A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Monday, April 30, 2012


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Last Dance...

under the red and white.

Yeah, an era comes to an end.

A spokesperson for Disney attended this final dance (along with hundreds of people who wanted to support the dancers on their last night).  He assured the swing community that they were a valued part of the Disney family and that Disney has every intention of bringing swing dancing back when the new facility is ready.  In the meantime, they will be moved on Saturday nights to a stage in Downtown Disney.  The same bands that have alternated Saturday nights for years will perform.  He also said that the Disney swing tradition is the longest-running support of big band music and swing dancing in the world at over 50 years.  Some of the biggest names in big band history have played this stage including Les Brown and His Band of Renown; Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra; Gene Krupa and His Orchestra; Count Basie and His Orchestra; Harry James and His Orchestra; Louis Armstrong; Duke Ellington and His Orchestra; Woody Herman and His Orchestra; and our family favorite, Buddy Rich and His Band.  The full history is  here. 

Not that I ever saw them.  As much as my dad would have loved to sit and listen to these geniuses of big band music, Disneyland days were about family for him and he played with us.

That red and white "tent" has been at Disneyland for as long as I can remember.  Both of my sons have performed under it.  We've enjoyed straight jazz sets of the All-American College Band under that canopy every summer.  But as of tomorrow, that area of Disneyland will get boarded up and - in a year or two - will re-open as an extension of Fantasyland.

Here is some of the concept art:

Currently there is a large amphitheater in the Fantasyland/Toon Town area that houses the Princess Fantasy Faire.  It's a delightful place where you can learn to be a dancing Lord or Lady with good manners and a kind heart.  You can listen to stories (complete with musical accompaniment) or have your picture taken with a princess.  Or three.  All of that, they say, will move to the new medieval village and rumor is that a musical (kind of like the Aladdin show in California Adventure) will appear in the theater.

We'll see.

I have mixed feelings.  There are few areas in the park anymore where you can go have a bit of quiet in the middle of a hectic day, often overwhelming, day.  But at the same time, except for the performances, it did tend to feel like "wasted" space.  The new extension will be attractive and fun for little ones, so I guess I'll be grateful for the experiences of the past and look forward to seeing how this piece of "moving forward" ends up.

It was a good day at the Park.  We (my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and, of course, my mom) got there early for breakfast at the Riverbelle Terrace.  It's a perfectly fine place to eat, but we all miss the Carnation Cafe so will be happy when it re-opens.  After breakfast we headed over to Tomorrowland where we had almost a walk-on experience on Space Mountain.  We had time for a restroom trip, a quick visit to the Star Trader gift store and a quick browse at the Pin Trader (which is called something else but old habits die hard) before our Star Tours fastpasses were open.  This time we saw the Darth Vader - Kashyyyk (Wookie planet) - Boba Fett trip.  You never know exactly where you will be going when you belt yourself into your shuttle.

We did something new this trip.  We tucked Mom in at the Coke Corner with something to drink and a book so that she could enjoy the ragtime piano player all morning and into the early afternoon while the rest of us went on rides at California Adventure.

Here she is enjoying Ragtime Alan.  She said later that he came over to visit with her for a while; she appreciated his kindness.

Pretty.  In the queue at the Hollywood Tower of Terror.
Once she was comfortable the rest of us headed over to the other park to ride the Hollywood Tower of Terror.  They must have just greased the gear because these were the fastest falls yet, which meant the longest gravity-free moment I've had on that ride.  Very cool.

Next we went to the Little Mermaid ride.  My family hadn't been on it yet.  It's a fast on and off (only takes about five minutes max to see it) and is just delightful.  (I want these tiles.)

After Little Mermaid I decided to join my sister and BIL on one of their favorites, the Ferris wheel with the swinging cars.  Have I ever mentioned here that I'm afraid of heights?  Ferris wheels are not usually something I choose to experience, but my bucket list includes a ride in a hot air balloon in Utah someday, so I thought this would be good training.  I about lost it, though, when that gondola started to swing.  I didn't imagine that it would tilt at an angle where I would be looking straight down through the mesh ceiling into the water of the lagoon.  My beloved sister and beloved brother-in-law were in hysterics as was, they said, the castmember who put us into the gondola and watched my entire experience .

My BIL got a picture of my face just as the gondola gave me another tilt experience.  I will spare us all.

