Sometimes one sits to watch a movie and becomes totally riveted to the screen unaware of time and place. The Danish Girl was such a movie for me.

   This film is a work of art in all areas. The photography is beautiful, acting superb by all the actors and a controversial subject handled with respect and dignity.

   I could not help but wonder if it is because it is Christmas week that the theater had fewer than a dozen people in attendance or if it was the subject of the film that kept people away. This is a tender portrayal of a young man and his struggle and painful journey of embracing the realization that he is a woman trapped in a man’s body.

   Bravos to actors Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts and director Lasse Hallstrom.

   If for no other reason, this film should be seen just for the incredible art piece that it is.

 I had the opportunity to reunite with a aunt on her nintysecond birthday after an eighteen year separation. The experience was wonderful and heart warming for both of us and I was able to hear her opinions on life, health and her favorite subject, politics.

A widow, This is a woman that wears her nintytwo years very well. She walks every morning, never drank alcohol or smoked, eats mostly a vegetarian diet, raised two children and pets, and painted the interior of a large house all by herself in preparing to put it on the market for sale when she relocated to another state at the age of ninty.

We  talked about many things in the process of catching up and the following comments made me smile, caught me by surprise, gave me food for thought and warmed my heart.

I quote in no particular order: “Say I love you to someone every day”, “people don’t care about old people”, “old people are not treated with respect”, ” don’t argue”, “no matter how much it hurts, don’t interfere with your children’s lives”, “respect everyone’s private spaces no matter how old they are”, “Why would anyone vote for Trump, is he the image one wants to represent one’s country”, “Sanders is too old”, “we need gun control ,not everyone carrying guns”, “if we all carry guns we will be shooting each other all all over the place all the time”, “love animals”, “walk”, “keep active”, “don’t hate anyone”,  “don’t gossip”, “I don’t like the Republicans they want to do away with social security”, ” I love Hillary”, “keep your distance from anyone, family or friends, that gossip or have nothing good to say”, “eat lots of vegetables and fruit”, “don’t eat meat”, “eyeglasses are in”, “be generous”, “laugh every day”.

   I saw the movie “Brooklyn” and it caught me off guard because it stirred within me emotions and memories of stories I had heard from my grand parents about their journey from their mother country to find  new lives in The United States and it left me with a mix of heartfelt sad and joyous emotions.

   This movie presents a simple story of a young woman that leaves her home and family in Ireland to find a better more meaningful life in the United States. Through the help of contacts at a Catholic church in Brooklyn she finds herself settled there and faces the challenges of a job, new friends and the cultural differences that confront her. This process proves painfully hard and adds to her already heavy feelings of missing her family and home.

  Then her life turns around when she meets a boy and from this point forward you see her change and mature as she wanders along a path of many twists and turns in her life and finally faces the struggles of choosing between going  back home and abandoning her newly found life.

   This tender, sweet and very well acted movie really captured for me the extremely difficult emotional and physical tolls my grandparents and thousands of others like them felt  when they left all they knew and loved and had the courage to face the unknown in search of a better future.



In 1964 the twenty five acres that now comprises Quarryhill Botanical Garden in Glen Ellen, CA was then a fire ravaged piece of the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains with almost everything burnt to the ground. Rather quickly as nature would have it, knobcone pine seedlings and shoots of charred madrones found their way through the ash covered rocky soil to gradually create a nearly impenetrable thicket of these native trees.

Jane Davenport Jensen bought forty acres of this stretch of land in 1968 and planted vineyards on twenty acres of the valley floor and nineteen years later in 1987 she began to create a garden on the remaining twenty acres of steep hillsides above the vineyards. The land had the remains of several abandoned quarries that eventually became the foundation for a group of ponds and waterfalls and inspired the gardens name Quarryhill.

A nursery was established, and in 1990 Jane began funding fifteen expeditions to Asia over the following ten years for the purpose of gathering seed and seedlings to be planted at Quarryhill. She worked passionately at this project until her death in 2000.

The main focus of the garden is to maintain rare and endangered species from China and Japan. Currently, Quarryhill has the largest collections of  Asian plants in North America and Europe.  Large numbers of  maples, dogwoods, oaks, magnolias, lilies and roses are also represented.

Quarryhill is presently a world -renowned botanical institution that provides other botanical gardens, researchers, conservationists, students and the public living examples of beautiful and endangered temperate plants from East Asia.

The garden continues to provide me with inspiration for my paintings as the example in the image, and is one of my favorite places to visit in all seasons.


  This week in Sonoma County, California the many vineyards that flank both sides of the road along Sonoma Highway heading east in Santa Rosa beginning at Melita Road before the community of Oakmont and continuing to Madrone Road before reaching the town of Aqua Caliente, are ablaze with  brilliant color.

  This display provides artists such as myself, and photographers with inspiration and we wait each year for this spectacular all too brief event that lasts about two weeks at it’s prime.


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