March 7, 2020

reflection of tree2
Reflection of a tree on a pond at the Descanso Gardens, March 1, 2020 (Fude fountain pen, watercolor and Inktense pencil on watercolor paper)

Last Sunday I was certain there would be huge drifts of tulips in bloom at the Descanso Gardens. I had planned to get there soon after they opened at 9 because I was certain that would be too early for most other lovers of tulips to arrive. I wanted to sit and paint where ever I liked and have the flowers all to myself. When I woke up that morning, it was all but raining. I decided I would still go early, but I would just take pictures of the flowers and then do the art in my dry and cozy kitchen. When I got there I saw mostly green leaves and stems in the tulip beds, which meant they weren’t ready for me or the rest of the soon to be arriving tulip lovers. I was probably a week early. I decided to wander about and enjoy the bit of misty rain. I came to this pond and there I saw an amazing reflection of a tree in the relatively calm surface of the water. As it turns out this is the same tree that I have sat under numerous times to get out of the sun in the summer. It is also the same tree and pond that I sat near when I painted the stained glass house they had for the Enchanted Lights (December 7, 2019). For that one I was under the tree on the opposite side of the pond. 

Even though I didn’t see what I was hoping when I got there I found myself reflecting on whether or not I should try to render such a stark and wintery tree. I often find myself at the Descanso with some kind of idea of where I want to go and what I want to do, and then I wind up in the rose garden—painting something there. Oh, don’t think I didn’t wander through that garden before this moment to take a look. But it was kind of sprinkling as a walked around the flowerless roses and I just kept going, right out of there. Once I got to this spot I was overcome with the idea of a literal reflection of something in water as well as other kinds of reflections we sometimes consider that are much more abstract, subjective and/or personal. I had recently finished watching the Netflix version of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” authored by Lemony Snicket. And the penultimate story, “The Penultimate Peril,” popped into my head. There are those of you who might not have considered these stories, but my son and I had read together all 13 books when he was young. And we had so enjoyed all of the stories that I not only viewed “The Bad Beginning,” but I watched every book turned movie all the way through to the end, or “The End.” There is a wonderful, yet perilously reflective element in the 12th, or penultimate, book. It’s a giant pond that perfectly reflects the entire facade of the Hotel Denouement—the setting for this unfortunate event. And the hotel is organized according to the Dewey Decimal System. (If you want to find out how and why the Hotel Denouement is set up like a library you should read the book, I think.) But the importance of this exterior pond to all the characters inside the hotel cannot be overstated. But you will immediately get the ultimate importance of it because all the signs and numbers on the actual building are written backwards and from right to left so you have to look into the pond to correctly read all the letters, words and numbers written on the hotel. (Have I peeked your curiosity yet?)

So, I decided that a fitting acknowledgement of all the noble and not so noble characters inside the Hotel Denouement might be presented here. And this is based on MY personal reflections that can sometimes make me smile and/or keep me up at night. Some of what I have listed here may seem to be on the serious side and some things are just funny and fanciful. Hopefully, when you have seen what I have recently reflected on you will come up with your own list. Here goes…

Upon reflection I have decided the following:

  • Seeing the movie is rarely as good as reading the book.
  • It’s OK to change your mind about doing something unless you’ve made a promise to a child.
  • One shouldn’t expect promised “life-like” hair.
  • I can no longer fit either foot in a size 6 and half shoe, or a 7 for that matter.
  • Having a second helping of Belgian waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream is never a good idea.
  • Also, consuming too much of a good thing is rarely a good idea, especially when consuming Trader Joe’s dried Turkish apricots.
  • A triple shot latte is no substitute for getting enough sleep.
  • No one wants advice.
  • And no one wants criticism either, even when it’s “constructive criticism.”
  • How many different passwords and/or PIN numbers can I be expected to remember? And which user name and password goes with which account?
  • Sometimes saying you’re sorry isn’t enough, unless you are under 5 or over 80.
  • If you come across something that’s wet and it’s not yours, don’t touch it.
  • Nude isn’t a color. 
  • Not all weeds are bad.
  • There are an infinite number of things better left unsaid.
  • It’s important to have a library card and support your local library.
  • And don’t complain if you didn’t vote.

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