Christmas in Tehachapi...

Whenever I'm with Leslie on her Sabbath, I attend church with her. It's our thing. Today was a particularly timely message.

Leslie is pretty important in her church and led a great deal of the Christmas program. I was impressed!

After a morning of good message and song, we went home for lunch with Steve and then headed to Bakersfield for more Christmas.
Together, the three of us took a Walk Through Bethlehem where we encountered the sights, the sounds, the customs, and even the smells of what 1st century Bethlehem might have been like. What a super cool way to spend a Saturday night. 
This was so well done. We had the opportunity to experience the arrogant Roman Guards, the devious tax collector, the hard-working basket weavers, the talented metal workers, and the various citizenry.

Lastly, we were introduced to the Reason for the Season. This was a well done production that allowed us to learn a little about the past while being surrounded by some very loving people. Definitely a unique for us (and fun) last night on our SoCal sojourn.

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Life (briefly) in Tehachapi...

This little town has been drawing me here since 1995 when my dear college girlfriend, Leslie, relocated from Orange County.

This was our 35th year of celebrating birthdays together! How very special. She's been there for most of my life's important milestones.
It is a comfortable relationship and a stay here is full of all my favorite things.
We stroll often, making our way between Leslie's home and her mom's.
Though some of her neighbors are downright animals.

Tehachapi is the land of four seasons and today's wintry 37° made for a vigorous morning walk.
Life is so much better with friends in it!

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Our SoCal Sojourn Conclusion...

The last few days have been a blur of accomplishments: tasks that needed to be attended to and fun that had to be enjoyed. It's been tough!

Wednesday found us stumbling upon the Village of Carlsbad's Farmers Market.
Nothing says Farmers Market quite like a baguette protruding from a handbag.

After the market, we met up with our first daughter-in-law's parents for dinner (and an awesome view) at Pizza Port- one of our favorite spots at the beach.

Another evening was spent in the company of David and Karen who delight in serving us amazing wines and sumptuous meals. A visit with them is always a treat.

And for our final hurrah, we shared happy hour and an unbelievably stunning sunset with Steve's mom at Cardiff-by-the-Sea. It has been a wonderful escape though it's time to head home, with some stops along the way.

“A sunset is the sun’s fiery kiss to the night.” 
-Crystal Woods

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Retooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection

Located just up the road from Steve's mom is the Carlsbad Public Library. Adjacent to it, is the exceptional William D. Cannon Art Gallery, a museum of national quality, variety and balance with a regional focus. It introduces new work to the area while engaging new audiences... which are the goals of the changing exhibition program that have made this gallery a dynamic center for the visual arts in San Diego’s North County. Through museum-quality exhibitions, hands-on family activities, acclaimed arts education programs, lectures and publications, the gallery strives to make the visual arts an accessible, integral and ongoing part of the community’s life. Oh, and did I mention it's free?!

The announcement for the current exhibit caught my eye, the last time we were in Carlsbad, so seeing it was a must. Retooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection is the culmination of a relationship between man and his tools. 
It is the collection of John Hechinger, the owner of a successful chain of hardware stores, who began collecting tool-inspired art in the 1980s. This exhibition features 40 pieces of his 400 piece collection and includes a variety of 20th century modern and contemporary pieces, highlighting 28 visionary artists. The above was one of my favorites. This is an interesting description of it, "A vignette of an oak-fashioned lawnmower in F.L. Wall's Summer Tool (1983) takes on a cynical tone as the tool reduces each unique blade of grass to a standardized height—perhaps a commentary on how products of industrialization simultaneously unify and homogenize." Hmmm, I just thought it was cool because it is amazingly carved out of wood.