Midway Mania was next (133,330 - not my best score) and after that I headed back over to Disneyland to make sure my Mom was all right.  It was about 2:00 and she was happy as a clam.  She'd had a nice visit with Ragtime Alan and one of the castmembers who helps keep the place magically sparkling.  Alan had told her that Ragtime Michael would be next up at 2:30, which was good news.  We haven't seen him there in months, and as much as we've enjoyed the other piano players (no bad music in Disneyland), only Ragtime Michael seems to understand that different atmospheres lend themselves to different music.  (Nobody does "dreamy" like Michael.)  I was able to stop by the Coke Corner later that evening on an errand to get warmies out of our locker and was able to hear "Sentimental Journey" and "Chim Chim Cheree," but, unfortunately, Mom was only able to stay for the earlier Musical Chairs set (not the best display of his considerable musical talent) because we were going to Billy Hill and the Hillbillies before getting chairs for the swing dance party.

Hmmm... somebody new.  I don't know this bass player.
The Swing dance party wasn't scheduled until 7:00, but even at 5:00 we were barely able to scrape together enough chairs.

What a fabulous evening.  Swingtown is fabulous, the dancers were fabulous and the friends filling the plaza gardens had a fabulous time.

Practicing for the last dance.  This crew taught the others throughout the night.


Gotta learn Shim Sham!

 Party Man Maynard stopped by for a couple of dances.

Maynard is so gracious.  Too bad my flash wasn't working.

 Goodbye, old friend.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In a mood.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


The man was there.

My son, his girlfriend and I drove down PCH to Venice for a "conversation" with Tom Shadyac.  Shadyac was a delightful combination of charm, wisdom and a wicked humor.  The event was held at  the Electric Lodge , a solar-powered theater.  They accepted more RSVPs than they had room for, expecting about half the people to decide not to come.

Everyone came.

They were pulling every office chair, stool and random box from the various classrooms and offices into the packed theater.  It was wonderful to experience.

After being suitably inspired ( PLEASE watch I AM), we made our way back to Camarillo for a delicious lunch at Lure, a newish fish house in Camarillo.  It was our first time there, and I have awarded it my Best Meal in Camarillo.  Ever.  award.  (The lobster spinach dip was to die happy for.)  Great food and even better conversation made it hard to finally give up our table.

Just a really terrific afternoon with two of my favorite people.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


This is interesting.

This is my first post with my new computer, and apparently making some major changes in the system gets me a new way to do blogspot.  Bear with me while I readjust the moved cheese.

It's been an interesting couple of weeks in an interesting couple of months in an interesting couple of years.  I've written before of the domino effect that started about the time that someone recommended Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.  As is the way with elegant domino designs, mine keeps getting more and more complicated as the tiles fall.  At about the same time that AW came into my life, I also read Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol  and was struck by how close to my personal spiritual belief system his description of noetics fell.  More recently, I was intrigued by this trailer for Tom Shadyac's film, I AM..

The film was in very limited release and so I had to wait until I could buy the dvd to see it.  Have to admit, I was shocked to learn that it wasn't really about what I thought it would be about from the trailer, and very surprised to find a lot of noetics scientists interviewed in this inspirational - no, HOPEful - film.  I AM started a whole new design to fall into place and I have found myself devouring work by Lynne McTaggert (The Intention Experiment and The Field), Wayne Dyer, and Rhonda Byrne.  Last summer I read Deepak Chopra's The Way of the Wizard.  They're all saying the same thing, just in different languages for different audiences.

Last night I enjoyed - for the umpteenth time - the Remember, Dreams Come True fireworks show at Disneyland and was struck by how well one of my favorite Disney songs also shares the same message.

Fate is kind.
She brings to those who love
the sweet fulfillment of 
their secret longing.


When your heart is in your dreams
No request is too extreme...

Life continues to be an adventure...

Speaking of Disneyland, my mom, sister and brother-in-law and I were there yesterday to enjoy my nephew's Magic Music Days performance at Disney California Adventure.  It's hard to believe it's been almost a year since his performance last year!

My nephew traveled with the band in the band bus, but the rest of us were chauffered by my BIL in the 'Burb.  Now, that was a treat, since I'm usually the driver when I take my mom.  We had breakfast there, then were in time for the first Disneyland Band concert.  This turned out to be a very memorable performance for my mom.

