Are We ‘What We Learn’ or ‘How We Learn?’

Every time my grown daughter sees an old photo of me I hear the same thing,”Oh, you were SO YOUNG!”
I can’t see that I’ve changed that much and I felt the same way when I saw Fred again after twenty years. Yea, he had wrinkles but the Fredness of him was still there and strong!
When I was about eight we, meaning his daughter Mandy and I, climbed her apricot tree. We acted out our game and Mandy climbed down but not me. In my defense, I’d climbed higher than Mandy, but mostly the problem was that she was intrepid; I was not.
After a great deal of talk Mandy ran to get her dad.  Fred hauled out his ladder and saved me.
Mandy has a part in my book, “If Mrs. Greeby Asks” found on Its story is about persistence, learning, and rewards, and misunderstandings and faith. A little girl says, “So now I’m drawing a picture of what didn’t happen to me over the summer  because how do you draw that your Mother tried to kill you?”
As far as getting old Is concerned, I agree with John, “I like being old. I know more than when I looked good.”

Sleeping With Lights And Fish On

All and all, the strangest part of my trip was the sleeping arrangement. I didn’t have much money but if I’d had money I wouldn’t have missed sleeping with chickens one night and with fish on another.
The first evening I was taken to an ancient and tiny white clapboard house that was tightly crowed inside with the living accessories and projects of its owner Iva Lou. Iva Lou was then in her eighties, easy to be with as though I’d known her always and in who’s honor I’ve named a dragon Iva Lou the dragon is a main character in many of my children’s books. See “Dragon’s Tale” and the series ‘Leafman Attacks‘ books on
My brother was soon to marry Iva Lou’s granddaughter and those two women cleared a small area of floor for my sleeping bag up against a heat lamp and box of newly hatched chickens. What my sleeping lacked in darkness it more than made up for in lullabies.
The next night was a little dimmer but just as noisy when I slept on my bother’s living room floor. A street light illuminated the couch against one shoulder and a large sized wading pool touching the other shoulder, with its insistent bubbler.
In the pool were trout! My brother was so happy to host me because those fish needed a baby sitter, “Trout love to jump,” he said instead of good night, “so if one jumps out of the water just wet your hands, find him in the rug, and toss him back in.”  I couldn’t sleep for worrying.

There You Go, Destroying My Scientific Mind Again, Confussing Me With Facts

I think one of the most fun things in life is to find a problem. I look at my paintings for days knowing there’s something wrong but not knowing what. So when I do find an art problem it’s a treasure and I know it can be solved some way. I look forward to the surprise.
As look at my painting, I change one color in my mind then imagine it six other color possibilities. I wonder what five clouds would do to the composition, or perhaps just two, or I take out the mountain or add three larger ones with snow.
My mind zips around having fun but some times my zippy mind is a plague on John. He hears of a political or science problem or experiences one in traffic so of course verbalizes it. That’s what married best friends do. They use each other as “sounding boards.” I try to bite my lips but it’s so much fun to ‘sound board’ back!
“Maybe that guy cut you off because he had an embryo implanted and he’s giving birth a month early, or maybe his pet opossum is rolling around in pain on his back seat with a bloody stump where his tail had been and the poor driver yanked the tail out of the dog’s mouth and the tail is sitting on the front seat in a plastic bag and now they’re rushing to the vet!”
All John wants and expects is, “Yea, that guy is wrong.”
Traffic problems are so limited in scope, I’d much prefer to play with politics and science. I love to read about history and the various sciences. These give me hundreds of facts and variables to play with. I remind him of a fact here and its implications and a fact there that hints at a different direction.
Poor John, hears, evaluates, decides, and verbalizes. It doesn’t take forever. He’s been known to say, “There you go, destroying my scientific mind again, confusing me with facts.”

Nudes And A Wet Suit

Several years ago I visited my married brother Don who lived in a very small community on the Northern California coast. He announced he was going skin diving. His wife Karen asked in passing where he’d planned to go and as she heard the name of the beach she said something about it having a problem. But Don didn’t care and he left. She and I hung clothes in the sun then she asked if I would take a ride with her.
“Of course, where are we going?” I asked but she was elusive. She drove us south on several forested roads up and down hills for maybe ten minutes and eventually parked behind Don’s truck and along with several others on the narrow road. In fact cars parked just off the black top on both sides and there were about fifteen vehicles all together.
Karen and I waited and when I asked why we were there she just barely held back a snicker and said “Just wait.” A few minutes later some people who’d hiked themselves up a very steep hill from the beach got in their cars slammed their doors and drove off almost burning rubber.                                                                                                                          I asked, “Are those people angry?” Then after a few more cars were loaded and doors slammed shut I knew for sure they were upset and asked, “Why is everyone so angry?”
Finally there were only two cars left; we were in one and Don was still diving so his was the other.                                                                                                                            Karen said, “It’s a nude beach. The nudist can’t stand for anyone in clothing to be with them on their beach. When a diver comes down and puts on his wet suit the nudists get huffy, dress and come up.  Its the best diving beach in the area so many divers use it and always ignore the nudists but they get angry every time.” Karen started the car and drove us home. What a great story teller. She tells it the way I like to write. She didn’t tell, she showed me.

