Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 113: Bamboo Field

Two years ago I gave Ron a birthday present of a course in stained glass at the Aanraku Glass Studio in San Mateo.  The striking glass window that looks out onto our covered porch from the kitchen was Ron's first project.  It has over 700 pieces of glass, and it took him a year to complete.  I love watching how the light plays through it at different times of day. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 112: Stained Glass at our house

As part of my "Everyday objects" series this week I'm focusing on the stained glass objects in our home. While we were in Richmond we spent a splendid day at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. This was the museum of my childhood.  The exhibition on at the time was of Tiffany glass, furniture, drawings and paintings. Our home has a few stained glass works. This lampshade, a copy of Tiffany's famous dragonfly design is in my office.  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 111: Plein Air at Moss Beach

Wednesdays are Plein Air painting days.  On July 28 the group assembled on a bluff overlooking the Pacific and facing north.  These are the cliffs west of Moss Beach.  One of these is the view I was looking at.  Another is the sketch before I started the watercolor.  Then the finished painting.  And for fun I did a quick painting of our fearless leader Eric Greenhut, painting.  Beautiful weather today.  

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

DAY 110: My Soccer Star

My wonderful husband, Ron was playing soccer at Virginia Beach with our niece Jysenia.  He was really "into" the game and was seriously playing defense.  Or rather, he slammed his right foot into "De Fence" . . . the iron fence.  Today we found out that he has broken two toes.  A local podiatrist immobilized the foot in this colorful sock and fashionable black boot.  Now Ron really gets to spend time with his feet up. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 109: Our young Rembrant

While I'm on the theme of art and family here is today's example of the miracle of everyday life.  This is young Hayden Offenbacher, my nephew who lives in Richmond.  He stands with a painting he just did.  Don't you love the composition?  Thank you, Hayden for your smile and your beautiful painting.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 108: Umbrellas and flowers

Here are two more of my wax crayon/watercolor paintings.  The vividness of the wax color is arresting.  I love watching watercolor as it moves and has a life of its  own.  They call it "bloom" when the paint dissolves and spreads.  I painted the umbrella while sitting at Virginia Beach last week.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 107: Abstract Art

Sometimes I just love to play with color.  These two designs are made using German wax crayons on watercolor paper.  Then I colored inside the squares using watercolor pencils.  I wet them to spread the color.  I enjoy looking at the colors sitting next to each other.  I've always loved rainbows and paintboxes.  This work is a break from my plein air watercolor painting.  

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 106: Bodhi - His Himalayan Highness

Coming home has many delights.  Among the best is the feeling of hugging our beloved cat, Bodhi.  He's been waiting for us.  His furry highness sleeps away most days in his little cat bed.  We're fortunate that our sister, Joan, cares for him while we are away.  Happy to be home, sleeping in our own bed and stroking our boy, Bodhi.  

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 105: Do you know this artist?

Visiting my stepsister, Brenda Drummond Morgan in Manakin Sabot, VA I saw a print of this painting in her house.  I fell in love with it. I can't quite read the artist's signature, but it seems to be something like: A. K. Koselka.  Does anyone know this artist's name?  Would love to see more of his/her work.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 104: My sister, Kathleen

Kathleen Nayr Ryan is my dear sister.  She lives in Richmond, VA.  We just spent a week together at the beach sharing stories and having a great time.  I was impressed that she got up very early every morning and went out to the beach to see the sunrise.  One morning she began playing her flute as the sun rose.  An amazing thing happened.  Small sand crabs, dozens of them, came out and sat attentively when she played. They were like an audience. When she stopped playing they scurried back in their holes.  My sister, the pied piper.  It was lovely being with her his week. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 103: My brother, Michael

My brother Michael Ryan is one of the dearest people I know.  I have always felt honored to be his sister.  He has made a life of meaning and quality.  Right now we are staying with him before we go on to California in the morning.  Having a brother you love is the best. I like this picture of him reading his magazine, "Trailer Life".  He and his wife Lynn have a wonderful trailer that takes them around the states.  They will be going to Albuquerque to the balloon festival this fall.  Happy and safe travels, brother.  Love you.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 102: Reconnecting with family

During our wonderful family reunion at Virginia Beach we reconnected with family we haven't seen in over three decades.  The beautiful women in the middle is my stepsister, Brenda Drummond Morgan, who lives in Manakin Sabot, VA.  On the left is sister, Kathleen Ryan and on the right is my husband, Ron Madson.  Today we are going to visit Brenda and her husband and continue telling stories of our childhood.  Family reunions offer an amazing possibility to review the past with our adult eyes.  I am so happy to be in touch with Brenda.  

