Thursday, February 03, 2011

God promised to provide for widows and the fatherless [Ansel Adams story]

In the months following Bob's passing away, years ago, I began sorting through his collections of memorabilia, and discovered a large flat bag containing a fancy portfolio full of black and white photographs. I vaguely remembered seeing it when we were first married, and had put it on his closet shelf with his other stuff. I probably haven't looked at these photos in 55 years.

The silk binder looked pretty fragile now, and the papers separating the photos looked like old-fashioned "sepia tone" was used to make things look antique. But on closer look, I saw that each photo was signed in pencil, below the right corner. I could barely make out, "A. Adams".

Then, I recalled that Bob had won a camping trip to the Sierras, when he was an Eagle Scout, back in our high school days, somewhere in 1944 or '45. This set of Ansel Adams' prints was part of the prize, perhaps a gift from his own parents, or from his Uncle Alan who was an avid photographer, and who tried to encourage Bob in his interest in photography.

We carted this portfolio to all the houses we lived in after settling down in California in 1952, following two and a half years on the east coast. We never considered its value. Only one or two of our children ever saw the photos, so the portfolio was pretty much forgotten.

We were familiar with using the internet to gauge the value of items for sale and had sold a few of Bob's things on eBay. My son John checked on the sale of Ansel Adams Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras and found that just one signed print had recently sold for several thousand dollars. And here we had the entire portfolio of 18 signed prints. It was made in 1927. At most, 150 sets were ever printed.

We had heard of CLARS on TV, a huge auction house in Oakland, CA. It offers free appraisals every Thursday. Those years ago, John and I drove up there (a little over an hour) and sat in the waiting room with a lot of other people carrying odd-looking packages and/or antique looking framed pictures, and small furniture. Eventually, a young woman called us in to show her what we had. She used white gloves to turn the pages. I was impressed. She used a computer to check out the value of our item, and she discovered which photos had recently sold. If we were to have them sell the portfolio, they would be keeping it there. This was all new to us, and we wanted to think through options, so we brought it back home.

That week, I told the group of ladies with whom I meet for weekly Bible study, how I realized that God was keeping His promise to provide for me, as the "widow and the fatherless" ... perhaps through Bob's prize given to him so long ago.

Last week, after we saw a Clars ad on TV again, I said to John that we should take it back up there. John emailed Clars a few days ago, telling them that we would be bringing in an Ansel Adams item and wanted to give them a "heads up" so they could alert whoever might be the right person to meet with us. He got an email back from Rick Unruh. He told us to ask for him when we arrived. So, instead of driving early to try to beat the crowd, we leisurely drove up, walked in, and informed a worker to tell Rick we had arrived, and then we joined the crowd of folks with their suitcases and bags of items.

Soon, a gentleman worked his way over to us, introduced himself as Rick, and graciously worked us through the group of folks with their odd parcels, past the "out front" tables where appraisers sat opposite individuals with their items, and took us to a quiet area around back where a table awaited our arrival. We then learned that he was the Director of Fine Arts.

He put on white gloves that I had brought. As he turned the pages, we could see that he was obviously impressed. He told us that he had never seen one of these portfolios. He was thrilled to be holding one in his hands. He had studied art and art history as a young man, and knew what he was looking at.

We wanted time for people to read about it or be notified of it. They have auctions once a month, in fact, one coming up this weekend. Now, May's auction would include some higher end art pieces. We agreed that May struck us as the auction to go for. It would provide ample time for advertising and reach a better audience.

He went over the contract for us to sign. He placed the portfolio in an acetate envelope (it looks like clear plastic and is acid-free and will help protect the set).

Rick was excited about the story of Bob's receiving this set as a prize, and let me write the story.

He says he loves to have wonderful, old and famous paintings surrounding him, as he does there at Clars, so he feels they are his for a little while. It gave him much pleasure to see this portfolio. John and I were reminded of the words of the stamp collector in the movie "Charade" with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, when he returns the valuable stamps after the little boy had sold them by mistake: "Well, I am satisfied. For a few moments, they were mine. That was enough."

