Monday, November 6, 2017

So, what's up?

Not sure why this post has a funky background.  Apologies. I'll see if I can fix it.

I miss writing this blog and plan to return to it in the new year. 

A lot of my time this past year has bee spent with friends and family members who are dealing with the great issues connected with life and death and work and house. If the year were a notebook it would have tabs that read: James/surgery, start up TV show, shed, kitchen, M & M wedding, dyed hair, La Pintoresca research, Kate and girls, jury duty, survive the heat, La Plaza de Cultura y Arte, Pasadea Latino Coalition, travels, times with James, acting, and playwriting.

The last items were the ones that were sort of the most consistent. As a result I was in a short film that can be seen on youtube.  I've been taking an Acting in Commercials class with Buddy Powell for a while now. I began to take the class because I wanted a respite; a time when my major requirement was to be present and to learn.  

Over that last couple of years I've been a part of two films. One, "Tienes Hambre?" is on youtube and the other, "The Winning Ticket", I hope to have access to in the next month. Here's a link to the movie written by Cassie Rubio.  It was joy to act with Brenda Salas.

I loved working with all of the young mujeres of the Nuevas Novelas program;  This is a program of the Justice for My Sister Collective -  Justice for My Sister Collective

I also have written one tiny playlet and a one-act play, as well as the beginnings of two other plays. The first two are based on incidents that I've experienced or a story that I was told that had an interaction that served as a starting point for telling a story.  

Play Three is a fantasy - pan dulce is involved.  

Play Four includes a focus on pochismo, pochisma, or I guess pochismx. What it might be called is part the story, too.

In trying to put last week away in the mental file, here are some pics that were taking over the last week. I know, sort of random, but there you go. Sometimes life can be pretty random.
LA City Hall, still true blue, despite a World Series loss

Dorothy Chandler - Definitely high twinkle factor

Nabucco - way before we got to Va, pensiero

A must-see rest area on the 99 

Fresno - If you know me a bit, you know I love coffee.  
If you know me really well, you know I have a passion for Dutch Bros.

Fresno, Oaxaca Restaurant

Fresno -  One of the stained glass windows in Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Colonel Allensworth

Margaret Prince was from Pasadena.
 Sunset in Allensworth State Park, before the long ride home last night.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Marya Grimes

Normally I would make a point of having a picture of someone I'm remembering.  Not so much in this case.  My mother-in-law was a very private person.  And since she is not longer here for me to ask permission, no image is included.  Or I may add later after I ask James.

So the question rises...what might I share about her that would tell you of her without sharing too much?

Well, first let me share that she was a woman who had a depth of determination that was noteworthy.  The earliest example I heard about was her being in high school and a teacher of hers wanted to "simplify" her name and make it sound less Polish.  She wouldn't.  There's a slightly longer story that goes with that, but more memorable to me, was the look in her eyes when she retold the story to me.  I recognized that look of defiance;  still deep, still genuine, still strong - generations later.

My first two interactions with her were also telling.  James introduced her to me over pizza in Princeton.  I think we were both walking on pins and needles verbally.  Then something happened, I don't even remember what it was, but she and I had a genuine moment of mutual embarrassment.  We were both a bit of old school in sensibility.  And seeing us in mutual discomfort made James laugh a little at us.  Which ticked both of us off - a bit.  And then we all laughed when we saw the circumstance and the responses.

Next noteworthy instance for me, was an evening that she and I shared in New Jersey.  James, Kate, and I had stopped to visit her before we went to Austria and Germany.  James and Kate had come down with a bit of a cold so they were asleep.  I stayed with her and we talked for the longest time.  Part of the conversation was really good and then there was the anti-catholic rhetoric she shared.  Did  I mention that I'm a Catholic and she knew it?  Anyway, mixed in with the rhetoric was an appreciation for some Catholics.  It was a long conversation. I chose to believe that she included me in the okay pool of Catholics.

