I don't have a good current photo to post. In the meantime, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNIE! I love you.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Dramatic Weather in Santa Cruz

The last few days have been stormy. For Santa Cruz, that means quite a bit of rain, with sunny patches in between. Last night it got dramatic, for here. There was a massive thunder and lightening storm (never happens), with many hail storms rattling down in between. The TV was blocking out programming and sending those red and black ticker-tape warnings across the screen - "storm alert, huge thunderstorms throughout the night, make your peace with the Lord, etc." We tried to sleep, but were awakened often by wall-shaking thunder claps. Wowie! This morning when we looked out the bedroom window, this is the sight that we saw. Mind you, snow on the ground is about a once-in-10-years occurence in this mild seacoast town of ours, so we think it is a big deal! Of course it will all be melted shortly in the radiant sunshine of the morning.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Singing Brook

The Singing Brook was a major leitmotif in my childhood. That was the name of the extraordinary preschool where I was sent to be taught by an elderly lady, whom we called “Aunt Jane”. She was well into her 80’s, with long white hair, and was usually dressed in pink and whilte silk robes. She taughts us French, oil painting, piano lessons, ballet dancing, reading, and nature studies out in her spacious gardens, with a wonderful "Singing Brook" that bounced merrily down a rocky course behind the school house. It was here that I learned to read, and here that I first read "The Secret Garden". I stayed in this school from the time I was 4 until I entered 2nd grade in public school, where I was bored beyond anything. Aunt Jane's theory was that children could begin to be brilliant and creative as soon as she got hold of them, and she was a magnificently nurturing and encouraging old soul, a remarkable artist (water color), and a true leftover from another era. In the photo above, Aunt Jane holds the shoulders of my brother, Tom. I'm the middle child, and a boy we called "Brownie" is on the left.

Our school was in her home, a sunny old estate with winding hallways, a separate school room, a huge living room with stone fireplace, grand piano, and winding stairway. There was a tea room where we had formal little tea parties every day on delicate china, and my favorite - an aviary full of bright yellow canaries in floor-to-ceiling cages all the way around the room. The birds sang constantly, and the house seemed filled with birdsong - delightful. Aunt Jane’s assistant was a strange woman we called “Miss Junie”. She was probably around 50 years old, unmarried, and not related by family. She was stout with short, wavy brown hair and eyes that were too wide open and had the constant look of someone about to scream. It was clear that she was a little deranged, in a harmless way. She had many Dickensian qualities - cried at the drop of a hat, effused way too often about everything, dithered and fussed. She was the one who prepared the food and who escorted us through the hallways and into the gardens. She was affectionate and kind, but a little embarrassing, even for a child.

I remember a performance we gave to our parents in that old living room during one holiday season. All of us children stood in a ring around the room and each of us had some lines from Clement Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas” to recite. I was well rehearsed, but when it came to my turn I blurted out “he was plubby and chump, a right jolly old elf”. My mother erupted into a fit of giggles that she could not control. I knew I had gotten it wrong somehow, and shrank into my spot in shame. It was my first theatrical venture. I was five.

No, I take it back! I just remembered that when I was about four I had an episode on the stage in our church. The Sunday School children were brought in to climb up on the platform at the front of the church and sing a song. In our family, we had 3 babies at home younger than me (twins born a few months earlier, plus a middle brother). I was doing my best to be a big girl, because there wasn’t much attentiont to go around. So I dressed myself for church, but I forgot to put on underpants. As I climbed up onto the stage, that became apparent for all the congregation to see. Again my mother gasped audibly, and lashed out at me afterwards. You would think I had made my debut as a four year old porn star instead of a simple and innocent mistake. As a child, I got the message that I couldn’t do anything right in front of an audience. No wonder now I love Improv so much!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Farm Where We Grew Up

