Friday, January 30, 2009


When we arrived in Tiblisi we were surprised at the beauty of the country side. It looked more like California than the USSR. Vine yards and farm lands. We were taken to a hotel almost as large and imposing as the one in Moscow. I was an odd number of our group and I had informed the everyone that I snored which gave me a room of my own everywhere we stayed. It was great in a way but I lost out on some of the camaraderie. But I had nothing to complain about. It was a fantastic trip.

We had a date with our guide, who wanted to take us up in the hills to see a very small, very old church. On the way out of town I saw sheep with lambs eating the grass in the center of of the two lanes of the highway. I thought: How smart. Saving money on the mowing of the grass. Everything was so green and healthy looking. On our way back, I got a totally different feeling. Life is cruel! I saw the sheepherder shoot one of the animals. I had really been looking at their meat market. Someone had just bought the meat for dinner.

We were taken to a wine tasting place and two of us decided we would rather visit a huge market held in an enormous tent. It was mostly a vegetable market. It was nice to see that they grew almost the same kind of vegetables as we had in the US. On this trip and on another trip that Sam and I had taken to the USSR we were given cucumbers for every meal. It happened that both Sam and I loved cucumbers but many of our fellow travelers griped about the monotony. So we wandered around and tried to chat with the elderly women who sold their stuff.

Then it was time to meet with our gang who had tasted the wine. They had all been given a hand painted silk scarf. They had been given two extra for us. We stood on the street corner admiring and comparing and after a moment of this we looked up and a fairly long line or Georgian women had queued up behind us, believing something was for sale some place. Long lines were seen everywhere. And many stores had empty shelves.

When we returned to our hotel we two none tasters decided we would stay below to have a cup of coffee in the front patio. We sat down and the doorman said he would get the coffee lady. While he was gone, two extremely inebriated men came staggering out from a side exit of the hotel. They were wondering where the doorman was and were speaking to the two of us, sitting there waiting for the waitress. They were falling down drunk and scary and we were about to beat a retreat to our rooms, when the doorman returned.

The doorman apparently knew the two men, and tried to reason with them to try to have them go home. Nothing helped, so he called the police. By then we were not about to leave. We had to see what was going to happen. The following happenings were like a slap-stick movie. It was great fun until a gun came into the action.

The police arrived on a motor cycle with the higher ranked man riding in a side car. He was a very short man but had many ribbons around his hat an medals on his chest. Both men were young, probably in their thirties. They began arguing with the drunken ones. Looking back on this event, I think the drunk ones and the police men and the doorman had gone to the same class in Tiblisi High School. The police didn't want to take their old friends to the local prison or jail. So they put on the tableau because they had an audience.

Remember it was like watching a silent movie, for we did not understand a word spoken. The police tried to force the two drunks into a corner but in the melee one of the drunks got hold of the gun that the nr. 1 policeman was brandishing. The drunk had it pointed it in all directions and we two women were then really alarmed.

Suddenly the police were in charge of the weapon and decide to go back to the station to get something bigger to haul their criminals away. The doorman then became the man in charge. He pleaded with the two trouble makers to flee even though he had promised to keep them there till the police returned. Finally he shooed them over to the hedge, by which were sitting and pleaded with them to jump over the bushes. Both of them fell over the thing and struggled off somewhere. When the gendarmes returned he tried to convince them he had tried to keep them, but they escaped. The police left, the higher ranking man on the motorcycle and the Junior one in a paddy wagon.

We finally got our coffee. A woman came with a dirty cart on which was a primus to heat the water, two cups and a container of instant coffee. I don't think either of us tasted the drink before we went upstairs.

It had been a day full of rich happenings and I am personally sorry that Georgia has trouble with Russia.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


After coming to Port Angeles I heard about a group of artists going to Russia on a tour of museums and visiting artists in their studios. Many of the artists were not in the old traditions which only allowed State sponsored art. The group needed one more body to fill the minimum number allowed to go and I had salted away enough money that I could afford to go.

If I remember correctly, we flew to Copenhagen and then by Aeroflot to Moscow. We stayed at a huge hotel in the middle of town, and the first morning there I went down to the desk to ask how I could get a ticket to go to the theatre where the Eugene O'Neill plays were staged. At first I was told that American tourists were allowed to go to the Ballet, and to the Circus, and sporting events, but not to the theatre. Since I did not speak any Russian and the desk clerk was limited in her English, we were not getting anywhere.

A nice looking employee, sitting at an important looking desk in the rear, arose and came to my aid. She said to clerk Nr 1 that she would handle this difficult woman. ( I am guessing ). I showed her the clipping from the Wall Street Journal. She nodded and smiled. I asked how I could get a ticket to the play. She said, I will write a note to the ticket seller, and when you get there you show her this note. You should arrive there at 7.30p. I asked how I would get there. Could I walk? She shook her head and said No. Too far. Take a taxi. Please write a note to the taxi driver and tell him the address of the Theatre. She smiled and said 'Of course.'

Then she asked me if I would come by after seeing the play to tell her how I liked it. I promised to do it.