Steve and I were both taken with Christopher Plowman's, Cut (1986). Upon further research, I learned that this talented artist, inspirational teacher and loving father had succumbed to cancer at 56 years young. From his obituary: Chris had a highly developed sense of the absurd. Seemingly incapable of cynicism, but possessed of a sometimes cruel wit, he knew his worth and the worth of others. Incurably enthusiastic, he was often charmed by the results of his own work, stepping back with a smile, and saying, quietly: "I'm liking it."

I could really appreciate Stephen Hansen's Man on a Limb (1985) not only for its irony but also because it's constructed out of papier-mâché. Do you remember how tough it is to be creative with this goopy art medium? For a reminder, papier-mâché is a composite material consisting of paper pieces or pulp, sometimes reinforced with textiles, bound with an adhesive, such as glue, starch, or wallpaper paste. The details on this man were fantastic. And it had an element of whimsy, which I'm a sucker for. What a wonderful exhibit. I'm so glad we didn't miss this Carlsbad treasure.

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California Surf Museum... WOW!

My favorite stop of the day was at the California Surf Museum, an international repository and resource center on the lifestyle sport of surfing through capturing, preserving, and chronicling its art, culture and heritage for the education and enjoyment of future generations.

An emotional highlight was China Beach: Surfers, the Vietnam War, and the Healing Power of Wave-riding, a ground-breaking exhibit which consists of photos, first-hand accounts, surfboards, and memorabilia from those who were there. The story of the tales of scores of veterans who surfed in Vietnam during the war has never before been told. What a story!
Little did we know that the saying "boys will be boys" was so true in Viet Nam. Anyone who could surf, did so in their downtime.
This is a full-size replica and photo (below) of the China Beach lifeguard station and Surf Club, circa 1967. The China Beach Surf Club was a place for rest and relaxation on the beach, a little touch of home that meant so much to so many servicemen and women during their tour in Vietnam.

This was an incredibly emotion exhibit that I found to be so interesting. It is something everyone would benefit from seeing.
This was an enlightening quote, "There was a time, when on ambush one night, we were told kids our age were rolling in the mud at some place called Woodstock. Another night, another ambush, and we were told a man was walking on the moon." These young men missed so much of their lives while serving our country. It really hit home.
New to me was learning about the Donut Dollies, a group of amazing American women who volunteered to serve during the Vietnam War through the Red Cross as part of a program called Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas (SRAO), better known by our brave military men as “The Donut Dollies.”  Armed with nothing but cookies and home-made entertainment programs, the Donut Dollies risked their lives every day as they tried to fulfill their mission and cheer up the US troops. Despite their service and sacrifice, their stories and contributions in Vietnam have gone largely unnoticed and unappreciated. This exhibit has an actual outfit from a Dolly. Who knew?
I enjoyed learning about the cool tools of surfers. A Brief History of Surfboards: Wood, Foam to Fiberglass tells the story, beginning with wooden plank surfboards reminiscent of surfing’s roots in Polynesia, and follows surfboard evolution through the foam and fiberglass advances, the shortboard revolution, to surfboards being ridden by today’s champions.

We even learned about bodysurfing, the art and sport of riding a wave without the assistance of any buoyant device such as a surfboard or bodyboard. Bodysurfers typically equip themselves only with a pair of specialized swim fins that optimize propulsion and help the bodysurfer catch, ride and kick out of waves. Interesting, Colonial Americans were not known for their agility in the water. A Boston newspaper reported, The most frequent use of the harbor is for transport, and drowning. But one 11-year-old boy loved to swim. The ingenious child strapped thin planks of wood to his feet and hands, thus increasing his speed and efficiency in the water. Young Benjamin Franklin had discovered the swim fin.
An interesting exhibit was titled Courageous Inspiration: Bethany Hamilton. This tells Bethany’s story of how she lost her left arm to a Tiger shark while surfing on Kauai and her determination to not only recover from the incident, but return to surfing a mere three weeks after the attack! Truly inspirational.
We love Brady and Eric living in Oceanside because they are amazing tour guides, sharing their special beach town with us. What an information filled and extremely fun day.

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