May 14, 2017

Rose Garden, Descanso Garden Watercolor on watercolor paper

Back to 2017! I did this watercolor in the rose garden of the Descanso Garden over my spring break. I go to the Descanso Garden to paint, sketch and hike every chance I get. There are benches galore to sit in, with many gorgeous views of roses and other flowering plants, as well as a Spanish style fountain, garden structures and a shallow creek surrounded by small boulders. In fact, I am going on my second year of being a “family” member of the Descanso Garden. So, I can take a friend to the garden too.

Over the years I have been a member of a number of groups/organizations here in California. Right now I am part of an LA urban sketchers group, as well as a Freehand Sketching group. I also currently support a local NPR radio station and listen to that station almost exclusively when I am in my car. Funny to imagine that I would belong to any group. You see, I was raised by a rather introverted engineer dad that made sure my brothers and I were exposed to the Marx Brothers when we were very young. My dad thought Groucho the funniest, and frequently quoted his lines from “Duck Soup,” “Day at the Races,” “Night at the Opera,” and “Coconuts.” My dad would really grin when Groucho and Margaret Dumont had a scene together. But one of his favorite Groucho quotes was, “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.” My dad was pretty adamant about not being part of any club or organization. And he thought organized religion the worst kind of group to belong to because he said that humans had done so many awful things to each other in the name of religion.

But my mom was a joiner. She belonged to the PTA, was a room mom for each of us, Girl Scout leader, a volunteer for several women’s groups (Village House and Garden Ming Quong Service League in Los Gatos and Montalvo Art Center in Saratoga) and a supporter of public television (KQED, San Francisco) her whole life. When we were kids we were allowed to watch only programs on KQED. I remember shows like “Friendly the Giant,” and John Gnagy art lessons. My mom sent away for a set of John Gnagy felt geometric shapes for us to play with. She also sent in a drawing my brother had done and Mr. Gnagy showed the art on TV, and my brother got another set of felt shapes sent to him through the mail. KQED also had a wonderful program that matched music with moving marbles, spinning pinwheels etc in a kind of Rube Goldberg style. During a pledge drive my mom got a couple sweatshirts with pictures of the classical composers Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms on the front. I remember both my parents wearing those sweatshirts. So, maybe my dad really did want to join a group that would have him as a member. I wonder what Groucho would have thought of that. It’s funny to imagine him in his customary blackened eye brows and mustache, wearing a grey sweatshirt with JS Bach on the front. Come to think of it Margaret Dumont had a striking resemblance to JS Bach. So, maybe it makes perfect sense!

Recipe from my mother’s Village House and Garden Cookbook (1976):

Artichoke Nibbles

2 jars (6 oz. each) marinated artichoke hearts

1 small onion, finely diced

4 eggs

¼ cup fine breadcrumbs

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

2 tsp fresh oregano

½ pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated (2 cups)

2 Tbsp parley, minced

Drain the marinade from 1 jar of artichokes and save the liquid in a small bowl. Drain the other jar of artichokes and discard that liquid. Chop all artichoke hearts into smaller pieces. Combine artichoke hearts, onions, breadcrumbs, and cheese in a large bowl.

Add the 4 eggs to the bowl of marinade. Beat the eggs and marinade together. Add the herbs, salt and pepper. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and combine.

Turn the mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 8 inch baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until it is set when touched lightly. Let cool in the pan, then cut into 1 inch squares. Serve it hot or cold.

Happy Mother’s Day mom!

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