I arrived on time and sat down in the lobby after getting my ticket. It cost no more than three or four dollars. It was a different crowd who filled the lobby before we were admitted to our seats. Most people came from work. All of them made a trip to the ladie's room or the men's room first. Apparently there were no mirrors where they all headed, for when they came out in the lobby, they all combed hair and put on lipstick and some of the women did a major job on their physiognomy. It was entertaining sitting there. All were friendly looking and no one paid any attention to me.

And then we were admitted to our seats. The seats were single chairs, Victorian, white, upholstered in pink material and if you were short legged very comfortable. They were anchored to the floor. My legs are not short and I thought I would be miserable, for my knees were forced into the chair in front of me. No way you could straddle the seat in front of you. But the acting was so excellent that any discomfort was forgotten when the curtain went up. There was no curtain, when the lights went up, I should have said. I will never forget the emotional tears that ran down my cheeks. I did not understand their words but I think even if I had not learned the play by heart, I would have understood their emotions. I am so glad I did make the effort to go. I felt as though I were one of them, both the people on the stage and the people in the audience and the people Eugene O'Neilll was writing about. When it was over it was embarrassing to go out in the night with red eyes and a sniffling nose.

And so came the problem of how to get back to the hotel. There were a couple of busses on the street waiting for the Russian tourists who had been in the audience. I went up to one of the bus drivers and asked where I could get a cab. He motioned with his shoulders that he did not understand me. I said:Taxi? He said Ah. I motioned to him as I said Taxi again. Do I go right or left. He told me which way. I walked to the corner and there again I asked someone 'right or left saying Taxi and pointing. Eventually someone came along and pointed one way. I wandered several blocks and soon a cab came and picked me up.

Next morning when our group met for breakfast they were all jealous of my adventure. But they had seen the Ballet and I lied and told them, saying I was jealous of their pleasure. I saw the person who had helped me get the ticket to the show and I told her how excellent the evening had been.

It was a wonderful trip and I may tell you about a funny incident in Tiblisi Georgia next time.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Go back in time

Return to Diablo. To my studio upstairs in the old railroad station. Downstairs is the Feed and Fuel store. One day a woman came to buy food for her horses. The owner of the store was occupied by another important customer so he said to this young smart looking woman, whom he knew from past business, Go upstairs and meet my new tenant. I'll be with you in minutes.

I was upstairs working on a painting when I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. It was the first time some one had come up uninvited for Joe and I had sworn, when I signed my lease, that we would never bother the other under any circumstances. My children were told they could call the store only if some one were dying. We had kept to our agreement until this occasion.
I quickly covered my wet painting with a swatch of green material I usually used for backdrops.

"Hi. My name is Elena. Joe told me to walk up, to meet his new tenant. Hope I'm not bothering you. I see you are a painter. I like your work. We are having a Christmas Party tomorrow evening. Can you and your husband come. We live in the house called Tao House where Eugene O'Neill wrote his most successful plays. Do you know where it is? You can let us know. I'll give you my phone number" She heard Joe calling her downstairs and rushed away calling to me, "I'll give Joe my number. Do come." And she was gone. I heard them throwing bales of hay on her truck and saw her driving away. What a whirlwind.

When I finished painting I searched for Joe to ask him about my visitor. He told about the couple, how much fun they were. The husband owned an auto dealer ship in Walnut Creek. Joe and his wife had been entertained by them many times. Just seeing Tao House is worth spending an evening there. He gave me the note with her phone number and I dashed away.

I told Sam about the invitation for dinner tomorrow, but he was doubtful about accepting such a hurried invitation. When he heard that they were in the Auto business I saw a spark of interest, (we were trying to buy a car for our Nr two child who had been given a job in Oakland in a bakery. She had to work on her vacations to earn money for college) We talked bout it for ages but not until I mentioned I was going to call Lois Sizzo to tell her about the invitation, did Sam look as if he was about to change his mind.

Lois was home, thank goodness. When she heard about Tao House she said, Oh, promise you'll go. I am so interested in that place. We've heard that the people who are renting it are really abusing the place and we have a group here who would like to have Congress declare it a National Landmark. Please see what you can find out. If Sam won't go, please go alone.

Well, Sam and I went. I put on a nice short dress and Sam went as he usually was dressed. We arrived and ahead of us was a woman dressed in a long white dress and a white fur stole, and with a husband who wore jeans and cow boy boots. It was a fun party, for there were only characters there. There must have been fifty people, and the cast revolved. The house was large enough that people could hide and come back hours later. I have no memory of what we were being served. I know Sam and I had a drink as we arrived, but I do not remember any crackers with pate or potato chips or anything like that. But I remember the rooms these people had painted after moving in, Absolutely atrocious. One room was worse than sky blue. Much of the house looked as if it had been sitting alone in neglect and solitude. We didn't stay long but what we saw was interesting. I felt like a spy for a lot of what I saw was going straight to Lois.

Her life as a name dropper was just beginning and from then on she was throwing names like Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart and Jose somebody, around and she and the other person who worked as hard as Lois won their quest and there now is Tao House, where visitors can go to learn more about Eugene O'Neill. It is a lovely place. There is all kinds of Theatre in the Danville Hills.