Her obit shares much about here skills, her accomplishments, and her relatives.  One thing that wasn't mentioned was her uncanny ability to figure out what gifts to get for people.  Middle-aged, babies, teens, even tweens.  On the whole that may not sound like much, but it speaks of her ability to be a great observer and of the love she had for each of us.  She knew you, for you, and bought a gift that would make you happy.  Doggone she was good at gift giving!

There is a lot more I could write about my mother-in-law, but I think what I've written gives you a sense of who she was.

On a very personal note I should add that because she was a strong-willed woman who loved her family, her son was able to fall in love with another strong-willed woman who loved him.  In  some ways, that was the best gift that she gave to James and me.  I know I treasure that gift and will treasure memories of her.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Ups and Down

Deep breath.  Last 10 days have been busy.  Watch out typos may be lurking
Lots of Ups; one Down.
If you're more into narratives and not lists, this will not be the post for you.

We are a two car family again.  Given a whole variety of reasons we ended up with an SUV - RAV4 Hybrid.  Name is pending.  We've been referring to it as Big Blue, but that is a bit too IBM-y and the initials remind me of Netanyahu or a Neuwirth.

Our first outing with the new car was to hear Cambalache at the Aratani Theatre at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.  Fandango beforehand  - claro.  And the beauty of what jarocho can be was outside and on the stage.  Multi-generational, multi-talented folks enjoying and expressing themselves.

Fresh cherry pie made by Hermano Luis.  You weren't expecting pictures, were you?  Not when it's that delicious.  lol

Attended Spoken Word event at the Sidewalk Cafe which is located at Hensteeth Square.  Words and images surrounded us; red beans and rice, thoughtful odes to the black experience, and a bus ride without leaving the room.

Research on the history of La Pintoresca Library via the Central Library Archives.  Young Phong has been the staff member who's been helping; what a joy to work with him!

Dinner in Boyle Heights at Guisado's.  Again, no picture.  Same reason.  Priorities.

Lunch at Jane's place.  12 women who have all sorts of accomplishments; many brilliant artists.  Janet Fitch read a bit to us from her new book, "The Revolution of Marina M.",  that is being proofed for November sale.  I can barely wait.  Until I get an okay to share artwork, here's a picture of Janet.  

Photo by Cat Gwyn
No lunch pictures.  I think there's a pattern here.

Dinner with Ms. Daisy.  All the better for Kevin joining us for dessert AND then Matthew just dropped by.  You really weren't expecting an image were you?

Here's the only food image I have to share.  I think this is after James buttered his toast.  The critters don't care what it was.

The coyotes are back.  Two of them were next door.  And somehow or the other they gifted us with part of their prey.  We've been making ourselves very present out of doors and extra careful with the critters.

We haven't seen the coyotes for the last couple of days.  And no evidence that they've been around.

Friday was a Date Day.  Chores done, James and I went off to the hinterlands.  Well, to EastLosLand to see art.  I'm not sure if it was the art of East Los or King Taco that had him cheering. (Shhhh-it was King Taco).

We saw some the wonderful work at Chimmaya and the Vincent Price Art Museum on the ELAC campus.  James was happily shocked that there was no admission.  We both love the idea that fine art is available to students and their community for free.  We also appreciated the architecture of the building and the use of space throughout. 

We've had a chance to enjoy their permanent exhibit, so we stopped at a couple of temporary exhibits.

Yreina D. Cervantez was one of the founding artists of Self Help Graphics.

She has an ability to mix beauty, color, form, and philosophy and often wraps it up with a sweet bit of humor.  Some of her work also includes clear historical references and comfort with the bicultural connections.  Above her head are stylized speech scrolls with comments in colloquial English and Spanish.  

Wiri Wiri con Nagualito/Chit Chat with Nagualito
Ms. Cervantez' exhibit was curated by Marialice Jacob and Ana Guajardo.

Their were several other exhibits including - "A Colonial Atlas: Strategies in Contemporary Art of the Americas".  The focus of this exhibit related to "questions of colonialism and post colonialism in an effort to locate 'place' in contemporary society".  A complex question with a vast array of artistic and philosophical responses.  

