the rose and the cloud, a vanishing act

we used to be headliners.


but then the recession hit.


and now, we’re lucky to book a week in peoria in the off season.



exposé: flowers reveal their true feelings

“all i ever do is bloom,” opined the azalea.

IMG_2173 (2)“i feel your pain,” drawled the bird of paradise.

IMG_2174 (2)“well, that’s nothing compared to what we put up with,” said the yellow rose.

IMG_2175 (2)“puh-leeze,” muttered the heritage rose under her breath, “that yellow rose drops its pants with the slightest provocation.”

IMG_2176 (2)“i would too, given the opportunity,” squeaked the rose’s bud-dy.

IMG_2177 (2)“what’s a little blossom like you, doing in a garden like this,” purred the honey-throated horny old hibiscus.

IMG_2178 (2)“well, i never!” huffed the succulent. [editor’s note: not true.]

IMG_2179 (2)“look what happened to me when i flew too close to the sun,” wailed the neighbor’s rose from its imposing height.

IMG_2182 (2)“god, i’m depressed,” whispered sonia (the only rose in the garden with a name, except for mr. lincoln and princess diana, neither of whom wished to be on camera for this story.)

IMG_2181 (2)























a few minutes in balboa park on saturday, october 17, 2015, exactly 100 years after my first visit

it couldn’t have taken longer than 10 minutes to walk from the san diego history museum to where our bus was idling, but

IMG_2147there was much to admire. this angel trumpet could have been the pipes of a cathedral organ. or maybe it was and had i but listened more closely i would have heard a bach organ toccata, idk. or,

IMG_2148these two people may have been caryatids, designed specifically in the 21st century style to prop up the decidedly early 2oth century urns on pedestals of a particularly pleasing palette. as you undoubtedly can see (if you’ll only take the moment to look);

IMG_2151balboa park in san diego is celebrating its 100th anniversary. someone please light the candles on this rococco revival cake of a building.

IMG_2152a great urban park is a meeting place for a city’s citizens to stroll and gawk and giggle and admire and relax from a week’s work (this being a saturday, after all). that appealed to me…we don’t have that in orange county–unless you consider fashion island or south coast plaza our version of urban parks and the meeting place of a great society. <sigh> and,

IMG_2153just when you thought you’d fallen down a rabbit hole of terra cotta floral excess, you’d be right, of course. one building in balboa park after another is a folly and a fantasy, but it makes sense; it’s comforting in its own way. the citizenry blithely

IMG_2155ignorant and at the same time completely cognizant of its beauty. and in spite of the crush of humanity, each and every person with their own agenda for the day: strollers, gawkers, wedding photographers, children, and pets (dogs mostly, but the occasional boa constrictor, too), shorts and sequins and heels and flats, curls in hair mimicking the floral strands winding their way up the pillars and columns. just the right balance of too much and wishing for more.

IMG_2156were you there, too? i thought i saw you at the end of the koi pond, but you were too far away for me to call to you; for a moment i’d forgotten my 21st century technology and waved to you instead. did you see me?




what went wrong

tabor_iowafrom this distance, it’s hard to tell exactly what went wrong. it–our relationship–seemed to the outside world and to my internal self to be straight forward and simple. we had mutual friends. we liked to go out dancing and bar-hopping. we shared an aesthetic (which, by the way, i read today is the “new” mid-life crisis, not knowing what your ‘aesthetic’ is. to laugh.) the sex was terrific–i loved his dark, hairy body and the fact that he was nearly as tall as me. he had ambition. we both loathed burt lange, the nasty old queen who owned the antique store at the corner of state st. & oak and was always swanning around in a mink coat regardless of the weather and for whom this love of mine worked. but, once he quit, and rented a space on armitage, west of halsted, and opened “Morehouse Antiques”, it, our love, seemed to peter out. (should ‘peter out’ conjure images of dribbling, then i’ve succeeded in successfully describing how it came to end.) what better way to recover than a road trip with my mother. we drove from springfield to rapid city with stops in shenandoah, iowa, where there were graveyards a-plenty packed with dead relatives that called out to us–inveterate cemetery-hounds that we were–and where this photo was taken when our car broke down one hot summer day in 1976. the look on my face a reminder that sometimes even your loving mother can’t make things right. sigh.


