Sunday, June 19, 2011
Day 17 and 18. June 17 and 18, 2011-Santa Rosa, CA
I’ve arrived at the home of my cousin Kathie and her husband Oz Childs in the historic McDonald District of Santa Rosa, about 50 miles north of San Francisco. I was welcomed with food and good conversation. Their house is a 1908 shingle-style bungalow with a lush backyard garden with a dense mix of flowers, vegetables, shrubbery and seductively mysterious plantings in the eyes of an East-coaster like me.
I’ve been here two days enjoying the cool sunny climate and the near “perfect” neighborhood they’ve been living in for over 30 years.
Oz took Etta and I on a walking tour last night. We strolled down canopied alleyways between an eclectic mix of period style homes and many mansions. I’m told the original Polyanna movie with Hayley Mills was filmed here in the gingerbread Victorian McDonald mansion. When we arrived, the owners were preparing for the wedding of their daughter today in the gardens around the home.
I delivered artwork today to two San Francisco area Hand to Hand Project artists. Nancy Mizuno Elliott lives and has her studio in Oakland surrounded by tropical plants she’s brought back from Costa Rica. Her studio is filled with works in progress including two neon winged murals of stage divers. For Hand to Hand she created six hands and arms on paper scrolls weighted at the edges by dripping red glass. The text relates to the problem of returning soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
My next stop was at the home of artist Holly Consol in Livermore, near the Lawrence Livermore National Security Laboratory. I knew Holly could not be at home when I arrived, so Holly’s husband Mike accepted them for her. Holly hand painted her six gloves with scenes such as this head-scarf-wearing Iraqi woman whose eyes show she is obviously in distress.
Tonight, in honor of my visit, cousin Kathie and husband Oz arranged a dinner party, and invited their daughter Caitlin, who is my first cousin twice removed, and my first cousin Rod Fagan whom I had never met. I am grateful to connect with family who live in California, so far from the original Irish-American immigrant relatives who first settled in Rutland Vermont.
The route here to Santa Rosa on Friday took eight hours...much longer than I like. Etta and I originally took our time, stopping at the beach and at vista points all up the rocky Pacific coastline on Highway 1, carefully negotiating the hairpin curves and cliffs that drop off way down to the sea. I shot a picture of two cavorting elephant seals, barking and bellowing in delight. Hard to see, so I’ve circled them in red.
We ate lunch by a rocky outcropping and Etta stared down from above at waves crashing against the cliffs. We got snagged in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic through San Francisco, Oakland and environs, but no matter. I’m humbled once again by the hospitality I have received here in Santa Rosa from cousins, relatives, children, and artists.