This is a collection of stories and articles created by writer / artist Holly Dare. All materials, including photographs, on this blog are copyright protected and are the sole property of the writer or original publisher. Do not steal intellectual material!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shadow Hills Resident Evicted From Big Brother 3

by Holly Dare

 Gerry, the local Shadow Hills teacher selected to be a housemate on CBS’s BIG BROTHER 3, has been evicted and will not win the $500,000 grand prize.  But he takes with him a deeper appreciation for his family and his own personal strengths as well as newfound celebrity.

 THE FOOTHILL SENTINEL spoke with Gerry the morning after his eviction.  Gerry said he spent the past night just clinging to his wife whom he had not seen for 60 days, even missing their 28th anniversary. “ I signed on for this thing, they did not,” Gerry said speaking of his wife and three children.

Gerry first heard about the BIG BROTHER auditions through friends in the industry.  A former commercial actor, friends encouraged him to audition.  He was put through a whole battery of tests and interviews.  “Sometimes there were cameras, other times just talking to people.  They gave me intelligence tests and there were psychological tests to be sure I wouldn’t go bananas… this from a guy who did a gorilla impression on t.v.”  When he passed the auditions, he decided to do it because “It was the opportunity to do something different and I knew the kids at school would think it was cool.”

Gerry didn’t really have to worry about taking care of paying the bills and maintaining his house as his wife and kids took care of those things.  He was surprised to learn that his oldest son blew up the family car on a road trip and ended up selling it for a dollar in Salinas!  “I didn’t even make enough money to buy a new car doing this… but my son did the best he could without Dad there to give him advice.”

Gerry did make arrangements with the principal at Wilson Middle School in Glendale to hire a substitute in the event he would still be in the house.  Gerry was planning to be in school on the first day before spending a week finishing up his promotional duties for CBS.

The hardest part of being in the house was being “really bored.”   Gerry is a self-confessed news junkie and really missed having a daily newspaper to read. “That’s why I would get up early in the morning.  Living with people 24 /7 and being sensory deprived…was hard.”  Gerry would spend his time in the mornings when no one was up to just think.  “I spent a lot of that time trying to remember monologues from plays I had been in” just to get mental exercise.

Facing the generation gap between him and his much younger housemates was also difficult.  Gerry feels that this age difference led to his ultimate eviction.  When asked what he would do differently if he could relive the experience, Gerry replied, “I would have been more guarded and careful.  I was pretty guarded as it was… all the kids were so extroverted, it was easy for me to hold back but if I could to it over, I would hold back even more.”

Gerry says his relationships changed over the 60 days spent in the isolated environment.  At first, he formed a bond with Marcellas because “we were both ostracized.”  Then he felt really close to both Jason and Roddy.  “Roddy is really intelligent and can hold a great conversation and Jason’s just a really wonderful kid.”  Josh is the housemate Gerry liked the least.  When asked why, Gerry responded, “He’s just a fool.”

Gerry feels that Jason nominated him for eviction because Gerry had previously nominated Jason for eviction.  “Jason views both of us [Roddy & Gerry] as a threat. I nominated him because, early on, he was so good.  Maybe he felt that, if given the chance, I would nominate him again.  He’s simply playing the game straight up with no duplicity.”  Gerry said in his on camera interview that he hoped Danielle would win but in retrospect he says he hopes it’s Jason.  “Jason can come through this with his integrity in tact and he is just a nice kid.”

Practical jokes were a fun pastime for the housemates and Gerry says he left a little surprise for Roddy.  He hid one of the chess pieces in Roddy’s gnome.  Gerry felt his days were numbered in the last week inside the house by the way he was treated saying he felt like a “pariah dog.”

Gerry hopes to stay in contact with Roddy, Jason and Marcellas.  “The kids [in the house} all have grand plans about reunions and such.  But I know from working on plays… people just don’t stay in touch. We’ll see.”

Acknowledging that the experience has changed him, Gerry says it’s still to early to tell just how.  “ I never took my family for granted but I really appreciate them even more.  I always said going in that I was a rich, rich man.  My life is only richer now.”  He is most proud that he was the only Head of Household to use a veto to change the eviction nominees, thereby saving Marcellas.

He is also proud that he got to live the lessons he’s tried so hard to teach his 7th & 8th grade students: to be patient and not rise to a verbal attack.  “I’ve always taught them to just wait and you will prevail against someone who attacks you.”

Gerry would recommend the BIG BROTHER experience and states that someone trying to live in such an environment needs “fortitude, a good self image and broad shoulders to let stuff roll off your back. It’s hard to be with people who may not like you for who you are so a strong sense of self is necessary.  A person with soul and integrity can last.”

Celebrity will be an interesting thing to cope with.  Gerry is a little worried about being recognized in Ralph’s or the Union 76 where he takes his cars for repair.   But he hopes to use the newfound fame to speak out on behalf of teachers and the importance of education.  The number one thing that Gerry feels is wrong with education in America is the sheer lack of schools. “There aren’t enough of ‘em.  We need to build more.  And then the school districts need to quit interfering with teachers and let them teach.  They need to realize that no one program will fix everything.  We also spend way too much time testing kids.  This is discouraging to even the good students.”

Gerry is anxious to get back into the routine of real life away for cameras saying he “can’t wait” for the first day of school.  “ I love what I do: inspiring young minds and getting kids excited about learning.”

Originally published in the defunct Foothill Sentinel.

Tantalizing Tomatoes

An heirloom is something that is handed down from generation to generation. An heirloom tomato is a plant which is passed along from grower to grower. Why would they do this when they can just go to the local nursery?  Flavor – real, rich tomato flavor.