62 things that have happened over the last 61 years and 363 days

  1. rescued from the shelter
  2. wore a pot as a hat
  3. had a mom and a dad
  4. lived in germany
  5. made the ‘crossing’ on a leash
  6. picked tulips (not ours)
  7. watched my parents flirt when my dad was picking cherries from the top rung of a ladder and my mom was on the ground looking up at him wearing a dress with an apron
  8. suddenly no dad
  9. walking to indian trail elementary school in highland park by myself
  10. wearing corrective glasses that had one frosted lens over my good eye–ran into a lot of things, got bruised
  11. moving from illinois to south dakota with a basketball in a bird cage
  12. replacing the basketball with petey bird, one in a series of parakeets all with the same name
  13. getting picked on by the neighborhood boys for being a sissy
  14. snowflakes
  15. mary moved in with us and became my ‘dad’
  16. straight ‘a’s for the first time
  17. nickname = butch, which the men in the family used, but the women all called me butchie. of course, it was what stuck.
  18. a crew cut
  19. brown as a button
  20. cleaning frozen dog waste in a blizzard with my mouth open
  21. braces
  22. cello, because when i asked the play the french horn, the orchestra teacher said not with braces you won’t and handed me the cello
  23. got beat up by a smaller boy when i was walking home carrying my cello
  24. got picked on by the 9th grade boys — duck tails and rolled up sleeves — for being, you guessed it, a sissy
  25. matriculated to high school
  26. starred in a play of “The Shoemaker and the Elves”
  27. decided i liked being on the stage
  28. straight a’s (i tried to make it a habit, but math and science got in the way. still managed to graduate summa cum laude from high school)
  29. won trophies for acting
  30. dated charlotte wendt until she broke up with me because i wouldn’t go any further than kissing her
  31. had an idyllic summer doing children’s theater in the park
  32. went out of state to college
  33. smoked weed, took drugs, drank to excess, still managed to get straight a’s
  34. sugar beet factory, ’nuff said
  35. auditioned for the goodman school of drama, got accepted
  36. saw mao zedong (albeit a painting by warhol)
  37. moved to chicago
  38. waited tables at arnie’s for 6 years
  39. partial list of celebrities i met then: ginger rogers, bette davis, princess grace, robert altman, carol burnett, christopher reeve, gloria swanson, dorothy lamour, rex reed, lauren hutton, et. al.
  40. served henny youngman a bowl of soup with a fly in it
  41. smoked weed, took drugs, drank to excess, partied all night (managed to only pass out in one bar, though, a minor miracle in-and-of-itself)
  42. woke one day hating myself (not the first time, but this was the turning point)
  43. out-of-work for a year, got by with a little help from my friends
  44. my mother died (bereft)
  45. frog-leaped into the art business
  46. suddenly had a career where all of my peripatetic education came together for the first time and actually made sense
  47. fell in love
  48. went to france (where they kiss on main street)
  49. hosted wonderful christmas eve parties
  50. friends died, too many funerals
  51. moved to hawaii (perhaps a bit of running away)
  52. little beach on maui, no need to say any more than that
  53. made more friends
  54. moved to california
  55. left one job after 12 years to work at an even better job (now for 22 + years)
  56. held an oscar (the award, not the gardener…although)
  57. drove up highway 1 to san francisco (but we left our heart in carmel-by-the-sea)
  58. bought a house — in california — close to the ocean — still live there (consider this a minor miracle)
  59. worked on a museum exhibit with the academy of motion picture arts & sciences
  60. worked on a museum exhibit with the smithsonian
  61. still in love with the same man, nearly 33 years together
  62. took this picture today:



well, you would be too

“Aneal loved the ocean, daffodils, the color blue, Frank Sinatra, the L.A. Dodgers, the USC Trojan football team, her family and God.”

Pantone blues

I read the obituaries, what can I say? This one, though, in today’s paper really resonated with me, especially the list of things the decedent loved. It made me think that I’d liked to be remembered for loving a color so much that my friends and family felt compelled to include it in my obituary–should there ever be such a thing. Not that I won’t die, but that there’ll be an obituary. I’ve written about this topic before, you can read that here. It stumped me this morning, “blue” being such a big word, encompassing so many different blues–and so many shades of meaning, but then I decided that their love of blue was qualified by their first love–the ocean, and suddenly that included all of the blues, the hundreds of blues, the blue of a sun-filled sky, and the deep marine blue of the Mariana Trench, the sea-foam blue of a frothy afternoon walk along the beach, and the blue of midnight in the garden, the blue of wisteria and delphinium, blueberry and plum, the blue moon and l’heure bleue, the blue of a vein running on the back of an elder’s hand, the blue of a Dutch tile, lapis lazuli, turquoise, and Tiffany. Even in the best of circumstances, there will always be a tinge of melancholy attached to blue especially in song; “Am I Blue”, “Blue Velvet”, and “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue?” Doesn’t that qualify your love of blue then after all? A less happy life, perhaps, but more honest than another. You know, true blue.


the big picture

i thought, for a moment, and then it may have been not today, but yesterday, that i would find some inspiration in these pictures, you know, a return, perhaps not triumphant, not caesar entering rome after the conquest of gaul (vini, vidi, vici), no, not that, more a long the lines of caravaggio sneaking into naples after running from rome, dead of night, all dark corners, heart pounding (mine, surely not yours), and yet, that’s not quite it either and so this problem of not finding the right words or finding the words at all seems still to hang around like last night’s dinner with red peppers and garlic and brussels sprouts (he burped.)

are you a big picture person?

or are you all about the details?

perhaps you fall somewhere in between–a little of this and some of that and as long as i’m standing here, i’ll take that one over there because blue is my favorite color (not true).


so, in the end, this may just be an aberration and not a return. i’ll have to see how i feel about it tomorrow (the big picture, not the macro).




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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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