Friday, May 29, 2015

Sandhill cranes in Stillwater County provide sweeping glimpse of exotic birdlife as they grace us for a time


A trio of sandhill cranes steps lightly across a field near Fishtail, Montana, between recent rain storms.
The sandhill crane takes its name from Nebraska's Sandhills. 

THERE MAY be no more spectacular sight than the unexpected view of a glorious flock of sandhill cranes putting down in a wheat field -- or taking off!
The sandhill crane has been visiting near us lately (south-central Montana, about a half-hour from Red Lodge and a few miles north of Nye.)  This lovely bird is known in North America and even as far as extreme northeastern Siberia.

'Lilian...' musical songs debut to public     (click link at left)

THE COMMON name of this uncommon bird -- a bit like a Las Vegas showgirl --  refers to habitat like that at the Platte River, on the edge of Nebraska's Sandhills on the American Plains. But this large and beautiful crane also passes through Montana, spends time to nest, reproduce, raise its young and feed, then takes off again.
Cranes can be seen in many places, including in our neck
of the woods in the Northern Rockies.
Found in several scattered areas of North America, sandhill cranes reach their peak abundance at migratory stopover points on the Great Plains. There, they can be seen by the hundreds.
We've had the good fortune to view a dozen or so at a time as they stop off in Montana.
The early spring gathering of Sandhills on the Platte River in Nebraska is among the greatest wildlife spectacles on the continent, with over a quarter of a million birds present at one time. Although they are currently considered "common," their dependence on a key stopover sites makes them vulnerable to loss of habitat in the future.


SANDHILL cranes are no sissy birds.  The ones in the northern hemisphere migrate long distances (some cross the Bering Straits every spring and fall, en route to and from nesting
grounds in Siberia). Those from the southern part of their  main breeding range -- in the northern and western parts of the lower 48 states -- migrate shorter distances.
Recently, with global warming, the sandhill has begun migrating later in fall and earlier in spring. Some are spending winters farther north than usual. Sandhill crane populations nesting in Mississippi, Florida, and Cuba do not migrate at all.  Lucky, birds, to be able to stay put, enjoy the sun and conserve energy!
Nick and Nora, our Yorkies, enjoy
a suite in the Omni Hotel, Los Angeles.

"A Little Night Music," by Stephen Sondheim, 
directed by Vint Lavinder, enjoyed a successful
 run at NOVA in Billings, Montana. 
More about this innovative enterprise soon.
COMING UP: Doggone it. Nick and Nora, our magnificent Yorkies, have been with us a decade.  We reflect on the wonders of the canine-human connection next blog. And Venture Theater of Billings, Montana, and Rimrock Opera Company, two proud Billings arts organizations, merged to form NOVA. As its name suggests, NOVA offers new, exciting work. Recently, "A Little Night Music" graced the stage of the Montana Avenue theater. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekends and Wednesdays for fun road tripping, arts features, music, travel and cruising tips, at :

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Itti Bitti Bistro hatches big plans as Saturday street fair debuts May 30


Absarokee veterinarian and businessman Rex Anderson and his wife Monica launch a weekly Farmers and Flea Market Saturday. Tourists are expected to fill the streets of Absarokee, and locals are invited to participate.
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER and courtesy Monica and Rex Anderson

