Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Ah Louis Store besides being a charming structure is also a historic building in San Louis Obispo. The owner was a Chinese immigrant who contracted Chinese laborers for roads and tunnels in the area.  The store also served as their bank.
It is often a subject of Plein Air artists. I finally got around to painting it near a side entrance to the mission.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Fantastic hard water toilet bowl cleaner

We must have some of the hardest water around. Water softeners add salt, something we have to watch due to our health. I had about given up on the mineral rings in our toilet bowls. Sorry about the subject matter. But when I was on one of my frequent fix-it trips to the local hardware store I heard a lady sing the praises of Pumie Heavy Duty Flexi Scour.  These little things that look like window screens are amazing! They took off eighteen years of rings in a less than a minute each.



Tuesday, June 19, 2018


             When leaves turn amber and the sun swings across the sky in a late autumn arc, when the children leave for school or for lives of their own and the nests become too quiet and so very empty, that's when the loopies' thoughts turn to CovenCon. Who are the loopies? What is CovenCon? Why I'm glad you asked. I shall try to explain.
            The loopies are just an informal group of ladies who met on the internet and through mutual interest formed a private email loop. My wife was formally accepted, mind you, after much internal scrutiny, to this fine group, in 1999. There are no rules. The glue of their existence is their compatibility of interests and problems. Everyone brings their laundry basket of domestic issues as well as national news items of interest for discussion and group support, be it horny hubbies, recalcitrant offspring, or the latest mayhem of the day. No issue is taboo. Motorized dildos and cock rings have been discussed, as well as Andrea Yates and her murdered children. What shifts topic is waning interest or a new crisis.
            Fourteen ladies, give or take, make up the group. There's Jennifer the nurse, Bonnie the librarian, Ruby the programmer. Also there's Diane the writer, Jean the psychic dabbler, Martha the school scheduler, Penny the Air Force wife, Charlotte the Nascar fan, Kristen the grown-up hippie from Jersey, Priscilla the Adult-Ed teacher, Julie the psychologist, Tammy the flying phobic, Kelly the lunch lady, and Norma, my wife, and also the group's travel specialist.
            I first became involved with the group when I retired to join Norma at our new home. Now on a fixed income I intended to make every penny count. I inherited my son's old Geo Storm when he moved to Cleveland and took my shiny, near-new Toyota Corolla with him. The Storm was serviceable enough for my limited needs, but at ninety thousand miles it needed a few repairs. I work on cars. I like old cars. They are simple to repair for the most part.
          Things were going well until the Storm developed a small coolant leak. I tackled it. It persisted. Every time I thought I had it fixed in a few days it surfaced anew. I even got into the water pump buried deep between the radiator and the engine block and driven by an intimidating timing chain.
          Throughout all this Norma was relaying my misfortunes to the loopies. Norma, you see, wanted me to get a new car. I wanted to keep the old car. So she asked the loopies to cast a collective hex on the poor old Storm. It worked. The leak never stopped. Finally and reluctantly I traded it in. But I named them all witches and called their group a coven out of sheer frustration.
         Then in 2001 Penny's husband was deployed and she was involved in a major automobile accident. Penny was having a hard time of it and the coven decided to get on their brooms and fly out to her home to aid and comfort her. Witch Bonnie tacked on "Con" and CovenCon was born. Eight of them met in Virginia, succored Penny, and had a swell time to boot. No one drew a sober breath for a week. No one slept much for fear of missing some good conversation. Such a grand time was had by all they vowed to meet again in 2003.
         Sure enough two years later Norma instigated another CovenCon, this time at our home in California. I was not about to stay. The place was theirs. I do not party with witches. Instead I spent the week at my mother-in-law's who, incidentally, I get along with very well, keeping the elderly lady company at dinner time and going out to paint by myself during the day. Though I must say she is painfully fond of Rush Limbaugh, to whom she listens faithfully each day at jet engine decibel volume.
         As for the CovenCon, I did get talked into coming back a day early. I sat up, rolled over, spoke, and did other tricks for their amusement. Later we all ate a sumptuous meal of pork loin with all the trimmings. Tiring of me quickly they gang tackled the cleanup chores as women are wont to do and retired to the upstairs poolroom. To the sound of striking pool balls, ribald tales, and uproarious laughter I spent the rest of the evening downstairs unpacking my paintings and cleaning my painting gear, watching basketball, and dumping empties in the trash cans outside. The sound of bottles clinking went on for a long time. What did the neighbors think? Probably nothing. Hey this is California, wine country USA. Did I also hear a soft-shoe on my pool table felt? If it happened I really don't want to know.
          So now it's time again. Already with the countrywide clatter of keyboards, emails signal the need for another CovenCon. The rules are simple. Girls only. No kids. No husbands. Just bring yourself, some spending money if you have it, and the fresh wounds and scars from the intervening two years of life. Come have a group catharsis; come have a temporary ablution of your cares. Soothe those wounds with shared experiences. Soften those scars with group laughter. Take respite from a week of multitasking. Rejuvenate with female company where "Hey Mom" and "Hey Hon" will not be heard for seven days.
         This year plans are gelling to meet in Colorado. It will be a mountain high in more ways than one. Sleeping arrangements will be by random ballot. There's plenty of room. It's a big house. Will I be there? Are you kidding? I plan to be at least a thousand miles away on the central coast of California, painting, writing, sunning. Maybe I'll listen to some Rush with Grandma. Maybe I'll visit my daughter in Sacramento. Then I'll be back to clean up the empties. Hope the new neighbors are not offended.
         So now it's 2018 and time again for another CovenCon. Hard to believe seventeen years have passed since the very first one. The rules are simple. Girls only. No kids. No husbands. Just bring yourself, some spending money if you have it, and the fresh wounds and scars from the intervening two years . . .

Friday, May 25, 2018

Martha Scroggin's ranch on a sunny day in May.