Looking back on it now, it seems like a slice of heaven, that 100 acres in rural New Jersey where I grew up. It was called Maple Lane Farm because it sat at the base of rolling hills, at the end of a 1/2 mile long lane lined with huge maple trees. The nearest little town was Califon. The house and barns sat at the base of the hills, looking out at a wide valley, with our fields spread out before us. There was the big white house, built in 1800, and several barns and outbuildings. A huge apple orchard spread across the field behind the house, and in the spring time it dazzled us with blossoming pink and white trees, preparing for the abundance of apples to follow. There were so many that most of them were eaten by our sheep and the deer, but we certainly had our share. Walnut and hickory trees provided us with abundant nuts. We had huge gardens with every variety of vegetable, strawberries, and flowers. Mom and Anne canned, pickled, and froze food throughout the harvest months.Every summer, we climbed to the woods at the top of the hill behind our house, carrying big metal pails which we filled with wild strawberries, so that our mother could make jam. We ate as much as we could, but still brought home pails full of berries. On other trips to those woods, with our beloved Anne, we gathered plants and moss to make terrariums. My brothers and I went up the hill and into the woods often. I had a favorite spot, a sunny grove of white birch trees, where I liked to sit alone and commune with the world and imagine what my grown-up life might be like. This view looks across the fields towards the farm, with the hills and woods behind.
Looking down at the farm from the middle of the apple orchard. Right about here I spent many hours sewing soft, velvety leaves together. They grew on a particular weed, and I thought they made perfect doll blankets - for a few hours at least!Here are my brothers and I, in the sheep pasture, riding in the wagon that my father pulled behind his tractor.

A favorite pastime for all of us four children was playing in the big red barn. It had a huge hay loft, full of baled hay, and a chute where the hay was thrown down into the barn below for the sheep. We reached the hay mow by climbing a wooden ladder. Just thinking of it, I remember the sweet smell of the hay, and the golden dust that rose up and glinted in the sunlight as we climbed around on the bales. We built forts out of hay bales, and tested our jumping and climbing skills by rearranging higher and higher piles. We were strictly forbidden to get near the hay chute, for fear we'd fall through and get injured, but all of us went down that chute as soon as our Dad was not nearby. It was our version of a big thrill.

Another favorite activity was to forage in the feed bins where the sheep feed was kept. Some of the feed had lumps of molasses in it, and we kids loved to sort out the molasses pieces and eat them. Our Dad, again, tried to curtail that activity, with little success.The house had a huge attic and a full basement, where we played hide and seek, often with our many cousins. The dog slept on a huge shelf at the top of the basement stairs. My dad had his desk down in the basement, and there was a cold room for food storage. A large coal furnace sat in the middle of the basement, with a room full of coal next to it. Dad periodically disappeared into the basement to shovel coal into that furnace. Big steam radiators heated each room, and I spent many hours leaning against the radiator in my bedroom watching the blaze of autumn leaves on the maple trees, or later, the ice storms that turned the world into a glistening wonderland of twinkling ice.

In the first years we lived there, the kitchen table was a fold-out one, kind of like a Murphy bed. After eating, it folded flat onto the wall. In later years, our parents remodeled the place and made a huge new kitchen, the absolute center of all family activity. There was a mud-room (a place to remove coats and boots when coming indoors), but it was rarely used.

Upstairs there were four bedrooms. Outside my bedroom window was a lilac bush, so hauntingly sweet in the spring months when it bloomed and filled my room with its fragrance.

We all learned to drive the tractor when we were very small. I have photos of myself at age 9 driving a tractor and pulling a hay wagon full of hay. When I was 14, my brothers and I bought a car together for $25. We drove it endlessly around the big field in front of our house, so that by the time we were old enough to get our driving permits, we had all been driving for years. Here we are, with our pride and joy!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Communing with My Toothbrush

I recently heard a friend talkiing about a brilliant art creation they made while high, only to look at it in the sober light of day and realize that it was a piece of crap. It brought up another memory for me. Once, when I was stoned, many years ago, I saw my toothbrush as if it were a magical, enchanted object. It was funny, engaging, so brilliant and alive. We had a great communication. I stared at it and laughed so much.. How had I failed to notice the wondrous magic of this toothbrush as, day after day, I held it, used it, and never saw what a friend and companion it could be? The next day I rushed to the bathroom to see my new friend, but it had become its former self – my toothbrush, nothing more!
Picture by Robert Hendricks, photojournalist

Monday, March 06, 2006

That Rattle In My Chest

Painting by Lillian Westcott Hale
It's not a death rattle. Not even pneumonia. Not even anything that would lead me to take a pill (phew!). Just got back from doc-in-the-box and am happy to discover that that rattle in my chest is plain, old-fashioned croup, just like little kids get. The doctor, who was charming, had an "aha" moment, grabbed a kleenex box from the examining table, and said "I'm going to write the solution down here". He scribbled on the back of the box, then said "first -a little quiz! Do you have a heater in your bedroom? " Well yes, but we never turn it on. "Do you sleep with the window open?" Well, yes, whenever I can be sure it won't rain in. His face lit up with a huge grin as he revealed what he had written on the back of the box: "sleeping in a too-cold bedroom!" Bingo. His prescription? Warm up the room. Keep a thermos of hot liquid nearby at all times. Take hot baths and showers and inhale the steam. Stay warm. Don't breathe in cold air. Rest.