As an addendum I will tell you about an Art Tour to Russia that I was involved with. I had read tin he Wall Street Journal, that in Moscow there were Eugene O'Neill plays being given. I found out before I left that the play shown the night I could go, was going to be 'Desire Under the Elms' I read it before we left and I copied the library version and took that along so I could read it again a couple of times. Next time I blog I will tell you all about that trip and that night in the theatre.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fallow time

Moving to Laguna Beach was a disturbing time for me. Diablo-Danville had been a time of creativity and mild successes. I was involved with the Church, the PTA, and the Arts. I knew almost everyone in our area. And I had a wonderful relationship with the children, three of them anyway.

And suddenly I knew no one. I remember sitting in the Laguna Beach amphitheater where our second daughter was graduating from High School. I looked around and knew two people in the audience. The parents of a girl I knew, the daughter of our garbage-man.

Our house was gradually turning into an empty nest. The promise of life going back to what it had been during our first five years of marriage was waning quickly. Looking back from this safe distance, I think I suffered from some kind of depression. Life was changing too quickly. One Daughter had moved in with her boyfriend at college. Another was living in a house at college where electrical wires were hanging loosely by the front door as you approached. Birth-control pills were kept openly in her bathroom. There were signs of drug use in the house. I had driven from Laguna Beach to Northern California to surprise my daughter, take her out for dinner, spoil her somehow, and instead I was surprised and my depression grew from a hint to a screaming (inward screaming) helplessness.

Driving home I saw a fantastic landscape. The mustard was in full bloom, almost blindingly yellow in the sun. But the dark sky foretelling thunder robbed one of the feeling of hope. And then there were the crows. Their blackness, and their ferocious screeching was almost scary. This was what my life was becoming. Fraught with uncertainties and danger and loneliness.

I had twelve or fourteen hours in the car driving home .. .And I had a mission

Monday, January 19, 2009


When spring came Gunne decided that he could travel to Sweden. He suggested that he travel via Laguna Beach and he wanted me to accompany him. He did not want all the attention falling on him and so if two of us went, it would be easier on him. I said two of us could not sleep at mother's for she had a very small apartment, which she had inherited from her sister Karin. Gunne didn't particularly want to be in Helsingborg. Any friends of his who might still be alive would live out in our home-village, Viken. So he decided the two of us should rent some small place in Viken and travel back and forth to Helsingborg. I could read him like a book, but I felt it was his trip and I would try to be cooperative.

And so the day came when we had to go in to Los Angeles to pick him up at the airport. Surprise. Surprise. He had brought his stepson with him. He was in his twenties, a large handsome man. Until he spoke or smiled. He had one of his front teeth missing. I don't think I had ever seen an active young person with a missing front tooth. I think I was seriously ashamed to be seen in his company. I have never admitted this before, but my prejudice was a surprise to me. and it made me extremely ashamed. Doubly so. For one thing, I was ashamed to be prejudiced, and two, I was ashamed to be seen in his company.

Nothing could be done about it at this point. We went to Sweden and arrived as expected. Mother had arranged a sort of home coming party for Gunne. She knew nothing of our third person. So when we arrived at her apartment, there were several friends and relatives there. We were fairly tired after the long overseas trip and we left to go out to Viken when we decently could.

It was not a happy time. It was difficult to get Gunne to try to please mother. She would cook his favorite meals and then he would be late for dinner. She fixed dinner at twelve, and then she would hold it warm until 1.30 or 2.00 p.m. and then we would eat without him. Some times he didn't show up at all. Before the first week was over I had left Viken and moved in to town to sleep at mother's. I tried to help her as much as I could and then I would spend time with some of my old school mates. I was very happy when my ticket told me it was time to fly back home.

Gunne had decided to fly back to Australia via Africa. His son found a Swedish girl who fell in love with him and eventually the two of them settled in Australia. I never saw my brother again for a year or two after returning home, he committed suicide. He sat in his garage with the motor running in his car and when he was found he was past any help. Luckily, Mother never knew bout it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Andrew Whyeth

This may be a repeat from long ago. We had had to wait for over one year to remodel our kitchen because of a lack of money. Finally we were done after a lot of the work had to be farmed out because of a lack of ability. After the place was sheet rocked I said we can do the 'mudding' and painting. I tried and tried to get the seams invisible and it was impossible for me, and we hired a professional painter and then we hired a person to lay the tiles on the floor but finally the kitchen was ready.

My most favorite job was washing the kitchen floor. The tiles were white and with the blue woodwork it was a gorgeous kitchen. I used to treat the floor as if it was the deck of a ship. I would get a pail of warm, soapy water with a small addition of Clorox. I'd take my shoes off and walk around in my bare feet. Then I would swab the floor. I was wallowing in the warm water when a thought struck me. Earlier I had read an article about Andrew Whyeth in Time Magazine and it occurred to me that since he lived in such a small town in Pennsylvania I could probably phone him to find out if he was going to be in Chicago during his Show. I thought either a secretary or a family member would answer the phone. So I wiped my feet, ran to get the magazine to get the name of his town.