Advice:  find those family members you have lost.  

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 101: Sand and Sea

Our beach house in Sandbridge was facing West.  From our porch each night we saw the loveliest sunsets over the water.  Even though I live on the West Coast, we rarely see the sunset.  Our home in El Granada looks out over the water, but is actually facing SW.  The beach is where you need to be when the temperatures are in the 90's and 100's.  Virginia has had a heat wave this summer that is breaking all records for high temperatures.  I am grateful for the comfort of airconditioning. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 100: The Magic of Family and the Beach

One of the great pleasures of our family reunion was the chance to spend a week with my sister, Kathleen Nayr Ryan.  Kathleen lives in Richmond, VA and while we talk on the phone, communicate on Facebook and via Skype, clearly nothing beats the chance to spend a week face to face.  I like this photo of the two of us.  Getting older and wiser.  Kathleen is a Healing Touch Practitioner. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 99: American lotus

In Sandbridge Virginia, just outside of Virginia Beach is a delightful lotus garden dedicated to a VA women who treasured the native American lotus.  Who would have thought that the symbol of beauty rising from the muck would also have an American variety.  It is a beautiful garden.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 98: Portkey

This chart will only make sense to the family group who played the game.  We sat around after dinner and "threw words" at each other.  The word needed to come out of the story we had just told.  We learned astonishing things about each other.  Thanks to Matt Smith and Rebecca Stockley for creating this game. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 97: Pat and Mike

Getting older has its rewards. Here is my wonderful brother, Michael and me trying out the IPhone 4's "take a photo of yourself" capability. I'm happy with the way I'm aging. We are both getting a few grey hairs. I think they look nice.
Family is precious. Take time to tell each other stories.  We have been playing a game called Portkey . . . telling stories from random words.  Sweet.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 96: Sally Bell Cupcakes

During the 1950's in Richmond, VA there was a local and very famous bakery named Sarah Lee Bakery. This was the bakery of my childhood. Sometime in the 1980's (I think)there was a legal battle over the name and a company now known for it's frozen baked products was awarded the right to keep the name. The small brick building on W. Grace St where the cupcakes and Patsy rolls were baked changed it's name to Sally Bell. Their recipes and even their white boxes remain the same. I got a dozen of their cupcakes to bring to the beach with us. Aren't they delicious looking?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 95: Umbrellas at the beach

My childhood in Richmond,VA includes fond memories of summer time at "the beach." This meant Virginia Beach and the salty Atlantic. Riding the waves was the big fun. coming back here for this family reunion has been taking a ride down memory lane. Many of the landmarks have changed but the smell and texture of the ocean remains to bring back stories. I remember when my mother, who was pregnant with my sister Kathleen, asked me to dig a hole in the sand. She wanted to put her beach towel down on the sand and needed a place for her extended belly to rest in the sand. I dug a fine hole. We put her towel down and Mother lay down to sun her back. Life was good. Life still is good.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 94: The Assembled Clan

Well we made it!  The assembled clan are now at Virginia Beach in a wonderful beach house overlooking the back bay.  The folks in this photo from left to right (back row) are:  Don (Nathan's friend), Nathan Offenbacher, Kent Taylor, Alexander Thomas, Jennifer Gaddis, Lynn Ryan, Michael Ryan, Emily Dunlavey, Reid Dunlavey.  Front row:  Ron Madson, Patricia Ryan Madson (in the stripes), Kathleen Ryan, Ryan Dunlavey, Jysenia Dunlavey and Dee Taylor.

Our first day on the beach was perfect:  clear skies, frothy waves, and lots of fun body surfing.  We play games, tell stories, eat well and check our cell phones from time to time. It's a nice life.  We do have a terrific family.  More photos of our adventures to come.  Today's motto:  Treasure Family.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 93: African Violets

Something about African Violets that is so comforting.  I have four plants in the window near where I wash dishes.  These plants virtually take care of themselves since I've discovered "The Violets Pot".  This ingenious ceramic pot has it worked out such that the pot itself waters the plant just right.  The inner pot which holds the plant and the dirt is of a porous clay which sucks the water from the well.  The inner pot sits in the outer pot which is ceramic and glazed.  All I need to do is keep the pot filled with the right amount of water.  I never water from above.  The fuzzy leaves don't like water.  Now in July all of the four plants are blossoming at once.  Lovely don't you think?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 92: The Ryan Family at Virginia Beach

This photo, circa 1965, was the single photo ever taken of almost all of the Mike Ryan children, steps, halves and wholes.  From left to right:  Patricia Louise Ryan, Kathleen Nayr Ryan, H. Michael Ryan, III, Brent Drummond,  (not sure about the girl with dark hair)  could it be Brenda Drummond? Down in front are Timothy Ryan and Juliette Kincaid Ryan.  Brent and Brenda Drummond were children of Betty Ryan, my father's second wife.  (Third marriage, but second wife.).  I believe that this photo is missing Brenda Drummond, my stepsister.

