If you have consciously or serendipitiously arrived here, welcome. I’m Fran, aka Redondowriter, and my interests include family, friends, writing, reading, art, computers, storytelling, spirituality, photography, animals—and exploring the layers of everyday life.
It is Halloween, a pretty benign holiday for older people like me. Even up until five years ago my friends were still having costume parties--and now we say we don't want to expend that kind of energy.
But, if you've got grandkids, you can live vicariously through them. I didn't work at school today so I didn't get to see the parade there, but late this afternoon the grandparents came to watch Henry and Fritz get dressed for the big evening.
This is Fritz, who is one doggoned cute red ant as far as I'm concerned.
Henry is a very stylish purple squid in a homemade costume that is so darned cool, don't you think? They were on their way to party near their home where they close off the block and the little ones can safely trick or treat.
I've just fed Cookie and now I'm meeting Rick and Orma for dinner and then we'll see "The Secret Life of Bees." That seems a good Halloween activity for us, we think.
Villa Redondo is a secure building so little trick or treaters don't visit here.
But, at least in my neighborhood, kids don't come around like when my own kids were young and we were living in tract housing. More and more parents take their kids to parks, malls or city celebrations. But, don't you personally get flooded with memories when you think about your own childhood trick or treating. My friend Dannie reads here and we've been friends since age six. Dannie, can you remember any of our adventures?
When I drove into work this morning at 9:30 a.m., it was raining for about five minutes in Torrance and the sky is clouded over. I think the Indian summer has ended. The few trees I encounter that turn color and drop their leaves are doing this on schedule.
But then there's Port Angeles, WA, where my son Joe, daughter-in-law Laura, and 2 1/2 year old Zach and four-month-old Arlo live. Laura writes so beautifully about the fall colors at her own blog, Lake Dawn: Life Beneath the Olympic Mountains and an outing they all took last weekend. Their home is very near the Hurricane Ridge gate of Olympic National Park.
Here is Laura with Zach and his trekking poles that Joe made him and baby Arlo all bundled up and wide-eyed at the scenery.
Camping and the great outdoors were not initially in my former husband's and my experiences, but we took to it like naturals. I was raised in rural Sunland-Tujunga in the foothills and Ray near the hills in Eagle Rock. We liked to be outdoors and in those days especially, it was an inexpensive way to "travel." Well, I was probably a little more skittish about rough camping, I'll admit.
Our first outing was water skiing at Clear Lake in Northern California when Joe was less than a year old, followed by more tent/station wagon camping in the San Bernardino Mountains with other friends. I remember washing Christy's diapers in a stream once near Lake Gregory. It was so cold and she was tucked in my sleeping bag with me and Joe with his dad in his bag. I shudder to think how ill informed I was then about health and conservation; we've come a long way since the early 1960s. We graduated later to a motor home, joined a family dirt biking club, and Ray took all the kids backpacking in the San Bernardino and Sierras throughout their childhoods. The boys were scouts and Indian Guides with their dad and I was in Indian Princesses with Christy, who was also in Brownies and Girl Scouts. I enjoy hiking, but am a lousy skiier, and never did the backpacking thing.
Joe and Tony, but especially Joe, have been outdoorsmen ever since. Joe is a climber, skiier, backpacker, kayaker, ice climber et al. He has climbed the faces in Yosemite, trekked up Mt. Kilimanjaro, and back country skiis in Alaska. Joe and Laura live their dream in the wilderness more or less so I would imagine the boys will follow in their parent's footsteps as outdoor adventurers.
Tony takes Henry, my five-year-old grandson, on a camping trip next weekend with a group they have joined as father and son equivalent to Indian guides. So, now the outdoors begins for his boys, too.