The use of the space was wonderfully stimulating. 
It was organized by Pilar Tompkins Rivas.
I may need to go back again.


Eastside Cafe

Pasadena Public Library

Janet Fitch

Yreina D. Cervantes

Vincent Price Art Museum

Thursday, June 1, 2017

How can it almost be summer?

Having dinner a week ago, we were asked, "What you been doing?"  There was a bit of silence as we thought.  In my head bounced a variety of half-formed thoughts.

Mentally regrouping after the wedding.  Keeping up with the groups that are doing work that can use my help.  Trying to keep sane by both keeping aware and keeping an emotional distance from  the news of the world.  Being reminded that I flourish in a creative setting and feel overwhelmed by our world being such chaos.  

I've spent time as the balancing spouse when James' work needed his full attention.  Be that while he worked at the dining room table or was in Huntsville in meetings.  James takes has taken his turn at being balancing spouse before and I'm sure he will again, but it seems that at this moment it's my turn.

There's also been time dedicated to friends and family.  Most of it has been time where we've laughed, but some of the times have been spent in shared consolation.

I've also spent time enjoying the sunrise in isolation.

Casa Martinez has had its share of time.  What a joy that has been.  How lucky to I am to get a chance to interview people.  To work with different crews that help do that job.  It's been sweet to work with friends and to make sure that what is produced will be viewer worthy.

I've also enjoyed taking acting classes with Buddy Powell.  For two hours every week I get to focus on what is immediately in front of me.  In my head I liken it to hiking.  It's all about the moment; made that much better for the companions on the journey.

I've also gone back to writing.  There are a couple of things that I have been hoping to write about and it's changing from hope to print.  

Thanks to a push from a friend, I've returned to do research at the Huntington Library.   There is five linear feet of uncatalogued material with the Bandini name on it.  Don't know what will come of the exploring and sharing but am feeling that the time is right to delve away.

My summer white shirt confused the camera; exposure set for shirt and not face.  Ni modo.  Being at the Huntington makes me happy.  

"What you been doing"?

My answer, "this and that", because if I'd said more it would have been too little and too much. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017: Or Possibly, Probably, the Penultimate Purple Post

This past week was a bit of a challenge.  James was in Alabama - on business - and I was alone tending to dogs and domicile.  My Ex used to travel about one third of the year, so by comparison, the occasional trip James makes is "no big deal".  But, it kind of is.

First there is the missing of the conversations that we have all the time.  I even miss our moment of disagreements.  I really enjoy the former and often have learned or re-learned a lesson or two from the latter.  Sometimes.

Then there are all little chores that take place around the house.  When he is not here I need to make time to take two walks with dogs rather than one.  Same goes when it comes to the hand watering of the garden and the whole getting and fixing food.  No big whine; just a change, just time lost from other projects.

On Friday, as James was flying back from a week in Huntsville, I attended a conference entitled "Historical Fiction/Fictional Histories" at the Huntington Library.  It was a deep dive into the Scholorland Pool.  I think the most intriguing phrase I heard was dubious facticity.   Yup, let that roll around your head for awhile.  Now think about the phrase bouncing around with other ideas - is an historical fiction automatically counterfactual...counter plausible..power fashions the name...your name becomes your identity...historical instability of names.  And all of this before lunch.

After lunch it was time to get my hair dyed.  Then home to greet my honey before he took a nap.

That evening  I went with my dear friend Laura to see "The Sweetheart Deal".  Why not my honey? Well, although I was thrilled that James had returned, I knew he would be snoring by 7.  The play began at 8.  Besides it is always great to spend time with Laura.  It is a play that is filled with the doubts and joys and questions that accompany political activism.   Won't write more; don't want to spoil the plot.

Saturday morning I was back at the "history conference".  How do we measure the truth in they history we know?  How far can one be from an event and have the greatest degree of accuracy?  A measure set by the Scots was 60 years; for the most part this is beyond adult living memory of those who were alive when the memory was made.