They are only "things."

Thank you, God for providing for me, though perhaps Bob never realized what he had on his shelf.

What's in YOUR closet?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

When I received the beautiful brochure inviting me to attend the Grand Opening of Scott Garland's new gallery in Old Town Monrovia, CA, I didn't dream of going to it.

But, I went on the computer and invited all my art loving friends and relatives in Southern CA, to go see my son David's collection of portraits, being featured along with two other artist's works, at this new gallery in Monrovia. All three, and the gallery owner, had been classmates at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, in the late '70s. This would be a reunion.

Then, my niece, Elena Page called, and said, "Doris you've got to be there! You're the MOM of one of the featured artists!" (Her husband, the late Raymond Page was a fantastic painter of seascapes especially, and she said he was always encouraged and refreshed by relatives and friends who attended his shows). She had gone on the computer and made plane reservations for me, so all I had to do was say yes. Well, why not?

No one else knew I was coming. We giggled as we thought of how surprised David would be when we walked in.

She picked me up Friday, at the Long Beach Airport, in a rented cute little PT Cruiser! What fun. (She didn't trust her old classic car on the freeways of L.A. anymore).

We had a nice salad in her charming condo in North Laguna, and spent the evening talking about all the fun things we were going to do for the next three days. Beginning with getting my nails done... which I have never had done before. Crazy! So, after a good breakfast the next morning, we took a quick walk in her neighborhood, seeing the rugged coast, and a cove popular with scuba divers. Beautiful homes, and gardens surrounded us.

Then we headed to South Laguna to her favorite Viet Namese nail shoppe. What a treat to have this sweet young lady trimming and doing all the unglamorous work of getting my nails to match in length and shape.

Then back up the coast, we stopped at her favorite consignment shop to enjoy showing each other stuff we liked, but didn't have to have. My favorite thing was an oil painting of a rural Indonesian scene... but I want to learn to paint one myself sometime. Her favorite thing was a red pottery pitcher, but she already has one. We decided on lunch from a hole-in-the-wall place which hands you your purchase in a plastic bag to take home with you. It was the best blackened salmon with a salad of strips of yellow bell pepper, red strips, red onions, chunks of mango, and fresh greens, with an avocado dressing. Absolutely fantastic.

When it was time to get ready, I asked Elena to help me choose between an all black outfit I had brought, and a casual beige one. She thought that the all black one would not detract from the paintings in the gallery, and I hadn't thought of that! So, a quick change, and we were off, making it to Monrovia in record time, because evidently, everyone in L.A. was at a football game. We were the first ones there. I greeted Scott Garland, owner of the gallery, whom I hadn't seen in 30 years, and he recognized me, and was pleased that I was there to surprise David.

With guests arriving until it was wall to wall people, it was easy to hide behind Elena who is tall. Then, I saw David and Teresa and Lauren come in. They worked their way through the crowd, ng friends, and heading our way. When David saw his cousin Elena, he was really surprised, and asked how she knew about this event. "Your Mom sent out an email..." Teresa saw me, her mouth dropped, and her eyes popped wide open. I put a finger up to my lips hoping she wouldn't give me away. Then, I popped out from behind Elena, and David burst into laughter and hugged me and asked how I got there. The rest is history. We did it! We carried it off!

Other family and friends who came were Jeannie and Dave Johnson, (a niece); and Laurel and Jim Howat, another niece, and their daughter Kathleen; Patrick and Amy Oden, my grand nephew and his bride, an old friend from David's high school days, Jana Scott who had come from the football game, and my son John's friend, Paul Morgan and his wife Cynthia, also from the game.

One whole wall was of David's paintings, and he dubbed it The Darrow Wall. The opposite side was works by the other artists. Scott's paintings were in the rear room, where he does his office work. Someone got a photo of the four classmates together, and I hope they'll send that to ACCD to show the freshmen class what they could look like in 29 years, IF they take care of themselves.

