September 30, 2017

Descanso 7.25
Descanso Garden, July 25, 2017 (watercolor and crayon on watercolor paper)

Trying to Say Goodbye to Summer in California

This bright green scene was seen in what I would call the best of the summer days and weather here in southern California. The fresh bright greenery is made outrageous with amazing pops of annual colors. Because of our many warm and sunny days in southern California, many colorful plants grow here and you get kind of used all that color, sun and warm weather.

However, summer officially ended Friday, 9/22. But the temperature in my part of southern California was over 90 again Friday, 9/29 and I just want the heat to go away. Everything’s a little crispy right now, even in my beloved rose garden at the Descanso. It looks like they have been trying to get ready for a fall harvest event for the kiddies (lots of signs around—heralding the event), but no one over there seems to really have the heart, or will, to start lugging out all those pumpkins and bails of hay. Not even sure what would happen to several hundred pounds of pumpkins sitting in the sizzling sun. Sunburned pumpkins….only in California. Now, I know many non-Californians think we whine way too much about being too cold or too hot here. So bring it on, call me a weather whiner. I can take it! My family has earned the right to whine about the weather!

A little non-California family history…

I am a second-generation Californian. All my grandparents came from places of very cold winters. My mom’s parents were both born in Michigan. But after my grandmother was born, her immediate family went to Ontario, Canada–where the rest of that clan had been living since the Revolutionary War. My mom’s sister (my aunt) did some research about them and they came to the U.S. on one of the ships just after the Mayflower. However, when the then 13 colonies were done with England my family sided with the king and left for Ontario for good. Some of my mom’s cousins, from Brantford Ontario, came to visit us in Saratoga when we were kids. My younger brother really liked Florence, but didn’t care much for Clifford. Florence liked to entertain us with her great Irish accent and Clifford liked to hug and kiss everyone way too much. I don’t know what brought my mom’s parents to California in the early 20’s, but I do know my grandmother and her sister wanted to be in the movies. There are a couple of great “head shots” of the two of them—smiling broadly—having just had their hair marcelled.

My dad’s mom and dad came from Minnesota and Wyoming, respectively. I think I mentioned in an earlier story that my paternal grandfather was born in a sod house on the prairie of Nebraska. But I didn’t mention that he was born in the dead of winter, January 5, 1905. When he was a young man his family moved to Cheyenne. With regards to that side of the family I could be in the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). My younger brother recently found out that we have ancestors (father and son) that fought in the Revolutionary War. They were both born in Virginia.

Not really sure how my paternal grandma got to Cheyenne to marry my grandpa, but she was 15 years old when she got married. He was 19. As a very young married couple they came out to Santa Ana, California, to visit a great Aunt Ida. (Such a great old name.) It seems they went back to Cheyenne and spent one more winter there. That was it! By the following spring they were living in Long Beach, where my dad and his brother were later born. There is a family saying, that doesn’t really make much sense outside my family, but I heard it frequently growing up. If ever one of us kids left an outside door open on a “cool weather” day/evening my dad would yell, “Close that door. It’s cold in Cheyenne!” Guessing by now if you are not interested in any of my family stuff, you’ve long stopped reading. But hopefully you liked the art well enough to come back later. (I was thinking the next piece of art would be a pen and ink botanical I did for a botanist at the Academy of Sciences. Stay tuned for a story about the 1906 earthquake…)

Coming to California

So, I guess everyone knows somebody who has moved to California. If you have ever read Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, you can get a clear picture of the determination of desperate families, like the Joads, trying to get to here. But when we were kids it was rare to meet someone that was actually born in California, and the fact that we were second generation almost made us celebrities—not really. I had a friend in high school who’s family was originally from Spain, and they had been in California for many generations. I guess I didn’t think much about the loads of people who were coming here. I mean, California is a big state; there was always room for more. But my younger brother clearly had a different opinion. One day, when he was 13 or 14, he was lying on the couch, watching TV. On came an ad that showed a beautiful image of the Golden Gate Bridge. Out of nowhere my brother yelled at the top of his voice, “Don’t show that! People will want to come here!!” Of course now it’s gotten really expensive to live in California, so it seems lots of folks are leaving the golden state. Not sure my brother has noticed. Go figure.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Henry!

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