‘…one of California’s wildest places–mountain lions, bighorn sheep, abundant reptiles, birds, eye-popping wildflowers, and desert-dwelling arachnids, including scorpions.’ – Then She Vanished by T. Jefferson Parker

September 5, 2020 at 9:11 pm (Book review, books, California, Family, Mystery fiction)

This is Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest state park and one of the most beautiful, otherworldly places I have ever seen.

I was there many years ago, with my sister-in-law Joan. We drove there from Solana Beach, just north of San Diego. I recall the drive in the mountains as being breathtaking, even harrowing. Joan was doing most of the driving. At one point, she asked if I’d like to take over for a little while. Timid soul that I am, I assented, with much trepidation. But as soon as we go going again, I was loving it – it felt like flight! The huge blue sky of southern California lay open before us. A small pink cloud the shape of a sombrero hovered at the horizon. Oh, I can never forget this.

Upon arriving, we checked in at La Casa del Zorro, a lovely spa resort nestled serenely in the desert landscape. We shared a room; it looked much like this one:

I remember Joan asking to borrow my mousse (both of us having super curly  hair). We hiked a gentle uphill grade. We went to the Visitors’ Center, which delighted me with its large selection of books.

We stayed for two nights at ‘The House of the Fox.’

So why am I thinking about this excursion right now? I just finished a mystery/thriller by T. Jefferson Parker called Then She Vanished. Parker is a veteran writer in the field; I’ve read and enjoyed several of his older titles. This one is part of new series featuring a private investigator named Roland Ford. These novels are set in northern San Diego County, where pretty much all of the action of this particular novel takes place. A very crucial part of the story is set in the desert town of Borrego Springs, home to Anza_Borrego Desert State Park. The description in the title of this post is a quote from the novel,  courtesy of Roland Ford.

Then She Vanished is, unsurprisingly, about a woman who goes missing, but it’s about more than that. There’s a terrorist group on the loose, called the Chaos Committee. Some of their pronouncements sound eerily like what we’re currently hearing from extremist groups. Their actions are horrific. So this is the backdrop for the search for one Natalie Strait. Her husband Dalton does not have faith in the efforts of the police, so he has hired Roland Ford to help in locating Natalie.

Parker is a wonderful writer who has lived in Southern California his whole life. So he’s ideally positioned to render this setting vividly. As a person who has spent time there and who loves the place – especially the desert, I’m grateful to him.

Joan has been gone for a little over three years now, and I miss her very much. A kinder, more  genuinely goodhearted person would be hard to find.

 

Permalink 1 Comment

Stop the presses! It’s the return of Susan B. Anthony

January 18, 2020 at 9:38 pm (Family, History)

Now in third grade, Etta was assigned  a biography project. Her subject was Susan B. Anthony.

According to her Mom, she really got into it. So much so that she seems to have channeled her subject. This was the result:

Permalink Leave a Comment

An excellent time was had by all!

December 2, 2019 at 3:14 pm (Art, Family)

A photo essay in celebration of family.

Day One: On Opening Day!!

 

I went (with Etta, Welles, and their Mom and Dad and  some friends and their children). I watched (among numerous other shrieking and burbling youngsters). And I enjoyed it!!

Day Two:

Mighty Wellesy at the bat!

Day Three: Return to the Art Institute!

First: the Arthur Rubloff Collection of Paperweights. After a lifetime of collecting, Mr. Rubloff ultimately ended up donating some twelve hundred of these to the museum:

Truman Capote called these precious objects “Some fragments of a dream.”

Etta and Welles love them, and so do I.

And now, on to the Thorne Miniature Rooms, some of which have been decorated  for the holidays (but not the ones I photographed, alas):

The special exhibit featured the works of Andy Warhol:

Ah yes – the sainted Brillo boxes!

I feel as though I’ve seen these images time and time again, so for me there were no surprises in this part of the exhibit. One thing I did learn was that Andy Warhol had considerable draftsman skills. He even illustrated some children’s books. This was early in his career.

Yes, different media were represented.

I thought Etta and Welles would get a kick out of these sixties artifacts, but instead they seemed bemused and genuinely puzzled by what they were seeing.

When we go to the Art Institute, we make it a policy to check in with our favorites:

Etta and Degas’s Little Dancer. She’s been photographed several times now with this sculpture, always making sure that her feel are correctly positioned.

Un dimanche apres-midi a L’isle de la Grande Jatte,  by Georges Seurat, called ‘the Dot Painting’ by Etta

Every time I go to the Art Institute, something new enchants me. This time it was Portico with a Lantern by a follower of Canaletto, 1741-1745

We had lunch at the excellent Terzo Piano Restaurant in the Museum’s Modern Wing. Ron and Ben joined us.

Erica, Welles, Etta, and Ben. Kids hard at work on their art. Menus Warhol themed

A trip to  the Museum Shop is always a highlight of these visits. One of the items on sale was a blue plush cat based on a Warhol drawing. You can just barely get a glimpse of it peaking out of the top of Welles’s shopping bag.

Once in the store, he’d fallen instantly in love with this fluffy feline! It is now safely ensconced in his bedroom and named Cutie Pie.