It was a wonderful evening. I am glad I could honor my son by being at his "game."

The rest of the weekend...

Well, it was relaxed. We talked so long at breakfast that we didn't go to church. We drove to San Clemente, down by the wharf, to meet David and Teresa and Lauren for a pizza lunch in a little open air cafe. Perfect weather, in early November, and gorgeous view of the ocean. We talked so long at lunch that the sun went down, and they had to hurry to get Lauren to her job near her home.

Back in North Laguna, we played with Elena's computer the rest of the evening, reading David's and John's blogs, just to get her acquainted with what these guys are like. I loved showing off my kids. It was a fun few days, with a very special niece, who knows from experience about losing her mate and ALL the hard things I have gone through in the last four and a half years. I am so grateful to her and for her hospitality, making it possible to attend this gala event in David's life.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Two are missing... but not lost

While looking for something else, I stumbled upon this photo this afternoon.

In "Back to the Future" (the movie) remember when "Marty" was at the "Enchantment Under the Sea" school dance, and he looks at a snapshot of himself with his sister and brother, and they are beginning to fade out of the photo?

That's what I can imagine with this Christmas 2002 photo. Two are now missing, though we know they are not lost. They are undoubtedly enjoying the finest music, and celebrating the happiest "time of their lives," perhaps even dancing! I wish for you, the same confidence in your future. KNOWing is even better than hoping.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

About, what a DASH!

When life down here is over, all that is left is a pair of dates.

January 6, 1952 - September 29, 2007 for instance.

But that little DASH between the dates, represents birth, growth, faith, education, work, love, engagement, marriage, home, family, life and death.

Oh, what a DASH that was, for my first born, Janice Irene.

You can read all about her DASH in the tribute written by her Prince Charming, Dan Geist:

Janice Irene Geist (January 6, 1952 - September 29, 2007)