Chadsford. I called information and asked for his number. HE answered the phone. He said 'No, I will not be there when you come to see the show. Do you mean to say that you will go from California to Chicago just to see an art show. I said No. Not just any art show. But I will in order to see an Andrew Whyeth art show. He said 'I am deeply honored. Thank you for telling me. You have made my day.

I loved his paintings. There was mystery and something spiritual. And sensational skill. For with his utter realism it was it was a mystery that it all worked. When I heard that he died today, I was saddened and I felt as though a good friend was lost. If any friend of the family reads this, please convey my sympathy. I forget the first name of his son who painted that wonderful portrait of President Eisenhower, that I mentioned in yesterday's blog, but tell him I am sorry he lost his father.


His full name was Nils Magnus Svensson. I said Hello. He said Hello. And then I began asking questions in swedish. He had forgotten his Swedish. He spoke English with an Australian Swedish accent. I guess one would say, he spoke Australian with a Swedish accent. When we finally got together on the same page and stopped all the how are yous, I discovered that he had innocently been on his way to the post office, when a couple of Americans grabbed him asking 'are you Gunne Svensson?' He said yes and they said something like 'the White House in Washington would like to talk to you.'

I found out that he used to work on high steel structures when he was younger. He was sent all over Australia. When he returned to his home-base he would look for mail. His letters from mother had been returned with ADDRESSEE UNKNOWN. And finally he said to himself If they don't write, why should I. Eventually he had married a widow with two children. A woman from Malta. At some time he was given the job of taking care of the local church and its garden. His wife died and he was lonesome and had written to the minister in our hometown church to find out if he had any relatives left.

I asked him if he planned to go home to see mother who was at that time just about the age I am now. He said "It is winter there and it is summer here. I think I have to wait, for the change could be bad for me. " How do you feel about Mother's age. She might not have too much longer to live. "

Our Aunt Karin had left her nieces and nephews what she had saved. It was a small amount, maybe $2.000 or a little more. Mother had saved Gunne's share, refusing to believe he was dead. I said to him:"there is money....... and with that we were disconnected.

Now I just had to wait for his letter to find out more. We had not become any closer through the call. We had not had time to get a quicker way to get in touch. But I had learned enough to be able to sleep. And I had learned a little of what kind of man he had become. Very little, but enough. I could not call my mother for it was time for her to be asleep. I would wait a couple of hours and then repeat what I had heard. I would not tell her what he said about the climate change.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ron and Diane and my brother

Once more we were asked to play. We were evenly matched. Ron and Sam were equal in their playing. Maybe Sam was slightly better, for he had without a doubt the weaker partner. ( I began playing when I reached my midlife for I knew I didn't want to get fat. )

Again we had drinks after our play. Diane went to wash up and Sam went to fix drinks and Ron said to me' Why were you and Diane so bad today. Your tennis was atrocious.'

I said 'I don't know about Diane, but I know the reason for my poor play. I can't sleep. I lie awake all night thinking about my brother. Why was he incommunicado for so long. Had he lost his memory? Had he been in prison? Had he been lost in the desert? It was not like him, not to keep in touch with mother.

Ron said, we will return to Washington before long and then I will see what I can do to help you. And then we relaxed and enjoyed the company of Bruce Sumner, the judge who had married Anna and Steve. He and Ron had served together in Sacramento in the legislative arena. It was pleasant. Then Diane suggested we all come down to the Western White House to get a look around. She promised to call in the morning to let us know what was happening there. I asked if Anna and her two children could come along, and I think I remember that we all went together and we saw the surroundings but could not see the living quarters. We were allowed to see the office and there on the wall hung a portrait of President Eisenhower painter by the Whyatt son and that was the most exciting thing for me. We had already said thank you and goodbye to Diane when she suddenly remembered that she had not given us any mementos from the event. She dashed back to the office and returned with paper napkins inscribed with pictures of the White House, and matches. We said goodbye and thank you again.

That night we heard that they had all flown back to Washington.

Next morning about 8.00 am the phone rang. THIS IS THE SIGNAL-BOARD FROM THE WHITE HOUSE IN WASHINGTON D.C. We need to speak with Mrs Stockton. Tell us all you know about your brother. I knew very little and repeated every word mother had told me. She had tried to find him through the Salvation Army. No luck. The voice on the phone said 'We'll get in touch later.

I sat around all day wondering what I should do. I twiddled my thumbs to the right and I twiddled my thumbs to the left. I could have baked bread, but I was low on flour. I could have begun a new painting, but my hands were shaking. Eventually the day had passed and then the phone rang. What if I trip as I run for the phone. I answered HELLOW HELLOW. And then the voice said We are getting on to happenings in Upper Fern Tree Gully. It will be a while. But we'll be in touch. End of conversation.

I wanted to know what 'a while meant. A few minutes, a few hours, a a few weeks? I had to go down town to get food for dinner. I wrote a note to Sam and said I would be gone a maximum of fifteen minutes. Come and get me if somethin happens. Within minutes the phone rang and the voice on the phone said We have Mrs. Stockton's brother on the phone. Sam said can you call back in 10 minutes. I'll get her.

