Sunday, January 10, 2010


…the other evening.  But wait, you scoff?  O.K., here’s the rest of the story.IMG_0012

We received an invitation for dear Lucia Moskal’s birthday party to be held at the Montrose Bowling Alley.  That’s right…Bowling Alley!  Also, the invitation gave hints of Elvis but we had no real clue. IMG_0013

When we got to Montrose we found that the entire bowling alley was rented out for the party and a life sized Elvis cutout greeted us. 

Lucia, our dear hostess, ‘Elvis’ and delightful Eleanor Barkelew

 IMG_0065 Elvis music was playing and the first thing was a contest with prizes for who ever could answer the most Elvis trivia.  You got four sheets of paper with questions on it like ‘how many times was Elvis on Ed Sullivan’s show’.  Charles & I each answered (only) 11 but they were different right answers on each of our pages.  No fair combining so no prizes for us!

IMG_0031Usually we just have soup on Sunday evenings as we  always have a big brunch.  There was so much food…shrimps, pulled pork sandwiches, watermelon (fresh and DELICIOUS), coleslaw, fried chicken, sweet potato fries…oh I’m forgetting so much.  Drinks of course and later a cuteIMG_0070 Elvis theme birthday cake and coffee and you could make hot fudge sundaes if you wanted to with chocolate Mississippi Mud ice cream, nuts, cherries, whipped cream…oh, you get the idea!  I bet you’re salivating…I am!!!

 IMG_0043 IMG_0044 The surprise hit of the evening was an Elvis impersonator.  He was just great and threw out teddy bears and chiffon scarves to the ladies…just like Elvis!  I thought I was videoing the evening…people dancing…Elvis singing…you get the idea.  When we got home we realized that my new camera’s ‘on’ light is orange and not green which I thought meant ‘go’!  What a bummer!!!

IMG_0076 Later there was a photo op with ‘Elvis’ and when you left, a bottle of wine with an ‘Elvis’ label.

It was an amazingly great time!  Thank you Lucia!!!

Now, just in case you’re still incredulous, ‘the paper of record’, The New York Times had a front page story on January 5th about the hot new trend in New York City…you guessed it…BOWLING!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Thanks to wonderful New Year’s Day photos sent by Carol Soucek King and Valerie Foster Hoffman!





Ta Da!! For the big smiles!!!!!!






Yours truly with Eugene and Valerie Hoffman


NewYears2009283 Amazing Rose Nielsen, President of Woodbury University Library Associates (a good thing to join)  with beautiful Valerie Hoffman and Vicki McDermott (in from Indian Wells for the celebration)




More big smiles from Bruce and Anne Blomstrom


NewYears2009295 Shelby Goodman with David and Joyce Motazedi (celebrated equine artist) and host Carol Soucek King

NewYears2009296 Our delightful hosts Carol & Richard King with Shelby Goodman







Lovebirds JoAnn and John Gantus




Home at last, the ‘Foxy’ Duchess and Stella Bentley both in need of a nap after the big adventure!


*To chase, to chase, to find precious doggie…

Home again, home again, a happy end to the story.

* With thanks to for helping me find (and alter) this very old nursery rhyme

Sunday, January 3, 2010


It happened quite innocently as we drove up to Carol and Richard King's on New Year's day. Charles said, "Isn't that Duchess (the King's German Shepherd)?" The next moment Carol appeared and said that the dog had gotten loose into the Arroyo as the gate was open. I thought nothing of it and I went inside as the dog seemed close and catchable. Now for the rest of the story!


(It helps to know that the Arroyo is the same dry gutch where the Rose Bowl is located just North of the King home. Their home is down beside the Arroyo where it is wet and impassable.)