That afternoon, Etta and Welles attended a Gingerbread House workshop and returned home triumphantly carrying these:

 

 

 

Permalink 2 Comments

September and October: Filled with important dates for our family!

October 8, 2019 at 4:34 pm (Family)

September 16: Welles Samuel turned six!

October 7: Etta Lin turned nine!

First day of school, Fall of 2019

 

Ron’s birthday tomorrow. Here he is: the luckiest, most blessed thing that ever came into my life:

Oh, and while we’re on the subject: We celebrated our Thirtieth wedding anniversary on September First. This was the also the date of my parents’ anniversary, and so serves as a loving reminder of  them:

Here are Lillian and Samuel ‘Ted’ Tedlow, in Bayreuth, Germany, for the Wagner operas

****************

Cheering on the Cubs!!

When we arrived in Chicago last month to visit Etta, Welles, and my son Ben and daughter-in-law Erica, Etta ran into the house and threw her arms around my waist and didn’t move for the longest time.

I’m not sure what I did to deserve such blessings, but I am deeply thankful for them.

Permalink 1 Comment

Etta Lin’s sartorial sense

July 4, 2019 at 2:47 pm (Family)

Some years ago, as a preschooler, Etta wore this fetching outfit while vacationing with her parents. Since that time, we have become aware that she has an exceptional fashion sense:

Recently, we had the pleasure of watching Etta model yet another lovely ensemble. This one was really special: a top and skirt that she sewed herself, at Sewing Camp! (She also made the bag, which she tosses exuberantly into the air.)

 

Permalink Leave a Comment

“How do you like to go up in a swing, / Up in the air so blue?”

July 3, 2019 at 8:05 pm (Family, Poetry)

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

“The Swing,” poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, from A Child’s Garden of Verses

Robert Louis ‘Stevenson 1850-1894

*************************
Swinging by Welles, age 5!!!

Permalink Leave a Comment

Addendum to the recent post about ‘Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen’

March 31, 2019 at 8:53 pm (Art, Family)

My daughter-in-law Erica and grandson Welles also came with us on our recent visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. This made everything more festive.

Welles got to see the museum’s impressive collection of arms and armor.

Both Welles and Etta love to stop in the Family Room of the museum’s Ryan Learning Center. There’s always a new crafting opportunity on offer there – and Welles and Etta are both very crafty children!

Each time we go, there’s a different craft theme. This time it was textiles.

 

Etta and her Mom gearing up for ‘work’

Welles and Grandma ‘Berta – the least crafty person on the planet!

Along with others making crafts, Welles donated one of his creations to the ‘craft wall.’

The art theme carried over when we got home. Ron and I both felt that Welles’s creation here was museum-worthy:

Etta, on the other hand, migrated over to the culinary arts. There was a small impromptu gathering taking place in the backyard, and Etta decided to make a dish of hors d’oeuvres for the visitors. These consisted of small pieces of cheese, green olives, and sugar snap peas threaded onto tooth picks.

 

Etta presented a tray full of these items to the guests – adults and children both – and they ate all of them in record time!
******************************

In Camille Laurens’s book about Marie Genevieve van Goethem – the eponymous Little Dancer – she mentions photos  in which Marilyn Monroe gazes, seemingly transfixed, at the sculpture. (At the time, it was situated in the apartment of a wealthy New York collector.) The author seemed to feel that her readers would be familiar with these pictures. I had never seen or heard of them:

Interesting commentary on the occasion of this photo shoot can  be found on the art history blog Alberti’s Window and on another blog, Maison Roos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Permalink Leave a Comment

‘Her name was Marie Geneviève Van Goethem.’

March 27, 2019 at 9:26 pm (Art, Family)

  The above sentence opens the first chapter of Little Dancer Aged Fourteen by Camille Laurens.

Marie Van Goethem, originally from Belgium, was one of three sisters. She joined the Paris Opera, primarily because her family needed the money. (Young members of the corps de ballet were frequently called “les petits rats” – Little Rats, or Opera Rats.) When the opportunity to pose for Edgar Degas came along, it meant additional income.

When completed, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen was not universally loved. In fact, the reaction of contemporary viewers was quite the opposite. They had their reasons. Laurens describes of the zeitgeist prevalent in the Paris of the 1880s:

France was industrializing, and its working class was  growing in importance….The ruling classes needed to be reassured about their privileges. Small wonder they clung to theories that “proved” the natural superiority of the bourgeoisie over the working class, the rich over the poor, whites over blacks, and men over women.

With regard to the sculpture itself:

The bourgeois viewer looked at the work and saw his own antithesis. Hie preference was for Madonnas, or for plump, healthy young women. He could not fathom why a common, hardworking Opera rat with the face of a “monkey” and a “depraved” aspect should be the subject of a work of art.

Degas himself was a complex personality, not an easy person to know. At one point, the author offers the observation:

It seems that Degas shared the misogyny that was rampant at the end of the nineteenth century….