And so we waited again and then the phone rang. There he was. I think I will tell his story on the next blog for this is getting too long. I did call my mother and told her what I learned. And I will tell you too. Later.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Diane Sayer

(to Barbara, it is in the rec. that the filling on top of the basic Pastry Dough bakes at 350' for 15 to 20 min.

Sam and I arrived at the tennis courts and found our partners there already. We were introduced by Steve. Diane was a young beautiful woman. Ron had been seen in the press so often that one felt as though he was an old acquaintance. Sam and I had had no time to speak about this new adventure, but one of us said in the car down the hill 'Lets not make any reference to Water Gate, for they must be so sick of talking about it.

So we played tennis. They won one game and we won the next. Sam said 'Do you have time for a third game? Ron said' No, we have to go back to feed the press. They are all waiting for us at the hotel where we are all staying. We tell them if anything has developed news wise since yesterday. We shook hands and said thank you at the net. Just to prove to them that we would not talk about Water Gate I asked as if in passing, 'Ron have you ever been in Australia? He said 'yes.' Diane said ' Ron you have been in Austria but not Australia. I said hurriedly 'My brother who has been lost for almost twenty years, turned up today in Upper Fern Tree Gully. They said thank you again. And they left.

Either the next day, or the next, Steve called again and said Ron Ziegler and Diane Sawyer would like to play tennis again with the Stocktons. We agreed and that afternoon we began another siege. They won one set and we won one set. Can you play the deciding set? said Ron. Yes if you will come up to the house for a drink, said Sam. We played another game and we must have lost for I do not remember who won it. And afterwards we drove in tandem up the hill and when we got in Sam went to make our drinks and with one voice they said to me" Tell us about you brother."

I said I know almost nothing. Said that he had written to the hometown Lutheran minister and asked for addresses of his siblings, My mother and the minister had tried calling him, but there was no phone number listed. I had tried too and I had been as unsuccessful as the ones in Sweden. And so Sam brought the drinks and Ron said I have to check in. And then the phone rang and Ron said, Yes Boss etc. so we knew that Nixon had been the one calling. Historical!!! He was in Palm Springs visiting the Annenbergs and on his way there he had had a Big Mach for the first time in his life. Will you excuse me for a few minutes, for I have to tell the world the news. (from our Phone) Historical !!!! Ron and Diane left soon after and when they were gone we turned on the radio and heard on the LA radio station that Nixon had eaten a Big Mach for the first time.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Laguna Beach

Before I begin this blog I have a message for Anon and Jodie and Pot. regarding the Tosca. Go back and read the Tosca blog which now is totally re written with correct info.

One Friday morning, when I was straightening up the house, fluffing pillows and tweaking off dead leaves on houseplants etc, I suddenly had the most insistent compulsion that I must call my mother in Sweden. It was a very strong urge that I could not evade or avoid. I called my mother only on Holidays or Birthdays and I thought, why should I do it today, a normal Friday. I would fluff and throw a pillow in the air, and if it landed good side up I would call, and if the back side landed up, I wouldn't. This went on for a while and suddenly I found myself dialing Sweden.

Mother answered and she was crying. Seriously crying. I said several times 'Mother what's the matter. Are you all right? What's the matter. She calmed down eventually and told me that Gunne, my older brother, who had been missing for over 18 years had turned up alive and well. Can you tell me some of the details?

The Lutheran minister who lived across the street from her had knocked on her door. It was not his usual time of day for his parish calls. He sat down and held out a letter and said ' this came in the mail today. It is from Gunne. From Australia. Apparently Mother had become terribly upset by the news and he said 'let me get you some water. Then he read the letter to her.

It said something like this.' Dear Sir, I have lived in Australia for many years and lost all contact with my siblings. Is there anyone in the community who could give me news or addresses of any of the four people I would like to reach.' My mother was 88 years old and one can surmise that he believed mother already dead. The letter gave his address in Upper Ferntree Gully Australia. Mother and the minister had immediately tried to phone him but there was no listing for him in the phone book. The minister had left and as the door closed behind him the phone rang and it was my call. It sounds as if my urgent feeling of having to call Mother coincided with the minister's arrival. I said that I would try to reach him and I would call her again if I found out anything about him.

I tried to get the phone number for him and as soon as I was told there was no listing, I sat down and wrote him a long letter. But Australia is long way from California and I knew it would be days before there would be any answer. When I put the stamp on the letter, the phone rang.

It was Steve, my son-in-law calling from his office at the club house. Can you and Sam play tennis this afternoon with Ron Ziegler and his assistant. They just called from the Western White House. I said, Steve, You can find people who are a hundred times better than we are. He said "I know. I did yesterday. Today they want to play with people who are worse. You will be perfect for them.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

No Tosca

I was told that there was a typo in the recipe by one of my friendly commenters and I looked it up and was shocked to see that the whole blog was messed up. I worked for hours trying to give it in columns. I don't know how to make columns the proper way so I did it my way and the computer objected to my way of doing it. In the first column I had the three separate parts of the recipe with the ingredients and the amounts of same. In the adjoining column I had directions on how to handle the ingredients. And so on. It was a master stroke of genius to do it that way, and I think you would have agreed with me if my computer had not jumbled everything. I wish I could remove the whole thing and let the world live without Tosca. For I think I will never try it again.

