October 27, 2018

Enchanted Stars2
Enchanted Forest of Light, Descanso Garden October 2017 (watercolor on watercolor paper)

Two Octobers ago I went to my first Enchanted Forest of Light display at the Descanso Garden. This is part of that display. When I did this watercolor, I hadn’t yet seen the lights at night. And the afternoon I looked up and saw the star shaped lanterns I knew there must be more to the starry story. I think it was just about that time when a friend suggested we see these lit up on a night later in November. I was keen to do that. But getting back to this watercolor I remember I was again intrigued with using this odd shaped paper and decided it was perfect for this string of daytime stars. When I wrote of this watercolor paper a couple blogs ago (watercolor of trees at the Cayucos Cemetery) I like that it worked there because it added to the feeling of movement of a particular stretch of Highway 1 running between a row of trees and a favorite Cayucos beach. For this one, I liked the idea there was to be movement when you looked up and across from one side of the rose arbor to the other. I also liked that you could see the overhead trellis filled with roses and you knew you were in a garden as well as a special place to see such a display of stars during the day. When I later saw these stars the dark colored arbor disappeared into the night sky and they looked like they were just suspended there as if by magic or some other cosmic “star like” force. I also wrote about the Enchanted Forest of Lights for my January 6, 2018 blog entry—if you’re interested in my continuous obsession with being in the rose garden at the Descanso Garden. Ah me!

I realized that when I first saw these amazing larger than life stars dangling from the arbors that the whole garden (not just rose garden) was getting ready for something very special. I started thinking about what it meant to get ready for something and decided that it was really more than just anticipation as you had to get some kind of idea in your head and then actually do something. I guess since I wasn’t responsible for doing anything for this event, I could just enjoy the anticipation. I had no expectations, but was looking forward to seeing the lights anyway. I vividly remember that evening. There were 4 of us in all and we had decided to delay the lights viewing by first having dinner at a new restaurant at the garden. That was a mistake! The meal itself was forgettable, the service slow and it was overpriced. So, there was a momentary bad feeling mixed in with my anticipation for the evening. But here’s the interesting part, when we finally finished dinner we had to get ready to go outside and see the lights. It was to be a cool evening and we had brought heavy coats, hats and gloves. Now I would be ready to see something special without whining about having cold hands. I still didn’t know what I was about to see, so the excitement of anticipation crept in again as I zipped up my coat and plopped my hat on my head. There were no more disappointments after that. The lights were amazing and the moment we walked into the Enchanted Forest I had already forgotten about the forgettable overpriced meal we had endured the first part of the evening. And we all vowed to do the lights again the next year.

For the fall 2017 light show we assembled a slightly different group of friends and made reservations to see the lights. We did not endure a disappointing dinner before hand as we went to a favorite near by Mexican Restaurant. (You should know that Mexican restaurants are a definite thing here in California, especially in So Cal.) And after we finished that meal we drove over to the Descanso and got ready to see the lights again—putting on our warm coats and hats before going in. It was again an amazing event and the Enchanted Forest did not disappoint for the second year in a row.

This year a similar group of friends are planning another trek to the Descanso to see the lights. I am anticipating that the upcoming evening will probably start again with a wonderful meal of tequila, guacamole, salsa and mole. And I am looking forward to getting ready for the whole evening.

Do you see where this is going yet? I think I am kind of stuck on wondering about what we get ready for and then what happens after we get ready. As I’ve already said I see a kind of distinction between anticipation and getting ready as anticipation can actually be done in your head, but getting ready might involve a number of things like buying someone a gift, loosing weight, or investing in the right stocks or bonds because you are getting ready for retirement or maybe setting up a college fund.

And as I got thinking about getting ready for things, I kept remembering that I’d heard that expression before. And bang, I remembered that my mom used to say that to introduce many topics for a variety of things we did as a family growing up. I think she used to say it as a kind of reminder that we were supposed to be doing something together. For example, she might say to my dad and us kids on an afternoon in early December, “I was just getting ready to decorate the Christmas tree.” And as if by magic we got the decorations down from the attic, put on some agreed upon music, opened the 5-pound box of See’s Candy and passed it around, and began decorating the tree—with my dad first putting on the lights.

Most often my mom used that carrier phrase to announce a meal. She might say something like, “I was just getting ready to start the beans.” Or she would say, “I was just getting ready to put dinner in the oven.” But upon hearing this particular statement my father often said that he was sure my mom had first served the meal we were about to eat to another family because it seemed we were always just getting ready to eat “leftovers” again.

So, then I got to thinking, or obsessing if you must know, about different events you could begin by saying “I was just getting ready to____.” And you can fill in the blank however you like. I had fun making lists of odds and ends that could go there. They seemed to fit into odd categories that included: thoughts and deeds, foods and pets, your habits and personal grooming, and finally the musical and important.

I had way more on my list than this, but here are a few I thought I would share.

I was just getting ready to:

  • tell you that I love you.
  • practice the piano.
  • change that light bulb.
  • get to the bottom of this.

Or, I was just getting ready to:

  • give the dog a bath.
  • clean the cat hair off the refrigerator door.
  • eat the last piece of cheesecake.
  • figure out what’s gone bad in the frig.

Maybe I was just getting ready to:

  • get my first tattoo.
  • get another tattoo.
  • get just one more.
  • wax.

And finally…I was just getting ready to:

  • “Peel me a grape, crush me some ice, skin me a peach—save the fuzz for my pillow.” (lyrics from the song titled “Peel me a Grape,” by Dave Frishberg. Blossom Dearie and Diana Krall recorded pretty good versions of it. I was sure Peggy Lee did this one too, but couldn’t find a recording of her singing it. Oh well, dad.)
  • help someone in need.
  • make a donation.
  • vote.

One final final note: Just came back from painting at the Descanso Garden, and the lights are going up. So, I am already getting ready for next week’s blog.

What are you just getting ready to do?

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