Friday, December 31, 2010

It's Good to Be Home! And More...

How nice to be home again! Joe is good, Sophie is good, life in SoCal is good.

And to inspire a creative new year for us all, my last post for 2010 is a great quote from my favorite art critic, Roberta Smith, in today's NY Times:

"Paintings, like poetry or music, are essential nutrients that help people sustain healthy lives. They're not recreational pleasure or sidelines. They are tools that help us grasp the diversity of the world and its history, and explore the emotional capacities with which we navigate that world. They illuminate, they humble, they nurture, they inspire. They teach us to use our eyes and to know ourselves by knowing others."


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Last Night Walk

My stepfather is stronger and my mother is well again. The holidays were happy - family, togetherness. I fly home tomorrow.

Now, a last walk around the Village. It's warm, wet from a long rain. Once again, the quiet of the night is soothing. I feel a sense of timelessness. I think good things can happen: that the world will find peace, that people will chose kindness, and that aging parents can somehow live happily ever after.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fabulous Light Show

Each Christmas season, the acres of tall pines, gardens, and trails of Garven Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs are decorated with millions (quite literally) of colorful lights and opened for public viewing after nightfall. Walt, Mary, Susan and I had our turn this evening,  and it was even more amazing than we expected. A light drizzle enhanced the sense of other worldliness. Here are a few pics:

Susan, Mary, and Walt Stromquist

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it. And may the new year bring health and happiness to all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Homecoming for the Miracle Man

Bob arriving home with his care giver, Melvin Marshall

HE'S HOME!!!! My 92 year old stepfather, who fell and broke his neck three months ago, is finally home at last. He spent the first couple of weeks after his fall in the hospital and the rest of the time in rehab, relearning how to walk, talk clearly, and maneuver around. Now, although his ride home was in a wheel chair, he can get around the house with a walker and function well on his own or with a little help from Melvin. It took hard work and a lot of determination. So, that's why I've nicknamed Bob the Miracle Man.

All good news here!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Night Walk

Dark, peaceful, warm breeze. I walk the perimeter roads of the Village, looking up at the night sky. Will be too cloudy to see the lunar eclipse later.  One person passes, a man carrying a bowl of ice cream from the dining hall's all night machine, his nightcap. "Beautiful out, isn't it?" he says in greeting.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Never Say Never

I thought I'd never visit another mall again, much less visit one on the last Sunday afternoon before Christmas, but here I am at the Hot Springs Mall at 1:24 p.m....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Karyn, Arayo, The Road and The Camera

I mentioned my cousin, Karyn, in the recent Family Update post. She has been traveling since July with Arayo, her adorable Newfie, in a Subaru full of camping equipment and her laptop. From home on Bainbridge Island, Washington, she headed across the top of the US, up through Newfoundland, then south along the east coast, swinging through Mississippi to New Orleans and then up to Hot Springs last week. She and Arayo camped or stayed with friends along the way.

On this trip, Karyn has met many of her good friends in person for the first time. Newf owners have a close and vibrant online network through which they discuss their dogs, their interests, their lives. Close relationships evolve between people living huge distances apart. The starting point, of course, is the common love of Newfoundland dogs.

The bumper sticker on Karyn's car features a Newfie

Now she's on the road again - up to see a good friend in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and then to Kansas for Christmas with family. From there, perhaps down to Texas. She's had a great experience these last months of travel and if you'd like to read more about it, you can read her blog,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Surreal Experience

Perhaps I should have sensed Tuesday's flight to Hot Springs would be unlike others when the pilot came into the cabin before takeoff to effusively say, "I love you all!"

He then went into the cockpit, I went back to my reading, the plane took off and things proceeded normally until my seatmate asked me, "Are you going home?" I said, "No. I'm visiting my parents. How about you?"

He said, "I'm returning home after having reconstructive surgery on my scrotum sac. They only do that in California."

"Oh!" I said.

"Actually," he said, "I had to have three surgeries before it took."

"Oh!" I said.

"First, they used skin from my left thigh and then they took skin from my right thigh."

I didn't want to know where the skin came from for the third attempt. "Are you looking forward to getting home?" I asked.

"I sure am!" he replied.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Family Update

Vintage Postcards from
Historical Hot Springs, Arkansas

My Mother's progress since the pacemaker was installed has been up and down. The pacemaker seems to be doing its job, but other factors related to her weak heart are out of balance. I'm writing from Arkansas now, having flown in on Tuesday unexpectedly to do what I can. The good news is that she has a great new doctor here in my parents' new home city who understands issues related to an aging heart and, as he adjusts her medicines, Mom seems to be responding well.

My cousin, Karyn, arrived here the day after Mom's pacemaker implant last week. For six months, Karyn has been exploring North America with her camera and Newfoundland dog. Her free form itinerary included a visit to Arkansas after a swing through the south and her timing was perfect. Her help here has been immeasurable. She has stayed on for a couple of days to overlap my visit, and it is great to spend time with her.

My stepfather has improved enough to come home from rehab (for his broken neck from a fall) for good next week, in time to celebrate the Christmas holidays. His return will perk up my Mother, as will my brother and family, coming soon, too. Joe, unfortunately, will be holding down the fort in SoCal. I miss him.

Aging gracefully is not an easy process. I've learned a lot from my parents' recent challenges and my admiration for good care givers is unbounding. They are special people whose skills and generousities of spirit significantly change people's lives for the better.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Last Night's Dinner

Well, this wasn't the tastiest dish I've ever made, but it used up a lot of stuff in the frig and it was quick and pretty: brown rice, chicken, broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes, black olives and slivered almonds for crunch, with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing. Probably just a small tweak in some way would give it more oomph. Suggestions?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sophie's Aggrieved...

He is upset that he hasn't been featured on my blog for a while:

So, here he is.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lynd Ward's Graphic Novels

In the 1930's, artist Lynd Ward created six graphic novels in woodcuts, beautifully rendered in black and white, no text. These novels are now available in a gorgeous packaged set from Amazon for about $45. You can also buy paperbacks of single Lynd Ward graphic novels more cheaply there. Gorgeous work. Here are a couple more examples I've found from Google Images:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pacemaker: An Amazing Medical Device

My ninety-two year old Mother was experiencing bouts of blood pressure extremes so her doctors decided a pacemaker would help. On Monday afternoon, they installed the pacemaker with only a little local anesthetic. On Tuesday afternoon, Mom was released from the hospital and feeling good!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Latest Results From Class

The printmaking classes, screenprinting and intaglio, are winding down for the semester. Two more  class periods this week before the final critique on Monday. Everyone is working hard and well, and I thought you might like to see a few of the great prints finished recently:

William Kenah
linoleum cut with monoprint

Traci Durfee
collagraph with chin colle printed in viscosity manner

Roger O'Leary-Archer

Noah Gonzalez

Tamara Carlin
intaglio printed in viscosity manner

Boramie Sao

Amy Caves

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Winner of The Holiday Cheer Contest

Joe brought this painting home from the swap. Its quirky holiday cheer just perked me right up! Our new friend now resides in a prominent spot in our living room... Ho, ho, ho!