Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Happiness Is...

A couple of months ago, Summer sent out a text to various people, letting us know that the very awesome Ben Folds would be touring through Northern California at the end of June--would anyone like to go to a show with her?

Ben Folds is to Summer what Keane is to me. While she has stood next to me through many screaming moments at Keane shows, I've returned the favor by going to a few Ben Folds shows (the good news is, she likes Keane, and I like Ben Folds). I was happy to come to another gig, and the only choice was where--one near San Jose, or one in Santa Rosa?

I voted for Santa Rosa for two reasons--first, because it's much closer to where I live than San Jose is, and frankly, driving through/near/around San Jose will suck the soul right out of you. Second, Santa Rosa was home to the late, great Charles M. Schulz, and his legacy still thrives there in the form of the Redwood Empire Ice Arena (Snoopy's Home Ice, with the adorable Warm Puppy Cafe attached), the Snoopy Gallery and Gift Shop (hide my credit card!!), and the most recent addition to the neighborhood, the Charles Schulz Museum and Research Center

I have been to all of these places more than once, but it had been a while, and if I'm going to a concert a few miles up the road from all this Peanuts goodness, there's no way I'm just driving by. So arrangements were made--a hotel room reserved, concert tickets bought, and plans made for Summer and I to meet at the museum early in the afternoon for some fun before checking into our hotel, meeting two other friends, and then seeing the show.

Let's face it: last week sucked, on a personal level. My cat died, so grief was the theme of the week. I needed a diversion, and I'd been almost desperately clinging to this as a way to just relax and have some fun.

And oh, I did.

Just pulling into the parking lot at the Schulz Museum made me smile. The familiar buildings are all there, in a row, surrounded by redwood trees, backed by a simple baseball field that was installed by Charles and Jeanne Schulz for neighborhood children to enjoy, much as his Peanuts characters enjoy their own field in the strip. A new development at the museum is huge solar panels over the parking lot, which I loved. I somehow think "Sparky" would have approved of solar energy, and shading the parking lot from the California sun.

Charlie Brown in hockey gear, outside of the Ice Arena.

I started off at the Gallery and Gift shop yesterday, as Summer was running a bit behind, and I knew she wouldn't be as eager to spend the time in there that I needed (hint: a lot). I ended up buying a few things I really loved--two small plush toys of Belle and Spike (two of Snoopy's siblings) for my classroom, a Snoopy-on-doghouse bank with a Union Jack design, some post cards, and a framed picture of Snoopy on his doghouse, typing, with "Happiness is writing your own story" on it.

The stained glass window, from inside.

Upstairs in the gallery, overlooking the gift shop and this
wonderful Flying Ace. 

Carpet murals on the wall.

A couple of brats. ; )

I had to have this. I'm going to hang it over my desk. 

You have no idea how hard it was to not also buy Olaf and
Marbles. Sadly, they're sold out of Andy.

Belle. I love her little eyelashes.

I have so many Snoopy plushes already, I hardly need more,
but this oh-so-soft one was very tempting. Especially with
that tag.

Outside the shop. Schulz has a star on the Walk of Fame in
Hollywood, too.

Pretty view. 

By the time I finished my shopping, Summer was nearing the area, so I wandered around and waited outside of the Ice Arena and took pictures of my haul.

Redwood Empire Ice Arena.

Belle and Spike.

Well, I just had to have this, you know?

Summer arrived, and we had lunch at the Warm Puppy Cafe. I was prepared to get a salad, but then I saw something called a Snoopwich Sandwich and, well, I just had to have some almond butter and jelly on whole wheat.

This table is permanently reserved for "Sparky," which always
makes me smile.

The Snoopwich Sandwich. 

Maybe I'll have my 40th Birthday here. ; )

After lunch, it was time to go to the museum, so we wandered across the street, with me making noises about how much I love this place the whole way. The museum is truly beautiful, and it showcases the genius of Charles Schulz without being over-the-top. It's a beautiful tribute to a humble man who just happened to have touched many, many hearts with his work.

At the entrance, you're welcomed by Charlie Brown himself.

And, Snoopy, of course.

Woodstock has a rubber duck...can you spot another one?

This mural is a mosaic of 3,588 four-panel comic strip tiles.
It is incredible. 


This and the next two quotes are spot-on. 

High praise from another highly-regarded cartoonist.

The Schulz family donated the furnishings and decor of his studio to the museum, and they are on permanent display. There is something about walking into the room that takes my breath away. The desk, the chair, the drawing board. His books, knick-knacks and family pictures on display on bookcases around the room. The worn spot on the drawing board, which he used for the majority of the 50+ years he drew the Peanuts comic strip.

This next picture is a small part of a whole wall that was donated to the museum in 2001. The Travnicek family of Colorado Springs, Colorado, discovered that a wall in one of their bedrooms had, at one point, been painted by Charles Schulz for his daughter, but long painted-over. The wife, Polly, set about painstakingly removing the layers of paint above this. Using thousands of cotton balls, she lovingly restored this treasure, then had it removed from her home!

Yes, those are early Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
 There's a small garden outside, so we popped out there for a few minutes.

Kite-eating tree. 

Nearby, there's a sign with clues for the crossword. 

It was nearing check-in time at the hotel, so we made our way back to the front of the museum, stopping so I could buy a few souvenirs and Summer could use the "Lucy" room.

There is a lot of Schulz love all over Santa Rosa, an I took many more pictures on this little mini-trip, but I'll save those for my Week in Instagram post this weekend.

If you have never been to the Schulz Museum, and you find yourself in that part of California, I highly recommend you go. You can meander through a lovely, cool museum, listening to strains of Vince Guiraldi's famous Peanuts themes, and enjoy the simple-but-profound humor of one of the greatest comic strips ever created. I dare you to try walking around with a frown on your face!

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