On the day that I post this the Ryan clan is descending on Virginia Beach, VA for a week of family reunion.  Patricia, Kathleen and Michael from this photo and their spouses and children are coming from far and near to dip toes in the Atlantic and tell family tales.  Picture of this family reunion to follow.

The Ryan's rule!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 91: The Ryan Clan at the Beach

 Look out, Virginia Beach here come the Ryans and all of their kith and kin.  Beginning on Saturday, July 10 a bunch of the Ryans will descend upon Sandbridge.  We've rented a big house near the beach and we are all coming to tell stories, catch up on family news and just plain have fun.  Those who are coming include Michael and Lynn Ryan from Burke, VA,  Emily, Reid, Ryan and Jysenia Dunlavey from Hamburg, NY, Kathleen Ryan of Richmond, VA, Nathan Offenbacher of Hampton, VA, Jennifer Gaddis of Texas and her friend Alexander, and Ron and Patricia Madson of El Granada, CA.  Other family who may drop in include Aaron, Hayden and Brenda Offenbacher of Richmond.  Kathleen's daughter, Sarah Louis Offenbacher of Los Angeles won't be joining us, but she has wonderful news that she is now engaged to Lejohn Douroux.
The photo pictured here was of an earlier VA beach party.  More photos to follow!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 90: Visiting our beloved Peggy

Peggy Clough Ryan is my stepmother and she lives in Goochland, VA in the Meadows Nursing home.  This photo which shows a smiling Peggy with my sister Kathleen Ryan was taken a few months ago.  As this blog is posted Ron and I will be visiting Peggy for this first time since she moved to the Meadows. We are looking forward to seeing that smile up close and personal.  We love you, Peggy.  Be well.  Following our visit we will be on our way to Richmond and then to Virginia Beach, VA where the family will assemble for a week of sand, sea and memories.  

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 89: The Kathmandu Valley

In 1982  I took a sabbatical from teaching at Stanford to circumnavigate the globe.  The trip took a year and a half and centered mainly on countries in Asia.  I spent nearly two months in Nepal, three months in Indonesia (studying dance and mask carving on Bali),  a few months on the beaches of Thailand and several months in Japan.  I kept journals of my wanderings and spiritual questioning.
Today I was working on a story about a meditation experience I had in  October, 1982 and I pulled out one of the journals.  To my surprise I found this watercolor of the Kathmandu Valley painted from a perch of the Kopan Monastery near Bodinath.  I can't remember how I happened to have paints with me, but sure enough this painting was there.  It pulls my memory to a very happy time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 88: Pepper Pesto Tart

 This is a red and yellow pepper/pesto tart.  The recipe is in the GREEN'S Cookbook.  I made it on Friday and will have it for dinner on Saturday.  

Here's the recipe


Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 87: Juliette Harrison Bethel Ryan

Juliette Harrison Bethel Ryan (July 7, 1892 - Sept 27, 1973)   Juliette was my paternal grandmother. I would like to share this vignette.