WHEN THE ITTI BITTI Bistro made its debut on main street a few years ago, Absarokee veterinarian Rex Anderson said he wanted to bring "a little variety, quality and fun" to the food scene in downtown Absarokee, Montana.
He succeeded -- with tasty soups, sandwiches, pies and desserts attracting business people, tourists and locals looking for new mid-day dining.
Now, with an artistic wife, Monica, who moved to Stillwater County from Livingston when the couple married, the two entrepreneurs have devised a continuing Saturday event. 
ENTER THE new, weekly Itti Bitti Farmers and Flea Market.
The summer happening begins this Saturday, May 30, and will continue Saturdays through the summer, except during Fishtail Family Fun Days June 27. It should appeal to locals as well as tourists looking for a colorful day.
Itti Bitti Bistro serves up a mean pizza.  Food and drink are part of the plan.
Absarokee, Montana's main street will liven up each Saturday through summer.
Each Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the couple debuts an expanded version of their corner bistro.  "We'll be using the building and environs inside and the outside, for people of  Absarokee and the outlying areas to come and shop, buy, sell, and trade," says Monica.
Booth space is for sale.
Demonstrations and live music are planned, along with, arts, crafts, garden produce, farm eggs, honey, food and drink.  "As it grows, we welcome  fundraising endeavors, and community enterprises,”
says Monica.
THE COUPLE welcomes vendors large and small to gather weekly at 30 S. Woodard.
“Bring the kids for ice cream, specialty drinks, and our famous artisan craft pizza for the market’s May 30 grand opening,” says Monica.
Wayne and Connie Burleson will be on hand Saturday to demonstrate
organic growing and share their knowledge and plants.
Regional authors will sign and sell their books (full disclosure: this blog's writer Christene Meyers' novel, "Lilian's Last Dance," is part of the arts and book display. Signed copies are available, with an "Itti Bitti" discount.)
THE ANDERSONS have also invited popular gardening instructors, Wayne and Connie Burleson, of Gardening 4 Life. They will offer free organic gardening demonstrations each Saturday at 11 a.m. "Kids and adults will learn from their clever and easy to implement techniques," says Monica.
The Burlesons are on tap at the market's debut this Saturday to demonstrate the "MOZ" Bucket, a fast and simple way to grow healthy foods.
Each Saturday, a market is planned in downtown Absarokee. All are welcome.
Market headquarters are inside and outside at Itti Bitti Bistro.
The "MOZ" Bucket Garden got its name when the Burlesons traveled to Mozambique, Africa, to volunteer their time and expertise in improving farming and gardening techniques.
Market goers will learn to layer super soils with organic material -- sticks, compost and straw.  “The plant growth rate in the "MOZ" Bucket Garden is crazy.  Imagine vine ripe tomatoes in July!”  says Wayne Burleson. The Burlesons will have hardy tomato and other seedlings for sale at the market.
MONICA envisions a "swap meet" atmosphere, too, where people bring used, quality garage-sale type items and art objects, as a good way to empty closets and recycle. She's also invited jewelers, soap and lotion makers, craftsmen, bakers, and creators of homemade jams, jellies and other edibles.  Her husband promises to share his award-winning barbecue.
The gorgeous sandhill crane takes a bow at whereiscookie.
Interested persons may call Monica at 406 298-0246 to inquire about booth rates. Or e-mail her at

COMING UP: The sandhill crane is back in Montana and we've been spotting and photographing these lovely and graceful creatures each time we drive down from above Nye, to Fishtail and into Absarokee.  Remember to explore, learn and live -- and take time to enjoy the sandhills!  Catch us for travel, adventure and fun ideas on the road, Wednesdays and weekends, at: 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Volunteers save historic building for its history, beauty and functionality


The historic Cobblestone School is nearing a proud century old in its Main Street location in Absarokee, Montana.
The writer of this blog, Christene Meyers, had the pleasure of teaching
a workshop at Cobblestone School just days ago.

Readers and Writers use Cobblestone, along with quilters, dancers and actors.


