Like every campus, Cal Poly has a few traditions. Girls are given a lei by proud parents rather than a bouquet of flowers. It is customary to lavishly decorate the top of your cap and go drinking the night before you “walk”. A large breakfast is recommended during the wee hours of the night, prior to downing a few more stiff drinks at 6:00 a.m. Some parents accompany their son or daughter to the bars. We didn’t. On Friday morning we were out scouting the campus to see where the big commencement was taking place on Saturday morning while Alex was at a second job interview. That afternoon we went grocery shopping with the help of Alex and her boyfriend T.J. to prepare for a Graduation Eve barbecue for Alex and her friends. They enjoyed our food and libations and we enjoyed meeting the friends who were in town. (Many not yet graduating had gone home for the summer or weekend). Good news arrived for Alex. A job she wanted working as a patient care technician in a local dermatology office which will provide her with both steady employment and needed experience towards her goal of becoming a Physician’s Assistant (P.A.). My dear friend Barbara, former college roommate and my West Coast sister, made the trip from L.A. with her husband Ron to be there on Alex’s special day. It was hot sitting up in the stadium bleachers and hot for Alex below. By the time she met up with us after the large ceremony she was grateful for water and a muffin. (She was starving too.) After some picture taking, it was on to the smaller ceremony for the various departments, where the graduate’s names are actually called and students are personally graduated by the head of their department. In Alex’s case, she graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from the College of Liberal Arts. On her sheet she elaborated on her name by adding the words “Amazing” and “Meow”. A few more photos and we returned to Alex’s house for brunch. (Plenty of food was leftover from the night before and just to make sure we had plenty, we stopped at the grocery with Ron & Barbara to buy more). There was time in the afternoon for rest and a swim before a celebratory dinner. Sunday was Father’s Day. We spent the afternoon at Montaña de Oro State Park referred to in my captions as Los Osos, the community it is adjacent to on the coast. Monday, our last day with Alex, we spent part of the time at Avila a small beach front town 20 minutes away from San Luis Obispo and walked on the windy pier and beach. Tuesday it was time to leave, early in the morning for a drive down the coast to LAX and our return flight. Hope to visit soon.
Lately I’ve been using the phrase “less is more” . It applies to so many things from why I put less sugar in my apple pie to why too many chairs in a room make the space look cluttered.
It’s the phrase I use to explain why it’s better to leave open space on a dinner plate if I want to make what’s on the plate important. It’s why it’s better to wear less make-up and less aftershave.
Yes, less is more applies to many situations including size. Does a piece of artwork have to be large to be important? I say no. Many of my favorite paintings are very small oils, little paintings I could put inside a suitcase and take with me when I moved from Maryland to California. Easily they made the cross-country journey more than once.
“Less is More “ is the title of a national juried art exhibit opening next week at the Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College in Annapolis. The work was selected by distinguished juror Domenic Iacono, director of Syracuse University Art Galleries You can see all the items in the exhibit, which will be hanging until June 15th online. The profits from exhibit sales will help fund educational programs.
On Wednesday May 28th there will be an opening reception from 6:30- 9:30. Sip wine, beer or an artini. Listen to the music of the Rob Levitt Duo. Sample gourmet food provided by leading caterers in Greater Annapolis. Be one of the first visitors to the exhibit to make an art purchase. Tickets are $100. https://community.stjohnscollege.edu/lessismore-2014
or call 410-626-2536 to purchase a ticket.
I hope to see you there at the Mitchell Gallery on the evening of May 28th so you can decide for yourself if Less is More.
Easter weekend on Cape Cod, walking on a windy beach, the sun shining in your face. It can’t get much better than this!
Patterns on the Beach
Shapes that look like fish bones
Pressed into the wet sand
The impressions of undulating waves
A thumbprint of the sea.
I walk along the ocean’s edge
at Long Nook Beach and try not to get my shoes wet.
It’s too cold to take them off.
The wind at the top of the cliffs is strong
Strong enough to lift a parasail glider and suspend him
High above the beach with the tall cliffs at his back.
We admire him and the view he must have
Looking down on the sand bars and rippling water below
Seeing from a distance
the water’s patterns in the sand.
Blob’s Park is closing in less than one month. And I for one am going to miss its unique attributes. Where else could you go to get authentic German food, listen to live music, go waltzing across a dance floor and feel as if you’d stepped back in time to the 1960s?
In recent years, probably my husband Peter and I have not gone there nearly enough— but oh the memories!. A trip to Blobs Park, for many patrons means polka dancing. But there was so much else. I remember visiting Blobs for an evening of dinner and dancing in the 1990’s and marveling at the wide variety of patrons. There would be women with beehive hairdo’s, men with rolled up short sleeves and crew cuts and entire wedding parties and anniversary parties set up at the various long banquet tables. Men and women still spry in their 80’s would be doing the jitterbug and the Lindy hop. Often I’d see small children sitting at some tables earlier in the evening, ready to dance along with Mom and Dad or not waiting and making up dances of their own. On a Sunday afternoon there might be a band with an accordion playing a variety of German and Polish folk dances and lots of folks out on the dance floor who knew all the patterns and steps.
Max Blob, opened Blob’s Park in 1928 as a private gathering place (think Speakeasy) It opened to the public in 1933. He was known affectionately as “Onkle Max. “ In recent years Blobs has hosted Latin Bands, Country Music, and last Friday night it was a 1940s style Swing Band. Unfortunately, despite the good music, the hall has become increasingly empty.
