Today is my son’s 46th birthday

Picture (1)Today is my son 
Bo Hebenstreit’s 46th birthday. When he was a wee babe, we lived on Canada Street in a cozy cottage that stood at the back of the property. The front of the property, where a large house now stands, was a field of weeds and wildflowers. My bearded, bushy-haired hippie husband at the time did gardening at Krotona and other places to pay the $65 rent. Our landlady was a friendly, gray-haired artist named (to the best of my recollection) Celeste Dominique.

I was painfully shy at the time, with low self-esteem, and perhaps that’s why I remember the time I was sitting outside nursing my baby, with my just-washed hair wrapped in a towel like a turban. Celeste looked me over and told me how beautiful I looked with that towel atop my head and that she wanted to come back and make a painting of me and my baby. Now I’m sorry that I pooh-poohed her offer; I was probably too impatient to sit still, and didn’t think I looked beautiful with an old towel on top of my head.

Living up the street, in the house where Doug Adrianson lives now, was a woman named Ursula van der Veen, with her husband and two little boys named Jack van der Veen (the older one) and Marc van der Veen (a toddler). Ursula was, like me, a vegetarian and health food “fanatic” with European roots, so we quickly became friends. She must have noticed me washing diapers by hand and hanging them in the sun to dry, because she offered to take each bucket of dirty diapers up the street to her washing machine. What a relief that was! These are the random acts of kindness that tired mothers don’t soon forget.

Forty Six Years Ago in the Small Town of Ojai


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