Life Lessons

"Figuring out our gifts in life is part of our journey to becoming enlightened human beings.” – Allison DuBois

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Song - Primavera by Santana

Did you celebrate the Vernal Equinox on Monday? It is officially Spring!

Between the few rain showers, I have been enjoying watching my garden awaken as well as the animal life around our home.

The apple trees are full of blossoms

And the big tree ferns are all unfurling

My Freesia's have never had so many buds

 While walking around my garden the other morning, I noticed these dead bits hanging out of a Privet tree on the side yard and when I peeked inside there was a nest.

 Must have been from last year as it is on a bush that I prune back each spring and fall.

Not sure what kind of bird may have created it but I am hoping they will reuse it this Spring!

Meanwhile the Mourning Doves did not visit their nest for a week or so.  I figured that they must have found a better place the last 3-4 days they have returned and mama is sitting on it daily now!

I caught Zipper with his hand in the "cookie jar" (draining the bird feeder) this morning looking very regretful.  I guess I will have to call him by a different name as he is a she.....and she is nursing her babies.  I guess I will have to stop throwing ice and lemons at her too.......sorry little mama......


 Bearded Iris

More ferns unfurling

"Springtime is the land awakening.  
March winds are the morning yawn." 
- Lewis Grizzard

Friday, March 17, 2017

Tea Time and Visas

Song - Tea For Two by Yehudi Menuhin & Stephane Grappelli

Yesterday Mr. B and myself went to an interview for obtaining our Visas for traveling to Britain this Spring.

Yes.....we know that you don't need a Visa.......yet.......but with all of the shenanigans that our current President is pulling, there has been talk!  So we didn't want to be trip-less if something should happen in the next few months!

I was both excited and nervous about this portion of the process. We spent hours online filling out our forms and then another few hours pulling together "qualifying documents" like our bank statement, new & old passports, house mortgage, travel plans, plane reservations, etc.

I anticipated that we would be shown into the UK Embassy and we would talk with a friendly person  of British decent and cute British accent and we might be served tea sandwiches or sweets......but surely some proper English tea!

We would pour over all of the paperwork we brought with us and discuss where we were staying and what sights we were seeing.  I thought this lovely person might have some input as to things that we might wish to change on our itinerary.

So in the morning I Googled the address of the place. was out near the Oakland Airport in an industrial area.  That didn't fit my vision for an all!

Then on the way there, Mr. B broke the news to me that he thought it would just be a USCIS place.  (I still had high hopes!)

We pulled up to this lovely building and.......

......even though we had a "timed" appointment, we went from one sitting area to another....along with many, many other people.  It felt like DMV or the Social Security offices. They finally called my number and it flashed on the big screen 2-7-6.

Yup that was me.  276.  I was photographed and fingerprinted and told to send all of the "supporting documents" to NYC within 5 days.  Mr. B number 277 was next....same thing.

NO tea, no cute accent, no interview, no lodging discussion, no, no, no....

Just signs....and people....and no food, no drinks, no cameras, no cell phones allowed.

Remember how at the beginning of this post I told you that I was kind of nervous?

Well, besides my fantasy of a sweet tea day, the other half of my brain was thinking.....

"Mmmm.....I wonder what happens if I answer a question wrong or different than Mr. B?"

The Dungeon for us both!!!!

Mr. B just laughed and knows what life with a Gemini is like.

"Kilt - it's what happened to the last person to call it a dress."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Duke

Song - Duke of Earl by Gene Chandler

Do you know this man?  

I don't either but I found this photo yesterday in a shoe box on a shelf I was cleaning.

(I really should be painting)

The shoe box was full of post cards and old photo's totally unrelated to our family.
 I bought them at the flea market in Lake Tahoe several years ago.

And since this name and date were on the back of the photo.....

I Googled him.

 (I really should be painting)

His name was on the Harvard Autograph File collection, just several names down from Einstein's!

So I Ancestry-ed him.

(I really should be painting) 

He died at 60 of Typhoid Fever. I found his grave.

I learned about his parents, two wives, children and siblings.

(I really should be painting) 

So I wrote to several of his family members to see if they would like a copy of the photo and for them to be able to see if it really is him!

I got a reply.

They said that the brothers married Kramer sisters in NY and the sisters were instrumental in preserving George Washington's headquarters on upper Manhattan.


 (I really should be painting) 

Now I have sent them the photo and I'm ready to paint.

My work here is done!!!

"George Washington slept here" - J. Baird

Friday, March 10, 2017


Song - The Painter by Neil Young

Friday a friend and I went to an exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.  The exhibit was "Monet - The Early Years" and encompassed his paintings from 1858 - 1872.

He put in the work to find his style.  

Would you ever think that these two paintings were painted by Claude Monet?


 The card for the above painting read "the still life was the rainy day activity for plein air painters"

This painting is a detail from the two huge canvases that depicts an outdoor luncheon.  The dappled light just brings you eye around and around the paintings.

His snow scene's were brilliant.  My very favorite painting of his (the one directly about) brought tears to my eyes - The Magpie.  Even though it looks like a pretty basic snow scene, there is so much soft color in this painting.

And his depiction of water during these early years shows where he was style was heading.





Can you match the water details in the paintings above with the paintings below?





And check out a close up of the "people" in the above painting.

Two are headless and one mans pants are not attached to his upper half!

And does this even matter when you look at the entire painting?  Not to me as I enjoyed the energy of the painting, the movement in the water, the colors, the brushstrokes and the feeling that it evokes.

 "The Beach at Trouville"

His people in these scenes are just "suggestions"!

Another favorite of mine was borrowed from the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC for this show and is titled "Argenteuil". 

I loved the show and I loved seeing so many paintings of Claude Monet that I have never seen before!

Now you are probably wondering .....
"Why did she name this post - Oscar?"

I never we both do!

And I still say that Brandon Crawford looks a lot like Oscar!!!

"Everyday I discover more and more beautiful things.  
It's enough to drive one mad.
I have such a desire to do everything,
my head is bursting with it."
--Claude Monet

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

TBT with Great Grandma Mary

Song - Choppin Wood by Van Morrison

Maria Bernadina Clauser Gembrini

There she is in Great Grandmother at 76 years of age and she is showing my brother David (standing) and my cousin Billy how to split firewood.  I love how she has a wedge and a maul as well as an apron on because she was probably cooking up some trout for dinner and saw the boys out of the window.  She was a tough ol' gal and lived to be 98.

Note from Grandma Sophie (Mary's daughter & my grandmother) on the back of the photo.

 My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all still building the cabin in Tahoe at the time.  We used a big pot belly stove for heat as well as cooking so we needed plenty of firewood. We also had a washer with a ringer on top and the clothes would dry on a line between the trees.

Oh the fun we had up there in Tahoe!

"Behind every great man is a woman 
rolling her eyes." - Jim Carrey

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