ABSAROKEE, Montana -- WHEN THE Cobblestone School began to show its age, a group of civic minded volunteers decided to save her from the wrecker's ball.
At nearly 80, back in 1996, the historic school was getting long in the tooth, like any dowager who'd led a lively and active life.
The school, begun in 1917 with river rock gathered by the citizens from nearby creeks and fields, was accredited as a high school in 1921 and hired five teachers. The first graduating class had five students. This signaled a giant step forward from the 1903 log cabin and potbelly stove which served the town's first children in the early 20th Century.
Through the years, the stately school was used for myriad community functions -- fitting, since it was built with love by the citizenry's elbow grease, on donated land.
WHEN A NEW high school was built to accommodate a growing student body around 1990, the venerable Cobblestone fell to disuse and could not be sustained.
A plaque commemorates the building's historical status.
Enter "The Fabulous Five." The moniker fits, because the quintet of women, all of Absarokee and rooted deeply in Stillwater County, stepped forward to save the day. "We didn't want it to fade away -- with its history and architecture," said Donna Adams. She, along with Clara Borland, Lois Van Every, Agnes Cowan and Gayle Eberhardt established the non-profit Cobblestone Preservation Committee in June of 1996. They spearheaded a fund-raising drive, including selling bricks to honor contributors and loved ones. A clean-up and fix-up campaign followed. New life was breathed back into the building.
IN 19 YEARS, the building's use has grown to serve a diverse community and regional need.
Quilters are among regular users at Cobblestone School in Absarokee.
Recently, Writer's Voice, a national program sponsored through the National Endowment for the Arts, held a writing workshop there.  The writer of this blog, Christene Meyers, conducted a day-long workshop in a western-style room with lovely hand-crafted pine tables and comfy chairs.
A century ago, architect W. R. Plew, of Montana State University Bozeman, devised plans for the handsome building. He hoped it would be both appealing to the eye and useful to the community.
 HE'D BE pleased with the activity today, which ranges from quilting to Sunday School, Beartooth Park and Recreation District to Absarokee Civic Club and the VFW Auxiliary. Anyone can rent the rooms, too, for nominal fees ranging from $15 and $20 to $150 for the whole building, including kitchen facilities.
Cookie and Keller spent two years reconstructing a novel she abandoned in 2005.
DANCERS LEARN steps there. Yoga, Jazzercise and aerobics take place.  An amateur theater group, The Cobblestone Players, gathers there and presents plays in the largest of the rooms.  Offerings range from light mysteries to comedies and "whodunnits." Banquets and private parties, receptions and more are held.  Call 406 298-0838.

COMING UP: Two fun stories. The Itti Bitti Bistro is sponsoring a Saturday street market and gathering starting this Saturday, May 30. A preview.  And do you believe in epiphany?  We do. When a manuscript, notes and floppy discs fell from a dusty attic box, it hit Keller's head and sparked a great notion.  The next couple years involved editing "Lilian's Last Dance," which I'd co-researched, co-wrote and abandoned when my husband Bill Jones passed away in 2005. More about how the novel came to see light. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekends and Wednesdays at

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Back in Big Sky country with a book to sell

Writer's 'Dog and Pony Show' features fun readings, workshops with Writer's Voice between nature viewings

Migrating birds happily load up for the next leg of their journey, stopping to snack at High Chaparral near Nye, Montana
The Big Read's choice of Willa Cather's "My Antonia," prompted Writer's
Voice" to ask Christene Meyers to teach a series of memoir workshops.

A downy woodpecker hunts for lunch.

This bear welcomed us home.

WE'VE BEEN back in the bosom of our beloved Montana for less than two weeks, but in those few days, we've seen more birds than we have in months in past years. We've had twin fawns eating the spills from the feeders, and the hummingbirds are already back, though how they survive the cold, below-freezing nights I have no idea. Friends say they make cozy nests in the fir trees.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we're happy to be home to Big Sky Country.
Weekend reading from "Lilian...." packs a pretty house    (click left)
WE HIT the deck running, with workshops and readings vying for time with unpacking.  Keller was in charge of restoring water.  For the first time in 22 years, we'd drained the water -- after a disastrous and expensive flood last year during our absence.
Keller turned it back on in minutes while I filled the feeders!
The road to High Chaparral along the West Fork of the Stillwater River.
"Is that important to do before the car is even unloaded," he asked. "YES! Absolutely." I replied. "It's for my mental health. You do want that, don't you?"
WITH BIRDS in the trees, and overflowing feeders and suet blocks, we're attracting squirrels, and of course the usual vols, moles, mice and packrats.  Soon, we will have snakes, too, for as Keller points out, I've offered up the perfect habitat for visiting creatures large and small.
WE'RE ALSO taking "Lilian's Last Dance" around to book shops and stores, and we'll update you at the "Lilian" website.
Back home, and out our windows
this young fawn has a spring snack.
More about "Lilian's Last Dance", click below;