Millions of guests have enjoyed Disneyland over the years, but believe it or not, they do start to recognize frequent guests.  Art, the DL Band conductor, always has a smile and wave for Mom, which is special.

We have been there with two different Hatters over the last year.  Both do fun things with the audience including parades with the kids and - my favorite - the Disneyland Stroller Drill Team.  About a half-dozen times, now, both Hatters have asked Mom if she wanted to participate (in her wheelchair) and she has always declined.  This time, Hatter didn't ask...

My BIL had been pushing her chair.  Hatter kind of slipped past Mom, pushed my BIL to the side and took over the chair.  She said later she couldn't figure out where my BIL was taking her!  You can tell she's just hating this.

Love the Hatter!

Once the DL Band concert was over, it was time to go across to Disney California Adventure to my nephew's concert.  This park is in the final months of  a billion-dollar renovation, and it's going to be spectacular when it's done.  Main Street USA in Disneyland represents the town of Walt Disney's childhood, Marceline, Missouri.  Guests to California Adventure - myself included - have complained that DCA just didn't have the "magic" of Disneyland.  Not enough of Walt there.  So, the theming of the newly-renovated park will be the Los Angeles area at the time that Walt arrived here.

 Re-creation of the Carthay Circle Theater where, in 1937, Disney's Snow White premiered.

They're even resurrecting the Red Line electric car system!

Back again at the Hollywood Backlot performing arts stage ...

Here are my favorite three favorite numbers from his concert band performance.

"Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen).

I know that Cohen has been around forever, but I had not heard of him until a friend posted a clip of "Anthem" last year.  Here's a clip of him singing "Hallelujah" is you want to check it out.

I think that my favorite was this piece by Higgins called "Pueblo..."  By the time they got to this one the sound engineers were having some fun with their music.  I don't know if it will come through my little Coolpix camera recording, but this piece came through especially "ethereal."

And finally, I can't post their Disney performance without a Disney song, so here's "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid.

7th and 8th graders.  Yes, there is hope for music in our world.

After the performance we left my nephew to his friends and the rest of us headed to Disneyland for the day.  We did a little shopping, then settled in at Coke Corner for musical chairs with Hatter and Alice (again) at the piano with Ragtime Robert.

Musical Chairs is always fun, but this time was especially hilarious because (and I've NEVER seen this happen before) people kept taking their kids out of the game mid-stream.  So, Hatter would remove a chair and the music would play, but when the kids sat down they would all have a chair again.  I have never laughed so hard at a Musical Chairs game there.  He was so disgruntled!

It was so much fun - and we were feeling so sorry for Hatter - that we couldn't bring ourselves to leave the Corner until the end of the game, which means we missed the performance of Billy Hill and the Hillbillies that we'd planned.  Another day.

After Coke Corner we headed down to Town Square for the parade.  Sis and BIL had not seen it yet.

They weren't disappointed.

After my last viewing of this parade, I got to thinking about the lyrics from "Chim Chim Cheree."

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-ee!
A sweep is as lucky
As lucky can be

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-oo!
Good luck will rub off when
I shake 'ands with you
Or blow me a kiss
And that's lucky too

"What would happen, " I wondered, "if I blew a sweep a kiss?"  Do these dancers - young as they are - even know that song?  So, as the darling sweeps came by (they are my favorite) I blew some kisses and...

... this was his first reaction.  I wasn't quick enough with the camera to catch his response, but I got a kiss blown back.  I like to think he got it, and I got my good luck.

From the parade we went immediately to the flag retreat, a moving part of our Disney day now.  Sis and BIL had not seen it yet and were touched.  After that we met my nephew and his friends for dinner at the Plaza Inn (rats!  I forgot to take a picture of the fuchsia baskets).  When we had finished (I splurged on fried chicken this time), we returned to the Coke Corner which is my favorite place to people watch at twilight.  I love this time of evening as the lights come on.

I'm not sure Ragtime Robert was feeling well (he sounded like he had a cold or something) but he kept us entertained well enough.  Mom pronounced him "very talented" (although I think he tends to pound).  Oh, well.  When you've heard the best there, I guess the others will never quite measure up.  Some experiences you just have to be grateful for and "keep moving forward."

We got home quite late, but I made my way home anyway because I had stuff I wanted to do early this morning (and no matter how I try, when I spend the night at Mom's I can't manage to get home much before noon).

