While working a project of posters for Covid prevention in San Francisco (soon to be posted here), I went down a cockamamie rabbit hole. I thought that I’d use different shoes for the 6 foot recommended distancing but that didn’t work in my design at all. Instead, I reworked (and renamed) them. Gossamer comes from my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoon of all time Hair Raising Hare.
I went to Lassen last Summer with my friends Liz and Jenna (sisters) and about 80 Oregonians, as part of a group called the Chemeketans. I was leery of vacationing with such a large number of people but Liz assured me that it was a great way to go. At a very reasonable price, with communal participation in setting up and breaking down camp, kitchen, meal and shower tents, the group provided the food, drink and facilities for an easy camping experience.
A cook and some helpers are paid and the rest of the jobs are done by campers. I was required to sign up for a few tasks during the week—I requested dish washing.
Liz was right—it was a luxury to wake up to a hot meal and return from a long day of hiking to find dinner all ready and waiting! Yowzah!
Lassen is the least visited of the US National Parks. It’s an active volcano with “steaming fumaroles,” bubbling mud and sulfur pools. Hot stuff! As you can see from my paintings, in many areas, there are gorgeous creeks, lakes and meadows. I was struck by the beauty of the place.
Mount Lassen is 10,457 feet and in late July we had to pick our way over snow-covered trails at one of the trailheads. Luckily, we were an alert group of hikers and found markers on the trees. Trail crews were at work, a ways down, for the first time that season. We passed three pristine lakes and gorgeous wildflowers as we reached lower levels.
The elevation was tough for us lowlanders. So we continued down the mountain and hitchhiked back to our car. We had no problem getting a ride—nobody was worried about picking up middle aged women with backpacks!
I’d heard, through friends, that monarch butterflies were numerous at Lassen peak at that time of year and I really wanted to see them. We got lucky at another lake where tortoiseshell butterflies virtually covered the path. They differ from monarchs in that the underside of their wings is a dull brown and yellow but the tops are bright orange with black, much like the monarchs.
At the end of each day, all the Chemeketans would bring their folding chairs into a circle (around what would have been a fire if it weren’t Summer in California) and talk about the day’s hikes.
Mitch said to me, “My left eye is cloudy—as if my glasses are dirty but I’m not wearing glasses.”
We were boarding a flight to San Juan, P.R., our destination alternative to a Hurricane soaked Big Island. Thus began a four-month ophthalmic odyssey involving around a dozen eye and retina appointments, two nasty procedures, two surgeries and the terror of temporary blindness. It’s been a tough year for my sweetie.
We got to know most of the doctors at the UCSF Ophthalmology department. With nothing to do but worry, I kept myself busy during the appointments by sketching.
Recovering from retina surgery is an ordeal. The patient has to keep his face down/parallel to the floor 90% of the time for four days. We rented a massage chair thing and apparatus for sleeping as well.
The planets were aligned against us, as two weeks following the left eye surgery, the right eye retina tore as well. What are the odds? This took us…
The ordeal—two torn retinas at the same time: blind man’s bluff for 4 months. The sketches are all from eye #2. And it doesn’t include the appointments in Puerto Rico.
Thanks to the incredible Ophthalmology staff at UCSF for restoring Mitch’s sight! Now for a new prescription…
I’ve been phone banking for Democrats since January 2017. This week and next are critical so I’m ramping it up. Go out and do your part—VOTE and do a little volunteering to flip your district blue. It matters!
Okay, enough sermonizing. I also did a self portrait on Art Day. I had a hard time getting the proportions right so I drew the first sketch up side down.