Good-bye to My Friend, Peter.

My friend, Peter Kempson, died from cancer early this morning at 1:06 am. This was two months after his terminal diagnosis. His partner, Jan, said that Peter was not in pain and that he passed away quietly. Jan also said that Peter was lucid up until his death.

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I will miss my friend, though I am glad to know – for his sake – that his journey on this plane is done. His body had stopped cooperating.

Peter was a gifted artist. Here are some examples of his paintings.

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May light perpetual shine upon your soul, my friend. You were a good man and your memory will stay with those who loved you for a lifetime.

An Unexpected Window into the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

Tonight, Ray and I were invited to attend a BBQ in Manhattan Beach hosted by Dr. Katheryn Challoner, who is a member of the attending staff for Emergency Medicine at LA County + USC Hospital as well as on the faculty of USC’s Keck School of Medicine. She is also an active member of St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Hollywood and often volunteers at the “Breakfast Club,” our bi-monthly homeless feed program. In addition, Katherine is the co-director of the International Division of Emergency Medicine and this brings us to the reason we were invited to her home this evening. Her friend and former medical student, Dr. Benedict Kolee, had just arrived from Liberia and was there to speak to other physicians who were at the BBQ about the recent Ebola breakout in West Africa. Why were we invited? Because we had met Dr. Kolee before when he had come with Kathryn to the Breakfast Club on several occasions and we saw them just this morning when they came to volunteer to help feed the homeless.

Dr. Kolee explained to the group of doctors present (along with Ray and me) about the current Ebola situation in Liberia. This information was particularly pertinent since two of the medical residents present had been planning a trip to Liberia with Kathryn to present a training seminar to physicians there. However, Dr. Kolee explained that because there is a considerable lack of basic safety supplies such as gloves and goggles for medical personnel in Liberia currently, he did not feel that it was prudent for these doctors to come at this time.

According to the World Health Organization, Ebola has killed over 600 people and infected 888 in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone since February, 2014, and a growing number of health workers have died. Redemption Hospital in Monrovia was virtually abandoned because of the outbreak and has only recently reopened with a small staff of health workers. Dr. Kolee emphasized that the spread of the disease can be prevented in hospitals through the strict use of a disease control protocol, but supplies, education and training are critical. He is currently working with Johns Hopkins in an effort to secure more funds to meet the current need of what WHO is calling, “the largest outbreak of Ebola since it was discovered in 1976.”

Currently, there is no cure for Ebola, which is a form of hemorrhagic fever, and there is a ninety per cent death rate for those who are infected with the disease. However, for those who do not die over a 21-day incubation period, a full recovery is expected with no further evidence of the disease. The disease is not easily contracted since it requires fluid exchange. It is not an airborne virus. However, because of crowded conditions in the cities and also cultural practices for funerals that include the touching of the deceased, public officials are encouraging the population to refrain from coming in contact with people who currently have the disease or any who have recently died from it.

Dr. Kolee said that this is a grave situation, but that with funding for education and supplies, the medical community can implement strategies to protect the general populace as well as health workers. On a personal note, he said that he is very careful when working with patients and that the hospital where he works is one of the few that has a disease control protocol firmly in place. Because so few hospitals have the supplies and equipment necessary, the Liberian government has declared the Ebola outbreak a national emergency.

Of course, as a neutral party listening to this information, it was almost impossible not to worry about Dr. Kolee’s safety. Exposure to sick patients even with strict precautions seems risky. However, when it was suggested that he should perhaps stay in the United States in order to remain safe, Dr. Kolee shook his head. “Oh, no. I must go back.”

Below is a link to a CNN newscast with Christiane Amanpour related to the Ebola outbreak. We watched this evening, as well.

Hats off to Dr. Kolee and his efforts.  We wish him well and also hope that this current outbreak will be quickly stemmed.  Godspeed.

Dr. Benedict Kolee

 

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Back Road to Santa Barbara Today

We have just returned from Santa Barbara where we’ve been working on an estate there for a woman who is a Western collector. Here are pictures of the back road from Ojai to Santa Barbara, which we traveled about 8 am today.  It was a beautiful way to start the day.  Here are some photos.