We'll be returning to Disneyland next Saturday.  Wouldn't you know, Mom and I FINALLY, after over 50 years, become fans of the Jump Jive Boogie and Swing party on Saturday nights, and they will be closing it down on April 30.  They will be expanding Fantasyland into that space with a significant renovation over the next year.  They say the dancers will be back when it's done, but the regulars tell us they are skeptical.   So, next Saturday is our last chance to enjoy the swing dancers for at least a year - maybe forever - and we don't want to miss it.

Tomorrow should be memorable.  My son, his girlfriend and I are going to Venice (about an hour down the coast) to attend a coffee at a place called the Electric Lodge to hear Tom Shadyac (see above I AM) speak.  It's supposed to be a meet and greet and talk about sustainability.  We'll see.  If the man shows up, I will post something tomorrow.  Whatever, it has been gorgeous here and we should have a lovely drive along PCH.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Spring Break...


Another Spring Break comes to an end.

I've been absent from the stitchery for a while.  Life has been huge lately.  A major relationship change resulting in a new, fresh emotional and spiritual outlook has led me to spend a lot of time reading and writing.  My little internal sparkler pretty much burns hot all the time and if it starts to flicker, I have the means to fan the flame on my own.


Not much stitching going on.  I have been prepping for this piece.

Josephine Wall's Spirit of the Wind, Heaven and Earth Designs

I have a number of pieces to work on linen, but the sheer number of stitches on this one hints that I will be at it for some years, probably long enough that linen will be a challenge for my aging eyes, so I bought a piece of 18-count Aida for it.  The design goes nearly the full width (minus framing margins) and nearly 2/3 of a yard in height.  I'm putting in a grid now.  I don't, usually, but I think I'll be glad I took the time with this one.

This is the second BAP ("big ass project") in my stash.  I've had the other longer (David Armstrong's Pumpkin Pines)  but this one wins for sheer emotional impact.  I'm not going to bother with pictures of the gridding process (yawn) but once I get into the color will post progress.

Anyway, Spring Break highlights.

Just before the break began, we  were hit by a rare spring storm.  Cold, with LOTS of rain (thank goodness) and this view from the driveway on my way to work.  We get this view MAYBE once every two years.

The weekend before the break it was time for the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles Mighty Pipes concert at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.  The historic preservationist part of of me was breathless over this church.  From the outside, "magnificent edifice" is too tame to describe it.  Once inside, there were simply no words.  Even the camera couldn't capture it.  This is what we saw before us...

 ...and this was behind us.

And we were surrounded on all sides by breathtakingingly beautiful windows.

I took my mom to this concert, and we weren't disappointed, although for a large chorus this may not have been the best venue.  I guess I was lucky that I tend to enjoy the low ranges more than the higher, because I could barely hear the tenor section.  Nevertheless, they were awesome as usual.  My favorites were "Imagine" (John Lennon) and "Bohemian Rhapsody" (Queen).  Levi Kreis was their guest performer and blew Mom and I away.

I have one more concert in my series.  During my birthday weekend this year (a tad earlier than last), it will be a country-western concert featuring guest Leann Rimes.  Have to decide who my guest will be.  Hmmm...

I spent one morning pulling grass from a sideyard planter.  After a couple of hours I heard excited calls from the backyard.  My son and his girlfriend had been cleaning up the tortoise pen and uncovered this clutch of eggs.  I'm guessing it represents two years laying, as the first six were broken (and smelly) and underneath the cleaner six on the top.  He's going to try to incubate them, but we're not hopeful that these will hatch.  We ARE hopeful, though, that we will "catch" another clutch this year that will hatch.

In the garden, the flowering quince is blooming.  A thousand words worth...

And yes, we can grow lilacs here.  This one is "Declaration," one of three released over the last few years by the National Arboretum.

Great color, smells wonderful and looks fabulous with my favorite apricot-colored roses (like "Brass Band.")

My developing self seems to be more drawn to the sea than before, and I was happy to get to spend a couple of hours sunburning my feet this past week.

I spent important (and fun) time with family, but mostly I read.

This book...

Also reading The Field, also by Lynne McTaggart.  Brilliant!
...is a world-changer.  It's kind of a hard read, but I'm still recovering from the shock and excitement of what I've learned.

What I've taken from it:  the reason the world seems so screwed up is that we all keep complaining about how screwed up it is.

It's time to watch Tom Shadyac's I AM for a dose of curing attitude.