Yet Degas and Mary Casssatt were good friends and genuinely admired each others’ work:

The American expatriate painter Mary Cassatt and the French artist Edgar Degas formed a long, if tumultuous, artistic relationship and friendship in the late 19th century that lasted for decades. The two admired each other’s work during the early 1870s, years before they met. In 1877, Degas visited Cassatt in her studio—possibly their first official meeting—to personally invite her to exhibit with the Impressionists, bringing her into the fold of the Parisian avant-garde.

From The Saint Louis Art Museum site

The friendship endured for many years. Neither artist ever married.

The story of their relationship is not told in Camille Laurens’s book. Yet her intense focus on Marie and her likeness in bronze pays dividends. She forces us to look more closely, and to question:

What is she thinking about? What is her inner world like? Do her face and pose reflect concentration or relaxation? Boredom or pleasure? Is she taking herself elsewhere, and if so, to what foreign parts? Is she filled with a sense of her own self or does she savor the vacuum at its core? What lies behind her closed eyes, her skinny chest? Tears, dreams. unspeakable emotions? Or a kind of absence, a beneficent nothingness in suspended time?

This past weekend, while we were in Chicago, I looked forward to our now customary visit to the Art Institute. I wanted to contemplate Marie once again, with those questions in mind. And my granddaughter Etta also wanted to see her again.

The Little Dancer, in her accustomed place in the Art Institute

Alas, when we reached the gallery where the French Impressionist paintings are hung and where we have heretofore encountered the Little Dancer, she was not there. There was information desk right outside the gallery, but the individual staffing it was sadly clueless as to Marie’s whereabouts. Had she somehow mysteriously absconded? Yet another question…. A small couplet stole into my brain:

Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen,
Little Dancer can’t be seen.

Ah, well; Etta and I must hope for better luck next time. And of course, it’s not as though we didn’t have plenty of other objets d’art with which to occupy ourselves:

The Church of Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, 1740-1741 by Michele Marieschi

 

Portrait of Marthe-Marie Tronchin, 1758-61, by Jean-Etienne Liotard

 

Calvary, Artist Unknown, Guatemala, 1760-1800

 

Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles, painted in 1889, just a year before his death

 

Being of a scientific bent, Etta was interested in this device, located in a corner of one of the galleries. A museum guard, delighted by her question, explained that it was a hygrometer, a device for monitoring humidity in enclosed spaces.

 

This time around my favorite new discovery:

Adoration of the Christ Child, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen and Workshop, 1470-1475

 

And of course, we always make time to revisit our favorites – which are hopefully in their usual place:

Roman Theatre Mask, with Etta imitating as best she can

And finally, Un dimanche après-midi à l’îsle de la Grande Jatte, par Georges Seurat, 1886-1886:

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

Here is Camille Laurens’s poignant conclusion to the story of Edgar Degas and Marie van Goethem:

The shade of Marie melts into the deep shadow that Degas himself disappeared into. Her ghost is carried off, buried  with his remains. Nothing can separate them any longer. If we  take their two lives as one, at that point in time when  their trajectories intersected, like a momentary couple glimpsed through  a pane of glass, the resulting life is neither resounding nor insignificant. It is a life of hard  work. And also sadness, I believe. Yet it is a remarkable life, sovereign and vast in import. Both of them while still alive, she posing and he sculpting, had  the experience of death. The little statue restores their absent presence. It is their monument, their requiem.

A very special book, slight in length yet filled with grace and meaning, beautifully written by Camille Laurens and meticulously translated from the French by Willard Wood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Permalink 2 Comments

Holiday Wishes, 2018

December 24, 2018 at 8:48 pm (Art, Christmas, Family, Music)

My best holiday wishes to everyone.

I am deeply blessed and fortunate, and I wish the same for every one of you!

 

 

Wilton Diptych, left panel. Artist unknown

Wilton Diptych, Right panel. Artist unknown

 

Annunciation. Fra Angelico

 

Virgin of the Rocks. Leonardo Da Vinci

 

The Alba Madonna. Raphael

*******************************

FAMILY!!

My Aunt Patsy and Uncle Hal, enjoying life to the fullest, and always generously sharing that joy with friends and family. Forever in our hearts…

 

My parents, Lillian and Samuel ‘Ted’ Tedlow at the opera in Bayreuth, Germany. They exemplified class, elegance, and sophistication. I miss them.

Daughter-in-law Erica and Son Ben – Beautiful people in every way

 

Etta and Welles, growing by leaps and bounds, my love for them growing at the same dizzying speed

 

My husband Ron. His love, kindness, and companionship make my life worth living.

*******************

Le Paradis, by Henri Maik

 

Permalink 3 Comments

Now We Are Eight!

October 8, 2018 at 5:51 pm (Family)

Our granddaughter Etta turned eight yesterday. This picture is a good indicator of her ready-for-anything, sunny nature.

I told her that I could hardly believe  that she was already eight years old. She apparently had some trouble believing it too, declaring that “I feel more like five.” (This may have something to do with the fact that little brother Welles turned five only three weeks ago.)

I also love this picture of Etta at the keyboard:

Happy Birthday, Etta!

Permalink Leave a Comment

Next page »