When I last posted my blog, I was talking about Laguna Beach. We did manage to rent a house in Emerald Bay. We made great friends right from the beginning. There were tennis courts and there were scads of tennis players and we spent a lot of time there. Eventually our new son-in-law was hired as a recreational director while he was finishing college at University of California at Long Beach. Our daughter and he had been an item wile they were at university of California at Davis. He and Anna were married in Emerald Bay and it was the most fun wedding. I asked Anna what kind of wedding she wanted and she said 'sort of like Fiddler on the Roof'. I said we could not afford the Fiddler they had in the movie, but otherwise we would try to resemble the movie.

We got permission to close off the short street we lived on so we could have a street dance. That meant we had to invite all the people who lived on our street. Luckily it was a short one. Steve had chosen one of his college friends as best man. He was related to the Hoosier Hotshots who used to play (live and on the radio) from Crazy Water Hotel in Mineral Wells, Texas. They agreed to come to play for the street dance. Steve had learned to know the two little five year olds who lived on our street, who were little trouble makers, so he deputized them and gave them a each a to wear.

College friends and very good friends of ours were invited to the wedding, performed by our very good friend Judge Bruce Sumner in our backyard. Steve's family were staying in the house next to ours. A little house hardly ever used by the owners who lived in Pasadena. Steve's parents and three brothers and one or two in-laws of his stayed there. We used their drive way to set up the table for wedding cake and coffee and later, pizza and beer. The Hotshots played in the driveway across the street. And the dance stretched between these houses.

I asked Anna what kind of cake she wanted. She said: Carrot cake. I said she could have carrot cake but it had to be frosted with white icing. I also told her we could not have a many tiered cake, for carrot cake is too heavy for that. She agreed we could have many white cakes. So we filled the freezer with square ones, and round ones, and heart shaped ones, and rectangular ones and they stayed frozen until the day before the wedding. Then I put my mother's Hardanger embroidered wedding sheets on a redwood picnic table in our garage. Anna and I frosted the cakes while they were hard. Next morning the mother of one of my tennis pals came to decorate the cakes and they became truly elegant looking.

The wedding was one of the most fun events. The dancing went on into the wee hours, The little deputies did a good job. Everything was peaceful and they even danced with people old enough to be their grandmothers. Anna and Steve left for their honeymoon in Palm Beach.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Time to move

Sam's partner's death on his boat between California and Catalina Island was a shock. It ended our Northern California life. Sam had to fly down to Los Angeles every Friday to handle the business at the Furniture Mart. He wanted me to fly with him so we could find a place where we could live. I had strict rules about where to look. It had to be with-in so many miles of the Furniture Mart for Sam did not want too long a commute to work. It was not an easy time for Sam for he had to learn a whole new territory. But I remember how tough a time it was for me. We rented a car each Friday at the air port. Sam drove us into the city, got out of the car at the mart, and said "I'll see you at 5.30. Good Luck." I felt as if I'd landed on Mars. The freeways, on the map, looked like a plate full of spaghetti. Seeing them in real life was like Alice in wonderland, you in your car driving around in the spaghetti, hoping somehow to get out of the mess. And that last directive of Sam's. I'll see you at 5.30. meant I had to return through the spaghetti on time, or we'd loose our reservations for the flight home.

I had been promised we could live near the water. So each Fridays, I just looked for the town in which we'd be happy. Never went to see a realtor. From Long Beach (there's no there, like Oakland) I was not so sure that was true and went back a couple of times but then found out the Schools were not as good as what we were leaving. We had three more years of high school left. One year for our nr. three child and two for the last one. I went up the coast each friday and suddenly found myself too far North for my orders. I got back to the Mart and Sam was waiting and took over the driving chore and said, "I saw a customer of mine in the elevator down, who said we should look in Laguna Beach. A great art community." I said, I'll look there next week"

What a relief. I had always known that Laguna Beach would be the perfect place to live. But it was way out of my boundaries. I hated to make Sam's life more miserable but it was his idea. That night I slept like a baby. My trial was over.

The following Friday the car went as by itself straight to Laguna Beach. I had promised I would look the community over before contacting a realtor. The car stopped on the main street into town. I got out and realized I was parked in front of a Real Estate office. I went in and asked the elderly man who greeted me if there was anyone who could show me the town. He said he would be happy to do it. He took me to the South end of town, he took me to the Top of the World area, and he took me up the Canyon, and then he said "I'll show you were I live." It was at the north end of town, on the water, and in a gated place called Emerald Bay. I did not want to see any more. I knew where we were going to live.

I asked if there were any places we could rent until we sold our house, and he said he would look into it. he drove me back town to my car. My job was done.