A Sunday reading at the home of Kent and Linda Harris in
Absarokee attracted several dozen readers, who heard
Christene Meyers talk about "Lilian's Last Dance."
 WE'RE loading up the car with first editions of "Lilian's Last Dance," while we read from and sign copies of Cookie's first novel. (We're happy to inscribe, sign and send a first edition --- check out the "Lilian" blog for details.)
We're getting some nice attention, including interviews with the Cody Enterprise in Wyoming.  In Billings, we'll be featured in a story by Billings Outpost editor David Crisp.
Keep an eye on "Lilian" website for updates.
The Cobblestone School in Absarokee is the subject of an upcoming blog.
COMING UP: Our whereiscookie blog takes a Montana turn as we return to Big Sky Country for a recharge of our country batteries.  It's not all play and no work, though, with Keller on the job doing a room addition, the book tour and a half-dozen writing workshops.
A workshop a few days ago in the historic Cobblestone School in Absarokee gave us a chance to prowl this wonderful 1917 building, in its 98th year. We take an inside look on Saturday. Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out at Wednesdays and weekends at

Friday, May 15, 2015

Florist creates gorgeous displays, lives on the bay in San Diego

Albert Sweet's eye for color and design make his flower shop an appealing stop at 11696 Sorrento Valley Road, San Diego. 


Pick up a bouquet on your way home -- each arrangement is custom designed.

IT'S A SWEET scent and a pretty sight to be driving down Sorrento Valley Road in north San Diego and come upon Sweet Floral.
Albert Sweet is a familiar face in his flower shop, "Sweet Floral."
It's a taste of Europe -- reminiscent of a neighborhood flower stall in Paris or Rome -- with buckets of roses, sunflowers, phlox, lilies, carnations and daisies awaiting arrangement, and dozens of artfully made bouquets ready to brighten someone's day.
Proprietor Albert Sweet has been the heart and soul of the lovely flower shop for nearly 28 years.
HE LIVES on a yacht in Mission Bay, driving 30 miles to the shop. First he stops in Carlsbad to pick his fragrant stock from wholesale growers he's used for years.
Have you danced with "Lilian..."?
"I am a one-man show," he says with his characteristic warm smile. "I pick every posy myself, do all the arranging and the delivery."
The stargazer lilies Sweet arranges are
grown in Carlsbad and fresh daily.
OHIO BORN, Sweet earned his associate's and bachelor's degrees before pursuing a career as a planning analyst for a micro-electronics firm.  "I got fed up with the whole corporate world scene," he says, "It just wasn't for me."  Sweet notes that for years he wore suit and tie and now relishes wearing a neat but open-collar sport shirt as he works. Jazz from the radio keeps him company. His office holds a pleasant array of flowers, ribbons, cards, notes to himself, orders, and of course, buckets of his beloved flowers.
A SINGLE DAD, Sweet is proud of his accomplished grown daughter, Melissa.  He lived on a houseboat in Amsterdam for a time, walking the city's famous flower-bedecked canals. His first wife was Greek, born of another culture that loves flowers.  Sweet  thinks getting into the flower business was a natural for him.  "I know my travels to Europe played into what I love to do now," he says, reminiscing about the Rome flower stands that caught his eye and captivated him years ago. "It's that "old world" beauty I suppose," he says. "Flowers bring it home."
Drop in for a "Sweet" visit and a bouquet next
time you're in the neighborhood .
SWEET FEELS good and looks fit -- attributing that to the ocean air that surrounds him on his floating home, and peaceful beauty flowers offer at work in Sorrento Valley. "Besides," he says, "I'm a 'Sweet' guy, haven't you noticed?"
Sweet Floral: 858 792-1880, 11696 Sorrento Valley Road, San Diego, Cal. 92121