Janice Irene (Darrow) Geist
Born - January 6, 1952, Philadelphia, PA In The Presence of Her Savior – September 29, 2007, Tigard, OR
1 Corinthians 15:10a – “I am what I am by the grace of God.”
Janice (Jan) was truly as her name implies God’s Gracious Gift. Janice Irene Darrow was born on Epiphany in 1952 to parents Bob and Doris Darrow. Her birth date falls on the traditional celebration of the wise men bringing gifts to the infant Jesus. How appropriate for one whose life came to be characterized by bringing gifts of love and service to her Savior.
While still an infant, Jan and the Darrow family moved to the Southern California beach community of Playa del Rey. There, the family added a daughter, Joanne, and a son, David. It was during those early childhood years that Jan made the most important decision of her life. At age four, she put her faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Jan herself would have the experience of being able to see her own children make the same decision as young children.
Bob, Jan’s father – an engineer/high tech salesman – moved his growing family to Mountain View in Northern California to take a new position. In Mountain View the youngest member of the Darrow family, John, was born. While in Mountain View, Jan attended elementary school, and the family joined a growing church led by Pastor Ray Stedman at Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto. Everywhere the Darrow family went they made lifelong friends in their open and inviting home. Many visited the Darrow home to experience friendship, hospitality, and wise counsel.
Later, Bob’s work took the family to Costa Mesa in Southern California. There, Jan attended Teewinkle Jr. High School and completed two years at Estancia High School. Through the witness and influence of Jan and her family, several of Jan’s friends from that era also came to share her faith.
Once again the family moved, this time, to occupy Bob’s childhood home on the sandy bluffs of Playa del Rey, with its commanding vistas of the Southern California coastline and its beautiful sunsets. Almost daily as the sun dipped in the western sky, Jan’s mom could be heard throughout the house exclaiming “Look at the sunset!” Jan’s love of the beauty of God’s creation was nurtured in a home where it was never allowed to become mundane. Of course, living at the beach also included living with thick, frequent and hair-frizzing fog. During her illness Jan came to describe fog as “God’s favorite weather report.” She learned that it is in the fog of life that we truly learn to trust God to guide us.
The house on the bluff was the center for Good News Clubs, Young Life events, Bible studies, family pranks, water fights, and hospitality that included bringing home college friends after Jan’s graduation from Westchester High School in 1970.
In 1970, on the third day of school at Biola College (now Biola University), Jan met her future husband of 32 years – Dan Geist of Portland, OR. Although they met in September, it wasn’t until May 1971 that they began to date.
Dan soon became one of the many friends who experienced the Darrow family hospitality at their beachside home. As he and Jan grew in their relationship, Dan became a regular in the Darrow home. Phone calls, Jan’s occasional trips to campus (she had taken a year off from attending school), and Dan’s weekend stays with the Darrow family provided the time to grow their relationship. It was on March 4, 1972 that Dan first told Jan “I love you” – a day they would celebrate the rest of Jan’s life. The code, “143” (1 = “I”, 4 = “Love” and 3 = “You”), became their way of signaling by voice or hand sign their love for each other.
Jan returned to school for one more year. Then, on November 28, 1974, she and Dan became engaged, and their marriage followed seven months later on June 28. The newlyweds moved immediately to Portland, OR, where Dan began his teaching career. Prior to fulfilling her lifelong ambition of being a mom, Jan worked at 3M Business Equipment Bureau in Southeast Portland teaching customers how best to communicate visual presentations using overhead projectors. Her personality, artistic creativity, and communication skills allowed her to effectively instruct teachers, secretaries, and CEOs in her classes.
In 1977, Jan and Dan moved to their current home in Tigard, OR, which – through Jan’s designs and the building/remodeling skills learned by Dan and the Geist children – became a comfortable gathering place for the kind of openness and hospitality that Jan had experienced in her childhood. Aaron Daniel came into the family in 1979 followed by Annaliese (Annie) Aimee in 1982 and Andrew John Allen (AJ) in 1985. As a young mom, Jan took time to have fun with, enjoy, and teach her precious charges. She always kept an ear open to wise advice that would nurture her marriage and her children. The family, “Team Geist,” as she would say, was a safe place for the whole family where there was fun and camaraderie without meanness and sarcasm. The growing climate nurtured by Jan and Dan, added to by spiritual truth, other important like-minded adults, and most importantly God’s Grace resulted in three wonderful, meaningfully productive adult children and are joined by Aaron’s delightful wife Alison (Kelley) and Annie’s loving husband Matt Beghtel.
Even as a busy mom Jan made time to give to the life of her church and other believers at Grace Point Community Church (formerly Tigard First Baptist). Caring for newborns, teaching toddlers, working with high school students, leading AWANA clubs, set- painting and costuming for children’s productions, face painting for special children’s events, helping on work crews during church expansion projects, singing on worship teams, leading women’s Bible studies in her home, cooking for youth retreats, and editing the church’s newsletter all captured her energies at some point from the moment she began attending in 1980. Jan’s penchant for always having a camera at her side to record all phases of a project or event led to her being called “The Mamarazzi.” Many people from the church benefited and stayed close after having been touched by Jan.
Where her kids were involved, Jan threw herself into their activities, particularly in their schools. Editing school newsletters, volunteering in classrooms, building and painting sets for high school productions, as well as sewing costumes for the same all left her impression on the lives of the young people in her children’s lives. Her firm, yet winsome ways captured the friendship and respect of her children’s friends as well as that of the many children who experienced childcare in her home.
In the midst of her busy life, there was always an art or craft project being produced by Jan. Most of her work has been sold or given away to grace the homes of others. Hand-painted glass Christmas ornaments, miniature acrylic paintings of wild flowers, water- color landscapes and whimsical flowers, calligraphy, quilts, painted clothing, and photo note cards are just some of her works. (See her paintings online at (Contribute to the showing of her work online at The beauty of God’s creation – so much, always enamored her so that no matter what medium she used to capture that beauty, it was always an expression of thanks and appreciation to Him for His Creation.
Jan discovered cancer in 1998, but hid it and didn’t “turn herself in” until 2000 (read her story in her own words at and ). During the period from 2000 to 2007, Jan’s journey with cancer is a story filled with God’s grace. Yes, there was pain, loss, and regret. But it was also a time of forgiveness, renewed faith, trust, energy, and an avenue for ministry. Jan was often the comforter and encourager to her “chemo buddies.” She would ask, “What flavor of cancer do you have?” and sit back and listen and then share her own fallen story overcome by God’s ability to bring peace, grow faith, and allow a U-turn in her life. She did this with a gracious spirit sprinkled with a heavy dose of humor. During hospital stays her nurses would teasingly fight over who would get to take care of Jan. Even during this period it was not uncommon for her to listen to the needs of others and then pray for those in addition to her own. Her regular prayer was to say “Lord, make me more like you and less like me.” That prayer was ultimately answered when she stepped into the presence of Jesus Christ on Saturday, September 29, 2007. Jan’s father, Bob Darrow, preceded her by just over two years.
Jan’s children and husband all played a vital role in caring for her during the last few months of her life and especially during her hospice care. Jan couldn’t have been prouder of or more thankful for her family. Friends from her childhood in California as well as her vast network of Oregon friends expressed their care for Jan and her Geist and Darrow families during her cancer battle from 2000 to the present.
Surviving Jan on this earth are husband Dan of Tigard, OR; son Aaron and wife Alison of Portland, OR; daughter Annaliese Beghtel and husband Matt of Portland, OR; son Andrew of Tigard, OR; mother Doris Darrow of Sunnyvale, CA; sister Joanne Huddleson of Colorado Springs, CO; brother David Darrow of Carlsbad, CA; and brother John Darrow of Sunnyvale, CA.
We’ll miss you till we see you,
Dan and the kids