Hmmmmm... This I can handle. I just cleared my calendar for the day, made a pot of green tea, turned up the thermostat. Now where is that wonderful book I've been longing to get lost in? Picture me with the big grin now!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Going on a Field Trip

Every little kid likes to go on field trips. There were some memorable ones in my youth. Probably the one that stands out most vividly was our eighth grade trip. Our school was in Northern New Jersey (Lebanon Township Elementary). Mr. Flynn, our teacher, came from the coal mining town of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. He had connections there, and he made arrangements for our class to go down into a coal mine. Now remember, back in the 1950's there was no particular awareness of safety issues, liability, etc. He felt quite comfortable taking a pack of 25 junior high age kids on such a trip. We went down the open-sided mine elevator, kind of like a cage on a cable. We had no helmets or safety gear. We wandered around in the dark and choking mine shafts, where assorted miners were at work with picks and shovels, and then we came back up the elevator, where a local TV camera person was waiting to film us, with our blackened faces - the first ever school trip into a coal mine! It was an early brush with fame, sort of. Being on TV in those days was a really big deal!

The second part of that fabulous field trip was touring the chocolate factory in Hershey. I remember smelling chocolate from miles away as the bus approached the town. Once again, we went right out onto the factory floor and milled around the huge vats of melted goo, watched the candy get formed into various shapes and then packaged up and boxed. Of course we got free samples. And of course we were all on a sugar overload for the trip home!It must have been the inspiration of those kisses. The third part of that trip, as I remember, was that my pals and I sat in the back of the bus and had a kissing contest. The game was to see who could kiss the longest, and I was sitting with my boyfriend, Bill H., going for the championship. We were lost in a seemingly endless smooch (no tongues yet) when everything went silent in the bus. I felt a large hand on my head, opened my eyes, and looked up to see the face of Mr. Flynn looming above me - not looking pleased because we had won the kissing contest, but looking pissed because we were not "behaving". We ended up in the principal's office the next day with an embarrassing lecture about public displays of affection, good behavior, yadda yadda. I think our parents were even telephoned - yikes! The photo below shows Mr. Flynn, on the right, and Mr. Vosseler, the principal, on the left, in front of our school.On Thursday this week (in 2006), I went on another student field trip, with my Painting class from Cabrillo College. Our instructor, Tobin, packed the day with a wonderful array of treats. First we toured the campus at California College of Arts & Crafts (CCA) in Oakland, where we were drooling at the magnificent art facilities available there for students. They seem to be a place that has everything. Want to borrow a really high-end camera and then print a wall sized mural of what you photograph? No problem. Want to cast in bronze, or blow glass, or make monumental sculptures? No problem. Want to make stone lithographs, or have your own jewelry workbench? No problem. I am already planning my next lifetime - I'll go there to school and try it all, seriously!

Next we went to the studio of Thekla Hammond, a painter who is making a room-size installation consisting of hanging, painted life-size plexiglass panels (and some mirrors) of all the special people in her life. We walked around among these panels and could easily identify a couple of the people (our teacher for one), even though none of them have faces. It was a beautiful piece, very evocative of the "soul" of each person, with simple sketches and luscious colors.The photo above shows our instructor, Tobin, near his portrait (tall, in orange, on his right).After a quick stop at Blick Art Store and a bite to eat in Berkeley, we went on to Kala Art Institute to look at a "white on white" show with some great pieces by fellow Santa Cruzan, Rob Larsen. Then we zipped across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco and spent a couple of hours at SF MOMA, looking at paintings and thinking about how to begin our next assignment - abstraction - scary for me! We had an early dinner, then went to a few galleries in the downtown Thursday Night Art Walk event, and finally home. We felt full to the brim with art and color and inspiration. So today I'm thinking "hurray for field trips!" , and for the memories stirred up by this one. THANKS, Tobin.

Me and My Shadow

This morning we were walking down the avenue, me and my little constant shadow, Zuma. The sun was slanting just right for some great shadows.