The typical tomato plant that is mass produced these days - your Big Boy, Better Boy, Early Girl have been bred to be reliable and disease resistant. Taste was sacrificed in the process. If this is all you’ve ever planted, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Flavor aside, there is an heirloom tomato to meet any need or growing condition. You can grow by color:  white, yellow, orange, green, red (how boring!), purple, black and even striped! Shape is another factor: heart, egg, coffee mug, currant, and pear are some popular choices. Taste: lighter color fruits have a milder less acidic flavor than their darker colored counterparts. Size: some varieties produce pea sized fruit; others can reach upwards of 2 pounds!

I’ve been growing around 20 varieties of heirlooms for about ten years. Other than a tomato worm attack last year, I’ve had no problems. I generally plant in early April. The soil is loosened and amended with a peat / worm casting / bat guano mix. Slow release fertilizer is added in the planting hole. Later in the season, especially if it’s hot and dry, I’ll add Miracle Grow once or twice. If you are growing Indeterminate type tomatoes, you will want to pinch back runners. This tells the plant to set fruit instead of getting bigger.

Heirloom tomato plants can be purchased through most nurseries but you may have to request them.  Seeds can be purchased over the internet. Try a few in your garden this year. One bite and you’ll be hooked.  Here are some of good choices to try:
Amish Paste – excellent flavor; perfect for canning
Arkansas Traveler - great in hot weather
Black Seaman – A robust, smoky tasting tomato; very dark skin; prolific plant.
Banana Legs – Long, skinny and yellow with a great fresh tomato taste.
Big Rainbow – very large fruits; red, yellow and green striped; amazing taste; not prolific.
Enchantment –smallish tomato that can handle partial shade; good flavor.
Omar’s Lebanese – rich complex flavor.  Fruits average 1.5 lbs!
Pineapple – pale yellow tomato, very sweet and mild taste, 2lb fruit.
Sausage –large Roma style tomatoes look like misshapen sausages; prolific, great tasting tomato- perfect for Italian sauces or canning. 

Originally published in the defunct Foothill Sentinel.

Assemblage Artist Greg Delger

By Holly Dare

“It’s about love!” That’s how assemblage artist Greg Delger defines what art is to him.  Greg puts his heart into every piece he creates both literally and figuratively.  His eye is naturally drawn to heart shapes and he seems to find them everywhere.  A heart shaped leaf or stone often becomes the focal point in his work.

Nature serves as both art and inspiration. A trip to the beach or a hike in the woods is like a shopping excursion to the art supply store.

“Nature really does the work for me. The music is there, I’m just the songwriter who puts it all together,” says Greg.

Found objects, tiny bits of origami, thread and beautiful papers are combined and layered to create a work of art. It is this combination of the natural and man-made all held together ever so delicately that is so striking.

The journey into art began when a friend needed a box for a gift. Greg made one for her, remembering an old lesson in origami. The friend was ecstatic and Greg was thrilled to see how happy the box made her. He started making tiny little boxes using nine pieces of paper to create a box, lid and an inside divider.  The boxes always came with a miniature gift inside: a dried flower, a piece of sea glass or some other object that held his fascination for a moment in time.

“I love that, the second someone opens one of my boxes, all their stress is gone and for that moment, they’re happy.”

Greg’s framed pieces grew out of his origami boxes.  He was always impressed that a piece of paper could become a sturdy box with just a few folds and nothing else holding it together. That same idea carried over into framed artwork. Wanting to stay true to his origami roots as his art projects got bigger, his creations contain objects that can be taken apart without being altered by glue.

A perpetual collector, Greg has quite a range of found objects on his worktable at any given time. When he begins working on a piece, he gathers a handful of items and sits on the floor. He arranges and rearranges until he comes up with a pleasing combination.

The materials can be sentimental or eclectic.  A wedding gift for friends included paper from the invitation and sand from a beach that was special to the couple. Other times, the work builds around a bit of found metal.

“I know right away if a hard shape will work.  It has to be the right color, have enough rust. If it doesn’t, I put it back.”

Once all the elements are in place, Greg attaches them to a backing of matte board. The hard objects are sewn down on top of pretty papers thereby holding the papers in place. Sand is an important element and has a very soothing effect on the artwork.Greg pours sand, chosen for color or sentiment, into a mint tin. A piece of glass is cut to keep the sand in the tin and yet allow it to be seen. Four twigs are placed across the corners and each end is sewn down. Thread color is equally as important as any of the other elements.

True to form, the wood used to make the frames is found on the beach or even from dumpster in the artist’s neighborhood.  Office binder clips hold the covering glass to the frame and matte board and often serves as a hanger.

Greg includes elements that speak to everyone and yet are unexpected.Monopoly money and gum wrappers are there to grab the attention of the child in all of us.Two-dollar bill rings, representing Greg’s lucky number, are often included to serve as his signature. And always, at the center of it all, is heart.

Note: This artist profile was originally published in Somerset Studio magazine July / August 2003. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Travel Tip - Toss Your Cookies to Save Some Dough

The best way to save money when booking a flight is to shop around. I start with AOL Travel and see what airlines fly to my destination. Then I also check the individual airlines and also check the discount sites like Best Fares, Cheap Tickets and Priceline. I’ve found the best way to get the best price is delete my cookies on my computer if I have to return to a site a second time. Some of the airline site actually raise the price if I keep checking a particular date. By tossing the cookies, I get a better price!

Submitted to an online magazine looking for travel tips.