But that’s not why they are closing.
December 2012 and January 2013, 29 acres of Blobs Park land was sold to the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. The plan is for a church and school to be built on the land but the current owner/manager Max Eggerl, who is a grandson of Max Blob, the original founder , thought he had a verbal agreement to keep occupying the Hall for a few more years. Evidently that is not to be. Blob’s Park will be closing at the end of the month. The last event at the hall that has seating for 1000 people, will be “Our Last Polka and will feature Mike Surratt and The Continentals on March 30th
In the last few remaining weeks that Blob’s Park remains open, make a pilgrimage and walk around the place. A bit of the spirit of “Onkle Max” still remains.
Blobs Park is located at the Intersection of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Route 1765 in Jessup, Maryland; just a short drive down the highway from the entrance to Fort Meade. As the western part of Anne Arundel County continues to grow in density, another little piece of history is lost.
Last weekend my son Christopher Patrick got married to his long time sweetheart Laura Smith. The wedding took place outside the home of Laura’s parents in Oregon, Wisconsin near Madison. I had not seen my son Justin, who lives in Indonesia since Christmas, so I was very excited at the prospect of a family reunion. He and his fiance Suci made the long 25 hour trip the middle of the week and arrived at the O’Hare Airport in Chicago. My husband Peter and I flew into the Midway Airport Thursday morning and rented a very large van so we had room for everyone and their luggage. Once we picked up Justin and Suci, it was time to wait for the arrival of daughter Alex, coming in from California. A few hours later we arrived in downtown Madison, near the Capital. In the photographs that follow you will see we enjoyed each others company over a lavish family style meal served at the Heritage Tavern in Madison. While Laura was still busy with her wedding preparations, we spoiled Christopher as a bachelor one last time and no he did not eat that sundae served in an ice sculpture all by himself! Saturday we took the opportunity to tour the inside of the Capital building and take a walk to the fountain located on Monona Terrace looking across the lake. Friday afternoon was a time for wedding rehearsal and then a dinner for the wedding party at Restaurant Muramoto, also in downtown Madison. You’ll see in this group of photos, Alex, Suci, and myself dressed in our party dresses for the evening. On Saturday morning while Alex was having her very long hair arranged into an elaborate bun, Peter and I walked around the Farmer’s Market which is set up all around the Capital Building. All kinds of delicious cheeses, fruits, and vegetables are featured at the weekly market but I was most impressed with the gourds and flowers. Unfortunately as Saturday progressed it began to rain heavily. In parts of the state there was a tornado watch. The good news is that the weather cleared long enough for the wedding ceremony to take place in the Smith family orchard and for wedding photographs to be taken. Only a few are posted on this blog as I wasn’t taking any, but I’m sure more will surface. Most of the afternoon we were under the tent trying to stay dry, joined at our table by my brother David and cousin Ron. It was a weekend to remember!
This past weekend we celebrated Diane FIen Kelly’s birthday. She would have been turning 57. So her dear friend Jean Melton lit 57 candles and put them all around her house and threw a big party where we ate, and drank, told stories and jokes, and reconnected with old friends. It was the kind of party that Diane would have liked. I could almost hear her laughing.
The following day was the dedication of a bench, purchased by our book club in Diane’s honor and memory, positioned on the trail by the USNA stadium trail by her home. Diane loved to be outside walking on a trail, and her last year on earth she made of point of truly savoring every precious moments, moments that included her two children Brendan and Lauren and her dog Stuart, a rescue from Hurricane Katrina.
Book clubs come in all shapes and sizes, and with a variety of procedures and traditions for choosing books, organizing discussions, and providing food and libations. While some years Diane was busy with her work, training teachers in the field of special education teaching deaf and blind children, when present at a book club gathering her enthusiasm for our selection (even if she didn’t read the entire book) and for the food being served was always heartfelt. She was the one who kept asking us to keep a record of the food being served with our selections for a future cookbook. Diane’s big heart and positive approach to just about everything she did was inspiring. She was the kind of person who was always looking out for the “little guy” and the person who when faced with adversity always managed to see the situation in a positive way.
Last week we were asked by her college friends for suggestions of the books which were Diane’s favorites and while initially I thought of her puzzling over Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills , it was Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards which tells the story of the impact of a doctor’s decision to give away his infant daughter at birth because she has Downs Syndrome, that I remember being one of Diane’s favorite books. The doctor in the story assumes his wife will be satisfied raising the daughter’s healthy twin brother and thinking her daughter died at birth, but he’s wrong. Meanwhile his former nurse raises the baby girl as her own in another city and as the years pass memories are not forgotten. That’s all I’m going to say because I certainly do not want to spoil the plot for those who haven’t read the book.
So in closing, if you are walking along the trail around the USNA stadium and want to take a moment to stop and think about your day or listen to the birds and feel the breeze rustle through the trees (There are a few small ones nearby) have a seat. Read the plaque and think of Diane!
Thank you to Eileen Leahy and the Department of Recreation of Park for helping to organize the bench installation.
Muggy August weather here in Annapolis, Maryland means mushrooms in addition to sticky doors, damp clothes, and frizzy hair. Well to be honest I’m not certain whether the crop I spied this morning on the front lawn were mushrooms or toad stools, but I’m sure they’d make good spore prints. They are definitely large in size. I saw many mushroom crops on my walk from Murray Hill to City Dock this morning and I’m sure I’ll see more mushrooms in the upcoming month. What fascinates me is how quickly they pop up.
The texture and color is quite remarkable.