Start as you mean to continue. So, after a warm family Christmas outing to the Flickers of Fairfield, I spent the week over New Years out West.
First, an overnight outing to see Candice (and Poppy) in Laguna Beach. Long life chats, nice walks and tasty sushi. Ahh, the joys of Laguna.
Then my favorite drive in the area - state highway 74 all the way from Dana Point to Palm Desert via Lake Elsinore, Perris, Hemmet, and Mountain View (atop Mt. Jacinto). Having rented a smart car (!!), I was a little concerned about road conditions following the recent significant snowfalls in the High Desert area. A call to the friendly CHP informed me that all was clear to I toodled off and had a lovely country drive. The scenery is varied, the roads in good condition and the vibe very chilled.
I popped in to Carl in Rancho Mirage and we grabbed a quick dinner at the nearby shopping center. What recesssion? 35 minutes waits at several of the the mega restaurants. Glad to see it too.
My stay at Jamal H's Joshua Tree property in the Spring had been so great that I rented another of the studios for the week. It's a sexy number with an all concrete bathroom completely open to the rest of the space. Nice to look at, yet cold!!! Several logs in the stove later, and an open air vent closed, I warmed to the place.
The next day started with a leisurely breakfast followed by a coffee rendezvous with John Luckett over at Ricochet. Natch this also involved an impromptu meet up with Randy Polumbo whose New Year's eve housewarming party was shaping up as the place to be.
From Ricochet, John and I headed over to the Historical Society in Landers for the Out and About Christmas lunch and secret santa. I'd found a wonderfully apt wooden rainbow set at a local thrift store and was keen to see what I might get in the deal. The answer, to save you the cliffhanger, was a DIY teddy bear santa kit with stuffing included.
The Historical Society is housed on a property that belonged to the daughter of the founding family in Landers. It now serves as a local research library for the area and has rooms preserved as they were when it was occupied. The garden has an accomplished bottle garden, said to have been created to mark the edge of the runway at a time when access was by light plane. The grounds also house the first post office which was moved here when a larger replacement was built as well as several strange structures in which bobcats were raised. Yes.
The lunch was a delicious event attended by about 60 locals. I met several new people including Phillip and Scott, an accomplished pair of ceramic artists who have moved to Landers from Upstate New York. I managed to see their latest show, in Palm Springs, the very next day and look forward to visiting their storied property next time I'm in the area.
That evening I popped into Pappy and Harriets for the usual Sunday evening music happiness. My regular dance partners were absent yet I managed to relax into the music and have a good bop.
Monday started with a long walk around the Joshua Tree Highlands neighborhood followed by a jaunt down to Palm Springs. Amongst other things, I saw Phillip and Scott's show at Maloney Fine Arts temporary space where I also met Michael Maloney. The day ended with a delicious dinner kindly hosted by Al Loup in his Yucca Valley house with with a view. We were joined by John L as well as Regina and Dimitri, two friends I hadn't seen since the Spring. A delicious time was had by all.
Tuesday dawned and I was off for another day of printing with Gretchen at the Creative Center in 29 Palms. Monoprint, collage and etching were the order of the day and Gretchen was amused at my new found canvasses made of recycled shopping bags. We had a leisurely lunch at the Inn and a good long, productive day over all.
New Years eve was spent over a fun dinner with John L at my place followed by Randy P's house warming. Tout Joshua Tree was there and it was good to reconnect with a range of folks. The house is a work of art in and of itself. Congratulations Randy! As my head hit the pillow at almost precisely midnight, I felt that I was off to a good start for the year.
New Years Day started with another long hike all over the Monument Manor neighborhood with another local buddy who is renovating a house high on the slopes of the Park. After a quick lunch it was over to new friends Cheryl and Brian's for a generous open house. There was a bounty of food, drink and guests. I made some more reconnections and marveled at how many people had had a great 2008 and were looking forward to 2009. It was nice to be out of the dark story of the recession and falling 401k's and into the celebration of flying a new plane to Big Bear, completing some beautiful house renovations and opening a new gallery in Joshua Tree.
My final stop was back at John L's to plan a show of his work for NYC. We picked through some pieces, did some planning and I left filled with optimism and inspiration for the year ahead.
Having scoured Virgin America for flights to extend my stay, I ended up leaving as planned to travel back to NYC and spend the weekend recouping before the work week commenced. Just as in the Spring, I felt that the trip was not long enough and decided this was the best reason to leave promptly so that I could return soon.