Granny Ryan

            Fingering the obituary page and solemnly moving her head from side to side, Juliette Bethel Ryan, aka Granny Ryan, sighed:  “People are dying today that have never died before.”  A roar of laughter from the unintended humor rocked the living room.  Granny looked up, completely surprised by our reaction.  Unaware that her turn of phrase was noteworthy, she had simply spoken what was obvious to her.  When I told her that I had started attending Sunday Quaker worship services, I can still hear her enthusiastic and smiling response after more than fifty years.  “Oh, those Quakers—wonderful, wonderful people, they are.  Why don’t they preach what they practice!”
            Granny was a natural improviser.  She never composed what she had to say, she simply began speaking and honored the words as they fell into place.  She embodied the spontaneous life, always finding the agreeable answer, the supportive remark.  She seemed to enjoy life as she lived it.  As a dedicated shopper and sale-goer Granny had an eye for detail and a memory for numbers that would have made her the winning player on the “Price is Right”.  After her death we found drawers and chests full of unused sale items.  She would buy anything if it had been marked down low enough.   Her motto was “always keep your receipt.”             The forties and fifties in America were simpler times, of course.  There were no cell phones to interrupt us as we shelled peas or snapped beans sitting on the front porch.
 Juliette Harrison Bethel was born in 1892 in Goochland County, Virginia, the fifth child to Lavinia and Albert Bethel.  I wish I knew something about her childhood.  As one of eight siblings it may have been interesting growing up in rural Virginia.  I do know that she married Harry Michael Ryan, Sr. in 1912 on June 26 in Richmond, Va and gave birth to my father, Harry Michael Ryan, Jr. on July 25, 1917.  Her husband died in October of 1930, leaving her to raise a son on her own at the age of 38.  She was left no property, and the story goes that she managed a rooming house for young working girls during the war years, although I don’t know how this could have been if she didn’t own any land or home. 
Life must have been rough for Granny.  She was a lifelong smoker, and she smoked SANO cigarettes.  These she ordered by the case.  Cartons of these cigarettes were all over her apartment.  Granny was a good cook and a photo circa 1950 has her wearing an apron in the kitchen where we all spent a lot of time.  She often fed me and my brother there.  Granny had an ample breast and I can remember hugging her and feeling her large pendulous breasts.  She prided herself on her complexion and used cold cream every night, and sometimes Noxzema cream (I can still remember that distinctive smell of that white, slimy substance.)  She bought face powder in a pale shade that was supposed to match her complexion.  She had a large pink powder puff that she patted on her face.  I can’t remember her using eyebrow pencil or lipstick, but she was always covered in peach colored face powder.  Her bedroom smelled of tobacco smoke and face powder as I recall. 
She lived with my father during the 1950’s and had her own apartment when we lived on 3211 Grove Avenue.  I don’t know where she went when my parents divorced in the late 1950’s.  We moved into a series of apartments in the West End of Richmond.  My mother took up first fashion modeling and later apartment building management to feed and clothe us.  Granny died after a short stint in a nursing home in late September of 1973 at the age of 81.  I must have been 31 years old.  Where was I?  I don’t remember going to her funeral.  I was living in Granville, Ohio at the time and was teaching. I don’t think there was much of a fuss. 
Juliette Bethel Ryan, my Granny wore gabardine suits and orthotic shoes with heavy Lyle hosiery. I can still remember her garters like large rubber bands holding up her stockings.  She would often sit in “her chair” and chain smoke while watching a black and white television.  There was a single bed in her room where I sometimes slept when I was staying with her.  She was likely 60 years old when I was hanging out with her.  She dyed her hair red, I think in later years.  

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day 86: Why not INTERDEPENDENCE Day?

Perhaps we need to rethink  what independence means.  Here are some thoughts.  I borrow these words and ideas from Gregg Krech of the ToDo Institute in Vermont.  

"Independence often stimulates a sense of pride - a sense that I am competent, capable and can get along without others. 
Interdependence, on the other hand, stimulates a sense of humility, a reminder to be grateful, an acknowledgment that we cannot exist except through the efforts of others." 
A wonderful article on Interdependence can be found on the ToDo Institute website.  This is an excellent source of information on sensible thinking about life.  

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 85: The tree outside my window

This stately pine which now reaches over thirty feet tall is my view from the office where I type.  This tree is magnificent and reaches to the sky.  I often find myself daydreaming instead of writing.  We planted this tree from a tiny bucket when we moved into this house in 1997.  The little tree was a gift from the SF AIDS Foundation.  Ron and I used to deliver meals to AIDS patients in SF on Thursday afternoons.  At the yearly Christmas party in 1997 they gave each of the volunteers a small potted pine.

Now look at you.  Isn't nature astonishing?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 84: Goodbye IPhone 3GS , Hello IPhone4

  A year ago when I purchased my first IPhone everything changed.  I continue to be amazed at what this device does for me every day.  It helps to organize my mind.  It keeps all important information.  Allows me to stay in touch with friends as well as to meet new readers and fans of my book, Improv Wisdom, through email.  I can also read books, listen to music, check the news, transfer money in my bank, take photos, check the weather in Virginia,  look at Google earth and of course, make and receive phone calls. A modern miracle.
So, I decided to purchase the IPhone 4.  I got an email yesterday to stop by the store and pick it up.  I did.  With ease all of my data was transferred to the new phone.  Then, using the Internet I posted an ad to sell my IPhone 3GS and had a dozen takers in a half hour.  What a world.  I am grateful for this product and for the efficient way it helps me organize and communicate.  

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 83: Painting au Plein Air

This is the view where I was sitting on Wednesday as our Plein Aire group was painting the view of the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in San Mateo County.  This treasure of a place offers dramatic views as well as a place to study marine life up close in the tide pools, especially at a low tide.

Following this photo are pictures of two of the painting I did this morning of this view.  I continue to try and work in a loose painting style emulating that of the English painter, Judi Whitton, who is my teacher.