Seeing Zach with his custom daddy-made trekking poles (and his beloved eye boots) kind of blows me away. Joe can design and make anything, I swear. Ever since he was a baby himself, he took things apart and reassembled them. He was always making something, taking the engine out of his car and working on it, or coming up with some construction project. He built the retaining wall for his new construction and has done a lot of the remodeling himself at their home in Port Angeles. My own dad was that way, too, and that trait kind of amazes me. I am cautious not to praise my adult kids and grandkids in this blog, but damn I lucked out with my own three kids. Each are very fine adults doing their best to live happily and well and help make the world a better place. We are not a perfect family by a long shot, but when one recounts their life and their accomplishments, I would definitely have to say that my children are my own greatest accomplishment.
Tonight, when my journal group came, I had the first fire in the fireplace, so Fall is officially here. The beach was fogged in this morning, too, and tonight there is a crispness in the air.
My house is filled with beautiful flowers from a memorial for one of our late teachers I coordinated on the weekend. I've written about my friend Gin Chadwick before at Sacred Ordinary. She came to teach as a young girl in 1938 and left my school in 1970. I met her first in 1991 and we became fast friends. This is Gin as a young teacher. The photo at the link above is when she was older. She died at 91 and kept her faculties right to the end.
Our library was banked with beautiful fall flowers. She loved fresh flowers and the year she turned 90, the school sent flowers to her each month for 12 months. When she visited California, I always used Walteria Florist for events Gin attended and always made sure she had fresh flowers in her hotel room. When we called Walteria for memorial flowers, they absolutely outdid themselves in tribute to her.
Here is a bouquet that was on the check-in table and that I brought home for my dining room table. Note the lemons and cranberries in the vase--the apples, pomegranates, etc. Is that kale, Judy? Also, I love overblown cabbage roses; they remind me of women aging beautifully.
Gin, my dear one, you will never be forgotten. You made such a huge difference in so many people's lives.
By the way, be sure to check Kenju's Imagine What I'm Leaving Out blog today. She is a floral artist and has some gorgeous wedding flowers posted today. I used to take floral arranging for granted until I saw that not only were the flowers spectacular, but that the heart of the artist/arranger is in every bouquet. Be sure to click on the flowers to enlarge the detail.
This is a sign I picked up at Joann's a few weeks back and "Our Lady of Gratitude" has it dangling from her left hand. What, you say?
Do you remember my excitement several weeks back when I managed to snag two mannequins for a song when a local vintage store was closing? It has always been my dream to make a mannequin into some kind of art piece--and now I have two to consider. This mannequin is dressed for Fall, or for the sacred season of Halloween, All Saints, All Souls Day and Thanksgiving. She is wearing real clothing I sometimes wear--a spangly red sequin top, a black and red velvet reversible cape with a hood, and a long black crepe skirt.
Of the two mannequins, this one is a little more haughty, I would say. She is in the living room right now. I have a journal group tomorrow night and I thought the folks might get a kick out of her. I also have my yearly Day of the Dead altar up now; I'll post photos of that later in the week.
Upstairs, in my bedroom, the second mannequin is dressed as the Angel of Winter, also a post for a different time. I'm still working on her. I suppose these kinds of mannequins could freak some people out. My son and two little grandsons came by and looked at the Day of the Dead display and Our Lady of Gratitude and the little guys were speechless. Fortunately, I had given them my beloved Taco Bell bobble head chihuaha to take home, so they preoccupied themselves with their new toy.
Tony, on the other hand, recognized most of the relatives and friends whose photos I display for Day of the Dead. He made some very poignant remarks.
Turn, turn, turn. For every time there is a season--and for every person there is a way to express themselves. These are some of the ways I'm currently expressing myself.
Last weekend I posted a photo of my grandson's Henry and Fritz filling up their bags at the used book sale at the library.
Tonight when I checked my daughter-in-law's blog, Lake Dawn, I saw a new photo I hadn't seen before. That's my son Joe reading to Zach (2 1/2) and Arlo (3 1/2 months).
I haven't seen them since early August and how my heart yearns to be there with them. For now, photos will have to suffice--and maybe some web cam if they aren't too busy.
