We drove to Phoenix, about an eight hour journey in our rental, and after a few days there, collected the kid (she’s twenty four so that is a little bad of me, but she is forgiving,) and headed to our Ramsey Canyon weekend, theoretically four hours away. It was an easier trip than expected and we drove in earlier than anticipated.
A rushing stream between high sided rock walls was the first and most important note. We had been too long in drought struck Southern California, and the sight and sound of clear water generously racing along its way was riveting. One had to cross the bridge over the stream to reach our rooms, a main room with a couch bed and kitchen and a bedroom with bath.
We settled in and took a quick hike up the canyon, which required our passage through the friendly hands and hallway of the Nature Conservancy’s building. The Conservancy monitors the upper part of the canyon and all visitors must be out by five o’clock to give the true residents, the animals, a break. After our brief walk and a delighted plunder of the Nature Conservancy bookstore, we went back to the Inn and had pie– warm cherry pie, before sitting and reading our books.
As dusk fell, Bruce put our chicken sausages on the outside grill already set up for our convenience. While he cooked, I looked up at a movement and squeaked with glee. There walked a hog-nosed skunk across our bridge! I am one of those children who grew up on the little nature guides edited by Herbert Zim and I knew I had seen this creature in the pages of his book on Mammals. A new mammal for my life list. This is not an every day occurrence. My family had to endure many squeaks and chortles of glee from me for the rest of the evening.
Every time, I see it differently. Every time I fancy that the painting might be too much the same, too like a predecessor. But here’s the fun– I even seem to change the number of hills! How they lie, how they feel depends upon something far more subjective than the physics of how light can strike a slope. This scene by the way is North of King City CA on one of the county roads. The painting immediately above this text would show you the outlines of the Pinnacles if I had turned a few degrees to my right. And yes, before you ask, I have more paintings of this area still, though all of the above have sold. Maybe some day I shall share the full suite on this blog. I wonder what happened to the very first one I did back about 1990. It was a small painting, something like ten by fourteen inches before I became emboldened about my long formats. Maybe some day I will see that one again and assess the full course. Maybe, however, I shall never cease from pursuing these hills!
So here is our Daft Wee Willie Wilberforce in pencil. I was talking with a visiting friend, discussing sketches. When I stepped out into our passageway I saw that another friend who recently lost her artistically gifted and active husband, had kindly dropped off a bundle of his pencils in case I might be able to use them. Here are a few results.
Watson before he moved on to make some mischief.
…and don’t forget the mushrooms. Here is my first draft, at approximately one third or one quarter size, of the ‘woodsy’ wedding cake I will make for two friends who will marry this January. Raspberry filling, golden wedding cake recipe from Rose Berenbaum’s Cake Bible, a sour cream and milk chocolate ganache to frost and then hold on the black chocolate bark elements, and a cream cheese white frosting dribbled for the cut trunk surfaces. I made some fast punted white chocolate mushrooms, but will do better next time. I scraped a little white chocolate over the bark to brighten the details then dusted the mushrooms and ‘wood’surfaces with cocoa powder, then the bark with confectioner’s sugar. Now my friends will arrive in a few minutes and get to taste. We will discuss what we want to change. I have a LOT of ideas on that…. But it’s a first draft after all!
Filed under blog, food, recipies
As a parent I got so angry about ‘make-work’ repetitive homework problems and the kind of assignments that clearly were purposed to shape youngsters into obedient sameness suitable for future repetitive uncaring jobs focused solely on ‘getting it done’. Obedience should not be the focus of an education.
To have institutionalized teaching of obedience leak into the home and violate the refuge for a tired kid back from a day of frenetic input, bullying and goose-stepping is simply wrong. Teaching needs to happen in school. Practice likewise. Homework should be for the assignments that were reasonably timed within a school day that a student did not manage to complete. It should not be added on top of full, demanding days. How I hated my child’s homework. It spoiled time we would have better shared reading books– and by the way the fact that I was supposed to count the pages my kid read and report it to the school was insulting. It made the creative act of reading a ‘check in a box’ activity. I ended up reporting the books the kid read, not the pages.
Then let us speak of both the school and teachers’ punitive attitudes towards the noncompliant parent, and then the punishment through the school and teachers’ attitudes and restrictions for the kid who didn’t jump through all the hoops while in the sanctuary of the home. Or worse yet, for the kid whose parents didn’t jump through the hoops. The kids were held hostage for our parental ‘good’ behavior.
My solution? The homework group. A mixed batch of kids of different ranges of abilities working together to get the pages and pages of repetitive exercises done, with homemade brownies or cake, and discussions about science and history that enlivened as much as possible of this tedious obedience training. Lots of reading aloud to illustrate human history and what the international news brought to our door. Maps, and stories from epidemiology and novels, sometimes animal tales laced with natural history. It wasn’t perfect but it made the process of cookie-cuttering our children something I at least had a hand in.
Guess I should draft a blog on this….Short, incomplete, here it is, but better than nothing.