Tag Archives: Randsburg

girls’ night in the unforgiving desert

The last several years I lived in D.C., I met my girlfriends S. and A. weekly for drinks. “Girls night” was generally on Thursdays, and often late. A. worked full-time at Georgetown University and went to law school in the evenings. S. was a lobbyist for hunger issues and represented food banks. I worked for NPR. We were all professionals and all dating.

Over bottles of wine and cheese plates, we debriefed each other on dates, gave each other advice on work, talked about world events and shared exciting trips. It was our time to vent, over-share, laugh hysterically, and, most importantly, trust. At one point, S. said, “Can we do this always and forever?”

A. and I both fell in love around the same time, and we talked each other off ledges in the early days as we worried about one thing or another. Over time, we both realized we met our life partners, so we looked to S. for fun dating stories. One time, S. brought her computer to the bar and we helped her write her Match.com profile.

Then, not two months later, two weeks after I returned from a vacation with (my husband) A. in Tanzania, I showed up and said, nonchalantly, “I think I might be pregnant.”

They looked at me, incredulous: “Why are you not running down to the corner to get a pregnancy test?”

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a homemade easel and a ghost town

I’ve decided to take up painting. Hey, why not? I love new projects and my next pottery class doesn’t start until May. And it would be nice to work in the garage or on the back patio where C. can entertain himself. (Earlier this week he said “cat” 400 times and chased a calico cat around our backyard while I sat with my mom in the shade.)

Painting requires an easel. Or so, A. and I thought, silly us.

So A. made me an easel (one friend in D.C. said in loving jest, “Oh my god, I just barfed in my hands.”)

“What do you want your easel to look like?” A. asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I haven’t even figured out where to start. Oil? Acrylic? Watercolor?”

A. didn’t care how I use it — he wanted to make an easel. So off he went to his sketchpad and then into the garage where he assembled it in a few days and painted it white. He’s proud because the joints are made out of oak instead of metal. (What a nerd.)

Two weekends ago, we took a trip to Randsburg, Calif., a living ghost town that boomed during the gold rush in the late 1800s. It’s straight out of a movie set — a main drag with a saloon, a shuttered post office and a general store with excellent milk shakes.



And among these Old West storefronts is an art gallery. That’s where we met Cheryl McDonald. She was cleaning up her studio filled with photographs and watercolor paintings while her tiny white dog ran around and wagged her tail. We found out Cheryl lives in Ridgecrest and teaches watercolor. And she’s giving free sessions at the Desert Wildflower Festival in mid-April.

Perfect! I thought. Watercolor is cheaper, you do it on paper, and so I can practice and not spend a bundle. I’ll take some lessons, figure out what I need, and then I can start using the easel.

Then I talked with S., who went to art school back in the day. And she said, “Yeah, watercolor is a good medium to start in, but you don’t use an easel for that. The color would run.”

Right. Of course. I love having a new easel, but it may have to sit in the garage or display other art while I figure out how to watercolor first. I’ll be sure to wipe the cobwebs from it regularly till I’m ready to put my mastery on canvas.



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