Yesterday afternoon we went way out to San Juan Capistrano.  Our friends' son graduated from USC. Gathering was at The Reata Park and Event Center.  Lots of California native plants and lots of open space.  James took these pictures.  We'll need to figure out their names and see if they will grow inland.

When we got home and I looked at Facebook it turned out that a lot of my friends were wondering what my hair looked like.  I shared that wearing a purple top made me feel like  I was an escapee from Marvel Comics and that I hadn't figured out what my superpower might be.

It occurred to me this Mother's Day morning that my superpower may the same as a lot of other women. We may be Moms or Nanas or Aunts or Sisters or Mentors.  

With or without our paisley capes we are inclined to give big hugs or encouraging words.   
Happy Mother's Day

The Sweetheart Deal

Reata Park

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Shed of My Own

I remember reading Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" when I was in high school.   I don't remember what drew me to read it.  Perhaps it was the cover - sort of an aqua blue with black line drawing - or it could have been mentioned by my far more worldly friend, Roberta Ikemi.  Or it could have been referred to when I was reading something else.  Or, or, or.

Whatever the reason, reading it reinforced some ideas that were developing for me.  The idea that writing had merit, the idea that men and women were often treated differently because of their sex, and the idea that creative expression was something I could do.

It was exciting to read the book because Woolf questioned the status quo.  That was most appealing to a child of the 60s.

Zoom forward about a half century and I find myself fortunate to have a space that is my own.

It is a way from the responsibilities of the house and home.  It is a sort of writing refuge. 

This space is 6' X 8', acknowledges the four directions, and furnished with small bargains;

or items found around the house.  

That impulse purchase that was made at Ikea 8 years ago that never found a place in the house but was too cool to toss or to go to Goodwill.

In this space I can write; energized by early morning bird songs.  

I can watch aurora play with ceanothus shadow leaves.  

It's a place where time can be taken to find the right words to tell the tale; whatever that tale might be.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Gracias, Tierra Madre and Juliet Gordon Lowe

The sun has just risen over the urban treeline.  I sit in the shed and enjoy the shifting lights and shadows.  Not new and novel at a moment. The morning breeze shifts in pace and temperature.  The shadows of the ceanothus and nopal shift, too.   What had been a wall of solid color is now a plane of form and texture that remind me of the old silent pictures; zoetrope in muted colors of grey and coral instead of greyscale.

I like this place.  Looking forward to spending more time here.

The past couple of weeks since the wedding have been filled with good things mostly.  James and I went to Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens.  Spring was in the midst of being sprung.

We also walked through an exhibit on the work of Marcus Jones.  Ten points for you if you know who that is.  I had no idea.  He was a fellow who, like a lot of folks at the turn of the 20th century, came to the west and explored the botanical and cultural flora and fauna.  He kept detailed records that have proven useful to this day.  He wondered and wandered about the earth; celebrating her gifts.

I've also been to the Santa Monica History Museum and walked through the exhibit on Girl Scouts.  Fun thing about that exhibit is that it was curated by two Scouts who were completing their Silver Award.  I recognized several of the historical uniforms.  They were not thought of as historical when I wore them.

It was enlightening to read about the well-known women who had been Scouts.

Last year when I turned 64 I asked friend for suggestions of things that I might do this year.  Went with my friend and did one of those things - sort of.  On a Monday morning we rose up fairly early, picked up coffee, and then headed out the Angeles Crest to look for Big Horn Sheep.  They rose up earlier than we did.  There were none in sight when we arrived.

But there was this really gneiss rock and what a vista.

Last week James and I went to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve.  
We were ready to be blown away by a different vista.  

Blown away was the phrase;  it was so windy all the poppies were closed.  It was beautiful to see them ripple in the wind, when I wasn't focused on keeping my hat on my head.

Today the plan is stay at home.   There will still be lots to see.