Red Life Savors Saves Lives

“Eat Life Savers NOW!” an old man told me. The number of his years was not big but he was definitely old. He went on to say, “The red ones were my favorite but they don’t taste good any more. When I was little just one, of any color, was like having heaven in my mouth. Sometimes they were gotten soggy on the inside and fuzzy outside with lint from my mother’s coat pocket. But even then nothing in the world was as wonderful. But now I can eat them all day long and I can’t taste them.”
When my daughter was about four years old she had the answer to his dilemma. I recorded her philosophy in my children’s picture book, “Dragon’s Tale” where Anna told her brother that her dragon was six.
From Paul’s blanket tent he called out, “Yesterday you said she was twenty-six.”
Anna always had an answer, “Weeell, she was. And now she’s growing down. She was born in an egg then she grew up to first grade size, then to mommy size, then down to grandma size, and then to all the kid sizes again. Up and down, like everybody grows.”
Maybe too many hot drinks killed my old friend’s taste buds or perhaps finding faults all day long dulled his senses but I’m guessing if an old man could sit still with himself he could again taste Life Savers and learn to love the green ones too.

Red Hots, 7-Up, And Jello Magic

In my retro younger years 7-UP came in 10 oz bottles which my mother, brother, and I shared occasionally on Saturdays. My brother Don and I begged for it every Saturday but it was too expensive. The bubbles were a mystery, and we tried to dissect the various magical tastes. We’d stare at it in our tiny glass cups and wonder how something clear could be so wonderful and decided luminous colors should have been swimming between the bubbles.
A few years later something even more wonderful happened to our family!

Red hots, 7-Up, Jello!!!
3 oz jello recipe
boil 1/2 cup water, dissolving a few handfuls of red hots at the same time
add this mixture to jello and stir until jello is dissolved
cool mixture in refrigerator but remove before it begins to jell
add 1 1/2 cups cold 7-Up gently and mix slowly so as to not loose too many bubbles.
refrigerate until firm.

We couldn’t get enough of this triple magic.
When I had children I was rich enough to let them make mud pies in my sink adding soda, vinegar, corn starch, and other oddities. They called them, “Magic Potions,” and the mixing game became are part of my children’s book, Dragon Tales, at

Inside Of My Feelings

A well drafted portrait usually includes a person’s face and hair, giving some indication of their age and attitude toward life, sometimes background and clothes showing time in history, place and economic station.
I wonder, can I paint another portrait of Alice, my best friend, without picturing her face? I could stack up her possessions, which would say something about her but not BE her. I could paint a time line of her life, or section off the canvas painting each with activities she’s pored her energy into. I could paint all of her but her head.
Another friend, Sandy, once told me, “Your picture shows how I feel inside.”

145 Portrait of Alice

You Can’t Assign Me Somebody To Love!

When I was a child my mother heard a minister in our area who spoke with great kindness and much insight so we began attending his congregation. I still remember some of the thoughts he left with me and conversations my mother and I had because I had attended the adult meeting with her instead of the kids’ class.
After about a year the minister visited my family in our home and asked us not to come any more. He felt a strong responsibility to know, love, and care for his flock and it was too big; he just couldn’t do any more. We kept going anyway.
Where I go to church now we are each assigned a few people to care for and love and each willing person learns to know these families and visit them monthly, therefore assisting our local leader, the minister type person.
At first I thought, “You can’t just assign me someone to love! That won’t work!” But it does and a few years ago my special friend, Dorothy, made her February visit with a Valentine’s Day banana bread. John said, “Don’t you think we should give Dorothy something too?”
Dorothy is a very, ‘you have to do things in the correct order’ kind of a person, which John was counting on. So Dorothy began a lecture on the visiting protocol.                                    John said, “I was thinking of something like a bigger banana bread pan!” We’d all grown to love each other to such point that John was playing with her brain. She laughed so hard she could hardly stand up.

Dinner Reservations At the Doughnut Shop

On Mondays after dinner our family has what is called Family Home Evening.  When it is my sons turn to conduct Family Home Evenin he would give the prayer, lead a song, give a lesson, choose a game, lead another song, and close with another prayer with a blessing on that evening’s treat. Then he would allow his sister to help because she would be complaining.  She wanted to DO SOMETHING other than just listen, so she helped prepare and serve a desert. The next week would be her turn when she would be in complete control.  Both children patiently tolerated me and my husband’s turns but during their own F. H. E. they only needed my help as a shopper, assigning some kind of refreshment ingredient to be in place for that evening.

It was on a Monday morning when my eight year old son received his first allowance.  This was also his turn to conduct Family Home Evening. After school my son counted his first allowance again got (and here I use a fictitious but similar name) Doe Doe Dee’s Doughnut phone number. I over heard him ask prices for four bowls of soup then eight donuts. Then he made RESERVATIONS FOR DINNER at six!

When he hung up the phone he came in and announced I did not have to supply ingredients for treats and I didn’t even have to provide dinner! To see the reaction of the doughnut shop’s staff and owner to my son’s reservations for dinner read my book Dragon’s Tale found at