An hour later, a very breathless Joyce Motazedi, artist extraordinaire, told me what had transpired. She was out with Carol and precious 10-year-old Stella Bentley (granddaughter of interior designer Shelby Goodman)trying to corral Duchess as the dog wandered around the Arroyo failing to respond to their plaintif calls. As Joyce followed on foot, Carol got into the car with Charles and brought with her Mr. Tomonori Ishii, VP of All Nippon Airways who was enlisted for the chase! Joyce then ran as fast as one of her equine subjects back to the Kings to return with treats for The Duchess & she zoomed back over a mile to be at the head of the chase...keeping in constant cellphone contact with Charles, Carol & Mr. Ishii. Apparently there are various private roads under the bridge. Duchess kept retreating and resisting all efforts to get her into the car or be within 'dog-napping' distance! Finally, Duchess went around a gate at the end of the road and onto the public roads teaming with early Rose Bowl traffic. Now that's heart stopping!

A young couple, Joshua & Whitney, riding their bikes(on the other side of the gate) offered to try and catch the dog and were given Duchess's leash while Charles and crew drove around. Going 'Around' meant finding streets to get around the Arroyo and find a way to cross to the other side. It was a bit of a stunt in the traffic and the barricaded roads (most streets are blocked to force football game bound folks to the parking lots).

When Charles, Carol and Mr. Ishii did get to the other side of the gate, Duchess had finally exhausted herself and was willing to co-operate with the young couple who then waited for the car. Charles said later how he kept thinking how panicked he would be if Yuki played 'catch me' in traffic!
Joyce summed it up as tears welled in her beautiful blue eyes, "We came so close to losing Duchess! But here she is!!! This really IS a wonderful New Year celebration!"

All's well that ends well.

May you have a Perfect '10!


…for their New Year’s Day open house. Every year Carol and Richard have friends over for a pre-parade gathering then those going to the event are off ‘till 10:30 when a larger group gathers together for brunch and grand festivities before the game. I was talking with Anne Bloomstrom when I glanced to my left and there in the distance just outside in the pool area were the reindeer…well, kinda. O.K., so maybe not even close,but what a photo op. Peter Adams, noted plein air painter, was trying to reign all five of his Australian Shepherds in (mom and her pups) with very little success.


I did the best I could to capture the moment as did Peter but mayhem broke out and with dogs completely tangled, some deciding to swim and perhaps wander off, it was like herding goldfish!


Wishing you a Perfect ‘10!


There is no avoiding the pull of the internet, the blogs, the YouTube imaginings. It's as if we're all 'On the Road' with Jack Kerouac each in our own world of meanderings. When we tell someone to 'get a life' it might be a bit difficult when you're dragged into other people's 24/7.

I've come to realize two foundational principals, there are no accidents and everyone has a purpose. More and more I'm desiring everyone to come into a full realization of their purpose as we all find our way on this little jewel of a planet.

For me, as a professional 'Western style artist', I stumbled into Chinese Brush Painting after a trip in 1980 to Monet's home/garden. Seeing all of his collection of Japanese woodblock prints was an ahh haa moment for me and when I returned to the States I started painting in the Chinese manner and never looked back. The first year was extremely painful for me as I felt that I should be able to master the technique since I was a 'trained' artist. Not a chance ... that just gets in your way.

Now, after teaching close to 3,000 students and having my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' published by Watson Guptill, I can say that every one of my students does better their first day than I did my first year! Why? Because I insist that they leave their critical parent outside and just enjoy the journey, respecting the work that they do. I never let anyone throw anything away because that just ingrains frustration and defeat.

We really only begin to learn when we stop and figure out how to 'save' a painting. It works every time.I am so proud of my students, their receptivity and eagerness to express themselves is a continuing blessing for me.So, back to finding your purpose. Perhaps it starts with realizing 'it's not about me'. It so easy to want our needs met and to filter everything thru this attitude. When we realize that we're here to be of benefit to every life that we touch the universe really provides the ways and means.

The best part is that it's really exciting to not have yourself on your mind all the time!I'm re-reading a wonderful book about authenticity and in my next meandering I'll tell you about it. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your journey and am here to answer any and all questions about Chinese Brush Painting.