 

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SB #2

Ray SB#3

#$

#6

Curves#7

Palm tree

I Need Your Help Figuring Out My Writing Skills

Hi folks,

I am in the process of figuring out how to make my writing more effective.

If you are so inclined, please help me out by answering any or all of the following questions. You can either respond in the comment box or else send me a private email at lenleatherwood@gmail.com.

Your answers can be one word if that’s easier or very short. Don’t feel burdened by this. Simply toss in a few words that might help guide me.

The questions are:

What do you perceive as my values?
What do you consider my strong points?
What do I do for you?
What benefit do you get out of my blog?
How would you describe me?

With your answers, I can get a better feel for my strengths and what writing seems to hit home the most.

Thank you in advance for helping me. I realize everyone’s time is limited and I am just hoping you’ll take just a moment to toss in your two-cents worth.

Fondly, Len.

Conceptional chalk drawing - Help needed

Baking as a Coping Mechanism

The world has been filled with troubles over the past several days and I have been posting recipes about honey-sweetened goodies I’ve been baking. Lest you think I am a complete out-to-lunch idiot who never reads the news or watches a television newscast, let me just say that baking is my stress-reliever. When I hear stories of the violence in the Gaza Strip or a passenger plane shot down by pro-Russian rebels, my first reaction is to get down a cookbook, thumb through its pages until I see a picture of a cookie, cake or pie that looks tasty, and then head over to the drawer where I keep my aprons.

I don’t know why I’ve developed this coping mechanism. Maybe it’s the fact that I can control the cooking project that I am undertaking. I can measure out exactly 1 ½ cups of flour, 1 ½ cup oatmeal, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, a little salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 cup of honey and a cup of raisins or cranberries or bananas and after mixing it all up, I’m going to have a perfect cookie or cake to show for it. Maybe it’s the smile on my husband Ray’s face when he comes in to see what I’ve whipped up or that satisfied look he gets after he’s taken a bite. Maybe it’s the sense of pleasure I feel when I taste my cookie or piece of cake and the flavors are so nicely blended together. I’m not sure, but I do know I feel better.

That is not how I feel when I hear all of this bad news from around the world. Hearing about violence, pain, and suffering leaves me walking around with a heavy heart and mind, no matter how many prayers I might offer up.

So, my reflex is to create something new and delectable that will bring a little measure of happiness.

Not very complicated – nothing like these world events that have layer upon layer of historical complications that serve as the motivator for more human suffering. My only goal is to bring a bit of comfort into the world, however small. I cannot fix the problems in the Middle East or in Russia or even here in the United States. I can make a cookie or cake that will brighten the face of my husband, my children or my students. It’s not much, but it is the best that I can do in my small way, in my small world.

My other offering is my prayer: For peace, compassion and understanding for all people and their leaders in our world.

Here’s to baking and to hope for a peaceful world.

Amen.

Joy of Baking

Delicious Honey-Sweetened Lemon Raisin Scones

I made these a few days ago and they are really good. Not light and fluffy like the scones we’re all used to, but rather heavy and dense. Apparently, this is more like an English scone. Still, do not be deterred. These have a lovely layer of flavors and are very tasty with hot tea or coffee.

Honey-Sweetened Lemon Raisin Scones

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 T baking powder
¼ t baking soda
¼ t salt
6 T butter
1 cup raisins
1/2 c honey
2 t lemon zest
2 T yogurt
2 eggs

In a large bowl mix together the pastry flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Chop up the butter into squares and add to the flour mix. mix in the butter by using your fingers and working the butter into the flour mixture until the mix looks like coarse crumbs. In a 1 cup measuring cup measure out the honey and add the yogurt, the eggs and the lemon zest. Mix well. Add to flour/butter mixture. Stir until all has just combined. Try not to over mix this. It may still be a bit wet or sticky, but that is okay.

Lightly flour the a pastry board and dump the scone mix onto this and flatten them out to a circle that is about 8 inches. Sprinkle a little more flour on the top if it still feels sticky. Using a butter knife cut the scones into 8 wedges.

Lightly spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and set each scone wedge onto the tray leaving about 1 inch space between them.