Keller captured this pair of bald eagles -- a mature one, at right, with the
white head, and a juvenile, at left, perhaps an offspring. More bird photos coming.
COMING UP: Montana in spring, with birds at the feeder and bald eagles in the trees out our window. Ah, Big Sky Country.  Where the deer and the antelope play. Remember to explore, learn and live and check out our other blog, for our novel, "Lilian's Last Dance." We'll bring you up to date on our latest readings and signings.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Desert critters, hybrids, rescue animals lead a happy life at Yuma's Camel Farm


The Camel Farm near Yuma, Ariz., is devoted to preserving animals rare to the area for families, school groups, tourists. 

Zedonk or zonkeys are a mix of zebra and donkey, part of the menagerie.

YOU HAVE to see it to believe it.
More than 250  animals representing over 30 species are happily co-existing.
The unusual setting is The Camel Farm, 10 miles south of Yuma, Ariz. The idea grew from enterprising entrepreneur and farmer Ben Standley and  his sister Carol.  She had bought the land with her Middle-Eastern husband, intending to breed Arabian horses.
"BUT THAT DIDN'T pan out," says Ben, "when the bottom fell out of that market."
Each critter's cage has an information plaque which describes the animal.
The kinkajou is a  delicate rain forest animal. 
The improvisational farm's menagerie includes ibex and wallaroos -- large kangaroo -- tortoise and goats, zebra, lambs, ponies, mules, donkeys and hybrids. Ostriches, rhea and emus stretch and preen. A tiny rainforest creature, the kinkajou, looks content. This lovely, delicate rainforest creature, also called a honey bear, sports a plush, velvety coat and is a favorite at the place.
ANIMAL CARETAKER and groundsman Lance Baker loves them all -- this multi-continental mix. He pets, scratches and talks to them as he feeds them and cleans their cages.
Ibex with their splendid curved horns lead a peaceful life at Camel Farm.
"The Camel Farm has grown through 16 years to become a popular destination," says Baker. Schools sponsor day trips, Marines from the nearby military base come for outings. Tourists spot advertising in hotels -- as we did -- and visit the 40 acre haven. Follow the palm trees and head south of Yuma 14 miles and you'll find it. Baker is a former circus and carnival worker, raised on a farm in Oklahoma.
This is his second year with the operation and he's doing a fine job, says Ben.
"THE FIRST year we had 200 people and we had 13,000 last year," says Ben, who came to Arizona from a logging career in Oregon.  His love of nature is the obvious drive for his devotion to the operation, which accepts rescue birds and animals, caring for and rehabilitating them. All critters are veterinary inspected, vaccinated and treated.
THE PALM-LINED entrance evokes a "Midnight at the Oasis" feeling -- even in mid-day. Camels snooze beneath the healthy looking palm trees, casting a weary eye at onlookers before getting up slowly to make a closer inspection.  "Four of them  are a good 30 to 33 years old," says Ben. At one time the place had more than 60 camels, but they have not been replaced as the females pass away and breeding slows.
A curious, bright-eyed hedgehog lets us carefully hold him.
Ben Standley operates The Camel Farm.
Groundskeeper and "animal whisperer" Lance Baker enjoys his job.
He estimates that 300 baby camels have been born at the place, some of them sold to the movies in Los Angeles -- not far away. And while there are hybrids on the place, there are purebreds, too. Jack, the farm's proud male Sicilian miniature donkey, was recently bred with another Sicilian miniature donkey.
A coati -- somewhat like a raccoon but more slender and longer -- munches watermelon as we stroll.
"Lilian..." returns to Montana, click here
ANOTHER FACET of the operation is the Camel Farm's annual participation in living nativity displays in Arizona and California.
Animals, props and scenery are painstakingly transported as far as Santa Barbara, for church and community festivals and ceremonies.
Birds are an important part of the project, too. Mandarin ducks live on the property, as well as rescue birds from neighbors.
It's a great place!
Who is this man, 28 years a magic maker of flowers and bouquets? Find out next at