As I said to Janice after her wedding, just before she and Dan left on their honeymoon,
"It's been a pleasure having you in our home, Mrs. Geist."

Now, I can picture her dancing with her Daddy in celebration of their new life....eternal, in the Heavens.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

History repeating itself...

At this time last year, I was packing for a trip to Colorado Springs, to spend the Thanksgiving holidays with my daughter Joanne and Scott. John was going with me. The odd couple.

We each had our own experiences, and in spite of bitter cold, enjoyed hiking, walking, sight seeing, shopping, eating in quaint cafes, attending church, visiting with relatives, and watching videos (bundled in wooly throws). Joanne felt compelled to make three kinds of pie for Thanksgiving, and another kind for the evening after, when my cousins came over to visit. No wonder I could hardly bend over to pull my boots on.

Oh, maybe just a tiny slice of each one...

This time, I'm traveling alone. Not my choice. But it is "my new normal." I will be cared for by the One Who says He will be my husband, and Father to my Fatherless children. I am not afraid. He has never failed me. So, Lord willing I'll be seeing Pikes Peak by tomorrow evening.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Nicest thing to ask someone is...

"How was your trip?"

If you asked me, I would tell you all about it. My long time friend Anna, who is also alone, invited me to go with her to Solvang, CA for a week at her Time Share. She had never been there before, and Bob and I had been there many times. The trip coincided with the weekend of MY 60th High School Class Reunion, in Playa del Rey, CA. So, I invited her to go with me to that, and we would do some sight-seeing around L.A., and maybe even visit some of my family down there.

A gracious invitation came from my friend Letty, to stay at her house if I was coming to the class reunion. Letty and I go all the way back to 2nd grade, at Machado Grammar School, on the same campus as Venice High School where we graduated (her, #1 in academic standing, Bob #2 and me #34) in 1946. She graciously invited both Anna and me. We found her house, a mansion really, in Bell Canyon, by dark that Friday. She was out for the evening, but told us to make ourselves at home. That was not difficult.