Bake at 375 for about 18 to 20 minutes. Enjoy! Makes 8 scones.

lemon raisin scone

Richard Linklater Film: Boyhood – GO SEE IT

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I just returned from seeing Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood and I have to say this is a must-see. The film spans 12 years (literally) and you watch the main character, Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, grow and change from age 6 to age 18. The other characters: Patricia Arquette as Mason’s mother, Ethan Hawke as his father and Lorelei Linklater as his sister also age over the course of the movie via natural time. The story centers around the family dynamics of Mason’s divorced parents and the series of husbands his mother acquires over the years. The film is set in Texas beginning in the early 1970′s.

The movie was shot over several days every year for 12 years and has an organic feel since you see the children, Mason and sister Samantha, physically get bigger and emotionally become more mature over those years. Also, interestingly enough, you see Hawke’s character, along with Arquette’s, experience their own physical and emotional transformation.

This is the chronicle of a typical divorced family with a few twists and turns along the way. What makes this film unique is the actual real-time aging as well as superb dialogue, particularly between young Mason and his father, Mason, Sr.

This film is well worth the time, money and effort it will take to go see it. It is long – 2 3/4 hours – but I can guarantee you won’t notice the time. In fact, you actually will want more not less before it’s over.

Boyhood is a strong and thought-provoking film about imperfect people figuring out how to live in this world. Run don’t walk to see it. Let me know what you think once you’ve had a chance to watch it. I’ll be interested in your impressions.

Boyhood_filmNight night.

KCRW’s Free Gregg Allman Concert

Today we saw Sturgill Simpson and his band and then Gregg Allman and his band. This was all free from the public radio station, KCRW. It was an incredibly well-organized free concert with lots of parking, food trunks and clean portable toilets. The music was excellent and the acoustics were great. Gregg Allman’s voice was as strong as ever and his band was tight. Sturgill gave a solid performance as well as the warm-up band for Gregg. All in all a fabulous way to spend a Saturday.

Here are some photos:

In line

In line

 

Our friend, Greg, and his son, Teddy

 

Greg and Teddy

 

Ray and Henry

 

Ray and Henry 1

 

Bronwyn (Our friend and mother of Teddy and Henry)

Bronwyn

New Friends We Met In Line

Palos Verdes Couple

Getting Settled

getting settled

Boys watching Sturgill Simpson and his band

Back shot of boys

Close up of Sturgill

Sturgill

Gregg Allman

Gregg - front shot

Everybody Enjoying the Night

Night shot

Guitar Player with Gregg Allman

Front Shot - Guitarist

Side Shot of Gregg Allman

side shot Greg A.

Guitarist doing a fine job on that guitar

guitarist

Horn Players

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Gregg Playing the Organ

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Fabulous venue, great music, lots of fun.

Another event in the next week or so.  Check out KCRW’s website for details.  Well worth going!

5-Star Honey-Sweetened Oatmeal Banana Muffins

1/2 cup coconut oil
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas (3 or 4 medium-sized bananas)
1/2 warmed honey
1/4 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup unbleached whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease 18 muffin tins

In a mixer bowl, combine oil, eggs, bananas, and honey. Cream well.

Stir together flour and salt. Add to the creamed mixture, mixing until just blended. Still in oats.

Fill muffins pans 2/3 full of batter. Bake in preheated oven for 18 – 20 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen muffins

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 package cream cheese
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 cup maple sugar

Whip on high using mixer. Chill in refrigerator before frosting muffins.

Banana Nut Cake

 

inside bn cake

Today with Luna

This is a short blog tonight. Granddaughter Luna was here for most of the day and I’m beat. Of course, I had a wonderful time having her here. There is nothing like her sweet face to make me feel completely happy. Here are some pictures to chronicle our day together:

Luna with Grandpa

Ray and Luna1

 

Heading off to play

 

Luna - garden

Looking up at the avocado tree

Looking up at the Avocado Tree

Playing with a bug

PLaying in the chair

Water hose

Luna and water hose

Drinking from hose

Drinking from hose

Playing with Cordie

Luna, Cordie and Rock

Heading back off

Walking, Shadow, Side View

Stopping to Check In

Stopped, Shadow, Front View

Baby and dog

Luna and Cordie near hose

More baby and dog

Luna sitting with Cordie

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