UP NEXT: An unusual flower shop, Sweet Floral, transports us from northern San Diego to the streets of Rome or Venice. Find out about Sweet Floral in Sorrento Valley. And catch us Wednesdays and weekends at Remember to explore, learn and live.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Spring lightly and with thanks into spring -- wherever you are on the planet

Cookie loves the jacaranda which flourishes in San Diego's Mediterranean climate, and in Barcelona,
one of Cookie's favorite cities. Spring in San Diego is much different than a Northern Rockies spring.


“It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want—oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” ― Mark Twain

Kate Sessions Park is 
at its loveliest in springtime.
IS THERE A more hopeful time of year than spring?
 -- wherever on the planet you are.
Whether you're strolling the streets of Rome, sailing San Diego Bay or planting the garden in Nye, Montana, spring is the time for optimism. Colors seem more vivid.  Scents seem more intense (in my beloved Montana, a cousin just wrote "it's beautiful now that it's May, after much needed snow, sleet and rain.") In Montana, we don't care what form the moisture takes. It makes the earth smell rich and loamy.  The wild roses and dogwood are blooming and the sage, peony and daisies are leafing out.) The long pre-solstice days mean light until nearly 10 p.m. in the northern Rockies! Always lovely San Diego has a spring luster despite the drought.
Spring run-off  is a glorious sight in Woodbine Falls near Nye, Montana.
I'VE SPENT spring in Texas hill country, wildflowers up to my middle.  I've lolled about in the Greek Isles, exploring the ruins in Delos and sipping wine in Santorini. I've had spring in October, prowling the rain forest in northeast Australia (their spring comes during our autumn), and I've "sprung into spring" sailing the swells of the Irish sea with loved ones.
LATELY, I've been tilting pleasantly upward, staring with delight to admire the wild lavender blossoms of San Diego's signature jacarandas. Thousands of these trees are in their glory in early May. A picnic in Kate Sessions Park is a perfect afternoon's end. This dog-friendly, welcoming park is a popular recreation area boasting sweeping hillside views of the bay, plus sports fields and a fine playground. Back home, our favorite yellow orchid is blooming!
'Lilian's Last Dance' readings move to the Rockies, click here
Filling the bird feeders is a spring ritual
on the first week of Cookie's return to Montana, after a skiff of snow.
IN MONTANA, where I try to spend part of May (for the lilacs!), spring is a glorious time of year. Streams, rivers and waterfalls are running and the Big Sky will soon be buzzing with hummingbirds, who'll zip about as I fertilize dozens of bedding plants. First, however, comes the obligatory May snow storm. (We had that the day we arrived, May 6.)
By June, I'll be feeding three varieties of the magnificent and ever-thirsty tiny hummer: the rufus (largest and most aggressive), the ruby-throated (with its glorious crimson scarf) and the caliope (the smallest bird on the hemisphere). "I'll be right back," I tell them. "Stick around." I TAKE a quick trip inside to cook up a batch of nectar (four parts water, one part sugar, boiled for four minutes).
Spring blooms herald the coming of the season in San Diego,
where our orchids are coming alive with blossoms.
I LIKE TO think the hummers I see in Montana are the same ones I feed in winter in San Diego. Perhaps they take a ride on a northbound goose's tail, because they're always buzzing about, waiting. They follow me to the aspen tree where one of the feeders -- the most popular -- has hung a decade. Filling these and a dozen bird feeders takes a couple hours.
Already a week into May, we have customers:  chickadees, finches, woodpeckers and buntings so far.
 "Cap'n Keller'' sails
 out of San Diego Bay.
Spring came earlier in San Diego, and sailing was divine on our last day. In Montana, where winters are long and harsh and the ground is snow-covered for months, spring is proof that winter is not endless.
 Rome's fruit and flower stands
 herald spring and lure shoppers.
Whether you're sailing, planting, hiking, biking, jogging, touring or just plain savoring the season of rebirth, enjoy your spring and remember to explore, learn and live!