Next issue of this saga will be about our garage sales, one at the house and the other at my studio. It was sad, for we had so many good friends where we had lived over 20 years but it was exciting starting a new life.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Ptolemy asked about Tosca and since I'm not smart enoough to find the recipes he mentioned, I will have to give you the whole recipe I use. It is about the best desert I know of, but because it is also quite expensive, I make it seldom. It needs three cubes of the best butter you can find. It has to be room temperature.


Basic Pastry Dough
1stick of butter
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup flour
Cream butter and sugar. Stir in egg yolk. Add the flour aand work dough with your hands until well blended

Tosca Bars
1 recipe basic Pastry Dough. Prepare dough. Press out into buttered cake pan ( 9 by 13 ) inches.

1 stick butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 can Almond paste ( 7oz or 8oz )
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
Beat together butter, sugar and almond paste. When smooth and creamy, beat in eggs, one at a time. Blend in flour mixed with baking powder. Spread the filling on top of pastry. Bake 15 to 20 min.

1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp flour

Melt butter in small sauce pan. Add remining ingredients and bring to a simmer, constantly stirring. DO NOT BOIL remove from heat.
When cake is cooled, spread it with the topping. Switch the oven from bake to broil and return cake to oven. Broil until golden brown. Let cake cool in pan. Cut bars 1 1/2 by 2 1/2
Makes 30

Good luck everybody. I did not make it for my grand daughter and her friend for I knew some would have been left over and then I would have been forced to eat it all. But I could have given them the leftover to eat in the car on the way to Ventura. Darn, why didn't I think of that. Insted I made baked apples which we ate with 1/2 and 1/2. We had a wonderful time and I wish the time had 'stood still' What wonderful people, and they will have to go out and meet the enemy. I love my grand daughter and I fell in love with her friend for he flattered my cooking. He can come back any time.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

John Birch society

In 1967 the School-board in Danville California discovered that a reputed communist poet had spoken to a high school class. There was a furor caused by the local John Birch group. One member of the board, proposed that all people invited to speak to a class should first be cleared by the school board. I wrote a letter to the board and with a copy to the editor of the local paper.

Dear members;

If you should adopt Mr. Coyles idea that our teachers may not be allowed to invite "controversial" persons to speak to our children in their classrooms you will spend all of your future spare time trying to decide who is controversial and who is not. Even though this kind of publicity is painful for me, I would like to use myself as an example of what you may be faced with. You know that I have been invited many times to speak to the children in the Danville grammar Schools and to demonstrate various facets of my trade. I have also been invited to take part in Career Night at San Ramon High School. I hope to be asked again some day, and if I am, you members of the Board will have to decide if I am too controversial for our children. How would you vote?

This is my background: I am an immigrant. (Critics would say, "suspicious") Before my marriage I was a Physical Therapist. (Christian Scientists might complain.) I worked on President Roosevelt in Warm Springs, Georgia, and found him charming. (Republicans would worry.) In 1939-1940 when Russia invaded Finland, I volunteered at the Finnish Consulate in New York to fight...or in any other way help out. They did not need me because I did not have enough money to pay my way to F)inland. After the war, it was found that many of the volunteers were Nazis. (All Leftists would find this unacceptable.) I worked as a Photographer's model in New york. (Old people with preconceived ideas would find me perhaps morally suspect.) I am now working with a retarded boy on a program which has not yet been accepted by the American Medical Association. ( think what would happen if the American Medical Association were to advocate that the people of San Ramon Valley not vote for you again) My paintings sometimes go way out in the most abstract and unbelievable directions. (Conservatives say this is Communist inspired tommyrot.) But I always go back to my main love, which is very representational portraits. ("real artists say this is not art, and I might squelch children's creativity.)

When my husband was in the Army, stationed in Mineral wells, Texas I became involved with the Army Medical Corps. At that time there was a severe polio epidemic in Forth Worth, and the hospitals were pleading for a sister Kenny trained Physical Therapist. I volunteered my services in Forth Worth, but the Army would not allow me to go to forth Worth. They thought I would bring back polio virus and cause an epidemic in Mineral Wells. After many big black headlines in the Forth Worth papers, the Army won the battle. They threatened to quarantine my husband on the post if I persisted in going. (some critics would say: a rabble rouser, for sure. Others would say, "why did she give up when so many people needed her?" )

I am very deeply involved with St. Timothy's Episcopal Church. My relationship with God is real and very satisfying to me, and I hope it is mutual. (Agnostics and Atheists would demand equal time and heaven only knows what other Protestants or Roman Catholics or Jews or Moslems would say.) I admire and respect Bishop PIke, and agree with some of his ideas while I disagree with others.( This alone could stir up a hornets nest of protest-- even conservative Episcopalians would black ball me.)

I was unhappy about DEMOCRACY until one day, last year, I found a book in the library about Abraham Lincoln, containing a quote attributed to one of his assistants: Democracy is something that is never finished or complete. It is something we have to work and strive for continuously. It is also something we cannot give to our children; they must work and strive as hard as we do, to enjoy the benefits of this elusive never perfect commodity.