Here's Anna in one of Letty's guest rooms

On Saturday morning, Letty fixed us a scrumptious breakfast, then drove us to the reunion. Anna became my willing photographer. It was so much fun recognizing guys and gals some of whom I haven't seen in 55 or 60 years. All of them knew Bob, so each had a word of kindness and sympathy for my loss, and a hug. This reunion was more about "surviving" than about what we had accomplished in our lifetimes. We were just grateful to be there. The reunion committee did a great job of planning. The catered food was excellent, there was plenty of time to talk and share photos of the old days at Venice High, and to renew friendships. There was a moment of silence and prayer as we remembered those who had already died. At least 14 of us were there, out of a class of only 87, the first class to graduate at the end of World War 2.

Front row: Doris (Oden), Letty (Derus), Gloria (Davis), Rosemary (Rosenhouse), Sophie Marcus, Margie (Larson), Marvin Rubin, Lyla (Trump) and Shirley Stayton.

Back row: Shirley (Young), Don Pierce, Gordon Williamson, Dan Skidmore and Don Desfor.

On Sunday, Letty took us to visit The Getty art museum in L.A. What a thrill to see paintings done in the 13th and 15th centuries. It's a wonderful place. Beautiful architecture and grounds.

Later she took us to downtown L.A. to see the new Disney Concert Hall. She doesn't have a high regard for the design... she likens it to a plane crash!

Disney Concert Hall

In the evening, we invited ourselves to attend Mass with her, where we heard really wonderful 4-part music and listened to the Word of God.

In the morning, Letty again fixed us a huge breakfast, and then sent us on our way to our next adventure. We stopped in Simi Valley to visit the Ronald Reagan Museum and Library and spent a wonderful 4 or 5 hours there. The biggest surprise to us was to discover that the Presidential plane, Air Force One, is housed there in a grand new addition to the buildings, built since Bob and I visited there just a few years ago.

We got to go on board. What stories of international importance could be told by those walls?

We arrived in Solvang at the Time Share on time, but that's another whole BLOG.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


In July this year, I invited my nearly 90 year old sister in law, Charlotte, to drive to Oregon with me, for my granddaughter Annie's wedding. We drove up the coast of California, stopping for a picnic near the "Drive Thru" Redwood tree, and a rest stop at the Ben Bow Inn where Bob and I always had our picnics. Wonderful memories for me.

Then, on through the Avenue of the Giants, cool, shady, quiet forest of Redwoods for miles and miles. We stopped near a large marker, "BOLLING GROVE" and a sign that pointed toward "Eel River...13 miles." There were three huge Redwoods in a semi-circle near the road, with lovely ferns growing all around. There, I scattered Bob's ashes, as we had cheerfully decided years and years ago. Now, all you who pass by... please remember the good times!

Charlotte had already gone through this experience, so was a great comforter. We traveled on, making it all the way to Eugene, Oregon the next day where we celebrated 4th of July with my sister Rachel and Wil and their son Paul and his son Will, who would be coming to the wedding.

Another day, we had a reunion kind of lunch including my sisters Rachel and Mary.

The wedding was a delight as you can imagine, beginning with my son John playing the piano beautifully, the wedding party coming down the aisle to Rachmaninoff's 18th variation on a theme from Pagonini... or the theme from the movie "Somewhere in Time." Dan brought his darling daughter Annie down the aisle to the theme from "Anne of Green Gables." All my children were gathered there, Janice, the mother of the bride, Joanne and Scott came from Colorado Springs, David and Teresa came from Carlsbad, and my heart was full. My brother Paul and Mae came all the way from Hacienda Heights. The only ones missing were my brother Andy and Jeannette.

Matt and Annie Beghtel

Charlotte and I stayed for a week full of fun, and sight-seeing trips with Jan and Dan. Terrific hosts, and wonderful cooks. We came back home via the coast again, as the weather had turned to record heat inland. I wondered what it would feel like, passing by the spot where I'd scattered Bob's ashes...

But he was NOT there.