My dear friend Orma Hammond is an artist who works predominately in oils and is beginning to really "take off." But, I know her best as half of the team of Rick and Orma, a couple I spend a lot of time with and are what I call "the realest" people I know. They are the friends I went to Portland with in August. Rick's daughter is Vicki Hammond, the artist I wrote about yesterday. This is the video featuring her painting in Monet's Garden in France.
This is Orma on an architectural and art studio tour we took last month in Redondo Beach. She's at "The Castle," a local home owned by magician Brian Gillis. Most of you know Orma because I mention her often. By the way, Brian's home is incredible; I have to go over there and see how he has it decorated for Halloween. If you live in the South Bay, you have to go see Brian's home sometime.
I love the word Herstory. My
friend Vicki Hammond from Portland, OR, is a very fine collage/assemblage
artist whose work I absolutely adore. Her business card says, “Herstory by
Vicki.” Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a website, but below you can see one of
her pieces called “The Gift 2.” A long-time member of Local 14 or Lake Oswego
Crafts and Art League, she was the co-director of Local 14's art show which ran from Oct. 2-5. You can see
more of Vicki’s work in the Members Gallery.
The kind of art work I
aspire to is in Vicki’s style and when she recently sent me a DVD with several
of her images, the word “femmage” sprung to my mind. Was there such a word?
I googled femmage. I found
that in the definition is “work by
women, about women, celebration of women, but for everyone.”
I gather the word is
attributed to American painter and collagist Miriam Schapiro in the 1960s. In
the 1970s Schapiro developed a method of collage, assemblage and painting that
used found or saved material relating to women's lives and traditionally female
skills such as embroidery and quilting, calling it 'femmage'.
Don’t you love the origin of
words like herstory and femmage? I definitely want to make them part of my own
vocabulary, and of my art. Almost all my art has images of women and I’m
wondering if I’m creating femmage? What is one called who creates this kind of art? Femmagist? (Sounds kind of kinky.)
On the third Saturday morning of the month, you will find me volunteering as a cashier at the Peninsula Friends of the Library used book sale at the Malaga Cove Branch.
Imagine my delight last Saturday when my grandsons Fritz and Henry came to shop with their parents. They bought our new $2 eco-friendly book bag first and then wandered from room to room filling up their bag.
So, their photo got on two blogs. That reminds me, did you hear about the Santa Monica Library's "check out a book that talks back" program? They have 14 volunteers you can "check out" so you can get information on their areas of expertise. What expert would you check out, if you could?
The past three days the Redondo Beach Art Group's "Power of Art" show at the retired AES plant took place. At the opening on Friday night, nearly 2,000 people attended. This is me standing next to my very first "showing" of a piece of art--"Woman With a Crown of Words." I'm forever trying to tame my ego, but I must admit that I feel kind of proud.
There were paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, collage and mixed media pieces. Friday night also featured a silent auction as well as entertainment and great food. On the hour all weekend there were various workshops, activities and experiences for everyone who trooped through. It is estimated that about 5,000 people came through. I can hardly believe it.
I volunteered several hours, but there was a core group of women and men who tirelessly worked for months before and intensely this entire week and weekend. It was fun to see everyone changing from their grungies into evening clothes on Friday night.
This is Victoria Locke's assemblage called "Shards of My Life." Her assemblage had been an antique mirror she treasured. Thanks to a playful kitty, it fell from the wall and the glass broke in the shards you see. She was devastated. Then it came to her that she could use this loss to work through all the losses in her life. She worked on this piece for many weeks deciding that she would recapture the hard times of her life, including family and friends she has lost. Not only did she create art, she says she also let go of a lot of negativity she had been carrying. The power of art.
This is Jean Schultz's self-portrait, which fascinated me, as did many of the portraits in the portrait gallery--and throughout the old power plant. I made a lot of new friends this weekend and saw a lot of people that I knew from the different parts of my life. What an incredible weekend. Kudos to the people who worked so hard to make it happen. And tomorrow it will all be dismantled. But, thanks to a lot of photos, I'll have memories to relive as we rest a while and then begin to get ready for next year.