But I have faith in this wonderful country that I feel if we leave the Constitution and all our freedoms alone, we could have Kosygin and Harry Bridges and Norman Thomas speaking to our children every day, and in the end we would come out with the same ratio of Republicans, Democrats, non-voters, beat-nicks, communists, and bigots.

I feel the Communists and the Birchers are equally guilty in dividing us and in confusing us, and if we begin chipping away at our fundamental freedoms, some day in the near future I would not have nerve enough to write a letter like this.

We have faith in you and we know our children are in good hands. You have handled this difficult period with dignity and with good old fashioned American forthrightness. We know you will allow our children to retain the freedoms our forefathers bequeathed them.


When I moved last summer I lost all the material dealing with the Monte Vista Art Show. If anyone finds a fault in my description of the events please feel free to correct me. First of all one of the artists who accepted our invitation was a professor at University of Pacific in Stockton Ca. I forget his name but remember that he was the son-in-law of the Kaisers. He delivered his own art work and that was fortunate for it was as big as a small room. It was sculptural and we were told that students were allowed to climb in it and move from the top of it or enter from below. It was covered in beautiful colors and the material looked like the material on motor boats or surf boards. All the PTA volunteers were out collecting art and one day when we arrived in the afternoon we saw this art work titled DELIVERY ROOM. The principal was there, enthusing about the joy the students were showing while climbing around. We were embarrassed when we had to tell him what he was looking at. This is the penis and this is the vagina and this is where the baby waits for nine months. He was shocked. He was speechless. I said there is no way we can show this, what with the John Birch people breathing down our necks. The School Board is having enough trouble. This will be considered Censor Ship. I hate to promote Censor Ship but what can we do.

And so we had to call the artist and tell him how sorry we were to tell him that we felt it was not suitable for a high school show. He took it with good grace and said he would pick it up before the show.

And so we had the opening of the show. The crowds on the first night seemed to enjoy the show. It was too modern for the average Danville-ite to appreciate. The Valley Pioneer columnist said "there was not a single painting that would look good hanging above my sofa". We had good press in the big city papers.

The art had to be taken down the following week-end and we made a date with all the people who were to return the paintings. We were to meet at the Monte Vista Library on Saturday morning at 9 am. We arrived and waited for the principal to unlock the doors. And when he did open the doors all the paintings were gone. Stolen, it seemed. We had not insured the artwork. What were we to do. We called the sheriff. We made many decisions ourselves. There was one work of art left. A sculpture of a man, dressed in a school-bus-yellow raincoat had been left on top of a table with his arm out stretched pointing to a barn across the street from the school. We thought it was a sign of where we could find the rest of the show. We jumped over and under the barbed wire and tried to open the door of the barn. Had to contact the owner of the barn and when the doors were opened we found nothing.

Then our guilty consciousness told us that the professor from Stockton had played a trick on us because of us censoring him out. Three of us drove to Stockton and looked around the art School there. There was nothing for us to find. We came home and if we had any tails they would have been drooping between our legs. We had a nervous Sunday and then Monday the sun began shining again. The teachers getting ready for classes opened closets and cupboards and found all the paintings. It had all been done as a lesson for us. At least two teachers were involved and maybe more and the art had been very cautiously filed away and we found not a scratch or a spot on any work.

Next time a story of the John Birch Society and the School board.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

End of Christmas school holidays

This time reminds me of the eagerness of the children wanting to go back to school. We were all fortunate having good teachers for all of them. Except one. And that's not bad for all the years we spent in the Danville Public School System. The two older children went to the only High School in our area, San Ramon High School. By the time the younger two were ready, we were told they had to go to the new school in the area, Monte Vista High School. I did not want our children to be split up and figured out that if I had an address in downtown Danville, they could all go to the same school.

So I rented the upstairs in the old rail road station for my studio. I thought I was so smart. But the Principal of the new school decided he could get our two daughters for his school. Late in the spring he went to "plot's" eight grade classroom and invited her to be someone everybody could go to, to find out what to do in case of a problem. I don't remember her actual title but it was so highfaluting that If some one had asked me to do something I would have insisted on that title. So I had a new studio and we would have to split ourselves in half when our two schools played each other during the football season.

I was asked to be the person in charge of fundraising for our new PTA. I suggested that we have an Art Show in the spring. And I stipulated that it had to be of such high quality that we would become known for it. No grandmother would show in our show. And how would you manage this? I used what ever nerve I had and made an appointment with the art critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, Mr. Wasserman. He was also a professor of Art at the women's college in Berkley. He suggested that we contact the five universities in Northern California. Each school would give us five names of the most promising artists in their area. We invited these persons to show and all but one accepted. Then we began raising money for one or more purchases of these artworks that our public deemed worthy as a gift to Monte Vista High School. Because of knowing nothing, we made things more and more difficult with each step we took. Some of the artists we exhibited became giants in the American Art scene. One example...... Robert Bechtle who showed two paintings, one of a car and one of a woman named Thelma. We chose Thelma for the purchase award. I think the price was $2.000. Ten years later, Thelma was deemed to be worth $ $10.000 and the car was in the $45.000 range.

There is more to say about this art show. There is drama and sherriffs and police and utter relief coming up next time.