Camels greet us at a lively rare animal farm near Yuma, Arizona
COMING UP: Mid-day at the Oasis! We'll take you to a camel farm on the Arizona
desert south of Yuma, then have a look at exotic birds in our two favorite states -- Montana and California -- and we'll preview the new San Diego Repertory season. It's cutting edge.
Don't miss 'UNCANNY VALLEY' at San Diego Rep, click here
Plus we'll give advice on making the most of precious time in Europe. And we'll share tips on traveling with pets. All at "where is Cookie." Remember to explore, learn and live!
Our posts appear Wednesdays and Saturdays at

Friday, May 1, 2015

Brilliant acting, fine writing pair for intriguing play at San Diego Rep

One of San Diego's most versatile actors, Rosina Reynolds, plays a neuroscientist who has created a non-biological being.
Talented actor Nick Cagle plays the creation "born" over the course of the play. The production is excellent in all aspects.


The Lyceum is the attractive down town home of San Diego Repertory Theatre.
and SD Rep Marketing: Scatena Daniels/Daren Scott

PUSHING THE ENVELOPE yet again -- as we've come to expect -- San Diego Repertory Theatre has mounted a provocative, "must see," thinking person's gem.
"Uncanny Valley" offers riches on many levels -- in language, ideas, acting, staging and theatricality.
Actor Nick Cagle plays the role of Julian, transformed in the course
of "Uncanny Valley," San Diego Repertory Theatre's world premiere.
It's a clever, even profound, play about possibilities and the "what ifs" of technology -- as in, "What if in a few short decades, it could be possible to manufacture a human looking robot who actually seemed to have feelings -- regret, anger, compassion and much of the baggage that goes with the human condition. A creation who stares back at its creator.

THE BRILLIANT two-person play is directed by Jessica Bird and written by Thomas Gibbons.
It's in one long 92-minute act with no intermission, which adds to the intensity as the plot builds and the two characters come to their final meeting, conflict and resolution.
San Diego Repertory Theatre presents "Uncanny Valley" through May 10.
It's a thinking man's drama, rich in language and the possibilities of technology. 
THE EVENING we saw the production -- on a Wednesday -- the audience was quietly fascinated as the neuroscientist named Claire begins the process of studying and developing her latest "invention."  In a sense,

'Lilian's Last Dance' book tour gears up for summer, click here

he is her child -- and in a smart side-plot, we learn that her actual biological offspring has not spoken to her or her husband for many years.
(Physician, heal thyself.)
CLAIRE'S FAMILY'S dysfunction is paralleled with the evolution of Julian, the non-biological being who, it evolves, is the product of a billionaire's vanity and desire to live forever.
Many questions are posed by the playwright, and in a nuanced performance, the always shining
A toast to another brilliant Rep show.
Reynolds delivers a complex character, shaped by her professional drive and her personal anguish.
Cagle brings a subtle finesse to his character, and the two work together like perfectly matched bookends on an artful set.
Don't miss this wonderful production -- and prepare yourself for another ambitious, thought provoking season as the Rep moves into its 40th season under the expert guidance of founder Sam Woodhouse. Go to -- and prepare to be fascinated.
Then lift a glass to San Diego Rep.
CATCH US WEDNESDAYS AND WEEKENDS @ and enjoy, live and learn!